War-torn Lands Arc – Session 2

We established that two months had passed between the sessions, the bard was unable to attend but we had a new player, Ryan, who chose the Immolator playbook and named him Solomon Searskin. Mark chose to make a Halfling Thief named Sketch, and I allowed him to begin as a lvl 2 character.

Mark established that his Halfling was in league with the militant halflings from session one, that he was a fanatic and was working with Rebus despite knowing that Rebus was a different faction. That he was a spy of sorts, infiltrating the party and sharing information back to the militant faction.

We took some time to establish that the halflings had spread their faith and many adherents had seized on the promise for rebellion and had identified with the militant millennialism of the halfling monks. Their adherents are called the “Flames of Randall Army” or “the Reds” or “the F.R.A.”

Ryan had been following along and was excited to create his Salamander Immolator. He chose the neutral alignment and said that his character concept involved encouraging others to sacrifice their comfort/safety/complacency in order to pursue their inner desires. I asked him what a Salamander was, and he described a snake-like body roughly 10’ long that had arms. We established that we were all holding a “naga” concept in our minds and discussed a few advantages and disadvantages of this form. I made sure that he wanted to commit to this form instead of something with arms and legs and he affirmed.

I asked him then if he was the only Salamander, which he considered and then hesitantly affirmed. Sensing his uncertainty, I asked if he had an origin idea or if he would like me to propose one, as I had something in mind. He assented to my proposal, and I suggested that the great weapon that the dwarves had unleashed to destroy the forests had been an opening of many portals throughout the forest into the plane of fire. I suggested that he might have come through the portal then. Further, I said that I did not want his race to become central to our campaign by making him so monstrous that he would be the focus of each social encounter. I described that the setting could have an element from Planescape, where it is commonplace for townsfolk see an entity of which they had never before been aware.

The players liked these elements, and Ryan reconsidered the desire to be the only of his kind. He said that perhaps many entities from the plane of fire had come through when the portals had opened. I assented but suggested that if many entities had come through then they might be more of a known faction.  Seeing his agreement, I went on that many locals still harbored ill feelings towards the “Ashen,” or those who had come out of the fire.

New Bonds

Since we had only one character from the first session, we did all new bonds.

Rebus added a bond for Solomon, suggesting that he had stood by him in a battle. Also, Rebus respects the beliefs of Sketch, but hopes that they will change in time.

Solomon said that he had burned something belonging to Rebus, and owed him a service in return. We discussed this a bit as none of us really understood what it meant, but we decided that Rebus had known about Solomon’s ability to read the inner desire of others and had sacrificed a token of his past to the past in order to secure Solomon’s assistance with his quest. Ryan then added that Solomon sought to teach Sketch the true meaning of sacrifice.

Mark created a single bond, suggesting that Rebus would have Sketch’s back.

I asked everyone to take a short break, after which we would begin a scene.

The Execution

I framed a city scene in which many of the working poor had begun to wear red patches on their clothing. We saw the townsfolk pause what they were doing after a heavy bell began to ring. As the fourth strike echoed through the streets the people seemed incredulous, all knowing that four bells signaled a public execution. I asked the characters where they would be, if they would be near the execution.

Rebus stated that he was likely meeting with a noble, but perhaps they were on a veranda or in an apartment with a view of the public square. Solomon said that he would also be in the meeting, but Sketch said that he was likely in the crowd at the execution. Sketch and Rebus had a brief in-character conversation about public execution and about the tension between the two religious factions. We established that Rebus was a moderate of the “Randox” faction, short for the Randy Orthodoxy, and that those who would be executed were “Reds” of the militant faction inspired by the Halfling monks from the first session.

Rebus claimed that he had long known those who were to be executed, and that they used to belong to his parish. We talked a bit out of character about the city and the power structure of the factions, I also asked Phil how he pictured his role with regards to the parish. He saw that he had been ceded a structure that had been damaged in the war, and further that he had a number of loyal “Randox” adherents in the ranks of the low and middle classes of the city.

I brought us back into the flow of character play by introducing the sound of a rattling tea pot on a platter, and a door swinging into the room to reveal the beautiful Lady Constance, a war widow who had become a charitable leader responsible for feeding many of the poorest in the city. Solomon gazed deeply into her eyes as she sat, using the Immolator ability “Give Me Fuel, Give Me Fire.” He saw that while she was passionate about her mission to feed the poor, she had an inner revolutionary spark that hated the system for which her late husband had fought as an officer. She despised the outdated morality and rigid social structures that her husband had unjustly given his life to defend.

The Gallows

I hard framed a scene-fade, knowing that we had been neglecting to pull Mark into the discussion. The image I painted was of the hastily-erected gallows set against the old wall of the inner fortification. This was a place of power for the Johnstone nobility, but was just outside the walls so formed a main public square. I began to describe that the noble Johnston was approaching the stage, and that the square was heavily defended by town guards and noble retainers.

I asked Sketch where he would be in the crowd. He asked if he would have observed a place where he could make a difference, at which point I suggested that he seemed to be trying to Discern Realities. He rolled a 7-9 and asked where he would see something of value. I pointed out two things he had noticed, one was that the guards were on edge and seemed on the brink of violence, the second was a group of three men who he knew to be sceptics of Randy but seemed disturbed by the execution and thus possibly open to conversion. He decided to position himself near the three skeptics.

I asked if anyone was trying to do anything before the execution, and after everyone declined I narrated Lord Johnston’s denouncement of the crimes of these three “Reds” fanatics who had desecrated statues of “The Founders” and who stood opposed to “the forces of order, industry, and progress.” The trapdoor was triggered, and three necks snapped as six feet twitched and kicked in the air. After a few tense moments the bodies stilled, and the crowds began to disperse. I asked Sketch if he was following the skeptics, he assented.

The Plight of the South Ward

Back in Lady Constance’s sitting room, the Lady seemed much disturbed by the violence. We had a lengthy discussion about her mission of feeding the poor, and as players we realized that we did not know why Rebus and Solomon had sought her out on this afternoon. When they did not have an immediate idea, I had Lady Constance prompt them by saying “I don’t believe I will be able to help you with the plight of the South Ward, my resources are stretched thin already.” This was all the prompting that the players needed to begin riffing off of, and after a few minutes of good dialogue Rebus tried to convince the lady to assist them by rolling a “Parley” where the offering was that they knew the lady was interested in bettering the city and the stakes were that she might be offended by their impolite insistence. Sure enough, Phil rolled below 7, so she asked that they leave her be to grieve the unnecessary deaths and to consider her next steps.

Ryan wanted to bring the party together, and asked if he had seen Sketch pursuing the men through the streets from the vantage of Lady Constance’s room. I agreed but added that they were a bit behind of Sketch and that the streets were thick with the dispersing crowd.

I asked Mark where the three sceptics had stopped, suggesting a bar in the South Ward. He assented and I asked him to describe the bar to me. He suggested a low thatched roof building amidst muddy streets. I added that there was the sound echoing through the street from a nearby smithy and the smell of animals. Further adding that he had just seen an emaciated goat bolt across the street, pursued by a scrappy youth.

I said that the men were Edan, Herne, and Maddox. I asked Sketch what he did as they took a seat in a corner table and ordered a round. He approached them and began a discussion of the execution. After a few minutes of dialogue we had established that the men were much disturbed by the execution, but didn’t believe that either religious faction could offer any answers to them. They complained about corruption and incompetence, asking what Lord Randy could do when the Baron Garrulo continued to rule the South Ward with an iron fist and exorbitant taxes.

I declared that this was overheard by Solomon and Rebus, as they entered the bar. Sketch parleyed the skeptics by offering assistance to take up arms against the Baron that very night if they would take up with the Reds. As players we discussed that while the Randox and the Reds were opposing factions, they were united in their opposition to tyranny and unjust rule.

The Barony

I asked Sketch to roll 2d6+dex to establish how they approached the Barony, as we were low on time and I wanted to get us right to the action. The result was 7-9, so I described an infiltration where the three party members and the three skeptics had snuck into the fortified manor house occupied by the baron. I hard framed a scene where they had entered the sitting room and saw a lantern light about to round the far corner.

Solomon immediately acted, saying that he wanted to use the move “Zuko Style” to have the lantern light flare and blind whoever is holding the lantern. Ryan rolled a 7-9, and I began to narrate a situation in which the lantern had exploded violently, killing the guard and making a loud noise. Ryan read the text of the rule, asking if instead of my narration the effect could be short lived and that no noisy explosion would have taken place. I assented after reading the Move, and described the guard as shouting out as his eyes were blinded by a brief flash of light.

Sketch ran forwards and tackled the blinded guard, after a brief struggle he stabbed him in the neck. I had him “Defy Danger” with strength to succeed. He rolled a 7-9, and offered that the guard had shouted out as he was tackled. The man was dispatched, but the sounds of feet rounding the corner alerted the party to the arrival of the Baron and three guards.

Solomon attempted to use “Burning Brand” to conjure a weapon of fire but he rolled a 6-. I asked Ryan what it looked like when Solomon attempted the conjuring and he imitated the drawing of a scimitar from a sheath. I added that as he drew the weapon, it had taken form but had not stopped growing, eventually overtaking his control and growing into the ceiling to spread on its own. I explained that he had tried to summon his fire directly from the plane of fire, and that it is difficult to limit such a connection.

As the fire spread down the hall, Rebus took a defensive stance and Sketch stood up from the ground. Solomon attempted to use “Zuko Style” to attack the four foes with fire. He succeded with a 7-9, so I had him roll damage. He rolled a 7, so I killed the three guards but had the Baron charge him with fury in his eyes and a mace held in his thick fist.

During the combat, I mixed damage results with combat positioning and the threat of fire to make every moment count. Solomon left the hallway, attempting to prevent the spread of the fire into the foyer and guarding the retreat route. Rebus retreated from the combat, believing that the fire would end the life of the Baron. Sketch dealt the killing blow as the ceiling was collapsing around him. The baron hit the ground and a necklace slid into view, I made it clear that it would require a “Defy Danger” roll with dexterity if Sketch wanted to get the necklace as the ceiling was continuing to collapse around him. He chose to forgo the attempt and to run for safety.

Session on March 8th, 2018

War-torn Lands Arc – Session 1

I approached this campaign of Dungeon World with the intention of allowing the setting and plot to develop out of character creation, as intended by the DW core book. I imposed one story element when we were getting started, which was that a cataclysmic war had ended recently. Also, we began with the understanding that this would be a short 3-session campaign.

The Characters

The players perused the character sheets briefly and then chose Paladin, Bard, and Druid. The Paladin is a human named Rebus, played by Phil. The Bard is a human named Kal Meza, played by Charlie. The Druid is an Elf named Hikorax, played by Mark.

I began by asking the druid about his land, and Mark read that as a Elf, Hikorax is from the Great Forest. I asked him to elaborate on the nature of the forest and to describe the elf civilization and Mark described a thick rain forest where the tribe was mostly isolated from the rest of civilization. I asked him how the great war had affected the tribe, and through a conversation we ended up establishing that the tribe had originally been neutral in the conflict but had been persuaded to take sides. As a result, a great weapon had been unleashed which had burned the forests and destroyed much of his tribe.

After we had a good idea about Hikorax’s background, we transitioned to the Paladin. Phil began by saying that Rebus was an adventurer spreading the work of Lord Randy. That he was a missionary in a far-away land. Further, that the infidels are the enemy because they worship a heathen religion.

So at this point we had the makings of a somewhat colonial situation, and we took a few minutes to discuss if we were all okay with the implications of unpacking colonialism and engaging with that topic. Everyone was on board, so we transitioned to the Bard.

I asked the bard about his instrument, he wanted to be a vocalist but I wanted there to be a physical instrument involved as well so I asked that he also have something to carry. He decided that he would carry a fine lute. I asked him how he had come by such a fine instrument, and he established that the lute had been handed over by the beautiful Rhonda, daughter of the noble Lord Johnson. From this, Charlie began to discuss that the bardic lore was “known history” and we talked about the setting a bit to flesh it out.

The Setting

We talked casually about the setting that we had established and it became clear that we were all holding a post-colonial South American archetype in our heads as we were establishing the setting, namely a Brazil inspired city. We decided that there is a major city named Suttolk that had been a trading post a millennia ago but had grown over the last few centuries as the world moved towards and into war. The great forests around Suttolk had been burned in the war by a great weapon devised by the Dwarves, who were the antagonist in the war.

As we discussed the city, we established that it was a somewhat segregated city but was very diverse as a result of all races and cultures coming to the city as soldiers and as migrants. We established that it was a city with a high degree of intermingling between peoples, but that there were also many culturally distinct neighborhoods and distinct factions. Finally, we established that the existing aristocracy was analogous to the English, and that they controlled some of the oldest and most fortified parts of the town.

The Bonds

The druid Hikorax had bonded with Rebus by showing him a secret about the land. Hikorax thinks that the bard Kal Meza smells like prey.

Rebus thinks that Kal Meza holds misguided beliefs. Rebus thinks that Hikorax is a brave soul.

Kal Meza makes jokes at Rebus’ expense. Kal Meza is not trusted by Hikorax, for good reason.

The First Scene

I asked everyone to take a five minute break, and when we came back I asked Rebus where he would find himself in the city. He said that he would be near the aristocracy, and in dialogue we established that he had ingratiated himself with the aristocracy, even though he did not hold any love for them.

I framed a scene where Rebus was in a café erected against a defensive wall, on the inside of a protected area in town. We had a few scenes where he and Kal Meza were in dialogue as characters, but Mark said that Hikorax would likely not be welcome to patronize a bar in that part of town. This led to a further discussion around racial hierarchy in town.

I scene-faded away from the bar and described Hikorax outside of the guarded entrance, roughly 100 yards from the patio on which the other characters sat. I described a bizarre scene, five halfling monks marching up to the guard post and demanding entry. Hikorax was interested in observing but not getting involved. The guards were unwilling to allow the monks entrance to the aristocratic sector without a writ of passage, as it became clear that the monks were willing to resort to violence I asked the Paladin and Bard what they had observed from their position in the bar. I told the paladin that he would recognize these monks as belonging to his religion, adherents of Lord Randy, although seemingly from a different sect.

The paladin said that he would be upset to be surprised by their arrival, that he was the representative of the church in this land and that he should have been told that others were being sent. He said that he would’ve moved to get involved as the monks had approached, so we framed his as within short distance as the violence broke out. The guard put a hand on the halfling monk’s shoulder to dissuade him, calling him “boy” which anyone who knows Halflings would know is a commonly used insult. The monk erupted in violence, cracking heavily into the shin of the guard with a heavy staff and continuing the assault.

Rebus attempted to halt the scene by commanding attention, this was the first move that had been made in the game so we briefly discussed the rules and set the stakes of the roll. I told Rebus that once he got involved the guards might associate him with the monks of Randy. Sure enough, the roll was a failure so the guards moved to arrest Rebus and the monks.

In the chaos, Hikorax snuck into the guard tower and looked about for symbols of civilization. A flag of the nobility was present and we established that he could take it without needing to roll. He then asked if there was a lantern he could knock over to start a fire. We established that there was a lantern, but that he would need to throw it across the room for the best chance at starting a fire, as there were more flammable materials available there. This was a defy danger with dexterity roll that he failed, we established that the stakes were that he might take too long to accomplish this task and sure enough a guard arrived. I made this as a soft move, with the chaos outside the guard simply wanted the elf to leave and was not aware of the attempted violence.

We faded back to the guards, and the arrest of the paladin finally convinced the bard to get involved. He was able to parley with the guards to secure the freedom of the men by offering an easier resolution to the situation. He said that the monks were new arrivals and that they would take on the responsibility to teach them the ways of the town, that the guards should tend to their injured companion and that the party would take on the monks. A successful parley roll led to the release of the paladin and the monks, but with the guards threatening that any subsequent disobedience would implicate the party as well as the monks.

At this, Rebus asked the guards to hold off on leaving until he was able to secure a promise of behavior from the monks. We had a conversation then which established that the monks had been sent from a militant faction, which had surged into leadership in the old world taking advantage of the power vacuum left after the war. The halfling monks were furious and militant and when Rebus demanded they swear to respect the laws of the town, we set up another roll for the paladin’s special rule “I am the Law,” the roll failed so  they accosted him for his weakness and assured him that now they saw him truly as a pawn of the old powers and a failed representative of the deity which sought to serve the poor and to improve the plight of the marginalized. Rebus responded by asking the guards to lock up the monks.

The Hunt

We did a hard scene fade and I asked the druid a few questions about what sort of ways he was involved in the town, he wasn’t sure so I asked about whether or not he would take a job as a guide for expeditions into the great forest. At his assent, I asked him for a 2d6 roll plus his wisdom. I wasn’t sure what rule I was using, but was essentially trying to set up something similar to an “encounter roll” like BitD. We had a 7-9 as a result, so we briefly described the expedition of the Noble Orisa who wanted to take his retainers and many wives to explore a grotto which had survived the great fires. The scene opened to reveal deer at the edge of a grotto, unmoving. The druid said that he was scouting, and he waited to see if the deer would move. Within moments, a giant crocodile-like beast emerged from the water and bit cleanly through one of the prey animals. The other animals remained unmoving, the first clue that the beast had a power beyond its sheer might.

The characters ran into combat without taking precautions about being frozen, I set up the situation as anytime they tried to engage with the foe they would need to also defy danger to avoid being caught by the gaze. I used a d12 for the damage of the foe, and we had a few rounds of tense combat. The crocodile beast threw the party around in addition to doing damage and then charged the retinue. The druid was brought to zero hit points when he ran to intervene, and only after the beast was weakened by some of the rear-guards was the paladin able to slay the beast. Mark decided to allow the druid to remain dead, wanting a new character. In the lair, the group found an enchanted horn that could produce enough water each day, straight from the plane of water, to quench the thirst of a score of people.

Session on March 1st, 2018

EotE – Assassinate Chaz Duchet

After about 15 months without playing Edge of the Empire I thought it would be interesting to try to run it again with a story game mentality instead of a trad mentality, so I put a couple sessions on the calendar with my gaming group. To be fair, my local group is more of a trad group than a story group, so I feel like we had some mixed results. Overall it was fun, but the tone was pretty far from where I originally intended. I guess it felt like the new Star Wars, a bit disney.

I began the game with a high level overview prepared, but I had written no scenes or npc’s. The overview read as follows:

Your worlds are strip-mined and your people are wage-slaves working to fuel the imperial war machine. As the galaxy suffers, a handful of industrialists know a level of profitability that would have been unfathomable to previous generations.

Their deaths would cripple the war machine, and they have signed their own death warrants with the atrocities they have committed.

The rebellion is unwilling to resort to the tactics you all know are necessary to end the empire, so you have started a splinter cell to do what needs to be done.

I then gave the players the following questions to generate the scenario:

Past Tragedy Questions: (Each player answer one)

  • Someone you love was killed by them. What happened?
  • You used to work for them, until you learned of a great misdeed. What?
  • This city used to be something special, now they own every inch of it. What do you miss most?
  • You were in an orphanage when it was acquired by the company. What labor did you do?
  • You had a good job until they destroyed the market. When did you realize they were responsible?

Resistance Recruitment Question: (Each player answers)

  • They found you at your lowest and gave you a glimpse of hope. What were the circumstances of your recruitment? What promise or opportunity convinced you to join the resistance?

Job Preparation Questions: (Each player answer one)

  • You know their routine, when are they the most vulnerable?
  • This is your city, where can you always go to disappear when they heat is on?
  • The law is in the hands of the wealthy, but one of the officers is an idealist. How did you meet?
  • Their rise to power was fraught with conflict. Which of their enemies could offer you aid?
  • Those closest to them have even more grievances than most. Who did you turn?

The players and I discussed character creation for a little while, and they strategized while looking at the pre-generated characters. One had a character that he played back in 2016 and chose to play that character, a Twilker Smuggler specialized as a Charmer. The others played pregens from the Age of the Resistance beginners game, a Human Pilot and a Human Soldier.

As the players began to answer the questions we started to establish a humorous tone. The Soldier was an ex-sports star from Alderaan who had a contact in the local law because he was recognized as a sports hero. The pilot said that her cover story was as a celebrity chef. The charmer had infiltrated the twilek brothel that their target liked to frequent.

The Sporting Match

After talking for a bit, I established the first scene was at a sports match, no rules rugby with Trandoshan athletes and humans making bets. The soldier was coaching one team and saw the target, Chaz Duchet, arrive in his private box. The soldier used his comlink to reach out to the smuggler and the pilot. After some time passed, Chaz Duchet got a hologram call and departed the match. The soldier left his post beside the match as the head coach yelled at him for neglecting his responsibilities.

On the soldier’s way out some angry sports fans blamed him for the team’s poor performance. They started a brawl, but the soldier was easily able to disengage. (brawl roll - succeeded with advantage) As he exited the arena, he saw Chaz nearing his armored caravan with an entourage.

Follow the Caravan

At this time, the smuggler and the pilot arrived in a small speeder. The party began to tail the caravan intending to follow the target to his next destination. They wanted to find out what had happened with the holo-call. The smuggler tried to access the memory reserves of the old speeder to look for a shortcut to cut ahead, but this ended up freezing up the vehicle. (knowledge roll - failed with disadvantage)

After kick-starting the vehicle, the pilot wanted to catch up with the caravan without being noticed. (piloting roll - failed with advantage) She was able to pilot the vehicle and track the target to their destination, but was stopped over by a trailing police vehicle.

The police wanted to know where they were speeding off to, the smuggler told the authorities that they were undercover security for the imperials. (deception roll - succeed with disadvantage) The officers seemed willing to look the other way in exchange for a bribe. The charmer gave a tiny bribe of ten credits, saying “you boys understand, we just need to do our job.” The guards responded by saying something like “of course, after we do ours… we’ll just make sure your registrations checks out and then you’ll be free to go.” At this point, the pilot handed over 100 credits and an apology. The officers smiled and released the party to pursue their target.

[The smuggler wanted to resist the disadvantage result of me requiring a bribe by rolling an additional charm test. I was resistant to doing this, but after some discussion I was willing to allow it as an escalated difficulty roll. The other player decided to pay the fee rather than risk an additional loss. I feel like there should be a better way to resist a failed result. In retrospect, I might’ve allowed flipping a Destiny point to accomplish this.]

Enter the Weapons Facility

I asked what the players had found out about the weapons facility, as it would have been something they had already identified as a potentially significant target. The pilot said that she knew there were some elite dining establishments within the facility for the executive staff. The party decided that they would use her identity as cover to infiltrate the building, and would then try to locate Chaz Duchet once inside.

They knew that the facility was highly secured, so they left most of their weapons in the speeder. The smuggler had a holdout blaster and the soldier had a vibroknife that they both intended to sneak through security. The first room was a sterile room with two heavily armed guards near a large airlock door, and a woman behind a high-tech desk. They approached the woman and convinced her that they were there to film a reality cooking show as part of the celebrity chef’s holo-presence.

The woman looked unconvinced as they did not have any appointment in the system. Once they mentioned that they were here at the request of Chaz Duchet’s father to prepare him a special meal for his birthday, she looked frazzled as she would have no way to confirm this information. (deception roll - succeeded with disadvantage) She allowed them to proceed but required that they leave their weapons in concealment. The party members with concealed weapons chose to continue to keep them concealed. As they walked away, they turned back to ask her name. She wheeled back from the desk and revealed herself to be some sort of experimental droid, she gave her name as “X6.”  

The party walked past the armed guards into a secure room with no adornments roughly 15’x15’. The opposite wall appeared to also be an airlock seal. The party walked in and the door closed behind them. Red laser beams scanned each party member for contraband, but miraculously each party member avoided detection. (skullduggery against 3 purple - successes)

The Restaurant

They took an elevator to the third floor and the doors opened up to reveal a courtyard with a massive tree, imported from offworld. Around the room were seated diners of a fine establishment. The party approached the maitre’d who had a previous relationship with the pilot. They wanted the maitre’d to assist them in getting food to Chaz Duchet. (charm roll - succeed with disadvantage) The man was so flabbergasted that he immediately went to get the manager.

The manager quickly organized the kitchen staff and got them to work making an entire meal for the official. The party was forgotten in the busy-ness, they managed to find some kitchen uniforms and got changed. They were looking around for the access badges (perception - failed with advantage) but instead they found a small container filled with small white pills.

They decided to try to find Chaz Duchet before the rest of the kitchen staff had made the meal ready. They stole a badge from a kitchen worker (skullduggery - succeed with advantage), luckily the badge looked just like the pilot. They then decided to get soup and put the drugs into one of the servings, despite being unable to identify the drugs.

The party made it past a door guard and accessed the conference room. Two expert guards stood guard at the door, they seemed unwilling to let the party in. The party again claimed that the food was courtesy of Chaz Duchet’s father. The guards seemed doubtful, but they were unwilling to send the party away. (deception - succeed with advantage) The guards opened the door as if to ask permission, but Chaz Duchet was yelling at the weapon manufacturers so the guards were unwilling to interrupt him. They waived the group in, who placed the soup in front of each member.

When the soup was set in front of Chaz, he raged at the party. He demanded an explanation for the interruption. The group convinced the man that his father had sent the soup (deception - succeed with disadvantage.) Unfortunately, he hates his father so this set him into a further rage. He demanded that everyone else eat, after some more yelling he consumed his soup as well.

The drugs appeared to slowly take effect, amping up the official to emotional highs even greater than before. He began to complain about the supply-chain and low quality materials. He commented that some specific walkers had no resistance to ion damage. After some time, one of the manufactory leaders made to respond to the ranting. As he began to speak, Chaz stood up and shot him in the head.

At the sound of the blaster shot, the guards ran in from the hallway. The kitchen staff were lined up in the hallway, faces looking shocked. Chaz Duchet marched out from the room, still raging. His staff followed him out.

Ambush at the Brothel

The party knew that Chaz tended to go to the brothel at his most disturbed moments. The scoundrel led the group to the establishment and let the madame know to expect the officer. She thanked them for the forewarning and allowed them entry. They set up an ambush in the room of his favorite twi'lek. Once Chaz Duchet arrived, the party emerged from hiding and took him down in a hail of blaster fire.

Final Thoughts

I found it a lot easier to run the game thinking about the success & advantage rules as a sort of “yes, and” or “yes, but” mechanic. The players definitely engaged throughout the session and made the game feel like it belonged to them. I had thought the game would take a more serious quality, but I was willing to go where the player answers took me. Especially since these players enjoy keeping a humorous tone and lite gameplay. 

Session on 1-28-18

TPK in the Pagoda of the Pink Plains

System: Maze Rats

Setting: Scifi/Fantasy South/Southeast Asia 

Magic: d64 Trigrams

The Setup

The world is inspired by Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light, a neglected colonial world with two moons and vast plains of rose pink grass. Eons ago, the planet was colonized by East Asian adherents of Buddhism and Daoism, and south asian Hindus. The world exists now in a medieval state, the little original technology long since broken, lost, buried, or held by the religious oligarchs.   

The two players played as monks who were banished from the holy city because they each broke their vows of samaya. Heretic, played by Phil W., disrespected the holy sutras in word and thought. Bourej, played by Steven, gave in to his anger while sparring and accidentally killed his partner.

I cobbled together a character creation one-pager with hacked Maze Rats rules and some open source images. In addition to the crunch, there were a few opportunities for storytelling during character creation. I asked each player the nature of the sin that led them to banishment. I asked what discipline they were, and asked what was entailed by that study. I was using my own magic system, inspired by the I Ching divination system.

The two monks had been travelling the wilds for years, but had recently gotten word of an ancient pagoda that was said to be locked against the ages. If they could find a way in, surely the ancient artifacts would ensure that they could fix their karma with the masters, or live comfortably off the coin from selling it on the black market.

The Approach

I shared this map and described the situation. They stood at the base of a hill, amidst chest-height rose-hued grass. Miles above, in the hills, stood a tall wall stretching for miles around a towering pagoda. A winding road led down from the gatehouse. Some dust on the trail made it clear that some sort of caravan was heading their way, 14 men with a few pack horses. Rumors around say that bandits have taken to using the gatehouse as their base of operations.

The players chose to hide in the tall grass to wait for the caravan to pass, this happened without mishap and the players approached the wall in the evening light. Two moons were visible on the horizon as they approached the wall far from the gatehouse and climbed over with their grappling rope. Inside the wall was a large courtyard entirely paved in bricks forming elaborate tessellations. From the wall they could see that a significant camp was setup near the gatehouse. The sounds of drinking and laughing carried across the hard ground of the large courtyard, but no patrol approached. Also, the wall near the pagoda was destroyed by a landslide, a large boulder was half sunk into the ground and debris was scattered about the yard.

The players followed along the wall, intending to approach the pagoda. Along the way, they approached the broken wall and rubble and saw that the brick floor had caved in from the weight of the boulder. There appeared to be a cave mouth or sinkhole with a fall of about 30 feet. The monks decided to investigate, sunk the grappling hook into a fissure of the boulder and climbed down the hole into darkness


On the way down, a d6 encounter dice roll of a 1 determined that the rope would break. The two monks landed heavily, each taking 1 point of damage. They decided to use some medicine to regain full health, which used up the dR4 medicine they had. They struck a lantern and looked around to see a corpse in the distance. As the light broke the darkness, squeeks could be heard in the distance.

The contemplative monk used the spell Conjoining to mend the broken rope. The rope, which had fallen down into the hole, snaked its way back up to rejoin the fibers still attached to the grappling hook. While Heretic was doing that, Bourej moved towards the corpse. Bourej saw that the corpse wore an amulet. As he took the amulet from the body, the hand reached out to grasp his arm. He threw the body away with a successful strength test, and clubbed the side of the skull in with his deadly cudgel.

Heretic was rushed by some mole rats that seemed hungry. He quickly dumped oil in a circle circle around him and struck a spark. The flames kept the rats at bay while Bourej escaped from the risen undead. The flames peaked and both men could see through the pillars that many bodies were rising all around them. They quickly climbed the rope and inspected the amulet, which depicted the pagoda and was ringed with a prayer of opening.

The Pagoda

Suspecting that the amulet would open the pagoda, they monks approached the door directly. The amulet unsealed the door and they entered to see a battle scene long undisturbed. The skeletons of holy warriors clutching weapons lay fallen where they had died in combat. A stairway down seemed like it had been barricaded, but breached.

The monks scanned the room quickly, but without inspecting any of the dead they headed up the stairs. As the approached the second level, a fog began to form and thicken around them. They momentarily paused to confer but continued upwards. By the time the stairs leveled off on the second floor, both monks had an unbidden fear in the pit of their stomachs and the fog was thick enough to heavily obscure the area.

Sounds like a wounded animal emerged from near the base of the wall. As the two monks crouched to see through the heavy fog, a dark shape materialized behind them. They turned to see a red-eyed bear-sized humanoid creature swipe at them with heavy claws. Bourej was slain by the first blow.

Heretic had used his spell slot for the day, but risked the act of casting beyond his limit to try to Swallow the creature to enable him to flee. The day was not his, as he failed the Will save to cast and took a lethal 4 damage. Instead of casting the spell, his blood erupted from his flesh into a fine mist, and his bloodless body fell dead to the ground.

Session on 10/24/2017

Other notes

I used an instance of YourWorldofText.com to track all the game information, which was pretty fun.

Dolmenwood – Journey to Dreg

System: Maze Rats - Ben Milton

Setting: Dolmenwood - Gavin Norman

Magic: Wonder & Wickedness - Paolo Greco

I prepped this session as a point-crawl one-shot originating at the Falls of Nyf in the River Hameth (hex 1112) with the town of Dreg as the destination (hex 1110). We allocated three hours so I expected to get through 3-4 scenes. One of my players wasn’t able to make it, but Sxott was at the FLGS for a different event and ended up joining us. I was using a Mage: The Ascension Storyteller screen which seems like a more effective tool than my 5e screen for attracting the right kind of players.

Character Creation

The mission was to investigate the port of Dreg as a potential staging ground for a larger inquisitorial presence in the Dolmenwood. The previous mission to the town of Lankshorn found it to be filled with mixed-blood goatmen and human goatmen sympathizers.  

We played with David P, James S, and Sxott RC. I asked each person to roll up two characters and choose one of them to begin with. We used Maze Rats character generation, but rolled spells from the Lost Pages spellbooks. As players begin with three weapons in Maze Rats, I allowed the players to burn a starting weapon slot to give one of their remaining weapons the “iron” quality or to burn two slots to give their only weapon the “silver quality.” I then had each player answer one of the following questions:

  1. What commonly known concept about the Occult do you know to be false.
  2. What little-known concept about the Occult do you know to be true.
  3. What experience set you on the path to become a witch hunter?
  4. What experience between you and one of your companions established trust between you?

Sxott was a zealous torturer named “Irving the Gnostic” who had studied the translocation spell Living Gate under the auspices of the three secret gods. Sxott chose question 4, answering that Irving believed that Destrian, played by David, was the Chosen One.

Destrian wasn’t so sure that he was chosen, but went along with it for the elegant clothing and elevated status. David answered question 2, as Destrian knew that mirrors are often gateways to the otherworld. Further, he knew that mirrors should be covered or turned-around but should not be broken.

James answered question 3. Lyson had been a bystander of a magical attack as a child. The attack scarred his skin, discoloring his hands and arms. It also left his parents and a number of other innocents crippled, maimed, and killed. Lyson despised all magic users as a result, and joined up with the inquisition.


The party began on a large barge travelling up the River Hameth. The bargeman was a gruff local who had been paid in advance by the inquisitorial brass down river. He explained that the quickest way to Dreg was from the west-bank, but that the trails will ill-kept and little traveled. The east-bank had a road which led around the perimeter of the woods to Castle Breckenwold, but also some well-traveled paths heading into the woods to a manor and a woodcutter's camp.

On the barge there were eight additional hunters, two groups of four each with distinct missions to investigate the Castle Breckenwold and beyond. There were also four local masons who had kept to themselves and spoke a dialect that wasn’t comprehensible. Everyone else was disembarking on the east bank, so that was the first place the bargeman put in.

The party decided to disembark here as well, but Irving hung back and began to question the bargeman’s faith. When the bargeman answered dismissively and encouraged Irving to shove off, Irving jumped on him trying to pin him down. The bargeman had grown strong in his life of hard labor, and easily shoved Irving away before clubbing him into the water and pushing off. Irving pulled himself out of the water and made his way over to the camp that the hunters had begun to set up. The masons headed up the path into the Dolmenwood despite the late hour.

The Woldish Inquisitors

Two witch-hunters from one of the other groups decided to go for a hunt in the evening hours, but the players did not join them. Instead, they walked over to talk to the other group of hunters who had set up camp a bit removed from the rest. These hunters spoke a different language amongst themselves and only one was proficient in common, he introduced himself as Malnex. He explained that his people spoke Woldish and were from a small kingdom north-east of the woods. They had joined up with the inquisition because of their hatred of the fey and the giant bray-men who haunt the woods of their lands. Malnex explained the difference between the goat lords of the south west woods who cohabitate with humans, and the giant beastial hybrids of the north woods who held only the smallest vestiges of humanity. Malnex further expressed his disgust with all fey creatures and told the party that they had gone south to look for weapons to use against the fey, joining up with the inquisition in the process. The party had initially had misgivings about these hunters, but after the conversation they felt much better about Malnex and the Woldish.

Around this time, the other group walked over and expressed their concern that the two men who had gone hunting still hadn’t returned despite the late hour. Silas wanted to go looking for his men, but Hannibal suggested that they wait until morning. Silas asked the party for their assistance in looking for their missing companions. The group drew straws after some initial debate. Irving had the final say and decided they should go.

The Black Bile Wyrm

Silas led the way into the woods for a bit.  Destrian stepped forward to lead once the trail became difficult for Silas to follow. Destrian stepped through some dense brush and suddenly found himself in an 8-ft wide clearing that looked like a nest. The trees and brush had been broken and pushed to the edges of the clearing, and a single enormous broken egg lay half-buried in mud.

The sound of rustling was heard at the edge of the clearing, and a pale black wyrm with a lupine head and a revolting mixture of fur and scales emerged and took a position against the party. The party charged in zealously, and Irving’s vial of acid found purchase in the wyrm’s eyes. The eyes went pale as the young wyrm thrashed around, blindly spitting an acidic bile. The party mostly jumped out of the way of the breath attack, but all took some damage as the acid spray found purchase.

Destrian took the brunt of the acid attack, but bravely fought on wounding the wyrm with his silvered sword. The wyrm smelled Destrian’s acid-burned flesh and focused its second attack at him. He fell dead under the weight of the wyrm, as acid spit burned away his face.

In fury, Irving unleashed his magical energy as a maleficence, choosing to risk catastrophe to increase the damage of the attack. Irving steeled himself against the void, avoiding the catastrophe. Radiant bolts of light exploded out the wyrm in a number of places, exposing the flesh beneath the young scales.

This attack seemed to have grievously wounded the wyrm, who began backing away from the group. The wyrm wounded one of the other hunters, Hannibal, with a bite to the leg. But Hannibal responded with a mace blow to the head of the wyrm that crushed its fledgling skull. Just beyond the clearing the two missing hunters were found, victims of the wyrm’s acid and teeth.

As the group recovered, the briarborn Mattias showed up. (David’s second character) They hacked the wyrm up and built a small cairn over the dead. Irving secretly took a finger from Destrian, hoping to build a shrine to the fallen chosen one.

The Manor

The next morning the party set off down the road. Hannibal and Silas split off to the east, planning to circumnavigate the wood. The four Woldishmen planned to take a different route to Castle Breckenwold, through the Dolmenwood.

Around noon, after an uneventful morning of travel towards the manor, the party arrived at a small canyon that seemed to have been blocked by a rockslide. The rockslide had recently been cleared and there were signs that a camp was recently made and broken. A campfire could be seen burning on the bluffs above the canyon, and the parapets of the manor were visible above as well.

The party decided that they would not investigate the manor, continuing on the road towards Dreg.

The Ambush

Along the path to the woodsmen camp, the party heard whispered voices ahead on the trail. They snuck into the woods and saw four emaciated ambushers with clubs. One had some leather armor and a spear. Mattias put an arrow through him, killing him. Irving then jumped out with Lyson close behind, they convinced the other men to surrender. The surviving ambushers looked starved and beaten, revealing evidence of burns and broken bones. The apologized and said that they were desperate for food and had turned to ambush as a measure of last resort.

The party gave them some food, and asked them how they had arrived in such a desperate situation. They talked about how the Lord Daggert of Bogwitt Manor had emerged from the winter a changed man, possessed with wickedness. He had been the only one to survive the winter, after a rockslide and heavy snows kept them isolated for months. His entire family and all retainers had supposedly died from starvation, but he emerged a changed man. They called him the cannibal lord. Further describing that after the winter, he had decided to force the woodcutters to work longer and for less pay, keeping them prisoners in a labor barracks and hiring armed guards to keep everyone in line.

Assault the Labor Camp

The party knew that they would need to go through the woodcutters camp to get to Dreg, but decided that they would kill the lord. They devised a plan where they would kill the guards during the day when they were out with the labor parties and would surprise the lord with an ambush in the evening.

This went to plan, they killed four guards and allied two full labor parties, equipping the initial three men with armor, weapons and a crossbow. They arrived at the outskirts of the woodcutters camp and Mattias snuck ahead, planning to light some fires to add to the distraction. As three roofs began to burn, the lord and his retainers emerged from their headquarters, an old Inn. The lord had black eyes, wore a long dark cloak and a wide leather hat.

The woodcutters ran for the lord as soon as they saw him, and only the careful guidance of Lyson kept them from all massing as one group. The lord unleashed a bout of fire, killing three laborers and singing another. Irving responded in kind, again risking a catastrophe to empower a radiant blast afflicted the lord and his retainers - three of whom fell dead with radiant light emerging from their gullets. The lord and his remaining guard stood strong, light burning within their eyes. Light and dark energies swirled around the lord, seemingly battling before the darkness returned to the lord’s eyes.

A general melee was joined, the remaining retainer slain but the lord seemed to shrug off many of the blows. Shouting in dissonant fury, the lord erupted with shadow tendrils while flailed all around him. All but one of the laborers fell beneath the onslaught of dark energies. Another round of combat found the lord diminished but his runed blade slew another hireling, and the dark runes glowed with a blood-red energy.

Lord Daggert thrust his charged sword into Irving’s gut, and the dark energies of the sword’s magic violently expelled Irving’s soul from his body. In a fury, Mattias thrust a silver spear through the lord’s chest. The lord fell to his knees and the shadow pooled around him like a heavy fog. The lord’s eyes cleared and a final tear rolled down his cheek. He coughed out “My family… What have I done?” before he died. The black shadow receded into the woods.

Final Thoughts

I presented the West path as the darker path, and the East path as more travelled to allow the party a choice between two distinct types of sessions, one with dark forest creature enemies or one with human enemies. I am not sure that this was made too clear as I did not explicitly say what the choice meant. I think the East path was chosen because it seemed safer and the other hunters were travelling that way.

Both the Bile Wyrm and the highway ambushers were random encounters. Since the party did not go on the hunt, I still rolled the random encounter for the other adventurers and then presented getting involved as an option via the concerned Silas.

The ambushers allowed me an opportunity to connect the lumber camp to Bogwitt manor, so that I could use my Bogwitt manor prep despite the fact that the adventurers skipped the manor. I did not really prep for the woodcutter camp but it all worked out pretty well on-the-fly.

I really like the Leviathan head from hex 1009 (Wormskin 7), I am imagining the canyon/cliff on which Bogwitt manor is built to be the Leviathan’s hand up-laid with fingers curled-in, the canyon forming between fingers and thenar eminence.

I am not sure how I feel about point crawling with two such distinct paths. I often have more overlap between nodes and connections so that I can feel like my prep goes further. I still think point-crawl this is the most efficient way to prep for a one-shot.

I liked the mental impact of prepping two character, as it prepared the players that they might have a character death. With each death, I allowed the player to narrate the death scene and details. I did not allow any death saves, zero hp meant death. Narratively, acid burning and shadow magic both seemed like fun and final ways to die anyways.

The Black Bile Wyrm was an HD2 foe who rolled 10hp. I gave the beast resistance to all but silvered weapons. I probably should have made the wyrm immune to the acid, but it didn’t occur to me at the time and didn’t really end up having much effect on combat. as I was able to use an area attack and then smell to direct the remaining blows.

The shadow lord was an hd3 foe who rolled 15hp. He had resistance to all but silvered weapons as well.

I really like these Wonder & Wickedness spells but I’m sad I still haven’t gotten to trigger a spell catastrophe - they look so fun.


Witch Hunting in Dolmenwood

We begin with a band of witch hunters, loosely affiliated with a larger inquisition. Andrew Shields played Saffron, a zealous ex-contortionist warrior who sought to rid the world of devils and their kin. Along the way, Saffron picked up the convicted kidnapper Rex, played by Steven F. Rex joined the inquisitorial forces rather than face prison time. Paul C played Mortimer Silverless, who was rescued from his time as a galley slave on the sea, joining up with Saffron and Rex. Finally, they all joined up with Remie Wallid, a survivor from a witch cult where he learned the spell Tune of the Yondkind.

Rumors and Suspicions:

Remie had heard that the lord of Lankshorn, Clewyd Barrathwaite, had some sort of illicit connection with a cabin north of town. It was suspected that he was keeping a second, Fey, family there.

Saffron knew that witches are created by making a pact with a demon, sealed with a kiss. He suspects Fey can also make witches.

Mortimer added that witches cannot just change appearance whenever they want. Instead witches age & their appearance changes in cycles, with the season.

Rex suspected that whatever is going on, the townspeople are in on it. They know more than they let on.

The party had heard that there was a sympathetic blacksmith in Lankshorne named Jorye who might be relied on for assistance.

The Dragula

The group arrived in the outskirts of Lankshorne in their black carriage, adorned with various witch hunting paraphernalia. Saffrom and Rex stayed on the edge of town while Mortimer went to meet with the priest and Remie went to scout out the inn.

The four adventurers all paused to look at the shrine to King Pussifer, with its demand for an offering of mice or milk. Saffron took the opportunity to preach to his companions about the many false beliefs of the world, he asked Rex to decide between defacing the shrine, providing an offering, or simply passing it by. Rex chose to simply pass the shrine, a decisions which Saffron supported.

The Hornstoat’s Rest Inn

Remie made his way to the Hornstoat inn, observing an affluent inn well attended with patrons. He suspected something was amiss and waited until some drinkers began singing. As the first song ended, he took up with a spell-laden version of the Tune of the Yondkin. As he looked around the inn, most of the patrons didn’t know the song but looked to him as he finished his recitation. The spell revealed that with was tied to other planes, Remie was surprised that every fourth patron came into clear focus while the rest of the tavern faded into a blur.

The patrons who came into focus all had goat-like features which had not been immediately obvious. Horns were concealed by hats, tails hidden in pants, goatees on every face, and a few with horizontal goat pupils. The goat-men were all keenly aware of the magic in Remie’s song, and their eyes uniformly turned towards him while he was singing.

Remie made a slow departure, trying carefully to lose any followers. As he made his way out of town, he noticed some lingering followers.

The Church of St. Pastery

Mortimer walked into the church at the end of Father Dobey’s sermon. The prayer closed with “...bless us, butchers and well-borers all. Amen.”

Mortimer approached him after the sermon, offering praise of the sermon and asking about whether he could assist the pastor in any duties. Father Dobey appeared hesitant, but after Mortimer told him that he had been a hunter Dobey said that he walked in the path of St. Pastery.

Dobey told Mortimer that if he wanted to bring himself into the good graces of the church he should assist by finding the Barrowbogies that were haranguing the parishioners as they made their way to was in the creek to the east.


The party met up at the campsite with their pursuers hot on their trail. They lay in wait, traps and bows ready. As soon as the first man came out of the woods, they hailed him. He told them he knew they had a caster with them and that they weren’t welcome in Lankshorne. Rex sent a crossbow shaft into his chest, he fell dead to his knees as his companions rounded the bend. One fell to two thrown weapons and the other fell down concussed as Remie chased him down, swinging his flail from horseback.

They brought the survivor back awake and asked him about the town. He told them that Lankshorne was ruled by the goat-men lords who traced their lineage back for generations. Further, he said that their kind, witch hunters, were not welcome.  

The group asked about the cabin, he said that he knew supplies were taken out to a cabin by the lake once a week. He said that the cabin was home to a twisted skin-warper and that he didn’t know more than that. Finally, he said that he didn’t know anything else and that they should kill him or let him go.

The Fight

The party got in their carriage and headed north past town towards the cabin. On the way, they passed by some standing stones which seemed to hold the light of the full moon. Soon thereafter they saw a manor house on a hill to the west. Finally, they arrived at the lake and saw some ghostly-lights floating over the water. They turned towards the east and soon saw the cabin on a hill overlooking the lake.

They snuck over the low stone wall and approached the cabin which was dimly lit from inside. The party crouched down to watch the property and Mortimer snuck up to try to look through the window. Unfortunately, Mortimer stepped on a dry branch which snapped. The sounds of conversation from within stopped abruptly. Mortimer dove behind some bushes just before a dark human silhouette filled the window. The silhouette seemed to turn sideways to blow out the light, but from the side the figure was only a few inches thick.

The party decided to wait it out, getting into ambush position to shoot into the window and door with their bows. The melee combatants got into charge range of the door, taking cover. After a few moments, the sounds of magic syllables wafted through the air. The door creaked open and a skeletal hand struck a black octagonal chime that hung in the doorframe. A deep resonance rung out and three of the party members found themselves suddenly unable to control their bowels.

As they shit themselves, a skeleton and a strange distortion ran out of the door to attack the party. The distortion wrapped itself around Remie and it felt like a translucent warm skin wrapping itself tightly around him. Both his arms were wrapped in the embrace. The skeleton bashed Saffron’s shield, but he took no damage.

Remie freed his arm and bashed the distortion, which slowly became opaque and looked like a human skin. The mouth of the skin kept trying to suffocate and smother Remie, but he continued to fight his way free. As the skeleton was harmed with melee attacks, the skin began to show damage. Likewise, as the skin was flailed, the skeletons bones became brittle.

A somber spell carried through the air out from the house, causing Saffron and Rex’s arms to grow heavy with exhaustion. Finally, a killing blow was struck to the skeleton and both figures fell down defeated. A gurgling spittle sound echoed from the house.

The Cabin

Inside the house there were various alchemical devices and mixtures, as well as a journal and notebook on display. Some silver tools were wrapped in a leather carrying case, along with a fine quill. Inside a copper tug were the viscera of a human, with a trachea and tongue visible atop the rest of the organs. The organs looked battered and bloody, and the trachea looked like it had spit up blood recently. None of the organs appeared to be functioning.

In the back room, a woman was dressed in a funeral garb. She was cold and stiff but showed no signs of decay or rot. There was a small oil painting of her with a fine looking man and a child. The party placed her in a coffin which was in the room, and also took the oil painting and the objects from the workbench. They then burned down the cabin and made off into the night with evidence of dark magic to report back to the inquisitors.

System: Maze Rats by Ben Milton

Magic: Wonder & Wickedness by Lost Pages

Setting: Dolmenwood by Necrotic Gnome

Session 10: Journey to the Biting Marsh

Renn’s Downtime

Renn spent some time with High Priest Ressimilae Starlight helping the refugees. While doing so he heard of some highwaymen waylaying refugees heading south.

Return the Slaying Stone

The party went up to the keep to give Kiris Alkirk the Slaying Stone. They saw the town militia arming themselves in preparation for the Orc attack that seemed imminent. Alkirk thanked them for their deed and said that the stone might be useful in the coming attack. He gave them a chest with 300gp and some gems and told them to stay safe.

Finding a Vessel

The group decided to get out of town before the attack, and went looking for a boat south. The prices were very high for boats on this side of the waterfall. A new row-boat sold to a rich man for 100gp. The party decided to get on a river-barge that was almost overloaded with passengers for 5sp each.

The Interruption

The journey went unremarkably for the first afternoon and night. However, the boat ran aground a small sandbar during the late morning of the second day. Theodore and Renn tumbled off the boat into the water along with half the passengers. Renn made quick work getting back on the barge, but theodore began slipping away into the strong current along with some of the other struggling passengers. One passenger screamed in surprise and was pulled down into the water, air bubbles indicating his position. Theodore was able to get back on the boat with the aid of Al’s thrown rope, and the two of them went about trying to help passengers and unmoor the boat. Renn dove in to try to save the drowning passenger, finding a zombie like hand grasping the leg from out the mud. Renn lost his dagger trying to free the passenger, but managed to unclasp the hand after a few rounds of struggle. Once the hand lost its prey, it made a grasp at Renn. Luckily, it missed. In the stress, Renn bounded up to the surface but forgot to bring the passenger with him. He returned and finally got the seemingly lifeless body up to the boat. His first resuscitation attempt was fruitless but a magical healing did the trick.

Fort St. Argus

Fort Argus loomed ominously above the river, sitting on an embankment of lichen-covered stone. Rickety docks held a variety of barges and row-boats  belonging to refugees from the north. A few illkempt guardsmen stood at the open gate, passing a cigarette with yellow paper and a strange smell. The fence seemed made from swamp wood, a ramshackle assortment of whatever could be found and scrapped together. It wouldn’t stand up against much of an attack, but seemed suited to helping the townspeople forget that they were living in such a dreary location. Unfortunately, even with the surrounds out of view, the town was equally dreary. People loafed around in the late evening, the smell of cook fire in the air. The smoke from the pits seemed to sit thick in the town as if afraid to venture too far from the hearth.

Twice-bitten Tavern

Al had been to town before, and led the group to the only inn with a bathhouse. They checked in and paid their 1g each. Al went to the barkeep, Dick, and chatted to him about the recent goings-on. Dick told Al that he didn’t know where Redmaine was, but that the tanner or the witch might know. They would both be around the market in the morning

Merchant Knights of Flatstone Fortress

In the tavern, the only patrons of note were Ser Caliba Thial and Ser Neve Mezer. Both were dressed in strange armor, seemingly of Tortoise shells and other rare materials. They were discussing trade values in nearby locations when Al approached. He asked if they knew where Redmaine might be found and they demurred, but said that he was known to trade at the Flatstone Fortress. They asked if Al was buying anything and ended up selling him 5 doses of Saporific Slime for 10g.

Alfie Richardson - The Tanner

Alfie and Al had met on Al’s previous visit. Alfie slowly remembered Al from the tavern, and warmed up to him. He said that Redmaine tended to come by with skins and pelts twice a month, and that he had last come 6 days ago. He indicated the area where he thought Redmaine lived, in the haunted woods behind Kalton Manor. He also offered to assist the party with some magical leather armor in exchange for assistance with a task. He told the party to come back in a few hours to sit with him at lunch for more details.

Session on 9/11/17

Wandering Beyond Sessions 2-7 Summary

Session 2

Genevieve found the Goblin sorcerer’s map of Kiris Dahn  with locations where he had detected magic. The hot springs and the manor house were the two locations that were marked. The party decided to proceed to the hot springs.

On the way out of the library, they found two orcs looting a secret room. The room had been raided, and where there was clearly once a location for the Slaying Stone there was now a painted eye.

Exiting the library, the party beheld a large group of kobolds. They asked the Dragonborn paladin if he was there to save them. They agreed to help the kobolds. The kobolds scattered and readied for themselves for revolt.

The party arrived at the Hot Springs and searched a nearby home. The bottom floor was covered in dust, they heard skittering upstairs and left the house.

Session 3

The party walked up the hill behind the hot springs and found a place to take shelter and rest. From their vantage, they could see that the Kobolds had started revolting across towns, fires and combat sounds were springing up. After some time, the gate of the manor opened and the Hobgoblin leader emerged with a goblin horde. The party also saw the band of orcs, who were also searching for the Slaying Stone, enter the hot springs cave below them.

They decided to enter the caves below, and followed the orc trail. One orc ambushed them and was vanquished. The other orcs were encountered in a large storeroom, they were running towards the party. Only after the party killed them did they discover what was chasing the orcs. A number of wolves ran out followed by an orc witch. When the wolves were slain, the witch offered the injured party the chance to parley.

She offered the Slaying Stone in exchange for the head of Vhox the Betrayer. He had turned his back on Gruumsh when human clerics of Bane came and offered promises of power. The witch said her name was Ursula, and she led the party to her lair. She began butchering the dead orcs. After the party agreed to help her she took a lock of hair from Theodore the halfling sorcerer.

The party proceeded upstairs from the caves into the manor.

Sessions 4 & 5

The party explored the wing of the manor where they emerged, it was mostly abandoned. They found a drunk hobgoblin passed out in a latrine room on a pile of rags. They slayed the monster with a coup-de-grace and turned him over to find a charm below him. The latrine seemed to be a crack in the foundation which led to a cavern below.

The party continued exploring the manor, saw that the door was open with the guards all outside. They closed and barred the door, which alerted the goblins guards but also sealed them out.

They explored a hallway, finding a room with two goblins bickering. They killed the goblins and saw that they had been left to guard a captive family. They freed the family and told them to stay put while they explored more.

They went upstairs and found the chambers of the hobgoblin, discovering a hidden chamber filled with treasure chests and valuables. They did not take any treasure, but instead sealed back up the room. While they had been in the treasure room, they heard cries of help from the family they had left below. They entered to see two adolescent guard drakes had pinned the unarmed family into the corner of the room.

A tough combat ensued in which both Sam and Torren, the paladin and cleric, were killed.

Session 6

We began in the town of Fallcrest, fast-forwarding the return of the remaining party members and the freed hostage family.

The town was receiving an influx of refugees fleeing from the orc raids. In the tavern, the party overheard a family who were trying to bury their daughter but the crypts were inaccessible from some sort of monster within.

The party went to the Septarch’s Tower to discuss the disturbance in the crypts. Septarch Nimozaran was convinced to give the party the code to awaken the tomb guardian construct.

The party did not trust NImozaran, and checked with High Priest Ressilmae Starlight who confirmed the code.

They arrived in the crypt to find the ceiling caved in, revealing a substantial tunnel through the stone above. Around the next corner a large worm had knocked over some sarcophaguses and appeared to be vomiting on one of the bodies.

It was a close combat, but the party slaid the Carrion Crawler and returned to receive their reward.

Session 7

Theodore and Al overheard a smuggler in the back of the tavern, and followed him to the docks. They purchased a boat from some refugees and followed the man across to the Tower of Waiting. They explored for a while, looking for a hidden way in. They found some high windows that would require a grapple, and also saw a cellar entrance, but it was covered in large rocks and inaccessible.

They stumbled upon a giant spider which almost killed them both, they barely got back to town and lost the boat in the process.

Session 9 – Reuniting with Ursula


The worm continued to gnaw at Vhox’s brain until Al approached, trying to sever the Orc’s head. Spittle and dura-mater bits sprayed over Al as the worm reared back and hissed a warning. The group soon attacked the worm, slaying it just after it latched onto Grumble’s bear-form head.

Al clumsily hacked away at Vhox’s head, standing up in time to see Theodore walking as if in a daze towards the fishery. Al and Grumble followed along, Al had a bad feeling in his stomach as he approached the wooden building covered in fishing nets and other gear. Theodore walked in through the ajar door to see a dead orc slumped against a wooden counter. The room was lit by a greenish light coming from the stone salt-aging room.

The group slowly approached the door, Al tried to hold Theodore back but the compulsion to enter was too strong. Theodore pushed the door open to see a green fire beneath a cauldron. Ursula the orc witch was in the room, and with a flick of her wrist sent the flames flaring up before dying back down. The room smelled of bone broth, and the remains of a butchered Orc were piled in the corner.

Ursula laughed maniacally and displayed a totem of Theodore, made from the lock of hair he earlier provided her. She whispered into the totem, “give me the head of Vhox” and Theodore felt himself compelled to ask Al for the head. Al handed over the head to Theodore, who walked in in turn across to the Orc witch.

She took the head from him and the compulsion charm faded. Theodore stepped back to behold Ursula whisper a twisted spell that coaxed the skull out form Vhox’s head. She dropped the bone into the broth and held up the face for all to witness. She whispered “What fun I am going to have with you Vhox!” and chuckled to herself.

Al spoke up, “You promised us the Slaying Stone.“ Ursula chortled, “Did I? I suppose I did. Very well, you kept your end of the bargain, I will keep mine.” She retrieved a leather-wrapped stone from the corner of the room and handed it over to Al. She mused, “You all have been good servants to Ursula, and servants are hard to find. Are you looking for more work? I have many enemies to slay and tasks to be done.”

Al demanded that Ursula relinquish the totem of Theodore, and Ursula agreed that she would do so in return for information regarding the Hermit Redmaine, who she believes to live to the South. The party assented and made their exit.

Watch Tower

As the group set fire to the remaining watch tower, they skirmished with a small band of orcs and goblins. Grumble and Al were coaxed to larger sized by Theodore’s magic, and made quick work of the enemies. The last goblin fled in terror from the giant bear, and the party did not give chase.

They readied a boat and waited as the fire took, ensuring that the tower would burn down. After a few minutes a large group of orcs and goblins returned to the area, led by the escaped goblin. The leader saw the burning tower and ordered his troops to put out the flames with water from the river. Theodore cast Fog Cloud on the riverbank, delaying the goblins for long enough to ensure that the tower was lost to the flames.

The Inn

The party returned to the inn, paying 2g each for a night’s rest. Al found himself drawn towards the bar before he retired, and he took a seat next to Beatrix the Tailor. She chided him about his ragged garments and then he asked her if she knew anything about the Hermit Redmaine. She related what she knew:

The Hermit Redmaine was once a trusted guard to the noblility of Fallcrest, Lord Faren Markelhay. When Lord Markelhay was still a young lord warden he was besmitten for a woman who called herself Lady Oblington, who came calling under the auspices of being a student of the wizard Fox Erlong, famous through the lands. Lady Oblington earned the trust and affection of the Lord, but before long made a quiet escape with some family heirlooms, the original hand-written score of a musical masterpiece that raised Faren’s grandfather from his humble origin to nobility, a song titled the “Snare of Rage”.

Lord Markelhay sent Redmaine after Lady Oblington, and after seven weeks Redmaine returned with a tale that he had failed to find the Lady. Soon afterwards, a report surfaced that Redmaine had, in fact, been spotted with Lady Oblington. The rumor was that he had fallen in love with her, but that she had slipped away from him as well and disappeared from the land.

Redmaine was disgraced and exiled, and has made his living as a swamp trapper in the Witchlight Fens.

Beatrix claimed not to know where he could be found specifically, but a fur trader that sold his wares each Friday morning might know. She also mentioned that some of Redmaine’s old comrades-in-arms at the keep might know more of his tale and whereabouts.

The Dream

In sleep, Theodore descended a wormhole of fish before gaining awareness of the Fishery room from before. He beheld Ursula conjuring a gelatinous mass from the thick bone stew. The mass took the form of a huge humanoid creature, and Ursula placed the face of Vhox over the head. Soon, the translucent form grew opaque and became indistinguishable from Vhox himself. Ursula chuckled in glee in front of the naked orc, and Theodore’s dream faded away.

Session on 8/28/2017

Session 8 – Vhox’s Brains

Wandering Beyond on 8/14/17

The town of Fallcrest has been receiving refugees from the frontier. You met with Kiris Alkirk to catch him up on the status of your quest, you need to kill Vhox, leader of the Severed Eye Clan. He tells you that he has received news that the Severed Eye Clan is moving on Greycrest.

Quest: Kill Vhox (Complete)
Quest: Burn the 2x Guard Towers (½ Complete)
Quest: Rescue the Stragglers (Complete)
Quest: Find the Curio from the house of the merchant Hannu Hardel
Quest: (Theodore) Find Ursula in the Fishery

The group spent 12 gold to buy a rowboat from the war refugees arriving in town, profiting from a struggling and scared family. The trip upriver was uneventful, the group put in just past town.

The sky over the town was pierced by irregular clashes of battle, hacking of wood, and a few plumes of black smoke.

The group snuck up on the edge of town, spotting 5 orcs and 2 goblins trying to enter a barricaded home. Theodore was knocked unconscious during the fight, but the group otherwise emerged without too much damage. The group escorted the stragglers back to their boat and sent them on their way.

They made their way up to the first guard tower without being spotted, using the scroll of create bonfire to set it ablaze. As they made their way towards the second tower, Vhox himself stepped out of the warehouse with a human head in his hand. He tossed it towards the group and readied himself for the fight.

A short two rounds of combat later and Grumble’s ferocious claws tore Vhox apart, adding to the effect were notably also Pan’s Guiding Bolt and Theodore’s brain-sucking Enlightening Worm.

As the worm sucked Vhox’s Brain, the group paused to regroup.