Wednesday, 18 January 2017

III.22: Ice in the Jungle

Jungle, central Q’barra
Nymm 13, 997 YK

Mythic GME Chaos Rank: 6
Scene setup: d10=7 (unchanged)

Time for this story’s version of the chase across the planes of Rohan. Esthana wants to catch the Blackscales before they reach Haka’torvhak.

Tell them the requirements or consequences and ask: Push hard straight away, and you have a chance to catch them without risking travelling encounters; but you don’t get to camp and heal.

Esthana elects to camp; charging into a large camp of hostile lizardfolk is going to be bad, so she wants to have full health going in.

Esthana at first had hoped to catch up with Anaya, and her captors, on the first day, but soon realised that that would be impossible. The jungle was thick with foliage, and plate mail was not the best gear for travelling over uneven ground. And the Templar had still been stiff and sore from her tumble into the ravine. So she had made camp after a few hours, giving her body some time to recover.

Making camp was its own kind of trouble, however. Since she had lost her arm, she had always been with Anaya, but now Esthana was out in the jungle on her own. She soon realised that she could not remove her plate mail even to sleep, since she certainly could not don the mail again one-handed. Even lighting a fire was impossible; fortunately the jungle was fairly warm even at night, but she knew that it would be harder to march on cold food. It never crossed Esthana’s mind to turn back, however; she was determined to rescue her friends, and the loss of Anaya in particular weighed heavily on her mind.

Esthana is Sick: -1 to Con rolls. It’s not really sickness, just fatigue from sleeping in full plate. If this were a more realistic game, one might insist that she removed it and then make her carry it or something; but Dungeon World is made to be fantasy tropey, so let’s not sweat the details. The one-armed fighter can keep her plate.

Make Camp(Esthana): Heal; Esthana is at full health

Time to Undertake a Perilous Journey. As this is tracking rather than pathfinding, I’ll use the ranger Hunt and Track move with Nyseris’ animal companion.

Esthana cannot use Command for Nyseris’ animal companion to add their bonus to hers, but I’ll let Asmure roll alone using their cunning as the bonus; that is weaker than if Nyseris was here, or if Esthana was a ranger able to use their aid.

Hunt and Track(Asmure): 2D6(4 6) +2 = 12 Success!
Gain useful information about your quarry

Travel on the second day was a little faster, as Esthana’s wounds began to heal. She mostly travelled with Asmure, Nyseris’ snake companion, wrapped around one arm. That was how the ranger had usually carried the creature and, though it seemed uncertain at first, the snake soon understood that Esthana was offering to carry it and accepted her offer. The party of lizardfolk that they were tracking—and Esthana was sure from the tracks now that it was a lizardfolk warparty—was large enough that Esthana could usually follow the tracks unaided. At any point where the way was unclear, Esthana would let Asmure down and wait for the snake to set the direction. Then she would pick up the snake again a little further alone, once the trail was clear again.

Okay, now for the consequences of the earlier choice—does she run into anything?

Esthana(Scout): 2D6(5 5) +1 = 11 Success!
Choose 2
Does Esthana discover something? 50:50 ().
Fate d100(70)=No

Let’s say the two choices are find a shortcut, and get the drop on what’s ahead.

Esthana was starting to get more familiar with the jungle itself. There had been nothing like this back in Cyre; she had seen more than a few forests in ten years of army service, but never jungle. But she was beginning to get the feel of the terrain: recognising where the faster path would be down into a valley, where the best footing would be up an overgrown slope, and the patterns in the paths that the lizardfolk themselves used began to be familiar to her. Although the lizardfolk were at home here, they were also a large party with prisoners in tow, and Esthana felt that she was gaining on them.

And now for the huge, huge roll—does Esthana catch up before they reach their destination?

Defy Danger(CON)(Esthana): 2D6(2 4) +1 = 7 Partial success.
Worse outcome

I decided to roll for it on the Mythic event meaning table. 2d100=63, 21: ambush messages. An ambush works. Esthana has the drop on it, though, from her previous roll.

Shortly after setting out on the third day, the smell of woodsmoke on the air alerted Esthana to something ahead. Through the trees ahead the Templar could just see a clearing, and the trail that she followed led to it—surely this was the where the lizardfolk had camped overnight. There was no sign of activity—the lizardfolk must have already departed—but she could not be far behind them. Hope and fresh energy surged through Esthana, pushing back the weariness of two days of hard tracking through the forest; but she still pulled her cloak about her, and circled around to the north side of the camp, trying to observe the clearing while remaining hidden.

Discern Realities(Esthana): 2D6(1 1) +1 = 3 Failure!
Use a threat from an existing faction or type of creature: one of the lizardfolk is a sorceror.

After fifty yards or so, the ground dropped down to a small stream bed. Esthana was surprised to see a group of four black-scaled lizardfolk sitting down near the stream. Three of them were armed with spears, and all seemed to be waiting for something. Through the trees beyond the stream, she spied a lookout keeping watch towards the campsite. Are they waiting for me?

Esthana took a moment to think. If this was an ambush—whether for herself, or aimed at something else—then there were probably more lizardfolk that she could not see. And she was on her own; at least, she assumed Asmure would not help her in a fight. It would be hard to avoid the lizardfolk in their own terrain, and she did not have time to cover her tracks. No, she decided, she would have to deal with these lizardfolk here. At least her enemies had split their party, so there were fewer to fight at once.

Esthana can just deal damage to the first lizardfolk warrior. d10+d6 = 2! Not very helpful.

Then hack-and-slash as the lizardfolk defend themselves.

The lizardfolk jumped to their feet as the Templar charged down the slope. Esthana let out no cry and drew her sword at the last minute, its blade lighting up the shady clearing with silver fire as it left the scabbard. The first Blackscale warrior was on their feet as Esthana reached them, and her sword only slashed a cut across their chest as they jumped back. Esthana gave them no time to recover though, lunging while the lizardfolk was off-balance and driving her sword through the creature’s chest.

Hack and Slash(Esthana): 2D6(3 2) +3 = 8 Partial success.
Deals d10+d6=10 damage; Deal damage: d8=4, 1 after armour

12 total damage is enough for two warriors.

The lizardfolk to her left used the opening to drive a spear-thrust at Esthana’s exposed side—once again the Templar rued the loss of her shield-arm—but her plate mail turned the spear tip away. Esthana turned to her right, keeping the spear point behind her body as she turned around, swinging her sword for an upward cut. The lizardfolk had over-extended and could not get their spear back in time; the Templar’s stroke cut deeply into their side, sending a second lizardfolk to the ground, bleeding.

Show signs of an approaching threat: sorceror is going to blast you, also calling backup.

Seeing Red(Esthana): 2D6(3 6) +1+1 = 11 Success!
What is about to happen here? Bad magic. What should I be on the lookout for? The rest of the lizardfolk. What here is useful or valuable to me? Backing up a slope gives them uneven footing.
Defy Danger(DEX)(Esthana): 2D6(1 6) +3+1 = 11 Success!

The two remaining lizardfolk backed up, one with a spear staying in front of the other as they backed up the slope. The one in the back shouted something in Draconic, and then extended the staff in their hands to point at Esthana. Spellcaster she thought, rolling to her right as a bolt of ice flew from the staff, streaking over her. Back on her feet, she saw two more lizardfolk out of the corner of her eye, coming up the stream from closer to the camp, as she rushed up the slope to the sorceror.

Hack and Slash(Esthana): 2D6(1 3) +3+1 = 8 Partial success.
Let’s say she hits the one in front, not the sorceror; the monster attack will be the sorceror casting something; I’m using the Orc Shaman from the Codex for the sorceror (though he’s really a lizardfolk, and I’m not giving him 14HP, he can have 6 like the others), so Monster move(Change the Environment). And those next two lizardfolk are lining up bow shots. But she deals d10+d6=11 damage

3 lizardfolk down; Esthana is at 25/26HP. The fighter is doing what they do best.

The other lizardfolk barred her way though, jabbing with their spear. Esthana continued her rush, parrying the spear aside, crashing into the black-scaled creature and knocking them to the ground. A quick downstroke with her sword finished the creature off. But, as she looked up, suddenly the air around her turned bitterly cold; ice and snow suddenly filled the air and covered the ground. Esthana could no longer see the sorceror—but they had to be nearby.

Defy Danger(INT)(Esthana): 2D6(6 5) +0 = 11 Success!
You find the sorceror
Hack and Slash(Esthana): 2D6(1 2) +3 = 6 Failure!
to follow

Esthana rushed to the spot where she had last seen the sorceror, at the top of the slope; she ignored the sudden sleet, holding in her mind the image of the jungle as it had been only moment before. She passed a tree and glimpsed the sorceror running up the slope. Moving quickly despite her heavy armour, Esthana pursued, thick sleet streaking her breastplate as she charged forward. She reached the sorceror and took a swing as him, but her sword connected with a tree—barely visible in the unnatural storm—instead.

Monster move(Twist the Elements); Deal damage: d8+3 = 9 ignoring armour. Esthana is at 16/26 HP. And another two lizardfolk jumps in to defend the sorceror: I was imagining around ten in total, and the spellcaster did call for help.

Hack and Slash(Esthana): 2D6(4 1) +3 = 8 Partial success.
Deals d10+d6=10 damage, Deal damage: d8 = 8 damage, 5 after armour.

Esthana is at 11/26HP. This is looking pretty bad: the sorceror has attacks that ignore her plate mail, and the lizardfolk are all individually fairly tough. Of course, it should be dangerous, since this ambush was intended to kill her; a ”balanced” encounter based on the monster tags would be 3-4 lizardfolk. There’s a good chance she dies or is captured trying to do this.

Otherwise, there’s two more lizardfolk coming up behind her, and maybe two more scouts that haven’t got back to the fight yet (making my original 10). Those latter ones depend on whether the GM gets a move to introduce them.

The sorceror turned, yelling something in Draconic, and pointed their staff at Esthana. She felt a sudden freezing chill in her chest, as if a spike of ice had been driven in to her, winding her and sapping her strength. As she reeled from the blow, the forms of two more lizardfolk loomed up to her through the shroud of sleet. The Templar steeled herself, parrying aside spearpoints in their initial rush; she quickly dispatched one of the lizardfolk warriors, but not before the other had managed to drive their spear into the joint in her plate mail over her hip; it was sharply painful, and she could feel blood seeping into her gambeson.

Seeing Red(Esthana): 2D6(3 3) +1+1 = 8 Partial success.
What is about to happen here? Two more lizardfolk are approaching from behind
Hack and Slash(Esthana): 2D6(1 3) +3+1 = 8 Partial success.
Deals d10+d6=15 damage; Deal damage: takes d8=5, 2 after armour

There were 4 lizardfolk total over the last two hack-and-slashes, so 24HP total. Esthana dealt 25 damage total, so they are all dead. Esthana is at 9/26HP.

Esthana’s combat experience was all that was keeping her alive at this point. Despite the pain and the sleet swirling around her, she was still aware that there were two other lizardfolk behind her; unable to see her through the sleet, they would have slung their bows and be approaching under its cover. She drove the remaining lizardfolk in front of her back a little, putting herself where her left side was covered by a tree, so the ones behind must approach on her right. When she saw the lizardfolk’s eyes flicker briefly to something behind her, she moved: with one quick slash to knock aside the spear of the one in front, she turned and charged the two approaching from behind, catching them completely by surprise. In two quick strokes she felled both of them. The one that she had been fighting managed one more jab into her back, drawing more blood, before she turned and cut them down also.

Seven lizardfolk down, sorceror still around.

Golden Opportunity: Esthana has been dealing with the soldiers, hasn’t addressed the sorceror. Monster move(Twist the Elements)

Defy Danger(CON)(Esthana): 2D6(5 6) +2-1 = 12 Success!
You resist the spell
Seeing Red(Esthana): 2D6(2 4) +1+1 = 8 Partial success.
What here is hidden?

Just as she was catching her breath, Esthana felt the lingering cold in her chest suddenly intensify, speading throughout her body. The sleet storm still raging around her, the Templar pressed forward despite the icy chill running through her veins—both were surely conjurations of the sorceror, lurking out of sight. The sorceror was probably immune to his own conjuration and would hide inside it, she suspected, as cover; Esthana turned towards where the storm seemed thickest, with her sword, still ablaze with the light of the Flame, lighting the way.

Moving between two trees, she found the sorceror hiding behind one of them, looking in another direction. With a quick step, Esthana was beside them and had her sword to the lizardfolk’s throat.

Parley(Esthana): 2D6(2 3) -1 = 4 Failure!

Okay, let’s make a random GM move here. Maybe the creature persuades Esthana that her companions are already dead; maybe Anaya is already beyond her reach; maybe the creature attacks; introduce a new element to the fight; off-screen move. I rolled a 3.

“Where is the Templar?” Esthana shouted at the Blackscale, pushing them against a tree.

The sorceror said nothing, but a moment later Esthana felt the cold around her intensify. The blood in her veins seemed to freeze, and it was hard to move. But, with the last of her strength, she pushed on her blade, cutting into the lizardfolk’s throat as she pinned them to the tree. Her vision began to blur, and she could no longer feel the pressure of the blade in her hands. Then, suddenly, the cold stopped; her vision returned, and Esthana felt her muscles again, as if freed from the icy grasp. The sleet was gone, and in front of her was the body of the lizardfolk sorceror, their blood covering the front of the Templar’s plate.

Deal damage: d8+3 = 7 damage. Esthana is at 2/26HP. Very close...

Esthana deals d10+d6=12 damage.

Esthana let the body fall to one side, and then she slumped at the foot of the tree. With the spell ended, the heat of the jungle quickly reasserted itself, and she was soon soaked as the buildup of frost under her armour quickly melted in the morning’s warmth. After a few minutes resting, she sheathed her sword, and then set about bandaging her many wounds. As she went through the familiar routine of tending her wounds, Esthana thought how close she had come to catching the main group of Blackscales, and wondered how long it would be before she would be in striking range again.

End of Session(party): Interpreting it liberally, I’ll say Esthana meets her alignment goal of defending those weaker than herself (her allies are captured so are helpless right now, and she’s fighting to help them): +1 XP

Anaya: 0 failures; at 9XP.
Esthana: 3 failures, alignment goal; at 7XP.
Nyseris: 0 failures; at 9XP.
Vaalyun: 0 failures; at 4XP.

It’s hard for one character on their own to do well against tough fights, because you can’t be good at everything (for instance, Esthana had to make her own Parley, with -1 Cha modifier, at the end there). But equally Esthana did not have to save weaker characters during this session (which is usually what gets her in trouble in fights). Still, it was pretty close in the end; I gave lots of options on that final roll since I knew that dealing damage could kill her. I would probably have had her captured instead of killed had she got a partial success on her Last Breath.

Esthana is nearly back to square one, though: injured, she cannot pursue immediately, and will have to make another roll to catch the Blackscales again. She will only get one more chance before they reach their destination.

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