Chasing The Sunset & Aftermath

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

The party: Buckle the Beast/Heart of Earth, Stella the Halfling/Hunter

Last time, the Fellowship found a mysterious mountain, climbed to the top, and found an empty villain’s lair with notes that revealed this entire mountain is an Anti-Moon Weapon.

It’s sunset and the Fellowship gets ready to sleep. Buckle must take special care to avoid burning down the building during the night.

GM note: I asked Buckle’s player how Buckle avoid setting things on fire, and we negotiated further details about the settings to come up with an answer.

The hallways and guest rooms are carpeted, but the lounge has a tile floor. Buckle picks a leather chair to lie on. MacLeod’s furniture is built to high safety standards, so it does not burst into flames.  Stella has trouble going to sleep around Buckle because he always glows brightly. The lounge is one bug room, so Buckle lights up the whole area. Stella and her friends go back into the hallways and settle into guest rooms. Half of the guest rooms and the servants’ quarters don’t have beds. Instead stout metal bars are mounted between six and seven feet above the floor.

The lounge’s huge windows and prominent location make Buckle a beacon, visible for miles. Everyone settles in to sleep for the night.

Buckle is awoken in the middle of the night by a high-pitched voice, breathing heavily.

Voice: A little help here?

Buckle bolts upright and sees a fairy hovering outside the panoramic windows. Fairies are the size and build of a Barbie doll, with insect wings that let them fly. They glow slightly and their skin color ranges through pastel and floral shades. This fairy is orange/gold and carrying a book that’s bigger than she is. She holds it by a strap running along the book’s spine. She’s having difficulty flying with it.

Marigold: Oh man, I had to fly through the night to get here to you guys.

Buckle: Who are you? Are we expecting you?

Marigold: No, no, this is rush-rush hush-hush. I have to meet Doctor MacLeod as soon as possible.

She flies into the room, puts the book on the floor, and sits on top of it. Buckle sits down across from her.

Buckle: We just got here and the owner of the house doesn’t seem to be around. What do you know about the technology here?

Marigold: No, that’s what you’re supposed to tell me. What happened here? You don’t work here? This is suspicious!

The fairy notices the shattered glass and other signs of combat. That’s suspicious!  She picks up the book and retreats to hover outside of the room.

Buckle: We found it in a bizarre state. There was some weird due down at the hanger at the bottom of the hill who seemed to like the dark a lot.

Marigold: Ho ho, likes the dark, huh? We have this in common.

Wait, this is serious.

Marigold: This is not a safe place for the manual. Our plans could be jeopardized.

Marigold starts to laboriously fly away.

Buckle: Wait, are you a Moon Fairy?

Marigold: How dare you associate me with that horrible thing?

Buckle wonders about the moon and the payload and Marigold’s arrival. Marigold just leaves. She’s so heavy that she needs to stay close to the ground, so she flies down the slope of the mountain.

Buckle: Calm down, we can talk this over and help you. You just have to trust us.

Buckle Talk Sense (+Wisdom, appeal to emotion) 10+

Marigold floats back and says that it’s really important that she find Doctor MacLeod so that Doctor MacLeod can go over this manual. Buckle says that together with his smart friends, they will find Doctor MacLeod. They wake Stella and the companions. Stella is upset to be awakened by Buckle’s blazing light. She tells him to go back to sleep. She opens her eyes and sees another light, much dimmer than Buckle, coming from a fairy floating over Buckle’s head.

Stella: Either this is a really weird dream, or this is actually happening.

Buckle and Marigold explain that Marigold has vital work for Doctor MacLeod, but can’t find her.

Buckle: I have learned that she’s not a Moon Fairy.

Marigold winces at the word “moon”

Stella: Buckle, why would you say that?

Stella hasn’t seen Dr. MacLeod, but she has seen the Doctor’s notes in the study. She asks Marigold about the project, but Marigold has instructions to give the manual only to Dr. MacLeod.

Stella: We don’t know when she’s coming back. Is this an urgent matter?

Marigold: Very urgent! I had to fly here directly with this heavy thing. We had no time to wait for more suitable messengers.

Buckle offers to carry the book and follow Marigold as she searches. Marigold isn’t sure about someone else carrying the book, especially not Buckle! She flies off to put the book somewhere safe. After a short time, she returns, ready to look around. The Fellowship has already searched this building, so they go to the elevator. Stella presses the call button. There’s a deep thrumming sound of big cables under tension, mechanical grinding noises, and after a minute, no elevator arrives.

GM note: A player decided that the elevator was the old style with the grille doors, so the characters can look down the shaft. Tha’ts cool. Let’s go with that.

Stella can see that the shaft goes down only. Not surprising, since this building is at the top of the mountain. There is an elevator car visible a ways down the shaft, but it’s not moving. Marigold doesn’t need a car to move through a vertical shaft, so she squeezes through the grillework and starts flying down the elevator shaft. Buckle asks where she’s going to look.

Marigold. I don’t know. I haven’t been here in person.

Stella: Buckle, I think we need to do some spelunking.

Buckle: What’s that?

Stella: It’s when you go into a dark cave and you don’t know if you’re going to come back.

Buckle is in if there are fish in the cave. Stella disables the safety interlock on the door and pulls them open so they can access the elevator shaft. Now they have to jump to the cables and slide down.

Buckle Overcome (danger of falling down the shaft) (+hope, aid from Stella) 7-9

Buckle pays a price (damage Webbed Hands) for the 10+ result

The Fellowship rappels down the cables and land on the top of the elevator car. Marigold is flitting around looking for a way past the car, which completely blocks the shaft, preventing her from continuing down. Stella opens the trap door on the roof of the car and sticks her head into the car. She sees a wooden pole (4 inches across and several feet long) going through the back wall of the elevator car and presumably into the wall of the elevator shaft. That’s why the car can’t move. There’s a pile of ash on the floor, but no other scorch marks or evidence of fire. The door of the elevator is also a grille, and beyond the door is the wall of the elevator shaft. The car did not stop at a floor. Stella calls Buckle over and pushes him into the elevator. He falls in, raising a cloud of ash.

Stella: Buckle, see that wooden pole thing? Think you can burn it up?

Buckle grabs the pole and yanks it out of the wall!

Buckle Overcome (friction) 6-

GM note: Usually a 6- means that the character does not succeed, but in this case, it’s more fun if the character does success, but that success leads to trouble!

The pole comes free and the elevator car groans and shifts slightly. The pole was holding the elevator in place, and it could drop at any moment! Buckle realizes that the terrible danger he’s in is entirely his own fault! (Also, the end of the pole that was in the wall is sharpened to a point.)

Stella tells Buckle to lean the pole in a corner so he can climb out of the elevator car. Buckle looks and calculates the distances. The pole is three feet long. He’s three feet tall. The ceiling in this human-sized elevator is seven feet high. He jams the pole back into the hole in the wall.

Buckle Overcome (elevator falling) 10+

With the pole back in place, the elevator car can’t fall. The fellowship is out of immediate danger. The pole is on fire since Buckle touched it, but it wil take a while to burn through. Buckle looks for the elevator controls. There’s a lever that moves the car up or down. Buckle pulls the lever and hears the cables moving. When the cables pull taut, he pulls the pole back out. Now the elevator car is safely suspended on the cables and can move up and down as he wishes.

GM note: I didn’t call for any more rolls because it would be repeating rolls the players already did, and they figured out a solution to get the elevator working again. Just let them have their success.

Buckle: I got it working! Everything’s fine!

Buckle sends the elevator up.

GM note: As Buckle’s player said: “That’s funnier and more precarious for the people on top of the elevator.”

In about a hundred feet, the roof of the elevatar car is going to meet the ceiling of the elevator shaft, which is bad news for Stella, Marigold, and all the companions on the roof of the car! Stella and the companions try to scramble out of the open elevator door as the car moves past!

Stella Get Away 6-

Ugg is tallest and puts his powerful robotic arms up to stop the ceiling from crushing the rest of the Fellowship! He also yells down to Buckle to stop the elevator.

Ugg damages Bigger ‘n You

Buckle stops the elevator and lets everyone off. Now everyone is on the top floor and Buckle brings the elevator car up to match the door. Marigold enters the elevator, sees the pile of ash and the (flaming) wooden spike, and panics!

Marigold: Nope, I’m cancelling my misison. I gotta go tell the Baron. This is bad!

She flies down the hallway towards the open windows in the lounge. Stella and Buckle try to stop her so they can understand what’s wrong.

Stella Keep Them Busy (+ hope, aid from Buckle) 10+

They run ahead and block the hallway. She darts around looking for a way through and they put their hands up to keep her contained.

Buckle: Wait, wait. What did you see? What is with the ash?

Marigold: Everyone’s dead! This place can been attacked. The broken windows. Why didn’t I see this before?

Stella wants to know who attacked, but Marigold doesn’t want to stick around and find out.

Buckle: Wait, is that pile of ash Doctor MacLeod?

Stella remembers throwing flaming logs during Platypalooza, but that’s very far away. The chances of a stray log flying across the map and pinning someone to the wall in the middle of an elevator shaft are miniscule. The Fellowship wants to ask more questions, but Marigold is trying to flee for her life. She’s not in the mood to answer questions.

Buckle: Calm down. We’re right here. Nothing’s going to hurt you.

Buckle Finish Them (+Wisdom, show error of their ways) 7-9

Marigold damages Dangerously Sexy

GM note: I had not tell the players Marigold’s stats yet. She’s a Vampire! We’ve been dancing around says the word for a month.

Marigold is disheveled, but not in a sexy way. She transforms into a big vampire bat and with her new form she slips past Stella and Buckle! Stella follows her to see if she forgets to retrieve the book. Marigold flies straight out of the broken windows and does not go for the book. She flies northwest into the distance.

Buckle: Did you ever see a fairy turn into a bat before? Moon Fairies are rude.

Stella: Hey, Silk. We’re going book-hunting.

Stella tries to remember from which direction Marigold returned after hiding the book, but it was ambiguous. She and Silk go outside and climb around the penthouse looking for the book.

Silk damages Wall Crawler

Stella Look Closely 6- Ask 1 question, find out the hard way

  • Is something hidden or out of place?
    • Stella finds the book balanced on the edge of the roof. When she tries to pick it up, it tips off the edge! She grabs for it and rips out a few pages, but the book falls over the edge towards the mountain below.

Buckle is in the lounge and sees the book fall past the panoramic windows. He dives to grab it by the strap that Marigold used to carry it.

Buckle Overcome risk of book falling 7-9

Buckle grabs the strap, and it catches fire!

Pay a price for 10+ result: Buckle damages Electro-Sense

Buckle’s so surprised by the strap catching fire that he falls out the window! He lands on his head near the book.

GM note: Electro-sense! Platypeople’s electro-sense wouldn’t trigger on Marigold because she’s not a living being. She’s undead. I should have let Buckle know something was weird about her immediately, but I forgot about his ability.

Stella peers over the edge of the roof, a few pages grasped in her hand.

Stella: Buckle, are you OK?

Buckle: Iiiiiiii’m fiiiiine.

After a little hiking and scrambling, Stella retrieves Buckle and the book and they all go back to Dr. MacLeod’s study. The title of the book is:


It’s a dry technical manual with procedures for mantaining and operating some complicated machine. An engineer who could turn a mountain into a weapon could understand these diagrams and procedures, but to a lay-person, they are meaningless. Stella looks around the study for similar books, perhaps other volumes, but this book is different from all the books in Dr. MacLeod’s study. The binding is a tough, fire-proof material, so Buckle can actually hold it safely, as long as he doesn’t touch the pages within.  Ugg helps him to turn the pages, but his robot hands are big and he tears a page or two. Platypeople have a surprising graps of technology, so Buckle is able to figure out a bit.

GM note: There’s not really a basic move for figuring out books or riddles. I decides on Look Closely.

Buckle Look Closely at the manual 7-9

  • What is going on here? What do my senses tell me?
    • This is a manual for a teleporter. It’s a room that swaps its contents with the contents of another room far away.
  • Is something hidden or out of place?
    • Buckle sees a fascinating passage and points excitedly, igniting a page! Ugg slams the books to put out the flames. Now they’ll never know what that page said. Context indicates it was about the location of the terminals. The location of the near terminal is “immediately south of the Command Center” and the remote terminal is “below”
  • Tell me about the machine this manual goes to. How could it hurt or help me?
    • It requires a huge amount of power to operate. (Like an Artifact of Power, like the one inside Buckle) Operating it improperly can be deadly.

GM note: A player theorizes that this means the Moon is staffed by werewolves, but can werewolves be werewolves on the moon? When is it a full Moon on the moon?

Buckle: So there’s two rooms, right? And you go to one room and the other room comes to you, but you’re not there anymore. Does that make sense?

Stella stares.

Stella: No?

They talk around each other for a while. It’s confusing! Stella wants to take the elevator to explore the rest of the facilty. Ugg carries the book and they all go to the elevator. The whole party can fit inside the car.

Stella: Take us down!

Buckle: Maybe someone else should touch the llever. I almost skooshed y’all.

Ugg operates the lever with one over-sized robotic finger.

At the bottom, the elevator opens onto a big mechanical area, full of scorched machines and split fuel tanks. There was a fire here! Buckle looks longingly at the fuel tanks, wishing he could have seen them burn. The lights that usually illuminate this space are broken, but there’s always light when Buckle is around. Buckle examines the area.

Buckle Look Closely at machine room. 7-9 Ask 3 questions, find 1 the hard way.

  • What is going on here? What do my senses tell me?
    • It’s a large room with a high ceiling. This is the base of the turret in the slot in the mountain. There are giant motors to move the turret, which were supplied by large fuel tanks. Those tanks ruptured and burned everything.
  • Is something hidden or out of place? What looks suspicious.

    • A huge axle supports the 1000-foot-long barrel of the Anti-Moon Weapon. A feat of engineering, capable of holding enormous weight and mvoign it precisely. A one-foot diameter hole has been burned all the way through this huge piece of hardened metal at an odd angle, permanently ruining it. Buckle recognizes the melted slag around the edges. This is the sort of heat that’s generated when he goes all out and vaporizes someone! There’s something else out there with that kind of power.
  • Tell me about the machines in this room. What are they doing? What will they do next?

    • In addition to the motors, axle, and fuel tanks, there’s a crane that loads the payload into the turret. It was also damaged and is now about to topple and crush anything underneath.

The Fellowship has several directions to flee.  Back to the elevator, a big door leading outside, or a door that goes further into the facility. They run inwards. Stella wants to work together, but Buckle is already gone!

GM note: Stella’s player was going to set up a roll with Bonds That Bind Us, but Buckle’s player had already rolled, so that roll will stand and the two characters will flee separately.

Buckle Get Away further into the facility 7-9 avoid harm

Stella Get Away further into the facility 7-9 avoid harm

Everyone runs inside as the crane collapses behind them, sealing off their route to the elevator.  They find themselves in living quarters for a few dozen people. These are working-class accomodations, not fancy rooms like at the summit.  Furniture is flipped over, some things are burned. There are wooden stakes in piles of ashes.

Stella: You don’t suppose somebody came here and found a bunch of vampires, do you?

Buckle: Vampires? Ooooooooh. Oh! Vampires!

Stella: Or as you like to call them, Moon Fairies.

Buckle: I don’t think Vampires are Moon Fairies.

Stella facepalms. She investigates the space they find themselves in.

Stella Look Closely at living quarters 7-9 Ask 3 questions, find 1 the hard way.

  • What is going on here? What do my senses tell me?
    • Washrooms, bedrooms with metal bars for 4 people (Vampires sleep hanging upside down) The cafeteria has only meat and blood. The well-stocked cafeteria at the summit was for guests, but all this food is for Vampires.
  • Tell me about the beings that resided here.
    • Vampires are usually in hiding, but here Vampires lived openly. They operated this Anti-Moon Weapon, but were attacked, and many were killed.
  • Is something hidden or out of place? What looks suspicious.
    • While the Fellowship looks through the kitchen, something leaps out from behind a crate!

It’s the person covered in blankets and cloth that they saw when they approached the mountain, and she’s trying to bite Stella!

Stella Overcome Vampire’s attack 6-

Stella damages a stat

Addison smashes Stella to the floor, pins her, and prepares to bite and turn Stella! Buckle runs in and swings with his tail!

GM note: Buckle’s player let me pick whether Buckle uses Sense or Blood, since the bonus is the same. Deciding that a player has killed someone seems like overstepping my authority, but the player said I could choose, so I have permission. I choose Blood!

Buckle Finish Them +Blood (advantage: vampire focused on turning Stella) 10+

Vampire is killed! TAKEN OUT

Buckle strikes with such force that the vampire bounces into the wall and does not move or get up.

Buckle: Stella, are you OK?

Stella: What was that thing?

Buckle: I never thought I’d say this, but I think that’s a Vampire.

GM note: Do Vampires collapse into ash from any cause of death, or only from being staked? Let the players decide. To let the characters be paranoid and confirm the kill, only staking turns Vampires to ash.

Buckle goes to retrieve one of the wooden stakes used by the mysterious attackers. He returns with a smouldering stake as long as his body, sharpened to a wicked point, and Stella is holding a chopstick.

Stella: This is all I could find.

Buckle: Try it. Sure.

Stella tries to stab the chopstick into the Vampire’s heart, but the chopstick breaks. Buckle follows up with the huge flaming stake. Success! The layers of clothes and blankets settle to the floor as ash leaks out all the edges. It is once again quiet in the destroyed facility. Stella wants to find an exit.

A mountain with a slot cut all the way through, with some kind of machine inside. A few buildings are connected by stairs around the mountain.
The mountain with a slot through it.

Stella finds a door that leads outside. They are in the trapezoidal building just below the axle at the base of the turret. Stella looks down and sees the Mirandda docked at the warehouse.

Stella: Miranda, I missed you so!

Buckle looks through the Vampire’s robes. The innermost layer of cloth is a dirty uniform with a nametag that says “Addison”

Stella: Buckle, see that building way down the hill? Wanna see what it is?

The Fellowship leaves the barracks and walks down a covered staircase to a gatehouse. The awnings over the staircase have been torn down.

A pencil sketch of stairs on the side of Macleod's mountain with metal railings and an awning.
A section of stairs.

The gates have been smashed inwards. Stella rummages through the gatehouse and finds lockers with uniforms that match Addison’s uniform.

Buckle: It’s pretty clear that somebody stormed in, killed a bunch of Vampires, and we just finished off the last of them.

Another path from the gatehouse leads to an observatory. It’s still night time. The mountain is covered with grass and brush at this elevation, so Buckle must stay on the path to avoid causing a fire.

The telescope in the observatory is aimed at the Moon, of course. A motor keeps the telescope aimed at the moon at all times. The telescope is mounted on a tilted axle, just like the turret.  Buckle looks through the telescope and the image goes out of focus as the heat from his body distorts the glass.  Buckle backs off and lets Stella use the delicate instrument. The glass cools off and the image returns to clarity. The disk of the Moon fills Stella’s view. The Moon is mostly featureless, with vague geometric features. No craters and mountains like on Earth’s Moon. There’s a small black spot near the center. It’s not a full moon. Part of the disk is in shadow. A few points of light are visible on the dark side of the Moon.

GM note: I’m forced into a lot of cosmology and physics that I didn’t expect. How big is the Moon? What magnification is the telescope? How fast would something have to move to be visibily moving through a telescope? What’s the name of this planet? What’s the distance from the planet to the Moon?

Stella describes what she sees to Buckle.

Buckle: I think we might be seeing the Moon Fairy cities.

Stella: You and your Moon Fairies.

Buckle: What? they’re real. Vampires are real. How can you doubt Moon Fairies. There are Vampire Faireis but not Moon Fairies? Come on!

Stella looks for records. A logbook indicates that the black spot is from a test shot that impacted the Moon. The logbook tracks four pieces of debris from from that impact that hit this planet. The effect of the test shot was very disappointing.

Buckle: There are vampires. They’re trying to blow up the Moon. Somebody stopped them.

The Fellowship ponders their next move. There’s one place on the mountain they haven’t investigated: the caved-in tunnel behind the warehouse.  Buckle’s hand still hurt from

Stella Overcome blockage 10+

Stella pulls out some small rocks and finds a space between larger rocks that she can fit through. This was the entrance for heavy machinery. The path from the warehouse to this entrance is a ramp, not stairs. Inside, it connects to the living quarters and the machine room.

GM note: A player hoped for Addison to leave a survival-horror-style diary explaining the horrible things that happened. The players didn’t know how to connect all the clues from this session, so I encouraged them to talk through it and try to make connections.

  • Why hate the Moon? Night is the only time Vampires can move freely.
  • Maybe they hate what people are doing to the Moon, possibly with the teleporter
  • The Moon is reflective metal, since we’ve found the pieces that fell.
  • Someone used the mirror from the Moon to focus the Sun into a laser
  • Vampires don’t like the people who made the Moon appear, so they must be good.
  • Baron von Till is involved in the Anti-Moon conspiracy.
  • Alex
  • L&L
  • Castellum

They survey the neighboring regions that they have not visited.

  • South: a village, and smoke rising over the hills
  • West: a dead forest
  • Northwest: an ancient (living) forest
  • North: big scary snowy mountains

The Fellowship returns to Miranda and go upriver, to the northwest, the direction that Marigold fled.


Buckle: Vampires are real, they lived here, but they all got murdered. They tried blowing up the moon. Left to find McLeod and Marigold

Stella: Vampires! Anti-moon turret. Everything is falling apart so watch your step and always look up.