Dungeon World Exodus Session One – Vs Two Cohesive Units of Seagulls
Lee as Ethan Gale, Warden for the Order of Eternal Light. His mother Helena is missing.
Jacob as Holden Luck, stubbornness mage. The son of the family he protects is missing.
Vinnie as Bryan Weaver, Goblin bounty hunter. His friendly rival Ali is missing.
Ash as Captain Urit Morca of the pirate ship Thondir’s Dagger. His mentor Falren Varley is missing.
Josh as (Fight the) Goodfight, an elemental savant. His sister Hope is missing after the pair had been fighting.
We’d had a week to think about the characters and the setting. In the time before the last session I had a booklet written up much like my ‘Fixing Hoard of the Dragon Queen’ ones but fun. It needed a few changes now I knew who had been kidnapped and a bit more about the district. There was an idea for an encounter with a ton of weird little monsters and a noble which wouldn’t have existed without this delay. Excitedly I looked up the names of parts of boats, figured out stats (such as they are) and some names for NPCs.
The session began in the Emerald District of Exodus with the group as a cohesive unit walking down the cobbled streets towards a small collection of businesses. I handed out ‘flashback’ cards for the group to provide exposition about how they got together for in-game bonuses if they’re relevant to the scene. The Ugly Gull Shipping Company was their target; the last place their leads went to. It was in a dodgy part of town opposite a park, comprising of a walled compound, a couple of carriages, a couple of small buildings and the offices themselves. A pair of guards with matted old feathers threaded through long coats yawned and paced around the outside.
I asked the group what they did; a mantra you must always return to in PbtA games. “[Thing] happens, what do you do?” The narrative reactions power moves which power moves back until a situation is resolved and you keep going. It flows nicely, but ‘what do you do’ is the king of questions to help with that.
Holden and Ethan were in their heavy Order of Eternal Light armour (although Ethan’s was the fancier given his official rank as a warden), looking like they were on the beat. Urit went ‘full pirate’ (the Black Sails picture from my last article was basically what Ash showed me when I asked what Urit was wearing. Goodfight was in his finest tattered robes and Bryan had gone ninja with his outfit. Bryan had a look at the compound to see whether there was an ambush (no) and whether there was anything he could see that no one else could (the tops of the walls have poisoned spikes). Holden and Ethan went ahead and asked to inspect the compound because of reports of illegal cargo.
Each character is made of 2-3 different specialities which give starting moves indicative of what they do. One of Ethan’s specialities is “Champion of Law”, so he gained this move:
I looked at the choices and decided that he’d be allowed to look around but only by himself. Holden asked to view the shipping contracts which the remaining guard; Greg, agreed to. He ran inside to get them.
Meanwhile at the side of the compound, Goodfight was trying to use his powers to float Bryan over the edge. It wasn’t going well, with the goblin spinning in place and ending up stuck upside down. “Everything’s fine!” he shouted up, failing to convince Bryan. Urit got bored of this tomfoolery, brought out his whip and managed to hit Bryan with enough of a hit to get him down but not comfortably. I gave Ash the option of Urit or Bryan suffering harm. The pirate stepped back as Bryan tumbled to the ground.
They wondered how they could get up… then remembered the five pirates Urit brought with him, who had been ignored so far. They grappled up and let Goodfight have a go. He looked at the goo and couldn’t comprehend more than it being poison of some kind. “The goo’s some kind of anti-climb paint!” he shouted down.
“Shout?” people asked, this being a stealth mission.
“With hand signals.” Of course. Next Goodfight tried to ‘poisonbend’ the greenish goo from the spikes. His attempt to channel the elements were tricky. Elemental Mastery is an odd ability, kind of an, “elements do whatever you want” but they’re probably going to go awry. Look at those choices:
So backlashes are going to happen. In this case, he moved the poison from a small gap and any spike still coated started turning into long thorns which were seeking out targets to poison.
Downstairs, Holden was skimming through the contracts and Ethan went into a storeroom alone. He tried to discern realities which is the basic move I think I like the most (and a good podcast about Dungeon World>>>LINK>>>http://www.gauntlet-rpg.com/discern-realities). He failed but I threw him a clue in the form of a single abandoned shoe. He looked closer at it and heard the door lock behind him. Holden looked up from the contracts to see a pair of burly-looking men not in Ugly Gull uniforms stomping towards him.
Urit clambered over the spikes on the wall but was too burly to avoid the spikes. I gave him the option of poison (-1 ongoing) or damage. He took the poison. From his vantage point he saw the goons looming in on Holden and realised they had tattoos in the form of a moon on the backs of their necks.
Goodfight and Bryan had taken to another method of entering the compound; a large sewer pipe. Bryan was small enough to fit in the pipe if he got rid of most of his belongings, so he left them behind and immediately got stuck, even with the help of Goodfight. Possibly because? Goodfight decided to use his elemental powers to push Bryan through the pipes which he did almost too well, launching him into the compound’s privy, stumbling out in a daze and warning a man waiting outside that he may not want to go in for a bit.
Our guards were doing pretty well, Holden was still reviewing the shipping contracts while two burly guards were trying to hit him. Using his odd stubbornness magic he was able to deflect every blow while reading. Ethan had bagged up the incriminating shoe and attempted to shoulder-barge the door. He rolled poorly and while he went through it, he hit the floor right were a guard was stood, mace in hand. In an instant, Ethan used his magical power to summon a gladius into his hand and parry it. The guard failing to attack Holden turned away from him to see what was going on with Ethan, so Holden attempted to cast ‘Cause Fear’. It failed and instead he attracted a swarm of seagulls. Even worse, the kind of seagulls you get in Brighton. As locals to the city, we started getting into a little chatter about how they feed on two things; chips and human flesh. They are huge brutal bastards who have stolen food from the hands and mouths of some of our group. Horrible. And now Holden had a swarm of them who were circling over him. Urit saw a use for his powers and tried to commune with the seagulls who now split into two cohesive units pursuing Holden and Urit. Goodfight asked what to do and Josh cashed in the ‘Flashback Card’ I’d given each of them.
In the past, Goodfight had been kicked out of the house by his sister who often had men round to play games with her. Whenever this happened, Goodfight was kicked out. He saw the boasting of Urit’s crew, volunteered to join them and was mocked. Goodfight used his telekinesis to knock over the pirate mocking him and Urit (without looking directly at him) mentioned that he’d have a place on the crew if he could stop the pirates from knocking him over. A telekinesis fight ensued and shortly afterwards they were all knocked down. Urit praised him on his fighting prowess and told him that if they get into a fight then he had to remember one thing; never let the captain get hurt.
The flashback cards are something I added so the players could get into the action and provide exposition as they go. Even better, they could get +1 on their roll if the next action they did was relevant to it. Goodfight used his powers to scatter the seagulls from Urit, keeping him safe.
Bryan had reached the outside of the building now and jumped at one of the goons (Bruce). He intended to leap up and jam a handful of sleeping poison in his face but just glommed on instead. Ethan used the goblin as a good distraction and shoved his psychic blade through Bruce. He fell face-first and Bryan had to get helped out from under him. Holden collected rocks which he filled with magical energy to scatter the gulls. Goodfight used a spell which created a bird’s eye map of the area. All of the players looked at Josh who had just explained the presence of a spell which would have been really useful. He’d not noticed or remembered it… Anyway, now he had so he looked above the scene to see if there was anything to look out for. There was a robed figure who had been watching from the park. He gave chase, albeit with his eyes still navigating from above. Controlling his actions from so far outside his body was weird but he managed it, pinning the guy down.
The main building’s door opened for a moment as Vojtech Westy, the owner of the Ugly Gull Shipping Company poked his head out and locked himself inside. Bryan picked the door, leapt at him and shoved poison down his throat, riding the unconscious spherical man to the ground. He did so well to impress the pirates.
“That goblin’s great!”
“Yeah. Stinks of shit, though.” Oh yeah, he was still covered in sewage from the pipes. Oh well, he still did well.
Outside the group looked to see if there was anyone to fight. Ethan had downed the two burly guards, Goodfight had the cultist down and the Ugly Gull guard had been KO’d, too. Everyone looked at Greg, who was impatiently waiting for Holden to be done with the contracts. Greg admitted that he is not up for fighting. The cause was lost and even though he was a minion, he wasn’t an idiot. Bryan snooped for a trace of Ali and found the golden brooch he used to secure his turban smashed into the ground. Holden found that the boat was going from Dock 42 and Goodfight’s interrogation of the cultist had him mention that the ‘cargo’ fought back and was being loaded on at the beach by “The Fat Man”, a large stone Goodfight practised martial arts near. At the mention of their loved ones as ‘cargo’, Goodfight attacked the cultist. Ethan tried to stop him and Bryan took over the punching instead.
They sent Greg to summon the Order of Eternal Light so they could collect the unconscious enemies and ran to the beach. Holden used a great ability which seals a contract such as, “go and summon the Order, then we’ll let you go”, causing an alert and damage if Greg breaks it. We cut to the beach and the group could see a few collections of people chilling out there. One such group were right next to a schooner landed on the shore, with the noise of screams and gunfire. Bryan stomped towards them, looking to information.
We had a brief flashback to a hunt for a runaway bride which was the first time Ali and Bryan teamed up after all their arguments.
With his dedication towards his friend, Bryan went to assault what he now saw was a nobleman on the beach. Urit decided to distract them by summoning an army of crabs to climb out of the sea! Goodfight tried to lessen the fire but ended up causing it to blaze out of control. The nobleman took his hand cannon out and shot at a crab, then demanded one of the servants reload the gun. Bryan grabbed the empty pistol and knocked the nobleman out with it, took his purse and threw it at the three women who were the noble’s entourage. He held them at (admittedly unloaded) gunpoint and told them to leave. The women told him that he’d knocked out the Fourteenth Duke of Dane, an arms merchant who believed the Order of Eternal Light was a charmingly outdated idea. One of the women pocketed the duke’s pouch and Goodfight told them the goblin was forcing them to hold them up took their names; Avril, Jemima and Petticoat. He started trying to woo Petticoat (because apparently if being goblin-racist and banging stupid noblewomen isn’t what heroism’s all about, Goodfight doesn’t know what is). Petticoat, by the way, was so named as the was the thirteenth child and mother gave up on using real names by then. Goodfight asked her about whether they’d seen anything and apparently there was a boat heading out to sea that way (pointing in a specific direction). It must have been their moon-masked foes. Holden and Ethan were trying to work out how to reconcile the theft of a boat with their law-abiding ways and solved it with an IOU from the order. Goodfight got Petticoat’s address in the noble ward and sent the ladies on their way.
Urit drove the servants off the boat and set sail with the player characters. In his natural element, he discerned realities to perceive the areas around him. He saw beacons in the water a little further out, leading… somewhere. They weren’t here before. The sea is weirdly volatile for a calm night like tonight… Yeah, that won’t bite them in the arse. Also he looked for anything useful and found a Day-Seer, a telescope which turned the sky to daylight when you looked through it. Ash wrote an IOU for the spyglass and pocketed it. As they sailed on, they found that the lanterns bobbing in the ocean were tiny and organic, crusty translucent balls which pulsed oddly with light held inside them. They split in two directions and Goodfight cast his ‘minimap’ spell again. He could see them forming a large circle around a tiny islet which glowed red. The Day-Seer revealed a large crescent moon-shaped structure which was glowing red. Urit spouted lore about it and said that his crew saw an islet with a moon statue on and the pirates were too terrified to go there.
The schooner crossed through the lanterns and the second it did the lights started to blink rapidly. They’d gone through a barrier. Before they could turn back or do anything else, a massive tentacle slammed onto the back of the schooner. Then, bursting through the waves they saw a gigantic kraken!
The players grabbed dice, just in time for me to yell, “Clifffhanger!”
Next session, the kraken and what exactly the moon-masked cultists were doing with their loved ones!l