The party: Buckle the Platyperson, Stella the Halfling
Buckle & Stella & the Mayor of Templeton float down the river on the belly of Pomplamoose, a giant albino Platyperson, who is recovering from the thrashing she took during her rescue from Lady Evelynn’s dungeon. About a mile downstream from Lady Evelenn’s estate, they find a bustling city built on either side of the river, with a large bridge in the middle. This is Sugar’s Crossing.
Two figures with reptilian heads approach swiftly through the river. These are Naga, amphibious humanoid snakes, closely related to mermaids. They are in charge and they know it. They belittle the team as they order them ashore, telling them that they’re a danger to navigation, and even a child would know not to float down the middle of a busy river. Buckle hesitates, but agrees to go ashore. The Naga guards swim away. The Mayor recognizes this city as Sugar’s Crossing. Now she knows where she is. Templeton is five days’ travel to the east, and she expects everyone to set off immediately to escort her there. Stella asks what’s in it for them. The Mayor offers civic duty, then money, and thinks Stella is very strange for not being motivated by either.
Stella: Mayor, you are on our schedule
Stella takes every opportunity to remind the Mayor that, out here, she is not in charge.
Where does Pomplamoose want to go? Her home town of Willow’s Landing is further eat, past Templeton, so going to Templeton is on the way home for her. Pomplamoose was hurt in the escape from Lady Evelynn’s estate, so Buckle gives her some food to recover her strength. Pomplamoose is disappointed by the food she’s been getting. It’s all flavor and no sustenance. She feels herself getting weak. Sure, this is the food that sustains Buckle, but he’s so small. He’s like a child. Buckle thinks he’s normal, not an unusual size compared to the Platypeople he grew up with.
GM note: Sugar’s Crossing was created and fleshed out in the Fairmeadow Fair campaign, and added to Chasing The Sunset later. When Sugar’s Crossing was made, Stella’s quest to find Halfling refugees from the Giant War had not yet been invented, so Sugar’s Crossing was a town full of Halflings, outnumbering all other species. The Halfling player doesn’t just control Stella, the Halfling hero, but Halfling culture and history in general. I asked Stella’s player: should we change the lore of Sugar’s Crossing, or was Stella wrong about her people? Stella’s player decided that Stella was wrong, and there are large, old, stable populations of Halflings outside her homeland, not just scattered refugees.
The team starts to explore the town and Stella realizes that most people here are Halflings. Many of the buildings–old buildings!– are built at Halfing size, although there are plenty of multi-scale or large-scale buildings to accommodate taller species. This is no refugee camp. Halflings have lived on this continent for generations. Stella thought that all Halflings lived in her homeland across the sea. She has to sit down. She’s been telling every Halfling she met to go back home. Were they already home? Was she pushing people out of their homes? Buckle tries to comfort her.
Buckle: I learned about giants. You’ll be OK.
They explore the town and find the theater, which has public shows morning and evening about the history of the town. Stella wants to watch the shows. Room and board is easy to come by in Sugar’s Crossing. Large homes for extended families, apartment buildings, and hotels, aren’t very distinct from each other, so the team will be able to find a home with a few extra beds and some seats at a large table for supper. The Mayor is impatient. If these people won’t help her, she’ll go to the garrison at the bridge. Surely the Dwarven guards there will know their duty and escort her back home.
Stella: Feel free to come back if they think you’re too much of a handful!
Stella watches the morning show about Miller, le Grind, and the star-crossed lovers. She meets a food vendor named Pan at the show & they hit it off. After the show, the Mayor is back. The Dwarven garrison went off-duty and was replaced by a Naga garrison in the time that the Mayor was in the dungeon. The Naga, famous for domineering rudeness, did not react well to Mayor’s orders.
Mayor: You’ll have to take me to Templeton.
Stella: If you are too much trouble, we will throw you back in the river!
Buckle asks Pan if anything exciting happens around here. Pan says that the most exciting thing is the harvest festival across the river at Fairmeadow, but the missed that by about a month. Oh, there was excitement at the most recent Fairmeadow Fair. A Black Beast threatened the town, but was slain by an invisible gorilla! Buckle wonders how anyone knows about an invisible gorilla. Pan says that this wimpy Elf man survived an attack by the Black Beast and witnessed the gorilla’s attack. That Elf was nothing special, not like the great knight Lucia, hero of many battles! Now that you mention it, there was also a commotion at the le Grind mill, and those thieves that drove a cart right off the docks into the river! Lots of adventures going on recently. Stella asks if the thieves were caught. Pan says they are being held in the garrison here in town. Stella also asks about Lady Evelynn. Pan has no reason to think she’s a troublemaker.
Stella and Buckle continue sightseeing by taking the tour at le Grind Mill. Buckle looks at the historical displays and sees a picture of the three mil owners, which confirms that the woman they saw talking to Anton in Lady Evelynn’s estate was indeed Evelynn herself. The tour guide cheerfully explains the mill’s features, and le Grind’s superiority to the other mills in town.
Tour guide: We treat our workers like family, because 18% of them are!”
Stella asks about the mill’s safety record, and the tour guide only has unsatisfying pre-approved corporate statements. Stella looks around and sees a false wall section that opens into Mill A, which is being used for real sugar production. She slips through the door and is immediately noticed by a worker. She uses a bold-faced lie to get in close and bamboozle the worker.
Stella: I was looking for the little Halfling’s room!
She steals a coin purse from the hapless worker, and offers him a Halfling Packed Lunch to not get her in trouble. He ushers her through the secret door, shielding her from the eyes of other workers. She finds Buckle in the gift shop, with a Ring Pop on each of his webbed fingers.
Next they go check out the garrison, base of “those unreasonable snakes.” the Mayor hangs back. Her last experience with the Naga was unpleasant. The crew looks around. The garrison is a small fortified building that houses the troops that guard the town. Its fortifications look different from fortifications in the real world, since it has to defend against creatures who can fly, teleport, and squeeze through porous surfaces. The dungeon in the basement has windows that are high on the dungeon walls, but just above ground level. The team peers in and sees three captives: a Halfling, a Human, and a Dwarf. These are the bandits that Gleador & Lucia met long ago, and captured in an exciting chase on the docks.
While the team is looking around, trying not to draw the ire of the Naga guards at the main door, four people approach the garrison. Three are nondescript humans in traveling gear, but their leader is an impressive human man in armor. Coils of chain are wrapped from his wrists to his elbows, and as he strides purposefully towards the guard at the entrance of the garrison, the team can hear his followers talking to him.
Follower: Really? Again?
Paladin: It’s necessary.
The Paladin asks the Naga guards at the door about the garrison. The Naga is as unhelpful and dismissive as possible.
Naga: Clearly it’s a garrison. See all the guards and the big walls? Yeah, we have prisoners here. Do you think we just let scum walk around? Are you stupid?
The Paladin rears back and punches the Naga in the face! All the Naga guards converge on him. Two of his followers also wade into the melee, but one backs away.
Javelon: Not again. I’m done. I’m out!
The Paladin and his two followers are overcome by the Naga guards and dragged into the garrison. Buckle and Stella are stunned by the sudden unprovoked aggression. They follow the follower who abandoned his associates, asking for an explanation. Javelon walks towards the docks and explains. He and the other two humans were in prison in Castellum, as town far to the northeast. They were bandits, the scourge of the area, but had finally been caught. The Paladin ended up in prison alongside them, then broke out and gave them all a chance to follow him. Better than staying in jail! They’ve been following him as he travels from town to town. He just really hates jails and gets arrested in every town that he has one so he can break out all the prisoners.
Buckle & Stella let the dangerous criminal board a ferry and sail down the river. They decide to get a room for the night that overlooks the garrison but is on the other side of the river, since they’re sure something exciting will happen during the night.
They rent rooms at a Halfling hotel. Dinner is included. There’s a big wooden table in the main room and everyone, staff and guests, sits around it and shares food. It’s a big room with 10-foot ceilings, so Pomplamoose can fit, but she sits on the floor. Halfling style dinners have piles of food dumped directly on the table: chicken legs, ribs, grapes, nuts, and so on. Each person grabs food with their hands form the main piles and makes a personal pile in front of themself.
After dinner, the team goes to their room and looks out the window, across the bridge at the garrison. It’s a clear night, and they can see the moon and four twinkling lights near it. Those are new and unusual!
Buckle. Maybe those are rogue stars. Whatever happened to Ori?
Stella: That’s unresolved. Maybe these flashing lights are some kind of sky lighthouse.
Buckle: Maybe we’re getting more moons. Maybe those new lights will get bigger over time.
While they discuss cosmology, there’s a whistle from the garrison! Figures on the walls run around. Smoke starts pouring from one corner of the building. The big wooden doors of the garrison burst off their hinges and fly across the street. Figures rush out of the garrison and across the bridge. There’s the paladin, his two followers,and the three prisoners who were locked up there before. There’s a checkpoint at the far side of the gate, and the Naga guarding it drop barriers across the road. The Paladin hits the barriers with a palm strike and they fly into splinters! He certainly didn’t display this strength when he provoked the Naga into arresting him. That guard would not have a head anymore! Buckle and Stella rush out of the hotel towards the commotion. The Paladin doesn’t need any help escaping his pursuers, so Stella & Buckle ignore the band of fugitives and approach the garrison.
Most of the Naga are pursuing the fugitives, but some stayed behind to take care of the garrison building. The front doors are lying on the other side of the road. The hinges are gone. There’s a fire in a back corner of the building. Naga are running back and forth from the river with buckets of water to put out the flame. Buckle opens a hidden path into the garrison but burns his hands in the process. The team is inside the garrison and has a bit of time before the naga return with full buckets. They look around to see what happened. There’s a metal barred door that leads down to the prison cells that is crumpled and shoved aside. Downstairs there are broken manacles on the floor, and the locks of each cell have been wrenched out of the doors. Everything that restrains or blocks people from moving freely has been destroyed with overwhelming force. The Naga return and find strangers inside their formerly secure base! Buckle quickly convinces them that they are there to help, and organizes a more effective bucket brigade that quickly puts out the fire.
After a short time, the pursuing Naga return with no prisoners. The bucket brigade Naga mock them for failing to capture the fugitives, and the pursuing Naga mock the bucket brigade for staying back like cowards. Stella and Buckle return to their hotel and sleep for the rest of the night.
The next morning, they set off for Templeton to deliver the Mayor back to her people. It’s about a five day journey to the east. Across the river, through grain fields, past Fairmeadow. The road runs just south of a forest for much of the way. On the second night, they camp near the edge of the forest. During the night they feel small tremors coming from the forest. They get stronger, then stop. They hear scratching and rustling about 100 yards away and can see the trees swaying a bit. None of them see very well in the darkness. Stella remembers the invisible monster that threatened (or saved?) the Fairmeadow Fair. The team sets out timidly to look for the source of the rustling. They find a clearing, but can’t see anything in it because of the darkness. Stella sends Silk up a tree to see if he can see anything from there. They all see another spider on the opposite side of the clear. Buckle thinks it might be a reflection. He steps forward into the clearing and sees another Platyperson opposite him. His electro-sense does not register this Platyperson as a living being. He approaches and finds a giant mirror across the entire clearing! The side facing them is reflective, and the other side is a metal framework. The ground around it indicates that this huge object fell out of the sky. They notice that the four twinkling lights near the moon are gone.
Buckle: Apparently the sky is falling.
On the fourth day, a crowd of people traveling the opposite direction on the road rush upon the group.
Mob: Where did they go? Where are the prisoners?
Buckle: With the Paladin?
Stella: Do you work for him?
The mob are actually opposed to the Paladin and have been pursuing him for some time. Team team tell them that he has a week’s head start on them, and he was last seen in Sugar’s Crossing, thataway. The mob runs on.
So ends the long journey from Sugar’s Crossing to Templeton. A volcano looms in the distance and the Mayor excitedly says that this is her city! Next time, the team will enter the city.
End of session move. The team earns 3 boons: heal, heal, gear.
GM note: The team watched a lot of events happen this session. I’d prefer them to be more active. They had quests to do: getting Pomplamoose and the Mayor home, so one way to look at it is I threw more plot hooks then they can deal with, and they prioritized.