Chasing The Sunset & Hidden Things

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

Last time, Yuri was transported from Russia to another world, where he met Vestri and helped a Giant out of a jam.

Heinrich the Giant is grateful to the small people who helped him escape the cramped room he was trapped in. He offers to teach the signals he uses to direct the poor undead creatures that live here to bring him food. If that does not appeal, there’s another option. He’s been cooped up for a while, unable to stretch out or move. Once he gets some proper food and exercise, he’d like to go all out and see what he can do! If there’s something that the Fellowship really needs broken, they can call him.

  • Heinrich’s Fellowship Moves (choose 1)
    • Zombie House: Each character gets 2 Zombie companions
    • The Hurricane: The Fellowship may direct Heinrich’s wrath, just once.

Vestri: I like being owed a favor by a Giant. That’s fantastic!

Yuri: We will go with the favor, sir.

Yuri wonders exactly how to call Heinrich and how long Heinrich will take to respond.  Heinrich produces a stone about the size and shape of an ostrich egg. It’s a geode from the stone he was born from. When it’s smashed, he wil feel it where ever he is and will come running.

Yuri: Is this going to hurt, or is just like “Oh, my Spider-senses tingle”?

Heinrich: You know, I haven’t had much experience with the Spiders. They’re a strange lot. But, no, it won’t hurt. Just like this. It’s nothing.

Heinrich tears a handful of bricks from a nearby building and drops them on his foot. He stands up and strides away. He’s over the horizon faster than seems reasonable.

Yuri: Where are we . . .we are going to mountain of some sort? If I remember…

Vestri: Yes, that did seem like a place where I would likely find the family heirloom I am on a search for!

They set out for Cloudhold, a high snowy mountain whose peak is shrouded in clouds. Yuri’s pet cat Stephen walks alongside. This planet has only large wildcats, so Stephen is unique. He depends on Yuri for socialization, which is fine with Yuri because Stephen is cuddly. Thus begins a Long Journey.

Long Journey: Each player introduces a situation or problem that the Fellowship encounters on the way and chooses a character who takes the lead in solving it.

The edges of the City Junkyard are swampy. The ruins and buildings here sink into the muck, and traveling is difficult, especially for a vehicle like Gurtin, the Tunneler.

Yuri: Can you drill under swamp? I imagine wet ground is easier to drill through.

Vestri: Easier to drill through, but not to move through. Are we drilling straight down? We’re not! We’re trying to cross this thing.

Vestri Look Closely at the swamp 6- Ask 1 question, find out the hard way

  • What do my senses tell me?
    • Swampy, mixtures of different building types. A corner of masonry over here. Over there, a wooden door floating. Long water plants, like kelp, grow in the swamp.

GM note: I commiserated with another player who also runs games about wanting an unreasonable level of realism in my descriptions, even though that’s not important for running a fun game.

Vestri wants to harvest the kelp and lay it over some muddy sections to spread Gurtin’s weight and let it pass without sinking.

GM note: Sounds reasonable to me because they did something similar in Mad Max: Fury Road.

As Vestri tries to harvest kelp at the indistinct border of wet mud and muddy water, his arm gets wrapped up and he is pulled into the muck!

Vestri Overcome being caught by kelp 7-9 pay a price for a permanent solution

Vestri loses Tunneler’s Gear

Vestri’s bulky tools get caught and he takes off his belt and leaves it behind as he climbs out onto relatively solid ground. Yuri and Vestri lay out kelp in front of Gurtin.

Vestri Get Away from swamp (+hope, aid from Yuri) 10+

GM note: I just ended the scene instead of letting the players pick two options, like the text of the rule says to do. I don’t think it really matters. They overcame the challenge.

Gurtin is able to travel over the road of kelp without sinking into the mud.  They reach the mountain. They are going through a valley, a path with high walls on either side, a former riverbed. The exit is webbed with very strong spider web. Yuri remembers classic D&D lore: spiderwebs are extremely flammable. Alas, he has no source of fire. Surely Hundrin, the blacksmith can make fire. He did not bring a forge with him. He’s much more useful in town, but he keeps the Tunneler running out here.

Yuri Look Closely at the valley 10+ Ask three questions.

  • Tell me about the wildlife. What are they doing?
    • Animal tracks run along the riverbed. Vultures soar on the updrafts caused by the mountain and circle over this ravine specifically.
  • Is there something hidden or out of place?
    • It takes a while to notice details in nature. So even though there’s no motion to draw his eye, Yuri suddenly notices something after looking around for a while. A boulder sticking out of one wall of the ravine anchors the top corner of the web. Yuri notices a spider-like head peeking out from behind this boulder. This head is on a neck with shoulders, not the standard two-section spider body.

Yuri: I have never seen Spider-Woman. Only Spider-Man movie.

  • Tell me about that Spider? What are they doing? What will they do next?
    • This is a Spider, a humanoid intelligent species native to this land. This one has set this web as a trap across a game trail to capture food. They are surprised to see people and a vehicle coming through. Not ambushing the Fellowship, but not coming out to greet them either.

As Yuri considers how to react, Vestri says something about “typical human” and Yuri protests that he doesn’t know anything about humans, and that he (Yuri) is the first one that he (Vestri) has met. Yuri insists that he met another human 40 years ago! Vestri is seventy-twelve years old, by the way. Yuri considers driling through the web with Gurtin, but Vestri worries that Gurtin’s drill will get gunked up. Yuri also considers talking to the hunter, man to Spider-Woman. Vestri picks up a rock and throws it into the web.

Vestri: Hey, Hundrin? Do you think we can tunnel through this with Gurtin?

Hundrin grunts and nods.

Strangers barging in and plotting to destroy her web? That’s pretty scary!

Vestri Finish Them +Courage (scare them away) 6-

But the Spider isn’t scared at all.  She’s a hunter, used to attacking one unaware target at a time, so she won’t risk a frontal assault on this group of people. She sneaks through the tree branches to an advantageous angle and shoots webs to jam up the Tunneler’s wheels. Yuri slices at the webbing with his magical sword.

Yuri Overcome webbing 7-9

Yuri Fool Me Twice reroll one die

Yuri Overcome webbing 7-9 temporary solution

The webbing sticks to the sword and Yuri yanks to pull the Spider out of hiding. They are connected by the strand of webbing.

Yuri: Um, excuse me, miss. I would prefer if you would not do this. Maybe we could reach some sort of impasse?

Vestri: Compromise! That’s the word.

Yuri: We have hit some sort of impasse. I think we should compromise.

Spider: Don’t wreck my stuff and I won’t wreck yours.

Yuri Speak Softly 7-9 Ask 3 questions. One answer is unhelpful

  • What do they want? How can we help them get it?
    • She likes her setup and doesn’t want people tromping through, breaking her web, and scaring the game away.
  • What should I be wary of when dealing with them?
    • She looks very shady. She has an alien, bug-like face, so Yuri can’t get a read on her.
  • What would they have us do next?
    • She wants them to go back down the ravine to a cave that goes through a spur of the mountain and leads to another path up the mountain.

Yuri: Da, but this does not solve your problem of people coming through and ruining your spiderweb. Unless you want them to come through and possibly eat them. Maybe “Do Not Enter” on a sign?

Spider: It hasn’t been a problem until now. I don’t know where you people came from.

Yuri: Well, industrialization is upon us, my friend. There will be cars.

Vestri: What?

Yuri: You have magic but you do not have cars? What is . . . I do not understand this.

Vestri: Maybe it’s just a name for a thing I don’t know.

Yuri gestures and makes noises and Vestri realizes that “car” means something like Gurtin the Tunneler.

Vestri: Those are called cars?

Yuri: Da. It does not matter what the vernacular is, but they are abundant!

Spider: Oh, right. I should have something that lets other people know that I’m here, that this is not abandoned. I could put out some decorations! I do some crafts.

Vestri:  I find a great deterrent is to put a pile of bones at the entrance of your lair. that usually keeps people out. Unless they’re adventurers.

Yuri: Da, and it is very spooky like at Halloween time, maybe a pumpkin? Pile of bones, pumpkin, web.

Vestri: Halloween? I’ve never heard of that.

They wander off toward the alternate path, still arguing. Yuri yells back to ask the Spider’s name. She is Shadow Under Cloud. She wanted to put up some cute decorations to make her ravine seem inhabited, but her crafts are little sculptures made of the bones of her prey, like the Blair Witch figures. These wanderers said that bones were intimidating and scary. Does that means she is weird and scary? Now she’s insecure.

The Fellowship finds the cave that Shadow Under Cloud described. Dwarves see perfectly in the dark, but Yuri can’t see anything past the mouth of the cave.

Vestri: Plenty of men from the race of Men don’t know how to look in the dark. How about you? Can you see in the dark?

Yuri: I have no, uh, no. I am just standard human.

Vestri: Would you like me to hold your hand?

Yuri: Da?

Yuri has to lean down a bit to hold Vestri’s raised hand. It’s a bit like holding a child’s hand, except the hand is hard and strong, like a child who works construction. Also, this cave is easy to navigate for a Spider that can walk on walls and spin lines of silk. For creatures limited to the floor, it’s treacherous: unstable footing and pits everywhere.

Vestri: This will be a problem for my machine. We can’t leave the Tunneler behind. I already left all my Tunneling Gear behind. What if we make a new tunnel by tunneling into the side, then turning. We make our own path.

Gurtin damages Drill Tank

The Tunneler needs to run parallel to the existing cave, not into the heart of the mountain or into a pit.  Yuri wants to help the Dwarves dig accurately, but he can’t even see the cave when he’s in it, much less in a different tunnel.

Vestri Get Away to the other side of the spur 7-9 bring Yuri along

Pit Trap uses HIdden Trap to send Yuri into the pit

The Tunneler tunnels accurately and bursts to the surface right next to the cave exit. Along the way it grazed another cavern, leaving a hole that Vestri easily avoids, but Yuri falls into.

Pit Trap uses Long Way Down to damage Yuri

Yuri damages Wisdom

GM note: This is a good time to tell the new players that there’s no separate Health to track, and that only they decide if their characters die if they are Taken Out. I cannot kill them.

Yuri rolls down a steep slope several times and lands in a few inches of cold water.

Vestri: Are you well, Man?

Yuri: Fine, I think. No broken bones. But I have no idea where I am relative to you.

Vestri: Why didn’t you hug the wall?

Yuri: You were suposed to guide me. I have no sight in this place.

Vestri Speak Softly to the earth 7-9 Ask 3 questions, 1 unhelpful answer

Vestri Earth Friend ask the earth to move

  • Can you raise my friend to my level?
    • The earth raises Yuri on a pillar of stone
  • Can you make a bridge for him to cross?
    • A bridge connects the pillar to where Vestri stands
  • Maybe a staircase?
    • A staircase forms on the ceiling.

Vestri guides Yuri back into the tunnel, where Yuri is able to put his hand on the wall and follow it out of the tunnel. They exit the tunnels into the clouds on the upper half of the mountain! The air is very cold.

Cloudhold Frozen: Cold protection required

Yuri is protected from Cold by being from Mother Russia

Vestri is protected from Cold by living in cold caves deep underground.

GM note: I said that I’d make them roll with Despair to Get Away because of the deep snow, then forgot and never did it!

The snow is up to Yuri’s hips, which means it’s up to Vestri’s nose, and is far too deep for Steven, who retreats into Yuri’s lab coat. Yuri walks ahead and the Dwarves walk in the path that he clears in the snow.

GM note: Big mis-step here. I don’t want to pressure players down a certain path, so I like to describe a scene and let them decide what to interact with. Unfortunately, the scene I presented was trackless snow hidden in clouds, so they had nowhere to go. When I realize my mistake and quickly push one of the area’s residents into the scene, it’s the one that’s immune to Look Closely, so they still have nothing to go on.

Past 100 yards, everything fades to the grey of clouds and the terrain disappears. In one direction something bright moves and shifts. Yuri walks towards the glow.

Vestri: I’m coming with you. After all, you are our path-creator. Following! Man from another world.

Yuri: You could just call me Yuri, by my name.

Vestri: OK, Yuri From Another World.

They approach the glow, which is a group of bright floating lights, too bright to look at directly. The lights move through the air, forming shifting patterns. Vestri has heard at angels are difficult to look upon, much like these lights. The lights zoom away, briefly silhouetting something else in the clouds: a winged humanoid.

Yuri: Hello, sir or madam! Are you alright? You seem to be incredibly bright, and I’m assuming that is hot.

Vestri: Hundrin, Hundrin, look! Hundrin, look! A winged creature that is difficult to look upon. Do you know what this means?

The figure approaches and emerges from the fog. It’s a humanoid bird about five feet tall with a twelve foot wingspan. His upper limbs are wings and his lower limbs have grasping feet like a hawk. He does not glow. The light moved behind him but did not come from him. He lands and folds his huge wings. He’s surprised to see them and inspects them by quickly tilting his head this way and that, like birds do.

Yrta: Oh, treasure hunters, huh?

Vestri: I am looking for the twin of this dagger. Have you seen it?

Yrta: It can be dangerous up in these mountains. Are you sure it’s up here?

Vestri: I am not sure, but the stories of my people speak of a cloud-covered mountain where it was last seen. So maybe it’s this one!

Ytra: Your people? How many of them are there?

Vestri: I left them back in my home town, but several thousand.

Yrta is concerned to hear “several thousand” but relaxes when he realizes they are not all here on the mountain.

Yrta: Perfect. Attack!

Ytra Uplifting Command: all nearby minions can fly

Mountain Lion Swarm Stalk From The Shadows: Secret until they make a move

A dozen Mountain Lions pounce straight down out of the foggy sky! Vestri is offended that this bird-man appeared to be an angel and then ambushed him.

Vestri Charge Through 7-9 clear a path for allies, but leave himself open to danger

Vestri charged forward, knocking mountain lions aside with his pickaxe. He finds the mouth of a big cave, and the mountain lions won’t follow him inside.

Yrta: I couldn’t have done it better myself.

Yrta and the Mountain Lions zoom upwards and disappear into the fog. Vestri assumes they only operate in open skies and hate enclosed spaces.

Yuri: I am gravely concerned for the way the Sky Commander worded that. I think they were trying to usher us into this cave. Out of frying pan, into fire.

Vestri: I’m actually better inside caves than outside caves. You’re safe with me, Yuri!

They are at the entrance to the cave. The mouth of the cave is 30 feet tall and 50 feet wide, so there’s plenty of light for Yuri near the entrance, but the back of the cave is pitch black.

Vestri Look Closely at cave 7-9 Ask 3 questions, find 1 the hard way

  • What do my senses tell me?
    • The inside of the cave is smooth. The edges of the cave mouth are smooth. There are no piles of bones or remnants of campfires on the floor. It’s quite clean.
  • Is something hidden or out of place?
    • Vestri’s eyes adjust to the darkness and on the roof of the cavern, he sees a sleeping Cloud Eel coiled around the stalactites!
      • Stoss the Cloud Eel (it/it) Boss of Cloudhold
        • Threat to the World
        • Cloudhome: secret when hiding in clouds
        • Ravenous: Hungry, Necrotic damage, Swallow whole
        • Tough as Nails: first time Stoss is damaged or destroyed, damage this stat instead.
  • Tell me about the darkness. How could it hurt or help me?
    • The darkness conceals Stoss!

Stoss is sleeping now, but will be very hungry when it awakens.  Vestri tells Yuri to be quiet and explains the danger. Yuri recommends sealing the entrance with Vestri’s Earth Friend, but first, they should hide, in case Earth Friend does not work.

Yuri: Squat down and talk to the earth.

Vestri: There’s Mountain Lions out there!

Yuri: Mountain Lions worse than flying eel?  No? Then we choose Mountain Lions.

They quietly back out of the cave and lie down.

Yuri Get Away (+hope, assistance from Vestri) 6-

Yuri Fool Me Once reroll one die 6-

They are not quiet enough, and Stoss wakes up. Cloud Eels pursue the biggest, easiest source of food, and Yuri is twice the size of his companions. Since Yuri can’t see in the dark, he sees Stoss’ huge head emarge from the shadows, mouth open with several rows of needle-like teeth, charging straight for him.

GM note: This is the first time these players fought anything in Fellowship, so I paused to explain that there’s no way to trade blows and chip away HP. Combat in Fellowship is about getting an Advantage over one’s opponents (by fictional positioning or via moves that specifically grant Advantage) and using that to Finish Them.

Yuri grabs some dirt from the cave floor and throws it at Stoss’ eyes.

Yuri Pay A Price to face Threat To The World: damage Courage

Yuri Overcome 6-

Yuri Fool Me Once reroll one die 6-

Stoss crashes mouth-first into the ground where Yuri stands, and when it rises into the air again, Yuri (and Steven, riding in his jacket) are gone, swallowed whole! Vestri believes in his Man From The Other World (and his cat). They can survive this! Vestri leaps out from his hiding place (and falls back into the snow that is as high as he is) and yells threats at Stoss.

Vestri Pay A Price to face Threat To The World: damage Grace

Vestri Keep Them Busy  6-

Stoss ignores Vestri and flies away, disappearing into the clouds.

Stoss Cloudhome: Secret while flying in clouds

Yuri stabs his magic sword into Stoss’ throat to stop himself from sliding down into Stoss’ acidic stomach. A baseball card slips out of his pocket and falls into Stoss’ stomach.

Yuri Pay A Price to face Threat To The World: lose baseball Card

Yuri Overcome 10+

Yuri I Know Something You Don’t: gain Advantage when Overcoming an enemy

The blade bites and catches, so Yuri stops sliding down the throat. He drives the blade deeper into Stoss’ vulnerable innards, hoping to slay the beast.

Yuri Pay A Price to face Threat To The World: damage Grace

Yuri Finish Them (+Blood) 10+

Stoss damages Tough As Nails

Yuri cuts a hole to the outside. Stoss is airborne, but there’s soft deep snow below, so Yuri jumps! Stoss makes a horrible noise, alerting Vestri to its location. Vestri runs up and throws his pickaxe at Stoss,

Vestri Pay A Price to face Threat To The World: lose pickaxe

Vestri Keep Them Busy 6-

The pickaxe glances off Stoss’ hide. Stoss wriggles and lashes its tail to take off. The tail catches Vestri and throws him aside. Once again, Stoss disappears into the clouds.

Vestri damages Sense

Vestri: How are you? Where is your cat?

Yuri: In my coat. Claws are currently in my skin. It is fine. We don’t have time for this conversation!

Yuri wonders how to defend themselves if Stoss returns.  Yuri’s magical sword and Vestri’s ceremonial dagger aren’t much good against a creature big enough to swallow them whole.

Vestri The Secrets: ask a question from Look Closely or Speak Softly lists

  • Tell me about the Cloud Eel. How could it hurt or help me?

Vestri: The thing about Cloud Eels. There’s a couple things. One, they’re very scary. Two, once they’re awake they just eat everything they see. But three! If we do kill it, it’s very useful. It will have a bunch of weapons in it from other people it’s eaten, and we need new weapons. At least I do. And also! The scales are really helpful for making protective armor that camouflages you.

Yuri: I’m sure that is very nice, but that does not help us in this moment.

Yrta flies near enough to be seen, but stays out of reach.

Yrta: You idiots! We were providing it food. It was staying up here. It was safe. Now it’s heading down the mountain, and everyone down there is in danger.

Vestri: You chased us into that cave!

Yuri: You tried to kill us! That sounds like it is your fault and you are blaming me.

Yrta: It’s been working out.

Yuri: Murder has been working out? I feel like you do not have the moral high ground here. It’s mostly dead. Let’s go kill it. Will you help us? And then you will finish the problem and you won’t sic Mountain Lions on us?

Yuri: I want you, with your big wings and terrible bird claws, to carry me into a place where I could drop down on to the Eel and stab it with my sword. I need you to do this without murdering me, of course, so I need a fair amount of trust.

Yrta doesn’t want to hurt Stoss, and he tried to feed Yuri to Stoss a little while ago, so this plan just sounds like Yrta feeding Yuri to Stoss more directly. Yuri tries another plan.

Yuri: What if you bring Eel back to cave and we close up the entrance, so you make sure it stays.

Yrta: To cage such a magnificent creature might be worse than killing it. Wait, you want to kill it. Wait, no! These are bad options.

Vestri wants new weapons, and neither of them wants to be killed or fed to a Cloud Eel.

Yrta: This is hurting my head. I don’t think I’m smart enough for this. We need to talk to Doeb.

Yrta lands and hops along on the ground to escort the ground-based Fellowship to Doeb. He leads them to a small alpine lake

Yrta: Doeb, it’s Yrta. Stoss got out. There’s some people here. They have plans. It’s all very confusing.

GM note: At this point I realized that my players had not heard the names Stoss, Yrta, or Doeb. I try to keep a natural flow of conversation, and they hadn’t made introductions, but I really just need to tell my players the names of the characters they are interacting with.

Part of the water rises up, separates from the lake, and comes on shore. Doeb is a member of the Rain, a race of amorpheous goo people. He scolds Yrta for letting Stoss escape. Yrta tries to recap the plans that the Fellowship came up with, but he only remembers half, and that half he explains badly.

  • Rain Lord Doeb (they/them)
    • Rain’s Master (weather control)
    • Divine Purpose (does not serve Boss, Talk Sense w/ Despair)
    • Sun’s touch (Piercing or Healing)

Yuri: What does this Eel mean to you and why are you keeping just a dangerous creature?

Yrta: I don’t own it. Who could own such a magnificent creature?

Yrta loves Stoss as much as Yuri loves Steven. Steven fascinates Yrta, who commands a pack of large cats but has never seen such a small cat before. Yuri gets very protective as Yrta gets close to inspect Steven, and starts to understand how Yrta feels when they talk about killing or trapping Stoss.

Vestri: Oh, I get the point you were making now! We’re sorry we stabbed Stoss.

Yuri: It was going to eat me!

Yuri: What about a leash? You put Eel on leash so it does not leave mountain. Large chain wrapped around neck – in a comfortable way!

Doeb: You seem to have forgotten the shape of an Eel. Put a collar on it, it will slip right out.

Doeb demonstrates by tying a slipknot in a rope, putting the loop over his ‘head’ and putting the rope tight. The loop goes right through Doeb’s body.

Yuri: Sidenote: I am very interested in how your body works. I am a medical professional. How is? Do you have medicine in your species? Is there, like, rain cancer?

They need to decide on a plan. Yuri theorizes how to restrain Eel without hurting it, perhaps with a mask instead of a collar. Stoss hates lightning, so maybe Doeb could control the weather to corral Stoss with thunderstorms.

Yuri: It is like electric fence.

Doeb Divine Purpose: Talk Sense with Despair

Yuri Talk Sense (explain plan +sense) 10+

A convincing argument. When the others return Stoss to the mountaintop, Doeb will cage it with lightning. They just have to get it back up the mountain.

Vestri: Sorry we hurt your Eel.

Yuri: I’m really not! It swallowed me whole. It’s a vicious beast.

Vestri: It’s a magnificent beast.

Yrta: You have to respect its ways.


Response level: 2

  1. Bad Weather: lightning
  2. ???