The party: Buckle the Beast/Apex, Stella the Halfling/Pack Leader
Last time, the party set out to find a Source Of Power. They found it inside the leader of an army of mining robots! These robots are infringing on the territory of some giant Dung Beetles who want the party to drive them out, and are willing to lend some support. Stella and Buckle prepare to assault the mine.
GM note: Buckle took an Apex move that allowed him to ignore a Location Stat, but Buckle’s Mammalian move already allowed him to ignore a Location Stat. So he swapped that move for “Twin Fang” which gives him a new companion describes as “your shadow” We decided that this was literally his shadow, able to take three-dimensional shape.
Buckle: War Paint, gain 2 Power
Buckle prepares for battle by applying warpaint and doing a traditional war-dance.
Buckle. I figure I’d rampage, go after them unflinchingly
Stella: Buckle, you’ve changed. In a good way.
Buckle: Hanging out with beetles changes a person.
Buckle plans to take point. There’s a group of about 50 robots waiting at the edge of the mine’s territory, preventing them from entering. The Dung Beetles can roll boulders down into the mine, but they need to be protected from this forward guards.
Here’s the situation. The party is in the top left corner. Fifty robots and a few shield robots block them from the mine. Another dozen robots with one shield robot each guard each of the three paths down into the mine.
Stella: What’s the signal?
Buckle: A howl. Not a terrifying howl.
Stella wants to roll boulders down all three paths, instead of just onto the big group.
Stella: How do you feel about log-rolling, but on a boulder?
Buckle: I’ve done some log-rolling at fairs in my day
Stella’s plan is for Buckle to disrupt the robots, then for the beetles to roll the boulders roll at Buckle, who will leap on top of one and ride it down to the bottom of the mine. She’s not sure how she will get down. The Dung Beetles rolling these boulders are the size of a compact car, and their boulders are even bigger than they are. Trying to jump on one before it crushes him seems like a bad plan to Buckle. He’ll feint and get out of the way instead. Instead of sending boulders down all three paths, the Dung Beetles split into two groups. One will attack the group of 50 robots (top-left of the map above), another will attempt to clear one of the paths (bottom of the map) so the party can enter the mine.
Stella, Buckle, and the Dung Beetles can plan safely because the robots don’t leave their territory. They can sneak around behind the hills that surround the mine, but getting close to the robots will require them to reveal themselves.
Buckle Get Away 7-9 (avoid notice, take harm)
Buckle and his Shadow make daring dashes to get within charging distance of the group of fifty robots, but their position is pretty bad, This was a foolish plan. Buckle’s Wisdom is damaged.
Buckle War Paint, spend 1 Power to Rampage
Buckle and his Shadow rampage into the big group of robots, throwing them aside in their fury! The robot formation is disrupted, but none of the robots seem damaged by their rough treatment.
Shield Robot Diamond Command: all nearby Robots (except Shield Robot) cannot be harmed
Buckle Overcome robot counter-attack 7-9 pay a price (damage Shadow) for 10+ result
In the melee, a robot grabs Shadow by the bill. Robots emit a strong constant hum of electro-energy, and getting grabbed right on his sensor overwhelms Shadow’s electro-sense. Buckle howls, and Stella orders the Dung Beetles to release the boulders!
As the boulders come rolling down the hill, the group of fifty robots forms up in several rows and holds up metal arms to stop the boulders! The huge rocks crash into the four-foot-tall metal robots. The first row is pushed back into the second row, and the second row slides back to the third row, but they stop the giant boulders! None of the robots are damaged!
Buckle Get Away 10+
Meanwhile, Buckle and Shadow are running around the mine on the slippery gravel slopes between paved paths.
The Dung Beetles to the south release their boulders. The group of 12 robots on that path also form up to stop the boulders, but there aren’t so many robots and the boulders have more time to build up speed! The boulders crash through the robot formation like bowling balls through pins, but the robots that are thrown through the air or run over are unhurt and try to get up as they tumble downhill with the boulders. Then the Shield Robot in the back of the group gets hit by a boulder. Its crystal shield shatters, and the robot’s body is flattened by the giant boulder. Then all the robots tumbling down the path start falling apart, and at the bottom of the path, there’s only boulders and scrap metal!
Buckle and Shadow take the path cleared by the boulders and duck into a tunnel. Stella’s party is able to join them.
Buckle: The Mothers are fragile compared to the Children.
Buckle’s electro-sense gives him a different view of the robots from most other creatures. The shield robots feel more alive than the normal ones. The loud constant hum of robotic energy is even louder from the Shield Robots.
Stella: So we take out the ones with shields, then take out the others? That’s a plan I can get behind.
Buckle: Children protect Mothers.
Buckle’s electro-sense detects slightly different energies coming from each tunnel, so he’ll always know where he’s been. That doesn’t mean he knows where they are going.
Buckle’s Mammalian Protection cancels Location’s Maze stat
GM note: I used a Clock from Blades In The Dark to track progress through the mine. Players describe how they find their way and make a move that follows. The success of the move fills up more or fewer clock segments, and when the clock is full, they find the Source of Power
Stella Look Closely 10+ (search clock: 3/6)
Stella takes a bag of powdered sugar from Gus, her cook, and throws some in the air to find air currents. They follow the air currents deeper into the mine. They are able to spot unstable sections of the tunnel and move carefully past them. They hear the sounds of mining tools up ahead. Buckle senses two Children and one Mother down a side passage.
Buckle (+hope from Stella’s assist) Get Away 7-9 avoid notice, take harm (search clock 5/6)
The party throws themselves across the intersection, avoiding the robots’ notice, but landing on some sharp rocks. They continue and notice the temperature rising slightly.
They follow the heat until they reach a chamber with a large, obvious main entrance. There’s also a small natural tunnel off to the side. Buckle uses his electro-sense again. Mammals give off a pulsing energy, like a heartbeat. The robots are a loud, constant hum. He senses something else ahead. It pulses, like a mammal, but its builds and decays over several seconds. It’s deeper, slower, more powerful, than any other energy signature in the mines. This must be the Source Of Power in the chamber ahead. He feels that they will be unwelcome there.
Buckle: It’s not alive like the metal Dwarves are alive. It’s like a normal person, but much bigger.
They wonder how to approach this intimidating lifeform.
Stella: My people aren’t known for walking in front doors uninvited.
Buckle: My people are.
Most of the party sneaks in through the narrow tunnel, but Shadow goes into the main entrance as a distraction. Buckle can’t talk to Shadow remotely, or see through his eyes, but he gets a vague sense of how Shadow is doing, and what Shadow sees is scary. The big energy source is indeed inside the giant glowing King Robot they saw before. Its guarded by two Shield Robots, and a dozen normal Robots with a Shield Robot of their own. At the back of the room is a huge geode that’s been split open, with a gap in the middle. Along the sides of the room are blocks of metal.
Shadow Keep Them Busy Pay A Price to act against King Robot
Falling Block Trap reveal this threat when someone pays a Price. 2 damage and trap those nearby (i.e. Stella and Buckle)
As the rest of the party moves through the natural tunnel, part of it collapses! Stella and Buckle are buried and trapped!
Buckle takes 2 damage & is trapped
Stella takes 2 damage & is trapped
Buckle’s actions harmed Stella, so one of her bonds with him is broken. Erase “Impressed with Buckle’s ability to get in trouble and survive”
Damage Ugg’s “Tough as Can Be” for advantage “dig out of rubble”
Damage Rose’s “Get Right In There” for advantage “dig out of rubble”
Ugg and Rose dig them out.
The robots in the chamber advance menacingly on Shadow. Shadow tries to turn 2-dimensional and return to Buckle, but the glow from the King Robot prevents him from forming an actual shadow. He’s trapped in the room!
Stella Lived In A Shoe to shrink to the size of an apple
There are gaps in the rubble the size of an apple, so Stella shrinks down and squeezes through. She’ll get into the chamber quickly, but the rest of the party will have to clear the rubble, so they won’t be able to help her immediately. She sees Shadow menaced by the group of Robots and Plunge Attacks their shield robot!
Stella Finish Them (advantage: surprise, plunge attack) 10+
She takes its arm off, and the crystal shield shatters when it hits the ground. The glittering aura fades from the robots. Back at full-size, Stella and Shadow fight to keep the Robots at bay.
Stella & Shadow Keep Them Busy 7-9
Back in the tunnel, Silk makes some rope out of webbing so the team can haul the rubble out of the way.
Buckle Overcome rubble 7-9 pay price (Gus’ lunch) for 10+ result
Gus drops on of his packed lunches, and the shifting rubble crushes it. Poor Gus. Buckle rides Silk onto the chamber ceiling.
Buckle Finish Them (advantage: plunge attack) +Hope (Ambush predator striking for hiding) 7-9 damage Diamond Command
He picks his target, drops, and tail-slams one of the Shield Robots guarding the King Robots. He knocks it over, smashing its shield. The King Robot is still protected by a second Shield Robot.
The group of robots recovers from Stella’s assault and forms up to go on the offensive.
Stella Overcome 7-9 temporary solution
Stella slides between the legs of a few robots and they lose track of her, but she slides right into the King Robot! Buckle chooses to go after the other Shield Robot.
Damage Ugg’s “Bigger ‘n’ You” for advantage “restrain enemy”
Ugg jumps down from the tunnel and grabs the Shield Robot with his big mechanical arms, holding it in place for Buckle’s attack.
Buckle Finish Them (advantage: restrained by Ugg) 10+ destroyed
Buckle tail slams the shield, sending the fragments into the robot, destroying it! The King Robot no longer has the invulnerability aura, but it’s still big and scary! It picks up Stella in one big glowing fist and smashes her into the ground!
Stella takes 1 damage
The group of robots are going after Buckle & Shadow, and the King Robot is focused on Stella.
Buckle (+hope from Shadow) Overcome 7-9 pay a price (damage Shadow) for 10+ result
Buckle and Shadow attack the group of robots in a pincer move. they punch through the enemy formation and reunite. Shadow’s webbed hands are torn up in the assault.
Damage Silk’s “Creepy” for advantage “distract King Robot”
Silk extends a line from the ceiling and swings in circles around the King Robot’s head.
Damage Rose’s “Loyal” for advantage “Fastball Special”
Stella Lived In A Shoe become small enough for Rose to throw
Stella Pack Leader working with companion makes her Threat To The World. Does not pay a price to roll against King Robot
Stella Finish Them (+hope Pack Leader) 10+
Stella runs at Rose and yells, “Catch!” Rose knows what’s next. Stella shrinks to the size of an apple and Rose grabs her and hurls her a the King Robot. Stella enlarges to full size en-route, leading with her sword! She punches through the stretched, softened metal of the King Robot’s chest and comes out the other side holding The Heart Of Earth! The Source of Power that was empowering this robot!
The King Robot is dead! It’s giant body topples over.
Buckle Overcome 7-9 temporary solution
Buckle grabs one of the worker robots and puts it between him and the falling King Robot. The weight of the King Robot’s collapse knocks them both down. The robot is destroyed and Buckle is pinned beneath it! The King Robot’s body is soft heated metal, and it slowly bends and drips towards Buckle. Without the King Robot’s influence, the surviving robots stop fighting and move off to start digging again.
Buckle Overcome 6-
Shadow rushes to assist, but the glowing light from the King Robot’s body flattens him into a regular shadow.
Stella Overcome 6-
Stella starts to move towards Buckle, but the Heart Of Earth she’s holding draws her attention. The long, powerful pulse that Buckle could sense is now audible, and it’s getting faster and less regular. It’s unstable. Without something to contain or control it, it could explode and collapse the entire mine! It was stable while inside the King Robot. Maybe that geode on the back wall is where the Heart of Earth came from. What will she do?
GM note: I emphasized “contain” more than “control” which I fear pushed the players’ thinking in one direction, but it turned out to be a great direction!
Buckle: Shove it in me!
Stella: Do platypeople have pouches? Either you eat it, or it’s a suppository.
The almost-melted body of the King Robot slumps closer and closer to the trapped and sweating Buckle.
Buckle: C’mere Stella. You must replace my heart with the Heart Of The Earth!
Stella: I’m gonna do open-heart surgery here?!
Stella has an idea and calls to Buckle again. When he answers, she shoves the Heart of Earth in his mouth! Power surges through Buckle’s body and he’s able to throw off the husk of the Robot King! The Heart of Earth has changed him!
GM note: Absorbing the Source of Power replaced Buckle’s “Apex” Destiny with a new Destiny “Heart of Earth”