Chasing The Sunset & Aftermath

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

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

Last time, the Fellowship found a mysterious mountain, climbed to the top, and found an empty villain’s lair with notes that revealed this entire mountain is an Anti-Moon Weapon.

It’s sunset and the Fellowship gets ready to sleep. Buckle must take special care to avoid burning down the building during the night.

GM note: I asked Buckle’s player how Buckle avoid setting things on fire, and we negotiated further details about the settings to come up with an answer.

The hallways and guest rooms are carpeted, but the lounge has a tile floor. Buckle picks a leather chair to lie on. MacLeod’s furniture is built to high safety standards, so it does not burst into flames.  Stella has trouble going to sleep around Buckle because he always glows brightly. The lounge is one bug room, so Buckle lights up the whole area. Stella and her friends go back into the hallways and settle into guest rooms. Half of the guest rooms and the servants’ quarters don’t have beds. Instead stout metal bars are mounted between six and seven feet above the floor.

The lounge’s huge windows and prominent location make Buckle a beacon, visible for miles. Everyone settles in to sleep for the night.

Buckle is awoken in the middle of the night by a high-pitched voice, breathing heavily.

Voice: A little help here?

Buckle bolts upright and sees a fairy hovering outside the panoramic windows. Fairies are the size and build of a Barbie doll, with insect wings that let them fly. They glow slightly and their skin color ranges through pastel and floral shades. This fairy is orange/gold and carrying a book that’s bigger than she is. She holds it by a strap running along the book’s spine. She’s having difficulty flying with it.

Marigold: Oh man, I had to fly through the night to get here to you guys.

Buckle: Who are you? Are we expecting you?

Marigold: No, no, this is rush-rush hush-hush. I have to meet Doctor MacLeod as soon as possible.

She flies into the room, puts the book on the floor, and sits on top of it. Buckle sits down across from her.

Buckle: We just got here and the owner of the house doesn’t seem to be around. What do you know about the technology here?

Marigold: No, that’s what you’re supposed to tell me. What happened here? You don’t work here? This is suspicious!

The fairy notices the shattered glass and other signs of combat. That’s suspicious!  She picks up the book and retreats to hover outside of the room.

Buckle: We found it in a bizarre state. There was some weird due down at the hanger at the bottom of the hill who seemed to like the dark a lot.

Marigold: Ho ho, likes the dark, huh? We have this in common.

Wait, this is serious.

Marigold: This is not a safe place for the manual. Our plans could be jeopardized.

Marigold starts to laboriously fly away.

Buckle: Wait, are you a Moon Fairy?

Marigold: How dare you associate me with that horrible thing?

Buckle wonders about the moon and the payload and Marigold’s arrival. Marigold just leaves. She’s so heavy that she needs to stay close to the ground, so she flies down the slope of the mountain.

Buckle: Calm down, we can talk this over and help you. You just have to trust us.

Buckle Talk Sense (+Wisdom, appeal to emotion) 10+

Marigold floats back and says that it’s really important that she find Doctor MacLeod so that Doctor MacLeod can go over this manual. Buckle says that together with his smart friends, they will find Doctor MacLeod. They wake Stella and the companions. Stella is upset to be awakened by Buckle’s blazing light. She tells him to go back to sleep. She opens her eyes and sees another light, much dimmer than Buckle, coming from a fairy floating over Buckle’s head.

Stella: Either this is a really weird dream, or this is actually happening.

Buckle and Marigold explain that Marigold has vital work for Doctor MacLeod, but can’t find her.

Buckle: I have learned that she’s not a Moon Fairy.

Marigold winces at the word “moon”

Stella: Buckle, why would you say that?

Stella hasn’t seen Dr. MacLeod, but she has seen the Doctor’s notes in the study. She asks Marigold about the project, but Marigold has instructions to give the manual only to Dr. MacLeod.

Stella: We don’t know when she’s coming back. Is this an urgent matter?

Marigold: Very urgent! I had to fly here directly with this heavy thing. We had no time to wait for more suitable messengers.

Buckle offers to carry the book and follow Marigold as she searches. Marigold isn’t sure about someone else carrying the book, especially not Buckle! She flies off to put the book somewhere safe. After a short time, she returns, ready to look around. The Fellowship has already searched this building, so they go to the elevator. Stella presses the call button. There’s a deep thrumming sound of big cables under tension, mechanical grinding noises, and after a minute, no elevator arrives.

GM note: A player decided that the elevator was the old style with the grille doors, so the characters can look down the shaft. Tha’ts cool. Let’s go with that.

Stella can see that the shaft goes down only. Not surprising, since this building is at the top of the mountain. There is an elevator car visible a ways down the shaft, but it’s not moving. Marigold doesn’t need a car to move through a vertical shaft, so she squeezes through the grillework and starts flying down the elevator shaft. Buckle asks where she’s going to look.

Marigold. I don’t know. I haven’t been here in person.

Stella: Buckle, I think we need to do some spelunking.

Buckle: What’s that?

Stella: It’s when you go into a dark cave and you don’t know if you’re going to come back.

Buckle is in if there are fish in the cave. Stella disables the safety interlock on the door and pulls them open so they can access the elevator shaft. Now they have to jump to the cables and slide down.

Buckle Overcome (danger of falling down the shaft) (+hope, aid from Stella) 7-9

Buckle pays a price (damage Webbed Hands) for the 10+ result

The Fellowship rappels down the cables and land on the top of the elevator car. Marigold is flitting around looking for a way past the car, which completely blocks the shaft, preventing her from continuing down. Stella opens the trap door on the roof of the car and sticks her head into the car. She sees a wooden pole (4 inches across and several feet long) going through the back wall of the elevator car and presumably into the wall of the elevator shaft. That’s why the car can’t move. There’s a pile of ash on the floor, but no other scorch marks or evidence of fire. The door of the elevator is also a grille, and beyond the door is the wall of the elevator shaft. The car did not stop at a floor. Stella calls Buckle over and pushes him into the elevator. He falls in, raising a cloud of ash.

Stella: Buckle, see that wooden pole thing? Think you can burn it up?

Buckle grabs the pole and yanks it out of the wall!

Buckle Overcome (friction) 6-

GM note: Usually a 6- means that the character does not succeed, but in this case, it’s more fun if the character does success, but that success leads to trouble!

The pole comes free and the elevator car groans and shifts slightly. The pole was holding the elevator in place, and it could drop at any moment! Buckle realizes that the terrible danger he’s in is entirely his own fault! (Also, the end of the pole that was in the wall is sharpened to a point.)

Stella tells Buckle to lean the pole in a corner so he can climb out of the elevator car. Buckle looks and calculates the distances. The pole is three feet long. He’s three feet tall. The ceiling in this human-sized elevator is seven feet high. He jams the pole back into the hole in the wall.

Buckle Overcome (elevator falling) 10+

With the pole back in place, the elevator car can’t fall. The fellowship is out of immediate danger. The pole is on fire since Buckle touched it, but it wil take a while to burn through. Buckle looks for the elevator controls. There’s a lever that moves the car up or down. Buckle pulls the lever and hears the cables moving. When the cables pull taut, he pulls the pole back out. Now the elevator car is safely suspended on the cables and can move up and down as he wishes.

GM note: I didn’t call for any more rolls because it would be repeating rolls the players already did, and they figured out a solution to get the elevator working again. Just let them have their success.

Buckle: I got it working! Everything’s fine!

Buckle sends the elevator up.

GM note: As Buckle’s player said: “That’s funnier and more precarious for the people on top of the elevator.”

In about a hundred feet, the roof of the elevatar car is going to meet the ceiling of the elevator shaft, which is bad news for Stella, Marigold, and all the companions on the roof of the car! Stella and the companions try to scramble out of the open elevator door as the car moves past!

Stella Get Away 6-

Ugg is tallest and puts his powerful robotic arms up to stop the ceiling from crushing the rest of the Fellowship! He also yells down to Buckle to stop the elevator.

Ugg damages Bigger ‘n You

Buckle stops the elevator and lets everyone off. Now everyone is on the top floor and Buckle brings the elevator car up to match the door. Marigold enters the elevator, sees the pile of ash and the (flaming) wooden spike, and panics!

Marigold: Nope, I’m cancelling my misison. I gotta go tell the Baron. This is bad!

She flies down the hallway towards the open windows in the lounge. Stella and Buckle try to stop her so they can understand what’s wrong.

Stella Keep Them Busy (+ hope, aid from Buckle) 10+

They run ahead and block the hallway. She darts around looking for a way through and they put their hands up to keep her contained.

Buckle: Wait, wait. What did you see? What is with the ash?

Marigold: Everyone’s dead! This place can been attacked. The broken windows. Why didn’t I see this before?

Stella wants to know who attacked, but Marigold doesn’t want to stick around and find out.

Buckle: Wait, is that pile of ash Doctor MacLeod?

Stella remembers throwing flaming logs during Platypalooza, but that’s very far away. The chances of a stray log flying across the map and pinning someone to the wall in the middle of an elevator shaft are miniscule. The Fellowship wants to ask more questions, but Marigold is trying to flee for her life. She’s not in the mood to answer questions.

Buckle: Calm down. We’re right here. Nothing’s going to hurt you.

Buckle Finish Them (+Wisdom, show error of their ways) 7-9

Marigold damages Dangerously Sexy

GM note: I had not tell the players Marigold’s stats yet. She’s a Vampire! We’ve been dancing around says the word for a month.

Marigold is disheveled, but not in a sexy way. She transforms into a big vampire bat and with her new form she slips past Stella and Buckle! Stella follows her to see if she forgets to retrieve the book. Marigold flies straight out of the broken windows and does not go for the book. She flies northwest into the distance.

Buckle: Did you ever see a fairy turn into a bat before? Moon Fairies are rude.

Stella: Hey, Silk. We’re going book-hunting.

Stella tries to remember from which direction Marigold returned after hiding the book, but it was ambiguous. She and Silk go outside and climb around the penthouse looking for the book.

Silk damages Wall Crawler

Stella Look Closely 6- Ask 1 question, find out the hard way

  • Is something hidden or out of place?
    • Stella finds the book balanced on the edge of the roof. When she tries to pick it up, it tips off the edge! She grabs for it and rips out a few pages, but the book falls over the edge towards the mountain below.

Buckle is in the lounge and sees the book fall past the panoramic windows. He dives to grab it by the strap that Marigold used to carry it.

Buckle Overcome risk of book falling 7-9

Buckle grabs the strap, and it catches fire!

Pay a price for 10+ result: Buckle damages Electro-Sense

Buckle’s so surprised by the strap catching fire that he falls out the window! He lands on his head near the book.

GM note: Electro-sense! Platypeople’s electro-sense wouldn’t trigger on Marigold because she’s not a living being. She’s undead. I should have let Buckle know something was weird about her immediately, but I forgot about his ability.

Stella peers over the edge of the roof, a few pages grasped in her hand.

Stella: Buckle, are you OK?

Buckle: Iiiiiiii’m fiiiiine.

After a little hiking and scrambling, Stella retrieves Buckle and the book and they all go back to Dr. MacLeod’s study. The title of the book is:


It’s a dry technical manual with procedures for mantaining and operating some complicated machine. An engineer who could turn a mountain into a weapon could understand these diagrams and procedures, but to a lay-person, they are meaningless. Stella looks around the study for similar books, perhaps other volumes, but this book is different from all the books in Dr. MacLeod’s study. The binding is a tough, fire-proof material, so Buckle can actually hold it safely, as long as he doesn’t touch the pages within.  Ugg helps him to turn the pages, but his robot hands are big and he tears a page or two. Platypeople have a surprising graps of technology, so Buckle is able to figure out a bit.

GM note: There’s not really a basic move for figuring out books or riddles. I decides on Look Closely.

Buckle Look Closely at the manual 7-9

  • What is going on here? What do my senses tell me?
    • This is a manual for a teleporter. It’s a room that swaps its contents with the contents of another room far away.
  • Is something hidden or out of place?
    • Buckle sees a fascinating passage and points excitedly, igniting a page! Ugg slams the books to put out the flames. Now they’ll never know what that page said. Context indicates it was about the location of the terminals. The location of the near terminal is “immediately south of the Command Center” and the remote terminal is “below”
  • Tell me about the machine this manual goes to. How could it hurt or help me?
    • It requires a huge amount of power to operate. (Like an Artifact of Power, like the one inside Buckle) Operating it improperly can be deadly.

GM note: A player theorizes that this means the Moon is staffed by werewolves, but can werewolves be werewolves on the moon? When is it a full Moon on the moon?

Buckle: So there’s two rooms, right? And you go to one room and the other room comes to you, but you’re not there anymore. Does that make sense?

Stella stares.

Stella: No?

They talk around each other for a while. It’s confusing! Stella wants to take the elevator to explore the rest of the facilty. Ugg carries the book and they all go to the elevator. The whole party can fit inside the car.

Stella: Take us down!

Buckle: Maybe someone else should touch the llever. I almost skooshed y’all.

Ugg operates the lever with one over-sized robotic finger.

At the bottom, the elevator opens onto a big mechanical area, full of scorched machines and split fuel tanks. There was a fire here! Buckle looks longingly at the fuel tanks, wishing he could have seen them burn. The lights that usually illuminate this space are broken, but there’s always light when Buckle is around. Buckle examines the area.

Buckle Look Closely at machine room. 7-9 Ask 3 questions, find 1 the hard way.

  • What is going on here? What do my senses tell me?
    • It’s a large room with a high ceiling. This is the base of the turret in the slot in the mountain. There are giant motors to move the turret, which were supplied by large fuel tanks. Those tanks ruptured and burned everything.
  • Is something hidden or out of place? What looks suspicious.

    • A huge axle supports the 1000-foot-long barrel of the Anti-Moon Weapon. A feat of engineering, capable of holding enormous weight and mvoign it precisely. A one-foot diameter hole has been burned all the way through this huge piece of hardened metal at an odd angle, permanently ruining it. Buckle recognizes the melted slag around the edges. This is the sort of heat that’s generated when he goes all out and vaporizes someone! There’s something else out there with that kind of power.
  • Tell me about the machines in this room. What are they doing? What will they do next?

    • In addition to the motors, axle, and fuel tanks, there’s a crane that loads the payload into the turret. It was also damaged and is now about to topple and crush anything underneath.

The Fellowship has several directions to flee.  Back to the elevator, a big door leading outside, or a door that goes further into the facility. They run inwards. Stella wants to work together, but Buckle is already gone!

GM note: Stella’s player was going to set up a roll with Bonds That Bind Us, but Buckle’s player had already rolled, so that roll will stand and the two characters will flee separately.

Buckle Get Away further into the facility 7-9 avoid harm

Stella Get Away further into the facility 7-9 avoid harm

Everyone runs inside as the crane collapses behind them, sealing off their route to the elevator.  They find themselves in living quarters for a few dozen people. These are working-class accomodations, not fancy rooms like at the summit.  Furniture is flipped over, some things are burned. There are wooden stakes in piles of ashes.

Stella: You don’t suppose somebody came here and found a bunch of vampires, do you?

Buckle: Vampires? Ooooooooh. Oh! Vampires!

Stella: Or as you like to call them, Moon Fairies.

Buckle: I don’t think Vampires are Moon Fairies.

Stella facepalms. She investigates the space they find themselves in.

Stella Look Closely at living quarters 7-9 Ask 3 questions, find 1 the hard way.

  • What is going on here? What do my senses tell me?
    • Washrooms, bedrooms with metal bars for 4 people (Vampires sleep hanging upside down) The cafeteria has only meat and blood. The well-stocked cafeteria at the summit was for guests, but all this food is for Vampires.
  • Tell me about the beings that resided here.
    • Vampires are usually in hiding, but here Vampires lived openly. They operated this Anti-Moon Weapon, but were attacked, and many were killed.
  • Is something hidden or out of place? What looks suspicious.
    • While the Fellowship looks through the kitchen, something leaps out from behind a crate!

It’s the person covered in blankets and cloth that they saw when they approached the mountain, and she’s trying to bite Stella!

Stella Overcome Vampire’s attack 6-

Stella damages a stat

Addison smashes Stella to the floor, pins her, and prepares to bite and turn Stella! Buckle runs in and swings with his tail!

GM note: Buckle’s player let me pick whether Buckle uses Sense or Blood, since the bonus is the same. Deciding that a player has killed someone seems like overstepping my authority, but the player said I could choose, so I have permission. I choose Blood!

Buckle Finish Them +Blood (advantage: vampire focused on turning Stella) 10+

Vampire is killed! TAKEN OUT

Buckle strikes with such force that the vampire bounces into the wall and does not move or get up.

Buckle: Stella, are you OK?

Stella: What was that thing?

Buckle: I never thought I’d say this, but I think that’s a Vampire.

GM note: Do Vampires collapse into ash from any cause of death, or only from being staked? Let the players decide. To let the characters be paranoid and confirm the kill, only staking turns Vampires to ash.

Buckle goes to retrieve one of the wooden stakes used by the mysterious attackers. He returns with a smouldering stake as long as his body, sharpened to a wicked point, and Stella is holding a chopstick.

Stella: This is all I could find.

Buckle: Try it. Sure.

Stella tries to stab the chopstick into the Vampire’s heart, but the chopstick breaks. Buckle follows up with the huge flaming stake. Success! The layers of clothes and blankets settle to the floor as ash leaks out all the edges. It is once again quiet in the destroyed facility. Stella wants to find an exit.

A mountain with a slot cut all the way through, with some kind of machine inside. A few buildings are connected by stairs around the mountain.
The mountain with a slot through it.

Stella finds a door that leads outside. They are in the trapezoidal building just below the axle at the base of the turret. Stella looks down and sees the Mirandda docked at the warehouse.

Stella: Miranda, I missed you so!

Buckle looks through the Vampire’s robes. The innermost layer of cloth is a dirty uniform with a nametag that says “Addison”

Stella: Buckle, see that building way down the hill? Wanna see what it is?

The Fellowship leaves the barracks and walks down a covered staircase to a gatehouse. The awnings over the staircase have been torn down.

A pencil sketch of stairs on the side of Macleod's mountain with metal railings and an awning.
A section of stairs.

The gates have been smashed inwards. Stella rummages through the gatehouse and finds lockers with uniforms that match Addison’s uniform.

Buckle: It’s pretty clear that somebody stormed in, killed a bunch of Vampires, and we just finished off the last of them.

Another path from the gatehouse leads to an observatory. It’s still night time. The mountain is covered with grass and brush at this elevation, so Buckle must stay on the path to avoid causing a fire.

The telescope in the observatory is aimed at the Moon, of course. A motor keeps the telescope aimed at the moon at all times. The telescope is mounted on a tilted axle, just like the turret.  Buckle looks through the telescope and the image goes out of focus as the heat from his body distorts the glass.  Buckle backs off and lets Stella use the delicate instrument. The glass cools off and the image returns to clarity. The disk of the Moon fills Stella’s view. The Moon is mostly featureless, with vague geometric features. No craters and mountains like on Earth’s Moon. There’s a small black spot near the center. It’s not a full moon. Part of the disk is in shadow. A few points of light are visible on the dark side of the Moon.

GM note: I’m forced into a lot of cosmology and physics that I didn’t expect. How big is the Moon? What magnification is the telescope? How fast would something have to move to be visibily moving through a telescope? What’s the name of this planet? What’s the distance from the planet to the Moon?

Stella describes what she sees to Buckle.

Buckle: I think we might be seeing the Moon Fairy cities.

Stella: You and your Moon Fairies.

Buckle: What? they’re real. Vampires are real. How can you doubt Moon Fairies. There are Vampire Faireis but not Moon Fairies? Come on!

Stella looks for records. A logbook indicates that the black spot is from a test shot that impacted the Moon. The logbook tracks four pieces of debris from from that impact that hit this planet. The effect of the test shot was very disappointing.

Buckle: There are vampires. They’re trying to blow up the Moon. Somebody stopped them.

The Fellowship ponders their next move. There’s one place on the mountain they haven’t investigated: the caved-in tunnel behind the warehouse.  Buckle’s hand still hurt from

Stella Overcome blockage 10+

Stella pulls out some small rocks and finds a space between larger rocks that she can fit through. This was the entrance for heavy machinery. The path from the warehouse to this entrance is a ramp, not stairs. Inside, it connects to the living quarters and the machine room.

GM note: A player hoped for Addison to leave a survival-horror-style diary explaining the horrible things that happened. The players didn’t know how to connect all the clues from this session, so I encouraged them to talk through it and try to make connections.

  • Why hate the Moon? Night is the only time Vampires can move freely.
  • Maybe they hate what people are doing to the Moon, possibly with the teleporter
  • The Moon is reflective metal, since we’ve found the pieces that fell.
  • Someone used the mirror from the Moon to focus the Sun into a laser
  • Vampires don’t like the people who made the Moon appear, so they must be good.
  • Baron von Till is involved in the Anti-Moon conspiracy.
  • Alex
  • L&L
  • Castellum

They survey the neighboring regions that they have not visited.

  • South: a village, and smoke rising over the hills
  • West: a dead forest
  • Northwest: an ancient (living) forest
  • North: big scary snowy mountains

The Fellowship returns to Miranda and go upriver, to the northwest, the direction that Marigold fled.


Buckle: Vampires are real, they lived here, but they all got murdered. They tried blowing up the moon. Left to find McLeod and Marigold

Stella: Vampires! Anti-moon turret. Everything is falling apart so watch your step and always look up.


Chasing The Sunset & Hidden Things

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

The party: Vestri the Dwarf, Yuri the Outlander

Last time, Yuri was transported from Russia to another world, where he met Vestri and helped a Giant out of a jam.

Heinrich the Giant is grateful to the small people who helped him escape the cramped room he was trapped in. He offers to teach the signals he uses to direct the poor undead creatures that live here to bring him food. If that does not appeal, there’s another option. He’s been cooped up for a while, unable to stretch out or move. Once he gets some proper food and exercise, he’d like to go all out and see what he can do! If there’s something that the Fellowship really needs broken, they can call him.

  • Heinrich’s Fellowship Moves (choose 1)
    • Zombie House: Each character gets 2 Zombie companions
    • The Hurricane: The Fellowship may direct Heinrich’s wrath, just once.

Vestri: I like being owed a favor by a Giant. That’s fantastic!

Yuri: We will go with the favor, sir.

Yuri wonders exactly how to call Heinrich and how long Heinrich will take to respond.  Heinrich produces a stone about the size and shape of an ostrich egg. It’s a geode from the stone he was born from. When it’s smashed, he wil feel it where ever he is and will come running.

Yuri: Is this going to hurt, or is just like “Oh, my Spider-senses tingle”?

Heinrich: You know, I haven’t had much experience with the Spiders. They’re a strange lot. But, no, it won’t hurt. Just like this. It’s nothing.

Heinrich tears a handful of bricks from a nearby building and drops them on his foot. He stands up and strides away. He’s over the horizon faster than seems reasonable.

Yuri: Where are we . . .we are going to mountain of some sort? If I remember…

Vestri: Yes, that did seem like a place where I would likely find the family heirloom I am on a search for!

They set out for Cloudhold, a high snowy mountain whose peak is shrouded in clouds. Yuri’s pet cat Stephen walks alongside. This planet has only large wildcats, so Stephen is unique. He depends on Yuri for socialization, which is fine with Yuri because Stephen is cuddly. Thus begins a Long Journey.

Long Journey: Each player introduces a situation or problem that the Fellowship encounters on the way and chooses a character who takes the lead in solving it.

The edges of the City Junkyard are swampy. The ruins and buildings here sink into the muck, and traveling is difficult, especially for a vehicle like Gurtin, the Tunneler.

Yuri: Can you drill under swamp? I imagine wet ground is easier to drill through.

Vestri: Easier to drill through, but not to move through. Are we drilling straight down? We’re not! We’re trying to cross this thing.

Vestri Look Closely at the swamp 6- Ask 1 question, find out the hard way

  • What do my senses tell me?
    • Swampy, mixtures of different building types. A corner of masonry over here. Over there, a wooden door floating. Long water plants, like kelp, grow in the swamp.

GM note: I commiserated with another player who also runs games about wanting an unreasonable level of realism in my descriptions, even though that’s not important for running a fun game.

Vestri wants to harvest the kelp and lay it over some muddy sections to spread Gurtin’s weight and let it pass without sinking.

GM note: Sounds reasonable to me because they did something similar in Mad Max: Fury Road.

As Vestri tries to harvest kelp at the indistinct border of wet mud and muddy water, his arm gets wrapped up and he is pulled into the muck!

Vestri Overcome being caught by kelp 7-9 pay a price for a permanent solution

Vestri loses Tunneler’s Gear

Vestri’s bulky tools get caught and he takes off his belt and leaves it behind as he climbs out onto relatively solid ground. Yuri and Vestri lay out kelp in front of Gurtin.

Vestri Get Away from swamp (+hope, aid from Yuri) 10+

GM note: I just ended the scene instead of letting the players pick two options, like the text of the rule says to do. I don’t think it really matters. They overcame the challenge.

Gurtin is able to travel over the road of kelp without sinking into the mud.  They reach the mountain. They are going through a valley, a path with high walls on either side, a former riverbed. The exit is webbed with very strong spider web. Yuri remembers classic D&D lore: spiderwebs are extremely flammable. Alas, he has no source of fire. Surely Hundrin, the blacksmith can make fire. He did not bring a forge with him. He’s much more useful in town, but he keeps the Tunneler running out here.

Yuri Look Closely at the valley 10+ Ask three questions.

  • Tell me about the wildlife. What are they doing?
    • Animal tracks run along the riverbed. Vultures soar on the updrafts caused by the mountain and circle over this ravine specifically.
  • Is there something hidden or out of place?
    • It takes a while to notice details in nature. So even though there’s no motion to draw his eye, Yuri suddenly notices something after looking around for a while. A boulder sticking out of one wall of the ravine anchors the top corner of the web. Yuri notices a spider-like head peeking out from behind this boulder. This head is on a neck with shoulders, not the standard two-section spider body.

Yuri: I have never seen Spider-Woman. Only Spider-Man movie.

  • Tell me about that Spider? What are they doing? What will they do next?
    • This is a Spider, a humanoid intelligent species native to this land. This one has set this web as a trap across a game trail to capture food. They are surprised to see people and a vehicle coming through. Not ambushing the Fellowship, but not coming out to greet them either.

As Yuri considers how to react, Vestri says something about “typical human” and Yuri protests that he doesn’t know anything about humans, and that he (Yuri) is the first one that he (Vestri) has met. Yuri insists that he met another human 40 years ago! Vestri is seventy-twelve years old, by the way. Yuri considers driling through the web with Gurtin, but Vestri worries that Gurtin’s drill will get gunked up. Yuri also considers talking to the hunter, man to Spider-Woman. Vestri picks up a rock and throws it into the web.

Vestri: Hey, Hundrin? Do you think we can tunnel through this with Gurtin?

Hundrin grunts and nods.

Strangers barging in and plotting to destroy her web? That’s pretty scary!

Vestri Finish Them +Courage (scare them away) 6-

But the Spider isn’t scared at all.  She’s a hunter, used to attacking one unaware target at a time, so she won’t risk a frontal assault on this group of people. She sneaks through the tree branches to an advantageous angle and shoots webs to jam up the Tunneler’s wheels. Yuri slices at the webbing with his magical sword.

Yuri Overcome webbing 7-9

Yuri Fool Me Twice reroll one die

Yuri Overcome webbing 7-9 temporary solution

The webbing sticks to the sword and Yuri yanks to pull the Spider out of hiding. They are connected by the strand of webbing.

Yuri: Um, excuse me, miss. I would prefer if you would not do this. Maybe we could reach some sort of impasse?

Vestri: Compromise! That’s the word.

Yuri: We have hit some sort of impasse. I think we should compromise.

Spider: Don’t wreck my stuff and I won’t wreck yours.

Yuri Speak Softly 7-9 Ask 3 questions. One answer is unhelpful

  • What do they want? How can we help them get it?
    • She likes her setup and doesn’t want people tromping through, breaking her web, and scaring the game away.
  • What should I be wary of when dealing with them?
    • She looks very shady. She has an alien, bug-like face, so Yuri can’t get a read on her.
  • What would they have us do next?
    • She wants them to go back down the ravine to a cave that goes through a spur of the mountain and leads to another path up the mountain.

Yuri: Da, but this does not solve your problem of people coming through and ruining your spiderweb. Unless you want them to come through and possibly eat them. Maybe “Do Not Enter” on a sign?

Spider: It hasn’t been a problem until now. I don’t know where you people came from.

Yuri: Well, industrialization is upon us, my friend. There will be cars.

Vestri: What?

Yuri: You have magic but you do not have cars? What is . . . I do not understand this.

Vestri: Maybe it’s just a name for a thing I don’t know.

Yuri gestures and makes noises and Vestri realizes that “car” means something like Gurtin the Tunneler.

Vestri: Those are called cars?

Yuri: Da. It does not matter what the vernacular is, but they are abundant!

Spider: Oh, right. I should have something that lets other people know that I’m here, that this is not abandoned. I could put out some decorations! I do some crafts.

Vestri:  I find a great deterrent is to put a pile of bones at the entrance of your lair. that usually keeps people out. Unless they’re adventurers.

Yuri: Da, and it is very spooky like at Halloween time, maybe a pumpkin? Pile of bones, pumpkin, web.

Vestri: Halloween? I’ve never heard of that.

They wander off toward the alternate path, still arguing. Yuri yells back to ask the Spider’s name. She is Shadow Under Cloud. She wanted to put up some cute decorations to make her ravine seem inhabited, but her crafts are little sculptures made of the bones of her prey, like the Blair Witch figures. These wanderers said that bones were intimidating and scary. Does that means she is weird and scary? Now she’s insecure.

The Fellowship finds the cave that Shadow Under Cloud described. Dwarves see perfectly in the dark, but Yuri can’t see anything past the mouth of the cave.

Vestri: Plenty of men from the race of Men don’t know how to look in the dark. How about you? Can you see in the dark?

Yuri: I have no, uh, no. I am just standard human.

Vestri: Would you like me to hold your hand?

Yuri: Da?

Yuri has to lean down a bit to hold Vestri’s raised hand. It’s a bit like holding a child’s hand, except the hand is hard and strong, like a child who works construction. Also, this cave is easy to navigate for a Spider that can walk on walls and spin lines of silk. For creatures limited to the floor, it’s treacherous: unstable footing and pits everywhere.

Vestri: This will be a problem for my machine. We can’t leave the Tunneler behind. I already left all my Tunneling Gear behind. What if we make a new tunnel by tunneling into the side, then turning. We make our own path.

Gurtin damages Drill Tank

The Tunneler needs to run parallel to the existing cave, not into the heart of the mountain or into a pit.  Yuri wants to help the Dwarves dig accurately, but he can’t even see the cave when he’s in it, much less in a different tunnel.

Vestri Get Away to the other side of the spur 7-9 bring Yuri along

Pit Trap uses HIdden Trap to send Yuri into the pit

The Tunneler tunnels accurately and bursts to the surface right next to the cave exit. Along the way it grazed another cavern, leaving a hole that Vestri easily avoids, but Yuri falls into.

Pit Trap uses Long Way Down to damage Yuri

Yuri damages Wisdom

GM note: This is a good time to tell the new players that there’s no separate Health to track, and that only they decide if their characters die if they are Taken Out. I cannot kill them.

Yuri rolls down a steep slope several times and lands in a few inches of cold water.

Vestri: Are you well, Man?

Yuri: Fine, I think. No broken bones. But I have no idea where I am relative to you.

Vestri: Why didn’t you hug the wall?

Yuri: You were suposed to guide me. I have no sight in this place.

Vestri Speak Softly to the earth 7-9 Ask 3 questions, 1 unhelpful answer

Vestri Earth Friend ask the earth to move

  • Can you raise my friend to my level?
    • The earth raises Yuri on a pillar of stone
  • Can you make a bridge for him to cross?
    • A bridge connects the pillar to where Vestri stands
  • Maybe a staircase?
    • A staircase forms on the ceiling.

Vestri guides Yuri back into the tunnel, where Yuri is able to put his hand on the wall and follow it out of the tunnel. They exit the tunnels into the clouds on the upper half of the mountain! The air is very cold.

Cloudhold Frozen: Cold protection required

Yuri is protected from Cold by being from Mother Russia

Vestri is protected from Cold by living in cold caves deep underground.

GM note: I said that I’d make them roll with Despair to Get Away because of the deep snow, then forgot and never did it!

The snow is up to Yuri’s hips, which means it’s up to Vestri’s nose, and is far too deep for Steven, who retreats into Yuri’s lab coat. Yuri walks ahead and the Dwarves walk in the path that he clears in the snow.

GM note: Big mis-step here. I don’t want to pressure players down a certain path, so I like to describe a scene and let them decide what to interact with. Unfortunately, the scene I presented was trackless snow hidden in clouds, so they had nowhere to go. When I realize my mistake and quickly push one of the area’s residents into the scene, it’s the one that’s immune to Look Closely, so they still have nothing to go on.

Past 100 yards, everything fades to the grey of clouds and the terrain disappears. In one direction something bright moves and shifts. Yuri walks towards the glow.

Vestri: I’m coming with you. After all, you are our path-creator. Following! Man from another world.

Yuri: You could just call me Yuri, by my name.

Vestri: OK, Yuri From Another World.

They approach the glow, which is a group of bright floating lights, too bright to look at directly. The lights move through the air, forming shifting patterns. Vestri has heard at angels are difficult to look upon, much like these lights. The lights zoom away, briefly silhouetting something else in the clouds: a winged humanoid.

Yuri: Hello, sir or madam! Are you alright? You seem to be incredibly bright, and I’m assuming that is hot.

Vestri: Hundrin, Hundrin, look! Hundrin, look! A winged creature that is difficult to look upon. Do you know what this means?

The figure approaches and emerges from the fog. It’s a humanoid bird about five feet tall with a twelve foot wingspan. His upper limbs are wings and his lower limbs have grasping feet like a hawk. He does not glow. The light moved behind him but did not come from him. He lands and folds his huge wings. He’s surprised to see them and inspects them by quickly tilting his head this way and that, like birds do.

Yrta: Oh, treasure hunters, huh?

Vestri: I am looking for the twin of this dagger. Have you seen it?

Yrta: It can be dangerous up in these mountains. Are you sure it’s up here?

Vestri: I am not sure, but the stories of my people speak of a cloud-covered mountain where it was last seen. So maybe it’s this one!

Ytra: Your people? How many of them are there?

Vestri: I left them back in my home town, but several thousand.

Yrta is concerned to hear “several thousand” but relaxes when he realizes they are not all here on the mountain.

Yrta: Perfect. Attack!

Ytra Uplifting Command: all nearby minions can fly

Mountain Lion Swarm Stalk From The Shadows: Secret until they make a move

A dozen Mountain Lions pounce straight down out of the foggy sky! Vestri is offended that this bird-man appeared to be an angel and then ambushed him.

Vestri Charge Through 7-9 clear a path for allies, but leave himself open to danger

Vestri charged forward, knocking mountain lions aside with his pickaxe. He finds the mouth of a big cave, and the mountain lions won’t follow him inside.

Yrta: I couldn’t have done it better myself.

Yrta and the Mountain Lions zoom upwards and disappear into the fog. Vestri assumes they only operate in open skies and hate enclosed spaces.

Yuri: I am gravely concerned for the way the Sky Commander worded that. I think they were trying to usher us into this cave. Out of frying pan, into fire.

Vestri: I’m actually better inside caves than outside caves. You’re safe with me, Yuri!

They are at the entrance to the cave. The mouth of the cave is 30 feet tall and 50 feet wide, so there’s plenty of light for Yuri near the entrance, but the back of the cave is pitch black.

Vestri Look Closely at cave 7-9 Ask 3 questions, find 1 the hard way

  • What do my senses tell me?
    • The inside of the cave is smooth. The edges of the cave mouth are smooth. There are no piles of bones or remnants of campfires on the floor. It’s quite clean.
  • Is something hidden or out of place?
    • Vestri’s eyes adjust to the darkness and on the roof of the cavern, he sees a sleeping Cloud Eel coiled around the stalactites!
      • Stoss the Cloud Eel (it/it) Boss of Cloudhold
        • Threat to the World
        • Cloudhome: secret when hiding in clouds
        • Ravenous: Hungry, Necrotic damage, Swallow whole
        • Tough as Nails: first time Stoss is damaged or destroyed, damage this stat instead.
  • Tell me about the darkness. How could it hurt or help me?
    • The darkness conceals Stoss!

Stoss is sleeping now, but will be very hungry when it awakens.  Vestri tells Yuri to be quiet and explains the danger. Yuri recommends sealing the entrance with Vestri’s Earth Friend, but first, they should hide, in case Earth Friend does not work.

Yuri: Squat down and talk to the earth.

Vestri: There’s Mountain Lions out there!

Yuri: Mountain Lions worse than flying eel?  No? Then we choose Mountain Lions.

They quietly back out of the cave and lie down.

Yuri Get Away (+hope, assistance from Vestri) 6-

Yuri Fool Me Once reroll one die 6-

They are not quiet enough, and Stoss wakes up. Cloud Eels pursue the biggest, easiest source of food, and Yuri is twice the size of his companions. Since Yuri can’t see in the dark, he sees Stoss’ huge head emarge from the shadows, mouth open with several rows of needle-like teeth, charging straight for him.

GM note: This is the first time these players fought anything in Fellowship, so I paused to explain that there’s no way to trade blows and chip away HP. Combat in Fellowship is about getting an Advantage over one’s opponents (by fictional positioning or via moves that specifically grant Advantage) and using that to Finish Them.

Yuri grabs some dirt from the cave floor and throws it at Stoss’ eyes.

Yuri Pay A Price to face Threat To The World: damage Courage

Yuri Overcome 6-

Yuri Fool Me Once reroll one die 6-

Stoss crashes mouth-first into the ground where Yuri stands, and when it rises into the air again, Yuri (and Steven, riding in his jacket) are gone, swallowed whole! Vestri believes in his Man From The Other World (and his cat). They can survive this! Vestri leaps out from his hiding place (and falls back into the snow that is as high as he is) and yells threats at Stoss.

Vestri Pay A Price to face Threat To The World: damage Grace

Vestri Keep Them Busy  6-

Stoss ignores Vestri and flies away, disappearing into the clouds.

Stoss Cloudhome: Secret while flying in clouds

Yuri stabs his magic sword into Stoss’ throat to stop himself from sliding down into Stoss’ acidic stomach. A baseball card slips out of his pocket and falls into Stoss’ stomach.

Yuri Pay A Price to face Threat To The World: lose baseball Card

Yuri Overcome 10+

Yuri I Know Something You Don’t: gain Advantage when Overcoming an enemy

The blade bites and catches, so Yuri stops sliding down the throat. He drives the blade deeper into Stoss’ vulnerable innards, hoping to slay the beast.

Yuri Pay A Price to face Threat To The World: damage Grace

Yuri Finish Them (+Blood) 10+

Stoss damages Tough As Nails

Yuri cuts a hole to the outside. Stoss is airborne, but there’s soft deep snow below, so Yuri jumps! Stoss makes a horrible noise, alerting Vestri to its location. Vestri runs up and throws his pickaxe at Stoss,

Vestri Pay A Price to face Threat To The World: lose pickaxe

Vestri Keep Them Busy 6-

The pickaxe glances off Stoss’ hide. Stoss wriggles and lashes its tail to take off. The tail catches Vestri and throws him aside. Once again, Stoss disappears into the clouds.

Vestri damages Sense

Vestri: How are you? Where is your cat?

Yuri: In my coat. Claws are currently in my skin. It is fine. We don’t have time for this conversation!

Yuri wonders how to defend themselves if Stoss returns.  Yuri’s magical sword and Vestri’s ceremonial dagger aren’t much good against a creature big enough to swallow them whole.

Vestri The Secrets: ask a question from Look Closely or Speak Softly lists

  • Tell me about the Cloud Eel. How could it hurt or help me?

Vestri: The thing about Cloud Eels. There’s a couple things. One, they’re very scary. Two, once they’re awake they just eat everything they see. But three! If we do kill it, it’s very useful. It will have a bunch of weapons in it from other people it’s eaten, and we need new weapons. At least I do. And also! The scales are really helpful for making protective armor that camouflages you.

Yuri: I’m sure that is very nice, but that does not help us in this moment.

Yrta flies near enough to be seen, but stays out of reach.

Yrta: You idiots! We were providing it food. It was staying up here. It was safe. Now it’s heading down the mountain, and everyone down there is in danger.

Vestri: You chased us into that cave!

Yuri: You tried to kill us! That sounds like it is your fault and you are blaming me.

Yrta: It’s been working out.

Yuri: Murder has been working out? I feel like you do not have the moral high ground here. It’s mostly dead. Let’s go kill it. Will you help us? And then you will finish the problem and you won’t sic Mountain Lions on us?

Yuri: I want you, with your big wings and terrible bird claws, to carry me into a place where I could drop down on to the Eel and stab it with my sword. I need you to do this without murdering me, of course, so I need a fair amount of trust.

Yrta doesn’t want to hurt Stoss, and he tried to feed Yuri to Stoss a little while ago, so this plan just sounds like Yrta feeding Yuri to Stoss more directly. Yuri tries another plan.

Yuri: What if you bring Eel back to cave and we close up the entrance, so you make sure it stays.

Yrta: To cage such a magnificent creature might be worse than killing it. Wait, you want to kill it. Wait, no! These are bad options.

Vestri wants new weapons, and neither of them wants to be killed or fed to a Cloud Eel.

Yrta: This is hurting my head. I don’t think I’m smart enough for this. We need to talk to Doeb.

Yrta lands and hops along on the ground to escort the ground-based Fellowship to Doeb. He leads them to a small alpine lake

Yrta: Doeb, it’s Yrta. Stoss got out. There’s some people here. They have plans. It’s all very confusing.

GM note: At this point I realized that my players had not heard the names Stoss, Yrta, or Doeb. I try to keep a natural flow of conversation, and they hadn’t made introductions, but I really just need to tell my players the names of the characters they are interacting with.

Part of the water rises up, separates from the lake, and comes on shore. Doeb is a member of the Rain, a race of amorpheous goo people. He scolds Yrta for letting Stoss escape. Yrta tries to recap the plans that the Fellowship came up with, but he only remembers half, and that half he explains badly.

  • Rain Lord Doeb (they/them)
    • Rain’s Master (weather control)
    • Divine Purpose (does not serve Boss, Talk Sense w/ Despair)
    • Sun’s touch (Piercing or Healing)

Yuri: What does this Eel mean to you and why are you keeping just a dangerous creature?

Yrta: I don’t own it. Who could own such a magnificent creature?

Yrta loves Stoss as much as Yuri loves Steven. Steven fascinates Yrta, who commands a pack of large cats but has never seen such a small cat before. Yuri gets very protective as Yrta gets close to inspect Steven, and starts to understand how Yrta feels when they talk about killing or trapping Stoss.

Vestri: Oh, I get the point you were making now! We’re sorry we stabbed Stoss.

Yuri: It was going to eat me!

Yuri: What about a leash? You put Eel on leash so it does not leave mountain. Large chain wrapped around neck – in a comfortable way!

Doeb: You seem to have forgotten the shape of an Eel. Put a collar on it, it will slip right out.

Doeb demonstrates by tying a slipknot in a rope, putting the loop over his ‘head’ and putting the rope tight. The loop goes right through Doeb’s body.

Yuri: Sidenote: I am very interested in how your body works. I am a medical professional. How is? Do you have medicine in your species? Is there, like, rain cancer?

They need to decide on a plan. Yuri theorizes how to restrain Eel without hurting it, perhaps with a mask instead of a collar. Stoss hates lightning, so maybe Doeb could control the weather to corral Stoss with thunderstorms.

Yuri: It is like electric fence.

Doeb Divine Purpose: Talk Sense with Despair

Yuri Talk Sense (explain plan +sense) 10+

A convincing argument. When the others return Stoss to the mountaintop, Doeb will cage it with lightning. They just have to get it back up the mountain.

Vestri: Sorry we hurt your Eel.

Yuri: I’m really not! It swallowed me whole. It’s a vicious beast.

Vestri: It’s a magnificent beast.

Yrta: You have to respect its ways.


Response level: 2

  1. Bad Weather: lightning
  2. ???

Chasing the Sunset & Blueprints

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

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

Last time, Stella recovered from a combat-induced food coma, and the Fellowship found a mountain with a slot cut through it.

A mountain with a slot cut all the way through, with some kind of machine inside. A few buildings are connected by stairs around the mountain.
The mountain with a slot through it.

The Fellowship sails upstream on the Miranda to approach the mountain. There are buildings on the mountain, connected by walkways. They appear damaged, but it’s hard to tell from this distance.

Buckle: Huh, that’s weird.

Stella: Is that a gun?

Buckle: Is that Spider technology? Hate for them to shoot turtles.

They sail up to a dock that connects to a warehouse at the base of the mountain. The warehouse is surrounded by grass and brush which Buckle could ignite with a touch, so he has to be careful.

Buckle Look Closely 7-9 3 questions, 1 answer the hard way

  • What do my senses tell me?
    • The warehouse has big double doors that face the dock. The doors have a latch but no lock, but they don’t open when Buckle pulls on them. Something that’s not immediately obvious is keeping them shut. The warehouse has windows high up along the walls, but they have all been covered from the inside, so they can’t look inside.
  • What will happen if we go up to the turret?
    • A road leads up from behind the warehouse to a tunnel entrance that probably goes inside the slot. This is the route that large items must take to reach the facility. A walkway branches off from the road and leads up to ther buildings on the surface.
  • What is hidden or out of place?
    • Buckle doesn’t sense any life with his Electro-Sense, but he does hear movement inside the building.

Stella kicks the door to get the occupant’s attention. The metal doors ring, but there’s no response from inside. Buckle tries to look through the crack between the doors, but cloth has been jammed into the crack to block it. He pushes his fingers in between the doors, lighting the cloth on fire!  There’s a cry and a commotion inside. When the cloth burns away, Buckle can see a chain through the crack. The doors won’t open because the chain is wrapped around the handles on the inside.

Buckle: Sorry! Are you alright in there?

Voice: Are you with the Baron?

Buckle: Bearing? There’s no bear out here.  Stella, do you think there’s a bear in there?

Stella: Sorry my friend set your stuff on fire. We’re not with the Baron. Can we help you?

No response from inside.

Stella: Must be lonely. If you’re lonely, we’ll be out here having a picnic.

Stella lays out a cloth and eats a snack. She tosses some food at Buckle. Buckle leans on the warehouse door, slowly heating it until it glows.

After a while, there’s a noise at the back of the warehouse. From around the building, they can see a pile of cloth, robes, and blankets running up the road to the tunnel entrance. The wearer is completely concealed under the layers of clothing.

Buckle Overcome the warehouse doors 7-9 pay a price: webbed hands

Buckle’s leaning on the door, which has heated up and become soft. The door shifts under his weight and he flails and falls, injuring his hands. The door is bent enough that people can duck under it and enter the warehouse. It’s built for human-sized creatures, so it’s too big for everyone in the Fellowship. Clearly, someone barricaded themself inside this buildings, blocking the windows and doors.

Buckle Look Closely 6- one question, find out the hard way

  • What do my senses tell me.
    • Half of the boxes are full of explosives! Buckle could blow the whole place sky-high if he’s not careful!
    • There’s a corner that seems to be where the mysterious occupant lived.  Blankets and tarps are hung from a rack to make a small space, but there’s no bed inside. There’s some meat, but it’s raw, not salted or jerky.

GM note: There was a debate about whether Buckle could steal some explosives, or if he would detonate the entire building if he tried. He’s hot and ignotes flammable objects with a touch, but he can also plant explosives whereever he wants. I thought that the explosives came from his body, but the text of the Heart Of Earth destiny (which I wrote by copying sections of other playbooks) mentions powder, oil, tinder, and other equipment. Editing is important!

Gus can’t stand the smell of the raw meat, which is not fresh. He tries not to vomit as he retreats out of the warehouse. Buckle sniffs the meat. There’s no blood in it.

Buckle: Who drinks the blood and leaves the meat?

Stella checks the rafters for bats!

The Fellowship didn’t see where the figure ran to, but they no doubt left through the back door, which is open. Buckle wanders up the road behind the warehouse. Gus refuses to go back into the warehouse, so Silk carries him through. They turn from the road that leads to the collapsed and take the covered stairs towards the mountain’s summit. A section of the walkway has fallen into the ravine below! Half of the bridge dangles from the far side of the ravine, but the near half of the bridge has fallen away completely and rests a ways down the slope.

A broken bridge. One side is sagging over the edge. The other half has fallen into the ravine.
The broken bridge.

Buckle Overcome 7-9 pay a price (suffer setback)

Buckle climbs down the steep rocks slope and up the other side. He pulls hijmself up on the dangling bridge section, which groans and gives way as he scrambles to safety on the far side! Now the gap that Stella and her companions must cross is even wider! One of Stella’s favorite things in the world is to be on the ground, but that’s not possible right now.

Stella: Buckle, come back!

Buckle: I can’t now.

Silk can’t throw a line to Buckle, because spider silk is flammable.

Stella: Well, Buckle, you’ve gotten yourself in a pickle.

Buckle: I like pickles.

Silk uses Creepy to spin a length of silk rope

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

Rose uses Get Right In There to throw Stella (tied to the rope) across the gap

Stella Get Away 6-

Stella damages a stat

The rope is too short! Stella jerks to a stop, then swings back and hits the ravine hard.

Buckle: Stella are you OK?

Stella: What do you think?

Rose pulls Stella up, which is very easy because at this size she barely weighs anything. Stella rubs her face. Looking down the mountain, they see another route. If they backtrack a while, there’s a less steep area where they can walk across to another ridge, which meets the trail further up. It will probably take the rest of the day to go that distance, so they’d reach the summit around sunset. Stella considers turning back, but Rose encourages her.

Rose: I promised we’d go on adventures, so let’s adventure!

Stella yells across the gap to Buckle.

Stella: Meet you at the top! Don’t set anything on fire!

Buckle barely waited for them to make their decision before walking up the stairs. Stella and the others slowly take the long way around, and get a good look at the surrounding locations. To the north of this mountain, mountains rise higher and higher into an intimidating snowy range. To the northwest: an old forest with huge trees. To the west, another forest, but it looks sick or dead.

Around sunset, Stella and the companions reach the summit. Buckle has been there for a while. This building is semi-circular, built into the side of the mountain with panoramic windows looking to the north. Suitable for a James Bond supervillain lair.  Stella barges in to look around. She’s grumpy from the long hike.

Stella Look Closely 10+

  • What do my senses tell me?
    • Most of the building is one huge launge with fancy chairs and couches facing the windows, but the windows are smashed! The glass from the windows is embedded in the back wall. There’s a jagged burned hole in the back wall that leads into a kitchen.  This abandoned building hasn’t fallen into disrepair. There was violence here!
  • What will happen if we spend the night?
    • The area seems isolated and abandoned, but staying in this lounge would be quite exposed.
  • What is hidden or out of place?
    • Stella sits in an overstuffed leather chair and absent-mindedly taps the big buttons that secure the leather cover to the body of the chair. That was the secret sequence! The sectino of wall behind Stella rotates 10 degrees and she’s suddenly in a small, dark room!  It’s the private office of whoever runs this facilty.

GM note: Despite the roll of 10+, I had Stella find out what’s hidden the hard way. That’s a mistake, but it was cool and we had fun, so it’s OK.

Stella grips the armrests tightly. What just happened? Once she realizes that she’s in another room, she looks around.

GM note: I put a lot of plot hooks in this room after this session, assuming the characters would stick around and investigate, but they fled immediately. Finally, I get to use my prep from almost a year ago!

  • A box labelled “DO NOT RESPOND” containing hastily disassembled messenger robots.
  • Writing on a chalkboard: “Castellum. Lightning?”
  • A old piece of paper that says “Check on Alex”
  • A note in different handwriting: “L & L dropped by. Von Till wants a progress report.”
  • Schematics and notes on the facility itself.

GM note: Instead of rolling a Knowledge test, I asked Stella’s player what Stella knew about astronomy, chemistry, and mechancial things. An opportunity for backstory and characterization!

Stella’s a former refugee. When her people scattered during the Giant War, she learned five stars that would lead her back home. Here on this new continent, all the stars are unfamiliar. She can’t read the astronomical charts. Food is very important in Halfling culture, so Stella knows the simple, applied chemistry of cooking and baking. She recognizes that many of the materials delivered ot this facility will burn or explode. She’s no mechanic, but she’s a fan of machines, so she knows more about them than the average creature. That’s why she loved the Seige Tank so much.  She can tell that the motor that drives the 300m long tube at the heart of the facility is not only very powerful, but very precise. The tube can be rotated to target angels with surprising precision. None of this helps her understand the facility, so she looks for the big picture. The blueprint showing a cross-section of the mountain is labeled at the top: “ANTI-MOON WEAPON”

Back out in the lounge, Buckle and the others are shocked by Stella’s disappearance! They open doors and call out for her.

Buckle Look Closely at the rest of the building 10+

  • What is out of place or suspicious?
    • Some of the bedrooms don’t have beds. They have sturdy poles mounted horizontally about 2m above the floor. One of the doors in the hallway is locked. (That’s the door to the study)
  • What do my senses tell me?
    • Behind the kitchen is a hallway, with doors that open into guest rooms and servants’ quarters. The kitchen is well-stocked, but the refrigeration isn’t working, so all the perishable food is ruined. The pantry is fine. There is plenty of dry and durable food to eat. Gus is impressed by the facilities.
  • Tell me about the house? How could it hurt or help me?
    • There’s food to eat. Even with the big panoramic windows, the sun never shines into the building. The window faces north, and the roof overhangs enough to block morning nad evening sun. Why would it be built like this?

Stella hears someone jiggle the doorknob, which is worrisome, until Buckle calls out. She throws open the door, goes to hugs Buckle, and instnatly recoils from the intense heat of his body. She shows everyone what she found in the study, plans for an Anti-Moon Weapon and the other strange objects and notes.

Buckle: Messenger Robots, like we have back home.

Everyone looks shocked.

GM note: Even the GM. Buckle’s player Commands Lore about the Platypeople.

Platypeople have lots of technology, but they don’t really care about it. most Platypeople just use the technology and aren’t engineers. Some of the scientific lore is turning into legend, and myths get mixed in sometimes. Perhaps the “equal and opposite reaction” from Newton’s Third Law is caused by tiny fairies arguing.

Buckle: We have lots of colonies. We have to keep in touch somehow.

Stella: Can you fix them?

Buckle: The box says “Do not respond”

Buckle reconnects enough wires to replay the messages. They are from Allan a Zham (former leader of Thaumatown) Since he and Dr. MacLeod both operate advanced technology, he suggests they get otgether, purely as professional collegues, of course. He’s trying to hide it, but he’s definitely flirting. Stella smashes the robot with her sword. All viewers of this message are creeped out.

Stella shows Buckle the blueprints for the Anti-Moon Weapon. Buckle recognizes that the slot in the mountain lines up with the ecliptic, which it must so the tube (actually the barrel of an enormous gun) can follow the Moon across the sky. He’s able to decipher technical jargon that says aiming and propulsion are OK. A test shot hit the Moon but did not destroy it.

Buckle: Bizarre. How could they destroy the moon with something this small? Maybe they are trying to kill Moon Fairies.

Stella: What?

Buckle: They are like the Fairies here, but on the Moon. They make it glow.

Stella & Buckle Fill Your Belly (food from Dr. MacLeod’s pantry) each heal 1 stat

The Fellowship eats supper from the pantry and prepares to spend the night. Buckle adventures to keep people safe, but inside him, the Heart Of Earth is influencing that mission. It says Buckle should seek power. Power to keep other safe, of course. Power.


  • Did we thoroughly explore a new location? YES
  • Did we learn something new about he world or its people? YES?
  • Did anyone find what they are looking for? YES!
  • level up, heal, restore gear

Chasing The Sunset & Imposters

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

The fellowship: Dryden of Conwall the Collector/Hunter, Averiela the Elf, Lucia the Brave the Heir/Halfling Sheriff

Last time, the Fellowship tried to solve two of Swallet’s problems by smashing them into each other: lead the Fire Elemental from the trash processing plant into the Fight Club so it can fight the Dragon.

Oh boy, let’s re-cap. The Fellowship arrives as several challengers are trying to gain entrance.

  • Theona: a 16-foot-tall Ogre who fights with huge metal-plated fists
  • Ozzy: a kindly-looking old woman who is actually a Necromancer and just deployed a Group of Skeletons
  • Speedy: a short man with a mustache who disappeared inside the Fight Club.

The Fight Club is an armored warehouse determined to keep the unworthy out. After Dryden blew the door in, that task falls to:

  • Bouncer: a Goblin with big robot arms boosting his power
  • Grinkle: a Goblin with a spiked helmet riding chainsaw rollerstakes
  • Unknown other members of Fight Club further inside the building
  • Fafnir, the legendary dragon, ruler of Fight Club and Swallet, must be in there somewhere.

The Fellowship arrive on the scene pursued by:

  • Fire Elemental: formerly preventing access to the trash processing facility, lured out by the Fellowship and starting fires in nearby buildings
  • Nub-Nub: Former Swallet police. She still pilots her powersuit, trying to prevent damage to the city.

Dryden just blew the door open, so the Fellowship and all the challengers are trying to get in, as the Fight Club members try to keep them out. Nub-Nub tries to evacuate the burnign buildings. Averiela uses her supernatural Elven grace to scale a building via ledges, clotheslines, and drainpipes. She yells into the high windows to warn the occupants to evacuate.

Averiela Overcome (the threat of fire injuring civilians) 6-

She sees two Goblins in a room, but the door is on fire. They are trapped inside!  She enters through the window and draws her titanium sword to cut a hole through the exterior wall, creating an escape route.

Averiela Get Away 7-9 bring someone along

Averiela damages Courage

She pushes one Goblin through the hole before the rest of the wall collapses! She’s hit by the falling debris and partially buried, but pulls herself free. Nub-Nub approaches and Averiela jumps up and brushes herself off. No one likes dust.  Averiela starts to explain how they can work together to free the remaining Goblin.

Averiela Talk Sense (+sense, explain plan) 6-

Nub-Nub: Enough of your “help”!

Nub-Nub grabs the free Goblin and leaps to the roof across the street. The Fellowship already broke its promise to keep the city safe from the Fire Elemental, so she won’t trust them or work with them anymore. Averiela wedges her sword under a big piece of debris, using it as a lever, and calls to the trapped Goblin to push when she pushes.

Averiela Get Away 10+ avoid harm, bring someone along

The piece of debris pops loose, and the second Goblin scurries through the hole before it collapses! Averiela carries the Goblin up to the roof and the two Goblin brothers, Yobb, and Wobb, have a tearful reunion.

Lucia is inside the Fight Club. Just past the smashed exterior door is a lobby with two doors on the far wall. On the left, a five-foot-tall door and a placard bearing a humanoid pictorgram. On the right, a much larger door, whose placard shows and exaggratedly large and long-limbed humanoid.  The walls are lined with trophies and news clippings about various fights and fighters. Lucia walks through the small door, sword at the ready.

She enters a Goblin-sized locker room. Inside, the Bouncer is talking to a whole Group of spiky, armored chainsaw-skate-wearing Goblins. They’re a roller derby team!  The Gobblin’ Goblins. Grinkle is theri Team Captain.

Grinkle: Intruder! Get her!

A dozen rowdy Goblins rev up their skates and zoom towards Lucia!

Lucia Symbol Of Royalty: grants an audience with anyone I show it to

Lucia holds up her Symbol of Royalty. The Gobblin’ Goblins put their skates in reverse and stop short!

Gobblin’ Goblin: Wow, a VIP!

Lucia: There’s a Fire Elemental outside that’s going to destroy this building! We need the dragon to fight it! It will be an epic battle like no one has ever seen!

Lucia Talk Sense (+Wisdom, appeal to emotions) 10+

The Gobblin’ Goblins think that is the coolest thing they have ever heard! They turn to the Captain and the Bouncer expectantly, hoping for permission. The Captain and the Bouncer are almost convinced, but need to get approval.

Back outside, Theona faces the Fire Elemental. Ozzy is trying to defeat Theona with a surprise attack with her Skeletons, but they are too small to be effective. Dryden ponders his next move. He considers experimenting with the Artifact Of Power in his backpack, but perhaps this is not the best time. Averiela sees him consider the backpack and shakes her head.

Dryden: Theona, let’s co-operate. The door is open, let’s go inside and fight the dragon!

Dryden Talk Sense (+sense, explain plan) 7-9

Theona agrees that the Dragon is the better target, but she’s too big to fit through the door. She jumps and grabs the edge of Fight Club’s roof, 20 feet above the street, and starts climbing up. Ozzy takes the opportunity to go inside Fight Club through the door. The Fire Elemental is still enraged and moves in to attack Theona.

Dryden Modifications: Flying Device is always Overcharged and flies for a whole scene

Dryden Get Away 7-9 avoid harm

Dryden flies inside, out of the Fire Elemental’s reach. The Fire Elemental attacks Theona as she’s dangling from the side of the building. Dryden hears her yell, more in anger and betrayal than pain or fear. This is the second deal Dryden has made and immediately broken today! Averiela sees this from the rooftop, but she does not want to get involved.

Ozzy, her Skeletons, and Dryden are in the lobby with the two differently-marked doors, but now there’s a team of bouncers to kick them out!

  • Goblin Bouncer: a three-foot tall Goblin with big robot arms amplifying the actions of their own fleshy arms
    • Bigger ‘n’ You: can throw enemies around
    • Tough As Can Be: This stat must be damaged twice
    • Group: Can affect two characters at once

Dryden Get Away 10+ avoid harm, bring someone along

Dryden flies up, out of reach of the melee on the ground. A certain Bouncer named Yiddle is grabbed by a Skeleton. Dryden swoops in to the rescue, smashing through the Skeleton, picking up Yiddle, and zooming through the big door marked with the lanky pictogram.

They enter a much larger locker room, built for fighters who are bigger than Goblins. Inside there’s an Ogre (same species as Theona) in the middle of attaching his mechanical left arm. It straps on like Furiosa’s arm in Mad Max: Fury Road, except his arm is missing from the shoulder, and his prosthesis is powered. It ends in four pairs of big, spring-loaded scissors. An intimidating figure!

  • Sparky: Ogre Champion
    • Crushing Grasp: destroys objects, Takes Out companions, 3 damage to players
    • Gigantic: Sparky and his attacks are Giant

Yiddle: You better put me down! Me and Sparky will mess you up!

Dryden: Hey, Sparky. Do you know Theona?

GM note: I wrote some secret backstory between Theona and Sparky, unsure if it would every come up, or if the two would meet, and Dryden instantly unlocks it with “All Ogres know each other”  Amazing!

Sparky: Theona? She’s here? We had a deal!

Sparky looks very upset, and he storms out of the room. Yiddle’s bravado seems pretty foolish now. Is it enough to scare her into submission?

Dryden Finish Them (courage, advantage: ally left) 7-9

Yiddle damages Tough As Can Be once

No, she’s a Fight Club Initiate! She’s fought flying opponents before. Her usual strategy is to disable the opponent’s wings to bring the fight to the ground, but Dryden doesn’t have wings. He does have a neck, so Yiddle clamps her robot hands around it to choke him out. Dryden can’t speak, so he makes a “Sorry about this, but what can I do?” face and flies towards the locker room’s far door.

GM note: I think there was a Get Away move here.

Dryden twists in mid-air so that he goes through the door and Yiddle hits the doorframe. She loses her grip on him and gets tangled in a towel rack next to the door. Everything in this room is oversized, so she’s suspended off the floor. As he flies into the next room, Dryden calls back:

Dryden: I would have helped you! Join me when you get down!

Dryden Workaholic; Spend Food in between scenes to regain gear

Back inside the Fight Club, the Bouncer and Grinkle escort Lucia through service tunnels to talk to the person in charge about her plan. Bouncer knocks on a certain door and a small panel opens. Bouncer explains to someone inside Lucia’s plan to have Fafnir fight the Fire Elemental

Mysterious Voice: Surely you can handle it. Fafnir can’t be bothered with such trivial matters.

Lucia holds her Symbol Of Royalty up to the panel and demands an audience.

Lucia Symbol Of Royalty: grants an audience with anyone I show it to

The door springs open. The mysterious voice belongs to Brainiac! He remembers Lucia from their meeting in the underground tunnels, and greets her formally by her full title, as protocol demands.

Lucia Detect Evil: Brainiac is evil

Brainiac: This is a surprise! What are you doing here? Did you bring the Fire Elemental?

Lucia: We are traveling and discovered the Fire Elemental and it chased us here.

Brainiac Part of the Plan: take damage to make a Hard Cut

Brainiac Chess Pieces: nearby allies take damage in my place

Brainiac Too Clever For Their Own Good: monologues when things go well.

Brainaic pulls levers on his control panel and drops emergency doors between every room in the Fight Club. He goes on about how the Goblins are incompetent minions and he has to plan for everything himself. This hurts Bouncer’s feelings.

Bouncer damages Tough As Can Be once

Lucia asks what she and her friends should do. Brainiac hands her a sign-up sheet. She can try her luck in Fight Club once this little matter is wrapped up. Now that the intruders can’t move about, Brainiac orders Bouncers and Grinkle to take their forces and clear the building room by room. Brianiac politely shuffles Lucia out into the service hallway, since he will need all his concentraion in the control room to make sure this goes smoothly.

Averiela is outside Fight Club with Wobb and Yobb, the two Golbins she rescued from a burning building.  She asks them if there is some way to summon help, perhaps a neighborhood watch or a fire brigade. There are poles along most of the streets with wires running between them. Yobb runs over to one pole and opens a metal box beside it. This isn’t a telephone. Goblins don’t have telephones. Inside is a small metal canister, like old drive-up windows at banks use to transfer physical items. Yobb puts a quickly-written note inside the canister, then selects a number of small metal bits from a rack. He mumbles directions to himself as he stacks the metal bits on top of the canister. Finally he puts the canister on to wire coming down from the pole and lights it! It’s a small rocket! The canister zooms along the wires. Each time it reaches an intersection, the leading metal piece selects which branch to take, then is discarded. Goblins use this system to quickly send messages across the city. Yobb has summoned the fire brigade.

Nub-Nub finishes her sweep of the burning buildings and determines that no other civilians are in danger. The Fire Elemental is going after the Fight Club now, and Nub-Nub hopes it burns to the ground.  She jumps away.

An emergency door slams down over the damaged front door of the Fight Club. Theona is up on the roof now, and the Fire Elemental is trying to reach her. Averiela wonders if it’s so bad to let the Fight Club burn. She’s done all she can to help the civilians, so she turns invisible and waits for an opportunity.

Averiela Elder Arts: Camouflage

The emergency door shatters into five vertical strips! Sparky’s arm reaches out, then a shoulder, then the Goblin-sized doorframe bursts apart as Sparky forces his huge body through.

Sparky: THEONA! We talked about this! We had a deal!

Theona is shocked and apologetic.

Theona: I didn’t know you were here! I’m just here for the dragon!

The Fire Elemental turns on the new arrival, but Sparky is busy with Theona and can’t be interrupted. He lashes out and cuts the Fire Elemental into several pieces of lifeless rock, which fall to the ground and start to cool. Theona and Sparky start an intense, hushed conversation. There’s some history here, but Averiela doesn’t want to hear it. She sneaks in the front door and into the lobby.

Ozzy’s Skeletons are still fighting the Bouncers. The entrance to the small locker room is sealed, but the door sealing the large locker room lies in slices on the floor. Just then, a hidden door from the service tunnels open and the Gobblin’ Goblins pour into the room to reinforce the Bouncers! Averiela dodges throw the melee, leaping on chairs and shelves to reach the secret door.

Averiela Get Away 7-9 avoid harm (also avoid notice because of camouflage)

Averiela enters the service tunnel and sees Lucia, who followed the Gobblin’ Goblins but is not joining the fight.

Back to Dryden, who fled the large locker room without knowing where he’d end up. He finds himself in a big gym, with all sorts of workout equipment. At the far end is a big door made of frosted glass, reinforced with wire mesh. Through the frosted glass, he gets the impression of a large creature in the next room: big jaws, long tail, a humped back, larger than a carraige!  Also in the room is Speedy, the small mustached man who disappeared earlier. He runs at incredible speed to the far door, then to some piece of equipment, then back again. He’s trying to use barbells, jump-ropes, spare cyborg parts, anything to break through the frosted glass door, but he’s too weak to carry the heavy equipment.

Dryden: What brings you to fight Fafnir?

Speedy: That’s not Fafnir! That’s my boy!

According to Speedy, the creature in the room beyond is not Fafnir the dragon, but another creature that used to rule the Mighty River with Speedy. Speedy desperately wants to reunite with his friend. Speedy has already explored the entire facility with his amazing speed, but he’s too weak to open the locked doors between them and freedom.

Dryden: I think we have a common goal. Let’s get your boy out of here without eating any Goblins. I’ll clear the way and defend him.

Dryden Talk Sense (+sense, explain plan) 10+

Speedy agrees, but says his friend does not need any defending.  Speedy takes Dryden through a hidden door into the service tunnels, then to a servie entrance to the arena where the mysterious creature is kept. Dryden reaches behind his cloak and pulls out a spiral glass jar. The lid is also lined in the glass, so the entire inner surface of of the jar is airtight glass. Inside the jar is movement and metal flakes. The jar is full of metal mites, a dangerous invasive species that eat metal! The eat any metal, but love the flakes best. The metal flakes can be used to direct them. Dryden spins the jar to move the flakes to the middle of the jar, then pours the mites on the hinges of the massive door.

Dryden Explosive Trap: open or seal an entrance

The door falls in, revealing an arena, and a giant Armored Crocodile! Dryden saw this very beast in the underground tunnels not long ago! Speedy rushes in to greet his old friend. Armored Crocodile seems very happy, but an excited crocodile is dangerous to be near, especially one forty feet long and covered in metal armor! Speedy easily avoids all the flailing limbs. Dryden cautiously waits at the doorway.

Brainiac Part Of The Plan: damage this stat to make a Hard Cut

All the arena hazards rumble to life! Pits! Saw blades! Pneumatic spikes! A voice crackles over the PA system.

Brainiac: You found my secret. Now you can’t leave!


Back in the lobby, Ozzy retreats with her few remaining Skeletons before the overwhelming Goblin forces.  Lucia knows that Dryden would be reckless and be trapped in the building. She explores the service tunnels, hoping to find him before the Goblins do.

Lucia Look Closely 10+

  • What do my senses tell me?
    • She peeks through hidden doors in various room, including the large locker room, where Yiddle has gotten out of her exo-skeleton harness and is climbing down her robot arm to reach the ground. She also sees the Armored Crocodile in the arena.
  • What is Brainiac doing and what will he do next?
    • A door reveals the power supplies for Magical Barriers, which are even harder to get through than the emergency doors. Brainiac hasn’t activated them yet.
  • What is hidden or out of place?
    • The layout of the building and the way the Bouncer and Brainiac are acting gives the impression that ltos of effort is going into making sure very few people actually see the “dragon” in the arena.

Lucia pulls the batteries from the Magical Barriers to prevent Brainiac from activating them.


Back in the arena, Armored Crocodile is in danger from all the arena hazards, and the way out is open. It charges through the door, and through Dryden!

Armored Crocodile Rampage: charge & damage anyone in my path

Dryden Robot Shield: 1 Armor

Dryden activates the fragment of the Shield Commander robot just before the Armored Crocodile runs him over. His body sparkles like diamond as he’s thrown against a wall and ragdolls to the floor. He’s completely unharmed. It wasn’t even painful, but the Robot Shield is no good anymore.  Speedy guides the Armored Crocodile to the service entrance and they try to bash the door down. Dryden follows behind. Lucia saw all this from the far side of the arena. If she wants to catch them, she must go straight through the arena! Taking the corridors around will be too slow.

Lucia Get Away 6-

Lucia charges through, but a Pit Trap opens under her feet!

Lucia Overcome 10+

She catches the edge as she falls and scrambles up.

Brianiac: Service Tunnel E!

Over the PA system, Brainiac summons his forces to intercept the Armored Crocodile. They need to get past this door quickly. Dryden pulls out his unbreakable Dwarven hammer, but he’s not strong enough to smash down such a big door.

Dryden: Don’t let him eat me, please! I’ll brace the butt of the hammer against the lock, and the big guy can hit it with all his might.

Dryden Talk Sense (+sense, explain plan) 10+

Speedy relays the plan. The Armored Crocodile’s helmet has a big steel cap at the point of its nose that can go through boat hulls (useful in their previous line of work) and Dryden is holding his hammer between that and a padlock on a massive metal door. The Armored Crocodile rears back and strikes forward with a deafening crash! The Armored Crocodile’s nose stopped inches from the door, just enough room for Dryden’s hands. The unbreakable shaft of the hammer was driven clean through the lock and the door behind it. Dryden extracts the hammer, pulls the pieces of the lock away, and opens the door to the outside. Speedy and Armored Crocodile are free! Lucia runs to catch up with them, and the Gobblin’ Goblins are right behind her!

They all run out into the street. Speedy has a plan to escape the city, and he leads the Armored Crocodile around the Fight Club and to the west, towards the trash processing plant.

Nub-Nub: What is that thing?

Lucia: Brianiac tricked you! It’s not a dragon!

Dryden: No dragon, just a croc. Sorry!

Nub-Nub: That’s not what I fought! That’s just some animal!

GM note: Nub-Nub previously described Fafnir as about the size of a wolf, with wings.

Nub-Nub pursues and readies her Rocket Fist to attack the Armored Crocodile.

Dryden: Bind!

Dryden Modification: Ranged Rope Autonomous, reponds to simple commands

Dryden Keep Them Busy 10+

Dryden’s Ranged Rope shoots out from his cloak and wraps itself around Nub-Nub’s Power Suit and the communication wires along the road, so she’s dangling in the air.  Lucia wants to talk to the Gobblin’ Goblins, but they are on a mission and won’t listen. She switches to violence and hurls throwing knives at them

Lucia Keep Them Busy 7-9

The Gobblin’ Goblins are forced to dodge and the Armored Crocodile pulls ahead. They reach the front of the building, where Swallet’s volunteer fire brigade has gathered. Goblins are civic-minded, so there are lots of Goblins ready to fight fires, but they are also independant inventors, so all their equipment is custom and doesn’t work well together. There’s one machine that produces expanding foam, and several with high-pressure hoses. One Goblin has a powerful machine that could do the whole job by itself. He just needs a hose long enough to reach the waterfall on the east side of town. The Armored Crocodile and its pursuers barrel through this crowd, causing complete pandemonium.


All this time, Averiela has been sneaking invisibly through the service tunnels of the Fight Club. She knocks on Brainiac’s door and doesn’t answer his call.  She waits a while and knocks again. Brainiac opens the panel in the door and looks, but doesn’t see anyone. Maybe it’s an especially short Goblin. Brainiac installed the panel at his eye level. After a few knocks nad no answers, Brainiac opens the door and steps out to look upand down the hall. Averiela appears, blowing a pinch of Stardust in his face.

Averiela Elder Arts: Stardust puts one person to sleep.

She catches him as he falls and ties him to his own chair in his control room.

Averiela Look Closely 7-9 three questions, one answer the hard way

  • What do my senses tell me?
    • The control room has clearly labeled switches for many functions and indicator lights showing the status of every room in the building.
  • What is hidden or out of place?
  • What is Brainiac doing? What will he do next?
    • GM note: The answers to these questions are revealed by Brainiac’s notes, kept neatly in a safe under the desk. Opening the safe is the hard part

When Averiela opens the safe, she triggers a Poison Dart Trap!

Averiela Overcome 7-9 pay a price to get good result: 1 Ammo

Averiela twists away with impossible Elven Grace and the poison dart strikes the quiver on her back, breaking some arrows, but not reaching her flesh.

The notes in the safe are well-organized, complete, and written in a very neat hand, so Averiela is able to reconstruct what happened. Brainiac got a tip that a Dragon was in Swallet, and when he arrived Fafnir was running the town and fighting all challengers. One challengers turned out to be a Vampire assassin! Fafnir defeated the assassin, then immediately left the city to find who sent the assassin after her. Brainiac was frustrated with Allan a Zham, who was so dismissive and unappreciative when he sent him out on his mission. Brainiac decided not to be a follower any more. Allan a Zham didn’t deserve all the expertise Brainiach offered. He’ll do his own thing! He’ll be the boss this time!  Brainiac swooped in and took over the Fight Club, turning it into a secret society, making access to “Fafnir” a precious thing reserved for only the inner circle.

Averiela uses Brianiac’s control panel to open all the doors, then smashes the panel. The noise wakesBrainiac, who struggles against his bonds. He doesn’t have Chess Peices or Part Of The Plan available. He’s stuck! He starts crying. Averiela intends to kidnap Brainiac. She pushes him on his wheely chair into the gym. She cuts open a punching bag, dumps the stuffing out, and jams Brainiac inside. She puts the punching bag in a laundry cart and is ready to leave.

Averiela Overcome (risk of being discovered) 6-

Just then, a group of Goblin Bouncers enters the gym. They recognize her as an intruder!

Averiela: Hey, guys. I captured Speedy. He’s here in this bag, so I’m just going to take him out now.

Averiela Talk Sense (+Grace, trick) 6-

The Bouncers don’t buy it and move to grab her with their big robot hands!

Averiela Get Away 10+ avoid harm, bring someone along

Averiela charges through with the cart, knocking the Bouncers out of the way! She flees through the locker room, through the lobby, and out the front door. Theona and Sparky are sitting close to each other a short distance away. They seem to have reached an understanding. They shake hands solemnly. Averiela definitely does not have time to find out what’s up, so she keeps running.

So everyone’s running for the Trash Processing Facility! Speedy and Armored Crocodile are in the lead, then Lucia and Dryden, then the Gobblin’ Goblins. Behind them are Averiela, pushing Brainiac in a cart, and the Bouncers. The Fire Brigade will probably save the Fight Club building from burning, but in most other senses, the Fight Club has been destroyed!


  • Did we thoroughly explore a new location?
    • Swallet & Fight Club YES
  • Did anyone find what they were looking for
    • Averiela seeks to protect the world from dangerous people like Brianiac YES
  • Did we learn something new about the world and its people?
    • NO

Two boons: Averiela and Lucia level up. Everyone heals 1 stat.

Chasing The Sunset & recovery

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

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

Last time, the Fellowship barely escaped Vieport, after beating up almost every named character in the entire city! Stella fell in battle, and now the Fellowship but find a way to revive her.

GM note: Since Stella is unconscious, her player role-played as Stella’s companions. A fun switch, and a good way to keep a player engaged even when their player is Taken Out.

Stella has a Halfing form of diabetes: when she doesn’t maintain her blood sugar, she literally falls into a food coma. She was knocked unconscious long enough that she didn’t eat, so the coma set in and she never woke up.  He companions Gus, Rose, and Hamfast are all Halfings and are familiar with the disorder, so they explain it to Buckle. She needs special Halfling food, and a lot of it!

Buckle: Of course it involves food. Not even normal-people food.

Buckle consults a map and determines that Sugar’s Crossing is north, up this river.  They’ve been there before, and many Halfings live there. It’s a good place to find help.  They left Vieport in the evening, sailing Miranda (the racing catamaran) up the river through the Deadlands. They don’t dare drift to shore, lest the bloodthirsty ghosts attack them, so they take shifts at the helm through the night.  Buckle looks out into the darkness and sees hundreds of red dots: eyes looking back!  Far to the east, he sees flashes of purple light and hears rumbling.  Spooky! He wakes Hamfast and asks about the strange phenomena. When Hamfast lived in Vieport, he could walk up to the electric barriers at the edge of town, put his hands up like blinders to block the glare, and faintly see that same purple flashing. He parents told him it was a fireworks factory. He barely notices the red eyes. They remind him of his youth in Vieport, where they were always visible just outside the lightning barriers. Buckle doesn’t like being watched. Hamfast pat his shoulder reassuringly, but very quickly, so Buckle’s superheated skin does not burn him. Then he goes back to bed.

The next morning, the Miranda approaches a branch in the river. To the west, a clear, deep channel, suitable for large ships. To the east, a marsh. At the perimeter of the swamp, crows sit on trees, evenly spaced, looking out. Rose has the helm and drifts a bit towards the marsh. Silk is scared of birds and tries to stop Rose.  Buckle comes on deck to see what’s the commotion. He notices the suspicious crows.

Buckle Wild Speaker: always able to Speak Softly when meeting a beast

Buckle: Hey! What’s the fastest way to Sugar’s Crossing?

Crow 1: He’s polite!

Crow 2: It doesn’t matter. Take the channel like civilized folk. Avoid Smantha’s domain!

Buckle Speak Softly 6- Ask 3 questions. 1 false answer. 1 unhelpful answer.

  • What can you tell me about Samantha?
    • Samantha is the greatest witch! Her power is unrivaled!
  • What are you doing?
    • The crows are sentries, insuring that only those who are worthy enter Samantha’s swamp.
  • What should I be wary of when dealing with the crows?
    • Crow 1 starts to let Buckle in on a secret, but Crow 2 cuts it off.

Crow 2: No, don’t tell him! He’s exactly who we don’t tell!

Buckle wishes them a pleasant day. Rose wants adventure, so she still wants to go into the marsh. Reviving Stella must come first, so they take the channel to Sugar’s Crossing.

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

The bridge in the center of Sugar’s Crossing is covered in scaffolding! The center span is broken. On each side of the bridge (upstream and downstream) a Giant on a raft ferries road travellers around the bridge. River traffic is slow, weaving past the ferries and scaffolding.  This month, the city’s garrison is Elves. Some Elven guards stand on the surface of the river directing traffic, and direct the Miranda to an empty berth. Buckle ties Stella to Silk’s back and sets out to find food. Stella’s companions don’t know anyone in Sugar’s Crossing, but count on Halfling hospitality.

Buckle Talk Sense (+Wisdom, emotions) 10+

Buckle: Excuse me, I need to find food for my knocked out friend

The Halfling that Buckle made eye contact with is Mr. Bracegirdle, an actor. He pulls out a snack and wafts it under Stella’s nose. No reaction. He recognizes the symptoms of Halfling diabetes. Quite serious, but he knows what to do! He leads the Fellowship towards the theater, yelling in a surprisingly loud voice to for bystanders to clear the way.  He leads them into the back of the theater, where the actors and orators are preparing for lunch.

To wake someone suffering the food coma from halfling diabetes, they must be fed a lot of fruit and carbs. A lot!  The cooks divert half of the food they were about to serve to Stella.  Gus 7 Rose almost prank Buckle into feeding Stella a baby bird. After being fed lots of food, Stella wakes up as Buckle jams a big piece of fruit in her mouth. (Payback for her jamming the Heart of Earth into his mouth)

Buckle: This is awkward, but you’re awaaaaake!

Stella: What are you doing?

Stella takes the fruit and throws it at Buckle, who eats it. Stella hasn’t passed out in her adult life, so this is a weird experience. Mr. Bracegirdle introduces himself to Stella and explains where she is. Buckle comes up and shakes Mr. Bracegirdles hand.

Buckle: Thank you, Mister Grey Squirrel. What can we do to repay you?

GM note: This joke took me out! Amazing!

Mr. Bracegirdle explains that virtue is its own reward, but the cooks say that half of lunch is gone and the whole theater troupe is hungry. The cooks press the four Halflings (Stella, Gus, Rose, and Hamfast) into service chopping vegetables and kneading dough.  Buckle picks up a pot with his burnign hands and boils it immediately.  When a cook hands Gus an old nicked cleaver, Gus refuses, and pulls out his personal, well-cared for cooking knives. The cooks are impressed! Lunch is late, but with talented help, the food is better than usual. Now everyone in the theater likes the Fellowship.

GM note: The Fellowship needs to recover. After checking a few sections of a several rule books, I determined that Fellowship with a community was not required to Recover, just a week of peace and safety. Thus the Fellowship recovered here in Sugar’s Crossing instead of going far east to Templeton or Bogden.

Fellowship Recovers: All stats healed. All gear refreshed.

For the next week ,the Fellowship stays at the theater and rests. Gus teaches the theater cooks some of his ways. Not all, but some. Buckle asks about the bridge. It was broken by a huge mirror falling from the sky. Buckle asks if a Spider took it. Mr. Bracegirdle didn’t see a Spider, but a lady knight and a flying man with a big cloak did rescue some people from the broken bridge.

Stella Forges a Bond with Rupert the Chef

They sit in on the free shows about the history of the town and are reminded of hte feud between the Miller and le Grind families. Stella took the le Grind mill tour, but the Miller’s don’t offer tours of their mill. Old Mister Miller odens’t come out of MIller Manor anymore.  Lady Evelynn’s arrival shook up the power balance in the town. Her estate and mill are intentionally outside the city limits, so the Mayor can’t tell her what to do.

After a week, everyone feels healthy, and the bridge reparis are almost done. The bridge is open to foot traffic today, and if there are no mishaps, carts can start crossing tomorrow.  Stella’s ears itch. She needs adventure!They consider going south to Samantha’s swamp to talk to those crows again, but decide to go further upriver. Lady Evelynn’s estate is visible from the river. After recent events, she no longer offers hospitality to travellers. Guards come to the fence to watch the Miranda pass.

To the north, the rivers goes up into high snowy mountains. To the east, two volcanoes. To the west, a mountain with a slot cut through it. They decide to investigate that mountain, and look for a tributary that will take them near it.

Buckle Look Closely 6- One question, find out the hard way

  • What will happen if I take this tributary right here?
    • Buckle steers the Miranda up a tributary which does lead to the slot mountian, but it also gets quite close to Lady Evelynn’s estate, and her guards start firing arrows down towards the boat!

Buckle (+hope, Stella’s assistance) Get away 7-9 avoid harm

All hands on deck! Buckle steers the boat away from the barrage safely.  Further along, they reach the mountain.  There’s a slot cut all the way through from east to west!  There are buildings at various points around the slopes with paths connecting them, but the buildings are clearly smashed! Whatever facility used to stand on this mountain has been sacked!

GM note: A nice relaxing session. Mostly montages. A big departure from the previous three sessions of combat! Even in the same game with the same players, there are many ways to play.

Chasing The Sunset & Trash

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

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

Last time, the Fellowship finished up in Thaumatown and finally arrived at the underground Goblin town where a Dragon might be able to tell them something about the Moon.

A map of the Goblin city of Swallet. The city is at the bottom of an underground carvern. On the eastern wall, a waterfall falls into lake with a park around it. In the middle of town, a big ramp leads down from the surface to a building at the south edge of town, with big signs advertising Fafnir's Fight Club and urging all comers to challenge the dragon. At the west wall of the cavern is a large building with lots of pipes coming out of it. Some kind of industrial facility.
A map of Swallet

The secret underground tunnel they used to travel suddenly ends in a waterfall, 100 feet above the floor of a large underground cavern. There’s an entire Goblin city down here!  At the base of the waterfall, there’s a lake and park, where many Goblins frolic.  In the middle of town, a big ramp leads down from the surface to a building at the south edge of town, with big signs advertising Fafnir’s Fight Club and urging all comers to challenge the dragon.  At the west wall of the cavern is a large building with lots of pipes coming out of it. Some kind of industrial facility.  Most of the party was riding on Ancient One, Dryden’s giant turtle friend. Averiela just walks on top of the water. They need a way to safely drop 100 feet to the ground below. The end of the tunnel is broken, not finished. This isn’t a planned feature of the town, so there are no maintenance ladders or elevators. The Goblins just found this tunnel and built a park around it.

Averiela Looks Closely (+hope from Dryden’s assistance) 7-9

  • What do my senses tell me?
    • Goblins have lots of vehicles and machines, all unique and custom-made.  It’s very hot down here. The roof of the cavern is artificial, and conceals the cavern from the surface. The ramp and entrance from the surface is very new, and is built over existing buildings.
  • What are the Goblins in the park doing?
    • The Goblins are playing in the water, which helps them keep cool in the city’s sweltering heat.
  • What is hidden or out of place?
    • Averiela’s keen Elven eyes see through the windows of the facility on the far side of town. There’s something large and glowing moving around inside.

Swallet Location Stat Inferno: heat protection required.

Dryden remembers his spelunking phase when he tried to reach the magma. this was extra-difficult in the Forgotten Lands, which don’t have volcanoes. Also, his family was unhappy when he returned from his expeditions covered in soot. Far beneath the surface he finally found Fire Fish, which look like jellyfish and float up and down in super-heated vents. Time to call on these old friends.

Dryden: By the way, you’ll get wet!

Dryden throws a Shadow Ball out ahead of the Fellowship. Ancient One swims into it and disappears. Dryden reaches into the Shadow Ball and pulls out a Fire Fish. He plans to float down to the park, then fire the Harpoon back up so the rest of the party can rappel down. Lucia’s not happy about having the harpoon aimed at her. Dryden considers his Ranged Rope, then summons two more Fire Fish so Averiela and Lucia can float down too.

Dryden Curious Curios: 3x Useful Item + Living Collection

Roddy doesn’t like crowds, so he stays up in the tunnel. Dryden sets up another signal: when he dabs, Roddy will shoot what he’s pointing at.  The Fellowship floats down to the lake and wades to shore. There’s a metal cauldron nearby: a hemiphere of metal on four long legs. It’s full of water and a Goblin is bathing inside.

Gabber: Outsiders are coming out of the walls now! The giant ramp isn’t enough? I suppose you’ll want to go to the Fight Club.

Lucia: Greetings, we are humble explorers!

Gabber: Explorers? Weird. Most foreigners come here to fight.

Lucia: What happens at Fight Club?

Gabber: I don’t go there. It’s all dangerous foreigners.

Lucia tries to continue the conversation, but Gabber has had enough and presses some buttons inside his cauldron. Panels on the underside of the cauldron open, dumping out the water. A canopy snaps closed over Gabber, and the cauldron walks off on its jerky mechanical legs.

Averiela: Do we go to Fight Club or to the industrial facility?

More importantly, how will they deal with this heat? For short-term relief, they soak themselves in the lake. They go into the city and find a market set up under the ramp to Fight Club. Goblins hawk all sorts of wares, including innovative cooling vests. Tubes run through the vests, distributing cold fluid. The fluid comes in a flexible tube. Bending and ‘cracking’ the tube (like a glowstick) releases two different liquids which become very cold when mixed. The tubes goes into a slot on one side of the chest. Cranking a flywheel on the other side sends the fluid through the tubes, cooling the whole body.

Lucia trades Piles of Cash (1x Precious item) for 3 Cooling Vests

Cooling Vest provides Protection against Heat

Lucia pays with coins from the Forgotten Lands.  The Goblin merchant puts his drink down and eagerly accepts the pile of coins. He’s never seen these particular coins before. He dips a coin into his drink and the liquid turns green. That means the metal is genuine! Dryden strikes up a conversation.

Dryden Speak Softly 7-9

  • Tell me about the city?
    • This is the most exciting Goblin city. All these new people coming in for Fight Club. Plenty of opportunities for ambitious Goblins like me!
  • What should I beware of when dealing with the people in control
    • Fafnir is an invincible dragon! No one has defeated her yet!
  • What would you have me do next?
    • Buy more of my wares! I have Swallet memorabilia, and an automatic luggage carrier! This claw on the top holds the luggage, and the legs underneath will walk towards this keyfob, which you put in your pocket.

Lucia trades 1x Food for Automatic Luggage Carrier

Lucia offers some traditional traveling food from the Forgotten Lands, tasty meat wrapped in leaves, like dolmadakia from Greece.The merhcant has never seen such food! So exciting!

The Fellowship heads to the industrial facility on the western wall. On the way, they see trash piled up in alleys and sometimes in the middle of intersections.  The industrial facility is blocked off by two layers of barricades: first wooden sawhorses, painted in warning colors, then a layer of cement barricades.  A Goblin rushes out from a nearby building, tosses a bag of trash over the barricades, and starts to retreat.

Dryden: Is this your cool trash disposal facility?

Goblin: It used to be!

The Goblin flees back inside. Averiela and Lucia look around.

Averiela Look Closely (+hope Lucia’s assistance) 10+

  • What do my senses tell me?
    • Big roller doors reveal bins, vats, and conveyor belts for sorting. There are no Goblins inside, only a 12-foot-tall Fire Elemental! A vaguely-humanoid blob of molten rock, covered in flames!
  • Tell me about the Fire Elemental? How could it help or hurt me?
    • Fire Elemental
      • Burning Aura; Pay A Price to get close
      • Wildfire: Burning & Dangerous
      • Tough As Nails: insta-kill protection
    • Obviously, it burns everything that gets close. Perhaps it is the source of the city’s uncomfortable heat.
  • What is the Fire Elemental doing? What will it do next?
    • The Fire Elemental detects the bag of trash thrown by the Goblin and comes out of the facility towards it.

The Fellowship back up to avoid the Fire Elemental’s Burning Aura. Lucia conceals them.

Lucia Quiet, Don’t Move: Conceal self and nearby allies

The Fire Elemental creates an arm from its amorphous body and engulfs the bag of trash like a snake, pulling it up through the arm into the body. The Fellowship wonders how to deal with this creature. Maybe its heat would be valuable to a Dwarven forge.  Perhaps this is how the city got rid of its trash and it just got too big.  Could the Fire Elemental and the Dragon fight? Dryden considers leaving trash like a trail of candy to lure the Fire Elemental to the Fight Club. Averiela finds a bag of trash and puts it just outside the barricades to see how far the Fire Elemental will venture from its lair. It doesn’t react to the trash. Dryden and Lucia investigate the feasibility of leading the Fire Elemental to the Fight Club.

Dryden Look Closely (+ hope from Lucia’s assistance) 10+

  • What will happen if I lead the Fire Elemental through the streets?
    • The main streets are wide enough that the Fire Elemental’s Burning Aura won’t affect the buildings on each side, but side streets and alleys are unsafe.
  • What do my senses tell me?
    • There’s flammable material everywhere, and not just trash. Goblins build their own experimental gadgets, often powered by flammable liquids or powders. There are wires running above the streets, but they aren’t phone lines. Little rocket-powered capsules zoom along these wires.
  • What is hidden of out of place?
    • Inside the trash sorting facility there’s an oxygen-replacement bomb: an emergency fire-fighting tool. Triggering the bomb will replace all the oxygen in the building with an inert gas, which is bad for anyone inside the building who needs to breath oxygen!

Lucia Forgotten Lands Trait: Detect Evil on Fire Elemental

Lucia does not detect Evil from the Fire Elemental, but creatures don’t have to be evil to cause trouble. While the Fellowship discusses how to handle the Fire Elemental and the Dragon, a Goblin appraoches wearing a power suit. This humanoid vehicle makes the three-foot Goblin seven feet tall! The powersuit has a sharp-looking black & white paint scheme, but some markings have been sanded off.

Averiela: Greetings, clever one! You must be very clever to own such a suit!

The Goblin’s face falls. The Power Suit is a sore spot for her.

Goblin: You’re here for the Fight Club, right? Just go get beat up and leave.

Lucia Symbol of Royalty: get an audience with anyone

Lucia: I am Lucia of the Forgotten Lands. I am traveling to learn about other cultures and reconnect with other nations.

Nub-Nub: I am Nub-Nub, formerly of the Swallet Police Department.

Formerly? That’s why she’s not proud of the suit, and why its markings are sanded off. Lucia asks some more questions.

Lucia Speak Softly 10+

  • Tell me about the Fire Elemental
    • That used to be our trash disposal facility. The Fire Elemental appeared about the same time the weather turned hot.
  • What would you have us do?
    • Get rid of the Fire Elemental so the city isn’t full of trash!
  • Tell me about the dragon
    • This was the worst day of my life! We tracked some trouble-makers to Cloorick’s Fight Club, so we raided the place. Fafnir was in there and she fought us al the way back to headquarters, defeated everyone and took over! She’s small, about the size of that wolf there, but so strong! Fire breath! Wings! Scales! Fast!

Dryden: The Dragon is that small? We can take him!

Nub-Nub: Good luck with that.

Nub-Nub leaps from the street to the roof of a nearby building and leaves.

Dryden: I gotta get one of those!

Back to the matter at hand. The oxygen-replacement bomb seems like a good way to kill the Fire Elemental, but they no one wants to walk past the Fire Elemental to press the button and have all their oxygen replaced. (Y’all remember how Godzilla ended, right?) Maybe Roddy could shoot the button from his perch in the tunnel. He can see all the way across the city, but how can they signal him? The dab only works for nearby people. Averiela doesn’t have a Bond with Roddy, so she can’t Whisper on The Wind to him. Dryden digs through the trash until he finds a piece of cardboard and something that makes marks. He writes “Red bomb button when dab” and holds it up facing the tunnel.  He smiles and waves, then dabs!

Roddy uses Eagle Eye

Dryden Finish Them (Sense, disable) advantage: oxygen-replacement bomb 7-9

Roddy damages Fire Elemental’s Tough As Nails

Roddy did have line-of-sight to the button! The oxygen-replacement bomb explodes! The flame surrounding the Fire Elemental is immediately extinguished, and the surface of its lava body turns black.  It’s still for a moment, the nglowing cracks form in the black surface and it roars in rage. There is no obvious target for its anger, no opponent who caused its pain. It finds the column that supported the oxygen-replacement bomb, grabs it, and super-heats its hands, melting through the column! Dryden runs into the facility and readies his gravity-warping knockout-gas bolas. Will the gas affect an elemental? Is the gas flammable? He throws the bolas and immediately runs away!

Dryden Finish Them (Sense, disable) advantage: range, distracted 6-

The gas is flammable! The bolas explode! The building shakes and one of the many chimneys and pipes coming out of the building shakes loose and falls towards Averiela!

Averiela Get Away 6-

Averiela spends Armor

Averiela dives away (into the trash. Ew!) but not far enough. The edge of the chimney clips her, damaging her armor.

Dryden Get Away 7-9 avoid harm

Dryden runs out of the facility with the Fire Elemental pursuing, but it’s slow.  The Fellowship flees towards the Fight Club, using main roads so the Fire Elemental’s aura won’t damage anything.  Dryden leaves trash in the center of the roads to keep the Fire Elemental in track. The first trash he leaves as bait is the sign for Roddy, destroying the evidence that he angered the Fire Elemental!

Nub-Nub leaps in, firing a Rocket Fist into the Fire Elemental.

Nub-Nub: Outsiders! Always causing trouble and running away! You have no respect for this city!

Lucia Talk Sense (+Wisdom, desire to defeat Fafnir) 7-9 owe a favor

Lucia: We’ll let the Dragon and the Fire Elemental take each other out.

Nub-Nub: Ok, but you have to guarantee the safety of the civilians

Averiela runs ahead, shoving civilians out of the Fire Elemental’s path. Dryden stays ahead of the Fire Elemental and yells.

Dryden: Flee! Elemental is coming! If only the mayor was strong enough to protect us!

Averiela Overcome (+hope Dryden’s assistance) 7-9 pay price for permanent solution

Averiela damages Wisdom (this is a dumb plan)

They guide the Fire Elemental to the Fight Club without any damage or injuries. Three hopefuls stand outside, trying to talk their way through the front door.

  • A short male human with a fancy mustache, bouncing with nervous energy.
  • A 16-foot-tall female Ogre (Theona from Vieport)
  • A old female human in a dark hooded robe, hunched over, carrying many heavy bundles.

The front door of the fight club is like the door of a speakeasy, with a slot at eye level for a bouncer to peer through. A Goblin  is currently peering through and telling the assembled fighters that they are unworthy to face Fafnir. The fighters are arguing their case when a crowd of new dangerous people arrive: Averiela, Dryden, Lucia, Nub-Nub, and the Fire Elemental! A confusing scene! The bouncer closes the slot in the door, then appears at a hidden door off to the side.

Goblin Bouncer: Whoever takes out that Fire Elemental gets a match with Fafnir!

The Bouncer quickly steps back inside and closes the door before anyone can approach, But the small man with the mustache is gone!  Theona moves to engage the Fire Elemental. Dryden doesn’t want a big fight out in public. The Fire Elemental is supposed to fight the Dragon, not these randos. They plants an Exploding Trap on the Fight Club’s door and warns the old woman to step away.

Dryden Exploding Trap: open a door

The Exploding Trap blows the metal door off its hinges. Inside, Goblins are running back and forth in confusion, yelling “Stop him!” Over here!” and “He’s too fast!”

  • Theona the Ogre
    • Larger Than Life: can’t be hurt by little folk
    • Stronger Than Is Reasonable: Melee, Giant, Dangerous.
    • Toss Aside: sends enemies flying

Theona runs up to the Fire Elemental, which doesn’t even come up to her shoulders, and initiates with a superman punch! The top quarter of the Fire Elemental (which would be a head on most creatures) splatters all over the intersection, setting fire to nearby buildings. (One is a black market and the other is a legit warehouse)

Nub-Nub: You promised! This isn’t safe!

Dryden: Call the Fire Department. We’ll lure it inside.

Nub-Nub: We had a deal!

Dryden has a fire suppression item from his pyromaniac youth: a series of black ice crystals. They suck in heat and transfer it to the forge of an old friend. Dryden pulls them out and raises his hand to throw, but the crystals are yanked out of his hand and sucked into the bag that holds the Artifact of Power! How does this work? He opens the bag and points it at the fire on one of the buildings. Nothing happens. The Artifact Of Power doesn’t just absorb any source of energy. What is the pattern?

The old lady makes her move. She throws her bundles to the ground. They burst open, revealing human bones! The bones assemble into a Group of eight Skeletons! She sends them to ambush Theona, whose attention is completely on the Fire Elemental.

  • Ozzy the Necromancer
    • Flanking Command: minions have Piercing
  • Group of Skeletons
    • Group: can attack two characters at once
    • Just Bones: immune to some weapons
    • Weapon Training: Armor x1

Lucia Forgotten Lands Trait: Detect Evil

Unsurprisingly, the Necromancer and her Skeletons are evil. The Skeletons ineffectively bash against Theona’s massive boots. She barely takes her attention off the Fire Elemental and kicks backwards, smashing a couple Skeletons.

Lucia runs inside the Fight Club and comes face to face with Grinkle, a Goblin with a spiked helmet and chainsaw rollerblades!

  • Grinkle the Berserker
    • Blind Rage: can’t defend if Grace damaged
    • Reckless Valor: can damage this stat to damage opponent

Grinkle: Intruder! Charge!

Lucia Overcome 6-

Will Watch Out!!! prevent damage to an ally

Grinkle revs up his chainsaw skates, puts his head down and rushes at Lucia. Will pushes her out fo the way and takes the hit in her place!

Dryden: Theona, why fight the Fire Elemental instead of walking in and fighting the dragon?

Dryden Talk Sense (+Wisdom, desire to fight Fafnir) 10+

Everyone turns to enter the Fight Club!

GM note: We were out of time, so we have to leave on a cliffhanger. What a mess! The Fellowship met every single NPC I had prepared, plus two more I made up on the spot. I thought there might be a few duels with the other fighters, but no, everyone fights all at once. Hard to keep track, but it’s fun!

Chasing The Sunset & hostile architecture

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

The party: Vestri the Dwarf, Yuri the Outlander

GM note: This is the first session for two new players, which means two new characters and two new cultures. I intended to have them arrive on the continent by boat like most of the other players (Kraken, shipwreck) but Yuri’s player told a story that fit an existing location on the other side of the map, so I placed the session there. That’s collaborative world-building!

Yuri the Outlander (he/him): Yuri was a medical doctor living in 2020 Moscow, Russia, until his entire fourth-floor apartment was teleported to another world! The apartment crushed someone on arrival, leaving only an arm holding a glowing sword. When Yuri picked up the sword, it downloaded confusing, terrifying visions of the future into his mind. Yuri is 6’2, shaved head, Dave Bautista head shape, but not huge like Bautista, more Jason Statham’s build. Yuri’s cat, Steven, was teleported to the new world like everything else in Yuri’s room. Yuri inherited Steven from a child who apparently died. Steven rides in Yuri’s backpack and sticks his head out of the unzipped flap. There are no small domesticated cats in this world, so Steven stands out.

Outlander culture: Modern Russian culture from Earth.

  • Lore about the Glowing Sword:
    • The sword showed Yuri visions of a cataclysm. He sees lush forests, deep caverns. Mermaids fighting. Fire. Dwarves. The visions don’t match his world, so they must show this new world.
    • The sword throbs when pointed in certain directions, so Yuri can hold the sword out and decide which way to go.

Rumor about Outlanders: Yuri was made by Faeries.

Vestri Redrock the Dwarf (he/him):  The Redrock family gets its name from the rich red rock from its ancestral mountain. A few Redrocks have red hair or beards, but the trait is recessive and rare. Long ago, the Redrocks were driven from thier mountain home by a dragon. They lost one of a pair of ornate jeweled daggers, made by Vestri’s great-great-grandfather. Now that the dragons are gone, Vestri carries the remaining dagger and hopes to find its counterpart. He is accompanied by Hundrin (a blacksmith) and Gurtin (a Tunneler)  Hundrin is Vestri’s cousin from a lesser branch of the family, who built and operates Gurtin. Gurtin is a small one-seat vehicle with a giant drill on the front. The family’s recessive red-head trait is expressed in Vestri, and he’s very proud of his resplendent ginger beard. He braids it every morning and puts oil in it.

  • Dwarf culture:
    • Clans are determined by which mountain they come from. “Our stone” as it were. “Redrock” is the common translation of a Dwarf word that includes color, texture, and density. Dwarves have many words for different types of rocks, metals, and alloys. The words for alloys are formed by concatenating the names of their components, like in German.
    • Dwarves marry to cement family bonds and to bond different clans. Dwarves can have multiple spouses and relationships will ebb and flow, begin and end, over a Dwarf’s long lifetime. Spouses may live far from each other, especially if the marriage is to make a connection between far-off clans, and may not see each other for years.
    • Oral tradition and storytelling are important. Certain stories and specific story elements have certain musical instruments assigned to them, like “Peter and the Wolf”

Rumor about Dwarves: Dwarves are greedy & love to hoard wealth.

  • Rumors about the continent:
    • Vestri’s other dagger is out there somewhere
    • There’s a place to put the glowing sword that sends out a ripple of magical energy.

Yuri’s room is in the City Junkyard, an endless dungeon. Chunks of cities and buildings are piled up here from all different sizes and cultures. Vestri was passing through and ran into Yuri.

Yuri: Hello. Where is this place that I am?

Vestri: You’re in the junkyard obviously? This is from an Elvish city.This is probably Halflings. They’re the only ones with the round doors. I’ve never seen this kind of construction.

Yuri: It’s Terran.

Vestri: Are you from beyond the sea?

Yuri: Do not know precisely where I am from, in relation to where we are.

Vestri: I’m Vestri Redrock, and this man over here is Hundrin.

Yuri: I am Yuri Ivanov.

Vestri has trouble pronouncing Yuri.

Yuri: From pop culture in my world, I know Dwarves are greedy. Are we going to the mountain to get some lost treasure?

Vestri: Actually, yes.

Yuri: OOOOOO! Ha ha ha!

Vestri: It’s a family heirloom!

Yuri: I have seen Lord Of Rings. I know what is happening.

Vestri: What kind of rings? We usually wear them in our beard and in our hair. You need to grow out your beard so you can braid some warrior rings into it.

Yuri: I have no interest in that.  I have not had beard for a long time

Vestri: You should grow it out. Beards look great on everyone

Yuri: Not my mother

Vestri:  Beards look great on everyone

Yuri holds up the glowing sword.

Yuri: Do you know what this is? I would not touch it! When I did, it made me cry. I saw terrible things.

GM note: The players need to get used to the moves available in this new system. Vestri wants to learn more about the sword, so Vestri’s player wants to Look Closely. I suggest using a custom Dwarf move. Vestri’s player picks Deepdelve, but I was thinking of Let Me See That. There’s more than one way to accomplish a goal!

Vestri DeepDelve (ask a Look Closely Question)

  • What is hidden or out-of-place about the sword?
    • Which culture made this sword is not clear.  The sword is gaudy, with an ornate gold hilt and a glowing blue blade. Three colored stones on the hilt are found in three faraway places, and gathering them together is a feat.

Vestri: It’s not Dwarven make, so it could be better. Isn’t that right, Hundrin? It’s probably not Elven or it would burn to the touch. I haven’t met a lot of Elves, but one of my husbands is well-acquainted with them.

Yuri: That is an interesting fact about your family. I am glad to have known it.

Vestri: I have two husbands and three wives, at current.

Yuri: That is not the thing that confuses me. It is the world that confuses me.

Vestri: What does your world usually look like?

Yuri: There is one humanoid race, not several. No mermaids. No pixies. No faeries. No Orcs. Just people like me.

Vestri: That seems very boring.

Yuri: We fill it with lots of wars and violence. It’s fine. It’s not fine, but it’s not boring. Not boring, just different. Very different.

Vestri: The sword showed you your death?

Yuri: Not my death. It showed death of the planet maybe? Lots of dying. Lots of crying. Anything you know that might do this?

Vestri: There are all sorts of things in the world. Very powerful things. Not so powerful things. There are Angels always. They can make or unmake worlds. Maybe an Angel sent you! I have never seen Angel blacksmithing. Maybe it could be Angel blacksmithing. What do you think, Hundrin?

Hundrin nods and grunts.

Yuri: This Hundrin fellow is not very helpful.

Vestri: He’s very helpful, just not very talkative. He’ll keep your sword sharp, even if it’s not Dwarf-made.

Yuri: He’s a sharp fellow.

Vestri: Also if you want a Dwarven sword I’m sure we can make one for you. They are much better.

Vestri: I think I will use the crying sword.

GM note: Would you like prompting from the environment, or are you having fun with your interactions?

Generate random building: Dragon Greenhouse Ruins.

Near Yuri’s apartment is a big metal framework with ribs going up 80 feet in the air. Some bits of glass still cling to the ribs, but over the years most of the glass has broken and fallen, forming a big field of glass shards several feet thick.  A ghoul emerges from under the glass dragging a pile of sad, wilted vegetables. It spots the fellowship, looks confused, then scuttles off and jumps through a window into another building.

  • Ghoul
    • Hungry (hard cuts against characters with damaged Grace)
    • Tough As Nails (insta-kill protection)

Vestri: That shouldn’t be wandering about. We should go take care of him before he hurts anyone else.

Yuri: He looks very ill.

Vestri: Yes, he’s already dead. Does this not happen to you?

Yuri: No, when you get dead you stay dead.

Vestri: Really? No ghosts? No revenants? No poltergeists? No ghouls? No vampires?

Yuri: No. No. No. No. No. We could do this all day. When dead, you stay dead.

Vestri: No mummies?

Yuri: We have mummies, but they stay dead. We wrap them. It’s a cultural thing.

Generate random building: sideways Human tower

They decide to follow, but there’s a big field of broken glass between them and the ghoul, who hops into a fallen tower and starts running towards the “top”

Yuri Fool Me Once (reroll one die)

Yuri Look Closely 6- one question, find the answer the hard way

  • What will happen if Yuri pushes over the wall of his apartment?
    • Yuri actually does it! The wall falls over and takes him with it. He slides over the field of glass, which is slanted away from him. He’s near the tower that the Ghoul ran into, but he’s separated from Vestri and he made a lot of noise, alerting anything else in the area.

Vestri Look Closely 7-9 three questions, one answer the hard way

  • What is hidden or out of place?
    • Some shadows are moving. There are Nightmaws nearby! One is on the wall of the apartment and menaces Vestri.
  • What will happen if Hundrin drives Gurtin under the glass and come out the other side?
    • The City Junkyard is three-dimensional. Buildings are stacked on top of buildings. If Gurtin goes down, it will enter a new level of unknown buildings with unknown hazards.
  • What do my senses tell me?
    • Generate random building: intact Halfing dwelling
    • Look at the map below. A tower lies on its side at the far side fo the field of glass. The ghoul went east, towards the “top” of the tower.  Vestri could go around the glass by going through a Halfling villa. Lots of shadows in the villa.
  • Nightmaw
    • Shadow (Emerges from shadows. Harmed by fire & sunlight)
    • Hunger (Gains armor when dealing damage)
The City Junkyard

Vestri Clear The Path 7-9 exposed to danger

Vestri charges through the glass, throwing shards aside. He reaches the tower, but his foot goes through the “floor” into whatever building is below the greenhouse. Yuri pulls on Vestri, confident that he can easily lift the Dwarf that is half his size.  Vestri is 3’7″ but weighs 300lbs! Dwarves really are born of stone!

Yuri Fool Me Once (reroll one die)

Yuri Overcome 7-9 temporary solution

Yuri leans down and grabs Vestri. Vestri’s not sinking anymore, but Yuri can’t pull him free.

Yuri: Heavier than I thought! I’m going to need assistance very soon.

Hundrin uses Strong Arm to assist Vestri

Hundrin runs through the path cleared by Vestri and uses his strong arms and knowledge of Dwarves’ unusually high density to help Yuri pull Vestri clear of the hole he was trapped in. All three enter the tower and follow the Ghoul.

Vestri: You should be careful. Take a look at those shadows. Look, there’s teeth in there. Trying to bite you. They’re called Shadowmaws! I haven’t seen one before. They’re very interesting.

Yuri: I also have not seen them before. I would call them interesting in a bad way.

The Ghoul leaves the tower through a hatch to the roof (now the side) of the tower. The Fellowship approaches and peeks through the hatch instead of charging recklessly into a new space. They see a large chamber made of smooth stones with coral decorations. In the middle of this chamber is a Giant. He’s about 20 feet tall with a big beard, but looks a bit gaunt. He has stacked a few bookshelves to serve as a table. The ghoul puts the wilted veggies on the table.

Giant: Ah! Well, you did your best, little one!

The Giant pats the Ghoul on the head and dismisses it and starts eating entire vegetables like finger food.

GM note: Yuri’s player (logically and incorrectly) thought the Speak Softly move was necessary for Yuri to whisper to Vestri

Yuri and Vestri consult quietly before revealing themselves to the Giant.

Yuri:  Do we want to feed this Giant, or what is the deal with Giants?

Vestri: Like anybody else, Giants sometimes are great, sometimes terrible news. It depends . . . he seems OK!

Yuri: I have four squares of food. I have them as part of my inventory because this is like a role-playing game. Have you never heard of role-playing? You can be anyone. A Mermaid. A Dwarf.

Vestri: I am a Dwarf!

Yuri produces a bag of potato chips and Vestri tries to eat the bag.

Yuri: No, no, you open the bag. Inside are fried potatoes. So yes, we should bring to giant. Why not? Make friend of large man.

Vestri walks into a sunbeam, using it like a spotlight to draw attention to himself.

Vestri: Oh great giant! We come bearing fried potatoes!

  • Sunbeam (SECRET)
    • Honeypot: feels nice, but slowly damages those within. Despair to Get Away.

Vestri: The sunlight is very comforting. It’s warm. It’s nice.

Yuri: Your skin is turning very red. It looks like it is burning your skin.

Giant: Oh hello, little ones! It’s so good to have visitors. My name is Heinrich.

Yuri: You look gaunt, sir. I have brought you fried potatoes.

Yuri gives 1 Food to Heinrich

Heinrich comes over to accept the food from Yuri. Vestri and Yuri continue to argue about the benefits or dangers of the sunbeam.

Heinrich: As you can see, I have found myself in a structure where I am larger than all the exits.

Vestri: That seems very difficult, but I have with me my friend Hundrin and Gurtin! Maybe we can build a way out for you.

Yuri: That digging machine digs holes. That wouldn’t be building, would it?

Sunbeam damages Vestri’s Wisdom

Heinrich is delighted by this suggestion, since he can’t stretch out or move freely inside this Mermaid fortification. He doesn’t know how he got here. He just woke up in this courtyard one morning. (Mermaid fortifications must defend in all three dimensions, so the courtyard is completely enclosed) Heinrich has some smaller creatures to go out and collect things for him, but that’s a poor substitute for freedom.

Yuri: I have extreme empathy with your situation. Will you get out of the sunlight?! We need to build the thing. Now. Can I tug on you? Reach to my hand which is not in the sunlight, and I will pull.

Yuri Get Away (hope (Vestri’s assistance) & despair (Sunbeam) cancel out) 10+ avoid harm

Vestri reaches out to take Yuri’s hand and Yuri pulls him out of the Sunbeam. Now Vestri reconsiders. Perhaps that did sting. He orders Hundrin to pilot Gurtin and drill out one of the Mermaid-sized holes in the walls.

Gutrin uses Drill Tank to bore a big hole in the Mermaid fortification

The drilling takes quite some time. The walls are thick and hard, but Gurtin does what Gurtin was built to do. Heinrich crawls through the hole, stands up to his full 21.5ft. height and stretches his arms.  He reaches down one finger to shake Vestri’s hand, as one does with a baby.

Vestri forms a bond with Heinrich for freeing him.

Heinrich lifts the Fellowship up to high buildings so they can see their surroundings and plan their next move. To the south, big tall trees, an ancient forest. To the east, tall rocky mountains whose peaks are hidden by storm clouds. To the southeast, high snowy mountains. They set out for the stormy mountain.

GM note: City Junkyard is on the edge of the map. There’s nothing to the west or north. I’d have to generate new locations if they went that way.

  • Message board:
    • Vestri: Warning! Shadow maws. Watch your toes!
    • Yuri: Giant seems nice. Make sure he is fed.
  • End of Session Move:
    • Thoroughly explore a new location? NO
    • Find what you were looking for? NO
    • Learn something new about the world & its people? YES
  • Boon
    • Refresh Gear

Chasing The Sunset & Redstone

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

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

Last time, the Fellowship explored a dangerous robotics facilty. At the bottom they found an Artifact of Power and its guardian.

A map of Thaumatown robotics facility, level 1. A ceramic bowl in the middle of an empty room. An elevator door to the west. A hole in the ceiling from the furnace.
Thaumatown robotics facility, level 1.
A Rogue Construct, an artifical creature of aether and energy. Most of its body is crackling puple energy ,but it has a golden mask for a face, hands that turn into sharp claws, and a ssingle metal spike instead of feet.
The Rogue Construct

This is Redstone, a being unlike all the other robots they have seen thus far. He was not built here, and is not powered by the powerplant like the rest. He’s a person, even though he’s artificial. The other robots just obey their programming. He also doesn’t attack mindlessly, but challenges the intruders, explaining why he’s about to fight them.

Redstone: Intruders! I won’t let you defile this facility, built by my master, the great Allan a Zham!

Lucia: Allan a Zham is gone.

Redstone: Nonsense. He would have told me if he was leaving.

Dryden: There’s a distinct possibility he’s dead. Not by us!

Redstone is even more upset, so Lucia quickly tries to calm him.

Lucia Talk Sense (+Wis, desires) 10+

Lucia: We’re trying to figure out what’s going on, and how to fulfill Allan a Zham’s will for this place.

Redstone: I’ve been serving Allan a Zham for a long time, even past his lifetime, apparently. Finding his will and continuing his legacy sounds good.

He flips his claws around to be hands. There will be no combat for now.  Lucia asks him a few questions.

Lucia Speak Softly 6- three questions, one false answer, one unhelpful answer

  • What were you doing?
    • Redstone points out three grooves in the stone wall of the chamber, and one groove in the floor. He’s been patrolling around the room for a long time
  • Tell us about this facility.
    • Redstone took a long elevator ride to get to the artifact chamber, so this powerplant must be far underground, probably under a volcano, based on the constnat jet of flame that comes through the hole in the ceiling.
  • Tell us about the artifact.
    • That’s top secret.

The Fellowship wonders if this facility is so old that it used to be powered by a volcano, before switching to the furnance that they saw and disabled last time. No, Thaumatown is on a river. There are mountains to the west and south, but certainly no volcano near town. Redstone must be wrong about that.

Dryden: We heard rumors that Allan a Zham may have left, but maybe that was an impostor.

Redstone: I’ve discussed theory of leadership and just use of power with Allan a Zham for many hours. If there is an impostor, I will find him out and destroy him!

Redstone opens the elevator door and sees an empty shaft. He looks in and sees the elevator car one storey above.  The Fellowship discusses how much to tell Redstone about the situation outside.

Dryden: Was Brainiac dismissed by the real Allan a Zham or by the false one?

Averiela: Do we care?

Averiela turns to address Redstone.

Averiela: Wait, you should know more! Brainiac is on a quest to find a dragon!

Redstone: Neither Allan a Zham nor Brianiac are helping the town. This is dire indeed.

Redstone starts climbing the rope that Dryden and Lucia used to access the chamber from the furnace above. Dryden wants to delay him.

Dryden: Any leadership tips?

Redstone: Proiritize the good of the people and don’t get distracted!

He continues up the rope and out of view. The Fellowship notices that he’s left the Artifact of Power unguarded! Averiela takes the opportunity to look around.

Averiela Look Closely 6- one question. one answer the hard way

  • What is hidden or out-of-place?
    • The chamber is carved out of stone. The artifact hovers in a ceramic bowl in the center of the room. The only other feature in the room is the open door to the elevator shaft. Averiela peeks inside and sees the elevator car  going up! Redstone took the elevator and left them behind!

Now the Fellowship must figure out how to get out of the chamber. The furnace above has a Magical Barrier that only lets robots through, and Redstone destroyed Averiela’s robot disguise. Lucia and Drdyen are inside the shells of Enforcer Droids.  Lucia wonders if she and Averiela could cram into her robot disguise, but Enforcer Droids are only the size of a refrigerator, so there’s not enough room for two. They also need to get the Artifact of Power out. It’s 2 feet on a side, all shifting panes of glass, like endless layers of windows.

Lucia: Will this facility collapse if we grab it?

The furnace might have destroyed the facility if it was left on without the artifact to absorb all the energy it produced, but they carefully shut that down to get in here. Averiela wonders if the Magical Barrier turns off when the furnace turns on. It would hurt for her to run through the furnace, but maybe that’s the only way. But they remember that when they saw the furnace in action from the control room, the magical barrier seemed to be active.

Dryden carefully examines the Artifact of Power. He has a lot of experience investigating magical artifacts, especially artifacts he’s not supposed to examine.  He has some little marbles that he can throw at things he’s not allowed to touch, to see how they react.

Dryden Strange Curios Useful

One marble is rectangular and magnetic. It adds magical energy. He tosses it at the Artifact of Power and it disappears into one of the shifting panes of glass. Part of Averiela’s robot disguise sparks and what servos are left move for a short time.

Dryden Strange Curios Useful

Dryden has another marble that disconnects. He built it when investigating an trapped orb. Whenever he touched the orb, the room would start to implode. for a while he’s touch it, the room would shrink, then he’d put it back. Using the marble to disconnect the orb from the trap made it much easier. Dryden throws the marble at the Artifact of Power and a signle pane of glass pops out of the shifting mass. Averiela dives to catch it before it hits the hard ground.

Averiela Overcome 6-

It slips through her fingers and breaks. The fragments have differnet colors, like stained glass. Perhaps when it was whole, it formed a image.

Lucia: Do we pull it apart pane by pane, wrap them in paper, and stack them for transport?

Dryden Strange Curios Useful

Dryden pulls out a magical knapsack. It stretches to fit whatever it needs to, and it’s unbrekaable from the inside, impervious even to swords and fire. A certain dagger did pierce it once. The repair is dodgy, so there’s a risk of rupture. It smells a bit funny, but it’s out of the hands of trolls, so Dryden is proud of it.

GM note: This knapsack comes from a story written by Dryden’s player

Dryden stretches the knapsack over the hovering Artifact of Power.

Dryden: Close!

The knapsack’s drawstring pulls tight!

Dryden: Now no one can get to it. Oh, Knapsack! Listen to Averiela and, uh, Lucia.

All this time together and Dryden forgets Lucia’s name? Rude! Dryden considers flying the others up the shaft to a higher floor, but the overcharged Flying Device can only carry two people. Also, they can’t enter the elevator car from the shaft  because there’s no door on the bottom of the car.

Dryden Modification: Flying Device is always Overcharged

Dryden flies up the elevator shaft. There are two doors on the third level and four doors on the second level. The elevator car blocks the first level. Dryden opens the North door on the second level. Inside, a Group of Warrior Droids and a Diamond Commander lie inert, deactivated because the powerplant is turned off. Dryden pushes two Warrior Droids down the elevator shaft. Averiela and Lucia start fashioning another disguise for Averiela.

Drdyen examines the deactivated robots.

Dryden Look Closely 7-9 three questions, one answer the hard way

  • What are the robots doing?
    • The robots are completely inactive. They have no power.
  • What is hidden or out of place?
    • Dryden flips the turtle-shaped Diamond Commander over carefully so as not to break its glass shell.  He digs around inside the robot and finds a pane of glass that looks like one from the Artifact of Power. When he tries to touch it, his finger goes right into the window, and he feels a tap on his shoudler from inside the knapsack!
  • What happens if I try to take the commander’s parts?
    • Dryden salvages enough parts for a one-time use item that will momentarily make him Dwarf-made to negate a hit.His hands get pinched in the complex machinery
      • Robot Shield (Armor, 1 Use)
      • Dryden’s Blood is damaged

Meanwhile, Averiela’s new Warrior Droid disguise is complete. Averiela and Lucia climb the rope from the chamber ot the inside of the furnace. It has cooled and is no longer dangerously hot. They pass through the Magical Barrier and wait by the elevator door.

Dryden leaves the room with the Warrior Droids and opens the door to the Recycling Swarms. He flies near the top of the door and the Recycling Swarms can’t reach him. They spill out of the room and fall down the shaft. He investigates the chute by which trash is delivered from above. It’s spring-loaded and only opens with weight from above. He flies back to the elevator shaft and opens the door to the factory. The conveyor belts, cutters, and crushers are all inactive. They were also powered by the powerplant below. He could look down through the conveyor belts and see Averiela and Lucia in the furnace room below. Looking up there’s no access to the first level.

Dryden flies back down the shaft to the third level to confer with Lucia and Averiela on how he might reach the first level and regain control of the elevator. He has the keycard that will let him bring it back to the third level, but he needs to get inside the car to do that.

GM note: This is when I told the players that Dryden could have just given his robot disguise to Averiela. He exited through the elevator shaft, not the Magical Barrier.

Lucia: Go break that chute yourself. Don’t you have an explosive trap?

Dryden Explosive Trap: opens or seals a door

Drdyen flies back up to the Recyclinsg Swarm room and blows open the chute. He emerges into the Repair Bay. He opens the door to the elevator and finds a wall. The elevator car is rotated away. He walks through the broken door from the Repair Bay to the Entrance. Knows Too Much, Averiela’s pet wolf, is there! He’s not happy to see Dryden because Averiela is not with him. Dryden enters the elevator from the Entrance, inserts the keycard, and brings the elevator down to the third floor to pick up Averiela and Lucia, and they all ride the elevator up and exit the facilty! They escaped! The robots are shut down forever and they have the Artifact of Power!

Averiela: Walter is overeager and underqualified. Do we leave him to his own devices?

GM note: Walter can’t use Allan a Zham’s devices anymore!

Lucia looks for a pane of glass inside her robot disguise and uses it to poke Dryden through the Artifact of Power.

Lucia: The town probably won’t die and there’s no robot army. That’s good.

GM note: I checked in with the players to see if they were interested in forming a new goverment in Thaumatown, or teaching the residents how to operate a government. They were not interested, so we’ll just leave. They are leaving the town in pretty much the same state as a normal village, so they’ll be mostly fine. They are certainly in better shape than when the first Fellowship came through!

Redstone found Walter in the Civic Center. The Construct grabs the small man and lifts him off his feet.

Redstone: Where is Allan a Zham?

Walter explains that Allan a Zham abdicated, leaving him (Walter) in charge as a duly elected representative, then disappeared into the river. Walter points and Redstone drops him and moves aggressively in the direction Walter indicated.

The Fellowship approaches Walter, who dusts himself off.

Walter: I’ve never seen one like that. I’ve never been treated so unkindly!

Dryden: Good thing we went down there. He was lurking down there,along with a bunch of robots. How many did you destroy, Lucia? A dozen? Twenty?

Lucia: Warrior Droids were about to come out and enslave you!

Walter: No, the robots don’t enslave us. They serve us.

Drdyen brings out the collapsable bo staff he took from a Warrior Droid and extends it.

Dryden: WIll they serve you with weapons like this?

Walter: As long as it’s pointed away from me, it’s fine.

Lucia: We are leaving. Good luck with democracy.

Walter: Good luck with adventuring or whatever you do.

The Fellowship leaves Thaumatown and collect White Sand and Roddy from the edge of town where they were waiting. They set out towards Swallet, where a Dragon apparently challenges all comers.

GM note: usually this calls for a Dangerous Journey scene, but we were running out of time, so we just arrived at Swallet and I described the town as a tease for next session.

The Fellowship returns to the secret tunnels and goes south with the current. They ignore a branch in the tunnel that goes west. The underground tunnel comes out as a waterfall in a big underground chamber! An entire steampunk city fills the chamber. The waterfall falls into a park. The ceiling of the chamber is artifical, held up with girders, with crystals bringing sunlight from above into the city. To the south, a big ramp comes down from the surface. It’s well-made, not unstable, but it seems hastily built with little concern for aesthetics or fitting in with surroundign architecture. Signs on the ramp say “Test your might!” and “Challenge the Dragon” The ramp leads to a large building labeled “Fafnir’s Fight Club”


  • Did we explore a new location?
    • Yes, the Robotics Facility
  • Did anyone find what they were looking for?
    • Yes, Drdyen gained magical power with the Artifact of Power
  • Did we learn more about the world & its people?
    • Yes, Redstone and the Artifact of Power

Three boons:

  • heal
  • level up Averiela and Lucia
  • gear

Chasing The Sunset & Attrition

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

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

Last time, the Fellowship regrouped at Vieport’s Adventurer’s club, but had to rescue a friend from the Exterminator’s traps in the golf clubhouse across the street.

A map of the city of Vieport. A golf course next to the Adventurers' Club. An intersection where the Fellowship gets in a fight. A fortress at the north edge fo the city where the river enters from the Deathlands. A yacht at the docks on the east side of the city.
The city of Vieport

Stella and Buckle are in the attic of the club house with Hamfast (the rescued hostage) and companions Silk and Ugg. The elevator is out of commision. Several gas bombs have gone off inside it, and they smashed a golf cart into the doors on this level. Buckle considers driving a golf cart out a window, but the attic only has skylights in the ceiling, too high to reach.  Finally, they notice a staircase that they overlooked before.  They walk down the stairs and go towards the back of the clubhouse where Stella laid a Pit Trap in case Exterminator fled that way. She placed a warning sign, but only on the inside, so a golf cart returning to the club house has fallen into the pit, and golfers and employees are standing around gawking.

Stella Keep Them Busy 10+

Stella runs up to the pit and acts very upset to draw everyone’s attention while Buckle steals another golf cart.

Stella: What have you done! Such sensless destruction. What are we going to do?”

The golf carts have four seats and internal combustion engines. Buckle is able to take one and Gus, Rose, Ugg ride along. Hamfast rides on Silk. That’s almost everyone. Using Stella’s distraction, they sneak off and get the Siege Tank from the Adventurers’ Club.

  • Shirley the Surly Co-worker
    • Biting Sarcasm
    • Conveniently Off-Duty

Stella has everyone very concerned about the golf cart in the pit, but Shirley’s a disaffected teenager who can’t be bothered by anything.

Shirley: Why do you care? Bury it so we can drive the other carts over it.

Stella: Burying it is the worst possible thing. It will take a lot of time. You know, I’ll take care of it. You go home.

Stella Talk Nonsense (Talk Sense by telling lies)

Shirley Biting Sarcasm: cannot Talk Sense to Shirley

Shirley just rolls her eyeliner-caked eyes. Stella wants to take a golf cart and have fun like Buckle. How can she get rid of Shirley? She reaches into her rations and starts pelting Shirley with tomatoes and other veggies!

Stella spends 1 Food

Shirley Conveniently Off-Duty: will flee when things get too intense

Shirley does not get paid enough to deal with this, so she goes back inside. Buckle rumbles up in  the Siege Tank, towing the golf cart.

Buckle: Get in losers, we’re going boating!

One of the rich golfers is impressed by the Siege Tank and wants to buy it. He’s de Rolo, the millionaire thrill-seeker! Buckle wants a boat in exchange. de Rolo offers his smallest yacht.  The Siege Tank is barely operational, with all stats damaged, so they’ll have to convince de Rolo that it’s worth a yacht.

  • Siege Tank
    • Spikes and Steel (damaged)
    • Heavily Armored (damaged)
    • Secret Weapon (damaged)

Stella makes the sales pitch. When she lies, her face turns purple, so she puts up her hood so it’s harder to notice.  She only lies to people who can handle it, and this guy’s rich enough that he won’t miss his smallest yacht.  The armor plates may look out of place, but that’s for aerodynamics. The spikes are all bent, because it’s safer for bystanders to have them out of the way. She just doesn’t mention the secret weapons.

Stella Talk Sense (+Wis, de Rolo’s desire to own an exotic vehicle) 10+

Stella Talk Nonsense: When you Talk Sense and get a 10+, you may also Sting Like A Bee.

Stella Sting LIke A Bee: steal a small object without being noticed

Stella and de Rolo shake hands to seal the deal and she slips a ring off his finger. It’s a signet ring with a mysterious symbol. Buckle hands over the keys to the Siege Tank, and de Rolo hands over the deed to the yacht and tells them where it’s moored.  de Rolo is about to leave, but Buckle has another offer for him.

Buckle: Why golf when you could adventure with us?

de Rolo laughs and brags about his adventures: setting the speed record through the Straits of Transmutation, rescuing cast-aways, and so on.

Buckle: OK, your loss. Thanks for the boat.

The Fellowship zooms away in two golf carts, like in The Italian Job. Buckle’s in front with Ugg and Hamfast. Stella is behind with Gus and Rose, and Silk riding on the roof. Ahead of them, a group of guards blocks the road. The Fellowship are public enemy #1 in Vieport for mauling the Sea King and burning his palace!

A amp of the alley where the Fellowship fights the Peacekeeper. Fellowship comes from the west. Peacekeeper and guards come from east. Buckle turns north and does down stairs. Fire blocks path between Stella and alley.
Alley fight
  • Lantern Peacekeeper
    • Gauntlet Form: Immobilizes enemy
    • Civic Duty: Follow protocol. Disable all aggressors.
  • Group of Naga Eel Guards
    • Group
    • Needlepoint Teeth: Necrotic damage
    • Slippery: can escape at any time

Buckle screams “Hang on” and swerves around hard!

Buckle Overcome 7-9 Pay a price: separated

Buckle’s golf cart swerves into an alley and rumbles down a flight of stairs!

GM note: Buckle is separated, so he can’t participate in the scene for a while.  Buckle’s player said they will find the point of dramatic tension, then return with an interesting diversion.

Stella thinks for half a second, then floors it! (Golf cart top speed in 10MPH) Seven yards from the Naga Guards, she slams on the brakes, launches Silk forward off the roof.

Stella Get Away 7-9 avoid harm

Silk flies over the heads of the Naga and Lantern. The Peacekeeper keeps his troops focused on thier primary target: Stella. Silk escapes the scene. The Naga advance to surround the golf cart. Peacekeeper sends out his gauntlet to immobilize Stella. Stella and friends are in a tight spot. The Group of Naga can threaten two people at once, so it will take all three fo them to fend off the combined assault of the Naga and Peacekeeper. Stella’s top concern is for her companions. She’s responsible for keeping them safe. She plans a team attack to keep the guards back.

Stella: “Gus, give me the seeds!”

Gus damages Rations

Stella: “Rose, do the trick, like at the Carnival!”

Rose damages Get Right In There

Gus gives Stella a bag of sunflower seeds, still in in the shell. Rose grabs Stella’s feet and spins her around so seeds fly out in all directions like bullets, pelting the guards!

Stella Keep Them Busy 10+

The guards can’t advance, but no one can escape because they are all involved in keeping the Naga back. What can break this stalemate?

Buckle Firestarter: set anything on fire

Stella’s golf cart suddenly bursts into flames! Buckle climbed back up the stairs and ignited a small trail of leaking gasoline from Stella’s cart that no one noticed before. He peeks out from the corner of the alley and tells the group to run!

Buckle Keep Them Busy (despair, damaged Grace) 6-

Alas, the trail of fire that created the distraction cuts Stella off from Buckle, trapping her with the gaurds!

Peacekeeper: No escape. No one has to get hurt. Surrender!

Stella: Where will you keep us? The palace is in shambles!

Peacekeeper: We don’t put dangerous criminals in the palace. We have a fortress!

The Peacekeeper points north towards the fortress at the edge of town, where the river enters Vieport from the Deathlands. Buckle walks through the wall of flames to join the conversation.

Buckle Heart Of Earth: immune to fire

Buckle: Does the fortress have a boat dock?

This casual show of power is quite intimidating!

Buckle Finish Them  Group of Naga Eels (+Grace, terrify) 7-9

Group of Naga Eels damages Needlepoint Teeth

The Naga Guards slither back a bit, afraid to attack such a powerful foe. (While setting up for the golf cart trick, Buckle sent Ugg & Hamfast ahead to get the yacht. They met up with Silk)

Peacekeeper: In the dungeon, you’ll never see boats again!

Buckle: A dungeon? With no fresh air? I’ll suffocate!

Peacekeeper: Justice is swift! You’ll be tried before you suffocate.

Peacekeeper motions the Naga Eels to move in again. The Fellowship is in a bad spot! Stella is scared of losing her friends!

GM note: My notes get a bit fuzzy here, but I think this is how it went. Rose gives Buckle an advantage to attack Peacekeeper, while Stella & Gus hold off the Naga Eels.

Stella and Gus hold the Naga Eels back with clouds of garlic powder. It only works for long enough to Buckle & Rose to make their move, then the Naga Eels advance and retaliate against Stella

Gus damages Special Ingredients

Stella Keep Them Busy 7-9

Group of Naga Eels requires 2 characters to Keep Them Busy

Naga Guards damage Stella

Rose crouches and raises her shield over her head. Buckle gets a running start and jumps on her shield. Rose heaves upward and Buckle jumps again, flying towards Peacekeeper! (Just like in Wonder Woman)

Rose damages Loyal Beyond All Reason

Buckle Finish Them (+sense, knock out) 7-9

Buckle damages Peacekeeper’s Protocol

Buckle lands a solid hit and now Peacekeeper is mad! Forget de-escalation. He’s going to kill these dangerous criminals! The Little Light on Peacekeeper’s shoulder is shaped like a fist. Peacekeeper expands it into a cage and tries to engulf and capture Buckle. Buckle grabs the Little Light and tries to keep it closed.

Buckle Overcome 6-

He fails and is surrounded by the glowing cage. He freaks out and trashes like a caged animal!

Stella: There’s only one way out and that’s getting out of here!

Stella Get Away 7-9 bring Gus along

Stella grabs Gus by the collar and runs through the flames and down the stairs to Buckle’s golf cart.

Flames damage Stella

The Naga Eels arrest Rose. Peacekeeper orders them to take Rose to the fortress and return with reinforcements. Peacekeeper has Buckle Immobilized, but can’t move him, and wants overwhelming force present when he releases Buckle. The Naga Eels hustle Rose away and Buckle is left alone with Peacekeeper.

Elsewhere, Stella sees the yacht coming upriver, operated by Ugg and Hamfast. It’s a fast boat, a sleek catamaran. It can overtake the Naga before they reach the fortress. Stella drives the golf cart off a ramp to jump across the river and onto the yacht.

Stella Overcome 6-

The Golf Cart isn’t fast enough and falls into the water short of of the yacht. It’s sinking quickly and Stella can’t swim!

Meanwhile, Buckle has nothing to do but talk to his captor.

Buckle. So you’re pretty strong, right? Why serve a snake who can’t even deal with ghosts?

Ah, we’re getting to know this Peacekeeper. His name is Hopek, and he settled in Vieport because he followed Robin, the Lantern who designed the electro-barriers around the city.

Buckle: Y’all keep the city safe by yourselves. Why serve the Sea Viper?

Buckle Finish Them (+Wis, show error of their ways) Advantage: Making some good points +Dispair. 6-

Hopek is angry and won’t listen to reason. He expands the cage to about 2m by 2m and steps inside. The ‘real’ part of a Lantern is the Little Light, and the humanoid figure that most people interact with is a holographic projection that Lanterns use to fit in with a mostly humanoid society. Hopek’s projection walks up and punches Buckle in the nose to let him know that this hologram is backed by forcefields. It’s a cage match!

Hopek damages Buckles’ Electrolocation

Back to Stella. Gus can swim. Stella climbs on top of the sinking gold cart. Hamfast frantically gets her attention.

Hamfast; You have to swim!

Stella: I can’t! I literally can’t!

Hamfast: What about the Waterskippers back home? They don’t swim, but they don’t sink.

Stella remembers watching little bugs move across the surface of the water in her home country far away. She realizes that even if she can’t swim, she can still float.  She lies on her back and Gus drags her to the yacht. Once she’s safely aboard, she looks back and sees smoke rising from the burning golf cart. That’s where Buckle is. Rose is upstream in the other direction. Stella’s conflicted. Buckle is part of the team. She won’t say it out loud, but she considers him part of the family. She thinks of all the times that Buckle has almost died. Then she remembers how much he’s grown, and that’s he basically a fire god now. It’s a hard choice, but she goes after Rose.

Back to Buckle, squaring off against Hopek in a cramped glowing energy cage. Buckle rushes forward, then jumps to the side and bounces off the wall of the cage like a Luchadore before tackling Hopek, hoping ot disrupt his forcefield projections.

Buckle Overcome 10+

It works! The cage flickers and disappears and Buckle is free. Hopek tries to cage Buckle again, but Buckle dives into a storm drain.

Buckle Get Away 7-9 avoid harm

Buckle kicks up clouds of steam as he runs down the wet tunnels into the sewer system, leaving Hopek far behind.

On the yacht, Stella takes stock of the situation. There are five of them on the boat: Stella, Hamfast, Ugg, Gus, and Silk. Three of them are prety beat up.  She examines her surroundings.

Stella Look Closely 7-9 3 questions. 1 answer the hard way

  • What is hidden or out of place?
    • Buildings run up right to the edge of the river on one side. There are lots of little alleys, doorways, and docks to hide in, or from which surprises may emerge.
  • What do my senses tell me?
    • Buildings on one side, a sidewalk on the other. A big ship is coming towards them, taking up almost the whole width of the river. If they wait for it to pass, the gaurds will secure Rose in the fortress! The ship is carrying a huge hexagonal mirror, like the one she saw Agate use as a weapon.
  • What will happen if I bribe the Naga Eels?
    • She figures that two Precious items would be enough to make the guards release Rose.
Vieport canal. Sidewalk on the left side. A group of Naga guards leads Rose towards the fortress. Buildings, docks, and doorways on the right side of the canal. The Fellowship's yacht comes up the canal behind the guards.
Vieport canal

She steers the yacht (it’s named Miranda, because it’s a cata-Miranda with an outrigger) to the side of the channel, behind a small dock. She climbs Miranda’s mast, swings back and forth to gather momentum, then jumps towards the deck of the large ship.

Stella Overcome 6-

Her foot is tangled in a rope, so instead of springing onto the large ship, she’s snatched back and swung into a wall!

Wall damages Stella

Stella is Taken Out!

GM note: At the beginning of the session, I checked in with my players to make sure they felt appropriately challenged, since they win all the time, and no character in all of Chasing The Sunset had ever been Taken Out. They assured me that the level of challenge was fine, and now, after what I thought was a smaller fight than the Sea King or an elite mercenary like The Exerminator, a character is finally Taken Out! Amazing! Now we get to find out what that means for Stella.

Buckle emerges from a nearby sewer and Gus explains the situation. Buckle tries to board the large ship.

Buckle Get Away 7-9 avoid harm

Bucle reaches the deck of the ship safely, but the Naga guards see him glowing and reflected in the mirror.

A pencil drawing of a ship carrying a huge hexagonal mirror. The ship has a crane at the front and the back. The mirror is carried vertically and held by straps.
A ship carrying a large mirror

Naga Eels: There’s two of him!

Buckle: I’ve got a proposition for you. My friend and I want all this to go away.

Buckle shows a coin purse, and in the mirror, his reflection shows a second coin purse.

Talk Sense (+Grace, trick) 6- they demand something expensive

The Naga Eels notice the deception! There’s only one Buckle, and one coin purse.  Buckle adds a pile of silver coins (won at Platypalooza) to the coin purse, and the Naga Eels release Rose. The big ship passes. Buckle and Rose board the yacht and they sail north to the border of the city. The most wanted crewmembers stay inside, and do Rolo’s yacht is waved through the checkpoint.

GM note: It was getting late, the party had been fighting to get out of the city for three sessions, one player character was Taken Out and the rest of the Fellowship was beat up and low on resources. Further complications were unnecessary. Let’s move on and figure out how to restore Stella next time.

Stella has a lot of food in her Gear because she has a Halfling condition that’s similar to diabetes and she needs to eat regularly.  her wounds knocked her out long enough that she slips into a coma! Special Halfling food is needed to restore her blood sugar to proper levels and re-awaken her.  Where will the Fellowship go next? The yacht certainly helps them move about. Finding a Halfling will make finding the special food easier. Rumor says a Halfling named Sam lives north of the Singing Hills.  Recovering is also a priority. They need a community that has gratned them fellowship for that, like Bogden.

GM note: End of session move.  One boon. Level up.

Chasing The Sunset & Robotics Facility

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

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

Last time, the Fellowship sent a shutdown command to all the robots causing trouble in Thaumatown. Concerned that the robots may be reactivated and cause more trouble in the future, they want to disable them permanently. The robots don’t have fuel or batteries. Their power comes from some remote source, so the Fellowship looks beneath the Civic Center for this powerplant.

GM note: Lucia gained a level last time, and her player chose the Halfling Sheriff Destiny.

The robotics facility is indoors and likely crowded, so WhiteSand, Lucia’s horse, and Roddy all stay behind.  Averiela, Dryden, and Lucia are accompanied by Knows Too Much, Will, and Mara.  Lucia leads them along the path of her running battle with the Sentry Droid. They squeeze past the disabled behemoth, and find an wedge-shaped entrance hall with doors on the north, east, and south walls. The south door is labeled “Employees Only” They try that door and it’s locked.

GM note: We played this session online. I sketched the map with each room on a separate layer, so I could reveal only the rooms the characters had discovered. I’ll post complete images for each floor, but remember that the players didnt know what was in each room, or even which rooms existed, until they found and opened doors.

A map of Thaumatown robotics facility, level 1. Four rooms around a central elevator. North: repair bay. West: entrance hall. South: control center. East slick chute going down.
Thaumatown robotics facility, level 1.

Dryden already used his worm lockpicks. There’s a lock on the door, with a wide horizontal slot, like a hotel room in our world.

Dryden: I haven’t just smashed anything for a while.

Averiela: I bet the dead wizard had the key.

GM note: She’s right! Searching Allan a Zham’s study would reveal a keycard that grants access to all levels of the facility!

Dryden uses his two-handed Dwarven hammer to smash the door open! Pow! Bam! Boom! The door swings open with a sad creak. Dryden smirks. Inside is a control center, with status lights, dials and levers. There’s also a keycard, inscribed with a picture of a cube. There’s no door on the east side of the room. They try the door on the north wall. It’s a pocket door that slides aside, matching the curve of the wall.  Just inside that door is a curved metal wall.

Lucia examines the room.

Lucia Look Closely 6- 1 question, get the answer the hard way

  • What here is hidden or out of place?
    • She determines that this is the control center for a repair bay that fixes robots. Obvious enough, since the Sentry Droid said it was headed for the repair bay when she disabled it. The unpleasant discovery is the nature of the robots being repaired. The Enforcer Droids causing chaos on the streets above were mostly non-violent, but the robots in this repair bay seem more militant. She sees repair manifests mentioning napalm and other sorts of weapons. The robots in this facility are more dangerous than any the fellowship have faced so far.

The Fellowship returns to the entrance hall and tries the large door to the north. It’s unlocked, and opens into a robotic repair bay. The walls are divided into stalls. Each stall contains a robot in some state of repair or disassembly. The door on the east wall is in the middle of the wall, like a laundry chute, not on the floor like a normal door.  Robotic arms move along tracks on the ceiling, adding and removing parts from the robots in the bays. As soon as the Fellowship enters, the arms move towards them, ready to remove any damaged parts and place them into repair bays.

Dryden Mysterious Marvelous Thing: does exactly what you need

Dryden Keep Them Busy 10+

The Fellowship don’t want any parts snatched off of them! Dryden leaps into acton to distract the robotic arms. He has a egg-shaped magnet on the end of a large metal tube. The magnetic egg is from a meteor, probably. He found it in a crater back in the Forgotten Lands. The magnet lets him deflect the metal robotic arms reaching for him. He runs around the room, bashing the arms and yelling at them. This gives Lucia and Averiela space to examine the room.

Averiela Look Closely (+hope from Lucia’s aid) 10+

  • What will happen if I go through the East door?
    • It’s a one-way trip, and any misstep near it will send an unlucky character through!
    • Can’t Turn Back Now
      • The Threshold
      • Sudden Separation
  • Tell me about the dangerous robots?
    • Some Enforcer Droids have been refitted into Warrior Droids, with extra armor plates and arms wielding melee weapons. One robot has big tanks on its back, with broken hoses extending from them. Its hull is scorched.
  • What here is hidden or out of place?

GM note: I couldn’t think of anything, so I asked my players what they might find in a robotic repair bay. They suggested weapons from the combat robots and schematics for the robots, hidden in a small compartment. I let them choose either 3 melee weapons or plans for a robot, which could be built if they found materials and someone will the proper skills. They chose the weapons.

They grab a few weapons and prepare to leave, but worry about leaving the repari bay operational. They don’t want to go further into the facility and have killer robots behind them.

Lucia Finish Them (+sense disable) advantage: Dryden’s distraction 10+

Lucia takes a scrap of armor from one of the damaged robots and jams it into a track on the ceiling. Dryden runs past Lucia and all the robot arms pile up on the blocked track!

They return to the entrance hall and examine the weapons they found.  Averiela takes a very sharp sword made of atitanium alloy. Lucia has nunchuku. Dryden has a telescoping staff that starts as a foot-long rod then expanding into a two-handed weapon. They try the door on the East wall. The door slides away to reveal another door, which slides away to reveal a round room with a door on the far side and a control panel.

Cryptic controls. Red button (with slot beneath), green button, and blue button.
Cryptic controls.

There’s a slot under the red button that’s the same size as the slot on the door to the control center and the same size as the keycard.  Dryden puts the keycard in the slot. It fits! He presses the blue button, which makes a sad beep.  They open the door on the other side of the room. The floor of this room slopes down to a rectangular hole in the floor. This is the other side of the one-way door in the repair bay!  As they look, a heap of trash falls from a hatch in the ceiling and slides down the slope into the hole. Press the green button. Angry beep. Press the red button. Angry beep. Dryden closes the doors and examines the control panel.

GM note: It’s an elevator, and it won’t move with the door open.

Dryden Look Closely 7-9 3 questions, one answer the hard way

  • What here is hidden or out of place?
    • Nothing. It’s an empty room with two doors and a control panel.
  • How can the buttons hurt me or help me?
    • This room lets them access other parts of the facility, which is their goal, but will also expose them to more danger!
  • What happens if I press the buttons without the keycard in the slot?
    • Dryden pulls the keycard out and just presses the buttons. Red button. Angry beep. Blue button. Sad beep. Green button. Happy beep and the room shakes.

They open the doors and see the control center and repair bay. The green button rotated the room 90 degrees. That’s why some doors opened to blank walls. Dryden inserts the keycard and presses the red button. Happy beep, and the room goes down. It’s an elevator!

A map of Thaumatown robotics facility, level 1. North room, shielded robots. East room: swarms of recycling bug robots. South room: factory. West room: robot assembly room.
Thaumatown robotics facility, level 1.

They open the south door. This room is a factory. Raw materials come from east wall and travel along conveyor belts, where they are forged, stamped, and assembled into components which exit through the west wall. The room is full of heavy machinery, the conveyor belts will push anyone on them into those smashign and cutting hazards, and there’s not really a floor.  Too dangerous. They close the south door and open the north door.

  • 20x Warrior Drones
    • Overpowering
    • Group
  • Shield Commander
    • Diamond Command (nearby allies are Dwarf-made)
  • Warrior Elite
    • Protect The Little Ones (takes hits for adjacent allies)
  • 2x Phalanx Drone
    • Energy Shield (takes a hit for the ally it’s riding)

Most of the robots in this room are Warrior Drones (Enforcer Droids upgraded with armor and weapons). The Shield Commander is a squat robot with four legs and a glass dome that makes it look a bit like a turtle. The Warrior Elite looks like a Warrior Drone but it’s ten feet tall and has four arms instead of two. When the Fellowship opens the door, the Warrior Drones turn to look at them. The Shield Commander lights up its dome, putting an aura on all the other robots that makes them very hard to damage. The Warrior Elite steps in front of the Shield Commander to defend it, and the Phalanx Drones riding the Shield Commander and Warrior Elite power up their energy shields. This squad of robots has three layers of invulnerability, and they are not happy to see the Fellowship! Also, there’s a keycard on the Shield Commander. The Warrior Drones see the Fellowship as intruders and rush the elevator!

Dryden’s two-handed Dwarven hammer is Melee, Dwarf-Made, Armor (1 use)

Dryden Keep Them Busy 10+

Dryden’s Dwarven hammer is just as tough as the shielded Warrior Droids, so he swings it wildly to keep them at bay as Lucia shuts the door and Averiela hits the blue button. The elevator rises and the sounds of the Warrior Drones pounding on the door fades. Lucia opens the north door to the repair bay, and Averiela opens the south door to go into the control center. Lucia and Dryden say they should al stick together, so they also go into the control center.

Dryden Bear Trap (Trap, 1 Use, immobilizes an enemy)

Drdyen sets a bear trap that the threshold between the elevator and the control center, in case any killer robots try to sneak up behind them.  Averiela and Lucia examine the controls to see if there’s anything they can use against the killer robots.

Averiela Look Closely (+hope, Lucia aid) 7-9 3 questions, 1 answer the hard way

GM note: I just told them all about the controls in the room. I have trouble inventing “the hard way” and hidden things in areas that are safe.

They see controls for repair bay, but not for any other levels of the facility. There are controls for each bay. Robots in them can be scrapped, marked as ready for service, or powered down.  They power down the whole repair bay. All the status lights go out. Dryden retrieves his bear trap and the Fellowship returns to the elevator. Green button. The eleveator rotates. Red button. The elevator moves. Red button again. Angry beep. (The keycard only grants access to levels 1 and 2)

They open the est door, but just a crack, since the toher rooms on this floor were so dangerous. This room is full of swarms of tiny robot bugs. They are crawling over the pile of trash that fell into the chute a while ago, tearing it into tiny pieces.

  • Recycling Swarm
    • Consume (eats food first)
    • Fragile Swarm (immune to normal weapons, Despair to anyone covered by a swarm)
    • Group

Consistent with the poor safety standards of the rest fo the facility, there’s no barrier between the swarms of bugs and the elevator, and bugs start pouring through the crack in the door into the elevator!

Lucia Overcome 10+

Lucia quickly slams the door before many bugs make it inside, then stomps on the few that did enter. Averiela peeks through the west door. In this room, components come through the east wall and are assembled into complete robots. Three robots arefully assembled and operational.

  • 2x Killbot
    • Exterminate (Melee, Ranged, Piercing)
  • Fire Droid
    • Flamethrower (Ranged, Dangerous, Burning)
    • Fireproof (immune to heat & fire)

A Killbot shines a laser beam on Averiela’s face and says “Target acquired!” It quickly hurls throwing knives at her!

Averiela Get Away 10+ (avoid harm, avoid notice)

With inhuman Elven speed, Averiela draws the titanium alloy sword she took from the Repair Bay and cuts the throwing knives as they come through the doorway! She dodges the knife shards and kicks the door closed in the same motion.

Averiela: Dryden! Blue button!

Dryden presses the blue button and the elevator rises to the first level. Lucia thinks there may be levels above the Repair Bay. Dryden presses the blue button again. Sad beep. Looks liek the only way forward is through some variation of killer robots. Averiela has a plan.

Averiela: Here’s the thing, friends. Dear friends. I’ll call you friends for the moment. I can use camouflage to camouflage all of us like super Super Ninja Wood Elves. Or we could hollow out robots and use them as disguises.

The Fellowship decides to disguise themselves as robots using the damaged robots in the Repair Bay. It takes a while to rip out al lthe internal machinery, but soon enough Averiela is inside the shell of a Fire Droid, while the others (Dryden, Lucia, Will, and Mara) are inside Warrior Droids.

GM note: I think Knows Too Much stays in the Entrance Hall. He’s not mentioned in the rest of the session.

Back into the elevator. Green button. Elevator rotates. Insert keycard. Red button. Elevator descends to level 2. They open the north door to the room with the squad of shielded robots. The robots within don’t immediately attack, since the Fellowship looks like robots at a glance. The Fellowship enters the room. The Warrior Elite stops Averiela, since she’s the wrong kind of robot.

Averiela: Fire Droid 455678 reporting for duty as commanded. I need to know our future plans so that my fellow fire droids can fall in line.

Averiela Talk Sense (+grace, trick) (+despair, shaky disguise) 7-9

Elite Warrior: The mission is to protect the facility. Recently six unauthorized organic creatures were spotted in the elevator. Since you have access to the elevator, you must help me and my Warriors find and eliminate these intruders.

The Elite Warrior (with Phalanx Drone) and two Warrior Droids head into the elevator. The Fellowship plays along and goes into the elevator with them. They press the green button, rotating the elevator, then open the door to the room full of Recycling Swarms. The Recycling Swarms try to enter the elevator.

Drdyen: Charge!

Dryden Talk Sense (+sense, trick) (+despair shaky disguise) 7-9

The Elite Warrior and real Warrior Droids are willing to fight this new threat, but expect Dryden to come with them. He does, and they all wade into the amorphous pile of tiny robots. Dryden notices that the Recycling Swarms are puling material that they disassemble in two directions: towards holes in the south wall, and down. If there is a floor in this room, it’s completely hidden by the Recycling Swarms.  The Warrior Droids swing, but their weapons are ineffective against the Recycling Swarm. The Recycling Swarms climb on the intruders and try to disassemble them. The Phalanx Droid is destroyed trying to protect the Warrior Elite.

Recycling Swarm Fragile Swarm: Despair to anyone covered by a swarm

Dryden Overcome +despair 7-9 pay a price

The Recycling Swarm doesn’t get Dryden, but they get his disguise. The Warrior Droid’s exterior starts to crumble, and the Elite Warrior sees Dryden inside! The Warrior Elite attacks the intruder.

Dryden Get Away +despair 7-9 avoid harm

Dryden peels the crumbling robot shell off of himself, pushing the pieces towards the Recycling Swarms and the Warrior Elite, using it as a temporary shield as he rushes for the elevator. He gets inside safely. Averiela jumps out of her robot disguise, closes the door, and presses the green button, rotating the elevator. The Warrior Elite and Warrior Droids are cut off, but a Recycling Swarm has squirmed into the elevator while the door was open.

Averiela Elder Arts Camouflage: Become invisible until you attack or make yourself known

Averiela Wood Elf: hide any number of allies with you.

Averiela camouflages herself and Dryden. Lucia tries to keep the Recycling Swarm at bay.

Lucia Keep Them Busy +despair 6-

Lucia spends 1 Food

The Recycling Swarm crawls over Lucia’s robot shell and inside, snatching a ration from her pack. The Fellowship opens the door to the shielded squad and Lucia goes in. The Warrior Droids see the Recycling Swarm afflicting Lucia and try to help, but their weapons are still ineffective. Lucia moves forward to report to the Shield Commander.

Lucia: Commander, the Warrior Elite was taken out. Orders?

Lucia’s robot disguise is Clumsy: -1 to Keep Them Busy, Get Away, and Finish Them

Lucia Keep Them Busy +depair +clumsy 7-9

Lucia Sting Like A Bee: steal something small without being noticed.

Lucia steals the keycard from the Shield Commander! The Recycling Swarm breaks through her robot disguise.

Lucia Quiet! Don’t Move: duck aside and avoid notice

Lucia drops to the ground and the pieces of the robot shell fall on top of her, shielding her from the eyes of the robots. She’s undetected, but unable to retreat! Dryden pulls another gadget from behind his cloak: a mirage with substance. Back in the Forgotten Lands, he found a certain kind of pond scum. When he rubs it on his fingers and then throws it, it takes the shape of what it touched last, like a simulacram.

Dryden Prank Weapon: Keep Them Busy 10+ distract Warrior Droids

The Warrrior Droids see a figure like Dryden appear at the far side of the room and rush to attack it. Lucia considers carrying the remains of her robot shell on her back as she flees ot the elevator, to use it as a shield. That would make her Clumsy, and the shell still has a Recycling Swarm eating it, so she’d have Despair as well. She ditches the robot shell and runs for the elevator.

Lucia Get Away 10+ avoid harm, avoid attention

She reaches the elevator and jumps into the Fire Droid shell that Averiela vacated. The Shield Commander sees and attempts to rally its troops, but the Fellowship closes the elevator door and presses the blue button. They are on the first floor and no enemies are pursuing them right now. Dryden and Lucia have lost their robot disguises. The keycard that Lucia stole is inscribed with a picture of an octohedron, more complicated than a cube, so probably better access. They go back to the Repair Bay for more disguises. There are no more Warrior Droids in the Repair Bay, so Lucia and Dryden take Enforcer Droid shells. Dryden also grabs two Flying Eyes. They are about he size of baseballs with their wings folded.

Back in the elevator, the Fellowship pluts the octohedron keycard into the slot. Blue button. Sad beep. Red button. Happy beep. Red button. Happy beep. Red button Angry beep. They have access to a third level.

A map of Thaumatown robotics facility, level 1. East of the elevator, a powerplant. Six fuel tanks, fed from above by pipes, feed into a ceramic pillar. A window in the ceramic pillar glows from the fire inside. North of the elevator, a control center with windows overlooking the powerplant.
Thaumatown robotics facility, level 3.

They open the north door and enter another control room. Windows on the east wall overlook a large circular room. In the center of the room, a ceramic pillar rises from floor to ceiling. The pillar is surrounded by six large tanks, with pipes coming from the ceiling into the tanks, then from the tanks into the pillar. An opening in the pillar at floor level glows brightly. Averiela and Lucia inspect the controls.

Averiela Look Closely (+hope, Lucia aid) 10+

  • What do my senses tell me?
    • Pipes leading from the room with the Recycling Swarms feed these tanks, probably with fuel, and the tanks feed into the ceramic pillar. Since this is a powerplant, and there’s a bright glow from the opening in the pillar, the pillar is probably a combustion chamber, turning that fuel into energy.
  • Tell me about the controls.
    • There are levers to shut off the flow of fuel into the tanks, shut off the flow from the tanks to the combustion chamber, and to shut off the flow of energy from the combustion chamber.
  • What is hidden or out of place?
    • Clearly there’s a combustion chamber in the next room being fed by a lot of fuel, making a very hot fire. But most powerplants will spin turbines to generate electricity, or have driveshafts, or some other way of taking all the energy released and harnessing it. There’s no sign of such a mechanism here.

The Fellowship discuss their options. They could deactivate the powerplant. That might turn off all the killer robots above. They could also check all the other exits from the elevator. They don’t want to split up to check the other rooms because they don’t have long-range comms to stay informed.

Averiela: Dryden, work on that.

Dryden: I’ve made some progress with a system of very long strings. See, if you hold this up to your ear…

They decide to work with what they have and all pile into the elevator. There’s a wall to the south and to the west. They know the powerplant is to the east, and that seems dangerous. They return to the control center and carefully shut down the powerplant. First they shut off the flow of fuel into the tanks. Status lights update, but looking through the window does not reveal any immediate change from the powerplant. Next they shut off the flow from the tanks to the combustion chamber. The glow from the opening in the pillar fades and disappears. Finally they shut off the flow of energy from the combustion chamber. Again, no obvious change in the powerplant.

They etner the elevator, press the green button to rotate the doors, then enter the powerplant. The air is cool. The opening in the ceramic pillar is covered by a Magical Barrier.

  • Magical Barrier
    • Impenetrable (can’t be damaged)
    • Some Shall Pass (certain things/people are allowed through)

Dryden test the barrier by throwing a Flying Eye at it. The Flying Eye goes right through the Magical Barrier. Averiela in the Fire Droid disguise tries to enter. She passes through the Magical Barrier into the ceramic cylinder.

  • Fire Droid
    • Fireproof (immune to heat & fire)
  • Combustion Chamber
    • High Radiation (extreme heat. Pay a Price to enter or make a move)

Averiela doesn’t notice the heat. She looks around inside the pilalr and sees the pipes from the tanks leading into this chamber. There’s a floor for her to walk on, and a ceiling at the top of the pillar. Only entrances. No exits. She kicks a pile of unburned sludge and finds a piece of Lucia’s lunch.  The Recycling Swarms separate fuel from the garbage (and droids) they disassemble and send it to this powerplant.  Dryden enters the combustion chamber in his Enforcer Droid disguise. It’s so hot in here!  He drops his second Flying Eye and retreats.

Lucia doesn’t understand how this powerplant works, and examines everything one more time.

Lucia Look Closely 10+

GM note: This was just a problem of me not describing the situation properly.  There was indeed a path for the energy to exit the combustion chamber. It went down, but, the lever that shut off the flow of energy closed that exit. The floor of the combustion chamber was a moveable piece of machinery.

Now that the Fellowship understands how the room works, they return to the control center and open the exit from the combustion chamber. They return to the powerplant and Averiela enters the chamber again. There’s a big hole through the floor to the ceiling of a room below. That room is about 20 feet tall, and there’s a large ceramic bowl on the floor of that room. The diameter of the bowl matches the diameter of the hole above. In the center of that bowl floats a strange artifact: the Artifact of Power that the Fellowship seeks! It looks like unnumerable windows, overlapping and shifting. There’s also a creature in the lower room, leaning over the edge of the bowl and looking up at Averiela.

A Rogue Construct, an artifical creature of aether and energy. Most of its body is crackling puple energy ,but it has a golden mask for a face, hands that turn into sharp claws, and a ssingle metal spike instead of feet.
The Rogue Construct
  • Rogue Construct
    • The Robot (does not eat, sleep, or breathe)
    • Just Like You (copies the Construct player character)
      • Wrist blades (Melee, Piercing)
      • Glide
      • Riding Pod
      • Talisman of Calling
      • Teleportation (1 use)
    • Iron Heart (damage as Hard Cuts)

GM note: Fortunately for you, he has no ranged weapons. Oh, wait, he can teleport.

The Rogue Construct teleports up next to Averiela and demands to know why she is there and why the powerplant is turned off.

Averiela: Command came down from above. Fudnign has been reallocated. We’re relocating this entire facility. Can you help us prepare the energy source for transport?

GM note: Usually Averiela would trigger Talk Sense, but Rogue Construct already knows she’s lying. First, it’s not like the other robots. It’s smarter, so Averiela’s disguise isn’t as convincing. More importantly, with the power plant offline, no robot in Thaumatown has power! Any robot still moving must be a fake!

Rogue Construct: How are you still moving when the power’s off?

Rogue Construct tears the Fire Droid shell open, revealing Averiela within. She’s exposed to the intense heat of the combustion chamber!

Averiela damages Wisdom

Averiela tries to flee, but the Magical Barrier stops her! Only robots are allowed to pass through.

GM note: Twice in a row that I didn’t let Averiela’s player roll. Ouch!

Averiela quickly changes direction and dives through the hole to the chamber below. The Rogue Construct follows her down. Lucia and Dryden rush to her aid, braving the intense heat in the combustion chamber.

Dryden pays a price by spending 1 Food

Lucia pays a price by damaging her Forgotten Lands power to detect evil

To avoid the big drop, Dryden fires his Ranged Rope from one side fo the hole to he other side of the bowl, so they can slide down at an angle.

Rogue Construct, Averiela, Dryden (in Enforcer Droid disguise), and Lucia (in Enforcer Droid disguise) are all in the final room of the facility with the Artifact of Power that is everyone’s goal!

GM note: We ran out of time and had to stop here! So close to the end! I designed this facility to be really dangerous. Someone could have fallen through the chute from the repair bay into the Recycling Swarms, then again into the power plant fuel tanks. The facility is full of dangerous robots that are hard to kill. More are being built.  The Fellowship didn’t directly attack any of the robots, and turned off most of the dangerous machines. Leaving the powerplant operational and taking the Artifact, or shutting down the powerplant incorrectly, could have blown up the whole facility. But my players took the safe and clever option at every step and are near their goal after taking only 1 point of damage!