The party: Buckle the Beast/Heart of Earth, Stella the Halfling/Pack Leader
Last time, Buckle & Stella flew into Vieport on the back of a giant turtle. A whole city to explore! The river meets the ocean in the center of the city, which extends past the shore onto the seafloor. The land portion of the city is surrounded by tall towers with lightning flashing between them. The underwater portion of the city is mostly populated by Mer-Folk, and the dry portions have a mix of terrestrial species. The palace of the Sea Viper, ruler of the city, starts on an island in the middle of the city and extends down into the water.
Buckle isn’t sure about Mer-Folk. He remembers being hunted by one in another city. Stella is curious about the lightning barriers.
Stella Look Closely 6-
The towers are an effective barrier around the city. Anything trying to cross the lightning barrier would be electrocuted. The towers are 40 feet tall, higher than the buildings, which are mostly 3 storeys tall. Cables from the top of each tower go over the buildings toward some central point, probably a power plant. Stella notices that a brick chimney on a nearby building is leaning on a power cable, straining it. A broken cable would open a gap in the barrier around the city and threaten everything near the live end of the broken cable! Stella wants Buckle to fix the wire, but the upper storeys of the building are wood, so Buckle would set the building on fire if he climbed to the roof.
Stella knocks on the door of the building. An Elf opens the door and is amazed by Buckle, who glows. Buckle shrugs. They warn him that his chimney is threatening a power cable. He’s worried that he’s be an appetizer for ghosts, and runs to get help, following the cable deeper into the city. Neighbors hear the commotion and start looking out of windows to see what’s going on. Buckle examines the building to see what their options are.
Buckle Look Closely 10+
It’s a three-storey building. The ground storey is made of stone, but the upper storeys are wooden. The top storey has double doors and a stout post with a pulley. If they had rope, they could access the third storey directly from the street. The chimney is crumbling from disrepair. Trying to push it away from the cable or prop it up might make it collapse entirely. Getting close to the power cable risks electrocution.
Stella: So what am I supposed to do? I’m not electricity-proof.
They consider waiting for the Elf to come back with help. This is a major infrastructure project. Surely the city has engineers that are trained to make repairs. On the other hand, their brand new Siege Tank has many experimental one-time-use weapons, and one is a big grappling hook that could pull the chimney down from the relative safety of the street. Stella takes the controls!
Stella Overcome 7-9 (pay a price for 10+)
The Siege Tank’s grappling hook hits the chimney and retracts, pulling the chimney down away from the cable. Bricks fall from the roof into the street, causing some collateral damage, but the power cable is intact!
Stella: Buckle, did you see that! Did you see that?
Buckle: Well done. That was a little scary.
Three Engineers arrive from the direction that the Elf homeowner fled in. One is a Lantern, an inter-dimensional creature that projects a humanoid hologram to interact with the material world. Her name is Lucy, and she transforms into a rainbow bridge from the street to the roof for her two colleagues to access the roof. They see that the threat has been dealt with, and Lucy bridges down to talk to Buckle and Stella. She thanks them for protecting the city, and says there is an Adventurers’ Club that welcomes reckless but mostly effective do-gooders like themselves. They ask if she has done any adventuring herself, but Lucy says that keeping the Ghostlands out is more important than fist-fighting a dragon or whatever. Buckle suspects that this creature of light with an artificial body is somehow involved with all the robots and giant mirrors they have encountered recently. Stella is split between finding the Dwarves who used to own the mine they just saved, and investigating the Adventurers’ Club. She asks Lucy some more questions.
Stella Speak Softly 7-9
Lucy doesn’t know about metal dwarves, but a giant mirror did just arrive in town, floating down the river from Sugar’s Crossing. After Lucy wraps up safety checks her, she’s going to get down before sunset to avoid the werewolves.
Buckle: More werewolves?
Buckle: We had to throw a log through one at Platypalooza. It was on fire.
Stella and Buckle take their leave. Stella wants to find the Oolite Dwarves, but Buckle convinces her to go to the Adventurers’ Club for food and a place to stay. The Adventurers’ Club is on the west side of the river. They cross a bridge and are sassed by a Naga guard. The guards in Sugar’s Crossing on the night of the jailbreak were guards from Vieport, so Stella and Buckle know what to expect.
The Adventurers’ Club is a large stone building with a grand entrance. Inside, there are canals running alongside the hallways, because this is an amphibian building for both terrestrial and aquatic creatures. The person who greets them when the enter is a Mer-Folk names Fred. His fish half is like a Betta fish, so his scales shift from deep red to purple, and he has long showy fins and hair. He asks if Stella has captured Buckle. He’s embarrassed to learn of his error, that Buckle is a fellow adventurer. He impresses on them the elite status of the adventurers, and says they must complete a great and difficult quest to join.
Buckle: We’ve released the prisoners of a Sorceress, captured a changeling who was ruling a town in disguise, killed a Kraken, deactivated an army of metal dwarves, and just destroyed a superlaser.
Fred is very impressed, but he needs proof of their accomplishment. Buckle offers the Kraken beak that he collected as a trophy of the battle.
GM note: that’s from the very first session. He’s been carrying that the entire time!
Fred adds the Kraken beak to the wall of trophies and welcomes Stella and Buckle to the Adventurers’ Club. There’s a new member’s handbook, supper is being served in the cafeteria, and they can claim a room to stay overnight. There’s even valet parking for the Siege Tank.
Prominently displayed in the middle of the Adventurers’ Club is the Bounty Board, which lists difficult tasks worthy of mighty adventurers.
- A Dragon to the north is challenging all comers to single combat.
- Far to the Northeast, a dinosaur is troubling a town.
- Scout the Dead Forest, from which none have returned
- Uncover the mystery of the lights by the moon
- Standing reward for any source of power
Stella starts to comment on the Source Of Power job, but Buckle shushes her.
Buckle: I’ll be tossed in a bag again!
They go to the cafeteria to eat and to meet the other Adventurers. Only two are at the Club tonight. Most are out doing great deeds for glory. The Exterminator is human-sized, but completely covered in armor made from the exo-skeletons of large insects. They wears a gas mask and helmet, and are drinking a smoothie through a port in the mask. The other adventurer is Theona the Giant, standing outside the second-storey window and reaching inside through a large open window to the table on which her large platters of food rest.
Buckle: Should we call you Termie or Nater?
Buckle Speak Softly 6-
The Exterminator is not amused, but Theona has some information for Buckle. Tonight Theona and The Exterminator will go out at night to hunt the werewolves that plague the town. As far as they know, there are about four werewolves, although that can change, since lycanthropy is contagious. Theona recommends that Stella and Buckle come out and fight with her tonight. No need to worry, the Adventurers’ Code forbids acting against other members of the Club. Buckle checks the Handbook, and sees rules against poaches quests, and other rules to keep Adventurers from clashing. Dinner is over and the sun is setting.
Buckle: Should we hole up or go wreak havoc?
Stella: The werewolves at Platypalooza were an unpleasant encounter. How bad is the werewolf situation in Vieport?
Theona: There are only a handful of the creatures. More glory for us if you don’t fight. Sleep wlth with your night light.
She points to Buckle, who constantly glows with volcanic heat. Theona and The Exterminator gear up for battle and head out to patrol the streets, while Buckle and Stella retire to a room. The divide the night into five watches: Buckle, Stella, Gus, Rose, and Ugg. Near dawn, during Ugg’s watch, Theona’s giant hand crashes through the window! Ugg leaps into action!
Ugg’s Bigger ‘n’ You pins Theona’s arm for a moment
This gives the rest of the team time to wake up and react.
Buckle Get Away 7-9 (avoid harm)
Buckle flees out the door and hides in the corridor, but he glows, so his position is obvious. Stella wishes she had more time to pick a tactic, but she has to act now before Theona gets free. She jumps on Silk’s back…
Silk Wall Crawler
…and crawls up the arm that Ugg has pinned to get in Theona’s face.
Stella’s Pack Leader: hope to Finish Them when advantage comes from allies
Stella Finish Them (Wisdom, show error of their ways) Advantage: Theona can’t get away and must listen. 10+
Stella: Stop! We’ve already saved you and the city from ghosts. We let you have the glory from hunting werewolves. We don’t want to use more force.
Theona has a very hierarchical worldview based on power. The strong overpower the weak, like she thought she was doing to these tiny newcomers. Restraint is almost alien to her. If Ugg (a goblin who comes up to Theona’s knees) is able to pin her arm, and the Stella thinks she doesn’t need to prove her superiority with violence, these people must be unthinkably powerful! Theona is glad she wasn’t immediately killed.
Stella forms a bond with Theona. Theona becomes Stella’s companion
GM note: Oh wow, Finish Them with Wisdom is very powerful. Stella earned it, though!
Stella: Why did you attack us?
Theona: The Sea Viper offers a bounty for any Source of Power, and Buckle is clearly a Source of Power.
Buckle slinks back into the room, still glowing, not subtle. Theona apologizes profusely.
Buckle: You’re not the first. you won’t be the last. At least you didn’t put me in a bag.
Theona replaces the window she smashes with a section of fence. The groundskeeper is not going to be happy about this. Ugg’s watch was the last watch before dawn, so everyone just stays awake until dawn. Now they can work on their reason for coming to this town: finding the Oolite Dwarves.
Stella: Point me to some dwarves!
Theona: Do you want me to bring you some dwarves?
Stella: No! No kidnapping! Just tell me where they hang out in this city.
Vieport is cosmopolitan so there are communities of most of the species in the city, but there’s now Dwarf ghetto where all the Dwarves live together. However, there is a Dwarf Cultural Center, which is a good place to start. Theona leads the team to a field cows and sheep grazing on it. The Dwarf Cultural Center is underground, of course. Once inside they meet Klaus, an old Dwarf with a long white beard. He tells them about the history of Dwarves in Vieport and how they dug the foundations of the lightning towers that surround the city. The Lightning Barrier is necessary to keep out the Deadlands. Anything that dies out there turns into a ghost that attacks the living. it’s a problem that exacerbates itself, and there’s not much left alive in the Ghostlands now. Ghosts can’t pass through the Lightning Barrier, and they can’t swim, so the river is safe for traffic.
Stella: Is everyone from around here?
Klaus: I don’t know what you mean.
Stella: We’re looking for a family of Dwarves called Oolite.
Klaus: I can’t just give out addresses to strangers, but I can pass a message along.
Stella: Tell them, “We stumbled across your mine. Metal Dwarves had become aggressive and taken over. That situation has been remedied.” They can find us by looking for Theona. Also, do you know that Halfing that lives in Vieport?
Klaus does not know a Halfling, and does not understand the message, but will relay it.
Stella’s foreign coins (Precious)
Buckle buys a Dwarven Dictionary with Stella’s money and they leave the Dwarven Cultural Center. They see the sights for a while, then another Dwarf rushes up to Theona. It’s Flint Oolite!
Flint: Is it true? Is the mine safe?
Buckle: It’s true, and my glowing eyes are the proof!
Flint is very confused. They explain their adventures in the Oolite Mine.
Flint: If only Opal were here. This was her dream.
Flint explains that Opal was ambitious and made it her life’s mission to restore the clan’s former glory, when the rest of the Oolites were resigned to living in obscurity. The last Flint knew, Opal was in Fairmeadow, north of here and east of Sugar’s Crossing. Stella, a completionist, doens’t know which quest to pursue. Her mission is to find all the Halflings, but she also wants to find Opal. Opal needs to know she can go home, just like the Halflings need to know they can return home.