A Paladin, Rogue, and Blackguard Walk Into a Barrow...

I've been pretty sick for the past week or so, but this week rather than just cancel Jacob was generous enough to run a Dungeon World one-shot  (probably). Maria played The Blackguard, I played The Paladin (making it I think the first paladin I've ever played), and Melissa did a bit of playtesting with our upcoming rogue.

Since we only had about an hour it ended up being a short, straightforward dungeon crawl: we were hired to investigate the source of a bunch of undead descending upon some villages, and stumbled across a nearby barrow during our search.

Perrin, my character, removed a massive stone sealing the entrance because he didn't realize that undead typically don't close the door behind them when they come and go, so they probably weren't coming from within this particular barrow.

The first floor was oddly enough filled with sand, and after Taranis (Maria's character) sensed something evil buried within Perrin immediately jumped into the barrow to confront what was soon revealed to be a huge, pulsating mass of organs...which died in a single sword-stab (+1d4 damage against evil things, yo).

When nothing else emerged Jade (Melissa's character) began scooping up coins that she claimed to have absolutely no value so Perrin don't gotta worry about it. Taranis searched for a hidden passage, because there's no way this barrow was just a one floor/room/monster deal. He found a trap door that was also fire-trapped, but Perrin was able to leap in the way and take the literal heat for him.

The second floor smelled like a plague ward, which a lack of any ventilation didn't help with. Taranis sensed something evil within the sarcophagus, so Perrin, heedless of any traps, again charged forward and flung the lid off of it. A putrid, vaguely humanoid creature covered in boils and pustules bolted from it and into the shadows, fast enough that the party lost track of it until it lunged towards Taranis...

...but Perrin managed to dive into its path, keeping it at bay long enough for Jade and Taranis to hack it to pieces.

The sarcophagus concealed a staircase that lead to a third chamber filled with a half-dozen sarcophagi. A haunting melody played throughout the room: Perrin went about opening each sarcophagi in search of its source. Taranis found the music pleasing (surprise surprise) so just kind of stood around listening to it. Jade scanned the room, and in the shadows spotted a dark, skeletal figure floating in one of the corners.

She hurled a dagger at it, striking true despite Taranis's attempt to stop her. The creature's tune quickly changed: it seemed to tear at everyone's soul, filling them with anguish and dread. It even affected Taranis, which shook him from his trance, and with their combined might the creature was quickly destroyed. As best Taranis could tell all of the evil had been vanquished, and there weren't any more passages, so they set about looting the sarcophagi.

Amidst heaps of varied treasure they found a holy icon belonging to the church of a sun deity that had only very recently arrived in the region: why was it here? Did they have a part to play in this sudden undead incursion?

Design & Development
We never actually playtested The Paladin during development, instead relying on extensive feedback to kind of collectively eyeball it enough to avoid what I guess you'd call "balance" and mechanics issues. Having actually played it (and, again, perhaps a paladin in general for the first time ever), it was a lot of fun.

Even though I kept jumping in front of enemy attacks to shield the rest of the party, I ended up getting through the whole ordeal virtually unscathed, partially due to having 4 Armor (3 from plate, +1 from shield), partially due to insanely lucky damage rolls (Jacob actually runs the game right and has players roll the damage they suffer, but I kept rolling 1's or 2's).

Really the only reason I suffered any damage at all was because the last guy's attacks ignored armor (some kind of soul-wrenching musical attack), but even then I only rolled a 1 so no big deal. Also, I conveniently chose the Chastity virtue, which rendered me immune to any disease-based tags the second undead critter might have had. Had there been more shit to fight and the other characters suffered more damage, I also had the Sacrifice virtue to spread my hp around.

Maria brought up something concerning The Blackguard and a few moves that both let you ask a question on a miss. She felt that it was better to miss, since you could technically trigger both moves to ask two questions and mark XP, whereas if you rolled a 7-9 you'd only get to ask one question and not get to mark XP.

Jacob and I pointed out that on a miss the GM gets to hit you with something, but that's up to the GM and they might not hit you with anything bad enough for you to give a shit (or at least enough to offset the XP and extra question), so as the authors of The Blackguard our official response is that on a miss you can still only ask one question (but of course if your GM is cool letting you ask both we can't stop you anyway).

Melissa didn't have a chance to do many rogue things (Taranis triggered the only trap, we weren't in an area with a thieves' guild, and there weren't any pockets to pick), but still enjoyed the game and didn't feel useless or anything.

If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

Hot on the heels of The Blackguard, The Troll is out! The Rogue is up next: we should have an alpha draft ready soon.

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).


  1. You poor soul, assailed by disco.

    1. @Alan: Someone made a joke about The Cure or maybe Cradle of Filth.


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