Posted by : David Guyll May 28, 2014

Cast
  • Augustine (4th-level human paladin)
  • Jaya (5th-level human bard)
  • Mouse (4th-level gnome thief)

Mouse scurried up the rope first. He liked his blood precisely where it was, and was all too eager to get out of Madra's lair before she spotted him and tried roping him into some kind of literal blood contract...or just roping him up and making a withdrawal whenever she damn well pleased.

He reached the surface, but as he started hauling himself out of the hole the sun was suddenly eclipsed by a rock-like hand that was reaching for him. His grip slackened, and he quickly slid back into the hole. The hand followed, and Mouse watched as it flailed about in vain before withdrawing, only to be replaced by the face of a craggy-faced creature. It peered in the hole with a crystalline eye, but by the time it spotted Mouse a dagger was lodged firmly in it. Its howls of pain echoed throughout the cavern, but were quickly drowned out by Jaya's own magically amplified wail.

It stumbled back, and with a powerful tug Mouse was launched back up to the surface. Dangling from the rope he saw that there were two of the creatures: the one he had struck in the eye had the rope, while another one, wielding a club, stood on the opposite side of the hole. It tried to pluck Mouse out of the air, but he managed to twist about and evade it, using the rope to swing around and perch on its arm. Both of the creatures stood there, dumb-founded, which gave Mouse ample time to hurl a dagger into Club-Troll's face, leap to the ground, and scurry away.

As Club-Troll chased Mouse, Rope-Troll continued to yank on the rope in an attempt to fish out whatever was attached to it. The first jerk smashed Augustine into the ceiling, but the second attempt was powerful enough that he actually broke through part of the ridge as he was hauled out. On one hand he was out of the hole, but on the other, troll. It grinned, mouth filled with blocky, black teeth, and moved to crush him with its feet. Mouse saw this as he scrambled about, dodging Club-Troll's slow, predictable swings, and with a toss of his throwing blade opened up a sizable gash across Rope-Troll's leg.

It rumbled in surprise as the wound began to ooze a dark, tarry substance. It glowered at Mouse, teeth actually grinding with anger, but as it began lumbering towards him Club-Troll pointed behind him and made a noise not-unlike falling stones. Rope-Troll turned around in time to see Augustine rushing at him, wielding Mardral's hammer. Hey, if it could smash mountains, then it could probably do a number on these guys, too.

Unfortunately due to the unwieldy nature of the hammer, the troll was still able to keep up despite its ponderous speed. It swatted and kicked Augustine about, and eventually knocked the hammer from his grasp. Unable to get to his halberd quickly enough, he drew the shadowsteel dagger and stabbed at the troll's hand as it grabbed him. The dagger became embedded in the back of its hand, but the troll gave no indication that it noticed anything. Augustine gave it a few pulls, but was unable to free it before the troll slammed him into the ground, knocking the wind out of him.

It was at this point that Jaya managed to reach the surface. She looked about and saw that Rope-Troll was preparing to bring its foot down upon Augustine, while Mouse was occupied with Club-Troll. She sang out a low note, and Rope-Troll paused midstep as Club-Troll, stumbling and flailing about, smashed him in the head. Rope-Troll cascaded to the ground, and more dark ichor began burbling several wide cracks in its head. Club-Troll stood there with an expression that Jaya could only assume was shock, before it turned to her with an expression that she knew to be anger.

It raised its club above its head, but as it moved to pulverize her Augustine stood before it, again wielding the hammer. It unleashed a bellow of rage that shook the walls of the Trollmaze, and they both swung at each other. Hammer met club, and though the club cracked the hammer was again knocked out of Augustine's grasp. As the troll raised its club to finish the job, Mouse lept on its back, stabbing frantically with the shadowsteel dagger he had taken from Rope-Troll's hand. He was more than a bit dismayed that it barely caused a scratch—he assumed it was magical in some way—so he tossed Augustine his short sword to give him something to try and defend himself with.

Augustine did his best to avoid the club while Jaya tried to keep him on his feet with her healing magic, but her words resonated off the canyon walls and Rope-Troll began to stir. At this Mouse leapt off of Club-Troll's back, scampered over to Rope-Troll's body, and hacked at its skull with this throwing blade until it stopped moving.

Then he saw the hammer.

He hauled it toward Club-Troll, who was fully occupied with trying to bash in Augustine's skull, and once he was in position spun around and swung it at the troll's leg.

He missed.

That was not the worst part.

The hammer struck the ground, causing it shake, crack and buckle. This was also not the worst of it: since Madra's den was directly beneath them, the ground also collapsed into it. Mouse managed to leap to safety, while Augustine and Jaya landed on a thick sheet of webbing. The canyon troll, being made of rock, fell through the webbing and shattered on the ground below.

Madra was understandably angry, and demanded to know who was responsible. Jaya told her that the trolls had done it, and when Madra stated that it sounded like someone had swung Mardral's hammer she further elaborated that during the conflict one of them had picked it up. When this did little to mollify her, Mouse piped up.

He told her that she could have the hammer, but that Augustine and Jaya were to go free unharmed. When Madra inquired as to how Mouse was going to enforce that request, he held out a torch and lit it: there was a lot of webbing down there. Though her face could not actually change expressions, he got the sense that she was glaring, but after several long seconds of silence agreed. Thankfully the rope was still intact: Augustine and Jaya were able to climb out without any assistance, and together they ventured off to Pine's Draw.

They arrived at Pine's Draw without further incident. Burdened with a surplus of coin and the loss of a legendary hammer, they purchased Augustine some better armor and a shield in order to ease both. When they were done they saw that one of the armorsmith's assistants was loading up a wagon with more armor, a wagon that was ridden by Jacob. They greeted him, more or less, and after asking why he had a wagon full of armor, explained that the elves were getting uppity as of late, attacking saw mills and villages near the Great Forest, so he was heading to the former-baron's keep to drop off some supplies.

They were not sure which was more surprising: that word of the baron's death had not reached this far after so many days, or that someone had entrusted Jacob with the task of carting thousands of coins-worth of weapons and armor through hostile territory. They decided to tag along, not for Jacob's benefit but for Fiona's: she might actually need that stuff to help deal with the troubles that seemed to be brewing. Case in point, the following day they came across a saw mill: all the buildings were intact, but aside from a lone elf walking about there was no one to be found.

Behind the Scenes
Yes, much of the session was that fight against a pair of trolls, but that made me realize some things:

  • In Dungeons & Dragons the things I did—landing on the troll's arm and throwing a dagger at it, climbing on its back to distract it, and trying to swing Mardral's hammer—would have involved numerous ability checks and/or a penalty so severe that I might as well not even bother, despite that in the end it would result in a narratively exciting attack.
  • Despite taking awhile the fight remained interesting, as unlike 3rd/5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons we did not just stand there and trade blows until someone fell down: our actions and decisions determined a number of things beyond damage.
  • If we were to come back in a few levels those trolls would still be dangerous. Yeah, we might have a few more moves and be able to kill them a bit faster (assuming we took +damage moves), but our hit points might only go up by a handful of points. It is not like we could go strolling through the Trollmaze without a care in the world. This makes me rethink my stance on how in 4th Edition monsters can be any level, meaning that kobolds can still be dangerous at level 30 (though I still think they should not be as dangerous as demons and dragons, and the scaling math should go the way of THAC0).
  • I love how details can be added during the course of play. For example, it was not until after several failed attempts to harm the troll did we learn that shadowsteel is just not effective against trolls. I find this helps add a layer of mystery to a campaign: even after you fight trolls several times, they do not necessarily have the same qualities and habits as they did in a previous campaign or adventure.


Important Announcements
So, three big things:
  • The first is that I am looking for people that want to check out various chapter/playbook drafts of Sundered World. The first chapter, Living in a Sundered World, is basically done, I have the wizard playbook to a point where it is ready to be reviewed, and the next chapter up is What Remains
  • The second is that Melissa has been grinding away at a pirate playbook for Dungeon World, and is also looking for people to check it out and critique it.
  • Finally, we are also also looking for people that want to check out the alpha draft of Fright Night. It will be our first RPG, and we are pretty stoked about how it works in terms of evoking horror.

If you are interested in any of these things, lemme know in the comments and I'll share the various Google docs with you. In terms of compensation, about the best we can do at this point is give you a free copy when they are done.

I plan on kickstarting Sundered World once the text is at least 95% done (so as to avoid delays and mistakes causing it to come out late), and I am not sure if we will be kickstarting Fright Night. Really the only reason we need to do this for either is for art, so it will boil down to how much we want and how expensive that will be.

{ 2 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. I'd be interested in looking at it. I've run several different *World-based games, and have been intrigued with Inverse World and Grim World (both of which I backed, but haven't had the chance to use yet). I'd love to contrast-and-compare, and offer feedback.

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  2. Awesome, here is the community link: https://plus.google.com/communities/104949862250224587046

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