Posted by : David Guyll March 23, 2014

Cast
  • Ruzzah (lizardfolk bog mummy)

Far away, someone was wading through the grass. It would take a few steps, stop, crouch, then stand and move a few more steps before again stopping. Her best guess was that, whatever it was, it was looking for something in the grass.

Maybe it was a local. A local that could give her some answers. Or attack her. Yeah, given her luck so far she banked on the latter, but hey: she had a club studded with razor-sharp glass, a giant snake, and a mouthful of curses.

Bring it on.

As she approached Ruzzah saw that it was a woman, and one of the First at that. She was also semi-translucent. Well, at least she was not the only dead person, here. In the best First Speech she could string together and in as friendly a voice as her dried, lizardfolk throat would allow, Ruzzah (hopefully) asked her what she was doing. She turned to regard Ruzzah, which was when she noticed that roughly half of her body was gone, as if it had been very cleanly sliced off.

And here she thought that people might be frightened of her.

Despite her shock Ruzzah was somehow able to catch enough of the First-half-full's response to understand that she was looking for her child, before she went right back to...picking up bits of bones from the grass, inspecting them, and casting them aside. Of course she was.

Okay, so maybe Ruzzah was the closest thing to normal in these parts.

She debated continuing trying to speak to the ghost. She was not sure if it would be capable of a meaningful response, plus it was possible that if she continued to interrupt her task that she might attack.

It was about then that she noticed the grass darkening and her wrappings starting to smoke. Her snake hissed and, well, snaked away. She looked up at the sun, which seemed to be shimmering, and suspected that if she still had eyes that she would probably have been struck blind. She looked around and spotted the ruins of a nearby tower that looked like it still had a ceiling. Fire erupted around her, which was all the incentive she needed to dash inside.

The tower was overgrown with roots and vines, but seemed solid and protected from...whatever it was that just happened. At any rate if she was going to find something, it would probably be inside a ruin anyway, so might as well check here, first. She climbed the first flight of stairs and came across a circular door with a complex sigil that occasionally pulsed with a green light.

She had no idea what it meant or its purpose, so of course she touched it. The entire face of the door illuminated with equally complex patterns, but otherwise nothing happened. Thinking that it might be keyed to a phrase, she went through a variety of elven words that as best she could recall meant open, friend, and please, but none of them worked.

She continued upstairs and encountered another door. This one had a reddish-gold symbol, equally as complex, but unlike the other one it maintained a constant brilliance. Since there was no ceiling here—the tower had broken off—rather than risk touching more strange runes she just slipped over the wall.

Ruzzah was not sure what to make of the room. It had been completely overtaken by trees that had grown through the floor and walls. Some looked like they had shelves carved into them, and the openings had "healed" almost completely shut. As she inspected the openings for, well, anything, she heard wood crack and snap from a nearby cluster of trees, as a skeletal limb noisily burst free from one of them.

The limb was followed by the rest of the skeleton that, given everything she had faced thus far, actually seemed pretty tame in comparison. Yeah, it was clawing its way out of a tree, its bones were blackened, and its armor looked partially melted, but really the only thing even remotely impressive about it was when it gripped a tree branch and transformed it into an ornate, albeit wooden sword in one, smooth motion.

She uttered a curse, which did little to deter it as it slashed at her, driving her back and into the door. The runes engraved on its surface flared to life before "peeling free", coalescing into a roiling sphere of red and gold. She touched it, hoping that her rotting touch would effect it in some way, but only succeeding in burning her hands.

Stuck between a floating fire-blob and wood-wielding skeleton, she was backing away from both, frantically considering her options when it began to glow brighter and expand. Figuring that something really bad was about to happen, she leapt back over the wall just in time to evade a violent, fiery explosion.

Hoping that the devastation affected the first door, she went downstairs only to discover that, no, it was still perfectly intact. So, plan b: clobbering time.

She gave it a good whack with her alligator club. This had two effects. The first was that it damaged the door and glowing symbol. The second was that the symbol erupted into a torrent of thorny vines. Thankfully she could not feel pain and the vines were alive: they wilted at her touch, and she was able to free freed herself without too much effort and enter the room.

As with the other room it looked like that the trees had been shaped into shelves at one point, but had been slowly growing back to normal. Unlike the other room there were lots of books scattered about, but most were damaged or even completely crushed. She spent a few hours flipping through the ones that she could, but eventually gave up due to her limited understanding of the First's language and a lack of enlightening images.

With no other leads she started going from tower to tower, and after many fruitless hours she ended up getting cornered in some ruins by a trio of griffin skeletons. At her command water flowed up from the ground, transforming it into a fetid mire and trapping them. As she looked about for a way to escape the floor collapsed, revealing a hidden chamber.

Normally she would have been satisfied with her change in fortune, but this was the first hidden anything she had found, and so descended into the depths. However the skeletons were still intact, and given that she was unable to frighten them off or destroy them with her touch, was forced to flee through the maze-like tunnels. Her snake was swift, and it was not hard to lose them; once they gained a considerable lead they found a room and sealed the door behind them.

The room was a circular shaft. Roots from seven trees grew from the walls, connecting to a golden tree in the center of the room, from which grew a golden sword.

Well, now this was promising.

Which probably meant that there was a trap.

She grasped the sword and gave it a pull. It did not yield, and from each of the surrounding trees a warrior made from wood emerged: one arm was stretched into a shield, while the other ended in a sharp blade.

This was less promising.

Though outnumbered, her rotting touch and massive snake proved far more effective than wooden swords and shields. In a handful of minutes the guardians were reduced to rotting splinters. She scanned the room, looking for any other traps or guardians. When she was confident that no skeletons or vines were going to pop out of anything, she again grabbed the sword, and pulled.

Behind the Scenes
We made a lot of changes after this session. You can check out the current text-version of the mummy here. At this stage of the game comments—either here or there—are welcome!

Originally we wanted to have the playbook represent a variety of mummies, from ones that were embalmed to more accidental cases, like bog and frozen mummies, each with their own special abilities (like frozen mummies being immune to fire and cold).

It was easy to create moves that were easily reskinnable: for example, Obscuring Cloud could be either a cloud of sand, vermin, or snow, while Perilous Ground could be quicksand, a mire, or a sheet of ice. The problem cropped up when we tried to frame everything in the fiction: why would deliberately created mummies and accidental ones have the same special abilities?

Things became a lot easier when we decided that all mummies are a deliberate creation, the result of special preparations and sacred rites, and generally someone of importance. We drew a lot of inspiration from Egyptian mummies (like the need for food and sleep), but there is nothing that says you could not be created from being interred into a bog or simply frozen.

Good For The Soul (CHA)
Unlike most undead, a mummy has got to eat. And drink. Eating and sleeping, while unnecessary for your body, still in a way nourish your soul. You also must sleep, which allows your soul to leave your body and journey to the land of the dead.

Originally this move had you roll+CHA to see how much soul you got, and you only had 1-3 (which represented good or bad things happening to you while you were there). Some moves would drain your hit points, and when those ran out you spend a point of Soul, roll+Soul, and depending on the result regained hit points.

There is now a Soul stat, and when you eat and sleep you gain half of it back, just like hit points. Spells almost always cost you Soul, which represents your soul becoming exhausted while working magic. When your Soul runs out you start taking your last breath, so you want to be careful, especially considering how it works with...

Good For The Body
The original move had you spend a Soul and roll+Soul remaining to determine how many hit points you regained. You were more resilient, but you had to be careful with your magic because some moves would cost you hit points, and since you roll plus your remaining Soul you were more likely to end up with only a few hit points, or even just one.

The new move has you spend Soul and roll+Soul spent to determine if/when your body reconstructs itself, most often at the next sunrise. So you are more likely to survive, but it is not like you can just spring back up.

Curse of the Mummy (CHA)
The original move dealt damage and had a stun effect, and on a 7-9 you could choose to lose hit points.

We changed this so that now it costs soul to use, and if you do not want anything else bad to happen can opt to burn another point of soul. There are also moves that allow you to forego damage to do something else, or spend more Soul to boost the effect of the curse.

Overhauling the Brakes
Earlier this week I made a major update to Something Stirs in the Blackscale Brakes. Partially it is because I wanted to make it available for print (which, assuming the review is successful, it will be shortly), partially it is because I have learned a lot about both Dungeon World and InDesign in the past six or so months, and figured that it could definitely stand for some improvement.

I combed through the adventure changing, sometimes removing, and adding a lot of new content, including a new steading (which all have impressions and cleaned up moves), location moves, lizardfolk race, monsters, magic items, dungeon gear, and maps like this one here:


I am going to be putting Sundered World up on kickstarter hopefully some time next month, and I want it to be amazingly awesome. Part of that it putting more effort into the stuff I write. I am going to be running If These Stones Could Scream through its own update process, so if you bought it and did not like something about it then please, please let me know. 

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