Chasing The Sunset & Reunion

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

The fellowship: Dryden of Conwall the Collector/Hunter, Averiela the Elf/Elven Elite, Lucia the Brave the Heir/Halfling Sheriff, Edna Crusher-Harcourt the Ogre (kinda?)

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

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

Lucia: These are very helpful messages!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dryden notices Giant Eels in the river.

Dryden: Oh, we have to warn the fishfolk!

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

Drdyen Explosive Trap: open or block an entrance

Averiela Get Away 10+ Avoid harm, avoid notice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roddy Eagle Eye

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

Roddy: Edna!

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

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

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

Drdyen wants to dispose of the Dragon skull properly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dryden: The librarians aren’t fond of me.

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

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

Dryden: What happened to you when you disappeared?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edna: Y’all already know about the secret?

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

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

Dryden: How do you know?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chasing The Sunset & The Power of Friendship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stella: And my boat?

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

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

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

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

Buckle: Do you like fish?

Kitty: Are they made of meat?

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

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

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

Buckle: Fishing! Yay!

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

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

Buckle: It’s coming straight for us!

Stella: Light up the sky!

Buckle Firestarter: always able to produce fire

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

Stella: Buckle, this thing likes fire!

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

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

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

Kitty uses Crushing Jaws

Buckle uses Firestarter

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

Buckle Get Away 6-

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

Buckle damages Courage

Kitty damages Gigantic

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

Buckle: Let it what?

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

Buckle Overcome 7-9 temporary solution

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

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

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

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

Buckle Heart Of Earth: immune to heat

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

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

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

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

Buckle heals Courage

Kitty heals Gigantic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Samantha: Ferdinand is stuck as a bull.

Buckle: I don’t understand.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buckle: A shapeshifter? From Templeton?

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

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

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

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

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

Buckle: The Crack-Tooth Wastes.

Samantha: Seems dangerous.

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

Samantha: I can only teleport within this swamp.

Buckle: What about his folks?

Samantha makes an ugly face.

Buckle: I’ve been through that.

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

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

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

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

Buckle Overcome 7-9 temporary solution

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

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

Stella spends speed to leap over Ferdinand

Stella Keep Them Busy 7-9

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

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

Buckle: Ferdinand, stop!

Ferdinand damages Shapeshifter

Ferdinand is shocked back into his Elf form!

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

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

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

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

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

Buckle Talk Sense (+Wisdom) 10+

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

Fellowship of Samantha’s Swamp gained!

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

NO END OF SESSION MOVE

Chasing The Sunset & 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 & Broken Bridge

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

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

Last time, Dryden & Lucia left Lady Evelynn in an elaborate death trap and slipped away without alerting her staff with the convincing and true excuse that something just fell out of the sky and hit the nearby town of Sugar’s Crossing.  They’ll go investigate, but if they don’t want Lady Evelynn to die, they’ll have to get back soonish.

The highway crosses the river at Sugar’s Crossing, and the great bridge, guarded by soldiers from around the region, over which so much commerce and travel crosses, has been split in half by a giant hexagonal mirror, probably 100 feet across! The mirror fell perpendicular to the highway and went right through, wedging itself in the river bed.  The whole town is in an uproar! People are bustling around on the bridge and on boats and rafts in the river.

Some workers on the bridge are trying to clear the rubble around the mirror so it can be moved away from the bridge (somehow!) but the rubble shifts and three of the workers fall into perilous positions!  Dryden fires a rope from his rope launcher to anchor to the supports under the bridge. He’s ready to swing into action, and his chance comes immediately, as one of the imperiled workers slips off the bridge and plummets towards the water!  Dryden swings in like Spider-Man, snatching the worker out of the air and landing safely on the shore.

Meanwhile, Lucia is running up to the bridge. One worker is hanging over the water and the other is trapped in a small space between the bridge and the hexagon.  If the mirror shifts again, the second worker could be crushed!  Lucia heads for the most immediate danger and lays down at the broken edge of the bridge and reaches a hand down for the trapped worker to grab. The cobblestones under her crumble, and Lucia tumbles into the narrow space as well! Dryden wolfs down a snack to regain the energy he needs to overcharge his flying disk, grabs his rope, and flies up to assist Lucia & the trapped worker.

GM note: Overcharge allows Dryden to either carry another person or fly for the entire scene, but he used both options simultaneously.

Dryden drops the rope for Lucia and lifts the worker out of the crevice. The worker clings to her crowbar, wedged between the mirror and the bridge, and as she pulls it free it scrapes across the surface of the mirror, showering Lucia with shards of glass! Lucia grabs the rope and hauls herself out of the crevice.

One more worker is in danger, hanging by his hands over the river.  Dryden puts down the worker he’s carrying and flies in to snatch up this worker.  The worker panics as Dryden tries to pick him up in passing and doesn’t let go of his handhold, so Dryden is yanked to a sudden stop, loses control, and they both fall into the river!  Lucia has run to the end of the bridge and down to the shore, and she jumps in and swims to the floundering worker.  She drags him to one of the many rafts and boats either trying to provide relief or caught in the traffic jam.  The owner of the raft isn’t happy about two unexpected passenger. He diverts to shore to let them off, but cusses Lucia out the whole way.

No one is in immediate danger anymore, so our heroes can take a deep breath.  Dryden recovers his rope launcher and a shard of mirror.  Naga guards shoo people away from the bridge and try to enforce some sort of order.  Dryden is relieved that the the mirror landed parallel to the flow of the river and not across it.  The mirror is big enough it might have blocked the river and flooded the town!  Is this giant mirror what MacLeod launched at the moon?  Lucia applies a healing poultice to her shrapnel wounds. She notices that someone scrawled “Buckle was here” on the hem of her sleeve.  Dryden realizes that the snack he ate in a hurry was a Halfling snack:  nuts and small fruits. Who has been messing with their stuff?

Lucia & Dryden return to  Evelynn’s Manor. Callie, the sullen Oni woman, opens the gate.

Callie: Guess it wasn’t a big deal.

Lucia: Actually a giant metal mirror fell from the sky and blocked the river.

Callie blinks a few times in actual amazement before she can restore her uncaring facade. She opens the front door for them, but does not follow them inside. What do they do now?  It seems their earlier indiscretions have gone unnoticed thus far.  Lady Evelynn has been in the sleeping gas for about nine hours. If she stays there for three more hours, she’ll die. She’s definitely a bad person, but she hasn’t done anything against Lucia & Dryden personally. Can they just let her die? Not doing anything isn’t technically killing, right? They decide to look around the mansion a bit before deciding.

There’s a trophy room at the center of the upper floor: tables full of strange, sharp, unpleasant-looking items; Tapestries, paintings, and shields hung on the walls; a pedestal in the center of the room.  Dryden looks around and discovers a secret passage by moving one of the paintings on the north wall.  There are also locked double doors on the north wall.  Dryden investigates the pedestal in the middle of the room and unintentionally hits a secret switch, causing the pedestal to lower into the floor!  Dryden teeters on the edge of a pit!  Lucia pulls him back to safety.  (That secret switch is not in a good position.)  They hear footsteps approaching and dive into the secret passage to avoid notice.  Two servants enter the room and look around.  One presses another hidden switch and brings the pedestal back up. The servants wonder who moved it, and if anything is missing from the trophy room.  Lucia uses her secret bloodline power to make the servants forget the past few minutes.  They find themselves standing in the trophy room, which looks perfectly normal. Confused, they leave and return to their duties.

Lucia and Dryden explore the secret passage. There’s a ladder leading down, and access to the guest rooms on the second floor, including their room. There’s no access from the secret passage to the room behind the big locked doors, which they assume is Evelynn’s master bedroom.  Oh, right, Evelynn. They go back to the observatory to check on her. Dryden disables the trap on the door before entering. Evelynn and Jayce are still lying unmoving in the pulsating gas cloud.  The sun has risen, so Evelynn is casting a shadow. The lashers she used in the fight last night are nowhere to be found.  Dryden pokes the shadow cautiously, but it does not move.  He reaches into the gas cloud and picks up the bolas in the proper way, so the gravity waves suck all the sleeping gas back inside the bolas.  Evelynn and Jayce have been in the gas for about nine hours, so they will wake up in another nine hours.  She’s sure to warn MacLeod that Dryden & Lucia want to stop her when she awakes.

They are determined to get into Lady Evelynn’s room, so they return to the trophy room.  Dryden steals a harpoon gun, and collects the Ever-Burning Brand that he donated to Lady Evelynn’s collection earlier. It’s actually a bomb. The light is a side-effect.  He blows the doors off and they enter Lady Evelynn’s suite. It’s a huge room with a desk on one side.  The other side is dominated by a circular bed ten feet across covered in dozens of pillows. Another set of double doors are on the far wall. Lucia wants to read the documents on Evelynn’s desk, but the explosion has attracted attention!  Lucia hides in the bed. Dryden wants to hide under the bed, but this bed is directly on the ground. So weird!  He hides in a pile of pillows.  Three maids and cook burst through the smoking doorway and look around in a panic.  Two maids and the cook rush off to get water or warn people, so there’s only one maid left in the room. Lucia and Dryden run from the bed to the doors in the far wall, which lead to a swimming pool. The maid starts to chase them, but Lucia makes her forget & shuts the doors.  The maid re-discovers the explosion and runs off to alert people!

For a moment, Lucia & Dryden have the place to themselves. They look around the pool room. This is where Lucia and Gleador first met Lady Evelynn long ago. The pool is surrounded by big windows. They consider escaping through the windows, but looking out, they see Callie patrolling the yard with a Hell Hound. Lucia grabs some papers from Lady Evelynn’s desk which confirm that the Mayor of Templeton did NOT leave before breakfast, but was thrown into a secret dungeon in the basement. There’s also a work order for reinforcing security of the secret dungeon, after a recent jail-break freed all the prisoners.

Lucia & Dryden are sure they will never be welcome here again, and need to leave soon. How violent and spiteful should their exit be? They can’t bring themselves to execute a helpless enemy, so they will let Lady Evelynn live. They will, however, destroy her secret dungeon.  Dryden looks through the trophy room and finds an explosive device. She keeps a lot of nasty stuff in her trophy room! Not a nice lady!  The cook from earlier returns and sees them up to no good.  He comes at them with his cleaver and Lucia draws her sword to keep him back.  Dryden pulls out a terrifying, cursed weapon.  It’s basically a gladius, but the crossguard is a reflective globe. Looking into the reflective reveals a great fear.  The cook looks at the cursed sword and sees a long banquet table of sick, thin people. No matter what he serves them, they can’t eat it. He can’t please them. He can’t nourish them.  The cook breaks down in tears.

Lucia and Dryden have no time to comfort him. They run back to the pool. Dryden sets the charge and detonates it! The building shakes and the bottom of the pool collapses. Thousands of gallons of water crash down through the ground floor and into the basement, completely ruining them.  They smash open a window, Lucia holds on to Dryden, and he overcharges his flying stone to fly them both away!  A spectacular exit!

Chasing The Sunset & Hidden Dungeon

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

The party: Stella the Halfling, Buckle the Platyperson

Last time, Stella, Buckle, and Ori sought hospitality at the house of a noblewoman. Stella and Buckle found a secret passage behind the wall of their bedroom and decided to investigate while Ori stayed behind to look at the sky.

The party started in the leftmost bedroom, and the red line represents the secret passage inside a wall.

Stella and Buckle peek into the next two bedrooms. They are clean and functional, but nowhere near as fancy as the ballrooms they walked through to get to their rooms.  They get the impression that they are not honored guests.

They peek through the eyeholes of a painting that looks into the ballroom on the other side of the wall. Two fancy people are having a conversation. One is a woman dressed in expensive-looking black & magenta clothing with gold accents.  She has pince nez glasses and long, sharp fingers.  She’s talking to a thin man in grey clothes. he has a gaunt, severe face with sunken cheeks.  The party dubs him “Resting Evil Face” he’s explaining how he is looking for a Halfling boy, probably riding a dog, who ran away.

Evelynn: “If there’s one thing I hate more than pets, it’s kids!”

In consideration of her long relationship with Anton’s organization, Evelynn will keep an eye out, but she does not want to babysit! Stella is worried about her fellow Halfling, since these two do not seem benevolent.

GM note: Evelynn is based on K/DA Evelynn from League of Legends and Antony is based on Anton Ego from Ratatouille.

At the east end of the secret passage, there are ladders leading up and down. The party climbs to the upper floor.

The secret passage is in the north wall.

They peek through the peepholes and see two large, fancy bedrooms that are much nicer than their quarters downstairs. Two humans are asleep in the western room. The woman has a shiny suit of armor on her side of the room, and the man in the other bed has gadgets spread out all over his side of the room.  They are Dryden and Lucia, player characters! Buckle looks over Dryden’s gadgets: a magic stone, a gun with a coil of rope, a Dwarf-made hammer, and other strange objects.  Stella slips a Halfling snack (cashews almonds, an apricot, and grapes) into Dryden’s bag. Buckle writes “Buckle was here” on Lucia’s shield.

On to the next room. The room is set up and there’s luggage here, but no one is inside.  There are elbow-length rubber gloves, first aid kits (especially for burns) and a bottle of odd-smelling fluid (probably chloroform).  There’s a planner that details Anton’s search for “Experiment #72” with several place names checked off, including “Port Fennrick”. They hear footsteps approaching in the hallway and dive past the painting back into the secret passage.  Too close! They watch and Anton enters the room. He doesn’t seem to notice that anything has been disturbed. He needs to de-stress after that important conversation. Talking to people takes a lot out of him. He gets out a pad of paper and does some chemistry puzzles to relax.

Confident that their intrusion was not noticed, Stella and Buckle move on.The entrance to the eastern room is behind a shield. It’s a trophy room, with tables around the room covered in fancy items. There’s a large pedestal in the center of the room. Buckle comes out of the wall and dives under a table.  Stella confidently walks up an examines the central pedestal. It has glass sides and a metal lid, so it could probably support quite a bit of weight. It seems the fanciest trophies are here. As Stella leans in to looks at the treasures, she unknowingly presses a hidden button and the pedestal lowers into the floor!  Stella is now teetering over a shaft going down to who knows where!  Buckle runs out to grab her, but he’s on the other side of the shaft, so now the two of them are leaning on each other over the shaft. They both push off each other at the same time and regain their balance.  They retreat to the secret passage. Buckle is sure they’ve alerted someone and wants to retreat to their room, but they hear footsteps approaching from the ladder that leads back to their rooms. They retreat to Lucia and Dryden’s room.  They listen for the footsteps, but of course they can’t hear people moving in the secret passage from inside the rooms. That would not be very secret. Buckle slides the painting aside just a little and sticks his snout in to the passageway. His electrosense detects the servant moving into the trophy room then back into the secret passage. The servant suspects one of the guests, but will alert Evelynn before questioning the guests. He goes back into the trophy room, leaving the secret passage clear. Buckle and Stella hustle back to their room.

Ori is gone!  There’s no time to figure that out now. Stella and Buckle quickly get into bed. Stella pretends to sleep but keeps one eye open. She sees someone look through the peepholes from the secret passageway, then shortly afterwards there’s a knock at the door.  Stella  slowly opens the door and yawns. Buckle is snoring in his bed. Jayce is checking on the guests. He doesn’t see Ori and wants to come in and investigate, but Stella warns him not to.

Stella: “It’s not wise to wake Buckle, he’s gets violent.”

Jayce is bamboozled and will not press the issue. He leaves and Stella snags a key from him.

Once he’s gone, Stella goes over to Buckle and finds out that he was actually asleep!

Buckle: “Best way to pretend is to do.”

They wait for the house to calm down, then venture out into the secret passage again. This time they take the ladder down and emerge in the cellar.

Stella peers out from the secret passage before stepping into the room. There is a row of small holes in the ceiling above the door in the north wall. The south wall is mostly a huge vault door. On the east and west walls, three doors each with small barred windows. In the middle of the room, a square hole with a piston extending from it through a matching hole in the ceiling.  Buckle detects life-signs from two of the cells.  Every few seconds, there’s a sharp click from the northwestern cell.

GM note: Attempting to replicate this sound over a webcam by tapping on the desk produces a terrifying, earthshaking sound.  I gave my players entirely the wrong impression.

The party considers how to approach the prisoners. Stella thinks they should have fake names. Buckle doesn’t think that will work. He’s a Platyperson. He’s sure to stand out.  Maybe he could pretend to be a dog.  Stella steps out fo the secret passage, then steps back in,

Stella: “Just so you know, your name is Pickle!”

They step out and peek through the windows of each cell in turn. The middle cell on the west wall contains a giant albino Platyperson sleeping on the floor, using the cot as a pillow. Stella examines the cell and sees some dog-eared books on the floor and tally marks scratched on the ceiling. Stella doesn’t wake the creature and moves over to the cell that’s making noise.

That cell contains a female Dwarf in a fancy but tattered dress, lying on the cot and bouncing a rock off the wall and back to herself. She spots Stella at the window and rushes over.

Mayor: “You’ve got to help me! I’m the Mayor of Templeton! I was kidnapped by insurgents!  I’ve been here for weeks!”

Buckle: “What’s up with the giant Platyperson in the other cell?”

Mayor: “I have no time for such trivial matters.  You’ve got to get me out of here!”

Buckle: “We’ll get you both, but maybe not in the same trip.”

Mayor: “Me first!”

Stella wakes up the Platyperson. Her name is Pomplamoose and she’s eight feet tall, twice as tall as a normal Platyperson. She and Buckle exchange a traditional Platyperson greeting. Stella tries the key she stole from Jayce and it opens the cell door!  Pomplamoose doesn’t know why she was kidnapped, but she hopes it’s not for taxidermy!  Buckle asks why the Mayor is here.

Pomplamoose: “I heard Evelynn says something about ‘disrespect.’ She threw the Mayor in the cell personally. Well, her shadow did, technically.”

Buckle: “You mean her beast shadow?”

GM note: Buckle’s Destiny playbook, the Apex, lets him gain a Shadow, a companion with abilities like his own that lets him be in two places at once.

Pomplamoose: “No, an actual shadow.”

Stella: “Is the shadow here now?!”

Everyone looks around, but the shadows cast by the torches that light the room show no signs of intelligence.

Stella: “How did they get you in here?”

Pomplamoose: “Roughly?”

Stella: “No, which door? What about those holes over that door?”

Pomplamoose goes to look at the door Stella indicates, and Stella has to scramble to stop her! Those holes are definitely a trap. Anyone who opens the door will be shot with arrows. Stella and Buckle plot how to get everyone out. Should they activate the elevator in the middle of the room? It caused quite a distraction last time. The secret passage is a tight squeeze for a human. Pomplamoose has no chance of fitting.

Buckle: “Pomplamoose, how do you feel about being ridden?”

Pomplamoose: “You are small and sickly. I’ll carry you.”

Buckle and Pomplamoose do a Platyperson ritual to prepare for battle.

Stella opens the Mayor’s cells and warns her sternly.

 Stella: “You must say nothing. Pickle will throw you back in!”

Buckle and the Mayor leave through the secret passage and head back towards the bedroom. The Mayor is having a lot of trouble staying quiet and following orders. Buckle finds Rose, Gus, and Ugg in the bedroom. Ori is gone. He’ll have to fend for himself.  Silk the giant spider is in the stables. They have to retrieve him on the way out.

Stella counts to sixty to give the others time to get to their room before causing trouble.  She asks Pomplamoose how impenetrable her tail is, then decides a cot is a better shield.  Pomplamoose holds a cot up to the ceiling to block the arrows while Stella opens the door. The trap fires, injuring Pomplamoose.

Stella and Pomplamoose burst out of cellar doors on the north side of Evelynn’s manor while Buckle and his four companions jump out the window on the west side and head for the stables.

Akali, a petite woman with red skin and small horns on her forehead, runs from the stables towards the cellar door, accompanied by a Hellhound.  Buckle attempts to avoid notice as he and his followers approach the stables to retrieve Silk. It works, because Akali is laser-focused on the giant escaping prisoner.

Stella’s player: “OK, I’m ready to fight this demon child!”

GM: “She’s an adult. She’s just petite!”

Pomplamoose slams her tail on the ground and roars. Stella enlarges to her maximum size in a threat display.  Akali leaps with a flying kick, smashing into Stella, who knocks back into Pomplamoose, who is violently sandwiched into the manor wall.  Stella no-sells the attack, which intimidates Alaki. That was her best shot and it did nothing.  She retreats and doesn’t see Pomplamoose fall over unconscious. The Hellhound still thinks it can fight, but it hears a terrifying howl from Buckle, looks south and sees half a dozen angry creatures charging it.  Stella also draws a longsword and charges, and the Hellhound flees with its tail between its legs.

The alarm has well and truly been raised.  Lights tun on on the upper floor, and a woman throws her windows over to look down on the crowd of fugitives.  The lamplight behind her throws a dramatic shadow on the lawn, and this shadow starts pulling itself out of the ground.  Oh, THAT shadow.  Now they understand.  All seven conscious escapees get under Pomplamoose to carry her away, down the path to the mill and into the water.  Stella starts to heal her as everyone floats down the river on her belly.  Surely whatever town is downstream will be safer than the estate they just escaped, right?

GM note: No end-of-session move

Chasing The Sunset & Lady Evelynn

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

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

Lucia and Dryden are inside a hidden library. Centuries ago, when Lucia’s ancestors decided that their kindgom should become the Forgotten Lands, some librarians who did not wish for all their knowledge to be forgotten left their home and founded this library. At the bottom of an extinct volcano’s caldera, they collected lore about creatures of darkness. An evil warlord besieged the library, intent on capturing its secrets, but two legendary heroes broke the siege, giving the librarians within time to encase the library in a magical impervious shell. One hundred and two years later, who should break the shell and reach the inside but the rightful Queen of the Forgotten Lands! Only one ghostly librarian is left, but she has issued Lucia a library card and is ready to answer her questions.

GM note: Fellowship has a move for getting information from people, and a move for learning about the world, but asking a librarian to recite information about the world is somewhere in between. As a compromise, I let the players ask questions from both the Look Closely and Speak Softly list, but reduced the number of questions from three to two.

Lucia wants to know about vampires.  Vampires feed on the blood of the living. Sunlight harms them. Like with Zombies, if a Vampire bites you a little, you become one, but if one bites you a lot, you die and are consumed. Vampires don’t age from the time they are turned. Since they have long lives and consider normal people as livestock, they tend to be shadowy manipulators. th ghostly librarian floats through stacks of ancient books, pulling some out with poltergeist powers to illustrate her points. Here’s a portrait of a noble rumored to be a vampire. Here is a report of a battle against vampires.

The librarian doesn’t know anything about Werewolves. She doesn’t even know about the Moon, That appeared after the library was sealed away.

Dryden wants to know where to find magical items. The librarian says that following the river to the north all the way east to where it flows into the sea, there’s a small settlement housing a magical tinker.  She also heard word of a mine south and east that made a large effort to open new shafts, then suddenly went quiet. Perhaps they found something powerful and didn’t want anyone to know. Lucia thinks that might be the Oolite mine.

GM note: I told Dryden’s player that something was going to pop out of a big specimen jar and get Dryden. Would Dryden knock it off the shelf, or open it and look inside? Dryden would definitely open a specimen jar and look inside!

Dryden notices a large specimen jar on a shelf that is completely black. It’s impossible to see what’s inside. He pops the lid open, looks inside, and finds a Creeping Shadow! The specimen jar is clear, like a normal jar, but completely filled with a malevolent shadow creature. It emerges from the jar and pours over Dryden’s body like some horrible black jelly! The goo stiffens and begins to operate Dryden’s limbs like a puppet!  The librarian quickly informs Lucia of the Creeping Shadow’s power to control the bodies of others, and its weakness to bright light and fire. Lucia draws her sword and tries to scrape the Shadow off of Dryden and put it back in the jar. Shadow Dryden grabs her arms to stop her, and as they wrestle, they smash into a pile of ancient books stacked up to the ceiling.

Hundreds of tomes collapse on top of them! At the end of each shelf in the library is a sign warning “Do not remove books without a library card.” Lucia was given a library card, since she is the queen, but Dryden does not have a card, so he has violated a magical taboo! The penalty is teleportation. He appears outside the library at the top of one of the staircases leading down from the rim of the caldera. Great news! In the sunlight, the Creeping Shadow begins to dissolve. Bad news! This is the staircase damaged in the fight to save the library long ago. There are no stairs under Dryden’s feet, and he falls!  He grabs his rope gun and throws a line to save himself!  back inside the library, Lucia’s library card means she can stay and be crushed by a huge pile of books! She rolls away and the heap only strikes the ghostly library, who floats out of the pile untouched. She’s quite upset. This will take hours to clean up. Alas, Your Majesty, the library is closed and you must leave now. Books start floating back to their proper places. the librarian has no arms under her ghost’s sheet, but she has telekinesis.

As Lucia leaves, she asks if the librarian has any message for home. The librarian would like to re-establish contact with the home branch, but normal messenger hawks are afraid of ghosts. Lucia will tell the main library that this branch is open once more, and they will figure out how to get in touch. They do have the accumulated knowledge an the entire civilization.  Lucia crawls out of the crack in the library’s shell and finds Dryden still swinging back and forth on his rope, since that’s the most entertaining action available right now.  They ponder their next move. Dryden wants to assemble some magical traps to kill Dr. MacLeod, the Vampire mad scientist who is trying to destroy the moon.  Since all vmapires are evil. they won’t feel bad about killing her.

GM note: Dryden’s player remembered a detail from Fairmeadow Fair, when he played a different character, so he played it like Dryden remembered a story that Lucia told him, since Dryden wasn’t there.

Dryden asks Lucia about the sundial in Templeton. It focused and re-directed the sun’s rays, so it’s basically a death ray for vampires. Lucia sees how useful it would be, but remembers that she did not leave Templeton on good terms.

GM note: She beat up a lot of people on her way out, then they sent a death squad after her, then she (accidentally) kidnapped the mayor, then she lost the mayor. It’s really a lot!

There are lots of options. Now that she’s queen, Lucia could demand an audience, but with whom? The mayor is gone. Dryden would be fine because they don’t know him. Lucia could wear a disguise. They could go elsewhere to gear up, maybe that settlement on the river. Maybe they should just go fight Dr. MacLeod now, before she can try to destroy the moon again!

GM note: That little settlement is now Port Fennrick, and the tinker no longer lives there. The librarian’s information is 100 years out of date. Lucia’s player mentioned the very meta strategy of waiting and hoping another group of player characters would kill Dr. MacLeod first.

They decide to head back to face MacLeod immediately, and since it’s on the way, they stop in at Lady Evelynn’s house again. Jayce, the butler, recognizes them and prepares the same rooms that they used a few days ago.  Lady Evelynn is not busy this evening and invites them to the sitting room and asks about their travels.  They carefully do not mention the library full of secrets of creatures of darkness, since Lady Evelynn is a terrifying and cruel woman with a living shadow. they say that Goblins are coming out of their underground city because a Dragon has taken over and is looking for challengers.  Lady Evelynn has heard about dragons. The history books all sing of their power, wisdom, and benevolence, because the Dragons hired all the historians. Dragons think they are better than everyone else and Lady Evelynn doesn’t want some new Dragon tells her what to do. They also mention the strange light near the moon. Lady Evelynn noticed them as well, and leads them to an observation dome on top of her mansion where the moon is visible. Four bright lights surround the moon and as they watch, they notice that the lights are moving!  Three of the lights streak across the sky in different directions, but the fourth seems to headed right for the mansion! The unidentified flying object hurtles over the horizon just to the south, and after a few seconds, the room shakes. Lady Evelynn, usually very calm, looks genuinely shocked, but recovers quickly and says, “Sugar’s Crossing.  I hope it hit one of the other mills.”

This whole moon plot just got a lot more dangerous! Dryden begins an impassioned speech!  He and Lucia know who caused this disaster and they are working to stop that person. He implores Lady Evelynn to allow them to use some of the artifacts that she has in her collection. Perhaps there is something that will help us kill the mad scientist vampire who is trying to destroy the moon! Lady Evelynn is instantly on her feet, furious. “You dare come to me, to use my treasures, to kill my dear friend Diana?!”  Two large, diamond-shaped blades erupt through Lady Evelynn’s housecoat, one of each shoulder. With a quick circular motion, the blades cut off her housecoat, revealing that they are on the ends of 10-foot-long ribbons which Lady Evelynn controls as easily as her own limbs. The outfit Lady Evelynn wears beneath her housecoats is more form-fitting and suitable for the fight that Dryden just started.

Lucia and Dryden consider retreating, but don’t want Dr. Diana MacLeod to be warned of their intentions. They have to stop Lady Evelynn here!  Lucia steps forward to engage, but Lady Evelynn has two blades to Lucia’s one sword, and a serious reach advantage. Will, Lucia’s bodyguard, dives in and takes a blow meant for Lucia, letting Lucia get the upper hand momentarily.  Dryden reaches into his cloak and retrieves space-warping, gas-spewing bolas! Each end of the metal cord has, not a rock or metal weight, but a combination rock, gravity field for extra weight, and incapacitating gas! These three components continually grow and shrink in turn, so the weapon is very unbalanced and difficult to wield. Dryden maneuvers to throw the bola and entangle Lady Evelynn’s ribbon-knives where they emerge from her back.  With all her attention on Lucia, Lady Evelynn doesn’t see the attack coming, and is enveloped and knocked to the ground. The gas expands rapidly, putting Lady Evelynn to sleep and threatening to knock out Lucia, who holds her breath and leaps away.

Jayce, waiting at the door like a good butler, heard the commotion and ran in to assist his mistress. He tackles Dryden to the ground. Lucia gets up and brandishes her sword at Jayce, demanding his surrender. Jayce shoves Dryden at Lucia and runs for the door to raise the alarm.  Dryden uses his rope gun to entangle Jayce, then drags him into the gas cloud around Lady Evelynn to put him to sleep.

This escalated out of control! Dryden really thought that evil people would hate each other.  Lucia reminds him like-minded evil people also join forces.  What do they do now? If they leave someone in the gas for too long, they’ll die. The gas’s effect expands and contracts, like the restof the space-warping weapon. It expands for 12 hours, at which point the victim is at perfect rest. Then it contracts for 12 hours, so at the end of 24 hours, the victim dies. She is pretty evil, so maybe that’s OK. They could drag her off somewhere to conceal her, but if she’s lit by a bright light, her shadow will appear, and maybe the shadow will not be unconscious! Could they drag her into town and have her arrested? She runs one of the biggest businesses in town. She has a lot of clout. Deliver her to one of her rivals, like the le Grinds? The le Grinds aren’t too nice either. If they leave her in the observatory, she’ll be exposed to the sun when it rises. They’ve never seen hour outdoors, so maybe she’s a vampire and she’ll just die. They determine to go look at Sugar’s Crossing real quick (something big did just crash/explode there) and come back in about 12 hours to pull these two out of the gas. They put a “do not disturb” sign on the door of the observatory and Dryden puts a trap on the door to make extra-sure. The trap takes on the color of its surroundings, and if anyone touches the door, a force-field will immobilize them.

GM note: I asked them not to ransack the mansion, since there’s another group of players who entered the mansion earlier in game-time, and we haven’t run another session together yet. that session, in the future of real-time, will be in the past of game-time. That’s confusing enough. Please avoid time-paradoxes!

They leave Lady Evelynn’s estate, with the very believable and true excuse that they must go see what happened to Sugar’s Crossing.

Chasing The Sunset & Secret Base

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chasing The Sunset & UFO

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

The party: Orichalcum the Construct, Stella the Halfling, Buckle the Platyperson

GM note: Before we started, I asked my players if they were OK with fighting cops in the game, since that’s very close to scary things that are happening in real life.

Buckle and Ugg are in a locker room in Cloorick’s Fight Club inside the hidden Goblin city of Swallet.  Ori comes in and Buckle in intimidated by the energy robot that’s 50% taller than him. Ori gives Buckle a very specific compliment on his fighting style and victory over Ugg. Ori, Buckle, and Stella share introductions.

GM note: The players had not met each other IRL, nor seen each other’s characters, nor encountered their cultures, so there were a lot of introductions!  Buckle and Stella’s players were impressed when I said that this was the player of the strange robot they saw fighting last session.

Ori explains that his life’s goal is to look for a master. Buckle says that sounds like slavery.

Ori: Maybe I am a slave, but I don’t like the connotation.

Buckle: Were you hatched?

Ori: No, I was built.

Buckle: That’s weird. I’m Buckle. I’m a Platyperson.  I was hatched from an egg, and I accidentally hatched a dragon too.

Stella: We have to save him a lot.

Buckle: I saved myself just now against Ugg.

Rabbish rushes in. He was replacing the front door (wrecked by Fafnir) and noticed suspicious movement out from. There could be trouble!

Cloorick's fight club & surrounding buildings: fish cannery, warehouse, black market, merch shop

Ori and Buckle take the ladder ot the roof and peer over the front edge.  There’s movmeent of people entering the warehouse to the right. People are fleeing the fish cannery on the left (which is actually a front for money laundering) Two Goblin police in Power Suits are walking down the street right in front. They are Nub-Nub and her partner, who have already crossed paths with Stella and Buckle. The second Power Suit leaps from the street to the roof of the warehouse, spotting Ori and Buckle! Buckle tries to run and the cops go loud!  Windows on the top floor of the warehouse break, and Goblins hidden inside point personal, customized ranged weapons at the Fight Club and unleash a barrage of arrows, bolts, bullets, metal rods, and other projectiles!  One projectile smashes a hole in the roof, and Buckle dives through to the relative safety of “inside.”  Nub-Nub is surprised. The posse wasn’t supposed to attack just yet, so she turns on her loudspeaker.

Nub-Nub:   Cloorick, we have evidence that you are harboring spies seeking to steal our precious Goblin secrets. Surrender them at once!

She hasn’t heard that Cloorick is dead and the Fight Club is under new management.  Ori peeks over the roof and asks for parley. Nub-Nub tells the squad of gunners to cease fire, and tells Ori to come out the front door to talk. He goes back inside and wonders who these spies are.  Stella and Buckle fear that they are wanted as spies.  The three of them walk outside, and Nub-Nub immediately shouts, “There are the spies!”  Her partner leaps down from the roof to arrest Buckle.  Buckle tries to flee, but the cop’s Power Suit fires a rocket fist to grab him and winch him back in.  Ori wants to know what will happen to Stella and Buckle.  Loss of technological secrets is one of the worst things that can happen to Goblin cities, so those who try to take their secrets can never be allowed to leave.  Stella’s companion Rose holds up a bag of unknown powder and Stella yells that it’s a toxic chemical, and if the cops try anything, she’ll release it on all of them!  The cop releases Buckle, who flees and hides in the merch shop. (Fafnir quickly became a local hero, and there’s an unauthorized merch shop next door. Buckle dives into a pile of plushies and blends in, like that scene in E.T.) The gunners back up out of toxic cloud range and open fire!  Ori grabs Stella and flies around to the back of the Fight Club. The companions run back inside the front door.

Ori admits to Stella “This is as far as I’ve planned ahead.”  The gunners are fanning out in the street in front, slowly encircling the building.  Ori & Stella aren’t sure where to go, when Ugg opens a hidden door in the back of the building.  Of course the ilegal fight club has secret getaway routes.  Buckle wants to rejoin the team, but he’s trapped across an alley watched by several police gunners.  Ugg spots him and beckons him over, but he cowers. Ori transforms into a Goblin in a Power Suit, steps into view, and says the fugitives are on the far side of the building. Nub-Nub and the gunners on that side start o move, then notice that the other Power Suit is right there. Who’s in the third suit?  The distraction is enough for Buckle to cross the alley & join the others, but Nub-Nub leaps down the alley right on top of Ori, She’s very suspicious and tries to read his badge number.  Ori grabs her and says that she’s the fake, not him!  He’s got her immobilized, and she’s blocking fire from the gunners at the far end of the alley, so everyone can get away except for him. He’s safe until he tries to disengage.  Gus (Stella’s cook) leans around the corner and starts throwing food at the gunners. Like real cops, these gunners are terrified of milkshakes, tomatoes, and water bottles, so they retreat and hunker down.  Ori throws Nub-Nub across the alley and everyone flees down the secret escape route, which is shut and invisible by the time the cops recover and turn the corner.

The crew is in The Blackest Market, a building that sells unregulated obsidian.  It’s very dark. The walls are painted black for the look.  They have some time before the police figure out where they are, but they shouldn’t dawdle. They consider the exits from Swallet.

Going up the waterfall is difficult. The caldera isn’t intended to be an exit, and climbing out is also difficult. The sewer seems like the easiest way out.  Clearly Stella and Buckle have to flee, but what about the others?  Ori was staying at the Fight Club, and it looks like there won’t be a Fight Club anymore, so he might as well go with them.  Ugg lives in Swallet, but he’s loyal to Buckle after being beaten in a duel, so he’s also coming along.  they sneak away from the police and head for the garbage processing facility.

The garbage processing facility is a big dangerous industrial building with pipes, catwalks, conveyor belts, and big containers of trash. Goblins take trash, sort it, pick out valuable items, then send it to be burned, dumped, or poured into the sewer, a big pipe that matches the one that forms the waterfall in the park across town.  As a load of trash is dumped into a fire, the fire flares but doesn’t subside, It grows, takes shape, and starts moving on its own. A Fire Elemental has appeared!  The Goblin workers flee, calling for the shift leader and the cops!  Some run to the fire extinguishers, big backpack-mounted units with nozzles that come around the side, like Ghostbuster proton packs, or the Heavy Bolter from Warhammer 40K.  There’s also a gas-replacement bomb in the middle of the facility that will remove all the oxygen in the facility in case of major, uncontained fire. Obviously this would be very unhealthy for anyone still inside the facility.

GM note: We said “Halon bomb” at the table, but actual research reveals that Halon fire suppressant causes only giddiness and is safer than carbon-dioxide.

Ori: Hello, fellow energy being. Whom do you serve?

The Fire Elemental makes an effort to shape itself into something with a face,and makes talking motions, but vomits flame all over instead.  Ori puts out his hands and makes his body long and thin behind them, like a diver trying to make as little disruption in water as possible. It works! He comes through the barrage unscathed, but more of the facility is now on fire.  Stella grabs a fire extinguisher. The Goblin workers will take all the help they can get and point her at the Fire Elemental.  Instead she clears a path through the flames to the sewer entrance. Buckle and the companions follow. Again, Ori is in trouble as the rest of the crew beckon him towards safety.  Stella suggests setting of the bomb and running for the sewers.  Goblins close in with fire extinguishers, and the Fire Elemental retreats from them, unintentionally cutting Ori off from his route to the sewer.  Ori just powers through and zips right past the Fire Elemental, braving the heat radiating from it.  he makes it, and the crew flees down the sewer, leaving the Fire Elemental and the Goblins to fight it out.

Only liquid waste is poured down the sewer, so there’s nothing to run into in the long, dark journey, but the water is pretty dirty.  Buckle electro-sense can detect living creatures, but doesn’t notice anything except rats and bugs.  After hours and hours, the crew reaches the end of the tunnel.

A map showing the scret tunnel emptying into a river. There's a mill on the river, with a path leading up a hill to Evelynn's manor, surrounded by a wall with a gate.

There’s a small platform at the end of the tunnel, about the size of a studio apartment. It’s level and high enough to stay dry. there’s a door at the far end of the platform.  The crew floats out of the mouth of the tunnel and into the river to wash in the clean water. Most of Ori’s body is energy and can’t get dirty, but he rinses off the metal armor bits.   The mouth of the tunnel and the door from the platform are both camouflaged from the outside.  It’s night now.  The moon is up, and there’s a bright light near the moon that is not a normal star.  Ori is very curious about the light, but can’t tell much about it.  It’s not moving visibly, but maybe observing it through the night will reveal very slow motion.  Back on the ground, there’s a mill a little ways downstream.  The crew goes up to investigate.  No one is working at night, and the doors are locked, which seems a bit paranoid for such a remote location. A sign on the door reads “LE GRIND KEEP OUT!” so they assume the mill is owned by someone named “le Grind”  There’s a hill behind the mill, and lights from a large estate are visible on top. They follow path up towards the estate.  The estate is surrounded by a wall, and the wall is surrounded by topiary sculptures. The sculptures represent a wide range of creatures, all predators.  They knock at the gate, hoping for hospitality.

GM note. This is Evelynn‘s estate, from the Fairmeadow Fair campaign.

After an awkward pause, a petite woman slowly walks to the gate.  She’s wearing a leather jacket and has a cap with a bill specially shaped to fit around the small vertical horns on her forehead. She regards the crew with bored eyes and asks what they want.  They ask for hospitality. She’s heard of it, but it’s more work for her, so she’s not a fan. She says she’ll check, and slowly walks towards the main building.

After a while a different person returns from the house. He’s a tall human man, probably about 50. He has neat slicked back hair, black but greying at the temples. He introduces himself as Jayce and apologizes for the delay.  of course Lady Evelynn respects the ancient rite of hospitality and will grant travelers a night’s rest and a hot meal.  He calls for Kaley, the sullen Teifling, to stable Silk, Stella’s giant spider. There are six humanoids: Ori, Stella, Buckle, Ugg, Gus, and Rose. Jayce takes them in the front door, into a spectacular foyer with big staircases leading to balconies all around. he leads them through a door into the less impressive side of the house and assigns them to three bedrooms with two beds each.  He will fetch food and bed clothes for each of them.  Jayce inquires after Ori’s needs, since he’s never seen someone like Ori before. Ori doesn’t eat or sleep.  Jayce leaves to make preparations, urging his guests to make themselves comfortable and to stay in their rooms.  Stella examines her room and finds a secret passage hidden behind a painting! Jayce returns with nightgowns and food.  For Stella, Gus, and Rose: Halfling food with meat, fruit, and veggies. The food is prepared well, but the portions are too small. Buckle gets fish. The fish is fine. Can’t complain.  Ugg usually eats subterranean food like mushrooms and bat meat, but he gets freshwater crab. It’s OK.

Jayce bids them goodnight and reminds them to stay in their rooms.  Buckle and Stella convince themselves that the picture is part of Stella’s room, so the secret passage must also be part of the room, so it’s not technically breaking the rules to go exploring. Ori declares that a clever bit of sophistry and stays in his room, watching that mysterious light through the window. After several hours, he determines that it’s moving with the moon, which moves across the sky slightly faster than the stars. it’s a little closer to the moon than it was at the beginning of the night.

GM note: I was not prepared to explain all these celestial mechanics, even though “mysterious light near the moon” was 100% my idea. Would a waning gibbous be visible right after sunset? How much does the moon move against the background of stars?

Since Ori can’t determine what the mysterious light is from here, he decides to use his unlimited-range teleportation to TELEPORT TO THE SURFACE OF THE MOON.

GM note. Oh. Oh, OK. We’re doing this.  This is happening right now.  I wanted the players interested in the moon, but this is skipping quite a few steps.

Ori disappears from Evelynn’s estate and reappears on an endless field of giant hexagonal metal mirrors.  Each mirror is 100 feet across, and machinery underneath allows them to be steered somewhat. There are towers every few mirrors, and cables between the towers lead away, over the horizon.

The planet is visible below. The location that Ori just left is in shadow.  If Ori teleports back, his accuracy will be poor. He might land in the location next to the one he aims at. The mysterious light is there between the moon and the planet, still a bright featureless light, still not moving visibly.

Ori watches the mysterious light for a while and consumes some fuel.  A cable car arrives at the nearest tower and a Kobold gets out and approaches Ori. The Kobold isn’t wearing a suit or mask, so there’s air on the moon.  The Kobold is curious. How did you get here? Ori says he came from the planet to look at that light. The Kobold looks up at the light in surprise.  He didn’t notice.  It’s not on any of the sensors. The Kobold decides that Ori should come with him back to base. Wait! Show me your teeth!  Ori doesn’t have teeth, which reassures the Kobold, and they zoom away on the cable car.

GM note: Players have a tendency to run mysteries to ground as they notice them. The GM wouldn’t mention it unless it was important right?  Of course they want to see what the GM prepared. I didn’t think the players could do much about this particular mystery just yet, but I was wrong, and I am excited to see how this goes when one player jumps right into the middle.

Characters also made big strides. Ori gaines a level, and Stella and Buckle both took powerful Destiny playbooks.