Chasing The Sunset & Anti Anti Moon Weapon Strike Team

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

The party: Ori the Construct, Rod the Exile

Rod emerged from secret waterways under the mountains and is wandering through a spooky forest of huge, ancient trees, riding on the bad of his trusty dog Tobit. One particular tree grows on the edge of a small hill, its roots spilling over the edge like a wooden waterfall.  The roots start shuddering and splintering. As the roots break, a cavern behind them is revealed, and a strange group emerges:

  • 12 Kobold Pokers with shields and spears.
  • 12 Kobold Slingers armed with slings.
  • A Kobold carrying a stack of large books on a frame backpack.
  • A robot made of purple crackling energy and gold metal.

Ori: Hello, we recently arrived.  Where are we? Which continent?

Rod: Were you in the waterways?

Ori: I was on the moon. It’s more inhabited than you might think.

Kobolds: We are the Anti Anti Moon Weapon Strike Team!

This lengthy name causes some confusion. See, there’s the Moon. Someone wants to destroy it with some kind of weapon, an Anti-Moon Weapon. The Kobolds won’t stand for that, so they are Anti-Anti-Moon Weapon. The double negative is completely justified!  Other explanations and introductions follow.  Rod just came through the secret tunnels under the mountains to the East. Those mountains aren’t visible because of the huge, dense forest. Ori and the Kobolds have been sent from the Moon to stop attacks against the Moon, but they don’t know where the attacks are coming from, and they don’t know where they are now.  Ori figures that an astronomer or a library with a map would help him on his quest.

While everyone is standing around talking, a fairy flies out of the foliage and steals a ration from Rod’s bag.  She zooms up to about ten feet above the ground and taunts Rod as he tries to get the food back. She pulls items out fo the bag, taking a bite and throwing them away in disgust.  She flies into the forest and Rod follows, quickly getting lost in the maze of branches and undergrowth. Ori’s half-dead from powering the teleporter, so he has to stay put and use a repair kit instead of assisting Rod.

Rod despairs of regaining his lunch as the fairy makes a show of eating it on a high branch in sight but out of reach.  He walks off, not sure where he’s going, and as he walks around a massive tree trunk, he sees someone from his past, poking at something under a bush! Rod grew up in some kind of evil laboratory, and here, in the middle of a forest, far from that awful place, he sees Brigid. Brigid was Rod’s handled, sort of a caretaker, although that word is a euphemism. She was mean and antagonistic, and enjoyed ruining Rod’s day for no reason. Here she is, same clothes, same tightly-braided hair. Rod immediately releases a lethal blast from his shock collar at his bitter enemy! The electricity makes Brigid’s body rapidly jerk into odd positions, but also into different shapes!  When the bolt of lightning dissipates, the figure in front of Rod is no longer Brigid, but a suggestion of a humanoid, like something hastily formed from clay. It looks into the trees as if for confirmation, then forms brows to furrow angrily, turns its fists into hammers, and rushes at Rod. Rod dodges out of the way.

Ori and the Kobolds hear the thunderclap and rush to investigate!  Ori urges calm and wants to talk about the clay person’s grievances. The clay figure pauses, but a voice from the trees shouts, “No, fool! Don’t listen to him!” Rod looks up and sees an orange-yellow fairy hiding in the branches. This is the one giving orders to the clay figure.  More fairies emerge from the forest to join the fight and try to remove Rod’s shock collar. Ori appeals to this newly-reveled leader to end the fight.

Ori: Maybe you could be my master.

The fairy leader, named Marigold, orders the fairies and the clay figure to stop fighting. She and Ori introduce themselves.

Marigold: I’m always ready to accept reverence and obedience. Anyone else want to bow?

Ori clarifies that he hasn’t pledged his service to Marigold yet, but it’s on the table as a start to negotiations. He turns to Rod and tries to pledge to him very quickly, pushing a Talisman of Calling into his hands.  Rod is ready to play along.

Rod: How dare you betray me, servant!

Ori: I’m trying to save your life!

Rod leaves.  Marigold demands that the Kobolds leave as well, but the Kobolds don’t answer to Ori or Marigold. They won’t be dissuaded from their mission to protect the Moon on behalf of the Dragons! Marigold’s eyes widen. She had forgotten Kobolds, but she remembers Dragons, because she’s one of the Vampires the Dragons built the Moon to fight! She transforms into a large bat and orders her fairies and clay figure to attack the Kobolds!

Rod hears the sounds of combat from afar and activates the Talisman of Calling, teleporting Ori to his side, away from the fighting.  Ori doesn’t want to leave the Kobolds to die, so Ori and Rod run back towards the sounds of combat to help.  Marigold and the clay figure are fighting the Kobold Pokers, while fairies harry the Kobold Slingers.  Rod engages Marigold with his sling and she turns on him.  Ori wants to talk the clay figure down, and demonstrates his commitment to de-escalation by diving in between the battling parties, putting himself at great risk.  He tells he clay figure that he has served a lot of masters, both good and bad, and that the figure deserves a better master.  The figure is convinced and switches sides. Marigold is enraged and swoops in to attack Ori. Ori uses the clay figure’s “Aimless” stat to have it accidentally step in front of Marigold and block her attack. Ori’s still almost dead from powering the teleporter, and he’s between an enraged vampire and a phalanx of spear-wielding Kobolds. It’s too hot! He teleports straight up into the tree canopy.

The fairies steal the Kobold’s manuals and start yelling out instructions at random, throwing the rule-oriented Kobolds into confusion.  These volumes are quite large, and Fairies are only 11 inches tall, so each volume is carried between two Fairies. Marigold moves in to attack the scattered Kobolds. Using his advanced sensors, Ori foresees her next move and tells Rod, who intercepts her with a sling bullet.  Marigold calls for retreat!  The fairies are slow because they are holding heavy books.  Rod runs over and grabs the books back from them. They pummel him ineffectively with their tiny fists.

The vampire forces have been repelled! The Kobolds celebrate!  Ori glides down from the tree branches now that it’s safe.

Ori: I didn’t expect resistance from Vampires so soon!  Where to now, master?

Rod: I thought that was a joke.

Now that there’s time, Ori explains the Anti-Moon Weapon. Someone fired an energy projectile from the Earth to the Moon. Very accurate, but not powerful enough to threaten the whole moon. But that was only the first shot. Who knows what’s coming next? Ori and the Anti-Anti-Moon Weapon Strike Team want to destroy the Anti-Moon Weapon before it becomes a bigger threat. Rod wonders which way they should go. It’s hard to tell from inside the forest. They can’t even see the sky.

Ori: Is there a pressing reason for us not to go back through the tunnels you used?

Rod: I worked hard to get here. So you’re from the Moon?

Ori: Not quite.

Rod: Why don’t you know where you are? Didn’t you aim?

Ori: No, we took a teleporter and the other terminal was in this forest.

The Kobolds are impatient and set off to find and destroy Vampires. They don’t work for Ori, and he doesn’t work for them, so they aren’t concerned about sticking together. Ori and Rod let them go, and wonder how to choose thier own path. Rod enters Ori’s riding pod, and Ori starts climbing trees. If he slips, he glides safely down until he can catch another branch. Eventually, he reaches the canopy and can look around.

  • In the distance to the north: a tangle of urban building. Hard to tell from this distance, but they don’t look organized into neat rows.
  • To the east: high, steep, scary, snow-covered mountains.  These are the mountains that Rod tunneled under to get to this forest.
  • To the south: a dead forest. The trees look diseased.
  • To the southeast: a mountain with a crack running through it.

Ori: Do you favor caution or swiftness?

Rod: Live your best life. Do what makes you happy.

Ori realizes that he can’t bring the clay figure along with him. Ori forged a Bond with the figure by talking about their shared experience of serving various masters. As long as it has a bond with Ori, it is Ori’s companion and will join the fellowship. If Ori directly causes the figure harm, damaging one of its stats, he will also break a bond. Breaking its only bond will remove it from the fellowship. The figure’s only remaining stat is Nameless, so Ori sends it away by giving it a name!

Ori: Farewell my earthen friend. I name you Seeker. May you know what you are looking for when you find it.

GM note: That’s . . . that’s perfect!

Ori and Rod teleport north to the tangled city. They arrive on top of a tower. An upside down clocktower rising out from the windows of a factory set on it’s side. Buildings of all functions, sizes and styles are piled around them as far as the eye can see at every possible angle.

End of session move: The party restores gear and health.


Chasing The Sunset & Moon

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

The party: Ori the Construct

Last time, Ori noticed an odd light near the moon. When his friends stepped out for some Scooby-Doo shenanigans, Ori decided to TELEPORT TO THE MOON without telling anyone.  The moon is artificial, covered with giant hexagonal mirrors.  A Kobold appeared and took him back to base in a cable car.

Cables converge from all directions to a central tower.  Beneath the tower are several bunkhouses, a control center, and a weird red pyramid.  Lee Lee IV, Ori’s Kobold guide, brings him into the command center. It looks like NASA mission control: a large room with big desks covered with gauges and lights. Ori has never seen anything this advanced. His creators must have advanced technology, but he does not remember the facility that built him.  Ori is impressed but not shocked.  The Kobolds are not used to visitors, so Ori’s entrance causes a stir.  Lee Lee IV brings Ori over to a certain desk and introduces him to Jim Jim IV. Lee Lee IV found Ori because Jim Jim IV saw a variance in his temperature readings and sent her to investigate.  Ori hopes he did not cause any damage to the system. Jim Jim IV reassures him that the variance was not that severe, but it’s procedure to investigate.  Jim Jim IV consults a handwritten manual to see what to do next. He can’t find any relevant instructions in his manual, so he sends Ori to see Junior.

Junior is an old Kobold in an elevated glass office at the back of the room. He’s clearly the boss, since his office lets him oversee the rest of the control stations in the room. He has more manuals than anyone else, and his copies are printed, not copied by hand.  Junior finds the instructions for people who arrive unexpectedly: check if they are vampires by exposing them to sunlight.  Junior and Ori step outside, and Ori has no reaction to the sunlight.  Ori asks if the Kobolds have problems with vampires. Junior explains that keeping this machine running properly will keep all dragonkind safe from vampires.  That’s an odd thing to say, since Dragons disappeared from Earth about a hundred years ago.  Fafnir is definitely an exception.  Ori asks if the Kobolds visit Earth, and if there are any Dragons here on the moon.  Junior says no to both.

Junior also says that intruders are expected to arrive from the red pyramid, not in the middle of nowhere, like Ori. He’s not sure what to do with Ori. There’s nothing in the manual about this situation.  Ori wants to explore the mysterious red pyramid. According to the manual, supplies may come from the pyramid, although none have arrived in a long time, but it’s also where intruders are most likely to arrive.

Ori leaves the command center to examine the red pyramid up close.  Whoever built this impressive machine may be a good master. He also wants to tell Fafnir about this important part of her people’s history.  The pyramid has big triangular doors on two of its four sides. the doors are closed, and hand-written signs on each say “DO NOT OPEN” Ori notices that this building is carved out of stone, while the other buildings in the facility are have modular pre-fab metal construction.  Ori opens the doors to look inside, which causes an alarm to go off. He can see a commotion in the command center. Kobolds will come here soon, so he needs to hurry!

Inside the pyramid is a pyramidal room lined with a wire mesh cage. There are bigger structural metal beams filled in with wires about the thickness and spacing of chicken wire. There are four terminals for big batteries, but the batteries are gone. Ori realizes that this is a teleporter. If it was powered, it could swap the volume defined by the wire cage with the volume of another room somewhere else.  The teleporter would take a great deal of energy to power, but Ori is mostly energy. With the right wiring, he could probably power the teleporter with his own body. It would HURT! He hears a group of Kobolds approach the door he opened and chatter about how unusual this situation is. One Kobold apparently has amanual and other Kobolds are shouting section and page numbers to check.

Ori goes through the wire cage and tries to quietly slip out the other doors, but they fall on him, pinning him. A group of Kobolds come around the pyrmaids with shields and spears. Ori is surprised to see that they are going straight for physical confrontation, but to be fair, this is the place that vampire invaders are expected to emerge from.  Ori appeals to their devotion to procedure and says that the pyramid is malfunctioning! Look how these doors are malfunctioning! There’s non-standard signage!  Most of the Kobolds are distracted and huddle around a manual, but two Kobolds move to box Ori in. Knowing the Kobolds’ dependence on manuals and rule-following, he throws out a confusing barrage of claims. “I’m being tested by exposure to sunlight! Don’t interfere!” “This pyramid isn’t up to spec. The batteries are gone. Someone isn’t following the manual.” The Kobolds take him to Junior, because they don’t know what else to do.

GM note: We got a bit bogged down. Ori’s player kept getting partial successes on talking the Kobolds out of attacking him, so we just agreed that the situation needed to change and made it happen.

Junior is upset with Ori. Ori got permission to look around and immediately caused trouble and broke protocol.  Ori counters that protocol was already broken. The manual says to keep the pyramid powered to receive supplies, but the pyramid has no batteries.  Junior counters with a resource priority table in another volume of the manual. He shut down the pyramid to keep the cable car network running.

At this point, the ball of light that Ori originally came here to study is getting really bright. Its movement is visible to the naked eye. It won’t fall right on the command center, but it’s definitely headed for the moon.  Ori points out the imminent danger and says this should be Junior’s priority, not Ori’s protocol violations.  Junior says that the light must not be important, because there are no sensors or gauges dedicated to detecting or measuring it. Ori asks if there’s anything in the manuals about handling collisions, Junior starts flipping through several volumes. Before he finds an answer, the bright ball of light streaks over the horizon, and a few seconds later, the entire facility shakes! Gauges spike and alarms blare all over the control room. Kobolds scramble into action.

Several cable cars full of Kobolds are being dispatched to the affected area.  Since Ori is so interested in this light, Junior brings him along as a consultant.  They zip along the cables for several minutes. The impact site is not close. Eventually they have to stop and continue on foot, because several towers and the cables they suspended were destroyed. There’s a big smoking hole, surrounded by dozens of displaced and shattered mirrors.  Several mirrors have been flung into space, twirling and twinkling in the sky. Junior wants Ori’s opinion on what happened.  Ori surmises that the big ball of light hit the moon and exploded.  The energy didn’t dissipate during the long trip to the moon, so this was most likely an advanced weapon, aimed precisely at the moon.  Despite the great engineering effort and willpower required to fire a weapon from the earth to the moon, not much of the moon was affected. The damage spreads over hundreds of yards, but the moon is thousands of miles across. Ori sees two possible explanations:

  1. This was a desperate and ineffective attack
  2. This was a test shot

Only an Artifact of Power would have the energy required to destroy the moon, either with a giant explosion, or by carpet bombing the surface of the moon.  Ori looks towards the earth and does not see any more shots incoming. This shot took about a day to reach the moon, so there will be time to notice any future attacks.  Ori worries that the attacker may adjust their aim based on this test shot and walk thier shots into the command center. There’s only one command center, so destroying it would disable the moon. Ori’s not quite sure what the moon does, but someone put a lot of effort into making it, and now someone else is putting a lot of effort into destroying it.

GM note: Ori’s player had some ideas about the unknown attacker that were smarter and scarier than the actual plan that I’ve given to Dr. Diana MacLeod.

Ori keeps most of this to himself, but tells Junior that this was a deliberate attack by someone on earth who wants to destroy the facility. More shots may follow, so Ori recommends that Junior power the pyramid and send a strike team to disable the weapon. Junior says that Ori must join the strike team and act as their guide.  Ori counter-offers: he will power the pyrmaid so Junior doesn’t have to shut down the cable cars, but once they return to earth, he will not be under their command.  Junior agrees. The Kobolds on the moon have their work cut out for them. Already Kobolds are requisitioning spare mirrors from storage, clearing debris, and repairing the fallen towers.

The strike team assembles: a group of Kobold Pokers with spears and shields, a group of Kobold Slingers with ranged weapons. Ori suggests that the strike team takes a copy of all the manuals instead of just hte volume on operating the pyramid.  Junior agrees and adds a bookkeeper to the team.  The strike team takes position inside the wire mesh teleportation volume inside the pyramid. Kobolds run wires from the battery terminals inside the mesh to Ori.  Ori winds all the negative wires around his foot spike, and takes two positive wires in each hand.  He jams the wires into his face! The purple energy that makes up most of his body crackles along the wires and a high-pitched whine gets louder and louder. As the energy starts flowing, it starts flowing faster, drawing more and more energy out of Ori. Ori’s energy starts to dim. Does he have enough in reserve to survive this? Yes! The wire mesh and everyone in it disappears. The battery wires fall to the floor, cut where they enter the teleportation volume.

Ori and the Kobold Strike team are in a red pyramidal room just like the one on the moon. They walk outside and find a red stone pyramid, just like the one on the moon, but this one is underground inside a large cave. Where in the world are they?

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.


Chasing the Sunset & Fight Club

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ori looks inside the caldera of the eastern peak.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chasing The Sunset & aquarium

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

Party: Orichalcum the Construct, Melvin the Rain

Looking west at Port Fennrick on the delta of the Mighty River.

Melvin just arrived in Port Fennrick on de Rolo’s one-of-a-kind racing yacht. de Rolo rescued him and his crew when they were shipwrecked. They jettisoned some cargo that their captain, Jensen, agreed to deliver to some shady people here in Port Fennrick, and promised to keep her safe from their retaliation.  They pull up to the dock where Jensen agreed to deliver the cargo, but no one is there to meet them.  Sebastina, the navigator who did not know about Jensen’s illicit cargo, is very unhappy.  She says, “Jensen, you paid me half upfront, and you usually pay me the rest of my fee after you get paid for delivering your cargo. That’s not going to happen, so how about you give me all the cash you have on you, and I never see you again?” Jensen has to agree, since she dragged Sebastina through a shipwreck and got her in trouble with the mob. After receiving the cash, Sebastina (a mermaid) makes a rude gesture, falls backwards off the yacht, and swims away.

Melvin inspects the dock where Jensen was supposed to deliver her contraband to her underworld contacts.  Strange that there’s no one here.  He digs through some crates and finds disguise kits, and a ring that indicates membership in the mafia.

Orichalcum (Ori for short) appears! Ori is an artificial life form made of aether and energy. Most of his vaguely humanoid form is a shifting purple energy. His hands, shoulder pauldrons, and faceplate are made of golden metal.

He approaches Melvin a bit sheepishly, because he has an odd request.  He wants Melvin to be his master.  Melvin is dedicated to the freedom of all things, so he hates that idea.  “You should be your own master!” he says. Ori explains that he’s been sent out into the world by his creators to find someone.  His creators weren’t exactly clear on who he was supposed to find, but based on how they made him, he thinks that he’s supposed to find a great leader, and he can do that by following various leaders so he knows what good leadership is. Melvin still thinks that’s weird and dumb.

Ori and Melvin have been hanging about on an empty dock for a long time now, long enough to draw the attention of Bork, the Ogre who keeps order on the busy docks. She approaches and demands to know what they are doing.  She’s dressed like a bouncer, but is clearly uncomfortable in the role. She says that if he’s going to be on the docks, he should board a boat, because that’s what people do on docks.  She picks Melvin up and takes him to the nearest ship and deposits him on board. The ship’s first mate is very confused by this, but he doesn’t want to cross Bork, so he thanks her for her good work.  Bork is very pleased and leaves convinced that she’s made the world a better place.  Melvin & Ori apologize to the boat’s crew and quickly leave the docks.

Melvin wants to see the river, so Ori demonstrates his usefulness by taking him there. Ori’s shoulder pauldrons move in to grab Melvin’s shoulders and pick him up, and Ori flies to the checkpoint at the back of the town. There’s a line of complaining boats and carts being inspected before they are allowed to enter or leave the city.  They notice Johnny, a mafia member who had a very bad night last night, in line to leave the city. Ori chats him up.  Johnny says that he used to work for Louie. He checks the time and adds that Louie is sleeping with the fishes now.  Johnny’s responsibilities used to include smuggling things and snatching people, but that’s all over and he’s leaving now.  Ori is still curious, but Johnny wants a favor for more information.  Ori flies Johnny past the checkpoint, so the officials don’t ask him any inconvenient questions. Ori asks who killed Louie, and Johnny is confused. Louie is a merman . He’s sleeping with the fishes in the fancy aquarium back at base. He always takes a nap at this time. Ori is flabbergasted by his misunderstanding.  Melvin sinks into the river delta in town and emerges on the riverbank next to Johnny and Ori. He urges Johnny to make good choices and not to enslave creatures anymore.  Johnny has heard several encouraging yet threatening speeches recently. He hastily agrees and rushes off, heading upriver towards a new life.

Ori flies Melvin back into Port Fennrick. What should they do now? Melvin wonders how to get an audience with the Baron, head of the legitimate government of Port Fennrick. Ori doesn’t think that established leaders are fruitful inquiry for his quest. Ori asks Melvin about his dedication to freedom for all living things.  Melvin wants to free the creatures and people held by the mafia.  Ori wil help, if Melvin will be Ori’s master.  Since it’s not permanent, and it would be nice to have some help, Melvin agrees to be Ori’s master, just for now.  Ori hands over a repair kit and a talisman of calling, which can instantly teleport Ori to Melvin’s side. Melvin absorbs them into his body, like the collection of knives he already has inside.

They go to the location Johnny told them about. It appears to be an aquarium, but there are secret back rooms inaccessible to the public where shady deals go down, and prize animals are kept.  They do the ol’ Chewbacca routine. Melvin shapeshifts into Johnny and says that he’s captured Ori, who is a rare and valuable lifeform. Joey, the mobster on duty, leads them to a secret hall with cells along one side. The cells contain a variety of creatures: a chrome songbird, a little light like the Lanterns have, two animated skeletons, exotic pets including a magenta Pomeranian, and a Halfling. Joey goes back to his post and Ori and Melvin wonder how to unlock all the cells. Melvin can ooze between the door and the frame, and Ori can teleport in, but how can they get everyone out?

GM note: We decided that spending a Rain point was a sufficient expense for the effect of unlocking a door, although that’s not on the list of things that Rain points can be spent for.

Melvin blast the Halfling’s cell open with a burst of water.  The Halfling starts opening the other cells.  When the chrome songbird is released, it uses Power Word Spring to create a large metal spring that knocks the door to the hallway open.  The loud noise attracts attention.  A few more cell doors are opened before two mobsters arrive and block the hall. Our party will have to fight their way out of this.  Ori asks if lethal force is authorized. Melvin says no, and Ori’s eyes switch to glowing blue.  The two mobsters are keeping the animals from getting down the hall. The skeletal boar charges, pushing the mobsters back.  The Halfling herds the animals further down the hall, running over Melvin. His amorphous fluid body is not damaged by being trampled.  Louie, the boss, arrives to help his underlings hold the line right where the secret hall opens to the room with his apartment-sized fishtank.  Louie’s a merman, so to move on land he straps his tail into something that looks like a mechanical Segway.  Melvin blasts the assistive device out from under Louie with a jet of water, sending Louie flopping to the ground. Ori rushes forward, grabs Louie by the shoulders, slams him into the wall of the fishtank and slides him up, until Louie’s tail is entirely off the ground.  Terrified by this show of power, Louie grabs the top edge of the fishtank and scrambles out of Ori’s grip, flipping over into the relative safety of the fishtank.

The two remaining mobsters can’t hold back the animals alone. As the animals rush out of the aquarium, Melvin, who still looks like their co-worker Johnny, tries to rally the mobsters under his leadership. They are frightened by Johnny’s sudden change in personality and his violent take-over, so they flee.

Ori and Melvin are mostly alone in the building now, and eye all the fancy fish in the giant fishtank with Louie.  Ori wonders if they should free the fish as well by smashing the bottom and letting them swim into the river delta.  Melvin isn’t sure if they would survive outside. Do they need salt water or fresh? Freedom isn’t more important than life, so Melvin leaves the fish where they are safe.

The mafia is in shambles, and Ori and Melvin leave the aquarium. Ori asks why Melvin seeks freedom so strongly. Melvin says that the Rain were contained in the past and they hated it. He doesn’t want that to happen to anyone else.  Ori asks if Melvin thinks he is a fool for seeking a master. Melvin says, “If that’s your way, that’s what you have to do.”

GM note: There’s a great line in my notes, but I can’t remember the context, so here it is without context: “Sometimes it is necessary to be someone else in order to learn who you are.”