Session 2: “Hey, there isn’t a move called Swimming!”
Added two player characters.
Our new cast:
Lilith, Female Dhampir Shaman
Farshad al-Shaddin, Human Barbarian
And the returnees;
Tam, Female Halfling Thief
Nuhluc, Male Human Necromancer
Dunbar, Male Human Battlemaster
*Who taught Lilith to see and control the spirits?* Choi. (We ascertain Lilith travelled to the “Unknowable East” in her past).
*Why did Choi allow her to live?* She swore a blood oath. (And there’s a question for next time).
*What does Farshad miss most about his homeland?* The sun setting over the dunes.
*Why can Farshad never return home?* It is foretold that when he does he will bring death and destruction to his people.
Last session the group decided to flee Arcasse.
*Where are you headed?* To the land called Nightshade.
*Why Nightshade?* At dusk spirits roam more easily.
*Who was lost at sea during the storm?* The navigator. Perfect!
I am a bad GM — on our first dusk I did not have spirits roaming. A point to note for next session.
The session started on a ship, in a storm, at night. The characters lay in hammocks, soaked and exhausted from trying to keep the vessel afloat. The ship runs aground.
*What one thing do you grab?*
Lilith: her polished bone totem of Desire.
Farshad: his two-handed sword. (Which we decided, was a “Hassan Chop!” style sword).
Tam: her rapier.
Nuhluc: a satchel with his canopic jars.
Dunbar: his dwarven sword.
Tossed and turned in the ice-cold salt water they struggle to the surface. They are past a breakwater, can see the sinking wreck of the ship, flotsam, and a beacon burning ashore not far away.
Dunbar pushes flotsam together, and tam, the lightest, clambers on top and lashes it together with lengths of rigging. They start pushing for the shore.
Lilith uses Spirit Sight (Discern Realities and Murmur). She hears the cold water spirits singing a lullaby, trying to get them all to just relax and sink down, down into the water. Below, only she can see the pearly palaces of the Druagh, who swim upward in long sinewy motions to collect the drowning sailors that are their due.
(Everyone chooses a temporary debility of either Str, Dex, or Int due to heat loss).
Lilith urges speed, and they see a sailor swimming strongly toward them suddenly pulled under. There is little argument.
They aim for an inlet, and the surf thrusts them in and draws them back again and again before finally dashing them onto seaweed-covered rocks.
Farshad sees that men and women scramble down the rocks toward them. The closest leans forward with a hooked pole — and Farshad realizes that the man is not trying to assist him, but shove him back into the water!
Farhad grabs the pole and tries to yank the man off of his feet. (Defy Danger with Strength 10+) and levers the man up over his head and back into the water, where the Druagh grab him and drag him below.
Nuhluc cries out: “Run you mortal fools! I am a powerful necromancer and to meddle in my affairs is to meddle with death!” (Defy danger Charisma seems closest). They don’t buy it, and a thrown rock bounces off his skull, stunning him for a moment.
Tam is threatened by a man with a stout club, and tries to stab him (H&S 7+) — she is knocked off her feet and slides back toward the water, but manages to deliver a deep stab into his midsection, he sinks down and tries to stem the flow of blood.
Dunbar yells some orders to the group and fends off an assailant while grabbing Tam, keeping her from the deadly water. (Defy Danger 10+).
Lilith is threatened by an approaching man. Standing naked, she takes her bone token and whispers its name — inflaming the man’s desire for the token. She then swallows it, so that he will protect the vessel of the thing he desires most in the world. (Spirit talk 6-). The man licks his lips and pulls off his green vest (important later), his desire for the vessel rather more obvious than his desire for the contents.
…and Farshad cuts him in two with a thundering stroke of his mighty sword. (H&S 10+)
Dunbar fences with his assailant, they exchange blows, and Tam flanks the man and stabs him, taking him out of the fight.
Nuhluc sees more wreckers coming down the rocks, so he takes the shattered body of the man in the green vest and unleashes his necromantic magics, weaving the two halves together and pulling it upright.
The wreckers see the dead rise — and flee! Many drop what they are holding, but soon the group is left standing near-naked in the cold sea-wind.
(They loot the corpses, take what clothes they can, and head up to the beacon).
On a rainy evening they can see forest to the north, a track heading west, where a fire is visible, and rising shoreline to the east — cliffs, presumably. The beacon, a simple fire designed to lure ships ashore by appearing as a lighthouse, offers little shelter from the wind or rain.
They approach the camp, expecting another fight, but are pleased to find the wreckers did not remain near-by. Tents, a fire complete with rabbit stew simmering in the cast iron pot — and bales of goods looted from wrecks.
A search of the goods reveals all the gear they could choose from their character sheets (all options, if they want the load) plus extra rations, gear, and Goods.
Goods are miscellaneous trade items. Most are not immediately useful — but if you are looking for one thing in particular, it might well be there. Weight 1, Value 10.
Warm stew, warm blankets, and a warm fire chase the worst of the chill away. (The disability from the sea is lost). Lilith spent most of the night sewing bone armour from the remains in the midden pit, but at dawn they head down the trail. Dunbar is wearing the green vest.
They come to a small fishing village. Few men, and few boats, are visible, but fisher-folk mend nets, stir pots, and so on. One woman, seeing the green vest, cries out in pain and flees into her hovel.
A limping man greets them, and invites them to the only large building in the village — both are named Gull’s Folly. The man, Vestin Gull, is the proprietor.
He offers them a pint of ale. He says he would offer the first one for free, but no one ever asks for a second.
They chat with him, getting a sense for where they are in Nightshade — a lonely stretch of coast between Blackpool and Thyatis, trapped between a vile swamp on one side, bandit-filled woods to the north, and the ruins of an old monastery so scary that not even bandits go there anymore to the east.
He admits that many in the village make their living as wreckers — he doesn’t think there will be trouble if the group are gone by morning.
Tam realizes this man is the richest in town, and assumes he is the conduit for the wreckers’ ill-gotten goods. She uses her skills as a brewer of poisons to examine Vestin’s set-up, and makes some pretty useful recommendations, in exchange for more knowledge — the kind of things those who fence goods would know.
Dunbar folds the green vest (and takes an earring looted from the man) and returns it to the widow’s cottage — one of the village women curses at him in a thick accent, but takes it into the hovel.
The group waste no more time in Gull’s Folly, they choose to sniff around the haunted monastery — it might be interesting!
(I chose not to make this “Undertake a Perilous Journey” — I can’t explain why not, maybe I just wanted to get them into dungeon peril as soon as possible).
Night is falling when they approach the ruined monastery. The ruins are divided into a couple clusters — what looks like a village, a graveyard, collapsed barns, and the remains of the old basilica. A Spout Lore (7+) reveals that it was once known for its famed mosaicists, but has been unoccupied for two hundred years.
Tam smells smoke, and scampers off into the darkness. Lilith chooses to follow, while the others wonder about setting up camp or starting exploring.
Tam cautiously creeps around the ruined village (and on a Discern Reality 10+), figuring out that the blacksmith’s in the centre is occupied, and that there is something slithering along the wall directly above her.
Lilith, well behind, carefully peers into ever shadow. (Discern Realities 6-). The group hear Lilith’s sudden scream!
The group charge into the ruin, Farshad slays the ghoul dragging Lilith. Tam runs through the area, screaming about a giant snake. (She did hear slithering). Nuhluc decants the wrecker he kept, and orders it to keep him safe, but is forced to take shovel in hand and defend Dunbar, who collapses when he is pounced on by another ghoul.
Farshad slaughters a second ghoul, and Lilith, who has come to her senses, traps it’s fleeing spirit. It is the spirit of Unrelenting Hunger.
Dunbar comes to with a ghoul poised above him. He takes his dagger and plunges it up into the creature’s jaw, rolling free of it. Finally, Tam bolts in from the shadows and severs the spine of the ghoul that had been locked in the dead wrecker’s tight embrace.
With the fight over the group bandage a number of wounds, and explore the rest of the village. Tam is paranoid about a giant snake, even though it was probably a ghoul slithering prone along a roof.
In the black-smithy and attached livery they find a recently occupied camp. Two sell-swords, mercenaries of (Spout Lore 7+ “I don’t know, players, you tell me who they were?”) the Wolf-Guard lay recently dead, killed by ghouls. A mule tied in the corner is clearly distressed, but is calmed down. Looting turns up little of distinct value (other than the Wolf Guard cloak pins, chased in silver with garnet eyes they’ll fetch 10-20 coin). Lots of Rations and Goods for the taking, though. It seems there were eight people camping here.
With a careful eye peeled for ghouls, the party decides to camp here until dawn.
The ruins of the basilica reveal a gaping hole in the floor, with three ropes leading down, spikes driven into the fragments of aging mosaic. The group test the ropes, finding them recently placed and secure (and free of traps), and descend.
After exploring a ruined library — and finding a very fancy scrivener’s kit worth about 100 coin — they head down a hallway. At an intersection they find a recent human corpse. The man is in fancy clothing, and holds an ebony and silver wand — he shows several wounds and two short arrows stick from his back. (Spout Lore 7+: Goblins!).
Nuhluc animates the man.
Down one branch they see a glimmer of a lantern, obscured by something.
Investigating they find a jury-rigged barricade, and two dead goblins.
“Stay back, I have a spear!”
(This was designed as a bit of an alignment check. There has been some dark stuff going on in our group, so I wanted to do a bit of a litmus test).
After a parley, the youth, a porter hired by “Fistanabus the Magnificent,” a wizard, pulls back his barricade. With a spear and a pack filled with supplies, the teenager is clearly nearly out of his wits, told to flee when a goblin ambush turned deadly. The boy names the rest of his adventurer companions.
They escort the boy outside, telling him his employers are probably gone — Nuhluc marches the dead wizard down the corridor so the lad doesn’t see the body. They tell him to take the mule (Misty! He’s alive!) and flee the area.
Exploring further, we use the Exploring the Maze move from the last session — Spotter (Tam) and Rear-guard (Lilith) roll 7+, Nuhluc rolls 10+ on cartographer.
Lilith sees the goblin eyes behind her, dozens of them, glowing like coals, and approaching, while Tam discovers a crude pit trap ahead of them.
Tam set about trying to disarm the trap, but leave her with the trigger, she wants to be able to have the group cross, then trigger it on the goblins. (Tricks 10+, so yes).
The goblins surge toward the group. Farshad and Dunbar for a front line, but soon have goblins clinging to their legs, and squeezing past them (7+ successes on H&S).
The goblins are not much of a threat individually, but there seem to be an awful lot of them, and the group are rolling a lot of 7+s, this is turning into a deadly grind. Tam calls out “Let’s make a break for it!” And that’s when the perfect storm occurs.
Lilith unleashes “Unrelenting Hunger” on the goblins, hoping they will devour each other. (Spirit Talk (Seance) 6-). The goblins are driven forward with unrelenting hunger for the group’s flesh!
Then everyone tries to sprint across the trap, where Tam waits to spill the goblins into the pit. And only one of them makes it. The barbarian and the thief have crossed the pit, but Dunbar, Nuhluc, and Lilith are trapped, surrounded, and swarmed!
Dunbar has reached 4 Gambit, and reveals his plan! He pulls on the rope, triggering the loose beam and collapsing the ceiling. The group are still being swarmed, but now most of the goblins (those who were not crushed) are cut off from our group.
The group’s luck turns again, and with a solid effort the last of the goblins fall.
The group looks for somewhere to hole up and lick their wounds. Nuhluc successfully lays on hands on Dunbar, who is in the worst shape — and they find the old wine cellar. The human warrior, Malloc, one of the adventurers, lingers near death there. Nuhluc offers to heal him (Lay on Hands 6-) — but death cannot be denied today, and his mastery of the magic of life and death is not enough to save the warrior.
Lilith traps Malloc’s Spirit in her Spirit Trap — the spirit of Loyalty — and the group starts to barricade the door and set about making a makeshift camp.
Amusingly for me, but not for them, the group failed so few rolls this time that they all noted it — and the three who failed at the goblin encounter had such a notable failure.
Farshad earned nothing from failure, either did Tam.
On the other hand, Lilith managed to go from 0 to 8 exp in the session, mostly on the strength of failure. Spirits are dangerous stuff.