Chasing The Sunset & hostile architecture

Chasing the Sunset is a West Marches-style exploration game using Fellowship 2nd Edition‘s Horizon rules.

The party: Vestri the Dwarf, Yuri the Outlander

GM note: This is the first session for two new players, which means two new characters and two new cultures. I intended to have them arrive on the continent by boat like most of the other players (Kraken, shipwreck) but Yuri’s player told a story that fit an existing location on the other side of the map, so I placed the session there. That’s collaborative world-building!

Yuri the Outlander (he/him): Yuri was a medical doctor living in 2020 Moscow, Russia, until his entire fourth-floor apartment was teleported to another world! The apartment crushed someone on arrival, leaving only an arm holding a glowing sword. When Yuri picked up the sword, it downloaded confusing, terrifying visions of the future into his mind. Yuri is 6’2, shaved head, Dave Bautista head shape, but not huge like Bautista, more Jason Statham’s build. Yuri’s cat, Steven, was teleported to the new world like everything else in Yuri’s room. Yuri inherited Steven from a child who apparently died. Steven rides in Yuri’s backpack and sticks his head out of the unzipped flap. There are no small domesticated cats in this world, so Steven stands out.

Outlander culture: Modern Russian culture from Earth.

  • Lore about the Glowing Sword:
    • The sword showed Yuri visions of a cataclysm. He sees lush forests, deep caverns. Mermaids fighting. Fire. Dwarves. The visions don’t match his world, so they must show this new world.
    • The sword throbs when pointed in certain directions, so Yuri can hold the sword out and decide which way to go.

Rumor about Outlanders: Yuri was made by Faeries.

Vestri Redrock the Dwarf (he/him):  The Redrock family gets its name from the rich red rock from its ancestral mountain. A few Redrocks have red hair or beards, but the trait is recessive and rare. Long ago, the Redrocks were driven from thier mountain home by a dragon. They lost one of a pair of ornate jeweled daggers, made by Vestri’s great-great-grandfather. Now that the dragons are gone, Vestri carries the remaining dagger and hopes to find its counterpart. He is accompanied by Hundrin (a blacksmith) and Gurtin (a Tunneler)  Hundrin is Vestri’s cousin from a lesser branch of the family, who built and operates Gurtin. Gurtin is a small one-seat vehicle with a giant drill on the front. The family’s recessive red-head trait is expressed in Vestri, and he’s very proud of his resplendent ginger beard. He braids it every morning and puts oil in it.

  • Dwarf culture:
    • Clans are determined by which mountain they come from. “Our stone” as it were. “Redrock” is the common translation of a Dwarf word that includes color, texture, and density. Dwarves have many words for different types of rocks, metals, and alloys. The words for alloys are formed by concatenating the names of their components, like in German.
    • Dwarves marry to cement family bonds and to bond different clans. Dwarves can have multiple spouses and relationships will ebb and flow, begin and end, over a Dwarf’s long lifetime. Spouses may live far from each other, especially if the marriage is to make a connection between far-off clans, and may not see each other for years.
    • Oral tradition and storytelling are important. Certain stories and specific story elements have certain musical instruments assigned to them, like “Peter and the Wolf”

Rumor about Dwarves: Dwarves are greedy & love to hoard wealth.

  • Rumors about the continent:
    • Vestri’s other dagger is out there somewhere
    • There’s a place to put the glowing sword that sends out a ripple of magical energy.

Yuri’s room is in the City Junkyard, an endless dungeon. Chunks of cities and buildings are piled up here from all different sizes and cultures. Vestri was passing through and ran into Yuri.

Yuri: Hello. Where is this place that I am?

Vestri: You’re in the junkyard obviously? This is from an Elvish city.This is probably Halflings. They’re the only ones with the round doors. I’ve never seen this kind of construction.

Yuri: It’s Terran.

Vestri: Are you from beyond the sea?

Yuri: Do not know precisely where I am from, in relation to where we are.

Vestri: I’m Vestri Redrock, and this man over here is Hundrin.

Yuri: I am Yuri Ivanov.

Vestri has trouble pronouncing Yuri.

Yuri: From pop culture in my world, I know Dwarves are greedy. Are we going to the mountain to get some lost treasure?

Vestri: Actually, yes.

Yuri: OOOOOO! Ha ha ha!

Vestri: It’s a family heirloom!

Yuri: I have seen Lord Of Rings. I know what is happening.

Vestri: What kind of rings? We usually wear them in our beard and in our hair. You need to grow out your beard so you can braid some warrior rings into it.

Yuri: I have no interest in that.  I have not had beard for a long time

Vestri: You should grow it out. Beards look great on everyone

Yuri: Not my mother

Vestri:  Beards look great on everyone

Yuri holds up the glowing sword.

Yuri: Do you know what this is? I would not touch it! When I did, it made me cry. I saw terrible things.

GM note: The players need to get used to the moves available in this new system. Vestri wants to learn more about the sword, so Vestri’s player wants to Look Closely. I suggest using a custom Dwarf move. Vestri’s player picks Deepdelve, but I was thinking of Let Me See That. There’s more than one way to accomplish a goal!

Vestri DeepDelve (ask a Look Closely Question)

  • What is hidden or out-of-place about the sword?
    • Which culture made this sword is not clear.  The sword is gaudy, with an ornate gold hilt and a glowing blue blade. Three colored stones on the hilt are found in three faraway places, and gathering them together is a feat.

Vestri: It’s not Dwarven make, so it could be better. Isn’t that right, Hundrin? It’s probably not Elven or it would burn to the touch. I haven’t met a lot of Elves, but one of my husbands is well-acquainted with them.

Yuri: That is an interesting fact about your family. I am glad to have known it.

Vestri: I have two husbands and three wives, at current.

Yuri: That is not the thing that confuses me. It is the world that confuses me.

Vestri: What does your world usually look like?

Yuri: There is one humanoid race, not several. No mermaids. No pixies. No faeries. No Orcs. Just people like me.

Vestri: That seems very boring.

Yuri: We fill it with lots of wars and violence. It’s fine. It’s not fine, but it’s not boring. Not boring, just different. Very different.

Vestri: The sword showed you your death?

Yuri: Not my death. It showed death of the planet maybe? Lots of dying. Lots of crying. Anything you know that might do this?

Vestri: There are all sorts of things in the world. Very powerful things. Not so powerful things. There are Angels always. They can make or unmake worlds. Maybe an Angel sent you! I have never seen Angel blacksmithing. Maybe it could be Angel blacksmithing. What do you think, Hundrin?

Hundrin nods and grunts.

Yuri: This Hundrin fellow is not very helpful.

Vestri: He’s very helpful, just not very talkative. He’ll keep your sword sharp, even if it’s not Dwarf-made.

Yuri: He’s a sharp fellow.

Vestri: Also if you want a Dwarven sword I’m sure we can make one for you. They are much better.

Vestri: I think I will use the crying sword.

GM note: Would you like prompting from the environment, or are you having fun with your interactions?

Generate random building: Dragon Greenhouse Ruins.

Near Yuri’s apartment is a big metal framework with ribs going up 80 feet in the air. Some bits of glass still cling to the ribs, but over the years most of the glass has broken and fallen, forming a big field of glass shards several feet thick.  A ghoul emerges from under the glass dragging a pile of sad, wilted vegetables. It spots the fellowship, looks confused, then scuttles off and jumps through a window into another building.

  • Ghoul
    • Hungry (hard cuts against characters with damaged Grace)
    • Tough As Nails (insta-kill protection)

Vestri: That shouldn’t be wandering about. We should go take care of him before he hurts anyone else.

Yuri: He looks very ill.

Vestri: Yes, he’s already dead. Does this not happen to you?

Yuri: No, when you get dead you stay dead.

Vestri: Really? No ghosts? No revenants? No poltergeists? No ghouls? No vampires?

Yuri: No. No. No. No. No. We could do this all day. When dead, you stay dead.

Vestri: No mummies?

Yuri: We have mummies, but they stay dead. We wrap them. It’s a cultural thing.

Generate random building: sideways Human tower

They decide to follow, but there’s a big field of broken glass between them and the ghoul, who hops into a fallen tower and starts running towards the “top”

Yuri Fool Me Once (reroll one die)

Yuri Look Closely 6- one question, find the answer the hard way

  • What will happen if Yuri pushes over the wall of his apartment?
    • Yuri actually does it! The wall falls over and takes him with it. He slides over the field of glass, which is slanted away from him. He’s near the tower that the Ghoul ran into, but he’s separated from Vestri and he made a lot of noise, alerting anything else in the area.

Vestri Look Closely 7-9 three questions, one answer the hard way

  • What is hidden or out of place?
    • Some shadows are moving. There are Nightmaws nearby! One is on the wall of the apartment and menaces Vestri.
  • What will happen if Hundrin drives Gurtin under the glass and come out the other side?
    • The City Junkyard is three-dimensional. Buildings are stacked on top of buildings. If Gurtin goes down, it will enter a new level of unknown buildings with unknown hazards.
  • What do my senses tell me?
    • Generate random building: intact Halfing dwelling
    • Look at the map below. A tower lies on its side at the far side fo the field of glass. The ghoul went east, towards the “top” of the tower.  Vestri could go around the glass by going through a Halfling villa. Lots of shadows in the villa.
  • Nightmaw
    • Shadow (Emerges from shadows. Harmed by fire & sunlight)
    • Hunger (Gains armor when dealing damage)
The City Junkyard

Vestri Clear The Path 7-9 exposed to danger

Vestri charges through the glass, throwing shards aside. He reaches the tower, but his foot goes through the “floor” into whatever building is below the greenhouse. Yuri pulls on Vestri, confident that he can easily lift the Dwarf that is half his size.  Vestri is 3’7″ but weighs 300lbs! Dwarves really are born of stone!

Yuri Fool Me Once (reroll one die)

Yuri Overcome 7-9 temporary solution

Yuri leans down and grabs Vestri. Vestri’s not sinking anymore, but Yuri can’t pull him free.

Yuri: Heavier than I thought! I’m going to need assistance very soon.

Hundrin uses Strong Arm to assist Vestri

Hundrin runs through the path cleared by Vestri and uses his strong arms and knowledge of Dwarves’ unusually high density to help Yuri pull Vestri clear of the hole he was trapped in. All three enter the tower and follow the Ghoul.

Vestri: You should be careful. Take a look at those shadows. Look, there’s teeth in there. Trying to bite you. They’re called Shadowmaws! I haven’t seen one before. They’re very interesting.

Yuri: I also have not seen them before. I would call them interesting in a bad way.

The Ghoul leaves the tower through a hatch to the roof (now the side) of the tower. The Fellowship approaches and peeks through the hatch instead of charging recklessly into a new space. They see a large chamber made of smooth stones with coral decorations. In the middle of this chamber is a Giant. He’s about 20 feet tall with a big beard, but looks a bit gaunt. He has stacked a few bookshelves to serve as a table. The ghoul puts the wilted veggies on the table.

Giant: Ah! Well, you did your best, little one!

The Giant pats the Ghoul on the head and dismisses it and starts eating entire vegetables like finger food.

GM note: Yuri’s player (logically and incorrectly) thought the Speak Softly move was necessary for Yuri to whisper to Vestri

Yuri and Vestri consult quietly before revealing themselves to the Giant.

Yuri:  Do we want to feed this Giant, or what is the deal with Giants?

Vestri: Like anybody else, Giants sometimes are great, sometimes terrible news. It depends . . . he seems OK!

Yuri: I have four squares of food. I have them as part of my inventory because this is like a role-playing game. Have you never heard of role-playing? You can be anyone. A Mermaid. A Dwarf.

Vestri: I am a Dwarf!

Yuri produces a bag of potato chips and Vestri tries to eat the bag.

Yuri: No, no, you open the bag. Inside are fried potatoes. So yes, we should bring to giant. Why not? Make friend of large man.

Vestri walks into a sunbeam, using it like a spotlight to draw attention to himself.

Vestri: Oh great giant! We come bearing fried potatoes!

  • Sunbeam (SECRET)
    • Honeypot: feels nice, but slowly damages those within. Despair to Get Away.

Vestri: The sunlight is very comforting. It’s warm. It’s nice.

Yuri: Your skin is turning very red. It looks like it is burning your skin.

Giant: Oh hello, little ones! It’s so good to have visitors. My name is Heinrich.

Yuri: You look gaunt, sir. I have brought you fried potatoes.

Yuri gives 1 Food to Heinrich

Heinrich comes over to accept the food from Yuri. Vestri and Yuri continue to argue about the benefits or dangers of the sunbeam.

Heinrich: As you can see, I have found myself in a structure where I am larger than all the exits.

Vestri: That seems very difficult, but I have with me my friend Hundrin and Gurtin! Maybe we can build a way out for you.

Yuri: That digging machine digs holes. That wouldn’t be building, would it?

Sunbeam damages Vestri’s Wisdom

Heinrich is delighted by this suggestion, since he can’t stretch out or move freely inside this Mermaid fortification. He doesn’t know how he got here. He just woke up in this courtyard one morning. (Mermaid fortifications must defend in all three dimensions, so the courtyard is completely enclosed) Heinrich has some smaller creatures to go out and collect things for him, but that’s a poor substitute for freedom.

Yuri: I have extreme empathy with your situation. Will you get out of the sunlight?! We need to build the thing. Now. Can I tug on you? Reach to my hand which is not in the sunlight, and I will pull.

Yuri Get Away (hope (Vestri’s assistance) & despair (Sunbeam) cancel out) 10+ avoid harm

Vestri reaches out to take Yuri’s hand and Yuri pulls him out of the Sunbeam. Now Vestri reconsiders. Perhaps that did sting. He orders Hundrin to pilot Gurtin and drill out one of the Mermaid-sized holes in the walls.

Gutrin uses Drill Tank to bore a big hole in the Mermaid fortification

The drilling takes quite some time. The walls are thick and hard, but Gurtin does what Gurtin was built to do. Heinrich crawls through the hole, stands up to his full 21.5ft. height and stretches his arms.  He reaches down one finger to shake Vestri’s hand, as one does with a baby.

Vestri forms a bond with Heinrich for freeing him.

Heinrich lifts the Fellowship up to high buildings so they can see their surroundings and plan their next move. To the south, big tall trees, an ancient forest. To the east, tall rocky mountains whose peaks are hidden by storm clouds. To the southeast, high snowy mountains. They set out for the stormy mountain.

GM note: City Junkyard is on the edge of the map. There’s nothing to the west or north. I’d have to generate new locations if they went that way.

  • Message board:
    • Vestri: Warning! Shadow maws. Watch your toes!
    • Yuri: Giant seems nice. Make sure he is fed.
  • End of Session Move:
    • Thoroughly explore a new location? NO
    • Find what you were looking for? NO
    • Learn something new about the world & its people? YES
  • Boon
    • Refresh Gear