Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Azure Dragon : Dungeon World


The Cavern of the Azure Dragon
One Shot

Dungeon World

This was a one-shot game session with Rocky, Marvin, Marc and Jeffrey.  They were anxious to try a Dungeon World game and we decided to just take a stab at it.  The game opens with them already sharing in the world building as they explained how they learned about the Azure Dragon's cavern.  They introduced the idea of morlocks living in the caverns, and the village of the elves being situated a bit outside.  The Dwarves of the Mines of Enoch hired them to steal the Blue Dragon's Crystal because the group is well known adventuring group.  The Dwarves want the Blue Dragon Crystal because it is needed to craft a Legendary Hammer. There was a lot of jokes about how it can be legendary if it has never been crafted yet.  If they fail, the Dwarves claim they will kill the group.  The group, however, doesn't believe they can.

The cast of heroes in the game featured:
BRYNN (played by Marc)
Neutral Halfling - Criminal eyes, hooded head, dark clothes, knobby body
Stole something from Ebb (Marvin)
Shar the Glorious has my back when things go wrong (Rocky)
Alkavir and I have a con (Jeff) : Plan to sell the dragon heart to a buyer

ALKAVIR (played by Jeff)
Neutral Elf - Eagle Eyes, hooded head, cape, lithe body
Companion: Owl "Jeprox"
Ferocity 2, Cunning 2, Armor 0, Instint 1
Fast, Quick reflexes
Search, Fight monsters

Guided Shar before and she owes you.
Ebb has no respect for Nature.
Brynn does not understand life in the wild.

EBB (played by Marvin)
Half-Elven Chaotic Hunter, Sharp eyes, Bald head, Camoflague, wild body
Guided Shar before, owes me for it.
Alkavir is a friend of nature.
Brynn has no repsect for nature.

SHAR THE GLORIOUS (played by Rocky)
Human Chaotic Outsider (Gadja), Haunter Eyes, Supply body, strange tattoos, weather inappropriate clothes. Appretite for Desruction and Fame and Glory.
Brynn is puny and foolish but amusing to me.
Alkavir's ways are strange and confusing.
Ebb shares my hunger for glory.

The scene begins with them already inside the morlock's lair.  The place is filled with the stench of carrion, and the caverns seem endless.  There is a sound of a distance subterranean stream.  The group moves through this perilous journey in the darkness. Alkavir acts as the cartographer, mentally mapping out their journey in his memory.  Ebb is the rear-guard, esp since Shar insists she does not take the rear.  They reach a crystalline chamber that casts a rainbow of colors as they reflect the sole lantern carried by Ebb.  Brynn, the spotter, moves ahead to check for any traps ahead of them with his hooded lantern, which he now unveils to study the room ahead.  He realizes the natural traps are the crystals themselves.  If one were to draw any of the crystals from their stony beds, it would release gasses that may ignite from their lanterns.   He warns them about them. He also notices markings a foot from the ground, etched on the stone.  He recognizes them to be neither elven script nor dwarven runes.  Perhaps the morlock's language.

The group continues moving deeper through the crystal cavern to reach a forest of giant mushrooms.  The fungal growth stands five to six feet tall, each mushroom dark with red or purple leathery skin.  Occasionally, there seems to be a light green mushroom.  Shar sees this and stomps forward, intent to cut the group a path through the mushrooms.  Ebb yells out to Shar to wait, worried it might be dangerous given they just got here and they might trigger like the mushrooms exploding.  Ebb mumbles about it possibly staining Shar's wonderful fur coat.  Shar however mutters she would fight naked if need be and treads one forward and swings her axe at the closest red mushroom.  "Ha! It is gone! Come brother Ebb, for the glory!"   A smell fills the air of what seems to be rotting meat. Alkavir realizes the smell is that of a delicacy in the city, a meat worth its weight in gold.  He whispers this to the others.  Brynn wonders if they can bring it back after the mission.  Alkavir suggests he gets some now.  Brynn tries to carry what he can.

Ebb wonders if he is the only sane person in the chamber.

They hear the sound of splashing things, something that seems to be rushing away from them.  Ebb warns them of the sound and tells them it definitely is not them.  Shar mutters they shall taste her blade as they have nothing to fear.  Alkavir considers sending his owl to investigate, but he's too busy handling cartography to do so. Shar laughs proudly as she continues to march forward unafraid.  "Are we threatened?  Come!  Come to me and I will challenge you!"

True enough, something charges straight for their direction!    Ebb ducks low, holding his spear ready.  The surge of bats swarms at them, then disperses after being drawn by Shar's cries.  They continue further and deeper into the cavern.  The  later passageway they reach is a sheer cliff on one side.  Staying close to the wall, they carefully continue forward, but they realize the width of the floor has been getting narrower as they continue.

As they continue, Brynn continues to try to scan for traps.  Seeing one, he skips over it and as he turns to tell Shar about it, she ends up stepping on it!  He slides down the trap and Shar tumbles on top of him!  Brynn spreads his legs out quickly to stop the fall from happening, but Shar's weight slams into Brynn, painfully impacting his braced position.  Shar grabs the cliff edge and hoists herself up.  "It might have been a faster way down though," she sighs.  "Why bother with steps when we could just leap into the fray!"  Brynn grunts, shoving her aside.

Ahead of them, Brynn hears skittering feet against the rocks.  He warns Shar that someone might be approaching but realizes too late that he just told the last person he should.  Shar begins yelling, calling for the enemy to face her as she thumps her axe against her shoulder.  The others ready their weapons upon hearing her calls.  From the other side, across the abyss, arrows begin to whistle from the other side.  Shar smashes the arrows flying her way.  They splinter from her strikes.  "You threaten me with twigs?!?!" Shar snarls. Ebb fails to remember the warning about the trap, as he stares fascinated at the two.  Arrows are launched and the group is forced to separate as they deal with the threat of falling and the unseen attacks.  Brynn considers moving forward, thinking the attackers are further down the bend. Ebb unwisely considers jumping across, but given the lanterns do not illuminate the other side, they probably can't leap the distance.  Brynn searches for a different route, maybe a secret passage along the way.  He finds one in the floor, a hatch on the side of one of the sliding passages.  Pulling it open, he finds a clear drop that definitely doesn't look natural.  "Guys, this way!"

Scraping her axe against the mountain wall, Shar charges down the winding passageway, leaving the others behind.  Arrow fly, nearly hitting Alkavir and Ebb as they duck for the passageway. Brynn drags Alkavir inside.  Ebb however snarls, "Get your filthy hands off me, I stand on my own!" revealing a long hidden frustration towards the other one.   Alkavir sees a rune on the wall, but he is unable to make sense of it.   The hatch slides closed, separating Alkavir from the rest.  Ebb tries to pry the hatch back open, but realizes Brynn probably can handle it better.  He is forced to admit the Halfling can handle it better than him.  Brynn hurries down to find Alkavir.  Ebb follows suit.

Body parts fly as Shar gloriously defeats the morlocks.  One screeches as it charges for her with a strange weapon in his hands: a mancatcher!  Shar slashes at the puny weapon, splintering it enough to weaken it with her axe.  The morlock tumbles, losing his balance and falling to the ground.  With her arms pinned, Shar grunts against the barbs shoved against her skin.  Shar breaks herself free, ignoring the pain, as she flexes her immense muscles.  They call her the Gadja, which means something in their language.  The morlocks drop to their needs, muttering over and over Gadja.  Shar takes pause, uncertain if they are surrendering... or worshiping?

The other group move through the multiple archways below, which lead deeper and deeper into the caverns.  They inspect one of the rooms and hope to find a way leading back to Shar.  Brynn takes point, with Alkavir and Ebb following behind him.  Thinking to cover their rear, Ebb plants a trap in the hatch they had just taken, certain Shar would not be following them.  The trap is set with barbs to stab anyone who tries to follow them.  The place is filled with containers of fat.  And wax.  Alkavir is bothered at the animal fat.  He realizes, however, these are massive candles.  Brynn asks if they should light them, to illuminate the way.  Ebb warns them that would just attract attention. Perhaps they're meant to be used as offerings to others.

Upstairs, the morlocks stare at Shar.  The more Shar raises her axe in a threatening manner, the more the morlocks chant and bare their throats.  When she holds her axe forward, one of the morlocks places a bare hand on the blade.  The morlocks begin to file behind her, and they lead her towards the lightsource in the distance.  They chant, and their voices sound rich with worship.  They reach a chamber where the smell of roasted meat fills the air, as well as something richly fermented.  Large makeshift tables chiseled from stone are before them, laden with food.  A chieftain among the morlocks comes into view.  Well-groomed with knotted hair and trimmed beard, the chieftain wears clothes that hint of human and elven craft.  He stares at Shar and approaches. But Shar swings her axe to keep him at bay and slams it into the ground.  A goblin comes forward, serving food and drink.  Shar grabs it by the throat, demanding for her friends.  The other servants bring an inverted skull filled with the fermented liquid, offering it to her despite her questions.  When the chieftain seems to challenge Shar's position by spitting at her feet, Shar simply cleaves the chieftain's left half from his right half with a single swing.   To her surprise, all the others begin spitting at her as well, and she takes these as a grave insult, being an outsider, and attacks!

Alkavir and Brynn are arguing about whether or not to use the candles. Alkavir feels terrible that animals were murdered in this manner. Brynn insists however the light can be used to stop this evil. They move in further and find a statue of a massive woman.  The woman is multi-armed, with breasts larger than her head.  The runes at the base of the statue read, Gadja, and she seems to be some kind of deific figure. One arm in planted on her waist. Dead bodies are clumped around her legs.  Her other hand holds a reptile by the throat, which coils around her right leg. Ebb mumbles how this looks interestingly familiar.  They realize the room is circular, almost like a temple.  They find a hidden alcove, which slides open with a grinding stone sound, and there are five glass vials inside, filled with murky fluid.  Dust covers them all, suggesting none have been moved in a long time. Alkavir pops one of them open, and a salty smell fills the room.  Some of the contents splatters onto the floor.  They realize it is Oil of Tagit, which can cause others to fall into a light sleep. Brynn shares with them this information, recognizing the substance.  Ebb opts to check the next chamber while the two continue to investigate this first one.  The pictographs in the next chamber show a large community of morlocks doing their day to day things. There is  reptile shape with crosses marked all over it at one image, suggesting where the danger may lay.  He finds more gemstones embedded on the ceiling, giving the place a star-like sky.   Grinding stone sounds once more, and suddenly, Brynn is gone.  Alkavir and Ebb are surprised he has vanished and start trying to find where he has gone. They search for any traps, secret doors or hatches and try to find him.

Elsewhere, Brynn finds himself at a place with a curved floor.  Rocks shimmer on the floor, glistening like stars.  He looks up and finds Alkavir and Ebb searching around the ground for... wait.  Brynn realizes he's standing on the ceiling, staring at the two.  He calls out to the two and they realize what has happened, though not knowing how it did.  The two others find the place to trigger the effect, and they all now shunt to the ceiling.  Somehow, even the lantern's fire burns upside down now.  They search the next chamber and finds books and a bed.  There is even a cabinet and inside, they find clothes in neat stacks as well as hair.  Noses.  Teeth.  It takes them a minute to realize they are disguise kits to look like one of the morlocks.  Ebb notices the bed looks recently used.  The books seem to be documentation on the morlocks lifestyle and culture.  The word Gadja refers to a deific figure, a mother-warrior among the warlocks.  The books are recorded findings that someone has learned by living among the morlocks all this time.   Brynn realizes he cannot carry all these and the mushroom he gathered too.  Alkavir finds no name on the cover or the books, sadly.  They search for the journal that seems to be the latest one.   Ebb finds another hatch, a new crawlspace similar to the one they went through earlier.  Under the bed, there are shoes.  Five pairs of them.

Shar tries to retrace her steps back.  She grabs a light source from the morlocks and tries to see if she can go back to where the others were earlier.  The three others, however, realize there are 36 tomes in total, with each tome representing two months.  The collection might be worth hundreds of gold, if not thousands.  The archivist is named Baylor and he has decided to undertake a quest of his own. He integrates himself in the morlock society to learn their ways and to try steering them into civilized life. Ebb peers if  any of the clothes would fit him.

The adventurers later face spider monsters, which stalk them from the walls and the ceiling. These beats have a venom that petrifies their victims.  Thankfully, they easily dispatch the things before any of them suffer too much.  At one point, Shar leaps at one spider and rides it down the bottomless chasm to hit the ground below.

Down there, that is where they find themselves encountering the said dragon in the cavernous world.  Shar does not notice the presence of the great beast.  Ebb tries to leap from the ceiling to grab hold of Shar before it notices them.  But the dragon's eyes and nostrils begin to glow in the darkness.  Alkavir worries if the dragon has noticed them.  Brynn notices however at the center of the chest of the thing, an exposed blue stone glimmers.   As the head of the dragon rises, Brynn yells at Shar to shut up as they try to hoist her up.  The dragon flips Shar into the air, but rather than slam into the walls, Shar flips into a somersault to crash into the beast.  Alkavir launches an arrow at the dragon at the same time as Shar slams her elbow against the dragon.   The arrow embeds into the dragon's left eye.  The dragon grabs Ebb and Shar and flings them, dragging Brynn along given the rope he had attached to Ebb.  Alkavir fires more arrows, hoping to distract the dragon and buy the others time to recover.  The morlocks appear, and surprisingly help Shar regain her weapon, as if they desire to help her Gadja against the beast.  Shar finally realizes the dragon is there.  Alkavir leaps from ledge to ledge to move to a position where he can launches a few arrows into the crystal in the dragon's chest.  As the arrow cracks the surface, light erupts from the stone.  The dragon howls "No!".  Alkavir dives into a crack on the wall to hide.  Ebb dives into the nearest hatch on the ground to hide from the dragon's wrath.  The dragon unleashes a barrage of lightning bolts as it breathes out at them.  Ebb is sealed from the battle, crawling into the chamber as the lightning collapses the way he got through.

The dragon calls the others interesting morsels and a mix of flavors to devour.  It is even amused that they tried to blind it.  The dragon is serpentine with scales that reflect the light flickering from the electricity still coursing through the adventurers struck by it.  The dragon has no wings.  The dragon's eyes widen as it sees Shar, recognizing her as one of the Gadja.  Shar's people, the Gadja, had long been destroyed by great historical events.  The dragon is amused to see her, a survivor among her people.  Shar boasts they have come for the crystal and in responses the dragon breathes upon her again with lightning.  Shar leaps to dodge it but as she falls, the axe skitters from her hand and slides to the very edge of the cliff.  Brynn is clutched by the dragon's talons, but rather than be terrified, he smashes against the talon his vial of Bloodweed, to poison it to become weaker.  The dragon boasts that their friend is dead, and that it can still be convinced to be merciful.  Alkavir asks what it wants and the dragon asks for amusement, "Kill your companions and I will let you live."

While the dragon is distracted, Shar runs for the axe.  The dragon turns to look at her, giving Alkavir the chance to fire another arrow at its heart.  The arrow strikes the crystal again, causing the crack to grow bigger.  The dragon recoils, pulling away from them, protective of its crystalline heart.  Shar and Brynn try to follow, keeping the pressure on the beast.  Alkavir separates from the others, heading back up to where Ebb had dove, to check on their friend.

Ebb, moving through the tunnels, slips past the trap he set and finds himself back at the marble statue.  He sees the morlocks in prayer before the Gadja statue, and Ebb realizes it would be a perfect time to dress up in the disguise they found.  The morlocks stare as Ebb emerges in the disguise, and to insist he is who they think he is, he throws a smash at the closest morlock to know the fellow down.  Soon, he's before a young morlock child and when it speaks to him in their language, Ebb simply repeats what the child says since he doesn't know what they are saying.  Ebb starts coughing, and acts as if in pain to explain away why he cannot speak.  The morlocks begin guiding him towards the chamber where the cabinet and the disguise is, as if wanting him to be where he can rest.  Ebb hates the fact the others had taken the contents of the cabinet.  Ebb smacks the closest one and reveals the empty cabinet, suggesting they head out because he is angry.  Sadly, they do not grasp his pantomimed actions.   Taking out his rations, Ebb gives it to the female morlock nearby and motions to the child.   But to his surprise, the woman shrieks upon getting it, then throws it to the ground.  The morlocks pound their feet on them, and then begin eating it.  Ebb tosses them a few more, and while they are distracted, Ebb quickly moves away from them and tries to find that spot to send him back to the ceiling.  But as he changes his boots, another morlock arrives and stares at him.  Once again, Ebb repeats the words he says, but this morlock draws out a bone dagger.  Things do not bode well.  With the spikes in his boots, Ebb attacks the morlock.

Brynn leaps onto Shar and the two move further and deeper down the cavern to find the dragon.  The bottom is filled with bones, offerings and rocks.  Shiny trinkets shimmer in the dark.  At the end, a side tunnel continues, which they realize is likely where the dragon had run through.  Shar grabs whatever axe weapon she can find and picks it up.  Brynn tosses the shrooms to the ground and digs for the golden goblet he finds on the ground.  Shar does not hesistate and runs for the next chamber.  Brynn tries to chase after her, trailing behind the fearless outsider.  Alkavir can't find a way to help Ebb and is forced to rappel down to the others.   They rush down and soon reach the end of the long chamber, which is a... door. The door is only twelve feet tall.  "A little small for a dragon," Shar mumbles.  As Brynn calls out that he can pick the door, Shar crashes through it without hesitation.  Alkavir however gets attacked by another spider before he gets down below, and finds his head encased in stone as the spider petrifies his face!  Alkavir reaches for his short sword, and blindly swings to strike the spider attempting to carry him away for feasting.  But he clangs the sword against the rocky floor and loses it.  He instead tries banging his rock-encased head against the floor to shatter it free.  He ignores the pain, but appreciates the freedom he garners as the shards fall down to the ground.

Shar and Brynn look around, confused.  The chamber has columns, tables, chairs.  The place has all the conceits of a human home.  There is even a balcony in the distance.  A table with alchemical glassware and tubes stands at one side.  Shar hurries to the balcony.  Brynn follows quietly behind her, stunned at the sight.  Neither can see any sight of the dragon.   There is even a four-poster bed.  Shelves with clothes.  In frustration, Shar begins attacking the furniture, cleaving them with her weapon.  Brynn, however, searches for any other room where the dragon may be hiding.  He finds a small area in the room with the rainbow stones again.   The flames rise up, causing the other gems to pop and explode.

Ebb swings the spiked boots at the morlock, but the morlock stabs at the hand holding the boots.  Ebb is forced to drop the boots.  Grabbing his spear, he tries to hit the morlock with it, but the morlock evades it and presses Ebb against the wall, the blade of the knife pushed against his throat.  Ebb cannot understand the morlock's questions as it tries to get answers on where their chieftain has gone. Ebb pulls out one of the sharp sticks from the stuff he can use to create traps and plunges it into the morlock's throat.  Gagging and coughing, the morlock stumbles backwards, releasing Ebb.   Ebb forces the stick deeper in, then seeing the morlock down on the ground, he pulls back and checks his neck.  Thankfully the cut wasn't too deep.  He shifts to the ceiling, standing there, and crawls back to the crawlspace to get out and find the others.

Alkavir grabs an arrow and stabs it at the spider, hoping to force it to let him go.   The spider carrying him however now is challenged by another spider! As the two fight over him, Alkavir feels nauseated as the two dance a dance of death.  He leaps down and tries to rush to the others.  The spider encases Alkavir's foot in stone, forcing him to drop.  He draws out his bow and arrows and tries to fire a shot before the spider spits another rock prison upon him.  The stone encases the hand holding the arrow, keeping him from being able to launch it!  He quickly searches for a weapon to use and his eyes settle down on a bone dagger.  Alkavir throws it at the spider just before it closes in and hits it!  The spider crumbles to the ground, its body twitching in death throes.  Ebb lands beside him, and helps him to his feet.   The two continue to descend to the others.

Blue robes from the ceiling drops as the flames are pulled to the ceiling by the rainbow stones.  Like before, the stones permitted the shift of gravity to reverse for whatever was at its vicinity.  Brynn's flames shot upwards and ended up igniting the hiding figure at the ceiling.  Shar and Brynn see the woman who tumbles out of the burning robes, bloody tears streaming down her cheeks.  Her hands cover her chest as she crawls away and shoves her back against the wall to try to stand up.  Brynn steps close, asking what she is doing here given the danger in the place.  She claims she needs their help, and that she has been the dragon's prisoner.  Shar studies the woman, sees the blue and white robes, and seeing her hands on her chest, Shar brings the axe to her chest.  "Hands in the air."  While the woman tries to ask for some dignity, Shar however presses, certain the woman is hiding something other than her bosom.  Brynn tries to ask Shar to stop and consider some other way. But Shar remains firm, "Leave this to the women."   With her hands raised, both of them see the crystal in her chest.  There was a crack on its surface. A flicker comes on her eyes as Shar addresses her as the dragon.  Recognizing that flicker as a warning, Shar presses the blade against the woman's throat before she breathes lightning once again.  The woman unleashes lightning, bit thanks to Shar, the bolt strikes the walls and ground but misses Shar and Brynn.  The woman falls to the ground, unmoving afterwards.  Brynn coats his dagger with Bloodweed and closes in on the woman, still suspecting treachery from her.

The woman calls them fools and thieves and tells them this is a place of learning.  Brynn strikes the woman, who drops to the ground feeling the poison sap her strength.  The woman asks if the dwarves sent them, claiming this is a place of learning!  Shar however tells her all she wanted to learn was what they tasted like.  The woman spits out one final lightning blast, and Shar swings her axe at that same moment, hoping to kill her.  The axe forks the lightning bolt and it strikes Shar and Brynn even as her axe slams into the woman's body.  Brynn grits his teeth as he rolls on the floor and feels the electricity surge through him, nearly killing him.  Shar, however, triumphantly raises her axe once more, telling the woman she is beaten.  The gem falls off her chest and Shar secures it in her belt.  With Shar having claimed the gem, Brynn wonders if he should abandon his plans to sell the gem. Sliding up behind Shar, Brynn considering applying the oil of Tagit onto her back. But Shar turns to him and celebrates with him their victory.  Brynn feels torn.  The two walk to the balcony and discover it shows a waterfall with rolling fields and a distant town.  Despite their journey underground, they see now that the place was meticulously crafted to house the morlocks.  The Archivist build a place for the morlocks to call their home, had a "dragon" to scare the morlocks into submission.  And then they find letters addressed to a Melisande to remind her how the dragon must act towards the morlocks again.  Ebb and Alkavir arrive, horrified to see the damage in the chamber. Expecting the two dead, they see the two by the balcony and learn from them the story about the woman and the dragon and the crystal.  They have fulfilled their contract.   Alkavir pulls out a bottle of wine, and offers to them all a toast.  He hands it to Brynn, who slips the oil of tagit into the wine stealthily.  But he fumbles as he tries to do so.  Ebb pulls out his own bottle and invites them to celebrate using his wine instead.  Ebb takes a swig and passes it around.  Brynn tucks the bottle back into his belt, frustrated he is in too much pain to apply it properly.

As they celebrate the group leaves.  Months pass and the morlocks stare at the statue of Gadja, uncertain what to do now.  In the weeks that follow, they learn the dragon is gone.  And their chieftain is dead.  Soon, a woman among them rises in their ranks to lead.  A shaman.  By the first month, they realize they can expand their territory.  Soon, they find the balcony and the falls, and discover there exists a world beyond their world of shadows.

The group offer the gem to the dwarves and tell them of the slain dragon.  Shar tells them how the dragon attempted to trick them and pretend to be a woman, but they were not fooled.  The dwarves celebrate that they can finally build the legendary hammer once more.  They ask about the chieftain, and all the heroes turn to Shar.  She proudly adds they slew him as well.  "Then there's no need for this pretense," the dwarf admits and pulls off his disguise!  The head and clothes pull away and the man stands up to his full height.  The elf stands up and shakes the disguise off.  He thanks them for dealing with the archivist and thanks them for ending the horrible experiment and retrieved the gem.  They pay the heroes generously and bid them farewell.  The group realizes they were just part of an "intellectual war" and they were unhappy with the practices that were ongoing in that cavern.  They are happy the group has halted the experiments and given them the victory in this battle.  Each of them is given a gift and are sent on their way.
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