Lee as Ethan Gale, Warden for the Order of Eternal Light.
Jacob as Holden Luck, stubbornness mage.
Vinnie as Bryan Weaver, Goblin bounty hunter.
Ash as Captain Urit Morca of the pirate ship Thondir’s Dagger.
Josh as (Fight the) Goodfight, an elemental savant.
The group met while rescuing their loved ones from the cult of The God of Tears. They discovered a weird other realm, were thrown around by a guard kraken and Bryan died briefly.
Here’s a picture of my prep. It’s in a nice little booklet. Admittedly LibreOffice (blight on my life that it is) printed the booklet out in the wrong order, but it was a set of scenes, some stats. Now throw that picture away. And the prep. Scene Zero would be this session, scene three would be the next two sessions and scenes four and five would be after that. Such is prep. Most PBTA games require little prep, but those instincts are difficult to shake and in some form or other, elements were used in the campaign.
The group had all gone their own ways at the end of last session and time had passed. It was an unspecified amount of time, but there was a pressing thing we needed to cover before anything else. Bryan had died and bargained with Death at The Black Gate. He’d promised to kill Davian Silver, the boy Holden had tried to save. At the end of the session everyone was safe but the promise still hung over Bryan. He hired Urit Morca to carry out the murder and then descended into a slight addiction to his own sleeping drugs.
Morca broke into the Silver household and stuck a knife between Davian’s ribs while he slept.
Ethan and Holden were part of The Order of Eternal Light and beholden to higher powers. As such I asked Lee what happened with Ethan’s question. Apparently his actions were frowned upon, but nothing major came from it. Possibly because of his father being one of the higher-ups. Holden wasn’t under anywhere near as much scrutiny and felt himself to be the Robin to Ethan’s Batman.
Goodfight had spent some of his spare time befriending Tia, the niece of the man they rescued in the temple last session. She was trying to get her uncle to sell up his ruined old tavern and retire outside of Exodus.
In my first campaign of Dungeon World, I just went off the core book and plots made on post-it notes mere hours before the game. This time I’d bathed in the wealth of third party material available to me. The group used Class Warfare to make characters and I had a plot hook using Wizard-Spawned Insanities which would make an appearance later, I also dipped my toes into The Planarch Codex: Dark Heart of the Dreamer as I heard there were good city mechanics. This was because I wanted to generate some random jobs the group might have been up to in their downtime. Any left over would change over time, or get solved by others.
The jobs were:
A cult want propaganda sent out through the district
A militarist (unsaid, but it’s the Duke of Dane who they angered last session) wants a supply raid on a nearby district
A diplomat wants some papers recovered from a distant district
A guild wants propaganda put up in the Gate District
Each of these were here to generate coin, but they went a little awry from there. Holden flatly refused Dane’s offer and started discreet investigations into him. He did, however, look into the guild and found out that they were a lumberyard who were at risk of having rivals undercut them. He weighed up his options and grudgingly went through with it, spreading the word that the lumber group outside of the district were slow to deliver goods).
Keamy Lumber became a contact for him after his good work.
Urit’s crew were working on shore, trying to build up contacts within the district.
Ethan was busy with his guard work and Goodfight mentioned his joy in being the first mate of Morca’s crew.
“Oh yeah, I did that,” Urit said, evidently having forgotten what he’d done. He had nothing for Goodfight to do and sent him away, where he found the cultists putting up their ‘help wanted’ advert.
They openly admitted they were from the Cult of Tears and looking for recruits. At this point I was already realising that the group were taking ages and veering away from the plot. Then the RPG gods provided.
Goodfight decided to try and infiltrate the cult, he promised to put up their posters advertising for new members all over the city. He asked where their meeting place was and suggested they meet in The Kobold’s Beard; the old tavern which Tia wanted rid of. Josh reckoned he could get the rest of the group together and prepare an ambush. Josh forgot that he rolls really poorly and got a five on his charisma roll.
Just as a reminder, with this system you roll 2d6 and add a modifier. On a 10+ you get the thing you want, on a 7-9 you get it at a cost, on a six or less you get an experience point and your fate’s in my hands. The thing is, that doesn’t necessarily mean a failure. Sometimes success can be worse.
“Yeah,” Ralph the cultist said. “That pub sounds cool. Good plan, bro. We’ll send our assassins there immediately to clear it out.”
Goodfight smiled, nodded, backed away and once he was out of sight fled to The Shattered Crab, where he knew Bryan and Morca should be. Bryan was in a sleeping-drug-induced daze and a speedy intervention was needed to break him out of it. This mainly involved floating the goblin around with telekinesis until a pair of guard turned up to stop the fracas. It was Ethan and Holden. They were told about the plan and started working out what to do while riding to the tavern. The group worked out what they knew about the place. It was pretty central to the district at one point and a haven for adventurers before it fell into disrepair.
Bryan realised he could poison the cultists quite easily given the opportunity. Goodfight could get their attention and even play along that he’s one of them. They arrived at the tavern and it looked like the assassins hadn’t turned up yet. The tavern was a large place which I roughly sketched out with the hope that the group would be able to modify it over time. Oh yeah, this was back on track and part of my master plan to land them with a tavern. The windows were boarded up, all apart from one at the top. Down the bottom the front door was open and barely working. Tia was arguing with her uncle Lem. Holden and Ethan entered, saying that they were there to help, but Tia was suspicious of them pair. This wasn’t helped by Lem’s instant acceptance of them.
Bryan crept through the upstairs window and saw a pair of people in zombie-looking masks. They had crossbows and looked to be heading to a vantage point on the mezzanine. Bryan shouted a warning, dived out of the way of a crossbow bolt and Goodfight telekinetically threw Morca at them. He sliced at the pair, removing their legs but taking a crossbow bolt to the shoulder. Ethan tried to shoo Holden out of the building but he refused. Ethan flung a stool at another assassin, knocking him out. The effort broke open a flimsy floorboard and Goodfight saved Ethan from falling into an old cellar.
Back upstairs, Bryan saw more cultists heading to the pub as the last of the sun sank away. He ran down and warned them. They planned to hide some of the group, Tia and Lem down in the basement, obscured by magical fog. Bryan poisoned a barrel of ale. Ethan and Urit both donned zombie masks from the assassins and Bryan hid behind the bar.
The cultists came and celebrated the acquisition of a new headquarters with a foaming glass of poisoned ale. All but two, as the elves in the cult didn’t drink (in a previous campaign we decided that Elven wine was basically Shloer).
Ethan hit one of them with a psi-blade. The other pulled his mask off and ran. The group had more things to deal with; mainly a pub full of sleeping cultists. Ethan found a waggon for the group to cart the bodies away. Holden put down the two assassins mutilated by Urit.
Some town guards were summoned and took the cultists off and the group were offered free rooms at The Kobold’s Beard. Lem loved their heroic actions and seemed rejuvenated by everything he’d seen. Tia wasn’t keen on this as it seemed to be more of a step away from Lem leaving the city. Bryan drunkenly tried to woo her and made a mess of it. Both Ethan and Goodfight stepped in to ‘protect’ her from the advances of the goblin, only to end up bickering. Tia just muttered, “Adventurers,” and wandered off.
In the morning, Holden started to make an offer for the tavern. He felt it would be a good place for the Silver family to work as they had no way of earning their own living anymore. Lem agreed that the Silvers could work there, but he wanted it to remain an adventurer’s tavern.
Goodfight and Ethan both turned up at Tia’s door with breakfast. Ethan had lovingly prepared a set of his rations. Goodfight had bought pastries from a nearby bakery. Tia remained unimpressed by both of them and terrified that her father was still going to play some part in the tavern. She explained that she ran a tailor’s in a village outside of Exodus and needed the money to help with her business.
The group felt they needed to get information from the cultists and Urit convinced Bryan to sneak into The Order of Eternal Light. This was instead of asking Holden or Ethan to pull some strings. Bryan would work out how to get in. Urit worked some of his animal magic to mark a mouse with dirt and see through its’ eyes. He gave the mouse to Bryan so he could see everything that went on.
Bryan went up to the grand hall and saw someone terrifying. Warden Roberts was one of the higher wardens, half of his face had been burnt off and one eye replaced with a red gem. For a second in the shadows, the warden seemed taller, stretched somehow. Like Death.
The moment passed and Bryan found a friend of Ethan’s. Warden Trey knew Bryan from some of the bounties he turned in and was easily convinced that Bryan wanted some of his items returned after handing in a recent contract. Once in, Bryan crept over to the cells where he could find a prisoner.
Things went wrong though as he was noticed and had to flee. He poisoned one guard and Morca summoned some rats as a distraction. He got out, made some excuses to the guards and was kicked out.
Finally, as Morca snapped back to the tavern, he saw someone stumbling in. The group had been looking at what needed fixing in The Kobold’s Beard and realising it was going to be quite pricy. I’m not a fan of massive inventory management or anything like that, so my plan with the tavern is that they’ll make contacts with folks, gain resources and be able to upgrade it that way. They already had a lumber guy who could help out.
What was I missing? Oh yeah, that person stumbling in. A guy in tattered clothes who looked like a miner walked through the door and collapsed. His mouth was bleeding and burst open as bright crystals speared their way out of him. The crystals looked like they were alive, so Goodfight decided to try and scan them. Josh looked at me in that kind of, “Am I going to break your game by doing this?” way and no, he wouldn’t. He’d managed to get the group away from the plot and then right back onto it again. Now he would serve as the delivery service for the next hook. He read the mind of the crystals, only to find that they weren’t one mind, they were part of a massive hive. His brain was overloaded with images of The Gemsmith’s District out west from where they were. There were people filled with these crystals and they were building something… horrible.
And that’s where we ended the session. Next time the group will travel and discover the horrors of The Spider-Minaret!