Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Actual Play Report + Review: Dungeon World - 1st Session and Impressions pt3

Logo from the beautiful Italian version of the game!
Continuing where we left off from my first and second posts, here are my continued thoughts and AP from my group's first session playing Dungeon World.
The small crevice opened up by the dwarvish miners was just wide enough for a single body to pass through at once: and even this made for a tight squeeze.

As self-appointed protector of the party Naeriel was tempted to go in first, but when she peered out into the darkness without she saw nothing; only her hearing gave her any impression of the contents of this new area, filled with the sounds of the clanking and clamor of iron against stone.

Backing out, she allowed the dark-elf Briza to take a glance instead, as her eyes were able to see as if day in the pitch-black gloom.
Apparently Dungeon World elves don't get infravision...bummer.
Moving stealthily through the opening, Briza pokes her head out and peers within:

Her gaze rapidly adjusting to the nigh-absent light of the room, she views a vast columned chamber which could only be described as being carved out of the earth; almost like a natural cave but clearly worked by human or human-like tools, with evidence of the work of picks and shovels throughout.

The apparent origin of all of this industry was in plain view as well. Lining the walls and working with picks and shovels were strange man-sized figures, covered only in bandage-like wrappings that covered their thin and emaciated bodies.

Disturbingly, their eyes were covered in the same wrappings, which like the rest of their filthy grave-clothes-like raiment was covered in mysterious sigils. Only their mouths were completely free of the wrapping, and these revealed agape and drooling jaws (complete with lolling tongues) to a one.

Turning away from this disgusting sight, she peered down further into the vast hall where she could just make out the faint flickering of torches, as well as the sound of guttural voices punctuated by the cracking of a whip. Apparently the 'workers' had overseers, and by the regularity of the sound of the whips, cruel ones.

Not risking being seen (although it wasn't certain that the mummy-like figures could 'see' at all), Briza lithely moves back through the entryway to report what she had seen to the party.

When questioned whether or not the workers she saw were truly alive or undead (a serious point of interest to Naeriel, who needed to know exactly who she might be fighting), Briza had to say that she did not know.

What she did know for certain was that the cruel overseers she heard were definitely goblins: although she did not speak their tongue, she knew the sound of it well. And goblins are the exact sort of minion that a lich-lord might hire as well.
At this point we started discussing marching order, D20/OSR style. Naeriel wanted to go first, since she was by party role the tank: but the thief Jagelio was by far the best at sneaking about, so it was decided to let him explore before everyone else popped in. Naeriel's bond demanded that she look after him though, so order was decided at Jagelio, then Naeriel, then Briza, followed up by Emen.
Jagelio took to the shadows; disappearing completely from view like he was a shadow himself. Following behind, Naeriel cautiously traveled from pillar to pillar, moving towards the dim light and sounds produced by the cruel goblin overseers.

Soon she became separated from the group - in the dim to absent light it was hard to gauge relative position, and she had no idea where Jagelio had gone to (as usual for the thief). Swiveling around a last pillar, she found herself face to face with one of the goblin overseers!
At this juncture I started rolling a lot of 6 and under results....hilarity ensues!  
For a brief instant, the goblin simply stared agape at this new interloper, too shocked to take action. Then, suddenly it opened it's overly toothy mouth and began to scream! As if called to action by this sound, slowly but with determination the workers stopped their toil around the hall and began to shamble in close upon the elf.

Naeriel was seized by an uncharacteristic uncertainty: if these creatures are alive and somehow ensorceled to serve these cruel masters, it would be wrong to do violence to them. Holding her sword up in a defense stance, she freezes in hesitation as the shambling workers close ranks on her.

But the cruel goblin had no hesitation at all; still screaming loudly, it raises up the whip in it's hand (the whip itself appearing to be crafted from bones), bring it down hard up on Naeriel. She is able to block the brunt of the attack with her sword, but the tendril still reaches around to strike her arm: rending her elvish woven armor and drawing blood.

Cringing from both the pain as well as the embarrassment of being caught off-guard, Naeriel quickly counter-attacks the horrid goblin with her two-handed blade. But between the pain of her new wound and the now crushing presence of the still closing ensorceled workers she loses her balance..and the sword flies free from her hands, clattering onto the cold stone floor.
Nasty little gits, really. 

At this moment, Briza has finally made her way to see the commotion caused by Naeriel's discovery. Without hesitation she channels the powers of her attuned element, causing a dagger of purest ice to fly from the focal point in her forehead and impaling the shoulder of goblin that had assaulted Naeriel but a moment before, causing it to drop it's whip.
The goblin looks now towards Briza with a mix of shock and anger, lurching towards her...only to be stopped when a hurled dagger flies out of the darkness and into it's forehead. Almost comically, the creature stops for the briefest moment before dropping dead where it stands. Jagelio's handiwork.
Meanwhile, Naeriel is scrambling to pick up her sword. From the darkness, she sees a second goblin began to run towards it as well. The race is on!
Moving lithely through the grasping hands of the workers she comes to almost...almost just!..grasp it, before being caught finally in the grip of the circling mindless mob. Once in their clutches, they began to mercilessly tear and rend at her flesh with their sharp, unclean nails, dragging her away from her prize and salvation.
A note here about Dungeon World's initiative system: there isn't one. During all of the action outlined here rather than taking turns we took 'screen time' where the players took action. The GM Gary balanced this well, giving the action a highly cinematic quality. Very cool.
Seeing that his comrade was in trouble, Emen finally joins in the fray. Calling upon the dark powers at his disposal, he curses the goblin reaching for the sword, making one of it's healthy legs now lame. The goblin trips and falls before it is able to grab onto Naeriel's ornate elvish blade.

But the exercise of these dark forces comes at a high price: suddenly the nearest shambling workers turn their shrouded faces towards the necromancer in unison, and began lurching towards him with clearly violent intent!
At the same time, Naeriel finally breaks free of the vicious grasp of the workers, the somersaults forward and swiftly takes back up her sword.
Rising to her feet in single fluid motion, she points the blade at the goblin who had been lunging at it but a moment before and asks rhetorically:
"You wanted this?"
..before stabbing the creature with it through the heart. The creature dies instantly. A clean, quick death: Naeriel's forte.
As the workers close in on Emen, the necromancer quickly works to animate the nearby corpse of the goblin recently felled by Briza and Jag. Daggers fly out of the darkness - Jagelio again- but their numbers are too many and quickly Emen is encircled by the shambling workers...
As she pulls her sword from the fresh corpse of the goblin, Naeriel realizes, that she is also surrounded by a closing circle of shambling workers. Already covered in wounds and still uncertain whether it is right to slay them, she steels herself for the very worst...
Briza is torn...the necromancer is surrounded, but so is the party fighter. She knows she must take action, but she hears Emen say:
"Uh...undead shamblers. I'm working on it..."
And with that decides to aid Naeriel. Summoning the power of cold again using her focal point, she covers the ground in a thick sheen of black ice, sparing only the 5ft circle where Naeriel stands. The shambling workers (revealed as undead per the necromancer, who should know) slip and fall over one another in unison.
Calling again upon the black forces that power his craft, Emen reanimates the corpse of the goblin taskmaster as his thrall. With a flurry of action the creature is able to buy Emen some space with the biting of teeth and the slashing of claws before disintegrating: having worked so quickly, the animation magic made the vessel unstable. Once again the shambling zombies begin to close in...
Naeriel's elvish eyes might still struggle with the gloom, but her long elvish ears work just fine here: she heard the necromancer state that these enemies were undead..and therefore fair game!
Taking up her 'Circle of Death' stance, Naeriel makes sure that she has a firm grip on her sword, then makes a single deadly whirlwind strike upon the surrounding zombies, still tripped up or stilled upon the ice.
The carnage is gruesome: everywhere lifeless limbs and heads are hewn asunder, black ichor spraying carelessly onto the icy dungeon floor. When she arises from the single long strike like a dancer exiting a pirouette, the entire mob of them lies before her, mangled and defeated.
The necromancer, however, is in no position to view this exercise in martial prowess, as he is now surrounded by his own mob of attacking zombies. Together they claw and rake at his flesh, while Jagelio fires daggers from some hidden spot in the shadows, and Briza summons her element again to come to his aid...

Seeing that the battle is not yet won, Naeriel jumps onto the ice, using it to skate over to where the mobbed necromancer stands. She arrives and her blade strikes true: and together the trio manage to slay the last of the zombie workers.
Meanwhile, the last goblin overseer, seeing as he is horribly outnumbered decides to make a run for it. But he doesn't get far before two swift daggers (Jagelio again) pierce him in the leg and head, ending both his escape and his life.
With the last of their opponents still, the party takes a moment to reflect and take inventory. Both Naeriel and Emen are worse for wear: especially Naeriel, who is now covered in red weeping gashes where her beautiful elvish armor has been torn.
And this is but the first room: what other terrors might the lich's tower hold within?

Continued in part 4!