Children of Sorrow

darkbard

Legend
Skill Challenge, Prisonbreak, L4 C3 successfully completed. Nemo's Minor Quest: free Cousin Beppa from prison successfully completed.

Rewards:

Milestone achieved.

XP:
Prisonbreak SC (525 XP) + free Cousin Beppa from prison Minor Quest (100 XP) = 625/4 PCs= 156.25 = 160 XP/PC.

The group of fugitives wastes no time in scattering to the four winds now that all are freed from their imprisonment. Masked as you still are, this elicits curiosity in some, but others are just as happy to finalize their escape as far from the prison as possible as quickly as possible.

Beppa slaps Nemo on the back. "Good to see you've still got yer balls, cousin!" she exclaims.

No immediate hue and cry seems to have developed in Ravenswood gaol.


In your followup post, sketch this scattering and define your next goal.

For the former, I imagine Cassia would be interested in what connection you might have with the referenced Juniper and that Izzy might be mystified by this rescue from unknown agents; beyond that, describe whatever you like, setting up whatever future relationships/complications you think may arise.

For the latter, what comes next? Do you intend to help Beppa hide from the inevitable door-to-door search of Ravenswood that is sure to ensue? She and Cassia (as political prisoners) are the priority for Sheriff Davos and the constabulary.

Do you intend to break from this embroilment now that your goal of freeing Beppa is achieved?

Will you turn your attention instead to Cosmo's connection to the Cult of Orcus?

Follow on leads that the madness that afflicts Mylistra's people has some connection here in Ravenswood, as revealed through the hints about Elena's mother?

Pivot to Blackstone, especially now that Jendi's contact is part of the picture?
 

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Nephis

Adventurer
The group of fugitives wastes no time in scattering to the four winds now that all are freed from their imprisonment. Masked as you still are, this elicits curiosity in some, but others are just as happy to finalize their escape as far from the prison as possible as quickly as possible.

Beppa slaps Nemo on the back. "Good to see you've still got yer balls, cousin!" she exclaims.

No immediate hue and cry seems to have developed in Ravenswood gaol.

When they have gone down enough alleyways and up enough staircases, switching back a few times to confuse any possible followers, the two in front - namely Toriq and Snickcha - stop, apparently deciding they've lost any possible tails, if, in fact, there are any ... yet. No immediate hue and cry seems to have developed in Ravenswood Gaol, but they all need to be prepared, should any develop.

Beppa slaps Nemo on the back, and, after her quip, murmurs to him that she and Tryfza will seek one of the many hideaways of the Children of Sorrow until the heat cools down. "If you feel you need to get away for a while," Nemo quietly answers her, "we may be headed to Blackstone in a short while. Send word to Juniper House, and we'll find you and take you with us." A nod, and the two newly freed comrades slip off into the shadows.

Snickcha observes their departure and turns to Toriq, with a smile of thanks. The tiny goblin makes a gesture very familiar to the warden - a thump of the shoulder with the opposite fist, followed by a short bow - and Toriq starts in surprise. Snickcha smiles again and gives a nod, saying "valóban"* before disappearing into the shadows.

Meanwhile Jendi is in quiet conversation with the young human male. "Go to the shipyard and look for The Firefly. Give this sack to Milo and give him this message: 'this pigeon was caught in the sparrow's netting. Both have escaped the net, and this pigeon needs to go home to roost downriver.' Got it?" A bewildered Izzy nods and tries to ask another question. "I'll tell you all about it when I get down to Blackstone in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, keep an eye on the other situation for me. Yes?" Izzy nods again, then turns and heads toward the dawn light beginning to rise near the docks.

After Mylistra's own quiet but urgent conversation with Cassia, entreating her to take more care of her personal safety, the older woman gives a dismissive sniff. Laughing quietly with tears in her eyes, the witch gives her another fierce hug, saying, "thank you for your ferocity, my friend!"

As she watches Cassia limp away down yet another alley, the witch's attention is caught by the elf standing awkwardly while watching the various departures. Heading towards him to see if she can somehow give him some kind of aid, she realizes that Toriq has obviously had a similar thought and is making a similar trajectory, reaching the elf first. The warden says gravely, "I think, sir, for your safety, you should come with us... to Juniper House."

* Giantish for "indeed" - indicating that Snickcha is familiar with Giantish ... and aware that Toriq is as well.




what comes next? Do you intend to help Beppa hide from the inevitable door-to-door search of Ravenswood that is sure to ensue? She and Cassia (as political prisoners) are the priority for Sheriff Davos and the constabulary.

Do you intend to break from this embroilment now that your goal of freeing Beppa is achieved?

Will you turn your attention instead to Cosmo's connection to the Cult of Orcus?

Follow on leads that the madness that afflicts Mylistra's people has some connection here in Ravenswood, as revealed through the hints about Elena's mother?

Pivot to Blackstone, especially now that Jendi's contact is part of the picture?

I've laid the groundwork for several of the above possibilities:
  • Beppa will send word to Juniper House if she needs help.
  • Jendi has given Isadore 52 gp worth of items (40 gp worth drake trophies + 12 gps) for a guarantee of his safe travel to Blackstone. The 52 gp = 10% of at-level Magic Item cost, so it is the equivalent of an autosuccess in a Skill Challenge obstacle and thus renders Izzy's journey ensured & taken off table as future complication.
  • Plus: there is clearly some kind of unforeseen connection between Toriq and Snickcha the goblin who speaks giantish.
  • Plus here are two new Quests for Nemo:
    • Minor Quest for Nemo: secure Beppa's safety.
    • Major Quest for Nemo: have The Children of Sorrow attain a seat on the Venerable Council of Guildmasters (Ravenswood Town Council).
However, I think the priority right now is Cosmo's connection to the Cult of Orcus. To wit, the party believes that Berylis may have information to help them with at least some of that. So, for now we are focusing on the logging company and its work in the woods.
 
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darkbard

Legend
Okay, as @Nephis and I discussed, I would like to define and mechanize some of the threats raised thus far and in which she has indicated interest via her PC (back)stories, turns in the game (including attendant fiction), and Quests. To do so, I utilized Dungeon World’s Fronts mechanic, identifying and separating out specific threats introduced so far, then thinking about what the “end game” for each of these threats, or Dangers as I’ve called them below, might be (the “impending doom”) and what intermediary occurrences (the “grim portents”) would herald such an outcome and serve as undesired fictional events the PCs would try to intercede in and prevent. Everything, even the impending dooms, is provisional, not a final destination, and might be a springboard for something further. But it provides a structure and pacing mechanism for what is currently in play.

To make this as player-facing as possible, @Nephis and I reviewed these Dangers, portents, and dooms and made adjustments together. Dangers are not irrevocably set in stone; they may morph or develop as the PCs engage them directly or if their actions elsewhere suggest making changes. But this is the shape they take without any direct action from the PCs.

The goal is that there is too much here for the PCs to address and prevent everything undesired; that the undesired rises and becomes a pressing focal point for play, even with their intervention. Thus, I will advance two Grim Portents (among the four current Dangers) each Milestone achieved henceforth, at my discretion. It may prove this is too many or too few and needs adjustment. We’ll see.

Much of this is still undefined. What is the Ashen Fane? How would Cosmo be elected Lord Mayor? Neither of us knows the answers yet. As (or if) it becomes relevant in play, one, the other, or both of us will define such details.

Dangers

The Authorities of Ravenswood
(Corrupt Organization)
Grim Portents
  • All Halfling-crewed ships are berthed until further notice
  • The Gray Cloaks burn, pillage, and destroy many homes and businesses in Docksbottom (Halfling and Goblin neighborhood)
  • Beppa is imprisoned
  • Beppa is executed
Impending Doom: The organization The Children of Sorrow is crushed, its sympathizers executed, imprisoned, or utterly demoralized.

The Cult of Orcus (Divine Enemy)
Grim Portents
  • The logging road is completed
  • The Ashen Fane is consecrated as a site of Orcus worship in the woods
  • A demon is conjured by the Ashen Court
  • Cosmo is elected Lord Mayor
Impending Doom: The Cult subjugates Ravenswood and the surrounding forest under its authority in service to the demon lord Orcus.

The Order of the Ebony Tower (Ambitious Organization)
Grim Portents
  • A mad Raven Queen devotee kills a fellow student in a duel
  • Jendi’s dueling partner dies
  • Caligine (Raven Queen sympathizer) is deposed from the Order’s ruling council
Impending Doom: Leadership of the Order casts out all dissenters to its authority (especially warlocks and Raven Queen sympathizers), establishing a firm position of (profiteering) neutrality in the coming war between the Cult of Orcus and the Raven Queen’s servants.

The Dusk Elves (Horde)
Grim Portents
  • Dyrmorlin (Mylistra’s brother and vengeful rival) rises to seize control of their House in Grimmglimtë in the name of Lolth
  • Civil strife devolves to civil war in Grimmglimtë
  • Dyrmorlin unites the Houses under his rulership, in service to Lolth
Impending Doom: The Dusk Elves declare war on the denizens of the surface world.



The sky begins to yellow in the east. Two alleycats yowl and spit at each other somewhere nearby.

Berylis nods once, abruptly. "I am grateful for your generosity, first in helping me escape this rough treatment; I know my kind is not well loved in so-called civilized settlements. And also in this offer of hospitality." He stops and bows deeply, crossing both arms across his chest as he does so. "I accept your gift, offering of my call humility, work, and composure." He stands tall. Clearly, this ritual has deep meaning to his people.

Off in the distance, a tolling of bells: surely a sign of alert at your bold actions. Voices begin to ring out in the streets.


What do you do? Moderate DC in the following Skill Challenge: Escape to Juniper House L2, C1 Skill Challenge (4 Successes before 3 Failures; DCs 9/13; 1 Secondary Skill Available).

In the post above, you indicate taking the fight directly to the Cult of Orcus is your first priority. Without intervention, the Logging Guild will have found another route for its road in the forest (Grim Portent: the logging road is completed), opening up easy and unimpeded access to whatever dark site lurks deep in the woods. Berylis was recently arrested for "poaching" (ie, hunting his clan's once-traditional grounds, now claimed by the Logging Guild), so perhaps he has some knowledge that can help you achieve your goal. However, you will first need to secure your escape from Ravenswood, avoiding the roused constabulary and making your way to Juniper House once again.
 
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Nephis

Adventurer
At the distant sound of alarm bells, Nemo's entire body tenses. He quickly looks around as if to get his bearings, then nods. "Okay, everyone, follow me, and quickly! It may not be so easy for you tall folk, but there's a place I know ... just come on!"

At that, Nemo disappears down an alleyway, the others quickly and very quietly on his tail. The halfling stops midway and, after peering up and down at the entrances at either end and seeing nothing, puts his hand to the wall and pushes. Part of the wall opens easily and quietly (obviously well-greased) and inside is a small chamber, smaller than the one in the gaol. "Inside!" he whispers urgently, and they quietly slip inside, ducking their heads.

It is dark inside, and they can barely see where to stand among some odd boxes and benches. As soon as Nemo sees they're all safely inside, he closes the door and remains next to it, listening carefully.

From the absolute darkness of the room, he hears Toriq quietly ask him, "what is this place?"

After a moment of listening intently to the sounds outside, he very quietly whispers, "it's one of our rooms. They're all over: I only know of a couple. Happens this is one of them.... Ssshh!"




* They make a Group Primary Skill Stealth check to quietly go down an alleyway and to hide in one of the hidey-holes belonging to the Children of Sorrow. Per @darkbard, Berylis is considered to have a +8 in this skill:
  • Berylis: r15+8=23 vs. 9 Easy DC. Success.
  • Jendi: r11+2=13 vs. 9 Easy DC. Success.
  • Mylistra: +12= Autosuccess vs. 9 Easy DC.
  • Nemo: +11= Autosuccess vs. 9 Easy DC.
  • Toriq: r16+1 (shield is away) = 17 vs. 9 Easy DC. Success.
5 of 5 Successes = 1 Success in SC.
 

darkbard

Legend
Escape to Juniper House L2, C1 Skill Challenge (4 Successes before 3 Failures; DCs 9/13; 1 Secondary Skill Available). 1 Success/0 Failures.

Everyone freezes at Nemo's admonition, still recovering from the revelation that the town's walls and buildings hold such hidden secrets. Through the comparatively thin, brick wall can be heard the distant tolling of the clock tower bell. Muffled shouts in the distance. A chthonic smell permeates the chamber, reminiscent of worms, black beetles, and despair.

Mylistra can see clearly, of course, at home in the darkness. The cramped chamber has low ceilings, roots impinging through the shored-up earthen walls. The space meanders a bit, opening up into a longer adjacent chamber, with stored provisions and the like stacked on benches. It looks like the far end of the chamber holds a similarly-disguised and cleverly-rigged door apparatus on the facing wall, presumably opening out beyond the town ramparts.

That's when the roots impinging through the earth into the open space begin to move of their own volition. Only Mylistra can see them, but others begin to take note as fibrous tendrils begin to wrap themselves around arms and torsos!


What do you do? Moderate DC. Anyone besides Mylistra taking an action here suffers a -2 penalty to their check due to the lack of illumination.
 

Nephis

Adventurer
Even before MYLISTRA recognizes the vines attacking everyone, her skin begins to crawl with visceral memory. Bloodthorn vines! Searching for sustenance from the bodies of her companions! Last winter she and Juniper had to deal with an infestation of bloodthorn vines in their root cellar, and she recalls the difficulty they had in combatting it.

What did they finally find to be effective? The witch racks her brain to remember the remedy. <Think. THINK!!! Right! Alcohol! There must be some here! Aha! The boxes!>

As the others begin to perceive a threat to themselves, Mylistra has rushed over to the stored provisions and begins opening boxes, trying to quietly search for anything she can use to combat the threat. A smothered cry from Nemo distracts her for a moment, and she turns her head.

This turns out to be a fortuitous circumstance, for behind the halfling she sees a shelf loaded with bottles, hopefully bottles filled with wines or spirits or even both. She grabs a bottle, uncorks it, takes a sniff, and, apparently satisfied, immediately begins spraying everyone with the liquid inside.

Cries of "Hey!" and "What the hell?" are immediately hushed by the witch. Her admonition is followed by the words "bloodthorn vines," with no cessation to her dousing them with alcohol.

This stops Toriq's muttering completely. "Hand me a bottle," the warden tells her. "I can pour it on myself and those next to me without having to see them. It's alcohol," she quietly goes on to explain to the others. "It kills the vines that would otherwise kill you. Good thinking!"

Once the vines have stopped their attack and are hopefully dead, Mylistra murmurs quietly that she dares not light a candle for fear of everyone igniting. "Take my hand, and I'll lead you through into the next chamber."

"The next chamber?" asks Nemo. "But there isn't another chamber, ... is there?" Clearly, Nemo has never been in here with light.

A very intrepid halfling, indeed, to hide in a tiny pitch black space, Mylistra thinks to herself. "But there is."




* Mylistra makes a Secondary Skill Nature check to identify the bloodthorn vines and how to kill (or at least repel) them: r20+5=25 vs. 9 Easy DC for a +2 bonus to

* her Primary Skill Perception check to find bottles of alcohol on the shelf to douse everyone with and to find the second chamber: r13+5+2=20 vs. 13 Moderate DC. Success.
 

darkbard

Legend
Escape to Juniper House L2, C1 Skill Challenge (4 Successes before 3 Failures; DCs 9/13; 0 Secondary Skills Available). 2 Successes/0 Failures.

Mylistra sees that this next chamber, too, is infested with dangling bloodthorn vine roots. But, fortunately, the spirits with which she has doused herself and her comrades repel any further assault. Good thinking, indeed!

The hatch to beyond the town's ramparts presents another story. Whoever constructed these secret doors and chambers was far too clever for their own good. It is an ingenious system, no doubt: rollers, latches, springs, and cogs; but this is not exactly her wheelhouse! Surely figuring out the workings of this apparatus would be trivial for one such as Nemo. But everyone is now steeped in flammable liquid! She daren't light a flame, should she?


What do you do to surmount this vexing situation? Again, a Moderate DC. And again, should anyone but Mylistra try to make this check in the darkness, take a -2 penalty to the check. If you wish instead to ingnite a light source first (to remove this penalty), make your check against the Hard DC for this level (20) to account for the danger inherent in lighting a heat source so close to an inflammable agent as part of the check.
 

Nephis

Adventurer
Dismayed, Mylistra stares at the mechanism. Then, she turns and whispers to NEMO, "What do you think your chances are to open a complicated lock in the dark."

To her surprise, she can see a grin appear on the young rogue's face.

"We have blindfolded contests all the time," he admits to her with a laugh, "just for fun! I've beaten most of my cousins and siblings numerous times, even Beppa! In fact, my sister Posie is the only one who has ever beaten me!"

Much relieved, Mylistra serves as his eyes in retrieving his tools and placing his hands on the mechanism, and Nemo quickly gets to work. He listens carefully, ear against the hatch. Lightly brushing his fingertips across its surface to analyze its requirements for opening, he blindly selects the appropriate tools to use from his kit. And as quick as the flick of a green lizard's tail, the hatch opens, as promised.




* Nemo makes a blind Primary Skill Thievery check to open the complicated locking mechanism of the hatch: +13+2 Thieves' Tools -2 penalty for being blind = +13. Autosuccess vs. 13 Moderate DC.
 

darkbard

Legend
Escape to Juniper House L2, C1 Skill Challenge (4 Successes before 3 Failures; DCs 9/13; 0 Secondary Skills Available). 3 Successes/0 Failures.

The hatch rolls open with a gentle whir. The crepuscular light of the coming dawn spills into the chamber. Colors are still muted. Whisps of mist roll across the scene before you. The hatchway reveals a narrow embankment leading down from the rampart to the Black River. Gentle waves lap the shore. The far bank is barely visible.

It is twelve, fifteen paces to the shore. And the river is comparatively narrow here, perhaps twenty paces across. As best you can tell, the far bank is scraggly brush for a stretch before the forest begins. That you know, even if the forest in not currently visible in the morning mist. Downstream of you are the docks, just barely discernible.


You can try to swim across the river here (Group Athletics check, Berylis +3). Or you can try to make your way downstream to the docks, abscond with a pinnace or similar craft. Or perhaps you have something else in mind? Whatever you do, it is, of course, against the Moderate DC.

Edit:
Let me just add the following for Berylis, since you may include him in some other Group Check: Nature +9, Stealth +8, S14 (+3) C11 (+1) D14 (+3) I12 (+2) W16 (+4) C8 (+0).
 
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Nephis

Adventurer
Jendi looks with great misgivings at the water. He knows what Riqqi will suggests, and she, in turn, will know his reaction. He has never loved swimming, and his recent experience of nearly drowning Mylistra (at least that is the way he sees what happened in the tunnel) does nothing to reassure him.

"Look," he begins, in an attempt to forestall his sister's offer, "I'll just head to the docks, grab a tub, and ..."

Nemo interrupts his words: "No. That will only bring attention to my folks. Look at us, yourself in particular. We smell of alcohol and whatever we swam through earlier; we look like drowned rats, with our clothes sticking to us and torn in places; and there are probably already constables down there already. There always are, when anything goes down. And we cleared out the gaol tonight. Remember?"

The two friends look at each other, and the warlock sighs. He rolls his eyes when his sister offers him a ride across.

"No, if we're going to do this, I'll do this on my own steam."

"Well," Toriq says sensibly, "this will be the easiest place to do that. But stay close to me, just in case."

<Great. My humiliation is complete,> Jendi thinks to himself. <Or, it will be, when Riqqi inevitably has to save me from drowning.>

They each carefully stow within their packs any items that can be pulled away by the motion of the waves against their swimming bodies, before making their way down to the shore. One by one, beginning with Nemo, they begin their way across to the other side.

Jendi, hesitating once more before finally entering the water, is both embarrassed and relieved to find his sister going into the water at his side. Sure enough, midway across, his cloak gets caught on some submerged branches, and he flounders desperately. She grabs his arm, wraps it around her shoulders, her own around his waist, and brings him the rest of the way.

"We need to work on your stamina, but, otherwise, good work! Your brain has always been your strongest muscle," she laughs, gently patting him on the back.

For a moment his mood threatens to darken. Then he suddenly gives his lightning quick smile, and they grin at each other.

"Fair enough," he replies.




* They make a Primary Skill Group Athletics check to swim across the river:
  • Berylis: r16+3=19 vs. 9 Easy DC. Success
  • Jendi: r7-1=6 vs. 9 Easy DC. Fail.
  • Mylistra: r9+0=9 vs. 9 Easy DC. Success.
  • Nemo: +8= Autosuccess vs. 9 Easy DC.
  • Toriq: +9= Autosuccess vs. 9 Easy DC.
4 out of 5 Successes = 1 Success in SC.
 

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