Saturday, 18 June 2016

II.10: Hostel beyond the Endworld Mountains

Newthrone, Q’barra
Dravago 5, 997 YK

The party is travelling from Starilaskar, in Breland, to Newthrone, in the frontier region of Q’barra. It’s 1,000 miles as the crow flies, if the crow didn’t die in the magical waste of the Mournland that lies in between; so to get there, the party had to go south and then east, taking over 1,500 miles. That certainly triggers a move:

Undertake a Perilous Journey(party):
Navigate(Vaalyun): 2D6(3 6) +2 = 11 Success!
You make good time

I’m saying that the party does not need a scout as, although it is a long way, they are using established transit systems.

It takes 1 day to get to Korranberg (costing another 300gp) by lightning rail; 3 days from there to get to Newthrone by airship (3000gp, but paid for them by House Phiarlan due to an earlier move by Vaalyun). I rolled a d6-1 for the days to wait for a ship, and rolled a 1, so they got one immediately. Lucky.

I made adventure fronts for Q’barra as well. I decided not to include all the details in the write-up here, as it could spoil what is to come; but here are the names & types of the fronts:

  • Our new friends from House Tharashk, human/orc mercenaries from the Shadow Marches. The closest thing to a mercenary House in the DungeonWorld rules is a Thieves Guild (Ambitious Organization).
  • The Cult of the Dragon Below in Q’barra. It’s another Cult (Ambitious Organization).
  • The blackscale lizardfolk. Their leader, Rhashaak, is a Chosen One (Arcane Enemies).

Of all the ways to arrive at Newthrone, airship was certainly the most stylish. After passing over Kraken Bay and the plains of Valenar on the first two days, dawn of the third day had found them over the coast of eastern Valenar, the Endworld Mountains to their north and The Dragonreach, that great expanse of ocean, to the south. By mid-morning they were over the jungles of Q’barra.

They had been fortunate, on arriving at Korranberg, to find an airship ready to depart that afternoon for Q’barra. Only House Lyrander, a half-elven dragonmarked House, could operate an airship, and the monopoly that gave them meant that the prices were high, but Vaalyun had arranged for his House to pay the fare.

Anaya and Vaalyun were at the front of the ship, looking out over the jungle and Adder Bay, as Newthorne came into sight.

Spout Lore(Vaalyun): 2D6(6 5) +2 = 13 Success!
Useful information

Vaalyun is an elf but knows about the history of this human civilisation, it seems. Also Show the Devastation of the Last War.

“Newthrone is the capital of Q’barra, but it only rules the human and halfling settlements,” said Vaalyun. “East of the Adder river, the jungle rules itself. Lizardfolk control most of it.

“Newthorne and Adderport are the only large human settlements east of the river; they are frontier towns, swelled by refugees from the Last War.”

“Are they recent settlements?” asked Anaya.

“Yes. They were established by refugees from the Last War—people fleeing beyond the mountains to escape the conflict—and grew quickly as a result. Only ten years ago did King Sebastes call himself King, and his realm a nation.”

As they drew close to the city, they could see that the city was largely wooden houses and docks. It was a small city compared to those that Anaya had seen in the Five Nations. The only tall tower was the airship tower towards which they were heading; it seemed to be a recent addition, contrasting with the older stone keep that, Anaya supposed, must be the seat of government here.

The sailors—if that was the correct term—threw out the docking lines, and the ship was soon secured to the airship tower. Looking back down the ship, past the great ring of turbulent air that encircled it—the trapped air elemental that kept the ship aloft—Anaya saw Esthana walking forwards to join them. She had been talking to the helmsman, a fellow half-elf, as she had for much of the journey.

“Do we know where we are going?” asked Esthana when she reached them.

Spout Lore(Anaya): 2D6(4 3) +1 = 8 Partial success.
Vague information

“The Flame is not much followed outside of the Nations,” said Anaya. “There may not be a church here.”

“Then we should look for the House Ghallanda hostel,” said Vaalyun. “They will accommodate us, and I should be able to learn the local news there.”

The gangplank was laid, and the trio left the ship and descended the airship tower. The entrance at the bottom of the tower was guarded by three well-armed orcs. Anaya noticed the golden dragonne painted on their shields.

Show signs of an approaching threat

Discern Realities(Vaalyun): 2D6(1 5) +0 = 6 Failure!
Front: Attack someone directly: Think offscreen: House Tharashk is pushing into the jungle.

“House Tharashk mercenaries,” said Vaalyun, once they were past the guards and on to the bustling street. “Hired by Lyrandar to protect the airship tower. They must also have an establishment here in town.”

Spout Lore(Vaalyun): 2D6(2 5) +2 = 9 Partial success.
Vague information

“Are we going to have a problem with them?” Esthana asked the question that Anaya was thinking.

Vaalyun shook his head uncertainly. “House Tharashk are a merger of a number of Marcher clans. Unless this group happens to be from the same clan as Haganur, there is no reason for them to trouble us in particular.”

By Hospitality Sustained(Vaalyun): When you enter a settlement, you can always find a place to feed yourself and rest

When I first read the Dragonmarked class (from the Eberron supplement), I did not realise how bard-like it would be. But Vaalyun has all the social moves.

The hostel was part of a large halfling enclave in the city, they found. While most of the city’s housing was wood, the House Ghallanda enclave consisted of small brick houses, some of them brightly painted in a variety of colours—though yellow seemed most common. While they had seen more humans on the streets in the rest of the city, here halflings outnumbered them, and the streets were busy with townsfolk and traders going to and fro.

At the centre of the enclave was a small public square, with larger buildings around it. There was a temple here, the statue of a young halfling under its front portico marking it as a temple to Ollandra. Next to it was the hostel, a large brick inn; outside were hung two signs, the painted sign of the hound and grapes of House Ghallanda, and below it a sign reading “The Dragon’s Bounty” depicted a halfling sitting atop a pile of treasure.

Anaya usually stayed at a town’s Silver Flame church when it had one, but she had stayed in Ghallanda hostels before in her travels. This one was larger than she had seen before: the entrance was a large hall with a long wooden bar being tended by several halflings; beyond it, doors stood open into an internal courtyard. Vaalyun removed his cloak, showing his green jacket with the red hydras’ heads.

“Greetings, sir!” The greeting was friendly, but the innkeeper looked at trio curiously.

“Good afternoon. I am Vaalyun d’Phiarlan.” Vaalyun showed a ring to the innkeeper. “I hope that you can provide us with accommodation during our stay.”

“Of course; we always welcome officials of the Houses. I am Bertram d’Ghallanda.” The halfling and elf shook hands; the floor behind the bar was raised, so the halfling could look the elf in the eye. Anaya would guess that he was in his eighties, a good age for a halfling; he had a number of tatoos of hounds and dragons on his arms.

Discern Realities(Anaya): 2D6(1 2) +2 = 5 Failure!
Front(Blackscale lizardfolk): Learn forbidden knowledge

Anaya is a cleric of the Flame, so she can manipulate it. Perhaps, if those seeking to free themselves from the Flame’s bonds could control her, she would aid their escape? Someone is now after Anaya.

This is where using DungeonWorld to drive things makes it interesting. I had no intention of having anyone abduct a party member before; but Anaya failed a roll, and I had to come up with a GM move that gave form to a threat against the party.

Anaya looked around. The tavern was peaceful and busy. The patrons appeared to be a mix of locals, mostly halflings, and travellers. The travellers could be from all over Khorvaire; she saw foreign elves, probably from Valenar, dwarves, and even a couple of lizardfolk.

“Is there a Church of the Silver Flame in the city?” asked Anaya.

“No milady. We see a friar here occasionally, but why follow a flame when Lady Olladra watches over us? Is that why you are here, to set up a church?” The innkeeper looked wary at the mention of the Church.

Anaya had no time for Olladra, the goddess of gamblers and hedonists. “No. I am a Templar cleric; we travel with Vaalyun for now.”

The innkeeper seemed startled for a moment, but tried to cover it by turning back to Vaalyun. Vaalyun continued, “I would like to celebrate my arrival—it is my House’s way. Can you direct me to the best artists and entertainers in town?”

“Are you starting a Phiarlan presence here?” asked Bertram. “My house would like to know your plans.”

Anaya saw a flash of annoyance cross Vaalyun’s expression, but then it was friendly again. “I mean to hire the best to perform in your inn this evening. Make it known about town that a scion of House Phiarlan will be organising a night of fine performances.”

Vaalyun leaned closer, speaking quietly so that only Bertram and the group could hear. “And, if I ever do decide to set up here, I think I’ll do so on this side of town. I prefer the hound to the dragonne.”

“Ah yes.” Bertram responded in the same conspiratorial tone. “House Tharashk has had a presence here for decades, but they stepped up their operations here when the dragonshards were discovered.”


“Yes, Eberron dragonshards can be found in the jungles to the east. We provide the provisions for their expeditions.” The innkeeper beamed.

Soon it was settled between Vaalyun and Bertram; Vaalyun would pay for the night’s entertainments, and Bertram would make it known throughout the city and make sure he had the staff to provide for the crowd.

As they walked away from the bar, Anaya asked “Was it wise to draw so much attention?”

“I do my best work in plain sight,” said Vaalyun. “My House laying on entertainments draws attention, but no suspicion—except from the other Houses, perhaps. Hopefully I draw the attention away from you,” he said, looking at Anaya’s tabard pointedly. “And why trek across town, when the town will come to me?”

There were fewer rolls than you might have been expecting in that previous section because Vaalyun is invoking one of the DungeonWorld special moves, Carouse. He has an upgraded version of it that he took at the last level, because I anticipated that the party would be looking for a lead here. Vaalyun spends 300 gold to have a good chance of the best result.

Life of the Party(Vaalyun): 2D6(5 2) +2+2 = 11 Success!
You befriend a useful NPC. You gain useful information. You are not entangled, ensorcelled, or tricked.

Esthana has Cha 8, so she will not be much use here.

That evening, the Dragon’s Bounty was packed. Vaalyun had hired the best minstrels in town, and they played from a balcony while the patrons mingled in the courtyard below. And there were several conjurers, including one that sat on the roof of the tavern creating patterns of dancing lights that rushed and swooped over the crowd like a flock of birds.

Vaalyun had urged the two Templars to split up and mingle, to learn what they could. Esthana, who had spent the last year serving as a glorified town guard, was out of her depth here and soon turned to propping up the bar; but Anaya had been the daughter of a minor noble in Aundair, and had been brought up to handle society events such as these.

Vaalyun could be seen, with a glass of wine in hand, talking to nobles and travellers and merchants; talking of entertainments and parties that he had organised in the Five Nations to some, and of the politics of the Five to others. Halfling servers ran back and forth, below eye level, with trays of drinks, and you had to be careful when moving around to avoid running into one.

Parley(Anaya): 2D6(2 2) +1 = 5 Failure!
Show a downside to their class, race, or equipment: People in Newthorne don’t like the Church of the Silver Flame’s talk.

Anaya herself spoke to several minor nobles, but the topic of most interest to her was of little interest them. She would turn the topic to religion and they would turn from it just as fast. Anaya was patient however and continued to work the crowd.

Introduce a new faction or type of creature: Even more espionage.

She had just finished talking to a merchant, when she was approached by an elf in fine robes. “The Shadow and the Flame. You are an odd travelling party.”

Anaya turned to the newcomer, confused. “I serve the Flame. What shadow?”

The elf drew close, speaking confidentially now. “House Phiarlan has called its agents shadows for thousands of years. They carry the Mark of Shadow, you see.” His robes were blue and subtly embroidered with silver thread; formal but not ostentatious dress, Anaya thought. His age was hard to judge: Anaya would guess over two hundred, though he looked like he was in good health and might live hundreds more.

Anaya already knew that Vaalyun was a spy, though she had not known his title. “And who are you, sir?”

“Taleisin Neritoris, royal advisor. It is an honour to meet you, Templar.” He bowed his head, and Anaya returned the gesture. He continued, “What brings you to our fair city?”

“I travel, spread the word of the Flame, and seek out evils that lurk in the dark, to bring the light in their place.”

“It seems that it is you that brings the Shadow.” Taleisin smiled. “What do you think lurks in Q’barra?”

Discern Realities(Anaya): 2D6(6 2) +2 = 10 Success!
What here is not what it appears to be? What is about to happen? What here is useful or valuable to me?

Answers: he isn’t simply a royal advisor, or even an elf; he knows something and is willing to tell it; ask and receive.

Anaya knew nobles, and a little about the royal court, and this individual did not seem like he was acting merely in his official capacity: an advisor would have played down the suggestion of hidden dangers, or sought more information. It seemed to her that he might know something, and might be working out whether he should tell her.

“The Flame gave me a vision of a dragon stirring in the darkness. I find myself here, looking for cults that might be working in the shadows to undermine the work of the Flame. But, my apologies,” she said, a little louder to talk over some revellers nearby, “such things can take thousands of years, and I do not wish to spoil your evening.”

“And perhaps our actions this evening will change the outcome, thousands of years hence,” said Taliesin wistfully, swirling his drink and not even looking at her. “The lady that built this tavern claimed that she read a prophecy that told her to build in this exact location. Perhaps it exists only so that we can have this conversation?”

“Do you know of any Cults of the Dragon Below in the city?” Anaya had had enough circling the point; clearly this person knew something. She was even questioning whether he was really an elf now; his manner and way of speaking was strange.

Taliesin looked at her now. “Interesting, that you pursue that thread.” He seemed to collect his thoughts. “Count Zuokas used to dabble with the dragon cults; he is silent publically on the matter now, but in private he gathers followers. His coat of arms is three lizards and a dragon on a field of green, with the motto ‘Strength and perseverance’.

“It grows late, and I should be going. The Flame guide you, Templar.” Before Anaya could ask any more questions, he bowed his head again and departed, vanishing in the crowd.

That could be both the useful NPC and the information, but they did not really befriend him—at least, he gave them no way to contact him—so they get a friend as well. In fact, since I wanted to add another PC, I’ll give them their extra PC here.

Who should it be? I have some ideas but none that stands out, so let’s roll for it. My criteria are: not a class that we have, or anything like a bard that overlaps with Vaalyun; and something that can be bound to the party’s purpose.

  • A Gatekeeper druid.
  • Other druid.
  • Lizardfolk ranger.
  • Other ranger.
  • Halfling thief.
  • A wizard.
  • Artificer.
  • A warforged.

I am giving more chance to druid or ranger, as I see those as balancing the party best; while giving some chance of seeing some other classes and some Eberron-specific things.

Of course I rolled a 3, the lizardfolk ranger. That was my wildcard: something that ties in closely to the story here, but requires me to customize a class a little and takes some effort to introduce. I’m making things hard for myself, but it fits with the aim to Give everyone personhood.

Anaya moved back towards the front of the inn, hoping to catch another glimpse of Taliesin. Instead, walking through into the main room of the tavern, she found a commotion under way. A small space had formed in the crowd around a half-orc and a lizardfolk, who were in an argument over something.

“Duke Ven should never have treated with your kind.” The half-orc sneered; on her arm was a tattoo of a dragonne, the symbol of House Tharashk, Anaya noticed.

“Neverthelesss, we are permitted here. Let me be,” the lizardfolk retorted; their Common was slurred but easily understood.

The bar had a few armed halfling bouncers, but the half-orc and lizardfolk were both over 6 feet tall and armed. Esthana had left the bar and was moving towards them.

“If no-one else will remove this troglodyte, then I will,” said the half-orc. Spines on the lizardfolk’s neck bristled in anger.

Defy Danger(CHA)(Esthana): 2D6(4 3) -1 = 6 Failure!
Put someone in a spot

Who knows how genders work in a sentient lizard society. I’ll refer to the lizardfolk as “they”.

“Stop that,” said Esthana, pushing through into the space around the pair. “Separate or leave.”

Defy Danger(DEX)(Nyseris): 2D6(1 1) +1 = 3 Failure!
Deal damage: d6=4 damage Give an opportunity that fits a class’ abilities: Anaya can heal the injury

And Show a downside to their class, race, or equipment, bow and spear is a bad weapon combo in a bar brawl.

The half-orc drew her scimitar and slashed at the lizard, catching them completely off-guard and cutting a gash into their arm. The lizardfolk reached for a spear on their back, but they were too close to the half-orc to use it well.

Defy Danger(CON)(Esthana): 2D6(1 2) +0 = 3 Failure!
Turn Their Move Back On Them

Drawing a weapon in a bar fight may result in a larger & more serious bar fight. We learned something today: don’t get Esthana drunk. Out of nowhere, we’re in a big fight.

Esthana drew her sword, but had clearly had a little too much to drink and was not quick enough to get between the combatants. Anaya was pushing through the crowd to get to her, now; she saw five more humans and half-orcs drawing weapons also.

Hack and Slash(Nyseris): 2D6(5 4) +2 = 11 Success!
d8=7 damage

That’s two of the mercs down.

The half-orc lunged at the lizardfolk again, but this time they were ready and easily side-stepped. They grabbed the half-orc, lifting her up in the air, and then threw her into one of her companions; both collapsed in a tangle on the floor.

Hack and Slash(Esthana): 2D6(1 4) +2 = 7 Partial success.
Deals d10+2=6 damage, Put someone in a spot

Several more mercenaries moved towards the lizardfolk with weapons drawn, but Esthana blocked the way. The first slashed at her, but she sidestepped the blow, cutting at his arm, easily cutting through the leather bracer and injuring the assailant; he dropped his sword. But a half-orc grabbed her sword arm, while a human woman clad in chainmail moved close, wielding a dagger threateningly.

Defend(Nyseris): 2D6(6 2) +0 = 8 Partial success.
Halve damage to target
Defy Danger(DEX)(Esthana): 2D6(2 4) +2 = 8 Partial success.
Gets free, takes the hit: d6=4 damage, but halved.

There was a table between the lizardfolk and Esthana, abandoned by its occupants as they moved away from the fight. Anaya saw the lizardfolk turn and see Esthana in trouble; they grabbed the table and, with a show of strength, threw it towards the woman with the dagger, causing her to back up. She slashed at Esthana but the dagger scraped harmlessly off of her plate mail. Esthana used the moment to twist free of the half-orc’s grip.

Parley(Anaya): 2D6(2 1) +2 = 5 Failure!
Monster move(Bandit): Demand Tribute

No peaceful resolution available here.

“Give us the lizard, or die beside it.” It was an orc that spoke, apparently the commander of this squad of mercenaries; he was tall, wielding a long-bladed knife and wearing a good suit of leather armour, with the symbol of House Tharashk embossed on his metal bracers.

“They came here freely, as did you,” said Anaya. “They will leave the same way.” The bouncers had apparently decided that this fight was out of their league.

“Get them,” said the orc. He and his three remaining mercenaries spread out to encircle the group; Esthana kicked over another table to obstruct their approach.

Hack and Slash(Esthana): 2D6(4 3) +2 = 9 Partial success.
Deal d10+2=9 damage; takes b2d10 (1, 4) + 1 = 5 damage, -3 for armour

Esthana is at 24/26 HP; Nyseris is at 17/20 HP. The orc commander is at 4/12 HP.

The orc commander and the human woman circled around to approach Esthana. She had clearly been trying to disarm before, but the fight was clearly serious now and she was no longer holding back; with a quick stroke, she cut down into the woman’s leg, sending her to the floor bleeding. The orc struck quickly too, though, finding a gap under her left pauldron and drawing blood. Before he could get back out of reach, Esthana turned and made a swift cut into his side, the sword easily slicing through his leathers.

Hack and Slash(Nyseris): 2D6(6 6) +2 = 14 Success!
d8=6 damage

The other human and half-orc tried to close in on the lizardfolk, but now that there was enough space to use it, the lizardfolk showed their skill with that spear. One stab through the shoulder disarmed the human; the half-orc grabbed the spear, but the lizard used it to pull them in close and delivered a powerful punch to the face, sending the mercenary sprawling on the floor unconcious.

Anaya wants the fight to stop; the orc commander wants to get away alive.

Parley(Anaya): 2D6(6 5) +1 = 12 Success!

The commander was the only one still standing, and he had a hand held to his side to staunch some serious bleeding. “Sheathe your weapons, and you can go without further bloodshed,” said Anaya, seeing that the balance was with them now. “And I can heal those with serious injuries.” The orc frowned grimly, but after a moment he sheathed his knife and nodded.

Esthana turned, sword still in hand, silver flames still flickering along the blade. The lizardfolk, seeing the sword clearly for the first time, suddenly dropped their spear and exclaimed something in their own language, seemingly in shock.

Cast a Spell(Cure Moderate Wounds)(Anaya): 2D6(1 5) +2 = 8 Partial success.
-1 forward; 8 healed

Most of the mercenaries were not seriously injured; Esthana sheathed her sword and helped up the half-orc that the lizardfolk had knocked to the ground. Anaya knelt down and drew on the power of the Flame to heal the mercenary that Esthana had put down, the silver fire from her hand closing the cut in the woman’s leg. As she turned to rise after doing so, Anaya found the lizardfolk leaning over her, apparently watching closely and excitedly.

Cast a Spell(Cure Moderate Wounds)(Anaya): 2D6(4 1) +2-1 = 6 Failure!
Show signs of an approaching threat

“Do you want healing also?” Anaya asked the orc commander.

“No. Do not think that you can undo what is done, Templar. You have not heard the last of this.” The commander gestured to the other mercenaries, and they followed him out of the hostel.

And that can be the end of the scene. We can handle the fallout on the next day, in the next session. I’ll save the character sheet for Nyseris until next time as well.

End of Session(party): Vaalyun meets his alignment goal, as he used his House’s reputation to get things moving here; +1 XP. No other end-of-session XP to award.

Anaya: 4 failures; at 8XP.
Esthana: 2 failures; now at 3XP.
Nyseris: 1 failure; at 1XP.
Vaalyun: 1 failure, alignment goal; at 4XP.

Anaya rolled quite badly, so is not far from levelling up again.

Make Camp(party): Heal

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