Chasing The Sunset & Reunion

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/Elven Elite, Lucia the Brave the Heir/Halfling Sheriff, Edna Crusher-Harcourt the Ogre (kinda?)

Last time, the Fellowship lost a member to a teleportation accident, and in searching for her, made a boat out of a Dragon skull mounted as a trophy by evil Vampire Fairies.

The Fellowship paddles east toward Doctor MacLeod’s Anti-Moon Weapon and away from the creepy Dead Forest to the west because Ol’ Jardinier’s magic says that Edna is to the east. They read the messages left by previous adventurers about the Vampires and the Anti-Moon Weapons’ destruction.

Lucia: These are very helpful messages!

The Anti-Moon Weapon is a mountain with a mile-long gun through the center, and huge slit cut into it to allow the gun to rotate. As the Dragon-skull boat floats past this mountain, pieces of the huge gun break off and start tumbling down the slope, causing an avalanche! No, that’s snow. A rock-a-lanche! The Fellowship has enough warning to avoid being buried in the debris, but the river is choked and starts overflowing its banks upstream from the debris.  Dryde nand Lucia survey the scene

Dryden Look Closely (+hope, Lucia’s aid) 10+

  • What is hidden or out of place?
    • Most of the debris is rock and dirt from the mountain slope, but there are plenty of metal pieces too. Most of the metal pieces were broken by physical force: twisted or snapped. Some of the fragments have melted edges.
  • Tell me about the river’s path. What is it doing? What will it do next?
    • With the main riverbed blocked, the water is rising until it spreads and finds another path to take. Walking around the area and carefully noting the slope indicates the river can take a path further south.
  • What will happen if we leave the debris in place?
    • The river used to turn south a few miles ahead. This new path will cut of the “elbow” of the river, and whatever is in that area will lose access to the river.

People often depend on rivers to live, so the Fellowhsip wants to minimize disruption and restore the river’s path.  Lucia wonders how they can move al lthat heavy debris. Edna could do it, but she’s gone. Dryden has a solution, as usual.

Dryden considers the debris and wonders which gadget to use this time. Most of the debris is rock, but the metal pieces are almost pure iron. Back when Dryden was a child, his parents tried manay strategies to keep him out of places he wasn’t supposed to be, including securing those places with iron doors. Iron rusts, of course, so Dryden wondered how to speed up time to rust through the doors faster. He coudln’t figure it out himself, but he knew people who knew people. He met an alchemist who thought she was a failure because in all her research, she never produced gold, but she did find a way to turn an iron nail into rust almost instantly. Dryden used her technology to develop the itme which he now draws from beneath his cloak. A long tube inside another tube. he uses his unbreakable Dwarven hammer to make a dent in the piece of debris he’s going to destroy, and places the tube in the divot. He warns everyone to be ready to move.

Knows-Too-Much and White Sands escort Lucia to a safe distance. Averiela stands near Dryden in case something goes wrong.

Dryden Queen of the Wild: Command Lore about the local wildlife. Every Beast is a Companion to you.

Dryden notices Giant Eels in the river.

Dryden: Oh, we have to warn the fishfolk!

Dryden puts his head underwater and gargles out a warning, which the Eels appreciate. He activates the trap!

Drdyen Explosive Trap: open or block an entrance

Averiela Get Away 10+ Avoid harm, avoid notice

Averiela Poetry in Motion: pick another Get Away option: bring Dryden along

Averiela runs on the surface of the water and the Giant Eels pull Dryden to a safe distance underwater. After twenty seconds, the tube explodes in a cloud of rust! The metal piece crumbles and water is able to push through. Much of the debris crumbles aside. Some of the water will continue in the original channel, and some will flow to the south.

The Fellowship carries the Dragon-Skull boat past the debris and continues downriver in the original channel. To the surprise of Lucia and Dryden, this river flows just to the north of Lady Evelynn’s estate. Last time they visited Lady Evelynn, they left on bad terms and are surely not welcome back. They hope that since the water level is so low, they can hide the boat under the river bank. Averiela’s keen Elven eyes spot a woman in the observation dome on the roof of Lady Evelynn’s mansion, looking out towards the river. The boat has been spotted! A figure leaves the mansion and comes down the hill towards the river.

Lucia Quiet! Don’t Move. Hide allies as long as they don’t move.

Lucia hides everyone so the Dragon-Skull boat appears empty.

Lucia: Lady Evelynn is a pragmatic business woman. She won’t attack us without reason. She doesn’t know you, Averiela. You could get hosptiality and tell her what happened to the river.

Averiela sits up in the boat to greet the person approaching. It’s Kali, the sullen Tiefling servant, who works outdoors so she has less opportunity to be rude to Lady Evelynn’s guests. She’s five-foot-nothing, petite, red skin, with short vertical horns on her forehead.

Kali: Keep moving. Travelers are not welcome here. Don’t make trouble!

Averiela eloquently introduces herself and assures Kali of her pure intentions. Kali is unimpressed, spits out “Good!” and turns on her heel to return to the estate.

The Dragon-skull boat floats down the river, which bends from east to south and heads towards Sugar’s Crossing. Lady Evelynn’s sugar mill is only getting half the water it usually gets, and the new river channel is washing out the road from her estate to the town. Surely this will change the balance of power between the three millers in the town. Lucia and Dryden notice that the bridge over the river has been repaired. Two volcanoes tower over the east side of the river.

Roddy Eagle Eye

Roddy the Sharpshooter is usually very quiet and his ghillie suit makes him look like a bush, so it’s easy to forget that he’s here. A hand emerges from the shapeless bush that follows the Fellowship and points up towards the mountain peaks.

Roddy: Edna!

A few seconds later, Edna falls out of the sky and lands on the east riverbank, her feet skidding and digging huge gouges in the dirt!  Ol’ Jardinier runs to her and she scoops him us and tosses him in the air. She’s so happy to see everyone again. She sets down a very thin Human man and introduces Victor, her new butler. She’s introducing the rest of the Fellowship and realizes she doesn’t know Averiela’s full name. Averiela explains that she is “Averiela Star-Radiance, Last Child of the Westerwinds” and that Averiela means “Seeker of Truth” She has more titles, of course, but these will do for now.

Edna is excited to show Ol’ Jardinier some jewelry pieces she picked up in Thaumatown. Alas, the wizard who owned them won’t be needing them anymore. Perhaps Ol’ Jardinier could assemble them into some Ogre-sized jewelry for Edna to wear. Ol’ Jardinier sets to work with a combination of tools in his waist-coat and magic spells. He taps his bifocals and they turn dark. He touches his thumb and forefinger together and generates a spark, which he uses to weld the jewelry pieces together. Averiela wants to know the name of the jewelry that Ol’ Jardinier is making, since all powerful jewelry must have a name.

GM note: Edna needs a way to travel between the two Fellowships that I play with, so this jewelry will give Edna a way to interact with Infinite WIndows and teleport back and forth reliably, like a “Best Friends” necklace that can be split into two pieces. The piecee that stays with Dryden is “from” the other piece that Edna wears, so Dryden can offer that piece to Infinite Windows and find Edna whereever she is.

Drdyen wants to dispose of the Dragon skull properly.

Edna: Is this cursed? The other people wanted me to dispose of some remains and those remains were cursed. We might have cursed a whole town. I’m not sure. We left town quickly due to some unrelated unplesantness.

Lucia: We could let the Dragon skull float out to sea.

Edna: No! Mermaids live in the sea. You can’t just dump things in the sea!

Averiela remembers lore from her people that Dragons were either buried on the mountain where they annointed the King, or somewhere close to the sky. That mountain might be out east, but the legends are old and vague.

Lucia: How will we transport this huge skull all that way?

Edna reaches down and picks up the Dragon skull boat with one hand.

Lucia: Maybe the volcano that the Secret Library is inside is a Dragon mountain.

Dryden: The librarians aren’t fond of me.

Lucia: I’m queen, so I’ll go in. Averiela can join me. Her people are welcome from times of old.

The Fellowship starts hiking up the slopes of the volcano. Enda holds the Dragon Skull over her head and gets a running start, then thinks better of leaping directly to the peak and walks alongside her friends.

Dryden: What happened to you when you disappeared?

Edna: I was following the Wild Unicorns into the portal, ready to see the enchanted meadow, and next thing I knew, I fell onto a raft full of Platypeople!

Lucia: How are the Platypeople? We know they were having trouble with werewolves.

Edna: I don’t know about that. There were a few injuries, but I paid for the damage to the raft. Oh no! I said I’d replace the broken logs, but we left town so quickly I didn’t remember to fell any trees.

Dryden explains that the top of the volcano is home to many marmot varmints. He wonders if that treasure-seeking Dwarf that he scared off will be back. When the Fellowship reaches the summit, they see the marmot varmints, but no Dwarf.

Edna: Should we put the Dragon skull next to the graveyard up here?

Edna sets the Dragon skull boat  down near the rows of spear points from the ancient battles, and clears off the clay so the boat is a clean skull again.  Averiela places a ring of rocks around the skull. She carries sand from her homeland, and sprinkles some of it on the ring of stones while reciting sacred Elvish words. Lucia draws her sword, salutes the skull, and draws a circle in the ground around the skull, outside the circle of stones. Dryden is a commoner, so he does not have the proper lineage to do the rituals that he knows. He withdraws a respectful distance and makes a cairn.

After the provisional funeral, Lucia walks to the staircase down the inside of the caldera.

Edna: Y’all already know about the secret?

Edna leaps down from the rim and her force of her landing makes the ceramic dome covering the Secret Library ring!

Edna: I can’t fit inside, but I hear it’s really something to see!

Dryden: How do you know?

Edna: The entrance is only this big. I obviously won’t fit through.The other folks told me about it, though. Y’all just missed them.

Lucia and Averiela go through the crack in the ceramic dome to the Secret Library for the Forgotten Lands. The interior is lit by magical blue torches. The librarian, is a sheet ghost with glasses hovering in front of the eye holes in its sheet. Rows of shelves and stacks of books, scrolls, and maps stretch out into the distance.

Lucia: I and my comanions have come to learn about Dragons!

Lucia Speak Softly 7-9 three questions, one unhelpful answer

  • What can you tell me about hatching Dragon eggs?
    • Dragon Eggs must be kept hot for 49 days. On the 50th day, the eggs hatch. The parent Dragons use their claws to help the baby Dragons break through the hard eggshells. Averiela jumps in. The Elves know that the parents are actually tapping on the eggshells to signal the babies that its’ safe to come out. After hatching, the parents and babies do a bonding ritual. No one has seen it up-close, but Dragon roars echo through the land, and Dragon magic ripples outwards. Averiela’s lore says that tapping on the eggshell helps with the bonding ritual.
  • What can you tell me about the Dragons’ enemies?
    • The Librarian says there are no serious contenders to the Dragon’s rule of the world. Clearly a lot has happened since this library was sealed away, since Dragons are now extinct.
  • What can you tell me about how Dragons crowned their kings?
    • According to legend, the Dragons gather to crown a new king on the hottest day of the year, on the highest mountain in the world, far to the north.

Averiela wants to consult with her kin to see if she’s worthy of hatching the Dragon Egg she found. Alas, her homeland is across the sea, near the Forgotten Lands, a very long journey. The Sapphire Islands (home of Gleador) are closer, just south of this continent. She could also call a conclave and gahter representatives of the various Elf peoples to her.

Chasing The Sunset & The Power of Friendship

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 uncovered a plot by Vampires to teleport to the Moon and wipe out the last remnants of the Dragons. Buckle destroyed the teleporter for the sake of his old friend Fafnir, causing wide-ranging side-effects.

The Fellowship returns to their boat, the Miranda. They’d like to bring Kitty (the T-Rex) along, but Stella’s Queen of the Wild power doesn’t allow her to bring animals outside of their territory. Buckle has a chat with Kitty

Buckle Speak Softly 7-9 ask three questions, one unwelcome answer

  • What does Kitty want?
    • Kitty longs to return to her home in the Cracktooth Wastes, far to the east.  She wandered west in search of food and found a place teeming with Brontosaurs to eat, but she was driven away by little folk and got lost.
  • Tell me about the Fairy vampires.
    • The Fairies found her and fed her, as long as she did what they asked of her.
  • What should I be wary of when dealing with Kitty?
    • Kitty needs to eat a lot. She doesn’t have much brain, and hunger fills it up and pushes out any other thoughts, like friendship and long-term goals. Failing to keep Kitty well-fed will be very dangerous.

Buckle wants to help the big dragon-thing, who reminds him of Fafnir. He has never been to the Cracktooth Wastes, but what he does know of the world suggests that they will have to travel over land. When Stella hears this, her eyes narrow and her pupils dilate.

Stella: And my boat?

Stella is only willing to travel over land if they find some place that will take care of Miranda while they are gone. Their understanding of this continent’s geography is limited. They could follow this river all the way to the sea and go east along the coast, but that would take them through Vieport, and they are not welcome there. They decide to go downriver at least as far as Sugar’s Crossing, then reconsider. Maybe they take the highway east from there.

Buckle Forges A Bond: “I promise to bring Kitty home”

  • New Companion: Kitty the T-Rex
    • Crushing Jaws
    • Gigantic

As they sail downriver through the Fairy Forest towards the former Anti-Moon Weapon, Buckle’s hears a low growling from Kitty. She’s not angry. it’s her stomach! She needs food.

Buckle: Do you like fish?

Kitty: Are they made of meat?

Buckle: Absolutely. It’s been a long time since I caught some, but they are all around the boat. To catch them, jump into the water and wiggle all around. they’ll swim all around you. Just take a bite of water, then squeeze the water out without letting the fish out of your mouth.

Buckle Talk Sense (+Sense, explain plan) 10+

Kitty leaps off the side of Miranda, causing the boat to rock violently. Stella is soaked by the huge splash Kitty makes entering the water.

Buckle: Fishing! Yay!

Buckle stands near Stella so his body heat dries her off. Kitty thrashes around in the water and comes up with a mouthful of fish. Buckle’s instructions were effective. Kitty can’t climb, so she walks onto the riverbank, and Miranda comes ashore so Kitty can walk aboard.

The Anti-Moon Weapon slides by on the starboard side. The sun sets, and Miranda approaches Lady Evelynn’s estate. The Fellowship watches the Moon rise through the broken clouds. A beam of moonlight shines onto Lady Evelynn’s manor, high on the hill. Birdlike shapes fly away from a frightening silhouette on the roof. Stella shudders. One of the shadowy winged shapes is coming towards Miranda. It’s a Corrupted Phoenix, a smoky, skeletal bird that was unable to properly burn and complete its life-cycle. Normal fire can’t hurt it, so now it seeks fire powerful enough to ignite it.

Buckle: It’s coming straight for us!

Stella: Light up the sky!

Buckle Firestarter: always able to produce fire

Buckle launches flares, which light up the terrible bird of smoke and bones. The Corrupted Phoenix eats the flares and coughs up thick clouds of black smoke.

Stella: Buckle, this thing likes fire!

Buckle: Me too. Maybe we can be friends. I give people fire all the time.

The Phoenix is clearly targeting Buckle. Stella has a plan, but needs her scarier friends to execute it. She steers Miranda to the river bank.

Stella: Kitty, get off the boat! Buckle, light this tree on fire after Kitty rips the tree up.

Kitty uses Crushing Jaws

Buckle uses Firestarter

Kitty runs ashore and uproots a tree growing along the bank. Buckle lights the top of the tree on fire. Hopefully the Corrupted Phoenix will focus on this new fire and Kitty can smack it, using the tree as a club. Buckle scampers for safety behind the Kitty’s bulk.

Buckle Get Away 6-

The Corrupted Phoenix is as big as Kitty and just lands on both of them, talons first! A huge cloud of black smoke envelops the area.

Buckle damages Courage

Kitty damages Gigantic

Stella: Will Buckle be OK if the Phoenix eats him? Buckle! You’re going to let it eat you!

Buckle: Let it what?

Before Stella can clarify, the Corrupted Phoenix’s huge beak strikes down, enveloping Buckle.

Buckle Overcome 7-9 temporary solution

Buckle misses the sharp edges of the beak and goes straight down its throat into the gizzard. Sure, he may soon be crushed by giant rocks, but for now, he’s unharmed. Stella sees some of the black, crispy feathers on the Corrupted Phoenix’s neck soften and turn reddish-orange. She gets Kitty back on the boat.

Buckle: I want to share the fire with this bird!

Buckle uses Dragonfire: vaporize anything except a Threat To The World

Buckle aims his Dragonfire where he thinks the creature’s heart is, and it burns as purely, cleanly, and lovingly as he can muster. The Phoenix bursts into huge, wing- and feather-shaped flames. The glow is visible all the way to Lady Evelynn’s estate. All the trees and vegetation on the riverbank also ignite from the intense heat. Stella steers the Miranda away. After about 30 seconds, the Phoenix burns out. The secondary fires keep burning, but the huge skeletal bird is reduced to ashes. In the middle of the ashes stands Buckle, filled with hope and holding a huge glowing Phoenix egg.

Buckle Heart Of Earth: immune to heat

Buckle Pyromania: when everything around is fire, you have Hope

Buckle is a new parent again! (This is the second time he’s incubated an egg that’s not his. The first was Fafnir the Dragon) Stella is concerned, but Buckle is happy, so she doesn’t say anything. Buckle comes aboard carrying the egg in both arms, and the Miranda sails away before Lady Evelynn’s forces can arrive.

They sail down to Sugar’s Crossing without further incident. Sugar’s Corssing is back to normal. The bridge over the river has re-opened. The garrison is back to normal after the fire.  This month, the garrison is staffed by Elves. Some Elvish guards stand out on the river directing boat traffic. The Miranda is guided into a berth.  The crew rests and shares a meal.

Fill Your Belly: When you share a meal with friends, heal one extra stat

Buckle heals Courage

Kitty heals Gigantic

A Customs agent comes over to check their cargo. Kasca is a tall, slim, Elven woman. She’s 6’2″ with straight blonde hair down to her hips. She sees Kitty on the deck and pulls out stacks of papers. She says the Miranda will have to stay in town for weeks to Kitty to be quarantined and to get all the proper licenses and approvals to transport such an animal.

Buckle: What if we leave the dinosaur with you and go on without her?

Kasca: The boarding fees are significant, and you’d be liable for the cost of the food your animal eats. It can add up quickly!

Stella: Kitty gets really hungry and will eat anything. Are you sure you want to deal with that?

Stella Talk Sense (+hope, Buckle’s aid. +Wisdom, appeal to desire for smooth operations) 10+

Kasca decides that Kitty and the Miranda are more trouble than they are worth. She lays a document on top of a blank piece of parchment and casts a minor spell to copy the document. She explains how Buckle and Stella can sign here, show this form to that official, and quickly be on their way.

The Fellowship still hasn’t decided which way to go from Sugar’s Crossing. Buckle shudders at the thought of facing the Sea Viper again, but it’s better than customs. They decide to continue downriver and get through Vieport somehow.

When the Miranda reaches the fork in the river that leads into the swamp, the crows that keep watch recognize Buckle.

Crows: Wait, come here! Samantha needs your help!

Buckle: What’s your game? I don’t believe you.

Crows: You better help. If Samantha’s not happy, no one’s happy!

Buckle and the crows bicker for a bit, then one rises into the air, surrounded by magical energy. Poof! The crow is replaced by a short Human woman with pale skin and chin-length black hair.

Samantha: These crows are so inefficient! Please come with me and I’ll epxlain everything.

Buckle wants to be teleported, but Samantha’s magic doesn’t work like that. She guides the Miranda through her swamp. The Fellowship eye the moss and gunk in the swamp suspiciously. Buckle wonders if this goop will climb onto the boat and attack, like that swamp in the north. Samantha hides a pained expression.

Samantha leads them to a ring of willow trees. They disembark and duck under the drooping branches. Inside is a shallow round pool, a secret space, Samantha’s home. There’s a big black bull lying on some cushions under on of the willow trees.

Samantha: Ferdinand is stuck as a bull.

Buckle: I don’t understand.

Samantha: There’s nothing to understnad. He can transform, but he won’t. Since you can talk to beasts, I need you to talk to him and find out what’s wrong.

Buckle: Oh, my friend can transform into an apple and a chair.

Buckle Speak Softly to Ferdinand 7-9 Ask 3 questions, one answer is unhelpful

  • What can you tell me about refusing to transform?
    • Being a bull is easier than being a person, so Ferdinand will stay a bull.
  • What do you want?
    • Ferdinand wants life to be simple
  • What should I be wary of?
    • Dealing iwth Fairmeadow is so complicated now. It used to be that the only people who came into our swamp were thieves and we just chased them out, but now  we’ve been into town and some people like us, but they don’t know us, so maybe we shouldn’t let them spring the traps, but the people who don’t like us don’t like us even more, and I don’t want to deal with any of it!

Buckle: Ferdinand needs a vacation. He’s overwhelmed and needs to get away for a bit.

Samantha: Yes, that wacky shapeshifter really stirred things up.

Buckle: A shapeshifter? From Templeton?

Samantha: I’m not sure. He and his friend the knight came into town for the fair and disappeared afterwards.

Buckle: Do you have a place Ferdinand can go to get away? A cottage in the woods?

Samantha: This is my isolated getaway. I’m connected to the land. I don’t travel. I don’t want to send Ferdinand off by himself. I just worry about him. People might take advantage of him, especially if he’s a bull.

Buckle: Perhaps we could add another to our rag-tag band.

Samantha: We can’t impose! Where are you going?

Buckle: The Crack-Tooth Wastes.

Samantha: Seems dangerous.

Buckle: Maybe there’s some way we could keep in contact, like that teleport tirck you did earlier.

Samantha: I can only teleport within this swamp.

Buckle: What about his folks?

Samantha makes an ugly face.

Buckle: I’ve been through that.

Buckle gets quiet and stares into the distance. Stella jumps in to lighten the mood.

Stella: We should play a game! Ask Ferdinand an Elven childhood game. Something simple and fun!

GM note: Do not add a traumatic childhood to your light-hearted adventure game. DO NOT add a traumatic childhood to your light-hearted adventure game.  Aha! Minoan Bull-Leaping!

Buckle asks Ferdinand what games he played as a child, and Ferdinand excitedly tell him how he’d run at his friends and they would leap away with specatular Elven grace. He gets so excited remembering this fun game that he demonstrates, charging at Buckle!

Buckle Overcome 7-9 temporary solution

Buckle evades Ferdinand’s charge, but Ferdinand comes around for another pass.

Stella On a Mirror’s Edge: start free-running and gain 2 Speed points

Stella spends speed to leap over Ferdinand

Stella Keep Them Busy 7-9

Stella runs at Ferdinand and leaps over him, placing one hand on his head for a little boost. She’s good at this! Ferdinand is so happy and turns to follow Stella.

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

Buckle: Ferdinand, stop!

Ferdinand damages Shapeshifter

Ferdinand is shocked back into his Elf form!

Buckle: You gotta face life. This is isn’t childhood anymore. Things are bad, and complicated. I understand. I just fought Vampires that were trying to teleport to the Moon, which is full of Dragons. The Viper King wants to kill me. As long as you have people who love you, you can face these things. But not if they can’t hear you. If you retreat into bull form, you can’t stand together.

Ferdinand: You’re right. Samantha is always there for me. It was selfish for me to withdraw.

Samantha: Ferdinand, I’ll always take care of you.

Buckle senses that Samantha does not see Ferdinand as a peer. She thinks her cunning and her magic make her superior to him.

Buckle: You gotta let him show you the power he has inside. You cna always take care of him, but let him take care of you too.

Buckle Talk Sense (+Wisdom) 10+

Samantha: It’s not often that I learn from an outsider, especially about my own family. Thank you!

Fellowship of Samantha’s Swamp gained!

Samantha offers to share some of her magic with the Fellowship. Buckle and Stella learn the Wizardry move. “Touch, push, or grab as if you were somewhere else you can see.” Buckle can ignite flammable items with a touch, and now he doesn’t even need to get close to do that.

NO END OF SESSION MOVE

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:

OPERATIONS MANUAL VOL. IV

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.

ANTI-MOON WEAPON MESSAGE BOARD.

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.

NO END OF SESSION MOVE

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.

END OF SESSION MOVE:

  • 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 & 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 & Mountain Pass

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dryden Look Closely (+hope for good plan) 12

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

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

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

Lucia: You’ve learned much in your travels.

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

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

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

Lucia Look Closely 7-9

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

Lucia Get Away 6-

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

Dryden Overcome 2

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

Lucia Get Away 6

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

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

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

Dryden Get Away 12

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

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

Treacherous Mountain: The Narrow Path defeated.

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

Lucia Keep Them Busy. automatic failure against Group

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

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

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

Dryden Get Away 5

Lucia leaps off the rock with a battle cry!

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

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

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

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

Lucia Keep Them Busy 7-9

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

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

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

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

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

Treacherous Mountain: The Creatures Above defeated.

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

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

Lucia investigates the source of these constant musical tones.

Lucia Look Closely 6-

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

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

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

Chasing The Sunset & First Blood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dryden: The power source is attacking!

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

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

Lucia: Wait, maybe I can get it.

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

Dryden: Shoot the heart of the face you saw.

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

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

Dryden: This is a poor way to repay us

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

Dryden: Not after last time!

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

Cook: I gave you treats.

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

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

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

Dr. MacLeod: Price of progress.

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

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

Dr. MacLeod: I must have the power source!

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

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

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

Chasing The Sunset & Secret Base

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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