Posted by : David Guyll June 26, 2014

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

They had three choices: try to get as far away from Hell's Arch and the Autumn Monarch's army as possible, infiltrate the Autumn Monarch's army and assassinate him (which, given that they were fey and all, chances were that someone might have already done just that), or sneak over into the neighboring fortress, liberate some fey prisoners—including the king of the duskies—and sneak back.

After much discussion they opted for the third option: what it lacked in the highest chance of survival, it made up for in the amount of treasure they would get. Plus Fionna totally owed Mouse, her and Jaya had that whole friend thing going on, and something something Augustine honor blah blah blah.

Escorted by one of Fionna's Jarlsmen they refilled their packs and bought a couple of healing potions before heading deep underground. After wandering through winding passages they came to a wide underground stream that flowed out of a cavernous opening, cascading down to the land below: it was the waterfall that they had seen during their approach to Hell's Arch. A stone bridge spanned the stream near the opening, giving them an impressive view, and lead to a stone door that was guarded by another pair of Jarlsmen.

They approached and their escort explained the plan. The other two listened, nodded when he finished, and one turned to open the door. He pushed a large, square button in the wall, and as it slowly reset the ground rumbled loudly and the door began to rise. Inside was a small room, with another large door and a button on the opposing wall. Before they proceeded one of the guards handed them a sheet of parchment: it was a crude map that showed most of the complex with varying degrees of accuracy. They then bid them good luck and sealed the door.

Beyond the second door was a large hallway, with yet another door and button at the end. The hall looked completely unremarkable, which caused Mouse to expect an ambush or least some kind of trap: sure enough, while the walls and floor seemed safe, there were numerous small holes in the ceiling.

Murderholes.

Since there was no way to tell if anyone was waiting above, Augustine cautiously walked the length of the hall. When nothing happened Jaya and Mouse emerged, and when still nothing happened they started toward the third door. As Augustine went to push the button Jaya stopped him: there was a strange sign scratched underneath. It looked somewhat like an eye, and she suspected some kind of divination magic, but was not sure if it allowed Shorna to continuously see into the room, if she had to enact some magical effect, or if it triggered an alarm when the door was opened.

They were about to take their chances with the door when Mouse suggested investigating the murderholes: whoever would have manned them had to be able to access them from the inside. The holes were just wide enough to accommodate Mouse, but it was possible that the switch on the other side lacked any such warding. Plus, if Mouse was out of sight it would give them an edge if anyone did attack. Augustine and Jaya formed a human ladder, and once Mouse climbed out of the murderhole he lit a torch to get his bearings.

Fortunately there was no one waiting for him, and as far as he could tell there were no traps or witch-signs. He followed the hall into a square room. It had a balcony that overlooked another hall that seemed to be just beyond the door. There was no obvious way down, but a few passages extended in different directions and there were also four levers along one of the walls. With some brief and noisy experimentation he discovered that two of them opened both doors in the hallway, while the other two caused them to slam back in place.

Once Jaya and Augustine made it through they examined the map more closely. There were no markings or notations, so they just chose a general direction to start with and hoped for the best. They figured that Mouse might as well stay above them to better offer support, but since the elevated passages were not marked on the map he would just have to try and follow along as best he could.

Once Mouse left Augustine muttered a brief prayer, causing his holy symbol to flare with light. It illuminated the room with a soft, azure glow, and he could see several large alcoves that he guessed were once stalls for...whatever it was that dwarves rode around on. The wood, if they even used wood, was gone, but he could still see metal hinges driven into the stone.

Jaya on the other hand spotted a few figures just beyond the edge of the light. The only details she could make out was that they were wearing hooded cloaks, though after a few arrows whizzed by and clattered off of Augustine's armor also realized they were both armed and had definitely noticed them.

Augustine dashed into one of the stalls while Jaya ran in another direction, hoping that they would focus on the light and fail to spot her. She rounded a corner, intending to keep well out of sight until they advanced upon Augustine, after which she would try and sneak up on them. She immediately stepped onto a stone ramp, and it was a testament to dwarven craftsmanship that, even after the countless decades, possibly centuries since humans had settled into the keep, that the traction grooves and ridges carved into the ramp remained.

Unfortunately it was coated with slime.

By the time she stopped sliding she was thoroughly coated in slime and had no idea how far she had gone. Wherever she was there was no light, not even from Augustine's holy symbol. She tried to stand and slipped. She then tried crawling about to find a dry area on the floor, but the slime seemed to be everywhere, and she did her best not to dwell on where the slime had come from...like a hungry monster accustomed to the darkness. After several minutes she was finally able to right herself, and after several more was able to get a torch in her hands.

Now she just had to light the damned thing.

Mouse had been running as quietly as possible for some time when he came to a corner. He slowed his pace and peered around its edge just in time to see several cloaked figures fleeing up a stone ramp across from him. Unsure who they were, what they were up to, or where Augustine and Jaya were he followed them, keeping his distance so as to avoid them noticing his torchlight.

Augustine peeked out from the stall to see Mouse darting across the hall and up the ramp. He turned to tell Jaya, which was when he realized that she was not with him. Since he had not seen her run by he feared that something had happened, and began backtracking his steps. Unfortunately the light from his holy symbol was not especially bright, he was in unfamiliar territory, and he could not call out for her for fear of alerting who knows what was lurking about.

He checked the stalls, found nothing, and then crawled through a low opening into a small bed chamber with some moldering cots, one of which mostly concealed a strange, metal key. He pocketed it and continued to search, and after a few minutes came across a stone ramp that looked to be covered in a thick carpet of dust.

Had she been struck by an arrow? Had she slipped and fallen? Had someone (or something) in the confusion of the fight abducted her? As he stepped on the ramp the "dust" transformed into slime, but as he slipped managed to catch himself on a stone rail. Assuming that she had in fact slipped down the ramp, he used the rail to gradually descend to the bottom, where he discovered Jaya busily trying to light a torch. He started to ask her what had happened when one of the sparks landed on a patch of slime near his feet, which is when they discovered how flammable the stuff was.

It was really, really flammable.

By the time Mouse had caught up to the trio of cloaked figures they were overlooking a balcony, silhouetting by the bright, flickering light of fire. He put out his torch and tossed it aside, pressed up against a wall, and slid towards them. As he drew close he could hear them snickering loudly, and Jaya's voice profusely echoing apologies while Augustine roared in pain.

As one began to draw a bow Mouse slipped behind him, leaped upon his back, and drove his sword through the neck. The blade erupted from his mouth, and as he withdrew it the other two stood there in shock, mouths agape. He gave the body a shove as it began to fall. It collided with one of them and both tumbled to the ground. The other drew a sword and shouted for Mouse to keep back, doing his best to sound threatening, and as his partner regained his feet and drew his sword Mouse obliged by scurrying back into the shadows.

They exchanged nervous looks, unsure what to do next, when Mouse's throwing blade whizzed out of the darkness and struck one of them in the skull. He crumpled lifelessly to the ground, and the blade pulled itself free and flew back into the darkness, whipping blood about as it spun away. The remaining survivor dropped his sword, fell to his knees, and begged for mercy.

It was about this time that Jaya had extinguished Augustine. Mouse told them that he had actually managed to capture a prisoner for once, in case they wanted to question him, but if not he would be more than happy to "leave no witnesses". At the man's frantic pleading Jaya tossed up a rope and hook so that he could descend, far away from Mouse, to talk with her and Augustine.

Jaya and Augustine interrogated him while Mouse busied himself rummaging through the bodies. They learned that his name was Henry, counting Mark and Shorna there were still nine others left, and that the prisoners were being held on a ship floating on a kind of water arena that had been built inside the mountain by the previous dwarven ruler. They also learned that Shorna was very knowledgeable about potions and poisons, knew magic that could bind fey creatures, and was in general a "master of black magic who would definitely avenge his death if something were to happen to him".

Since there were now two, well, unused cloaks Jaya suggested trying to sneak in with Henry's help, stating that if he cooperated and survived that he would be free to go. Even ignoring the fact that Mark was his uncle, it was still a pretty raw deal. Jaya tried a different approach, explaining that unless the prisoners returned a fey army would attack the city, and that Hell's Arch stood no chance of surviving: Mouse pointed out that if he, a lone gnome managed to get in and slaughter them without taking a scratch, that there was no way the city could survive an army of them.

This gave Henry cause to rethink his position, but to sweeten the deal Mouse also mentioned that if Hell's Arch was still standing that Fionna was going to knight them: if he helped out they could put in a good word for him, and Augustine even swore to protect him from Mouse. At the prospect of having both decent odds of actually surviving and coming out ahead he agreed to help, and they started to formulate a plan on how to get into the barge.

Behind the Scenes
Dan ended up retconning what we felt was not a terribly major detail (the Autumn Monarch captured the messengers instead of killing them): I am sure there are those that would decry this as some kind of heretical act, but...meh. Meh I say.

Not sure how much is left in this particular campaign, but once we are done it sounds like I am going to be running another proper Sundered World campaign. I mentioned that when I first ran it in 4th Edition it played out I guess how you would normally do it in Dungeon World (despite having not played Dungeon World at the time), so it will be interesting to see how it works out with something that is not just a playbook playtest.

Melissa ended up recording this session so as to make the play report more accurate, but I am curious whether anyone would be interested in having access to podcasts of our game? Here are some choice quotes:

"So, is the feather token linked to a specific bird or can it be any bird?" —David/Mouse
"It summons the nearest bird and forces it to deliver a message." —Dan/GM
"Sweet: we have infinite food, now." —David/Mouse

"Oh, I started the fire. I have not started a fire until now." —Melissa/Jaya
"You popped your fire-cherry." —Everyone else at once

"Hard bargain: you either light yourself or Augustine on fire." —Dan/GM
"He's got more hit points." —David/Mouse
talking to Augustine "I'm...going to light you on fire..." —Melissa/Jaya
"Sweet." —David/Mouse

"My "plan" is to throw them over the balcony into the fire, and hope that it works out for you guys." —David/Mouse

"You're asking a guy to not only betray his family, but actively fight them, and if he survives...we'll let him go? When Mouse is being the moral compass, well..." —David/Mouse

"I'm a fey thing, too, and if I got in and killed you guys imagine an army of gnomes, coming out of the walls. It's game over." —David/Mouse
"They've got gnomes?" —Dan/GM
"Oh, so many gnomes." —David/Mouse

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