Sunday, February 3, 2013

Closing Down

I am closing the blog "Beyond the Drowning Woods" effective immediately. Back in January 2013, on the occassion of the FATE Core Kickstarter, I began a new blog called "Wings of FATE". Currently, I am concentrating on FATE to the exclusion of most other game systems, so it doesn't really help to have two blogs around. Especially, as I am debating to convert the Drowning Woods setting to FATE Core.

In case you are interested in my thoughts on Old School gaming, I'll be keeping the blog around a little bit longer. But I won't be doing any updates anymore. Instead, the existing posts will be transferred to the blog "Wings of FATE". To mark that occassion, I have renamed the "Wings of FATE" to "Fate of the Drowning Woods".

I sincerly hope to welcome any interested readers on the new blog.

Thanks for following my blog and have a good time!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Whatever happened in Bögenhafen?

It's been awhile since I posted about the Warhammer 3rd Edition campaign, so this post will just be a quick summary of the sessions spend in Bögenhafen. The following play report is vastly simplified to give a very quick overview of our (mis)adventures. The story was finished right before Christmas 2012 and started back in September 2012, but we were only playing now and then. Therefore a lot of details are missing.

When the group arrived in the city, the "Schaffenfest" was in full swing. But the group's erstwhile employer, Rickard Aschaffenberg had provided them with rooms at the "Golden Trout". The inn was run by a halfling, who was related to the landlord of the "Green Glade Inn". Since Rickard Aschaffenberg had apparently travelled to Übersreik on some business, they decided to stay until he returned, because he still owed them some money for saving him at the Grunwald Lodge.

The group decided to use the time to explore Bögenhafen, do some research regarding the book "De Naturis Demonibus" and enjoy the Schaffenfest. Volcifar was making quite a big fool out of himself, when he inquired about the book at the temple of Sigmar. In the end, he was thrown out of the temple. He fared a little bit better at the Verena temple. Here he got some answers, but not really enough to show him how to get rid of the book. He is getting a bit desperate, in case the Weaver of Fates turns out to be more than a nightmare.

Athelas and Finubaryel spend time at the Schaffenfest, but apparently elves weren't very welcome there. The market judges more or less banned them.

Lutz was feeling out the underworld of Bögenhafen. Apparently, a halfling had taken over the thieves' guild and was running a brisk business in stolen body parts (yes this is as gruesome as it sounds).

Athelas and Lutz continued to investigate the stolen body parts and found out about a cult called the "Ordo Sextenarius". Apparently, they were replacing key personages of Bögenhafen with demon-possessed constructs (or something similar). Their investigation came to a sudden halt when they confronted some sort of doctor who used demonic magic of Slaanesh against them. He fled, and they weren't able to follow.

Meanwhile, Finubaryel and Volcifar entered into a brothel called the "Red Sail", because the "Ordo Sextenarius" seemed to be headquartered there. They met Ludwig von Brunner, the son of the inquisitor Helmut von Brunner. Apparently he had fallen in love with the beautiful Esmeralda, one of the girls working at the "Red Sail". But the visit of the High Elf and the wizard's apprentice didn't turn up anything particularly suspicious.

Still, the group was suspicious and decided to invade the "Red Sail" at a special day (I don't remember which one). There they found Rickard Aschaffenberg being tortured, and Ludwig von Brunner becoming a victim in a strange ritual performed by Siegfrey Aschaffenberg (cousin of Rickard), the doctor who had escaped earlier and Esmeralda, as well as several girls working at the "Red Sail". The group didn't quite manage to disrupt the ritual that turned Esmeralda into some sort of demonette. But Athelas defeated the demonatted with her two swords and her war dances. Volcifar managed to save Ludwig von Brunner and Rickard Aschaffenberg.

In the end, Bögenhafen was saved, nobody had noticed what the player characters had accomplished, but all of them escaped with their lives. I hope that at least Rickard Aschaffenberg and Helmut Brunner will be grateful.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tainted Magic for Lamentations of the Flame Princess

Tainted magic is a house rule that is inspired by Dungeon Crawl Classic's and ACKS's take on the magic-user class. It is intended for Lamentations of the Flame Princess, where magic-users are already considered chaotic in alignment. The rules also affect elves, but to a lesser degree.

First off, the way new spells are learned is changed. The magic-user or elf doesn't really require a spell book. He gains a repertoire of spells. The repertoire for each level is equal to the number of spells the magic-user or elf can cast plus his INT modifier. Thus a 1st-level magic-user with an Intelligence of 13 would know two 1st-level spells.

When a magic-user or elf gains access to new spells, he can either choose among those spells he found during adventuring, or he rolls on the spell tables for the magic-user, or a combination of both. It takes one week per spell to add them to the repertoire.

To cast a spell, a magic-user has to roll a spellcheck (1d20 + Level + INT modifier) with a difficulty class of 10 + 2x spell level. If he succeeds on the roll, the spell takes effect and he retains the spell to be cast again. On a failure, the spell cannot be cast anymore before sleeping. Also, on a failure the spell doesn't take effect.

On a natural 20, any damage rolls are maximized, the caster may select any random results instead of rolling, and the saving throw of the target of the spell is penalized by the caster's level.

On a natural 1, the spell fails and cannot be cast again that day. Also, the caster must roll a saving throw versus magic. The roll is penalized by half of the spell level (rounded up). If the roll fails, the character gains a random mutation. Mutations are rolled on table Mutations (Carcossa, p. 256). If the character is a magic-user, he also ages by a number of years determined by rolling on the aging table on the same page in Carcossa. As an elf he is immune to ageing.

Overall, magic is available more often. But a magic-user will face certain dangers using magic and he'll also be not as versatile - more akin to a 3rd Edition sorcerer.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

BDQ4 The Quest for the Silver Sword

Originally I had intended to call the next module in the series "The Revenge of the Black Queen", but events turned out differently. The actual play report covers the fourth session of the BDQ series that began with the "Barrow of the Dwarven Queen".

As Dungeon World has not released yet, I will still follow my playtest format.

1. Prep

None. I didn't have time to prepare anything at all for the session. Also, we started out rather late in the evening, which can be mostly blamed on me. I had rather stressful week, both emotionally and at work.

2. Character Creation

None. The group still consists of.
  • Grimdrig, evil dwarven fighter (3rd level, raised to 4th during the game)
  • Durgar, good dwarven cleric (3rd level, raised to 4th during the game)
  • Lucius, good human paladin of Cróachan (2nd level, raised to 3rd during the game)

3. Actual Play

Lucius took Adalfridjur under his protection as was required by the oaths he swore at the beginning of his quest to slay Adalfridjur. He isn't happy about it and waits for her to do something rash and violating the laws of hospitality.

Grimdrig was the dwarf left standing after a huge drinking contest.

Durgar went back to Rhiannon's tower and asked the mysterious mage for advice. The kindly mage told him about about the barrows of Adalfridjur's sister-queen and daughter-queens, how they are all bound with a specific silver sword. If the heroes could manage to find such a sword and kill the dwarven queen it is attached to, then the sword would be able to be reforged into a sword that can kill Adalfridjur. When Durgar left the tower, Rhiannon and her husband teleported the tower out of Svarturvigi and on to Friarsbridge.

Back at the black fortress, Durga told Grimdrig about her discovery and they decided to go back to the Skogurhörmulegur in order to find another barrow. Just as they had finished planning, they were interupted by the dwarven scullery-maid Swenja. She was completely happy to be pregnant with Durgar's child and looking forward to the marriage. She is a very traditionally minded maid. Dwarven pregnancies are a rarity after all. Durgar was happy, but wanted to get underway to killing Adalfridjur as soon as possible. He gave Swenja a piece of his beard as token of his affection for her. Swenja was very happy to receive that and got some provisions for Durgar, including a keg of dwarven ale.

Grimdrig fetched Lucius, was a bit surprised at meeting Adalfridjur with the paladin, but in the end calmly told he would kill her nevertheless. Then the trio left the castle in secret and ventured into the Skogurhörmullegur.

Their journey was quick, but they were beset by gnolls. Finally, the gnolls chased them and threatened to surround them. The three heroes ran for one of the barrow hills in order to have a good vantage point for defending against the gnolls. On their way up the hill, Grimdrig broke through the earth and into the barrow. Lucius and Durgar followed him down. Durgar managed to crash his keg of dwarven ale during the fall into the hole. Meanwhile, Grimdrig was dispatching two maggot squids that attacked him out of the darkness.

After all three were down in the darkness, they were attacked by mummified dwarves guarding the barrow of Gunhildur, daughter-queen of the First Dwarves. After their hard-won victory, they set down to rest, heal and commune for spells. Also, all of them could raise their level. Grimdrig decided to learn Blacksmithing in order to incorporate the power of the silver sword into his signature axe.

Just as they had finished, the mummies re-animated. After a short and brutal battle, Lucius burned the remains of the mummies to prevent them from re-animating. Grimdrig examined the door of the tomb and found it very familiar. Meanwhile, the gnolls were preparing to enter the barrow.

Grimdrig opened the tomb doors, Durgar kept them open, and Lucius plundered the tomb. He found amidst some modest amount of coins a black and bent nail and a red lock of hair. Grimdrig knew that he had seen such a nail before, when passing through the black gate. Lucius has suspicions about the red hair.

As Durgar was hit by couple of arrows while keeping the door open, it quickly became obvious that they needed another way out of the barrow. Grimdrig opened the sarcophagous of Gunhildur, took her silver sword and stabbed her. Adalfridjur appeared howling in the chamber and attacked Grimdrig for killing her daughter. Lucius decided to relief Durgar at the doors, so the cleric could turn Adalfridjur. Then they looked at the back wall and found a secret door leading out of the burial chamber. Lucius let the doors close, as he observed that the gnolls were lowering ropes into the barrow. Apparently, they wanted to take revenge on Grimdring for killing one of their emissaries (back in BDQ1 The Barrow of the Dwarven Queen).

The trio opened the secret door and fled into the dark tunnel beyond the door.

4. Feedback

The most amazing thing happened: everyone had a good time. Even the player of Grimdrig finally told me that he really liked how the game was progressing (time to do my happy dance)! As I asked them to do after the last game and reminded them before the start of this game, the players gave me an immediate feedback if they thought the GM moves became to harsh or repetitive. The game was hugely improved by that.

Contrary to my expectations the campaign is not finished. The players want to continue and Adalfridjur still hasn't been overcome. So we'll continue with BDQ5 either in mid-August or early September due to holidays and stuff. I have no idea what that installment will be called.

The characters are still gaining about a level each game, but since the cleric now has Wisdom 18 with a +3 bonus, I see things slowing down.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Meme: Only Ten

I just saw that at Untimately's blog: "If you could only keep ten of your printed RPG books, which would you pick?"

That is at once difficult and easy... let's see: I am going to follow the rules that Untimately followed: I have to own it and I value the content of the book. I am going to treat boxed sets as one single item.

  • AD&D 1st Edition Players Handbook Premium Reprint (nostalgia & useable rules)
  • AD&D 1st Edition Dungeon Masters Guide Premium Reprint (nostalgia & useable rules)
  • AD&D 1st Edition Monster Handbook Premium Reprint (nostalgia & useable rules)
  • Dark Sun Original Boxed Set (sentimental value, art work and innovation)
  • World of Darkness Rulebook
  • Vampire: The Requiem (most popular game in my gaming group)
  • Dark Ages Vampire Limited Edition (if I keep it, I keep the best I have; I like Vampire: The Dark Ages better, but the mechanics are more solid)
  • V20 Anniversary Edition
  • Titan - The Fighting Fantasy World (original, not reprint)
  • Out of the Pit - Fighting Fantasy Monsters (original, not reprint)
So as you can see, my love for RPGs is split between AD&D, Vampire and Fighting Fantasy.

I am glad that Dungeon World isn't out yet, because it will displace one of those books.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Meeting Jakob Bauer, Witch Hunter

Yesterday, we played another installment in our ongoing Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd Edition campaign. Not really much did happen. The group continued to explore the Morr temple, the graveyard and a small crypt. The heroes found out that something called a dream orb had been stolen by Verne Henrick and that the missing orb was causing nightmares in the area. The priests of the temple had been gruesomely murdered, and at night all of the heroes had nightmares. Athela, Finubaryel and Lutz dreamt of being part of a zombie army attacking some castle. Volcifar received another offer by the Weaver of Fates, apparently a lieutenant of Tzeentch, to lead his armies. Volcifar flat out denied that request.

Upon returning to the Green Glade Inn, the group was told a mysterious messenger was waiting for them. The messenger turned out to be Jakob Bauer, a witch hunter from Altdorf. Apparently, anonymous source had informed him about the happenings at Grunwald Lodge. But he was a bit misinformed as to the heroes' involvement. So they correct his version of events by telling him what really happened. Volcifar even tried to turn over the chaotic book on the nature of demons, but somehow ended up with it again - only now it's warded by the inquisition. At least the group convinced him of their sincerity, so instead of travelling directly to Altdorf, the witch hunter leads the group to Bogenhaven.

The session was mostly taken up by rather unsuccessful exploration and rather successful negotiation, so newly discovered information was at a minimum and the plot also didn't develop very far.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

GM Merit Badges

I just discovered the GM Merit Badges. Mine would be:

Some were a hard decision. For example, I've tinkered a lot with the rules of the Vampire: The Requiem game I am running for eight years now. Other games, like Dungeon World, Fate or Savage Worlds I run by the book. The third category includes LotFP, where I am house-ruling some minor things. For RuneQuest 6 I am planning on hand-waving a couple of things to reduce complexity in combat. I usually like to tell my players up front which changes I made, so I am not a rule-zero guy. On the other hand, I don't like rules discussions during the game. Well, better to leave off the Tinkering and the Rule Zero badge.

As to the last badge: "Players should better run when the odds are against them" - I really wish my regular players would after all these years finally learn to back down when the odds are against them!

Things I have considered and left off:

  • Beer & Pretzels-style gaming: While I carter to casual gamers, my games take themselves seriously.
  • Drama: While interesting characters and relationships do pop-up in my game, the games focus on the stories of the player characters.
  • Frequent character death: I very briefly considered that. But it's just not true. It's a consequence of not backing down against superior odds. Also, I give the players usually multiple opportunities to escape death outside of combat.
  • Non-combat: Just not true. The amount of combat is rather genre- and player-dependent.
  • Player skill: I don't understand that debate... at all.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What I learned from Indie Gaming

For the most part I think that Indie games (with some noteable exceptions) are an effort in focused game design not neccessarily intended nor useful for campaign gaming. But Indie gaming teaches us some valuable lessons, nonetheless.

1. One roll stands for success or failure

There are many games and gamemasters out there who let players roll several times for extended tasks like sneaking or opening doors. As Burning Wheel teaches us that actually reduces the chances of success of the player. Therefore, I only let the players try once at a task until the circumstances change significantly. No retries without an in-game justification beyond "it didn't work the first time". I'd rather give a modifier, if the character takes his time instead of allowing multiple rolls.

2. Social stats/skills/abilities are not to be ignored

All too often the social attributes, skills and abilities don't figure into the game at all. Players have spend their points on those stats, but they don't matter because they are never rolled. The players just play their characters convincingly and persuasively, even if their stats don't reflect that. Back in the 70ies when no social abilities beyond Charisma existed that was fine. But nowadays skills frequently model the social aspects of a character as well. I usually give a bonus to the social roll based on roleplaying, but I let people roll nonetheless.

A correlary to this rule is: gaming a social conflict like a combat encounter generates as much excitement and involvement as the combat encounter. But it should be reserved to the really important social conflicts.

3. Re-thinking failure

All too often we are in the habit of thinking of a failed roll that the character just wasn't good enough to succeed. But failure can have other dimensions. Apocalypse World/Monsterhearts/Dungeon World encourage the gamemaster to think about failure in different terms. Narratively, a failure means that the flow of the story doesn't move into the direction desired by the player. Instead it moves into the direction that the gamemaster desires. Doctor Who Adventures in Time and Space applies that principle by dividing results into a "yes and...", "yes", "yes, but...", "no, but...", "no" and "no and..." spectrum. Burning Wheel states "if you can't think of an interesting outcome based on failure, don't roll". Apocalypse World gives you tools to think of interesting outcomes.

I am going to apply that principle to all games in the future. Failure just moves the story in a different direction, but doesn't stop the story. Moreover, failure doesn't necessarily mean that the character failed in their tasks, but maybe just that success did have unintended consequences and side-effects.

Example from "In the Service of the Black King": Durgar tried to use the silver sword to destroy the Tome of the Forgotten and missed his move. The action was still a success, but both items were destroyed. If the roll had been a hit, the sword would not have been destroyed.

 So, what did Indie gaming teach you?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Something Rotten in Blackmoore

This is the actual play report for a Dungeon World one-shot based on the Blackmoore Adventure Starter by watergoesred. The starter contains some interesting images and a city with a fantastic landmark: towers build on the stump of a giantic tree.

 1. Prep

Next to none. I read the starter and gave some thoughts to it.

2. Character Creation

This time around the players were a bit more decisive. One had a concept for a falconer and thus took the ranger. The next one rolled randomly and got the bard. Then the third player decided to take the wizard (the other alternative would have been the thief):
  • Cassandreius, the chaotic human bard with the stolen horn
  • Pyreios, the good human ranger with an owl companion
  • Morgan, the good human wizard
Then they answered the questions from the adventure starter. We ended up with Orthias van Morley ridiculing the ducal prefect of Blackmoore in the street side shows. Therefore he had been sentenced to death. He had already been executed twice and survived, therefore he was now sentenced to be hanged until dead.

Note: Most of us were very tired. The weather over here has been acting up. Warm one day, cold the next. Everyone is feeling it by now. Therefore we took our time getting started. And almost didn't.

3. Actual Play

The heroes arrived in Blackmoore on the day when Orthias was to be executed. First, they ended up in a halfling tavern, the "Clover and the Lounge". They were served by Brenna the Knee-High, a halfling with stunted growth. When they got into an argument with a tavern regular, a dwarf, a strangely burned boy stole Morgan's anti-toxins. Morgan and Pyreios tried to catch the cut-purse, but fail miserably. Morgan landed in horse dung and searched for a well for cleaning her clothes. All she found was the Goblin Well, where she dragged rotten meat from the bottom. She went back inside the tavern re-joining the others. When they heard about an execution taking place, they hurriedly left the tavern and promptly forgot to pay their tab. Well, they didn't possess any money anyway.

Outside, a ragged and mad prophet pointed at Cassandreius and told him that he would bring doom to the city. Talk that amounted to nothing more than empty threats and hysteria.

On the marketplace, Morgan was picked by priestess of Tittivilla to give the final kiss to the condemned criminal Orthias van Morley as is custom in Blackmoore. Morgan had misgivings about that, but obeyed the command of the priestess. Well, when Orthias and she kissed, he switched bodies with her. Morgan in Othias' body went "Oh! Oh!". Pyreios realized something was wrong and took a called shot at the rope in exactly the same moment when the executioner opened the trapdoor underneath the gallows. Morgan in Othias' body hit the ground below the gallows, Pyreios was seized by the angry mob, and Cassandreius persued the fleeing Orthias in Morgan's body.

Cassandreius followed Orthias in Morgan's body into a strangely empty street where all the houses had been padlocked. There, he was almost disintegrated by Orthias and was pulled through the window into a house when he dodged a hold person spell. Inside the house he was surrounded by zombies.

Morgan in Orthias' body turned herself invisible below the gallows, then went up and released Pyreios who was about to be executed instead of Orthias. Pyreios then jumped into the market well and Morgan in Orthias' body searched for her own body. She saw her body escaping down the street with the padlocked houses and had to save Cassandreius the bard from the zombies closing in on him. She succeeded, but only after Cassandreius had been bitten. The wizard and the bard went to the temple of Tittivilla to get Cassandreius healed. Three priestesses in almost transparent red veils led the bard into the inner sanctum. The invisible Morgan in Orthias' body couldn't follow. She left the temple and went to the lower bronze to lay low for the evening and get some rest and healing.

Meanwhile, Pyreios had some misadventures with an iron ooze and the lair of the night wyvern. But in the end he escaped with his life into an underground river.

On the next day, the heroes re-united. Kira, the owl companion, was very helpful in this. Then, Pyreios sent his owl on the look-out for Orthias in Morgan's body. After a short search, they found him entering a gnomish jeweler. They followed him inside. There a battle ensued. The heroes were trying to capture Morgan's body without doing any harm. That allowed Orthias to switch bodies multiple times. But in the end, Morgan shot him with a magic missile as she lost patience. Then Cassandreius persuaded him to switch bodies until everyone was back in their own body.

Note: The combat with the body switching was fun. First, Orthias jumped from Morgan into Cassandreius, then into Pyreios, after that back into Morgan - leaving Cassandreius trapped inside Pyreios' body and vice versa.

Then Orthias took an amulet of square topazes, put it on and vanished. But not before thanking the heroes for letting him go. He gave the Lamento Memento to Pyreios. The ranger briefly thought about looting the jeweler's store while the owner still slept. He had tried to cast a sleep spell on the battling strangers, but because of Cassandreius' quick thinking had ended up as victim of his own sleep spell. Morgan woke the gnome, he thanked the group and gave everyone some coins.

The heroes left the store and afterwards the city rather quickly. They thought this city is just too odd and too dirty for them.

4. Feedback

Not much to report here on Dungeon World itself. The adventure starter contains some very nice and neat ideas, but I think they don't mesh that well. Also, the introductory questions leave too much scattered all over the places. I would suggest to watergoesred to tighten the focus of the introductory questions, maybe leading up to the execution of Orthias or something. Also, interrelating the other stuff would probably serve to make the starter even more useful. I think, if the starter wouldn't bother too much with the surrounding lands and instead focus more on the city, it would also help. I hope I am not being too critical here.

Things I really liked about the starter where the tables with locations, ongoing events in crowded streets, the general awesomeness of the tree stump, the custom moves (even though I only used one of them), and the iron ooze and night wyvern.

I am probably going to use those location/going-ons tables in my own starters in the future. The idea is just plain brilliant!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

BDQ3: In the Service of the Black King

This is the thrid installment in the module series BDQ The Barrow of the Dwarven Queen. The series follows a group of heroes trying to bring down the spectre of a derro dwarven queen.

1. Prep

Absolutely none. I had planned on introducing love letters, but playing Diablo 3 kept me from doing so. So I relied on previous prep.

Also, everyone was pretty exhausted and had a difficult time getting into the mood. But in the end, the story was quite satisfying.

2. Character Creation

None. Grimdrig the dwarven fighter, Durgar the dwarven cleric and Lucius the human paladin were good to go.

3. Actual Play

At the end of the last session our heroes had entered the service of Ragnar, warlord of Svarturvigi and hater of elves. Grimdrig had been drinking and sharing stories with the other dwarves. He had learned that Ragnar had a well hidden armory and an equally well hidden torture chamber for elves. Durgar had spent some quality time with the female kitchen staff, and Lucius was more or less keeping watch on Ragnar.

Grimdrig and Durgar ventured into the city looking for a mage that could identify the properties of Grimdrigs magical armor. They found a strange tower marked by the sign of a blue lightning cloud. The owner, a beautiful woman of indetermined heritage, invited them in offering tea. She lived in the tower with her daughter who left as the fighter and the cleric entered the tower. While drinking tea, she displayed a great knowledge about the characters and even told them about an impending gnoll uprising in the Skogurhörmulegur. Apparently, adventurers had slain an important priest of the gnolls (back in BDQ1). Also, she seemed worried about Ragnar, but had no knowledge about the black wedding and the spectre queen. When Grimdrig asked about his armor, she offered to analyze it. But she would have to have some time alone with the armor. Grimdrig refused, because he believed that for now he would need his armor.

Meanwhile, Ragnar asked Lucius to fetch him dinner, since his manservant Ivar was nowhere to be found. Lucius went to the kitchen to get the dinner. There, a dwarven maid by the name of Swenja asked him about Durgar. She had to tell him something very important. Lucius kind of suspected what, but couldn't obtain definite proof. He then took the dinner plate and went back to Ragnar's quarters.

Durgar went to the temple of Gurun, the secretive dwarven god of medicine, to talk to Sturla the Acolyte. When asking for the history of Adalfridjur, Sturla excused himself to get the Librarian. Then came back dressed as the Librarian. But he didn't have much news to add to the knowledge of Durgar. When Durgar prayed, Sturla switched into the role of choir master. Later, he offered Durgar to stay as a priest in the temple. Durgar refused citing his desire to be alone.

Back at the black fortress, Lucius brought Ragnar his dinner. In the chambers of the warlord he saw the terrifying dwarf writing something in a book, but couldn't discern what. After setting down the plate, Ragnar ordered him to find Ivar. Durgar and Grimdrig met Lucius while he searched for Ivar.

They went to Ragnar's room, but when they knocked no one was answering and the door was locked. Grimdrig lifted the door right out of it's angles. Then they went inside. The room was a mess, the food almost untouched, only the wine had been drunken. There was no sign of Ragnar. Durgar inspected the bed and found a secret door leading down into the dungeons of the black fortress. Grimdrig sniffed the wine and drank the rest of it. He was suddenly transported to a cemetary in the north of Svarturvigi.

Durgar and Lucius went down into the dungeons. There, they discovered the secret armory of Ragnar. Quick thinking on Durgar's part disabled the spear trap guarding the door. Inside, Durgar donned the black armor sitting on a rack there and stole a big opal. But then realized that he couldn't remove the armor anymore because it was cursed.

At the cemetary, Grimdrig did his best to disrupt the black wedding. Ragnar was bound to a tombstone and Adalfridjur was reciting the ritual from the Tome of the Forgotten. Grimdrig destroyed the tome, thereby slowing down the ritual considerably. In her wrath, the spectre queen sent him back to the chambers of the blackened warlord. There he went down the stairs into the dungeon to meet Durgar and Lucius.

Lucius triggered a trap. The whole armory began to sink deeper into the ground. Lucius and Grimdrig got out in time. But Durgar was trapped. Grimdrig drove a hole into the floor, while Durgar was meditating on the proper course of action. Gurun showed him that he should turn to the left. Lucius used the spears from the disarmed trap to secure a rope from his adventurer kit. Then, Durgar could climb out of the sunken room.

Using a door to the left, they found the hidden torture chamber. Grimdrig knocked out the dwarven torturer, Lucius took his keys and Durgar lowered the cages with the malnurished and tortured elves to the ground. One of them was a half-elven mage. They told him about the tower and the woman, who he identified as his wife Rhiannon. He offered to help Durgar with his cursed armor. Then, Lucius and Grimdrig told him about the black wedding and the cemetary to the north. The mage offered to use his remaining power to teleport the heroes. They agreed and together with the elves, the half-elven mage sent them on their way.

The battle at the cemetary didn't go very well. Adalfridjur slew Grimdrig, scared off Durgar and almost bested Lucius. But the paladin got hold of the obsidian dagger that the spectre queen was planning on using to tear out Ragnar's heart. Also Durgar and Lucius protected Ragnar. In the end, Adalfridjur fled the battlefield grievously injured and bereft of her ritual dagger.

Durgar took the silver sword and rammed it into the Tome of the Forgotten. Both items of power annihilated each other. Without the sword, Adalfridjur is pretty much invulnerable. They freed Ragnar who honored the sacrifice of Grimdrig by carrying him back to the citadel himself.

Durgar slipped away unnoticed and went to the mages' tower. Rowena offered a cup of tea, time for reflection and tried to break the curse on the stolen armor. But without success. Durgar resolved to go to the black fortress and resurrect Grimdrig. He arrived right in the middle of the wake for the fallen fighter. After resurrecting him, Ragnar went for Durgar. He commanded his stolen black armor to fall off, then hit the cleric and demanded that he remained in his service until Durgar had saved his life again. Durgar accepted and Lucius healed him with a laying on hands.

Durgar and Grimdrig knew that the resurrection isn't permanent until Adalfridjur has died. But for the next two weeks, Grimdrig could walk among the living once more. Unknown to Lucius and Durgar, Grimdrig has turned to evil as a result of his resurrection.

Later at night, Lucius was alone in his room. He examined the dagger and saw that it had been made from hell obisidian. Obsidian literally from Hell. Suddenly, Adalfridjur appeared and asked for his hospitality because she had been gravely wounded. If Lucius refuses her, his blessing for his quest to slay Adalfridjur will be revoked, leaving him vulnerable to her touch attack again.

4. Feedback

  • The player of Durgar thinks I am too hard on her character. I offered her to point this out to me immediately in the next session, so that we can avoid this. She was also annoyed that the dwarven queen got away again. I had her flee when she was down to 4 HP. I think she wouldn't risk her existence in a hopeless fight. And without the obsidian hell dagger she was unable to complete the black wedding.
  • The player of Grimdrig was a bit dissatisfied that I allowed Grimdrig's resurrection. Also, he still doesn't grog the system. So in the end, I will probably end this Dungeon World series after Adalfridjur has been defeated.
  • The player of Lucius still thinks the Defy Danger move to harsh. But overall he liked the system and the development of the story. He thinks it's fitting that the spectre queen fled.
  • I am unsure about the wording of resurrection. Can it be used on a character who has failed his last breath move and already passed beyond the Black Gate? The wording isn't very clear on that. Also, given the wording, I think the spell could resurrect the undead. They still have not fully passed from Dungeon World... Clarification would be appreciated!

Probably in August we will play the final installment of the BDQ series: BDQ4 "Revenge of the Black Queen". After that, it doesn't look very likely that the adventures of Durgar and Grimdrig continue. Something which I find a bit sad. The paladin Lucius will probably join the ADE Series beginning with ADE2 "Into Dolor's Gap". Geography-wise that means the highlands of the ADE Series are situated right on the east bank of the as-of-yet unnamed river that flows into the Byrjotasund.