The party: Stella the Halfling, Buckle the Platyperson
Last time, Stella, Buckle, and Ori sought hospitality at the house of a noblewoman. Stella and Buckle found a secret passage behind the wall of their bedroom and decided to investigate while Ori stayed behind to look at the sky.
The party started in the leftmost bedroom, and the red line represents the secret passage inside a wall.
Stella and Buckle peek into the next two bedrooms. They are clean and functional, but nowhere near as fancy as the ballrooms they walked through to get to their rooms. They get the impression that they are not honored guests.
They peek through the eyeholes of a painting that looks into the ballroom on the other side of the wall. Two fancy people are having a conversation. One is a woman dressed in expensive-looking black & magenta clothing with gold accents. She has pince nez glasses and long, sharp fingers. She’s talking to a thin man in grey clothes. he has a gaunt, severe face with sunken cheeks. The party dubs him “Resting Evil Face” he’s explaining how he is looking for a Halfling boy, probably riding a dog, who ran away.
Evelynn: “If there’s one thing I hate more than pets, it’s kids!”
In consideration of her long relationship with Anton’s organization, Evelynn will keep an eye out, but she does not want to babysit! Stella is worried about her fellow Halfling, since these two do not seem benevolent.
GM note: Evelynn is based on K/DA Evelynn from League of Legends and Antony is based on Anton Ego from Ratatouille.
At the east end of the secret passage, there are ladders leading up and down. The party climbs to the upper floor.
The secret passage is in the north wall.
They peek through the peepholes and see two large, fancy bedrooms that are much nicer than their quarters downstairs. Two humans are asleep in the western room. The woman has a shiny suit of armor on her side of the room, and the man in the other bed has gadgets spread out all over his side of the room. They are Dryden and Lucia, player characters! Buckle looks over Dryden’s gadgets: a magic stone, a gun with a coil of rope, a Dwarf-made hammer, and other strange objects. Stella slips a Halfling snack (cashews almonds, an apricot, and grapes) into Dryden’s bag. Buckle writes “Buckle was here” on Lucia’s shield.
On to the next room. The room is set up and there’s luggage here, but no one is inside. There are elbow-length rubber gloves, first aid kits (especially for burns) and a bottle of odd-smelling fluid (probably chloroform). There’s a planner that details Anton’s search for “Experiment #72” with several place names checked off, including “Port Fennrick”. They hear footsteps approaching in the hallway and dive past the painting back into the secret passage. Too close! They watch and Anton enters the room. He doesn’t seem to notice that anything has been disturbed. He needs to de-stress after that important conversation. Talking to people takes a lot out of him. He gets out a pad of paper and does some chemistry puzzles to relax.
Confident that their intrusion was not noticed, Stella and Buckle move on.The entrance to the eastern room is behind a shield. It’s a trophy room, with tables around the room covered in fancy items. There’s a large pedestal in the center of the room. Buckle comes out of the wall and dives under a table. Stella confidently walks up an examines the central pedestal. It has glass sides and a metal lid, so it could probably support quite a bit of weight. It seems the fanciest trophies are here. As Stella leans in to looks at the treasures, she unknowingly presses a hidden button and the pedestal lowers into the floor! Stella is now teetering over a shaft going down to who knows where! Buckle runs out to grab her, but he’s on the other side of the shaft, so now the two of them are leaning on each other over the shaft. They both push off each other at the same time and regain their balance. They retreat to the secret passage. Buckle is sure they’ve alerted someone and wants to retreat to their room, but they hear footsteps approaching from the ladder that leads back to their rooms. They retreat to Lucia and Dryden’s room. They listen for the footsteps, but of course they can’t hear people moving in the secret passage from inside the rooms. That would not be very secret. Buckle slides the painting aside just a little and sticks his snout in to the passageway. His electrosense detects the servant moving into the trophy room then back into the secret passage. The servant suspects one of the guests, but will alert Evelynn before questioning the guests. He goes back into the trophy room, leaving the secret passage clear. Buckle and Stella hustle back to their room.
Ori is gone! There’s no time to figure that out now. Stella and Buckle quickly get into bed. Stella pretends to sleep but keeps one eye open. She sees someone look through the peepholes from the secret passageway, then shortly afterwards there’s a knock at the door. Stella slowly opens the door and yawns. Buckle is snoring in his bed. Jayce is checking on the guests. He doesn’t see Ori and wants to come in and investigate, but Stella warns him not to.
Stella: “It’s not wise to wake Buckle, he’s gets violent.”
Jayce is bamboozled and will not press the issue. He leaves and Stella snags a key from him.
Once he’s gone, Stella goes over to Buckle and finds out that he was actually asleep!
Buckle: “Best way to pretend is to do.”
They wait for the house to calm down, then venture out into the secret passage again. This time they take the ladder down and emerge in the cellar.
Stella peers out from the secret passage before stepping into the room. There is a row of small holes in the ceiling above the door in the north wall. The south wall is mostly a huge vault door. On the east and west walls, three doors each with small barred windows. In the middle of the room, a square hole with a piston extending from it through a matching hole in the ceiling. Buckle detects life-signs from two of the cells. Every few seconds, there’s a sharp click from the northwestern cell.
GM note: Attempting to replicate this sound over a webcam by tapping on the desk produces a terrifying, earthshaking sound. I gave my players entirely the wrong impression.
The party considers how to approach the prisoners. Stella thinks they should have fake names. Buckle doesn’t think that will work. He’s a Platyperson. He’s sure to stand out. Maybe he could pretend to be a dog. Stella steps out fo the secret passage, then steps back in,
Stella: “Just so you know, your name is Pickle!”
They step out and peek through the windows of each cell in turn. The middle cell on the west wall contains a giant albino Platyperson sleeping on the floor, using the cot as a pillow. Stella examines the cell and sees some dog-eared books on the floor and tally marks scratched on the ceiling. Stella doesn’t wake the creature and moves over to the cell that’s making noise.
That cell contains a female Dwarf in a fancy but tattered dress, lying on the cot and bouncing a rock off the wall and back to herself. She spots Stella at the window and rushes over.
Mayor: “You’ve got to help me! I’m the Mayor of Templeton! I was kidnapped by insurgents! I’ve been here for weeks!”
Buckle: “What’s up with the giant Platyperson in the other cell?”
Mayor: “I have no time for such trivial matters. You’ve got to get me out of here!”
Buckle: “We’ll get you both, but maybe not in the same trip.”
Mayor: “Me first!”
Stella wakes up the Platyperson. Her name is Pomplamoose and she’s eight feet tall, twice as tall as a normal Platyperson. She and Buckle exchange a traditional Platyperson greeting. Stella tries the key she stole from Jayce and it opens the cell door! Pomplamoose doesn’t know why she was kidnapped, but she hopes it’s not for taxidermy! Buckle asks why the Mayor is here.
Pomplamoose: “I heard Evelynn says something about ‘disrespect.’ She threw the Mayor in the cell personally. Well, her shadow did, technically.”
Buckle: “You mean her beast shadow?”
GM note: Buckle’s Destiny playbook, the Apex, lets him gain a Shadow, a companion with abilities like his own that lets him be in two places at once.
Pomplamoose: “No, an actual shadow.”
Stella: “Is the shadow here now?!”
Everyone looks around, but the shadows cast by the torches that light the room show no signs of intelligence.
Stella: “How did they get you in here?”
Stella: “No, which door? What about those holes over that door?”
Pomplamoose goes to look at the door Stella indicates, and Stella has to scramble to stop her! Those holes are definitely a trap. Anyone who opens the door will be shot with arrows. Stella and Buckle plot how to get everyone out. Should they activate the elevator in the middle of the room? It caused quite a distraction last time. The secret passage is a tight squeeze for a human. Pomplamoose has no chance of fitting.
Buckle: “Pomplamoose, how do you feel about being ridden?”
Pomplamoose: “You are small and sickly. I’ll carry you.”
Buckle and Pomplamoose do a Platyperson ritual to prepare for battle.
Stella opens the Mayor’s cells and warns her sternly.
Stella: “You must say nothing. Pickle will throw you back in!”
Buckle and the Mayor leave through the secret passage and head back towards the bedroom. The Mayor is having a lot of trouble staying quiet and following orders. Buckle finds Rose, Gus, and Ugg in the bedroom. Ori is gone. He’ll have to fend for himself. Silk the giant spider is in the stables. They have to retrieve him on the way out.
Stella counts to sixty to give the others time to get to their room before causing trouble. She asks Pomplamoose how impenetrable her tail is, then decides a cot is a better shield. Pomplamoose holds a cot up to the ceiling to block the arrows while Stella opens the door. The trap fires, injuring Pomplamoose.
Stella and Pomplamoose burst out of cellar doors on the north side of Evelynn’s manor while Buckle and his four companions jump out the window on the west side and head for the stables.
Akali, a petite woman with red skin and small horns on her forehead, runs from the stables towards the cellar door, accompanied by a Hellhound. Buckle attempts to avoid notice as he and his followers approach the stables to retrieve Silk. It works, because Akali is laser-focused on the giant escaping prisoner.
Stella’s player: “OK, I’m ready to fight this demon child!”
GM: “She’s an adult. She’s just petite!”
Pomplamoose slams her tail on the ground and roars. Stella enlarges to her maximum size in a threat display. Akali leaps with a flying kick, smashing into Stella, who knocks back into Pomplamoose, who is violently sandwiched into the manor wall. Stella no-sells the attack, which intimidates Alaki. That was her best shot and it did nothing. She retreats and doesn’t see Pomplamoose fall over unconscious. The Hellhound still thinks it can fight, but it hears a terrifying howl from Buckle, looks south and sees half a dozen angry creatures charging it. Stella also draws a longsword and charges, and the Hellhound flees with its tail between its legs.
The alarm has well and truly been raised. Lights tun on on the upper floor, and a woman throws her windows over to look down on the crowd of fugitives. The lamplight behind her throws a dramatic shadow on the lawn, and this shadow starts pulling itself out of the ground. Oh, THAT shadow. Now they understand. All seven conscious escapees get under Pomplamoose to carry her away, down the path to the mill and into the water. Stella starts to heal her as everyone floats down the river on her belly. Surely whatever town is downstream will be safer than the estate they just escaped, right?
GM note: No end-of-session move