Chasing The Sunset & Luna Penumbra

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

Last time, the Fellowship traveled to Vieport and were denied entry into the Adventurers’ Club.

A map of Vieport, showing the lightning barrier, palace, Adventurer's Club, and Bertha.
A map of Vieport, showing the lightning barrier, palace, Adventurer’s Club, and Bertha.

As the Fellowship leaves the Adventurers’ Club, Roddy quietly retracts his hand, holding a red membership card, into the indistinct shape of his ghillie suit.  The Fellowship wonders where to head next. The palace in the center of the city seems interesting. A guard challenges them at the entrance.

Eel Guard: Security is tight after the recent trouble. Are you members of the Adventurers’ Club?

Lucia: Roddy is.

Lucia Talk Sense 7-9 owe a favor

Eel Guard: OK, I’ll let you in, but you must leave your weapons here.

That doesn’t bother Edna at all. She hasn’t used her weapon yet, and she’s confident she can handle any trouble in the palace with her bare hands. She hands over a walking stick made of hard wood, shod with metal. Dryden reaches behind his cloak, moving all his weapons to his storeroom through the teleportation spell on the cloak’s underside. Averiela doesn’t like the idea of going inside without weapons. She considers sneaking back to retrieve her weapons. She nudges Lucia, suggesting she use her Royal Symbol.

Lucia: My sword is an heirloom. I can’t leave it behind. I’ll happily leave my throwing knives and arrow traps.

Lucia Symbol of Royalty: Grant an audience with anyone you show it to

The Eel Guard allows Lucia to keep her royal sword and sends another guard to tell the Sea Viper that a royal visitor has arrived. The Fellowship are instructed to wait on the roof. Half of the palace is underwater, and the roof is a nice place to receive terrestrial visitors.  The roof has some scaffolding around the edges, and all the furniture and tapestries are brand new. The decorative plants are mere cuttings. The Fellowship figures that the “recent trouble” the Eel Guard mentioned involved a fight on the roof.

There’s also a huge hexagonal metal mirror, held in a yoke that allows it to rotate in any direction.  Lucia and Dryden recognize this mirror, but Averiela and Edna don’t. Lucia and Dryden explain that the Moon is artificial and covered with mirrors like this one. Vampires hate the Dragons who built the Moon, and created an Anti-Moon Weapon to destroy it, but the test shot only broke off a few mirrors (like this one) which fell to the surface. Also, Dryden has a mirror shard, so he could open a portal to the Moon at any time.

The Sea Viper and his counselors arrive.

  • Sea Viper, mer-snake, he/him, ruler of Vieport.
    • A snake-like head, two arms, and a long tail instead of legs.  He’s always growing and nothing has managed to kill him yet, so he’s huge.
  • Emmett, human, he/him, Ghost Expert
    • He’s lanky, and bald. He’s wearing a wetsuit made of shiny scales, so it shimmers and flashes like a fish as he moves. He’s got a clear full-face mask that lets him breathe underwater, and propellers mounted on his shoulders for speed. He has flippers flipped up at the ankle and clipped to his knees so he can walk on land.
  • Robin, Lantern, she/her, City Engineer.
    • A woman with a glowing light hovering over her shoulder. Her self is actually the light, and the figure of the woman is a holographic projection that facilitates intertaction with humanoid life.
  • Agate, Spider, he/him, Special Weapon Expert
    • An arthopod that stands upright on two legs, and uses his other six limbs as arms.

Sea Viper: Welcome, Queen Lucia of the Forgotten Lands. What brings you to my domain?

Lucia: We are adventurers and explorers. My co-adventurers Dryen and Averiela must journey south, and this is the nearest port. We were intrigued by your beautiful palace.

Agate can’t help but brag about the latest addition to the palace: a powerful beam weapon! He gestures at the Moon mirror with several hands.

Dryden: What do you need such a weapon for?

Sea Viper: To destroy my enemies!

Agate: It will work better next time. I can focus the beam more precisely….

Dryden Speak Softly 6- Three questions, one unhelpful answer, one false answer

  • Tell us about the sea.
    • Only half of Vieport is on land. The palace is in the center of Vieport, and the water that the Fellowship overlooks from the roof covers the underwater half, home to most of the merfolk inhabitants.
  • What should I be wary of when dealing with the Sea Viper?
    • The Sea Viper is making a show of being hospitable and diplomatic, but he’s a tyrant. He’ll take what he wants by force if he thinks he needs to, and that includes any Artifacts of Power (like Infinite Windows in Dryden’s backpack, or the Dragon’s egg that Averiela guards)
  • What is the Sea Viper doing? What will they do next?
    • The Sea Viper wants to improve his beam weapon, so he’s acquiring the optics that Agate wants to focus the beam more precisely. Since the weapon is fixed in the center of Vieport, it’s more easily used against his own subjects, or passing ships, then for defense or invasion.

Lucia explains a little about the mission to the south. She says that they are traveling to meet with several Elven tribes, although she conceals the exact reason. The Sea Viper offers to provide the Fellowship with a ship for the journey, in exchange for political influence in the places they visit. Lucia could give the Sia Viper’s ambassadors good introductions with the leaders she meets.  The Sea Viper offers a Lantern ship captianed by Robin herself.  Lucia wants to learn more about Robin.

Lucia Speak Softly 6- Three questions, one unhelpful answer, one false answer

  • Tell me about the Lanterns
    • Lanterns are extradimensional travelers from a space (Robin pauses to search for a word) beside this world. Lantern are small floating lights, and project humanoid bodies because talking to “people” prevents humanoids from freaking out. Lanterns can project their solid holograms into other useful shapes, like bridges, shields, and weapons.
  • What should I be wary of when dealing with Lanterns.
    • Lanterns can’t lie, and thus they can’t keep secrets.
  • Tell us about the upcoming voyage.
    • Robin predicts that traveling with a mixed crew will be comfortable, since they have such different biological processes.

Lucia Royal Treatment: leaders offer a meal and a room for the night

The Fellowship restores some stats with the Sea Vipers Food.

The Sea Viper prepares rooms for the Fellowship and allows them to consider his generous offer overnight. On the way off the roof, Dryden scoops up a handful of dirt from a flower bed. The Fellowship woud love to have a ship, but of course they don’t trust the Sea Viper. They immediately plan to commandeer the ship for themselves.

Averiela: I can’t reveal the location of my home to the Sea Viper.  If Lanterns can’t lie, maybe we can get Robin to defect with us.

Dryden: I want to destroy that beam weapon. It’s my duty to keep dangerous things away from those who would abuse them.

Edna: I could smash that thing easily, but it would be rude. He has shown us hospitality.

Lucia: But they took your walking stick.

Edna: Please! I don’t need a weapon. It’s not even alive.

Edna considers a long sea voyage. Her skin, teeth, and bones are part stone and metal, so she’s too dense to swim. That’s not a problem in rivers and lakes because she can get to the surface with a Mighty Leap to take a breath, but in the middle of the ocean, with miles of water below, she’d drown before she reached the bottom! Ol’ Jardinier reassures her that he has a spell for just such a disaster, and he’ll keep an eye on her.  Edna is overcome by this declaration of loyalty and scoops Ol’ Jardinier up in her giant hands.

GM note: The Fellowship really should have checked for eavesdroppers before planning a mutiny against their host.

The next morning, the Fellowship and the Sea Viper’s council reconvene.

Dryden: We look forward to sailing with Robin.

Lucia: And bringing greetings from the Sea Viper.

Robin goes to make the ship ready, and the Fellowship has some time to make thier own preparations. Edna spends a long time in the marketplace sampling the local cuisine.

Edna spends 1 Precious Item to refill her Food.

Edna meets up with the rest of the Fellowship followed by a third figure (besides her Companions Ol’ Jardinier and Viktor) A Human woman wearing chrome armor, with bubblegum-pink curly hair spilling down to her shoulders.

Edna:  Lucia, I met this lady in the market and I’m sure you’ll get along. “You have to meet my friend”, I said, “She’s also a knight.”

Dryden, Lucia, and Roddy look at the pink-haired woman with shock and horror, which she reciprocates.  She’s Lady Elizabeth Eleanor Eadwynn, and they came to blows when they first met each other! She no longer has her unicorn sword or helmet. Now she carries a shield made from a huge turtle shell, and a short, broad blade.

Lady Elizabeth Eleanor Eadwynn: You! How dare you show your faces to me!

Dryden: As I recall, you dropped your weapon and helmet as your ran from our last meeting. Do you want to make a scene?

Averiela fades into the background to observe. Edna is dismayed that her new friends don’t get along.

Lucia: Last time we met, this lady used a weapon made from the horn a peaceful unicorn!

Dryden & Lady Elizabeth Eleanor Eadwynn: Two horns!

Dryden: I demand an accounting of that turtle shell, for I am a friend of the great turtle: Ancient One.  I’ll divest you of it.

Lady Elizabeth Eleanor Eadwynn: You steal my equipment and my servant, and now you want to take more from me? Come on, Roddy, shoot this fool!

Roddy freezes. Everyone is looking to see what he’ll do next, and he hates being the center of attention.

Dryden: All people can do what they will. You can’t order him around.

Lady Elizabeth Eleanor Eadwynn: You only say that because he obeys you. What if he wants to come back to me?

Lucia: We’ll be sad and disappointed, but he can do what he wants.

Roddy takes them at their word, and does the thing he most wants: get away from people and from confrontation. He leaves the party. Dryden wants a piece of his ghillie suit, just in case, but Roddy refuses and walks away.  Lady Eadwynn tries to follow him.

Dryden Keep Them Busy 10+

Dryden: I must know the lineage of that shield. I’ll take the shell.

Seeing that Lady Eadwynn is distracted, Lucia draws her sword and advances. Lady Eadwynn’s reflexes are impressive, and she gets her blade around before Lucia’s sword is ready.

Lady Eadwynn Spell Sword: When Lady Eadwynn is trying to fight you, anyone who gets close to them must Pay a Price to do so.

Edna Protect The Little Ones:  When your body is between someone and incoming harm, you suffer that harm in their place. This happens whether you want it to or not.

Edna Of The HIlls: spend 1 Special Armor to Protect The Little Ones

Edna’s been standing right next to Lady Eadwynn this whole time, and when she sees the swords come out, she just pops her knee forward to strike Lady Eadwynn’s sword arm, spoiling her stroke.

Lucia Finish Them (+Grace) 10+ TAKEN OUT!

Lucia smoothly steps in and knocks the blade from Lady Eadwynn’s unsteady hand.  Lady Eadwynn has no choice but to let Dryden take her shield as well.

Dryden:  Thanks. Go forth and hunt monsters only. These creatures should be living free in the wild!

Lady Eadwynn retreats in shame, cursing under her breath.

Edna: So, should I name-drop you in the future to avoid this kind of confrontation?

The turtle shield is from a large normal turtle, not a Great Turtle.  Edna thinks she could wear it as a helmet, but doesn’t because that seems disrespectful. Her new friends have to lay a lot of remains to rest! now the Fellowship is ready to set out on their voyage to the south.

GM note: The players built Robin’s ship, the Luna Penumbra, using the Ship Playbook. They are quite confident that they’ll successfully commandeer it and use it for a long time.

  • Luna Penumbra, A flying ship with sails that spring open like the Saucy Mare from ReBoot.
    • Cannon: +0
    • Engine: +2
    • Hull: +1
    • Crew: 2/4
    • Features: Smuggling Compartments, Escape Pods, Exo Suits, Sensors, Afterburners
    • Form: Boat, Airship

NO END OF SESSION MOVE

Chasing the Sunset & invitations

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

Last time, the Fellowship learned about Dragon birth and death from the Hidden Library.

It’s unprecedented for one of her rank to call for a one, but Averiela feels she must call a Conclave of the Elves to determine what to do with the Dragon egg she found.  It’s been 700 years since all the families of the Elves last gathered.  Some families have since retreated deep into the high mountains, disappointed with the rest of the world. Finding and alerting all of them could take quite some time, and the Conclave may not happen for a year after the invitations go out.

Edna: Can we pop through Infinite Windows, give the message, then return? Do we have to spend the whole year there? I know Elven ceremonies can be quite long.

Dryden: Elves can take their time because they have a lot of time to take.

Averiela: Friends, I’m so honored that you want to help me. Do you want to spend a whole year on this quest?

GM note: “Friends”!? Averiela has always kept her traveling companions at a distance. This is the first time she calls them “friends”

Edna: We’ll have free time in the middle, right?

Averiela’s first destination is her home forest. Her Elf-stone brooch connects her to her home, so Infinite Windows can use it to open a portal to her home, but she doesn’t want to risk losing the brooch.

Lucia: I’m honored to be invited to your home. I remember my tutor told me about the Elven forests near the Forgotten Lands.

Dryden: That tutor didn’t like me. I couldn’t sit still.

Edna: I’m not familiar with either of your countries.

Averiela: We keep a low profile.

Infinite WIndows needs an object from the destination to open a portal, but the item may be lost if the spell does not go well.  Lucia recommands pulling a single thread from Averiela’s Elven cloak, but Infinite Windows requires a significant item, not just a scrap. Averiela offers her Ring of Eternal Flame. The ring contains a tiny flame taken from the Eternal Flame at home. The Eternal Flame is a light burning for all the Elves out adventuring. Part of it will go out if Averiela dies.

Ol’ Jardinier damages Overwhelming Power to assist: pick another option from Open A Window

Averiela Opens A Window 6- the window cracks & something dangerous comes out + keep the item

Dryden pulls Infinite Windows out of his physical backpack. It can’t go through portals, so he can’t keep it under his cloak. Averiela puts her ring into one of the shifting mirror fragments. Nothing happens. She pulls the ring back out, and large glowing fingers are holding on to it from the other side! A Fire Elemental comes through!

  • Fire Elemental: A 10 foot tall being of molten rock, perpetually on fire.
    • Burning Aura: Anyone who is not immune to fire cannot get close without paying a price.
    • Wildfire: The Fire Elemental is Burning and Dangerous.
    • Tough As Nails: The first time a Fire Elemental would be damaged or
      destroyed, damage this stat instead.

Lucia strikes quickly, hoping to sever the Fire Elemental’s arm before the whole creature comes through!

Fire Elemental Burning Aura: Lucia spends Armor to Pay A Price

Lucia Finish Them (+Courage, force retreat) 10+

Fire Elemental: Tough As Nails gets damaged first

It’s a powerful strike, but the Fire Elemental pulls itself through Infinite Windows and stands on the slope of the volcano, towering over most of the Fellowship.  Edna recognizes the danger it’s Burning Aura presents to all her friends, so she grabs the creature and throws it down the slope about 100 yards.

Fire Elemental Burning Aura: Edna takes damage to Pay A Price

Edna Toss Aside 7-9 Fire Elemental lands safely where Edna wants

The Fire Elemental is enraged and starts climbs back up the slope. Edna steps in front of the Fellowship. The Fire Elemental will have to get through her to get to anyone else, but for now, the Fellowship cna used ranged weapons without retaliation. Dryden pulls out his unbreakable two-handed Dwarven hammer and swings it in big vertical circles. He lets it go and it soars over Edna’s head and down the slope, falling head-first on the Fire Elemental.

Dryden Finish Them (+Sense, knock out) 6-

The hammer sinks all the way into the Fire Elemental’s body, a rough approximation of a humanoid, but made of molten lava. It stumbles, but recovers and keeps moving up the slops.

Drdyen signals Roddy by dabbing, but adds that Roddy should aim where his hammer entered.

Roddy damages Trick Shot to give Dryden an Advantage

Dryden Finish Them (+Blood, kill) 7-9 Fire Elemental damages Burning Aura

Roddy strikes true with his pneumatic rifle. The burning heat glowing through the cracks as the Fire Elemental moves fades, and most of its skin cools to black. Edna approaches to recover Dryden’s hammer.

Edna Overcome 10+

Edna grabs the Fire Elemental’s shoulder to keep it in place, then jams her other hand down through its head, up to her elbow. She pulls her hand free, splashing lava through the air, gripping Dryden’s hammer. The Fire Elemental turns its fury on Edna, and Lucia throws some rocks to distract it.

Lucia Keep Them Busy 6-

Edna is twice the size of the Fire Elemental, so it’s hard to get a clear shot. Lucia hits Enda with the pebbles instead. Edna’s momentarily distracted, and the Fire Elemental strikes with a superheated punch!

Lava Elemental damages Edna

Averiela pelts the Fire Elemental with arrows.

Averiela Keep Them Busy 6-

The arrows are ineffective, and the Fire Elemental lands another blow.

Lava Elemental damages Edna

Lucia draws her sword and runs in.

Lucia Keep Them Busy 6-

Lava Elemental damages Edna

The Fire Elemental kicks her aside. Edna sees that she and her friends are in real danger. She needs to end the fight now!

Edna Toss Aside 10+ land where Edna wants & take damage

Fire Elemental damages Wildfire. TAKEN OUT

Edna lifts the Fire Elemental over her head and smashes it straight down into the ground. The lava that forms its body splatters and rapidly cools, leaving a shock-wave shaped sculpture of ingeous rock.

Edna: Phew! Let’s rest a bit before we open any more portals!

Viktor lays out one of Edna’s Giant Lunches, big enough to feed three people.  Lucia assists him with her special culinary expertise, stretching the food even further.

Lucia Wonder Chef: Fill Your Belly without spending food. People who share a meal with you heal an extra stat.

Lucia spends 0 Food to heal.

Edna spends 2 Food to heal 3 stats

Edna spends 1 Food to heal Ol’ Jardinier

Dryden spends 1 Food to heal Roddy twice

Averiela spends 1 Food to restore Elder Arts

Edna: Maybe this Artifact is more trouble than it’s worth.

Dryden: It’s very complicated magic.

Edna: I’m new, but I’ve never seen it work properly.

Lucia: Maybe we should go physically.

The Fellowship agrees to head south by the nearby river to the port, then try to cross the ocean to Averiela’s homeland.

As they walk down the mountain, they meet three people walking up. Lofar (the Dwarf miner that Dryden sent fleeing a while earlier) leads two Goblins in Power Suits equipped for mining up from Swallet. The Fellowship hails him and he says he’s back to mine the precious minerals from this mountain, like Moon Dust that falls on the peak.

Averiela: There’s no gold here. I’ve studied the land for many years. Try the other mountain.

The Goblins burst out laughing. What an obvious lie! The other volcano is part of Swallet’s infrastructure and has been extensively explored already.

Lucia: We buried a Dragon up there. You mustn’t disturb his eternal rest.

Lofar: There’s no eternity. You’ve hidden the gold under the Dragon!

GM note: Indeed, Dwarves have no afterlife. They come from the stone and return to the stone.

Lofar is the size of doll to Edna, and she picks him in one hand to bring him face to face.

Edna: If you won’t respect the dead, respect the living. I’m telling you there is nothing for you up there.

Edna: Talk Sense (+Wisdom, appeal to desire to not get squashed) 10+

Lofar: Lucky for you these Goblins aren’t muscle.

He backs off and kicks pebbles towards Edna. She spreads her arms wide in a show of readiness.

Edna: Anytime!

Lofar and the Goblins retreat towards Swallet and the Fellowship make their way to Sugar’s Crossing.  A few months ago, Lucia and Dryden rescued some people when a huge metal mirror fell from the sky and destroyed the bridge across the river.  This started the legend of Star-Rider, the mysterious flying man who fell from the Moon. The story goes that he wears a long cloak to dim his celestial brightness. As the Fellowship wonders how to get passage downriver, a fan of Star-Rider recognizes Dryden!

  • Bingo, he/him Halfling youth. Someone has noticed what the fellowship is up to, and has grown to adore you and all you do.
    • Cheerleader: The fan can damage this stat to give someone Hope.
    • Danger Magnet: The fan loves to watch their heroes in action. When a Dangerous attack happens near them, the fan is always among the collateral.

Bingo: Wow, it’s Star-Rider! What brings you here? Did you help with that fire in Vieport?

Dryden: I didn’t fight the fire in Vieport, but I did fight Fire Elementals. I was also teleported into the forest of Vampire Fairies. Of course, the Unicorns helped us with them.

Bingo: Wow, that’s so cool! Can I come along on your next adventure?

Lucia: Ask your mother. Actually, we need your help right now. We need safe passage to the sea. Which of these ships should we take?

Bingo is thrilled to have quest from his hero Star-Rider, and his friends. He tries to run home and to the docks at the same time, and eventually picks a direction. After a short time, Bingo returns, pushing an elderly Halfling woman in a wheelchair.

Bingo: My mom wasn’t home, but I asked my Uncle, and my Uncle, and my Gramma!

Wilma: What’s this I hear? You’re taking Bingo away to fight Unicorns?

Dryden: Ah, good of you to come. How’s young Bingo’s schooling? Especially reading?

Bingo rattles off a list of relatives and their professions and what they teach him. His aunt at the theater is teaching him The Stories. His other aunt, his dad’s sister, lets him help with the cooking. Everything is a communal effort in Halfling culture.

Dryden: Excellent. I’l give you this scroll of basic magical techniques. You need to stay her to study this (and all your other subjects) so you can start on your own adventures!

Dryden Talk Sense (+Wis, appeal to desire to have adventures like his hero) 7-9 owe a favor

Bingo makes Dryden promise to come back when Bingo has studied this scroll to teach him other things. He also poitns the Fellowship towards a boat going downriver. He runs off, pushing his Gramma Wilma with the scroll stretched between the handles, trying to read and walk at the same time. Her scolding fades into the distance.

The Fellowship goes to the boat, which is a huge raft, propelled by a Giant with a long pole. His name is Wilhelm, he’s 24 feet tall, and he’s a true Giant. Ogres are much larger than most people, but calling them Giants is only colloquial. True Giants get much bigger than Ogres, and are completely unrelated to Humans.

Lucia spends 1 Precious Item for passage to the sea

Wilhelm poles down the river until the raft reaches a swampy area with spooky willow trees, and crows that seem to be keeping watch. They are keeping watch! This is the swamp of Samantha the Witch, so hates trespassers. The crows squawk and fly into the swamp, and a short time later, a bull runs out to the shore and transforms into Ferdinand, an Elf well-known to Lucia.  Wilhelm pushes the raft ashore so they can talk.

Lucia: Ferdinand, this is Dryden, a lifelong friend from the Forgotten Lands. He has come with news that I am now queen.  And this is Averiela. We met on our long journey, and the bonds between our people go back for generations.  Together we journey far and right wrongs.

Edna: And I’m Edna Crusher-Harcourt. Very pleased to meet you.

Averiela: How fortuitous! I thought the Shapeshifting Elves disappeared centuries ago! We are calling a conclave, for we carry a Dragon’s egg. I suspect my Queen of Whispering Winds in the Hidden Mist would welcome a representative of the Shapeshifting Elves.

Ferdinand: I’m the only Shapeshifting Elf I know. It’s just me and Samantha, and she’s Human. I will do my best to attend!

Ferdinand is a lot more confident than he used to be. Averiela is angry that she didn’t know about Ferdinand. She doesn’t accept any weakness in herself!

Dryden: Lucia has told me stories fo her adventures before I arrived here. What can you tell me about the Black Beast?

Ferdinand puts his hands over his mouth and giggles loudly.

Ferdinand: OK, OK! Lucia’s other friend, Gleador, could also transform, but into anything he liked. He was actually the Black Beast! There were two, but they were both him! He convenced everyone that one of them killed the other and they never suspected him! It’s so funny! He outsmarted them all and made fools of those awful people that stole our wine recipe.

Wilhelm inquires about the special wine. Perhaps people in Vieport would pay a high price for such luxury items. Ferdinand agrees to meet Wilhelm when on his return trip and set up a deal. Before Wilhelm pushes off, Dryden plucks a leaf from Samantha’s Swamp and adds it to his collection.

Wilhelm: I’m glad to meet your friend Ferdinand, but we’ve been delayed, and now we’ll have to traverse the Ghostlands at night! truly a frightening sight! All those red glowing eyes and vague transparent bodies lining the banks of the rivers, waiting for the living to wander in reach so they can devour them!

Lucia: Why don’t we camp overnight before we reach the Ghostlands and make the journey in daylight?

Wilhelm agrees to her very reasonable suggestion, and they wait until dawn to continue past the Ghostlands (less scary in daylight) and to the checkpoint at the northern edge of Vieport. Tall pylons surround the city, with lightning crackling between them. This Lightning Barrier separates the living from the hungry undead of the Ghostlands.

The guards in Vieport are Mer-Eels, with long reptilian faces, humanoid arms and torsoes, and long eel-like tails. They swim quickly through the water and board Wilhelm’s raft to check for anything suspicious or illegal.

Eel Guard: Welcome back, Theona. Headed to the Adventurers’ Club?

Edna: You must have mistaken me for someone else. I’m Edna Crusher-Harcourt. Very pleased to meet you.

Everything is in order, so the Eel Guards allow Wilhelm’s raft into the city. The Fellowship disembarks and seeks out the Adventurer’s Club the guards mentioned.

A map of Vieport, showing the lightning barrier, palace, Adventurer's Club, and Bertha.
A map of Vieport, showing the lightning barrier, palace, Adventurer’s Club.

The Adventurer’s Club is a grand building next to a golf course, with high ceilings and canals in the floors to accomodate both terrestrial and aquatic adventurers. The clerk at the front desk is a Mer-Man whose fish half is a Betta fish, so his fins are luxurious and fade from red to purple.

  • Fred, he/him, Merfolk. A colorful tropical fish person, friendly but skittish.
    • Cowardice: After he takes damage, Fred will attempt to run away from the scene.
    • Friendly: The first person in the fellowship to Forge a Bond with Fred may write up to three Bonds with him, instead of just one.

The Adventurer’s Club is for members only, so each member of the Fellowship must either present a membership card, or some proof that they should be allowed to join.

Lucia Symbol of Royalty: Grant an audience with anyone.

Fred is very impressed by Lucia’s Symbol of Royalty, but the others struggle to prove that they are also great adventurers.

Dryden: Let me speak for my humble friends. This is Edna, who I have seen jam her mighty fist into the heart of a Fire Elemental. Averiela can strike a perfect shot from the shadows, and has single-handedly defeated a giant Sentry Droid. Perhaps you have heard the legend of Star-Rider, who saved people from the Shard of the Moon?

Drdyen starts pulling out all the treasures he’s collected and laying them out on the table. After a while, Fred tells him to stop.

Dryden Talk Sense (+Grace, dazzle) 6-

Fred says that they don’t have trophies or proof of their great deeds, so he can’t offer them membership. If they can produce trophies, or if they complete any of the bounties on the Bounty Board, then they will be allowed in, but for now, only Queen Lucia may enter. Lucia refuses to enter without her friends!

Edna is very interested in one of the daggers that Dryden pulled out of his cloak: a jeweled Dwarf-Made dagger. She asks to examine it, and holds the red gem in the hilt up to the light, but is disappointed. She knows someone looking for a dagger quite like this, but this isn’t the one.  Drdyen explains where he found it, and gives Edna a Dwarven lottery ticket that he found nearby. Maybe that clue will help her friend find what they were looking for.

GM note: Edna tried to use Infinite WIndows to go back to the other party at the very end of the session, but rolled 6- and we didn’t have time to fight whatever came through the portal. The timeline with the other party is all messed up. Hopefully Edna will soon be able to move back and forth between parties using Infinite Windows in a way that mostly makes diagetic sense.

END OF SESSION MOVE:

  • Did we thoroughly explore a new location: NO
  • Did anyone find what they were looking for: YES, Averiela is working on the Conclave, her long-term goal
  • Did we discover something new about the world and its people: YES, Dragon birth and death rituals.

Two boons:

  • Level up: Edna & Averiela
  • Restore Gear.

 

Chasing the Sunset & blockade running

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

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

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

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

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

Rose: Hey, we need something shiny up here!

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

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

The clowns hold out their hands for payment.

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

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

Rose (using Stella’s stats) Overcome 10+

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

Frost: Hold her steady!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buckle Get Away 6- failure

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

Kitty’s Gigantic is damaged.

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

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

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

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

Buckle Overcome 7-9 pay a price

Buckle damages Tail Slam

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

Buckle Overcome 10+

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

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

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

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

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

Killer Clowns damage Naga Eels’ Slippery

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

Naga Eels Needlepoint Teeth: damge to Killer Clowns is Necrotic

Killer Clowns are in Despair from Necrotic damage and cannot help

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

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

Stella Keep Them Busy 7-9 face retaliation

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

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

Buckle Keep Them Busy 6-

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

Brutal Commander damages Buckle

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

Buckle damages Brutal Commander’s Defiant Command TAKEN OUT

Brutal Commander Defiant Command: simultaneously damage anyone who damages you

Brutal Commander damages Buckle

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

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

Buckle Anarchy Reigns: place explosive devices anywhere.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hibernia’s assistance gives Hope to a Get Away attempt

Stella Get Away 6- failure

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

Buckle Heart of Earth: Immune to heat and fire

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

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

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

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

Captain Frost: No! Back below deck!

Captain Frost Leadership: crew members obey without question

Buckle Anarchy Reigns: place explosive devices anywhere.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A loud voice booms from the peak of the island.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

King Of The Hill Island Response Level increases to 1

King gains Show of Force: one free Hard Cut

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

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

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

Buckle Anarchy Reigns: place explosives anywhere

Buckle Keep Them Busy 6-

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

King damages Buckle’s Blood

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

Stella Keep Them Busy 10+

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

King Show of Force

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

King damages Silk’s Creepy

Stella is no longer a Threat To The World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buckle: What does your machine do, Baess?

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

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

Kitty spends Gigantic to make a firebreak

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buckle: Mighty hunter? That’s weird.

NO END OF SESSION MOVE

Chasing the Sunset & Caramel

Chasing The Sunset & Caramel

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

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

Yearly Check-In

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back to the story

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buckle: Yup, we’re all fine.

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

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

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

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

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

Okk: Ahoy! Stay clear of the steam jet!

Stella: Thank you for that advice!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buckle: Take care of my egg.

Stella had forgotten about the egg.

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

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

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

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

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

Buckle Get Away 7-9 avoid harm

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buckle Keep Them Busy 7-9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buckle recommends using a thermometer.

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

Stella: Ugh.

Ugg: Yes, ma’am?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Frost: You can lick it if you want.

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

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

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

Stella Overcome 10+

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

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

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

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

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

de Rolo damages Risk Taker.

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

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

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

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

END OF SESSION MOVE

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

Two boons:

  1. Restore Gear
  2. Heal companions

Chasing The Sunset & Attrition

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

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

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

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

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

Stella Keep Them Busy 10+

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stella Talk Nonsense (Talk Sense by telling lies)

Shirley Biting Sarcasm: cannot Talk Sense to Shirley

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

Stella spends 1 Food

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buckle: Why golf when you could adventure with us?

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

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

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

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

Buckle screams “Hang on” and swerves around hard!

Buckle Overcome 7-9 Pay a price: separated

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

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

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

Stella Get Away 7-9 avoid harm

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

Stella: “Gus, give me the seeds!”

Gus damages Rations

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

Rose damages Get Right In There

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

Stella Keep Them Busy 10+

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

Buckle Firestarter: set anything on fire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buckle Heart Of Earth: immune to fire

Buckle: Does the fortress have a boat dock?

This casual show of power is quite intimidating!

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

Group of Naga Eels damages Needlepoint Teeth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gus damages Special Ingredients

Stella Keep Them Busy 7-9

Group of Naga Eels requires 2 characters to Keep Them Busy

Naga Guards damage Stella

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

Rose damages Loyal Beyond All Reason

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

Buckle damages Peacekeeper’s Protocol

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

Buckle Overcome 6-

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

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

Stella Get Away 7-9 bring Gus along

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

Flames damage Stella

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

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

Stella Overcome 6-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hopek damages Buckles’ Electrolocation

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

Hamfast; You have to swim!

Stella: I can’t! I literally can’t!

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

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

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

Buckle Overcome 10+

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

Buckle Get Away 7-9 avoid harm

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

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

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

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

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

Stella Overcome 6-

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

Wall damages Stella

Stella is Taken Out!

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

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

Buckle Get Away 7-9 avoid harm

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

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

Naga Eels: There’s two of him!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chasing The Sunset & Exterminator

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 Sea Viper (ruler of Vieport) assumed Stella would turn in Buckle for a bounty, but the team violently demonstrated that they value friendship over money.

The rooftop terrace of the Sea Viper’s palace.

No enemies remain on the burning rooftop terrace.  Theona is barely standing, and is no longer a Companion. Stella and Buckle have a damaged Siege Tank, but the rest of their Companions…

The Sea Viper’s Palace. A Group of Naga Guards are inside, and another Group of Naga Guards stand under the pillars. The companions Ugg, Gus, Rose, and Silk are trapped on top of the pillars.
The Sea Viper’s Palace

…are still climbing the pillars outside the palace, trying to reach their leaders on the roof. A group of Eel Naga guards are below them, threatening them. The group of Eel Naga guards that Buckle left inside the palace are about to come out and join their comrades.

Neither Stella nor Buckle can swim. The Sea King escaped, and surely the entire city will soon be after them for attempted regicide. They need an escape route right now. Buckle considers driving the Siege Tank off the roof, but the drop will damage its only remaining stat. Stella considers getting help from the beluga whales that carry cargo at the docks, but the Siege Tank is as big as a beluga whale. Just one whale won’t be able to carry the tank.

Stella Queen of the Wild: every beast she meets is a Compantion

Stella Speak Softly “whales, carry our tank away!” 7-9

GM note: Stella doesn’t have to convince the whales to help. The roll determines how much trouble the whales have getting in position to help.

A team of Beluga whales is pulling a raft nearby, and when they hear Stella’s call, they turn towards the palace. Their Merfolk drivers try to steer them back on coruse, but the whales buck to throw them off. The raft can hold the Siege Tank, but the whales need a little time to get to the palace. On the other side of the palace, Naga Eel guards wrap themselves around the pillars and spiral upwards to attack the companions stnading on top.  Buckle can’t use his Dragonfire at long range, so he takes a running leap from the roof of the palace…

Buckle Get Away 7-9 avoid harm

…and lands in the shallow water at the base of the pilars, right among the Naga Eel guards. His superheated body causes a burst of steam, which he empowered with Dragonfire..

Buckle Dragonfire: vaporize Group of Naga Eels

When a Group is destroyed, replace it with two members

…into a burning mushroom cloud! When the cloud clears, only two Naga Eels guards are left, who ignore the pillars and turn to attack Buckle. Stella watches from the roof. She can’t bring the tank to bear, but her Companions are right there.

Stella: Gus, release the garlic powder!

Gus uses Special Ingredients to create advantage against Naga Eel.

Gus retrieves a satchel of garlic powder and shakes it out over one of the Naga Eel guards. Garlic irritates snakes, so the guard starts spitting and coughing. Buckle attacks the distracted guard with his venomous spurs.

Buckle Finish Them (advantage: distraction from Gus) 10+

The guard only feels a pinprink, but that’s enough to deliver the venom, and he’s Taken Out. The other guard bites Buckle with his horrible needle-sharp teeth.

Naga Eel Needlepoint Teeth: necrotic damage to Buckle’s Courage

Buckle was feeling invincible up to now, having killed over twenty people in the last few minutes. He realizes that he can still be hurt!

On the other side fo the palace, the team of Belugas have thrown their drivers in the water and lined up so Stella can drive the tank off the edge and onto the raft. Theona sees an opportunity to escape and pushes herself towards the edge! Stella throws both throttles forward and races Theona.

Stella Get Away 6-

Don’t forget, Theona is a 16-foot-tall Ogre. As she and the tank reach the burning guardrail at the edge of the terrace, she shoves the tank asides and leaps through the flames! It looks like she’ll land on the raft with an action roll to break her fall, but instead she crumples and faceplants. The exertion and the flames were too much for her. Stella finds herself in the water in a very metallic, very heavy vehicle designed for land! She’ll soon sink! She quickly looks around the tank’s control panel and hits a tiny yellow button on the left side that she had not noticed before.

Siege Tank Secret Weapon: amphibious mode.

The bottom of the tank forms into a waterproof hull, and it’s able to slowly motor through the water.  Stella is away!

Buckle panics and runs parallel to shore through shallow water, leaving a trail of steam. Stella yells for everyone to go to the Adventurers’ Club. The crowd of Companions drop down from the pillars and everyone flees towards the Adventurer’s Club, with only one Naga Eel guard trying to stop them.

GM note: Fleeing the scene with enemies nearby gave me a great excuse to start the next scene with a problem. I asked the players to pick which of their Companions were missing at the beginning of the next scene.

Stella drives the Siege Tank onto shore next to the Adventurers’ Club. Buckle is hiding under the porch, but the smoke rising from him reveals his position. A headcount of their numerous companions reveals that Hamfast is missing! Two figures appear on the roof of the buidling opposite the Adventurers’ Club. Hamfast as been captured by The Exterminator!

  • The Exterminator
    • Deadly Poison
    • Fumigator
    • Patient

The Exterminator beckons to Stella and Buckle, then drags Hamfast back out of sight. They will have to breach the building and face The Exterminator’s traps to extract their new companion.

GM note: We brainstormed what building The Exterminator used as their lair. Often adventurers gather in shady taverns, narrow alleys, or warehouses, but the Adventurers’ Club is a legitimate, reputable organization, so it’s in a nice part of town. It’s next to a the club house of a golf course. Specificity helps creativity!

Golf Clubhouse, AKA Exterminator’s deathtrap

Buckle is still in shock from the previous battle. Stella considers a multi-pronged attack agains The Exterminator, but needs to scout the area to know how to proceed. She walks around the building looking for entrances. There’s a service entrance on the side, and an employee is leaning against the wall taking a smoke break.

  • Caddie
    • Talk for Days
    • Loose Lips

Stella: Buckle, are you back with us? Are you ready to do something? Go in the front and see what’s there.

Buckle shuffles off and Stella approaches the Chatty Caddie.  Her plan is to set a pit trap at the rear entrance to catch The Exterminator if they flee that way, but she doesn’t want actual golfers to be caught and injured. She asks the Caddie if she can slip in through the service entrance.

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

Caddie: OK, but tell me a secret.

Stella: Any secret?

Caddie: A juicy secret! If you sleep with a teddy bear, I don’t care.

Stella: I can’t swim!

Caddie stifles a laugh as he lets her in the service entrance. He’s totally going to leak that secret.

Buckle walks in the front door and enters a nice lounge with high ceilings, big windows, and tables and chairs spread around. In the corner, there’s a woman in chrome armor with long, curly, bubblegum pink hair. She’s deep into her third bottle, and slowly turns to look at Buckle with a look of exhaustion and despair.

Lady Elizabeth Eleanor Eadwynn: I can’t deal with this right now.

She turns away and leans her head on her hand, blocking Buckle from her view. Buckle ignores her and walks up to the counter, which is staffed by a bored-looking teenage girl who clearly thinks that golf and people who like golf are exceedingly boring and uncool.

  • Surly Worker
    • Biting Sarcasm
    • Conveniently Off-Duty

Buckle asks if she’s seen The Exterminator today. She can’t be bothered to remember the losers who come in here, so she pushes the sign-in book across the counter to him. He picks it up and it bursts into flames! Before the pages blacken compeltely he does see “The Exterminator” but the other columns, no doubt filled with useful information, are illegible. He drops the book and stomps on it to put out the flames, but his super-heated feet only burn the book faster!  Surly Worker’s eyes, emphasized by enthusiasticly but unexpertedly applied eyeliner, go wide. She reaches over the counter and dumps her drink on the remains of the book. She goes into the back room to get another book.

Unsupervised, Buckle slips past the counter and explores the back of the clubhouse. There are locker rooms, showers, and a sauna. He surprises a few golfers. Stella is also inside the building. She finds an “out of order” sign and posts it on the back door, then places a pit trap outside of it.

They’re explored the ground storey, so they move on to the upper storey. Buckle brings Ugg (a Goblin with robotic arms) to the elevator. It’s a fully enclosed box, and just has a lever to select ground storey or upper storey. Buckle flips the lever up, and poison gas floods the elevator! The Exterminator anticipated this move and set a trap!  Buckle pulls the lever back down, but the gas doesn’t stop. They need to get out of the elevator.

Buckle Get Away 10+ avoid harm, bring Ugg along

Ugg boosts Buckle up and Buckle opens the service hatch that’s in the roof of all elevator cars. He climbs on top of the elevator, then reaches down to pull Ugg up after him. At the top of the shaft, the doors to the upper storey are slightly open and The Exterminator is looking down. They grunt and pulls back, closing the doors. Impressed but not surprised.

Meanwhile, Stella has ridden Silk (her Riding Spider) up to the roof. There are three skylights, one open. She opens the other two (to maximize the dispersion of any poison gas that may be released soon) and quietly drops down into the storage room.

Stella Get Away 10+ avoid notice, avoid harm

The Exterminator is on one end of the room, looking at the elevator doors. On the other side of the room, sitting on a big bin of galf balls, Hamfast is concentrating on a strange device that he’s holding in both hands. Buckle and Ugg climb the emergency ladder inside the elevator shaft, and Buckle starts heating the elevator door to break through. Exterminator prepares their poison gas dispenser. Big tanks of poison gas on their back are connected through a hose to nozzle shaped like old-timey bug spray dispensers: a cone-tipped cylinder with a short cylinder mounted perpendicular under the main cylinder. They will ambush Buckle as soon as he emerges.

Stella Queen of the Wild: Command Lore about the wild beast in a location

The storage room is an attic, so there are bats nesting in the rafters. Buckle tells Ugg to go back down the ladder, then he bursts through the elevator door

Stella Queen of the Wild: all Beast are her companions

Bats harry and distract The Exterminator

Stella sends her bat minions to swarm The Exterminator, preventing them from executing their ambush.  Stella and Buckle rush at The Exterminator from both sides!

Buckle Finish Them (+sense, knock out) advantage: bat distraction (+hope, assistance from Stella) 10+

Buckle jumps up on The Exterminator and jams his flippers into the gap between their helmet and armor. He levers the helmet off, revealing The Exterminator’s face! Stella disconnects the hose from the back of the nozzle and jams the loose end, which is spewing poison gas, into The Exterminator’s face. They quickly succumb to the noxious gases and collapse. Buckle reaches out to the end of the hose and ignites the gas as it sprays out. The gas burns as soon as it exits the hose, so the room isn’t filled with poison gas. Disposing of the gas this way is safer than igniting backpacks full of pressurized gas, which would probably blow up the whole room.

Hamfast: Help! It’s going to go off! I can’t keep holding it!

They rush to their captured friend. The device he is holding is actually two pieces that must be held in precise alignment, or it will go off, flooding the room with poison gas. (The Exterminator has a THEME, and they stick to it.) They consider throwing it out of the open skylights, but throwing will set it off. They decide to use the elevator shaft. Buckle does remember to bring Ugg out first. He carries the device to the hole in the door, drops it in, then Stella and Buckle shove a golf cart to block the hole and keep the gas out fo the room.

Buckle Overcome (+hope assistance from Stella) 10+

It works! They shove the golf cart forward, then sink to the floor in relief. Tiny harmless wisps of gas leak through gaps around the golf cart. Buckle looks over and sees The Exterminator’s gas-proof helmet lying on the floor and realizes he could have stuck the device under that. It would have been a lot simpler.

GM note: We wrapped up the session here and the players asked if they could just say that they left the city after this. I denied their request. They almost killed the king, and all the exits from the city are dangerous. Water on one side, electric barriers and angry ghosts on the other. Getting out will be an adventure!

GM note: The party went to the Adventurer’s Club to be safe because they are members & can get food and shelter here. But the Adventurers’ Club is full of powerful mercenaries doing whatever jobs are posted. Of course there’s a bounty out on them now that they attacked the Sea Viper and burned his palace! They were already attacked by an Adventurer on their first visit. Yet they didn’t expect The Exterminator (the other Adventurer in town) to attack them this time.

Chasing The Sunset & Sea Viper

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/Pack Leader

Last time, Stella and Buckle found the owners of the mine from which Buckle got his special powers. Those powers almost got him kidnapped, but instead Stella impressed the giant kidnapper into joining the team.  Theona is an Ogre, the same type of giant that Stella’s people fought (and surrendered to/defeated) in The Giant War back in her homeland.  That gave Stella some confidence when facing Theona, since she had defeated Ogres before.

Stella has a to-do list: find the Halfling that lives in Vieport and tell them they can go home, then find Opal Oolite and tell her she can go home, then find out about this Dragon that supposedly lives up north.  There aren’t many Halflings in Vieport.

Stella Address Book: find a friend in any town

Her address book indicates that a Halfling lives by the docks.  Vieport is an amphibious city, so the shores and the docks are actually in the center of town.  There are normal-looking docks for surface-dwellers and their boats, as well as underwater facilities for Merfolk.

Stella Queen Of The Wild: Command Lore about local wildlife

Merfolk use beluga whales to haul cargo. Sometimes bigger whales stop hear, and the shallow bay has  canals carved into the sea floor to allow those large whales room to swim. Thesurface docks block the light from the whale facilities, so the whales use echolocation to navigate.  Other interesting wildlife near the docks: sea turtles and eels. The eels move in dense schools, head-down to eat small creatures from the sea bed, so they look like mobile clumps of seaweed. The sea turtles are migratory, and when they lay eggs, one egg in every clutch is blue and Precious.

A side view of the port in Vieport. Above the water, a wooden dock for ships on the surface. Below the water, coral grows on the walls of the bay. A large shelf coral has artifical walls under it, trapping a pocket of air. On the bottom of the bay, more dock structures for submerged whales.
Vieport’s docks

As soon as the group approaches the docks, Buckle dives into the water to catch and eat an eel. The water explodes into steam as soon as his superheated body touches it! He can’t swim because his webbed hands evaporate the water instead of pushing against it. Stella appraises the situation. An Elven ship is moored nearby. The Elves walk back and forth on the surface of the water, unloading packages. At hte bottom of the bay, Merfolk swarm around several Beluga whales.  Stella has a plan. If all three Beluga whales swim underneath Buckle and blow from their blowholes, the air pressure will push him back to the surface. But how can show communicate to the Merfolk far below?  She asks the Elves how they co-ordinate with their underwater counterparts. The Elves sing beuatiful songs which carry through the water, and agree to relay Stella’s message

Stella Talk Sense (please blow Buckle back to the surface) 6-

The constant steam explosion is so loud underwater that the Merfolk cannot hear the Elven song!  Buckle lashes out with his flat tail, paddling faster than the water can evaporate.

Buckle Animal Traits: damage tail to gain Hope

Buckle Overcome (+hope) 10+

Buckle rockets to the surface and collapses on the wooden dock, which starts sizzling. It’s treated wood, and it’s wet, so it won’t burst into flame immediately. The Elves are glad to see that he’s safe, but urge him to get off the dock. Buckle is stunned by his experience.

Only now can Stella start looking for the Halfling, named Hamfast. Hamfast is a Halfling term for vegetarian, since the Halfling fasts from ham. Outsiders often confuse it with Hamfest, a celebration when Halflings eat a lot of ham. A small Halfling face pops up from the water. Hamfast has arrived to see about the commotion.

Stella: Hamfast? What are you doing under the water?

Hamfast (a refugee from the Giant War) sees an Ogre standing right behind his fellow Halfling, yelps in fear, and dives under the water.

Stella: Theona, you need to leave. Don’t go far, just don’t be here.

Stella tells Hamfast that the Ogre is gone and it’s safe, but he’s still hesitant. He invites Stella to his underwater home (the air pocket in the map above) Stella confesses that she never learned to swim.

GM note: We’re in a city that’s half underwater and neither of the characters can go in the water? Incredible! Hilarious!

Hamfast talks her through it and encourages her. She only has to hold her breath a short time. Once inside Hamfast’s home, she doesn’t need to swim anymore.

Hamfast Natural Charm (advantage: talk Stella through swimming)

Stella Get Away (+hope) 6-

Stella is mustering her courage, and has waded in up to her knees, when an Eel Merfolk wearing the uniform of the Sea Viper’s soldiers swims up. He reads from a clay tablet in a loud, formal voice. It’s a summons from the Sea Viper, ruler of this city! Stella and her companion are to go immediately to the palace. Stella has a lot of friends and wonders which ones the Sea Viper wishes to meet. The Herald isn’t sure about the rest, but Buckle definitely. Buckle’s not paying attention. He’s slumped on the floor, heartbroken because he can’t go in the water.

Stella: Did you see the commotion? My friend can’t go underwater, so we can’t meet the Sea Viper in his palace.

Stella Talk Sense (+sense) above-water audience? 7-9

Herald: OK, come with me to the palace entrance and I’ll ask about making accommodations.

Buckle is in a stupor of despair, and doesn’t move. Stella puts on leather gloves and drags Buckle after her by the scruff of his neck. The rest of the party (Theona the Ogre, Ugg the Goblin, Rose & Gus the Halflings, Silk The Riding Spider, and the Siege Tank) follow at a distance.

A side view of the Sea Viper's Palace in Vieport. A row col columns lead down the short towards a building that's partially submerged.
The Sea Viper’s Palace

The rows of columns that lead to the entrance of the Sea Viper’s palace are made of several different materials, made at different times. An old palace stood on land, and the oldest columns on land led towards it. The Sea Viper destroyed the old palace, put his new palace in the water, and reversed the direction of the entryway. The Herald goes inside to make arrangements, leaving Stella and Buckle at the shore.

Stella: Buckle, snap out of it. I need your help.

Buckle: I can’t … I’ll never fish again.

Stella: That’s a lack of creativity. You could get a metal fishing pole.

Buckle: I can never go in water.

Stella: But there’s so much you can do now. Look to the future! You can control fire!

Buckle: Seems more a curse than a blessing.

GM note: The Sea Viper wants to harness Buckle’s Heart Of Earth for his own purposes. Will Buckle just give it to him?

Stella: I promise it will get better with practice.

Buckle. I just wanted to eat. How will I eat?

Stella drags Buckle to the edge of the water.

Stella: Buckle, I need you to trust me. Put your hand in the water when I say.

Buckle: It’ll bubble up again.

Stella: Now!

Stella Queen Of The Wild. All beasts (including Eels) are her companions & follow her orders

Buckle sticks his hand in the water and it closes around an Eel! The Eel is instantly cooked in his super-heated grasp.  Buckle stares, then scarfs it down.

Buckle forges a bond with Stella

A strange person pops his head above the water. He’s Human, lanky, and bald. He’s wearing a wetsuit made of shiny scales, so it shimmers and flashes like a fish as he moves. He’s got a clear full-face mask that lets him breathe underwater, and propellers mounted on his shoulders for speed. He’s fascinated by what he just witnessed. Before they can interact much, the Herald emerges from the palace. The Sea Viper, in his great wisdom benevolence, will allow Stella to meet him on the rooftop terrace.  A woman appears on the edge of the roof, a glowing light hovering over her shoulder. She disappears and the glowing light stretches into a bridge from the roof to the ground which Stella, Buckle, the Herald, and the strange bald fellow can walk on.

The rooftop terrace of the Sea Viper's palace. The Sea viper sits on the throne, flanked by Emmett and Robin. Stella and Buckle stand before them. At the back of the terrace stand the Herald and a Group of Eel soldiers.
The rooftop terrace of the Sea Viper’s palace.
  • Sea Viper, boss of Vieport:
    • Threat To The World
    • Hardened Scales
    • Iron Grip
  • Robin, Lantern, Lead Engineer
    • Building Bridges
    • Reveal The Way
  • Emmett, Ghost Expert
    • Master Plan
    • Backup Plan
  • Herald
    • Zealous Fanaticism
    • Reinforcements
    • Blind Faith
  • Naga Guards x12
    • Group
    • Needlepoint Teeth
    • Slippery

The Sea Viper sits on a throne, flanked by advisors. He is an especially large Naga. He keeps growing and nothing has managed to kill him yet, so he’s huge.  Two of his advisors are Robin, the Lantern who created the light bridge, and Emmett, the strange man in the wetsuit. He pulled up his flippers and clipped them to his knees so he can walk on land.  About a dozen guards line the perimeter.

Stella can change size, up to the size of a good chair, and the Sea Viper’s throne is much bigger than that. Buckle walks around, admiring the plants, tapestries, and woven carpets, careful not to actually touch any of the flammable objects on the terrace.  Buckle asks for the bald man’s name.

Emmett: I am Emmett, and I am the Sea Viper’s advisor in matters metaphysical and ectoplasmic.

Sea Viper: Adventurer Stella Muddyfoot, I welcome you to my city of Vieport, and thank you for the service you have rendered to my people. However, I am disappointed that you tarry in turning in the bounty.

Robin: It has so much power! Truly, a boon to the city!

Buckle asks Stella what they are talking about.  Stella sees where this is going and needs a moment to think.

Stella Talk Nonsense (lie with a straight face) 10+

Stella: I recognize the power my friend has, but he fused with it because it’s saving his live. We can’t remove it without killing him. I can’t part with him.

Buckle’s eyes get big as he figures out that the Sea Viper expects Stella to claim the bounty on him! He is the Source Of Power that the Sea Viper Wants!

Stella: If I continue adventuring with Buckle, imagine the other Sources Of Power that we could acquire for the Sea Viper!

Stella Talk Nonsense on a 10+, Sting Like A Bee: Steal Useful item

Robin Reveal The Way: when someone Talks Sense, give advice

Robin: Of course we don’t want to harm him. He should stay here and become the heart of a new powerplant. With the extra power, we could push back the Deathlands and double the size of the city!

Buckle: What’s a powerplant?

Robin starts explains how water is heated to create steam, which turns turbines, but Buckle isn’t listening.

Buckle: Is it heavy?

Robin: Oh, no, you don’t carry it. We’ll build a new building and put you inside it.

Buckle: How long will that take?

Robin: We’ll not to turn the powerplant off! This is a permanent position.

Buckle: You’re putting me in prison?!

Stella’s getting angry. Her Hunter Destiny has made her body a bit more bestial, so her ears flatten a little to show her displeasure.

Emmett: This creature’s power is not only heat, but life! I’m sure I could conduct a ritual to cancel the Deathlands’ curse.

Buckle: Banishing death sounds good.

Stella: I’m not convinced that ghosts aren’t people. Maybe they experience life in a bizarre way I don’t understand.

Robin: But that ritual would surely kill him!

Buckle: Can I bring people back to life?

Emmett: I predict that your Life Energy will balance the Death Energy of the Deathlands, returning it a normal state. Undeath to Death.

Buckle: So the ghosts will die?

Emmett: They’re already dead.

Sea Viper: I will consider the options presented in this council and make a decree later. Herald, the bounty!

The Sea Viper is ending the meeting. He expects Stella to leave, and Buckle to stay. Stella has murder in her eyes. Buckle is so important to her, and these people don’t understand, even though she tried to explain. She remains clam on the outside. Herald approaches Stella with a small pirate chest full of gold. Buckle looks at Stella with big sad eyes.

Stella: I won’t let them take you.

Buckle: Want me to set the roof on fire?

Stella is furious that they don’t respect a living being, She feels cold now.

Stella: Burn it to the ground.

Buckle Firestarter: Anything that you had a chance to plant fuel on bursts into flame

Buckle’s glowing eyes stare into the distance. His body glows brighter, white hot. He raises his arms, and every flammable thing on the terrace roof: tapestries, plants, rugs, explodes in flame! (The whole time he was examining the roof earlier, he was secreting flammable venom from his venomous spurs)

Location Reponse Level increases (collateral damage): Vieport gains Separation move

Location Response Level increases (insult someone in charge): Vieport gains Show Of Force move

Buckle Finish Them (+Blood) vs. Naga guards. advantage: fire everywhere! 7-9

Group of Naga Guards disbanded, replaced with 2 Naga Guards

Emmett quickly hits a series of angular poses, and a blue sphere of energy surrounds him.

Emmett Backup Plan: Magical Barrier against heat & flame

Outside the palace, Theona sees the smoke rising from the palace and urges the companions to come and help.

Most of the guards are consumed in the explosion or flee. One Naga Guard and Herald rush Buckle. Herald throws the chest of gold at him. The other Naga Guard moves to attack Stella.

Buckle Overcome 6-

Buckle catches the chest, but it’s really heavy. he’s knocked to the ground and pinned. A foolish attempt!

Buckle’s Wisdom is damaged

Stella draw her halfing sword for the first time. She’s not sure if she should fight the Naga Guard, or help Buckle. She worried for him and doesn’t know his power. She decides to rush to his side.

Stella Get Away 6-

The Naga Guard darts out with its strange Eel-like body and clamps its jaws onto Stella, stopping her in place.

 Stella’s Wisdom is damaged (necrotic)

Buckle grabs the chest of gold and it catches fire. The gold inside starts to melt. Buckle stands up and projects a blast of intense fire from his chest, blasting molten gold at the Herald like a claymore mine. The Herald is just gone!

Buckle Dragonfire: vaporize anyone or anything except a Threat To The World

The Sea Viper rises up from his throne. He can’t believe the disrespect these adventurers are showing. How dare they behave this way, when he invited them to his home, gave them special accommodations? They could have been heroes of the city, but they betrayed his trust!

Sea Viper Separation: one member of the Fellowship is separated from the others

He pulls a lever hidden in the arm of his throne and a trapdoor opens under Buckle, dropping him into the water-filled chamber below! Another Group of Naga Guards awaits. But he’s still super-heated, so the water explodes into steam and the Naga Guards can’t approach him. He sinks to the bottom and starts walking towards the big doors at the front of the palace.

Outside the palace, the companions have arrived!

Theona Tossed Aside: throw something.

Theona grabs the Siege Tank and throws it up to the roof!

Stella Get Away 10+ avoid harm, avoid notice

Stella uses the confusion to escape the Naga Guard and get inside the Siege Tank. She starts the engine and drives full speed at the Sea Viper!

Sea Viper Show Of Force: damage Siege Tank’s Heavily Armored

Stella Pack Leader: allies’ actions give Hope to Finish Them

Stella Finish Them (+Blood) +Hope, advantage: Siege Tank Spikes and Steel 6-

The Sea Viper bravely faces the onrushing Seige Tank, then slithers aside at the last moent, slashing the treads as he passes. The Siege Tank grinds to a halt, barely holding together. The Sea Viper starts beating on its armored shell, prying plates off to get at Stella!

Down below, Buckle reaches the door and heats it until he can bend a corner and slip through.

Buckle Overcome 7-9

Stella is depsarately looking through her gear as the Sea Viper tears through the wall of the Siege Tank.

Stella useful item: Lantern

When the Sea Viper comes in, she dazzles him by igniting a bright lantern that she stole from Robin earlier. She decides to fight, not flee, and attacks with her sword.

Stella Finish Them (+Courage) advantage: dazzled 7-9

Sea Viper’s Hardened Scales are damaged

She slashes across his chest, breaking through a layer of scales, but his flesh is untouched!  He reaches out a powerful hand. Stella tries to duck under it and exit the Siege Tank.

Stella Get Away: 6-

No good! She’s grabbed.

Down on the surface, Buckle meets the companions.

Buckle: Did Stella make it? We have to go get her!

Buckle Overcome 10+

He climbs the columns and leaps from column to column to reach the roof. Theona is big enough to follow easily, but the Goblin and Halfings will need more time.

Back on the roof, the Sea Viper drags Stella out of the tank. The two remaining Naga Guards approach.

Sea Viper: How dare you attack me in my own home. Look at the damage you’ve caused! You are not the first to attack me. All of them failed, just as you have!

He throws her to the ground between the Naga Guards. Meanwhile, Buckle applies War Paint and orders Theona into the fray.

Buckle War Paint Rampage: toss aside enemies within reach

Theona Stronger Than Is Reasonable: pin Sea Viper

Theona pays a price to act against Threat To The World: damage Larger Than Life

Theona Bonds That Break Us: erase a bond with Buckle, since she took damage from his order

Buckle rushes in and tosses the Naga Guards away from Stella. Theona grabs the Sea Viper’s shoulder and tail and spreads her arms wide, stretching the Sea Viper out in a vulnerable and uncomfortable manner!

Buckle Pay A Price to act against Threat To The World: damage Venomous Spurs

Buckle secretes flammable venom on his hands and strikes the Sea Viper. A moment after the impact, the Buckle’s hands explode in flame!

Buckle Finish Them +Blood (advantage: pinned by Theona) 7-9

Sea Viper’s Iron Grip is damaged

GM note: I had to read the rules very carefully, because the Sea Viper, Siege Tank, and Theona all had all stats damaged. Were they Taken Out, or barely standing?  Taken Out triggers when all stats are damaged and the character takes damage again, so I ruled that they are barely standing.

GM note: The Taken Out move only applies to player characters. The section on “Threatening the Fellowship” says “An enemy that has had all its stats damaged is destroyed” Oops!

Stella was flat on her back, and heard Buckle rampage past her. She rises and grips her sword.

Buckle: I’ll grab. You stab!

The little Platyperson grapples the much larger but injured Sea Viper. The Sea Viper feels the heat from Buckle’s grip and tries to get away.

Buckle Pay A Price to act against a Threat To The World: damage Webbed Hands

Buckle Keep Them Busy: 10+

Stella: This ends now!

Stella Finish Them (+Blood) 6-

As Stella charges, the Sea Viper slaps her sword aside with the tip of his tail. He wrenches free from Buckle’s grip and dives from the roof to the water below. At some point in the battle, Robin formed a bridge to retreat from the roof. Emmett is still maintaining his Magic Barrier.

Emmett: You can’t hurt me, you monster!

Buckle: You work for that thing, and you call me a monster?

Emmett reconsiders the situation, drops his Magic Barrier, turns on the fans at his shoulders and hips, and dives backwards off the roof into the water below.

The battle is over!  Stella and Buckle stand on the burning roof of the palace, in the center of Vieport. The Siege Tank is barely in one piece, and Theona’s badly hurt and has lost faith in their mission. She won’t take orders from them anymore. Fleeing the city seems prudent, but on one side is the ocean, and on the other, electrical fences and beyond that, hordes of ravenous ghosts. How are they going to get out of this one?

 

END OF SESSION MOVE:

Did we explore a new location: YES, Vieport

Did we learn about the world & its people: YES, Adventurer Club, ghost curse, generators

Did anyone reach their goal: YES Stella is bringing the Oolites home like she wants to bring halfing refugees home.

Restore Gear, Heal, Heal

Chasing The Sunset & Adventurers’ Club

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/Pack Leader

Last time, Buckle & Stella flew into Vieport on the back of a giant turtle. A whole city to explore! The river meets the ocean in the center of the city, which extends past the shore onto the seafloor. The land portion of the city is surrounded by tall towers with lightning flashing between them. The underwater portion of the city is mostly populated by Mer-Folk, and the dry portions have a mix of terrestrial species. The palace of the Sea Viper, ruler of the city, starts on an island in the middle of the city and extends down into the water.

A map of Vieport, showing the lightning barrier, palace, Adventurer's Club, and Bertha.
A map of Vieport, showing the lightning barrier, palace, Adventurer’s Club, and Bertha.

Buckle isn’t sure about Mer-Folk. He remembers being hunted by one in another city. Stella is curious about the lightning barriers.

Stella Look Closely 6-

The towers are an effective barrier around the city. Anything trying to cross the lightning barrier would be electrocuted. The towers are 40 feet tall, higher than the buildings, which are mostly 3 storeys tall. Cables from the top of each tower go over the buildings toward some central point, probably a power plant.  Stella notices that a brick chimney on a nearby building is leaning on a power cable, straining it. A broken cable would open a gap in the barrier around the city and threaten everything near the live end of the broken cable!  Stella wants Buckle to fix the wire, but the upper storeys of the building are wood, so Buckle would set the building on fire if he climbed to the roof.

Stella knocks on the door of the building. An Elf opens the door and is amazed by Buckle, who glows. Buckle shrugs. They warn him that his chimney is threatening a power cable. He’s worried that he’s be an appetizer for ghosts, and runs to get help, following the cable deeper into the city.  Neighbors hear the commotion and start looking out of windows to see what’s going on.  Buckle examines the building to see what their options are.

Buckle Look Closely 10+

It’s a three-storey building. The ground storey is made of stone, but the upper storeys are wooden. The top storey has double doors and a stout post with a pulley. If they had rope, they could access the third storey directly from the street.  The chimney is crumbling from disrepair. Trying to push it away from the cable or prop it up might make it collapse entirely. Getting close to the power cable risks electrocution.

Stella: So what am I supposed to do? I’m not electricity-proof.

They consider waiting for the Elf to come back with help. This is a major infrastructure project. Surely the city has engineers that are trained to make repairs. On the other hand, their brand new Siege Tank has many experimental one-time-use weapons, and one is a big grappling hook that could pull the chimney down from the relative safety of the street.  Stella takes the controls!

Stella Overcome 7-9 (pay a price for 10+)

The Siege Tank’s grappling hook hits the chimney and retracts, pulling the chimney down away from the cable. Bricks fall from the roof into the street, causing some collateral damage, but the power cable is intact!

Stella: Buckle, did you see that! Did you see that?

Buckle: Well done. That was a little scary.

Three Engineers arrive from the direction that the Elf homeowner fled in.  One is a Lantern, an inter-dimensional creature that projects a humanoid hologram to interact with the material world.  Her name is Lucy, and she transforms into a rainbow bridge from the street to the roof for her two colleagues to access the roof.  They see that the threat has been dealt with, and Lucy bridges down to talk to Buckle and Stella. She thanks them for protecting the city, and says there is an Adventurers’ Club that welcomes reckless but mostly effective do-gooders like themselves.  They ask if she has done any adventuring herself, but Lucy says that keeping the Ghostlands out is more important than fist-fighting a dragon or whatever.  Buckle suspects that this creature of light with an artificial body is somehow involved with all the robots and giant mirrors they have encountered recently. Stella is split between finding the Dwarves who used to own the mine they just saved, and investigating the Adventurers’ Club. She asks Lucy some more questions.

Stella Speak Softly 7-9

Lucy doesn’t know about metal dwarves, but a giant mirror did just arrive in town, floating down the river from Sugar’s Crossing. After Lucy wraps up safety checks her, she’s going to get down before sunset to avoid the werewolves.

Buckle: More werewolves?

Lucy: More?

Buckle: We had to throw a log through one at Platypalooza. It was on fire.

Stella and Buckle take their leave. Stella wants to find the Oolite Dwarves, but Buckle convinces her to go to the Adventurers’ Club for food and a place to stay. The Adventurers’ Club is on the west side of the river. They cross a bridge and are sassed by a Naga guard. The guards in Sugar’s Crossing on the night of the jailbreak were guards from Vieport, so Stella and Buckle know what to expect.

The Adventurers’ Club is a large stone building with a grand entrance. Inside, there are canals running alongside the hallways, because this is an amphibian building for both terrestrial and aquatic creatures. The person who greets them when the enter is a Mer-Folk names Fred. His fish half is like a Betta fish, so his scales shift from deep red to purple, and he has long showy fins and hair.  He asks if Stella has captured Buckle. He’s embarrassed to learn of his error, that Buckle is a fellow adventurer. He impresses on them the elite status of the adventurers, and says they must complete a great and difficult quest to join.

Buckle: We’ve released the prisoners of a Sorceress, captured a changeling who was ruling a town in disguise, killed a Kraken, deactivated an army of metal dwarves, and just destroyed a superlaser.

Fred is very impressed, but he needs proof of their accomplishment.  Buckle offers the Kraken beak that he collected as a trophy of the battle.

GM note: that’s from the very first session. He’s been carrying that the entire time!

Fred adds the Kraken beak to the wall of trophies and welcomes Stella and Buckle to the Adventurers’ Club. There’s a new member’s handbook, supper is being served in the cafeteria, and they can claim a room to stay overnight. There’s even valet parking for the Siege Tank.

Prominently displayed in the middle of the Adventurers’ Club is the Bounty Board, which lists difficult tasks worthy of mighty adventurers.

  • A Dragon to the north is challenging all comers to single combat.
  • Far to the Northeast, a dinosaur is troubling a town.
  • Scout the Dead Forest, from which none have returned
  • Uncover the mystery of the lights by the moon
  • Standing reward for any source of power

Stella starts to comment on the Source Of Power job, but Buckle shushes her.

Buckle: I’ll be tossed in a bag again!

They go to the cafeteria to eat and to meet the other Adventurers. Only two are at the Club tonight. Most are out doing great deeds for glory. The Exterminator is human-sized, but completely covered in armor made from the exo-skeletons of large insects. They wears a gas mask and helmet, and are drinking a smoothie through a port in the mask.  The other adventurer is Theona the Giant, standing outside the second-storey window and reaching inside through a large open window to the table on which her large platters of food rest.

Buckle: Should we call you Termie or Nater?

Buckle Speak Softly 6-

The Exterminator is not amused, but Theona has some information for Buckle. Tonight Theona and The Exterminator will go out at night to hunt the werewolves that plague the town. As far as they know, there are about four werewolves, although that can change, since lycanthropy is contagious.  Theona recommends that Stella and Buckle come out and fight with her tonight. No need to worry, the Adventurers’ Code forbids acting against other members of the Club. Buckle checks the Handbook, and sees rules against poaches quests, and other rules to keep Adventurers from clashing.  Dinner is over and the sun is setting.

Buckle: Should we hole up or go wreak havoc?

Stella: The werewolves at Platypalooza were an unpleasant encounter. How bad is the werewolf situation in Vieport?

Theona: There are only a handful of the creatures. More glory for us if you don’t fight. Sleep wlth with your night light.

She points to Buckle, who constantly glows with volcanic heat.  Theona and The Exterminator gear up for battle and head out to patrol the streets, while Buckle and Stella retire to a room. The divide the night into five watches: Buckle, Stella, Gus, Rose, and Ugg. Near dawn, during Ugg’s watch, Theona’s giant hand crashes through the window!  Ugg leaps into action!

Ugg’s Bigger ‘n’ You pins Theona’s arm for a moment

This gives the rest of the team time to wake up and react.

Buckle Get Away 7-9 (avoid harm)

Buckle flees out the door and hides in the corridor, but he glows, so his position is obvious.  Stella wishes she had more time to pick a tactic, but she has to act now before Theona gets free.  She jumps on Silk’s back…

Silk Wall Crawler

…and crawls up the arm that Ugg has pinned to get in Theona’s face.

Stella’s Pack Leader: hope to Finish Them when advantage comes from allies

Stella Finish Them (Wisdom, show error of their ways) Advantage: Theona can’t get away and must listen. 10+

Stella: Stop! We’ve already saved you and the city from ghosts. We let you have the glory from hunting werewolves. We don’t want to use more force.

Theona has a very hierarchical worldview based on power. The strong overpower the weak, like she thought she was doing to these tiny newcomers. Restraint is almost alien to her. If Ugg (a goblin who comes up to Theona’s knees) is able to pin her arm, and the Stella thinks she doesn’t need to prove her superiority with violence, these people must be unthinkably powerful! Theona is glad she wasn’t immediately killed.

Stella forms a bond with Theona. Theona becomes Stella’s companion

GM note: Oh wow, Finish Them with Wisdom is very powerful. Stella earned it, though!

Stella: Why did you attack us?

Theona: The Sea Viper offers a bounty for any Source of Power, and Buckle is clearly a Source of Power.

Buckle slinks back into the room, still glowing, not subtle. Theona apologizes profusely.

Buckle: You’re not the first. you won’t be the last. At least you didn’t put me in a bag.

Theona replaces the window she smashes with a section of fence. The groundskeeper is not going to be happy about this. Ugg’s watch was the last watch before dawn, so everyone just stays awake until dawn.  Now they can work on their reason for coming to this town: finding the Oolite Dwarves.

Stella: Point me to some dwarves!

Theona: Do you want me to bring you some dwarves?

Stella: No! No kidnapping! Just tell me where they hang out in this city.

Vieport is cosmopolitan so there are communities of most of the species in the city, but there’s now Dwarf ghetto where all the Dwarves live together.  However, there is a Dwarf Cultural Center, which is a good place to start.  Theona leads the team to a field cows and sheep grazing on it. The Dwarf Cultural Center is underground, of course.  Once inside they meet Klaus, an old Dwarf with a long white beard. He tells them about the history of Dwarves in Vieport and how they dug the foundations of the lightning towers that surround the city.  The Lightning Barrier is necessary to keep out the Deadlands. Anything that dies out there turns into a ghost that attacks the living. it’s a problem that exacerbates itself, and there’s not much left alive in the Ghostlands now.  Ghosts can’t pass through the Lightning Barrier, and they can’t swim, so the river is safe for traffic.

Stella: Is everyone from around here?

Klaus: I don’t know what you mean.

Stella: We’re looking for a family of Dwarves called Oolite.

Klaus: I can’t just give out addresses to strangers, but I can pass a message along.

Stella: Tell them, “We stumbled across your mine. Metal Dwarves had become aggressive and taken over. That situation has been remedied.” They can find us by looking for Theona.  Also, do you know that Halfing that lives in Vieport?

Klaus does not know a Halfling, and does not understand the message, but will relay it.

Stella’s foreign coins (Precious)

Buckle buys a Dwarven Dictionary with Stella’s money and they leave the Dwarven Cultural Center. They see the sights for a while, then another Dwarf rushes up to Theona. It’s Flint Oolite!

Flint: Is it true? Is the mine safe?

Buckle: It’s true, and my glowing eyes are the proof!

Flint is very confused. They explain their adventures in the Oolite Mine.

Flint: If only Opal were here. This was her dream.

Flint explains that Opal was ambitious and made it her life’s mission to restore the clan’s former glory, when the rest of the Oolites were resigned to living in obscurity. The last Flint knew, Opal was in Fairmeadow, north of here and east of Sugar’s Crossing. Stella, a completionist, doens’t know which quest to pursue. Her mission is to find all the Halflings, but she also wants to find Opal. Opal needs to know she can go home, just like the Halflings need to know they can return home.