Chasing The Sunset & Swallet

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

The party: Buckle the Platyperson, Stella the Halfling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chasing The Sunset & Fairmeadow Fair

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

Fairmeadow Fair is a campaign using Dungeon World rules.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chasing The Sunset & volcanoes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chasing the Sunset & Fight Club

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ori looks inside the caldera of the eastern peak.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fairmeadow Fair, session 19

← Session 18 | Campaign Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

← Session 18 | Campaign Summary

Fairmeadow Fair, session 18

← Session 17 | Campaign Summary | Session 19 →

Last time, our heroes escaped Saarland with their lives and some new information about who’s responsible for artifacts from Saarland ending up on the black market.  As they return to Sugar’s Crossing, they must decide what to do about it.

First, they return to the person who set them on this quest: Soren, the Elven storyteller who was there when the city fell.  They ask for her at the theater and have to wait a while because she’s with another client. Her expertise is in high demand.  She’s glad they returned safely and asks how Saarland is doing.  She readies pen and paper to record the information and add it to the historical record.  They report that Saarland is split between Ents trying to demolish buildings and return it to nature, and Spectres of dead residents who refuse to let go. The only people who go there are looters. Soren knew it would be bad, but hearing exactly how bad is still a blow.  She’s furious that people are desecrating her home. She picks up a second pen in her other hand and starts writing a vituperative diss track.

Gleador & Lucia ask Soren how the stolen artifacts might be moving around once brought back to civilization.  Traffic in such articles is illegal, but it’s not a crime that the garrison would notice, unless they were tipped off. Our heroes ask how to contact the underworld. Soren doesn’t get mixed up in such things, but the theater does employ some shady stagehands. They’re rough folks who probably know some rougher folks.  Lucia says that le Grind is the buyer for many of the artifacts.  Both of Soren’s pens stop suddenly.  The meeting room they are in is named after le Grind’s third son.  le Grind is a big financial sponsor of the theater.  Each year at the theater gala, he and Lady Evelynn try to outdo each other with lavish donations. If Soren performs a diss track against him, the theater would lose his funding and have trouble surviving. Gleador and Lucia say they’ll try to reveal le Grind so that the theater doesn’t take the fall. Soren thanks them for the information, even though it was upsetting.  Truth is good for history, and trauma is good for art.

Gleador & Lucia plan to gather information by touring the le Grind mill.  The original mill is preserved as a museum, while larger, more modern mills do the actual work of processing beets into sugar.

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

Lucia joins a tour group like a normal person. Gleador transforms into a wild cat with falcon eyes and allergenic dander.  The mill is built for Halflings (le Grind is a Halfling family) so even with larger hallways for moving loads and equipment about, it’s cramped for some guests.  Lucia is close to the ceiling at 5’0″. The  Elves in the group have to bend over, and one poor Naga has to spread most of his 11-foot length horizontally, taking up a lot of space.  The tour starts in the original mill and then turns to another room with drying racks and historical displays.  Finally, the tour group exits through the gift shop.  Gleador skips the tour and slips between bars of the fence around the le Grind estate. He infiltrates Mill A, which is bustling with Halflings bringing sacks of beats, loading them into the mill, and collecting the pulp and juice. The beets’ strong coloration stains the millstones, the floor, and the workers’ hands bright purple.  Gleador hops into a spot that he hopes is out of the way and surveys the scene but a bad roll of the dice means that his perch is right where the next heavy sack of beets goes. He leaps away at the last moment, out in the open, causing a commotion.  A wide-shouldered Halfing woman with very strong hands grabs him and tosses him out the window into the river.  Underwater he transforms into a catfish, avoids the churning waterwheel, and swims away as the woman starts itching and sneezing.

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

From the river, he investigates the docks and sees drain large enough for a Halfling to walk through. It’s closed by a grate secured with a padlock. Inside, he sees that it’s fed by many smaller pipes, as expected, but there’s also a door. Most suspicious.  He swims away, returns to Elf form, and reconvenes with Lucia, whose authorized tour of the facility was uneventful.  They plan to sneak in through the grate, find what le Grind has stolen, and steal it from him. It’s not stealing if it’s already stolen.  They are not sure what to do with the artifacts once they recover them, but that’s a Gleador plan for you: Enthusiasm and optimism!

They wait for nightfall, and Lucia removes her heavy armor so that she can swim.  They approach the gate and wonder how to bypass the padlocked grate. The bars are six inches apart. Gleador could easily transform into something small enough to fit through, but Lucia can’t. Smashing the grate and picking the lock are suggested, but their planning is interrupted by the approach of a small rowboat. Two Halflings pilot it with muffled oars and a hooded lantern, so they’re probably up to no good.  Gleador and Lucia dive underwater to avoid notice.  The rowboat pulls up to the grate, and one Halfling unlocks the grate and goes inside. The other Halfing remains in the boat.  Lucia can’t hold her breath for that long and starts choking on water.  Gleador pushes Lucia downstream and floats to the surface, using his camouflage ability to remain unseen.  Lucia surfaces beyond the range of the Halfling’s lantern, but he’s aware of something out there and moves towards the drain.  Gleador transforms into a crocodile with the water jet power of a sea dragon.  He grabs the Halfling’s leg, but is shaken off.  Both Halflings in the drain run up towards the hidden door, leaving the grate unlocked.

Gleador does not pursue them. He examines the rowboat. It can hold six people, the oarlocks are wrapped in fabric to avoid noise, and there’s a false bottom that can conceal cargo.  He uses camouflage again to wait by the boat. Lucia goes to the bush just downstream of the docks where she left her armor and puts it back on.  Both heroes wait for the next move from the le Grind estate.

After about 15 minutes, three night watch come out to the docks. They are official. The have fancy hats, and lanterns on poles to light their way. They spot the boat. One climbs down under the docks to retrieve it while the other two hold their lanterns out to light his way.  Lucia takes this opportunity to slip away, but is noticed. She’s far away and it’s dark, so the guard only knows there was a tall person in armor lurking about.  One guard is holding two lanterns over the edge of the dock while a second fetches a boat hook to help the third pull in this mysterious rowboat.  As they are trying to secure the boat, Gleador grabs the boat and yanks it back into the water! One guards goes into the river with it. Another swings at the strange creature with his boat hook. The third blows the whistle around his next, raising a general alarm.  Gleador disengages from the fight and swims away underwater, eventually reconvening with Lucia.  They blew their chance to sneak into the estate, and they don’t know what those sneaky Halflings were doing in the drain, but they’ll try again another time!

← Session 17 | Campaign Summary | Session 19 →

Chasing The Sunset & Platypalooza

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

Party: Fafnir the Dragon, Stella the Halfling, Buckle the Platyperson

The full moon will rise tonight, so it’s time for Platypalooza, the greatest celebration of Platyperson culture!  A party boat heading upriver spots Buckle and invites him and his companions to join.  They do, and the boat goes up the Mighty River and takes a tributary to the north to the Platyperson town of Bogden.  Paulie, the former mobster, is also on the boat, but there’s no reason to fight anymore.

From the river, all that’s visible is the great dam of Bogden, which creates a large, flat marsh suitable for Playtpeople living. the waterfall prevents the party boat from advancing further, so everyone has to disembark and walk up the switchbacks to the top of the dam.  Bogden is a village year-round, but Platypalooza temporarily makes it a vast city. Platypeople from all over the continent come here to celebrate, and people from other cultures also attend because it’s a great party. The permanent dwellings are off in the back. and most of the artificial marsh is a fairground, with booths, stages, games, and so on.

The leader of Bogden officially kicks off the festivities with an opening speech, but our crew realizes that he’s a tricky politician. Listening to his speech will damage their Sense, so they ignore him and explore the shops and stalls.  Fafnir loves food and Buckle points out traditional Platyperson food.  Lots of fried food. There are giant spider legs on skewers, competing hot sauce vendors shouting about the virtues of their special recipes, and so on.  One booth has a challenge: eat a spicy seed pod. Only a few seeds are needed for a whole pot of hot sauce.  Fafnir jumps at the chance, and since she’s immune to damage from fire and heat, she has no problem eating the spicy seeds!  She gladly receives the cheers of onlookers and a sampler platter from the impressed vendor.

Stella finds Clara, a fellow Halfling running a booth.  Clara sells pastries, which are a staple in Halfling culture, but an exotic treat to Platypeople.  Clara is one of many Halflings who fled the Halfling homeland during the Giant War, a war against Giants. Part of the reason that Stella explores this continent is to find scattered Halflings and tell them the good news: It’s safe to return home. The war is over! The Halflings won by surrendering! Instead of fighting the physically superior Giants, Halflings let them settle in Halfing towns, then relentlessly pranked them until the giants got so annoyed that they fled!  Clara is delighted to hear the news ,and starts a batch of celebratory peace cookies.  Stella asks if Clara knows where other Halflings are. There’s usually one in every city.  Clara mentions Sam, living in a walled city to the north. Stella and Clara say farewell with the old Halfling saying, “You always have a home.”

As the crew is moving through the crowd, looking for more fun, a large Platyperson roughly shoulders past Fafnir.  Fafnir won’t stand for such ill-treatment.  “I’m not stairs! You can’t just stomp over me!” The large Platyperson is The Champ! He says “I’m on my way to win the Fluming championship again. There’s still time for you to sign up. Meet me on the field and see how easily I can stomp over you!”  It’s on now!  Fafnir, Stella, and Buckle rush to sign up for the tournament.  Fortunately, Buckle can explain the rules of the traditional Platyperson game to the Dragon and the Halfling.  Silk, Gus, and Rose will cheer from the stands.

Each team has to take a log from the log pile, stand it upright at their base, and climb it.  One point for reaching the top. One bonus point for flipping the log during the dismount, but failing the dismount costs one point.  It’s a foul to clearly hit with another player, so don’t get caught! The field is flooded, since Platypeople are amphibious.

The first team that the crew faces in the preliminary round is three lumberjacks. The referee slaps his tail to begin the match, and everyone rushes for the log pile!  Stella keeps the lumberjacks busy while Fafnir and Buckle grab a log.  Fafnir is ready to climb the log, but Buckle can’t raise it himself. Fafnir switches with Stella so she can help raise the log. Once it’s up, Fafnir runs from the lumberjacks, spreads her wings, and flies to the top of the log! One point!  A flippy dismount for a bonus point and it’s 2-0.  Fafnir goes in to get another log, but the lumberjacks block her path out. She’s super-strong, so she picks up the log and flies over them, dropping the log to her teammates and continuing into the stands.  Stella and Buckle raise the log, and Stella flies in to land on top. Foul! It’s illegal to score from out of bounds! The crew loses a point instead of gaining it. Next, Fafnir interferes with the lumberjacks and gets caught. She has to wear a penalty vest, restricting her movement. The vest is designed for Platypeople, so it’s especially awkward on her. She’s around the same size, but has more limbs, and in different positions.  The field is reset, and when the refereee slaps his tail, Fafnir and all three lumberjacks rush for a log. Fafnir draws their attention by running in a figure-8. With all three focused on her, there’s no one left to score or prevent Stella and Buckle from scoring. Buckle is barely able to lift the log by himself, and Stella struggling upwards, barely slapping one hand on top. It counts!  The crew wins and goes to the next round of the tournament!

Now that they have the hang of this, the crew is able to beat other opponents and reach the finals, against The Champ and his dangerous team!  The match begins at sunset, and the stands are packed as most other events have wrapped up, and everyone wants to see the final showdown!  Big lenses on towers around the arena catch the last light of sunset and focus a spotlight on the referee, as he announces the two teams and hypes up the crowd.

The Champ’s team is mean and effective. In addition to the Champ, widely known as the greatest individual player the game has ever know, there’s a Brawler, tough and strong; and a Hunter, who disappears under the shallow water to reappear at an inconvenient time. The crew huddles to discuss strategy before charging into battle.

At the tail slap, Stella and Fafnir rush for a log.  Champ and Brawler get in their way, and Hunter silently slips under the water, disappearing.  Stella insults Brawler’s mother as she tries to slip by, and he angrily slams her into the stack of logs. Obvious foul!  The field is reset.  At the tail slap, Champ heads right for Fafnir. Stella moves to intercept, but Champ dodges to the side and kicks her leg as he passes. Stella falls into the water and is face to face with Hunter, who strikes her again.  No call from the ref.  Meanwhile, Fafnir and Buckle try to keep Brawler away from the logs, but he wrestles one away from them.  Stella gets in Champ’s face to keep him busy, and snatches something from his pockets while he’s distracting.  It’s blackmail material on the referee! No wonder our crew aren’t getting the calls they deserve! Fafnir and Buckle steal Brawler’s log back. While the three are tussling near the stack of logs, Fafnir breathes fire, setting fire to the whole stack! Flaunting her immunity, she climbs on top of the flaming pyre and lies down.  Brawler and Buckle fall into the fire and catch a light!  Fafnir grabs Buckle and hurls him out to their goal, where the shallow water extinguishes his flames.  She follows that up by hurling a flaming caber out to Buckle.  Stella tries to set the log up for Buckle to climb, but Brawler is coming for her!

During this exciting match, the sun has set, and the full moon has risen.  The cheers from the massed spectators turn into screams! People start running, and three large figures emerge. Three werewolves: one of the left, one of the right, one near Stella’s companions! Buckle looks closely and realizes that the bite of these monsters can turn its victims into more werewolves! He yells at the crwod to run!  A werewolf slashes at Silk, knocking it out of the stands into the flooded playing field.  This clears space around the werewolf, so Fafnir seizes the opportunity, hefting a flaming log, and throws it like a mighty javelin! It strikes the  werewolf and carries it through the stands! Nothing left but a pile of flaming debris!  Buckle assists Silk, and Stella engages one of the remaining werewolves to keep it away from civilians. It still has clothes and pockets, and she swipes a slingshot.  Fafnir’s about to leap into battle, but the Champ is upon her.  He yells, “You’ve ruined the game, and you’ve stolen my spotlight!” and throws a mighty punch.  Fafnir catches the Champ’s fist in her claws and her face shines with the power of her conviction. She says, “You say you’re the hero of these people?  Prove it! Save them from these creatures!” The Champ is stirred by her impassioned speech. He agrees, but after they beat these monsters, he wants to finish the game and beat Fafnir. the Champ strides towards the werewolf by Stella. The werewolf swings down with his massive paw. The Champ dodges the paw, which crashes into the benches.  The champ steps on the paw, pinning the werewolf, and winds up a powerful blow to the jaw. These things don’t look so scary after that humiliation.  Stella finishes that werewolf with its own slingshot. As the werewolf crumples to hte ground, it transforms back into the Platyperson that it used to be.

Was that all of them?  Some people are hiding under benches. Other have fled the stadium and cowering in tents around the fairground. There’s a third werewolf that no one engaged! It left the stadium and is running for a tent full of helpless civilians!  Fafnir flings herself into the air and hastily attacks form the air! This will be an awkward landing that leaves her in a bad position in front of rampaging, but she’ll land a mighty blow first.  The blow is enough! They both crash to the ground, but only Fafnir gets back up. The werewolf also shrinks back into a human form as it dies.

All the stands and booths have hastily closed. Shopkeepers and partiers alike are fleeing the area.  The Champ wants to continue the game, but Hunter disappeared in the chaos and hasn’t re-emerged. The referee declares that hte Champ’s team can’t continue and must forfeit! The Champ is going to tell the referee something, but notices that he no longer has the blackmail material!  He’s lost the game, lost his leverage, and Fafnir outshone him in combat. His defeat is thorough!  He stomps away, but his little webbed feet make funny slapping noises.  The Mayor of Bogden hails out crew as heroes! they receive the prize money, and for saving the town, he tells them a secret:  There’s a legendary magical site under extinct volcanoes to the south.  The crew examines the blackmail material. Platypeople don’t use paper, since it would dissolve in water, so documents are written on wax tablets. These documents prove that the referee is actually a beaver with a false bill, not a Platyperson at all!

Fairmeadow Fair, Session 17

← Session 16 | Campaign Summary | Session 18 →

Last time, our heroes traveled to a ghost town and were trapped in an attic by actual ghosts! On the top floor of a forge/mint, Lucia found an entrance to a secret room, but was paralyzed by a trap. Gleador pushed her inside and guarded the door with his flaming body, since the Spectres fear fire. He looks around for a way out of this mess. There are chimneys from the forge in the center of the building that exit through the roof. The windows in the exterior walls are slits, because the building is fortified against attack from outside. Not an easy place to escape from.

A plan view of the Saarland Mint: forge in the center, storerooms on the side, surrounded by a fence.

Gleador tries a bold tactic: friendship! He asks if he can help the Spectres build something.  They are surprised and delighted.  Most living people who come to this building want to steal, not help. The Spectres can drag objects around like poltergeists, but can’t operate precision machinery like they did in life.  While the paralysis poison works its way out of Lucia’s system, the Spectres pantomime instructions to Gleador: how to restart a forge, melt some metal, and cast some silverware.

When Lucia is back in action, she casts Speak With Dead on one of the now-friendly Spectres and asks three questions:

  1. What do you know about money from Saarland showing up elsewhere?  As far as the Spectre knows, Saarland coins are still accepted in other towns. Recently, coins are carried off by thieves. Sometimes, coins go missing even when the Spectres don’t detect any living intruders.
  2. Is there anything magical about the coins or other items? The Spectre gestures to a weapon rack and says that the magical weapons on it are magical, but coins are not.
  3. What have you learned about the attack, how to prevent another? Fiercely defending the forge from all intruders has prevented another attack so far, so the Spectres will keep doing that.  One slain enemy came back as a Spectre, but the Saarland Spectres drove it away.

Gleador asks permission to examine the storeroom that Lucia hid in one more time, offering to conceal the entrance once more.  It’s a storeroom. It contains many items that our heroes won’t steal, and has no exits besides the one door.

Lucia and Gleador leave the forge and Gleador transforms into a Chinese flying dragon with eagle eyes. Lucia rides him and they circle Saarland to look for interesting things. One side of the ruined town is controlled by Ents, the other by Spectres. Rose, a Halfling they met a few days ago, enters Saarland on the Spectre side. She sees the dragon flying above and hides from it. Gleador wants to pursue her, but Lucia’s not feeling so well. Gleador drops her off outside the city. She casts Sanctuary around herself and communes.

Gleador turns into a bee with poison frog contact venom, and the toughness of a rock.  A reconnaissance form that can’t be instas-killed by a flyswatter.  He flies back into the town and finds Rose entering a Spectre-filled house. The Spectres don’t react to her, which is weird since they usually attack anything living.  Gleador flies in to watch her and the Spectres attack him. They seem out to get anything living!  Rose sees the commotion, but figures Gleador is a normal bug and moves on. She finds a silver serving dish and puts it in one of her sacks.  Gleador retreats from the Spectres but gets hit again. He’s almost dead!  He keeps his distance and watches Rose go from house to house, looting them while undisturbed by their Spectre occupants.  After an hour he flies dow nad stings her with paralyzing venom. She slumps against a gate and won’t be able to move for a while.

Gleador flies away to retrieve Lucia and get healed. He comes back as a dragon, carrying Lucia.  As they approach, an Ent has noticed Rose and is moving in to menace her.  Lucia dismounts and charges the Ent, which knocks her across the street with a powerful branch.  Gleador starts a fire with his dragon breath and blows a smoke ring at the Ent to let it know how dangerous he is. The Ent retreats to get fire-fighting equipment. Lucia pulls Rose onto Gleador and the three of them fly off.

Lucia’s quest gives her an unfailing sense of direction to Saarland, but not to anywhere else. Now that they want to leave Saarland, how will they find their way back to Sugar’s Crossing?  They know they went north-east to reach Saarland, so they head south until they find the road from Fairmeadow to Sugar’s Crossing, then take that west. As they fly they question Rose, whom they have once again incapacitated. They take her amulet and ask where she got it. She found it on the body of a looter who wandered into Ent territory. It makes the wearer appear to be undead, which placates Spectres, but not Ents.  She started looting Saarland about 8 months ago. She got a tip from another adventurer that le Grind was paying well for artifacts from Saarland. She doesn’t care what he does with them. She had steady work that wasn’t too risky and paid well. Of course, they’ve taken her only defense, so no the job is much riskier.  They set her down in the woods once the paralysis wears off. She’s happy to be rid of them and can find her own way back.

A regional route showing our heroes’ route back from Saarland to Sugar’s Crossing.

The trip back to Sugar’s Crossing takes several days, even though Gleador flies quite fast. They aren’t taking a direct route. The first night they camp in the woods. On the second day they hit the road and turn west. They camp along the road on the second night. While our heroes sit around the campfire, an Elk approaches. Gleador recognizes this animal as a fellow Druid.  The Elk walks its back legs forward under its forelegs, which push out to the side as the Elk takes humanoid form. Yasha, a 6-foot-plus grey-haired Orc woman formally greets Gleador as a fellow Druid.  Gleador returns the traditional wave, bow, and vocalization and introduces himself.  Yasha has heard of him, and his exile from the Sapphire Islands.  The Druid leaders deep in the forest to the north, aren’t happy with Gleador.

Yasha is a sentry for Sugar’s Crossing. Instead of waiting for people to get to edge of town, then discover if they are troublemakers, Yasha watches travellers as they take the road past the forest, and intercepts undesirables far from town.  Our heroes ask if she knows Rose. Yasha has seen her coming and going. It’s odd that she goes into the woods instead of staying on the road, but she’s not violent and doesn’t get in trouble, so Yasha lets her go.  They ask about Oolite, the family that supposedly built the living statue that has given them so much trouble, but Yasha doesn’t know anything about them. Finally, Gleador says he’s ready to do pennace and be re-instated in the Druid community.  Yasha thinks that’s a good idea. There’s a messenger Druid named Hughes who can carry that message from Gleador to the higher-ups.  He comes and goes, so there’s no specific time to expect him, but Yasha will tell him to look for Gleador.

← Session 16 | Campaign Summary | Session 18 →

Chasing The Sunset & Thaumatown

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

Party: Agnes the Harbinger, Lumen the Lantern, Melvin the Rain, Rook the Remnant

GM note: In the original West Marches, it was easy to have new characters team up, because everyone went back to a single home base. In Chasing the Sunset, characters can be in different places, and we players must contrive ways for them to meet in a single place.

Lumen (last seen on a racing yacht docked at Port Fennrick) has a problem projecting herself into reality and uses Melvin as a beacon to pull herself back into this dimension.  Melvin, fresh from busting up mafia headquarters, still wears the form of one of the gangsters, and Wallace, Agnes’ new dog, recognizes him and runs back to him. Agnes and Rook run in after Wallace a short time after. Lumen asks Agnes “Do you know this dog?” Agnes asks Wallace, “Do you know this being?” But they make introductions and realize that they are follow adventurers and should go on adventures together.  Melvin tries to shake Rook’s hand, but the shapeshifter and the ghost can’t touch each other.  But what adventure should they seek? Lumen swore to protect Jensen from the shady people that she was smuggling contraband for, but the mafia is already destroyed. Agnes and Melvin saw to that. They decide to head upriver, and try to get a ride from Jensen. She would help, since she owes them for saving her from the mafia, but her boat is wrecked, so she can’t.

Our crew heads for the mouth of the river to look for a boat that could give them passage. There’s a raft piloted by a giant, and a longboat with a crew of humans. Agnes gets a doomy sense from the longboat, so they choose that one, and exchange work for passage. Melvin uses his Rain powers to clean the boat, while Rook floats above and keeps watch.

Agnes checks in on Johnny, the mobster who has been fleeing upriver for some time. There’s interference in her vision, like the interference when two Harbingers are close to each other. Through the interference, she sees a crowded city with narrow streets.  That’s Thaumatown, and the longboat is headed there.  Agnes doesn’t want to go to a town with another Harbinger, but she’ll go anyways. Anything could happen.

Thaumatown is a crowded, bustling city. There are clockwork robots everywhere. Automatic cranes load and unload boats at the docks. Flying surveillance drones watch everywhere, and police robots expertly direct traffic to keep the crowded streets moving. The streets are narrow and the buildings loom over them, so they sky is barely visible.  Two towers are visible over the roofs of the other buildings: a large clock tower on the civic center, and a wizard’s tower on the far side of town.

Melvin drops into the water to look around while the rest of the crew disembarks like normal people. The police robots direct them like they direct everyone, but it seems the robots are taking a special interesting the crew. Melvin finds some big pipes taking in water from the river, and dumping water into the river, He swims up the pipes into a water treatment center. His formless body can squeeze through the filters, but it will take some time. As he’s squeezing through, he sets of water quality alarms, and someone is coming to investigate, so he abandons his search of the water treatment plant and flows through other pipes under the city.

Some police robots approach Agnes and tell her to follow them. They clear crowds out of their path, quickly leading Agnes, and Lumen to the civic center. In the central chamber of the civic center, there’s a piston rising all the way up the clock tower. This piston retracts, and on the end is a fancy chair, and in that chair, Brainiac, who controls all of the robots, and thus the entire town, from this central location.

GM note: Not the comic book character. A very smart man.

Brainiac explains that he works for a wizard, an amazing man who can see the future! He foresaw that one day another Harbinger might come and threaten his rule, so Brainiac devised a plan to ensure the stability of the town.  Brainiac gestures, and a police robot brings a weird hinged cage, like a tea strainer, but two feet long, up to Agnes. It’s like a Faraday cage for magical powers, and will block the interference that Anges is causing the wizard, and vice versa.  Brainiac demands that Agnes wear the helmet!

The crew decides to go loud instead of accepting captivity! Lumen’s light flashes ,temporarily blinding the police robots and surveillance drones, but Brainiac was prepared and sends the surveillance drones crashing into Lumen’s last known location. She didn’t move, so she’s hit.  Melvin arrives at the civic center and lets Rook in.  Rook floats in and whispers spookily in Brainiac’s ear.  Lumen starts fighting the police robots with her knife and light. In the melee she drops her knife and smashes her bare hand into the unyielding armor of a police robot.  Brianiac raises his chair to escape to the clock tower, and Rook floats up after him, but Brainiac is prepared and activates an electric grid beneath his chair, zapping Rook & stopping his advance. Brainiac arrives at the top of the tower, where huge control panels and screens are arrayed before him, letting him control everything in the city. He’s sure to call in reinforcements.  Agnes uses the ley lines to reach out from Brainiac’s position, flipping switches and yanking wires. Traffic goes haywire as the police bots malfunction and direct people into impossible patterns.

At this point, the wizard decides to step in. A beam of energy from the top of his tower cuts across the twon and into the side of the civic center, burning a spiral pattern through the wall and into the floor, widening and widening until Agnes is hit! The harbingers interfere with each other’s vision, so Allan a Zham had to fire blindly towards the densest static in his vision.

The tactical situation changes in an instant. The crew needs to close the distance since they can’t match Allan’s power at range. Lumen’s light moves to shield Agnes. Melvin causes a fog to appear, hampering Allan’s vision. Agnes puts on the Faraday cage helmet, so she disappears from Allan’s view.  Lumen, Melvin, Rook, and Agnes all fly, float, or clamber over rooftops and across alleyways towards the wizard’s tower and Allan continues to fire on them.

Rook is floating straight in, confident in his incorporeality, when a flask of holy water teleports right on top of him and bursts! Agnes is flying on Snek, Allan’s attacks force them down below the roofline, towards police droids!  Melvin and Lumen are running over rooftops together and a fireball explodes under them just as they leap from a barbershop!  Barbers are thrown through the air with a perfect four-part harmony of screams! Clients stagger out of the rubble, haircuts burned away.  Melvin and Lumen are singed, but escape further fire and confront Allan a Zham in his sanctum at the top of his tower!  Windows look out over the city. Screens show camera feeds from surveillance droids. Maps, scrolls, and books are stuffed into shelves and piled on tables all over the room.  Allan is furious! HE knew that someday someone would come to overthrow him, and now these adventurers have come even to his inner sanctum. He will tolerate no threat to his power!  Melvin causes rain inside, soaking reams of irreplaceable magical research. Allan is momentarily distracted by the destruction, and Lumen seizes her chance!  She uses her survival knife as a focus for her Light, and fires it with laser precision into Allan’s head, killing him instantly!

Down on the streets, Anges is receiving conflicting instructions from two malfunctioning police robots. One orders her to take a path blocked by the second, which tells her to turn around. They will get rough if she doesn’t obey, so she stalls for time and starts a fire inside the second robot. When it is too damaged to insist, she obeys the first robot and just walks away.

The whole drew assembles in the wizard’s upper room. Most of the papers are ruined, but there is one note about twin volcanoes. Sure enough ,the two peaks are visible to the south.  Rook speaks with the spirit of the slain wizard, asking why he attacked them. Allan wanted order above all, and proactively removed anything that could cause upheaval or disruption.

Melvin shape-shifts into the exact likeness of the wizard and leads the crew back to the Civic Center. Allan a Zham had a “I can do what I want” badge, and flashing that to the police robots allows Melvin to ignore their senseless, contradictory orders. The citizens of Thaumatown are not so lucky.  One group is being sent in a never-ending circle by a few police robots, and an automated crane on the docks just shoved and entire shipment off the deck of a boat and into the water.  Brainiac has put the Civic Center in panic mode. Big metal shutters cover all the doors and windows, and a Stone Sentry has been activated inside to eject any trespassers.  The crew gets onto the roof and climbs up catwalks to the outside of the clock tower.

The clock faces are transparent, and they can see Brainiac desperately trying to regain control of the city.  Brainiac is suprised to see the wizard with some of the troublemakers, but Melvin assures him that it’s fine. Brainiac opens the window and lets them in. He gives a situation report to Melvin, who he thinks is his boss.  The damage is severe, but in another six hours he cna have the robots back to 65% efficiency. Brainiac requests that Allan a Zham lend his magical aid, since the situation is so dire.  Melvin says, “Are you implying you’re not up to the task?” Brainiac is cowed and promises to work even harder. Lumen whispers “You should fire him” to Melvin. Melvin agrees and tells Brainiac he’s be reassigned because he’s handling this crisis so badly.  Melvin hands over the paper with the twin volcanoes on it and tells Brainiac to go take care of it.  Brainiac pushes back a little. It’s such a long and dangerous journey that he’s going to take a surveillance drone. That way, he can call for help if he needs it. Melvin agrees to these terms, having no intention of actually helping if Brainiac gets in trouble.

Finally, Melvin appears to all the people on the docks. He says that the people are strong and capable. They no longer need rulers over them. He tells them to elect representatives, then walks out onto the water and sinks in. The rest of the crew also slip out of town, which has no king, no overseer, and whose overcrowded streets are jammed with malfunctioning police robots.

Checking for link rot

My collection of photo galleries from events I like has been growing for years, with close to 10,000 links. But the Internet is ever-changing, and some of those links from years ago may no longer be valid. I’ve designed a system to check for this “link rot” and save users of this collection from the frustrating of clicking dead links.


  • Test each link weekly
    • not working one week, maybe it’s a hiccup. Probation
    • not working for two weeks. It’s dead. Hide it.
  • Don’t spam image hosts with unnecessary requests
  • Minimize the amount of manual work I have to do


The gallery aggregator is written in PHP, with a MySQL database. I plan to run an automated job each day that will check everything in the DB over the course of each week. So each day, I check every seventh gallery, and move the offset based on the day of the week.

I added two columns to the DB.

  • last checked: timestamp of the last time I tried to access this URL
  • last accessed: timestamp of the last time this URL returned HTTP 200 OK

I skip any gallery with a “last checked” value within the past day. Then I try to fopen() each gallery. I don’t need to download these webpages (which contain many large images) I just want to know if they exist. If the URL returns HTTP 200 OK, I add that gallery ID to a list of “fresh” galleries.  When I’ve tried to visit all the URLs, I go through the list of “fresh” galleries and set their “last accessed” time to now.  The “last accessed” time for URLs that return errors will stay the same, and time will march away from it. The ‘last checked’ time is always updated to now regardless of the HTTP response code.

Even dividing the task up across the week leaves more than 1000 URLs to check per day. I don’t want my PHP job to time out, and I don’t want to trigger DOS protections on the image hosts I’m pinging. So I paginate the job with MySQL’s LIMIT keyword. Each time I process a batch of URLs, I update the “last checked” field, which means those URLs won’t be selected in the next batch. Eventually there won’t be any URLs left to check, so running the script too many times does nothing instead of performing unnecessary DB updates or HTTP requests. I know to stop when I don’t have any more input to process.

The webpage that displays galleries to the public now takes the “last accessed” time into account. If that time is more than 2 weeks in the past, the gallery is hidden. If “last accessed” is between 1 and 2 weeks in the past, an icon and tooltip appears next to the link to that gallery:

  • 🚧 This gallery might be offline.

Galleries that are “fresher” than 1 week are displayed normally.


Since I give each gallery a few chances, this first week of automatic testing won’t remove any galleries from the list.  You may see some 🚧 icons appear over the next week, and in the new year, dead links will start to disappear. It’s a long-term project, but I intend to maintain this list for years, so I don’t mind waiting.