The Fifth Blog of 2015: Dungeon World Gaiden, Part 2

The following post was written by Chris Fong and the player for Philo / Lux. Enjoy!

We once again had issues with players unable to meet, so with two players in attendance, it was decided to improvise another ad hoc adventure with brand new characters, set during the war that was referenced in the first Gaiden adventure. This gave the players an opportunity to play around with different classes abilities. They started out as level 4 characters already, a reference that they’re not rookie adventurer’s in this historical tapestry.

During the last great War of the Realms, the Council of Necromancers formed, desperate to conquer the realm in their lust for power. The civilized races of humans, elves, dwarves, and outlanders joined forces to defend themselves and their homes from this threat. Calling themselves the United, a great war was waged, and destruction scarred the land.

During this time, great heroes emerged to lead the people against the chaos. Among them was the Iron War Elemental, a mighty iron golem imbued with the soul of a heroic, nameless dwarf. Called Zentral among his closest allies, he set out on a quest with two of his closest lieutenants to acquire a powerful artifact, the Urn of Heroes, said to possess the ashes and souls of heroes past. Zentral hoped to utilize its magic to help him forge a shield impervious to the magics employed by the Council of Necromancers.

Meanwhile, one of the most powerful Necromancers, a dwarf mage named Halorin, and the archrival to the Iron War Elemental, broke away from the council, forming a third power for the Council and the United to contend with. It is also said that Halorin too seeks the Urn for his own gain…

The Iron War Elemental stood nearly twelve feet in height, a hulking humanoid of metal and destruction. Yet he moved with surprising quickness and was light on his feet considering his massiveness. He was breaking camp with his two lieutenants, a mutant salamander barbarian calling himself Thing-of-Nouns (I like to think of him as a ninja turtle, except as a salamander and more barbarian-like,) and a human paladin named Lux. While the overnight hours had been kind with no attacks of any kind, this morning would not be so kind, as two massive creatures nearly as tall as the Iron War Elemental suddenly appeared. Sporting bear-like bodies with owl-like heads, these two owlbears roared and hooted all at once before attacking. The Iron War Elemental suddenly found himself wrestling on the ground with one, while Thing-of-Nouns charged at the other with his greatsword. Lux joined his fellow lieutenant in the fray, and the two were able to damage their foe, with the salamander using his greatsword to slice off the beak of his prey. Meanwhile, the Iron War Elemental quickly snapped the neck of his owlbear. For inexplicable reasons, Lux ran over to the dead owlbear and stabbed it in the head, followed by Thing-of-Nouns, who brought his greatsword down on the already dead owlbear.

“I think you both have your own enemy to deal with.”

Thing-of-Nouns and Lux glanced at each other before turning around and finishing off their foe in quick, brutal fashion. The mutant salamander hissed a victory cry and kept the dismembered owlbear beak as a trophy of his conquest.

For the next few hours, the terrific trio traveled through the forest until they happened upon what looked to be ancient ruins. Two giant stone doors stood before them, towering in height, even taller than the Iron War Elemental. Suddenly, a giant roar pierced their ears coming from behind them, to their left. It sounded to be miles off, and yet it was no less blood-curdling. A dragon was nearby. The Iron War Elemental made a decision.

“My friends, the two of you must go into the ruins to recover the Urn of Heroes. I will go dragon hunting. Lux, if I may have a word?” The Iron War Elemental pulled Lux aside, and pulled out an orb the size of an apple with a pin in the middle.

“Are you familiar with alchemist’s fire?”

“No, sir.”

“I…really? Have you ever seen alchemist’s fire used?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good. I designed this device, inspired by alchemist’s fire. Just pull the pin and throw it at your enemy if things get out of hand. I have no clue what danger you’ll encounter in those ruins, but it is critical that you and Thing-of-Nouns succeed in this mission. And now, I must be off.”

The Iron War Elemental handed the curious throwing weapon to Lux before running off, away from the ruins. As he received the new weapon, Lux closed his eyes tightly and bowed his head down. “I give you my sacred oath sir, that we will be successful in our most holy mission. I, Lux, paladin of valor, will bring light to the darkness, and see your will be done! You have my word! I thank thee lord, for in thy mer-”

“Who are you talking too?” asked Thing-of-Nouns, curious at Lux’s strange behavior.

Lux opened a single eye, realizing no one was around to hear him except his mutant salamander companion. “Uh, come Thing-of-Nouns!”

Patience was not a strong suit of Thing-of-Nouns, and he went straight towards the doors and began to push. Straining his muscles to the utmost, the mutant salamander hissed as, slowly but surely, the doors parted before his impressive might. With the doors now open, Lux lit a torch and proceeded into darkness, his salamander friend following behind.

For several minutes, the two walked down a seemingly endless corridor, well-carved stone brick surrounding them, reminding Lux of fine, dwarven craftsmanship. Thing-of-Nouns chose to crawl on all fours, occasionally eating a stray insect as he traveled. Lux suddenly walked straight into what appeared to be an invisible wall, rubbery and slimy by the touch, and sticky too! Before he knew it, his body was being sucked into a gelatinous cube! The torch still glowed brightly within the cube, illuminating its shape.

The cube proceeded to attack Thing-of-Nouns, doing damage as the two traded blows. Some would have called Lux “trapped” in the Gelatinous Cube. Lux bravely stood his ground within the cube surrounded by all sides. Using all of his might, he tried to push through the monstrosity, but was unable to move. It was like trying to wade through slime. Things were not looking good. his skin was beginning to get tingly and hot. The gelatinous cube would slowly consume him if he was not freed!

In a fine maneuver of swordsmanship or tomfoolery, Thing-of-Nouns charged and pierced his greatsword into the gelatinous cube, incidentally striking the shield of Lux with such force that the paladin went flying through the other side of the gelatinous cube, covered in acidic slime. Acting instinctively and heroically, Lux quickly whispered an oath and slashed his sword as he went flying through the other side, doing even more damage to the slimy dungeon monster. Realizing a need to end the battle quickly, Lux said another oath and leapt through the air above and over his foe, his body spinning as he brought down his blade, glowing with the purity of valor, bisecting the gelatinous cube completely, and dexterously landing his on his feet in front of Thing-of-Nouns. The enemy defeated and despite being wounded himself, Lux healed Thing-of-Nouns injuries, recovered the slimy torch, and the two proceeded forward into the dungeon ruins.

A few minutes later, our heroes found themselves in a large chamber with four unlit torches resting in wall sconces, and a stone door with intricate carvings at the far end with no apparent way to open. Lux decided to shed some light on the matter and lit all four torches. This prompted the appearance of a Minotaur sitting in a giant throne, materializing out of thin air at the center of the room. Introducing himself as Alexander, he applauds Lux for even thinking of lighting the torches, something he hasn’t experienced before. He proceeds to tell them that if they wish the door open, they must answer three riddles correctly, and gives them five categories: 1.) human ability, 2.) magical energy, 3.) Exorcism, 4.) the Four Horsemen, and 5.) the Seven Sins. After a brief huddle, they select the Seven Sins as their first category:

I covet what you have

Green eyes glinting

Alighting always on something beyond my grasp.

“What is envy?” Thing-of-Nouns asks. He is correct. For the second category, the duo chooses natural ability.

Nimble-footed, nimble fingered,

Dodging blows by reflex, doling extra attacks

Faster than blades,

I speed arrows on their way.

“What is the dexterity of a thief?” Lux proudly asks. Alexander ponders for a moment; the mention of a thief was gratuitous, but does not make the actual answer any less relevant, so he allows it. Wiping the sweat off their brows (do mutant salamanders sweat?), they select exorcism for their third, and hopefully final category.

Always wax, yet always wane:

I melt, succumbing to the flame.

Lighting darkness, with fate unblest,

I soon devolve to shapeless mess.

Lux thinks for a moment before pulling a candle from his adventuring gear, and says: “This!” Alexander reminds him to phrase it in the form of a question. “What is this?” Lux says, pointing at the candle in his hand. Alexander nods, clearly impressed with the two lieutenants standing in front of him, and with a few gestures, the door at the far end rises and opens. For answering all three riddles correctly with no wrong answers, the minotaur rewarded the dynamic duo with a glowing bottle, citing that Lux “looked like bull poop!” Lux took the observation as a challenge to drink the mystery liquid. He immediately downed the potion, and found the injuries he suffered in the previous battle healed. The minotaur waved farewell and vanished before their eyes. With the path before them clear, the two made their way down another corridor.

A couple of minutes passed before they happened upon a larger chamber, where hundreds of rupees lay scattered throughout. At the far end of the chamber was an alcove, where a brilliant urn rested. There was no sign of life within the room, save for one curious rabbit. Feeling an irrepressible, barbaric urge to skin the rabbit, Thing-of-Nouns charged at it, brandishing his greatsword. The rabbit suddenly leapt at the mutant salamander with surprising speed and grace; his greatsword managed to connect a grazing blow as the rabbit landed and gnawed on the salamander’s shoulder.

Thing-of-Nouns hissed in pain as Lux leapt into action, grabbing at the rabbit and pulling it off his companion. The rabbit went hurtling at the wall, only to springboard off it straight at the paladin. Raising his shield, Lux perfectly times his defense, and shield bashes the rabbit to the ground. Thing-of-Nouns takes advantage of this opportunity, driving a dagger straight into the rabbit’s head, killing it instantly.

With no more enemies before them for the moment, Lux walked over to the far end of the room, and retrieved the urn from the alcove. It appeared ordinary in its appearance, not golden and lacking any intricate detail. And yet, it shone brilliantly, and both Lux and Thing-of-Nouns felt inspired. Lux shoved the urn into his backpack, and tried to heal his friend’s wounds. However, his healing abilities failed him, so he sacrificed his own health by transferring any wounds and diseases the barbarian had to his own body.  Lux ponders his sacrifice. Knowing Thing-of-Noun’s hedonistic tendencies, Lux really hopes it won’t start burning when he has to use the outhouse.

Feeling better, Thing-of-Nouns began to skin the rabbit, and kept the carcass as another trophy, his second of the day. He also proceeded to scoop up rupees from the floor, even though it was not essential to their mission. There was no reason not to; their task is complete, or so they think. Suddenly, the commotion of cursing and battle fills their ears, coming from the corridor they just came from. The dynamic duo looked at each other before uttering a single word and running from where they came.

“Alexander!”

Moving with haste, the two returned to the chamber where they met the riddling minotaur. They encountered a grisly sight, the minotaur on the floor, covered in his own blood and the blood of his enemies. Over a dozen orc bloodwarrior bodies lay defeated, scattered throughout the room. Standing near Alexander’s prone body was a lone orc bloodwarrior along with two goblins wielding spears and another goblin that appeared to have no weapons.

The orc bloodwarrior swore bloody vengeance for the death of his comrades, intending to take out his oath on Lux and Thing-of-Nouns. The mutant salander hissed a challenge at his enemies, immediately drawing the attention of the orc and two armed goblins. The lone goblin took several steps backward, making arcane gestures. A goblin magic-user! Lux had wanted to attempt healing Alexander, but the greater threat had made itself clear, and as a paladin of valor, he could suffer no evil creature to live. With the goblin magic-user preparing an incantation, Lux chose to charge it, with the hope that he could take it down quickly enough and hopefully heal Alexander, assuming the Minotaur could be healed. Lunging forward, Lux screamed his holy word.

“Die!”

The goblin magic-user unleashes a putrid green orb from his hands, slimy and transparent. Lux tries to anticipate where the attack will land and raises his shield to counter. He anticipates incorrectly, and is struck in the forehead for his efforts. Despite the blinding pain, he now finds himself in melee range with the magic-user and strikes down. Meanwhile, Thing-of-Nouns winds up, intending to knock his enemies down with a wide swing of his greatsword, but he mistimes his swing and hits nothing but air. The goblins are so shocked by this turn of events, they freeze in their tracks, perhaps anticipating that they are being baited. The orc does no such thing, and injures the mutant salamander with a jagged blade.

Lux manages to greatly injure the orc magic-user with a swing of his blade. Once more, he utters his holy oath! Over and over again!

“Die! Die! Die!”

The magic-user manages to conjure another acid orb, but is unable to let it loose before Lux swings his mighty blade with great valor, killing the goblin magic-user. Thing-of-Nouns meanwhile manages to nimbly dodge the orc bloodwarrior, and shoulder tackles him down to the ground. Raising his greatsword for a killing blow, he surprisingly misses, while the orc counterattacks from the floor, stabbing upward, his jagged blade once more drawing mutant salamander blood.

Lux charges forward, swinging his blade at one of the goblins. The goblin tries to parry with his spear, but the blade slices through the spear and neck of the goblin, killing it instantly. An enraged Thing-of-Nouns swings his greatsword once more, finally connecting with the orc, killing it instantly in a mess of blood and entrails. The lone goblin drops his spear, and runs down the hallway. The goblin footsteps grow more and more faint, before a clang is heard. Metallic footsteps fill the hallway as the Iron War Elemental emerges into the room, looking somewhat haggard and fatigued.

“My friends, did you recover the Urn of Heroes?”

Lux produces the Urn for all to see. Sadly, Alexander the minotaur has died and is past the point of healing, magical or otherwise. The Iron War Elemental and his two lieutenants make their way towards the ruins entrance, their mission an apparent success…

As an aside, the riddles I used are from ‘So What’s The Riddle Like, Anyway III’ from Raging Swan Press. No, I don’t work for them, and you can find it here.

The Fourth Blog of 2015: Dungeon World Gaiden

The following post was written by the player for Philo with contributions by Chris Fong and the player for Tesla. Enjoy!

(FYI: Gaiden is a Japanese word for ‘side-story’ or ‘tale.’ You can read more about it here, but as not all players could make it, that’s essentially what was run on this night rather than continue the previous Indigo Galleon adventure and trying to reconcile the fiction of why this character was no longer around. So it was decided that we would have an adventure where three of the characters meet for the first time.)

“Grunhilda, are you sure about your translation of Halorin’s diary?”

“Quite sure, Lord-Regent King; the cypher was surprisingly easy to solve. The only question that remains is, who should we send to recover the artifact?”

The Lord-Regent sighed. The bulk of his strongest warriors were away on city-watch business. Andrade did boast one of the realm’s finest Adventurer’s Guilds, but adventurers and mercenaries have proven to be unreliable in the past. Still, time was of the essence. The Lord-Regent was not the only one with possession of Halorin’s diary.

“If I may, Lord-Regent, I have a fairly competent friend from University whose hobby happens to be the pursuit of magical mysteries. I am sure he would be more than happy to undertake the journey to recover the artifact.”

The Lord-Regent sat down on his ruling chair, deep in thought. “If you vouch for this wizard, then please summon him, and make haste. I will also need you to go to the Adventurer’s Guild to see if anyone would volunteer for this errand.”

“At once, Lord-Regent.”

*     *     *

Philo had come back to the great city of Andrade for a few days. Usually, only long enough to resupply and maybe line-up some guide work. Sure, a true ranger could get by without civilization, and Philo wasn’t fond of all the abstract laws found in cities; where his snake was and wasn’t allowed, and what you couldn’t do depending on what day it was, etc. However, Philo was no fool, he wasn’t in the habit of letting pride get in the way of some well-crafted hunting supplies or a meal cooked with “spices.”

Philo also found big city entertainment to his liking. Unfortunately, the chief draw, gambling, made sure he didn’t enjoy for too long. No sooner did he find himself with some extra rupees, than they seemed to make their way over to someone else’s pile. Still, it was all fun and games to him. People got so mad about losing those little stones. Stone’s won’t keep you well fed or protected in the wild. A Ranger had his wits for that.

As Philo’s last rupee made its way over to the dealer’s pile, he was ready to become a Ranger once again. Suddenly the door to the adventurer’s hall slammed open. In the doorway stood a matron wizardess flanked on either side by two greenhorns. A female bard stood to the left, probably one of the students over at the Bard college. And staring intently to the young gentleman on the right. He must be a wizard; who else would wear all that purple?

Grunhilda called out for volunteers. “Payment is 10 rupees upfront and more upon successful return.”

Ten rupees wasn’t much, but out in the wild, it was better to travel in packs. Making camp alone was always a gamble. Philo had Whiskers to watch his back, but snakes were a little odd. Once every few weeks, Whiskers would disappear, returning once he had a full belly.  Once Whiskers got hungry, there was no telling if you were on the menu or not.

10 rupees, Philo thought. I was headed back out there anyway. I might as well go with money in my pocket and someone to talk to. He looked around; just as he suspected, he was the only taker. After all, adventurers were not in the habit of escorting city-folk for paltry sums. They were after that big score, so they could be rich and buy a castle or something. Philo chuckled to himself. What would I do in a castle?  

*     *     *

Returning to the mansion of Lord-Regent King, the terrific trio were told more details of their mission, and the world in general. In the last great War of the Realm, the civilized races joined forces to fight necromancers corrupted by their lust for power and domination. Among the most powerful necromancers, and perhaps the most mad, was Halorin, a Dwarf wizard with a knack for causing chaos. His arch-rival on the battlefield was known to many only as the Iron War Elemental, an Iron Golem that housed the soul of a powerful, nameless Dwarven warrior. During their final battle, Halorin defeated and entombed the Iron War Elemental, and teleported him away to a cavern for no good reason other than sheer madness. According to remnants of Halorin’s diary, recently translated by Grunhilda, the Iron War Elemental’s shield was also entombed. Lord-Regent King promised the party 50 rupees apiece for successful completion of recovering the shield, or at the very least ensuring it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Directions to the cave were provided, again information acquired from the diary…

*     *     *

Making their way through the wilderness was going better than expected.  The three set out to find some old shield that belonged to some old dwarf who fought in some old war. Philo noted enough of the details to get them where they were going.  It would be up to the others to deal with any magic or traps. Or so he hoped…

Another beautiful day in the forest was drawing to a close when the party spotted a campfire up ahead. Philo counted five goblins sitting around the spit roasting a squirrel and complaining about the lack of human meat. He gave hand signals to his party and let loose the 1st shot. Definitely not his lucky day. The arrow hit the squirrel, alerting all of the goblins to their presence.

Philo let off another shot. Whiskers, being the fearless snake he was, dove right in to assist. Biting the goblin in the foot ensured that the arrow hit the preoccupied goblin in the head.

Lilly busted into the camp with bravado, singing at the top of her lungs in goblin. Suddenly, one of the goblins turned and attacked his companion. Philo didn’t understand what she was singing, and was glad he didn’t, because it was her song that made the goblin turn. Both Lilly and Philo looked around. No wizard. Two goblins left, meant they had more important things to pay attention to.

Another goblin quickly met his end. Down to one, and now the wizard decided to show up. Purple blasts emanate from the bushes and the final goblin is roasted, but not before a snake that wasn’t Whiskers coiled down from a hanging branch and attacks Tesla. The group dispatches the snake as Whiskers looks horrified by what happens next: Lilly may have grown up on the wrong side of town, or just have some odd tastes, because she helps herself to some nearly raw goblin, while the other two try to figure out what to make of it.

*     *     *

The rest of the journey to the cave was not as eventful. Another days walk brought them to the mouth of the cave. Upon entering, they encountered a fleshy dwarf quite literally bonded to the wall. Think Han Solo frozen in carbonite, except he could talk. All attempts to free him failed, but the dwarf didn’t seem to mind. He was happy, content to remain there. Clearly evidence of the power of this mad wizard and what he had done during the ancient war.

A little ways beyond the dwarf was what resembled a frozen pool of water. Philo and his cold-blooded companion thought better than to test out the ice. Lilly on the other hand dashed out, discovering that though it looked like ice, it wasn’t slippery at all. Also, she was quickly surrounded as four flesh golems, dwarven in their sewn-up appearance, rose up through the ice. The golems split up, two attacking Lilly, and one of each on the remaining party members. Thinking quickly, Tesla turned Lilly invisible, and was quickly punished by the nearest golem. Philo attempted to ignore the enemy in front of him and help Lilly. The nearest golem ended up deflecting the arrow shot.

New round, and our team found new resolve. Lilly bashed her pan pipes into a golem’s neck and began to play, bursting its brains. Philo and Whiskers dispatched the golem who had deflected his previous arrow. Tesla attempted to use his magic missile spell, but perhaps unable to concentrate fully, it fizzled out, uncast and forgotten. Opting for physical force instead of magic, Tesla unleashed his staff on another golem, cracking its head in the process. The party worked together to dispatch the final golem. They won, but clearly paid a price. Lilly and Tesla were badly injured and Tesla had lost his magic missile spell. The party decided it would be best to lick their wounds outside the cave.

*     *     *

The party once again camped overnight; luck was still with them, for no creatures disturbed their slumber and they awakened refreshed and ready to trek deeper into the cave. Or they would have been, if they hadn’t been rudely interrupted after breakfast.

Four figures approached them, two of them brandishing swords, another a bow, along with a diminutive, cloaked halfling figure. After some conversation about going to retrieve the shield, Tesla shook the hand of the apparent leader and successfully charmed him with his not-as-patented-as-magic-missile-but-still-very-effective ‘Charm Person’ spell. With his new ‘friend ‘till the end,’ the two groups found themselves allied together and entered the cave together.

*     *     *

The expanded group heads into the cave. They make it past the stranded dwarf and the ice-pool areas without issue. The next part of the cave is a large cavern filled with stalagmites and stalactites. As the party starts making their way through the rock formations they are greeted by the sound of wings. Bat wings. Large bats start attacking the party, but they appear decomposed in appearance. Now bolstered with reinforcements, the party mows down the zombie bats. Their new “friends” took the brunt of the damage.

The forces regroup and continue into the large cavern filled with various bones. They see a tomb at the other end resting on a stone dais. This must be the treasure that both parties came for. Just as the group thinks there is only loot left to collect, Lilly runs up to the tomb; the moment she steps onto the dais, magical runes flare up, an eery green glow fills the cavern, and the bones on the ground start moving.  A room full of skeletons starts to form at the feet of our adventurers. Battle ensues. Everyone fights valiantly, but despite our best efforts, Tesla’s ‘friend till the end’ indeed meets his end. The halfling disappears in the chaos.

As skeletons and allies fell in brutal fashion, Philo decided now was the time to strike, and fired an arrow at the hunter. Tesla, for reasons only known to himself, tried to interfere with the strike, lunging forward in an attempt to knock Philo down. While he is successful in altering Philo’s shot, the arrow does let loose, arcing through the air…and piercing the hunter’s throat, killing him instantly.

Luckily, there was enough confusion to cover the kill. Philo and Whiskers went over to investigate the other Hunter. Removing his arrow and making it look like the Hunter had succumb to skeleton attacks, both Philo and Whiskers rush back to join the battle. Philo reasons, Tesla and Lilly might not agree with it, but hopefully two down will prevent the intended mutiny.  

Upon returning, Philo set about his next task, finding that sneaky little halfling. Philo searched high and low while the others repelled the skeletal onslaught. Finally, the battle was won. One very badly beaten-up warrior, a halfling that had been missing for most of the battle, Tesla, Lilly, and Philo stood victorious against the remaining skeletons.

Our impostor group decided that they had had enough. This was supposed to be an easy mission. Now at half their original strength and their leader dead, they decided to throw in the towel.  Upon hearing this, we allowed the remaining members to join us for a cut in the loot.

It turns out that we found just the halfling for the job. He made whatever adjustments were needed to open the lock on the tomb safely without setting off any more traps. Now all that was left was to collect the treasure. Opening the tomb, they were greeted with what resembled an iron golem, nearly twelve feet in height, along with what can only be his shield, shining and brilliant in its appearance, and a curious looking tome, something they did not expect to find. Tesla’s research had taught him ways to communicate with the dead. We decided to use his new-found magical skill to ask permission to loot the tomb of the great hero of Andrade. The soul of the Iron War Elemental was fine with his shield leaving him as long as it was going to the hands of good. He had no attachment to the tome, and wondered what it could be. He certainly wasn’t the only one. Could Halorin have placed it here?

What happened next? Tune in next time on Adventures of the Adventurers of Dungeon World.