Saturday, June 30, 2012

Against the Spectre Queen

Yesterday we played Dungeon World again. The party arrived in Svarturvigi and the story developed from their. I begin to see this as a series of modules:

BDQ1: In the Barrow of the Dwarven Queen (played last time)
BDQ2: Against the Spectre Queen (played yesterday)
BDQ3: In the Service of the Black King (probably happening in two weeks)

Okay, since this is an actual play report based on the 2.3 beta version, I am again breaking this down into sections:

1. Prep

This time I did a bit more prep than last time. I designed the steadings Svarturvigi and Friarsbridge, came up with a small map and wrote an adventure front. Except for the front, the prep work can ve found in this blog. Also, I added an index card to my collection, expanding on the defy danger moves as suggested by iserith on the Dungeon World forum. (Thanks, by the way! This card came in very handy and made the game flow more smoothly.)

Also, I found one additional player to join Grimdrig and Durgar.

2. Character Creation

We did a short character creation session, helping the new player to create a character and explaining the moves of the cleric to the player of Durgar (we are bridging a language gap here, so we want to make certain that she understands everything). Character creation again went very fast. It definitely helped that the player is a D&D veteran.

The party now consists of:
  • Durgar, the good dwarven cleric of Gurun, the secretive dwarven god of medicine.
  • Grimdrig, the good dwarven fighter with his serrated heirloom axe.
  • Lucius, the good paladin of Cróachan, god of the primal power of the earthborn.
After character creation the players selected bonds for their characters, erasing the bonds to Leena and Celion.

3. Actual Play

The trade caravan arrived at Svarturvigi, passing through the narrow and imposing streets of the town surrounding the black fortress. After reaching the cobblestoned marketplace, Sorrenson, the caravan master, paid the agreed upon wages: 10 coins for Grimdrig and 5 coins each for Durgar and Lucius. He also told them that the caravan would continue in a week to Friarsbridge and that he'd be willing to hire them again as guards. The adventurers gave their farewells and took a look around the marketplace and environs.

First Grimdrig sold his scale mail, choosing instead to wear the ornate plate mail he had taken from the barrow. He suspects the plate armor is magical, but doesn't have a clue to its properties. Lucius spent his coins on adventuring gear, and Durgar purchased two healing potions.

Afterwards, the group decided to go with Durgar to visit the small Gurun temple. The temple was located in a backalley behind the market. Lucius waited outside, while Grimdrig and Durgar went inside. Grimdrig was looking curiously at the furnishings of the temple, kind of like a tourist. Durgar went to the altar to pray and sacrifice some coin. There he discovered an old, snorting priest. While Durgar knelt down to pray when suddenly and unnoticed by him, the spectre of the ancient derro dwarven queen left his body. She went straight towards Grimdrig, froze his heart and then disappeared into the temple.

Guided by premontions (and a Discern Realities move), Lucius rushed inside. Durgar woke the sleeping priest who introduced himself as Sturla, guardian priest of Gurun. The adventurers asked to see the high priest and tell him about the spectre of the dwarven queen. Sturla left and came back, dressed in splendid robes and asked the group to tell him what is going on. Durgar told him of their adventures in the Skogurhörmulegur. The ancient priest grew concerned and told them about the Tome of the Forgotten, hidden within the crypts of the temples. He suspected that the spectre was trying to reach the tome. The heroes agreed to follow the spectre and prevent her from taking the Tome. Sturla went back to dress as a simple priest again, and the fighter, cleric and paladin went down into the cellars of the temple.

After Grimdrig triggered a trap, Durgar asked Gurun for guidance. The deity pointed them into the direction of the crypts. There, they were attacked by skeletons of former dwarven priests. Apparently, the spectre queen had animated them in her wake. One skeleton was destroyed by Grimdrig, the others were put to rest again by Durgar.

On a flight of stairs, they discovered a secret door, but instead chose to follow the stairs as Lucius lost his footing and tumbled down. There they encountered the dwarven spectre. Grimdrig took a swing at her that seemed to connect, but she raised her hands, summoned two shadows. Durgar turned the shadows away. But the spectre cast a spell to bring down the ceiling. Lucius was burried under the falling rocks and Grimdrig was separated from the group on the other side of the rockfall. He saw the spectre moving through and decided to follow by also going right through the wall (pure awesome use of Bend Bars/Lift Gates move). Meanwhile Durgar helped Lucius to dig himself out of the rubble.

After smashing through the wall, Grimdrig just took a step into the darkness on the other side. Without hesitation and without even taking a look. He fell 10 feet down to floor, but hardly noticed. When Durgar and Lucius caught up, Durgar's light spell illuminated the vault below. In the middle, a lectern held the Tome of the Forgotten. The spectre was on her way to claiming it. Durgar noticed that the tome was warded. No living dwarf could touch it.

The spectre summoned another two shadows to distract Grimdrig. But he still lunged for her. Lucius and Durgar jumped down into the room. Durgar cast a magic weapon spell on Grimdrig's axe to help him battle the spectre queen. Lucius was severly injured by the shadows. Durgar tried to turn the shadows, but managed only to keep them at bay. He tossed a healing potion to Grimdrig who had been severly injured by the shadows and the spectre, then ran to Lucius to protect him. Both approached the lectern, but then a shadow snuffed out all light in the room (which at that time wasn't much anyway: the light spell on Durgar's staff and the weak blue flickering of his holy symbol that kept the shadows at bay).

The spectre queen reached the book, Grimdrig was cornered by the shadows and Durgar fell to the floor. Lucius was stunned by the spectre queen. Then she wrapped her essence around the book and sank through the floor. Durgar searched for a torch, lit it, and was attacked by the shadows while trying to find his holy symbol. He was instantly slain...

Durgar's Last Breath: The player rolled a 12. Durgar briefly saw a young girl, in a white dress with red hair and smudged bare feet sitting on a rock in front of a swirling black gate. She told him "It's not yet your time." Then he woke up. (The player went all "Cool!" when I described the image to her).

After defeating the shadows, they returned to the chapel. Sturla was sleeping again in front of the altar. The group decided to split up for a short time and meet at the Temple Inn in the same street later on.

Durgar communed with his god and asked cast a healing spell in front of the altar. But something went wrong and he really got the attention of his deity. Gurun animated his stone statue and gave Durgar a dire warning. The Tome of the Forgotten contained a dangerous ritual called the "Black Marriage". A dwarven sorceress like the spectre queen Adalfridjur could use it to transform herself into a demon queen. All she has to do is tearing out and eating the heart of her husband. According to Gurun, Adalfridjur was planning to marry Rafnar the Blackened Warlord of Svarturvigi in this fashion.

Grimdrig went straight to the Temple Inn, drank two beers and reflected on his recent experiences (time for the Level Up move).

Lucius meanwhile meditated beneath the ancient oaktree in front of the inn. He dedicated himself to the quest to slay Adalfridjur, a great blight on the land. He gained an unwavering sense of direction to Adalfridjur (but as he later found out not an unwavering sense of distance...) and invulnerability to inorporeal touch attacks. In turn he may not lie and must give comfort to those in need, no matter who they are.

Then they met at the Temple Inn. There, Durgar used the time to also gain insight on his recent failures and successes (time for another Level Up). Then they decided to stay at the inn for a week. Lucius was granted free food and lodging because he is the paladin of Cróachan. Durgar and Grimdrig had to pay.

Then it was time for some decision making on the characters part. What to do with their newly found knowledge? Go back to barrow, resurrect the queen and kill her? Or warn Rafnar of his impending doom? They decided to do the latter and went to the black fortress itself after resting for two days.

Arriving at the black fortress and asking for an audience they practically invite the Savarturvigi custom move: "Avoid harassment by the guards". They all have to pay bribes to be let through the gate and into the fortress. Durgar pays for Lucius who is practically broke.

Inside the foreboding fortress, they walk alone into the dark until the meet another group of dwarves. Those try to arrest the group, but Grimdrig downs one of them, and Lucius and Durgar intimidate the others into taking them to the throne room.

There they find themselves surrounded by carousing and grizzled dwarves, drinking ale and wearing necklaces of elven ears. Grimdrig just slips to the table and starts making "friends" with the other dwarves. Durgar and Lucius go the the throne of Rafnar and tell him about the danger he is in. He laughs, but Durgar quickly convinces him that he requires bodyguards - non other than our three adventures. Rafnar agrees, but wants to see a show of force. He asks the group to fight his best three champions.

The dwarves quickly form a ring, shouting: "Six go in, three go out!" banging their tankards on the stone tables. The fight is over rather quickly. Grimdrig cleaves one of the dwarven champions in half. Lucius downs the other while defending Durgar, and then the last one falls to Grimdrig.

Having proven themselves, the group is now "In the Service of the Black King".

4. Feedback

Again, I am giving some feedback on the game session.

GM Feedback

  • I should have preped a small dungeon to represent the Crypts of Gurun.
  • Handing out experience for misses went far smoother and less disruptive than I had thought. On the average, the players gained 7-9 XP during the whole evening. Enough to level up once. At this rate things will probably slow down a bit around level 5-7 to a level up once every other session. Still, not speaking from experience, but statistical averages.
  • With iserith's advice on Defy Danger, play went much more smoothly.
  • I am concerned about the amount of damage the fighter deals currently. He has taken "Merciless" as a move and still has a "magic weapon" spell on his axe cast by Durgar. The cleric chose not to revoke the spell. So I assume it is still active. So damage now is: 1d10 + 2 (for his axe) + 1d4 (Merciless) +1d4 (Magic Weapon) + 1d6 (because he almost always chooses "opening up for damage" on a 10+).
  • I have to read up on "ongoing" spells. Can they really be kept up indefinitely?

Players' Feedback

  • Grimdrig's player is still having trouble with the rules system. He enjoyed the game, but somehow doesn't get along with the odds the rules represent. In his opinion they are not distributed evenly.
  • He also felt that I am preparing more for this game than for some others I have run in the recent months. He thinks, it shows that I am spending time on the game.
  • Lucius' player doesn't like that he can't do certain things, because he simply lacks the "right move" (like Bend Bars/Lift Gates).
  • Durgar's player found things running more smoothly as I get more familiar with the rules.
  • All in all, they want to continue playing as a group of three. Durgar's player thinks that's better in terms of getting to take a turn. Even though she is aware that the party is lacking some fundamental roles like the thief.

No comments:

Post a Comment