Saturday, 23 April 2016

I.1: The Templar

Eyre 19, 997 YK

Let’s start with a player character. Anaya is a character I made for a 3.5 D&D campaign that never happened. Here’s the DungeonWorld version of her:

Anaya - Cleric. Damage d6, hit points 17.
Str Dex Con Int Wis Cha
8 -1 12 +0 9 +0 15 +1 16 +2 13 +1

Alignment: Good: Endanger yourself to heal another

Race: Human (Church of the Silver Flame): Damage against fiends and lycanthropes is d8

Moves: Commune, Cast a Spell, Turn Undead, Divine Guidance

Equipment: Longbow, Short sword, Chainmail, Shield

I only have one character so far, and I want to start in media res as DungeonWorld encourages one to do. So let’s say she has some soldiers with her for backup.

But Anaya herself is not a soldier. Reading through the Player’s Guide to Eberron, the Templars of the Silver Flame looked interesting to me, so let’s say she is a templar. Are the soldiers also templars? Perhaps not—Adventurers struggling together so I don’t want my character being an officer with troops always at her command. The country of Thrane, in the setting, is a theocracy where the head of the Church of the Silver Flame is also head of state. So soldiers in Thrane would follow a templar, in the right circumstances.

That helps me to pick a starting location as well; I clicked on a few cities in the Eberron wikia until I found one with an interesting entry: Thaliost.

The Blood of Vol is a religious group opposed to the Church of the Silver Flame in the setting, and it is going to have plenty of followers in a city (unlike demons and lycanthropes). So it is the obvious source of opposition for whatever’s about to happen.

The company halted just before King Street, and Anaya and the sergeant turned to face the soldiers. White tabards and chainmail gleamed under the light of the everbright street lamps, and several of the soldiers now wielded maces and bucklers. The night sky was overcast, and a cool westerly breeze carried the scent of seawater up from Scion’s Sound.

What does Anaya know about the city? Time for the first DungeonWorld move of the game. I’ll highlight the names of moves: player moves in green, GM moves in red.

Spout Lore(Anaya): 2D6(4 1) +1 = 6 Failure!
Reveal an unwelcome truth

This was a prosperous part of town, with well-maintained wooden houses and tidy streets, and lights could be seen through many windows; the street itself was empty and quiet at this late hour. But Anaya knew that this calm appearance could be deceptive, as many in the city still saw the soldiers as part of an occupying army. There could be a riot if tonight’s raid turned ugly.

What about the soldiers then?

Discern Realities(Anaya): 2D6(1 4) +2 = 7 Partial success.
Who’s really in control here?

She doesn’t know them well, but has control.

Anaya was officially in charge of tonight’s raid. She wore a sword and chainmail, and had a shield slung on her back, but she left her sword sheathed: if there was any trouble tonight, the soldiers could handle it. Street enforcement was not her area, so she let the sergeant give his instructions. She did not know most of the soldiers by name; they seemed tense, but prepared for the night’s work. Every soldier’s tabard bore the silver-blue flame of Thrane; Anaya’s alone bore a different marking, a silver arrowhead symbol with blue flame playing across it.

Anaya is Good, so she isn’t just going to kill followers of a different religion. She is breaking up worship of a dubious faith that is banned in Thrane. Most soldiers in Thrane would be followers of the Silver Flame as well and so would agree with that in theory.

Waiting until Sergeant Sykes had finished with some words of encouragement, Anaya added “Shed no blood unless they use violence. Remember, the Flame burns only that which it cannot cleanse.” Several soldiers nodded. “Proceed, sergeant.”

They turned into King Street. The house that they were visiting tonight was only a few buildings down from the corner. As they approached, it seemed like a normal house for this part of town, and they could see lights inside—as expected. Sykes ordered three soldiers to go around to the back, and then hammered on the door. “Open, in the name of the Silver Flame!” After a moment, he smashed at the lock with his mace, and in a few seconds he had forced the door open.

Location move(Cultist hideout)Followers of the Blood, and—Think dangerously—something more dangerous.

We want action. The Blood embraces necromancy as a way to extend life. How about a vampire?

Perhaps Anaya can sense that there’s trouble ahead?

Discern Realities(Anaya): 2D6(2 2) +2 = 6 Failure!
Use up their resources, Monster move(Vampire)

Let’s take away those soldiers; the vampire doesn’t want them in its way.

Two soldiers, Sykes, and then Anaya stepped into the house. As she crossed the threshold, there was a slight flicker in the presence of the Flame, ever present in her mind. It was only for a moment, as if a draught had played upon it; the tension of the moment seemed to be playing tricks on her.

This hallway led from front to back, with rooms to the sides. The first two rooms were empty, but at the end of the hall the first soldier raised her weapon and began shouting at people out of view in a further room. Anaya stepped aside into a doorway and let two more soldiers pass, and then followed them down the hall. There were several worshippers within the far room—two humans and a half-elf, respectably dressed, artisans of some kind perhaps, startled by the soldiers’ entrance—and, on the wall behind them, the distinctive icon of a skull on a blood-red background, the symbol of the Blood of Vol.

Something seemed to draw Anaya’s gaze to the symbol. The red background of the symbol seemed to grow deeper and brighter, spreading a blood red light into the hallway. Instinctively, Anaya drew her sword.

Discern Realities(Anaya): 2D6(1 6) +2 = 9 Partial success.
Who’s really in control here?

Well, she knows about the vampire now, but not much more.

“Vampire. Sykes! Swords! There’s a vampire here.”

“Just one?”

“I cannot tell.”

Think dangerously: let’s start killing off soldiers. The vampire knows the Silver Flame wants to kill it, so it’s going to kill them right back. And those soldiers are all entranced by the Cause Fear that the vampire cast just now.

Has Anaya convinced Sykes to help her?

Order Follower(Anaya): 2D6(5 3) +1 = 9 Partial success.
Caution, laziness, or fear makes them take a long time to get it done.

From behind them there was a mighty crash, and Anaya turned in time to see a soldier slumped at the bottom of the stairs by the front door, seemingly thrown down from above. Anaya began moving back that way; the first soldier in her way had dropped his weapon and was staring at the blood red light, unwilling to move, so she pushed past him. Behind her, Sykes was also shouting at the soldiers in the back room, trying to rouse them from the effect of the aura that the vampire had cast.

“Purified, your swords!” Anaya was shouting now. “There is—”

Show signs of an approaching threat.

A human was descending the stairs, clothed in a dark robe, unarmed. He turned his head—its head—to Anaya, and the unearthly smile as it descended into battle could only be that of a vampire.

“—no evil that we cannot face together. Your swords!”

Next kill can be a soldier at the foot of the stairs. Let’s see if Anaya can stir them into action. And, Give everyone personhood, let’s make it personal: Anaya knows this soldier, at least by name.

Order Follower(Anaya): 2D6(3 4) +1 = 8 Partial success.
Reduce loyalty by 1.

Being slow doesn’t really appropriate when the vampire is about to strike, so just dishearten them instead.

Followers, Do Their Thing / Hack and Slash(Anaya/Esthana): 2D6(6 5) +1 = 12 Success!
9 damage

Never mind, this soldier is badass. That’s the first thing we succeeded at all game, and she reduced the vampire to less than half HP. Let’s make her a player character!

At the foot of the stairs another soldier, turning to face the danger, drew her sword; Anaya recognised the soldier, a half-elf called Esthana. Esthana stabbed at the vampire as it tried to push into the hallway, impaling it through the chest. Its composure broke now, and it screamed a terrifying unnatural screech.

Fighter seems an appropriate class for a regular soldier, with the best stats for physical abilties. That helps balance the party better as well, they will need someone who can make a strength check. Longbows are the signature weapon of the Silver Flame, so let’s say that’s her big thing.

Esthana - Fighter. Damage d10, hit points 25.
Str Dex Con Int Wis Cha
13 +1 16 +2 15 +1 9 +0 12 +0 8 -1

Alignment: Good: Defend those weaker than yourself

Race: Half-elf: Precise with short swords

Moves: Bend Bars Lift Gates, Armoured, Signature weapon: Longbow

Equipment: Longbow, Short sword, Chainmail, Shield

Anaya moves up to try to help her.

Hack and Slash(Anaya): 2D6(2 5) -1 = 6 Failure!
GM move(hard): Deal damage: d8+5=11 damage

Bad idea; that’s half of Anaya’s HP gone (9 damage after armour).

Anaya moved to join her, and swung also at the vampire, but the creature lashed out. Although only a backhand blow, the supernatural strength of it sent Anaya staggering backwards against the wall. The creature tore itself away and pushed through the doorway. There were three soldiers still in the street outside, but all were terrified and made little attempt to slow its flight.

Order Follower(Anaya): 2D6(3 2) +0 = 5 Failure!
Monster move(Vampire): Retreat to plan again

Catching her breath, Anaya took a few seconds to collect herself and then followed out onto the street. Esthana was already outside, running and readying her bow. The vampire was out of sight now, but Anaya saw Esthana reach the junction, draw an arrow, and take a shot.

Volley(Esthana): 2D6(2 2) +2 = 6 Failure!
Show signs of an approaching threat

The parting shot didn’t work, so I think the vampire has got away; a vampire in the streets of the city at night, fleeing from armoured soldiers, has surely got it in the bag.

And we need a new threat. Vampires in DungeonWorld have the Group tag, so:

Another unnatural screech, from behind the house. “Follow me,” said Anaya to the soldiers there, and went to go around the side. Turning the corner, she came face to face with a second vampire. Its cloak seemed to fade into the darkness of the alley, its pale lifeless skin seeming grey; only its eyes looked alive.

“Let me pass,” it hissed. “You need not die today.”

GM move(soft): Monster move(Vampire): Charm someone

Defy Danger(WIS)(Anaya): 2D6(2 5) +2 = 9 Partial success.
Stumble, hesitate, or flinch

Anaya is a cleric of a divine force dedicated to fighting evil; she can face supernatural dangers. I sure hope those soldiers are with her.

Order Follower(Anaya): 2D6(3 6) +1 = 10 Success!

Anaya hesitated. She could not let the creature escape, and yet it could kill her in a stroke. Seeing that she would not yield, the vampire raised its dagger and began to close in. But the soldiers stepped into the alley with her, and the vampire had to turn from her to face the others.

Followers, Do Their Thing(Anaya): 2D6(6 2) +1 = 9 Partial success.
1 damage, vampire does damage also

And the vampire has 2 armour, so that did nothing to it.

We have established that the vampire can take out a soldier in one strike, so Think dangerously: that’s happening.

And that will shake the soldiers again; are they still interested in following orders?

Order Follower(Anaya): 2D6(1 3) +1 = 5 Failure!
GM move(soft): Separate them

Anaya and companions landed several blows, giving the creature some superficial injuries. The vampire defended itself only by attacking, making rapid strikes with its dagger. It slipped a blow past one soldier’s shield, slicing into his neck; he fell to the ground, bleeding. The creature then moved swiftly to separate Anaya from the two others.

Anaya is dead without some help here. It’s time for Esthana to get back into the action.

Defend(Esthana): 2D6(5 4) +1 = 10 Success!
3 hold.

Spend hold(Esthana): Spend 1 to halve damage to the target.

Hack and Slash(Anaya): 2D6(3 3) -1 = 5 Failure!
GM move(hard): Deal damage: 12 damage, halved to 6, armour reduces it by 2 more.

Without that Defend, Anaya was dead.

Anaya tried a sweep with the sword, hoping to drive the creature back, but it dodged easily. As it moved to strike, however, an arrow sunk into its shoulder, and the creature screamed in pain. The blow still connected, the vampire easily driving the blade through Anaya’s mail into her side. But the creature was distracted now, and began to move past her towards the shooter at end of the alley. Turning, Anaya saw that it was Esthana.

Spend hold(Esthana): Divert attacks to self

Volley(Esthana): 2D6(2 1) +2 = 5 Failure!
GM move(soft): Monster move(vampire): attacks
Hack and Slash(Esthana): 2D6(5 4) +2 = 11 Success!
9 damage

The vampire has only 1 hitpoint left.

Spend hold(Esthana): Open up for attack by an ally.

Esthana loosed another arrow at the vampire as it moved in, but it easily dodged. She dropped the bow then and drew her sword once more, slashing at the vampire, the Flametouched Iron cutting deeply into the its outstretched arm as it moved to strike. It recoiled in pain, screeching, trying to ward off another blow. As it fell back, Anaya moved behind it and drove her sword into its back.

Even with help, making a hack and slash here is risky...

Hack and Slash(Aided)(Anaya): 2D6(5 5) +0 = 10 Success!
3 damage

That’s perfect.

The creature let out one last, long shriek of agony, and before their eyes its body was consumed by the Flame, dissolving into ash. Then, at last, silence.

“Templar, you are hurt.” said Esthana.

Anaya nodded. “Give me your arm.” The wound was painful; she put a hand to her side, dropping her sword. Esthana approached, and Anaya leaned on her arm for support.

“Sykes!” shouted Anaya.

Anaya helps others first.

GM move(soft): Give an opportunity that fits a class’ abilities

She turned and, with Esthana’s help, walked to the soldier that was cut down by the vampire. He lay unconcious, with a hand to his neck, in a pool of blood on the ground. Anaya knelt beside him and, holding her silver symbol of the Flame in one hand, put her other hand to his wound.

Cast a Spell(Cure Light Wounds)(Anaya): 2D6(6 5) +2 = 13 Success!

Magic is mostly commodity in Eberron. Curative wands and potions can be made by magewrights with appropriate skills. But someone using magic directly, rather than through items, is a rare sight.

“Be cleansed by the Flame.” Drawing on the Flame, she felt its purifying energy flow from her into the fallen man. She took her hand away, and the wound was nearly gone; behind her, Esthana gasped. His breathing seemed stable, and she judged that he would recover now with only rest.

Cast a Spell(Cure Light Wounds)(Anaya): 2D6(3 2) +2 = 7 Partial success.
-1 forward. 2 HP healed; she is at 6/17.

She then put her hand to her own wound, channelling the Flame again, and felt its purifying energy flow through her injuries. The pain subsided, and the bleeding would be stopped; but with the pain lessened, the adrenaline also subsided, and exhaustion and her injury weighed heavily upon her.

Sykes joined them; he had lost his shield at some point during the fight. “Are you hurt, Templar?”

“Not seriously now, thanks to the Flame. With rest, and some treatment from the apothecary, I will be fine. I fear I may not have the strength, Sergeant, to heal any more of your men—but if there are any whose injuries are pressing, I will do what I can.”

“Taran and Pentar died inside; I think no others have serious injuries. Against two such creatures, we should have had three or four templars, and two companies of soldiers.”

“Esthana, did you see the other vampire?”

“It fled into the streets,” Esthana said. “It was badly wounded; I might have slain it, but my shot went wide.”

Order Follower(Anaya): 2D6(2 6) +1 = 9 Partial success.
-1 loyalty forward

Anaya asserted herself. “Sergeant, keep the four freshest of your unit with you here, to secure the premises. A search must be conducted tomorrow, in case we can connect these cultists to others in the city. I will return to the barracks with the wounded, and send a squad to relieve you.”

“As you command, Templar.”

Dungeon World is pretty effective at this sort of thing. There were some points there where I probably didn’t apply the rules entirely correctly, particularly around hirelings; and I kept forgetting the vampires’ armour. It worked out well enough.

XP is awarded in DungeonWorld for failed rolls, acting in accordance with your alignment, and for some fixed game goals.

Anaya: 6 failures, defeated a notable creature, so 7 XP total. Esthana: 2 failures, defended someone, so 3 XP total.

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