Chasing the Sunset is a West Marches-style exploration game using Fellowship 2nd Edition‘s Horizon rules.
The party: Dryden of Conwall the Collector, Lucia the Heir
Last time, Lucia & Dryden fought Doctor Diana MacLeod, the mad scientist vampire who spent 60 years turning a mountain into an anti-moon weapon. It was the first time that Lucia & Dryden ever killed a person. They fled after striking her down to avoid fighting every single person employed on the mountain.
GM note: Lucia’s bloodline ability “Make people forget the past five minutes” proved too powerful and useful. Lucia’s player suggested adding some limitation, like limited uses or a cooldown, but I demanded a completely different ability. Lucia’s player decided on reinstating an ability that Lucia lost in the transition from Dungeon World to Fellowship. She can pause for a moment and ask, “What here is evil?”
Now they catch their breath and wonder what they are trying to do. Stopping MacLeod’s schemes was good, but how did they get mixed up in all this? Long ago they found evidence of a werewolf attack in a small farming village, and one thing led to another. They aren’t welcome back in that village, and they didn’t figure out how to stop werewolves either. They really don’t have anything to follow up on. The world is open to them. Dryden quotes a famous adventurer who said, “Adventure is out there!” He wants to strike out in a direction and see what they find. From their high vantage point they look around.
To the north, the foothills that MacLeod’s mountain rises above grow steeper and higher, becoming an imposing snowy mountain range. To the east, Lady Evelynn’s estate. To the south, the village that was attacked by a werewolf, and the hot springs inhabited by “trickster demons” who just don’t realize that not everyone is immune to heat. To the west, two forests. The northwest forest is huge and old. The southwest forest looks sickly. After some consideration, they decide to head north and cross the treacherous mountains.
Travelers know that mountain ranges usually have high passes and low tunnels. Dryden figures that a river’s path up a mountain will be easy to follow, and uses his flying disk to scout for such a river.
Dryden Look Closely (+hope for good plan) 12
He finds the river that eventually flows through Sugar’s Crossing. It’s much smaller up here in the mountains, of course. The finds a path for them to follow. The mountains are very high, reaching into the clouds. It gets cold and snowy. The path will be dangerous, with steep drop-offs on one side and unstable snow everywhere. Dryden also spots some beast dens, although he doesn’t see the beasts that live there. They may face hungry predators along the path.
- Treacherous Mountain Set Piece: The Mountain Pass
- The Narrow Pass
- The Creatures Above
- The Long Road
With the path ahead scouted, Dryden, Lucia, and their companions start walking. Eventually they reach the headwaters of the river. A spring burst from the mountain into a dish-shaped depression, so it forms a small pool. One side of the depression has a spout shape to it, releasing the river to flow down the mountain, join with rainwater and other streams, and eventually become the mighty river that carries so many people and goods through Sugar’s Crossing. The spring is so high and cold that most of the circular pool is frozen over, but the motion of the spring keeps the center of the pool melted, so there’s a ring of ice with a hole in the middle where water bubbles up. Such a location is special, perhaps magical. Dryden reaches back into his cloak and pulls out two vials: one for water, one for ice. He can’t walk out on the ice to reach the liquid center of the pool. The ice gets thinner and thinner towards the center, so he’d break through before reaching the open water. He gets a long branch from a nearby tree and secures the vials to the end, using the branch to extend his reach. He scoops up some spring water, then waits for a piece of ice to break off and flow towards the pool’s spout so he can grab that too. He won’t disturb this sacred place by breaking a piece of ice off.
Lucia: You’ve learned much in your travels.
When they were growing up together in the palace together, Dryden was more impulsive and less respectful. They stop to eat a meal and rest before moving on. Dryden bends the branch that he used to grab the water into a circle, applies some secret material, steps back with a flourish, and the branch bursts into flame. It provides all the heat & light of a campfire from only one branch.
They continue uphill. This was a trail at one point, but it hasn’t been maintained in a long time. Here a log props up a dangerous overhanging rock. There a few flat stones are placed to form a stable road surface. These signs of civilization are few and far between ,and most have succumbed to the assaults of the elements. Lucia & Dryden are walking on a narrow path on the side of a mountain: steep rocky slope rising above on their left. On the right, a steep descent with occasional trees. If they fell off this path, instead of plummeting hundreds of feet to a sudden rocky stop, they’d slide and tumble over rocks and gravel, and perhaps manage to stop themselves on a tree. Ahead, the path turns a sharp corner around a ridge. A chunk of the ridge is missing and the path goes through the gap. Two logs should hold up the overhanging rock, but one had fallen down, and the other is weakened: chewed and scratched by sharp teeth and claws. Lucia & Dryden check their gear for items that might help in this situation. Lucia has piles of cash, but the mountain does not accept money. Dryden defers to “your Highness.” It’s a chance for her to build her leadership skills.
Lucia approaches the overhang to get a better look, very wary of falling rocks.
Lucia Look Closely 7-9
She notices a traveler’s pack on the far side of the fallen log, but a section of trail gives way under her feet and she starts to slide off the edge!
Lucia Get Away 6-
She grabs for something to catch herself and grabs the remaining support log! It falls over and now the overhang begins to come loose. Lucia is still sliding off the path, but now Dryden is also in danger! Dryden reaches into his cloak and retrieves his Dwarf-made hammer, a two-handed weapon with a long, unbreakable handle. He moves in to the base of the crumbling overhang to prop it up with the unbreakable hammer.
Dryden Overcome 2
Most of the overhang is still unsupported & continues to collapse. A smaller rock strikes and injures Dryden, and a rock the size of couch completely flattens the traveler’s bag. Lucia pulls herself up and runs through the overhang to the far side.
Lucia Get Away 6
She isn’t struck by falling rocks, but a rock that rolls down onto the path trips her and she falls again. But she’s around the corner, and on the path ahead she sees about 15 hungry wolves.
- Group Of Wolves:
- Pack Hunter
The wolves notice her and start to approach. They are a fair distance away, so there’s still time for the party to be crushed flat or thrown down the mountain before the wolves have a chance to eat them.
Dryden Get Away 12
Dryden uses his flying disk to grab Lucia and zoom out away from the slope as the overhang totally collapses. He must return to the path quickly, since the flying disk only works for a short time. They have escaped the danger of the collapsing overhang, but now it’s a wall behind them and the pack of wolves approaches from the front!
GM note: Dryden’s player selected the option “bring someone else with you” for Get Away. Dryden’s Flying Thing gear option allows him to fly, and can be Overcharged to double the effect. Did Dryden need to Overcharge the Flying Thing to Get Away with Lucia? I ruled that the Get Away move let Dryden carry Lucia and Overcharge wasn’t needed.
Treacherous Mountain: The Narrow Path defeated.
Dryden sets a bear trap on the path in front of himself. The wolves see him do it, so they know where the trap is, but it’s still area denial, and on this narrow path, that’s important. Lucia throws rocks at the wolves, which just angers them, so they target her.
Lucia Keep Them Busy. automatic failure against Group
Some approach on the path, some clamber on the slope above. Dryden uses the harpoon gun he stole from Lady Evelynn to grapple some rocks on the slope above and pull them down on the wolves.
Finish Them with Courage (advantage: unexpected rockslide) 7-9 damage Pack Hunter
The small landslide disrupts their formation and knocks a few down the slope, but the remaining wolves don’t flee. A large rock lands on the path, and Lucia climbs it so the wolves will have trouble reaching her. She succeeds in making herself a hard target, so the wolves switch to Dryden. He tries to evade them, but is grabbed and dragged to the ground.
Dryden Get Away 5
Lucia leaps off the rock with a battle cry!
Lucia Finish Them with Courage (advantage: Plunge Attack) 10+
Her plunge attack kills one wolf and sends most of the pack fleeing! Two wolves stop and return, determined to get a kill. As individuals, they are easier to fight. Dryden remembers some literature he once read and places something on the path in front of him. A wolf carefully steps over the bear trap and lunges at Dryden. Just as Dryden expected. The object he placed just in front of himself is a “mirage” prank weapon, which appears to burst into sudden flames! The wolf stumbles back in shock, right into the bear trap. Snap! The wolf is immobilized.
GM Note: The Distraction spell let Dryden Get Away or Keep Them Busy with 10+ Given the fictional situation, I offered Dryden’s player another option: the wolf steps in the trap. That damages the wolf and gives the characters advantage over it (it can’t move) so it’s more powerful than the options in the rules, but Dryden planned & spent resources to create the opportunity, so it seemed appropriate.
Meanwhile, Lucia keeps the other wolf at bay with her sword.
Lucia Keep Them Busy 7-9
Dryden looks around to see how he can assist Lucia. His prank weapon is spent and his Dwarven hammer is buried in a landslide, but Dryden is Fully Armed and carries an entire arsenal. He selects his multi-cursed gladius. Why carry lots of cursed weapons when one weapon can contain several curses? The gladius has a flat disk built into the crossguard. Dryden rubs his thumb across the disk in a counter-clockwise motion, then taps the symbol on the left side of the disk to select the Curse of Bees. Collecting the Curse of Bees is a painful memory.) He strikes the wolf fighting Lucia with the sensation of a thousand stings and the wolf flees in panic, sliding down the steep gravely slope with all four legs pushed forward to try to keep its speed down to a survivable level.
Dryden Finish Them with Courage (advantage: Lucia Keeping Them Busy) 7-9
All the wolves have been vanquished, except the one caught in the bear trap. Dryden approaches with soothing words, but the wolf snaps and growls at him. Dryden offers it some food from his pack. He remembers the wisdom of several people he met on his journeys who were good with animals. The Druid Gleador, and expert on animals because he had become so many of them, said to look the wolf in the eye and tell it it’s a good boy. Mr London says that the deep desire of all dogs is fire, so Dryden reaches in to his cloak and pulls out a heat ball. This is another way to quickly make a camp fire. He ignites it and tells the wolf that if it sticks with them, it will never be cold again. Dryden carefully pulls the jaws of bear trap open, releasing the wolf in a third show of good will.
Dryden Finish Them with Wisdom (advantage: spend food, spend Useful item, wolf is immobilized & must listen) 7-9
Alas, the wolf flees as soon as it’s free. Lucia & Dryden sit down for another meal before moving on.
Treacherous Mountain: The Creatures Above defeated.
Now they are past the highest mountains and can look out over the location they are approaching. The mountains flatten out into rolling hills. When the wind blows up from the hills they can hear faint constant tones, like musical notes. There’s also a tiny white line curving around on the hills. As they continue to walk down out of the mountain range, the musical tones get more constant and louder. Different tones seem to come from different directions. The hills are grassy, with no trees because of the constant winds. There are some scrubby bushes, and rocks protruding from the grassy hills. Now that they are lower, they realize that the white line is moving through the air, but they were so high earlier that they were looking down on it. They stop for another meal.
Treacherous Mountain: The Long Road defeated.
Treacherous Mountain Setpiece defeated.
Lucia investigates the source of these constant musical tones.
Lucia Look Closely 6-
Standing stones on top of some hills have slits carved through them, and the wind whistling through the slits produces the different notes. Lucia walks up to one such stone, which is about 12 feet tall. The stone was placed and carved intentionally. Up close some decorative engraving around the slit is visible. Yet care was taken by the unknown creator to keep most of the stone’s natural shape, and to place the stone so it fits with its surrounding. While pondering this, Lucia is knocked to the ground and injured! Two seconds later, they hear something like an enormous bottle being uncorked, far away across the valley. There’s something stuck in Lucia’s metal armor: a metal spike about a foot long, like a thick knitting needle. There’s a piece of paper wrapped around the projectile. Lucia opens and reads the note.
Stay away. This hunt and its glory are mine.
GM note: We end with the introduction of a new location and a new threat. The Singing Hills are actually one of the first locations I created when I started Chasing The Sunset in July of 2019, and I’ve been hoping for my players to find it for over a year. I’m excited for them to meet EEE and the other characters that live here.