Thursday, May 16, 2013

Falling Ishtar e01 : Dungeon World

Falling Ishtar
Episode One

"The Clever Three"

Dungeon World

Steel clashes against scales as the scene opens with three adventurers fight against a gathering of lizard men.  As the three battle on the cliff, the clouds above part long enough to show the slowly darkening sun in the sky.  An eclipse is coming, and the three know they have to end the battle soon or lose more precious time. 

This was my first time to try running Dungeon World as I definitely had a fantastic time with the game.   (The enthusiasm I experienced can easily be seen here in my review of the game.)  Erich, Rachel and Mahar were in the game and we decided to play this game out of Erich's prompting as a replacement game given my Partner, Rocky's absence that weekend.

Erich played Gil Willowisp, Elven Ranger who left the Homeland to travel and experience the world.   He keeps getting thrown out of human settlements for causing trouble and breaking rules. He does not believe in others imposing on them. He has a hawk named Illiure, and has a tendency of seeking to free things that are caught in bondage.
Gil's Bonds:He has guided Melisande before, and she owes him for it.
He sees Melisande as a friend of nature.
He feels Cairre does not understand the wild, and is tasked to teach him.
He knows Cairre saved his life before, so he owes him.

Rachel played Cairre, a Human Wizard, Apprentice of the Magus Roderick - an evil Wizard who wanted to use magic to conquer the world.  In a world where magic is commonly known but not commonly practiced, Cairre was chosen by the Magus to become an apprentice.
Cairre's Bonds:
Cairee senses Gil will play important role in events to come.
Melisande is keeping an important secret from Cairre.
Cairre feels Melisande does not understand the world.
Gil is always getting into trouble, so Cairee will have to protect him.

Mahar played Melisande, an Elven Bard, who followed Gil from the Homelands.  Her Chaotic nature has her spurring others to decisive action.  With Gil, rescued Cairre from Roderick's wicked clutches.
Melisande's Bonds:
This is not her first adventure with Gil.
Cairre is often the butt of her jokes.
Melisande is writing a ballad about the adventures of The Clever’s Three.
Cairre entrusted her with a secret: Fear of being affected by magic.
Cairre does not trust Melisande for good reason: She uses magic to help him. Constantly.

A few days back, Gil and Melisande learned of Cairre's captivity and imprisonment under the Magus Roderick's cruelty.  He had Cairre snatched from his family and was being groomed by the Magus to become his apprentice.  As the Magus used strange spells to hold Melisande paralyzed and to trap Gil under the clutches of winged imps, he began beating Cairre in front of them to remind them of the price of defying him.  But eventually the three succeed in turning the tables around Roderick, blasting him with a wand of magic, and unleashing a serpent made of smoke long trapped in some kind of jar at the Magus himself.    The Magus dies beneath the wand's intense power, but the smoke serpent bites Gil, poisoning him with its arcane venom.  Cursed to slowly rot from within, the three quickly consult a Healer who informs them that there are only three things that can counter-act the Smoke Serpent's venom:  Ancient Elven Magic, a potion made using Powdered Unicorn Horn, and the last, being an amount of raw Starmetal which would surely allow them to gain either of the first two much easier.  

And almost as if to answer their prayers, the sky brightens as a falling star streaks across the heavens.  And falls upon the area where the ruins of the fallen Goblin City of Gonol once stood.  The Ranger decides to head there, to gather what starmetal he can.  And both Cairre and Melisande opt to join him.

Interlude number One.
The falling star has caught the attentions of the Barbarian Tribes that stand outside the City of Towers.  Desperate for a weapon to use against the Duke of the Tower himself, and take back their "city", the barbarians task their own warriors to retrieve it. They believe it to be a great weapon to be used to decimate the People of the Towers.

Interlude number Two.
At the City of Towers, the Lord of the Banner and Duke of the Towers, Duke Thomin, has fallen in love with the Lady Unisa, and the falling star becomes the object he desires as the symbol of his love. He tasks his favored knights to retrieve it, no matter what the cost.

Interlude number Three.
The goblins living in the Ruins of Gonol are in deep prayer, calling out to their Dark Mother Isthar for a chance to once again rise to power.  They lament the fall of Gonol and hope to someday regain the influence they once wielded.  And almost as if in response to their prayers, the star strikes their ruins.

The battle against the lizard men reaches a fevered pitch as a Tyrant Lizard Cheiftain emerges to join the fray.  Gil leaps into action, clambering atop its back as he prepares to kill the monster.  Cairre wraps himself in an Invisibility spell, hoping to avoid the battle.  While Melisande sings a song to support the group.  When Gil slashes at the Tyrant's stomach to disable it, what he covers shocks them all.  They three find a surly halfling rolling out of the sliced open stomach, and the first thing the bald demihuman states is to "Knock of with any giving birth jokes."  They soon learn he is the Master Adon, the Grand Magus and former mentor of Roderick Black.  The man was a teacher who cared less for whom he taught and more on if those taught know how to respect magic itself.  The revelation of Adon's identity bothers Melisande given she has always known him to be this seven-foot tall wizard with a massive white beard, a pointy hat, a blade in one hand and a long wooden staff in the other and flowing white robes.  There were rumors, however, that his tower fell into disrepair, and he had embraced a personal quest to find his missing love - an elf.

As Adon learns of their predicament, he asks from each a strand of their hair, then casts a locked spell into the three knots of hair.  "When you find yourself in a desperate need to return home, you can use this.  Consider this my payment for your rescuing of me." He does tell Cairee that he is willing to let him become his apprentice, but only if Cairre can get him a bit of the starmetal as well.  Finding Adon, it seems, will be the quest itself.   As the halfling walks off, he does warn them that there are drums in the air.  "Others seek what you seek.  Best you hurry."

The three travel as fast as they can, an in the darkness of the eclipse, the greatest source of light is the place where the star had fallen.  As they eventually enter the heavy woods leading to the ruins of Gonol, they chance upon a carriage set at the side of the path.  Three dwarves have set camp in the woods, a tad confused by the earlier, unexpected nightfall.  Melisande approaches them with a song about halflings, and the dwarves seem to welcome them quite congenially.  They admit to possibly being lost, and are preparing to have dinner.  Dougal, the father, introduces his wife Serene, and their son Tolin.  The couple endears themselves to the others (save for Melisande, who seems to have a problem with Tolin).  They mention something about a bridgeway being destroyed, after a large group of soldiers crossed it.  But before dinner could be served, a warband of Goblins close in to surprise them.  Led by a Hobgoblin, the group quickly take to action, and much to their surprise, the dwarves excitedly welcome the battle with Tolin getting a chance to have his first kill.  The dwarves admit to having had a dealing with the Magus Roderick, who had Fire Elementals working in some cave.  They were given a brass scroll case and have not yet opened it (fearing what it may contain).  Cairre detects no danger in opening it, and upon reading it learns it was a missive which would provide safety to the bearer from any creatures that respected or knew Roderick's influence.  Gil is given the scroll, as a show of thanks, and in return he informs them of where they can find Tyrant Lizard meat to cook.  Serene and Dougal share an inside joke about how the meat reminds them of... the good old times.  As the group prepare to continue on towards the light, the unthinkable happens:  It fades away.

The three hurry to the ruins, hoping to cover the distance as quickly as they can.  When they arrive at the ruins, the light is gone and no trace of the starmetal can be seen.  Sighs of it having crashed in the area, however, are unmistakable.  As they look for clues, the ground under Melisande's feet give way, and she falls forty feet down beneath the ground, thankfully catching a ledge to stop her fall.  Down there, she catches a glimpse of the glow of the star fading from one of the many underground tunnels.  Gil and Cairre try to approach the hole where Melisade fell, but part of it begins to crumble from their weight.  Melisande creates a makeshift hammock to hide under using one of her dresses, but fails to catch the approach of some Goblins that drag her from the ledge and force her away.  By the time Gil and Cairre arrive down below using some rope and a grappling hook, there is no sign of Melisande.  Thankfully, the hammock left behind gives them an idea where to start looking for her trail.

Melisande awakens to find herself in a makeshift prison of metal and scrap.  She remains fully armed with all of her belongings still with her.  She realizes her captors are probably not as smart as they had feared.  She tries to find a way to escape and realizes the things around her are like goblins, only with skin as bleached as bone.  She starts trying to grasp their broken language in hopes of communicating with them, or swaying them with her bardic songs.

Cairre and Gil carefully navigate the tunnels, with Gil finding the tracks of Melisande and her captors' passage.  They soon chance upon a nest of Worgs.  Cairre casts Invisibility to make them both disappear, and as the two sneak past the Worgs, Cairre steps on a mound of Worg refuse.    Worried of leaving tracks, Gil throws down a day's worth of rations to distract any that find their scent.   The sounds behind them, however, suggest that the armed guards of some group are nearby.

Melisande succeeds in making the goblins think she is their goddess.  Gonol used to have a vast and massive market of note, but none realized the city was built upon a sinkhole.  The sinkhole activated and the ctiy fell apart.  They want Melisande, the Goddess of the Star, to bless them.  She asks to be taken to the Starmetal, and the goblins comply.

Cairre and Gil arrive at another chamber, wide and tall, and it seems to be a room of petrified trees.  There is a sound, and the two turn to see a rat moving in the distance.  Suddenly, tentacles stretch out from one of the trees and snatch the rat! The tree at the center of the room is actually a creature.  The thing has a massive eye on its "trunk" and beneath it, a gaping fanged maw.  The two, still invisible, very slowly and carefully navigate the chamber.  Thankfully, the thing never notices their movement.  They do hear the knights in close pursuit.  Somehow, they must have succeeded in getting past the petrified trees easily.

Melisande learns the amount of starmetal is a staggering boulder that is larger than she is tall.  As she is placed atop it, she rallies the goblinoids to carry them both to the surface.  "Take me to the sky!" she calls out, and the goblinoids are quick and eager to comply.  For them, the future when Gonol rises from the ruins is already in sight.  They carry her onward, but then stop as they approach a massive well where green noxious gas seems to seep out of.   Fear begins to overwhelm the goblinoids.

Cairre and Gil reach the end of the tunnel to see four goblins guarding the doors.  Gil lures one away and batters him down.  But the remaining three Goblins are clearly distracted by events happening inside.  When Gil returns, holding one of the Goblin hostage.  Cairre slips in with Gil, and the two see Melisande at the distance, hailed by the goblinoids, but at the same time, two green scaled arms emerge from the well.  The thing within addresses her, questioning her godhood.  More green steam rises from the pit.

A dragon.

Cairre and Gil quickly weight their options.  Melisande, however, seems unperturbed.  She insults the ancient, and draws a fire-lit arrow, intent on shooting it into the pit to ignite the fumes.  The dragon takes her bluff, and breathes a cloud of poisonous chlorine into the tunnel where the coming soldiers marched.  Gil and Cairre hear them collapse to the ground.  Die horrible lonely deaths.  Melisande lets loose the arrow, and the coming explosion topples her to the ground.  Melts the star metal and splatters it all over.  Gil and Cairre gather some on their clothes as they approach the bard.  But Melisande is partly encased in the immensely hot metal, and she starts singing to undo the pain as quickly as she can muster.  The dragon emerges from the pit, amused with her singing, and considers keeping her to entertain him.  Gil attempts to talk his way around the Dragon's greed, and petitions in relation to their quest, but the Dragon shoves the ranger's hopes aside as easily as it does the elf himself.  Cairre realizes the Dragon's evil nature may just have it recognize her former master, and brings out the scroll.  The Dragon admits Gil has no poison in his system, and that merely being this close to the starmetal must have cleansed him of the poison.  As Gil falls to his knees in intense pain, the Dragon explains it is filling his mind with images of things to come.  Cairre remind the Dragon to honor the scroll, and fingers the knotted hair which Gil had slipped to him before he dropped unconscious.  The Dragon grants it, but has them choose to either leave Melisande or the starmetal behind.  Cairre drops the metal and unfurls the hairs, teleporting them all away to safety.

Back at the tower, Cairre and the now recovered Melisande try to help Gil.  To their surprise, Gil seems to have indeed recovered and shares with them the portents the dragon had shared.  There shall come a time of fire and war, when wyrms gather underneath the banner of a robed figure that exists beyond life: a Lich.  And that the Dragon shared this to warm them, for it knows evil will win in this coming time.

A visitor.  When Cairre peers at who has knocked on the door, they find a beautiful long-haired blonde woman in traveler's gear asking for Roderick.  Her name is Bridgette and she turns out to be a Paladin who has come to put an end to Roderick's machinations.  When they inform her that she has come too late and that he is dead, Cairre hands her his ashes instead.    Bridgette speaks to the ashes, and the group realizes she is actually his daughter, and has devoted her life to someday come back to stop him and his evil schemes.   Wanting to help her find closure, Cairre offers to accompany her tomorrow to the tomb where the ashes will be laid.   She thanks him and walks on, and Gil watches at a window above as the young Paladin takes time to help some people cross the street, even if they act rude towards her afterwards.   A true Paladin, although one who has come too late to stop the evil named Roderick.

Or is she?

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