Goatriders session 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

Skellington: Parties mean brothels? Are those the same?

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

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

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

Junker (+ Skellington aid) Consort fortune 2d 6

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

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

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

Skellington: Don’t mention your military dad.

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

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

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

Moth Consort fortune 1d 2

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

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

Skellington: Get a new pipe?

Hix: Better, an old one!

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

Skellington Sway controlled standard 2d 4

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

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

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

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

Junker: Something clovy.

Moth Finesse risky standard 2d 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moth: It’s like a house party!

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

Moth Survey fortune 1d 2

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

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

Junkers: Accountants and brothels go together!

GM note: Apparently this is a TikTok meme.

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

Junker: That was your plan!

Skellington: We could throw a block party!

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

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

Skellington: You should steal the deed.

Moth: I’m not skipping the party.

Junker: I can tinker my way inside.

Skellington: Don’t say racist things to Ulf!

Junker: Don’t mention your dad!

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

Engagement roll 2d 6

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

Skellington Sway 2d controlled standard 3

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

Skellington Consort 1d risky controlled 2

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

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

Skellington Survery (fortune) 1d 3

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

Skellington Sway risky great 2d 5

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

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

Junker Prowl 1d controlled standard 2

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

Junker Tinker risky standard (+push) 3d 5

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

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

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

Moth Consort risky standard 1d 3

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

Junker Prowl controlled standard 1d 6

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

Junker Wreck risky standard 1d 5

She pries the safe open. Inside she finds:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moth Consort risky standard 1d 3

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

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

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

Skellington Command desperate standard 1d 5

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

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

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

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

Ulf: Dishonorable!

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

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

Junker Wreck controlled great 1d 6

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

FLASHBACK: The Goatriders decide on a signal.

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

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

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

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

Skellington Compel risky standard 2d 5

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

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

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

Chasing The Sunset & Averiela

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucia Look Closely 6-

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

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

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

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

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

The three humanoids have gathered at the mysterious boulder.

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

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

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

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

Dryden Strange Curios (useful) – light sources

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

Averiela Look Closely 10+

Averiela Touch The World Lightly

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

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

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

Dryden Strange Curios (useful) – flotation device

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

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

Armored Crocodile, Boss of Underground Waterways

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

Dryden: There’s not much meat on me!

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

Brainiac, exiled Vizier of Thaumatown

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

Brainiac: I am the ruler of this subterranean labyrinth!

Dryden counters by hyping up Lucia’s royal status.

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

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

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

Lucia Speak Softly 7-9

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

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

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

Dryden Talk Sense (+Grace, dazzle) 10+

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

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

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

Brainiac: Aha! Great! Useful!

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

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

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

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

Data-driven item generation for Equipment Explained

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

The parts of an item

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

The base item is either armor or a weapon.

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

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

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

Simplifications

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

Thematic Affixes

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

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

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

Balanced Requirements

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

Playtesting/Balance

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

Implementation

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

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

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

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

State of the Virtual World

2020 disrupted our lives and ruined everyone’s plans, some permanently. How did Chasing the Sunset fare in this terrible year?

January 2020

At the beginning of the year, Chasing The Sunset had 13 total players, but only 8 were playing regularly.  I always ran games in person, so the three players in another time zone had no opportunity to continue their adventures. Other had fallen away because of IRL concerns, like a long commute or a newborn baby, but the campaign accounted for that. No one player was necessary. People can leave if they like.

I was also running Fairmeadow Fair, a Dungeon World campaign, for another pair of players. I started that game back in February 2018, so it was pushing two years already! These players were geographically and socially distant from the Chasing The Sunset players.

Diagetically, what was happening? Most players were still near Port Fennrick, where they arrived from the old country to make a new start.  Players saw the consequences of actions taken by players in sessions they did not attend.  A group were attacked by mobsters in the night and planned to take revenge, but before they could, a different group stumbled on those same gangsters and sent them packing. Players could look backwards and see that they had effects on the world, but looking forward was more difficult. They were newcomers in this strange land and had little motivation beyond seeing what’s over the next hill. They didn’t understand the bigger picture of the new continent and didn’t have any long-term goals.

Calm before the storm

From January to March 2020, I ran 3 sessions of Chasing The Sunset and 3 sessions of Fairmeadow Fair. I introduced the first hint of world-spanning conspiracy, based on backstory hints from several players. Platypolooza was scheduled for a full moon, and that’s when the first werewolves appeared! I don’t think my players realized that werewolves were a problem they could track down and solve, instead of just one more fantastical element native to this new land. Not even the fate of the bitten victims was enough of an incentive to investigate the werewolf problem. The party just skipped town.  So as a long-term plot thread, it was ineffective.

I was having so much fun with Chasing The Sunset and the idea of multiple parties sharing the same world, that I asked the Fairmeadow Fair group to join Chasing The Sunset. They agreed, and at the end of February I brought over blank Fellowship character sheets for them to choose from. Lucia translated pretty easily from a Dungeon World Paladin to a Fellowship Heir. Both are noble knights.  There’s no Fellowship equivalent for the Dungeon World Druid’s shapeshifting powers, and Gleador’s player loved shapeshifting shenanigans, so I worried that they would be reluctant to leave Gleador behind. They jumped right into the Fellowship Collector, and we planned to send Gleador off and bring in Dryden the next time we met. That was the last time I saw them in person.

Lockdown

In March 2020, this coronavirus turned out to be a big deal, then turned into the biggest deal: the defining event of the year. I hoped for a while that things would go back to normal soon, but here we are in December and the pandemic is worse than it has ever been. Once I realized that I had to deal with it instead of waiting for it to go away, I made preparation to run Chasing The Sunset online.  I made a Discord server for voice-chat, and made a Roll20 account for dice-rolling and maps.

Worlds collide

Chasing The Sunset was on hold for almost three months. That’s not the first interruption my campaigns have endured.  I started Chasing The Sunset right before disappearing to work on Atlanta Fashion Police for several months.  Fairmeadow Fair has suffered that same interruption twice.  In addition to adapting to the new technology, I had to connect the world of Fairmeadow Fair to Chasing The Sunset.

Fairmeadow Fair is a vaguely Tolkien or D&D fantasy world with Dwarves, Elves, Halflings, and Humans.  The origin of a “living statue” (no one knows the word “robot”) is worthy of a long quest, and the existence of a single shape-shifter throws a large city into turmoil. The party looks for non-violent solutions and has never taken a life.

Chasing The Sunset contains only (mostly) the races claimed by players, so there are no Dwarves, Elves, or Humans! There is an entire race of gooey shapeshifters, a town full of clockwork robots, a ghost, and a member of an extinct race. Players in this campaign are willing to kill people who threaten or annoy them, and don’t mind skipping town to avoid cleaning up messes they make.

Connecting the worlds geographically was easy. Fairmeadow Fair was mostly a pointcrawl: roads or paths between towns or interesting sites. I converted those points into Fellowship’s Locations and connected that set of Locations to the southern edge of the Chasing The Sunset map.

So in the final session of Fairmeadow Fair, I had to transition from one ruleset to another, prepare my players for the more gonzo tone of the world they were joining, and also say farewell to a player character! As a GM, I’ve had players drop out and their characters just disappeared in between sessions. As a player, I’ve had a character leave the party for unresolvable philosophical differences, and it was a traumatic experience, inside and outside the game. A planned, amicable separation was a new experience, and my players did great! One player played both Dryden and Gleador, rolling dice for different rulesets in the same fictional scene. Lucia’s player just swapped Lucia’s Dungeon World playbook for Lucia’s Fellowship playbook.

Attrition

I lost most of my players in the transition to playing online. After struggling to get people to respond to scheduling requests on Discord, I contacted each player and asked if they wanted to continue playing. Playing remotely is new and weird, and the multiple concurrent disasters sweeping the nation in June were enough to consume anyone’s attention.  One person formally resigned from the campaign, citing a lack of long-term goals to hold their interest. We did a little free-form roleplay epilogue over Discord to turn their player character into the boss of the location it was in. Another said they valued the in-person social aspects of role-playing, and playing online was not for them.  Several players said they were still in, but after they didn’t respond to several attempts to schedule games, I stopped asking.

Long-term goals

Right after losing a player for lack of long-term goals, I really started putting in hooks for big, old, important plots.  A mad scientist wants to blow up the Moon. The Moon is only 100 years old.  A character teleported to the Moon! (I checked the exact wording of the skill, and it does say “regardless of how far away it is”) Turns out the Moon is artificial and staffed by Kobolds for an unknown purpose.  Also Vampires exist and hate dragons!  Dragons should be extinct, but one has taken over a city & is challenging all comers in single combat!  The Vampires probably have a complete manual for the operation of the Moon, which seems super-dangerous. Too bad the player responsible for that stopped showing up. No one else knows what that character saw on the Moon, but they have seen giant mirrors fall from the sky, and know those mirrors can be turned into weapons by reflecting sunlight. Earth-shaking implications, but no one has all the information.

Legends of the Past

Last year I ran three one-shots set in Chasing The Sunset’s past. People who couldn’t join the campaign proper could have a fun afternoon and contribute to the ongoing story.  Win, lose, die, or flee, their actions would have lasting consequences. I just have to show those consequences to the players.

  • Two heroes fought an army attacking a library hidden inside a volcano, while magicians inside prepared a barrier spell. Almost everyone has searched for this library, but most people were distracted by the city hidden under the next volcano over. Lucia found it, and her people had a hidden library in their backstory, so of course this was that library! The ghostly librarian’s information was out of date because she’d been locked away from a long time, but that untimeliness was eye-opening by itself.
  • Platypeople were slowly abandoning a town threatened by a strange underwater building and its guardians. A couple of adventurers kicked those guardians out, and saved the town. That fight was supposed to be the first act of a mystery, but we ran out of time, and I have to respect the players’ victory, so the town is thriving now. Some players found a Platyperson from that town and almost escorted her home, but they were held up with other business and she was impatient, so they didn’t follow her to her unusual home.
  • A Vampire & a Dragon fought in an ancient forest, aided and confronted by various characters. Players later entered that forest and met the victor, but I missed my chance for them to see the grisly trophies taken from the loser.

Burnout

I like spending time with friends and I love playing TTRPGs. Normal social activities were destroyed by the pandemic, so I leaned into online TTRPGs for social time.  In August & September I scheduled games as often as I could, including playing in a D&D 5th Edition game, and running a couple of Blades In The Dark sessions. I discovered that playing online is not the same as playing in person. Even though I enjoy running games, it’s a lot of work. I am performing the whole time. As a player I can wait my turn and let other people take the spotlight, but when I run games i have to react to everything, move pieces that the players can’t even see, account for things that happened to other players they don’t know, and take notes at the same time. I discovered that in-person games had other activities that recharged me, making the overall experience less tiring.  People feed me supper, or at least we all bring and share snacks.  Before and after the game we have some unstructured social time to just be around each other, whereas online we disconnect when we aren’t playing. I only noticed these benefits by their absence, and by the end of September I was burned out! I intentionally cut back to monthly sessions with each party.

Conclusion

The summary page for Chasing The Sunset promises a large rotating cast and player-driven scheduling, but neither of those are true anymore. I have two parties, each a married couple IRL, and each meets once a month. Circumstances were very different when I wrote that page, and my players and I have adapted. Going forward, I think I have some more bandwidth for running games, so I’d like to add one or two more parties to Chasing The Sunset. I won’t push mixing parties, but I do want more information sharing, just so someone can eventually figure out the Moon’s deal. I have a mechanic for leaving notes in a location for other adventurers, but I don’t remind players about it, so they don’t leave notes. I love the shared world and the consequences of one party’s actions affecting another party. I want more of that.

Chasing The Sunset & EEE

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

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

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

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

Lady Elizabeth Eleanor Eadwynn: Oh, you are bold!

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

Dryden: You stand in the presence of a queen!

Lucia: Are you the ruler of this place?

Lady Elizabeth Eleanor Eadwynn: No, that is!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fee, giant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roddy flees.

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

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

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

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

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

Dryden Talk Sense (wisdom, emotion) 10+

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

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

EEE damages Fee’s Proper Weapons

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

Fee damages EEE’s Counter Spell

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

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

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

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

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

Haku, Sky Serpent, Boss of The Singing Hills

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

Roddy damages Haku’s Mostly Peaceful

Haku bellows with rage and dives towards the ground.

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

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

Fee: You fool! He’s blind!

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

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

Dryden Get Away 10+ avoid harm, bring Lucia along

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

Lucia: We could leave.

Dryden: We need to take out Triple-E.

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

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

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

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

Dryden: Keep to the air, right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chasing The Sunset & Bertha

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stella Look Closely 7-9

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

The hidden switch on the mining robot.

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

Stella: Which glyph is your favorite?

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

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

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

Stella Overcome 7-9

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

Stella: Buckle, wanna give it a try?

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

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

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

Buckle Look Closely 6-

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

An old map of the area surrounding the Oolite mine.

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

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

Fellowship of the Beetles earned!

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

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

New companion: Siege Tank

  • Spikes And Steel
  • Heavily Armored
  • Secret Weapon

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buckle: Look at that former mountain.

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

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

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

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

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

Buckle: Do you think the king is home?

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

Buckle: Wanna find out what burned the mountain?

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

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

Stella: Told you. Queen.

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

Buckle: Bernard’s castle.

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

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

Bernard: Ha, we only arrived a generation ago!

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

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

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

GM note: That was close!

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

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

Stella: Impressive.

Agate: Thanks, I’m great.

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

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

Stella: Why do you attack flying things?

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

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

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

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

Agate: It’s all good. Whatever works.

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

Stella Overcome 6-

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

Buckle Overcome 10+

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

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

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

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

Buckle Talk Sense (sense, a plan) 10+

Agate promises. Stella picks up the gem.

Buckle: You get the gem after they fly away.

Agate: Fine. Hurry up!

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

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

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

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

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

Stella and Buckle return to the Siege Tank

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

Buckle: Pranks are fun.

Stella: maybe more serious than a prank.

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

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

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

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

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

Buckle Talk Sense (sense, desires) 10+

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

Agate: No, no, no!

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

Stella Keep Them Busy 7-9

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

Buckle Finish Them (sense, disable) 7-9

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

Stella Overcome 7-9

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

Stella Get Away 7-9 avoid harm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stella Talk Sense (wisdom, emotions) 6-

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

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

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

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

Chasing The Sunset & Mountain Pass

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dryden Look Closely (+hope for good plan) 12

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

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

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

Lucia: You’ve learned much in your travels.

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

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

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

Lucia Look Closely 7-9

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

Lucia Get Away 6-

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

Dryden Overcome 2

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

Lucia Get Away 6

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

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

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

Dryden Get Away 12

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

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

Treacherous Mountain: The Narrow Path defeated.

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

Lucia Keep Them Busy. automatic failure against Group

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

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

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

Dryden Get Away 5

Lucia leaps off the rock with a battle cry!

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

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

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

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

Lucia Keep Them Busy 7-9

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

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

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

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

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

Treacherous Mountain: The Creatures Above defeated.

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

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

Lucia investigates the source of these constant musical tones.

Lucia Look Closely 6-

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

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

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

Chasing The Sunset & Change Of Heart

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

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

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

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

Buckle: War Paint, gain 2 Power

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

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

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

Buckle: Hanging out with beetles changes a person.

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

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

Stella: What’s the signal?

Buckle: A howl. Not a terrifying howl.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buckle War Paint, spend 1 Power to Rampage

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

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

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

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

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

Buckle Get Away 10+

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

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

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

Buckle: The Mothers are fragile compared to the Children.

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

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

Buckle: Children protect Mothers.

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

Buckle’s Mammalian Protection cancels Location’s Maze stat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They wonder how to approach this intimidating lifeform.

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

Buckle: My people are.

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

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

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

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

Buckle takes 2 damage & is trapped

Stella takes 2 damage & is trapped

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

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

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

Ugg and Rose dig them out.

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

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

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

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

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

Stella & Shadow Keep Them Busy 7-9

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stella Overcome 7-9 temporary solution

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

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

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

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

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

Stella takes 1 damage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stella Finish Them (+hope Pack Leader) 10+

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

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

Buckle Overcome 7-9 temporary solution

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

Buckle Overcome 6-

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

Stella Overcome 6-

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

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

Buckle:  Shove it in me!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inspired to make something that makes inspiration

During Roguelike Celebration 2020, I heard a talk by Clarissa Littler about a generator they created to help them write poetry.

Skip to 45:16 to see Clarissa’s 10-minute talk.

I make generators that generate complete, ready-to-use artifacts, but Clarissa’s generator only creates rules and constraints for a poem that Clarissa has to write. A completely different paradigm!

The pandemic destroyed my normal artistic outlet of traveling the country and photographing people at large events. I’ve barely taken any photos in 2020. How can I continue this practice which I love so much with none of my usual events? Many photographers have a discipline of taking a photo every day on sites like Tookapic and 365 project.  But getting ideas for interesting photos every day without fail is a constant challenge.

Let’s bring it all together

  1. a generator of ideas, not artifacts
  2. a reason to take photos every day
  3. ideas for photos when I don’t have any

The solution is a system that tells me what sort of photograph to create each day!

I use Kate Compton‘s Tracery for lots of generators because it’s easy to write lists of options and let Tracery pick from them. So I can write down all possible subjects, all possible lighting conditions, all possible compositions, and be done. That generator would be completely generic, and I have a style developed over many years. I want photographs that I like, not all possible photographs.

a screenshot of a file manager, show 200GB of images in a folder named "Photos by others"

I’ve been downloading photos that fit my style for years! I looked through by photographer, and wrote down what I liked about each one. After I had a big list, I split it into categories: mood, people, light, composition, environment, and other. I love people and photographs of people, so I had a lot of “people” features that were unsafe to recreate during a pandemic, so I created a list of other subjects that I could more easily acquire. The Tracery grammar picks one to three lists, and picks one option from each. Sometimes an option is negated, just to mix things up.

CheapBotsDoneQuick is a service that hosts Twitter bots that generate their Tweets with Tracery grammars. This is a good fit for getting persistent daily suggestions. I could even reply to the bot with the photos I take based on its suggestion.  I had to create and verify a new Twitter account. Twitter’s account creation pipeline doesn’t let me pick my @. I have to edit my profile and change it from some auto-generated nonsense in a separate step. I don’t like that!

The final step was to go through each feature and assign an emoji! It’s so cute when bots use emoji, and I want using this bot to be a pleasant experience. These tweets aren’t assignments. They are opportunities for me to go out and create art! The emoji also function as bullets for a bulleted list of features.

The resulting inspiration generator, @photo_inspo, is online, tweeting a set of constraints every 6 hours.

Chasing The Sunset & Dung Beetles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stella pats Buckle on the head.

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

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

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

Buckle: See?

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

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

Stella: Do Dwarves lay eggs?

Buckle: Doesn’t everyone lay eggs?

Stella: Square holes. Anything is possible.

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

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

Buckle: I’m raising an army!

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

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