Dungeon World: Skeleton Playtest, Part 3

Phonos and Vassilis cleared away the rocks and descended into the formian nest.

The walls were studded with numerous crystalline growths that glowed in a variety of colors. Phonos broke a piece off, partially to see if it would do anything dangerous, partially to see if it would continue to glow; to his disappointment it did neither. Figuring that they might have some value to someone, he broke off several more pieces and pocketed them.

Deeper inside they found formian bodies strewn about. They were not moving, but since Phonos did not know anything about formians he could not tell if they were just unconscious or dead. To be sure he methodically removed each of their heads. He would need proof of his deed at any rate. And of course trophies. And, again, maybe they were faking it?

The path soon came to a fork. When nothing distinguished them from each other they just flipped a coin and ended up going right, which eventually lead them to an open chamber. The walls were riddled with numerous holes, which was frustrating to Phonos because he did not want to have to take a long time trying to figure out which one lead to the prisoners and/or whatever amounted to a formian ruler (plus he was secretly disappointed that his plan of suffocating seemed to be so effective).

Thankfully a pair of live formians came scuttling out of one of the holes. Their attack was more coordinated than Phonos had anticipated, and their bodies were as tough as steel. This did not present much of a problem for Phonos, who was accustomed to hewing through assorted things (and now lacked fleshy organs that tended to concern the living), but Vassilis? Not so much. By the time Phonos finished chopping one apart and smashing the other one into crystals, he had been pretty badly wounded.

Phonos considered one of the formian corpses: they not only had tough bodies and four arms, but maybe it would work as a disguise, too. He willed his soul into it, and once he settled in was surprised to find that he could somehow sense where the formians would located. They went into the hole that the formians had existed, which lead them to an egg chamber. Vassilis mentioned that the fluid in the eggs had healing properties; he managed to gargle one down, and they snagged a few more and smashed the rest.

With his psychic link they were able to easily locate to the queen's chamber while evading the other formians. It was much larger than the others they had seen, and there were many sections of the wall that looked like they had been artificially smoothed out. In the center was a massive crystalline throne, and what Phonos could only surmise was the queen squatted upon it. A pair of formians stood in front of her: they were somewhat larger than the others they had seen, and wielded barbed spears that looked to be made from a substance similar to their bodies.

After a lengthy battle the pair managed to limp away with some survivors—including Vassilis's sister—the queen's head, and a huge opal. They returned to Antwall and the leader, upon seeing proof that the queen had been slain and suvivors returned more or less safely, promised to spread word of his deeds so that maybe people would not be so quick to judge an intelligent, well-and-multi-armed and armored skeleton. Phonos tried to pawn off the opal, but after talking to several people learned two things: no one could hope to afford it, and it was magical.

Unfortunately no one was able to discern the egg's magical properties, either, and the best lead he got was to seek out an oracle who was said to live in the mountains beyond a dark, dangerous forest, which Vassilis volunteered to guide him through as thanks for saving his sister. Before they left Phonos returned to where he had fought the owlbear, animating it with a shred of his soul so that he could use it as a war mount. A couple of days  and manticores later they made it through the forest, up the mountains, and arrived at an old, overgrown temple.

They spoke—and only spoke—to the oracle, who explained that the "opal" was in fact a dormant pegasus egg, and after a further explanation involving the definition of dormant and pegasus told him that he would to seek help from the elves in order to hatch it.

Behind the Scenes
We learned the hard way that giving static benefits with Skullduggery opened a flood gate of potential abuse. Melissa gave me 4 armor, because the formian drone also had 4 armor, and it made the fights against the centurions and queen incredibly easy.

My knee-jerk reaction was to make it so that the move only allowed you to temporarily possess a skeleton (like Johann Krauss from Hellboy), but after talking with someone on the Dungeon World Tavern community on Google Plus we decided to fold the effect into Them Bones, keep it permanent, and treat it a lot like the druid's Shapechange move: you can possess a skeleton, but you do not necessarily gain any hard mechanical benefits.

Otherwise I think my only criticism was that the formian hive could have stood to be filled with more monsters, as it would have been interesting to try and deal with a whole hive, maybe even having to sneak through it or hide in a passage so that they could not come at us full force. I think Melissa was just afraid of making it too difficult, which is understandable since, again, her first campaign and all.

At any rate the skeleton playbook has since been finalized and submitted to Drivethrurpg, so we are probably going to drop this campaign so we can start playtesting our mummy playbook (or maybe the ghoul), as well as a solo Sundered World campaign.

Formian Egg Slow, 1 weight
When you consume the, uh, "contents" of a formian egg, roll+CON. *On a 10+, you manage to keep it down and regain 1d8 hit points. *On a 7-9, you manage to keep most of it down but you are not feeling so good; regain 1d6 hit points and gain the sick debility.

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