Chasing The Sunset & Exterminator

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 Sea Viper (ruler of Vieport) assumed Stella would turn in Buckle for a bounty, but the team violently demonstrated that they value friendship over money.

The rooftop terrace of the Sea Viper’s palace.

No enemies remain on the burning rooftop terrace.  Theona is barely standing, and is no longer a Companion. Stella and Buckle have a damaged Siege Tank, but the rest of their Companions…

The Sea Viper’s Palace. A Group of Naga Guards are inside, and another Group of Naga Guards stand under the pillars. The companions Ugg, Gus, Rose, and Silk are trapped on top of the pillars.
The Sea Viper’s Palace

…are still climbing the pillars outside the palace, trying to reach their leaders on the roof. A group of Eel Naga guards are below them, threatening them. The group of Eel Naga guards that Buckle left inside the palace are about to come out and join their comrades.

Neither Stella nor Buckle can swim. The Sea King escaped, and surely the entire city will soon be after them for attempted regicide. They need an escape route right now. Buckle considers driving the Siege Tank off the roof, but the drop will damage its only remaining stat. Stella considers getting help from the beluga whales that carry cargo at the docks, but the Siege Tank is as big as a beluga whale. Just one whale won’t be able to carry the tank.

Stella Queen of the Wild: every beast she meets is a Compantion

Stella Speak Softly “whales, carry our tank away!” 7-9

GM note: Stella doesn’t have to convince the whales to help. The roll determines how much trouble the whales have getting in position to help.

A team of Beluga whales is pulling a raft nearby, and when they hear Stella’s call, they turn towards the palace. Their Merfolk drivers try to steer them back on coruse, but the whales buck to throw them off. The raft can hold the Siege Tank, but the whales need a little time to get to the palace. On the other side of the palace, Naga Eel guards wrap themselves around the pillars and spiral upwards to attack the companions stnading on top.  Buckle can’t use his Dragonfire at long range, so he takes a running leap from the roof of the palace…

Buckle Get Away 7-9 avoid harm

…and lands in the shallow water at the base of the pilars, right among the Naga Eel guards. His superheated body causes a burst of steam, which he empowered with Dragonfire..

Buckle Dragonfire: vaporize Group of Naga Eels

When a Group is destroyed, replace it with two members

…into a burning mushroom cloud! When the cloud clears, only two Naga Eels guards are left, who ignore the pillars and turn to attack Buckle. Stella watches from the roof. She can’t bring the tank to bear, but her Companions are right there.

Stella: Gus, release the garlic powder!

Gus uses Special Ingredients to create advantage against Naga Eel.

Gus retrieves a satchel of garlic powder and shakes it out over one of the Naga Eel guards. Garlic irritates snakes, so the guard starts spitting and coughing. Buckle attacks the distracted guard with his venomous spurs.

Buckle Finish Them (advantage: distraction from Gus) 10+

The guard only feels a pinprink, but that’s enough to deliver the venom, and he’s Taken Out. The other guard bites Buckle with his horrible needle-sharp teeth.

Naga Eel Needlepoint Teeth: necrotic damage to Buckle’s Courage

Buckle was feeling invincible up to now, having killed over twenty people in the last few minutes. He realizes that he can still be hurt!

On the other side fo the palace, the team of Belugas have thrown their drivers in the water and lined up so Stella can drive the tank off the edge and onto the raft. Theona sees an opportunity to escape and pushes herself towards the edge! Stella throws both throttles forward and races Theona.

Stella Get Away 6-

Don’t forget, Theona is a 16-foot-tall Ogre. As she and the tank reach the burning guardrail at the edge of the terrace, she shoves the tank asides and leaps through the flames! It looks like she’ll land on the raft with an action roll to break her fall, but instead she crumples and faceplants. The exertion and the flames were too much for her. Stella finds herself in the water in a very metallic, very heavy vehicle designed for land! She’ll soon sink! She quickly looks around the tank’s control panel and hits a tiny yellow button on the left side that she had not noticed before.

Siege Tank Secret Weapon: amphibious mode.

The bottom of the tank forms into a waterproof hull, and it’s able to slowly motor through the water.  Stella is away!

Buckle panics and runs parallel to shore through shallow water, leaving a trail of steam. Stella yells for everyone to go to the Adventurers’ Club. The crowd of Companions drop down from the pillars and everyone flees towards the Adventurer’s Club, with only one Naga Eel guard trying to stop them.

GM note: Fleeing the scene with enemies nearby gave me a great excuse to start the next scene with a problem. I asked the players to pick which of their Companions were missing at the beginning of the next scene.

Stella drives the Siege Tank onto shore next to the Adventurers’ Club. Buckle is hiding under the porch, but the smoke rising from him reveals his position. A headcount of their numerous companions reveals that Hamfast is missing! Two figures appear on the roof of the buidling opposite the Adventurers’ Club. Hamfast as been captured by The Exterminator!

  • The Exterminator
    • Deadly Poison
    • Fumigator
    • Patient

The Exterminator beckons to Stella and Buckle, then drags Hamfast back out of sight. They will have to breach the building and face The Exterminator’s traps to extract their new companion.

GM note: We brainstormed what building The Exterminator used as their lair. Often adventurers gather in shady taverns, narrow alleys, or warehouses, but the Adventurers’ Club is a legitimate, reputable organization, so it’s in a nice part of town. It’s next to a the club house of a golf course. Specificity helps creativity!

Golf Clubhouse, AKA Exterminator’s deathtrap

Buckle is still in shock from the previous battle. Stella considers a multi-pronged attack agains The Exterminator, but needs to scout the area to know how to proceed. She walks around the building looking for entrances. There’s a service entrance on the side, and an employee is leaning against the wall taking a smoke break.

  • Caddie
    • Talk for Days
    • Loose Lips

Stella: Buckle, are you back with us? Are you ready to do something? Go in the front and see what’s there.

Buckle shuffles off and Stella approaches the Chatty Caddie.  Her plan is to set a pit trap at the rear entrance to catch The Exterminator if they flee that way, but she doesn’t want actual golfers to be caught and injured. She asks the Caddie if she can slip in through the service entrance.

Stella Talk Sense (+sense) 7-9 owe a favor

Caddie: OK, but tell me a secret.

Stella: Any secret?

Caddie: A juicy secret! If you sleep with a teddy bear, I don’t care.

Stella: I can’t swim!

Caddie stifles a laugh as he lets her in the service entrance. He’s totally going to leak that secret.

Buckle walks in the front door and enters a nice lounge with high ceilings, big windows, and tables and chairs spread around. In the corner, there’s a woman in chrome armor with long, curly, bubblegum pink hair. She’s deep into her third bottle, and slowly turns to look at Buckle with a look of exhaustion and despair.

Lady Elizabeth Eleanor Eadwynn: I can’t deal with this right now.

She turns away and leans her head on her hand, blocking Buckle from her view. Buckle ignores her and walks up to the counter, which is staffed by a bored-looking teenage girl who clearly thinks that golf and people who like golf are exceedingly boring and uncool.

  • Surly Worker
    • Biting Sarcasm
    • Conveniently Off-Duty

Buckle asks if she’s seen The Exterminator today. She can’t be bothered to remember the losers who come in here, so she pushes the sign-in book across the counter to him. He picks it up and it bursts into flames! Before the pages blacken compeltely he does see “The Exterminator” but the other columns, no doubt filled with useful information, are illegible. He drops the book and stomps on it to put out the flames, but his super-heated feet only burn the book faster!  Surly Worker’s eyes, emphasized by enthusiasticly but unexpertedly applied eyeliner, go wide. She reaches over the counter and dumps her drink on the remains of the book. She goes into the back room to get another book.

Unsupervised, Buckle slips past the counter and explores the back of the clubhouse. There are locker rooms, showers, and a sauna. He surprises a few golfers. Stella is also inside the building. She finds an “out of order” sign and posts it on the back door, then places a pit trap outside of it.

They’re explored the ground storey, so they move on to the upper storey. Buckle brings Ugg (a Goblin with robotic arms) to the elevator. It’s a fully enclosed box, and just has a lever to select ground storey or upper storey. Buckle flips the lever up, and poison gas floods the elevator! The Exterminator anticipated this move and set a trap!  Buckle pulls the lever back down, but the gas doesn’t stop. They need to get out of the elevator.

Buckle Get Away 10+ avoid harm, bring Ugg along

Ugg boosts Buckle up and Buckle opens the service hatch that’s in the roof of all elevator cars. He climbs on top of the elevator, then reaches down to pull Ugg up after him. At the top of the shaft, the doors to the upper storey are slightly open and The Exterminator is looking down. They grunt and pulls back, closing the doors. Impressed but not surprised.

Meanwhile, Stella has ridden Silk (her Riding Spider) up to the roof. There are three skylights, one open. She opens the other two (to maximize the dispersion of any poison gas that may be released soon) and quietly drops down into the storage room.

Stella Get Away 10+ avoid notice, avoid harm

The Exterminator is on one end of the room, looking at the elevator doors. On the other side of the room, sitting on a big bin of galf balls, Hamfast is concentrating on a strange device that he’s holding in both hands. Buckle and Ugg climb the emergency ladder inside the elevator shaft, and Buckle starts heating the elevator door to break through. Exterminator prepares their poison gas dispenser. Big tanks of poison gas on their back are connected through a hose to nozzle shaped like old-timey bug spray dispensers: a cone-tipped cylinder with a short cylinder mounted perpendicular under the main cylinder. They will ambush Buckle as soon as he emerges.

Stella Queen of the Wild: Command Lore about the wild beast in a location

The storage room is an attic, so there are bats nesting in the rafters. Buckle tells Ugg to go back down the ladder, then he bursts through the elevator door

Stella Queen of the Wild: all Beast are her companions

Bats harry and distract The Exterminator

Stella sends her bat minions to swarm The Exterminator, preventing them from executing their ambush.  Stella and Buckle rush at The Exterminator from both sides!

Buckle Finish Them (+sense, knock out) advantage: bat distraction (+hope, assistance from Stella) 10+

Buckle jumps up on The Exterminator and jams his flippers into the gap between their helmet and armor. He levers the helmet off, revealing The Exterminator’s face! Stella disconnects the hose from the back of the nozzle and jams the loose end, which is spewing poison gas, into The Exterminator’s face. They quickly succumb to the noxious gases and collapse. Buckle reaches out to the end of the hose and ignites the gas as it sprays out. The gas burns as soon as it exits the hose, so the room isn’t filled with poison gas. Disposing of the gas this way is safer than igniting backpacks full of pressurized gas, which would probably blow up the whole room.

Hamfast: Help! It’s going to go off! I can’t keep holding it!

They rush to their captured friend. The device he is holding is actually two pieces that must be held in precise alignment, or it will go off, flooding the room with poison gas. (The Exterminator has a THEME, and they stick to it.) They consider throwing it out of the open skylights, but throwing will set it off. They decide to use the elevator shaft. Buckle does remember to bring Ugg out first. He carries the device to the hole in the door, drops it in, then Stella and Buckle shove a golf cart to block the hole and keep the gas out fo the room.

Buckle Overcome (+hope assistance from Stella) 10+

It works! They shove the golf cart forward, then sink to the floor in relief. Tiny harmless wisps of gas leak through gaps around the golf cart. Buckle looks over and sees The Exterminator’s gas-proof helmet lying on the floor and realizes he could have stuck the device under that. It would have been a lot simpler.

GM note: We wrapped up the session here and the players asked if they could just say that they left the city after this. I denied their request. They almost killed the king, and all the exits from the city are dangerous. Water on one side, electric barriers and angry ghosts on the other. Getting out will be an adventure!

GM note: The party went to the Adventurer’s Club to be safe because they are members & can get food and shelter here. But the Adventurers’ Club is full of powerful mercenaries doing whatever jobs are posted. Of course there’s a bounty out on them now that they attacked the Sea Viper and burned his palace! They were already attacked by an Adventurer on their first visit. Yet they didn’t expect The Exterminator (the other Adventurer in town) to attack them this time.

Chasing The Sunset & Civic Center

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

The party: Dryden of Conwall the Collector/Hunter, Averiela the Elf, Lucia the Brave the Heir

Last time, the party found the city of Thaumatown in chaos. The streets were choked with hapless citizens, trying to follow impossible commands from hordes of Enforcer Droids. The Droids led the party to the leader of the city, who is long dead!

Knows Too Much, White Sand, and Roddy stayed outside the city, since they don’t like crowds or cities. Dryden, Averiela, Lucia, Will, and Mara are in the study at the top of the wizard’s tower.

Averiela looks around the wizard’s study.  The books and scrolls on shelves and tables all over the room are destroyed by water damage. The body of the wizard has been dead for some time, and the knife that apparenlty killed him has a strange design unfamiliar to all present. There’s a wall of screens, half blank, half showing aerial views of crowded city streets. No doubt this is footage from the Flying Eye robots that flit about everywhere. A balcony overlooks the city, facing the Civic Center, a large building in the middle of the city. The doors and windows of the Civic Center are closed with metal shutters. There’s a spiral hole in the roof of the Civic Center, and by walking back and forth on the balcony, Averiela can determine that the spiral hole is aimed at the balcony she’s standing on. Something large moves inside the Civic Center, only visible in glimpses through the spiral hole. Averiela also notices a short, rotund man trying to sneak through the crowds. He’s carrying a ladder and is trying to reach the Civic Center, but Enforcers Droids keep getting in his way.

Map of Thaumatown. Wizard's Tower in southwest corner. Water treatment plant in northwest corner. Mighty River flows west to east o nthe north edge of town. Civic Center in the center of town.
Map of Thaumatown

The group wonders how to reach the Civic Center with the streets in such disarray. Dryden has a harpoon gun, but it can’t reach from the wizard’s tower to the Civic Center. Lucia’s royal brooch convinced the Enforcer Droids to lead her to the city’s leader (sadly deceased) but she can’t order them to lead her anywhere else.  Averiela wonders about becoming the leader of the town. Then the Enforcer Droids would have to let her pass.

Averiela Elder Art: Camouflage: she and her friends turn invisible

Averiela camouflages the group and they start moving towards the Civic Center. The Enforcer Droids don’t notice them, and thus don’t order them around, but they have to push through crowds of harried townsfolk who can’t see them to avoid them. It’s no fun!

Dryden Ranged Rope to rooftops

Dryden fires his ranged rope to the rooftops and everyone climbs up. The streets are narrow and the buildings lean out over them, so the group can hop from roof to roof almost to the Civic Center. The Civic Center is in the middle of a plaza, so no roofs overhand it. Most Enforcer Droids are giving nonsense orders, but a few Enforcer Droids close to the Civic Center seem to be cooperating and working towards a goal of keeping everyone away from the building.

Walter, the short, rotund man that Averiela spotted from the balcony, is trying to infiltrate the building. He runs across the plaza and ducks behind a stack of crates to hide while a pair of Enforcer Droids pass. They don’t notice the ladder sticking up above the crates. When they are gone, Walter leans the ladder against the wall and climbs up to fiddle with a window. The metal shutter gives him some trouble, and the next pair of patrolling Enforcer Droids spot him.

Enforcer Droid: Citizen, you have violated Civil Codes by entering a restricted area and littering. Leave at once.

One Enforcer Droid picks up the ladder and carries it away from the Civic Center. Walter wobbles and clings to the top rung. The Enforcer Droid puts the ladder down right on the line where the tiles of the plaza change to the cobblestones of a street, turns around, and resumes its patrol. Its jurisdiction covers the Civic Center plaza and not an inch beyond. Walter flails and tries to keep his balance on top of the precariously balanced ladder! Lucia reaches down from the edge of the roof to grab Walter

Lucia Overcome 7-9 temporary solution

She does grab his hand, but he unintentionally drags her mostly off the roof. Her feet hook on the gutter right at the edge. Lucia, Walter, and the ladder are now three links in an unstable chain.  Dryden leaps into action. He aims his harpoon gun between two rungs of the ladder. The taut harpoon line should prevent the ladder from falling, so Lucia and Walter can climb down.

Dryden Overcome 6-

Dryden’s aim is off! The harpoon hits the ladder, knocking it out from under Walter. Walter and Lucia tumble to the ground!

Lucia damage Armor

Instead of thanking his rescuers (did they actually rescue him?) Walter immediately starts telling them how they should have done it.

Lucia Speak Softly 7-9 3 questions, 1 answer the hard way

Walter explains that the Civic Center went into Lockown on the day of the Wizard Battle, a little over a month ago. He’s trying to enter and regain control of the city’s Droids. It’s his duty, since he was elected according to Allan a Zham’s instructions, when the wizard left the city after winning the Wizard Battle. Allan a Zham said that the people were qualified to lead themselves and should elect representatives, and Walter was duly elected leader of the Council! (He’s very proud of this position)  Lucia offers to help him, and he recommends that she & her friends run interference for him. If he had more time, he could pick the lock on the window and get inside. He shows the tools he’s gathered for the task: a railroad nail, a fork, and bit of metal filigree. He picks up the ladder, and sees that the harpoon has broken one of the side rails. The other side rail is already patched with a section of 2×4.  Walter grumbles. He’ll have to get another one from Ruby. Goods are so expensive now, since transport is thoroughly disrupted by the Enforcer Droids. He wanders off with the broken ladder.

Lucia climbs up the harpoon rope to rejoin the others on the roof. Now it’s clear that two pairs of Enforcer Droids are circling the plaza to find and remove anyone geting close to the Civic Center. Dryden winds up the harpoon cable, then fires his ranged rope from the roof to the roof of the Civic Center. The end of the rope ties itself around the railing on the catwalk spiraling up the clock tower that rising above the Civic Center.

Thaumatown's Clock Tower

Averiela easily walks across the rope, but the others climb hand over hand with their knees hooked over the rope.  Dryden peers through the spiral hole in the roof. Inside there’s a large open area. The roof is about 20 feet above the floor. Slowly stomping around inside is a 10-foot tall robot, roughly humanoid, but covered in thick armor plates.

  • Sentry Droid:
    • Begone
    • Mostly Immobile
    • Tough As Nails
    • Threat To The World

Averiela: Do we want to destroy it or rewire it?

Lucia: I’m worried about having robots in charge! If we fix them now, will they go bad again later?

They’re not even sure how to make the robots behave properly, or turn them off, or whatever it is they are trying to accomplish. The Civic Center is the most likely place to find a control center. Maybe the control center is inside that Guardian Robot! So they need to get inside the building. Dryden approaches the shutter covering a skylight.

Dryden: Back in the day, I had lockpicks, but they melted! Or I read about someone’s lockpicks melting. I have pen pals.

Lucia: That was Gleador!

Dryden: You know Gleador?

Lucia: He was with me when you linked up with me! We had a touching farewell ceremony!

Dryden needed lockpicks for various activities in his youth, so he trained worms of the forest. He pulls a small box from behind his cloak. The box is full of dirt, but worms emerge and slither into the lock. It unlocks with a click, and the worms return to their box. Dryden rewards them with rare basalt from a small pouch of treats.  He heaves the skylight open. The Sentry Robot hears the noise, sees the light pouring in, and slowly turns its bulky frame to to look up at the skylight.

Sentry Droid: Warning: unauthorized activity. This is a restricted area.

Exploring the Civic Center quietly is no longer an option, but the Sentry Droid can’t easily reach them up here in the roof. They consider their options.

Dryden: I have an arm signal for Roddy.

Dryden demonstrates the signal.  In the plaza below, the nearest Enforcer Droid explodes! One second later, the sound of a giant cork reaches them. The signal works! Roddy is watching! A few Flying Eye turn and fly towards the sound.

GM note: While discussing how to handle the Sentry Droid with teamwork, the players realized they forgot to add bonds when Averiela joined the party. They wrote some bonds right now based on past interactions.

Drdyen is ready to zoom in with his Flying Device to create an opening for Averiela, but she’s invisible. The Sentry Droid won’t see her attack coming.

Averiela Pay a Price to face a Threat To The World: spend extra ammo

Averiela Enemy At The Gates: can Finish Them with Grace when hidden

Averiela Finish Them +Grace 10+

Averiela Enemy At The Gates: on a 10+ remain hidden

Moving with the superhuman speed of the Elves, Averiela leans into the skylight and fires three arrows that all hit the Sentry Droid in the neck, weakening it. She fires a final, bigger arrow right between the chest armor and the ‘helmet’ cutting the Sentry Droid’s head off! The Sentry Droid slows and collapses, making a low buzzing noise.  Averiela, Lucia and Dryden, crowding together to peer in the skylight, erupt in celebration! Dryden gives the arm signal again!  Another Enforcer Droid explodes!

Sentry Droid Big Fish: When the Boss is angered, increase the Response Level

Thaumatown Response Level 3: Show Of Force. Boss gets one Hard Cut to spend at any time.

The buzz from the Sentry Droid rises in pitch and volume to become a hum, then a voice!

Sentry Droid Tough As Nails: first time this creature would be damaged or destroyed, damage this stat instead

Sentry Droid: Critical Damage. Switching to backup systems.

The armor plates on the chest move forward, then slide apart, revealing a hidden glowing eye. The Sentry Droid stands up, grabs a desk, and hurls it at the skylight!

GM note: I told them what Tough As Nails did before they engaged, but I still let them describe their victory and celebrate before snatching it back. Two great moments in a row.

Lucia Get Away (+hope Averiela’a aid) 7-9 avoid harm

Lucia and Averiela dive into the skylight, rolling on impact to avoid injury. Dryden jumps first, then goes for his flying disk to avoid hitting the floor.

Dryden Curious Curios Overcharge Flying Disk: fly for the whole scene

Dryden Get Away 10+ avoid harm, avoid notice

The only intruder the Sentry Droid can see is Lucia, so it turns on her. One of its arm is articulated like a human’s, so it can pick up and throw objects like a desk. The other arm is a piston forged in the shape of an outstretched hand making a “stop” gesture.

GM note: Like Cherno Alpha from Pacific Rim. The piston addsto the punching action. You haven’t seen Pacific Rim? Oh.

Lucia identifies this powerful creature as the Boss of the Location, so she attempts to receive Royal Treatment by showing her Symbol Of Royalty.

Lucia Keep Them Busy 6-

Unfortunately, the Sentry Droid’s programming is not sophisticated enough to include hospitality, so it steps in and fires its piston arm at Lucia.

Sentry Droid Begone: attempt to eject enemy when dealing damage

Will Look Out! Take harm in Lucia’s place

Lucia’s loyal bodyguard interposes himself and takes the blow meant for Lucia! He’s knocked across the room and would  have tumbled into the hall, except for the metal shutter blocking the door. He’s still conscious, but disoriented.

Dryden thinks about Hoth. Perhaps a small flying creature could wrap a rope about a big armrored machine to disable it.  Averiela throws a water bottle to Dryden and tells him to dump it into the exposed circuits in the Sentry Droid’s neck. That should short-circuit the giant robot. He does so, and Averiela fires again, but misses.

GM note: My notes are a bit messy here. Dryden probably used Keep Them Busy, so Averiela’s Finish Them attempt Triggered both Pack Hunter and Enemy At The Gates, but still rolled 6-. That breaks her camouflage.

While the Sentry Droid is distracted, Lucia ducks behind a bench and draws her throwing knives.

Lucia Quiet! Don’t Move: duck aside, stay still, stay hidden

She throws two knives in quick succession!

Lucia Pay a Price to act against Threat To The World: +1 ammo

Lucia Finish Them (+sense) advantage: strike from hiding. 7-9

Sentry Droid’s Begone! is damaged

Lucia’s knives strike true! In response, the Sentry Droid disables safety protocols and engages Desperation Mode! It doesn’t want to remove them from its area. It wants to kill them!

Sentry Droid Show Of Force: Deal Damage

The Sentry Droid’s piston arm slaps Averiela into a wall and it rushes upon her with a sudden burst of speed!

Averiela spends 1 use of Armor

Averiela uses all her Elven agility to avoid the Sentry Droid’s powerful blows, nimbly leaping on its hands and arms as it pummels the wall and floor into rubble.

Averiela Touch The World Lightly: you can safely walk on top of held weaponry.

Averiela Keep Them Busy 7-9

Lucia throws Dryden a water bottle so he can try to short circuit the Sentry Droid again.

Lucia spends 1 use of Food

Dryden Finish Them (+sense) advantage: Averiela Keeps Them Busy. +despair 7-9

Sentry Droid’s Mostly Immobile is damaged

Sentry Droid: Systems failing. Return to maintenance facility for urgent repair.

It turns away from Averiela, walks to a door, lifts the heavy metal roller door with one arm and leaves the lobby. Lucia dives under the door as it falls back into place, pursuing the Sentry Droid.

Lucia Get Away (+despair) 7-9

GM note: Lucia’s Strike True move lets her inflict Pinned Down on an enemy so it can’t move for the rest of the scene. But the scene is about to end, since the fight is over. We decided that a ficitionally similar benefit would be to delay the Sentry Droid’s repairs, giving the team plenty of time in the Civic Center to find how the robots are controlled.

The Sentry Droid moves through the halls and tunnels of the Civic Center, single-mindedly trying to reach the repair facility somewhere deep below. Lucia follows, striking with her beautiful blade. She probes for anywhere her blade can get past the Sentry Droid’s thick armor. The eye. The knee. Finally, the Snetry Droid shudders to a halt.

Sentry Droid: Mobility 0% Deploying emergency beacon.

This juggernaut has backup systems on backup systems.  A panel opens on its shoulder, revealing a a small alunch tube. A Flying Eye launches out, straight into the ceiling! The tunnels are scarcely bigger than the Sentry Droid. The Flying Eye clatters to the floor, broken. Elsewhere on the Sentry Droid, a bright red light starts pulsing. Back in the lobby of the Civic Center, Dryden hears a faint repeating alarm tone far above him.

Dryden Workaholic: spend 1 food to heal

Dryden restores his Courage by drinking a special bottle of water. The trick is to gather the water from the top of a waterfall, after it has gone over the edge. Drinking the water reminds Dryden that he had the courage to collect this special drink, so he can be courageous again. Now that he has some time to think, he recalls that Walter said the wizard who used to rule Thaumatown was named Allan a Zham. That’s not the first time Dryden has heard the name. Brainiac, riding a Giant Alligator in the forgotten Dwarven tunnels, said he was sent on a quest by Allan A Zham.

Drdyen prepares to fly up into the clocktower, since the beeping seems to come from the top. The clocktower isn’t built on the roof of the Civic Center. There’s a gap in the ceiling, and the six pillars of the clocktower extend down into the lobby. There’s a also a piston extending from the floor of the lobby right up the center of the clocktower. Unfortunately for Dryden, there’s also a grid of electricity across the clocktower halfway up. Flying straight through that seems bad, so he looks for another way. He uses his third and final Ranged Rope to connect a line from the looby floor to the open skylight. He and Averiela return to the roof and walk up the spiral staircase wrapping around the clock tower. They open a clock face and find the control center! The piston from the floor connects to a fancy chair, allowing it to move from the lobby to this secret control center. The chair is surrounded by panels of status lights, levers and buttons with walls of screens rising above them. Half the screens are blank, but the screens that work show aerial views of Thaumatown beamed back from the Flying Eyes.  The control panels have been damaged and repairs. Some wires are ripped loose, and other wires are patched and bypassed. Figuring out how to operate this control system would be difficult even if it was undamaged, but now it’s a huge mess.

Averiela:  We could fetch Walter to operate this.

Dryden: I don’t think he knows. We should probably disable the robots.

Averiela Keen Senses: Ask a question about your surroundings

Averiela: How do we turn off the robots from this control panel?

Averiela doesn’t have much experience with electronics, but as she sits in the chair and looks at the mess of wires as a whole, she starts to understand it like the roots of a forest. She connects a wire here, cuts a few there, asks Dryden to translate a few magical runes, then connects a jumper cable to an antenna and presses a button! The screens go black one after the other, and looks out over the city, they can see Flying Eyes fall out of the sky. One drops onto the roof of the clock tower with a surprising thud!  Enforcer Droids in the street stop moving. She did it!

Lucia finds her way out of the tunnels below the Civic Center by following the trail of parts from her running battle with the Sentry Droid. She bangs on the heavy metal roller door blocking the door to the lobby. It’s not locked, but it’s just really big and heavy. She has a horse and Averiela has a Unicorn. Maybe the two of them could pull the door open. Maybe Dryden’s Dwarven hammer could smash through the door. Eventually they figure out that none of them are in the lobby, and there’s nothing they need in the tower. Lucia walks out the front door. Averiela and Dryden climb down from the roof. They all meet in the plaza.


Walter arrives with a brand new ladder!

Walter: Great luck! No Enforcer Droids about. Looks like you cleared the way for me!

Lucia’s not sure if he’s actually the elected leader of the town, but she knows how to find out. She presents her Symbol Of Royalty.

Walter: Oh my! You deserve Royal Treatment!

Lucia Royal Treatment: the ruler of a place will offer a meal and a night’s rest

Walter leads them through the streets (much easier without Enforcer Droids giving random orders at every corner) while explaining that monarchy is an outdated form of government, and Lucia should relinquish her rule. She’s not even present to rule her people!  He brings them to a temporary headquarters and proudly presents them to the rest of the elected council!

Walter: Behold, our government’s influence grows! Already with have diplomatic relations with foreign officials!

Everyone chats over dinner

Fill Your Belly: everyone heals one stat

Lucia Speak Softly 10+ ask 3 questions

  • Tell me about the robots: The robots were created to ensure order and increase efficiency. The great Allan a Zham commissioned a brilliant inventor to create the perfect servants for the people.  They started malfunctioning on the day of the wizard battle.
  • What are you doing next? The provisional government will move into the Civic Center and take power. They are sure they can figure out the robot problem and get them back to helping the city. How hard could it be?
  • What should I be wary of? Lucia gets the impression that these council members don’t actually know how to govern. They were present when Allan a Zham announced his abdication and told the people that they should rule themselves. What greater endorsement could they hope for?

Dryden Speak Softly 6- ask 3 questions. 1 answer the hard way, 1 answer unhelpful\

  • Tell me about Allan a Zham. Allan a Zham was a brilliant Wizard who used his powers of foresight to plan ahead and think of everything!
  • Tell me about the other wizard. Different members of the council tell different stories. Some say there were two troublemakers. Some say four. One was definitely a wizard. Was there a ghost with them? Two women, one with a strange light hovering over her shoulder. No matter who were accomplices were, another Wizard came to cause trouble, just as Allan a Zham predicted. Oh, they had a pink dog.
  • What would you have us do: You can go. We’re fine. We have everything under control.

GM note: Despite my innacurate description of the events of the wizard battle, the players figured out that another group of player characters came to town and killed Allan a Zham.

The party retires for the night and talks among themselves. Dryden knows that the man he met in the tunnels is the Brianiac who designed and controlled Thaumatown’s robots. Maybe they could go find him. He told them where he was going last time they met. But is he a good guy? Should he have all that power?  Lucia wonders if the council would accept Brianiac if he returned. The new government is a bit of a mess. How long do the current representatives serve/ Will they have more elections?

Whether Brianiac returns or if the council figures out the control panel, eventually they could get the robots working again. The party decides that the robots are no good and must be shut down forever. Somewhere below the Civic Center, an Artifact of Power distributes power to all the robots. They resolve to delve into those unknown tunnels and take that Artifact of Power!

End of Session move.

  • Did you thoroughly explore a new location? Yes
  • Did you learn more about the world and its people? Yes
  • Did anyone find what they are looking for? Yes

Restore Gear, Restore Gear, Averiela and Lucia level up.

Chasing The Sunset & Ancient Wisdom

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

The party: Dryden of Conwall the Collector/Hunter, Averiela the Elf, Lucia the Brave the Heir

Last time, the party saved the town of Bogden from werewolves. They spent the next week recovering in Bogden

Dryden gains Destiny: Hunter

Party Recovers: remove all marks from health, gear, and spells

The grateful citizens of Bogden offer the party several boons to choose from:

  • Two Platypeople will join the party as companions
  • Anter (the vilage elder) will share her wisdom
  • Shady individuals with certain useful skills will owe them a favor

The party have trouble choosing between these enticing options.  Perhaps they should bring Sallet and Sally (the lycanthropes) along with them, so they can deal with their transformation on the next full moon. The Champ thinks the lycanthropes should be killed to protect the rest of the town.  Eventually they decide that the greatest treasure is knowledge!

Fellowship move: The Elder. Each character asks one question and receives a truthful answer

Lucia: Who built the Moon?

Anter is 85 years old, so she was not born when the Moon appeared 100 years ago, but she memorized the stories passed down from the Elder before her. The Moon was the Dragons’ greatest weapon, but it didn’t work. Shortly after the Moon appeared, the Dragons disappeared.

Dryden: How can I ensure the two werewolves and the whole community are safe.

Anter: The Champ wants to kill them to protect the community, but they are part of the community, so that will not keep the whole community safe. We could exile them so they don’t attack their fellow townspeople, but since they are part of the community, that does not protect the whole community. We could build cages and contain them on the night of the full moon. The best, but most difficult option, is to cure their lycanthropy.

Averiela: How do we stop the greatest threat to the world?

Anter: That’s the Moon’s purpose. Make the Moon work the way it’s supposed to.

Averiela: We should find the Dragons.

Dryden & Lucia: We know where one is.

Dryden explains the method he uses to cure the werewolves last week. He gives Anter two Healing Potions, but the Unicorn Sword (the other half of the ritual) is spent.

GM note: The Unicorn Sword is not part of Dryden’s gear, so it is not affected by the Recover move.

White Sand uses Holy Horn: restore one charge to Unicorn Sword

White Sand uses Infinite Compassion: restore one charge to Unicorn Sword

Averiela’s live Unicorn shares her power with the Unicorn Sword so that Anter can use it on the next full moon. Anter thanks them for their help, then quickly wraps the Unicorn Sword in a cloth and puts it away. Using the horn of a peaceful creature like a Unicorn as a weapon is an atrocity, and Anter’s really uncomfortable looking at it.

Dryden gains location bond with Bogden: I cured the werewolves in Bogden

Bogden Minimum Response Level increases to 1

Bogden Response Move: Bad Weather: rainstorm

Clouds and rain move in as the party finishes Recovering. The clouds and thick sheets of rain reduce visibility, and the ground turns to mud. The Platypeople love this weather, but it’s inconvenient for adventurers used to dry land. Tammeas the giant turtle loves the rain, but Knows Too Much is cranky.

Before they leave, they write on the Bogden Message board.

Lucia: Anter can be an ally. Watch out for Champ. The mayor will talk you to death (metaphorically) Also Sally and Sallet are werewolves (maybe)

Averiela: Whoa, that might cause prejudice!

Lucia crosses out Also Sally and Sallet are werewolves (maybe)

Dryden: If the full moon possess
And healing occurred,
Seek Anter.
Your worth she’ll assess,
If you be not deterred.
I have six words to spare!

Averiela: Do Sally and Sallet have Lycanthropy? Help them.

Lucia and Dryden want to find the Dragon in the Goblin city mentioned by Brianiac.

Averiela: Is that really the last Dragon?

Lucia & Dryden (in unison): It’s the only Dragon we know of.

Dryden: We head for Dragons or the edge of the map, where the water flows up! I’m going to insult that Dragon and bait it into fighting me!

Anter gives directions to the twin volcanoes: take the river that flows out of Bogden south until it connects to the Mighty River. From there, walk overland towards the twin volcanoes visible on the southern horizon. The party prefers the secret tunnels, but worries that the rainstorm has flooded them. The tunnel to Bogden has enough water in it to flow toward the main tunnel, as it did before it collapsed.

Dryden & Averiela Fill Their Bellies & assign the extra healing to White Sand

Just before they leave, they remember that Roddy is still in a cell!  He does not recognize Lucia’s authority, so she can’t order him to do anything.  Dryden tries the diplomatic approach

Dryden Finish Them (Wisdom) Advantage: can’t avoid conversation while imprisoned 10+

Dryden points to White Sand, a live unicorn, and says that Unicorns are noble beasts, but EEE, who adopts the aesthetic of Unicorns by killing them, is evil. Roddy should join the authentic good team. He could be an asset!

Roddy forms bond with Dryden and joins as a Companion

Now they head out for real! They enter the secret underground tunnels and continue south. They approach a fork in the tunnel. Both sides go roughly the same direction, but one has water, and the other does not. Averiela scouts up the dry tunnel and finds a station. These tunnels were a transportation network long ago, and this was a large station with plenty of seating, and a counter that used to provide some amentities, maybe food and drink. All that was long ago, and the stone benches are covered in dust, and all the shelves are empty.  Averiela’s keen Elven vision detects a slip of paper dovered in Dwarven runes: a winning ticket for a lottery that hasn’t operated in centuries. She also finds a secret compartment containing an ornate locked box.

Dryden investigates the box: picking it up, spinning it in his hands, knocking on it. The mechanisms remind him of ancient trap techniques he learned from The Trapper.  Dryden was a student of The Trapper, but never saw his face. Dryden would go to a certain place for a lesson, trigger a trap, then figure out how to get out of it. The last time he went for a lesson, he didn’t get trapped. Instead of a trap, The Trapper left his scrolls explaining his techniques. That’s how Dryden found out that he had graduated.

Averiela: So can you unlock it?

Dryden: Yes and no. I’ll hold all the moving parts in the correct positions, and you should be able to remove the contents. We don’t want to be in a subterranean position to try thing. The trap collapses in like a vaccuum, and wears off in 6-12 hours.

This station has a spiral stone staircase leading to the surface, like the other stations the party has seen in these tunnels. They push back the covering at the top of the stairs, which turns out to be a curtain of flase grass, hiding the entrance in a meadow. They are just south of the Mighty River, which flows west to east. To the east, rapids coming down from huge white mountains, the Treacherous Mountains that Dryden and Lucia crossed not long ago. To the west, the Mighty River flows on for a long way. To the south, twin volcanoes are visible: one smoking, one dormant. On the north bank of the Mighty River is a town.

Averiela: Let’s open this box far from the entrance, so we don’t affect travel. Also far from the town.

Dryden: The radius of a trap this size is only 50 yards.

Drdyen will operate the puzzle box and put just the right pressure on the hidden mechanism on the bottom. Lucia will open the lid and grab what’s inside. Both must be ready to get ot a safe distance at any moment. Dryden has final instructions for Averiela, who is standing well clear.

Dryden: If we get stuck, wait it out. Throw stuff into the effect to use up its energy faster.

Lucia (+Hope w/Dryden assist) Get Away 10+

Everything goes as well as it could, which means Lucia and Dryden dive aside as the box and nearby landscape collapse into a tiny ball, but Lucia holds the prize in her hand!

DM note: Clearly this treasure of the Dwarves would be Dwarf-Made and Precious, but I had the players roll 2 d6s to select more item tags

It’s a Ceremonial Throwing Axe, used to show authority in Dwarven culture. It’s definitely still a weapon, but aesthetics were more important than efficiency. The handle is made of gold and the axe blade is deep blue crystal, sliced from a geode.

New item: Ceremonial Throwing Axe. Dwarf-Made, Precious, Thrown, Clumsy

The party heads to the nearby town of Thaumatown. Its narrow streets are crowded by tall narrow buildings. It seems claustrophobic, and looking closer only intensifies that impression. The streets are packed full of people rushing every which way. Enforcer Droids bark orders and direct traffic, but each Droid gives contradictory orders, pushing people into endless loops and traffic jams. In the air above, metal eys with buzzing wings watch over everyone.

Roddy, Knows Too Much, and White Sand stay at the edge of town. They don’t like crowds. Dryden shows a secret arm signal that indicates trouble. Roddy can watch for it with the scope of his pneumatic gun. Dryden identifies the Enforcer Droids as a public menace, and wants to figure out how to fix them. Maybe there’s a cool reward! As they try to enter the town, an Enforcer Droid warns that they are violating traffic regulations.

Lucia Symbol Of Royalty: grant an audience with anyone

Lucia demands to meet the ruler of this town. The Enforcer Droid recognizes her royal symbol and starts leading her towards a tower at hte back of town, ordering everyone out of it way. Before long, another Enforcer Droid directs Lucia’s Droid into a dead-end alley, then a third Droid closes the main road so they aren’t allowed to leave the alley.

Lucia Symbol Of Royalty: grant an audience with anyone

Lucia sees how this works and orders every Enforcer Droid that gets near her to take her to its leader. Soon an entire formation of Enforcer Droids are leading her to the tower, leaving a sector of town free from their nonsense orders. Living townsfolk cheer in relief. The Enforcer Droids open the doors at the base fo the tower, and Lucia and Dryden go inside. They climb the stairs and reach a study at the top. A balcony provides a great view of the city below.  Bookselves line the walls, and tables are covered in scrolls and parchment. Everything is wrinkled and water-damaged. Most importantly, and most unfortunately, they find the dead body of a Wizard and the knife that must have killed him. This town has no ruler. Hasn’t had one for while, judging by the state of the body.

Chasing The Sunset & Sea Viper

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/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.

A side view of the port in Vieport. Above the water, a wooden dock for ships on the surface. Below the water, coral grows on the walls of the bay. A large shelf coral has artifical walls under it, trapping a pocket of air. On the bottom of the bay, more dock structures for submerged whales.
Vieport’s docks

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.

A side view of the Sea Viper's Palace in Vieport. A row col columns lead down the short towards a building that's partially submerged.
The Sea Viper’s Palace

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: Now!

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.

The rooftop terrace of the Sea Viper's palace. The Sea viper sits on the throne, flanked by Emmett and Robin. Stella and Buckle stand before them. At the back of the terrace stand the Herald and a Group of Eel soldiers.
The rooftop terrace of the Sea Viper’s palace.
  • 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
  • Herald
    • Zealous Fanaticism
    • Reinforcements
    • Blind Faith
  • Naga Guards x12
    • Group
    • Needlepoint Teeth
    • Slippery

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?



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

Chasing The Sunset & The Cure

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

The party: Dryden of Conwall the Collector, Averiela the Elf, Lucia the Brave the Heir

Last time, Averiela joined Dryden and Lucia and they found a secret underground tunnel and talked their way past an armored crocodile. Now that the crocodile has left, they can either go back the way they came from or press on. Of course they go forward into the unknown!  Dydren, Lucia, and their companions ride on the back of a giant pod turtle. Averiela is walking on the surface of the water (a perk of being an Elf) and carrying her wolf (Knows too Much) across her shoulders. Her unicorn (White Sand) is on the surface, awaiting magical communication from Averiela to know where to go. They travel quite way down the dark tunnel, following the current caused by the slight slope in the tunnel.

They come upon another tunnel that joins theirs from the right. The water in that tunnel is stagnant. It slopes up away from them, but there’s no more water coming down. Eventually, the slope of the tunnel will rise above the water level. There’s light at the end of the tunnel, but too far away to make out what it is.

GM note: False choices are bad, but I ended up giving the party two in a row. Do you want to see a new thing that might be fun, or not have fun?

Lucia wants to investigate the side tunnel, so Dryden has to come along, because they are on the same turtle. As soon as they enter the side tunnel, Lucia is struck by metal spike, and half a second later, they hear an echoing “thunk” like a giant bottle of wine being opened, and some scrambling and clattering of stone.

Roddy (Sharpshooter) Eagle Eye: damages Lucia’s Wisdom

Lucia sighs, because she should have expected that. Dryden picks up the “supersonic knitting needle” and puts it in his cloak next to the other one. Averiela (who didn’t see Roddy in action) is shocked and concerned for Lucia.

Lucia: Hello, Roddy! I’m so happy to see you again. Hoping to come find you. Do you want some tea?

Roddy (Sharpshooter) Social Anxiety: retreat from people talking to him

Averiela sends Knows Too Much down the tunnel to scout and report back

Knows Too Much (Wolf) Pack Hunter: advantage, gather information from afar

Averiela Look Closely 7-9

Knows Too Much swims to the end of the water, and walks up the tunnel. The ceiling has collapsed, so there’s a pile of rubble and a hole open to the sky above. Knows Too Much climbs up and sees a flat plain with a few trees and bushes scattered around. One of the nearby bushes smells like meat and has a long metal tube sticking out of it. Roddy retreated from the tunnel, but is covering the entrance, so if a person sticks their head up, Roddy will shoot them. A good distance away, a group of Platypeople spot Knows Too Much and move aggressively towards him. They are specifically hunting wolves! Unlucky! Knows Too Much runs back down the tunnel and tells Averiela what he’s seen, but those Platypeople won’t be far behind.

Dryden tells Tammeas, his giant turtle, to come out of the water and take a nap. Everyone is on the dry floor of the collapsed tunnel.  Dryden readies the wands they are using for light for their alternate use as one-time flashbangs!  He got this idea from New Year’s party supplies and used it to escape detection back in the palace. The key is that the the projectile makes a ‘pop’ sound that makes people look shortly before exploding in a blinding flash. Dryden gets close to the tunnel exit and fires the wand up to blind Roddy.

Dryden Keep Them Busy 6-

The wand goes off prematurely and Dryden blinds himself!  Two Platypeople climb down into the tunnel, close enough to menace Dryden with a torch and pitchfork.

Meanwhile, Averiela has sent Knows Too Much far down the tunnel to avoid the hunters.

Averiela Elder Arts Camouflage: become invisible

She walks invisibly past the Platypeople coming down into the tunnel. She knows where Roddy is hiding and sees him turning to aim at the other two Platypeople still above ground. He wasn’t expecting people to approach from that direction!

Averiela Finish Them (Grace) Advantage: invisible 10+ Taken Out

She takes a moment to determine the location of Roddy’s neck through his ghillie suit, then gives him a nerve pinch that knocks him out instantly!

Back in the tunnel, Lucia hails the Platypeople.

Lucia: Hello, Platypeople! We are friends! I am Lucia the Brave of the Forgotten Lands, and I’m exploring these lands with my companions.

Lucia Symbol Of Royalty: grants an audience with anyone

Platyperson hunter: You must go to the Mayor. And quickly. Night will be here soon, and with night, the Werewolves!

Averiela: Werewolves? You two drag me into the worst situations!

Two of the hunters will escort the party to the nearby town of Bogden, and the other two will continue to hunt for the wolf they saw earlier. Dryden fears for the safety of the other animal companions.

Dryden: How do you feel about giant turtles?

Platyperson hunter: I hear some grow so large they can fit a castle on their backs!

The party continues to be shifty and try to prevent the hunters from going down the tunnel and finding Knows Too Much.

Averiela: Can’t we just come clean?

Dryden: There is a wolf on my turtle’s back.

Averiela: Wolf, not Werewolf.

Dryden: I have never known a Werewolf to ride a turtle

Dryden Talk Sense (+hope for Averiela’s assistance) “Don’t kill our wolf” 7-9

The Platypeople won’t kill him, but they will place Knows Too Much in custody for the night, just to be sure. That’s what they are doing to the other suspected Werewolves. As they all walk towards the town, Dryden and Averiela provide glowing character references for Knows Too Much. Averiela carries the unconscious Roddy and signals White Sand to come to her.

Averiala Elder Arts: Whisper On The Wind. Send a short message

The town of Bogden

Fairmeadow is a town that contains a fairground, but Bogden is a fairground that contains a town. Platypalooza is a huge event for Platypeople everywhere and the population quadruples during the yearly celebration.

When they reach town, the hunters put Knows Too Much in one of six cells that are set up outside the stadium. One contains a Platyperson, one contains a Human with two other Humans visiting. Roddy and Knows Too Much are placed in the next two, and two more are empty. Each cell is about 2 meters on a side, made of bamboo jammed into the ground, and covered with a roof.  Each cell stands alone, several meters from the next cell, so if any of the occupants do turn into Werewolves, they won’t be able to grab and bite their neighbors.

Mayor Belvo greets Queen Lucia The Brave and her companions, and prepares a banquet for them. Alas, Platypalooza last month was disrupted by Werewolf attacks (the reason for the increased vigilance tonight) and all the vendors fled prematurely. Usually Platypalooza buys all the leftover food, but now they are regretably a bit short.

Bogden location stat: Famine. When the party Fills Their Belly, one character must pay a price

Dryden Pay A Price: 1 food

Dryden contributes some of his food so that everyone has enough. He also works on his magical collections a bit

Dryden Workaholic: spend 1 food to restore or switch gear

Bogden location stat: Famine. When the party Fills Their Belly, one character must pay a price

Dryden Pay A Price: 1 food

He sees a small Platyperson child looking at his extra portion with big sad eyes, and he can’t resist.  Using his knowledge of traditional Platyperson food, he selects a Fried Giant Spider Leg On A Stick to give to the child. Dryden insists that the Giant Spider Leg is still “squeaming” and his companions insist that “squeaming” is not a word at all, and it’s certainly not the action that makes people “squeamish”

Belvo explains that Platypalooza is the biggest Platyperson cultural celebration around, and last month it was disrupted by Werewolves! The Werewolves were all slain, but three people were bitten, and all the festival-goers fled in a panic. Two of the bite victims were locked up in the cells outside, and the third victim is missing. Maybe they were one of the vistors and fled in the confusion.

After this useful story, Belvo won’t shut up, but Lucia corners him in conversation, matching each of his stories with a story about her travels.

Belvo Mixed-Metaphor-a-Minute: will damage Sense by talking

Lucia Keep Them Busy 7-9

GM note: I ruled that, instead of distracting Belvo temporarily, Lucia was able to limit the damage to herself, which is more like the 7-9 result of Overcome (pay a price to take the 10+ result) It made sense in the fiction.

Averliela wants to know more about the Werewolf situation and seeks out a wise Platyperson. She finds Anter, a village elder. She tells Averiela that when the full moon rises at sunset, which is quite soon now, normal people who have been bitten will transform into Werewolves and rampage. The webs on their hands pull back, revealing big claws!  Their bills thicken and spout horrible fangs!  A bite will cause a victim to turn into a Werewolf on the next full moon, if they survive. Not everyone survives a Werewolf attack.  She also points out that Belvo is excusing himself from the dinner party, supposedly on official business, but really to hide in his home from the werewovles. Belvo’s a coward.

Dryden ponders how to cure a Werewolf. He does have a unicorn sword with healing powers. Unicorns are creatures of healing, opposed to Werewolves, creatures of destruction. A Werewolf’s bite pierces and injects a contaminant unwillingly. If a victim willingly took a healing potion, then was pierced by a unicorn’s healing horn, the healing in the horn could combine with the healing in the victim’s system and overcome the curse!

GM note: It’s clever and costs a lot of resources, including both charges of the Unicorn Sword, which are not easily regained, plus Dryden has to fight Werewolves to administer the cure, so I was convinced that this was an appropriate solution.

While Dryden explains his plan and gives his healing potions to the two prisoners, Lucia looks around for sources of evil.

Lucia The Forgotten Lands unique feature: Detect Evil

The prisoners seem kind of evil, but not really, like the evil is hidden or overlapping with something. She detects evil clearly from a large Platyperson pacing back and forth at the entrance of the town, spoiling for a fight. Also at the entrace of the city, White Sand arrives.

The sun sets and the two prisoners in the cells turn into Werewolves! The human prisoner’s friends are close to the cage one is grabbed by the Werewolf!

Lucia Get Away 7-9 bring someone along

Lucia grabs the human and pulls her free, but the Werewolf slashes Lucia with its claws.

Werewolf damages Lucia’s Blood

Averiela Elder Art Stardust

Averiela blows a puff of stardust from her fingertips into the Werewolf’s face, and it collapses in magical slumber.  Dryden asks the humans were their friend was bitten, and stabs he sleeping Werewolf in that same spot with the Unicorn Sword.

Dryden Finish Them Sense (advantage: asleep) 10+Taken Out!

When the healing energy of the Unicorn sword enters the Werewolf and meets the healing energy inside, there’s a flash of brilliant light that momentariloy makes the entire circulatory system glow through the Werewolf’s fur.  It’s hruts for a moment, then the monster’s body shrinks into its normal human form.

The group moves to the next cell, where the Werewolf is tearing at the bars.  Dryden sets up a dart trap pointed at the cell, and Averiela tries to interfere with the Werewolf’s escape.

Averiela Keep Them Busy 6-

She gets too close and the Werewolf’s claws catch her and pull her against the bars. Lucia rushes in and together they overpower the wolf and pull free

Averiela Get Away (+aid Lucia) hope 10+ avoid harm

Dryden fires the dart trap. Inside the small cage, the were wolf can’t really dodge

Dart Trap poison: Werewolf is sluggish, giving Hope to deal with it.

Dryden Finish Them (sense) advantage: poisoned in a cage. hope 10+ Taken Out!

Dryden steps in and stabs the Werewolf with the Unicorn Sword. Again, the two healing energies meet, mix, and dispel the curse. As the last of the healing energy in the Unicorn Sword is spent, it releases a pulse that smells like warm spring grass.  Both Werewolves in the cells have been cured.

The group hears screams from elsewhere in the village.  The third Werewolf victim was hiding here all along!  Averiela wants Knows Too Much released, so Lucia gives the order, and it is done!

Lucia Yes, My Liege: those of lower rank obey Lucia without question

They run towards the source of the sound, and see an injured Platyperson stagger out of a house. The Champ, the large and evil Platyperson Lucia noticed earlier, is also running towards the house.

GM note: I linked the floor plan of a house in the teleconference

Dryden and Champ enter the Great Room via the south door.  Lucia enters the Great Room from the east door. Averiela enters the Studio Bedroom, also from the east porch. Averiela geussed correctly, and sees a bed with broken restraints, a Werewolf, and Sally (a Platyperson) in imminent danger!  Stardust is no good, since Sally is panicing and her screams would wake the werewolf as soon as Averiela put it to sleep.

Averiela Keep Them Busy 6-

Averiela whips out her bow and fires several arrows to deter the Werewolf. One nicks the creature, but not enough to distract it from grabbing and biting poor Sally.  Lucia is next to arrive, running in through the bedroom door, reversing her grip on her longsword and aiming a knock-out blow with the pommel towards the Werewolf’s skull

Lucia Finish Them (Sense) +despair 7-9

Werewolf damages Tough As Nails

The Werewolf staggers and drops Sally, then stands up and turns to attack Lucia. The Champ enters the room at high speed and delivers a vicious tail slap to knock the Werewolf away.

Dryden’s knockout bolas (Melee, Dangerous, Clumsy) + Magical Collection (+Ranged tag) + Curious Curios: Fast (-Clumsy tag)

Dryden prepares his space-warping knockout-gas bolas for a quick strike from outside the room.

Dryden Finish Them (Sense) advantage: kicked by The Champ 10+ Taken Out!

The bolas entangle the Werewolf and spew debilitating gas, knocking the Werewolf unconscious. The cloud of gas spreads, threatening everyone in the Studio Bedroom: Averiela, The Champ, Lucia, and Sallet. Lucia warns Averliela and they dive out the door together onto the porch.

Averiela Get Away (+aid Lucia) hope 10+ avoid harm

The Champ and Sallet both collapse.  Quiet settles over the village. The Werewolf attack is over. Dryden leaves the bolas out for the rest of the night, until the Werewolf turns back into Sallet: the son of Sally and Froob (the injured Platyperson who fled the house)

Averiela wants to find Patient Zero and figure out this Werewolf curse. She tries to get information out of Froob, who was clearly hiding a bite victim and put himself and the whole town at great risk.

Averiela: We need you to be honest. We’re not trying to get you in trouble.

Averiela: Speak Softly 6- Ask 3 questions. 1 untrue answer, 1 unhelpful answer

Averiela will not be able to gather any clues from the Werewolf that bit Sallet. It was killed by a high-speed flaming log, which completely destroyed the body.  Froob is only thinking about his son and finding a cure.  Averiela notices potions and chemistry equipment in the house. Perhaps Froob is turning to dark magic in his obsessive quest.

GM note: The players intend to stay in Bogden to Recover, and foiling the Werewolf attack gives them the Fellowship of the Platypeople, which will grant everyone a fellowship move, and unlock a few Destiny Playbooks. Too much to deal with at the late hour. We agreed to handle this at the beginning of next session and said good night.

GM note: This session could have been a lot more interesting! Stuff I missed, or which was overcome by accident

  1. Dryden’s Unicorn Sword is an atrocity. People should have reacted to it.
  2. Didn’t push the personalities of the Werewolf prisoners
  3. No investigation for the missing third Werewolf victim
  4. Werewolves are easy to defeat when locked in small cages
  5. Champ was going to kill all the infected, but Dryden unintentionally knocked him out before he could try.

Chunky procedural generation

When making a procedural generator, instead of letting a parameter vary across the entire range of possible values, considering breaking that range into sectors.

EDIT: I used to call these limited ranges “chunks” instead of “sectors” but procedural generation in chunks makes people think of Minecraft, so I changed the name to avoid ambiguity.


Not overlapping isn’t enough. Sectors should have space between them. This reduces the total number of possibilities, which seems bad, but each value will have greater meaning.

A number line from 0-4, labeled "height (meters)" Four ranges are marked. tiny: 0 to 0.5 meters. small: 0.75 to 1.25 meters. medium: 1.5 to 2 meters. Large: 2.5 to 4 meters.
Figure 1. Height parameter separated into four chunks

If the Small and Medium height sectors met at 1.5m, artifacts could be generated whose height is ambiguous. I can’t tell the difference between 148cm and 151cm at a glance, so if I see creatures with those heights, I won’t know if they are Small creatures or Medium creatures. Stopping Small at 1.25m means there’s 25cm between the tallest Small Creature and the shortest Medium creature, enough to remove ambiguity.

A number line from 0 to 12, labeled number of legs. four chunks are marked. Orb: 0 legs. Biped 2 legs. Beast 4 to 6 legs. Bug: 8 to 12 legs.
Figure 2. Number of legs parameter separated into 4 chunks.

Sectors don’t have to be the same size. They need to be different enough that observers can tell them apart. Counting 10 or 12 legs will take a while, but I immediately know they are both “a lot” and thus bug-like. The range for biped has no variation at all, but that’s valid too.

Limited sectors promote identity

For example, Hunter clothes come in desaturated earth tones to help Hunters blend in with natural surroundings.  If all clothing was available in all colors, Hunters would have less of an identity. Choice of clothing tells viewers something about the person wearing the clothing.

A grid of 21 stars on a black background. The stars vary widely in size, color, thickness, and number of points.
Figure 3. Stars generated with maximum randomness
A grid of 21 stars on a black background. The stars are roughly the same size, with 5 to 7 points, and red to yellow coloration.
Figure 4. Stars generated from sectors of parameter ranges.

Figure 3 the output of a star generator with the ranges on size, color, spikiness, and number of points opened up. It’s easy to associate to the two green spiky stars at top right as being kind of the same thing, but why would I think the red diamond on the left edge is the same kind of thing as those other two? The class of “stars” is so diverse that it loses cohesion.

In Figure 4, I tightened the colors to warm, autumnal colors, and reduced the amount of variance in size, number of points, and spikiness. These stars seem more related to each other. It’s easy to mentally group them as the same kind of thing, but there’s still quite a bit of variance between each star.

Perceptual differentiation

A grid of 21 stars on a black background. Half the stars are grey, very spiky, with many points. The other half look like the stars in Figure 4: red to yellow, 5 to 7 points.
Figure 5. Autumnal stars and grey spiky stars

Perceptual differentiation is the ability to tell two things apart.

In Figure 5, I’ve mixed the autumn stars with spiky grey stars. Even though each star is different from all the others, it’s easy to see that there are two different kinds of stars, and to sort each particular star into one of those two groups.

Individually unique objects that are easily sorted into groups are a nice way to ensure perceptual differentiation. If the two classes uses disjoint chucks of the parameter spaces, two objects from different classes are sure to look different from each other.

Even if you end up with 10,000 bowls of oatmeal, if you also offer 10,000 slices of toast, 10,000 waffles, and 10,000 cups of yogurt, you have a better breakfast buffet.

“Perceptual differentiation” and “10,000 bowls of oatmeal” are both terms from Kate Compton’s excellent blog post So you want to build a generator…

The sector becomes information

If a certain feature of an object is not completely random, it can tell us something about that object. In ARPGs like Diablo, a potion with blue liquid will restore my energy, no matter the size or shape of the bottle.  blue potion = mana. if a tree has a conical crown and needles instead of leaves, I know those leaves won’t fall off in winter, because conifers are evergreen. Live oaks are also evergreen, but their leaves and crown are shaped closer to deciduous trees than conifers, so it’s easy to mistake them for deciduous trees.

The next section shows how one class of object can have multiple parameters that each have some meaning, so an observer can quickly recognize many features of

Layers of differentiation

Every object will have multiple parameters, and each parameter can be divided into multiple sectors. By giving different objects the same or different sectors, you can create a hierarchy of relationships between objects. I’ll use Starcraft as an example.


  • Protoss:
    • colors: pale yellow, glowing blue
    • shapes: smooth curves
  • Terran:
    • colors: shades of grey
    • shapes: rectangles & circles
  • Zerg:
    • colors: reddish to purple
    • shapes: tubes, sacs, claws, and teeth

Unit types:

  • Buildings
    • size: huge
    • number: solitary
    • features: immobile, grounded
  • basic units
    • size: small
    • number: large groups
    • features: mobile
  • elite units
    • size: large
    • number: small groups
    • features: mobile

Terran Infantry:

  • All infantry:
    • small
    • humanoid
  • Marine
    • big shoulders
    • long gun
  • Firebat
    • backpack
    • twin weapons
  • Medic
    • white armor
    • shield

Seeing these patterns helps me recognize objects quickly, and make good guesses about new objects I haven’t seen before.

If I see a mass of Terran Infantry (small, humanoid, grey, large numbers) I can pick the Firebats out from the Marines by looking for the backpacks, because that’s the feature they DON’T share.

If I see a weird purple creature with big teeth, I know it’s Zerg, because that’s what Zerg look like. Protoss and Terrans don’t make things like that.

If I see a huge, immobile, radially symmetrical object, it’s probably a key building, like a Town Hall, because that’s what all the other Town Hall buildings look like.

Notice that the relationships can be hierarchical (Terran Infantry is a subset of Terran) or cut across groups (buildings share characteristics across races)

Use an interlocking system of similarities (objects that share the same parameter sector) and differences (objects use disjoint sectors of a parameter) to create objects that are all unique, but are easily sorted by an observer into multiple overlapping groups.


  • Consider if you really need the full range of a certain parameter for a class of artifacts
  • Divide a parameter range into sectors that:
    • are thematically appropriate for the artifacts that use them
    • are disjoint from other sectors of the same parameter range
    • allow enough variation between artifacts that use the sector
  • Use those sectors to:
    • allow observers to remember features of the artifacts
    • relate artifacts to artifacts that share that sector
    • separate artifacts from artifacts that use different sectors

Chasing The Sunset & Adventurers’ Club

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/Pack Leader

Last time, Buckle & Stella flew into Vieport on the back of a giant turtle. A whole city to explore! The river meets the ocean in the center of the city, which extends past the shore onto the seafloor. The land portion of the city is surrounded by tall towers with lightning flashing between them. The underwater portion of the city is mostly populated by Mer-Folk, and the dry portions have a mix of terrestrial species. The palace of the Sea Viper, ruler of the city, starts on an island in the middle of the city and extends down into the water.

A map of Vieport, showing the lightning barrier, palace, Adventurer's Club, and Bertha.
A map of Vieport, showing the lightning barrier, palace, Adventurer’s Club, and Bertha.

Buckle isn’t sure about Mer-Folk. He remembers being hunted by one in another city. Stella is curious about the lightning barriers.

Stella Look Closely 6-

The towers are an effective barrier around the city. Anything trying to cross the lightning barrier would be electrocuted. The towers are 40 feet tall, higher than the buildings, which are mostly 3 storeys tall. Cables from the top of each tower go over the buildings toward some central point, probably a power plant.  Stella notices that a brick chimney on a nearby building is leaning on a power cable, straining it. A broken cable would open a gap in the barrier around the city and threaten everything near the live end of the broken cable!  Stella wants Buckle to fix the wire, but the upper storeys of the building are wood, so Buckle would set the building on fire if he climbed to the roof.

Stella knocks on the door of the building. An Elf opens the door and is amazed by Buckle, who glows. Buckle shrugs. They warn him that his chimney is threatening a power cable. He’s worried that he’s be an appetizer for ghosts, and runs to get help, following the cable deeper into the city.  Neighbors hear the commotion and start looking out of windows to see what’s going on.  Buckle examines the building to see what their options are.

Buckle Look Closely 10+

It’s a three-storey building. The ground storey is made of stone, but the upper storeys are wooden. The top storey has double doors and a stout post with a pulley. If they had rope, they could access the third storey directly from the street.  The chimney is crumbling from disrepair. Trying to push it away from the cable or prop it up might make it collapse entirely. Getting close to the power cable risks electrocution.

Stella: So what am I supposed to do? I’m not electricity-proof.

They consider waiting for the Elf to come back with help. This is a major infrastructure project. Surely the city has engineers that are trained to make repairs. On the other hand, their brand new Siege Tank has many experimental one-time-use weapons, and one is a big grappling hook that could pull the chimney down from the relative safety of the street.  Stella takes the controls!

Stella Overcome 7-9 (pay a price for 10+)

The Siege Tank’s grappling hook hits the chimney and retracts, pulling the chimney down away from the cable. Bricks fall from the roof into the street, causing some collateral damage, but the power cable is intact!

Stella: Buckle, did you see that! Did you see that?

Buckle: Well done. That was a little scary.

Three Engineers arrive from the direction that the Elf homeowner fled in.  One is a Lantern, an inter-dimensional creature that projects a humanoid hologram to interact with the material world.  Her name is Lucy, and she transforms into a rainbow bridge from the street to the roof for her two colleagues to access the roof.  They see that the threat has been dealt with, and Lucy bridges down to talk to Buckle and Stella. She thanks them for protecting the city, and says there is an Adventurers’ Club that welcomes reckless but mostly effective do-gooders like themselves.  They ask if she has done any adventuring herself, but Lucy says that keeping the Ghostlands out is more important than fist-fighting a dragon or whatever.  Buckle suspects that this creature of light with an artificial body is somehow involved with all the robots and giant mirrors they have encountered recently. Stella is split between finding the Dwarves who used to own the mine they just saved, and investigating the Adventurers’ Club. She asks Lucy some more questions.

Stella Speak Softly 7-9

Lucy doesn’t know about metal dwarves, but a giant mirror did just arrive in town, floating down the river from Sugar’s Crossing. After Lucy wraps up safety checks her, she’s going to get down before sunset to avoid the werewolves.

Buckle: More werewolves?

Lucy: More?

Buckle: We had to throw a log through one at Platypalooza. It was on fire.

Stella and Buckle take their leave. Stella wants to find the Oolite Dwarves, but Buckle convinces her to go to the Adventurers’ Club for food and a place to stay. The Adventurers’ Club is on the west side of the river. They cross a bridge and are sassed by a Naga guard. The guards in Sugar’s Crossing on the night of the jailbreak were guards from Vieport, so Stella and Buckle know what to expect.

The Adventurers’ Club is a large stone building with a grand entrance. Inside, there are canals running alongside the hallways, because this is an amphibian building for both terrestrial and aquatic creatures. The person who greets them when the enter is a Mer-Folk names Fred. His fish half is like a Betta fish, so his scales shift from deep red to purple, and he has long showy fins and hair.  He asks if Stella has captured Buckle. He’s embarrassed to learn of his error, that Buckle is a fellow adventurer. He impresses on them the elite status of the adventurers, and says they must complete a great and difficult quest to join.

Buckle: We’ve released the prisoners of a Sorceress, captured a changeling who was ruling a town in disguise, killed a Kraken, deactivated an army of metal dwarves, and just destroyed a superlaser.

Fred is very impressed, but he needs proof of their accomplishment.  Buckle offers the Kraken beak that he collected as a trophy of the battle.

GM note: that’s from the very first session. He’s been carrying that the entire time!

Fred adds the Kraken beak to the wall of trophies and welcomes Stella and Buckle to the Adventurers’ Club. There’s a new member’s handbook, supper is being served in the cafeteria, and they can claim a room to stay overnight. There’s even valet parking for the Siege Tank.

Prominently displayed in the middle of the Adventurers’ Club is the Bounty Board, which lists difficult tasks worthy of mighty adventurers.

  • A Dragon to the north is challenging all comers to single combat.
  • Far to the Northeast, a dinosaur is troubling a town.
  • Scout the Dead Forest, from which none have returned
  • Uncover the mystery of the lights by the moon
  • Standing reward for any source of power

Stella starts to comment on the Source Of Power job, but Buckle shushes her.

Buckle: I’ll be tossed in a bag again!

They go to the cafeteria to eat and to meet the other Adventurers. Only two are at the Club tonight. Most are out doing great deeds for glory. The Exterminator is human-sized, but completely covered in armor made from the exo-skeletons of large insects. They wears a gas mask and helmet, and are drinking a smoothie through a port in the mask.  The other adventurer is Theona the Giant, standing outside the second-storey window and reaching inside through a large open window to the table on which her large platters of food rest.

Buckle: Should we call you Termie or Nater?

Buckle Speak Softly 6-

The Exterminator is not amused, but Theona has some information for Buckle. Tonight Theona and The Exterminator will go out at night to hunt the werewolves that plague the town. As far as they know, there are about four werewolves, although that can change, since lycanthropy is contagious.  Theona recommends that Stella and Buckle come out and fight with her tonight. No need to worry, the Adventurers’ Code forbids acting against other members of the Club. Buckle checks the Handbook, and sees rules against poaches quests, and other rules to keep Adventurers from clashing.  Dinner is over and the sun is setting.

Buckle: Should we hole up or go wreak havoc?

Stella: The werewolves at Platypalooza were an unpleasant encounter. How bad is the werewolf situation in Vieport?

Theona: There are only a handful of the creatures. More glory for us if you don’t fight. Sleep wlth with your night light.

She points to Buckle, who constantly glows with volcanic heat.  Theona and The Exterminator gear up for battle and head out to patrol the streets, while Buckle and Stella retire to a room. The divide the night into five watches: Buckle, Stella, Gus, Rose, and Ugg. Near dawn, during Ugg’s watch, Theona’s giant hand crashes through the window!  Ugg leaps into action!

Ugg’s Bigger ‘n’ You pins Theona’s arm for a moment

This gives the rest of the team time to wake up and react.

Buckle Get Away 7-9 (avoid harm)

Buckle flees out the door and hides in the corridor, but he glows, so his position is obvious.  Stella wishes she had more time to pick a tactic, but she has to act now before Theona gets free.  She jumps on Silk’s back…

Silk Wall Crawler

…and crawls up the arm that Ugg has pinned to get in Theona’s face.

Stella’s Pack Leader: hope to Finish Them when advantage comes from allies

Stella Finish Them (Wisdom, show error of their ways) Advantage: Theona can’t get away and must listen. 10+

Stella: Stop! We’ve already saved you and the city from ghosts. We let you have the glory from hunting werewolves. We don’t want to use more force.

Theona has a very hierarchical worldview based on power. The strong overpower the weak, like she thought she was doing to these tiny newcomers. Restraint is almost alien to her. If Ugg (a goblin who comes up to Theona’s knees) is able to pin her arm, and the Stella thinks she doesn’t need to prove her superiority with violence, these people must be unthinkably powerful! Theona is glad she wasn’t immediately killed.

Stella forms a bond with Theona. Theona becomes Stella’s companion

GM note: Oh wow, Finish Them with Wisdom is very powerful. Stella earned it, though!

Stella: Why did you attack us?

Theona: The Sea Viper offers a bounty for any Source of Power, and Buckle is clearly a Source of Power.

Buckle slinks back into the room, still glowing, not subtle. Theona apologizes profusely.

Buckle: You’re not the first. you won’t be the last. At least you didn’t put me in a bag.

Theona replaces the window she smashes with a section of fence. The groundskeeper is not going to be happy about this. Ugg’s watch was the last watch before dawn, so everyone just stays awake until dawn.  Now they can work on their reason for coming to this town: finding the Oolite Dwarves.

Stella: Point me to some dwarves!

Theona: Do you want me to bring you some dwarves?

Stella: No! No kidnapping! Just tell me where they hang out in this city.

Vieport is cosmopolitan so there are communities of most of the species in the city, but there’s now Dwarf ghetto where all the Dwarves live together.  However, there is a Dwarf Cultural Center, which is a good place to start.  Theona leads the team to a field cows and sheep grazing on it. The Dwarf Cultural Center is underground, of course.  Once inside they meet Klaus, an old Dwarf with a long white beard. He tells them about the history of Dwarves in Vieport and how they dug the foundations of the lightning towers that surround the city.  The Lightning Barrier is necessary to keep out the Deadlands. Anything that dies out there turns into a ghost that attacks the living. it’s a problem that exacerbates itself, and there’s not much left alive in the Ghostlands now.  Ghosts can’t pass through the Lightning Barrier, and they can’t swim, so the river is safe for traffic.

Stella: Is everyone from around here?

Klaus: I don’t know what you mean.

Stella: We’re looking for a family of Dwarves called Oolite.

Klaus: I can’t just give out addresses to strangers, but I can pass a message along.

Stella: Tell them, “We stumbled across your mine. Metal Dwarves had become aggressive and taken over. That situation has been remedied.” They can find us by looking for Theona.  Also, do you know that Halfing that lives in Vieport?

Klaus does not know a Halfling, and does not understand the message, but will relay it.

Stella’s foreign coins (Precious)

Buckle buys a Dwarven Dictionary with Stella’s money and they leave the Dwarven Cultural Center. They see the sights for a while, then another Dwarf rushes up to Theona. It’s Flint Oolite!

Flint: Is it true? Is the mine safe?

Buckle: It’s true, and my glowing eyes are the proof!

Flint is very confused. They explain their adventures in the Oolite Mine.

Flint: If only Opal were here. This was her dream.

Flint explains that Opal was ambitious and made it her life’s mission to restore the clan’s former glory, when the rest of the Oolites were resigned to living in obscurity. The last Flint knew, Opal was in Fairmeadow, north of here and east of Sugar’s Crossing. Stella, a completionist, doens’t know which quest to pursue. Her mission is to find all the Halflings, but she also wants to find Opal. Opal needs to know she can go home, just like the Halflings need to know they can return home.

Goatriders session 3

GM note: Blades In The Dark is player-driven. The crew decides what scores to attempt, but the game and the GM can offer assistance:

  1. Try to capture Turf (the Crew Playbook suggests a score)
  2. Ask around for jobs from NPCs (the GM suggests a score)
  3. Do something that’s important to the characters (the players invent a score)

I prepared several scores for the crew to choose from based on the excellent Twitter feed of HumanTheFixer, a Shadowrun role-play account. Lots of creative, inspiring runs for ambitious scoundrels, even if I have to remove the cyberpunk elements and change all the names.

The Goatriders meet to plan their next score in their hidden lair: in a sewer under Junker’s family business.

Moth: I’m down for whatever, but if you don’t do anything, I’m going to go party.

What if the Goatriders had their own party spot? Moth can’t get thrown out of her own party. They ponder how to seize a party spot for their turf. What are the good party spots around here? Moth could ask Telda, who lets Moth crash at her place when she gets tossed out of parties.  Junker knows a Blood Dealer who might have some leads.  Moth and Junkers are keen to find a brothel susceptible to hostile takeover.

Skellington: Parties mean brothels? Are those the same?

Moth: Tavern is for drinking. Brothel is for lots of things. Like DRUGS!

Everyone is yelling ideas. Somehow owning and operating a brothel seems like a lot of work, so maybe they acquire a brothel and let someone else own it, so long as the Goatriders get to use it whenever they wish. Or maybe they own it, and rent it out.

Junker goes to ask Jul if he knows of any suitable brothels they can lean on. Jul is a shrewd Akorosi man with a wild look.

Junker (+ Skellington aid) Consort fortune 2d 6

Jul has quite a bit of information about a vulnerable vice den, but it’s not quite a brothel. Traven’s Smoke Shop in Coalridge is claimed by Ulf Stormborn, Ulf is a Skovlander who is new to Duskwall and is making quite a name for himself. He picks a lot of fights, so his hold on his turf is weak. Skovlanders are a mistreated underclass in Duskwall, and Ulf won’t tolerate any mistreatment of his people.

Moth: He doesn’t have many friends because he’s from that [actual IRL slur] country!

Moth learned such language from her Dad, who was in the military when Skovlan finally fell to the Empire.

Skellington: Don’t mention your military dad.

The Goatriders decide to make Ulf their friend, and convince him to let them use the smoke shop. That’s almost enough to start a score!

  • Target: Traven’s Smoke Shop
  • Plan: Social
  • Connection: ??

They need an in, someone to introduce them to Ulf on good terms.  Moth considers going to party at the smoke shop, and consults her friend Telda, an expert at parties and schmoozing. Moth asks how to party with Skovlandians and make them like her.

Moth Consort fortune 1d 2

Telda: Call them Skovlanders, not Skovlandians. Those mean signs on some buildings says “NO SKOVS” so don’t call them Skovs either.

Telda doesn’t know Ulf or any of his friends. She recommends they go to Coalridge, where many Skovlanders live and work.  They find Traven’s Smoke Shop, a narrow storefront jammed between two other shops on a crowded, dirty street.  The front windows have two layers of glass, and different kinds of smoke waft up between the panes.  This demonstrates the variety of wares the shop offers, and adds a bit of privacy to the store’s customers. Skellington wants to schmooze a worker, and finds Hix, a wiry Skovlander man wearing a smoke shop apron, sitting on a box in the alley behind the smoke shop, turning a pipe over in his hands.

Skellington: Get a new pipe?

Hix: Better, an old one!

Hix is eager to show his new item off. He explains how the shape of the bowl and style of carving gives a good estimate of the pipe’s age. The pipe was well-cared for, indicated by the relative lack of tooth marks. Hix is a collector. He knows his stuff!  This pipe was for sale in the shop, and he was able to pick it up with some of his wages, because people didn’t recognize its value. Skellington chats with Hix a bit, just bros broing out over some chewed pipes.  Skellington asks when the shop closes.

Skellington Sway controlled standard 2d 4

Hix is suspicious, since that information would be valuable to thieves.

Skellington: I don’t want to overstep. I’m going to go.

Getting a connection with an employee didn’t work. What now. Maybe they go in as customers and snoop about.

Moth: I’m taking the shipping manifest. Do you want anything?

Junker: Something clovy.

Moth Finesse risky standard 2d 6

Moth manages to swipe a delivery schedule while the clerk is dealing with another customer.

The Goatriders have lost track of their plan.  Moth’s head is empty. That’s where she hides contraband.

Junker: The plan is an agile beast. It’s evolving every sprint, but we’re on top of it!

Are they robbing the smoke shop? The delivery schedule would certainly help with that.

Could they get Ulf in trouble with another faction, then support him as an underdog to gain his trust? What factions operate in Coalridge? The Goatriders spend most of their time in Crow’s Foot.  The Lost are a Tier I faction, about as much power as Ulf, but they are dedicated to protecting the downtrodden, and the Goatriders support that mission. The major power in Coalridge are the Sparkwrights, who maintain the city’s power generators and the lightning barriers that keep the horrors of the Deathlands out of Duskwall. The Sparkwrights have more influence in the city than the Bluecoats! The Goatriders aren’t definitely not ready to mess with them!

Will they can throw a party and invite Ulf? People like parties, right? Coalridge has lots of big factories and crowded apartment buildings and not many party venues. The rail lines that used to transport coal (the city runs on Leviathan blood now) are disused, and rail cars lie all over in various states of disrepair and neglect. Some of the poorest residents make homes inside them.

Junker: Would it be respectful to throw a party in a boxcar?

Moth: It’s like a house party!

House parties are off-limits for Junker. She lives with her parents.  The Goatriders wander the streets of Coalridge. Moth looks for a Skovlander to chat up.

Moth Survey fortune 1d 2

Moth: I’ve been buzzed this whole time. I woke up next to a half-empty bottle of wine.

Skellington: This is the third time we’ve passed this business of, umm, accountants?

Junkers: Accountants and brothels go together!

GM note: Apparently this is a TikTok meme.

Moth: So we’re turning the smoke shop into a brothel?

Junker: That was your plan!

Skellington: We could throw a block party!

Junker: The real score was the plans we made along the way.

Moth: Focus! We need to throw a party! I want to party! We throw a party and Skellington steals the deed to Traven’s Smoke Shop.

Skellington: You should steal the deed.

Moth: I’m not skipping the party.

Junker: I can tinker my way inside.

Skellington: Don’t say racist things to Ulf!

Junker: Don’t mention your dad!

  • Target: Traven’s Smoke Shop
  • Plan: Deception
  • Method; Block Party

Engagement roll 2d 6

The Goatriders set up a block party in the street in front of Traven’s Smoke Shop. People gather around to eat barbeque, play music, dance, and have a good time. Some of the smoke shop employees come out and join the festivities.  Ulf arrives from off-site and pushes through the crowd to get to his shop. He seems bemused by the party.  Skellington tries to get HIx to convicne Ulf to stay outside and party.

Skellington Sway 2d controlled standard 3

Maybe not Hix. Skellington tries another approach. He greets Ulf himself, and offers to get him a drink.

Skellington Consort 1d risky controlled 2

Ulf insists that he has business to attend to in his shop.

FLASHBACK: Skellington asked around to see how Ulf was crushing on, to make sure that person attended the party.

Skellington Survery (fortune) 1d 3

Ulf seems completely focused on his mission, and has no time for personal entanglements. Skellington considers flirting with Ulf, but instead exploits Ulf’s aggressive reputation. Skellington tells Ulf that there will be a boxing tournament later, and he should sign up!

Skellington Sway risky great 2d 5

Of course Ulf wants to fight! His enthusiasm is infectious and before he knows what’s happening, Skellington has also pledged to fight in the tournament. Hopefully the heist will end before Skellington has to fulfill that foolish promise.

Meanwhile, Junker quietly opens the back door of the shop and peers in from the alley. There are no customers in the shop, and only one clerk half-heartedly manning the counter and looking at the party outside. The office door is off to the clerk’s side, but he’s not likely to look over.

Junker Prowl 1d controlled standard 2

That’s not good! Junker takes a Devil’s Bargain. The clerk was about to look over and spot her as she crept up to the office door, but a customer approaches the front door. It’s Timothe, Junker’s cousin! He takes the clerk’s attention, but he’s been burned by Junker’s lawless ways before. He won’t be happy to see her. There’s also a mirror that Junker didn’t see from that back of the shop that makes the office door more visible from the counter than she thought.  Junker tries to pick the lock to the office door with her fine lockpicks.

Junker Tinker risky standard (+push) 3d 5

She pushes herself to work as quickly as possible.  Just as she gets the lock open, the clerk glances at the mirror and spots her!

Outside, Moth intercepts Timothe. She knows that Timothe wants to be treated like an adult, since he just turned 18.

Moth: Hey, I feel bad for how you were treated. We owe you another chance. Do you want to join the boxing tournament with the real men?

Moth Consort risky standard 1d 3

Timothe brushes her off and goes into the smoke shop, because that’s for grown-ups too. Inside, Junkers has the office door open, but the clerk is coming for her!

Junker Prowl controlled standard 1d 6

She slams the door behind her and locks it before the clerk can get there.  He pounds on the door, but he can’t open it immediately. Inside the office there’s a desk with some papers on the top, drawers on one side, and a small safe built into the other side. Junker lays into the safe with her drill and crowbar.

Junker Wreck risky standard 1d 5

She pries the safe open. Inside she finds:

  • A stack of official documents
  • A stack of signs or various sizes and materials that all say some variation of “NO SKOVS”
  • A collection of signet rings and lockets. Nice jewelry, but all tied to a particular person’s identity

Junker determines that Ulf finds racists who put sup “NO SKOVS” signs, kills them, and keeps these trinkets as proof. Yikes! Also, these very personalized trinkets would be hard to fence, so she leaves them and takes only the official documents.

GM note: Instead of “No, you can’t fence these” I should have said “You can take 1 Coin for 1 Heat, but to 4.” because letting scoundrels make trouble for themselves is thematically appropriate!

The clerk stops pounding on the door and goes to fetch Ulf.

GM note: This clerk have become important. Let’s define him some more.

Wester is a plain-looking Skovlander man. He likes teamwork, but is dishonest, and also a member of a secret society. He rushes out the door of the shop and is intercepted by Moth. She tries to hide behind him and says that some creeper is following her around, and can he block for her?

Moth Consort risky standard 1d 3

Wester advises her to be upfront and just tell the man that she’s not interested.

GM note: This is the WORST advice. Do not do this to anyone!

After brushing Moth off, Wester approaches Ulf. Skellington has to act fast to prevent Wester from alerting Ulf to the robbery in progress! He shoves Wester and tries to start a fight right then, claiming the boxing tournament has started.

Skellington Command desperate standard 1d 5

Wester is distracted from his mission, but Skellington attacked Wester without warning, and Ulf cannot tolerate poor sportsmanship. As Skellington leans forward to jab Wester, Ulf grabs the end of Skellington’s belt and yanks it out, spinning Skellington in the air like a top. Skellington’s about to take a nasty wreck on the cobblestone street!

Skellington Resist Level 3 Harm (Broken Ribs) Prowess 1d 4 stress

Skellington manages get his arms around his head, and roll on impact, avoiding injury.

GM note: We workshopped a few ways Ulf would inflict Level 3 Harm, and I only thought of the cool way after the session. Downward chop to the neck as Skellington leans forward. Faceplant onto the street and take Level 3 Harm (Fractured Skull).

Ulf: Dishonorable!

Skellington grovels and Ulf picks him up and sets him on his feet. All will be forgiven if Skellington competes honorably in the ring.

Back in the office, Junker is escaping through the window.

Junker Wreck controlled great 1d 6

She pries the entire pane of glass cleanly out of the frame, sets it neatly on the desk, and wipes her fingerprints off the edges. She hops out the window into the alley and walks away. Now to signal the others that the heist is complete.

FLASHBACK: The Goatriders decide on a signal.

Junker leans on the wall of a nearby building and casually squawks.

Moth hears the signal and goes to extricate Skellington. She tells Ulf that she has to redo the bracket to separate Skellington and Wester and also that she will scold Skellington for his terrible breach of protocol.

Moth Sway (+aid Skellington) risky standard 2d 5

That seems plausible to Ulf, and she takes Skellingont and drags him out of the party and around a corner. They meet up with Junker. They’ve done it! They can slip away before anyone can stop them. Skellington wants to do one more thing first.

Skellington Compel risky standard 2d 5

Skellington summons the ghost of a worker killed in a coal mining accident decades ago, and tells it to walk up to Ulf and says “The Crows did this!” The ghost moves to obey in the most direct way possible, right through the corner of the building they are hiding behind. The Goatriders exit the scene, with screams and the sounds of panic echoing behind them as the crowded party is interrupted by a terrifying ghost!

Junker did grab the deed to Traven’s Smoke Shop, and the Goatrider’s deliver it to the Red Sashes. They aren’t very clear on what they get in return.  It’s up to the Red Sashes to take Traven’s Smoke Shop from Ulf, either with their superior numbers, or with the help of the law. With the deed, they are the legal owners.

We skipped the downtime phase, since most activities in downtime are preparation for future events, and this is the last session with this crew. They have no future.

Chasing The Sunset & Averiela

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

The party: Dryden of Conwall the Collector, Averiela the Elf, Lucia the Brave the Heir

GM note: A player had been recounting stories from our adventures to a relative for a while, so I invited that relative to join.

Introducing Averiela the Elf. Her name means “Truth Seeker”.  She’s 1,300 years old and lives in an ancient realm hidden in the deep forest.  She’s 5’10” and has deep eyes, like looking into time itself.  Those eyes, and her braided hair, are hidden under the hood of her color-changing cloak. Usually the change in color is decorative, but she can empower it with her Elven magic to perfectly match the surroundings and make her invisible. She travels with a pet wolf, Nose-Too-Much, and a unicorn whose true name is untranslatable, so she calls it Whitesand. She and her people only venture from the forest rarely, but on a previous outing, Whitesand met Dryden when he was coming to this continent and searching for Lucia. Dryden took a mold of Whitesand’s hoofprint in the clay of a riverbank, and Whitesand touched the hoofprint with its horn, adding a sparkling star-shape to it.

GM note: 1,300 years old? I don’t have notes that go that far back, but I have to reveal the obvious things that happened 100 years ago that even a secluded Elf would notice, like the disappearance of the Dragons, and the appearance of the Moon.

Last time, Lucia and Dryden stumbled into a hunting expedition which spread into a confused melee, but everyone retreated and they were left alone on the battlefield. Dryden and Lucia search for the pieces of Dryden’s flying disc, which was destroyed with a flick of Haku’s powerful tail.

Lucia Look Closely 6-

Lucia sees a piece near the lake that Roddy retreated into, but she kicks it down the hill in front of her and chases it until it falls in the water and disappears. Out in the middle of the lake, she sees bubbles rise to the surface. The bubbles stop, but reappear after a few seconds. Their timing is regular. Suspicious.  Now that she’s down by the shore, she’s on the other side of a chest-high boulder and sees a hole in this side of the rock that leads down into the ground.

Averiela is over the next hill. She sensed a deep evil and set out to make it right. Nose-Too-Much indicates that familiar people are nearby! She and her pets come over the hill and see Dryden and Lucia. Averiela greets them from afar. Dryden returns the traditional hunter’s greeting. (It’s the Vulcan salute)

GM note: Seeking a deep evil? I have several to choose from! Please integrate your personal quest into my lore!

Lucia explains that they were just in an interesting battle. Averiela heard that battle from across the Singing Hills.  Unfortunately, the pieces of the flying disk are lost. Dryden will have to start from scratch to build a new one.

Lucia: That flying disk has gotten us out of many a sticky situation.

The three humanoids have gathered at the mysterious boulder.

Dryden: There’s a poorly misguided but very talented sniper down this hole.

Dryden explains the battle, and the unicorn sword he recovered from Lady Elizabeth Eleanor Eadwynn. Making a weapon from the healing horn of a peaceful creature is an atrocity, so Dryden has to be careful about how he shows it to people. Whitesand is right there! Dryden explains that he unlocked the healing potential in the horn, so it can be used for good now.

Dryden: In order to heal the wrongs of the world you must pierce something!

The hole in the boulder leads to a stone spiral staircase that goes down into darkness. The humanoids and the wolf can fit easily, but it would be a tight squeeze for Whitesand. Averiela tells Whitesand to wait in a nearby forest. She can Whisper On The Wind to tell Whitesand where to meet up with her later.

Dryden Strange Curios (useful) – light sources

None of them can see in the dark, so Dryden reaches back into his cloak and pulls out some simple items that he made when he was a young boy. Wands were popular back then, so he made several different kinds of luminous wand: a narrow spotlight, an all-around glow, even some that flash or change color. Now they can see their surroundings. A room cut out of the rock. Ten by twenty feet, and six feet high. Low stone benches. The wall opposite the staircase is open to the side of a round tunnel that’s as wide as a two-lane road, and half full of water. Pointing the wand one direction down the tunnel, they see water flow in from above at the same interval as the bubbles in the lake above. Pointing the other way, the tunnel stretches a long way into the darkness.  This looks like a bus stop, but everything seems old and disused. It’s mostly stone, so decay is very subtle and slow.

Averiela Look Closely 10+

Averiela Touch The World Lightly

Averiela takes a wand and walks on the surface of the water down the tunnel a ways. She feels the motion of a large underwater creature through her feet. It does not notice her, and she returns to report to her companions. Despite the threat of the large hidden creature, they all want to continue down the tunnel.

Averiela: Is there anything for you mortals to float on?

Dryden is excited. He’s just figured out a problem that he’s been working on for three and a half months! When he reaches back into his cloak, he’s not pulling objects out of hidden pockets. He’s actually teleporting items from his collection back home. So far he’s only been able to bring magical items through, but he’s cracked the puzzle of safely bringing living creatures through his cloak.

Dryden Strange Curios (useful) – flotation device

Dryden reaches into his cloak and pulls out a giant pond turtle! In the turtle’s language, his name is “Ancient One” Dryden and Acnient One have developed a system over the years. Dryden stands on ancient One’s back and skips a stone in the direction he wants Ancient One to go. Ancient One will go to the stone and retrieve it. Dryden can tap on Ancient One’s shell to signal him to continue in that same direction, or he can skip the stone somewhere else.  Lucia and Dryden ride on Ancient One’s shell. Averiela walks on the surface of the water, carrying Nose-Too-Much across her shoulders, because he doesn’t like getting wet.

As they travel down the tunnel, the underwater creature reveals itself, rising up and blocking the whole width of the tunnel. It’s a huge armored crocodile. It’s helmet comes to a sharp point at the end of its snout, perfect for ramming ships,

Armored Crocodile, Boss of Underground Waterways

  • Teeth and Screaming
  • Armored Platform
  • Threat To The World

Dryden: There’s not much meat on me!

A man emerges from an armor-plated howdah on the Crocodile’s back to challenge them.

Brainiac, exiled Vizier of Thaumatown

  • Chess Pieces: allies take hits for them
  • Part Of The Plan: When something goes wrong, damage this stat to make a Hard Cut
  • Too Clever For Their Own Good: while monologue when things go well

Brainiac: I am the ruler of this subterranean labyrinth!

Dryden counters by hyping up Lucia’s royal status.

Lucia Royal Treatment: rulers will offer a room and a meal

Brainiac bows formally and asks them to come aboard. The Armored Crocodile lowers its head so they can step up to it. Lucia and Dryden go to the armored howdah, but Averiela prefers to stay outside with Nose-Too-Much and Ancient One. The Armored Crocodile sniffs Ancient One in an uncomfortable, but not immediately threatening manner.

Brainaic’s quarters inside the howdah are simple, but high-tech. It’s lit by softly glowing cylinders. Brainiac knows protocol, and treats Lucia how royalty should be treated.

Lucia Speak Softly 7-9

In the conversation, Brainiac reveals that the underground tunnels are a secret transportation network. He is not from here originally, but is on a quest to regain his former position.  He must claim a Source Of Power.  From the way he talks about his quest, and his determination to fulfill it, Lucia gets the sense that Brainiac is ruthless, and if he determines that they have something that is useful to him, he’ll take it by force! Dryden tries to make friends.

Dryden: You know, I’m trying to collect magical artifacts as well!

Brainiac is very interested in what Dryden has found. Dryden backpedals, saying he hasn’t had much success. Dryden wants more information from this guy.

Dryden Talk Sense (+Grace, dazzle) 10+

Dryden asks for more information about the quest Brainiac was sent on, and commiserates about difficult quests. Dryden himself was sent on a difficult by a vampire! Brainiac reveals that he was sent out as punishment for not handling a crisis to his master’s satisfaction. His master is the great Wizard Allan A Zham! That name doesn’t mean anything Lucia or Dryden. He was sent to find a Source of Power under a volcano, but there are two volcanoes! Lucia and Dryden share a worried glance. They found a lost library from the Forgotten Lands inside an extinct volcano. They don’t want this ruthless, intelligent person to get his hands on all that knowledge.

Dryden Finish Them (+Wisdom) advantage, relating to his experiences 7-9

Dryden commiserates. The vampire that sent him on a quest also didn’t give good information, so he wasn’t able to find what the vampire wanted. He can only tell Brainiac where not to go.  Brainiac wants to do something nice for his guests, so he prepares milkshakes. He opens a small metal box that releases fog like it’s very cold, and puts the ingredients in a little electric blender. He flavors the milkshakes with fruit from crates that show signs of violence. The machines are no doubt his, but he stole all this food from other people.  Brainiac asks if they know about the two volcanoes. Lucia says there’s a dragon living under the smoking volcano.

Brainiac: Aha! Great! Useful!

He makes ready to set out, and grants the group free passage through his realm for their help. Lucia and Dryden return to Ancient One, and the Armored Crocodile sinks under the water and disappears. They recount their conversation to Averiela.

Averiela: I’m a little concerned about the information you youngins passed along.

Lucia: We didn’t tell him about the library.

GM note: No end of session move. I checked in with Averiela’s player to make sure they didn’t feel left out, since most of the action was a conversation that Averiela was not present for. They assured me that they are an observer, so low participation is OK. I’ll continue to check in, since they are such a new player. I want them to have a good experience!

Data-driven item generation for Equipment Explained

Equipment Explained is mostly practice for clear, accessible UI, but I still made an overly-complicated system to generate items.

The parts of an item

  • base item
    • item quality
    • (optional) prefix
      • prefix quality
    • (optional) suffix
      • suffix quality
    • (optional) requirements

The base item is either armor or a weapon.

  • weapon
    • type (axe, sword, hammer, etc.)
      • which stats the item boosts
    • slot (main hand, off hand)
      • where the item can be equipped
    • tier (0-3)
      • magnitude of bonuses
  • armor
    • slot (feet, body, head, etc.)
      • where the item can be equipped
      • magnitude of bonuses (a breastplate provides more armor than gloves)
    • tier (cloth, leather, plate, etc)
      • which stats the item boosts (leather boosts DEX, plate boosts HP)
  • item quality
    • probability of prefix
    • probability of rare prefix
    • probability of suffix
    • probability of rare suffix
    • probability of requirements
    • multiplier for magnitude of
      • item bonuses
      • prefix bonuses
      • suffix bonuses
      • requirements

Common affixes only boost a single stat, but rare affixes boost several stats

  • prefix
      • quality
        • multiplier for bonuses of prefix only
      • stat bonus
  • sufffix
    • quality
      • multiplier for bonuses of suffix only
    • stat bonus
  • requirements
    • lower limits for a set of thematically linked stats that must be met for an item to be equipped.


Because I’m not making a whole game, I was able to skip some constraints that most RPGs use.

Thematic Affixes

Some games limit certain affixes to certain types of items, such as

  • “of Fleeted-footedness” only appears on boots
  • there are no poison resistance rings
  • helmets tend to boost INT.

The base items in Equipment Explained specialize with only a few stats, but affixes can affect any stat, and any item can have any affix. So a sword is sure to boost Slashing Damage, but sometimes cloth gloves will boost Slashing Damage even more!

Balanced Requirements

Most RPGs will give more powerful items higher requirements, and thematically appropriate ones. So a magic staff may require a lot of INT or MP to equip, while a small hammer would instead require a bit of Strength. In Equipment Explained, higher quality items are more likely to have requirements, but those requirements are chosen randomly and aren’t associated with the bonuses the item provides.


Equipment Explained doesn’t have combat, experience, loot drops, or an economy.  I don’t have to worry about items being fair. Is it reasonable to scale Health from a base value of 100 to 2700, or to 125? I don’t care. I do care that it’s very obvious how much those boots will increase your Health, how much you need to increase your Magic Resistance to equip those boots, and which items will help you reach that goal.


I created an LibreOffice spreadsheet with a sheet for each type of data. The first row in each sheet is human-readable labels for each column, which the game engine has no use for, so I don’t use LibreOffice’s built-in CSV exporter, which will export every cell in a sheet.  Instead I drag-select the sheet (except for the header row) copy and paste into a text document.

So the 10 sheets of one LibreOffice spreadsheet become 10 .txt files, which I place in the resource directory of my Godot project.  I write a custom function to read each file, and save all the information about items, affixes, requirements, probabilities, etc. into data structures.    affix.txt contains information for both prefixes and suffixes, since they are so similar. The function that reads affixes.txt can also read affixes_rare.txt, which uses a similar format. Weapons are armor are defined by a two-dimensional array of type and tier, and CSV files are good for one-dimensional lists, so armor and weapons need two CSV files each to completely define the space.

When I create an item, I pick from the list of items & the list of qualities. The quality specifies the probability of requirements, prefix, and suffix, so based on those odds I may pick from those lists as well. Pretty basic stuff once all the data is loaded from the files.

Manually copying data from spreadsheet to text file is error-prone busywork, so if I continue developing this, I’ll need to automate that step.