Chasing The Sunset & EEE

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

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

Last time, the party came over a mountain pass into the Singing Hills, and were formally but violently told to get lost by a note delivered via high-speed projectile. This just makes them curious.

Dryden takes the projectile, a long metal spike like a thick knitting needles, and hides it back in his cloak.  They know roughly where the shot came from, since they heard a sound like a giant cork popping a few seconds after Lucia was hit. Lucia waves a white flag and they head towards the sound.  They don’t see anyone in that direction. They go down into a valley, and when they come up the next hill, they see a shining figure ahead of them on top of the next hill, near one of the singing stones. It’s a knight in shining armor standing proudly and waiting for them to approach. As they get closer they get a better look at the knight. Her armor shines like chrome, and is unicorn themed. The visor above her face is shaped like a unicorn’s snout, there’s a unicorn horn on her forehead, and a bubblegum-pink mane on the back of the helmet. Her helmet leaves her face uncovered, and it looks like those artists’ references for ideal proportions. She’s as conventionally attractive as possible.

Lady Elizabeth Eleanor Eadwynn: Oh, you are bold!

Lucia detects that she is evil.  Dryden & Lucia introduce themselves. The knight introduces herself as Lady Elizabeth Eleanor Eadwynn. And also Roddy. She points over her shoulder at one of the scrubby bushes on the hilltop. A different bush shifts and gets taller. It’s a person wearing a ghillie suit to disguise his shape. He’s holding a long tube connected to his back with a pipe, probably the weapon that fired the metal spike.

Dryden: You stand in the presence of a queen!

Lucia: Are you the ruler of this place?

Lady Elizabeth Eleanor Eadwynn: No, that is!

She points to the white line in the sky that has been visible since the party came down the mountain, twisting and wandering across the sky.  Taking a closer look, Dryden and Lucia can tell that it’s a flying snake: a Sky Serpent. EEE explains that she is here for the glory of hunting and killing that Sky Serpent. She’s cut the Singing Stone next to them to change its pitch and confuse the Sky Serpent.  Dryden says he doesn’t see much glory is killing such a little thing.  Roddy hesitantly speaks up, avoiding eye contact even though his wide-brimmed hat has a mesh veil that makes his eyes hard to see at the best of times.

Roddy: It’s, uh, actually quite large but it looks small because, uh, it’s, it’s so far away.

Dryden thanks him for the explanation and congratulates him on his excellent shot to deliver EEE’s message.

Roddy’s Social Anxiety make him flee people who talk to him

This makes Roddy very uncomfortable and he shrinks away. The Sky Serpent does seem to be swerving more than usual. Snakes curve back and forth all the time while they move, but these turns look less regular and intentional.

EEE’s Arrogant stat lets people Keep Her Busy by praising her.

Dryden tells EEE that she’s thought up an ingenious plot! A brilliant plot! Surely the bards will sing songs of this day for generations! EEE eats up the attention and starts explaining more details about her plan when a knife lands in the ground between them! It’s clearly a throwing knife, with its hollow hilt and pinky loop, but it’s three feet long!

Lady Elizabeth Eleanor Eadwynn: Such trinkets won’t work on me!

EEE looks up and draws her sword. It’s a rapier, but the blade is a unicorn horn!  Unicorns are known to be peaceful creatures with healing powers, so turning one’s horn into a weapon is perverse! No time for that right now! Look up! Somoene has jumped from the back of the Sky Serpent overhead and hurls another throwing knife while plummeting downward.

EEE’s Counter Spell makes her immune to ranged and magical damage

EEE strikes the second throwing knife with her sword, and the knife explodes into pink feathers. The figure lands in a shockwave of debris, because she’s a 20-foot-tall giant!

Fee, giant

  • Crushing Blows: deals 2 damage
  • Like Flies: anyone who fails a roll or pays a price while on a Giant is flung off, in addition to usual consequences
  • Proper Weapons: She carries throwing knives (ranged) in wrist holsters, like Mai from Avatar: the Last Airbender

Dryden Get Away 10+ (avoid harm, bring Lucia along)

Dryden tackles Lucia out of the way, so they avoid being injured by Fee’s dynamic entry.

Fee: How dare you tamper with Haku’s Singing Stones?!

Fee flings more throwing knives at EEE, who turns them into feathers, dust, glitter, with flicks of her wrist. Dryden gets out the mirror shard (most recently used to kill some vampires) and holds it up so EE can see herself in it.  He yells about how glorious this battle is, and how tales will be told.

Lucia goes over to Roddy, who is preparing to fire on Fee, and starts asking a bunch of questions.

Lucia: Why does Triple-E want to hunt this snake anyways? So you’re a marksman, huh? What’s in this for you? What are you getting paid?

Roddy flees.

GM note: At this point, I thought I’d made it too easy. EEE is a jerk and obviously evil from using a unicorn sword, even without Lucia’s special power. Of course the party will fight her. Also the Sky Serpent’s forces will fight against her too. And both EEE and Roddy has easily exploitable weaknesses, which my party is exploiting! This will be so one-sided.

EEE is only half paying attention to Fee’s attacks. She looks over to watch herself in the Dryden’s mirror, striking proper fencing poses as they magically deflects each of Fee’s attacks. Dryden keeps up a running commentary of EEE’s greatness.  Lucia sneaks up from the other side, hoping to disable EEE, but at the same time, Fee realizes that the throwing knifes won’t work, and she is 64x EEE’s size, and charges in to grab her. by focussing too much on avoiding EEE’s notice, Lucia has unknowingly put herself in Fee’s path!

EEE’s Mage Knight forces those who get close to her to pay a price (put on the spot)

Lucia Finish Them (sense, knock her out) 7-9 damage Arrogant

Lucia lands a solid blow, and EEE realizes the folly of listening to flatterers. Dryden activates his Flying Disk to rise up to Fee’s eye level

Dryden Talk Sense (wisdom, emotion) 10+

Dryden: Fair giantess! We don’t wish to fight you! Someone so evil as to use a unicorn sword must face justice!

Fee is convinced that Lucia and Dryden are not threats. She shifts her weight as she runs, stepping over Lucia (instead of trampling her) and snatching EEE up in one giant fist. EEE reverses her grip on her unicorn sword and brings it down with both hands into Fee’s wrist!

EEE damages Fee’s Proper Weapons

Fee screams in pain and flings EEE away, down the hill.

Fee damages EEE’s Counter Spell

Lucia has lost track fo Roddy and sends Will, her bodyguard to look for him.

Dryden Scooby Snacks to Overchage Flying Disk, even though Overcharge is marked

Dryden flies after EEE and throws his gravity-warping knockout-gas bolas!

Dryden Finish Them (sense, knock out) advantage: thrown down a hill 6-

Roddy fires his weapon just as Dryden is about to throw. The sudden noise disrupts Dryden’s aim, and the bolas land beyond EEE. Roddy does not miss. He just shot Haku!

Haku, Sky Serpent, Boss of The Singing Hills

  • Threat to the World
  • Drop-Off: Haku can deploy Giants into the battlefield
  • Mostly Peaceful: Although Haku is huge and powerful, he avoids attacking little folk directly.

Roddy damages Haku’s Mostly Peaceful

Haku bellows with rage and dives towards the ground.

Lucia’s Symbol Of Royalty grants her an audience with whoever she shows it to.

Lucia holds aloft the brooch in the shape of a silver flower that proves she is Queen of the Forgotten Lands. She starts to formally great Haku.

Fee: You fool! He’s blind!

Haku can’t recognize the Symbol of Royalty, so Lucia can’t claim Royal Treatment! 

Fee blows a whistle around her neck and runs away from Haku’s projected impact point. EEE recovers and targets Dryden for tricking her. He mocks her for thinking she can fight a great Sky Serpent when she got tossed like a piece of trash by a Giant. Haku crashes to the ground, knocking over the Singing Stone at the top of the hill. He’s 100 feet long, and his coils are so thick that Dryden and Lucia can’t see over them.

Dryden Get Away 10+ avoid harm, bring Lucia along

Dryden swoops in and carries Lucia away from the shackwave.  A second giant dismounts and heads towards Roddy. This giant wields two ship anchors, and has ship chains wrapped in a an X over both shoulders.  EEE switches to fight Haku, now that he is within reach.

Lucia: We could leave.

Dryden: We need to take out Triple-E.

They turn to Fee. Dryden floats at her eye level.

Dryden: We want to stop the crazy pink knight and not die.

Lucia: We are but peaceful-ish travelers. We have no ill will towards you. We have no desire to fight and bring violence.

Fee explains that Haku is blind and uses the sounds of the Singing Stones to navigate. This Singing Stone was altered to sing the wrong note and disorient Haku. Now he’s furious, and you little people should stay out of reach.

Dryden: Keep to the air, right.

GM note: I need to make sure that Dryden’s player knows his spells and gadgets are limited-use resources. He sure uses that Flying Disk often.

Dryden flies over the fight between Haku and EEE and fires his Ranged Rope at EEE’s left ankle

Dryden Finish Them (sense, disable) advantage: fighting a giant Sky Serpent 7+

The rope grabs EEE’s leg and trips her up. She faceplants and drops her sword.  Dryden attaches the rope to the Flying Disk and tells the Flying Disk to drag EEE into the gas cloud from the bolas. Since the Flying Disk can only carry one person, he drops to the ground near Haku, who has not calmed down.

GM note: See? Can the Flying Disk be Overcharged and Autonomous at the same time?

The Flying Disk drags EEE across the ground in a most undignified manner, one leg up in the air, head dragging on the ground. Her helmet comes off, revealing that only half of the pink mane was built into the helmet. EEE has long, beautiful bubblegum-pink hair, which is now full of dirt and grass.

Roddy’s Trick Shot causes a Finish Them roll to fail

Roddy shoots the rope holding EEE to the Flying Disk, so she stops short of the knock-out gas.  She had to think hard about her situation. All stats damaged. Her Sharpshooter is still active, but harried by a giant. Her quarry is on the ground and injured, but Fee, Lucia, and Dryden are all between her and him. She flees.

Lucia sees that Dryden is in danger from Haku’s lashing and writhing.  She thinks about reasoning with Haku, but he’s just been disoriented, led into a trap, and shot. Seems like a bad time to talk.  She scoops up EEE’s helmet instead of helping Dryden. Dryden is slammed to the ground by one of Haku’s coils.  He lands on EEE’s Unicorn Sword, but his innate magic and good character activate a bit of the healing magic within the sword.  He gets up and pulls the sword out and the Unicorn Sword heals his wound as it leaves.

Fee tries to calm Haku, and Dryden does too. Since Haku can’t see, he’ll use other senses.  He holds the Unicorn Sword and tries to imitate the nuzzling motion that Unicorns use when healing with their horns. Long ago, when testing out his Flying Disk, Dryden broke both is legs, but he met a Unicorn foal. The foal used this motion and both Dryden’s femur and tibia healed perfectly.

Pay a price to roll against Threat To The World: Flying Disk

Finish Them (Wisdom, show error of fighting) advantage: assistance from Fee 6-

Haku is unconvinced. He lashes out with his tail and hits Dryden’s Flying Disk. Dryden hears a crunching sound, and his soul crunches within him. Haku bellows a signal, and Fee jumps on his back.  Fum is across the valley swinging her anchors on the end of chains at poor Roddy. She hears the signal and blows a whistle in response.

Lucia wants to call out to Fee before she leaves, but doesn’t want to yell because that’s anxiety-inducing, and she wants Haku to be calm.

Lucia: Fee, I hope we meet again under better circumstances!

Haku flies towards Fum and she also jumps aboard.  Haku flies into the sky to disengage. Roddy, abandoned by EEE, doesn’t continue the fight and runs down the hill and disappears into a lake in the valley. Suddenly the only sounds are the constant humming of the Singing Stones. Did they win? EEE did not achieve her goal of killing Haku, but she got away. Haku survives, but has no good memories of them. they do have EEE’s sword and helmet.  The three-foot horn used for the sword was clearly from a full-grown Unicorn. The smaller horn on EEE’s helmet is not he tip of a larger horn, but the full horn of a young Unicorn. What a terrible person. The Unicorn Sword has turned the healing horn into a weapon of destruction, but the healing powers are still present, just suppressed.  Dryden uses the vials of Living Water and Living Ice he collected from the mountain spring to bring these powers forth.

Unicorn sword: melee, piercing, healing (2 uses) Good people who know about unicorns will hate anyone who carries it.

GM note: End of Session move. Heal, restore Gear (food, for more healing), level up. The characters reached level 5. I explained Destinies, but the players chose to advance in their Playbooks instead of taking Destinies, at least this time.

When the battle heated up I thought it would be a one-sided stomp, but no side definitively won. No one was Taken Out.

Chasing The Sunset & Bertha

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 absorbed the Heart of Earth, a source of power that caused a mine full of mining robots to go rampant. He accepted the Heart of Earth in a desperate moment: pinned under the red-hot body of the Robot King and the Heart of Earth dangerously unstable without containment.  When Stella shoved the Heart of Earth down his throat, a burst of energy rippled through his body, empowering him to shove the giant metal husk aside. He stands up and opens eyes that glow like fire, no pupils or irises. He looks down at his burning hands, then up at Stella.

Stella: Buckle, are you OK? You’re on fire.

Buckle. That was a rush. I feel fine though.

GM note: Heart of Earth is a custom Destiny that replaces Buckle’s Apex Destiny. It’s mostly the Firebrand Destiny, but with advantages & disadvantages like the Remnant, and a few life-related moves, since the heat of the earth brings life as well as fire.

Buckle’s body is hot enough to ignite flammable objects with a touch, and he shines like a campfire. Stella considers carrying a “Buckle Bucket” around to douse anything he accidentally torches.  Buckle considers getting a non-flammable leather coat to hide his brightness. Such a coat would allow him to literally flash people.  Camping out discreetly in the wilderness will also be difficult. Stella considers throwing a chain over a tree branch and hoisting Buckle aloft to pretend that he is the moon. That’s too similar to hanging for Buckle’s comfort.

OK, but what’s going on here in the mine? After the destruction of the King Robot, the group of mining robots that were guarding it and attacking the party have turned to collect ore.  They don’t speak or respond to speech.  The robots are finely crafted to look like metal dwarves, but without the influence of the Heart of Earth, they seem capable of only simple actions. Stella and Buckle explore the mine to figure out what happened here. The tunnels twist and branch, but Buckle’s excellent sense of direction prevents them from getting lost.

Stella Look Closely 7-9

Stella can see two distinct styles of excavation. Up to the chamber where they found the King Robot, the tunnels seem like a normal mine for metal ore, but after the Heart of Earth awakened the King Robot, the robots started mining in different patterns, ignoring the directions of the living Dwarves, who apparently fled. There are no signs of recent living Dwarf activity. The only control or interface to the mining robots is a dial on the robots’ back, under the backpack/hopper in which they collect ore.

The hidden switch on the mining robot.

Buckle reaches for the dial on a robot. Stella thinks smacking his hand away would be insufficient, and tackles him out of the way. Stella thinks they should talk about it before messing with anything.

Stella: Which glyph is your favorite?

Neither of them can read Dwarvish, so they have to guess at the glyphs’ meanings. Buckle likes the arrows. Maybe the robots pass each other.

Stella: OK, smarty-pants. What do the other glyphs do?

Buckle thinks the left glyph might make the robot put everything down. Stella decides to try it out on an isolated robot. She tells Buckle to stand some distance away in case of trouble. She reaches out to turn the dial to the left, and the robot, sensing her approach, reaches back to swat her away!

Stella Overcome 7-9

After knocking Stella a few paces back, the robot returns to its task. She decides to leave it alone.

Stella: Buckle, wanna give it a try?

Buckle: Maybe it’s good I didn’t touch it.

They look for the living quarters of the missing Dwarves.top view of the Oolite mine. A shallow funnel with three spiraling paths leading to a flat bottom. Entrances to mine tunnels along each of the three paths.

Dwarves prefer to live underground. The depth of one’s dwelling is a sign of privilege.  The living quarters of the working class Dwarves who used to operate this mine are right below the flat bottom of the shallow-funnel-shaped mine. The furniture and items in these barracks look quite old. The mining robots did not go rampant recently. New tunnels cut through the barracks, not with intent to deface or destroy them, just because that was the most efficient route. The rampant robots drove the Dwarves away, but did not seem to have any particular antipathy towards them.  Buckle finds a manual and picks it up. It bursts into flames from his super-heated touch. He drops it and stomps on it, but that only makes more flames! He decides not to touch any more books. Stella looks around at the books and posters that survive, but she can’t read Dwarvish.  Ugg’s a technical fellow. he has to maintain his robotic arms.  But Goblins don’t usually mingle with other cultures, so he doesn’t read Dwarvish either. Also, he almost died in a fight just a few minutes ago. He squints at some diagrams through a swollen eye, but he’s in no shape to help.

Buckle Look Closely 6-

Buckle tries to find some kind of command center, and falls through a weak patch of floor!  Stella assumes that he burned through, but that area had been undermined by a rogue tunnel. He did land in some sort of command center, and when the party joins him, they discover a log book (in Dwarvish, of course) and a regional map! They can’t read the place names, but they recognize places they’ve been recently.

An old map of the area surrounding the Oolite mine.

The X represents the mine. The circle due north must be Templeton, and the square to the west of Templeton must be Sugar’s Crossing because it’s on a road (grey line) and river (blue line) There’s a road leading from the mine to this port city that they haven’t visited. Maybe the Dwarves fled there, and they can go find them.

They prepare to leave the mine, and check in with the giant Dung Beetles before they go. The Beetles don’t recognize Buckle. He’s changed so much!  The Beetles are grateful that the robots will no longer break through and threaten the Beetles’ caverns, and offer the party the choice of several gifts:

Fellowship of the Beetles earned!

  • a big pile of nutritious mushrooms
  • knowledge of other Dwarven tunnels that lead to new places
  • An old Siege Tank, found in an abandoned tunnel

Besides the obvious benefits of armor and weapons, an enclosed vehicle can conceal Buckle’s bright glow.  The party accepts the Siege Tank from the beetles, and they all pile in and set out for the port city.

New companion: Siege Tank

  • Spikes And Steel
  • Heavily Armored
  • Secret Weapon

The road to the port has not been used in a longtime and has fallen into disrepair.  Parts are washed out. Bushes grow in the path. Tree roots distort what pavement remains. The Siege Tank rolls over all of it easily. It’s not much faster than walking.

Near sunset, as Stella drives the tank toward the pink and yellow horizon, Dark shapes appear on the road, silhouetted by the setting sun. There are about five of them, but they are backlit and hard to see.  They demand the vehicle halt, although their bearing doesn’t quite match their authoritative demand. Stella tries to think of a plan and the tank slowly approaches the dark figures. Silk is too weak from the last fight to help now.  Buckle opens the top hatch and climbs on top of the tank. With burning eyes, from the top of a war machine, he tells the figures on the road to move.

Buckle Talk Sense (impress with Grace) (Stella gives Hope by not stopping) 7-9

The figures shrink back into the brush on either side of the road.

Figure: We were only trying to warn you. Stay low!

The tank proceeds unhindered. Sometimes the next day, the tank crawls through a pleasant landscape.The sun is shining. The birds are not singing. There are no birds. Weird.  Up ahead, one of the hills is missing its top.There’s a flat scorched area where the rounded apex should be.

Buckle: Look at that former mountain.

Stella: It had a bad day. Or a bad haircut.

Stella drives the tank towards the hill to investigate, with Buckle on top as a lookout

Stella Look Closely (+Hope from Buckle) 7-9

Clearly whatever sliced through the hill was very powerful and very hot. Buckle’s immune to heat, so he’d be fine, but everyone else would avoid it, whatever it is. As they drive around the damaged hill, they see a castle made of ice! Getting closer still, they see the castle rests on the back of a giant turtle, flippers spread out across hundreds of feet, eyes closed.  A turtle’s chest won’t rise and fall with its breathing. Their ribs are fused solid to form their shell, but the party can tell its breathing by looking at its nostrils. This enormous creature is asleep.

A giant turtle carrying an ice castle, hiding behind a burned hill.

Buckle: Do you think the king is home?

Stella: That’s presumptuous. I’m sure the queen has it under control.

Buckle: Wanna find out what burned the mountain?

Stella: It’s not the craziest thing we’ve done recently.

They leave the tank and their companions a polite distance away and walk up to the castle. They are greeted at the gate by Gertrude, a beautiful woman made of clear, sharp crystal. With her every movement, little rainbows shimmer and dance around. Stella elbows Buckle.

Stella: Told you. Queen.

Gertrude is happy to see them. They ask about the hill. Gertrude says it’s fortunate that the hill is there, since it provides for Bertha (the turtle) so she can sleep in safety. Gertrude is trying to put a cheery spin on everything, but it becomes clear that Bertha and Bernard’s castle were forced down by a powerful beam weapon fired from nearby. Buckle elbows Stella.

Buckle: Bernard’s castle.

Gertrude invites them in for an audience with Bernard. When buckle steps onto the castle, he starts melting the icy flagstones, leaving webbed-foot-shaped puddles. Gertrude gasps and fires a high-pressure jet of water from her body, pushing Buckle back outside in a cloud of steam. She’s embarrassed by her outburst and very apologetic, but Buckle’s fine. Stella will go meet Bernard, and Buckle will wait outside.  The other inhabitants of the castle are also humanoid-shaped, but seem to be made of ice or snow. Bernard is a large man, all polished facets of ice, with a crown of ice crystals (probably part of his body) on his head. He is formal but direct, a strong contrast to Gertrude’s customer service voice.  He explains that they were flying over the land (It’s always nice to explore new lands) when they saw a glint or shimmer from the ground, It was bright, almost a second sun. That’s the source of the beam weapon that hit Bertha, and forced them to take shelter behind this hill. Stella agrees to check it out.

Stella: Anything else?  Are you urgently leaving the planet?

Bernard: Ha, we only arrived a generation ago!

Also, Bertha is taking a nap, and won’t wake up for a day or two, so the castle can’t move before then.  Stella asks for a token of goodwill to give to whoever owns the beam weapon, to show that Bernard & his people are not a threat. Bernard thinks for a while, then produces a gem. It’s smooth and clear, like Gertrude, and rainbows shine on his hand as he holds it. There’s a slight enchantment on it. When Bernard opens his hand, the gem rises slightly and floats an inch over his palm, but it’s easy to hold. Stella takes the gem and goes back out to Buckle.

GM note: Bernard isn’t as friendly and helpless as he appears. He sent stealthy assassins out with orders to kill whoever Stella gives the gem to, since she’s going to give it to the person who shot down the castle. I didn’t the players about the assassins.

Stella asks Buckle to go look over the top of the hill, since he probably won’t get burned. Buckle pokes his head over the crispy edge of the hill. Nothing happens. He stands on top of the hill. Nothing. He jumps around, but still does not draw the ire of whatever is out there. he does see a shimmer about a mile to the north, roughly where Bernard described the beam weapon firing from. Since it’s apparently safe, Stella joins Buckle at the top of the hill and also sees the shining light.  She explains the plan she and Bernard discussed, and shows Buckle the gem. Buckle reaches out to grab it, but Stella snatches it away.

GM note: That was close!

Buckle and Stella return to the Siege Tank and drive it over towards the site of the beam weapon. As they approach, they see an huge hexagonal mirror, 100 feet across, suspended between two giant crabs, each the size of a house. On the ground behind them, a humanoid Spider (segmented exoskeleton, walks upright on two legs, six arms) pulls on reins for the crabs, and a series of wires connected to metal girders on the underside of the mirror.  Stella and Buckle leave the tank a polite distance and approach on foot. If this does not go well, blasting things with the Seige Tank’s secret weapons is a fallback plan.

They are about to introduce themselves when the Spider (his name is Agate, pronounced uh-GAH-tay) spots a bird and excitedly motions them to watch. With the reins, he directs the crabs to aim the mirror towards the bird, then pulls the wires attached to the mirror to focus the reflected sunlight into a deadly beam. Poof!  The poor bird is destroyed.

Stella: Impressive.

Agate: Thanks, I’m great.

Stella clenches her fist in frustration. They ask about his contraption. He’s been practicing with it ever since he found it. As far as he knows, this mirror fell out of the sky. They mention that they saw a similar mirror on their travels.

Agate: There’s another? You left it? You gotta take whatever you can get!

Stella: Why do you attack flying things?

Agate: Because I can’t reflect sunlight down. Sun shines down, beam bounces up. But if I had two mirrors… Where did you see that other mirror?

Stella: We’ll get to that later. But first, do you hate Bernard?

Agate doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She starts to talk about the flying castle and he interrupts. Shooting the castle was so cool. He cut off a whole tower before it dropped below the horizon. It’s not every day a target like that presents itself, so he jumped at the opportunity.

Stella: You like reflecting the sun. What about refraction?

Agate: It’s all good. Whatever works.

Stella shows him the gem. It’s beautiful! Agate fires a webline to snatch it away from her.

Stella Overcome 6-

She tries to close her hand, but he’s too quick!

Buckle Overcome 10+

Buckle grabs the webline, which burns instantly. The gem falls to the ground.

Buckle: First you have to promise not to shoot down the castle. You’ve heard of a deal, right?

Agate: Yeah, yeah. A deal is for people who aren’t strong enough to get what they want, so they have to trick people into getting what they want.

Buckle: Well, here’s how you trick us into giving you the gem. Promise you won’t shoot down the castle.

Buckle Talk Sense (sense, a plan) 10+

Agate promises. Stella picks up the gem.

Buckle: You get the gem after they fly away.

Agate: Fine. Hurry up!

Stella and Buckle return to the castle, where Gertrude and Bernard await them.

GM note: The assassins were so very close to attacking, but no one ever took the gem except Stella. True to their orders, they stayed hidden.

Stella explains the giant mirror weapon to Gertrude and Bernard, and how Agate doesn’t even care them. He just wants things to shoot at, but the gem has enticed him to promise safe passage. Buckle suggests that the castle could produce a lens of ice to counter Agate’s beam weapon. Gertrude is offended by the suggestion that the principle that makes her sparkle and brings joy and hope to all around her, should be harnessed as a weapon of destruction! Buckle reassures her that it doesn’t have to be a weapon. It could be used defensively to disperse or refract Agate’s beam weapon.  Stella is impressed by Buckle’s vocabulary and knowledge of optics. He shrugs. They have science class in the Platyperson village. Bernard assigns some people to work on a lens. He is surprised that Stella did not give Agate the gem.

GM note: You know, so his assassins could kill him.

Stella says that Agate is untrustworthy, and perhaps Bernard should drop the gem as the castle flies away.

Stella and Buckle return to the Siege Tank

Stella: How do you feel about that Spider having access to mirros? Maybe we play a prank on him.

Buckle: Pranks are fun.

Stella: maybe more serious than a prank.

They are still half-dead from fighting squads of invulnerable robots earlier, so Stella serves a feast to heal herself and her companions, while Buckle goes fishing to get food for himself and Ugg. They wait until nightfall before making their move.

Stella: It concerns me that a being so careless and egotistical could have so much power.

They will destroy the mirror! But how? It’s a huge structure of metal and glass. Buckle can scorch the reflective surface, or heat it until it warps, but he can’t blow it up. The tank could blow it up. They could try to steal it, but they’d have to steal the giant crabs as well. It’s too big to carry otherwise. Buckle can talk to any beast. Maybe they talk to the crabs and set them free. They’re not sure where Agate will be when they arrive, but Buckle’s electro-sense will be able to find him at close range. To use electro-sense, Buckle will have to exit the tank, so he’ll light up the area, alerting Agate.

Stella: We need a plan. When Buckle sticks his head out, We’ll have to go quick.

Stella drives the tank to within shouting distance of the giant crabs. Buckle pokes his head out of the hatch, shining bright light all around. He senses agate in a hammock on the underside of the mirror. He’s stirring, but he won’t be able to act for a moment. Buckle tells Stella that the Spider is in a hammock, then tells the crabs that he’s come to set them free and return them to the ocean.

Buckle Talk Sense (sense, desires) 10+

The crabs like that idea, and start cutting the webbing that secures the mirror to their backs.

Agate: No, no, no!

Agate runs upside-down on the underside of the mirror firing webs to replace the ones being cut by the crabs.

Stella Keep Them Busy 7-9

Stella rides Silk up the leg of a crab and barrels into Agate, knocking him down to the ground.  Buckle climbs up onto the mirror, throwing black powder around, setting fires, and trying to warp the mirror with his burning footsteps

Buckle Finish Them (sense, disable) 7-9

The mirror flexes and warps, but it’s basically still in one piece. Agate sneaks up on Stella, running on the underside of the crab’s shell and appearing behind her with a flurry of blows from his six fists!

Stella Overcome 7-9

She grabs one of his arms and uses his momentum to throw his past her, but it was a scary attack, so her Courage is damaged. Agate tumbles forward, then throws a webline and swings to the other crab. The crab that Stella is on finishes freeing itself from the mirror and shoves the mirror off its back, threatening everyone in the area! Stella and Silk flee back to the Siege tank

Stella Get Away 7-9 avoid harm

Buckle is on top of the mirror and rides it down, jumping off at the last moment, rolling through a cloud of debris, and running back to the tank.

Buckle Overcome 7-9 -> Survivor -> Get Away 7-9 avoid harm

The mirror is bent out of shape, and the other crab is close to freeing itself. Agate can feel his glorious beam weapon slipping away. But there’s still a precious gem, and that glowing Platyperson has got to be important. But these enemies have destroyed his great weapon and he’s barely touched them. He can’t win this fight, not now. He grabs a hidden webline prepared for just such an occasion and is whisked quickly away. The other crab throws its side of the mirro down, completing its destruction!

The Siege Tank leads the two giant crabs back to Bertha and Bernard’s castle in a triumphant procession. Bernard thinks Stella was very shrewd to break the deal and attack Agate at night.  He asks for the gem back, since they don’t need to give it to Agate anymore.Stella wants to keep the gem to commemorate the achievement.

Stella: Isn’t it good to do things for the greater good?

Bernard: Ah, an altruist! How generous and unselfish!

Stella: I mean, it’s so beautiful. It would make me happy to look at it.

Stella Talk Sense (wisdom, emotions) 6-

Bernard keeps the gem. The party plans to continue on to the port. Bernard says Bertha can carry them, if they are willing to wait for her to walk up. That sounds like a good plan.

Several days later an amazing sight appears over the rooftops of the port city. A huge flying turtle looms overhead, gleaming spires of ice on its back. It lands, and the gates of a castle open up. Out come two huge crabs, flanking a secret war machine of the Dwarves. Atop this war machine, a mighty beast, eyes glowing, flaming with the heat of the Earth’s core!

Buckle is sitting down like a dog, unaware of how cool he looks, and asks amazed onlookers where to find a tavern.

GM note: End of session move.  Three boons. Level up. Heal. Heal. Buckle takes Dragonfire, which lets him kill or destroy anything that’s not a Threat To The World. Stella takes Queen Of The Wild, so all Beasts are her Companions. These are very powerful abilities!

Chasing The Sunset & Mountain Pass

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

The party: Dryden of Conwall the Collector, Lucia the Heir

Last time, Lucia & Dryden fought Doctor Diana MacLeod, the mad scientist vampire who spent 60 years turning a mountain into an anti-moon weapon. It was the first time that Lucia & Dryden ever killed a person.  They fled after striking her down to avoid fighting every single person employed on the mountain.

GM note: Lucia’s bloodline ability “Make people forget the past five minutes” proved too powerful and useful. Lucia’s player suggested adding some limitation, like limited uses or a cooldown, but I demanded a completely different ability. Lucia’s player decided on reinstating an ability that Lucia lost in the transition from Dungeon World to Fellowship. She can pause for a moment and ask, “What here is evil?” 

Now they catch their breath and wonder what they are trying to do. Stopping MacLeod’s schemes was good, but how did they get mixed up in all this? Long ago they found evidence of a werewolf attack in a small farming village, and one thing led to another. They aren’t welcome back in that village, and they didn’t figure out how to stop werewolves either.  They really don’t have anything to follow up on.  The world is open to them. Dryden quotes a famous adventurer who said, “Adventure is out there!” He wants to strike out in a direction and see what they find.  From their high vantage point they look around.

To the north, the foothills that MacLeod’s mountain rises above grow steeper and higher, becoming an imposing snowy mountain range. To the east, Lady Evelynn’s estate. To the south, the village that was attacked by a werewolf, and the hot springs inhabited by “trickster demons” who just don’t realize that not everyone is immune to heat.  To the west, two forests. The northwest forest is huge and old. The southwest forest looks sickly. After some consideration, they decide to head north and cross the treacherous mountains.

Travelers know that mountain ranges usually have high passes and low tunnels. Dryden figures that a river’s path up a mountain will be easy to follow, and uses his flying disk to scout for such a river.

Dryden Look Closely (+hope for good plan) 12

He finds the river that eventually flows through Sugar’s Crossing. It’s much smaller up here in the mountains, of course.  The finds a path for them to follow. The mountains are very high, reaching into the clouds. It gets cold and snowy. The path will be dangerous, with steep drop-offs on one side and unstable snow everywhere. Dryden also spots some beast dens, although he doesn’t see the beasts that live there. They may face hungry predators along the path.

  • Treacherous Mountain Set Piece: The Mountain Pass
  • The Narrow Pass
  • The Creatures Above
  • The Long Road

With the path ahead scouted, Dryden, Lucia, and their companions start walking. Eventually they reach the headwaters of the river. A spring burst from the mountain into a dish-shaped depression, so it forms a small pool. One side of the depression has a spout shape to it, releasing the river to flow down the mountain, join with rainwater and other streams, and eventually become the mighty river that carries so many people and goods through Sugar’s Crossing.  The spring is so high and cold that most of the circular pool is frozen over, but the motion of the spring keeps the center of the pool melted, so there’s a ring of ice with a hole in the middle where water bubbles up.  Such a location is special, perhaps magical.  Dryden reaches back into his cloak and pulls out two vials: one for water, one for ice. He can’t walk out on the ice to reach the liquid center of the pool. The ice gets thinner and thinner towards the center, so he’d break through before reaching the open water. He gets a long branch from a nearby tree and secures the vials to the end, using the branch to extend his reach. He scoops up some spring water, then waits for a piece of ice to break off and flow towards the pool’s spout so he can grab that too. He won’t disturb this sacred place by breaking a piece of ice off.

Lucia: You’ve learned much in your travels.

When they were growing up together in the palace together, Dryden was more impulsive and less respectful.  They stop to eat a meal and rest before moving on. Dryden bends the branch that he used to grab the water into a circle, applies some secret material, steps back with a flourish, and the branch bursts into flame. It provides all the heat & light of a campfire from only one branch.

They continue uphill. This was a trail at one point, but it hasn’t been maintained in a long time. Here a log props up a dangerous overhanging rock. There a few flat stones are placed to form a stable road surface. These signs of civilization are few and far between ,and most have succumbed to the assaults of the elements.  Lucia & Dryden are walking on a narrow path on the side of a mountain: steep rocky slope rising above on their left. On the right, a steep descent with occasional trees. If they fell off this path, instead of plummeting hundreds of feet to a sudden rocky stop, they’d slide and tumble over rocks and gravel, and perhaps manage to stop themselves on a tree. Ahead, the path turns a sharp corner around a ridge. A chunk of the ridge is missing and the path goes through the gap. Two logs should hold up the overhanging rock, but one had fallen down, and the other is weakened: chewed and scratched by sharp teeth and claws. Lucia & Dryden check their gear for items that might help in this situation. Lucia has piles of cash, but the mountain does not accept money.  Dryden defers to “your Highness.” It’s a chance for her to build her leadership skills.

Lucia approaches the overhang to get a better look, very wary of falling rocks.

Lucia Look Closely 7-9

She notices a traveler’s pack on the far side of the fallen log, but a section of trail gives way under her feet and she starts to slide off the edge!

Lucia Get Away 6-

She grabs for something to catch herself and grabs the remaining support log! It falls over and now the overhang begins to come loose. Lucia is still sliding off the path, but now Dryden is also in danger!  Dryden reaches into his cloak and retrieves his Dwarf-made hammer, a two-handed weapon with a long, unbreakable handle. He moves in to the base of the crumbling overhang to prop it up with the unbreakable hammer.

Dryden Overcome 2

Most of the overhang is still unsupported & continues to collapse. A smaller rock strikes and injures Dryden, and a rock the size of couch completely flattens the traveler’s bag.  Lucia pulls herself up and runs through the overhang to the far side.

Lucia Get Away 6

She isn’t struck by falling rocks, but a rock that rolls down onto the path trips her and she falls again.  But she’s around the corner, and on the path ahead she sees about 15 hungry wolves.

  • Group Of Wolves:
  • Group
  • Pack Hunter
  • Loyal

The wolves notice her and start to approach. They are a fair distance away, so there’s still time for the party to be crushed flat or thrown down the mountain before the wolves have a chance to eat them.

Dryden Get Away 12

Dryden uses his flying disk to grab Lucia and zoom out away from the slope as the overhang totally collapses. He must return to the path quickly, since the flying disk only works for a short time. They have escaped the danger of the collapsing overhang, but now it’s a wall behind them and the pack of wolves approaches from the front!

GM note: Dryden’s player selected the option “bring someone else with you” for Get Away. Dryden’s Flying Thing gear option allows him to fly, and can be Overcharged to double the effect. Did Dryden need to Overcharge the Flying Thing to Get Away with Lucia? I ruled that the Get Away move let Dryden carry Lucia and Overcharge wasn’t needed.

Treacherous Mountain: The Narrow Path defeated.

Dryden sets a bear trap on the path in front of himself. The wolves see him do it, so they know where the trap is, but it’s still area denial, and on this narrow path, that’s important. Lucia throws rocks at the wolves, which just angers them, so they target her.

Lucia Keep Them Busy. automatic failure against Group

Some approach on the path, some clamber on the slope above.  Dryden uses the harpoon gun he stole from Lady Evelynn to grapple some rocks on the slope above and pull them down on the wolves.

Finish Them with Courage (advantage: unexpected rockslide) 7-9 damage Pack Hunter

The small landslide disrupts their formation and knocks a few down the slope, but the remaining wolves don’t flee. A large rock lands on the path, and Lucia climbs it so the wolves will have trouble reaching her. She succeeds in making herself a hard target, so the wolves switch to Dryden. He tries to evade them, but is grabbed and dragged to the ground.

Dryden Get Away 5

Lucia leaps off the rock with a battle cry!

Lucia Finish Them with Courage (advantage: Plunge Attack) 10+

Her plunge attack kills one wolf and sends most of the pack fleeing!  Two wolves stop and return, determined to get a kill.  As individuals, they are easier to fight.  Dryden remembers some literature he once read and places something on the path in front of him.  A wolf carefully steps over the bear trap and lunges at Dryden. Just as Dryden expected. The object he placed just in front of himself is a “mirage” prank weapon, which appears to burst into sudden flames! The wolf stumbles back in shock, right into the bear trap. Snap! The wolf is immobilized.

GM Note: The Distraction spell let Dryden Get Away or Keep Them Busy with 10+ Given the fictional situation, I offered Dryden’s player another option: the wolf steps in the trap. That damages the wolf and gives the characters advantage over it (it can’t move) so it’s more powerful than the options in the rules, but Dryden planned & spent resources to create the opportunity, so it seemed appropriate.

Meanwhile, Lucia keeps the other wolf at bay with her sword.

Lucia Keep Them Busy 7-9

Dryden looks around to see how he can assist Lucia. His prank weapon is spent and his Dwarven hammer is buried in a landslide, but Dryden is Fully Armed and carries an entire arsenal. He selects his multi-cursed gladius. Why carry lots of cursed weapons when one weapon can contain several curses?  The gladius has a flat disk built into the crossguard. Dryden rubs his thumb across the disk in a counter-clockwise motion, then taps the symbol on the left side of the disk to select the Curse of Bees.  Collecting the Curse of Bees is a painful memory.)  He strikes the wolf fighting Lucia with the sensation of a thousand stings and the wolf flees in panic, sliding down the steep gravely slope with all four legs pushed forward to try to keep its speed down to a survivable level.

Dryden Finish Them with Courage (advantage: Lucia Keeping Them Busy) 7-9

All the wolves have been vanquished, except the one caught in the bear trap.  Dryden approaches with soothing words, but the wolf snaps and growls at him.  Dryden offers it some food from his pack.  He remembers the wisdom of several people he met on his journeys who were good with animals. The Druid Gleador, and expert on animals because he had become so many of them, said to look the wolf in the eye and tell it it’s a good boy.  Mr London says that the deep desire of all dogs is fire, so Dryden reaches in to his cloak and pulls out a heat ball. This is another way to quickly make a camp fire. He ignites it and tells the wolf that if it sticks with them, it will never be cold again.  Dryden carefully pulls the jaws of bear trap open, releasing the wolf in a third show of good will.

Dryden Finish Them with Wisdom (advantage: spend food, spend Useful item, wolf is immobilized & must listen) 7-9

Alas, the wolf flees as soon as it’s free.  Lucia & Dryden sit down for another meal before moving on.

Treacherous Mountain: The Creatures Above defeated.

Now they are past the highest mountains and can look out over the location they are approaching. The mountains flatten out into rolling hills.  When the wind blows up from the hills they can hear faint constant tones, like musical notes.  There’s also a tiny white line curving around on the hills. As they continue to walk down out of the mountain range, the musical tones get more constant and louder. Different tones seem to come from different directions.  The hills are grassy, with no trees because of the constant winds. There are some scrubby bushes, and rocks protruding from the grassy hills. Now that they are lower, they realize that the white line is moving through the air, but they were so high earlier that they were looking down on it. They stop for another meal.

Treacherous Mountain: The Long Road defeated.
Treacherous Mountain Setpiece defeated.

Lucia investigates the source of these constant musical tones.

Lucia Look Closely 6-

Standing stones on top of some hills have slits carved through them, and the wind whistling through the slits produces the different notes. Lucia walks up to one such stone, which is about 12 feet tall.  The stone was placed and carved intentionally. Up close some decorative  engraving around the slit is visible. Yet care was taken by the unknown creator to keep most of the stone’s natural shape, and to place the stone so it fits with its surrounding. While pondering this, Lucia is knocked to the ground and injured! Two seconds later, they hear something like an enormous bottle being uncorked, far away across the valley.  There’s something stuck in Lucia’s metal armor: a metal spike about a foot long, like a thick knitting needle. There’s a piece of paper wrapped around the projectile. Lucia opens and reads the note.

Stay away. This hunt and its glory are mine.
-EEE

GM note: We end with the introduction of a new location and a new threat. The Singing Hills are actually one of the first locations I created when I started Chasing The Sunset in July of 2019, and I’ve been hoping for my players to find it for over a year. I’m excited for them to meet EEE and the other characters that live here.

Chasing The Sunset & Change Of Heart

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

The party: Buckle the Beast/Apex, Stella the Halfling/Pack Leader

Last time, the party set out to find a Source Of Power. They found it inside the leader of an army of mining robots! These robots are infringing on the territory of some giant Dung Beetles who want the party to drive them out, and are willing to lend some support. Stella and Buckle prepare to assault the mine.

GM note: Buckle took an Apex move that allowed him to ignore a Location Stat, but Buckle’s Mammalian move already allowed him to ignore a Location Stat. So he swapped that move for “Twin Fang” which gives him a new companion describes as “your shadow” We decided that this was literally his shadow, able to take three-dimensional shape.

Buckle: War Paint, gain 2 Power

Buckle prepares for battle by applying warpaint and doing a traditional war-dance.

Buckle. I figure I’d rampage, go after them unflinchingly

Stella: Buckle, you’ve changed. In a good way.

Buckle: Hanging out with beetles changes a person.

Buckle plans to take point. There’s a group of about 50 robots waiting at the edge of the mine’s territory, preventing them from entering. The Dung Beetles can roll boulders down into the mine, but they need to be protected from this forward guards.

Here’s the situation. The party is in the top left corner. Fifty robots and a few shield robots block them from the mine. Another dozen robots with one shield robot each guard each of the three paths down into the mine.

Stella: What’s the signal?

Buckle: A howl. Not a terrifying howl.

Stella wants to roll boulders down all three paths, instead of just onto the big group.

Stella: How do you feel about log-rolling, but on a boulder?

Buckle: I’ve done some log-rolling at fairs in my day

GM note: Platyperson festivals do involve log-based sports.

Stella’s plan is for Buckle to disrupt the robots, then for the beetles to roll the boulders roll at Buckle, who will leap on top of one and ride it down to the bottom of the mine. She’s not sure how she will get down.  The Dung Beetles rolling these boulders are the size of a compact car, and their boulders are even bigger than they are. Trying to jump on one before it crushes him seems like a bad plan to Buckle. He’ll feint and get out of the way instead.  Instead of sending boulders down all three paths, the Dung Beetles split into two groups. One will attack the group of 50 robots (top-left of the map above), another will attempt to clear one of the paths (bottom of the map) so the party can enter the mine.

Stella, Buckle, and the Dung Beetles can plan safely because the robots don’t leave their territory. They can sneak around behind the hills that surround the mine, but getting close to the robots will require them to reveal themselves.

Buckle Get Away 7-9 (avoid notice, take harm)

Buckle and his Shadow make daring dashes to get within charging distance of the group of fifty robots, but their position is pretty bad, This was a foolish plan. Buckle’s Wisdom is damaged.

Buckle War Paint, spend 1 Power to Rampage

Buckle and his Shadow rampage into the big group of robots, throwing them aside in their fury! The robot formation is disrupted, but none of the robots seem damaged by their rough treatment.

Shield Robot Diamond Command: all nearby Robots (except Shield Robot) cannot be harmed

Buckle Overcome robot counter-attack 7-9 pay a price (damage Shadow) for 10+ result

In the melee, a robot grabs Shadow by the bill. Robots emit a strong constant hum of electro-energy, and getting grabbed right on his sensor overwhelms Shadow’s electro-sense.  Buckle howls, and Stella orders the Dung Beetles to release the boulders!

As the boulders come rolling down the hill, the group of fifty robots forms up in several rows and holds up metal arms to stop the boulders! The huge rocks crash into the four-foot-tall metal robots. The first row is pushed back into the second row, and the second row slides back to the third row, but they stop the giant boulders! None of the robots are damaged!

Buckle Get Away 10+

Meanwhile, Buckle and Shadow are running around the mine on the slippery gravel slopes between paved paths.

The Dung Beetles to the south release their boulders. The group of 12 robots on that path also form up to stop the boulders, but there aren’t so many robots and the boulders have more time to build up speed! The boulders crash through the robot formation like bowling balls through pins, but the robots that are thrown through the air or run over are unhurt and try to get up as they tumble downhill with the boulders. Then the Shield Robot in the back of the group gets hit by a boulder. Its crystal shield shatters, and the robot’s body is flattened by the giant boulder. Then all the robots tumbling down the path start falling apart, and at the bottom of the path, there’s only boulders and scrap metal!

Buckle and Shadow take the path cleared by the boulders and duck into a tunnel. Stella’s party is able to join them.

Buckle: The Mothers are fragile compared to the Children.

Buckle’s electro-sense gives him a different view of the robots from most other creatures. The shield robots feel more alive than the normal ones. The loud constant hum of robotic energy is even louder from the Shield Robots.

Stella: So we take out the ones with shields, then take out the others? That’s a plan I can get behind.

Buckle: Children protect Mothers.

Buckle’s electro-sense detects slightly different energies coming from each tunnel, so he’ll always know where he’s been. That doesn’t mean he knows where they are going.

Buckle’s Mammalian Protection cancels Location’s Maze stat

GM note: I used a Clock from Blades In The Dark to track progress through the mine. Players describe how they find their way and make a move that follows. The success of the move fills up more or fewer clock segments, and when the clock is full, they find the Source of Power

Stella Look Closely 10+ (search clock: 3/6)

Stella takes a bag of powdered sugar from Gus, her cook, and throws some in the air to find air currents.  They follow the air currents deeper into the mine. They are able to spot unstable sections of the tunnel and move carefully past them.  They hear the sounds of mining tools up ahead.  Buckle senses two Children and one Mother down a side passage.

Buckle (+hope from Stella’s assist) Get Away 7-9 avoid notice, take harm (search clock 5/6)

The party throws themselves across the intersection, avoiding the robots’ notice, but landing on some sharp rocks.  They continue and notice the temperature rising slightly.

They follow the heat until they reach a chamber with a large, obvious main entrance. There’s also a small natural tunnel off to the side. Buckle uses his electro-sense again. Mammals give off a pulsing energy, like a heartbeat. The robots are a loud, constant hum. He senses something else ahead. It pulses, like a mammal, but its builds and decays over several seconds. It’s deeper, slower, more powerful, than any other energy signature in the mines. This must be the Source Of Power in the chamber ahead. He feels that they will be unwelcome there.

The central chamber of the Oolite Mine. In the front, a 15-foot-tall door. High on the side wall, a small natural tunnel. At the back, a huge geode split open. In the center, a dozen Robots, guarded by a Shield Robot, and the King Robot, guarded by two Shield Robots.

Buckle: It’s not alive like the metal Dwarves are alive. It’s like a normal person, but much bigger.

They wonder how to approach this intimidating lifeform.

Stella: My people aren’t known for walking in front doors uninvited.

Buckle: My people are.

Most of the party sneaks in through the narrow tunnel, but Shadow goes into the main entrance as a distraction. Buckle can’t talk to Shadow remotely, or see through his eyes, but he gets a vague sense of how Shadow is doing, and what Shadow sees is scary. The big energy source is indeed inside the giant glowing King Robot they saw before. Its guarded by two Shield Robots, and a dozen normal Robots with a Shield Robot of their own. At the back of the room is a huge geode that’s been split open, with a gap in the middle. Along the sides of the room are blocks of metal.

Shadow Keep Them Busy Pay A Price to act against King Robot

Falling Block Trap reveal this threat when someone pays a Price. 2 damage and trap those nearby (i.e. Stella and Buckle)

As the rest of the party moves through the natural tunnel, part of it collapses!  Stella and Buckle are buried and trapped!

Buckle takes 2 damage & is trapped

Stella takes 2 damage & is trapped

Buckle’s actions harmed Stella, so one of her bonds with him is broken. Erase “Impressed with Buckle’s ability to get in trouble and survive”

Damage Ugg’s “Tough as Can Be” for advantage “dig out of rubble”

Damage Rose’s “Get Right In There” for advantage “dig out of rubble”

Ugg and Rose dig them out.

The robots in the chamber advance menacingly on Shadow. Shadow tries to turn 2-dimensional and return to Buckle, but the glow from the King Robot prevents him from forming an actual shadow. He’s trapped in the room!

Stella Lived In A Shoe to shrink to the size of an apple

There are gaps in the rubble the size of an apple, so Stella shrinks down and squeezes through. She’ll get into the chamber quickly, but the rest of the party will have to clear the rubble, so they won’t be able to help her immediately.  She sees Shadow menaced by the group of Robots and Plunge Attacks their shield robot!

Stella Finish Them (advantage: surprise, plunge attack) 10+

She takes its arm off, and the crystal shield shatters when it hits the ground. The glittering aura fades from the robots.  Back at full-size, Stella and Shadow fight to keep the Robots at bay.

Stella & Shadow Keep Them Busy 7-9

Back in the tunnel, Silk makes some rope out of webbing so the team can haul the rubble out of the way.

Buckle Overcome rubble 7-9 pay price (Gus’ lunch) for 10+ result

Gus drops on of his packed lunches, and the shifting rubble crushes it. Poor Gus.  Buckle rides Silk onto the chamber ceiling.

Buckle Finish Them (advantage: plunge attack) +Hope (Ambush predator striking for hiding) 7-9 damage Diamond Command

He picks his target, drops, and tail-slams one of the Shield Robots guarding the King Robots. He knocks it over, smashing its shield. The King Robot is still protected by a second Shield Robot.

The group of robots recovers from Stella’s assault and forms up to go on the offensive.

Stella Overcome 7-9 temporary solution

Stella slides between the legs of a few robots and they lose track of her, but she slides right into the King Robot!  Buckle chooses to go after the other Shield Robot.

Damage Ugg’s “Bigger ‘n’ You” for advantage “restrain enemy”

Ugg jumps down from the tunnel and grabs the Shield Robot with his big mechanical arms, holding it in place for Buckle’s attack.

Buckle Finish Them (advantage: restrained by Ugg) 10+ destroyed

Buckle tail slams the shield, sending the fragments into the robot, destroying it!  The King Robot no longer has the invulnerability aura, but it’s still big and scary! It picks up Stella in one big glowing fist and smashes her into the ground!

Stella takes 1 damage

The group of robots are going after Buckle & Shadow, and the King Robot is focused on Stella.

Buckle (+hope from Shadow) Overcome 7-9 pay a price (damage Shadow) for 10+ result

Buckle and Shadow attack the group of robots in a pincer move. they punch through the enemy formation and reunite. Shadow’s webbed hands are torn up in the assault.

Damage Silk’s “Creepy” for advantage “distract King Robot”

Silk extends a line from the ceiling and swings in circles around the King Robot’s head.

Damage Rose’s “Loyal” for advantage “Fastball Special”

Stella Lived In A Shoe become small enough for Rose to throw

Stella Pack Leader working with companion makes her Threat To The World. Does not pay a price to roll against King Robot

Stella Finish Them (+hope Pack Leader) 10+

Stella runs at Rose and yells, “Catch!” Rose knows what’s next. Stella shrinks to the size of an apple and Rose grabs her and hurls her a the King Robot. Stella enlarges to full size en-route, leading with her sword! She punches through the stretched, softened metal of the King Robot’s chest and comes out the other side holding The Heart Of Earth! The Source of Power that was empowering this robot!

The King Robot is dead! It’s giant body topples over.

Buckle Overcome 7-9 temporary solution

Buckle grabs one of the worker robots and puts it between him and the falling King Robot.  The weight of the King Robot’s collapse knocks them both down. The robot is destroyed and Buckle is pinned beneath it! The King Robot’s body is soft heated metal, and it slowly bends and drips towards Buckle. Without the King Robot’s influence, the surviving robots stop fighting and move off to start digging again.

Buckle Overcome 6-

Shadow rushes to assist, but the glowing light from the King Robot’s body flattens him into a regular shadow.

Stella Overcome 6-

Stella starts to move towards Buckle, but the Heart Of Earth she’s holding draws her attention. The long, powerful pulse that Buckle could sense is now audible, and it’s getting faster and less regular.  It’s unstable. Without something to contain or control it, it could explode and collapse the entire mine!  It was stable while inside the King Robot. Maybe that geode on the back wall is where the Heart of Earth came from. What will she do?

GM note: I emphasized “contain” more than “control” which I fear pushed the players’ thinking in one direction, but it turned out to be a great direction!

Buckle:  Shove it in me!

Stella: Do platypeople have pouches? Either you eat it, or it’s a suppository.

The almost-melted body of the King Robot slumps closer and closer to the trapped and sweating Buckle.

Buckle: C’mere Stella. You must replace my heart with the Heart Of The Earth!

Stella: I’m gonna do open-heart surgery here?!

Stella has an idea and calls to Buckle again. When he answers, she shoves the Heart of Earth in his mouth! Power surges through Buckle’s body and he’s able to throw off the husk of the Robot King! The Heart of Earth has changed him!

GM note: Absorbing the Source of Power replaced Buckle’s “Apex” Destiny with a new Destiny “Heart of Earth”

Chasing The Sunset & Dung Beetles

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

The party: Buckle the Beast/Apex, Stella the Halfling/Pack Leader

Last time, Buckle & Stella “saved” Templeton by returning the rightful Mayor (annoying as she is) to her seat of power and capturing the shape-shifting impostor in her place. For this, the Mayor grants them the Fellowship of Templeton, and offers several boons.  They choose to learn the location of a Source of Power, a legendary artifact of potentially earth-shaking power. They also get a room in a nice hotel in the tourist district to rest up for a week.

While they recover their health & gear, Buckle is excited to play tourist. He buys a fake hard hat with a plushie light on top. He’s a cute platypus wearing a cute hat with ear flaps.  Pomplamoose doesn’t want to wait a week to return home. Her home is just a little further to the east, so she announces that she’s heading out.  Stella and Buckle need the rest, so they don’t go with her.  Buckle is heartsick, but tries to hide it. Pomplamoose pats him on the head as she leaves.

After a week, Stella, Buckle, and their permanent companions: Silk, Gus, Rose, and Ugg head south towards the Oolite Mine, rumored site of a Source of Power.

GM note: The Oolite mine first affected this world before this world existed, back in the Fairmeadow Fair campaign. Despite searching for it for a long time, and even learning its location, the players in Feairmeadow Fair never visited it.

As the party walks down dusty paths between rolling hills, a giant spider suddenly appears. It’s about the size of Silk, a riding spider for Halflings.  It’s interested in Gus, who had a bad experience with spiders in the past. It took him a long time to trust Silk, and he doesn’t trust this spider. He runs in circles until Stella slaps him! She sends Silk to talk to his fellow spider.  Silk and the wild spider mirror each other in a dance with their many legs. This spider isn’t hostile, just curious.  It approaches Gus in a gesture of goodwill, then steals a snack from his pack and runs away.

Later, the party walks under the edge of a rock face and boulders start falling from the cliff above!  The party runs from the rolling boulders, and Buckle falls into a hole in the ground! There are lots of holes, and the remaining party members have to dodge the holes while outrunning the boulders!  Down in the hole, Buckle is surrounded by darkness. The ground he landed on wasn’t as hard as he expected.  His electro-sense detects someone down here with him! He calls out, and the creatures show themselves. Giant Dung Beetles!  Each Dung Beetle is the size of a hatchback car.  Buckle says he’s lost and confused, and they’re happy to explain. They collect the boulders for their young. The boulders are too big to fit down their tunnels, which is why one hasn’t landed on Buckle’s head. He asks the Dung Beetles to help his climb out of the tunnels and to assist his friends being chased by the boulders. They agree, but he must do something for them as well.  The Dung Beetles grow nutritious mushrooms in certain caverns, but some of those caverns have collapsed. Buckle is small enough to fit inside and retrieve the food. Buckle agrees to help.

Back on the surface. Buckle rises out of a hole in front of his teammates. He keeps rising, and the Dung Beetle he’s standing on also emerges from the tunnel. Other Dung Beetles emerge from other holes and stop the rolling boulders.  Stella and the companions can’t understand the Dung Beetles’ speech, but Buckle explains the situation. They all go into the tunnels to the stricken mushroom cavern.

A side view of a cavern blocked off form a natural tunnel by a fallen rock. On the far side, a perfect square tunnel connects to the cavern. The cavern's floor is covered in purple mushrooms.
The mushroom cavern where the Dung Beetles grow food for their young

A large boulder has fallen through the Dung Beetle’s tunnel, mostly blocking the entrance to the Mushroom Cavern. There is a tiny gap on one side: tiny for a car-sized Dung Beetle. Buckle is able to shimmy through without a problem. Inside, he finds the whole caverns has shifted. The ‘floor’ on which the mushrooms grow used to be horizontal, but now tilts sharply. There’s a square hole in the far side of the cavern that glows with an orange light.  Buckle cautious sneaks down the perfect square tunnel to investigate. The tunnel is six feet on a side, too small for the Dung Beetles, and too precise for their methods too. Buckle approaches a junction with another tunnel and carefully peers around the corner. A ways down the next tunnel are three metal statues, carved to look like Dwarves. These statues move on their own! They are pulling ore out of the tunnel walls and and putting it in hoppers on their backs, carved to look like backpacks. This is a mine operated by robots!

Buckle puts his weight on the wrong bit of stone and it collapses, making a loud noise.  The robots’ head quickly swivel towards the source of the noise, and one rings a bell. Another statue approaches. This one is also shaped like a Dwarf, but it carried a large shield, carved out of one giant crystal. As it approaches, a glittering aura appears on each statue within a certain distance. These four robots are advancing on Buckle’s position.  Buckle flees back through the mushroom cavern and pushes through the gap in the giant boulder. It shifts again, and Buckle slides out just in time!  He tells the party and the Dung Beetles about being chased by metal statues.

Stella: Buckle, are you sure you’re OK?

Buckle: I did get hit in the head, but I’m pretty sure it was all real.

Stella pats Buckle on the head.

These mining robots might be connected to the Oolite mine. The party investigates above ground. The terrain is pretty barren: low gravelly hills one after the other. As they crest one hill, the next hill is gone! There’s a hole where the hills should be: a strip mine.

top view of the Oolite mine. A shallow funnel with three spiraling paths leading to a flat bottom. Entrances to mine tunnels along each of the three paths.

The mine is shaped like a shallow funnel with a flat bottom. Three paths spiral down the sides fo the funnel, with square tunnel entrances along their length. Dwarf statues bustle about, moving ore.

Buckle: See?

Stella is embarrassed.  They observe the robots for a while. Most look like miners, but there are a few holding big crystal shields. The shield-bearers provide a glittering aura to nearby robots, but they themselves do not have the aura.  Buckle looks around for a boss or foreman. When one emerges, Buckle wishes he hadn’t seen it! This used to be a mining robot, or maybe several. Now it’s much bigger, stretched out, with parts of other robots bolted to it. Its chest bulges and its whole body glows with heat. Surely that is the Source of Power!

Buckle: It’s bulging. Will it lay eggs?

Stella: Do Dwarves lay eggs?

Buckle: Doesn’t everyone lay eggs?

Stella: Square holes. Anything is possible.

The robots don’t speak, but they are clearly responding to motions from the King Robot. It spots them and sends a group of 50 worker Robots and several Shield Robots after them! They retreat, and the Robots do not pursue past a certain point. They have well-defined territory. Buckle jumps down a Dung Beetle hole. The Dung Beetles are surprised to see him back so soon. He asks some questions about the situation. The Dung Beetles don’t know much about the King Robot, but it’s scary. For all they know, it wants to dig down and flood the world with fire. The Dung Beetles want to secure their mushrooms for their young, but are evasive about the benefits of the mushrooms and where they keep their young. The Dung Beetles want Buckle and friends to secure the mushroom caverns from these invading Robots. Buckle asks for the Dung Beetles’ assistance. These Robots are a threat to their young, so it’s in their best interest to fight them. If the Robots are driven out, the Dung Beetles can use the mine tunnels to access the mushroom caverns instead of the collapsed tunnel.  The Dung Beetles are fired up by this speech, but Buckle and friends have to help too. The Dung Beetles will roll boulders down on the Robots, but the party must be the vanguard and ensure the Dung Beetles’ safety.

Buckle rises from the tunnel entrance on the back of Dung Beetle, as other Dung Beetles emerge from holes all around Stella and the companions.

Buckle: I’m raising an army!

Together they form a War Council and plan their assault on the Robot mine.

GM note: End of Session move. Heal, Heal, Level up.

Chasing The Sunset & First Blood

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

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

Last time, Lucia and Dryden spared Lady Evelynn’s life, but she’s sure to warn Doctor Diana MacLeod about them. They agreed to help Dr. MacLeod find a more powerful warhead for her Anti-Moon Weapon, but they actually think she’s dangerous and needs to be stopped. If they don’t hurry, Dr. MacLeod will learn of their true intentions and won’t welcome them to her mountain-top facility.

They reach the facility ahead of the news of their treachery, because Addison at the gate house doesn’t suspect them.  They say they have a Source of Power to give to Dr. MacLeod, and Addison opens the gate for them and takes them up the covered stairs to the main building near the summit.  There’s a space there for guests, with floor-to-ceiling windows facing north giving a gorgeous view of a tall mountain range. Like all buildings on the mountain, this one is overshadowed by a huge umbrella, extending far over the walls on all sides.  Dr. MacLeod is busy preparing the Anti-Moon Weapon for its next shot, but she will join them for dinner in a few hours.  Dryden goes over to lay down on the couch that he trapped on his previous visit. The trap goes off! Who could have predicted this? Lucia applies a healing poultice to Dryden’s self-inflicted wound.

They plan to attack Dr. MacLeod when she arrives for dinner. Dryden has a trap that could immobilize her, but she’ll definitely know they are unfriendly when that goes off, so they don’t want her to trigger it pre-maturely. Dryden sets the trap near the back wall. It’s a Chameleon Bear Trap. It’s made of goo, like Ooblek, that changes color to match its surroundings. When someone steps in it, it hardens. Like the novelty finger-traps, struggling makes it grip tighter.  Dryden breaks into his stash of Curious Curios, Useful items that aren’t magical like the more important items in his collection. He uses Fusion Tape to attach a mirror shard (from the giant mirror that fell on Sugar’s Crossing) to the harpoon gun that he stole from Lady Evelynn’s trophy room. Fusion Tape is very sticky, but he can remove it with his Fission Cutter when he needs to. He puts sticky-tack on the harpoon gun’s handle, so he can mount it to a table.

As they are preparing, a cook comes into the room. Dryden quickly throws a cloth over the harpoon gun.  The cook is there with snacks. Dr. MacLeod doesn’t want her guests to get low blood sugar.  Dryden requests some nuts, which the cook quickly provides.

Finally, it’s dinner time, and Dr. MacLeod arrives to greet her guests.  She’s still wearing a leather apron with pouches around the middle and long rubber gloves covered in some strange purple goo.  She asks about their trip (supposedly to retrieve a Source of Power for her Anti-Moon weapon) They don’t mention beating up Lady Evelynn, since the two are friends.  Dryden shows the harpoon gun with the mirror shard attached.  They say that a giant mirror fell out of the sky in Sugar’s Crossing.  Dr. MacLeod is sure that it came from the Moon. Finally, she has confirmation of what it’s made of.  She had several theories about how the Moon was constructed, while Lucia and Dryden hadn’t considered that the Moon was constructed by anyone! They ask if she’s sure the forces who made the Moon are enemies that need to be destroyed. She’s very sure! What a foolish question! They mention the Goblins making roads to a city led by a dragon. Dr. MacLeod’s eyes go wide. A dragon? Alive? Where? This is the most important thing they’ve said yet.

There’s a map on the back wall, near the gooey trap. With a bit some sweet-talking and maneuvering, they get her to step in the trap. The goo hardens around her feet!  Dryden fires the harpoon gun, launching the mirror shard through the floor-to-ceiling window and onto the edge of the overhanging umbrella, where it can catch the rays of the setting sun. He orders the mirror shard to shine on Dr. MacLeod. The sunlight burns her, because she’s a vampire!  She lashes out with a flame attack, burning a hole in the wall and harming Lucia. Lucia uses her bloodline power to make her forget the last few minutes. The attack, the mirror falling from the Moon, the Dragon, all gone.  She takes a red vial and a blue vial from her belt pouches and throws them at her feet. The chemicals within react and explode, destroying the goo trap.  Lucia and Dryden dive away to avoid the explosion.

Dryden: The power source is attacking!

He performatively and ineffectively wrestles the harpoon gun. Dr. MacLeod goes through the hole she burned in the wall into the kitchen, where the mirror can’t target her. She sends a couple of cooks out to break the mirror. Dryden urges restraint.

Dryden: It’s the power source we have to show her.

Lucia: Wait, maybe I can get it.

She throws a grappling hook out to the mirror shard. The cooks want credit for securing the powerful artifact, so they jostle her to pull the rope in themselves. She has to steady herself and grabs the broken edge of the window. Dryden hits “retract” on the harpoon gun to secretly assist her.  Dryden gives another order to the autonomous Harpoon Gun

Dryden: Shoot the heart of the face you saw.

The cooks proudly go into the kitchen to show Dr. MacLeod the harpoon gun with attached Mirror Shard. The Harpoon Gun sees Dr. MacLeod and fires! She shrieks in pain and explodes into a swarm of bats! Two of the cooks are injured. The third cook, a fat sweaty guy, is unharmed by the swarming bats because he is also a vampire!  Lucia gets a faceful of angry bats.  Dryden deploys a prank weapon to keep the bats away from himself.

Dr. MacLeod starts retreating further into the facility and away from any reflected sunlight.  Dryden pulls out the prize of his collection, a priceless artifact. Anyone who sees it wants it!  He says that this is the real Source of Power!  Dryden backs up into the lounge, but Dr. MacLeod won’t follow. While everyone is distracted, Lucia retrieves the mirror shard from the harpoon gun.  Dr. McLeod sends her cooks to take it by force. They rush Dryden with cleavers and rolling pins. Lucia trips the fat one. Dryden meets the advance of the two human cooks with his two-handed Dwarven Hammer.

Dryden: This is a poor way to repay us

Dr. MacLeod: Give me the prize and you won’t be harmed.

Dryden: Not after last time!

On the ground, the vampire cook recovers and Lucia uses the bloodline power to make his forget the fight. He’s a bit confused because he doesn’t why he’s on the ground and the lounge lounge is smashed.

Cook: I gave you treats.

Lucia brings the mirror shard down with both hands, stabbing the vampire cook in the heart, killing him!

GM note: This is the first time Lucia has killed a person. A big deal! Vampires are evil at the best of times, but these vampires have world-shaking evil plans. That was enough to convince Lucia to use lethal force.

Dr. MacLeod is advancing towards Dryden and sees Lucia kill her fellow vampire, but she can’t be swayed from her course.

Dr. MacLeod: Price of progress.

To avoid her, Dryden overcharges his flying disk and flies out the broken window into the sunlight. He tries to quickly deploy a Dart Trap, but that’s such a dumb plan that his WIsdom is damaged.  Lucia tries to sneak up on Dr. MacLeod, but she is spotted and tackled by one of the human cooks.  Dryden Fusion Tapes the prize to the flying disk and orders the disk to stay in the sun. Dryden leaps back into the lounge to defend Lucia. He uses his poison-gas, gravity-warping bolas, but misses his throw. The bolas hit and deploy the debilitating gas behind Lucia, Dr. MacLeod, and the cooks.  One of the cooks gets a whiff and collapses. Lucia breaks away and avoids the gas.

Dr MacLeod summons a gust of wind to blow the flying disk & prize into the room, which also sends all the broken glass flying through the room.  The other human cook is taken out. Lucia throws her cloak around her, which protects her, but her longsword is blown into the kitchen.  Dryden orders the flying disk to return to him, heedless of the flying glass. He’s cut up, but he has the Prize.

Dr. MacLeod: I must have the power source!

Dryden throws it into the cloud of knock-out gas. Dr. MacLeod is taken aback, unsure of how to proceed. Dryden seizes the opportunity and fires his ranged rope at her. She sees it coming, grabs the rope, and pulls Dryden into her grasp. Lucia rushes in, using the bloodline power to make Dr. MacLeod forget the fight again. Dr. MacLeod is confused but obviously surrounded by enemies and lashes out. Lucia’s bodyguard Will (who has been here the whole time) takes the blow meant for Lucia, and Lucia and stabs Dr. MacLeod in the heart with the mirror shard! Dr. MacLeod’s body burns from the wound outward, quickly turning into ash and blowing away.

Lucia and Dryden have killed the mad scientist in charge of the Anti-Moon Weapon, so it probably can’t be used in the future. But there’s a whole mountain full of loyal scientists, technicians, and so on, and who knows how many of them are also vampires? Satisfied that they have removed a threat to the world, Lucia and Dryden make a hasty exit.

GM note: As I feared when this power was first invented, “forget everything for the past few minutes” is indeed too powerful.  Lucia’s player will have to pick a replacement power next time. Big character development for Lucia, going from never killing to killing twice in quick succession.  End of session move: restore gear, restore gear.

Goatriders Session 2

Last time, Junker (as good at breaking as she is at fixing), Moth (slippery feral gremlin child), and Skellington (that weirdo who’s friends with ghosts) got their first job as a crew: pick up a shipment of drugs from the docks for the Red Sashes, because the Lampblacks were hassling the normal couriers. Things got a bit out of hand and, but the Goatriders escaped the docks with their cargo, leaving property damage and angry ghosts behind.

The Goatriders have some quiet moments as they sail down the dark canals of Duskwall on their boat which is decorated with mer-goat motifs and hot rod flames. They turn their attention to the crates, about the size of plastic tubs that cosplayers use to transport bulky costumes. They expected these crates to weigh about 40 pounds, easy enough for one person to carry, but they actually weigh 80 pounds each. Slow and difficult for one person to carry. Better to carry one between two people.  But why are they so heavy?  Junker picks the padlocks securing the crates to look inside.

Junker Tinker 2d controlled standard: 4

She realizes that her tools are going to leave marks on the locks, evidence of tampering. She accepts that risk and opens the creates revealing not drugs, but weapons!  Eight rifles in one crate, and 32 grenades in the other! This is literally not what they signed up for! No one feels bad about taking a few items from their employers, since their employer lied to them. As Smugglers, they are able to conceal a few items on their person even against patdowns, so each person considers what to take and where to hide it. Rifles are cool, but how useful would they be?  Junker already carries grenades in her bandoliers, so she could put one of these grenades right out in the open, in the patch where she kept the Drown Powder the threw at that Lampblack thug on the dock.  These are Iruvian grenades, and the grenades that Junker builds are Dagger Isles-style, so the difference might be noticed.

Skellington checks for a manifest. Sure enough, each crate contains a pre-printed form, filled out in pen. If they take things from the crates, these manifests will reveal that something is missing.  Moth thinks she might be able to forge the manifest forms and hide their theft.  The team agrees to take 3 rifles and 12 grenades, leaving 5 rifles and 20 grenades in the crates.  Moth studies the form and the handwriting.

Moth Study 1d fortune 6

With a bit of practice she’s able to convincingly replicate the handwriting on the form, which puts her in a good position for writing new manifest forms.

Moth Finesse 2d controlled standard 6

Junker and Skellington hold the new forms and the old forms and look back and forth at them. They’re basically identical!  They put the new forms in the crates and lock the crates again. They will stop by the lair and stash the stolen weapons before delivering the crates. They took too much to conceal on their persons.

Ahead in the canal, two boats are in distress! A towboat has pushed its barge into a gondola. Both boats are taking on water, but the smaller gondola is in worse shape. The large barge is taking up most of the canal, so sailing around it will be tricky. The gondolier sees the Goatriders approaching and waves at them, signaling a request for aid. The crew squints to see who is on the sinking gondola:

GM NPC rolls: gender 4 (woman) appearance 2, 4 (tall) profession 4, 1 (leatherworker) name (Bowman)

There’s a tall woman in working-class clothes.

GM NPC rolls: gender 6 (roll again? nah, ambiguous) appearance 6, 5 (bald, shorn) profession 6, 5 (messenger) name (Morrison)

And a bald person clutching a satchel.

GM NPC rolls: gender 3 (woman) appearance 6, 1 (disfigured, maimed) name (Nail)

The gondolier is Nail, so named for the spectacular industrial accident that she survived and which gave her the gnarly scars on one side of her head. The crew is familiar with Nail, since they both work the same canals, and the Goatriders respect the Gondoliers as the dominant faction in the area. The gondola looks like it’s doomed to sink, so the Goatriders decide to evacuate its passengers. They make sure the crates of contraband are locked and throw a tarp over them. Moth takes the controls and Junker stands in the bow to give her directions as she attempts to put the boat right beside the damaged gondola.

Moth Finesse + Junker Aid 3d risky standard 6

Moth parks the boat perfectly right next to the gondola. Nail throws a rope over and Junker holds it to steady the two boats together. The two passengers hop over the gunwales and are glad to be on something that isn’t sinking.  Nail pauses to grab her logbook and a personal item from the gondola: a nail pulled from her body after the accident. It’s a reminder and a good luck charm.  The Goatriders move away from the gondola, and crew from the barge use their poles to push the wreck away from their boat and let it sink. The barge will have to bail water until they reach the docks, but they’ll make it.

Nail thanks the Goatriders for their assistance.  Morrison, the bald person with the satchel, says that they are delivering a time-sensitive package to Whitecrown and are willing to hire the Goatriders for 1 coin if they divert and take them there immediately. Whitecrown is north of the docks, far out of their way.  The coin is tempting, but the Goatriders don’t want to be late for their first job for the Red Sashes. Moth is sitting on crates of illegal weapons that she really doesn’t want the new passengers to notice.

Moth: These crates are burning a hole in my bottom.

They refuse Morrison’s offer. Morrison is upset, but is in no position to insist. They were just saved from a sinking boat. Can’t complain about that.  The Goatriders put Morrison, Bowman, and Nail ashore and bid them farewell.

The Goatriders return to their lair in the sewers without further incident. They stash the rifles and grenades in their lair, then bring the crates up through the fountain and out through Junker’s family shop.  They ponder how to carry the heavy crates through the streets to Rolan’s drug den. Skellington imagines stacking the crates on top of each other, with one person on each end, and the third person behind keeping the crates from tipping over. It’s much less complicated to get Junker’s cousin to hold the end of one crate, so each crate is supported by two people.

Junker’s aunt & uncle run the Ankhayat Body Shop, and Timoth is their 18-year-old son. Like Junker, he works in the cover operation, the junk shop, and hasn’t graduated to real responsibility yet. He grew up here in Duskwall, unlike Junker who is a recent immigrant from the Dagger Isles.

GM Fortune 1d who do they meet on the way? 1 enemy. Pick Bluecoats over Lampblacks.

GM Fortune 1d position? 1 desperate

The Goatriders step out of an alley and literally bump into two Bluecoats on patrol. One Bluecoat taps a crate with his club and asks, “So what’s in here?”

FLASHBACK: In the lair, the Goatriders took some weapons for themselves, so the crates are no longer full. Junker adds a layer of straw to cover the illegal weapons and puts some junk from her family’s cover operation on top, so a cursory inspection will show that the crates are full of low-value knick-knacks. That’s easy enough to arrange, so no stress cost. But is it convincing?

Junker finesse 1d fortune 5

The false packaging is pretty convincing, so even if the Bluecoats force the crew to open the crates, they won’t be revealed immediately. There are no distinguishing marks on the crates, like “DANGER: EXPLOSIVES” since the contents have been disguised twice.  Weapons pretending to be drugs pretending to be spare parts.  That improves the position to Risky. Skellington tells the Bluecoats that they are transporting inventory from the junk shop to a new location.

Skellington Sway + aid 2d risky standard 4

That’s a boring enough explanation that the Bluecoats don’t want to investigate further, so they wander off.  Timoth noticed the sharp glances between the other crew members and realizes that they didn’t were deceiving the Bluecoats and him. He didn’t sign up for this criminal stuff. He could get in real trouble! He doesn’t want any part of this. Skellington tries to explain that it’s fine. It’s a short job. The scary part is already over.

Skellington Sway 1d controlled standard 1

Timoth doesn’t buy it. He’s leaving right now, and he doesn’t care if they have to drag their crates of contraband the rest of the way. Skellington gets red in the face and yells at Timoth to return.  Skellington can get redder than most because of his unusually pale skin.  Timoth won’t like being treated this way, but he might go along long enough to finish the job.

Skellington Command controlled limited 5

Timoth will do it, but he’s mad. The Goatriders have blown whatever good will they had with him. They reach Rolan’s drug den without further incident, and as soon as they reach the door, Timoth drops his end of the crate and stomps back towards home. He was not holding the crate full of grenades!

Junker: Tell Auntie I’ll be late for dinner!

GM NPC rolls gender 2 (man) appearance 1, 1 (large) goals 3, 6 (infamy, fear) method 3, 1 (theft)

Rolan opens the door, but there’s no sense of openness because he takes up most of the doorframe. He takes the crates from the Goatriders and carries them in by himself. He asks if there was any trouble along the way.  Moth goes off on a rant. Lampblacks! Ghosts! Cops! Rolan opens the crates, is surprised to see junk, but digs inside and finds the rifles and grenades. He’s glad that the cargo arrived safely, but is surprised that there’s so little in each crate.  He checks the manifests, and the quantities match up. Alas, smuggling is difficult.  The Goatriders pretend to be shocked when Rolan pulls weapons out of the crates instead of drugs. This job was way more than they signed up for! Rolan apologizes for the deception. Tensions are high in Crow’s Foot with the sudden death of the Crow’s leader. The Lampblacks will push for greater influence in the area, and the Red Sashes won’t let that happen.  The Red Sashes pride themselves on their swordplay, but this is a new situation, which requires (he hefts a rifle) new solutions. Since the crew was expecting drugs, he offers drugs as an apology. The crew gladly agrees.  Moth is especially enthusiastic. Rolan goes to a device that looks like a “Take A Number” dispenser, except it dispenses little tabs of drugs that dissolve on the tongue. He puts a key in the side and pulls out three tabs, one for each. He also gives them the agreed-upon payment: 4 Coin. The Goatriders have finished their first score!

DOWNTIME:

Goatriders gain:

  • 4 Coin
  • 4 Rep (+2 bonus for acting against Lampblacks, which are 2 Tiers above Goatriders)
  • 2 Heat (not much exposure, no killing)

Faction standings:

  • Red Sashes: +3 Allies (+1 for doing a job for them)
  • Lampblacks: -2 hostile (-1 for doing a job against them)
  • Gondoliers: +1 helpful (helping Nail was nice, but not enough to improve status)

Junker took harm and quite a bit of stress, and she learns how painful recovery is at lower levels. None of the Goatriders are Physickers, so she can either rest & hope to heal (1 stress, 0d healing roll) or acquire the services of a healer (roll crew’s tier (0d) for quality. 75% chance to get Quality -1, who can’t heal at all.) So she spends 2 downtime actions to heal.

Junker heal 0d 5, +2 healing clock segments, +1 stress

GM note: I got confused. 0d is “roll 2 dice, take the worse” but when Junker rolled 2 dice, I thought each one was a separate healing roll. I didn’t catch the error until much later, and undoing it would be a lot of work, and also probably be worse for Junker, so I let my earlier ruling stand.

Junker fake healing roll 5 +2 healing clock segments, +1 stress

Junker’s healing clock is full & Level 2 Harm: Drained moves down to Level 1 Harm: Less Drained. She buys a 3rd downtime activity to indulge her Vice. Her Vice is Obligation to the family business, so she goes to family dinner.

Junker indulge vice 1d 2 -2 stress

That’s only enough stress to counteract the stress she took healing. A costly and unsatisfying downtime for Junker.

The Goatriders are turning into The Fast And The Furious.

  • family business is a front for vehicular crime
  • front business is bad, because it’s obviously a front
  • unrelated people join the family through crime!
  • family dinner is an important tradition

Skellington and Moth spend both their downtime action training Resolve by taking the tabs from Rolan and yelling at each other while high. Somehow this improves their conversational skills. Skellington has enough XP to put another point in Sway.

GM note: The group enjoyed this one-shot enough to come back a second time to finish the score, and we’re still having fun, so this isn’t a one-shot anymore. Welcome to the Goatriders campaign!

Goatriders Session 1

GM note: This was the first time playing Blades In The Dark for all of us. Explaining the rules, creating characters, and creating the crew took two hours of a three hour time-slot. Since this game is much rougher than my “PG-rated family adventure” game of Fellowship, I started with Lines and Veils, a way to agree on what content to avoid.

In the Crow’s Foot district, a haunted jumble of ramshackle buildings and competing gang claims, stands a two-storey building with a small courtyard in the rear.  Facing the street is a small store-front, the Ankhayat Repair Shop. It’s a front, of course. Actually two fronts. The Ankhayat’s actual family business is fixing people, not vehicles or appliances. Vond, the daughter with an unfortunate affinity for destruction, has recently started a new venture with a couple of friends.

The fountain in the courtyard hasn’t worked for years.  Removing a flagstone from the empty fountain reveals a hole, which leads to a stair, which leads to a sewer, which leads to the canal. In this sewer is this hidden lair of the Goatriders, a strange crew of smugglers.

Goatriders

Strange Smugglers working out of Crow’s foot, traveling up and down the central canal, from Coalridge to Brightstone.

  • Hidden lair (in the sewer beneath a broken fountain)
  • Prowess training
  • Smuggler’s rigging
  • Vehicle: a small boat

Junker the Leech

Vond Ankhayat, daughter of immigrants from the Dagger Isles. She works at the family business as a clerk, since she’s too good at breaking things for a repair business.

Moth the Lurk

Myron Blackfield, an ‘ambiguous little dirty fae baby-faced troublemaker.’ She comes from a military family. She rejected the discipline and duty to slink around from party to party.

Skellington The Whisper

Yurei Kazokuai, from far-off Tycheros, has such pale skin that he could be mistaken for the ghosts he spends so much time around.  He ‘looks like a tall Timothy Chalamet but paler.’  He used to work for the Spirit Wardens, but he’s fond of ghosts and doesn’t want to see them destroyed.

Contacts

  • Eckard: Junker’s nemesis, a corpse thief who tries to rob Junker’s family business.
  • Flint: Skellington’s nemesis, a spirit trafficker who tries to snatch the spirits that Skellington befriends
  • Jul: Junker’s friend, a blood dealer who buys supply from Junker’s family business, both from corpses and from living donors.
  • Rolan: a drug dealer for the Red Sashes
  • Roslyn Kellis: really mad at Moth for neglecting to mention that she wasn’t nobility for the duration of their three-month whirlwind romance.
  • Scurlock: Skellington’s friend, a vampire that Skellington is emotionally attached to.
  • Telda: Moth’s buddy, a begger who infiltrates parties with Moth, and gives her crash space after she’s ejected from parties.

The story

Tensions are high in Crow’s Foot. The Crows keep the peace between other rival gangs, but the leader of the Crows died suddenly, and the smaller gangs are testing the limits of the new leader. The two main contenders are the Lampblacks, who don’t like the Goatriders, and the Red Sashes, who are fond of them. The Crows themselves think the Goatriders are a nuisance, but our fledgling crew does stay on the good side of the Gondoliers, who control the waterways they use for their smuggling.

Rolan, the Goatrider’s contact in the Red Sashes, tells them about a job. A shipment of drugs has arrived on The Docks, but Lampblacks are watching the docks and hassling the Red Sashes’ regular couriers. Since the Goatriders aren’t officially affiliated, Rolan wants them to pick up the shipment and deliver it to Rolan’s drug den in Crow’s Foot.

A spokesman for the Lampblacks walks into Ankhayet’s Repair Shop and says that big changes are coming to Crow’s Foot and that he wants to be sure they are on the right side.  Junker is manning the front desk, and says she doesn’t know what he means, since they are humble junk dealers are tinkerers. The Lampblack knows they are a front (he probably doesn’t know that it’s two fronts) so he insists. Junker says that they want to be on good terms with everyone.  The spokeman nods in mock understanding. He offers another job, one of goodwill. He has a gift for the Red Sashes, but it’s a surprise, and if Junker and her friends could slip it into the Red Sashes’ headquarters, that would be just great. Junker says she’ll think about it.

The Goatriders don’t trust the Lampblacks at all, and Rolan’s job plays to their strengths, so they choose the drug smuggling score. They will transport the packages via boat down the canal to Crow’s Foot, then carry them by hand the few blocks from the water to Rolan’s den.

engagement roll: 1d, 3, desperate

two crates ofdrugs on a dock surrounded by larger crates. The Goatriders' boat is tied up nearby, just in front of a large ship.

Junker pulls the boat alongside the dock that Rolan indicated. Moth and Skellington climb up to the dock (it’s built for big ships, not their small boat) and approach the two crates, about 100cm x 50cm x 50cm.  Four Lampblack thugs approach. They aren’t just looking for Red Sashes, they are watching the crates themselves!  “You can’t take those creates.” says the lead thug. “Those are ours.”  Skellington & Moth feign surprise. Surely there’s been some mix-up. Their boss gave clear instructions. They try to get the thugs talking.

Skellington + Moth assist. Sway 2d desperate standard 5

These thugs were picked for their fists not their mouths, so they admit that they don’t really own these packages, but were told to prevent anyone from taking them. But two thugs circle around & separate the Goatriders on the dock from their companion on the boat. Junker maneuvers the small boat under the high dock and pulls out a crowbar to destroy the dock under those two flanking Lampblacks. They aren’t paying attention to her, but the dock is quite sturdy.

Junker Wreck 1d risky limited 6

Junker quietly pulls out the nails securing a few boards, then smashes one of the boards. The board doesn’t break away cleanly, so the thugs fall halfway through the floor and start struggling among splintered boards. The other two thugs roughly shove past Moth and Skellington to assist their teammates.  Skellington tries to pick up a crate, but it’s surprisingly heavy! Perhaps a ghost could do the work for him. Ghosts and corporeal objects don’t interact that strongly, but it’s worth a shot.

Skellington Attune (Compel) 2d risky lmited 5

Skellington meditates, searching for a ghost who died near here. He finds a brawny deckhand woman: broad shoulders, big arms, big belly. He draws her out of the ghost field and tells her to push the crates over the weakened dock, so they fall into the boat. Moth and the four thugs are terrified as a ghost forms out of thin air right next to them! Sailors on the nearby ship shout and point!  Moth clutches her Spiritbane Charm and flees, pressing herself into a small space between two stacks of crates. Two of the thugs freeze, and two run. The ghost manages to push one crate over the weakened section of dock. The weight of the crate breaks through! The crate and one of the frightened thugs plummet down onto the boat. The new hole in the dock reveals the ghost to Junker, who also freezes in terror.

Junker and the thug start to recover about the same time.  Junker pulls a packet of Drown Powder from her alchemical bandolier to attack the thug, since a sailor’s worst fear is drowning.

Junker Skirmish 0d risky great 3

It’s not going to work. Devil’s Bargain. Invoking the fear of drowning will draw a drowned ghost to her.

Junker skirmish +1d risky great 4

The thug gets a lungful of Drown Powder and starts to panic. A drowned ghost rises from the inky water and climbs aboard the boat. The thug panics more and tries to climb back up to the dock, grabbing the leg of the other thug who didn’t run. They both fall into the water.

Junker Resist (Resolve) 1d 4

Junker stands firm in the face of this new horror, but takes 4 stress. Skellington in on top of the deck with two recovered Lampblack thugs, and sees a new ghost menacing Junker below deck. He yells down, “She didn’t drown you, they did! Over here!” hoping to set the fierce creatures upon his enemies.

Skellington Sway 1d desperate standard 6

The thugs are rushing up behind Skellington with their cudgels, but the drowned ghost rises through the dock and rushes upon them. The brawny ghost, who was named Olga in life, has finished her assigned task and reverts to her primal motivations: revenge and hunger! She sets her sights on Junker. Moth peeks out from her hiding place and sees that neither the ghosts nor the thugs are paying attention to her or the remaining crate of drugs. Maybe it would be best to leave with only one crate and only ask for half the pay. No, the Goatriders will complete the job! Moth and Skellington push the remaining crate towards the hole in the dock, trying to avoid the ghosts and the thugs’ desperate attempts to fend them off.

Moth + Skellington assist Prowl 3d risky standard 5

They are not struck by cudgels or drained by electroplasmic fingers, but the heavy crate breaks a damaged board, sending itself and Moth plummeting. the crate lands on the boat, but Moth goes into the water. Heedless of the danger to herself from Ogla’s ravenous approach, Junker throws Moth a rope and pulls her in. Junker takes Level 2 Harm “Drained” as Olga devours part of her life energy. The cargo is secured, and only Skellington remains on the dock, Time to leave!  Skellington prepares to leap through the broken board to join his teammates on the boat.

Skellington Prowl 1d controlled standard 1

Actually, those splintered boards are twisted at weird angles and it’s hard to judge a safe path.  He runs to the edge of the dock and jumps in from there. He is picked up and the Goatriders sail away from the chaos on the docks.

GM note: The hour was late, and this was only the first obstacle. I asked the players if they wanted to say this was the successful end of the quest and move on to down time, or run late and see what else happened. They chose to make the one-shot a two-parter. We stopped playing there, but the score is not over. We will schedule another session and see what else stands between the Goatriders and their destination.

I asked the players what they enjoyed, what they wanted more of, and what they wanted to change. We didn’t get much time in-character, so they didn’t have answers for everything.  More experience is needed.  They enjoyed the setting, where they were expected to do the most underhanded, wild thing possible, immediately devolving into ridiculous shenanigans. They also appreciated the limited power of the characters. Teamwork was required to cover gaps in each others skills, and only one special ability to start prevented analysis paralysis. Since ghosts are important to this gang, I need to be prepared to insert ghosts suddenly into any situation, and be familiar with how they interact with the world. This time, I didn’t know how effective the thugs would be against a ghost, or if they could do anything at all.

Musing about a vehicular combat tabletop game

Inspiration:

  • The Fast and the Furious series: wild chases, lots of different beautiful vehicles, missions and heist that always require racing and fighting.
  • Mad Max series: car vs. car, boarding actions, person vs. car, person vs. person while on a car.
  • Terminator series: running battles that move through various locations, from foot to vehicles and back again.
  • Blades in the Dark: a crew of scoundrels picking jobs and executing them, always in over their heads, daring greatly.

Goal

Chases, vehicular combat, and heists are combine high stakes, complicated situations, and fast action. I like the fantasy of operating a dangerous machine in an even more dangerous situation and quickly making the right decision to lead to victory or to escape looming destruction. How can I make that feeling available to others through a tabletop game?

I have two very different ideas.

Emotional approach

A scene is rising and falling action, setups and payoffs, tension and release. the condition and position of vehicles doesn’t matter. The roads on the movie screen don’t exist in real life.  No car could actually survive those jumps, make those turns, withstand that many bullets, so why bother trying to track that stuff? What matters is the characters’ will to continue, their skills, and a vague approximation of how much car they have left.

There are three types of abilities, in descending order of safety:

  1. Automatic. Due to the features of the car or driver, this action always succeeds. These features may be damaged, removing the associated actions.
  2. Spend. Spend resources to perform actions. Once the resource pools are expended, the actions are unavailable.
  3. Risk. Use random chance (dice, cards, etc.) to see if the action works at all.

Everyone involved in the chase or combat will add dangers to the scene: uninvolved traffic, sharp turns, gunfire. Characters will use their automatic abilities as much as possible, spending resources when necessary. As damage accumulates and resources wane, obstacles will become more troublesome, and characters will have to make risky actions. When a character’s resources are all spent, or the vehicle is completely wrecked, that character is out of the scene.

The scene starts out smooth and controlled, but the participants are worn down and by the end they are making desperate maneuvers and thinking about how much they want to spend and how much damage they are willing to endure to continuing pursuing their goals.

Technical approach

Make it crunchy! Cars, guns, roads. These all have many measurable qualities, so let’s measure them.

  • Miniatures and a game grid are required.
  • Minis for cars are tiny game-boards with spaces for custom equipment and passengers.
  • Character sheets
  • Vehicle sheets have holes in them. Line up a character sheet and a vehicle sheet and the vehicle sheet will cover the parts of the character sheet dedicated to on-foot action.

In this model, characters and vehicles are complicated, and damage is granular and specific. The simulation determines the outcome. This can lead to some undramatic conclusions, like a beloved character getting t-boned by a semi-truck three blocks into pursuing a minor adversary and instantly dying. Cars are dangerous! That’s always a risk.

What’s next?

I’m re-watching my inspirations, taking detailed notes on how their chase, fight, and heist scenes work. From that I’ll look for patterns and extract mechanical rules. Even a play test is a long way away.

Chasing The Sunset & Shape-Shifter

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

The party: Buckle the Beast, Stella the Halfling

Finally, the city of Templeton is in sight: a cinder cone volcano rising high above the low hills of the surrounding countryside.  Returning the Mayor to her city will make her someone else’s problem. The Mayor is delighted to return to her city and get the respect and treatment she deserves after the indignity of captivity in Lady Evelynn’s dungeon, and the sass Stella has been giving her.

A map of the city of Templeton, built into a cinder cone volcano.

As they approach the entrance of the city, the Mayor runs up to the two guards, expecting a hero’s welcome.  Instead, they look surprised, even scared, and demand the password.  The Mayor doesn’t know what they are talking about. She’s the mayor who has been missing for so long. Everyone should be thrilled by her return.  The guards exchange worried glances. This is exactly what they worried would happen. One runs to get help while the other keeps an eye on the Mayor.  Buckle wonders at this strange behavior.

Buckle: We’re trying to be rid of her.

The Mayor realizes what’s happening. Shortly before she was kidnapped, an unstoppable shape-shifting creature was released from a secure faciilty. No doubt it has impersonated her in her absence!  The Mayor and the remaining guard accuse each other of being the creature.  Buckle asks how to tell if someone is really the shape-shifter, but the guard won’t reveal state secrets.  As Buckle argues with the guard, an Orc woman who was definitely not there a moment ago suddenly has the Mayor in her clutches!  Stella leaps towards Buckle and shrinks to the size of an apple. Buckle catches her and hurls her at the mysterious assailant. Stella enlarges in mid-air and tackles the Orc off of the Mayor.  The Orc is knocked to the ground, but flings a throwing knife at the Mayor. The knife only grazes her, but the Mayor howls and cries as blood flows from the wound. Seeing this, both the guard and Beth (the Orc commando) rush to assist her. They’re sure this is the real mayor.  Buckle tail-slaps Beth as she rushes past him, knocking her out.  The guard helps the Mayor up, but if the Mayor is here, just returned from a long absence, who has been in the mayor’s office all this time?

Buckle, Stella, their companions, Pomplamoose (the giant albino Platyperson), the Mayor, the guard (his name is Alebringer), and the unconscious Beth all seek medical attention.  Since official channels seem to be compromised, Alebringer leads them to the medical school at Fortinbras Collage Of Mines. He brings them to Doctor Regina Strongarm and tells her to keep their visit hush-hush. Dr. Strongarm will see to the Mayor personally and won’t tell her students.

Stella and Buckle ask Alebringer what’s gong on. There have been strange murders in town, and the Mayor (apparently an impostor) blamed it on the shape-shifter and has all the town officials paranoid and suspicious.  Alebringer recommends they leave town. It’s dangerous. No one can be trusted. As far as Alebringer knows, stabbing people isn’t official policy, but Beth is pretty high-up in the org chart. Maybe she has access to policies that Alebringer does not. Stella and Buckle want to stay and figure this out. Buckle appeals to Alebringer.

Buckle: We took a lot of effort getting the Mayor here. Let us help you. Trust us, because we didn’t know about the impostor. We can hold our own.

Stella snickers at that last part.  Alebringer is convinced.  Stoutarm reports that the Mayor will be fine with just a bandage, but Beth needs to stay overnight. They really did a number on her!

Buckle: Are there more commandos like her?

Alebringer: Yes. They will be on high alert since Beth didn’t report back.

Alebringer wants to bring the Mayor to City Hall, but Buckle recommends tact. They don’t know who they would be delivering the Mayor to.  Alebringer, Stella, and Rose head for City Hall with the news, while Buckle and the others will stay at the hospital with the Mayor. Alebringer & Stella can also find the rest of the comandos.  Stella and Buckle arrange a secret password to confirm their identities.

GM note: The players kept the password a secret from me.

As Alebringer and Stella walk through the spiraling city streets, Gimel, a Human woman in the same black armor as Beth, appears from a shadow and demands to know what’s happened to Beth. Alebringer reports that Beth is in the hospital, and the real Mayor has returned! Gimel thanks them and rushes off.

Back at the hospital, a med student enters with a tray of snacks for the Mayor, but she drops the tray, jams her hands into her own chest, and pulls out knives! She’s attacking the Mayor! Buckle tries to interpose, but the assailant slips past him and stabs the Mayor.  Buckle tells Ugg to grab the assailant. Buckle giant metal exo-skeletal hands close around the assailant’s body, squeeze, and go right through! The assailant’s body squishes through his fingers like clay! Clearly this is the shape-shifter, and it can’t be grabbed or held.  Buckle looks around the room for specimen jars.

Buckle: We need to can this thing!

Pomplamoose and Buckle each grab a specimen jar and charge at the shape-shifting assassin. Buckle scoops a chunk out of the assassin and slams the lid on the jar.

Assassin: I’m not going back in a box!

The assassin tries to smash Buckle’s specimen jar.  Buckle throws the jar to Ugg, who isn’t expecting it.  Slow-motion reaction shot of Ugg as the jar flies past and he dives to catch it.  The assassin gives up on imitating humanoid form and pours towards the Mayor, all knives and pulsing flesh.  Silk zooms in and Buckle leaps aboard as they race the assassin. They arrive at the same time! Buckle scoops up the Mayor and takes the Assassin’s blow in her place.  Silk runs away with Buckle and the Mayor on its back and the Assassin pursues. Silk passes Pomplamoose & Buckle swaps the Mayor for Pomplamoose’s specimen jar. he turns around on Silk’s back and leaps off, straight at the Assassin, forcing it into the specimen jar! The Assassin is now contained in two separate jars, and the fight is over.

As Alebringer and Stella walk through the spiraling city streets, Gimel, a Human woman in the same black armor as Beth, appears from a shadow and demands to know what’s happened to Beth.

Stella: She’s with the Mayor. How many of you are there?

Alebringer: We already talked to you.

Gimel realizes that the Shapeshifter impersonated her and got information from these credulous chumps.

Gimel: Which way did I go?

Gimel, Alebringer, and Stella all rush towards the hospital.  Stella outruns Gimel and reunites with Buckle.

Stella: Isn’t Lady Evelynn so nice?

Buckle: She casts a long shadow.

Stella explains that they met the same person twice, and that Alebringer told one of them where the Mayor was, so the shapeshifter may try to attack. Buckle points to the specimen jars full of shape-shifting assassin.  Gimel arrives to take control of the situation. Ugg tries to grab her to make sure she’s not squishy and she judo throws him across the room.  She wants to take the assassin back to its secure facility. The party says that facility is clearly not secure enough. They want to inspect and evaluate the facility. Dr Strongarm arrives to make sure everyone is OK, and the Mayor recovers from her panic.  Despite the facility being top secret, the party convinces the Mayor and her commandos to let them inspect it and maybe suggest some improvements, so this shape-shifter doesn’t get out again. They are taken to a sub-basement in a science lab in the Fortinbras School of Mines,

Science building, lower storey

The door to the room has an impressive lock. One half of the room looks like a normal lab, with a table and chairs, but there’s a metal band separating the two halves of the room, and the other half is smooth, bare, and seamless. the metal band is the border of a Wall of Force, and the specimen jars are placed in the seamless section, behind the Wall of Force. The controls for the door lock and the Wall of Force are inaccessible from inside the Wall of Force, so the Dwarves don’t know how the shape-shifter managed to disable both of them. Buckle and Stella examine the room and find a big air vent under the table. People could use this vent to enter or exit the room. They recommend putting another Wall of Force across this vent, with a password that allows air to pass through.  The scientists will get on that right away.