4Ward/FrankenFourth: Age of Worms, Episode 104

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

The party continued investigating the observatory; four bedrooms, a handful of silver pieces, and an office later they found themselves in the dining hall.

A variety of appetizing food was heaped on the table, which was surrounded by numerous, well-dressed, awkwardly posed corpses. Sumia noticed that they twitched ever so slightly, but otherwise didn't react to the characters' presence, even after Adair swatted the head off one.

While they debated what to do with them, Sumia spotted a man's face peering at them from the staircase leading up to the second floor, but he vanished as soon as he realized that Sumia had seen him. Sumia and Humal gave chase, while Adair remained to behead the rest of the zombies. They cornered the stranger in the uppermost floor, which had been renovated into a kind of operating theater.

He gestured to four glass tanks, commanding whatever was inside to kill Sumia and Humal. The occupants, either well-preserved or recently animated zombies, smashed their way free and advanced upon them. Humal responded by holding up his hands, explaining that they just wanted to talk.

Surprisingly, the necromancer, who they soon learned was named Filge, ordered the zombies to stop. Humal tried to find some common ground with the fact that they were both wizards, and learned that Filge had been hired by Smenk to help take care of a problem.

A kind of tripartite cult had set up operations in the Dourstone mine. Initially Smenk had been helping them out with supplies, but recently had become worried by what he'd seen when he actually went into the mine. Smenk managed to steal a vial containing a strange green worm, which Filge learned was linked to an entity known as Kyuss, the Age of Worms, and "unkillable" zombies.

When the party voiced their intention to investigate the mine, Filge offered to tag along. They agreed to bring him, but first had to take care of the whole ghost-wanting-to-be-laid-to-rest-with-his-family thing.

After dropping off the bones, they swung by Allustan's house to let him know they were heading back to the Whispering Cairn. His presence was a mixed-blessing: he was able to explain what the glyphs meant, and that the "broken mirror frame" was actually a kind of portal, but ended up almost killing Sumia when they, at his suggestion, opened the sarcophagus in the lantern chamber.

It contained a rusted suit of animated armor that could fly and conjure swords, all of which turned to dust when it suffered enough punishment. Even worse, the sarcophagus was empty.

After resting, they returned to the ball pit and discovered that Alastor had indeed opened the door before vanishing. The chamber within was vast. The walls bore four bas-reliefs that depicted scenes of the war between the vaati and demons, which included seven named vaati, one of them apparently sacrificing himself to slay one of the demons, and a rod made of several irregular fragments.

A pillar of air rushed upward from a central platform, linked to the rest of the chamber by a pair of plain stone bridges (there were four, but two had collapsed). After examining the bas-reliefs, the party went to investigate the air pillar, but were stopped by another pair of floating suits of armor. Unlike the previous one, these looked to be in pristine condition.

They flew towards Sumia, almost slaying her immediately. Humal conjured an illusion of one of the named vaati, holding up his hand as if commanding them to stop. Both armor suits bowed, but after Adair struck one they resumed their attack. Sumia crawled away, keeping a safe distance while Adair and even Humal, supported by Allustan's semi-accurate lightning bolts, smashed the warriors to dust.

Design Notes
Given that the players have overlooked a good deal of treasure, I'm really glad that FrankenFourth doesn't have any kind of "expected wealth level", nor does it assume magic items of any sort (in fact, it's being designed so that you don't "need" them at all).

I didn't realize that, at Strength +1, Humal is the second strongest character in the party (I think Hedris is +2, maybe +3). I love it: Adair, a war cleric, has a Strength of 0, but he's still doing fine in combat, in some part thanks to the War Domain, which lets him re-roll attacks by spending Favor.

Since the game has almost no math, this means that Humal has decent odds of actually striking a monster. The difference is that fighters and other melee classes can stack on talents that let them deal more damage, make multiple attacks, and penetrate armor. Also, his wounds and vitality are lower, so it's not like you're going to see a wizard tanking anytime soon (or very long).

My checklist for next week's game includes statting out Allustan and Filge, and adding a "ghost sound" tree for illusionists. I didn't expect them to take Allustan with them into the cairn before clearing it out (or, for that matter, agree to take Filge with them), though I was able to quickly bullshit some stats together as making monsters is incredibly quick and easy.

+Christopher Lopez brought up a good point that some monsters--namely mindless undead and golems--will make more sense if they only have Wound Points. He also suggested making potion-like items that could restore vitality, making them useful in combat. I like the idea, though they wouldn't be magical, and I could see some having adverse side effects.

A Sundered World is out! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

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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