Posted by : David Guyll November 09, 2014

Cast
  • Cheveyo (male scion storm shaman)
  • Devona (female deva infernal pact warlock)
  • Diotos (kytheran battlemind w/ mutation)
  • Kivana (female cthon dragon-tongue wizard)
  • Waive (male scion reconstituted nomad)

Summary
The job was simple enough: head to an island and see why the outpost there had stopped responding.

When they arrived they discovered that insect-like machines had slaughtered everyone, and were in the process of strip-mining the island. They managed to destroy the creatures, and were transporting the remains back both as proof of their deed and to sell as scrap.

Then the psychic storm hit.

It swiftly engulfed them, arresting their minds and battering their bodies. The ship was hurled off course, abruptly coming to a halt when it collided with another island. One by one they crawled forth from the wreckage, nursing their physical and mental wounds, and took stock of the situation.

The front of the hull was shattered, but the ship would have still been serviceable had the collidor not been destroyed by the impact. Waive could repair it with the right parts, but from their current vantage the island appeared barren and lifeless: their only option was to start walking and hope for the best.

Cheveyo shifted his sight into the spirit realm, and discovered that the island was the grave of a once mighty spirit: it's serpentine body was coiled protectively in upon itself, and it had suffered many grievous wounds before dying. He drifted up, and high above what he saw confirmed his suspicions: with the island's spirit dead, there would be nothing but rock and dirt to be found.

Then he saw the pit.

It was perfectly circular, with a ledge that gradually spiraled down and out of sight. Cheveyo was wondering who or what could have made it, when he saw three squat, armored creatures emerge and begin making their way towards their crashed ship.

He lowered himself back to the ground and told everyone that they had company. Fortunately the creatures were moving slowly, which gave them ample time to prepare. When they finally came into view Cheveyo realized that they weren't just armored, but made entirely of metal: more insect-like machines, except they were larger and weren't made of copper, but steel.

Otherwise they were similar to the others they had faced: their faces were alien and expressionless, with several sets of crystalline eyes that glowed a dark red and clattering mandibles. Then, after a few moments of simply staring at them, their bodies changed shape to assume somewhat more humanoid forms, with four arms that ended in curved blades.

Well, that was new.

Diotos acted first. He charged forward, blades erupted from his arms and allowing him to easily tear through the plates protecting it's torso. There was a loud grinding noise, and the creature shuddered a bit before retaliating with all four of it's limbs. They sliced and stabbed, and while he was able to shrug off the brunt of the attack it still provided a sufficient enough distraction from the other two.

They didn't make it more than a few steps before being pummeled by blasts of inky shadow, lightning and fire. When the dust cleared the one that Diotos had attacked was completely destroyed, and the other two were heavily damaged. They stood there, apparently calculating their next course of action, but before either could act Waive sliced through the air, bending space so that his sword stroke cleanly beheaded one of them.

With only one warrior left, and barely standing at that, Diotos again charged, heedless of any danger. The warrior moved with surprising speed, catching him with it's blades and holding him in place just outside of his reach. Once it was certain that Diotos wasn't going anywhere, it extracted two blades and prepared to finish him off.

Cheveyo released his spirit Alistor, a tumultuous hurricane of thunder and lightning. Alistor raced towards the warrior, and just before it struck Waive also appeared behind it; both of their attacks landed simultaneously, and the combined onslaught overloaded it's power source, causing it to explode violently.

Once they'd gathered up the debris, Waive told them that he could now fix the collider, albeit with some arcane assistance from Kivana. Before he started though, he wanted to check the island to see if there were more of the machines, and if so what they were up to. Everyone else agreed, and they began floating up to the pit Cheveyo had discovered.

Once they were above the pit they saw that it descended deep into the island. Smaller, copper workers were scuttling about the walls, busily and tirelessly tearing at it in search of metal. At the bottom, or what they assumed was the bottom, they could see random currents of lightning arcing about a metallic object: Waive extended his sight, and he realized that the object was in fact a face.

None of the workers reacted to their presence as they drifted down, and they deduced that since they weren't attacking they didn't regard them as a threat; presumably they would respond if attacked, but no one dared test the theory. Eventually the stone walls became metal, featuring circular tunnels that that the workers seemingly entered and exited at random as they ferried raw and processed ore about.

They also saw that the face was not just a face, but merely the tip of the ice-island: the machines were in the process of constructing an entire body. It was not as large as the god corpses that they had seen, but was still considerably larger than most ships. The lightning they had seen was dancing between rods protruding both from the construct's head and the catwalk that encircled it; were they trying to charge it up?

Resting on the catwalk were four equidistantly positioned constructs. They looked roughly as bulky as the steel warriors they fought after arriving, but were made of a duller iron. The party hovered above at what they hoped was a safe distance, but as they discussed their next course of action a warrior crawled out of one of the holes. It approached one of the iron machines on the catwalk, and they both started clicking loudly to each other.

Cheveyo didn't know what they were doing, but wasn't about to take any chances. He drifted towards it, and when he was close unleashed a devastating blast of lightning. It seemed to stun it, but the rest of the iron ones began emitting a high-pitched tone; at this the copper ones immediately stopped working, detached from the walls, and started floating towards him.

Ultimately they succeeded in destroying the workers and what they assumed were transmitters (thankfully no other warriors showed up). They wanted to continue exploring the hive, but were all severely wounded and exhausted. Plus there were too many unknown variables: were their more inside? How many? Would the metal giant awaken? What was it capable of?

They opted to instead return to the ship so that they could recuperate and prepare.

Behind the Scenes
So, the original intention was to run this as a one-shot, as one of the players from our Expedition to Castle Ravenloft game couldn't make it due to personal reasons and I didn't want to just cancel our weekly game. I knew a few players were jonesing for some Sundered World, but I didn't expect them to enjoy it so much that canning the Ravenloft game would make it to the table.

The good news is that everyone loved pretty much everything about the game, though the race and class questions, and race moves were especially praised. The only thing that received negative criticism was the Look sections for both race and class (the idea is that you choose whatever you want from either list), but even that was basically a nitpick at worst.

We were running really late, so rather than stop the game mid-combat I resolved the battle with a single move (which is why the last paragraph doesn't go into, well, any detail): I had everyone roll 2d6, and depending on their results had them make one or more choices between hit point loss, losing gear, gaining a debility, and in the case of Devona gaining debt.

Periodically we stopped to suss out some mechanics, like whether the nomad could just spend fold to outright deal damage to nearby things, if the shaman should be able to add it's Might when spending boon to unleash nature's wrath, and whether cthon can be healed by magic. This is one of the reasons I was also keen on giving the material a go: I wanted to see how well it worked out in play, and based on the player feedback most of it seems very solid and works well together.

One thing I'm a bit iffy on—and this could just be my personal preference—is that most of the classes are roll-and-hold (all of them except the invoker do this). The intention is that you can use other classes like fighters and thieves, but I think that there could be a better way to fictionally represent what the new classes do so they don't all rely on the same mechanic.

Here are some things I noodled on while writing this:

  • Have the warlock just gain debt to do things automatically, but keeping the debt cap based on Charisma and using CHA for eldritch blast (so that it still has a "key" stat).
  • Instead of rolling to hold magic, the wizard gains fatigue and rolls to see how well the spell works out. One of the 7-9 options could be to gain more fatigue.
  • Give the shaman a point pool, like our skeleton and sun priest. Not sure if I would base this on Wisdom, or just make it a flat amount (like 10). Fiction-wise it just makes more sense to spend points, representing the spirit becoming exhausted.

What do you think? Again, maybe roll-and-hold is the best way—the players certainly felt that the classes were awesome as hell—and it just sounds bad to me: curious to know what others think.

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