Chasing The Sunset & Snapjaw

Chasing The Sunset & Snapjaw

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 neared Kitty the Tyrannosaur’s home, but approached Castellum, a human town fortified against frequent dinosaur attacks. They were not welcome, but withdrew without too much damage.

On the shores of the Cracktooth Wastes, the Felowship wonders what to do. Surely they don’t just kick Kitty off the boat and sail away. Perhaps they could return to her family. The humanoids doin’t realize it, but that’s insulting!  “Leaving the nest” is an important step in a Tyrannosaur’s life. An adult Tyrannosaur retirning to its parents means that it has failed as an adult, and its parents failed to raise it properly. That’s right out!

Buckle: What about your flock? Not who raised you. People you hang out with.

Kitty approves and leads the Fellowship from the shore towards the cracks in the north of the region.  This big cracks in the ground create narrow paths that a Tyrannosaur can block, and if its prey tries to flee, it will probably fall. Mega-Mantises live down in the cracks. Their powerful leaps let the move bakc and forth from the surface with ease. As the Fellowship approaches the cracks, a Mega-Mantis emerges from a crack and leaps at the nearest victim available: Buckle!

  • Mega Mantis: A giant insectoid predator that is always on the hunt for
    new prey.

    • Hopper: The Mega Mantis can jump to any surface it can see. When it
      jumps on top of someone smaller than the Mantis, they are pinned.
    • Scythes: The Mega Mantis has the tags Melee, Giant, and Piercing. When
      the Mantis pins someone, they take damage.

Mega Mantis Hopper: Buckle is pinned!

Mega-Mantis Scythes: Buckle is damaged!

Buckle: Kitty, help!

Kitty shoves the huge insect away from Buckle and growls, forcing it to retreat.

Kitty damages Gigantic to give Buckle the advantage “not pinned”

Buckle Mammalian Adaptation: Protection from Location Stat “Deadly”

GM note: Buckle’s Protection means that not everything should be out to kill him, so I refunded the damage from the Mega-Mantis, since it should have chosen someone else ot pounce on.

Stella; Did it think we were from Castellum?

Beyond the cracks, there’s a crater sunk into the ground, and a small thundercloud hovers over that crater, with an almost constantarc of lightning going straight down. There’s not much vegetation in the Cracktooth Wastes, except for the forest to the south. The Felowship wonders if Kitty really likes living in such a desolate place. She prefers the long sight lines. Mischievous fairies can’t sneak up on her here, like they did in the Fairy Forest. Buckle wonders about the strnage thundercloud, and when the Fellowship reaches the rim of the crater, they see Snapjaw, the Boss of the Cracktooth Wastes, at the bottom! The thundercloud hovers about Snapjaw, and lighting constnatly arcs between them. Lighting also arcs across Snapjaw’s skin as it moves.

  • Snapjaw: it/its. This is a tyrannosaur with lightning coursing through its body, making it even more dangerous than its deadly cousin.
    • Crushing Jaws: Anything Snapjaw bites is destroyed. Companions are immediately Taken Out and players take 3 damage from being bitten.
    • Lightning Veins: Snapjaw can spit bolts of lightning (Ranged, Piercing, Reload). When this stat becomes damaged, Snapjaw lets out an explosive blast of lightning in every direction. Everyone hit by this blast takes damage and drops everything they are holding.
    • Gigantic: Snapjaw and its attacks are Giant.

Snapjaw appears to give orders to a couple of Mega-Mantises and Komodo Dragons, who set off with purpose. They are not heading towards the Fellowship, but towards Castellum.

Stella: They weren’t very nice. Should we help?

Buckle: Let’s stay out of it. Hey, Snapjaw!

Buckle Wildspeaker: Speak the language of Beasts. Always have a chance to Speak Softly

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

  • What are you doing? What will you do next?
    • Pushing the humans into the sea!
  • What do you want?
    • Snapjaw is a Champion and Bully, so he wants to fight anyone who is a threat ot his strength, and that’s Buckle!
  • What would you have us do next?
    • Stay there, so I can come up and formally challenge you

Buckle: Kitty, is this challenge some kidn of dinosaur ritual?

Snapjaw Lightning Veins: spit lightning bolt!

Lighting strikes from the thundercloud, moving up its tail to its head, then it spits lightning at the unsuspecting Buckle! Buckle scampers up Kitty’s leg!

Buckle Get Away 6-

Snapjaw damages Buckle

But he’s struck by the lighting bolt before he can reach her! Stella mounts Kitty, taking a powerful stance to prepare for potential battle. Snapjaw follows his lightning attack by charging up the slope of the crater towards the Fellowship!

Stella Queen of the Wild: Become a Threat to the World when riding an ally

Stella: Should we retreat, or fight here?

Buckle: Run! Save yourself!

Buckle Get Away 10+ avoid harm

The Fellowship runs towards the forest, pursued by Snapjaw. When Buckle enters the underbrush, his superheated body sets it on fire! Will that prevent Snapjaw from following?

Buckle Keep Them Busy 6-

No! Snapjaw bursts through the flames! Buckle stumbles back into some dangerous plants!

  • Entangling Web: A briar grove that just won’t let you go.
    • Sticky Feet: Anyone who falls into the web becomes entangled, unable to leave unless they Overcome this trap, or an ally rescues them. Trying to Get Away through this place is impossible, and the move cannot be made.
    • Shifting Walls: The web shifts and changes, both in response to damage and at the whims of the creature that controls it. Whenever the web is damaged, and whenever a monster here has the spotlight, open a new path and block off an old one through the web.
    • Highly Flammable: If fire or a Burning weapon are used in this place, the whole area lights up. The entire region becomes Dangerous and Burning. Anyone who gains the spotlight within the web will take damage if they are still in the web when the spotlight moves on from them.

Entangling Web Highly Flammable: the area bursts into flames!

Buckle Heart of Earth: Immune to fire

Stella switches to Silk (a much smaller mount) and runs into the flames to disrupt Snapjaw by running around and between its giant, clawed feet.

Stella Queen of the Wild: Become a Threat to the World when riding an ally

Stella Keep Them Busy 10+ their attention is all on you

Entangling Web Highly Flammable: Stella takes damage

Buckle is cowering and whimpering, but he finds peace in the flames surrounding him. He opens his eyes and sees his friends fighting this huge monster in the flames, and he’s filled with rage and lets out a gutteral scream

Buckle: Leave my friends alone!

Buckle Pyromania: Gain Hope when surrounded by flames and chaos

Buckle Pay a Price to act against a Threat To The World: spend 1 Dragonfire

Buckle Finish Them (+Blood, Kill) 10+ TAKEN OUT

Buckle spits fire from his mouth, like his opponent recently shot lightning, but Dragonfire is more powerful and strikes Snapjaw down! The lighting tether from the thundercloud snaps, but the little thundercloud remains, hovering above the trees.

GM note: This is exactly how they killed the previous Boss they fought: Start a forest fire, then Silk & Stella run underfoot, distracting the Boss so Buckle can land a fatal blow with Dragonfire.

Stella cloak is singed. The dinosaur is dead, but she’s still in a forest fire and needs to get out!

Stella Overcome 6-

Stella tries to escape, but a buring tree falls and blocks her path!

Stella takes damage

Buckle sees that the thundercloud is its own thing, not part of Snapjaw. Maybe the lighting came from the cloud, not Snapjaw itself. Maybe Snapjaw was not in control of itself when it was so aggressive. But his friend is in danger. Should Buckle help his friend, or a potentially innocent dinosaur? Of course he helps his friend! He crashes through the burning log!

Buckle Overcome 6-

The burning log holds! Lightning flashes from the thundercloud, striking Buckle and a non-burning tree, which falls into the fire that Stella and Buckle are stuck in. Perhaps they could balance on that tree to reach safety.

Buckle damages Sense

Stella tries to push through the flaming debris again.

Stella Overcome 6-

Stella pipeleaf catches fire, spreading an intoxicating cloud. Usually that’s fun, but it will make quick action more difficult if they breathe too much of it!  Buckle tries running along the non-burning tree that just fell.

Buckle Get Away 10+ avoid harm, bring Stella along

Once clear of the fire, Stella stops, drops, and rolls to make sure she didn’t bring any flame along, then looks up at the little thundercloud floating above the forest.

Stella: What do you think that is?

Buckle: I don’t know, but I think it’s painful. How could anyone control lightning?

Stella: How do you control fire?

Buckle: Maybe we can put it in a bottle.

Eventually the cloud drifts over some trees that aren’t burning. Stella climbs a tree to get a better look at it.

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

  • What will happen if I hold these metal swords above my head?
    • Stella holds the two wicked blades formerly wielded by the Half-Ogre who called himself King. Lightning strikes from the thundercloud! Stella holds on, not willing to lose these trophies in the forest below!

Stella takes damage

Anyone carrying metal Gear cannot hold this Artifact of Power without being hurt

Stella carries many metal items: these two swords. Her Halfling sword. Money. She won’t give all that up for an unknown artifact. Buckle doesn’t carry much, but he does have a bag of silver coins.

Buckle: Stella, hold my silver!

Buckle Get Away 7-9 bring artifact along

Buckle runs up the tree as fast as he can, outrunning the flames his footsteps leave behind. At the top of the tree he leaps and grabs at the cloud! The cloud collapses into a small, solid object that fits in Buckle’s webbed fist. hangs in the air for a moment, realizing that he has nothing holding him up, then falls to the forest floor!

Buckle takes damage

GM note: I knew Snapjaw was empowered by an Artifact of Power, but I intentionally did not completely define its powers. My players and I brainstormed for a while. This Artifact of Power is Gear with a number of uses and a number of powers. Surely those powers include ranged attacks, like Snapjaw used, but I didn’t want it to be only a weapon. Thinking about other forms of lighting an electrical phenomena led to the following powers:

  • lightning bolts: Ranged, Piercing, Reload
  • some kind of dash move
  • St Elmo’s fire: a bright glow around an ally that causes an attack to fail
  • Aurora Borealis: a dazzling performance that can make friends

The commotion leads the other Companions to Buckle, Stella, and Silk, after they were dispersed in the chase. Buckle holds the Artifact of Power aloft and an aurora surrounds him, making the rest of the world dim.

Buckle Enchanting Performance 7-9 form a Bond with one observer

Buckle forms Bond with Kitty

Kitty is amazed that Buckle defeated Snapjaw, and is also amazed by this new display of power.  She traveled across the world to return home, but she was with the right people all alone. She decides to stay with the Fellowship where ever they go! But they won’t go right now.

Buckle Mammalian adaptation: immune to Deadly stat

Stella Queen of the Wild: all Beasts are Companions

Between Buckle and Stella’s powers, the Fellowship can rest safely in the Cracktooth Wastes.

Fellowship Recovers: restore all Gear and Stats

NO END OF SESSION MOVE

Chasing The Sunset & Ocean Cruise

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 escaped Vieport and reached the sea, so they can finally sail up the coast and find Kitty’s home: the Cracktooth Wastes.

Stella spends Halfing Packed Lunch to heal Gus, Kitty, Buckle

As they sail along the coast they see an island with stone structures being slowly washed away by the tide. no sign of life. They sail on.

The shore of the mainland becomes marshy, and they see a Platyperson on a raft in that marsh. A giant, albino Platyperson!

Stella: Look, it’s Pomplamoose!

Buckle: Please, that’s offensive.

They steer the Miranda towards the raft and ail the occupant. His name is Divot, and he’s a completely different giant albino Platyperson, not Pomplamoose at all. Buckle is like no Platyperson Divot has seen before: glowing orange fur with piercing white eyes.

Divot: What are they feeding you?

Buckle: Fish. What about you?

Divot gives Buckle an odd look and doesn’t answer. The Fellowship explains that they met Pomplamoose once and would like to see her again. Divot sends out a signal by slapping his flat tail against the water, and after a while, Pomplamoose arrives. She recognizes Stella, but not Buckle, who has changed greatly since their last meeting.

Pomplamoose: You finally arrived! Good thing I went on ahead.

Stella: Things came up. We had to take some detours.

Buckle: Now we’re taking another friend home.

He points to Kitty, the Tyrannosaur. Pomplamoose warns Kitty that the Fellowship might get distracted and leave her to find her own way home.

Stella: We didn’t leave you!

Divot: Wow, this is awkward. I thought since y’all were old friends with my kin, I’d invite you to tonight’s barbecue, but I see it’s not like that.

Buckle: Would you show us around for old times’ sake?

Pomplamoose: I don’t really want to.

Deflated, the Fellowship sails away and continues north along the coast. They pass a port city built on a river delta and enter the Straits of Trransmutation. The islands in the the straits are unnatural geometric shapes: cubes, spirals, spheres. The rocks are somehow smooth and shiny, perfectly shaped in a way that erosion or chisels couldn’t match.

Buckle is fascinated and leans over the railing to look closer, then falls overboard! The sea explodes in steam when his superheated body touches it and he starts sinking. Stella wants Kitty to help, but doesn’t speak Kitty’s language. She mimes fishing Buckle out of the water with a long tail. Kitty stares blankly at Stella, then nudges her with her tail. Stella yells at the companions who can understand her to form a chain and grab Buckle.

Stella Overcome 6-

Stella also falls in the water. As Buckle sinks, he sees weird twisted fishes swimming in the depths. Some have upside-down heads, extra fins, spiral bodies.

Buckle Wildspeaker: Beast understand you. Can Talk Sense to them.

Buckle asks the strange fish to carry him up to the surface.

Buckle Talk Sense 7-9

The fish can’t touch his super-heated body, but he’s attracted the attention of the Wizard who rules these islands: Mer-Lynn (she/her, mermaid) Mer-Lynn summons a spiral column of stone from the seabed that quickly rises under Buckle to carry him to the surface!

Buckle Get Away 7-9

The ride is so fast that Buckle is disoriented.

Buckle damages Grace

Once Buckle is safely back on board the Miranda, Mer-Lynn says she’s very impressed how far he’s transformed from a normal Platyperson. Mer-Lynn is obsessed with transmutation, turning things into other things. Buckle asks about her favorite creations, which is nice, because she lovesto talk about her work. She says she’s reached the limit of transmuting rocks and fish, and wants to take her work further, to transmute something’s nature, not just it’s shape. She offers to transmute the Fellowship, swapping one Stat or Move for something else, something unpredictable. There’s a small chance of being completely transmuted, losing all form and becoming a Chaos Beast, but only a small chance. She also wants to move to a location with more interesting subjects.

Buckle obliviously mentions that they’re going to a cool place with lots of dinosaurs. Stella doesn’t want Mer-Lynn to follow them and recommends the excitement of Vieport! So many people! Ghosts! Electric barriers! Hard light bridges!  Stella is more convincing, so Mer-Lynn decides to head south to Vieport.

Stella: I’ll call you a ride!

Stella Queen of the Wild: All Beasts are Companions

Stella calls up a “limo” fish that is extra long and has two sets of every kind of fin and orders it to carry Mer-Lynn to Vieport. The Miranda continues to sail north.

Next, the Miranda approaches a fortress built on the coast of a wasteland. Kitty recognizes this wasteland as home, so the Miranda sails towards the fortress.

Castellum lookout: They’re coming by sea now! Battle stations!

  • Castellum Lookouts, human
    • Powder keg: If this stat is damaged, the gunner explodes, causing
      collateral damage.
    • Sturdy Rifle: When the gunner has an open shot, they may damage this stat to immediately deal damage to anybody. If they can get some time and safety, they heal this stat.

The two lookouts on the eastern towers aim their guns at the Miranda, and there’s a commotion in the fortress.

Buckle: I’ll go talk to them.

Buckle jumps into the water, sinks to the bottom in a column of steam, and walks along the bottom to the fortress and climbs up on the dock. An intimidating display!

Buckle Finish Them (+Courage) 6-

Castellum Lookout damages Buckle’s Courage

The lookout isn’t frightened and fires at Buckle! Buckle is only knocked down. The bullet struck a book in Buckle’s vest pocket: Bleckenridge’s “You too can speak Dwarven!” Buckle takes out the book,which bursts into flame in his hand, and throws it towards the gunner and his explosive stash of gunpowder!

Buckle Finish Them (+Blood) 7-9

Buckle Damages Castellum Lookout’s Sturdy Rifle

The lookout on the other tower takes his shot!

Castellum Lookout #2 damages Sturdy Rifle to damage Buckle

Stella uses her telekinetic powers to push the Lookout’s gun away from Buckle and towards the other Lookout.

Stella Keep Them Busy 7-9 draw attention, face retaliation later

Buckle scales the fortress’s wall.

Buckle Overcome 7-9

Buckle Survivor: when you Overcome 7-9, you also Get Away 7-9

Buckle reaches the top of the wall without further harm. Now he can look down into the fortress. It’s not just a keep. There’s an entire town inside these heavy walls. Many soldiers are runnig out of buildings and mustering in the town square.  The towers on the landward side have ballistae (huge crossbows) mounted on top, and those ballistae and turning towards him.

Buckle: “Wait, this is all a misunderstanding!”

Buckle Finish Them (+Wisdom) 6-

The soldiers are not convinced! Stella drives the Miranda to the dock.

Stella: Blow it up!

Buckle runs towards the nearest ballista, leaving a trail of flammable oil.

Buckle Keep Them Busy 6-

The ballista fires at the Miranda!

Stella Get Away 7-9 avoid harm

Stella reaches the docks, where the walls of the fortress block line of sight from the ballista at the far side. The ballista bolt sails overhead. A War Wagon emerges, ready to join the battle. Alarms are ringing. People talk of invasion!

  • Halfling War Wagon: The War Wagon is a halfling carriage converted to war. Covered in spikes, it is mounted with a rock ballistae and a kitchen, for that extra taste of home.
    • Rock Ballistae: The War Wagon is Ranged, Dangerous, Reload.
    • Built For War: The War Wagon is Melee, Piercing.
    • Spiked Armor: Anyone trying to board the War Wagon or attack it with
      melee weaponry takes damage.

The door from the dock into the fortress is closed and barred, so Stella rides Silk up the wall.

Silk spends Wall Crawler

Buckle: You started this! Why?

Stella Address Book: Find a friend in any town & gain 1 Bond

Stella recognizes the machanic attending the War Wagon: a Halfling named Cam. During the Giant War, Cam was trapped inside a War Wagon that was flipped over, and Stella pulled him free.

Stella: Cam, it’s me, Stella! This is a big misunderstanding!

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

Cam convinces the soldiers in the fortress to stop attacking, at least for a little while. Buckle hides under the Ballista, setting it on fire.

The commander of the fortress emerges and confronts Stella. Priscilla is a human woman in armor, resembling a Roman Centurion.

Priscilla: How can you justify yourself? Bringing a dinosaur here! Setting fire to our defenses!

Stella: Let’s be clear. You attacked us. You wouldn’t listen.

Buckle: (from under the ballista) We tried to tell you.

Stella: Why are you so afraid of dinosaurs?

Everyone within earshot laughs bitterly. Only a fool wouldn’t be afraid of dinosaurs. Priscilla explains that the dinosaurs in the Cracktooth Wastes constantly attack her fortress of Castellum, and their military might is necessary to prevent the town from being wiped out.

Stella: Have you asked them why? This sounds crazy. No beast attacks for nothing.

Buckle: (still hiding) You didn’t even talk to them?

Priscilla: Get out of my fortress! Go talk to the dinosaurs yourself, since you’re such good friends with beasts!

Stella agrees to leave and calls to Buckle, who scampers away.  They take the Miranda and land on the shore some distance away from Castellum.

Stella: Buckle, ask Kitty what all that was about.

Buckle Wildspeaker: Speak the language of beasts & monsters

Buckle does. Kitty explains that Snapjaw, a powerful Tyrannosaur, stirs up the dinosaurs against the humans.

END OF SESSION MOVE:

  1. Did we thoroughly explore a new location? YES, Castellum
  2. Did anyone find what they were looking for? YES
  3. Did we learn something new about the world and its people? YES, transmutation magic

Three boons:

  • Heal: Buckle’s Courage, Buckle’s Grace
  • Heal: Buckle’s Wisdom, Buckle’s venomous spurs
  • Gear: Buckle’s Dragonfire, Stella’s Halfling Lunches

Chasing the Sunset & blockade running

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 entered Vieport without detection by disguising their dinosaur companion as a giant confection. Their catamaran was recognized by its previous owner, millionaire thrill-seeker de Rolo, who was unhappy with the bargain and demanded his vehicle returned.

The Miranda is towing the Hibernia, a cargo ship that can’t use its main drive (a steam jet) in town. Aboard the Hibernia are Kitty (disguised as a giant confection) and Buckle (hiding under a metal bucket to hide his glow.) Stella and Hamfast are hiding in the Miranda’s cabin because they are wanted. Gus, Ugg, and Rose are on the Miranda’s deck, as is de Rolo, his car, and his hired mercenaries (a group of killer clowns)  de Rolo orders the clowns to throw everyone overboard, and Gus and Rose are first to be threatened.

GM note: how do NPCs do things when player characters aren’t around? Not clear, because player characters are supposed to lead the way. But the players characters are trying to stay out of sight.

Rose: Hey, we need something shiny up here!

Stella throws her purse of coins through the hatch from the cabin up to Rose on the deck. Rose flaunts the purse to the clowns. The clowns don’t speak, but make big eyes and grabby hands at the purse. Rose wants them to throw de Rolo’s car overboard. The clowns clap and make muscle poses before turning towards the car.

de Rolo: Wait, wait, you idiots! I’ll pay you more to not do that! Stick to the plan.

The clowns hold out their hands for payment.

de Rolo: I don’t have it on me. I’ll pay you upon completion. You know I’m good for it.

The clowns have been promised future money both for throwing the car overboard and not throwing the car overboard. How can they decide? Rose breaks the deadlock with cash up front. She tosses the coin purse to the nearest clown. He catches it and dances around, holding it aloft. The rest of the clowns quickly surround de Rolo’s car. One clown swings him arms to mark a rhythm, and the rest heave the car and toss it off the side of the Miranda! The car is water-logged, but gets caught on the Miranda’s outrigger.  Ugg has trouble keeping the Miranda steady with the sudden drag.

Rose (using Stella’s stats) Overcome 10+

Rose manages to avoid running into any other ships in the crowded channel. Captain Frost of the Hibernia feels his ship stagger as the Hibernia maneuvers.

Frost: Hold her steady!

Now de Rolo’s car and his yacht are in danger of being wrecked. He is an expert pilot and rushes to the helm to push Rose away and take over. He’s sure he can do a better job than she can. Ugg grabs de Rolo with his robotic arms and puts him in a full nelson. Rose calls down into the cabin for Stella’s second bag of coins. Rose threatens de Rolo with the coin purse.

Rose: Come near me and any of my crew, and I’ll have the clowns throw you off next!

Rose Finish Them (+Courage, force retreat) 7-9 damage one stat

de Rolo’s Sea Patrol is damaged. TAKEN OUT!

de Rolo admits defeat. Ugg releases de Rolo and he leaps overboard. He’s wearing an air tank with a propellor on the bottom, so he zooms away through the water and leaves the scene. The Group of Killer Clowns are now leaderless. They look back and forth and shrug at each other.

Suddenly a mighty Tyrannosaur, ridden by a flaming Platyperson, soars from the deck of the Hibernia into the Miranda!

Buckle Get Away 6- failure

Kitty trips on the railing and falls face-first into the water.

Kitty’s Gigantic is damaged.

Buckle causes a steam explosion as his superheated body touches the water! The whole area smells of caramel.

Vieport’s Public Enemy 1, 2, And 3 summons guards when Buckle is noticed.

Guards will soon arrive! Stella looks out a porthole to see how far they are from escaping the city. The only thing between the Miranda and freedom is the palace. It’s covered in scaffolding, repairs from Stella & Buckle’s previous visit.  There’s a giant hexagonal mirror mounted on a yoke on top of the palace. Buckle holds on to Kitty (which singes her feathers) as Kitty swims towards the Miranda. The Killer Clowns thought this was hilarious! They point and roll on the floor, pounding their fists and kicking their feet. It was funny when de Rolo jumped in the water. It was funny when the dinosaur fell in in the water. It will be funny if other people go in the water too! The Killer Clowns approach Gus and Rose to throw them overboard. Rose gives them the second coin purse for protection from the approaching guards. The clowns salute and turn outward to form a defensive wall, brandishing their knives. Stella comes on deck since secrecy is no longer an option.

Buckle and Kitty swim around the Miranda and try to dislodge the car from its pontoon.

Buckle Overcome 7-9 pay a price

Buckle damages Tail Slam

Kitty grabs the car with her giant jaws and yanks, rocking the Miranda. The car is teetering on the edge and Buckle lines up and unleashes a mighty tail slam to knock it over, clear of the Miranda. The car sinks into the river and the Miranda can sail free.

Buckle Overcome 10+

Kitty and Buckle heave themselves up onto the Miranda’s pontoon. A squad of Naga Eel guards swim upstream from the palace towards the Miranda. Buckle prepares with a Platyperson ritual.

Buckle War Paint: gain 2 Power to spend on abilities later

  • Group of Naga Eels
    • Needlepoint Teeth: An eel’s bite leaves multiple wounds that bleed
      profusely, making healing difficult. Their bite is Necrotic.
    • Slippery: Eel merfolk aren’t shaped like anybody else in the world. They
      may damage this stat to escape, at any time and from any situation.
    • Group: can threaten two characters at once
  • Brutal Commander: This tenacious old battleaxe never surrenders, and
    will sacrifice every last one of their minions to make sure they don’t either.

    • Defiant Command: All nearby Horde threats, including this one, deal
      damage back to anyone who deals damage to them. This counter-attack
      damage happens simultaneously to the damage it is responding to.

The Naga Eels surround the boat to board from all direction simultaneously, but the Killer Clowns jump on the Naga Eels while they are still in the water!

Killer Clowns damage Naga Eels’ Slippery

Defiant Command: Naga Eels damage Killer Clowns I Bet I Can

Naga Eels Needlepoint Teeth: damge to Killer Clowns is Necrotic

Killer Clowns are in Despair from Necrotic damage and cannot help

The Killer Clowns freak out when the Eels bite them and swim away, using their oversized shoes as flippers. The Eels now board the Miranda, where the whole Fellowship is on deck.

Rose damages Get Right In There to help keep a Group busy

Stella Keep Them Busy 7-9 face retaliation

Buckle Rampage: spend 1 Power to toss aside every enemy you can reach

Buckle rides Kitty into the mass of Eels and throws them all overboard! Buckle leaps off Kitty’s back to engage the Brutal Commander. (His rank is obvious from the large fin on his helmet)

Buckle Keep Them Busy 6-

The Brutal Commander has seen many battles and sees through Buckle offense. He dodges Buckle’s venomous spurs and headbutts Buckle with his spiked helmet!

Brutal Commander damages Buckle

Buckle Unflinching: spend 1 Power to damage an enemy that damages you

Buckle damages Brutal Commander’s Defiant Command TAKEN OUT

Brutal Commander Defiant Command: simultaneously damage anyone who damages you

Brutal Commander damages Buckle

The Brutal Commander’s headbutt slams Buckle into the deck, but Buckle’s super-heated body burned the Brutal Commander through his helmet. The Brutal Commander stands for a moment, then collapses.

The Naga Eels disappear beneath the waves and attack the Miranda from underneath, trying to sink it! The Fellowship hears scratching and banging on the hull, then the sound of a big underwater explosion. The Naga have stumbled into the defensive mines that Buckle placed around the Miranda.

Buckle Anarchy Reigns: place explosive devices anywhere.

Buckle Finish Them (+Blood, lethal mines) 10+ TAKEN OUT

The explosions kill most of the Naga Eels. Only two survive, and they’re unwilling to continue the assault.

Sea Viper Big Fish: when the Boss is angered, increase the Location’s Response Level.

Vieport gains Guardian: activate the Archimedes Mirror: Ranged, Area, Burning, Reload.

Agate the Spider has shown the Sea Viper how to turn the huge mirror into a beam weapon that focuses the rays of the sun. The Archimedes Mirror pivots to aim at the Miranda! If the Fellowship doesn’t do anything, the Miranda wil lbe cut in half and everyone on board will take damage! Stella sees that they are so close to the ocean. If they get past this, they will reach open waters. She calls back to Captain Frost, telling him to fire up the Hibernia’s engine and push the Miranda to safety. Captain Frost is is a very  precarious situation. He signed up for a smuggling job, no trouble, and while there have been two big battles on the boat towing his ship through the city, technically his ship and crew have done nothing hostile to Vieport yet.  Will that satisfy the Sea Viper?

Stella Talk Sense (+Wisdom, appeal to desire to avoid beam weapon) 10+

Hibernia’s assistance gives Hope to a Get Away attempt

Stella Get Away 6- failure

Tinker turns on the Hibernia’s steam jet. The big ship surges ahead and hits the Miranda, but they don’t move fast enough. The beam of focused sunlight sweeps across the Miranda. Buckle heroically dives in front of . . . the boat’s hull!

Buckle Heart of Earth: Immune to heat and fire

Archimedes Mirror damages Stella, Ugg, Hamfast, Gus, Rose, Kitty, Miranda

Buckle blocked enough of the beam that the Miranda can still float, but it’s in bad shape. The Hibernia and the Miranda clear the palace and are out in open water.

Captain Frost: Your reward for this is your life! be grateful you survived.

Tinker: We’re still going to integrate Buckle into the steam engine, right?

Captain Frost: No! Back below deck!

Captain Frost Leadership: crew members obey without question

Buckle Anarchy Reigns: place explosive devices anywhere.

Tinker goes below deck and finds a vial of Stabilized Dragonfire with a little note attached “From Buckle, with love!” The Hibernia sails away.

Stella spends Halfling Packed Lunch to heal Ugg, Kitty, and Rose

Now the Fellowship wants to sail around the coast to the east and north to find Kitty’s homeland, but the Miranda is in no shape for such a long journey. The Fellowship limps along looking for a settlement where they could get the Miranda repaired.

GM note: Now I make up a location using my Fellowship Horizon Location Generator, because most of the coast along the route is undefined.

The Fellowship finds a partially sunken island. A small mountain peak rises above the water, and the island is surrounded by trees that grew on land when the island was higher. A signal fire on top of the bare peak. Two people are visible near the water’s edge. There’s no beach. The grassy slope just plunges into the water. The ecosystem has not had time to adjust to the new water level. Stella directs the Miranda to pull in near the people.

One person is a translucent humanoid whose gelatinous body is stuffed full of metal bits and strange devices. Baess is a Mad Scientist and her species is Rain.  The other person is completely covered in armor and gear. The long beaked helmet indicates that this Careful Hunter is a platyperson. He introduces himself as Perry Ogre-Bane.

Baess: Wow, your ship is pretty messed up. Kind of an unfortunate place to pull in for repairs. You see…

A loud voice booms from the peak of the island.

Voice: Who dares enter my territory? None are worthy to stand before me!

Perry: This guy is king of the hill and this is his hill. He’s not going to be happy about you being here. I think I can take him. I just need a little time to prepare.

The Boss of the island, standing at the peak by the signal fire, answers only to King.

  • King, he/him, Ogre/human.
    • Agenda; Champion: prove your might. Isolationist: Keep outsiders away.
    • Ambitions Unbidden: The crown taker is never satisfied. They always
      want more success, better victories, and the total defeat of all in their path.
      Anything less than perfect results only enrages them further. While the crown
      taker is in a rage, they do not have Hope, and cannot surrender or retreat.
    • Ruthless: The crown taker is Dangerous and Piercing.
    • Terrifying Competence: The crown taker never falters. They have Hope,
      and everyone acting against them has Despair.

Perry Ogre-Bane seems to have a tool for every occasion, and Baess loves fixing things, so if the Fellowship can avoid getting thrashed by King, there’s a good chance they can get their ship fixed.

Stella hates people who think they are more important than they are. She wants to take such people done a peg. She invites Buckle, Kitty, and Silk to take a hike with her. gus and Hamfast stay back to take care of Buckle’s Phoenix Egg. Going up the mountain is seen as a challenge!

Baess: You’re welcome to take a crack at him. We’re down here taking a break. Good luck. he’s pretty tough!

Stella: Wait, you’re here to fight him?

Perry believes that training and preparation can overcome anything, and this fight is the latest trophy that he’s seeking. Perry nods to Buckle. Seeking trophies is an important part of Platyperson culture.

Baess: This is a great place to try out new inventions. I have the deconfabulator over here. It didn’t work. Quite.  It will get through any armor. I just need the guy to stand still for 44 seconds!

Stella wants to make a deal with Baess to fix the Miranda, but repairs require time and safety, which they don’t have while the King is around.

Stella Talk Sense (+Wisdom, appeal to desire) 10+

Baess: Ah, look at these mundane materials. Even a droplet could do it. I’ll have it fixed up easily.

Baess pulls some tools from inside her arm and chest and starts disassembling nearby trees.

King Big Fish: when the Boss is angered, raise the Response Level.

King Of The Hill Island Response Level increases to 1

King gains Show of Force: one free Hard Cut

The King approaches. He’s eight feet tall, shaped like a lanky Human, and carrying two nasty-looking blades. The ground is sloped, and the only cover is the trunks of the pine trees. Their branches are too high to conceal any of the combatants. Stella prepares to ride Silk into battle.

Stella Pack Hunter: become Threat to the World when working with allies

Buckle Pays a Price to act against a Threat To The World: Dragonfire

Buckle Anarchy Reigns: place explosives anywhere

Buckle Keep Them Busy 6-

As the King approaches Stella and Silk, the forest around him explodes into flame! The trees burn hotter than should be possible, empowered by Buckle’s concoctions. King dashes to Buckle and attacks. He’s fast!

King damages Buckle’s Blood

Stella The Courage of Halflings: never in Despair when rolling Courage

Stella Keep Them Busy 10+

Stella and Silk are much smaller than King, so they dash around between his legs, keeping him off balance.

King Show of Force

King connects with a kick and knocks Silk out from under Stella!

King damages Silk’s Creepy

Stella is no longer a Threat To The World

Buckle doesn’t like this guy. He just hurt Stella. Buckle’s eyes glow bright white. Dragonfire bursts from his hands and shoots towards King.

Buckle Pays a Price to act against a Threat To The World: Dragonfire

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

Pyromania’s Hope cancels the Despair from King’s Terrifying Competence and from Buckle’s damaged Blood.

Buckle Finish Them (+Blood, kill!) 10+ TAKEN OUT

There’s a blinding light, and all that’s left of King are his twin blades! Stella collects the blades. Perry is impressed. Baess is scrambling to deactivate her Deconfabulator.

Baess: Rats! Twenty more seconds! I would have been able to use it.

Buckle: What does your machine do, Baess?

Baess: It scans from multiple locations and gets a 3D image of the terrain and picks out things that are moving, then fires at everything that moves. You pick nd area and scan for a while, so you get an idea of what is supposed to be there and what is moving, and then you shoot all the moving things. Also. that forest fire is getting close to one of the trees I’d like to use to fix your boat. Can we do something about that? This isn’t something that I can shoot with spikes.

Buckle: I can start it, but I can’t stop it.

Kitty spends Gigantic to make a firebreak

The rest of the island will have to deal with the fire, but the area near the Miranda will be safe.  Perry had already pulled a thin silvery cloak from his pack, but puts it away when he realizes how the firebreak works. Buckle offers Perry one of the King’s blades.

Buckle: I know it’s not really a trophy, but hey! It’s a cool blade!

Buckle Talk Sense (+Wisdom, appeal to emotions) 6-

Perry: Oh, I couldn’t. I gotta earn my own victories. This is yours.

Perry does share some information that he learned about King in his research for this fight.

Perry: So he’s a pretty tall dude. Turns out he’s one of those rare Humans who has Ogrism. When he was . . . whenever Humans transition to adulthood, he started growing, but he stopped. He stopped really early. I’d call him a half-Ogre. He felt he needed to prove that he was a good as any other Ogre. Look what it got him. Set on fire on a sinking island in the middle of nowhere.

Baess finishes the repairs on the Miranda, walks up to the peak just to say she’s been there, comes back to he shore, sticks the deconfabulator into her chest, says farewell, and walks into the ocean.  She sinks in and is absorbed by the water, disappearing completely. Perry bids farewell by showing Buckle the respect due a mighty hunter, then takes his own boat and sets off.

Buckle: Mighty hunter? That’s weird.

NO END OF SESSION MOVE

Chasing the Sunset & Caramel

Chasing The Sunset & Caramel

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

Yearly Check-In

I asked if my players preferred “dungeons” with dense maps that the characters were stuck in, or loose verbal descriptions. My players said some very nice things:

  • They’ve all worked really well because they’ve been at the level of detail that’s appropriate for the narrative.
  • I like the ability to create long-term companions, but also focusing on a guest character for a time. There’s enough depth that it feels like they could come along with us. It’s a loss when the NPC is removed, or it’s time for them to go. It’s that much more powerful when someone does decide to come along with us.
  • I appreciate the diveristy of characters, getting to know what beings exist and having the world continue to expand as we go to different parts of the maps.

Stella was Taken Out after fighting for three sessions straight.  Do the players find excitement in the possibility of losing? Do they rise to a challenge, knowing that they need to leverage all their Moves effictively to avoid defeat? The players said:

  • I enjoy the possibility of not winning.
  • It’s nice to have some tough battles sometimes, but not all the time because that would be stressful.
  • Buckle’s player relates being a very powerful character to Doctor Who. The Doctor gets in situations that are stressful. He’s such a powerful being that success is different for him. The conflict they likes most isn’t when they’re not sure if they can overpower their opponent, but where the best outcome is a tricky narrative to wander through. We’re going to have a chat, but then Buckle decides he’s going to burn the world down. Buckle has Dragonfire which can vaporize an enemy with no roll. It’s interesting to have conflicts that need to be resolved differently than violence. When you could just burn the world down it’s much more interesting to resolve conflicts in a way that’s productive.
  • Finish Them with Wisdom is always a possibility. Try to lead with that. Like when Theona tried to kidnap Buckle and Stella intimidated her into joining up.

i asked about plots and quests. Did they like the plots that they found? Did they feel comfortable setting their own goals? I intentionally don’t include world-ending threats, athougt the Moon could have gone very badly. A sandbox can’t have any world-ending plots because then the players must do that, or they don’t get to play. The players said:

  • Buckle’s player is missing an over-arching goal. They are going where the wind takes them.
  • The Moon was a compelling narrative arc, but now it feels like we’re not involved anymore. We played a part, but it’s not part of our over-arching goals.
  • Why is Buckle doing anything instead of just going home? There’s not a specific thing we have to accomplish for the good of the world.
  • A long-term goal and a goal with high stakes aren’t the same. Buckle’s player likes high-stakes goals that are episodic, but the long-term arcs being personal.
  • Buckle might seek out more Artifacts of Power.

I want his player to feel empowered to pursue that, instead of only responding to plot hooks that I throw out. I don’t think Fellowship has a good move for figuring out mysteries. The Dwarf has a move that’s close: it allows them to understand a artifact they handle. The players rely on me to scatter enough pieces of information for them to put together into something cohesive. That’s a challenge, because mental image to verbal description to hearing and understanding to mental image is lossy at every step.

Does Stella need a goal to strive for? Her player said:

  • Stella’s initial goal (calling the Halfling refugees back home) is out the window because there are populations of Halflings here who are not refugees and don’t need rescuing.
  • Stella’s player is letting Stella stumble on a new goal based on what happens in the world. Right now Stella is making sure Buckle doesn’t die, which should be easy because Buckle is very powerful.

Buckle’s player enjoyed being part of a larger narrative, but not the main character. Another distinction, the scale of a narrative is not the same as the amount of time we spend on it in-game. The Vampire Plot against the Moon is interplanetary in scale (very large), but we only spent a few sessions on it (not that large).  I’ve made a point to show the effect that other Fellowships have had on the world, but I didn’t think of showing a Fellowship what effect they have had on the world.

Mixing big world-shaking events and local squabbles is fun. Both players agree they like side-quests, like last session was just three short vignettes of the Fellowship passing through and helping out with the power of friendship.

I keep the tone pretty light, like a PG-rated family adventure movie, but have a I overlooked any phobias or triggers? Do the players have arachnophobia? No! There’s been a Giant Spider in the Fellowship this whole time. It’s fun for characters to be in trouble and worried, but players should be safe and comfortable. The players do not report any discomfort.

I’m very happy that the players have said so many nice things. It’s important that we line up our expectations so we direct our efforts to make sure everyone has a good time.

Let’s start creating fiction in a dense, linear fashion.

Back to the story

Last time, the Fellowship set out on a continent-spanning quest to return Kitty the T-Rex to her home in the Cracktooth Wastes. They are approaching their first big challenge, getting through Vieport, where they are Public Enemy #1, 2, and 3.

Buckle, Stella are Most Wanted for attacking the Sea Viper personally. Hamfast, who used to live in Vieport, will be recognized as a collaborator. if any of these three are spotted in Vieport, the guards will be summoned. The other Companions aren’t recognizable. To avoid trouble, the Miranda shouldn’t do anything suspicious. Also, the river gets more crowded with ships as they approach the city. The Fellowship wonders how to avoid suspicion. Kitty is a huge dinosaur, Buckle glows, and several people are fugitives.

The Miranda has a cabin that fits human-sized characters, but Kitty is 40 long, most of the length of the boat, so she won’t fit. Buckle conceals himself in the shower, curled up around the Phoenix egg.  The shower won’t burst into flames from Buckle’s touch because it’s covered in tile and if it overheats, he can turn on the water. The Companions will operate the boat.

A trireme (a Roman-era ship propelled by three rows of oars) comes upstream and will pass the Miranda.

Lookout: There’s a dinosaur on that boat! Ahoy! Are you OK? It doesn’t seem to be eating you.

Buckle opens the porthole in the shower and looks out with blazing white eyes.

Buckle: Yup, we’re all fine.

Stella shakes her head. The boat has a schedule to keep, so it keeps going, but anyone who isn’t busy comes to the side to stare. Stella calls out, asking where they are going. This ship is delivering pearls, coral, and fish to Sugar’s Crossing. Stella notices that this ship is much bigger than the Miranda, and wonders if they could conceal the dinosaur and the fugitives. The ship is going up to Sugar’s Crossing, so the Miranda would have to follow them and wait for them to turn around.  Buckle doesn’t want take Kitty back to Sugar’s Crossing, since they already had trouble with the local bureaucracy. Perhaps Stella could hail a large ship heading downriver. Lots of traffic on this river. The trireme moves on.

GM note: I don’t know how ships work, so I opened Wikipedia in another tab to find other types of ships that might be on the river. Some Roman ships had 300 oars in five rows! Very interesting, but I need to concentrate on the game.

Buckle remembers that Emmett (the Sea Viper’s metaphysical advisor) said that the Heart of Earth has the power of life, and might be able to cancel the power of death in the Deathlands. They are passing through the Deathlands now, so maybe buckle should investigate that “power of death”. He looks to the shores and sees the ghosts that fill the Deathlands: vague transparent outlines with glowing eyes. They line the shores, unable to enter the water, hoping a boat will come ashore so they can consume the crew. The river is slow and calm this close to the ocean, so it’s not cutting a sharp channel through the land.  Pulling a small boat up on the shore would be easy. Off to the east there’s a weird purple glow.

The Miranda overtakes a ship that resembles a galleon (those ships from Pirates of the Caribbean) but with a steam engine for propulsion when the wind isn’t favorable. The steam engine doesn’t turn a screw, it just blasts a steam jet out the stern, so other ships are following far behind it. Buckle is staring at the ghosts on the shore and the purple glow in the distance. He thought ghosts only came out at night. He doesn’t notice the steam-powered ship.

Stella steers the Miranda alongside this galleon, named the Hibernia. The ships lookout is a Goblin named Okk.

Okk: Ahoy! Stay clear of the steam jet!

Stella: Thank you for that advice!

She doesn’t want to be snarky, but the steam jet is obviously dangerous. She asks about their cargo and destination.  The Hibernia is carrying fresh fruit (from the orchards near the Fire Pits) and sugar (from the mills in Sugar’s Crossing).

Okk: Are you some kind of circus? Are you selling exotic animals to collectors?

Stella: You could say we like to put on a show where ever we go.

Stella wonders if the Hibernia could carry Kitty through Vieport and rendezvous with the Miranda in the ocean. Okk can’t make those kids of decisions, so he calls for the captain. The captain is an older human man, a bit chubby, with a big hat and a handlbar mustache. He orders the first mate to throw a line over so Stella can come aboard and discuss business arrangements. Stella mounts Silk (the Giant Spider) and Silk climbs the rope, hoping to show she’s not someone to be trifled with. If Captain Frost is intimidated, he doesn’t show it. He gestures towards the ship’s cabin with his right hand, which is a prosthetic with two metal hooks for gripping.  The hooks stick a bit when he opens the cabin door.

Frost; Hmm, I need to get this adjusted. Now we can talk business. What is your proposal?

Stella was going to pay for Kitty’s passage with her purse of foreign coins, but now she wonders if Buckle’s engineering background could help Frost fix his artificial hand.

Stella: I see that we both have things to be done and we are both busy people. I have a large friend who needs safe passage through Vieport and you have a hand that would serve you better if it were more easy to control.

Frost: Yes, once we’re out on the sea and don’t need the steam jet, the Tinker can take a look at it. Right now she needs to operate the engine.

Stella: How confident are you that she can fix it?

Frost: She built it. Who would be better to maintain it? So you want to transport this creature that looks a bit dangerous and avoid attention from the Vieport authorities. Why? That’s your business, but I wouldn’t assume a risk to my ship and my cargo for personal gain. Getting my hand fixed would be selfish.  A captain must think of his ship first.

Stella: What does the ship need? How can we help you?

Frost: Goods that are valuable for trading. Money is always welcome.

The steam jet burns a lot of coal and sounds like a huge, angry jacuzzi.  Vieport doesn’t allow the steam jet in town because it’s a danger to other ships, so the Hibernia usually hires a tug to get through Vieport. Stella offers two solutions to the Hibernia’s propulsion problem. First, the Miranda can tow the Hibernia through Vieport so they don’t have to hire a tug. Second, Kitty has a big tail, so maybe they can rig it so she can paddle with her tail from the stern of the Hibernia and propel it.

Stella Talk Sense (+sense, a plan) 7-9 owe them a favor

Frost accepts the bargain. He leads Stella out to the deck and orders the first mate to take Kitty aboard with the cargo crane. The first mate attaches the cargo net because one loop of rope around Kitty would be painful. Stella snaps Buckle out of his reverie so hecan explain to Kitty that these nice peoplee are goingto conceal and she should not eat any of them. Fortunately

Frost calls the Tinker up from below deck to see about using Kitty’s tail for propulsion. Tinker is a Goblin covered in coal dust. She pulls up her goggles, revealing two green circles around her eyes. She excitedly bustles around Kitty.

Tinker: Oh, yes, yes. The tail has a round cross section. We could attach a fin. Increase power output 40. 40? 70% Oh yes, very interesting!

The first mate is not excited and concerned only with practical matters. He orders deckhands to re-arrange boxes to make room for Kitty below decks.

Buckle volunteers to stay on the Hibernia with Kitty. He looks Stella straight in the eyes, very serious.

Buckle: Take care of my egg.

Stella had forgotten about the egg.

Kitty sees something on the ghost-infested shore and bolts after it. Perhaps the strange purple glow is calling to her.

Frost Leadership: give orders to crew members and characters with damaged Courage

Frost orders Kitty to stop, but she doesn’t listen and jumps off the Hibernia and splashes to shore. Buckle goes after her. Stella runs back to the Miranda to protect the egg. If she forgot about it, maybe her Companions forgot about it, and Gus (the food-loving chef) might cook it! She figures Buckle and Kitty are going overland and calls out to Buckle to meet her on the eastern edge of the city.

GM note: Kitty should follow Buckle’s orders since she is his Companion, but that’s not narratively interesting, so something is overriding their Bond. Story first!

When Buckle jumps off the ship to follow Kitty, he tries to land on her back.

Buckle Get Away 7-9 avoid harm

Kitty and Buckle enter The Deathlands, an unnatural wasteland, where everything is out to kill you! Kitty is immediately confronted by a Specter, a strange ball of blue energy with tendrils that pick up rocks and bits of debris and hurl them at Kitty.

  • Specter: These ghostly spirits like to cause trouble, but they are mostly
    harmless. They’d rather scare you than kill you.

    • Spooky: Specters want you gone. If your Courage is damaged while you face a Specter, temporarily replace all of your Agendas with Run Away.
    • Poltergeist Powers: Specters can lift and throw anything they can see, no matter how heavy it is. Specters can float, and move through walls. Specters do not take damage from weapons of any kind.

GM note: I described the Deathlands’ ghosts as hungry for the living and unable to pass water, then picked a Threat that can float and forces enemies to flee. Completely wrong!

Buckle uses his new magical powers to grab the rocks out of the air and throw them back at the Specter!

Buckle Wizardry: Touch, push, or grab as if you were somewhere else
that you can see.

Buckle Keep Them Busy 7-9

Buckle keeps the Specter at bay for a moment and tries to convince Kitty to retreat. A group of transparent, red-eyes ghosts slowly approach!

  • Group of Deathlands Ghosts: This undead is endlessly hungry, always looking for its next meal.
    • Hungry: Ghouls are always hungry and will eat anything they can catch. If your Grace is damaged, a ghoul’s Cuts against you are Hard Cuts.
    • Tough As Nails: The first time a ghoul would be damaged or destroyed, damage this stat instead.
    • Group: Can affect two characters at once. If this stat is damaged or the Ghosts are destroyed, replace these Ghosts with two Deathalnds Ghosts

Buckle Talk Sense (+Wisdom, appeal to emotions) 7-9 owe a favor

Buckle implores Kitty to return to the boat. She was transfixed by something, but snaps out of it.

Kitty: I heard a familiar voice. I heard a family member that I hadn’t heard in years, that I though was gone. I heard them!

Now she notices all the undead surrounding her and turns back to the river. The Specter changes tactics and lifts Buckle himself! The Specter throws Buckle in the river, creating a steam explosion! Buckle hits the bottom and starts walking towards the Hibernia with a column of steam above him.

Tinker:  Ahhh! An unprecedented source of steam power! The most amazing thing I’ve ever seen!

The first mate attaches a metal bucket (used for loading bulk sugar) to the cargo crane and scoops Buckle out of the water. When Buckle is aboard, the bucket is replaced with a cargo net for Kitty. This takes a while, and passing ships stare at the spectacle. Tinker is very excited to examine Buckle. She puts on big welding gloves.

Tinker: OK, I’ve got the bar of brass and I’ll hold it to you and time how long it takes to start glowing, hen reverse-engineer your surface temperature times surface area … total joules per second, no! watts!

Buckle recommends using a thermometer.

Frost: Our opportunity for subtlety is gone! We are surely the talk of all the ships that have passed us.

Stella: Ugh.

Ugg: Yes, ma’am?

Stella thinks Kitty will cause less trouble than Buckle, so her priority is hiding Buckle. Tinker wants to put Buckle in the engine, boosting their top speed to unheard of levels! She gest a piece of slate and starts writing figures. Buckle looks over her shoulder and corrects some arithmetic errors.  Buckle calculates that if he’s in the engine, the Hibernia could outrun any ship in Vieport even with the added weight of the Miranda. Alas, a boat towed behind a ship driven by a powerful steam jet would be shredded by the steam jet.  Maybe the Hibernia could push the Miranda by putting its prow between the Miranda’s twin hulls. Buckle calculates where Kitty should stand to adjust the center of gravity for maximum efficiency. Buckle and Tinker were to excited to notice, but Captain Frost points out that their new plan is very dangerous and illegal, much worse than the smuggling he agreed to.

Reducing travel time on the river is one thing, but running a checkpoint and incurring the Sea Viper’s wrath will prevent them from making the reliable, safe money that keeps the ship going. Stella catches on “running checkpoints is bad” and not “safety and reliability are good” and suggests re-configuring he sails to act as wings. They won’t have to go through the checkpoint if they fly over the city!

Frost: Fly? Like some kind of giant turtle? That’s ridiculous! We have a hold full of cargo and we can’t heave to to retrofit without being eaten by ghosts. This is the worst time.

Buckle wonders about using ground effect to make Hibernia hover just above the water, thereby not technically being a boat, and avoidng the requirement to stop at the checkpoint. Frost thinks it’s much simpler and safer for his ship, cargo, and reputation, to not smuggle Kitty.

Buckle: The cargo is not a dinosaur. The cargo is a giant piece of candy shaped like a dinosaur. There was an accident with steam jet and the candy fell overboard, but you managed to save it.

Frost: How will we convince the guards of this story?

Buckle: We’ll let them see the dinosaur, which is covered in caramelized sugar.

GM note: This reminded me of the scene from The Iron Giant when the Army shows up at the junkyard and the Iron Giant is disguised as a sculpture. Buckle’s player somehow has not seen The Iron Giant but confirms “We’re totally Iron-Gianting this.”

Frost agrees, but Stella pays her purse of foreign coins for the sugar that will be used in this scheme. Kitty goes below deck and lets Buckle cover her with caramelized sugar, melted by his hot touch. Buckle then hides on the Hibernia under the metal bucket that scooped him out of the water. Stella goes below deck on the Miranda and hides behind the Phoenix Egg. Gus, Hamfast, and Silk are also below deck. Rose is on deck, acting as captain while Ugg operates the helm.

The Miranda and Hibernia reach the checkpoint to enter Vieport. They have to wait for a few ship in front of them.

  • Vieport
    • Most Wanted: If Buckle, Stella, or Hamfast are spotted, the guards will be called.
    • Papers Please: Convince the guards there’s no contraband aboard, or they will search the ship.
    • Heavy Traffic: Whenever the Fellowship maneuvers their boat, they must Overcome the risk of a collision with other boats.
    • That’s My Boat: Secret: de Rolo realizes he was swindled and wants the reclaim the Miranda.

The Miranda pulls into the checkpoint first. Rose has papers for the ship, so they go through without being challenged. The guards have already decided to search the Hibernia, since previous ships told them about the trouble it got into upriver.\

GM note: What is the “hide in plain sight and have NPCs tell convincing lies for you” move? We decide that Buckle will roll Talk Sense. in the fiction, Captain Frost is lying to the Naga Guards, but he’s repeating the plan that Buckle invented.

Buckle Talk Sense (+Grace, trick them) 7-9 owe them a favor

Naga Guards: How do we know that it’s really candy?

Frost: You can lick it if you want.

Kitty doesn’t flinch at the Nagas’ forked tongue, but Buckle owes her for making her do this.

Now the Miranda will tow the Hibernia through the crowded channel.

GM note: Buckle’s player is a poet: “Here in the ship, with all she’s got, here comes Stella pulling a yacht!”

Stella Overcome 10+

Ugg and Rose safely move through the traffic, but de Rolo spots his yacht. He runs down the dock alongside the Miranda.

  • de Rolo, he/him. human.  Millionaire Daredevil
    • Sea Patrol: He can fill in for any role on a ship’s crew. He also has a pressurized air tank on his back with a propeller on the bottom, so he can propel himself through the water and breath underwater.
    • Risk Taker: The Daredevil can never have Despair. At any time, they can
      damage this stat to succeed at an impossible, high flying stunt, in spite of all
      odds against them.

de Rolo: Hey! You cheated me! That’s my ship! Give it back!

Rose: Which ship? What does it look like? We can help you look.

de Rolo fumes and storms away.  A few minutes later, there’s a commotion from the dock. Tires squeal, bystanders yell and jump out of the way. de Rolo weaves between stacks of cargo, does a cool jump off a ramp, between two masts of a docked ship, and lands this car on the deck of the Miranda!

de Rolo damages Risk Taker.

de Rolo: You sold me a piece of junk and I’m coming back to claim what’s mine. And I’ve brought people to make sure!

de Rolo’s not good at speeches. He’s a man of action! His people pile out of the car. How did so many fit inside a sedan?

  • Killer Klown Gang: Mercenaries who dress like clowns, but scary clowns!
    • Ruthless: Mercenaries have the Dangerous tag.
    • Bet You Five Coins I Can: When you offer them something Precious if
      they do something stupid, a Mercenary will always take you up on it.
    • Group: can act against two people at once

GM note: It was gettign late, so we ended on a cliff-hanger. Next time, millionaire Jackie Chan and his team of slasher villains will fight a candy-covered dinsaur!

END OF SESSION MOVE

  1. Did we thoroughly explore a new location? They explored the emotional landscape of Samantha’s swamp. YES.
  2. Did anyone find what they were seeking? Buckle found an egg to care for. YES.
  3. Did we discover something new about the world and its people? NO

Two boons:

  1. Restore Gear
  2. Heal companions

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 & Revenge

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 acquired part of an instruction manual for a teleporter, and discovered a plot by Vampires to blow up the Moon! now they follow the Vampire that got away, hoping to find more answers.

As they sail the Miranda around Doctor’s MacLeod’s Anti-Moon Weapon and on to the north-west, they reach a branch in the river. Stella pauses to investigate their options. The water from the west branch is slow and covered with moss and gunk. It’s draining a forest that was flooded and drowned. All the trees are dead and covered with dark, creeping moss. An awful place, but the silence and lack of foilage would any ambush easy to spot.

While Stella peers into the distance, some moss from that forest drifts near the Miranda. It grab the side of he hull and starts climbing. It’s not just a film of moss on the surface, but a moss-covered Blighted Ghoul! It’s very touch corrodes the hull!  Stella calls to buckle, who comes running over holding the flaming leg of deck chair!

Buckle: Stella, keep them busy!

Stella: Gus, throw me the sour!

Gus the Halfling cook throws Stella a jar, and she pours a semi-circle of vinegar around the ghoul as it climbs through the railing at the edge of the ship’s deck. Vinegar will kill the moss and hopefully contain the creature. Buckle brings the flaming stick down on the ghoul’s head! The ghoul is smashed prone and slides off the deck in to the river. A bit of mossy goop sticks to Buckle’s weapon and crawls towards his hand. He drops the flaming stick into the river.

Buckle: What if we go to the live forest?

Buckle looks closely at the other branch of the river. This channel runs swift and clear from the north-west through a dense and vibrant forest. The big trees in the canopy don’t starve smaller plants beneath them. There are dense leaves from 200 feet up to the ground. The only clear path is the river, which is plenty wide enough for boat traffic. Any number of creatures could be watching from the branches of the forest. Something extends over the river, but it’s too far away to make out from here.

Buckle: Spooky, but less spooky than the other way. Let’s go before anything else shows up.

The Miranda goes up the north-west branch into the dense forest. The thing over the river turns out to be a dragon skull suspended on ropes over the middle of the river. The skull is huge, ten feet long and six feet tall!  Its jaw is full of flat, triangular, shark-like teeth. Two wooden spikes have been lashed to the jaws like fangs. Above the skull, in runsted metal letters, is a sign reading “SO MUCH FOR THE POWER OF DRAGONS”

INSERT DRAWING HERE

Buckle worries about Fafnir, the Dragon he hatched from an egg, but this skull is far too large to be Fafnir’s. There’s a small dock at the river’s edge near the skull. They dock the Miranda there and set off to search for Marigold, the teleporter, and maybe some news about Dragons, which have been extinct for a century.  Hamfast and Ugg stay with the boat. Buckle, Stella, Silk, Gus, and Rose take the trail into the dense forest. It’s very easy to get lost here. The trail often takes blind corners, and around one of the turns the Fellowship almost collides with a strange creature. at six feet tall it towers over everyone in the Fellowship. It looks like a sculptor hastily made a human out of clay. head, arms, legs, but all indistinct, all the same brown color. Even the face only has suggestions of eyes and mouth. The figure moves and speaks!

Seeker: I am Seeker. Who are you?

Stella: We are travalers. We just got here. What are you?

Seeker: That’s what I’m trying to figure out. I was only recently given a name and told to make my own decisions, but I don’t know what that means.

Buckle: A name is what you call yourself. A decision is what you do with yourself.

Seeker turns to Buckle.

Seeker: What is your name? I have met Travelers.

Buckle: I am Buckle and this is Stella. Travelers is our decision.

Seeker looks at Stella and repeats her name. As he does, he gets a bit shorter. He looks at Buckle and repeats his name, extending his face into a bill like Buckle’s. Seeker is a shapeshifter! They ask him about other creatures in the forest. He explains that the main hazards are troublesome fairies.

Seeker: They used to tell me what to do. Now they call my name and try to lead me astray from the path.

Stella: Could you lead us to where the fairies live? As you make decisions, one decision will lead do another. You could decide to have adventures like us!

Stella’s appeal to Seeker’s desires backfires.

Seeker: No! I don’t want to. I don’t have to.

Seeker wants to get out of the forest. Buckle asks if he has a plan. Making plans is hard, especially for Seeker, who only learned about making decisions recently. He walks to the river and the Fellowship follows. He sees the water flowing downstream.

Seeker: Even the river has a way it wants me to go.

Stella: You don’t have to follow the river. Some decisions are easy and some are hard. Help us and choose the hard way. Don’t go with the flow like the river wants you to.

Seeker: Choose the hard way to prove that I made a choice. Yes! I’ll do it.

Seeker agrees to lead them to the fairies. He shapeshifts to mimic Rose in order to confuse the fairies, which he is sure are already watching them. As they go deeper into the forest, carefully keeping to the trail, they hear voices calling out from the trees, offering shortcuts or food.  Buckle can’t resist and runs into the underbrush, instantly setting it alight with his super-heated body.

Fairies: No, no! Please go back!

Buckle: I was promised food. Give me food!

The fairies emerge with fruit and lead Buckle back to the trail. He gobbles up the treats while Stella asks the fairies what’s going on. They say the were trying to lead the Fellowship out of the forest because there’s a Water Elemental up-river that’s causing destruction. Stella asks about Marigold and the fairies’ demeanor changes.

Fairies: They know! They can’t leave.

Stella demands an answer, or she’ll send Buckle into the forest again. The fairies have disappeared into the forest and don’t respond.

Stella: Buckle, did they answer our question? Go take a walk.

Buckle goes into the brush again, starting another fire, when he’s confronted by a Tyrannosaur! It’s controlled by a fairy sitting on a tiny saddle on the creature’s nose.

GM note: The players ask if the Tyrannosaur is a Beast. Buckle can talk to Beasts, and Stella’s Hunter Destiny lets her control Beasts. It sort of is, because it’s a non-magical, non-intelligent animal, but also it’s not, because it’s listed under Titans in the book. I said yes, and it’s funny that the Fairies brought exactly the wrong weapon to the fight and had it turn on them instantly.

Buckle speaks to the T-rex in its own language and asks about the Water Elemental. The T-Rex hasn’t heard about any Water Elemental. The Fairy pilot kicks and snaps her reins and yells at the T-Rex to eat them, but the T-Rex won’t attack Stella or her friends. Buckle asks if it knows where Marigold is, and the T-Rex is willing to lead him. Stella asks for a ride for the rest of the Fellowship, and the T-Rex crouches so they can climb aboard. The fairy pilot gives up and flies away. The T-Rex sets off through the forest. Buckle follows through the path it clears.

Seeker: This creature is making confusing decisions.

The fairies pelt the T-Rex and its riders with stones from the trees. Buckle catches a rock and throws it back, then sprints ahead to get away. He bursts into at a clearing in the forest. There’s a large rock at one side of the clearing with a tree’s roots growing over it. The roots have been chopped away on one side, revealing a passage under the rock into some underground chamber. A camp has been set up here. Marigold the Vampire Fairy is here, as well as two small reptilian humanoids called Kobolds. Marigold sees Buckle (he’s hard to miss, constantly glowing) and attacks with lightning speed! He’s hit before he can react.

Back to Stella and the others in the forest, getting pelted with rocks. Stella stands up and wields her longsword like a bat to hit rocks back at her attackers.  She over-commits to a mighty swing, loses her balance, and falls from the T-Rex’s back all the way to the ground. Ouch! A fairy swoops in to steal her gear, but she sees it coming and interposes her fist. The fairy can’t dodge and bonks her nose real good! She retreats. Stella sprints down the burning path that Buckle left when he escaped. She enters the clearing, leaps over a Kobold that tries to intercept her, and vaults into the roots of the great tree on the rock, vanishing from view.

Buckle tries to placate Marigold and says that he has brought the manual back to her. She’s not buying it. The T-Rex and the rest of the companions burst into the clearing, ready to fight. Buckle wants to prevent a brawl.

Buckle: Everything’s fine! Maybe I can figure out the teleporter by looking at it. If I figure out the teleporter, you tell me what’s us with the Moon.

Marigold likes this deal. She won’t have to report her failure to “him” if Buckle gets the teleporter working. She takes Buckle down to the underground passage. Inside in a large cavern and inside that is a pyramid made of red stone, which Buckle recognizes from the schematics. This is the teleporter terminal! Buckle asks what Marigold has tried already. She turned a couple of the Kobolds into Vampire Thralls to force them to help her, but they are uncreative and don’t know anything that’s not written in the manual. Buckle walks around and examines the teleporter. It has four big terminals which should probably hold batteries, but are empty. It needs power. A lot of power. A level of power equivalent to Buckle’s Heart of Earth, or some other Artifact of Power.

Marigold explains that the Moon is weapon built by the Vampires’ ancient enemy, the Dragons. It sought to deny the Vampires the safety of the night by bringing the Sun’s light to the other side fo the planet. It didn’t work, but these Kobolds, servants of the enemy, just came through the teleporter, so the weapon is still active and may yet become a threat. Buckle asks why the Dragons hated the Vampires so.

Marigold: They are glory. We are shadow. We competed for control of this world, but, as you can see by my trophy over the river, we won.

Buckle says he saw a Dragon the other day, and Marigold is worried until he says it was at the Fight Club. The Vampires know about that one and have plans to deal with it. Buckle says the teleporter doesn’t have enough oomph to operate. Perhaps a nuclear reactor is necessary. He’s stalling and doesn’t actually want to help Marigold get the teleporter working.

Outside in the clearing, Stella tells the T-Rex to stop anyone who tries to hurt her friends. The T-Rex snaps its mighty jaws in acknowledgement. Stella shrinks to the size of an apple and sneaks down into the chamber. She’s so inconspicious that Marigold drops the heavy manual right on top of her as she tries to sneak closer.

Seeker: Mr Buckle Travelers, you seem to be avoiding making a decision.

Buckle: I’ve made my decision. I’m choosing when to act.

A power terminal on the far side of the teleporter explodes! Buckle hid explosives there while inspecting the machine! Fire starts spreading through the chamber. The teleporter malfunctions and teleports every particle in the chambe by one foot, but not all in the same direction. The smooth rocky surface is how warped and spiky. Seeker is just gone!

Marigold: You! Somehow!

Buckle: I’ve been accused before. This is the first time it’s true!

Marigold swoops at him, but he evades her attack.  Stella yells for Gus to pelt Marigold with garlic, distracting her. Stella has to get through spikes and flames to reach Marigold, so she smears a helaing poultice on her face and charges, growing suddenly to her maximum size right in Marigold’s face! Marigold is terrified and flees.

Buckle: C’mon, let’s get out of here.

Together, the Fellowship escapes the spreading flames and spiky rocks. As they emerge from the mouth of the cave, more explosions shake the ground. The teleporter is destroyed, the Kobolds from the Moon are dead, and Marigold has fled into the forest.

Stella: For Fafnir?

Buckle: For Fafnir.

Stella calls for Seeker, but there is no answer. She calls out some final advice, just in case.

Stella: Seeker, remember that you always have choices!

The T-Rex carries the Fellowship back through the scorched path that Buckle burned through the forest to the Miranda.

END OF SESSION MOVE

Three boons: heal, restore gear, level up.

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 & Attrition

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

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

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

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

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

Stella Keep Them Busy 10+

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stella Talk Nonsense (Talk Sense by telling lies)

Shirley Biting Sarcasm: cannot Talk Sense to Shirley

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

Stella spends 1 Food

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buckle: Why golf when you could adventure with us?

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

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

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

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

Buckle screams “Hang on” and swerves around hard!

Buckle Overcome 7-9 Pay a price: separated

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

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

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

Stella Get Away 7-9 avoid harm

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

Stella: “Gus, give me the seeds!”

Gus damages Rations

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

Rose damages Get Right In There

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

Stella Keep Them Busy 10+

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

Buckle Firestarter: set anything on fire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buckle Heart Of Earth: immune to fire

Buckle: Does the fortress have a boat dock?

This casual show of power is quite intimidating!

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

Group of Naga Eels damages Needlepoint Teeth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gus damages Special Ingredients

Stella Keep Them Busy 7-9

Group of Naga Eels requires 2 characters to Keep Them Busy

Naga Guards damage Stella

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

Rose damages Loyal Beyond All Reason

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

Buckle damages Peacekeeper’s Protocol

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

Buckle Overcome 6-

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

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

Stella Get Away 7-9 bring Gus along

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

Flames damage Stella

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

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

Stella Overcome 6-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hopek damages Buckles’ Electrolocation

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

Hamfast; You have to swim!

Stella: I can’t! I literally can’t!

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

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

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

Buckle Overcome 10+

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

Buckle Get Away 7-9 avoid harm

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

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

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

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

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

Stella Overcome 6-

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

Wall damages Stella

Stella is Taken Out!

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

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

Buckle Get Away 7-9 avoid harm

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

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

Naga Eels: There’s two of him!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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