Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Playtest: The World Between for Fictive Hack (2)

Okay, so I ran a one-shot playtest scenario of The World Between for Fictive Hack for my group recently and everyone had a great time with it.  Then my players informed me that it was not, in fact, a one-shot scenario but that there would be another episode--and soon.  Luckily for me the game ended with them in a huge circular crypt dedicated to Father Lothak, god of the sea.  I added in some extra corridors and additional circular crypts, some will-o-the wisp variants, some fish-people who were temporary allies of the druid they'd dealt with last time, and we were off and running.

Our Heroes:
Dan: Dea, a Hunter
Bill: Mereda, an Archer
Kaiser: Kev, a Thief
Mike: Sly, an Assassin [Mike couldn't make this session]
Kirk: Nominie, a Damsel of the Lady

Within a few moments of the dying breath of the druid, the elemental barriers forming the odd maze dedicated to the god Charlak faded away.  As the fire pits dropped to mere embers the room became very, very dark.  The thief quickly lit his bullseye lantern and they surveyed their surroundings carefully.  The lantern offered far too little illumination for the huge cylindrical vault but they noted large bronze crypt portals on the ground floor, smaller stone-sealed individual crypts in rows above, and possibly the opening to a corridor off a balcony on the third level.  Kev, who assured everyone once again that he was an "adventurer, not a thief", suggested looking in the impressive large crypts around the main floor.  They agreed and slowly dragged one of the corroded doors open.

To their horror and hideous amorphous creature (a Babbler, done fish-person style) covered in shining scales, fishy eyes, and gasping mouths poured out of the darkness and moved to engulf them.  The creature's appearance and bizarre babbling cries sent Mereda and Dea fleeing into the darkness.  Kev and Nominie struggled with it briefly before retreating to join their friends.  Kev first tried to put on the druid's magic fire bracers but was unsuccessful.  Kev then attempted to lure it into one of the ember-filled fire trenches but lost his nerve and ran for the entrance as well.  Mereda and Dea headed up the wide corridor leading out but were surprised to not see daylight from the narrow ravine outside.  Reaching the opening they found it blocked with a mass of thick thorn bushes, apparently there due to druidic or fey magic.  The rest of the party joined them and they set to work hacking at it with a pair of small hatchets.  Just as they finished hacking an opening onto the landing beyond the creature emerged from the darkness behind them in pursuit.  In a panic they crossed back over the ravine by hopping across the old stone columns, swinging on vines, and using Kev's rope and grappling hook.  The thing dropped off the ledge behind them and disappeared down into the tangled undergrowth.

They debated doubling back to explore the passage leading off the balcony, but finally decided they'd had enough for one day.  Then Dea noticed the water running past their feet from the long passageway leading back to the seashore.  Looking up it, they saw an ever-increasing flow of water rushing down at them--clearly the tide was coming in!  They then remembered that the outermost portal was set down near the low tide mark on the narrow rocky beach.  They then realized that the entire place might fill up at high tide.  They again debated going back and climbing up to the balcony but decided that the risk of being trapped and drowned was too great.  The incoming water was up to their thighs as they struggled against each wave surging over the threshold at the top.  Using Kev's rope and grappling hook plus much grit and determination they worked their way to the top.

Dea noticed something outside and found to her dismay that a group of about eight fish-people with tridents were bobbing in the surf just outside the portal, babbling in their odd language.  Apparently they planned to enter once the burial complex had enough water in it.  The party tensely debated the merits of making a dash for the path which led up to the cliff top from the shore but didn't think their chances were good.  So, they waded back down the hall and recrossed the ravine.  As they crossed they noted that it was already filling with surging tidal brine, suggesting that there were openings below which connected with the sea at high tide.  The desperate crew splashed back across the main crypt, the floor already a few inches deep in water.  Kev once again employed his grappling hook [DM: easily the most useful item of equipment in the party] to put a rope in place.  Dea went up first to scout but stopped short upon seeing the faces of the two Dark Rose fairies looking down at him.  They'd forgotten about the archdruid's erstwhile allies whom Nominie had persuaded to withdraw.  The two perched on the edge of the balcony on either side of the rope, apparently planning some mischief.

The water was filling the room below and the fairies waited above with unfriendly grins on their faces.  Mereda got her bow ready, but Dea hit upon a brilliant ploy.  She asked if the fairies had enjoyed the cake.  Puzzled, they asked her what cake she was talking about.  Dea explained that they had given the one fairy outside an entire cake to share with them all.  Enraged at being cheated of their fair share, the fairies leaped off the balcony and flew out the entrance.  Relieved, and amused, the party quickly scrambled up the rope.  As they headed into the dark narrow passage ahead they heard the sounds of an altercation erupting between the fairies and the fish-people.

Pushing ahead they were taken aback as a ghostly figure with sword and shield emerged from the gloom ahead.  However, they were relieved to find that it was only a statue marking the architectural transition from the entrance hall into several short hallways lined with small crypts.  Then, suddenly the statue leapt our at them!  No, actually it was a ghostly apparition jumping out from the statue.  It soon faded but they were shaken by the horrific encounter.  As they began to relax Dea noticed a small child, actually a youngling of the fish-people, standing quietly in the corridor to their right [DM: actually a will-o-wisp].  It was pale and ghostly and beckoned to them to follow.  Dea was affected, but the others held her back and helped her break it's enchantment.  They explored several corridors, being frightened several more times by guardian statues and lured by small, ghostly fish younglings.  They began to worry about finding a way out of the darkness before it all filled with seawater.  During their explorations they found two more large cylindrical crypt chambers like the one where they had encountered the archdruid.  Both were filling with surging water from below.

Then they heard more of the strange speech of the fish-folk, coming from the hallway to the balcony they'd used.  They were no closer to finding an exit, the tide was rising to trap them, and the fish-people were filling the only way out.  But then they sighted some daylight.  It was coming from a fourth large cylindrical tiered crypt chamber to the south.  This one, however, had a sort of netting forming a top floor at the level of the door and there was a crude ladder-net leading to an opening where the ceiling had collapsed in.  The daylight was streaming down from outside--freedom!  Inside were several fish-folk, including a shaman repeatedly performing an odd rite around a large clay brazier.

The group hid and let the arriving group of fish-folk enter the room.  They saw that the warriors were carrying the heads of the two fairies.  Apparently the altercation had turned deadly.  The newcomers greeted the small group near the shaman, all of whom stared intently at the clay brazier as the rite continued.  The new group of fishmen departed by the ladder-net.  The party then attempted to sneak by the aquatic savages to the ladder-net but were discovered halfway through.  Battle was joined, and not with the party in advantageous positions.  The fight featured our heroes using arrows and thrown weapons to cut the net floor out from under most of their opponents and drop them into the waters far below.  Kev again tried putting on the druidic bracers in mid-fight to fry some fish, but got them on backwards.  All then scrambled up the net into the woods above the coast.  They rested a bit and decided to return to town.

[DM: thus endeth Episode Two of my one-episode play test of The World Between for Fictive Hack.]

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