Tuesday, 20 September 2016

III.20: Jungle Ambush

See Recap for character sheets (as of a few sessions ago)

Let’s catch up with that random event that I missed rolling for in the last session.

Event: Move Towards a Thread(Elisea): d100 (86) = Passion, d100 (26) = The physical
Is Elisea manipulating House Tharashk now? Likely (They are active in the areas that she cares about, and easier to manipulate than the Blackscales).
Fate d100(54)=Yes

Well I’m glad that “Elisea” is being brought back into the action; I’m not sure that the event meaning fits, but it’s probably not going to be relevant anyway. Let’s say that Elisea has now assumed the form of an orc, and insinuated her way into one of Tharashk’s mercenary expeditions; she needs a new tool to manipulate. She is hiding in plain sight now though, which means the party may spot her.

Mythic GME Chaos Rank: 6
Scene setup: d10=6 (Interrupt!)

Event: Ambiguous event: d100 (71)=Trick, d100 (65)=Intrigues
Intrigues suggests Elisea anyway, and given the immediately prior event it ties in nicely. She knows where the party is—since they bumped into that Tharashk commander—so she sets them up for an ambush. Fill the characters’ lives with adventure, Use a threat from an existing faction or type of creature

Interesting; I was expecting a jungle ambush to come from the Blackscales at some point; instead it is from Tharashk.

Jungle north-east of Newthrone, Q’barra
Nymm 11, 997 YK

They spent three nights with the Cold Dragon Tribe. After they had convinced Xeirgoulus to stop turning a blind eye to House Tharashk’s incursions, the chieftain agreed that they must call a meeting of all the western gul siksta allied tribes to explain the threat to them and secure a common agreement to resist Tharashk’s expeditions. Messengers were dispatched to other tribal chiefs, calling for a meeting in a week’s time.

On the third day, the Templars and Nyseris had set out to head to the gathering of the tribes. They were accompanied by a contingent of twelve Cold Dragon Tribe, including Xeirgoulus. The lizardfolk led the way, their warriors moving easily through the thick jungle.

Anaya’s thoughts were turned inward as they set out, thinking ahead to the meeting. It was vital that she persuaded the other chieftains to stand together; no individual tribe could stand against the resources of House Tharashk alone, and it was too easy for Tharashk to target them individually with threats and promises. And yet, while the tradition of the lizardfolk was on her side, an outsider seeking to instruct them in their sacred duties would always risk giving offence.

It was late morning when the party reached a large ravine crossed by a rope bridge. They could hear the large stream cascading down the ravine below them, a stready noise under the sounds of jungle wildlife. The gap in the canopy provided by the ravine exposed the clear blue sky above and the trees and foliage lining the far side of the ravine.

Let’s say we have an Orc Shaman, 12 orcs/humans/half-orcs, two ogres, an Orc Warchief, and Elisea (who will probably stay out of it, fortunately for our heroes).

The lizardfolk mechanically are a group of 12 hirelings (6 HP each, 2 armour, d8 damage), and have loyalty +1, quality +1 with near, far, reach (for spears). Let’s say Anaya & Esthana in the middle, 5 ahead and 7 behind; Nyseris is with the front group.

Scout(Nyseris): 2D6(1 3) +1 = 5 Failure!
Separate them, Deal damage: d6+2=4 damage to front group

Anaya was on the bridge herself, nearly half-way across, when sounds ahead drew her attention. Cries of pain and alarm came from the lizardfolk ahead. As she looked, she heard arrows too, whistling past them on the bridge; a lizardfolk ahead of her was hit by an arrow and slumped, injured, in front of her. Anaya could now see several orcs and humans with bows on the north bank, and the leading lizardfolk that had made it to that side appeared to be engaged in a fight.

Dungeon World follows the simple rule of +1 damage dealt for every extra NPC combatant. There are three lizardfolk on the far side of the bridge already as the ogre & some humans charge in.

Cast a Spell(Cure Light Wounds)(Anaya): 2D6(2 3) +3 = 8 Partial success.
Expose yourself to danger; Deal damage: d6+2=6, 4 damage after armour; heals d8+5=13

There were cries, in Draconic, from behind as well now. “Esthana, help the ones behind!” shouted Anaya, as she unshouldered her shield. The orcs on the north bank were continuing to loose more arrows, but she leaned over the injured lizardfolk in front of her, touching them on the shoulder and calling on the power of the Flame; the silver fire from her hands passed over their wound and the bleeding stopped. While Anaya was focused on that, though, a pain shot through her leg as another arrow found its mark.

Threats(north): north orc archers shooting the bridge; ogre and two humans charge the bridge, aiming to cut the ropes; orc shaman wants to fireball the bridge.

Followers, Do Their Thing(combat)(Anaya): 2D6(5 5) +1 = 11 Success!
Deal d8+2=10 damage; let’s say that they kill one orc, and badly injure the ogre.

And the other two lizardfolk are shooting back at the orcs on the bank.

Followers, Do Their Thing(combat)(Anaya): 2D6(3 3) +1 = 7 Partial success.
Deal damage: d8+1=2; Deal damage: d6+2=3, 1 after armour

NPCs(north): lizardfolk 29/30; Tharashk orcs/humans 10/15, ogre 3/10, shaman 12/12 (all HP totals; I’m just summing the NPC groups’ HPs together).

Looking ahead, Anaya saw that an ogre and two humans had emerged from the trees and were attacking the lizardfolk at the north end of the bridge. The lizardfolk’s spears gave them greater reach, however; one of the humans was run through, and the ogre howled in pain from a well-aimed spear thrust. The two lizardfolk ahead of Anaya had drawn their bows and were exchanging arrows now with the orc archers on the far bank; the whistling of arrows filled the air.

Called Shot(Head)(Nyseris): 2D6(5 6) +2 = 13 Success!
Deal d8=7 damage, stuns them

Nyseris cried out in alarm, and Anaya saw that the ranger was aiming at a new figure to emerge on the far bank: a robed orc carrying a staff. The orc lowered her staff, and a ball of fire began to form at its tip. Nyseris was faster, though—a moment later the orc staggered back, blinded in one eye by the ranger’s arrow.

Let’s see what’s happening on the south side.

Followers, Do Their Thing(combat)(Esthana): 2D6(3 6) +1 = 10 Success!
Deal damage d8+1=9 damage
Charge(Esthana): +1 forward to followers
Followers, Do Their Thing(combat)(Esthana): 2D6(4 4) +1+1 = 10 Success!
Deal damage d8+3=6 damage

NPCs(south): lizardfolk 42/42; orcs/humans 6/21; ogre 10/10; orc commander 16/16.

The party is rolling really well.

Anaya was moving forward now, pushing past the lizardfolk to reach the north bank, but she risked a glance back to the south. Esthana had made it to the far bank, where the lizardfolk were engaged in a fierce fight around the bridgehead against more orcs and humans. Esthana’s sword flamed with silver fire and, inspired by her charge into the fight, the lizardfolk were easily fending off the orcs; but Anaya could see a second ogre on that bank, approaching them.

There was no time to help them, though, Anaya reached the north bank just as the ogre pushed its way between the lizardfolk there. The creature was ten feet tall and wielded a huge club with metal barbs protruding from its head; where the other Tharashk mercenaries were equipped with good swords and armour, the ogre was bare-chested and wore only tattered cloth trousers.

Hack and Slash(Anaya): 2D6(2 5) +0 = 7 Partial success.
Deal damage: d6=5 damage; Monster move(Ogre): Destroy something

NPCs(north): lizardfolk 29/30, orcs/humans 10/15, ogre dead, shaman 5/12.

The ogre swung recklessly at Anaya, and she met the blow with her shield; sparks flew as the barbs scraped across its metal surface. The weight of the blow jolted Anaya and knocked her aside; the ogre pushed past her, and with its next swing smashed one of the wooden posts from which the bridge hung. Anaya moved in behind the creature, though, and drove her sword into its back, stabbing up towards the creature’s heart; the huge creature groaned and collapsed.

Defy Danger(DEX)(Nyseris): 2D6(5 5) +2 = 12 Success!
You get it.

But the damage was done: with its support gone, one of the ropes went slack and the bridge deck collapsed, the wooden boards on the north side tilting down to hang vertically. One lizardfolk fell, their cry fading as they fell into the ravine; Nyseris and the other archer managed to grab the rope on the other side.

Esthana has to Defy Danger to get past the south ogre’s reach to use her short sword. (Anaya did not since it was charging towards her and already engaged by lizardfolk. Dungeon World doesn’t mechanise these tags, I’m just interpreting them as seems best for the situation.)

Defy Danger(DEX)(Esthana): 2D6(5 3) +2 = 10 Success!
You get in
Hack and Slash(Esthana): 2D6(3 2) +2 = 7 Partial success.
Deal damage: d10=5 damage (the orcs aren’t evil, so no bonus for the silver fire); Deal damage: d8+5=9, 6 after armour

NPCs(south): lizardfolk 42/42; orcs/humans 6/21; ogre 5/10; orc commander 16/16.
PC status: Anaya 13/17; Esthana 20/26, Nyseris 21/21 and hanging from a half-fallen rope bridge.

“This way, quickly—there’s a channeller!” Anaya shouted at the lizardfolk standing at the bridgehead; they did not understand her words, but two of them followed her direction.

Defy Danger(DEX)(Anaya): 2D6(3 3) +1 = 7 Partial success.
Worse outcome: you get there in time to stop the channeller fireballing the bridge, forcing him to fireball you instead.

The edge of the ravine was thick with foliage and uncertain footing, but Anaya pushed forward quickly to where she had seen the orc channeller, slashing at branches and jungle creepers that blocked the way with her sword. Anaya pushed past some creepers and saw the orc, once again standing at the ravine’s edge and pointing her staff towards the bridge. At the tip of her staff the orc had another fireball just formed; as Anaya came into view, the orc turned and released the fireball at this new threat.

Defend(Anaya): 2D6(6 1) +0 = 7 Partial success.
Halve the attack’s effect or damage

Deal damage: d10=6, halved to 3 for Anaya. The lizardfolk following her are killed.

Anaya got her shield up just in time, keeping the flames away from her head, though she could feel the heat blister the skin at her waist as the flames passed under the shield. The lizardfolk behind her cried out in pain.

Hack and Slash(Anaya): 2D6(2 3) +0 = 5 Failure!
Monster move(Elemental power): d10=8 damage

NPCs(north): lizardfolk 11/30, orcs/humans 10/15, ogre dead, shaman 5/12. PC status: Anaya 2/17; Esthana 20/26, Nyseris 21/21 and hanging from a half-fallen rope bridge.

Without hesitating, Anaya closed in on the channeller, swinging her sword. The orc parried with her staff, and with her other hand shot out a bolt of lightning. Pain wracked Anaya’s body as the bolt caught her full in the chest, sending her staggering against a tree for support.

Followers, Do Their Thing(combat)(Esthana): 2D6(4 3) +1 = 8 Partial success.
Deal damage: d8+4=12; Deal damage: d6+1=2 damage
Hack and Slash(Esthana): 2D6(3 3) +2 = 8 Partial success.
Deal damage: d10=7 damage; Monster move(Ogre): Take something by force

Esthana ducked under the ogre’s first swing and drove her sword into its side, producing a howl of anger from the towering, muscular creature. Around her, the lizardfolk were fighting fiercely; already most of the humans and half-orcs that had charged the bridge were dead or dying, and the lizardfolk had the remaining two half-orcs on the defensive.

Then she saw Xulag advancing through the trees. The Tharashk commander had his long belt-knife drawn, and an angry grimace on his face; the battle was not going as well as he had hoped, Esthana supposed, but he still looked determined.

She had to deal with the ogre first, though. Esthana dodged a backhand blow of its heavy club and struck in with her shortsword, running the creature through. The creature howled in pain and rage, swinging its club for one final hit. Esthana had only a moment to regret the lack of her shield-arm and shield before the blow struck, throwing her to the side and nearly into the ravine. She lost her sword and grabbed at a tree root with her one hand, hanging partly over the edge.

Followers, Do Their Thing(combat)(Esthana): 2D6(6 3) +1 = 10 Success!
Deal d8+3=8 damage
Call for Assistance(Esthana): +1
Defy Danger(STR)(Esthana): 2D6(1 3) +1+1 = 6 Failure!
That’s a bad time to fail a roll. Separate them at least: out of the fight.

Xulag was trying to get to her, but there were five lizardfolk between them and his own mercenaries were all down. The lizardfolk’s spears had greater reach, and he took two spear thrusts that pushed deeply through his leather armour.

One of the lizardfolk ran over to help Esthana. She tried to pull herself up, feeling for a foothold, so that the creature could reach her. But burdened by heavy plate mail, and with only one arm, she could not do it. She slipped and could not keep her grip, falling into the ravine.

NPCs(south): lizardfolk 40/42; orcs/humans dead; ogre dead; orc commander 8/16.

Followers, Do Their Thing(combat)(Anaya): 2D6(6 5) +1 = 12 Success!
d8+1=6 damage

NPCs(north): lizardfolk 12/30, orcs/humans 6/15, ogre dead, shaman 5/12.

Defy Danger(STR)(Nyseris): 2D6(2 4) +2 = 8 Partial success.
Cost: Use up their resources: drop your bow

Anaya is at 2HP, and is bad in a close fight, so I had her surrender.

Anaya closed her eyes as she knelt on the ground. Flame watch over me. She was pressing one hand to the cut on her leg, to slow the bleeding, but her main concern was the pain: her chest burned with every breath. The lizardfolk that had followed her were dead, killed by the channeller’s fireball. The orc standing over her would not let her call on the Flame for healing, of course; at the first sign of it, she would be killed.

“We have what we came for,” said the channeller; she had been joined by two orcs armed with bows—the survivors of the group on the north side, Anaya supposed. “We will take her and leave this place.”

Anaya did not know how much House Tharashk knew, or suspected; indeed it seemed strange that Tharashk were looking for her at all. Did they have informants amongst the lizardfolk? Or did Xulag really bear so strong a grudge for what had happened in Newthrone? She looked up, her eyes meeting the stare from the orc’s one good eye—Nyseris’ arrow was still lodged in the other. The channeller seemed strangely calm and intent for one with such a wound, and there was something malevolent about the orc’s gaze.

She did not have more time to consider it, for the orc looked up and there was a rustling in the jungle behind Anaya. She turned her head to see Nyseris and two lizardfolk emerge between the trees. Anaya was glad to see that Nyseris had made it off of the damaged bridge unhurt.

“Drop your weapons,” said the channeller. “We have no interesting in you. We will be leaving with the cleric.” She had one hand near to Anaya’s shoulder, and the scorch marks on the ground and trees around them spoke to the power that the channeller commanded; Anaya knew that she would be dead before Nyseris could reach her.

Tell them the requirements or consequences and ask: That puts Nyseris in a spot; they have the problem that, if they attack and give the GM any action, I’m using it to deal damage to, and probably kill, Anaya. So their next moves need to be chosen carefully.

Parley(Nyseris): 2D6(4 6) -1 = 9 Partial success.
Proof required

Hey, the -1 Cha character is giving it a go, and doing okay.

“I drop weapons–s for no-one,” said Nyseris. “If you kill her, none of you will leave here alive.”

The orcs beside the channeller shifted uneasily, but the channeller was unmoved. “You threaten us? A few lizards against the power of the elements? It will be your bodies that rot here, not mine.” Anaya turned her head to look at Nyseris, her face a mixture of pain and concern.

I’m using only moves where even a partial success doesn’t provoke the GM to action.

Cast a Spell(Magic Weapon)(Nyseris): 2D6(1 6) +1 = 8 Partial success.
Lose the spell

This could double as a diversion for the animal companion to sneak up as well, since it is stealthy.

Anaya saw Nyseris hold their spear out in front of them with one arm—carefully avoiding making any sudden move to provoke the orcs. The ranger looked upwards and said something in Draconic, and suddenly there was a burst of radiant light as silver flames surrounded the spear.

“Leave her and you are free to go, ghik,” said Nyseris, their eyes flickering in the silver light of the flames.

Is this channeller actually Elisea? Unlikely (Elisea generally works through intermediaries; but it’s possible she misjudged how well the mercenaries would do and exposed herself here. And the NPC has got into an interesting dialogue here, so it could be that it is an important NPC.).
Fate d100(46)=Yes

Well that’s interesting, because Elisea would be afraid of the Flame. I also slightly adjusted the descriptions in this scene to lead into this better.

Discern Realities(Anaya): 2D6(4 6) +3 = 13 Success!
What here is not what it appears to be? The caster is a demon in disguise.
What here is useful or valuable to me? Your bow is on the ground near you.

Discern Realities gives +1 forward for acting on the information obtained. But Tell them the requirements or consequences and ask: the cleric casting a spell is going to trigger combat.

The orc archers took a step backwards, and the channeller recoiled in shock as well, clearly afraid of the divine fire. It’s a demon, Anaya realised suddenly: her deep feeling of unease near the channeller, and its fear of the Silver Flame, suddenly made sense. As it was distracted, Anaya drew on the power of the Flame, trying to pierce whatever veil of illusion surrounded the creature. The power flowed easily though her, stronger than she had ever felt before, and the image of the orc in front of her seemed to become transparent, revealing the demon beneath.

Cast a Spell(True Seeing)(Anaya): 2D6(5 6) +3+1 = 15 Success!
That might be the highest roll for the entire campaign. Introduce a new faction or type of creature

Also, Show signs of an approaching threat: the tower in flames sigil of the Lords of Dust.

The creature was feline, like a great tiger with striped fur. But it stood upright, a red cloak wrapped around it bearing dark sigils of strange designs. The wooden staff that the illusory orc had carried was actually a bronze rod topped by a sigil of a tower in flames.

“It’s a rakshasa! Kill it, Nyseris!” Anaya cried, scrambling away and grabbing at her bow that still lay on the ground nearby.

The rakshasa are the arch enemies of the Church of the Silver Flame; there’s no question that Anaya is willing to risk her life and everyone present to kill one.

The Dungeon World codex includes a good template for a rakshasa, but I’ll customise that a bit. It’s relevant to the setting that piercing weapons that are good-enchanted are effective against it: that’s why Silver Flame clerics use bows, and possibly why the lizardfolk favour spears. GM move(soft): Give an opportunity that fits a class’ abilities: Nyseris has such a weapon in hand right now.

Zakya Rakshasa: d12+2 damage, 12 HP. 4 armour, bypassed by good-enchanted piercing weapons. Tags: stealthy, intelligent, close, near. Moves: Battle with spell and sword; Command basic elemental magic; Conceal its identify and work through agents.

Nyseris already hit it for 7 damage, so that’s reduced to 3 by its armour. So the rakshasa is at 9/12 HP.

Defy Danger(DEX)(Nyseris): 2D6(2 1) +2 = 5 Failure!
Monster move(Zakya Rakshasa): Command basic elemental magic; Deal damage: d12+2=12 damage

Nyseris is at 10/21 HP, and the two lizardfolk followers are dead.

Nyseris hesitated though, not seeing through the illusion as Anaya had, still hoping that the “orc” would simply withdraw. As they saw the “orc” regain its composure and begin casting, Nyseris sprung into action, but the rakshasa lowered its staff and threw a fireball. Nyseris and the two lizardfolk were engulfed in flame, and there were cries of pain from the lizardfolk.

Cast a Spell(Cure Light Wounds)(Anaya): 2D6(6 4) +3 = 13 Success!
Heals d8+5=11
Hack and Slash(Nyseris): 2D6(1 5) +2 = 8 Partial success.
Deals d8+d4 (8 1)=9 damage; Monster move(Zakya Rakshasa): Command basic elemental magic: d12+2=10 damage, 9 after armour

Nyseris is at 1/21 HP! Their weapon bypasses the creature’s armour though, so that is just enough to kill it.

Anaya stood up just as Nyseris charged out of the flames. The lizardfolk was scorched all over, their scaly hide blackened and blistered, but they did not stop: with levelled spear, the spearhead alive with silver fire, they lunged at the rakshasa, driving the spear straight through its chest. Flames burst out around the wound, and the fur of the feline creature began to burn.

The creature dropped its staff, and Anaya saw the illusion fall away. Nyseris and the two startled orcs were wide-eyed as the feline monstrosity was revealed before them; the orcs simply turned and fled. The creature pushed its hand forward, touching Nyseris’ shoulder; an icy frost appeared over the lizardfolk’s scales, and Nyseris let out a strangled cry of pain, releasing the spear and collapsing to the ground.

But the silver flames burning on the creature only grew stronger. It let out a roar, which seemed more of anger and hatred than of pain, and fixed its gaze on Anaya as she stood between the trees facing it. She drew on her own power, taking strength from the silver fire even as it consumed the creature. The creature roared again, and fell to the ground, and slowly the body of the creature was consumed. After a minute, only the charred remains of its head, the fur burned away, and its robes and staff remained.

Anaya ran over to Nyseris. “Are you alright?”

The lizardfolk rolled over, in pain but still concious. “I will live. What was that beast?”

Spout Lore(Anaya): 2D6(4 1) +1 = 6 Failure!
Introduce a new faction or type of creature
Is this when the Blackscales show up? 50:50 (We know they are scrying on Anaya, looking for a chance to grab her).
Fate d100(41)=Yes

“A rakshasa,” said a voice from behind them. Anaya turned, grabbing her bow again, but quickly thought better of it. There were around twenty lizardfolk standing amongst the trees around them, with bows drawn. They were tall, like Nyseris and her tribes, but their scales were jet black, shiny with a greenish tinge to them.

Most of the warriors were unclothed, but the leader wore a bearskin cloak. It was the leader speaking. “A creature from the Age of Demons–s. We are grateful that you killed it for us. So grateful that our leader wis–shes to speak to you.”

The bows aimed at them did not look friendly. These were clearly Blackscale lizardfolk, the sworn enemies of the tribes that followed the Silver Flame. Anaya asked, “And if we refuse?”

“Then you die here. You do not decline an invitation from our leader.”

With Nyseris at 1HP, they are not likely to live through an immediate fight. The party has no choice; perhaps it’s convenient that Esthana and Vaalyun are both separated from them right now.

Anaya sighed and set down her weapons. Nyseris had already lost theirs, and could barely stand anyway.

The leader smiled. “Rhashaak will be pleased to see you.”

Well the session started with Move closer to a thread and we actually resolved it, through “Elisea” (actually the rakshasa) overextending itself. That front is resolved, though it could be replaced if necessary by the rakshasa’s parent organization, The Lords of Dust.

The Blackscales showing up has been a Grim Portent for about 10 chapters at this point, ever since the GM move I made when the party scouted Count Zuokas’ manor for the first time. I had hoped that a plausible situation where they could just grab Anaya would come up.

End of Session(party): Defeated a notable creature, +1 XP to all; all three present met their alignment goals.
Make camp(party): Heal for Esthana, Vaalyun only

XP: Anaya: 2 failures, +1 for session goals, alignment goal met; at 8XP.
Esthana: 1 failure, +1 for session goals, alignment goal met; level up; at 1XP.
Nyseris: 2 failures; +1 for session goals, alignment goal met; at 8XP.
Vaalyun: +1 for session goals; at 2XP.

Level Up(Esthana): +1 Dex; Weapon of the Silver Flame: her sword is now “infused with Good and Law and is recognised as such by all who see it”

This new enhancement to her sword backfills and supports something that we were already beginning to see: the sword establishes her credibility with the lizardfolk, and can now do the same elsewhere. The Silver Flame is a force for good in Eberron and, while not all follow it as a faith or agree with the Church, most would recognise its power.


  1. Great AP Thosirien. I'm not keen personally on Eberron as a setting, but your use of DW as a rules lite, narrative first system really brings it to life. I was thinking about soloing DW myself, before introducing it to others but the prevailing wisdom was that it wouldn't work. You certainly proved otherwise. Great fun to read & learn from.

    1. Thanks :-).

      Yes, I find it works quite well for me, though I haven't tried much else solo so I cannot make a comparison. The characters are sufficiently well defined to play themselves to a large extent, and the GM moves in Dungeon World provide plenty of helpful structure on that side of things.

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