Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Cypher System Fantasy - Starfall in Ardeyn - Part Two



A Mountain out of a Molehill


Last night we wrapped up our second session of "Starfall in Ardeyn", an adventure that can be found in +Bruce R Cordell's Strange Revelations.  Strange Revelations is a collection of short adventures that can be prepared in just a few minutes, making them perfect for "pickup" RPG sessions, either at a game club, convention, or online.  I went into detail a couple weeks ago about my first impressions of the adventure, and how I intend to stretch out this "Ardeyn-native" quest into multiple sessions.  My original goal was three sessions, but I'm beginning to think that we can go four or five sessions now.  

This week I'm adding some GM's notes in the adventure summary to share my thought process as I first prepared and then ran the session.  If you're planning on running "Starfall in Ardeyn" in a similar manner, perhaps this can help.  

Living 4 Crits Presents

Cypher System Fantasy Campaign

Ardeyn: Land of the Curse


Cast

  • Sister Sariety, a Charming Speaker who Works Miracles, played by Frank
  • Zamani, a Spiritual (Ugallu*) Explorer (Magic) who Masters Foot and Fist**, played by Andy
  • Shenuesh, a Graceful Adept (Combat) who Wields Two Weapons at Once, played by Jeremy
  • Yaren, a Foolish Warrior who Stands Like a Bastion, played by Craig
  • Verrenn, a Spectral*** Adept who Casts Spells, played by Marc
* Ugallu is a race option from Broken Immersion by Ryan Chaddock Games
** Masters Foot and Fist is from Worlds Numberless and Strange by Monte Cook Games
*** Spectral is a new and original focus written by Marc Plourde and featured on his blog, Inspiration Strikes

Episode 6: Starfall in Ardeyn, Part Two


Sana Kyrii, the young girl who previously escaped the Spirits of Wrath, explained to the town elder that her family had been killed during dinner, not long after witnessing the falling star.  Only Sana and her younger brother Tejurin escaped the family's farm.  While Sana escaped the corrupting touch of the undead, Tejurin was not so lucky.  The boy collapsed at a flooded fork in the road along the way to Elefar, but pleaded for Sana to continue on and find help.  Sana shared the farm's location with the adventuring party, warning that the wilderness on the other side of the river was treacherous, and to beware of creatures known as "Wrathbirds."  

Hoping to find out more about the "Screaming Crypt", the party asked if there were any experts in town.  Elder Meena pointed up river and shared the location of "Old Gez", a local hermit, who could possibly help.  The characters were warned that the man was quite eccentric, and would probably ask for "something."  

Old Gez certainly didn't enjoy Shenuesh jumping all over his porch, deck, and thatch roof.  The old man's house was situated atop several high stilts, and when the party didn't see a ladder or stairwell, the lycanthropic adept decided to make himself at home.  The old man first tried enchanting Shenuesh, but that didn't work, so he had to convince the rest of the party to deal with their "problem child."  Once Shenuesh was down, Zamani traded a sample of his own blood (Old Gez had never seen an Ugallu before), for entrance into the man's abode.  

[GM's Note:  For reasons unknown I ended up making Old Gez sound just like Will Ferrell's version of President George W. Bush.]

Old Gez traded some useful information about the Screaming Crypt and falling stars.  The latter, Old Gez says, is most likely a fallen and corrupted qephilim spirit.  With the help of a far seeing cypher from Shenuesh, Old Gez was able to inform the party that the crypt's entrance was definitely cracked open, and several Umber Wolves stalked portal.  As payment for Zamani's healthy sample of blood, Old Gez bestowed a motion sensing blessing (cypher) upon the Ugallu monk.  

[GM's Note:  Old Gez is given a brief mention in the official adventure, so I decided to expand upon this social encounter.  I made his home noteworthy and colorful, adding all kinds of strange sights and smells.  His demand, some of Zamani's blood, could've been more of an issue, but Andy didn't seem to have a problem coughing up some Might Points for the good of the party.  I let Andy choose whether or not to give 2 Might Points, 5, or 8 in "blood" to Old Gez.  2 Might Points would gain access to Old Gez and his information.  5 gained access and a cypher.  I was going to give a relatively weak artifact if Andy had donated 8 Might points of blood.]

It was still evening when the party decided to head north.  With poor Tejurin trapped in the woods, time was of the essence.  Local wrestling champ Danyal approached the party before they could leave on the river ferry, begging to tag along, causing various trouble until he was invited.  His sweetheart and her friend had left just an hour earlier, hoping that they could be the ones to destroy the evil possibly seeping from the Screaming Crypt.  

[GM's Note:  As a GM Intrusion I had Danyal hijack the ferry and start pulling himself across the river.  Verrenn had to throw a stasis spell around the kid to stop him.]

After crossing the river, the team made their way along the road.  Just a few miles into the forest, the party came to the fork in the road.  A nearby stream that would typically run through a small tunnel under the trail had become engorged with rainwater, flooding the center of the fork.  Laying face down in the mud was the body of a small boy.  Sister Sariety and Verrenn went to investigate, but when they flipped over the body, a large, brownish, bird-like lizard emerged from the mud, wrapping its tail around the Spectral Adept's leg.  In a flash, three more of the lizard's appeared ready to strike!

[GM's Note:  These "Wrathbirds" were just reskinned Deinonychus's out of the Cypher System Rulebook.  For a picture I used a Crodlu from Dark Sun.  In hindsight, I should've picked a better name… Wrathbird's, Sprits of Wrath… this is a pretty "wrathful" adventure so far…"  

During the battle the adventurers discovered that the Wrathbirds were quite "tricksy."  They set traps for their prey, and attacked in a coordinated pattern.  Shenuesh and Yaren began their melee assault while Sister Sariety resorted to her crossbow.  Zamani's fists could strike both near and far with concussive blasts of wind.  Verrenn began to cast some spells, but his first attempt accidentally caused the dead boy to rise to "unlife."  

[GM's Note:  Marc rolled a "1" and took the GM Intrusion during his Arcane Light spell, so I decided to make the dead boy reappear as a Level 2 zombie, imbued with Verrenn's spectral power.]

Verrenn quickly corrected his mistake but casting "shatter" on a nearby box of nails left next to a tree, dropping one of the Wrathbirds, as well as the undead child.  

Once the rest of the Wrathbirds were defeated Sister Sariety started healing everyone.  Unwilling to take poor Tejurin's body back to the village, especially if it was a pincushion full of nails, the party chose to bury the boy.  The fork in the road could lead the party to either the Screaming Crypt to the northeast, or the Kyrii farm to the east.  Before going to the crypt, the party decided to go check out the farm.

[GM's Note:  The Kyrii family and their farm were my own additions to "Starfall in Ardeyn."  In the original adventure Elder Meena just speaks of Spirits of Wrath attacking the village, and how they need assistance.  I thought that adding the girl and her farm would give the players the opportunity to expand their exploration and turn the adventure into more of a "sandbox" experience.]

The Kyrii farm's central compound was surrounded by a heavy wooden palisade, eight feet in height.  After a quick search, Shenuesh noted that several of the walls and gates had been recently scratched by Umber Wolves.  At the southern gate there were obvious footprints of sandaled feet heading northeast towards the Screaming Crypt.  There was also a trail of blood.  Danyal's sweetheart and her friend were definitely here recently… and one of them was injured.  

The area was very quiet, in fact the sound of insects and creatures of the night were noticeably absent from the surrounding area.  Using his arcane powers, Verrenn determined that the inside of the compound was under the effect of some kind of debilitating curse.  While dangerous for the living, the Spectral Adept believed that he could enter the area unscathed.  

Once inside, Verrenn found the scene of the Kyrii family's death.  It was obvious that five bodies lay on the ground, but with his undead eyes, Verrenn noticed that all five of the dead "souls" were stuck, unable to travel to the Night Vaults in the underworld.  When he relayed this information to the rest of the party, Sister Sariety offered to assist.  Braving the curse, the sister entered the farm and used her healing powers to repair the tethers that could draw the souls into the afterlife.  

[GM's Note:  I made the "Curse" a Difficulty 5 effect that would cause 3 points of Might damage to anyone who successfully made an Intellect Defense roll.  Yes, that was the GOOD result I had picked!  If someone had failed the roll, they would be "afflicted", losing 3 Might and Speed as well as a level of Might and Speed Edge until someone could remove the curse.  I figured this would mean a trip back to Old Gez possibly… with more Old Gez'ian fun!]

Zamani, who had also braved the curse with Sister Sariety, noticed the nearby well on the farm.  Old Gez had stated that the entire area near the Screaming Crypt had been undermined by ancient dungeons and subterraneans ruins.  Zamani thought that the well could possibly be an alternate path into the Screaming Crypt…

… he was right!

As soon as the Ugallu looked over the edge "something" dragged him down.

To be continued.

[GM's Note:  I totally made this last part up on the fly.  I had intended for the area to be undermined, as the dungeons mentioned in the original adventure were stated as such.  But I found the map for the family farm just an hour before the adventure, and hadn't even noticed that it included a well.  It seemed like a good idea at the time, although I'm sure Andy wasn't pleased!]


Quotes


"Do you really want to go to the Screaming Crypt at night?" - Frank had a good point.

"You know, at this point if you gave me to an old hermit, I'd rather enjoy it." - Zamani was getting tired of the party's teasing.

"So, what can Old Gez do for you?" - Old Gez
"I forget." - Zamani

"I can carry s**t!  If I can wear armor, I can carry rope!" - Marc noting that his character's "spectral" descriptor didn't stop him from carrying "s**t."  

"Uh oh... he wants to mate with you." - Verrenn noticing Shenuesh looking at Sister Sariety.