Lee as Ethan Gale, unrepentant defender of his way-too-lawful bosses.
Jacob as Holden Luck, living embodiment of terms & conditions.
Vinnie as Ali, Barbarian bounty hunter.
Ash as Captain Urit Morca, a man of low moral fibre.
Josh as (Fight the) Goodfight, an elemental mess.
Amy as Snow, a gap-year barbarian.
King Erasmo, the mutilated monarch of the Gemsmith’s Quint
Our heroes are stuck in the Gemsmith’s Quint, a quarantined part of the mega city of Exodus. They’re trying to stop the menace of the crystal eaters. They’re hiding out with King Erasmo and his men, working out how to get safely into the mines of the crystal eaters.
The group’s plan was basically to head out to the mines and the weird towers growing around them via a church. They would steal the church’s bell, attach it to a trebuchet and get some minions ringing it like crazy while they storm the mines.
Ash returned and we had a full group again. I asked Ash why Morca had been away and why he’d returned. It was cowardice and morals in roughly that order. I’d suspected his absence would be more related to Flash Roofrunner preparing for revenge, but apparently it was more guilt for Bryan’s death. He met and caught up with the rest of the group at the speed of plot, was introduced to Ali and told about their plan.
Goodfight used his minimap spell to spot the location of a trebuchet buried under rubble and that there were some crystal eaters scavenging things around it.
Morca threatened to summon giant ants as a distraction which given the flocks of birds and the dire peacock, the others took as a threat. They did acknowledge that it would at least be a distraction.
As they got closer to the trebuchet, he summoned ants as big as bears to attack crystal eaters while the rest
Ali started clearing the rubble from the trebuchet, Ethan ordered the minions who joined them to help out. Morca and Goodfight held back the crystal eaters until they were done. It wouldn’t be easy though, as a dark titan and more crystal eaters appeared. The dark titan was a floating, bulky crystal eater whose eyes blasted dark laser beams.
Rather than have a massive fight we had a ‘splash page’ scene. I think I’d heard an idea like this on Discern Realities [LINK>>>http://www.gauntlet-rpg.com/discern-realities]. The idea is that the fight happens, but we’re looking at the equivalent of a whole page in a comic book, showing what each of the characters are doing. So in Dungeon World we get this one dramatic moment and people roll for their actions which will influence things as they go on. You’ll see something quite similar when we get onto 7th Sea with action and dramatic scenes.
Morca was dog-piled by a bunch of crawling crystal eaters. He just about holds the position, stopping their advancement but getting impaled on his own partisan.
Ali swatted them away but was grabbed by more crystal eaters.
Goodfight spawned a massive fog around the dark titan’s head to stop it from spotting people to shoot.
Ethan ran off and grabbed a discarded warhammer nearby. The titan sent some of the deadly dancers out to attack Ethan. Holden managed to block and shatter them, cutting several people with exploded shards of crystal.
Back to Ali and he saw The Horde. We’re talking worthy of capitalisation, Left4Dead style, “You have alerted The Horde” style horde. It was like an ocean of crystal, piling through the streets towards them. He slipped out of his noble clothes, fulfilling the role of Vinnie playing a character who gets naked in every single campaign.
Ethan, Ali and Morca were nearest to the horde, with the others already leaving with the trebuchet. They had to Defy Danger with their Dexterity scores. They rolled pretty poorly, but worst of all was Ethan. They would all suffer damage, but Ethan would bang into either Ali or Morca, causing them to suffer worse damage. Lee looked at Vinnie (Ali) and Morca (Ash), then did the maths. Ali was made to be pretty hardy, able to absorb a ton of damage with his hardened skin. He decided that Ethan would bang into Ali. I rolled damage for them and we narrated the collision, the desperate flight to where the others were already a good distance away from The Horde.
Ali and Ethan made it. Then I asked Ash how Morca was.
Oh. He’d taken enough damage by being impaled on his own weapon and the grapple, this last amount was enough to finish him off. He’d fallen at the start of their run and not been noticed. Ash rolled his Last Breath.
Morca got up and saw the tide of crystal eaters engulfing the streets. He was between the heroes and The Horde. He pulled the partisan from out of his side, drew his sword and faced The Horde for one last fight. He was engulfed, but bought the others time to leave.
The group arrived at the Church to Alana, which had crumbled in places but still had a slight sense of serenity to it. Snow dragged the bell down, followed by one of the minions (Lonny), eagerly carrying the clapper.
Holden started healing the injuries inflicted in the fight with the crystal eaters, causing a spell mishap, as had become tradition. He heard a buzzing above him. A fat, winged badger with yellow markings hovered over Holden’s shoulder. The wings were enough to keep the badger-bee aloft, but it’s fat belly and bum drooped behind it. The badger-bee looked like it was trying to help, but was pretty derpy (the general pose for badger-bee became tongue out and fingers pretending to be wings).
It didn’t seem to go away and was given the name, “Captain” by the group, in memory of Morca.
A large claw of crystal was growing out of the floor, so it was time to move on. Before they left, they saw something darting about in the shadows at the top of the church. It wasn’t moving like the crystal eaters. A massive cougar walked out of the shadows, followed by a tall, hooded elf. This was Ash’s new character, Throndir.
Like Amy before him, he’d grabbed a Dungeon World character sheet and run with an existing class for expediency’s sake, rather than tinker with Class Warfare. He’d picked a ranger and the cougar was his animal companion.
Throndir was here, hunting unnatural things. He had useful information for the group; the hive mind of the crystal eaters is all that animates the rest. If it is silenced, the rest will fall.
They travelled to the fountain with their strange new companion, looking at the growing crystal towers pointing towards their destination. The minions remained behind and set the bell up, with Lonny given the honour of ringing it to disrupt the crystal eaters.
The fountain sat in the middle of a square, looking almost beautiful. Instead of water, it was filled with crystals glittering in the light. Lonny started to ring the bell and the dancing crystal eaters launched into action, their dainty, spike feet scoring the paving slabs. Throndir hobbled three of them and Holden attempted to cast ‘cause fear’. Snow hit one which was looking to attack Ethan. He scattered some ball bearings on the ground, which caused chaos in the dancers as the sound of the bell caused them to stutter and freeze.
Ali charged in towards the enemy but the floor had been weakened and gave way, plummeting him into the mines. Throndir threw a spear, smashing one of the dancers apart. Goodfight climbed down the hole Ali caused and cast ‘find the way’. Truly Goodfight was a king of narrative convenience.
The cougar, Diana, was put to work collecting the arrows Throndir had missed with. Snow defended the minions from the crystal eaters (well done for remembering that!) Throndir jumped into the hole to join the others. Goodfight and Ali found their way into a massive central cavern with an 80 foot drop into a massive chamber were slaves and crystal eaters alike were unearthing this:
Flying around it like giant bees were a group of dark titans. There were small holes in the cavern’s ceiling, letting small beams of light in. Goodfight asked, “Should we try diplomacy?”
“I don’t negotiate with silicates,” Ali responded. A good policy to have, I guess.
By this point, Holden and Ethan had joined the others, leaving Snow up on the roof, defending the minions as they continued to ring the bell hanging from the trebuchet.
Holden and Goodfight used their combined powers to hold the dark titans still. Ethan swung across the put and towards the crystal king with his psi-blade out. It had proved so useless to the crystal eaters and their hive mind, but going for the king was a good shout. He plunged his blade in and it damaged the king!
Ali tried lifting the crystal kind while Throndir aimed a shot at it. Holden imbued the blast with power, leaving the dark titans free to fire eye lasers at the group.
The ground rumbled and parts of the square Snow was in fell into the cavern. She saw the crystal king and the dark titans, warned the minions to get off the trebuchet and began to roll it towards the hole.
Ethan attacked again and jumped off the king. Throndir’s imbued arrow exploded its head and the hand of the king grasped at Ethan as he tried to escape. Just as it was about to close around him, the trebuchet dropped down and smashed it to pieces. The crystal eaters on the ground level froze. The slaves’ prosthetic crystal parts fell apart. Miners were crying out for help everywhere, injured and with no idea where they were.
The heroes led two hundred miners out and escorted them to Erasmo’s palace, which was surrounded by frozen crystal eaters. While the group were taking any amount of time to go anywhere, I was counting down on a little clock of events in the background. The cultists who were hiding out here had died, as had several Gemsmith’s Quint guards. The ‘fortress’ was under attack, but they managed to stop the king a couple of dramatic ‘steps’ before the clock had them kill King Erasmo and his men.
The public were rallied to smash apart the last of the crystal eaters and the remnants of the king. The heroes got back onto their cart and returned back to the Emerald Quint, where they came from.
The session ended rather quickly as we ran over time pretty far. This happens in a lot of role-playing games and sadly for a finale, it meant little time for an epilogue or decompression.
Dungeon World is a game I’ve run for two campaigns and a one off before this game. For the first time, I started to use third party items such as Wizard-Spawned Insanities and Class Warfare. I still like the core classes, but the customisation of the classes we used meant that people were able to personalise their characters without creating any notable imbalance. Some of the group had played Dungeon World before and were able to help provide advice and guidance to the others. Dungeon World is in itself very much a reaction to Dungeons & Dragons. I like the idea of running this for people completely new to RPGs to see how they fare, but here it was useful having players able to guide others through things like not having initiative. If there was one flaw which I was part of, it was not making the players lead with the fiction more. It was too easy for the group to fall back into ‘I roll to hack and slash’ and so on.
The world of Exodus was good, with a level of interaction in its’ creation from the group. The Emerald District hasn’t been explored enough and doesn’t have a local map yet, but we’ll get there in season two. I already have some plans for adventures and for ‘love letters’ to ask them about their downtime between seasons. I know Vinnie wants to retire Ali and I have no idea if Snow or Throndir will return.
I have a couple of mini-games I want to run between seasons, including The Tavern by Graham Walmsley, to show the day to day life of the Kobold’s Beard. The next RPG campaign for my actual play reports will be an interesting new challenge. I’ll be a player in a 7th Sea campaign run by Jacob. You can see our preview of 7th Sea Second Edition where swoons were tactically-deployed here .
* Thanks to Johnstone Metzger for providing the Crystal King image for use in this report.