Stonetop RPG - Session post-mortems

Aldarc

Legend
Nearly 5 months into running Stonetop, I just wanted to say a few things that are critiques:

1) The "Take +1/-1" of Apocalypse World and Dungeon World is significantly better than Stonetop's Advantage/Disadvantage because, combined with the myriad of ways to get Advantage and the low threshold for the Aid (and low risk because 10+ hits far too much) move, the latter skews the results upwards too much toward 10+ results.

Hopefully, the live version resolves this by simply changing Adv/Disadv back to Take +1/-1. Best/Worst of 2 is great for damage (a la DW), but its not great for move resolution. The Stonetop Aid move with actual risk (eg you're apt to hit 7-9 and suffer the same cost as the person your aiding) would then be fine (and an improvement over DW's roll bond for Aid) so keep that along with the change above.

2) Struggle as One (Group Move) is a problem. 7-9 needs to be Success w/ Cost/Consequence. As Struggle as One is presently instantiated, 7-9 result total for the group is "you pull your weight" (so everything is fine) and this tends profoundly toward Struggle as One (again, as with Advantage above) yielding the "you get what you want" outcome reserved for 10+ in classic AW/DW.

I would resolve this by treating 7-9 Struggle as One result as actual Succes w/ Cost/Consequence which would mean that virtually every group move is a 7-9 (7-9 is "the best result" for these games).

3) The Blades in the Dark derived Loadout just doesn't do the work for expressing the "scarcity vs abundance" theme of this game. Its tough to punish players with gear related consequences because they just don't have the teeth that they do in Dungeon World where you have a persistent through line of Gear/Coin/Inventory that you have to manage.

Easy resolution is to go back to the Dungeon World model of Gear/Coin/Inventory management which is quite good for the intended "scarcity vs abundance" thematic pressure point.
If you have Discord, you can send your critiques to Jeremy Strandberg on the Stonetop subfeed for Dungeon World.

But I would also add that your critiques may entail a difference of opinion with the creator regarding the intended tone or degree of challenge of Stonetop.
 
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If you have Discord, you can send your critiques to Jeremy Strand on the Stonetop subfeed for Dungeon World.

But I would also add that your critiques may entail a difference of opinion with the creator regarding the intended tone or degree of challenge of Stonetop.

Thanks for that!

I won’t be sending my critiques along. I’m a fan of his work. I find it highly doubtful that these design decisions that he made are happy accidents.

I’m rather confident (particularly this late in the playtest) that the working difficulty level and “scarcity vs abundance” model that he’s designed in is “working as intended.”

Personally, I would have gone a different route (as outlined above), but the game plays very well as presently constituted (and again, as I expect, as intended).
 

darkbard

Legend
Nearly 5 months into running Stonetop, I just wanted to say a few things that are critiques:

1) The "Take +1/-1" of Apocalypse World and Dungeon World is significantly better than Stonetop's Advantage/Disadvantage because, combined with the myriad of ways to get Advantage and the low threshold for the Aid (and low risk because 10+ hits far too much) move, the latter skews the results upwards too much toward 10+ results.

Hopefully, the live version resolves this by simply changing Adv/Disadv back to Take +1/-1. Best/Worst of 2 is great for damage (a la DW), but its not great for move resolution. The Stonetop Aid move with actual risk (eg you're apt to hit 7-9 and suffer the same cost as the person your aiding) would then be fine (and an improvement over DW's roll bond for Aid) so keep that along with the change above.

2) Struggle as One (Group Move) is a problem. 7-9 needs to be Success w/ Cost/Consequence. As Struggle as One is presently instantiated, 7-9 result total for the group is "you pull your weight" (so everything is fine) and this tends profoundly toward Struggle as One (again, as with Advantage above) yielding the "you get what you want" outcome reserved for 10+ in classic AW/DW.

I would resolve this by treating 7-9 Struggle as One result as actual Succes w/ Cost/Consequence which would mean that virtually every group move is a 7-9 (7-9 is "the best result" for these games).

3) The Blades in the Dark derived Loadout just doesn't do the work for expressing the "scarcity vs abundance" theme of this game. Its tough to punish players with gear related consequences because they just don't have the teeth that they do in Dungeon World where you have a persistent through line of Gear/Coin/Inventory that you have to manage.

Easy resolution is to go back to the Dungeon World model of Gear/Coin/Inventory management which is quite good for the intended "scarcity vs abundance" thematic pressure point.
Interesting observations!

I agree entirely with your 1). We just haven't made enough Struggle as One Moves (your 2)) in our game yet for me to have a real sense of its distribution of outcomes, but I see the logic of your analysis. That said, this may be party dependent, in the sense that number of contributors and modifier distribution could skew the results depending on the particular kind of Move in play.

As for your 3), I've found the Inventory/Loadout system to put sufficient pressure on Taran (my PC). When I acquired the magic longspear, Thunderclap, upgrading from 1 to 2 (of 6!) slots for the change in weapon, this necessitated no longer carrying my Messkit. Sure, in our game, that pressure was mitigated by moving the Messkit to NPC Follower Efa, but maybe thus the Inventory issue really lies with NPC Loadout and what that adds to the options available to PCs, not the core of PC Loadout.

ETA: Also, I think there is a wide range of, let's call them philosophical interpretations, of what scarcity might look like for an Iron Age setting and its ensuing fiction.
 

Tom B1

Explorer
Just wanted to thank you for posting the adventure sessions, the tear-down of the moves behind, and the great story you have created in your Stonetop game.

I find I am of two very different minds of the game (I have DW, but that's just an aside).

On the one hand, I love the decisions the characters have to face in each encounter and how they have to find ways to stave off negative impacts while trying to accomplish some key action in the encounter. The choices, the way the dice unfold and offer consequences... that's all pretty great. You get a LOT done in a session (comparing to D&D 5E or other versions). And you get to weave in details of character personality, poking points, and their outlook and the players get to see their view of their characters grow through experience, versus just what they wrote down at the start of the game. There's a lot of goodness here.

That said, when I then see the 'background' stuff with supply and stuff happening within the village etc.... I don't dislike the happenings, but the mechanical parts in this area is distinctly something I would rather not have. I'm also not so happy about how they vocabulary (hard moves, soft moves, etc) and the way it is presented on the character playbook. Maybe it is many, many years of D&D with many options and an old school sensibility of 'don't tell me the rules preclude a thing, tell me the costs and difficulty). I just feel like the playbooks are a bit more constricting than I'd prefer.

I'm in the process of moving away from D&D 5E. WoTC's low-jinks have we departing company with them. I was looking at Stonetop, but a) $110 possibly US to get a copy to my door... ouch and b) the parts I don't like may suggest I should keep looking.

I am very grateful that you have shown the process for a session - that's a great resource in understanding how these PbtA systems function. The players also seem to have some experience and that's a help too when it comes to a narrativist system - experience matters.

I hope you will post any further sessions and whatever is done when you get to the 6th/7th session and you move to the interval where village stuff happens and so on. I still want to see that process work and whatever preamble information the players get to see before you move into another season or whatever you call 6 sessions together.

I'd like to see my next game with the feel of the game (the player agency, the GM as responder and the sorts of outcomes that are not just binary but have 'failure with a benefit, success with a consequence, as well as success and failure options', and the speed of resolution with the creativity in interpreting the dices' guidance. At the same time, I'd like to no particular accounting for wealth, homestead, village, etc. Some stuff I just like to see be handwaved and not figured and monitored.

Thank you for your time and my respects to all players and appreciate the work of the Chronicler. I hope you do post further.
 

Just wanted to thank you for posting the adventure sessions, the tear-down of the moves behind, and the great story you have created in your Stonetop game.

I find I am of two very different minds of the game (I have DW, but that's just an aside).

On the one hand, I love the decisions the characters have to face in each encounter and how they have to find ways to stave off negative impacts while trying to accomplish some key action in the encounter. The choices, the way the dice unfold and offer consequences... that's all pretty great. You get a LOT done in a session (comparing to D&D 5E or other versions). And you get to weave in details of character personality, poking points, and their outlook and the players get to see their view of their characters grow through experience, versus just what they wrote down at the start of the game. There's a lot of goodness here.

That said, when I then see the 'background' stuff with supply and stuff happening within the village etc.... I don't dislike the happenings, but the mechanical parts in this area is distinctly something I would rather not have. I'm also not so happy about how they vocabulary (hard moves, soft moves, etc) and the way it is presented on the character playbook. Maybe it is many, many years of D&D with many options and an old school sensibility of 'don't tell me the rules preclude a thing, tell me the costs and difficulty). I just feel like the playbooks are a bit more constricting than I'd prefer.

I'm in the process of moving away from D&D 5E. WoTC's low-jinks have we departing company with them. I was looking at Stonetop, but a) $110 possibly US to get a copy to my door... ouch and b) the parts I don't like may suggest I should keep looking.

I am very grateful that you have shown the process for a session - that's a great resource in understanding how these PbtA systems function. The players also seem to have some experience and that's a help too when it comes to a narrativist system - experience matters.

I hope you will post any further sessions and whatever is done when you get to the 6th/7th session and you move to the interval where village stuff happens and so on. I still want to see that process work and whatever preamble information the players get to see before you move into another season or whatever you call 6 sessions together.

I'd like to see my next game with the feel of the game (the player agency, the GM as responder and the sorts of outcomes that are not just binary but have 'failure with a benefit, success with a consequence, as well as success and failure options', and the speed of resolution with the creativity in interpreting the dices' guidance. At the same time, I'd like to no particular accounting for wealth, homestead, village, etc. Some stuff I just like to see be handwaved and not figured and monitored.

Thank you for your time and my respects to all players and appreciate the work of the Chronicler. I hope you do post further.

Excellent post!

We’re glad you were able to take something from this!

We are way way way way beyond this point. We’ve played steadily and a lot has transpired.

@hawkeyefan has mist every session Chronicled so I could copy/paste some of that. But for usage in conversation, is there any particular question that you would like to have engaged with/answered (GM side, player side, Journeys/Adventures, Homefront, Threats/Opportunities, Playbooks, Basic Moves, Loadout, etc)?
 

I just wrote this post for another thread, but it’s relevant to here and I haven’t posted any content here in a long while so I figured I’d drop this in from our last session:




In Stonetop, the Hagr are sort of the classic Cyclops of Greek mythology but given a few other tropes, a particular Instinct, while also mostly being left for play to resolve their empty space. Their Instinct is to "compulsively shape their environment" with obsessions around collecting and stacking thing to exacting standards. They're also hinted at being former servants of The Green Lords (primordial beings corrupted into The Fomoraij, cast as the co-archvillains of the setting; the other being The Things Below/The Dark Underfoot) who bred these creatures (fae...as The Green Lord bred all the fae into particular service) to build. In the ancient history of this game, the fae rebelled so the Hagr, free of the shackles of The Green Lords would have found a new purpose. Being bred "to build", they would be building still.

So our present play has resolved that the current and primary Threat to Stonetop at this point is the retreating of The Golden Oak from this world and into that game's equivalent of The Feywild. We've uncovered that The Golden Oak's role in this setting is to basically hold together the world with its mighty roots and the folk of Stonetop have had a covenant to see to The Golden Oak's material needs annually to ensure that it doesn't retreat. When "The Line of Judges" (a Paladin of knowledge and civilization and harmony/order) was broken a few centuries ago, the responsibility of this covenant passed into history and has been unfulfilled hence. Now the fruits of that lack of labor are on the doorstep of this world.

Whenever you set out on an Expedition, the procedures are to establish Requirements and Challenges which amount to relevant thematic obstacles on the way to the Adventure site itself. For this journey, the table settled upon the following:

EXPEDITION - Restore the Covenant of the Golden Oak.

OBSTACLE 1 - The Mark of The Dark Underfoot Haunts Voistek and Tooth.
OBSTACLE 2 - Agents of Darkness Putrefying the Way.
OBSTACLES 3 - Find Danu's Causeway Through The Grove of the Savage Giants.
OBSTACLE 4 - Bring The Forest Folk Out of Hiding.

The PCs are journeying north through The Great Wood (the forest that is home to the fading Golden Oak). They planned to stop at an enclave of Crinwin (small, typically wicked and vicious, bee/wasp humanoids that the PCs befriended very early in the game). The Hagr are unknown to the Stonetoppers as (a) no one ventures even this deep into The Great Wood (a "mere" 3 days) and (b) the depths from which the Hagr customarily come - where The Golden Oak resides - is entirely unknown to Stonetoppers for many generations (since the breaking of their covenant).

So when they PCs arrived at the Crinwin enclave they had befriended (for their 3rd day Make Camp), the hive-in-trees along the verdant, alpine ridge was being assailed by a pair of Hagr who were sundering the buttressing branches for select pickings to meet their, now very confused, obsessive purpose; "to build."

The PCs defended the Crinwin enclave and slew these mysterious, massive fey giants. What are they? Why are they here? The Judge Cullen's player decided to make a Know Things move via his Well Read playbook move with the help of the (recently secured) Follower Voistek:

WELL-READ
When you name the source in which you read about the matter at hand, roll roll +WIS to Know Things instead of +INT.

KNOW THINGS
When you consult your accumulated knowledge, roll +INT: on a 10+, the GM will tell you something interesting and useful about the topic at hand; on a 7-9, the GM will tell you something interesting—it’s on you to make it useful; either way the GM might ask, “How do you know this?”

Voistek - Scrivener of Eratis
Long-lived, Flesh-flayer, Chronicle-wise
HP 8; Armor 1
Longspear; d6 (reach, piercing 1 due to Prosperity)
Instinct: To invest his last breaths with purpose.
Cost: A pupil to share his knowledge with.

Cullen and Voistek get a 10+ result so I'm obliged to tell them something both interesting and useful (meaning actionable with respect to present goals, instincts, situation et al).

So presently, OBSTACLE 1 & 2 above are resolved. So the PCs are working on OBSTACLES 3 - Find Danu's Causeway Through The Grove of the Savage Giants.

Danu is the deity of nature (and all related; tooth and claw and preservation and beauty and barrenness). Play had sorted out that her causeway is a mystical secret path deep into The Great Wood, known only to Danu's initiates and the fey and the ancient Stonetoppers, that lets you transcend this world into the equivalent of The Feywild beyond where The Golden Oak is retreating.

So its settled upon that these Hagr are in fact "The Savage Giants"...that their chosen task after their rebellion freed the fey from The Green Lords was to build and maintain Danu's Causeway. Now with The Golden Tree retreating from this world, they have lost their purpose. Confused, they travel indiscriminately, carrying out their rote obsession "to build." So these slain giants cannot lead them to Danu's Causeway. But perhaps they could reverse engineer their shambling journey here via tracking and reading the collateral damage to the environment.

Interesting and Useful (and the outgrowth of an emergent, creative play process)

There are other examples of this in the Blades game I'm GMing, the 4e game (particularly the present Astral conflict on The Dread Star Caiphon) I'm GMing, and the Dogs game I'm GMing. But this one is a solid enough example of the paradigm.
 

Figured I'd post all of @hawkeyefan 's Chronicles (for his Judge character) for this game as its nearing its resolution. That might stimulate some conversation about particular instances of play that hawkeyefan chronicles below. I should be able to recall and convey how the game engine/play created the events captured below.

Alright, he's got First Spring Week 4. I'll start at his First Spring Week 5:




First Spring, Week Five

* In Gordon's Delve: Cullen was some distance from Dap who was being threatened by some guards. Since he knew he couldn't get there in time to intervene if he tried to run over there, Cullen used his hammer to smash a support beam on the aqueduct. A huge amount of water funneled at the two guys going for Dap -- like a firehose. In the confusion, they kept some of the laborers from being hurt, becoming heroes to the laborers in the tent city, and found themselves ushered into one of the tents and hidden in a large chest while the guards came around.

* They learned from this family that something weird happened in the foundry -- big cracks had appeared and some people ahad lost their lives. After that things got crazy. One of the bosses Odo the Jack confiscated a lot of homes and big taxes were being lefied on the people. All of the good ore that is being mined is going into weapons for the bosses and the guards. Jollum of the Keys, who appears to be the big boss, has a compound near the aqueduct -- he might be a source for more information. There's also a dude named Smiling Francis, a mean sumbitch, he runs the water wheel and apportions the water out to people in the city.

* The head of the family that protected them recommended that they leave the city by connecting to a caravan in the Swap, an open air market. He also asked them to leave now, since the guyards were coming back around. Dap and Cullen grabbed some toboggan hats and a blanket to hide their armor and generally healthy, well-fed appearance and went to the Swap.

* At the Swap, they spotted a tax man going around collecting from people. They didn't find any caravans leaving the city -- under the martial law no one was getting in or out -- there was a lot of stuff being offered for sale though. Cullen looked from the marketplace down toward the valley (and a way out that didn't involve going through the gate). He didn't see anything specific, but he did see some goats on the rock walls of the valley. Including one wearing a makeshift saddle. About the time Cullen spotted that, a goat salesman caught their attention by trying to make eye-contact. They takled to hime -- he said that he could help them get out of town if they agreed to take something to Stonetop for him. After a bit of an incident with the tax man, that involved a broken finger and some stern words, the learned that the "something" was the goat salesman's daughter, Elsa, who was about four. The goat salesman introduced himself as Edelby and asked that they take her with him. Dap and Cullen agreed and told the father she'd be taken care of and to come to Stonetop when he could. They got out of town mounted on goats.

* Trys and Gavin: Trys and Gavin spent the night in the little shelter they'd stayed in on the way to the swamp -- a little grotto of brambles. Trys spent the evening fabricating something like shoes for herself out of some supplies.

* Gavin, who had been given the feathered cloak found himself transported to the spirit realm in totall free fall in the dark of night. He could feel the buffeting of something large drawing near him. Gavin talked to it -- it was pleased that Gavin is taking up its cause but said he must still prove himself. When Gavin could see that he was in free-fall toward a mighty body of water he reached for the air spirit and grabed a hold of it. When he woke up he had feathers in his hand. He put those in his spirit pouch.

* As he did that, Trys could see the cloak in his backpack move explosively backwards, northwards, dragging Gavin with it, right through the wall of the grotto and moved about 50 feet until he hit a tree.

* In the shelter Trys got up to follow him, but first she took the little charm of brambles that we'd found the first time we stayed here and put it near where the brambles had been torn through, to help it repair itself. As she did so, she saw a little puddle of water ripple with the footsteps of something large approaching.

* Outside she spotted a Giant Shambling Mound on the other side of the creek. Gavin knew these to be earth elemental creatures typically at odds with spirits of the air coming for them with INTENT. She gave Gavin a few seconds to talk to it before she attacked. But only a few. Gavin did speak to it and after a bit of negotiating, agreed to repair the bramble grotto (apparently the remains of a long dead Shambling Mound). Then they headed out for Stonetop.

* Trys spotted a huge crinwin nest right near this trail and only about an hour from the city. It was in several trees in a dark patch of the forest on a cliff. The rain dropped the cliff out from under Gavin's feet and while he was falling, Trys used her sword and her body weight (and the destabilization of the cliff by the water) to knock one of those trees down and into the flowing landslide, taking the whole nest with it. Gavin, who'd flowed with the landslide, returned mostly unharmed.

* They returned to Stonetop in triumph - the peat and nickel were taken to where they needed to go and Trys and her father Sigurd began working with the nickel to forge steel. Unfortunately in the process our blacksmithing tools were damaged and will have to be repaired or replaced. But we did get the alloy made.

* When Dap and Cullen returned with Elsa, they were greeted by Trys and Gavin. ANd ultimately by the whole village having a celebration around a bonfire in the middle of town. Leif Garret, the son of the horse people, got violently ill the next morning, puking into the ashes of the bonfire.
 

FIRST SUMMER

* Returning to Stonetop with Jollum’s baby, Cullen seeks the counsel of his uncle, Llewelyn. He suggests Cullen speak with Gwynn, a town elder who’s served as a mentor of sorts to Cullen. He meets with the old blind woman, and she listens about the baby, and suggests a couple that may be able to take the baby in; the Vandereshes. They lost a baby during childbirth years before and were never able to have another. Gwynn tells Cullen to find a way to break the curse, and gift the baby to the Vandereshes, and to not involve the Publicans, Sawyl and Sianna, because they would not think kindly on this.

* Trys and her father and his apprentice Aedelfred are working on reforging Trys’s damaged armor. They’re approached by some Marshedge folk who’ve brought their wagon through the streets, ignoring established ruts and making a mess. There is an aristocratic couple and their daughter on a softback wagon, along with a driver and two armed sentries. One of the sentries asks for Trys and says they don’t want to bother speaking with Sigurd. The sentry then mentioned how rumor has it that Stonetop is “tainted”. Trys points out they need help and they should be civil about it. Sigurd overhears this exchange and comes over and grabs the sentry. Before Sigurd can toss him, the man lashes out, booting Sigurd across the face, leaving a gash from his spur. Trys grabs the sentry by the boot and pulls him from the horse, throwing him into the mud. Trys is borderline angry at this point, and sparks of electricity crackle about her. The family shrieks with cries of “sorcery” and Trys attempts to calm them down. Many townsfolk have been alerted to the situation at this point. The wife speaks to Trys and she agrees to treat and feed the horses, and then the strangers will be on their way.

* Gavin has noticed that one of the new arrivals, Elsa Hendricks, is not assimilating well. She’s taken to the wolves (especially Finn) and other animals, but she doesn’t mesh well with the other kids. Another girl, Dorra, won’t let Elsa take part in a kids’ game. Dorra moves toward Elsa aggressively. Finn immediately charges at the situation, growling. Gavin manages to calm the wolf so he can observe how things play out, hoping that Elsa can handle this situation on her own. Dorra shoves Elsa to the ground, and the other kids scatter. Dorra then goes on to berate and tease Elsa, who sits there mortified. After watching this, Gavin finally chimes in and tosses an insult at Dorra’s family. Elsa gets to her feet, and the other kids laugh at Dorra, who then storms off only to return before long with her parents.

* Cullen consults the chronicle, and communes with Aratis to determine the best way forward. He learns of an ancient ritual that will join a baby to a new family. This will undo the familial curse on the baby. It requires the acceptance of the new family by the entire community. He speaks to the Vandereshes and they are eager to take in the baby. He knows that he must convince the Publicans to be on board. He meets with them in their office and explains the situation. He shares the entire truth with them. He sees that they are hiding something. Sianna has her hand on a record of the dead of Stonetop. Cullen asks her what troubles her. She explains that her brother was a foundling who was brought into the community. However, he bore a strange birthmark that was considered a curse. As a result, the infant boy was thrown from the cliffs north of town. She’s convinced that the town will be cursed again if they take in another such child. Cullen convinces her to not make the same mistake that was made, and to embrace this child and accept him into the community. She breaks down in tears and agrees. Not long after, the ritual is performed and the Vandereshes welcome the baby into their family.

* Trys, while dealing with the Marshedge family, realizes that they’ve learned that the Garretts (formerly of Marshedge) are here in Stonetop. The strangers are talking about the Garretts quite a bit, and Trys is concerned. She sends Aethelred to get Cullen so he can help. Cullen comes and confronts the strangers. The folks are actually a group of deputies from Marshedge, sent here to retrieve the Garretts.

* Gavin watches as Dorra’s mother and father, a burly farmer with a rake in hand, approach. He sends Finn off with Elsa, and the other two wolves to tend his herd. The father starts to curse and berate Gavin. He uses Danu’s grasp to have the plant life hold the farmer in place. The wife then charges Gavin, enraged. She hits him and then starts calling him a warlock. Townsfolk are starting to pay attention. So are the wolves. Gavin responds by threatening the husband to try and get her to back off. This works, but people have seen him threaten people and use his magical abilities against them. Once their anger subsides, Gavin releases the husband and lets the two go about their business.

* Thorn dashes toward the forge, and Gavin follows. He sees the group of strangers near the forge, and notices that Trys may be a bit angry as she works at the forge. Thorn leaves Gavin in the dust. Trys sees the wolf coming. So does one of the strangers, who draws his bow. Cullen shouts for him to stand down, and as the man turns in the saddle to look at Cullen, the horse throws him, and he lands awkwardly, breaking his neck.

* We may be proper effed.

* Trys shouts for someone to get Dap, who is walking outside of the town with Sigurd. They hear the call for help, and Sigurd reacts as if he’ll happily head back there and cause trouble for the Marshedge folk. Dap attempts to get Sigurd to go get Dap a torch. Sigurd obeys due to his loyalty to Dap.

* The Marshedge captain is cradling his fallen companion. Cullen recalls the books he’s read, trying to recall something that can be done to help. He remembers a ritual that can be performed on one thrown from a horse and suffering a broken neck; the person must be sent down a waterfall and sometimes, they will miraculously recover.

* Dap arrives and sees the injured man and then consecrates the forge fire. The riders in the wagon see this and cry “sorcery”! They flee on foot. Gavin watches them go, and sees that the others are unconcerned by them running away, and lets them go. Dap smiles at the captain and tells him the darkness cannot hold here. It calms the captain and he doesn’t resist. Dap invokes the sun god and sheds healing light on the fallen man. It drains Dap, but seems to help stabilize the man.

* The captain begins to panic, but Cullen places a calming hand on his shoulder and tells him there may be something that can be done. He asks Trys to carry the injured man to the waterfall. She lifts him and also asks Aethelfred to retrieve a dose of the Crinwin’s healing honey. At the river, Cullen says that all the gods have cooperated to make this happen: Tor’s water, Danu’s honey, Helior’s light, and Aratis’s ritual. Cullen realizes that he must go over the falls with the man. Trys realizes this and says she should go instead; Tor has blessed her with resilience and his waters are less likely to hurt her. Cullen relents and lets her go. He then performs the ritual, invoking all of the gods in opposition to the Lady of Crows. We will gamble, a chance at two souls instead of just the one she is due.

* Trys goes over the falls with the injured man. They hit the surface far below.

* Too much time passes without sign. Cullen scrambles down the switchbacks. It has been minutes. Suddenly, a bolt of lightning strikes the pool, and Trys and the young man emerge. He is clearly healed, and the two are well.

* Meanwhile, Gavin tracks the fleeing Marshedgers. He does nothing to impede them, and just watches them flee. He wants to make sure that they don’t harm themselves. He calls out to them and warns them of the dangers of going out into the wild. They don’t react well, as they consider Stonetop a den of sorcery, and they continue to flee. Gavin follows them to see how they fare.

* After five days of traveling back to their town, the Marshedgers eat the wrong berries. The father and daughter are sick. They’re likely dehydrated. It’s a sweltering hot day. The mother leaves the two in a shaded area and approaches Gavin. She begs Gavin to do whatever he can, sorcery or not, to save her family, and then collapses from exhaustion. Gavin heads to the clearing and realizes there is a treant nearby. He beseeches the treant.

* The wood spirit tells him that his brothers are being threatened by woodcutters to the south. The treant offers to save the two sick folk in exchange for Gavin somehow putting a stop to the woodcutting. Gavin agrees and heads off to find the woodcutter’s camp. He sneaks up on the camp. Gavin attempts to use his Wards & Bindings, but the spell did not work. Several treants attack the camp and kill most of the woodcutters. Some folk get in a wagon and ride off, and they see Gavin nearby. He knows they will blame him for this, and considers asking the treants to kill them, but decides enough violence has taken place.

* Gavin takes three horses that were at the camp, and returns to the grove where the Marshedge family has now recovered. Gavin gives them the horses so they can return to safely to their town. They thank Gavin for saving them, and they seem to have had quite a turn in their thinking. They ask Gavin if they can return with him to Stonetop and learn of Danu’s teachings.

* Meanwhile back in Stonetop, the inquisitor captain has witnessed what he considers a miracle. At first, Cullen suggests he go back to Marshedge to tell the inquisitors that there is no dark sorcery at play in Stonetop. However, the man’s belief is so fervent, that sending him back to Marshedge would likely doom him. He asks to stay in Stonetop, and Cullen and Dap tell him that he and his companion are welcome.

* Summer ends- we need to select the Gain we receive from the Summer Roll.
 

AUTUMN

* Trys is outside Stonetop getting the lay of the land. She notices a group of three riders camping in an area where there is a dangerous sightline that would allow archers on horseback to fire into town.

* Gavin is dreaming of being in the wild. He feels the presence of his wolves in the dream. They growl and surround him in a misty meadow, early in the morning. The sound of large flapping wings is heard, and Gavin knows the winged spirit of the cloak is coming toward him. Gavin lets the spirit come to him and envelope him. As it tries to fly away, he calls upon Danu to grasp the winged creature with the nearby foliage. The spirit is drawn into the earth and Gavin tells it that it must be patient. It relents. Gavin wakes, finding some scratches that mark the dream.

* Trys sees Gavin as she returns to town. She tells him of the camp outside town and suggests that they have the rangers, Calvin and Hobart, investigate. Calvin is very eager to help (he is a bit smitten with Trys since she carried him over the falls). Hobart, however, says that they need to hear from the Publicans that they can assist.

* Trys decides to loop Cullen in to help speak to Sawal and Siana. The two of them are at the Public House enjoying dinner with other townsfolk. They discuss the situation, and request the aid of the rangers. Sawal points out that there are three other strangers who’ve come into town, roughneck types, who are staying at the Public House. Their horses are currently being tended to by the Garretts, but they’ve pretty much stayed holed up in their room since they arrived. Cullen worries that there are two groups of strangers, one inside the town and one outside, that may be working together toward ill purpose.

* Meanwhile, Dap is walking about town, chatting with folks. He comes across Llewelyn, who sports a serious shiner, and Dap notes that things may not be going well with Henry. The troubled youth has been working as Llewelyn’s apprentice. He made a mistake, one he’d made several times before, and Llewelyn pointed it out, and Henry punched him. Dap offers to have a word with the young man, and Llewelyn agrees.

* As if on cue, the sounds of fighting can be heard from the Public House. Lief has gone after Henry, who seems to pay too much attention to Lief’s sisters. Trys and Cullen head in to break it up, and Henry takes the opportunity to send a haymaker at Lief, but catches Cullen on the jaw. Trys takes Lief back toward his home. Cullen keeps Henry outside and gets him to calm down. Dap arrives and mentions Llewelyn’s black eye.

* Gavin watches all of this and notices three strangers heading away from the Public House, they’re clearly roughneck types, geared for riding. Gavin gets Trys’s attention and points toward the riders. Trys asks Lief who these men are. Lief tells her they came from Gordin’s Delve to speak to the elders to warn of some refugees that may be coming our way.

* Henry thinks he sees the writing on the wall, and decides to leave before he’s kicked out. Dap calls him out. A crowd has gathered, and Dap tells them to go back to their business. He then takes Henry off so the three of them can speak privately. The two convince him to stay and agree to get Lief to leave him alone. Cullen confirms that Henry is not lying about not having any designs on Lief’s sister. He also agrees to resume Henry’s studies. They then send Henry home and tell him to get a good night’s rest, and then the two of them head back to finish the conversation with the Publicans.

* Trys and Lief are moving toward the Garrett’s place, in time with the three strangers. Trys wants to beat them there so she can find out what brings them to town. She wants to appear not threatening to them. She loses sight of them along the way.

* Gavin decides to speak with the spirits to see if he can find the men. He finds some temperamental earth spirits, annoyed at being trod upon by the humans in this heavily trafficked area. Gavin borrows their ability to sense the vibrations of those who walk in the area. He uses the ability to track the men who’ve headed back away from the stables, and back toward the western part of town.

* Trys tells Lief to stall the men if they come for their horses, if possible. Gavin and Trys start heading toward the west part of town. They see the men skulking about. Gavin realizes these men are here for Henry. Two are closing in on Henry as he approaches his cabin. One of them raises a hatchet to throw it. Gavin manages to dodge the attack and calls out to Henry, warning him of the danger. Gavin uses his Danu’s Grasp ability to bind one of them with plant life, crushing the life from him.

* Trys sees Gavin’s wolves closing in on the situation. Trys sees the one who threw the hatchet at Gavin. She runs past him to try to get on scene to help Henry. She retrieves a hatchet from the fallen foe, and hurls it at the one closing in on Henry. She strikes him, but he manages to close and attack. Henry manages to defend himself, fending off the attack. The two stand struggling with their hatchets locked.

* Having seen the wolves charging the scene, Dap and Cullen rush to follow. They see the situation. Cullen Censures the man fighting henry, labeling him an assassin, and causing him to hesitate. Trys then strikes him down, roiling with thunderous rage.

* Gavin looks for the third attacker, but it seems he’s headed back toward the Garretts’ stables. The group hears Lief cry out in fear. Trys immediately uses her ability to move like lightning, and gets to the stables quickly, and then bellows in thunderous rage, leaving the final assailant quivering in fear. He’s taken into custody.

* Henry is saved, and the immediate danger is dealt with. The plan is to question this prisoner and then determine next steps.




* Cullen attempts to question the prisoner to confirm if the others camped outside the town are with him. He doesn’t cooperate. Trys threatens him, but he does not seem swayed by violence. Dap looks into his eyes, and reads the man’s soul. He is haunted by the violence he’s done, and Dap thinks he’s either seeking punishment or absolution of some sort. Cullen notices that the man’s eyes keep darting to the flask at Trys’s hip, and he offers the man a drink, in an attempt to get him to cooperate. He takes a drink and confirms that the rest of his group is outside the town camped near Barker’s Butte. Dap convinces the man that absolution is possible, and that he may be able to find it in Stonetop. He agrees to sponsor the man if he swears to honor the agreement. He does, and then passes out.

* Meanwhile, Gavin collects some personal effects from the two fallen men, and heads out of town toward the camp. He brings his wolves and the ranger, Hobart. They are able to use the tall grass in the area to help sneak up on the group. However, there’s a group of raptor-like creatures that are stalking the area. Gavin sees some viscera from a recent kill. One of the riders must have been taken by these raptors and dragged into the grass. The rider’s horse is still alive and suffering, and tracks are leading off into the grass. The wolves are unnerved and about to growl. Gavin attempts to settle the wolves to maintain quiet, but Leta bolts off into the grass. Gavin reaches out and borrows power from nearby earth spirits and uses their ability to sense creatures moving nearby.

* There are three raptors not far off, circling Gavin and Hobart. Leta attacks the alpha raptor and bites its thick hide. Gavin and Finn move to assist. Hobart and Thorin remain near the rear to fend off the two flanking raptors. Hobart manages to kill the one raptor that attacks him. Thorin fends off his raptor but is tangling with the raptor in a scuffle. Gavin reaches the alpha, and it is engaged with Leta and Finn. While that is happening, he uses Danu’s Grasp to throttle the alpha and choke the life from it.

* Back in town, Trys storms off to try and calm down. Cullen and Dap discuss the fate of their latest prisoner. Cullen wants to know if Dap is sure he wants to offer forgiveness to this man. Llewelyn arrives and mentions that the Publicans may have an issue with this, and suggests we keep this prisoner somewhere out of town if possible. Dap says that he thinks it is Cullen’s place to decide the man’s fate, and Cullen says there’s no need to rush a decision. That they should give it the night and see what else develops, and then speak with the man again in the morning. Trys speaks with Lief and borrows one of the horses and heads out to see what Gavin and Hobart have gotten up to.

* Thorin and the remaining raptor are scuffling. The raptor gets the upper hand and is above Thorin. Hobart takes the opportunity to throw his hatchet at it, but it sees him and recognizes the threat and charges him. Finn barrels into the scene and attacks the raptor, as it attacks Hobart. Finn manages to kill it. The raptors are all dead, but Hobart is hurt and shaken. They hear the sounds of oncoming hoofbeats, and they all get ready, but then the wolves go from caution to welcoming as Trys rides onto the scene.

* Gavin finishes off the dying horse, and then the group decides what to do next. They know that there are three more men out there waiting. They’re about an hour away from the campsite. They press on and approach the camp. There is a fire burning, and they see two horses hitched at the base of the butte. Gavin whispers to the horses and convinces them to come quietly with him. He leads them away from the camp. The group makes their own camp not too far off, in a small copse of trees on a low hill. It is the most defensible position in the area, with a good view of the butte. The night passes uneventfully.

* Back in Stonetop, before the sun is up, Cullen and Dap take the prisoner, Cliff, to see Gwynn, the elder. They hope to have the input from one of the elders, and tell Cliff he needs to convince her of the sincerity of his claim. Gwynn hears about the situation from Cullen and then performs a viewing on Cliff, touching him to see the truth of his past and his future. She says that he will do good deeds in the future, he will give his life to save an innocent member of Stonetop. The man takes this to heart, and seems sincere in his desire to repent. Cullen tells the man he can join the community, but that he will need to earn their trust. Cliff says he’s spent his life breaking horses, he can help with that. Cullen explains that he’ll have to earn that kind of job. Dap suggests they apprentice Cliff to his father, Valwyn, the tanner. Cliff can start there and prove his worth.

* Meanwhile, Gavin and Trys approach the camp. The riders see Gavin and he tosses down the personal effects he took, and says “your friends left some stuff behind in our town”. Trys reveals herself, ready for battle. Gavin tells them this can go two ways; they can walk away and consider the matter over, or it can end here. One of them panics and draws his bow to shoot at Trys. The arrow glances off her armor, and the men are convinced to not mess with the Stonetoppers. They leave their horses and head off on foot, glad to leave with their skins.

* The group then heads back toward Stonetop with their newly acquired horses. On their way back, they realize the horses have some sort of mange that may be harmful. One of the horses collapses, and froths at the mouth. Gavin knows of a parasite in this area that infects hosts and causes these kinds of symptoms, called weald mange, which can spread to other animals. Gavin puts the horse out of its misery, and then sends the wolves off to keep them safe, but realizes that Thorin is already infected with the weald mange. Gavin knows that the blood of infected creatures is toxic to the weald mange, but may also harm the animal. If an animal is bathed in the blood of another animal that was infected, they may be cured. They bathe Thorin in the blood of the horse. He’ll recover, but it will take some time.

* Meanwhile, Cullen speaks to Henry about the fact that Cliff will be remaining in Stonetop. They were friends, and so Henry is troubled by Cliff’s willingness to set out to kill him. Cullen says that they’ll work toward redeeming Cliff, as well. Henry asks when they can resume their studies, and Cullen agrees to begin individual lessons with him, which begins to improve their relationship.

* Gavin and Trys return triumphantly, having driven off the gang and acquired two more draft horses.




* Dap, Gavin, Hobart, and Cliff crest the crinwin ridge and look out over the vast expanse of woods and meadows, marked by large stone formations. Off in the distance, they see the pool that Gavin saw in his dreams, surrounded by a stone circle, but the land immediately around it is barren and seemingly almost volcanic with steaming geysers and patches of lava. Hobart sees figures amongst the stones. He also sees that Cliff is eyeing the flask hanging at his belt and chides him for it. Cliff, embarrassed and insulted, reflexively places his hand on his weapon.

* Dap addresses the group that caution is in order here, but his comments are really directed at Cliff, who he hopes will listen and calm himself. Cliff seems to heed Dap’s words; he takes his hand away from his weapon and steps back. The situation is defused for the time being.

* Hobart says that he was not expecting to see folk out here in these wild lands and asks Dap and Gavin how they want to proceed. Dap stares into the sun to seek a vision from Helior of the stone circle. He sees the location as if up close. The twelve people are naked and marked by horrific burns, their eyes melted from the sockets, and they are chanting. They are exhorting the Crombul, a great primordial devourer, to return and consume all. Dap explains to the others that they appear to be suicidal cultists.

* Gavin feels from the spirit of the cloak that the Crombul is the creature that they seek; the cloak must be thrown into the maw of the creature to free the spirit. The group decides to try and get down there quickly to set upon the cultists. They manage to close the gap without being noticed and are on the outskirts of the barren terrain around the pool and the stone circle. Gavin senses what spirits are nearby and finds some fire elementals cavorting among the magma.

* Dap steps from hiding and calls out to the men to stop their blasphemy. They whirl and three of them run for the pool, while others seem to fly into a blind fury.

* Meanwhile, at The Ruined Tower, Trys is exhausted and Llewelyn is shaken from being possessed, so they decide to take the stone they’ve harvested and get out of the area. However, the ankheg is still in the area. They decide to attract it by collapsing a large chunk of The Ruined Tower. Using Cullen’s engineering tools, Trys strike’s a precise spot and topples the tower. The ankheg bursts from the land, and chomps onto a giant piece of debris, as Cullen and Trys flee to the cart. As the ankheg chokes on the debris, they make their getaway.

* Meanwhile, back to the north, Cliff and Hobart fire at the running cultists. Cliff manages to take one down, but Hobart misses. Gavin manages to use Danu’s grasp to hold and crush one of them. The one Hobart missed dives into the pool, which immediately begins to steam. It seems the Crombul is about to awaken. Dap meanwhile calls out to the others to try and keep them focused on him. Their chanting stops and they focus on him. However, a nearby geyser erupts, badly scorching Dap’s feet, hobbling him.

* The group closes on the cultists to try and finish them off. Cliff winds up with his knife in the heart of one, but it’s grabbed him and threatens to fling both of them into the pool. Gavin uses his Danu’s grasp to grab them both and pull them from the edge.

* Meanwhile, Trys, Cullen, and Llewelyn return to Stonetop. They find that a group of refugees from Gordin’s Delve have arrived and are outside of the walls. Grunhilda tells us that Sawal and Siana have prepared a big meal to welcome the folk. They head over to that side of town, and see the guard there, Carwyn, is on edge and has a bow at the ready. It’s a disorderly operation, with some folks shoving their way to a large stewpot that’s being used to serve. Dap’s wife Ilya is kind of running the show, and she’s in danger of being overwhelmed. Cullen and Trys spring into action. Cullen asks Carwyn to ring the tower’s bell, and he calls out to everyone to calm themselves. Trys moves in to take a position that will keep Ilya safe, and pushes the miners back away. The crowd calms and listens.

* Meanwhile, the cultists view Dap as some kind of harbinger or the Crombul. They ask him why they should listen to him, and he tells them that he knows of another creature that could be a companion to the Crombul, and that such companionship would ease its loneliness. The lead cultist asks Dap how they could be companions to the Crombul. Dap realizes that the Leviathan could bond with these cultists, and they could experience what it does. He convinces them this is true, and they agree to follow him.

* Gavin speaks with the spirit of the cloak, Bezinpul, and confirms that the cloak must be cast into the pool. Gavin senses that there are water spirits in the pool. He attempts to commune with them. It seems that there are some water elementals that resist the Crombul, and others that are in servitude to it. Gavin thinks about the relationship between water and air spirits, and he recalls learning that in the dawn times, the Crombul was absolutely an enemy of both water and air. Some legends say that it was the Crombul that bound the sky to the earth.

* Gavin tries to convince the water spirits to part so that he can free their brethren, the air spirIt in the cloak. The water parts gently and Gavin sees the Crombul sleeping. Dap hobbles over to join him. Gavin casts the cloak into the Crombul’s maw and then hastily draws back. Dap shuffles forward and lays a hand on the Crombul and quietly speaks to it. He tells it of the Leviathan that seeks companionship and how he’d like to bring them together to find peace.

* The Crombul tells Dap that it would like to consume the leviathan. Such a joining would be glorious and would sate the Crombul for some time. Dap seeks what the Crombul is most ashamed of, and learns that the Crombul did in fact anchor the sky to the earth, which allowed the world to develop mortal life, and so it blames itself for bringing life to the world.

* Dap walks away and tells Gavin they need to lead the cultists away and kill them all.

* At Stonetop, the miners back down, and the crowd calms down, but the most aggressive contingent demands answers. Trys intimidates them into cooperating. Cullen puts the town engineers to work crafting some shelters outside the walls for them, and before long a small tent village is erected.

* Cullen then meets with Sawal and Siana to get a sense for how many additional mouths the reserves can handle. The two of them are overly optimistic about the situation, but the head farmer, Mado, is on hand and he advises that we can feed the women and children, but not the laborers.

* Dap, Gavin, Cliff, and Hobart lead the cultists off and then kill them. Dap tries to impress upon Cliff that such actions should only be taken when they help. He gives him one of his holy relics and tells him to look to Helior whenever he feels the urge to do violence.




* Gavin and Dap’s group returns to Stonetop to find the refugee camp erected on the western side of town. The looming storm has arrived. Gavin and the Tubman family are near the central part of town. He’s teaching them about the ways of Danu and communing with the spirits. They hear a door fly open and heavy footfalls. The midwife’s assistant, Ifan, approaches Gavin. She’s got blood on her apron. She tells him that Joelle needs help because “there’s three”.

* Gavin agrees to go help, and also sends Ifan to fetch Dap from the chandlery. Gavin reaches the midwife’s and enters. Sally is within, her husband Terrence holding her hand, and Joelle is trying to manage the situation. When the husband sees Gavin, he rises to his feet and declares that he doesn’t want Gavin’s help. The midwife protests, but Gavin just accepts it and leaves.

* Ifan reaches the chandlery and Illya answers the door. Dap realizes something has happened, and pieces it together from Ifan’s panicked rambling. Dap, still suffering from his burned feet, heads over with Illya’s help. Gavin explains the situation to Dap. Illya and Dap enter, leaving Ifan outside with Gavin.

* Cullen approaches the miners to get a sense of who may be in charge and who may be helpful. Fenwin is the bully of the group, but there’s a quiet miner who seems like he’s equally respected, and who makes sure everyone else is taken care of before taking his share of the rations. Cullen challenges Fenwin, who he met upon his first trip to Gordin’s Delve (he’s the miner who stole the whiskey from Dap and Cullen). The unnamed miner steps in and tells Fenwin to calm down. Fenwin turns on him, and the possibility of violence hangs in the air.

* Meanwhile, Joelle the midwife is panicking. She is afraid of a nighttime delivery without the light of Helior helping, especially with three children. Gavin decides to reach out to see what spirits are present in the hut. He feels a strong sense of Tor, and also the earth spirits from the packed earthen floor.

* Terrence asks Dap if there’s nothing that Helior can do to help his wife. Dap invoke’s the sun god, which bathes the hut in holy light. Everyone within the hut is comforted and Gavin recalls how many litters of creatures that he’s delivered. Whenever there is a large litter, he recalls using willow’s bark to help calm the mother. Gavin gives Sally some willow’s bark, and also administers the crinwin honey. He then gets her into position and begins pulling the babies from her. He hands each one to Joelle so she can cut the cord. The babies begin to cry, and Terrence runs in to find Joelle, Dap, and Gavin each holding a baby, all healthy, and with Sally resting safely nearby. Dap refuses to accept any praise for the birth, and says it was all Gavin and Joelle.

* Back at the refugee camp, Cullen attempts to cow Fenwin. Trys manages to intimidate the rest of the miners so that Fenwin has no support. Finally, he sits down. Cullen then approaches the other leader, who introduces himself as Marged. Cullen explains that Stonetop cannot support all the refugees through the winter. He says that they can care for the women and children, but the miners may not be possible. He says that they may have another option. Trys then shares the plans for the animal powered water wheel that she and her father had designed.

* Smiling Francis is in charge and may not allow deployment of the device. Mining bosses are Mutra the Tief (Demi’s former lover) and Oto (mines and timber). Smiling Francis rules with an iron fist, out of fear of violence. There are two ridges near the top of the mountain called The Arms, which may have a secret way into the mountain and supposedly contains a motherload. Cullen is thinking that Smiling Francis needs to be removed, but is torn with the idea of killing someone in this manner. He needs to consult Aratis about this. He heads off to the Vault.

* After consulting with Marged, Trys heads back home, but takes her time, enjoying the storm and thinking about the current situation. She is hit by lightning on the way home. She sees a vision of a procession of enemies making their way toward Stonetop. They’re making their way through the storm, well equipped and well adorned. Some are mounted on horses, and they have hunting dogs. The largest figure among them is mounted, fully armored, shield on his back. In a flash of lightning, Trys seems him smiling, excited about what’s to come.

* Trys bolts upright and heads off to the Vault to speak to Cullen. She sees Gavin along the way and he goes along with her. They tell Cullen of the approaching force from Marshedge.

* Meanwhile, no sooner has Dap gotten back to his home to rest, than Hobart arrives. He tells Dap that he knows Marshedge is going to come for Stonetop, and they’re going to send their worst, Brennan. He’s a violent man, who’s slit many throats in his life. He’s a kidnapper and murderer. Marshedge made him their enforcer rather than deal with him as a threat. Hobart says he wants to take Calvin out on a scouting mission to see if there are any signs of an approach. Dap says Hobart should speak with Cullen, and Hobart heads out to do so.

* The next morning, Trys goes to Dap’s and brings her last dose of crinwin honey to help Dap’s feet. Illya talks about the celebration of the birth of the triplets. Trys agrees and then barges in to speak to Dap about the approaching army. Dap agrees to take the honey for his feet. They decide that the group should head out to intercept this approaching group.

* Cullen meets with Sawal and Siana to ask for Hobart and Calvin to be able to go out scouting. They agree and the two head out on horseback. Meanwhile, Ilya arranges for the celebration of the birth of the triplets. The festivities are enjoyed by all, despite the looming threat.

* Hobart and Calvin perform their duties well, and that’s where we end the session… we’ll begin next week answering their Seek Insight questions.




* From Hobart’s scouting, we learn: Brennan's former bandit company The Claws used to terrorize Marshedge communities with Fire Wasp Swarms from the Ferrier Fens. They're like Lightning Bugs, except their bioluminescence when agitated actually produces sufficient heat to ignite materials like thatched roofs and clothing. This only happens when sufficiently agitated. Their colonies are transported in large wicker baskets at the back of the caravan...which are on top of their wooden wagons...which carry personnel and supplies...which are hitched to their draft horses.

* The force that is coming is of concerning size, but it is Brennan and his Claws that are the true threat.

* Marshedge has a ritual where they periodically sacrifice an infant by leaving it at the edge of the bog that borders Marshedge. It’s said that Brennan was such a sacrifice, and is the only one to ever return. He is accompanied by two fen trolls, behemoths from the swamp. Brennan has, for all intents and purposes, taken control of Marshedge.

* Dap decides to move about the town and speak to the townsfolk to bolster their spirits in the face of the oncoming danger. His words help lift spirits, and the townsfolk prepare for the worst.

* Cullen and Trys speak to the miners, and ask them to help with the town’s defense if it comes to it. Fenwin takes offense to how Cullen approaches him, but agrees to do what he can, and so does Marged. The townsfolk pull together to find any and all supplies of use to equip the miners.

* Gavin consults with the fire spirits and seeks to borrow some of their power. The spirits are happy to help consume Stonetop’s enemies, but they are loathe to go beyond the waters of the stream outside the town. Gavin calls upon the air spirit, Beznpol, to convince the fire spirits that he’s s reliable ally. The fire spirits listen and agree, but in their zeal they burn Gavin’s hand.

* The group gathers to go out and confront the oncoming force. Gavin leaves Leda behind with Dap to oversee the defense of the town, if needed. The other characters head out (Gavin, two wolves, Trys, Cullen, Cliff, Hobard, and Calvin). They travel about an hour and a half south of Stonetop into the weald to the west, or the rocky crags to the east of the road.

* Gavin marks each of the group using his trackless step ability. The plan is to have Hobart and Calvin up on the eastern side with a good shot at the road, while the rest of the group is going to wait in the high grass. Trys recalls the ankheg that is not too far from this area, and so Gavin heads out to see if he can convince the creature to come and attack the force. The horses and giants would be attractive prey to the creature.

* Gavin asks the earth spirits about the ankheg and they know the creature and have a good relationship with it. The spirits will help Gavin speak to the creature. Gavin entices the ankheg with some supplies and then leads it toward the convoy.

* As Gavin arrives, the group springs into action. Calvin and Hobart loose arrows at the fire wasp baskets as Trys and Cullen charge Brennan near the front of the convoy. Gavin plans on grasping the nearest riders with his Danu’s Grasp ability, keeping them from reinforcing Brennan. Trys notices that Brennan’s cloak is likely fire-resistant.

* Roiling with Anger, Trys bolts like lightning to Brennan, attacking him before he even realizes. There is the sound of thunder as his cloak is torn from his body, and he is thrown from the horse. He rolls and is immediately upon Trys with his shield and spear.

* Gavin uses Danu’s Grasp to crush the two nearest Claws, who are killed and brought into the Earth. Cullen charges Brennan and Censures him as a creature of chaos, causing him to recoil, hopefully given Trys a chance to press the attack.

* Trys realizes that Brennan has a fetid aura, but she presses on through it, resisting its effects. She unleashes another brutal, thunderous attack, and annihilates him. A bolt of lightning strikes as she drives her sword through him, and he’s obliterated.

* The ankheg bursts from the ground and attacks the trolls, injuring them both and suppressing their fetid aura ability. The trolls retaliate, and injure the ankheg, but it continues to attack them.

* Cullen sees that Brennan has already been defeated. He stops charging and turns to face the other remaining Claws. He demands that they turn back or face the same fate. Some halt, some flee, but two charge at him. He readies his shield and his hammer to meet the charge, and manages to unhorse both of them, and wound each, without taking any harm himself. The two back off, and he lets them go.

* The ankheg finishes off the trolls. Without their leader and the trolls, and facing stiff opposition, the force from Marshedge falters. We’ll resolve this next week.




* Trys, Gavin, Cullen, and their companions are looking at the Marshedge force which is in disarray. Several of the Claws are regrouping at the rear of the convoy. The fire wasps are enraged and have set the rear wagon aflame. The laborers are in a state of panic.

* Gavin moves toward the rear wagon to try and calm the fire wasps. Unfortunately, Calvin is set on fire by the wasps. Cullen meanwhile tells the two Claws he unhorsed that they can be free to go if they take their companions and go back to Marshedge. Trys backs his play, and also keeps an eye on the ankheg, making sure it’s still content to eat the bodies of the fen trolls.

* Gavin uses his Danu’s grasp to pull Calvin into the earth to smother the flames and to kill the fire wasp swarms.

* Trys gets the feeling that the ankheg is nearly done with the trolls, and that it may be stirring toward more action. She positions herself between the ankheg and the laborers and other people about. Gavin makes his way over there to try and calm the creature.

* Cullen negotiates with the second in command of the Claws. They offer the peat and clay tiles in exchange for enough feed to get their convoy back to Marshedge. He also says that he can convince the nobles of Marshedge to cease further hostilities for at least a few seasons.

* Gavin speaks to the ankheg and realizes it is a female and desires a mate. Gavin agrees to help it find another of its kind. It agrees and leaves peacefully, knowing that Gavin will return to help her.

* The group goes back to Stonetop and collects the feed to trade with the Marshedge folk. Upon arriving back at the convoy, we realize that Brennan’s body and gear needs to be addressed. The group brings enough firewood to build a pyre. The Stonetoppers tell them that Brennan’s body is to be burned here; we don’t want the fen witches somehow undoing the natural order of things and restoring him. The second grows worried about this and says if they don’t return to the body to lay beneath a willow tree in the fen for the witches

* Winter move; it is a harsh winter. Our Surplus dropped to 0, our Fortunes to +1, our Prosperity remained at +1, and our Population is now growing +1.

* Cullen communes with Aratis; only way of undoing the witches permanently is through the vanquishing radiance of Helior’s sunlight...their abodes are living structures (like Baba Yaga’s Hut)

* Gavin heads out to find a mate for the ankheg; he brings his wolves with him but realizes he may need to forage at some point as he can only bring so many supplies- after being out in the field for two days, a severe blizzard looms and Gavin takes shelter. They only have enough supplies for one, so Gavin goes without food, leaving him a bit weak after the storm. Gavin forages for supplies.

* While exploring the cave, a large burrowing creature starts to follow him. Its movements cause some tremors that trigger a collapse in the cave- a huge cornice of ice begins to fall from higher up in the chasm. Gavin runs to avoid the crashing ice, and finds himself in a dead end. He reaches out to the female ankheg to call her to him. She burrows into the cave, and the two creatures face off. Gavin dashes between them and rushes into the cave burrowed by the female ankheg and escapes. The two ankhegs burrow down into the ground and leave. Gavin’s mission is accomplished.

* Trys and Llewelyn are overseeing construction of new housing, but the project is plagued by storms- the mortar is flawed due to the extreme temperatures, and one of the early structures collapses, with Llewelyn and others inside. Trys and her father rush to get there to help, Demi is also on site to help, and gives Trys and Sigurd guidance on what stones to move. Llewelyn and Lief are both in great danger. Sigurd works toward getting Lief out while Trys works on Llewelyn. Lief is saved and relatively unhurt; Llewelyn is also saved, but is badly hurt.

* The housing project stalls; the materials are recovered, but we cannot proceed now- Llewelyn’s broken collar bone will need to be dealt with sooner rather than later, or else it won’t heal properly.




@hawkeyefan , DANG SON! Either Autumn was disproportionately packed with stuff or someone's Chronicling suddenly became crazy levels of prodigious!
 

So this game finished last night with a climactic showdown with the primeval entity of darkness and corruption harkening back to Spring Bursts Forth’s Threat at the beginning of the game.

Excellent send-off, excellent game, and thanks very much to @hawkeyefan for Chronicling every session as the game’s Judge. At some point I’ll Copy/Paste the rest of his entries (which is more PITA-ey than it sounds due to format incompatibility!)
 

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