The party: Buckle the Beast/Heart of Earth, Stella the Halfling/Pack Leader
Last time, Stella and Buckle found the owners of the mine from which Buckle got his special powers. Those powers almost got him kidnapped, but instead Stella impressed the giant kidnapper into joining the team. Theona is an Ogre, the same type of giant that Stella’s people fought (and surrendered to/defeated) in The Giant War back in her homeland. That gave Stella some confidence when facing Theona, since she had defeated Ogres before.
Stella has a to-do list: find the Halfling that lives in Vieport and tell them they can go home, then find Opal Oolite and tell her she can go home, then find out about this Dragon that supposedly lives up north. There aren’t many Halflings in Vieport.
Stella Address Book: find a friend in any town
Her address book indicates that a Halfling lives by the docks. Vieport is an amphibious city, so the shores and the docks are actually in the center of town. There are normal-looking docks for surface-dwellers and their boats, as well as underwater facilities for Merfolk.
Stella Queen Of The Wild: Command Lore about local wildlife
Merfolk use beluga whales to haul cargo. Sometimes bigger whales stop hear, and the shallow bay has canals carved into the sea floor to allow those large whales room to swim. Thesurface docks block the light from the whale facilities, so the whales use echolocation to navigate. Other interesting wildlife near the docks: sea turtles and eels. The eels move in dense schools, head-down to eat small creatures from the sea bed, so they look like mobile clumps of seaweed. The sea turtles are migratory, and when they lay eggs, one egg in every clutch is blue and Precious.
As soon as the group approaches the docks, Buckle dives into the water to catch and eat an eel. The water explodes into steam as soon as his superheated body touches it! He can’t swim because his webbed hands evaporate the water instead of pushing against it. Stella appraises the situation. An Elven ship is moored nearby. The Elves walk back and forth on the surface of the water, unloading packages. At hte bottom of the bay, Merfolk swarm around several Beluga whales. Stella has a plan. If all three Beluga whales swim underneath Buckle and blow from their blowholes, the air pressure will push him back to the surface. But how can show communicate to the Merfolk far below? She asks the Elves how they co-ordinate with their underwater counterparts. The Elves sing beuatiful songs which carry through the water, and agree to relay Stella’s message
Stella Talk Sense (please blow Buckle back to the surface) 6-
The constant steam explosion is so loud underwater that the Merfolk cannot hear the Elven song! Buckle lashes out with his flat tail, paddling faster than the water can evaporate.
Buckle Animal Traits: damage tail to gain Hope
Buckle Overcome (+hope) 10+
Buckle rockets to the surface and collapses on the wooden dock, which starts sizzling. It’s treated wood, and it’s wet, so it won’t burst into flame immediately. The Elves are glad to see that he’s safe, but urge him to get off the dock. Buckle is stunned by his experience.
Only now can Stella start looking for the Halfling, named Hamfast. Hamfast is a Halfling term for vegetarian, since the Halfling fasts from ham. Outsiders often confuse it with Hamfest, a celebration when Halflings eat a lot of ham. A small Halfling face pops up from the water. Hamfast has arrived to see about the commotion.
Stella: Hamfast? What are you doing under the water?
Hamfast (a refugee from the Giant War) sees an Ogre standing right behind his fellow Halfling, yelps in fear, and dives under the water.
Stella: Theona, you need to leave. Don’t go far, just don’t be here.
Stella tells Hamfast that the Ogre is gone and it’s safe, but he’s still hesitant. He invites Stella to his underwater home (the air pocket in the map above) Stella confesses that she never learned to swim.
GM note: We’re in a city that’s half underwater and neither of the characters can go in the water? Incredible! Hilarious!
Hamfast talks her through it and encourages her. She only has to hold her breath a short time. Once inside Hamfast’s home, she doesn’t need to swim anymore.
Hamfast Natural Charm (advantage: talk Stella through swimming)
Stella Get Away (+hope) 6-
Stella is mustering her courage, and has waded in up to her knees, when an Eel Merfolk wearing the uniform of the Sea Viper’s soldiers swims up. He reads from a clay tablet in a loud, formal voice. It’s a summons from the Sea Viper, ruler of this city! Stella and her companion are to go immediately to the palace. Stella has a lot of friends and wonders which ones the Sea Viper wishes to meet. The Herald isn’t sure about the rest, but Buckle definitely. Buckle’s not paying attention. He’s slumped on the floor, heartbroken because he can’t go in the water.
Stella: Did you see the commotion? My friend can’t go underwater, so we can’t meet the Sea Viper in his palace.
Stella Talk Sense (+sense) above-water audience? 7-9
Herald: OK, come with me to the palace entrance and I’ll ask about making accommodations.
Buckle is in a stupor of despair, and doesn’t move. Stella puts on leather gloves and drags Buckle after her by the scruff of his neck. The rest of the party (Theona the Ogre, Ugg the Goblin, Rose & Gus the Halflings, Silk The Riding Spider, and the Siege Tank) follow at a distance.
The rows of columns that lead to the entrance of the Sea Viper’s palace are made of several different materials, made at different times. An old palace stood on land, and the oldest columns on land led towards it. The Sea Viper destroyed the old palace, put his new palace in the water, and reversed the direction of the entryway. The Herald goes inside to make arrangements, leaving Stella and Buckle at the shore.
Stella: Buckle, snap out of it. I need your help.
Buckle: I can’t … I’ll never fish again.
Stella: That’s a lack of creativity. You could get a metal fishing pole.
Buckle: I can never go in water.
Stella: But there’s so much you can do now. Look to the future! You can control fire!
Buckle: Seems more a curse than a blessing.
GM note: The Sea Viper wants to harness Buckle’s Heart Of Earth for his own purposes. Will Buckle just give it to him?
Stella: I promise it will get better with practice.
Buckle. I just wanted to eat. How will I eat?
Stella drags Buckle to the edge of the water.
Stella: Buckle, I need you to trust me. Put your hand in the water when I say.
Buckle: It’ll bubble up again.
Stella Queen Of The Wild. All beasts (including Eels) are her companions & follow her orders
Buckle sticks his hand in the water and it closes around an Eel! The Eel is instantly cooked in his super-heated grasp. Buckle stares, then scarfs it down.
Buckle forges a bond with Stella
A strange person pops his head above the water. He’s Human, lanky, and bald. He’s wearing a wetsuit made of shiny scales, so it shimmers and flashes like a fish as he moves. He’s got a clear full-face mask that lets him breathe underwater, and propellers mounted on his shoulders for speed. He’s fascinated by what he just witnessed. Before they can interact much, the Herald emerges from the palace. The Sea Viper, in his great wisdom benevolence, will allow Stella to meet him on the rooftop terrace. A woman appears on the edge of the roof, a glowing light hovering over her shoulder. She disappears and the glowing light stretches into a bridge from the roof to the ground which Stella, Buckle, the Herald, and the strange bald fellow can walk on.
- Sea Viper, boss of Vieport:
- Threat To The World
- Hardened Scales
- Iron Grip
- Robin, Lantern, Lead Engineer
- Building Bridges
- Reveal The Way
- Emmett, Ghost Expert
- Master Plan
- Backup Plan
- Zealous Fanaticism
- Blind Faith
- Naga Guards x12
- Needlepoint Teeth
The Sea Viper sits on a throne, flanked by advisors. He is an especially large Naga. He keeps growing and nothing has managed to kill him yet, so he’s huge. Two of his advisors are Robin, the Lantern who created the light bridge, and Emmett, the strange man in the wetsuit. He pulled up his flippers and clipped them to his knees so he can walk on land. About a dozen guards line the perimeter.
Stella can change size, up to the size of a good chair, and the Sea Viper’s throne is much bigger than that. Buckle walks around, admiring the plants, tapestries, and woven carpets, careful not to actually touch any of the flammable objects on the terrace. Buckle asks for the bald man’s name.
Emmett: I am Emmett, and I am the Sea Viper’s advisor in matters metaphysical and ectoplasmic.
Sea Viper: Adventurer Stella Muddyfoot, I welcome you to my city of Vieport, and thank you for the service you have rendered to my people. However, I am disappointed that you tarry in turning in the bounty.
Robin: It has so much power! Truly, a boon to the city!
Buckle asks Stella what they are talking about. Stella sees where this is going and needs a moment to think.
Stella Talk Nonsense (lie with a straight face) 10+
Stella: I recognize the power my friend has, but he fused with it because it’s saving his live. We can’t remove it without killing him. I can’t part with him.
Buckle’s eyes get big as he figures out that the Sea Viper expects Stella to claim the bounty on him! He is the Source Of Power that the Sea Viper Wants!
Stella: If I continue adventuring with Buckle, imagine the other Sources Of Power that we could acquire for the Sea Viper!
Stella Talk Nonsense on a 10+, Sting Like A Bee: Steal Useful item
Robin Reveal The Way: when someone Talks Sense, give advice
Robin: Of course we don’t want to harm him. He should stay here and become the heart of a new powerplant. With the extra power, we could push back the Deathlands and double the size of the city!
Buckle: What’s a powerplant?
Robin starts explains how water is heated to create steam, which turns turbines, but Buckle isn’t listening.
Buckle: Is it heavy?
Robin: Oh, no, you don’t carry it. We’ll build a new building and put you inside it.
Buckle: How long will that take?
Robin: We’ll not to turn the powerplant off! This is a permanent position.
Buckle: You’re putting me in prison?!
Stella’s getting angry. Her Hunter Destiny has made her body a bit more bestial, so her ears flatten a little to show her displeasure.
Emmett: This creature’s power is not only heat, but life! I’m sure I could conduct a ritual to cancel the Deathlands’ curse.
Buckle: Banishing death sounds good.
Stella: I’m not convinced that ghosts aren’t people. Maybe they experience life in a bizarre way I don’t understand.
Robin: But that ritual would surely kill him!
Buckle: Can I bring people back to life?
Emmett: I predict that your Life Energy will balance the Death Energy of the Deathlands, returning it a normal state. Undeath to Death.
Buckle: So the ghosts will die?
Emmett: They’re already dead.
Sea Viper: I will consider the options presented in this council and make a decree later. Herald, the bounty!
The Sea Viper is ending the meeting. He expects Stella to leave, and Buckle to stay. Stella has murder in her eyes. Buckle is so important to her, and these people don’t understand, even though she tried to explain. She remains clam on the outside. Herald approaches Stella with a small pirate chest full of gold. Buckle looks at Stella with big sad eyes.
Stella: I won’t let them take you.
Buckle: Want me to set the roof on fire?
Stella is furious that they don’t respect a living being, She feels cold now.
Stella: Burn it to the ground.
Buckle Firestarter: Anything that you had a chance to plant fuel on bursts into flame
Buckle’s glowing eyes stare into the distance. His body glows brighter, white hot. He raises his arms, and every flammable thing on the terrace roof: tapestries, plants, rugs, explodes in flame! (The whole time he was examining the roof earlier, he was secreting flammable venom from his venomous spurs)
Location Reponse Level increases (collateral damage): Vieport gains Separation move
Location Response Level increases (insult someone in charge): Vieport gains Show Of Force move
Buckle Finish Them (+Blood) vs. Naga guards. advantage: fire everywhere! 7-9
Group of Naga Guards disbanded, replaced with 2 Naga Guards
Emmett quickly hits a series of angular poses, and a blue sphere of energy surrounds him.
Emmett Backup Plan: Magical Barrier against heat & flame
Outside the palace, Theona sees the smoke rising from the palace and urges the companions to come and help.
Most of the guards are consumed in the explosion or flee. One Naga Guard and Herald rush Buckle. Herald throws the chest of gold at him. The other Naga Guard moves to attack Stella.
Buckle Overcome 6-
Buckle catches the chest, but it’s really heavy. he’s knocked to the ground and pinned. A foolish attempt!
Buckle’s Wisdom is damaged
Stella draw her halfing sword for the first time. She’s not sure if she should fight the Naga Guard, or help Buckle. She worried for him and doesn’t know his power. She decides to rush to his side.
Stella Get Away 6-
The Naga Guard darts out with its strange Eel-like body and clamps its jaws onto Stella, stopping her in place.
Stella’s Wisdom is damaged (necrotic)
Buckle grabs the chest of gold and it catches fire. The gold inside starts to melt. Buckle stands up and projects a blast of intense fire from his chest, blasting molten gold at the Herald like a claymore mine. The Herald is just gone!
Buckle Dragonfire: vaporize anyone or anything except a Threat To The World
The Sea Viper rises up from his throne. He can’t believe the disrespect these adventurers are showing. How dare they behave this way, when he invited them to his home, gave them special accommodations? They could have been heroes of the city, but they betrayed his trust!
Sea Viper Separation: one member of the Fellowship is separated from the others
He pulls a lever hidden in the arm of his throne and a trapdoor opens under Buckle, dropping him into the water-filled chamber below! Another Group of Naga Guards awaits. But he’s still super-heated, so the water explodes into steam and the Naga Guards can’t approach him. He sinks to the bottom and starts walking towards the big doors at the front of the palace.
Outside the palace, the companions have arrived!
Theona Tossed Aside: throw something.
Theona grabs the Siege Tank and throws it up to the roof!
Stella Get Away 10+ avoid harm, avoid notice
Stella uses the confusion to escape the Naga Guard and get inside the Siege Tank. She starts the engine and drives full speed at the Sea Viper!
Sea Viper Show Of Force: damage Siege Tank’s Heavily Armored
Stella Pack Leader: allies’ actions give Hope to Finish Them
Stella Finish Them (+Blood) +Hope, advantage: Siege Tank Spikes and Steel 6-
The Sea Viper bravely faces the onrushing Seige Tank, then slithers aside at the last moent, slashing the treads as he passes. The Siege Tank grinds to a halt, barely holding together. The Sea Viper starts beating on its armored shell, prying plates off to get at Stella!
Down below, Buckle reaches the door and heats it until he can bend a corner and slip through.
Buckle Overcome 7-9
Stella is depsarately looking through her gear as the Sea Viper tears through the wall of the Siege Tank.
Stella useful item: Lantern
When the Sea Viper comes in, she dazzles him by igniting a bright lantern that she stole from Robin earlier. She decides to fight, not flee, and attacks with her sword.
Stella Finish Them (+Courage) advantage: dazzled 7-9
Sea Viper’s Hardened Scales are damaged
She slashes across his chest, breaking through a layer of scales, but his flesh is untouched! He reaches out a powerful hand. Stella tries to duck under it and exit the Siege Tank.
Stella Get Away: 6-
No good! She’s grabbed.
Down on the surface, Buckle meets the companions.
Buckle: Did Stella make it? We have to go get her!
Buckle Overcome 10+
He climbs the columns and leaps from column to column to reach the roof. Theona is big enough to follow easily, but the Goblin and Halfings will need more time.
Back on the roof, the Sea Viper drags Stella out of the tank. The two remaining Naga Guards approach.
Sea Viper: How dare you attack me in my own home. Look at the damage you’ve caused! You are not the first to attack me. All of them failed, just as you have!
He throws her to the ground between the Naga Guards. Meanwhile, Buckle applies War Paint and orders Theona into the fray.
Buckle War Paint Rampage: toss aside enemies within reach
Theona Stronger Than Is Reasonable: pin Sea Viper
Theona pays a price to act against Threat To The World: damage Larger Than Life
Theona Bonds That Break Us: erase a bond with Buckle, since she took damage from his order
Buckle rushes in and tosses the Naga Guards away from Stella. Theona grabs the Sea Viper’s shoulder and tail and spreads her arms wide, stretching the Sea Viper out in a vulnerable and uncomfortable manner!
Buckle Pay A Price to act against Threat To The World: damage Venomous Spurs
Buckle secretes flammable venom on his hands and strikes the Sea Viper. A moment after the impact, the Buckle’s hands explode in flame!
Buckle Finish Them +Blood (advantage: pinned by Theona) 7-9
Sea Viper’s Iron Grip is damaged
GM note: I had to read the rules very carefully, because the Sea Viper, Siege Tank, and Theona all had all stats damaged. Were they Taken Out, or barely standing? Taken Out triggers when all stats are damaged and the character takes damage again, so I ruled that they are barely standing.
GM note: The Taken Out move only applies to player characters. The section on “Threatening the Fellowship” says “An enemy that has had all its stats damaged is destroyed” Oops!
Stella was flat on her back, and heard Buckle rampage past her. She rises and grips her sword.
Buckle: I’ll grab. You stab!
The little Platyperson grapples the much larger but injured Sea Viper. The Sea Viper feels the heat from Buckle’s grip and tries to get away.
Buckle Pay A Price to act against a Threat To The World: damage Webbed Hands
Buckle Keep Them Busy: 10+
Stella: This ends now!
Stella Finish Them (+Blood) 6-
As Stella charges, the Sea Viper slaps her sword aside with the tip of his tail. He wrenches free from Buckle’s grip and dives from the roof to the water below. At some point in the battle, Robin formed a bridge to retreat from the roof. Emmett is still maintaining his Magic Barrier.
Emmett: You can’t hurt me, you monster!
Buckle: You work for that thing, and you call me a monster?
Emmett reconsiders the situation, drops his Magic Barrier, turns on the fans at his shoulders and hips, and dives backwards off the roof into the water below.
The battle is over! Stella and Buckle stand on the burning roof of the palace, in the center of Vieport. The Siege Tank is barely in one piece, and Theona’s badly hurt and has lost faith in their mission. She won’t take orders from them anymore. Fleeing the city seems prudent, but on one side is the ocean, and on the other, electrical fences and beyond that, hordes of ravenous ghosts. How are they going to get out of this one?
END OF SESSION MOVE:
Did we explore a new location: YES, Vieport
Did we learn about the world & its people: YES, Adventurer Club, ghost curse, generators
Did anyone reach their goal: YES Stella is bringing the Oolites home like she wants to bring halfing refugees home.
Restore Gear, Heal, Heal