Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Dirge of Pyre and Stone ep01 : Dungeon World


A Dirge of Pyre and Stone
One Shot

Dungeon World

As a one shot (maybe to spin-off depending on schedules) game for Oliver, we opted to take another stab at Dungeon World.

Oliver played Olias, a Paladin-Cleric of Rahlor, the God of Fire.  His devotion compels him to someday slay Cthulhu, the great blight upon the land and defend Kingslanding from the iniquities that beset it.  As well as to someday discover the truth of the Watery Deep.  His devotion has made him invulnerable to arrows and is free from hunger, thirst or the need for sleep.

Jeff plays Jeprox, a Ranger-Alchemist among the elves.

Marvin plays Jaunty, a Thief-Wizard human whose practice with poisons had made him immune to Bloodweed.

Rocky plays Sera, a Druid-Fighter halfling armed with a Sharp, Serrated and Huge sword.

The game is set in Kingslanding, ruled by the Lord Yoshi.  The place is threatened by the Church of Bob, whose zealous forces threaten the stability of the place.

The scene opens with a hooded figure with shifty eyes moving deep within the bowels of the city.  His lordship, the mighty Yoshi, the Elven ruler of Kingslanding has tasked him and his friends to investigate the Church of Bob.  Fearing an attack from the sea, the City had learned that the Church of Bob and its followers had infiltrated the city far longer than expected.  They now investigate one of the underground temples of the Church of Bob.  The ceiling is barely twenty feet high, with winding numerous passageways.  Had they not known the tunnels were for the Church of Bob, they would have expected them to have been the lair of some monstrosity.  Voices would drift through the tunnels, and Jaunty would stick to the shadows and stay hidden as he scouted the area.  Having been searching for almost an hour, Jaunty decided to go even deeper.  The crashing of the waves can be heard given the catacombs faces the port side.      Eventually, Jaunty finds four blocks of stone, at equidistant points from each other, making one seem like a table, with the three others as chairs.  Given the Church of Bob is a Dwarven religion worshiping the traits of stone, many humans have started to shift in their beliefs given the fact that one cannot kill stone.

All are equal in the dark - Common proverb of the Church of Bob

Back above, the others await Jaunty's' signal as he investigates the catacomb.  The rope tied to the wheel of the wagon has not stirred.  The three consider their next move, keenly aware that the fourth who was supposed to join them has not returned.   Olias considers the entrance below, the smooth hole at the side of the cliff, and realizes there's no sign of Jaunty at the mouth.  He feels concerned, wanting to help especially given he doesn't trust Jaunty that much; he believes the man is misguided.  Sera communes with the spirits, searching for answers.  Jeprox, on the other hand, agrees with Olias that enough time has been wasted waiting.  He offers to go down first and descends down the rope.

The rope takes his weight and he descends safely to the hole, but unfortunately accidentally drops something from his gear.  Jeprox realizes he had dropped his short sword, which crashes into the waves below.  The rope tugs a few times, a signal that it is safe to follow.  Olias glances as Sera and finds the halfling lost in his trance.  Sera hears the voices of the forest around Kingslanding and learns the trees are weeping.  They are weeping and their roots are wrestling.  The impressions are unclear, but ominous.  Olias waves his hands in front of Sera's face and he asks, "Are you there?"  He tells him he needs assistance to go down to the hole.  "The roots are wrestling.  The trees weep.  A great danger follows you," Sera mutters, admitting the spirits tell him much of the future.  Olias opts to wait for the druid to recover, given he trusts him completely.

Down below, Jeprox realizes there are no easy signs of Jaunty below.  He trusts his Ranger training, however, and scans the ground for the slightest hint of footprints.  Thankfully, he catches sight of them.  He follows them, moving deeper and deeper into the tunnels.  He notices that darkness never completely blankets the tunnels.  The stone has polished areas to bounce the light from the entrance. Incredible dwarven ingenuity!  Realizing the others might not know where to go, he heads back and waits by the entrance.

Back down below, Jaunty starts to think this was a bad idea.  Investigating the stones, he realizes it is difficult without additional light.  Carefully, he runs his hands across the surface of the stone to search for any traps or hidden switches.  His finger detects on one smooth surface of the nearby wall behind it.  An almost invisible door!  And it suddenly slides inwards!  Drawing back, Jaunty hustles back the way he came from and leaps behind the ruined table.  Sadly, the debris of the ruined table are there as well.   Jaunty gasps in pain!

Jeprox catches the voice echoing in the corridors.  Realizing the guy might be in danger, he decides to rush off and find the injured companion.

Above, Olias continues to wait for Sera.  But a small group arrives - men in armor lead by a man riding a horse.  The elf addresses Olias to ask for the leader of the group.  Sera replies they are all servants to the natural order.  The elf insists the king desires news on the mission, but Sera explains the trees weep and the root wrestle.  Olias gives an update on the others being down below.  The animal companion of Jeprox, the cougar, growls at them angrily.  Sera warns them that danger follows Olias.  "The soonest we purify the Church of Bob, the best.  Kingslanding cannot be beseiged on both sides - the Stone and the Drowned God."  Sera claims to hear the spirits call and shapeshifts into a badger and stars to burrow. The elf tells them they will be here if they need of them.  Despite the lack of light sources.    Yoshi turns out to be one of the adherents to the Faith and admits he assumed Olias was a woman.  Olias asks for their assistance to bring the other animals down below with him.   They use some elven concoction to bring the cougar to sleep, tie it on a harness to bring it below.  They wish Olias victory and help him descend down the cliff side.  Sera eventually shifts into a fruitbat to travel through the darkness.  The cougar catches the scent of its master, and leads the paladin and the druid to where the others are, ignoring the hint of movement they see in the middle tunnel.  Out of the middle tunnel, a massive rat the size of a golden retriever emerges to strike at one of them!  Sera blocks it with a shield only to discover more emerging from the same tunnel.  A second one leaps over the first to strike at them. Olias quickly moves into a defensive position against the second rat, blocking its strike with his armored body.  Seeing it as a servant of the Church of Bob, "Stupid rat!  I shall kill you right now!" Olias growls and flips the halberd around to stab it to death. Sera cleaves his rat with the serrated blade in his hands.  The other rats panic and rush back in fear. They are unawares of the trouble Jeprox and Jaunty have gotten into when one of the dwarven followers of the Church of Bob questions them on their presence in the tunnel.

Jaunty tries lying to the dwarven worshipper that approaches him.  He hopes to convince the dwarf that he's actually also of the Church of Bob.  Sadly, his lies are far too transparent.  The dwarf senses he may be a spy for the God of Fire.   Jeprox, nearby, considers how he can help.  They notice the dire rats that scurry down the tunnels and Jeprox uses his bow to launch an arrow further down the tunnel to distract the dwarf.  He realizes one of his extra quiver for arrows must have been damaged earlier and had lost many of them earlier.  The dwarf turns around, hearing the crashing sound where the arrow strikes the wall, and Jaunty uses this moment to cast Charm upon the dwarf.  The spell takes hold and Jaunty now gives an excuse about having lost his tablet for passage.  The dwarf willingly now guides him down to the hidden temple below.  There is talk about the prophet being present down below, a man of living stone, and that he is giving blessings to those who visit below.  Jaunty gives an excuse about having forgotten something outside and the dwarf shows Jaunty how to use the tunnel entrance and to keep to the rightmost path.  The dwarf hurries off.

Jeprox is staring at the door, wondering how to open it when it suddenly opens. Jaunty peers out and gets a scathing comment from Jeprox about not waiting.  The cougar arrives, snarling at its master for leaving it behind.  And not far behind them, Olias and Sera are coming.

As Olias and Sera continue down the tunnels, following the path of the cougar, Olias sees a burst of flame down another tunnel.  It grows bigger, larger, until its the size of a humanoid.  Olias realizes it is motioning for him to follow it.  Then fades away.  He ponders, however, having not asked for divine guidance.

Sera rejoins the group and tells them the king above demands for news on their progress.  Olias arrives and the group look at their options.  Olias asks Jeprox for an update on what they had found.  Jaunty and Jeprox reports the secret passage they can take.   They decide to continue down to the secret tunnel with the Paladin taking the lead and the Druid watching the rear.

The passage way dips as they walk, and soon they realize it is spiraling downwards as they progress.  They reach the first junction, a massive rectangular chamber at least 100 meters long filled with fungi that illuminates everything in a violet blue light.  There is a dark path suggesting where others have tread to the other side of the room.  They note the chamber is mostly stone.  The fungi must have grown between the cracks.   Surveying the area, they seem to find the place clear of any dangers.   Sera, however, being a Thing-talker, feels uncertain.  The Druid whispers to the fungi to ask to it and learn what can be learned of the chamber.    The fungi warn the Druid that they are not to touch the "dark."  Impatient, the others descend into the chamber and start treading through the mushroom growth even as Sera suggests caution and to be wary of the moving dark.

Jeprox sends the cougar to search for the dwarf that was in the tunnel earlier.  The animal, however, can't seem to sense which way the dwarf had gone.  Olias searches for footprints on the path, but all he can see are parts of damaged fungi where others had walked.  They all feel uncertain about the dark path, given Sera's warning.  Jaunty considers heading down, but Sera leaps ahead knowing the wizard was more prey than hunter.  Jaunty then drops down into the room, landing on the fungi with a soft crunch.  Sera looks around the chamber and Jaunty follows suit, and where they path, a dark path begins to form behind them.  Jeprox leaps down to follow, not hesitating, leaving Olias at the corridor.

And that's when an illumination emerges behind Olias.  He turns around and sees the human-sized flame once more.  Calling for guidance, the Paladin sees the symbol of his deity in the flame.  The figure points at the opposite direction as it mutters: Cleanse.  Olias blinks his eyes and realizes the figure is gone.  Olias heads down to the others and attempts to tell them of the vision he had seen.  "I don't think.... I think this dark path is very dangerous."  Sera counters however that they are here to determine the extent of the tunnels.  "But you need not fear.  The spirits guide me."

Back at the surface, the Shaman arrives and reports to the Master Paloma and King Yoshi only to learn that the adventuring party has already gone ahead.   The Shaman feels frustrated given the group has left without him, their leader.  Paloma tells the Shaman his highness wishes to see him.  They leave the cliffside to visit the Throne.

Back down below, the threat of the fungal chamber becomes apparent as three black trails begin to close in on the group. Jaunty realizes there is time only to warn the others or cast a spell instantly.  He opts to cast instead Magic Missile at the dark trail moving closest to him.  The eldritch energies unleashes from his hands straight for the moving thing beneath the fungi.  In the frantic moment, however, Jaunty loses his mental hold of the spell and forgets how to cast it for the rest of the day.  Searing energy explodes upon hitting the black path, and a black oily splatter erupts from the ground, like a gelatinous form.  The second oily thing rises from the ground to strike at Jeprox!  He somersaults backwards in an attempt to dodge the blow.  He feels the oily creature smack into his chest.  He howls in pain from its corrosive touch!   A third tendril swings from another side heading straight for Olias.  The Paladin swings the Halberd at the oily arm, cleaving it in two as he strikes it!  The severed parts of the thing, however, splatter on the ground and recombine with the dark path.  Disturbingly, the thing makes no audible sound suggesting it was injured.

Sera moves close to defend Jeprox, knowing his blood-brother needs assistance.  Sera lunges at the tendril that swipes close, and his huge, sharp, serrated blade tears at the black goo.  Fragments of the black goo transmutes into smoke.   Sera's eyes widen in panic upon seeing his signature blade sizzling from contact with the thing.   Jaunty runs back for the entry point, realizing this might have been the wrong decision. Olias joins in the run back!  Sera strikes once more at the tendrils to force it to recoil, buying Jeprox time to rush back as well towards the entrance.   "Rellor points us to go the other way," Olias growls as he slashes at the next closest tendril to the steps.  The blade tears away once more at the oily arms, and smoke rises from the ground.  Olias sees one of the dark patches backing away.  He runs back to the entrance.

"There are more," Jeprox calls out, seeing dark trails from afar closing in.  Jaunty reaches out to help pull Jeprox back up to the entrance.  "Something is behind you!" Jeprox yells at Jaunty but the Mage focuses on dragging his friend up.  There is a young dwarf, who in panic, drops a small ceramic to the ground.  Jaunty catches it by dropping to his knees to snatch it from the air.  Olias wonders if its a child.  They ask why he's here and the dwarf asks the question back, wondering why they are here in the tunnels.  The dwarf explains the contents of the ceramic are what allows them to pass safely through the dark patches.    The tendrils have slithered back into the fungus.   The dwarf seems confused that none of them seem to know how the ceramic works, and wonders if they are truly initiates.  While the dwarf is questioning the Paladin about his glowing eyes, Jaunty creates a story about another dwarf guiding him down to the tunnels and that the others just happened to be down here too.  Olias walks up to the dwarf and tells him, "Actually, we are the rat exterminating team."  Sera searches for a rock.  Jeprox, impatient with the events, knocks the dwarf down with a blunt arrow.   Sera walks up to the downed Dwarf, holds the rock up to his face and tells him, "I bring you a message from Bob" then knocks him out.

Jeprox considers their options: use the ceramic urn though they don't know how to use it, or go back the way Olias suggested.  They open it and find it has rock salt inside.  Tossing some to the black tendrils forces them to recoil.   Jaunty searches the dwarf for any tools or useful items.

Back at the castle, Lord Yoshi speaks to the Shaman.  The King cites that the Paladin Olias is among them, and states that is good.  The Shaman finds the Lord's statement disturbing.

Olias is reminded by Jeprox of the debt he owes him and tries healing the Alchemist of his injuries.  The God of Fire blesses his petition and the wounds on Jeprox' body close.    Uncertain which direction to take once more, Sera opts to commune with the spirits once again.   He sees now what the spirits were telling him.  The trees above are weeping for the stone tunnels have been tearing through them beneath the ground.  The Church of Bob has been digging through the great Woods.  In response, the trees have been calling great beasts to protect them.  The dire rats are but the simplest of these defenses.   Sera also catches a round chamber of stone somewhere below, but a cold presence beneath forces the Druid away.

"Behind us," Sera gasps, waking and spitting to rid himself of the intense salt feeling in his throat, "It is clear to me now...."  He walks back the way they came.   They journey back the way they came.  Jeprox takes the roles of the trailblazer and the scout while Jaunty handles the quartermaster role to watch over the supplies.   Thankfully, Sera is sustained by the spirits, while Olias needs no rations for the trip.

Their trip further beneath the city leads them to another chamber with six foot tall mushrooms with red bodies.  Jeprox warns them the fungi are shriekers that when touched would emit loud calls that attract predators.  They continue deeper until they reach an underground cavern with a flowing river.  Jaunty notices something glittering beneath the waters.  Goblets, helms, daggers and coins litter the bottom of the flowing river.  "This doesn't feel right," Jeprox admits aloud.

Olias casts Light upon his halberd to provide greater light for everyone to see better.  They realize the whole river is filled with the glittering things.  Jaunty feels the urge to take what he can from the depths.  Jeprox searches for something he can use to fish them out.  He considers fishing out a sword he sees in the water and jumps into the water.  Sera transforms into a fish and dives in.  Jaunty opts to stay on the shore.  Olias considers his options.

 The Druid communes with the water, hoping to gain more information.  Neck deep in the water, Jeprox pulls out of the water a gold chain with a pendant.  The pendant is in the shape of a human head with the chain going through the earlobe.  He pockets it.  Olias and Jaunty watches Sera as he communes.  The spirits reply to Sera and tells him the metals are all "unwanted."  Sera asks who brought the metal and the waters state "things like that" and Sera realizes the water refers to Jeprox.  Jaunty scans the vicinity for any possible dangers, while Olias yells at Jeprox to get out of the water.
Jeprox continues searching for a sword and just before he opts to dive in, he hears Olais' scream of warning.  Olias and Jaunty see the threat in the chamber: a filthy fat and soggy monstrosity with stumps for legs and a massive maw of teeth.  Jeprox turns to see the monster they had spotted: Otyugs!  What he does not see are the maggot like squid closing in from the water.

Thinking of heading to the other side of the river, Jeprox begins swimming for the far side.  Unawares of his plan, the Druid swims to the ranger.  Sera goes under Jeprox' and once there, shapeshifts once more into a bear to throw him onto the shore!   Olias strikes the oytug with the halberd but it clamps its teeth down on the weapon to trap it.   Jaunty warns the group of the dangerous bite the otyugs have, whose filthy maw have caused deaths from infection even among survivors.

Jeprox shifts mid air and lands on the bank as more otyugs close in to hunt!  He pulls out his bow and launches arrows at the monstrosity.  The thing shrieks in pain as the arrows dot its body.  It flings a tentacle at Olias and when the Paladin catches Jaunty about to strike at the incoming tentacle, he tries to set it up to hit the thing with his halberd.  But the Otyug lifts the Paladin up with the halberd with its maw, aborting the chosen one's plans.  Jaunty uses his dagger to slash at the tentacle, ripping open a deadly wound.  The blow, however, leaves him in the path of the tentacle which slams into Jaunty's forearm.  Boils fester upon impact.

Olias hangs on to the halberd, thankful that with him held by the Otyug's maw, it keeps it from using a bite attack.  The bear leaps out of the water and transforms into an eagle that takes flight.  From above, Sera sees a second incoming otyug, a smaller one hiding in one side, and something unexpected.  Past where the river came from, there is a mark above the hole where the water flows.  The mark shows the symbol of the Church of Bob.  Sera flies to the second otyug, shrieking in hopes to draw the attention of the adult.

All focus on the eagle as it descends towards one side of the riverside.  The otyug drops Olias and starts stomping towards where the eagle had gone.  Olias recovers his weapon.  Jeprox directs the cougar to strike as he launches another volley of arrows.  The otyug shudders as the arrows strike it and the cougar tears into its side causing it to drop like a deflated balloon. Seeing the other has been brought down, Sera as the eagle lifts the child otyug from the group and drops it into the river.    The adult sudden rises, but gives out a terrible bellow upon seeing its child thrown into the water.

"Which way," Sera growls at Jeprox, "You are the trailblazer."

Jaunty feels terrible realizing they just killed a baby.  But for Sera, it was plain and simple an unnatural creature.  The group opts to set camp with Jeprox planning to prep some alchemical concoctions, while Olias uses his Lay Hands to remove the disease upon Jaunty's hand, burning it away with holy fire.  Sera sings the song of his people, giving them all a touch of healing.   Olias fears if his deity will ignore his kindness this time.  Jaunty casts Alarm to protect the camp, and the group settles down to rest.

Jeprox prepares bombs, healing potions and realizes he will need to have them blessed to finish the solutions.  He asks Olias to have them blessed, which he does, but Olias does reflect to him that his deity will require the potion to be used only by someone who follows the God of Fire.

As they rest, things begin to fall through the opening with the mark of the Church of Bob.  Pouring into the river are body parts of people, still with bracelets, rings and the like. The squid maggots in the waters rush to the parts and begin feasting.  Sera takes this opportunity to study the beasts, learning how such things feed.

Juanty feels his sixth sense kick in and he looks up and realizes there is something jutting out at the edge of the bank: An ornate and carefully crafted brass staff.   The head is a talon, one that probably once held a stone.  He picks it up and holds it, he stares at his reflection on the river and realizes the reflection is looking straight at him.

What do you think you are doing? Unhand me, I am your master!

Jaunty realizes the staff is talking to him.  He grins and tells the staff, "I am your master now."

Jeprox comes up to Jaunty, asking if he is ready to go.  He says yes.  He calls for the others to gather. They all turn to see the Paladin lost in his communing.    He sees fire overwhelm the chamber and a figure of fire points at the mouth of the river.

CLEANSE!  Cleanse before it is too late!

Olias stares at where the fire points and sees it is the mark of the Church of Bob.

Cleanse before...

Tentacles rips through the waters, grabbing hold of the fiery form, then pulling him into the waters.

... Cleanse before the moon sets!

Olias breaks from the meditation and sees the others waiting.  He realizes the God of Fire is in danger if he does not fulfill his quest.

Above, the king offers the Shaman a drink.  The Shaman asks if he should go and find the others, but the king tells him it is alright.  He can relax for now.  They can drink for a few more hours.  The Shaman, however, cannot shake the feeling that something has to be done before the moon sets.

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