Chasing The Sunset & Moon

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

The party: Ori the Construct

Last time, Ori noticed an odd light near the moon. When his friends stepped out for some Scooby-Doo shenanigans, Ori decided to TELEPORT TO THE MOON without telling anyone.  The moon is artificial, covered with giant hexagonal mirrors.  A Kobold appeared and took him back to base in a cable car.

Cables converge from all directions to a central tower.  Beneath the tower are several bunkhouses, a control center, and a weird red pyramid.  Lee Lee IV, Ori’s Kobold guide, brings him into the command center. It looks like NASA mission control: a large room with big desks covered with gauges and lights. Ori has never seen anything this advanced. His creators must have advanced technology, but he does not remember the facility that built him.  Ori is impressed but not shocked.  The Kobolds are not used to visitors, so Ori’s entrance causes a stir.  Lee Lee IV brings Ori over to a certain desk and introduces him to Jim Jim IV. Lee Lee IV found Ori because Jim Jim IV saw a variance in his temperature readings and sent her to investigate.  Ori hopes he did not cause any damage to the system. Jim Jim IV reassures him that the variance was not that severe, but it’s procedure to investigate.  Jim Jim IV consults a handwritten manual to see what to do next. He can’t find any relevant instructions in his manual, so he sends Ori to see Junior.

Junior is an old Kobold in an elevated glass office at the back of the room. He’s clearly the boss, since his office lets him oversee the rest of the control stations in the room. He has more manuals than anyone else, and his copies are printed, not copied by hand.  Junior finds the instructions for people who arrive unexpectedly: check if they are vampires by exposing them to sunlight.  Junior and Ori step outside, and Ori has no reaction to the sunlight.  Ori asks if the Kobolds have problems with vampires. Junior explains that keeping this machine running properly will keep all dragonkind safe from vampires.  That’s an odd thing to say, since Dragons disappeared from Earth about a hundred years ago.  Fafnir is definitely an exception.  Ori asks if the Kobolds visit Earth, and if there are any Dragons here on the moon.  Junior says no to both.

Junior also says that intruders are expected to arrive from the red pyramid, not in the middle of nowhere, like Ori. He’s not sure what to do with Ori. There’s nothing in the manual about this situation.  Ori wants to explore the mysterious red pyramid. According to the manual, supplies may come from the pyramid, although none have arrived in a long time, but it’s also where intruders are most likely to arrive.

Ori leaves the command center to examine the red pyramid up close.  Whoever built this impressive machine may be a good master. He also wants to tell Fafnir about this important part of her people’s history.  The pyramid has big triangular doors on two of its four sides. the doors are closed, and hand-written signs on each say “DO NOT OPEN” Ori notices that this building is carved out of stone, while the other buildings in the facility are have modular pre-fab metal construction.  Ori opens the doors to look inside, which causes an alarm to go off. He can see a commotion in the command center. Kobolds will come here soon, so he needs to hurry!

Inside the pyramid is a pyramidal room lined with a wire mesh cage. There are bigger structural metal beams filled in with wires about the thickness and spacing of chicken wire. There are four terminals for big batteries, but the batteries are gone. Ori realizes that this is a teleporter. If it was powered, it could swap the volume defined by the wire cage with the volume of another room somewhere else.  The teleporter would take a great deal of energy to power, but Ori is mostly energy. With the right wiring, he could probably power the teleporter with his own body. It would HURT! He hears a group of Kobolds approach the door he opened and chatter about how unusual this situation is. One Kobold apparently has amanual and other Kobolds are shouting section and page numbers to check.

Ori goes through the wire cage and tries to quietly slip out the other doors, but they fall on him, pinning him. A group of Kobolds come around the pyrmaids with shields and spears. Ori is surprised to see that they are going straight for physical confrontation, but to be fair, this is the place that vampire invaders are expected to emerge from.  Ori appeals to their devotion to procedure and says that the pyramid is malfunctioning! Look how these doors are malfunctioning! There’s non-standard signage!  Most of the Kobolds are distracted and huddle around a manual, but two Kobolds move to box Ori in. Knowing the Kobolds’ dependence on manuals and rule-following, he throws out a confusing barrage of claims. “I’m being tested by exposure to sunlight! Don’t interfere!” “This pyramid isn’t up to spec. The batteries are gone. Someone isn’t following the manual.” The Kobolds take him to Junior, because they don’t know what else to do.

GM note: We got a bit bogged down. Ori’s player kept getting partial successes on talking the Kobolds out of attacking him, so we just agreed that the situation needed to change and made it happen.

Junior is upset with Ori. Ori got permission to look around and immediately caused trouble and broke protocol.  Ori counters that protocol was already broken. The manual says to keep the pyramid powered to receive supplies, but the pyramid has no batteries.  Junior counters with a resource priority table in another volume of the manual. He shut down the pyramid to keep the cable car network running.

At this point, the ball of light that Ori originally came here to study is getting really bright. Its movement is visible to the naked eye. It won’t fall right on the command center, but it’s definitely headed for the moon.  Ori points out the imminent danger and says this should be Junior’s priority, not Ori’s protocol violations.  Junior says that the light must not be important, because there are no sensors or gauges dedicated to detecting or measuring it. Ori asks if there’s anything in the manuals about handling collisions, Junior starts flipping through several volumes. Before he finds an answer, the bright ball of light streaks over the horizon, and a few seconds later, the entire facility shakes! Gauges spike and alarms blare all over the control room. Kobolds scramble into action.

Several cable cars full of Kobolds are being dispatched to the affected area.  Since Ori is so interested in this light, Junior brings him along as a consultant.  They zip along the cables for several minutes. The impact site is not close. Eventually they have to stop and continue on foot, because several towers and the cables they suspended were destroyed. There’s a big smoking hole, surrounded by dozens of displaced and shattered mirrors.  Several mirrors have been flung into space, twirling and twinkling in the sky. Junior wants Ori’s opinion on what happened.  Ori surmises that the big ball of light hit the moon and exploded.  The energy didn’t dissipate during the long trip to the moon, so this was most likely an advanced weapon, aimed precisely at the moon.  Despite the great engineering effort and willpower required to fire a weapon from the earth to the moon, not much of the moon was affected. The damage spreads over hundreds of yards, but the moon is thousands of miles across. Ori sees two possible explanations:

  1. This was a desperate and ineffective attack
  2. This was a test shot

Only an Artifact of Power would have the energy required to destroy the moon, either with a giant explosion, or by carpet bombing the surface of the moon.  Ori looks towards the earth and does not see any more shots incoming. This shot took about a day to reach the moon, so there will be time to notice any future attacks.  Ori worries that the attacker may adjust their aim based on this test shot and walk thier shots into the command center. There’s only one command center, so destroying it would disable the moon. Ori’s not quite sure what the moon does, but someone put a lot of effort into making it, and now someone else is putting a lot of effort into destroying it.

GM note: Ori’s player had some ideas about the unknown attacker that were smarter and scarier than the actual plan that I’ve given to Dr. Diana MacLeod.

Ori keeps most of this to himself, but tells Junior that this was a deliberate attack by someone on earth who wants to destroy the facility. More shots may follow, so Ori recommends that Junior power the pyramid and send a strike team to disable the weapon. Junior says that Ori must join the strike team and act as their guide.  Ori counter-offers: he will power the pyrmaid so Junior doesn’t have to shut down the cable cars, but once they return to earth, he will not be under their command.  Junior agrees. The Kobolds on the moon have their work cut out for them. Already Kobolds are requisitioning spare mirrors from storage, clearing debris, and repairing the fallen towers.

The strike team assembles: a group of Kobold Pokers with spears and shields, a group of Kobold Slingers with ranged weapons. Ori suggests that the strike team takes a copy of all the manuals instead of just hte volume on operating the pyramid.  Junior agrees and adds a bookkeeper to the team.  The strike team takes position inside the wire mesh teleportation volume inside the pyramid. Kobolds run wires from the battery terminals inside the mesh to Ori.  Ori winds all the negative wires around his foot spike, and takes two positive wires in each hand.  He jams the wires into his face! The purple energy that makes up most of his body crackles along the wires and a high-pitched whine gets louder and louder. As the energy starts flowing, it starts flowing faster, drawing more and more energy out of Ori. Ori’s energy starts to dim. Does he have enough in reserve to survive this? Yes! The wire mesh and everyone in it disappears. The battery wires fall to the floor, cut where they enter the teleportation volume.

Ori and the Kobold Strike team are in a red pyramidal room just like the one on the moon. They walk outside and find a red stone pyramid, just like the one on the moon, but this one is underground inside a large cave. Where in the world are they?

Chasing The Sunset & Magical Barrier

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

The party is looking for an old library that’s hidden inside one of two volcanoes, but their directions did not indicate which volcano contained the library. Smoke pours from the caldera of one volcano, so they head for that one, looking for an entrance around the slopes of the mountain. A huge drill, 15 feet across, bursts from the ground at their feet, towering over them, and then starting to fall in their direction. Lucia and Dryden leap aside and see that the drilll is the front end of a large earth-moving vehicle that has emerged from an underground tunnel.  Several Goblins (short, green-skinned people) emerge from the machine and are surprised to see Lucia & Dryden.  Introductions are exchanged, and the goblins say they are making a public entrance to their underground city.  Dryden asks to use it, and the Goblin asks if he has come to fight the boss. A dragon named Fafnir just took over the city and is looking for challengers. Another Goblin grumbles that his grandfather helped build this canopy to keep the town of Swallet hidden, and here they are punching holes in it and encouraging outsiders to come in. Fafnir wants fighters from all over to come to Swallet to challenge her, but Goblins are used to secrecy and don’t know how to encourage people to come into their towns.  Dryden suggests building a road to this entrance they are building.  A Goblin exclaims, “This is all backwards! Let’s just head right towards the No Go zones on the maps!” The Goblins need to get back to work on the entrance, but Dryden asks if their town has a library.  Goblins collect technical manuals and such, but there’s no great library in Swallet.  Dryden promises to spread the word about Swallet and its new dragon ruler.

Dryden overcharges his flying stone and flies himself and Lucia over the other volcano. Around the caldera they find signs of an old war camp.  The camp was pointed in, like it was besieging the volcano, not defending it. The bottom of the volcano’s crater is an unnaturally smooth and regular surface, like the top section of a sphere. Two spiral staircases go down the inside of the caldera, but one staircase is broken.  They explore the war camp and find a graveyard: 40 or so spear points stuck in the ground, and a volcanic stone with the name “crusher” carved into it. They walk down the intact staircase to the dome at the bottom. There’s a light layer of gravel and hardy plants, but it’s easy to sweep that aside and see a smooth, non-porous, extremely hard ceramic surface.  A perfect barrier.  Dryden has a Dwarf-made weapon, so hard that it’s almost indestructible. He gangs on the dome a few times, chipping it, but he needs more force to get through.  He climbs to the rim of the caldera and drops the weapon from that great height. The impact cracks the dome with a deafening sound!

Lucia approaches the crack and calls out. From inside she hears a faint, spooky voice: “Do not remoooove booooks without a library caard.” and other such announcement.  Lucia identifies herself as the queen of the Forgotten Lands, and sees an eye glinting through the crack. She shows her symbol of royalty through the crack. A ghost floats up through the crack! A sheet with empty eye-holes is all that’s left of the librarian. This is indeed the library founded by the librarians who left the Forgotten Lands when they decided to withdraw from the world. They did not want their knowledge to be lost, and thus they sailed far away and founded this library. She is honored that the queen is visiting and wishes she could let Lucia in. She explains that about a hundred years ago, an evil warlord besieged the library, intent on stealing its secrets. Two heroes stood against a horde of invaders and gave the librarians time enough to cast the spell that sealed the library in this protective shell. She is the last one left, and the spell, cast by many magicians, cannot be broken my just one.  If Dryden and Lucia want to get in, they will have to find some way to enlarge this crack. The ghostly librarian can slip through the narrow crack. but people with solid bodies can’t fit.

Dryden, the gadgeteer, has another weapon to try. An unwieldy, devastating weapons. A long stick with explosives at the end that will launch rocks on impact.  Using it here, next to the inner wall of the caldera, will probably cause a rockslide.  Dryden prepares to use his rope launcher to pull himself up as soon as the explosion goes off! It mostly works! He swings the giant weapon. He deploys the rope launcher! He rises over the resulting rockslide! He loses his grip on the rope launcher and falls on the sharp rocks! He decides to rest overnight and dig deep into his cloak for a more appropriate tool.

During the night, the party sees tiny flashing lights near the moon. No doubt aftermath of Dr. MacLeod’s attempt to destroy the moon. Dryden finds a curiously carved wooden monkey. Back at the palace, where he grew up with Lucia, he got good at picking locks, and then the locks got replaced by better locks. The next step in this arms race was to invent this little device in the shape of monkey with its hands together. He slipped the hands between the door and doorframe, then activate the monkey, which would forcefully spread its hands and pop the door off its hinges!  Will it work on this cracked protective shell? Yes! The monkey widens the crack enough for Dryden and Lucia to slip through. They find themselves on the roof of a building. There are double doors that lead inside. the library is lit by spooky blue flames in sconces along the walls on on the ends of shelves.  The shelves have signs “Do Not Remove Books Without A LIbrary Card” Shelves piled with books seem to extend forever. Sometimes there is no shelf, just a stack of books and scrolls up to the ceiling.  The ghostly librarian moves to the counter. There’s a shimmery blue barrier between the counter and the rest of the library. She explains that the library lost contact when the barrier was erected. They used to send messenger birds across the sea to the Forgotten Lands. They could send messages or even small books, wrapped in water-proof paper.  The librarian issues Lucia a library card. Of course the Queen can check out any book she likes.

This is great. Our heroes need some information, and they’ve found a center of learning, a place to store and retrieve information. They ask the ghostly librarian for all the information she has on werewolves. She’s never heard of a werewolf. They explain that it’s a person who transforms into a fierce beast under a full moon. The librarian doesn’t know what a full moon is. They realize that this librarian has been isolated since before the moon appeared! They try to explain that there’s an object in the sky that causes these transformations, and they were sent by this woman, only they aren’t really working for this woman, but she’s been trying for 60 years to destroy the moon, which is an unreasonable amount of time. The librarian asks if this woman looks too young to be as old as she is, like a middle-aged woman who takes a lot of care in her appearance. the party confirms, surprised by the accuracy of the description.  The librarian says she is probably a vampire. Vampires are starting to infiltrate and cause some trouble, but the Dragons won’t stand it! they run a tight ship and will no doubt run those trouble makers off.

Or party realizes that this librarian has been out of touch for a long time, and that world was a very different place back in her day.

Chasing The Sunset & Secret Base

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

Lucia and Gleador have sent an angry mob home with no injuries, but a longer-term danger still remains: werewolves. People were attacked by at least one werewolf, and may turn into werewolves themselves. They consider the injured farmers they met earlier. Surely Kenney will turn, maybe the others too.

They return to town, where they are not particularly welcome, and return to Olivia’s healing house.  They are met by Miles, a young man who is Olivia’s apprentice. Olivia is not here. She runs supplies to the scientists on the mountain to the north every two weeks. They ask what he knows about werewolves. Miles says that werewolves are only legends, although he did hear that some fierce, furry creature attacked the Fairmeadow Fair a few weeks ago. Lucia says she’s heard of the Black Beast. They go in and talk to Kenney, inquiring after his wounds. He’s healing very well, but still needs to stay in the healing house for a few more days.  He doesn’t know what attacked him. He can’t remember anything from that night. They float the possibility of a werewolf attack. Kenney says thsoe are just stories. Dryden points at his wounds and asks “What does your chest say about stories?” They point out that the attacks happened on the night of the full moon, which reminds Kenney that last night, he was looking at the moon through the window and noticed a bright star that was not there previous nights. Molly pips up from the next bed. She noticed it too.

The party suggests that Kenney travel with them for the next month. That’s a sudden change for a farmer like Kenney. He barely knows them. Dryden says that they are very capable, and could protect him from mobs out for revenge (like, maybe, his home town?) and maybe find a way to heal him. They’ll let him think it over and check back once they return from visiting the mountain that Olivia has gone to.

So Lucia & Dryden leave the village and head north. The ground rises of plain suitable for fruit trees to hills, and mountains beyond. There’s a path to keep the party heading the right way, and soon they can see one particular mountain with buildings and paths on it.  Far beyond, towering, sharp, snow-covered peaks are visible in the distance. Lucia & Dryden walk up the path and encounter a gatehouse.  Addison, a woman wearing a thick apron and big gloves, asks their business, and they say they know Olivia & have come from the village. That’s good enough for Addison, so she leads them up the mountain to where Olivia is staying.  The paths cut into the mountain are all covered, and the buildings that dot the slopes have huge umbrellas over their roofs. The gatehouse is on the southern slope and the main building is on the northern slope, so the path winds all the way around the mountain. The stairs cut into the rock turn into a bridge as the path crosses a huge slit cut east-to-west all the way through the mountain. the slit isn’t vertical, but tilts to the south. It’s aligned with the ecliptic plane, the apparent path of the sun and moon through the sky. In the center of the slit is a huge tube, thousands of feet long connected to tracks on the inner surface of the slit that let it rotate. Further up the path, around the north side, they approach the headquarters of the facility, which looks like a James Bond villain’s hideout, jutting out from the rock at an aggressive angle, all big windows and simple lines.

Addison introduced Lucia & Dryden to Olivia and Dr. MacLeod, the owner and head scientist of the facility. The party explains how they suspect a werewolf attack. Dr. MacLeod immediately believes them. She hates werewolves and is actually working on a plan to destroy them! This entire facility is dedicated to destroying werewolves, who only emerged after the Moon suddenly appeared 102 years ago. Dryden and Lucia aren’t old enough to remember a time before the moon. Dr. MecLeod explains how the appearance of the Moon and the werewolves was such a terrible thing, and how she’s been working for so long to construct this facility, and it’s finally ready! Tonight, the fruit of her labor will be revealed! Dryden asks how long she’s been working on building this enormous facility.  She says 60 years, which is weird because she looks like a 50-year-old who puts a lot of work into her appearance, e.g. Nicole Kidman or Charlize Theron. Dryden wants to know exactly how she’s going to save the world from werewolves, but Dr. MecLeod is determined to wait for the demonstration tonight. Why tell you when you can see for yourself? The party agrees to wait. Dryden pretends to take a nap on one of the designer couches in the huge lounge, but he secretly lays a trap in case things to badly.

Immediately after the sun sets, Dr. MacLeod gathers her guests and most of the workers to the observation dome at the mountain’s peak. Everyone faces the moon and waits. There’s a flash on the surface of the moon and after a few minute, a few tiny twinkling lights surround the moon.  Dr. MacLeod is distraught! The propulsion worked. The trajectory was perfect. The warhead was insufficient! The party realizes that Dr. MacLeod’s life work is to destroy the moon!  Dr. MacLeod is pacing the room, thinking out loud. The warhead she built herself wasn’t even close to big enough. She needs a Source Of Power to be able to attack the moon. Alas, the library would probably be able to tell her where to find one, but that stupid warlord ruined everything, and the library is inaccessible. Dryden is sympathetic and asks technical questions about how the anti-Moon cannon works. Dr. MacLeod can prepare the compressed-light propellant for another shot before the next full moon, but without a Source of Power for the warhead, it’s useless.  Dryden asks how she affords all this. She says “Old Money”Dryden indicates that the party could go find and secure a Source of Power for the next test.

The party is given a room for the night, since it’s already dark and too late to return to the village. As soon as they settle in, Dryden turns to Lucia and says, “She’s crazy! We have to stop her!” Lucia suggests finding a cure for werewolves at that library that she mentioned.  Dryden says he’s already hidden some traps, and they may have to destroy this place when they return.

The next day, they set out for the location of the library, as described by Dr. MacLeod: inside on of the twin volcanoes to the west.  Their route takes them past Lady Evelynn’s estate. Lady Evelynn is pretty scary, but Lucia is a Queen now, so Lady Evelynn will have to show her respect.  They knock at the gate and a bored, sullen young woman with little horns on her forehead answers. Lucia shows her symbol of royalty and demands hospitality.  The young woman walks unhurried to the main house, then a butler comes back much faster. This is Jayce, a tall, neat human that the party met last time they visited. He welcomes them warmly and brings them inside to meet Lady Evelynn. Lady Evelynn was amused last time, but she’s polite this time, mostly. She says that Lucia is now traveling in better company.  Dryden agrees, and says that he has heard she has a collection of treasures. As a fellow collector of fine artifacts, he’d like to see her collection. Maybe they could even trade.  Lady Evelynn assures him that her collection is better than le Grind’s, and takes Dryden into a show room. Her collection is cruel, just like her. Lots of items that are hard, sharp, or specifically weapons. Dryden doesn’t see anything he wants,but he wnats to present Lady Evelynn with a gift: the Ever-Burning Brand. It’s a branch that is always on fire, clasped in a protective stone gauntlet.  Lady Evelynn leans into admireit, and the brand casts a big shadow of her on the wall and ceiling. Her shadow moves independently as if to get a better look. Lady Evelynn accepts the gift and places it in her showroom. (It’s actually an explosive trap. Dryden doesn’t trust anyone!)  Lady Evelynn tells Jayce not to put these guests downstairs with the other guests. Use the nice rooms upstairs.

The next morning, the party says farewell and sets off toward the east.  When they stop for a break, a pesky marmot gets into their bags looking for food and generally making a mess.  Lucia kills it and cooks it.  They continue and approach two volcanoes. One has smoke rising from the top and the other does not.  Dryden jokes that Helen and Shasta could explore these volcanoes easily.  He set off for the smoking volcano first.

Chasing The Sunset & UFO

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

The party: Orichalcum the Construct, Stella the Halfling, Buckle the Platyperson

GM note: Before we started, I asked my players if they were OK with fighting cops in the game, since that’s very close to scary things that are happening in real life.

Buckle and Ugg are in a locker room in Cloorick’s Fight Club inside the hidden Goblin city of Swallet.  Ori comes in and Buckle in intimidated by the energy robot that’s 50% taller than him. Ori gives Buckle a very specific compliment on his fighting style and victory over Ugg. Ori, Buckle, and Stella share introductions.

GM note: The players had not met each other IRL, nor seen each other’s characters, nor encountered their cultures, so there were a lot of introductions!  Buckle and Stella’s players were impressed when I said that this was the player of the strange robot they saw fighting last session.

Ori explains that his life’s goal is to look for a master. Buckle says that sounds like slavery.

Ori: Maybe I am a slave, but I don’t like the connotation.

Buckle: Were you hatched?

Ori: No, I was built.

Buckle: That’s weird. I’m Buckle. I’m a Platyperson.  I was hatched from an egg, and I accidentally hatched a dragon too.

Stella: We have to save him a lot.

Buckle: I saved myself just now against Ugg.

Rabbish rushes in. He was replacing the front door (wrecked by Fafnir) and noticed suspicious movement out from. There could be trouble!

Cloorick's fight club & surrounding buildings: fish cannery, warehouse, black market, merch shop

Ori and Buckle take the ladder ot the roof and peer over the front edge.  There’s movmeent of people entering the warehouse to the right. People are fleeing the fish cannery on the left (which is actually a front for money laundering) Two Goblin police in Power Suits are walking down the street right in front. They are Nub-Nub and her partner, who have already crossed paths with Stella and Buckle. The second Power Suit leaps from the street to the roof of the warehouse, spotting Ori and Buckle! Buckle tries to run and the cops go loud!  Windows on the top floor of the warehouse break, and Goblins hidden inside point personal, customized ranged weapons at the Fight Club and unleash a barrage of arrows, bolts, bullets, metal rods, and other projectiles!  One projectile smashes a hole in the roof, and Buckle dives through to the relative safety of “inside.”  Nub-Nub is surprised. The posse wasn’t supposed to attack just yet, so she turns on her loudspeaker.

Nub-Nub:   Cloorick, we have evidence that you are harboring spies seeking to steal our precious Goblin secrets. Surrender them at once!

She hasn’t heard that Cloorick is dead and the Fight Club is under new management.  Ori peeks over the roof and asks for parley. Nub-Nub tells the squad of gunners to cease fire, and tells Ori to come out the front door to talk. He goes back inside and wonders who these spies are.  Stella and Buckle fear that they are wanted as spies.  The three of them walk outside, and Nub-Nub immediately shouts, “There are the spies!”  Her partner leaps down from the roof to arrest Buckle.  Buckle tries to flee, but the cop’s Power Suit fires a rocket fist to grab him and winch him back in.  Ori wants to know what will happen to Stella and Buckle.  Loss of technological secrets is one of the worst things that can happen to Goblin cities, so those who try to take their secrets can never be allowed to leave.  Stella’s companion Rose holds up a bag of unknown powder and Stella yells that it’s a toxic chemical, and if the cops try anything, she’ll release it on all of them!  The cop releases Buckle, who flees and hides in the merch shop. (Fafnir quickly became a local hero, and there’s an unauthorized merch shop next door. Buckle dives into a pile of plushies and blends in, like that scene in E.T.) The gunners back up out of toxic cloud range and open fire!  Ori grabs Stella and flies around to the back of the Fight Club. The companions run back inside the front door.

Ori admits to Stella “This is as far as I’ve planned ahead.”  The gunners are fanning out in the street in front, slowly encircling the building.  Ori & Stella aren’t sure where to go, when Ugg opens a hidden door in the back of the building.  Of course the ilegal fight club has secret getaway routes.  Buckle wants to rejoin the team, but he’s trapped across an alley watched by several police gunners.  Ugg spots him and beckons him over, but he cowers. Ori transforms into a Goblin in a Power Suit, steps into view, and says the fugitives are on the far side of the building. Nub-Nub and the gunners on that side start o move, then notice that the other Power Suit is right there. Who’s in the third suit?  The distraction is enough for Buckle to cross the alley & join the others, but Nub-Nub leaps down the alley right on top of Ori, She’s very suspicious and tries to read his badge number.  Ori grabs her and says that she’s the fake, not him!  He’s got her immobilized, and she’s blocking fire from the gunners at the far end of the alley, so everyone can get away except for him. He’s safe until he tries to disengage.  Gus (Stella’s cook) leans around the corner and starts throwing food at the gunners. Like real cops, these gunners are terrified of milkshakes, tomatoes, and water bottles, so they retreat and hunker down.  Ori throws Nub-Nub across the alley and everyone flees down the secret escape route, which is shut and invisible by the time the cops recover and turn the corner.

The crew is in The Blackest Market, a building that sells unregulated obsidian.  It’s very dark. The walls are painted black for the look.  They have some time before the police figure out where they are, but they shouldn’t dawdle. They consider the exits from Swallet.

Going up the waterfall is difficult. The caldera isn’t intended to be an exit, and climbing out is also difficult. The sewer seems like the easiest way out.  Clearly Stella and Buckle have to flee, but what about the others?  Ori was staying at the Fight Club, and it looks like there won’t be a Fight Club anymore, so he might as well go with them.  Ugg lives in Swallet, but he’s loyal to Buckle after being beaten in a duel, so he’s also coming along.  they sneak away from the police and head for the garbage processing facility.

The garbage processing facility is a big dangerous industrial building with pipes, catwalks, conveyor belts, and big containers of trash. Goblins take trash, sort it, pick out valuable items, then send it to be burned, dumped, or poured into the sewer, a big pipe that matches the one that forms the waterfall in the park across town.  As a load of trash is dumped into a fire, the fire flares but doesn’t subside, It grows, takes shape, and starts moving on its own. A Fire Elemental has appeared!  The Goblin workers flee, calling for the shift leader and the cops!  Some run to the fire extinguishers, big backpack-mounted units with nozzles that come around the side, like Ghostbuster proton packs, or the Heavy Bolter from Warhammer 40K.  There’s also a gas-replacement bomb in the middle of the facility that will remove all the oxygen in the facility in case of major, uncontained fire. Obviously this would be very unhealthy for anyone still inside the facility.

GM note: We said “Halon bomb” at the table, but actual research reveals that Halon fire suppressant causes only giddiness and is safer than carbon-dioxide.

Ori: Hello, fellow energy being. Whom do you serve?

The Fire Elemental makes an effort to shape itself into something with a face,and makes talking motions, but vomits flame all over instead.  Ori puts out his hands and makes his body long and thin behind them, like a diver trying to make as little disruption in water as possible. It works! He comes through the barrage unscathed, but more of the facility is now on fire.  Stella grabs a fire extinguisher. The Goblin workers will take all the help they can get and point her at the Fire Elemental.  Instead she clears a path through the flames to the sewer entrance. Buckle and the companions follow. Again, Ori is in trouble as the rest of the crew beckon him towards safety.  Stella suggests setting of the bomb and running for the sewers.  Goblins close in with fire extinguishers, and the Fire Elemental retreats from them, unintentionally cutting Ori off from his route to the sewer.  Ori just powers through and zips right past the Fire Elemental, braving the heat radiating from it.  he makes it, and the crew flees down the sewer, leaving the Fire Elemental and the Goblins to fight it out.

Only liquid waste is poured down the sewer, so there’s nothing to run into in the long, dark journey, but the water is pretty dirty.  Buckle electro-sense can detect living creatures, but doesn’t notice anything except rats and bugs.  After hours and hours, the crew reaches the end of the tunnel.

A map showing the scret tunnel emptying into a river. There's a mill on the river, with a path leading up a hill to Evelynn's manor, surrounded by a wall with a gate.

There’s a small platform at the end of the tunnel, about the size of a studio apartment. It’s level and high enough to stay dry. there’s a door at the far end of the platform.  The crew floats out of the mouth of the tunnel and into the river to wash in the clean water. Most of Ori’s body is energy and can’t get dirty, but he rinses off the metal armor bits.   The mouth of the tunnel and the door from the platform are both camouflaged from the outside.  It’s night now.  The moon is up, and there’s a bright light near the moon that is not a normal star.  Ori is very curious about the light, but can’t tell much about it.  It’s not moving visibly, but maybe observing it through the night will reveal very slow motion.  Back on the ground, there’s a mill a little ways downstream.  The crew goes up to investigate.  No one is working at night, and the doors are locked, which seems a bit paranoid for such a remote location. A sign on the door reads “LE GRIND KEEP OUT!” so they assume the mill is owned by someone named “le Grind”  There’s a hill behind the mill, and lights from a large estate are visible on top. They follow path up towards the estate.  The estate is surrounded by a wall, and the wall is surrounded by topiary sculptures. The sculptures represent a wide range of creatures, all predators.  They knock at the gate, hoping for hospitality.

GM note. This is Evelynn‘s estate, from the Fairmeadow Fair campaign.

After an awkward pause, a petite woman slowly walks to the gate.  She’s wearing a leather jacket and has a cap with a bill specially shaped to fit around the small vertical horns on her forehead. She regards the crew with bored eyes and asks what they want.  They ask for hospitality. She’s heard of it, but it’s more work for her, so she’s not a fan. She says she’ll check, and slowly walks towards the main building.

After a while a different person returns from the house. He’s a tall human man, probably about 50. He has neat slicked back hair, black but greying at the temples. He introduces himself as Jayce and apologizes for the delay.  of course Lady Evelynn respects the ancient rite of hospitality and will grant travelers a night’s rest and a hot meal.  He calls for Kaley, the sullen Teifling, to stable Silk, Stella’s giant spider. There are six humanoids: Ori, Stella, Buckle, Ugg, Gus, and Rose. Jayce takes them in the front door, into a spectacular foyer with big staircases leading to balconies all around. he leads them through a door into the less impressive side of the house and assigns them to three bedrooms with two beds each.  He will fetch food and bed clothes for each of them.  Jayce inquires after Ori’s needs, since he’s never seen someone like Ori before. Ori doesn’t eat or sleep.  Jayce leaves to make preparations, urging his guests to make themselves comfortable and to stay in their rooms.  Stella examines her room and finds a secret passage hidden behind a painting! Jayce returns with nightgowns and food.  For Stella, Gus, and Rose: Halfling food with meat, fruit, and veggies. The food is prepared well, but the portions are too small. Buckle gets fish. The fish is fine. Can’t complain.  Ugg usually eats subterranean food like mushrooms and bat meat, but he gets freshwater crab. It’s OK.

Jayce bids them goodnight and reminds them to stay in their rooms.  Buckle and Stella convince themselves that the picture is part of Stella’s room, so the secret passage must also be part of the room, so it’s not technically breaking the rules to go exploring. Ori declares that a clever bit of sophistry and stays in his room, watching that mysterious light through the window. After several hours, he determines that it’s moving with the moon, which moves across the sky slightly faster than the stars. it’s a little closer to the moon than it was at the beginning of the night.

GM note: I was not prepared to explain all these celestial mechanics, even though “mysterious light near the moon” was 100% my idea. Would a waning gibbous be visible right after sunset? How much does the moon move against the background of stars?

Since Ori can’t determine what the mysterious light is from here, he decides to use his unlimited-range teleportation to TELEPORT TO THE SURFACE OF THE MOON.

GM note. Oh. Oh, OK. We’re doing this.  This is happening right now.  I wanted the players interested in the moon, but this is skipping quite a few steps.

Ori disappears from Evelynn’s estate and reappears on an endless field of giant hexagonal metal mirrors.  Each mirror is 100 feet across, and machinery underneath allows them to be steered somewhat. There are towers every few mirrors, and cables between the towers lead away, over the horizon.

The planet is visible below. The location that Ori just left is in shadow.  If Ori teleports back, his accuracy will be poor. He might land in the location next to the one he aims at. The mysterious light is there between the moon and the planet, still a bright featureless light, still not moving visibly.

Ori watches the mysterious light for a while and consumes some fuel.  A cable car arrives at the nearest tower and a Kobold gets out and approaches Ori. The Kobold isn’t wearing a suit or mask, so there’s air on the moon.  The Kobold is curious. How did you get here? Ori says he came from the planet to look at that light. The Kobold looks up at the light in surprise.  He didn’t notice.  It’s not on any of the sensors. The Kobold decides that Ori should come with him back to base. Wait! Show me your teeth!  Ori doesn’t have teeth, which reassures the Kobold, and they zoom away on the cable car.

GM note: Players have a tendency to run mysteries to ground as they notice them. The GM wouldn’t mention it unless it was important right?  Of course they want to see what the GM prepared. I didn’t think the players could do much about this particular mystery just yet, but I was wrong, and I am excited to see how this goes when one player jumps right into the middle.

Characters also made big strides. Ori gaines a level, and Stella and Buckle both took powerful Destiny playbooks.


Chasing The Sunset & Fire Pits

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

Lucia’s friends from her homeland have linked up with her and htey are ready to adventure in these new lands, but where will they go?  Dryden asks Lucia to choose their direction. He’s more formal than Gleador. The vibe is going to be different.  They survey their surrounding.  Upriver, the town of Sugar’s Crossing, which Lucia and Gleador have already explored and disrupted. Downriver, the swamp of the witch Samantha, and beyond that, the port that Dryden just came from.  To the east, Fairmeadow, and other towns that Lucia has already explored.  To the west, orchards, and a plume of white vapor.

They head for the white clouds, walking through neat rows of small fruit trees.  The find the source of the white smoke: a steep sudden valley. A hole in the ground, full of geothermal activity.  Pools of water, bubbling and colored by strange minerals.  Boiling fumaroles, delicate travertine. Down near ht bottom of the pit are two humanoids, lounging in the pools and having a great time.  One of the figures, a man named Shasta, sees the crew looking down and invites them to join him.  He assures them that the hot springs are very refreshing.  Great heat is wafting out of the pit, but Dryden decides to go down and meet Shasta.  He climbs down the steep slope, but slips, and ends up next to Shasta’s pool covered in mud.  Shasta laughs and splashes some scalding hot water at him to clean him off.  Dryden tries to block the water with his cloak, but still gets burned.  Helen, the other red-skinned person in the hot spring, admonishes Shasta.  She doesn’t want to scare Dryden off, like the last fellow.  She’s got the cheery over-familiarity of a Southern diner waitress, and points out the features of the natural spa.  Wash in this pool, rinse under that waterfall. This pool is good for soaking. Wash your hair there. The minerals will make your hair soft and luscious like ours.  (They do have very nice hair.)  Stay out of that pool. it’s actually acid!  All of these features are near boiling. Long exposure would be lethal to a human, but Shasta and Helen seem to enjoy it very much.

Dryden asks if he can collect some of the water from various pools, and his hosts allow it.  He retrieves a long metal flask from his cloak, halfway between a canteen and a test tube, and holding it with metal chopsticks, he carefully fills it with water from the soaking pool. He collects water from the hair washing pool in a second flask, and reaches for the acid with a third. The acid pulls back away from the flask and and rises in a mound on the far side of the pool!  This is no unliving pool of acid but a Rain, like Melvin, relaxing in the heat.  Non-porous containers like metal flasks are the only way to capture a Rain, and the Rain don’t like being captured!  Dryden has never met Rain before and wants to know all about them. the Acid Rain is willing to chat, if Dryden will provide snacks.  Dryden has many snacks! He offers a branch of a tree from the island of Moldova. The acidic soil is drawn into the roots of the tree and a unique mushroom grows on those roots. The mushroom is an acquired taste for most people, but the Acid Rain loves it and tells Dryden a bit out The Rain. They arrived on a comet from another world. They are shapeless, able to slip through the smallest cracks. They are ruled by The Rain King.

It’s really hot down here. Even though Dryden avoids the scalding water, the air temperature is high enough to be unhealthy. He needs to leave.  When he was a child, he played alone a lot, so it was hard to play catch. He tied a string to his ball and practiced throwing the ball across the yard and pulling it back with the string.  This skill transfers over to his rope arrow, which he fires to the rim of the pit and starts to climb.  Again, the steep, muddy slopes betray him. he loses his grip on the rope, tumbles down, and ends up balancing on a small, wet rock in the middle of a bubbling pool of boiling water! Shasta looks up and says, “Good choice! That one is particularly refreshing!”  Lucia grabs the rope arrow, tosses the end down to Dryden, and pulls him out of the pit.

Lucia and Dryden look for a more survivable settlement. They are in orchards, so there must be one nearby.  After following rows of trees to a path to a barn to a road, they do find a town.  The humans in the town seem on edge.  When they enter, the townsfolk ask if they’ve been attacked.  Two nights ago, on night of the full moon, three people were wounded, and one person was killed!

GM Note: I paused at this point and said, “Oh right. People die in this game.” In all of Fairmeadow Fair, the closest the party got to killing was turning off robots and dispelling ghosts. Chasing The Sunset is more violent and dangerous.

The townspeople suspect the burning deceivers in the horrible Fire Pit out there in the orchards. They’re always trying to lure people in to their death! Devon, the designated cautionary tale, is brought forward, and he pulls up his pant legs, again, to show the burn scars he got when he trusted the “burning deceivers” and went into the Fire Pit.  Dryden and Lucia want to see the victims to figure out what happened.  The local healer is named Liv. She has the three wounded victims resting in beds. The dead body is behind a divider in another area of the healing house.  The three victims give their testimony.

  • Tanner has bandages on his feet and legs. The foot of his bed is next to the window, and something reached through and tried to drag him out. The assailant failed, but Kenney’s legs were cut up.
  • Molly’s left arm is bandaged and in a sling.  She was out late on her farm, when a strange furry figure came out of the trees and grabbed her arm. She pulled free and ran, but her arm was injured.
  • Kenney doesn’t have a shirt on, instead his chest is wrapped in bandages.  He doesn’t remember the attack at all. He went to sleep early, before the sky got dark, and woke up outside bleeding. He figures it must have been the Burning Deceivers, because who else would threaten this small town?

Lucia and Dryden notice that all the wounds are lacerations, not burns. The evidence doesn’t point towards Shasta and Helen, who don’t seem like the types to sneak and attack anyways. Lucia wants to ask Liv a question, but she’s not around. Lucia peeks behind the divider and sees that the dead body is also missing.  Suspicious, but before she can investigate further, there’s a commotion outside.

Angered by the attacks, and encouraged by the arrival of powerful-looking travelers who are concerned for their plight, the people of the village have formed and angry mob, with pitchforks, torches, and everything!  They won’t tolerate the presence of the Burning Deceivers anymore! They are going to defeat them! Somehow! No one has a plan for fighting them at close range without being horribly burned.  There’s a particularly charismatic villager who even convinces Dryden that fighting right now is the best thing to do, so he and the mob set off. Lucia is faster on her mighty steed than the mob on foot, so she picks up Dryden and rides ahead to to Fire Pit. Out of earshot of that very convincing villager, Dryden realizes that fighting would be foolish.  he considers putting a trap in the mob’s path to stop them, but doesn’t want to injure them.

Shasta hails them from down in the pit.  They explain that an angry mob is on the way, and it will turn out badly for everyone, but mostly the villagers.  The villagers blame Shasta and Helen for attacking people on the night of the full moon.  Lucia and Dryden explain the attacks. Of course Shasta and Helen didn’t do that. They stay here in the lovely sauna. But two nights ago? They did see a weird hairy guy up at the rim? They hailed him, but he didn’t come down.

GM note: I said “full moon” “hairy person” and “slashing wounds” enough for the players to say, “Oh, it’s a werewolf!” at this point.

Lucia asks if Helen & Shasta can retreat elsewhere to avoid the mob.  The Fire Pits opened up recently, when geothermal energy broke through from some underground system, and Helen & Shasta also came from underground. There is a path back under the earth, but they aren’t willing to abandon their lovely spa.

The mob arrives. Dryden tries to redirect their anger with a passionate speech about the danger of werewolves, but this turns the mob against itself! Villagers realize that any of their neighbors could be the deadly beast. Tensions are high, and weapons are at hand!  Lucia can’t get their attention. She asks Dryden if he has anything that explodes. He has lots of things that explode!  He selects fireworks that explode with a loud bang, and shatter into mosaics of nature scenes, trees and hills and the like.  Those are things farmers like, right?  The villagers stop and look towards Lucia, who commands them to stop. They are insulted that this outsider thinks she can order them around.  Dryden and Lucia won’t be welcome in the town after this, but they do seem less violent.  Shasta climbs up to the surface and tells the people to get lost. He’s trying to have a nice time and all the noise is really harshing his vibe.  Lucia recommends discussing the werewolf problem back in the safety oft he village. The villagers still think the Burning Deceivers are a problem, so they want Lucia to beat up Shasta first. “Beat him up?” says Dryden mischieveously. He brings out his flying stone and offers it to Shasta. “To activate this, you tap out a beat on the stone, then you’re rise into the air, so I’ll beat you up!”

GM note: That’s such a horrible pun is just has to work!  Roll for it.

Shasta taps on the flying stone, which activates and sends him up and out of sight through the vapor that constantly rises from the pit.  Shasta lands safely o nthe other side, pleased by the adventure. The villagers see Dryden fling a Burning Deceiver right out of the scene and are very impressed!  they head back towards the village, and a terrible brawl has been averted.

Chasing The Sunset & Swallet

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

The party: Buckle the Platyperson, Stella the Halfling

GM note: Stella was last seen in Bogden, but Buckle is in Swallet. Instead of playing out scenes of the two deciding where to meet and going there, we decided that Stella had traveled to Swallet with Buckle in the previous session. She was just in the background.

Stella and Buckle emerge from the waste disposal facility and see the city of Swallet for the first time. It’s underground. There’s a roof over the entire city. Light is provided by crystals in the ceiling that refract sunlight from the surface.  There are busy streets filled with goblins rushing around on various strange, unique vehicles. A park on the far end of the city is visible even from here. A large stone pipe emerges from the far wall near the ceiling, and a waterfall pours from the pipe into a pool below. A 20-foot tall taper candle in a nearby square acts as message board for adventurers. Stella and Buckle read notes written by other players about the city.

Buckle came to this city chasing Brainiac, but he’s never met the man. “Why are we fighting this guy?” he wonders aloud. It’s really hot in here, which is a bit worrisome since heat in a volcano has an obvious and dangerous source.  The park with the pool seems like a nice place to be, so Stella and Buckle head that way.  As they walk down a street, two figures leap over the buildings from opposite sides! Goblins in Power Suits! Goblins are about the same size as Halflings or Platypeople, but inside their robotic armor, they would tower over humans.  Nub-Nub, the leader of the pair, says, “Outsiders! Here to steal the secrets of our technology, no doubt! You must leave at once!” The party truthfully explains that they don’t know anything about secret technology, and that they are chasing an outsider who broke into Swallet for nefarious purposes. Less true is the claim that they are searching for him in the park.  The armored police leap ahead to search for the other intruder.

The park is busy, since it’s unusually hot. In additional to green space for recreation and relaxation, the park also contains large swamp coolers that pump cool air elsewhere in the city.  Stella wants to look behind the waterfall, because there’s always something cool behind a waterfall.  She does not find anything cool behind the waterfall, but while she’s looking, a chunk of stone falls from the pipe from which the waterfall emerges! She gets out of the way and sees someone climbing into that pipe. No doubt that person dislodged the stone that nearly crushed her.  Nub-Nub and her partner leap up into the pipe in pursuit.  Silk, Stella’s giant spider mount, takes her up the wall and drops her off at the mouth of the pipe. She sends Silk back to the ground to bring Buckle.  The pipe is about 5 meters across, made of old stone, and water is pouring out of the broken end constantly. She has to brace herself to walk against the current and not be swept away and over the waterfall!  Silk brings Buckle up, and Buckle swims against the current.

It’s dark in the tunnel. The only light is from the opening at the waterfall.  Buckle’s electrical sense can easily detect the two Power Suits, since they generate a lot more electricity than most living creatures.  Stella and Buckle walk up the tunnel after them.  When the party reaches the Goblin police, they have apprehended the Brainiac!  He demands that they unhand him, lest they face the wrath of the great wizard, Allan a Zham!  Buckle pipes up, “Don’t you mean the LATE wizard?” Brainiac doesn’t get it. “A wizard is never late. Nor is he early.”  Buckle has to clarify. He means that Allan a Zham is dead.  Brainiac doesn’t know that he was sent on his mission by someone impersonating his dead master, so he’s still confused.

Stella has a plan to wreck this jerk. She shrinks to the size of an apple and has Buckle tail-swat her towards Brainiac’s chest. She was going to enlarge in mid-air to strike a powerful blow, but Nub-Nub is too quick, spinning and knocking Stella out of the air with a rocket fist! Stella is pinned to the wall by the metal fist! “You dare attack a prisoner? He is under my protection!”  Brainiac finally understands why Allan a Zham was acting so strangely at their last meeting and freaks out! He wails about his dead master and struggles against the other Power Suit restraining him.  Stella tells Nub-Nub, “I’m trying to help!” Nub-Nub doesn’t want help, and fires her other rocket fist at Stella!  Brainiac gets loose and runs further up the tunnel into darkness. the police aren’t sure whether to pursue him or arrest Stella and Buckle.  Buckle yells at them to pursue Brainiac.  Nub-Nub agrees, but says that they’d better be gone by the time she returns!

The armored police disappear up the tunnel, leaving Stella and Buckle alone.  “That was a bad plan,” says Buckle.  “They can’t all be good,” says Stella.  Buckle leans back and lets the current carry him back to the mouth of the pipe.  Silk ferries them back to the ground. It’s still very warm in Swallet, but our party is all wet, so that will keep them cool for a while.  They need more information, so they stop a friendly Goblin named Gabber and ask about some things they read on the message board.  Gabber has never heard of a troll holding a pearl.  Gabber knows where the fight club is, but he wasn’t allowed in.  He built a weird gadget that he thinks would give him an edge. He’s happy to demonstrate it, but it hasn’t been fully tested and the party convinces him not to.  They ask if there’s a source of great power in the city, something magical.  Pretty much the worst thing that could happen to Swallet is outsiders coming in to steal the secrets of their technological power, so our party just revealed themselves as an existential threat to poor Gabber. He stammers that there’s no magic here, and activates his steam-powered heelies and zooms away in a panic.

Stella and Buckle follow Gabber’s directions to Cloorick’s Fight Club.  There’s scaffolding over the entrance because the front door is being replaced.  The workers are dismissive and insulting, until Buckle asks if they have seen a baby dragon.  “You know Fafnir?!” yeah, Buckle knows Fafnir. He hatched her from an egg.  Suddenly Buckle is a celebrity. Fafnir is the leader of this Fight Club. They are replacing the door because she smashed it in.  Rabbish says, ‘One time, she punched me in the face. It was awesome!” The fighters in the club all want to be just like her, but they can’t because they don’t have wings. The party recommends that they build some wings, since they’ve already built giant arms and other technological aids. Several goblins immediately pull out sketch pads and start working.

Rabbish shows Buckle and Stella around the facility, including the arena, where they see Ori sparring with a Goblin wearing exo-sketetal robot arms.

GM note: I described Ori, who is like nothing the characters have ever seen, and the players were impressed. Then I told them that Ori was another player’s character, and they were impressed again. It’s cool to have a world changed by real people you haven’t met.

Buckle wants to spar! He’s matched against Ugg, the Goblin who just fought Ori.  Buckle prepares for battle by applying warpaint to his face and bill.  The arena has been recogfigured since Fafnir and friends fought Cloorick. There are still doors for the opposing teams on opposing sides and a raised platform in the middle, but there are also stage hazards: mechanical arms coming out of the floors and walls that will punch, grab, and throw anyone who comes near.

The fight begins, and Buckle runs up the ramp to take the high ground. Ugg is right behind him, when Buckle yells and slaps his tail on the ground in an intimidating display of force!  Ugg is terrified and can’t approach, but he won’t give up.  If he can’t walk up to Buckle and hit him, he needs to hit him from far away. A projectile! Ugg approaches a hazard and starts to rip the mechanical arm out of its fixture.  Buckle takes this opportunity to break line of sight, dropping off the far side of the platform away from Ugg.  Ugg turns to throw his makeshift weapon, but can’t see Buckle.  He warily circles the platform, seeking his opponent.  Buckle strikes from ambush, delivering an aerial spinning tail-slap right to Ugg’s unarmored face!  Lights out! Ugg is knocked unconscious. Stella cheers from the stands, and other Goblins rush in to tend to Ugg.  Ugg is not hurt, and after he wakes up, congratulates Buckle on a well-fought match.  All one needs to do to get the respect of these martial artists is to beat them up!

After all this, Stella and Buckle wonder if maybe they are looking for the magical power in the wrong volcano. There are two of them, after all.

Chasing The Sunset & Fairmeadow Fair

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

Fairmeadow Fair is a campaign using Dungeon World rules.

GM note: I started runing Chasing the Sunset after Fairmeadow Fair had been going for a year. Fairmeadow Fair was using mostly Dungeon World rules, but I threw out encumbrance, Fronts, variable damage, and 3-18 stats with modifiers. So was I really playing Dungeon World? Since Fellowship did more things that I liked, and Chasing The Sunset could handle multiple parties in the same fictional world, I asked my players to join Chasing The Sunset’s shared world. They agreed, and this is the transitional session.

Behind the screen (I don’t play with a screen. It’s a metaphor.), I attached the map of Fairmeadow and its surroundings to the continent on which Chasing The Sunset takes place.  Lucia the Paladin was easy to convert to Lucia the Heir, but Gleador the Druid has no counterpart in Fellowship’s rules, so Gleador’s player created a new character, Dryden the Collector. In this session, that player played two characters from two different rulesets at the same time in the same fictional space!

People from Lucia’s far-off homeland have important news, and are searching for her in the other continent that she’s traveling in.  Mara is Lucia’s servant, and Will is her bodyguard.  With only vague information of her whereabouts, they have taken many wrong turns, and gone up several rivers, with and without paddles.  Her childhood friend Dryden is with them, although he wasn’t invited.  They finally find the river that leads to Sugar’s crossing.  Mara and Will have proper papers and easily clear the bureaucracy in the port city, but Dryden isn’t really supposed to be there.  He creates a distraction by firing a special bean into the river near the ship he wants to board.  The bean rapidly grows, emerging from the water, separating into two branches, and forming a bridge from one side of the river ot the other.  Everyone is amazed, and Dryden can easily slip on board and duck into Mara & Wills’ cabin.  They are a bit annoyed by his shenanigans, but they are also grinning.

Later, Gleador and Lucia are rowing south on the river as the boat containing their friends passes.  They spot each other and yell and wave.  Lucia and Gleador turn their boat and attempt to catch up to the larger vessel by rowing hard, but they are too slow.  Gleador transforms into a water horse with a dolphin tail and a frog’s grabby tongue. With Lucia on his back, he easily catches up to the boat.  Mara shouts that she brings news from home.  Gleador attempts to stop the boat by shoving it sideways into the shore. Once the boat is stopped, they can all speak calmly, right?  The boat’s pilot is very upset by this attempt to wreck his boat, and the crew rushes out with poles and the like to get Gleador away.  Lucia tells Will and Mara to jump overboard! Gloeador won’t be able to carry all three of them.  Mara jumps to land on Gleador’s back. Will is about to jump in the river and swim for it, when Dryden emerges!  He pulls out a smooth, flat, round stone, about the size of his hand, and starts spinning it.  It magically generates force that lifts him into the air. He spins it faster, overcharging it so it lifts Will also, and he flies the two of them to shore! Lucia uses her special bloodline power to make the boat crew forget the past few minutes, and everyone meets up on shore.

GM note: Is this “make people forget the last few minutes” power going to become a problem?  Time will tell!

Mara delivers important news from home. “Your mother, the Queen, has died of natural causes.  You are the heir.” She hands over a symbol of royalty: a leaf brooch.  Lucia pins it to an inner layer of clothing, so it’s not always visible, but it’s easy to flash when appropriate.  Mara continues. Lucia’s younger brother is ruling in her absence. The royal family knows that Lucia doesn’t want to rule, and that she’s out here questing to remind people that the old kingdom hasn’t vanished.  They support Lucia’s life choices. Now that she’s queen, she must be attended properly, so Will & Mara, people that Lucia knew back when she lived in the palace, will travel with her.  Mara’s about Lucia’s age, so they grew up together. Will is older and was more of an uncle figure. He’s got grey hair and doesn’t talk much. He’s a bodyguard, and taught Lucia some fighting skills when she was young.  The Queen’s death is sad, but not unexpected. She was old.  Lucia had made her peace with her mother’s death already. She knew when she left that she would not see her mother again.

Dryden was not sent as part of Lucia’s entourage, but here he is! he explains that he had to tag along and help Will and Mara.  He always has a sense of where Lucia is. You see, long ago, he was using Lucia’s bathroom to mix some potions so that he could track foxes, and Lucia spilled the concoction on herself. Lucia remembers, and points out that it never would have happened if Dryden hadn’t destroyed his own washroom with a previous experiment.

Gleador speaks up. “Alas, this news is grievous!”  He showed Lucia a secret Druid ritual (and was exiled for it) in order to secure peace between the Druids and her kingdom.  He promised the Queen that he would follow Lucia until she herself became queen, and now that vow is fulfilled. She has other companions, and he can go to regain his standing with the Druids in the Sapphire Islands to the south.  Gleador thanks Lucia for her faithful companionship, and fondly remembers their many close calls. “Journey well. We will cross paths again.”  With that, he transforms into a Phoenix and flies away! A single feather falls as he leaves, and Lucia picks it up as a keepsake.

Chasing The Sunset & volcanoes

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

The party: Agnes Nutter the Harbinger, Buckle the Platyperson, Rook the Remnant

Anges and Rook quickly leave Thaumatown and arrive in Bogden in the aftermath of a werewolf attack!  Most of the people who arrived to celebrate Platypalooza are fleeing in panic.  Those bitten by the werewolves have been put in cages. There is spirited debate about how dangerous they are and what to do with them.  Festival goers are mourning the victims of the werewolves, and the werewolves themselves. Agnes grabs a fleeing Buckle and they all duck into an empty shed. Agnes demands an explanation from Buckle. Buckle gives a brief summary of last night’s werewolf attack. Buckle’s consistently bad at telling stories, but Agnes gets the gist.

Nobody wants to stay in Bogden to help, and they aren’t welcome in Thaumatown either.  People in both towns indicated that twin volcanoes to the south were important, so the crew decides to head that way. They join the hurried exodus of partygoers.  Crowding is no problem for Rook, who just floats through people. This startles someone, who throws a punch at this strange phantom. Her fist goes right through Rook and hits the next person. This causes a confused scuffle/stampede! Rook shrugs, since the fight won’t affect him any more than the crowd did, but he uses his hypnotic voice to dazzle the crowd into calming down.

The crew reaches the Mighty River and needs to get across. Rook just floats across, dragging his toes in the water.  Wallace (the magenta Pomeranian) is scared of water and won’t approach the river!  Buckle makes a blindfold of Wallace, and holds the dog on his belly as he floats across. Agnes flies over the river on Snek.

On the far bank, they are beset by Platythugs: young ruffians with switchblades shaking down travelers for cash!  Agnes is not impressed. She declares a terrible curse in a big spooky voice. Whenever they threaten someone, they will poop their pants! To break this curse, they must help 20 people. One platythug doesn’t believe this weird lady and her big talk, so he threatens her, and finds out she wasn’t kidding! The whole gang flees in terror!

The crew approaches the twin volcanoes and must decide which one to investigate.  Anges flies ahead on Snek to scout. She discovers that the smoke from the eastern peak isn’t volcanic smoke. It’s from wood and garbage. She also sees Brainaic (who arrested her in Thaumatown) climbing the eastern peak. She flies into the Caldera and sees it’s covered with pipes, smokestacks, and hatches. A very unnatural mountain.  She returns to share this information with the team. They sent the Brainiac this way to get rid of him, but he’s on the trail of something amazing!  Rook says “We thought this was a fool’s errand” and Buckle replies “We are also fools.”

Buckle and Agnes follow Brianiac stealthily. Brainiac looks over the lip of the caldera, gets excited, and rappels over the edge. Rook just floats through the mountian, but discovers metal structures that count as “inside” that he cannot enter without permission.  Buckle & Agnes peer over the edge to see what Brainiac is doing.  Brainaic swings at the end of the rope to reach a door in the wall and go inside.  Agnes and Buckle look around, but there are no doors or access panels on top of the caldera. To get inside, they need to go down into the pit.  Buckle uses Brianiac’s rope to swing to the same door that Brainiac used. He invites Rook inside, and Agnes flies in as well, thanks to Snek.  Inside the door is a smooth metal ramp leading up into the mountain, with a swinging door at the end.  Rook scouts ahead and peeks their head through the door. It reveals the top of an elevator shaft, and the elevator car is headed down with Brainiac inside!

When the car reaches the bottom of the shaft, Brianiac slips out and hides as a team of Goblins start loading trash into it.  Rook returns to report to the rest of the team, and htey discuss what to do next. They take so long discussing that the car is filled with trash and sent to the top of shaft, where it tips out and starts sliding down the ramp! The crew is trapped between an avalanche of garbage and a sheer drop! Not Rook, of course. Trash just passes through them. Agnes flies out, and Buckle runs for it, but is bowled over by the tide of garbage. Agnes, flaoting by the mouth of the chute, grabs Buckle as he falls out, but she’s pulled off of Snek by his weight, and now they are both falling!  Snek dives, coils around both of them, and pulls out before they and the mass of garbage smash into the ever-burning trash heap below! Agnes gets bonked on the head by a toaster, and the whole scene is witnessed by an amazed Goblin on a lower walkway!  Agnes waves and the Goblin hurries back inside the mountain.  Buckle would very much like to be put down now.  Snek deposits him on the walkway that the Goblin used, and they all follow the Goblin inside.

Rook asks the goblin to help them find Brainiac, saying that he’s a shady character who means the Goblins ill.  This seems reasonable to the Goblin, whose name is Grickle. Buckle is just tickled to meet Grickle. With Grinkle leading the way through the tangle of pipes, catwalks, and tunnels, they spot Brainiac down below. He activates a booby trap, bursting a steam pipe and burning Agnes!  Brianiac runs for it and Rook follows. Agnes sends Snek ahead to block Brainiac’s escape route with a cloud of poison gas! This lets Rook catch up to Brainiac, but Rook lets him go.  Brainiac flees the facillity, passing a crew of Goblins headed to repair the damage from his trap. The Goblins arrive at the broken pipe and blame the unauthorized intruders (Agnes and Buckle) for the damage. Agnes says they are after the real intruder, who actually did the damage. Grickle confirms her story. Agnes asks the repair crew to help search for Brainiac, but they need to fix this pipe first.  (Also, Agnes is pretty creepy.)

So the crew leaves the sanitation facility and emerges into Swallet, the underground city of Goblins.  It’s really hot down here, and they don’t know where Brainiac went.

Chasing the Sunset & Fight Club

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

Party: Orichalcum the Construct, Fafnir the Dragon, Melvin the Rain

Ori is searching for his master along the Mighty River, and sees smoke rising above the trees.  Too much smoke for a campfire. Ori flies in to investigate. Perhaps giants are literally smoking trees.  Alas, reality is much less fun. A group of robed figures are tearing up a wagon, throwing the cargo into a fire. They yell about removing temptation from the youth.  The wagon owner, tied to a nearby tree, urges them to “Please be chill!” but they don’t listen. Ori swoops in, grabs the robed figure who appears to be the leader, and carries him aloft for a chat.  Ori demands to know what’s going on. The leader says that they have an annual ritual of removing contraband from the area.  The wagon was carrying an intoxicant that is unacceptable according to the laws of this group.  The leader agrees to let the wagon owner away safely, but when Ori returns him to the ground, the robed figures takes a swing at the Construct! Ori crosses his arms and blocks the blow.

Melvin has noticed this commotion and approaches unseen, still in the form of the late Allan a Zham.  He summons rain to douse the fire and unties the wagon owner during the confusion. Melvin and the owner slip away, and Ori also disengages once he sees that the owner is safe.

Ori and Melvin rendezvous and make camp. During the night, Melvin has a strange nightmare, and when he awakens, there’s a small statue of a monster holding a pearl next to his head. he examines the statue.  It’s a mountain troll, Trolls are rumored to be clever, but there are no stories about trolls and pearls. Weird.  Melvin chucks the statue in the river. As the statue moves away from him, he gets a bad headache. He groggily walks through the river to retrieve the statue. He wears a big trenchcoat and stores the statue in an inside pocket.

There are tracks leading away from the camp. Ori floats up to see where they lead.  He finds a campsite with two people sleeping. One seems like a normal traveler, curled up in a bedroll under the stars. The other is in a very fancy, very neat tent. The traveler is exhausted, but the occupant of the tent is busy with his morning routine. It’s the Brianiac who was recently exiled from Thaumatown!  Ori asks if he could have a word with the Brianiac. The Brainiac says he has a vocabulary of over 45,000 words. Which one does he want?  Melvin approaches, and Brainiac recognizes him from the trouble in Thaumatown! He wakes up the other traveler in a panic!  The man apologizes to Melvin.  He is the previous owner of the statue, and it wouldn’t let him sleep. Now that he has passed it to Melvin, he can sleep again.  He’s scared that Melvin will retaliate, so Melvin takes a calming posture, keeping his hands in view and staying a distance away from the man.  Melvin wants to know how the man acquired the statue. He just woke up one morning and found it. He couldn’t get rid of it, and he couldn’t sleep.  The statue told the man to give it to Melvin. It wants Melvin more, somehow. The man carried it for weeks, and he can finally sleep now that it’s gone.  Melvin asks what the man will do now, and he shrugs.

Brianiac always knows what to do next! He has retreated to his tent and emerges with a strange metal capsule. He fires it at past the tired man, knocking him to the ground, and capturing Melvin!  Nonporous containers are the only things that Rain can’t just ooze through. Ori flips out his claws and slashes the capsule to burst it, but it’s charged with electricity! Ori’s own energy is disrupted, making it difficult for him to control his physical components.  Brainiac gloats. Ori may have more physical power, but that power is subject to the laws of science, so Brianiac always has the advantage! Brain over brawn!  Ori recovers during the monologue and snatches Brainiac up for a forced chat.  “We’re less trouble for you if we leave,” says Ori, “so it’s better if you just release Melvin.”  Brainiac is impressed by Ori’s logic. From his many belts and pouches he produces two tools. One will turn off the electricity, and the other will open the capsule. Ori lets Brainiac down and he flees.

Ori releases Melvin and they continue on their journey towards the two volcanoes on the southern horizon.  Melvin warns Ori that the cursed statue may make him a bad master.

At the foot of the two volcanoes, Ori and Melvin meet Fafnir and her Kobold servant Coco as they search for a route up to the peaks.  Smoke rises from the eastern peak, but the western peak is dormant, so they head for the dormant volcano, since that seems safer.  They recognize each other as fellow adventurers, kindred spirits.  Fafnir says, “Since we aren’t fighting, we can be friends.” Ori thinks that’s a good idea, and does not anticipate violence. “Yeah, if there was, I would win!” says Fafnir.  Introductions all around. Fafnir is amazing when Melvin demonstrates his shapeshifting.  Coco is the brains, and Fafnir is social muscle.  Ori asks Coco to be his master. Coco objects, saying “Fafnir is my master!”  Ori realizes his mistake and addresses Fafnir, “You’re not hired social muscle. She’s hired brain muscle.”  Ori asks Coco about her experience serving Fafnir. Coco does a lot of damage control.  Ori decides to try serving Fafnir for a while.

Melvin says “This is my first time meeting a dragon. Do you like treasure?” He shows Fafnir the cursed statue, and she immediately jams it in her mouth.  Melvin gets an awful headache, so Fafnir spits the statue out. it’s not so easy to be rid of the curse.

Fafnir flies up above the two volcanoes to look around.  The smoke from the eastern peak smells like wood and garbage, not molten rock. The caldera of the western peak contains staircases spiraling down. Around the caldera are signs of an old camp.  It’s a war camp. Decades old. It was abandoned, not destroyed. Its defenses point in towards the caldera, not out towards a threat coming from the mountain slopes. Very strange. Fafnir points out a route to her earthbound companions, and they all join her at the top and look around.  There’s a memorial: 40 spear points stuck in the ground in neat rows, and a chunk of volcanic stone engraved with the name “Crusher”.

GM note: I apologized for delaying the game by flipping through pages of notes at this point, but my players were thrilled to learn that they were seeing the aftermath of a one-shot played by a group on the other side of the country.

The group wonders about sending Ori down the caldera to investigate further. Ori asks Fafnir, “Is that an order?” Ori is never in Despair when following orders.  “Yes!” says Fafnir, and Ori goes.  The two spiral staircases in the calera are old and haven’t been used for a long time. one of them is broken near the top. The bottom of the caldera is a thin layer of dirt and rubble over a perfectly smooth sphere of hard rock. The sphere is so big that it extends past the edges of the caldera.  Fafnir and Melvin join Ori at the bottom to look around.  This rock is not natural.  Melvin figures it was created by magic, in a ritual that would have taken minutes or hours. Hard to do while besieged by an enemy army.

Coco has a couple of plans. Fafnir could dive bomb the rock sphere and try to break it, or they could investigate the other volcano. Ori worries that whatever they find might be hostile.  Fafnir thinks getting in a fight would be fun.  Ori worries that they might be powerful, but Fafnir would welcome powerful allies. Ori tries one more time to make her understand “OK, combine the two.”

Ori looks inside the caldera of the eastern peak.

The inner wall is covered with metal chimneys, pipes, and hatches. The smoke comes from these and from a smouldering pile of trash at the bottom. This is clearly artificial!  Ori brings Melvin down into the caldera and they float into one of the large pipes. It slopes upward as it goes into the mountain, and at the top is a dumbwaiter. Apparently trash is loaded into the dumbwaiter, then sent up the shaft. At the top, the dumbwaiter tips over, and the trash slides down the chute and falls into the smouldering heap at the bottom of the caldera.

Ori and Melvin take the dumbwaiter down and emerge in a bustling industrial facility. There’s a whole city hidden underground! The inhabitants are Goblins: short, green-skinned humanoids.  Those who spot the intruders are surprised, but not panicked. Outsiders aren’t unheard of.  Ori and Melvin go back outside and tell the others.  They take a different route inside. Melvin unlocks a maintenance hatch, so they can enter the city by a route intended for people.  The tunnels are winding and branching, but the crew eventually reaches that same facility. It’s a waste management facility.  Loads are brought in, valuables are sorted out, then the rest is either burned, dumped, or poured into a large stone pipe.

Ori floats out into the bustling street and says “Take me to your leader!” which causes quite a commotion!  There’s an official-looking Goblin directing traffic who offers to navigate Goblin bureaucracy for the right price, if you know what I mean.  A shady Goblin slips a card to Ori and says, “This is the real power!” The card has an address for a place called “Cloorick’s”  Ori consults with the team to see which option to choose.  Coco recommends bribing the official, but no one has much money, so they go find Cloorick’s.  It’s an unfriendly looking building with no windows. The main entrance is a heavy metal door with one of those sliding slots like a speakeasy.  Fafnir knocks, the slit opens, and a pair of bored, dismissive eyes peers out at her.  Fafnir asks for access, but the doorman couldn’t be less impressed, and tells Fafnir how she’s uninteresting, weak, and unworthy.  fafnir immediately smashes the door in!

A big metal hand reaches out from under the door and tosses it aside. The doorman is a Goblin wearing robotic arms attached to his real arms and a harness on his chest. he congratulates Fafnir on figuring out the test so quickly. Kicking in the door is the way to prove that you deserve to enter Cloorick’s Fight Club!  The doorman’s name is Rabbish.

Players: The doorman is rabid? No, he’s rubbish. Rabbit?  Radish? Not quite rad, only rad-ish.

GM note: Say your characters’ names out loud a few times before revealing them to players.

Rabbish explains that Cloorick teaches martial arts as a means of self-improvement. The crew wants to join and learn, but they have to earn their way in.  Ori suggests that the crew has styles that the fight club hasn’t seen, and letting them join would give the club access to these new techniques. Rabbish is impressed enough to let them meet Cloorick.  Cloorick is a Spider, not one of the giant arachnids, but the intelligent humanoid kind.  He wears a Goblin Power Suit, modified for his multi-armed physique. He hears the crew’s pitch, and says that in order to join, they have to win one-on-one fights with some of his students. All FOUR of them have to win to be admitted.  Coco has to fight too!  Thinking quickly, Ori asks if Coco can wear her armored suit, like Cloorick. You see, Ori IS power armor.

GM note: For time, we had one four-on-four battle instead.

The circular arena has a raised platform in the middle, with half-walls to give some cover.  The crew enters from the doors on one side, while Cloorick, Rabbish, and two Goblins with rifles enter from the other side.  Cloorick leaps to the center platform. Ori engages Rabbish, parrying his big metal fist with his own metal blade-arms. The impact damages Ori’s blades, and Rabbish grabs him with his other hand and throws the robot across the arena. A gunner takes advantage and shoots Ori where he lands.  Fafnir flies up and smashes into Cloorick, destroying part of the platform with the  fury of their battle.  Melvin rushes a gunner, transforming into Cloorick on the way. The gunner is shocked, and Melvin slams him into the wall, terrifying him out of the fight.  Rabbish hits Ori again, and Melvin comes to his aid, distracting the enhanced goblin.  Fafnir disengages from Cloorick, giving the remaining gunner a clear shot at her. Blammo!  Ori rushes  Rabbish, getting too close for Rabbish’s big metal arms to swing, and pummeling him all the way out of the arena into his own locker room.  Cloorick leaps in and strikes Ori. Ori’s taking a real beating in this fight.  Fafnir takes off and drops onto Cloorick, striking a lethal blow!  The last gunner makes a show of throwing his gun aside and forfeiting the match.

The crew has prevailed!  Rabbish is very impressed!  Since Fafnir defeated Cloorick, she is the new leader of Fight Club! Cloorick had many apprentices, but none ever managed to defeat him. The crew stays to train at the Fight Club for a while and get much tougher. They all gain the Iron stat at +1.

Fairmeadow Fair, session 19

← Session 18 | Campaign Summary

Last time, our heroes learned that directly opposing le Grind, influential mill owner and dealer in stolen artifacts, could invite retaliation against a friend.  They tried infiltrating the le Grind manor, but retreated when private security raised an alarm.

Plan view of the le Grind estate: 3 mills, a museum, mansion, and docks.

Gleador and Lucia meet up, hidden in the beet fields just downriver from le Grind’s docks.  They don’t want to fight le Grind’s watchmen, but the mysterious figures who sneaked into the drain under the docks must still be on the compound. Our heroes won’t let them get away, so they try a bold tactic: walking up to the watchmen.  There are four watchmen in the storage yard with lanterns on poles, looking for the source of the commotion.  They hail Lucia & Gleador.  Lucia checks if any of them are evil, but none of them are.  In her most authoritative voice, she says they are tracking some suspicious characters in a rowboats and demands to see what the watchmen have uncovered.  The watchmen buy it and show them the rowboat, which they have dragged up onto the dock.  No one has seen the people who were in the boat.

Gleador was able to briefly examine the boat previously, so he knows it has a false bottom.  He acts like he’s trying to enter the boat by bracing himself with his shillelagh, and intentionally strikes the false bottom with the club, making a hollow noise. The watchmen think they are very clever for recognizing a secret compartment and open it, withdrawing a few bundles wrapped in cloth.  One is a small box with a stack of Saarland coins inside. Another is a fancy oil lamp with expertly worked metal and glass.  Both artifacts from Saarland, no doubt!  The watchmen are sure this is loot stolen from the master’s mansion. The owners of this boat must be inside robbing the place right now!  Roddie, the lead watchman, sends one of his underlings to wake the master!  Lucia says someone should fetch the town garrison as well, and Roddie agrees because Lucia just sounds so authoritative!

While they are waiting for the various messengers to return with important people, Gleador asks Roddie to show him where the boat was found.  Roddie takes him down some rickety stairs under the main dock to the drain. The dock usually receives large cargo vessels, so it’s high enough for a rowboat to float underneath.

A sewer grate concealed under the docks of the le Grind estate.

Gleador pretends to be surprised that the grate over the drain is unlocked. Maybe the robbers are in there!  Roddie goes up the drain with his lantern pole, then returns a short time later.  He didn’t see anyone or anything suspicious.  He locks the grate behind him.  Gleador stays down by the grate to ponder.

Gavin le Grind, master of the house, arrives. He’s wearing pajamas, but has put on boots and large coat.  He demands to know why he’s been so disturbed.  Roddie proudly tells him how they found the boat and the stolen items in the hidden compartment, so he sent for Gavin and the town garrison because there may be thieves about.  When Gavin hears about the garrison, he makes a displeased face which makes Roddie cower.  Gavin looks at the coins and oil lamps and says they aren’t his. That lamp doesn’t match anything in the house. And who is this knight?  Why is she here? Did the watchmen ever see anyone sneaking into the house? Roddie shrinks back. This is not going as well as he expected.  He confers with the other watchmen. One of them saw an armored figure fleeing downriver. Gavin presses for details: what kind of armor? Lucia here is wearing armor. The watchman can’t say for sure. It was dark and the figure was far away. le Grind finds it very suspicious that an armored figure fled from the watch downriver, then Lucia approaches, in armor, from that same direction and starts leading the investigation.  He tells Roddie to escort her from the premises!  Roddie rushes to obey and asks if he should kick out the Elf as well.  Gavin is furious. There’s another stranger on my property? You didn’t think to mention this? How can you say you haven’t found any suspicious characters when these two are right here?  Gavin changes his mind: Lucia and Gleador must stay and explain themselves to the garrison soldiers.

Lucia and Gleador are content to stay, so they spend a few awkwardly silent minutes waiting, unless a detachment of Dwarven soldiers arrive from the fort. The Sergeant approaches and demands a situation report. Lucia steps forward and starts explaining that she and Gleador were following some suspicious character coming up the river in a rowboat. Gavin le Grind cuts her off.  He’s the master of the house, he doesn’t know why these strange characters are on his property, and there’s this weird boat and goods that they say are his that he’s never seen before.  The Sergeant is annoyed. His squad came out her in the middle of the night to catch thieves, but no one has seen a thief, and instead of goods disappearing, there are extra goods that no one claims.  He does take interest when Lucia says the box of coins is from Saarland.  He checks the coins and confirms.  Strange.  Since there does not appear to be any crime happening, the soldiers take the lamp and the coins and prepare to leave.  Everyone can jsut go back to bed.  Lucia and Gleador are to leave the le Grind property with the soldiers, but after that, the Sergeant doesn’t care what they do. He doesn’t even make sure they have a place to stay for the night.

While Lucia is trying to keep them both out of jail, Gleador is befriending one of the le Grind guard dogs, a small terrier named Rex.  He asks what he can do for Rex to secure its help. Rex really likes chasing and catching people. That’s its life’s passion and it doesn’t get to do it often.  Gleador agrees to run from Rex and let it catch him if it tells him about any strange scents Rex has noticed.  Rex hasn’t smelled any strangers except for Lucia, Gleador, and the soldiers.  Gleador wonders about bringing Rex to smell the rowboat, but everyone has handled the rowboat by now.  True to his word, Gleador takes off running and Rex chases him.  Gleador runs towards Roddie, pleading for him to call of his dog, and the three of them collide and tumble to the ground.  Gleador swipes Roddie’s key-ring in the confusion.  Gleador is on his back and Rex is standing on his chest barking in his face, but they are really chatting in dog language.  Gleador asks to mark Rex, so he can see through its eyes later.  Rex agrees, if Gleador will throw a fun toy.  Gleador finds something in his adventuring gear, touches Rex to mark it, then throws the tool, which Rex darts off to retrieve.  Gleador gets up and expresses relief that he was able to distract that fierce guard dog!

With that commotion over, Roddie escorts Lucia, Gleador, and the garrison soldiers to the front gate, but when he tries to lock it behind them, he can’t find his keys!  Gleador suggests that he might have left them in the grate when he locked that.  Roddie is well-established as a sucker, so that sounds reasonable to him and he goes to check.  Lucia and Gleador leave, but circle around to the river out of sight.  Gleador checks on Rex, who follows Roddie down to the grate.  Roddie looks in the padlock, and feels in the water at the bottom of the drain, but can’t find his keys.  He ponders and realizes that Gleador knocked into him.  He hustles back towards the gate.

Fortunately, Lucia & Gleador are nowhere to be found. Somewhere upriver, Gleador transforms into a crocodile with echolocation and fire-breath and with Lucia on his back, he floats silently downriver, back to the drain.  Lucia unlocks the grate with Roddie’s keys, and they walk up the drain.  The pipe is about four feet around, enough for a Halfing to stand up, but Lucia has to bend over.  Smaller drains from above empty into this one, as expected, but at the back of the drain, there is a Halfling-sized door. There’s no lock, just a metal ring to pull.  Lucia pulls it open, but the door opens directly into a wooden wall.  Lucia carefully taps and prods the wall and finds a latch disguised as a knothole.  She feels the latch open when she pushes it, but the door still won’t open. It’s stuck.  Gleador takes the lead and uses his reptilian strength to force the wall open.  He feels the wood straining and knows it will make quite a noise if he breaks it, but he goes for it anyways.  He jams his wedge-shaped head through the wood and into shelves filled with jars of fruit preserves and dry goods.  He’s smashed through the back of a cabinet. The glass doors on the cabinet shatter and swing open, shelves break and dump food all over the floor.  He looks around and finds that he’s in a storage room.  Food, boxes of supplies, a linen closet on one wall.  There’s a door to one side t hat appears to lead out to the storage yard where the conversation with Gavin le Grind and the watchmen occurred. On the other side of the room, swinging double rooms lead to a kitchen.  This isn’t a secret basement, it’s the le Grind mansion itself!  There’s commotion upstairs as the residents are disturbed yet again!  Lucia and Gleador must think quickly. The smugglers are probably still in the mansion, but if they push forward they’ll probably have to find the entire le Grind extended family.  Gleador decides retreat, but to make this secret entrance impossible to ignore.  To draw attention, he breathes fire on the exterior door, setting it and part of the wall ablaze!  Back in Elf form, he and Lucia run back down the drain. The watchmen, led by Roddie who is having a very bad time, scramble to organize a bucket brigade to put out the fire.  Under the dock, Gleador transforms into a sea serpent.  Lucia takes a deep breath, and they swim away underwater and out of sight.

Heading back into the le Grind estate again seems foolhardy. They have exposed part of the mystery, but have been unable to crack it wide open.  If they could get the garrison to search le Grind’s house, he’d surely be exposed.  Lucia writes an anonymous note, summarizing their knowledge of le Grind’s scheme to hire looters to steal artifacts from Saarland. They suggest that the garrison grab Rose when she returns, since she has first-hand knowledge of the operation.  This note, plus the Saarland coins found on le Grind’s estate, plus the obvious shenanigans at the le Grind estate are enough for the garrison to start an investigation, which is an embarrassing scandal for le Grind.

GM Note: Poor Rose. Every time she meets our heroes, she has a bad time. First paralysed, then snatched up into the sky, her protective amulet taken, making her job much more dangerous. Then set down somewhere in the woods and forced to find her way back. When she does arrive, she’ll be arrested immediately and thrust into a high-profile case.  Well, she is a graverobber, so maybe she deserves it.

← Session 18 | Campaign Summary