4Ward/FrankenFourth: Age of Worms, Episode 103

  • Adair (level 2 elf war cleric)
  • Hedris (level 2 gluttonous cambion warlord)
  • Humal (level 2 wrathful cambion wizard)
  • Sumia (level 2 elf rogue)

While waiting for Humal and Sumia to recover from their injuries, the party decided to take it easy and gather some information about the rings they'd found, local cairns, and the missing bodies that they assumed Alastor would also want returned.

Adair learned that Kullen, an albino half-orc infamous for his destructive temper and employed by the notorious and highly-influential Balabar Smenk, was somehow even angrier than usual after a recent "botched job". He also overhead that people had been visiting the observatory on the outskirts of the town, which was strange since it had been abandoned for years, and stripped clean about as long.

Humal visited Allustan, the town's resident sage, who had a standing offer to answer any question in exchange for a gold piece. Allustan explained that the cairns were built by a race that had come from another plane of existence. They'd fought a war against demons long ago, and buried their dead in the hills, hence all the strange cairns. Humal showed Allustan the glyphs they'd found, and while he believed he could translate them, it would require some time.

When Humal revealed that he and his companions had come across a new cairn, Allustan offered to waive his fee if he would tell him where it was. Humal said he would have to first discuss it with his companions, but likely they would want to wait to check it out themselves before divulging its location. This seemed to satisfy Allustan, who told him to return in a day or two to see what he could uncover about the mysterious glyphs.

Sumia decided to track down Khellek, a man that Hedris learned apparently possessed a ring similar to the ones they'd found in the cairn. Khellek had a fairly predictable dragonchess schedule, so it was easy for her to ambush him outside of Lazare's Emporium, a combination gambling hall and vice den.

Khellek agreed to meet her in the Emporium after his dragonchess match had concluded, but their exchange was brief: he assumed that she had come to threaten him in some manner, but all she wanted to know was what the symbol on the rings meant. He told her that it was the sign of the Seekers, an organization that looted tombs for personal gain. Frustrated that there wasn't some deeper mystery behind them, she flicked a ring at him and left.

As she exited the Emporium, Sumia saw a massive, white-skinned humanoid furiously pummeling someone's face outside of the Feral Dog. Fearful that he would attack her next, Sumia was relieved that, when his barbarous task was complete, he simply turned to re-enter the tavern. This was when she noticed noticed a symbol branded on his forehead: it was identical to the one she found on the arm back at the abandoned farm.

Against anyone else's better judgement, Sumia followed him inside. The Feral Dog's interior strongly contrasted that of the Emporium: people were crowded about a pit, loudly shouting as dogs fought each other to the death. Everyone was clad in filthy clothing and minin gear, and the whole of it rank of sweat and urine. Kullen sat in a slightly more sedate the corner, with a trio of sullen-yet-somehow-still-sinister-looking men.

Sumia strode towards the table, but as she opened her mouth Kullen snapped an insult at her. She tried to mask her surprise, stand her ground and grin, to which he responded by slamming a massive axe on the table. When she still refused to budge, he stood and advanced menacingly towards her, axe in hand. She blurted out an insult as she fled, which prompting him to chase her all the way out of the Feral Dog and into the Emporium.

Every patron but Adair and Humal bolted as Kullen barged his way in. With one swipe of his axe, Kullen carved a great gash across Sumia's abdomen. Fortunately, after a few solid wallops from Adair's maul Kullen was out cold on the floor.

Humal had managed to charm Kullen before he dropped; he suggested bringing him to a flophouse, and once Kullen had regained consciousness he would try to get some information out of him. Adair and Sumia reluctantly agreed, but Humal's magic was relative: once Kullen was back on his feet, it was clear that he didn't even regard his closest friends with much, if any, courtesy.

Adair was ultimately forced to knock him out again, but before he could deliver a killing stroke a man shouted behind him. It was the other three Sumia had seen sitting with Kullen at the Feral Dog. They warned Adair to stand down, and seeing as they were outnumbered he did as instructed.

While they were carrying Kullen off, Humal noticed a tattoo on one of their wrists, identical to the one on Kullen's face and the arm Sumia had found. He asked what the men did with the bodies, and they paused. First they exchanged a few glances between themselves, then whispered words, and finally one of them told Humal that they were doing a job for one of Smenk's friends.

He elaborated that this so-called friend was hold up at the observatory, that he was no friend of theirs, and that if something were to "happen to him" they'd be much obliged. As they left, one of them warned that, while they wouldn't tell Kullen who they were or what they were doing, they wouldn't be able to stop him from looking for the party.

The party went to the observatory the next day. It was a decrepit structure, teetering on a bluff overlooking one of the many abandoned mines around Diamond Lake. Sumia scouted it out, and after determining that there were no traps, they settled on just walking through the front door.

Sumia took point, but when she opened the door barely avoided having her head perforated by crossbow bolts: a group of skeletons, armed with crossbows that they were in the process of jerkily reloading, were standing at the wall opposite of the door, behind a makeshift barricade of overturned tables. The floor was littered with broken furniture, obviously intended to slow anyone down as they tried wading across.

Adair broke the hinges on the door, allowing Sumia to detach it and carry it like a crude tower shield. As they stumbled across the room one of the bolts penetrated the door, nailing it to Sumia's hand. Otherwise it performed splendidly, and once they made it to the skeletons they proceeded to smash them apart with a combination of maul, quarterstaff, and door.

Design Notes
As with Dungeons & Delvers, I'm changing XP so that it's more inline with Dungeons & Dragons. The biggest change is that I'm going to reduce it to the smallest amount possible. So, instead of getting 25 XP or whatever, pitiful goblin warriors will be worth 1, bandits will be worth 2 or 3, orcs 3 or 4, and so on.

Of course the amount needed will also be adjusted. The current formula is something like 50 XP, +50 per level, though in our Wednesday Keep on the Shadowfell playtest campaign, the players are opting for about half as much so they can level faster. I'm cool with that, as it'll let us see what characters look like at higher levels.

Still deciding whether we wanna award XP for things like discoveries, learning new things, treasure, and so on, and how that would work. I know 4E did it based on level and whether the quest was considered "minor" or "major". I could see something like that.

A Sundered World is out!

The Fighter is geared up and ready to go! Unlike the default Dungeon World fighter, your skills matter more than your special "can sometimes be lost but not really" weapon. There are a variety of fighting styles to choose from, including the ability make a DEX-based fighter.

Grave Goods is the latest magic item compilation in our 10+ Treasures line. If you want nearly 30 undead-themed magic items, some monsters, and advice on how to make your own, pick it up!

Lichfield is available for public consumption. If you want a concise adventure with a Silent Hill feel, be sure to check it out! Primordial Machine is also out, so if you want to catch a glimpse of A Sundered World, now's your chance! Finally, we've updated If These Stones Could Scream.

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