A Sundered World: Devils in the Details

Since there were scheduling conflicts this week I decided to run a one shot of Sundered World for Dan and Melissa. Melissa played Achon, a dwarf battlemind and captain of The Penny, a ship made mostly of copper that he had stolen from a kytheran warlord at some point, while Dan played Karp, a human shaman with a kind of wind-dragon for a spirit.

They were following a band of cambion raiders that had recently stolen a wood spirit from Sliver, a small island community of spirits that traded seeds to mortals, but had not made it far before encountering a kytheran spearship. A band of kytherans ended up boarding after a failed ram attempt, but once a few were thoroughly and easily smashed the rest fled.

They eventually found the shattered hand of a dead god, possibly a primordial. When they tried to investigate it their navigator was almost killed by a wrath seraphim, who proceeded to shred their sails and slice off a few of Achon's fingers—thankfully Karp was able to reattach them with help from his spirit—before flying away and into an opening in one of the hand's fingers.

With a devil about they—rightfully—assumed that the cambions were holed up inside, so after Karp stabilized the navigator they parked The Penny behind a large island, and tried to make their way into the hand. They had only hopped a few islands, when they saw the wrath seraphim emerge from the hand and fly towards where their ship was. It did not see them, but they knew if they did not stop it, it would find the ship, kill the navigator, and probably do a lot worse than just ruin the sails.

Achon shouted at it, hoping to draw its attention so Karp could get a sneak attack in, but it sliced open his leg as he tried to flee. Fortunately as it moved in for a killing blow, Karp was able to get behind it without it noticing (despite all the eyes) and smash it with his stone club. Unfortunately it was still just barely alive, and retaliated by slicing his head off before turning to finish off Achon.

Behind the Scenes
We were running past our usual time anyway, but I blame the lethality on the fact that they were rolling so, so many misses. I mean, my hard moves might have been harder than usual, but seriously I think they could have leveled up twice had they managed to kill the devil and make camp. Did I mention Melissa rolled three sixes in a roll? Not misses, but her totals were actually 6. Three times. Talk about ominous.

Still, it was a good session insofar as we made some progress on the shaman (YAY), and it helped make clear some advice on running the setting.

Asking Questions, Using Answers
In both of my adventures (as well as the ones I release in the future) I have a list of sample questions for you to ask the players. I feel that this helps better establish the setting and set the tone. Like, in Something Stirs in the Blackscale Brakes, one of the questions asks which of the players is a descendant of a druidic hero that helped imprison the dragon. It says something about the history and the adventure, and might be something that the GM would not normally think of.

Sundered World has a number of assumptions, like ships. Not every campaign needs a ship (or at least, the characters do not have to own it), but since a major theme is flying around exploring the astral I figure it is reasonable to assume that the characters just might have one on hand. Not just if you have a ship, or if you are part of a ship's crew, but also how big is it, what is it made of, how does it get around, how does it defend itself, etc.

I trust my players to not always just declare that they have a massive ship, made of steel, bound with arcane wards, defended by a battery of elemental bombards, and so on. I mean, maybe one day they will, but so far they have been very modest with their loadout. To help prevent abuse (some groups have to deal with that sort of thing) and make things go faster, there is going to be a list of various ship presets, kind of like how in Apocalypse World you choose from a number of stat arrays, but obviously if you want to let them build their own you can.

First Session
There is a kind of primer that talks about some stuff in the setting that everyone should know, like where food comes from, and the fact that everyone can fly. In addition I am going to add some more examples on ways to start the first session.

The ones in Dungeon World could work well enough, but since Sundered World is so different from the general assumptions of other settings I think they will be handy: the players might be stranded on an island, they might have had a ship but lost it, or their collidor might have overloaded. They might just be on an island with other islands nearby rumored to have pre-Sundering ruins, they might be under attack by any number of various monsters, or a disaster might strike (a Maelstrom flare, psychic storm, a vortex might spontaneously open, a collidor malfunctions, etc).

As for steadings, I like to outsource some, if not all of this, to the players: what is its name, how big is the island, what is it made of, who or what lives there, what does it have, etc. I think having them contribute not only helps get them more invested in the game, but it also helps them build a kind of collective mental image. Whether or not you agree there is already a number of lists for making islands, so this is just a matter of someone going through the motions.

There are also a bunch of fronts and dungeons for you to use or modify. I suppose I could make a random dungeon setting generator, but I think the island generator can for the most part pull double-duty for that.

Ship Moves
Not sure what to call this move, but we initially went with attacking with a ship's weaponry as a +INT move (leading, guessing a trajectory), but I could see a case for having the choice of relying on DEX. If nothing else, as Dan said, it gives wizards a chance to do something besides cast a spell.

When you try to Defy Danger on a ship whoever is piloting it rolls+SPEED, with speed being a tag that every ship has. I figure it would range from -1 to +3 depending on size, wind conditions, engines, and possibly other facts (like magically conjured winds, a bound wind spirit, or large animals pulling it along). Some classes could +1 forward this, like a wizard using a blast of wind, a shaman conjuring a wind spirit, or an invoker just getting out and pushing.

(NOTE: Just thought about this, but what about having a ship roll+ARMOR or HULL?

When you use Evasive Maneuvers you roll+SPEED and hold evasion, which you spend to take +1 forward to Defy Danger, reduce the effects of an attack, help line up a shot, or get some distance. In this regard it kind of works like of like Defend.

Damage is based on the size of the ship, as well as how many weapons it has on hand. A medium ship might do d8 damage with a ballista, but if it has a battery of them then it deals b[2d8].

If you are fired upon and get hit, one of the possible results is that some of the crew are injured. If you get injured you take whatever damage the opposing ship deals, ignoring armor, as it is assumed you are not directly hit, but take damage from other factors like explosions, getting knocked around, or bits of shrapnel.

Battlemind Notes
Nothing really wrong with this class. It worked and played well enough, but Melissa kept getting misses. Even so she did a number on the kytherans, one-shotting them pretty consistently.

Shaman Notes
The game was interrupted numerous times so that we could talk about what we liked and disliked about the shaman in play.

The old shaman move was that you had to roll+CON to call upon your spirit for aid. A 10+ got you 3 spirit, a 7-9 got you 1 plus something bad, and a miss was up to the GM. Dan felt that it sucked for the shaman to have to roll to gain hold, when almost half the time the shaman will get penalized in some way, with a good chance to still get nothing at all.

The new shaman move is that on a 10+ you hold 3 spirit, a 7-9 you hold 2 spirit, and on a miss you get 1, plus something bad, which is more inline with the druid. You spend spirit to do various things. What those are, not sure, but Dan seems really keen on the "take +1 forward" aspect, as he can fictionally apply it to a lot of things (like when he unleashed a gust of wind to get their ship moving quickly).

I think releasing your spirit will have it be treated in a manner very similar to the ranger's Animal Companion, where it can give you a damage and armor bonus. If it takes damage, you take damage, and the weaknesses can function as descriptors for what the spirit does if it manages to take over.

Another move that Dan came up with is Spirit Sight, which adds the question "what spirits are nearby" to the Discern Realities list. What I like about this is that since you take +1 forward when acting on Discern Realities answers, it works mechanically and fictionally with the Speak With Spirits move (you look for spirits, and if you see them, you get a better handle on what/how you can try to attract them).

We are also changing the Speak With Spirits move. Instead of asking them questions, you can also try to get them to do something for you. Kind of like a parley, except on a 10+ either the method you used to attract them was sufficient, or your words or will were strong enough to force them to do what you want (we kind of compare this to how spirits in The Waterborn and furies from Codex Alera operate).

This allows you to have a spirit follow you around and do something later, and once of the advanced moves (probably Bind Spirit) will let you bind them to totems so that you can store them up.

Devil Freebie
Devils are basically angels that have been consumed and corrupted by a particular sin, which changes their personality and appearance. Normally a seraphim is a fiery being with three pairs of wings, so this one had iron wings, and its body looked like molten metal. It would reveal its form to blind them, and could fling bits of heated metal by flapping the pairs of wings that it normally used to conceal its brilliance.

Wrath Seraphim Solitary, Infernal, Intelligent, Terrifying
Bladed wings (b[2d10] + 2 damage, 1 piercing) 16 HP 3 Armor
Close, Reach
Special Qualities: Iron wings, blinding form
Overwhelmed with wrath, this seraphim now endlessly seeks to incite wars and engage in needless slaughter. Instinct: To incite violence
  • Fling shards of searing metal
  • Suddenly reveal its blinding form
  • Turn allies against each other


  1. Man your games always sound so cool.

    1. Well once we move I plan on doing Hangout games, so if you want you can get in on those and LIVE the coolness.


Powered by Blogger.