Chasing the Sunset & rapids

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

The fellowship: Edna Crusher-Harcourt the Ogre, Vestri the Dwarf, Yuri the Outlander

Last time, the Fellowship found a ledger: people who bought forgeries from the scammers who probably stole Vestri’s dagger. One of the customers is Lady Evelynn, whom Edna met at a gala some years ago, so they went to her estate.

Jayce, the butler, asks the Fellowship to wait in a ballroom until Lady Evelynn can greet them.  It’s a grand building with high ceilings, so Edna can move comfortably. although she does have to duck under doorways.  The decorations in the room are expensive and fancy, but slightly dangerous. Taxidermied creatures, paintings of hunting parties, and so on.

Lady Evelynn arrives after a few minutes. She looks mostly like a Human woman. She wears a black & purple dress and little round Pince-nez glasses with no earpieces.  She has long gold claws on her fingers, which might be expensive jewelry, or might be part of her body. It’s not immediately clear which.

  • Lady Evelynn, she/her
    • Superiority. She is bound by rules of decorum, and anyone being impolite to her is in Despair.

Edna and Evelynn shake hands. Evelynn’s extra long fingers wrap around the one giant finger that Edna extends.

Evelynn: Welcome to my home. I hope your journey was pleasant. Your parents are well?

Edna: Quite well, thank you. Your manor is lovely. I hope it is running well.

Evelynn: We’re actually ahving some problems.  Debris in the river has diverted some of the river. The road to town is washed out and my mill isn’t getting enough water. This is really going to hurt my position against the Millers and le Grind.

Edna: This is Yuri. he’s a physician. He’s from far away. This is Vestri Redrock of the Redrock dwarves. Vestri, you’ve got something to tell Evelynn, right?

Vestri: Do I? Oh, we found this!

Vestri thrusts the ledger towards Evelynn.

Vestri: I won’t make you read it, but basically, some persons have been taking items of great value and making forgeries. We found your name in the ledger and believe they sold you a forgery and that is a very rude thing to do! I feel like that is something that you would probably be displeased. We are displeased.  Perhaps you could help us find the people who sold you these forgeries because I believe they have an item of great sentimental value to me and my family. Perhaps we could return the real item to you.

Evelynn grits her teeth in barely-restrained fury.

Evelynn: I can’t believe anyone would dare to…may I see the ledger?

She snatches the ledger from Vestri and hands it to Jayce, who looks through it.

Jayce: Ah, yes, the Double Bill, the transforming pole-arm.

Evelynn leads the Fellowship up the stairs to the second storey and to a pair of locked double doors. She sticks a claw into the lock to open it. Behind the double doors is a trophy room with many rare and expensive items along the walls, on tables, and on a metal pedestal in the center of the rom. Jayce finds the Double Bill, a pole-arm that’s longer than he is tall. There’s a collar on the shaft that, when manipulated, changes the configuration of blades and spikes on the head.

Jayce: Here, ma’am. This is the item which the ledger says we bought from those Dwarven gentlemen. I must admit I am not an appraiser and cannot tell you if it is indeed a forgery.

Evelynn takes the weapon and stares at it angrily. These is evidence of a crime against her, and even with it in her hands, she can’t detect the crime!  Getting tricked is worse that getting robbed. At least she knows when she’s been robbed.

Yuri looks around for Remnant items. He finds a shield made of a special ceramic that must be baked in Dragonfire.

Yuri Look Closely 6- ask 1 question, find out the hard way

  • Tell me about the shield. How could it hurt or help me?
    • It protects better than a mornal shield. Armor (2 uses)
    • Messing with Evelynn’s prized items could get him in trouble. As he examines it, he bumps it and it falls!

Yuri Overcome 6-

Yuri Fool Me Once reroll 1 die 10+

Yuri bobbles the shield, but catches it before it hits the ground.

Evelynn: Is that a forgery too?

Yuri’s not an expert, but Vestri is. He examines the shield, being careful not to touch it.

Vestri Let Me See That: ask 2 questions about an interesting item

  • Who made this and why should I care about them?
    • This shield was made by the Remnant, the same extinct civilization that made Yuri magic sword. It must be over a hundred years old, because that’s when the Remnant were wiped out.
  • What’s wrong with it and how might I fix it?
    • It’s in excellent condition. It has been kept as a trophy and not used for combat.

Vestri: It is not a forgery. No, no, very much the real thing.  So maybe don’t touch it anymore.

Evelynn:  Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I will definitely take steps to remedy this injustice. Will you be staying the night?

The Fellowship accepts Evelynn’s offer and she tells Jayce to prepare rooms. He’s still holding the Double Bill, so he returns it to its stand before leaving. Edna, Vestri, and Yuri get the nice rooms on the second floor. Their companions get smaller room on the ground floor. Hundrin drives Gurtin into the stables.

Evelynn is impressed by Steven (the only housecat in the world) because he is a tiny, perfect predator. She extends a long, clawed finger and Steven sniffs it once, then pushes forward to scratch against it. When the Fellowship is settled in their room, they chat and plan their next move.

Edna: I think that went very well. Lady Evelynn seems like a very nice lady.

Yuri: Her fingers are very cool. So long and pointy.

Vestri: They remind me of spiders.

On Earth a big spider might be the size of child’s hand, but on this world, there are spiders big enough for Halfings to ride. Dwarves are too heavy.  There are also Spiders, a humanoid species that are roughly Human-sized.

Edna: We don’t have any new information, do we? Do we go find the next customer?

Vestri: We could ask her over breakfast if she remembers where she bought it.

GM note: The players did not explore the spooky mansion full of weird trophies with a mysterious and sinister owner.

The next morning, they go downstairs for breakfast. Viktor (Edna’s valet) is impressed as Jayce and his staff zoom around serving everyone. Vestri talks with his mouth full.

Viktor: This is what a well-run house is like? My former employer was such a mess!

Ol’ Jardiner: I didn’t sleep well. Vermin in the walls or something. I wasn’t comfortable.

Yuri: Steven gets the zoomies late at night.

Vestri: Morning! Good morning! I’ll take a little of this and a little of this. How did you sleep?

Evelynn: I didn’t sleep. I was putting out feelers to locate these criminals.

Vestri: i am also searching for these criminals for other reasons — great sentimental values and all that — I was wondering if you learned anything maybe you could share with me and my companions….

Vestri continues to ramble, but eventually says that the Fellowship would use any information Evelynn could offer to personally track down the scammers.

Evelynn: Ah, you offer to be my agents?

Vestri Talk Sense (+sense, plan) 10+

Evelynn requests that the Fellowship bring back not only  the real Double Bill, but the scammers as well. She sends Jayce to get a beacon that her messengers can follow. Jayce brings a large glass bead (the size of a shooter marble) on a chain.

Vestri: Is this the form of communcation or the thing that we show to your messengers?

Evelynn: That is what will draw my messengers to you.

Edna puts the chain around her wrist. The Fellowship prepares to leave and as Vestri tries to thank Evelynn, Edna steps in front with more practiced, formal words.

Edna: We appreciate your hospitality. The Harcourts will not forget this kindness. If you are ever near the family estate you can count on a warm welcome.

GM note: This is the only visit to Lady Evelynn’s manor that didn’t devolve into violence!

No doubt it will take some time for Lady Evelynn to send them information about the scammers, so the Fellowship has some time to pursue other interests. At the Hidden Library, Yuri learned that his sword and scabbard will open a place that is north, past the Singing Hills. That’s back the way they came. The previous journey through the Clay Dwarf city was bad and scary, so they want another path. They can climb over the mountains, or cross the Raging Rapids in the foothills. Edna and Yuri can jump. Vestri and Edna are very strong. The natural world does not harm Yuri. Surely all these powers can be combined to get the whole party across a river.

The Fellowship sets off on a Long Journey. They head south from Evelynn’s manor. The new river branch washed out the path, so there’s a temporary bridge. That channel is draining, since Vestri cleared the debris. They enter Sugar’s Crossing, mainly a Halfling town, and see the two other mills that Evelynn mentioned. A highway crosses the river, so the Fellowship can just walk across a sturdy bridge instead of trying to make their own crossing.

A map of the city of Sugar’s Crossing showing the river flowing south the the center, three mills, docks, and other landmarks.

With Sugar’s Crossing behind them they are in endless fields of beets, which the mills refine into the sugar that gives the town its name.  Beets are vital in Yuri’s culture. He wants to teach the locals how to make borscht.  He just walks up to a farm house.

Yuri: Ah, I see that you are farmers. Did you know? I have borscht recipe!

Yuri meets an old Halfing woman whom everyone calls Granny. She loves food, and senses a kindred spirit in Yuri, who is also excited about food. She leads him into the kitchen, which has a high ceiling for Halflings, so Yuri can stand up comfortably. When the cooking starts he realizes that the high ceilings keep the smoke and steam out of the Halflings’ faces and right in his! The counters are also lower than he would like, so he has to sit down to prepare the meal.  Edna stays outside because she’s taller than the building. Vestri stays in the kitchen. He doesn’t help preapre the meal, but he’s around and will accept any morsel that a passing Halfling may offer. He accepts a lot of morsels.

Borscht is a vegetable stew, mainly beets, but whatever is available. The vegetables are peeled and cooked in chicken stock until they are soft. The beets make the stew bright red. The vegetables in Russia aren’t quite the same as Halfling vegetables, but the recipe is flexible, so it still works.

Soon the Fellowship share a hearty dinner with their new friends.  After everyone else is served, Edna uses the cauldron and ladle as a bowl and spoon.

As they continue down the highway, Yuri remembers a monster flying around the Singing Hills. Vestri

The Fellowship leaves the road and heads north to the Raging Rapids. The rapids are wide, broken up by patches of slick, mossy stone. The rocks rise in the middle of river, so one bank is not visible from the other.

GM note: That last detail was specifically added because Yuri and Edna can jump to anywhere they can see, and jumping over the river was too easy.

Viktor spends Let Me Get That!

Viktor hands Edna a coil of stout rope.

Edna: OK, we’re going to do a two-step process. Vestri, you’re strong, hold the other end of this rope, or maybe tie it to a tree. You’ll have to climb the rope too.

Edna leaps to the top of the rock so she can hold the rope and her small friends can climb to join her.

Edna Mighty Leap: jump to anywhere you can see

Edna Overcome 6-

Edna leaps to the top of the slippery rocks but her feet don’t stick and she disappears down the far side. The rop she’s still holding goes taut and breaks the tree tied to the other end! Suddenly a tree is moving iwth surprising force and speed through the rest of the Fellowship!

Vestri: Timber!

Yuri Mighty Leap: jump to anywhere he can see

Yuri leaps aside, but Vestri steps in front of the tree, hoping to grab it.

Yuri Get Away 7-9 avoid harm

Vestri Overcome 7-9 temporary solution

Vestri wrestles the tree to lie across the rapids, forming a bridge for her friends to run across, but it’s not easy. The current is trying to drag the tree downriver, and Edna is pulling on the other end of the rope, trying to climb back up the rocks.

Vestri Keep Them Busy 10+

Everyone is able to run up the tree and reach the middle of the river. As Hundrin drives Gurtin up the tree, Vestri considers how he’s caused his cousin a lot of trouble during their adventures, but this is one time when he’s helping. Edna climbs up the other side and is surprised to see the consequences of her actions.

Edna: Vestri, hold on to the rope. I’ll pull you in.

Vestri holds the rope with one hand and cuts the rope off the tree with the axe in his other hand.

Vestri Get Away (+hope, Edna’s assistance) 7-9 avoid harm

Yuri Top Of The Food Chain: nature will stay out of his way & avoid harming him

Now everyone is on top of the rock pile. When Yuri lands from his jump, the rocks become dry and the water flows around them, so no one is in danger of slipping and faling now. They are halfway across the river.

Raging Rapids increases response level to 1 due to collateral damage

On the other side of the river is a Walking Boat, designed to climb up rapids. It drives posts down to the bottom of the river to raise the boat up above the water, then pushes the boat forward, where another set of posts push the boat up again. The boat is currently between the Fellowship and shore.

Edna considers carrying people by jumping back and forth, but also considers throwing people. Throwing is rejected by the others. Perhaps the rope trick will work this time. Yuri will stay on the rocks until everyone else leaves to keep them safe, then will jump to the far side.

Edna Toss Aside: an ally can ride on her

Edna Mighty Leap: jump to anywhere she can see

Edna ties the rope to Gurtin the Drill Tank, picks it up, and leaps to the far side of the river. The rope crosses above the Walking Boat, and it’s rising to meet it.

Vestri: I never liked Walking Boats. They are very strange, in my opinion.

The Fellowship decided to stay away from the Walking Boat entirely. To the amazement of the boat’s crew, Edna jumps back and forth over them, ferrying her friends to the far bank. Yuri stays to keep the rocks dry until everyone is across, then jumps across himself.

Yuri Mighty Leap: jump to anywhere he can see

With yet another eventful river crossing behind them, the Fellowship moves on into the Singing Hills. Constant wind beats against these hills, so only grass and scrubby shrubs cling to them.  Standing stones on top of each ill whistle a unique tone as the wind blows through carefully carved slits.  The Fellowship camps for the night. A big weird bat flies in and flutters around the campfire. Enda tries to shoo it away and notices that it’s following the motions of one of her hands. She holds out her hand and the bat lands. It’s attracted to the glass bead around Edna’s wrist, because this is Lady Evelynn’s messenger! It’s carrying a little note that says the forgers have been located far to the south at the Oolite mines. Should the Fellowship continue to their destination, or divert to track down the forgers?

Yuri: I think we should follow the forgers. They seem mobile. Once they are found out, they are likely to flee. Time is of essence, whereas Remnants have been dead for centuries…

A spooky voice croaks from Yuri’s light-proof box.

Heath: Decades.

Yuri: I lose all track of time traveling inside and outside the universes.

Vestri: We should decide based on the information that we have.

Going south to the Oolite Mine requires crossing the river again.

Edna: We’ve come all this way. We should finish one journey before starting another.

Vestri: I think we should head to whatever distance is a shorter distance. I think we’re closer to Yuri’s thing. Frankly I don’t like rivers very much, so I would like to take a break going back to cross.

Yuri: Let’s continue then. I’m not married to idea.

Edna: You’re married to that demon lady, right?

Yuri: Da, da, quite soon! I have not made any affections towards her, but I feel like she knows.

In the morning, they set off north to find the Remnant artifact. They don’t know what they are looking for, but Yuri’s sword guides them towards it. They approach a cliff face and find the keyhole halfway up! There’s no flat ground for hundreds of feet above or below. Heath is a shadow, so he can probably slide up the wall, but he can’t carry the sword and scabbard. Yuri and Edna can jump to the keyhole, but with nowhere to land, they’ll fall right back down. Vestri can ask the earth to move, creating handholds to climb, but affecting stone as such a distance is a stretch. Edna can’t punch handholds into solid rock, and even if she was strong enough, she lacks finesse. There are no trees to repurpose as scaffolding. Truly a challenging problem.

As they crossed the Singing Hill yesterday, Edna saw something flying in the distance. She wonders if it could carry them to the door. Since it’s moving, she worries that she’ll miss if she jumps at it. Vestri suggests getting under it, then jumping up and down to get its attention. Vestri also suggests not breaking any of the standing stones on the way.  Edna agrees and leaps from hill to hill. When she’s directly under the creature, she realizes it’s bigger than she assumed!  It’s a huge Sky Serpent, at least 100 feet long.

Edna Mighty Leap: jump to anywhere she can see

  • Haku, he/him, Sky Serpent, Boss of The Singing Hills
    • Threat to the World
    • Drop-Off: Haku can deploy Giants into the battlefield
    • Mostly Peaceful: Although Haku is huge and powerful, he avoids attacking little folk directly.

Edna jumps straight up and calls out to get his attention. When she rises up to Haku’s level, she sees two Giants riding on his back! One of the Giants drops off Haku as Edna starts to fall from her second jump. They both hit the ground and stand up. Edna’s an Ogre, but this person is a true Giant. She is 20 feet tall, head and shoulders above Edna.

  • Fum, she/her, Giant
    • Crushing Blows: deals 2 damage
    • Like Flies: anyone who fails a roll or pays a price while on a Giant is flung off, in addition to usual consequences
    • Proper Weapons: She carries two ship anchor at her hips, connected by a length of chain wrapped around her body in an “X” pattern. Dangerous.

Fum: What are you doing? This is very strange!

Edna explains the plan to fly the Fellowship

Edna: Hello, so great to see that this Sky Serpent carries passengers. My friends and I are trying to reach something halfway up the cliff face to the north. We were wondering if we could get your Sky Serpent to lift us up there. I see it is very big and strong, able to hold passengers like yourself.

Edna Talk Sense (+sense, explain plan) 6- they demand an expensive, difficult, or demeaning favor

Edna got off on the wrong foot by implying that Haku, Ruler of the SInging Hills, was some kind of pet. Fum demands that Edna do pennace for her insult, and says that Haku will carry the Fellowship if they first clean his scales. Edna is scandalized!  That’s servant’s work! She puts on a fake smile.

Edna: I’ll go tell my friends about this. There’s that lake. We’ll meet you there.

Edna leaps back to the Fellowship.

Edna: Ugh. The Sky Serpent totally takes passengers. There are Giants riding it already. It could carry us all no problem, but they say “You have disrespected him. You didn’t address him properly. You have to give him a bath.” I think that’s ridiculous. We can come up with another plan.

Yuri: I bathe Steven regularly. We they say we all have to do it? Maybe you could sit this one out.

Vestri: All we have to do is give it a bath? Why is this a problem?

Edna: It’s insulting! It’s a power play by this Giant to embarrass me.

Vestri: I have two things to say to that. One, I think it would be hard to clean yourself if your legs were that short and your body was that long. But also, why do you care about his opinion? Maybe he does want you to do something stupid, but then we get a ride and we never have to see him again.

Edna: I! Uh! So we get the last laugh?

Edna is convinced and the Fellowship hikes over to the lake. Haku has landed and curved himself along the shore. He’s over 100 feet long!

Vestri: Well, let’s get ot scrubbing!

Yuri: I wish I brought power washer.

Yuri has to explain this unknown technology.

Yuri: Is like, you know hose? If you make tip very small, the water pressure is very strong.

Vestri: No, no, yes, yes. I understand. I understand. That’s genius. Let me see, let me see if I can make something like that. Hold on. That’s a very exciting idea actually.

Yuri: Yes, Humans are very ingenuitive.

Vestri looks around to see what he has to work with and notices bubbles rising from the bottom of the lake. Vestri recognizes Dwarven crafts, and sees that a false rock is actually a valve regulating water flow to something subterranean, like a system of underground waterways. but that’s not important right now!

Vestri can carve a nozzle out of a rock with his tools, but he still needs something like a hose that’s flexible and hollow. Weaving one out of reeds would probably take longer than just washing Haku by hand. The water pressure is also a problem. Gravity is easy, but probably insufficient.

Ol’ Jardiner: Mmmmm, what if I conjured bellows?

Vestri: That would be amazing. I didn’t know you could do that. Yes, yes, perfect.

Ol’ Jardiner spends Overwhelming Power

Ol’ Jardiner’s bellows feeds water to Vestri’s nozzle. Edna provides the power to operate the bellows, and Yuri is strong enough to direct the jet of water over Haku’s body to clean him. Pressure washing is satisfying to watch, so Edna has a good time.  Pressure washing also feels good to receive, so Haku is quite happy too!  Teamwork! Invention!

Yuri: I do not follow Prime Directive. A directive where you keep the world in its prime.

Edna forms a Bond: “Vestri helped me swallow my pride”

Haku forms a Bond: “Edna gave me a lovely scrubbing”

Haku Heart of Fire: Bonds to not make him a Companion. Players can erase a bond to buy a reprieve.

Haku keeps his end of the bargain and flies the Fellowship up to the middle of the cliff face. Yuri combines his sword and scabbard to form a key and turns it in the hole in the rock face. The Fellowship walks inside and the hole closes behind them!