Welcome to another exciting installment of Spacemon, the tale of a Pokemon TRPG campaign! This is a spinoff of the sci-fi space epic played using the Pokemon Tabletop United (PTU) system, this time GMed by yours truly. You can get caught up the entire Spacemon saga here!
“Welcome, welcome, my friends, to Bazam’s Bazaar!” the shopkeeper exclaimed as Ace, Gaster, and Taraka entered his store. The man’s Sinai accent was thick, but Gaster was able to make out his words, if just barely. “Everything you need, Bazam can sell you! And cheaper than anywhere else! Now, tell me, friends, what can Bazam get for you?”
“Well, Mr. Bazam,” Gaster addressed the shopkeeper. “We heard some rumors about some ruins near here.”
“I see, I see,” Bazam replied, stroking his long black beard, which was just as thick as his accent. “It is information you seek. Bazam can offer you information … uh, for a price, of course.”
“I’ll tell you what, good sir,” Gaster said. “You tell us about these ruins and we’ll buy the supplies for our little expedition from you.”
“You drive a hard bargain, my friend,” Bazam said. “But I graciously accept. I will tell you what I know. A ruin lies in the sands to the East. It is haunted by ghosts, they say.”
“Ghosts, you say?” Taraka asked. “How exciting.”
“You remember what happened last time we entered a ruin full of ghosts, don’t you?” Ace asked the monk, sounding apprehensive.
“I captured Roma, of course,” Taraka replied dismissively. “She’s gotten us through many sticky situations.”
“He’s got a point, you know,” Gaster told Ace, agreeing with the monk. “We can handle a few ghosts.”
“The locals fear to venture there,” Bazam said. “But with the right supplies from my store, the ghosts will not trouble you.”
“If the locals fear the ruins, I don’t suppose anyone has been there recently?” Ace inquired. “Any other offworlders like us?”
“Not that I am aware, my friend,” Bazam replied.
“Well if no one’s been there, then maybe we can claim whatever’s inside and use it to lure out whoever’s been raiding the ruins in this region of space,” Gaster said to his crewmates.
“If the person we’re looking for is even looking for what’s in these ruins,” Ace said.
“There’s only one way to find out,” Taraka said.
“Well that settles it,” Gaster said. “Alright, Mr. Bazam, show us your wares.”
“Damn, that shopkeeper can talk,” Gaster said to his two crewmates as they exited Bazam’s Bazaar.
“At least we got what we needed,” Taraka replied.
Gaster nodded. “True enough.”
The Maverick had stopped on this world, a desert planet in Sector 34 on the edge of Sinai space known as Idrinda, for their latest job, a simple delivery run. Gaster wasn’t particularly thrilled to be on yet another desert planet, but he was getting paid so he couldn’t complain. Finding themselves with some free time while the ship refueled, Ace, Gaster, and Taraka had decided to explore the spaceport town, one of many settlements on Idrinda built around its oases. While exploring the various shops and market stalls, the three crewmates had heard rumors of ruins nearby and had decided to investigate.
The shopkeeper named Bazam had been the most helpful source of information about the ruins so far. Not only had the trio learned the location of the ruins from the man, but they also learned that no one had delved into them. The locals, it seemed, were afraid to explore the ruins, which, given Idrinda’s large Sinai population, wasn’t surprising to Gaster; the Sinai were a superstitious lot.
The three members of the Maverick’s crew did not share the local population’s fear of the ruins. By now, they were all used to exploring ruins and dealing with the strange things that tended to be found within them. Now that they were all stocked up on supplies, it was time to begin their expedition.
“Who’s ready to venture into the desert?” Gaster asked his crewmates.
“I am,” Taraka said. “But we should probably let the captain know our plan first.”
Gaster nodded. “Good idea. I’ll give him a call.”
Ace watched the sand dancing in the wind as he walked through the desert with his two Human crewmates. The android wasn’t a big fan of deserts as the sand could clog up his joints, but this was at least preferable to being in a swamp. Ace was still finding dried clumps of swamp mud in his joints for days after the crew explored the ruins on Salvix.
As the trio crested the top of a sand dune, Ace’s optics picked up some movement. Focusing in, the android caught sight of a Cacnea and a Cranidos. “We’ve got some Pokemon over there,” he informed his friends, pointing out the pair of wild Pokemon to them.
“Let’s go catch them,” Taraka said enthusiastically before walking in that direction.
“You sure do like catching Pokemon,” Ace said, following the monk.
Taraka nodded. “Indeed. They make for good companions. I think I may continue to travel once my pilgrimage is finished to search for and train Pokemon.”
“So you’re planning to leave the order, then?” Gaster asked.
“I’m thinking about it,” Taraka said. “I owe my fellow monks a great deal for taking me in as a child, but I never truly felt I fit in. I will finish my scroll, as I feel it is my duty, but after that …” The monk trailed off as if deep in thought.
“After that, what?” Ace asked.
“I am not sure yet,” Taraka said. “I will decide when the time comes.”
The group quieted down as they neared the pair of wild Pokemon, all three of them analyzing the situation. “So who wants either of these?” Gaster asked after a few moments.
“I will take the Cranidos,” Ace said. “I could use another big, strong Pokemon.”
“I will capture the Cacnea, then,” Taraka said. “Unless you want it, Gaster?”
“Sure, I’ll take it,” Gaster replied. “I might have a use for it.”
“Very well,” Taraka said.
“Alright, let’s do this,” Gaster said.
With those words, Gaster sent out his Salandit. Ace and Taraka followed suit, sending out Carnivine and Golbat, and the fight was on!
Gaster led things off, lining up a shot with his rifle and firing on the Cacnea. While the Pokemon was stunned by the laser fire, Taraka ran up to it and blasted it with psionic energy, sending it into a daze.
“Sakuya, use Ember!” Gaster then commanded his Salandit. The fire lizard moved up on the Cacnea and spat some fire at it, but the cactus Pokemon managed to evade the attack.
“Aday, use Swift!” Taraka ordered his own Pokemon. The monk’s Golbat flew over the Cacnea and pelted it with a barrage of energy stars from above, landing several direct hits.
Suddenly, the Cranidos came charging in, headed straight for Taraka. The monk blasted it with psionic energy as it barreled toward him, causing it to stumble. However, it was not enough; the Cranidos regained its balanced and plowed right into him, knocking him to the ground.
“Are you alright?!” Ace called out to his crewmate.
“I’m fine!” Taraka answered.
“Venus, Vine Whip!” Ace ordered his Carnivine. The haunted fly trap Pokemon floated toward the Cranidos, then lashed out at it with her vines, doing a real number on it. Ace immediately followed up his Pokemon’s attack by chucking a Pokeball at the Cranidos. The ball hit its mark, pulling the Pokemon inside, then it fell to the ground, instantly falling still.
With the Cranidos captured, all that was left was the Cacnea, which was moving up on Taraka as he got back to his feet. Seeing a vulnerable target, the cactus Pokemon was attempting to regain some energy with an Absorb attack.
“Let’s not have any of that!” Taraka shouted. The monk blasted the Cacnea with a pulse of psionic energy, putting it to sleep. Gaster immediately threw a Pokeball at the sleeping Pokemon, and it was caught!
“That was nice and easy,” Taraka said as he looked up at his Golbat flapping around. “Good work, Aday!” The monk’s Pokemon let out a cry and began to glow. Under the bright desert sun, the fiery Golbat evolved into a majestic bright red Crobat.
“That really is an impressive Pokemon,” Gaster said. “I really oughta get Morgana to evolve too,” the former smuggler continued, referring to his own fire Zubat.
Taraka nodded. “Indeed.”
“Shall we continue to the ruins?” Ace asked as he stowed his newly captured Pokemon away.
Gaster gave the android a thumbs up. “Sounds like a plan.”
Eventually, after quite a long walk across the desert, the three members of the Maverick’s crew arrived at the ruins Bazam had pointed them towards. The entrance to the structure was built into the side of a rocky outcropping rising up from the desert sands. At either side of the carved stone passageway leading into the ruins stood a tall statue, seemingly carved out of the same sandstone the outcropping was formed from. These two statues, shaped like armored figures, stood as guardians to this ancient place.
“This looks like the place,” Taraka said as he approached the entrance with his crewmates.
“Sure does,” Gaster agreed as he scanned the area with his rifle. “This place seems kind of creepy. No wonder the locals are afraid to come here.”
“I agree,” Taraka said. “Something feels off about this place.”
“Well let’s go find out what it is,” Ace said, taking a step forward.
“Hold on,” Taraka cautioned the android. “We should be careful.”
Gazing upon the entrance to the ruins, Taraka tried to place his finger on what seemed odd about it. The monk’s eyes eventually fell upon the statues. He couldn’t quite explain it, but something just seemed wrong about them.
“Hey, Gaster, shoot one of those statues,” Taraka said, turning to the former smuggler. “I want to see what happens.”
“I’ve got a better idea,” Gaster replied. He then grabbed a Pokeball off his belt and sent out his Milotic. “Francisca, use Water Pulse on one of those statues,” the former smuggler commanded the Pokemon. The Milotic obliged, blasting the statue on the left with a jet of water.
As soon as the attack landed, the statue began to move. The statue took a step forward, causing layers of sand to fall away, revealing that it was actually a Golurk! The Golurk lifted its arm, then shot its fist at Francisca, striking the Milotic dead on.
Taraka quickly sent out his Wailord, releasing it between the Golurk and the other statue. “Rocklord, use Water Pulse!” the monk commanded his newly sent out Pokemon as he pointed at the Golurk. Taraka’s Wailord shot off a jet of water at the hostile statue, landing a direct hit.
Rocklord’s attack awakened the second Golurk, which started to take a step toward him. “Venus, Shadow Sneak!” Ace shouted as he sent out his Carnivine between Rocklord and his would be attacker. The Carnivine swiped at the Golurk with one of her vines interrupting it as it attempted to punch Taraka’s Wailord. Ace himself then ran up to the Golurk and slashed at it with his laser sword, but the guardian Pokemon parried his attack.
As Gaster laid down suppressing fire on the Golurk on the left, Taraka approached the one on the right. The monk then blasted it with psionic energy, sending it into a daze that would hopefully make it easier to capture. “Now, Rocklord, use Water Spout!” Taraka commanded his Wailord. Rocklord launched a massive blast of water out of his blowhole that rained down on the two Golurks.
The attack proved to be a little too powerful; it caused the two Pokemon to crumble where they stood, their ghostly spirits fading away. “Oops,” Taraka said, letting out a slight chuckle. “I didn’t mean to do that.”
“Oh well,” Ace said. “At least the path is clear now.”
Taraka felt a vibe of familiarity as he entered the ruins with his two crewmates. In the light cast by the flashlight attachment on Gaster’s rifle, the monk could make out an architectural style he had seen before. This structure featured a layout quite similar to sites he’d visited with the Maverick crew before. Having just ventured beyond the entrance corridor, the trio were standing at a balcony that looked over a lower level. It was almost identical to the sites on Fraxion and Freyeon except for the distinct lack of stairs. Despite this difference, it was clear to Taraka that this site was related to them.
“What is it?” Gaster asked the monk, noticing the expression of recognition on his face.
“This place was built by the same people who made Ace,” Taraka replied, glancing over at their android companion.
“Which means whoever that assassin lady is looking for might be interested in this place,” Gaster said.
Taraka nodded in agreement. “Indeed.”
“Well the good news is that it doesn’t look like anyone has been here recently,” Ace said, looking around. Taraka knew the android’s optics were much more advanced than his human eyes and even Gaster’s cybernetic ones. If he didn’t see any indicators of anyone having been here it was a good sign.
“Perhaps we can set a trap for them,” Taraka suggested.
“If they’re even going to show up,” Gaster replied. “They might not have any interest in this place.”
“A good point, my friend,” Taraka said.
“Let’s get down there,” Ace said. “Venus, lower me down with your vines,” he continued, turning to his Carnivine. The android grabbed onto several of his Pokemon’s vines, then climbed over the balcony’s guardrail. Slowly, Venus lowered her trainer down, and he was soon down on the lower level of the room.
Gaster followed behind Ace, carefully climbing down Venus’s vines. Once the former smuggler had reached the bottom, it was Taraka’s turn. When he was near the bottom, the monk suddenly lost grip and fell to the floor below.
“Oof,” Taraka grunted as he hit the ground.
“Are you alright?” a concerned Ace asked. He reached out to help Taraka up, but the monk waved him off.
“Yup. Everything’s fine,” Taraka said as he got back to his feet. “Nothing happened.”
“Are you sure you’re alright?” Ace asked.
“I am unharmed,” Taraka told the android. “We can keep going.”
“Which way?” Gaster asked. “Looks like there’s three paths.”
There were indeed three corridors leading out from this room. One led straight ahead from the entrance, deeper into the ruins. There were two side passages as well, one leading to the right and one leading to the left.
“Let’s go left,” Ace said.
“I’m fine with that,” Gaster said.
With their decision made, the trio made their way into the corridor Ace had selected. Peering down the hallway, Taraka saw some rooms branching off and a staircase leading up on the far end.
“Guess we should have looked around upstairs more before climbing down,” Gaster said, patting Taraka on the back. “Would’ve saved you a fall.”
“Too late now,” Taraka mumbled in response.
Moving further down the corridor, the trio entered the room on the right side. There wasn’t much of note in the room aside from a few containers. Taraka approached one of the containers and opened it to find three vials of what looked like potion. “I guess these people figured out potions,” the monk commented as he pocketed the vials.
“I wonder if there’s anything else of value in here,” Gaster said, looking around the room.
Searching through the other containers, most of which were weathered and smashed, the group managed to find a few more vials of healing substances as well a Sun Stone, which Ace pocketed.
“This room must have been an infirmary or something similar,” Taraka commented.
“All these potions seem to suggest that,” Gaster agreed.
After clearing out the first room, the trio moved on to the one on the left side of the corridor. This room looked pretty similar to the first and contained several more containers. Unlike in the first room, however, Taraka could detect a presence of some sort.
“There’s something here,” Taraka told his crewmates.
“What is it?” Ace asked.
“I feel a presence,” the monk elaborated. “Maybe more ghost Pokemon.”
Taraka reached into his bag and pulled out a cleanse tag he’d made. He then ignited it with a psionic flame. As the tag burned, several ghosts were drawn out of hiding. Two Yamasks appeared along the far wall, two more appeared off to the left, and a fifth one appeared right beside Gaster in the entryway.
“Ugh,” Gaster grunted in surprise. He quickly moved further into the room toward his two crewmates. The former smuggler then sent out his recently evolved Vileplume. “Just a precaution,” he said to his companions. “They don’t seem hostile, but I’m not taking any chances.”
“A smart idea,” Taraka said, nodding in agreement. The monk sent out his Togekiss, then put up a protective barrier around the group.
Seeing the Yamask in the doorway begin to inch closer, Taraka instinctively issued a command to his Pokemon. “Sirius, use Thunder Wave.” Sirius shot out a bolt of electricity at the approaching Yamask, which caused it to freeze in place.
“Wait. We shouldn’t fight them,” Ace said. He then turned to the nearest Yamask. “We didn’t mean to disturb you.”
The ghost Pokemon stared back at the Android, a blank expression on its face.
“I don’t like this,” Taraka said as the two Yamasks by the far wall slowly began to drift closer. He was starting to feel very uncomfortable. The one Sirius had zapped, meanwhile, conjured a ghostly flame and sent it at the Togekiss. However, the flame dissipated before it made contact, the sparks running along the Yamask’s body having caused it to lose focus.
“Let’s do something about it, then,” Gaster said. “Ficus, use Sleep Powder.” The former smuggler’s Vileplume sprayed a cloud of powder out from the flower on her head at the two approaching Yamasks, putting both to sleep. Gaster then raised his rifle and slowly began backing out of the room, keeping it trained on the nearest Yamask.
Taraka followed his crewmate while Ace activated his shield and put himself between the pair and the ghost Pokemon. Ignoring the android, the three Yamasks that were awake floated past and right up to Taraka. They seemed to attracted to the monk for some reason, and that made him quite uncomfortable.
“You alright, Taraka?” Gaster asked.
“So far?” Taraka replied, unsure.
“I hear that if you don’t move they can’t see you,” Gaster said in an attempt to lighten the mood.
“Now is not the time for jokes,” Taraka said.
Curious but cautious, Taraka reached out and touched one of the Yamasks in an attempt to get a read on it with his psionic abilities. As soon as his fingers made contact, the monk felt a really weird tingly sensation shoot up his arm, but he also gleaned a brief vision of the Yamask floating around the ruins, not doing anything. It seemed the Pokemon had no nefarious intentions, but Taraka thought it best to leave them alone anyway.
“Let’s get the heck out of here,” the monk said to his companions as he backed away from the the ghost Pokemon. The trio and their Pokemon swiftly exited the room and, thankfully, the Yamasks did not follow.
As soon as they were a few meters away from the room, the tingling sensation in Taraka’s arm went away and he breathed a sigh of relief. “That was an experience,” the monk said. “Everyone okay?”
“Seems like it,” Gaster said, nodding.
“I’m glad we were able to resolve that without anyone getting hurt,” Ace said.
“As am I,” Taraka said, agreeing with the android’s sentiment. “As am I.”
After returning to the main room, the group proceeded further into the ruins down the central corridor, having decided to explore the right-hand passageway on their way back out. Following this hallway, the trio soon arrived in a round chamber with a large statue at its center. The corridor continued on through a doorway at the far side of this room, but the statue stood between it and the three members of the Maverick’s crew.
Unlike the two statues outside at the entrance to the ruins, the statue in this chamber appeared to be one of a person. Nevertheless, Taraka approached it with caution. The monk stepped up to it, then prodded it with his staff to make sure that it wasn’t another Golurk or some other ghostly trap.
“Seems safe enough,” Taraka said when the statue did not appear to respond.
“Who do you think they were?” Ace asked, looking up at the statue.
“I don’t know,” Taraka said, brushing some sand off the statue as he spoke. It was so eroded by time that it was hard to make out any distinct features. “There’s no inscription or anything and, if there was one at some point, it had completely eroded away. This place is old, older than the other related sites we’ve been to.”
“Well, let’s keep going,” Gaster said.
Walking around the statue, Taraka saw that the doorway behind it was flanked by two more statues. These ones appeared to be statues of Pokemon, but they didn’t look like any the monk recognized.
“What do you make of these?” Taraka asked his companions.
“Some ancient extinct species of Pokemon, maybe?” Gaster suggested. “Ace, do you recognize them?”
“No,” the android replied.
“It was worth a shot,” Gaster said.
Moving on, the trio walked through the doorway and down the corridor until it led them into a large, open chamber. The ceiling of this octagonally-shaped room had a circular hole carved into it that was open to the sky and sunlight shone down upon a raised platform at the center of the room. The back wall of the room was covered by a faded mural.
“This place feels familiar,” Taraka said as he stepped up onto the central platform.
“Yeah,” Ace agreed, following the monk. “It looks just like the room at the end of those ruins back on Salvix.”
“Hmm,” Taraka said as he gazed up at the light shining down. He then looked down at the floor beneath his feat and saw marks on the floor; it looked as if something had been there at one point, but had been moved … recently.
Taraka looked back up to the sky and his mind was struck with a vision. He saw the stars of the night sky through the hole in the ceiling as several ropes dropped down from it. Taraka watched as a bunch of tough looking mercenaries repelled down from above and collected some sort of artifact from the platform in the center of the room. Then he was back in the present time, looking at his two crewmates.
“What is it?” Gaster asked.
“A vision,” Taraka explained. “I saw mercenaries come from above,” he said as he pointed up to the ceiling. “There was something here.” The monk drew attention to the marks on the floor as he continued, “and now it is gone.”
“So they’ve already taken whatever was here,” Ace said.
“Goddamnit,” Gaster cursed, sounding frustrated.
“But now we know it was a crew and not just one person,” Ace said. “At least we learned something about whoever we’re looking for, right?”
“Did you see any distinctive markings on the mercenaries in your vision?” Gaster asked Taraka.
“Indeed,” Taraka told his crewmate. “There was a logo on their armor: an orange sun with a white halo above it.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a logo like that before,” Gaster said. “Maybe the captain will recognize it?”
“It is certainly worth asking,” Taraka replied.
“Right,” Gaster said. “Well let’s get out of here. No point sticking around any longer than we need to.”
Taraka nodded. “Agreed.”
“Ah, sunshine,” Taraka said as he stepped out into the bright Idrinda sunlight.
After backtracking to the central room of the ruins and checking out the corridor they hadn’t explored, the three members of the Maverick’s crew had made a quick exit from the ruins. They had found a few salvageable goods in the rooms branching off that path, hidden amongst piles of fossilized berries in what must have been a room used for food storage, but nothing much else of use. The rest of the corridor was blocked off by a cave-in, so the trio decided to leave, not wanting to risk upsetting anymore ghost Pokemon.
“As much as it was a pain in my ass back on Venbaxxen, the desert sun feels nice after all that time in those dark, creepy ruins,” Gaster said.
“I don’t really experience much of a difference,” Ace chimed in. “But this bright landscape offers a more pleasant view.”
“You can say that again,” Gaster agreed. “Now let’s get back to the ship.
The trio hadn’t even walked for five minutes before some wild Pokemon came into view. As they rounded the edge of a dune, Taraka spotted a Rhyhorn and a Hippopotas only a short distance away.
“How about a quick stop?” the monk suggested to his crewmates.
“Fine with me,” Gaster said. “I guess you haven’t had a chance to catch a Pokemon yet today. Which one do you want?”
“I could use a Hippopotas,” Taraka replied. “I don’t really need a Rhyhorn.”
“I’ll try to catch it, then,” Ace said.
Gaster nodded. “Alright, let’s do this.”
The three crewmates sent out their Pokemon, and the battle was on!
“Jimothy, use Torment on that Hippopotas!” Gasster commanded his Krookodile to start things off. As his Pokemon moved in, the former smuggler fired his rifle at the Hippopotas landing a few hits.
“Sirius, use Ancient Power on it!” Taraka then ordered his Togekiss as he conjured a psionic flame. As Sirius made her attack, the monk sent the flame at the sand hippo, leaving it with a psionic burn.
Meanwhile, Ace had his Carnivine go after the Rhyhorn. “Venus, use Vine Whip on it!” the android commanded his Pokemon. Venus smacked the Rhyhorn with one of her vines, and then Ace ran up and slashed at it with his sword.
The Rhyhorn let out a pained grunt at the assault and collapsed to the ground, fainted. “Oops,” Ace said. “I didn’t think it was that weak.”
“At least we still have something to catch,” Taraka said as he readied a Pokeball to throw. Just then, the Hippopotas kicked some sand at him, causing him to drop the ball.
“Jimothy, hit it with Sand Tomb!” Gaster quickly commanded his Krookodile in response. Jimothy repaid the Hippopotas’s sandy attack with one of his one and, despite the sand hippo’s theoretical resistance to it, knocked it out.
“Oops. Sorry,” Gaster apologized. “I guess this one was weak too.”
“It is no bother,” Taraka replied. “It was not meant to be. Come, let us return to the ship.”
Notes: This was a fun session. This was still in the middle of when the party was in flux and I still wasn’t sure if Axel and Alec were dropping out permanently, so I opened up the possibility of being a guest player to the players in the Spacemon sequel campaign, Eleventh Hour, which was well underway by this point. ClarissaGavin, who you may remember as Morgan’s player if you’ve read the original series, took me up on the offer and joined in on this session. I gave the option to run either Ace or Cyrus, and she selected Ace.
I improvised most of this session and there was a lot of silly RP which led to Bazam’s Bazaar being a thing. I had some fun in the writing, fleshing out the opening scenes of the chapter. I also improvised an entire dungeon based on a vague idea I had and I think it came together quite nicely. There was some combat, some spooky parts, and some connections to the wider plot. Overall, it was a fun series of encounters and was a good experience in learning how to come up with ideas on the fly.
That does it for this chapter. As always the Spacemon gang and I will be monitoring the comments to foster discussion and answer any questions. Feel free to give feedback and critiques of the writing so I can improve it for the future, or just leave a comment with what you think about what went down in this chapter or what you think might happen next! You can also revisit past chapters, check out the rest of the Spacemon saga, join the Spacemon Discord server, or like our Facebook page to stay updated on all things Spacemon! Click here for the next exciting installment of Spacemon: Frontier!