Sapphire Islands – Dungeon World Mini-campaign – Session 8

Weeks had passed, and whilst Korra had been engaged on her own mission, Strike and Demanor had been attempting to rally the remaining nine Northland settlements to their banner to resist the foul schemes of the ancient orc shaman, the Rugorim; unfortunately five of the settlements (Hall of the Mountain King, Yorvic, Greatspear, Frostholme and Helhearth) had already sworn loyalty to the Rugorim swayed either by threats or promises of greener pastures when the mainland was taken and the Kingdom overthrown, only the three settlements of Odinland, Freyland and Mjolnir, all clustered around a naturally occurring hot spring, had openly declared their allegiance for Strike. A single settlement, that of Ironholme, situated amongst the great northern peaks, remained unaligned, it was a place of great important where the One Eye wisemen of the north regularly gathered and were trained in their soothsaying arts; never ones to rush into a decision, the One Eyes had not openly declared for either claimant to the northern throne, although there were strong voices on both sides of the debate.
With the aid of Demanor, Strike had been able to negotiate successfully with Odinland and was taking some hospitality before they pressed on towards Ironholme when Demanor heard a wiseman telling an assembled group of children a story from his youth. The old man relayed how his hunting party had been caught in a great blizzard that would surely have claimed all their lives when a huge mountain man covered in white fur appeared and showed them to the shelter of the cave, before disappearing back into the blizzard. The One Eye, a red bearded man called Melgin was also able to tell them that their were rumours in Ironholme that the Rugorim had departed aboard a longship (along with several other vessels carrying his brutish orc-men) towards the mainland, allegedly to take part in some great assault on the Kingdom; their were rumours of dark magics being used by the orc, nodding, Strike explained about the magical cauldron that the Rugorim was using to mingle the bloodlines of man and orc to create his lethal warriors.
Calling over one of his friends, a man named Alfir, he asked his friend to relate a recent tale that he had told, happy to oblige Alfir told them how he had seen elfin figures with skin like night roaming the mountains surrounding Ironholme, and that if they were there even though the Rugorim had left for the mainland it undoubtably did not bode well. Strike spoke passionately to Melgin about how he wanted to free the the world of Rugorim’s evil and unite the northlands whilst Alfir showed Demanor an arrow that he had found near where he had seen the night elves, Demanor shuddered as she recognised the ancient craft skills of her people filtered through a lens of brutish evil.
Bidding farewell to Odinland, Strike and Demanor had been travelling for less than a day when a violent blizzard rose around them, whipping the snow into a white frenzy, stinging their eyes and causing Demanor (unused to the cold) to start feeling very ill; none-the-less she was able to assume a bird form and scout ahead, eventually spotting what appeared to be a number of bodies lying partially buried by the snow, an ebony hand protruding from the slush. Returning to Strike she directed him to the bodies where they discovered about ten night elves; Strike’s hunting skills told him that they had been killed quickly and huge claw marks attested to the method of their death, but the claws were razor sharp and the blows precisely placed, quite unlike those of a normal animal. Removing some furs from the bodies, Strike threw them around Demanor to help combat the cold and they dashed back towards a cave they had spotted previously, taking shelter inside against the force of the storm.
After an hour had passed, and having recovered some of her strength, Demanor reached out, becoming one with the spirits of nature in the area, willing the wind’s anger to abate and slowly the force of the storm began to lessen. Standing at the door keeping watch, as the storm lessened, Strike glimpsed a tall, graceful figure covered head to toe in concealing white fur, observing the cave from the outside; a respecter of the northland ways, including hospitality, Strike beckoned for the figure to enter the cave and then stood back as it strode gracefully towards shelter. As the tall figure entered, it reached up, it’s hands covered in ice that gave them the aspect of claws, but as the hands touched the fur around it’s head the ice seemed to melt into vapour, revealing pale, slender hands that pulled back the fur hood to reveal an elven face, similar to Demanor’s although the skin was ice white.
It took them a few minutes for the mountain elf to make himself understood, his elven was in a strange dialect unfamiliar to Demanor and his grasp of the common tongue seemed rudimentary but they were able to establish that the elf came from a tribe who had been set the task of guarding the mountains at the dawn of time as Demanor’s tribe had been set the task of watching the great jungle; when the first violent humans had arrived in the northlands the mountain elves had withdrawn to their great stronghold and had left them to conduct their own affairs. The elf was able to relate that their ancient had seen strange visions of a child, or something ancient and evil masquerading as a child who bought great power and ruination to the world; Demanor relayed her own visions of the chil being found by the Rugorim and of the magical cauldrons that were being used to corrupt the bloodlines of the races. Their guest explained that he had seen the night elves and recognised them as a corruption of the elven race, he had killed them on the mountain side, he also told them that creating new life was not something that even the wisest amongst the elves could accomplish let alone the Rugorim and that perhaps the creature masquerading as the child was using the cauldrons as conduits for it’s own power.
The mountain elf said that he had sensed Demanor communing with the spirits of the wild, her energies had been recognised as elves of the jungle kin and so he had been dispatched to locate her and bring her to the mountain elves one remaining stronghold above the highest peak. Strike agreed (realising that new allies would be useful) and said that he would meet Demanor in Ironholme, nodding Demanor and the mountain elf transformed into birds and flew upwards upwards the top of the tallest peak.

Sapphire Islands – Dungeon World Mini-campaign – Session 7

The morning began with many sore head following a night of mead drinking with the people of Urut’s village, some of the villagers who had been out hunting on the shores proudly brought in their catch for the feast, a large and ancient sea turtle that they carried between them, securely lashed to a wooden pole; Demanor shuddered, she did not object to the cycle of hunter and prey, but she did not believe in needless cruelty and, looking at the gleeful drooling facing of the northmen she didn’t trust them to exercise any restraint. Quietly she asked Strike whether she might be allowed to kill the creature (knowing that she could end it’s life with as little suffering as possible)? Chief Urut seemed puzzled but gave his agreement and the elven druid knelt down beside the creature, whispering re-assuringly to it as she drew her knife. As the creature died, it squeaked and wheezed loudly, although it was just noise to the hungry northlanders, Demanor knew that the creature was expressing it’s regret that it had not finished buried it’s eggs, as she drew her knife across the leathery flesh and felt the soul of the beast leave the world, Demanor whispered a promise that she would find and bury the eggs.
One of the outlying guards entered, telling Urut that they had spotted a small party lead by the Rugorim heading towards the village and that there had been some strange, heavily armoured creatures with him that looked like orcs but that walked like men. Demanor was sat in the corner of the room with Ulric, both of them had been feeling a sense of growing unease, and the mention of the Rugorim’s approach seemed to confirm it’s source.  Demanor asked the guard whether any of the creatures looked like her but the northman shook his head, saying that they were orcs walking tall like men; as the guard left to return to his post, Demanor set out for the place on the shore where she believed the turtle eggs to be buried, she only had a vague impression in her mind, a last fleeting image from the mind of a dying creature, to direct her but eventually she found the place. As she was trying to bury them a huge arctic bear heaved itself out of the water, sniffing the air, Demanor froze, she knew that the bear must have smelled the egges and, thinking it better to save some of them, she scooped up half the eggs and retreated further down the shore to bury them whilst the bear (ignoring her) make short work of the rest.
Returning to the village she saw that Ulric was staring into the flames of the hearth fire, stirring the embers with a stick, he spoke in a weary voice, saying “I feel a disturbance in the world tree, the leaves of knowledge fall in strange unfamiliar ways.”
Ulric went on to explain that he had a dream where a three fingered shadowy hand had reached out to engulf the world, and each finger was an army, one of grey skinned elves that were foul of aspect, the other of black armoured orcs that walked like men and the final finger being men who eyes glittered like gems and were devoid of all kindness. Thinking that perhaps these strange men might be the stoneborn Korra asked what Ulric knew about them, he told her that in ancient northlander legends the stone men had taught the first humans how to forge metals but that one day they had disappeared, retreating to their underground holdings. Standing on the outskirts of the village, having is sword sharpened by the village blacksmith, Strike spotted a unit of a dozen black armoured figures marching in lockstep, an ancient twisted orc leading them, he leant on a staff with a severed hand nailed to the top of it.
Hearing the sound of the approaching group Demanor sought to commune with the spirits of the land, but instead found herself assailed by a vision where she saw first the severed hand on the Rugorim’s staff and then was falling into a huge cauldron, only the quick actions of Korra prevented Demanor from toppling forwards and bought her back to reality.
The Rugorim arrived, his strange orc-men in tow and demanded to speak to Urut, after a heated exchange between Strike and Rugorim, Urut said that they would discuss the matter in his longhouse; nodding the Rugorim banged his staff and the door opened on it’s own, both Ulric and Demanor winced, recognising the strange energies that had been the cause of their recent discomfort. Ulric shook his head to clear it and said “His power is like my own, but somehow twisted and turned back on itself.”
In the longhouse the exchange of insults between Strike and the Rugorim had escalated as the Rugorim boasted of his achievement in creating a magical cauldron that had allowed him to merge the men and orcs of the northlands, creating a new breed of orc-man greater than either of the races on their own; Strike decried the process, saying that only the gods could create life and that the Rugorim had created an abomination.
“If only the gods can create life, then I am a god!” roared the Rugorim
“So you refuse my offer of alliance?” asked Rugorim and, when Urut nodded, he turned to his armoured orc-men and snarled “Kill everyone in the village, no survivors!”
Banging his staff on the floor the ancient orc seemed to break apart into a black mist that seeped under the door and roiled away from the village; leaping forward Strike stabbed one of the man-orcs up through it’s jaw but the creature merely grabbed his head in powerful hands and began to squeeze, red lined the edge of Strike’s vision and his ears were filled with the sound of his own panicked heart beating loudly. Diving forward Korra stabbed the man-orc in the leg with her own sword, it released Strike, dropping him to the floor, and with an almost casual back-hand (like a man swatting a fly) sent her flying the length of the room, she hit the wall and slid down it, tasting blood in her mouth. Dodging another heavy blow from one of the man-orcs, Strike ducked as the door exploded inwards and Demanor, having taken on the form of a massive jungle ape, burst through it.
Diving on the back of the orc attacking Strike, Demanor grabbed it’s head and twisted, being rewarded with a loud snap, the body of the man-orc spasmed and lay still, Korra hauled herself painfully to her feet, seeing that Urut and his men were struggling with their half of the orcs and began to sing songs of northern heroism to spur them to fight, there was a clang as one of the orcs back-handed Strike with a shield sending him crashing into the wall beside Korra where she focussed healing magic through her song and was able to pull him back to full health from the very brink of death. Unfortunately her song had attract the attention of a nearby man-orc who stamped and armour boot on her chest, Korra felt her ribs crack and again tasted blood as her vision darkened.
Suddenly the room was quiet, it seemed grey somehow and muted, looking up Korra could see that she appeared to be alone save for a black garbed woman wearing a veil, the woman reached up with her two hands, one corpselike and rotten, the other immaculate a delicate, removing her veil to reveal a face half split between rot and perfection. Looking down at the dying bard Hel offered her a choice, enter her kingdom now, or find a pure soul to send in her place; conflicted but not wanting to die Korra agreed, Hel nodded and said “You have three nights until the moon rises, you must have found me someone to take your place in my halls, or your soul will be forfeit.”
Reaching down Hel touched Korra and she felt the flesh on her left hand shrivel and draw nearer to the bone; she gasped as pain flooded back to her and breath entered her lungs, the sound of the fight rose up around her, it appeared that Hel has been as good as her word, at least for now she had been spared a painful feath.
The orc stood over he raised it’s boot again when Strikes spear burst through it’s chest from behind, he pushed the dying creature to one side whilst, in the background, Demanor tore a man-orc asunder with her powerful apelike hands; Strike ducked a thrown man-orc shield whistled past him, hitting another of the black armoured figures. The lone remaining man-orc charged at Strike who attempting to jump into the air evading the attack, but with startling speed the man-orc let go of its sword, grabbed his leg and smashed the northlander into the floor, winding him, rolled to one side Strike bought up his rapier and felt the tip penetrate the man-orc’s heart, the creature gasped and collapese.
Looking around the room it seemed that the village warriors had dealt with their man-orc opponents but had paid a heavy price, all but two of the warriors lay dead and Urut himself was severely injured; shrinking back into her elven form Demanor rushed over to him and was able to save the injured chief using her healing arts, although he would not be fighting fit for days. Whilst applying her healing arts Demanor told the others that she had seen the black mist that had been the Rugorim floating away from the village, no doubt returning to the rest of his forces. Whilst Urut supervised his men stripping the man-orc corpses of metal to make more weapons and shields, Korra explained her visitation from Hel and the price that she had paid for her survival, Strike nodded, the men of the northlands are bred to me cold and place a high value on survival.
Looking around the room, Demanor noticed that when the Rugorim had turned to mist and escaped, his staff with the severed hand on it had remained behind; wanting to destroy such a foul thing she took it to the blacksmiths and tossed it into the fire, as it burned a demonic fire appeared briefly in the flames and was gone, “Perhaps the Rugorim struck a deal with a demon to increase his power and that corrupted his magic” mused Ulric.
As they all met in the village square, Urut and his villagers dropped to one knee and the orc held out his spear to Strike “We have few warriors, but we are all strong of arm and hear, will will fight for my king.”
Strike reached out and took the spear with his red hand and a ragged cheer rose into the air across the village.

Sapphire Islands – Dungeon World Mini-campaign – Session 6

Suddenly the ice sheets began to explode and crack around them as iron cannonballs smashed into the ice, shattering the once stable plates and threatening to tip them into the freezing cold water, Demanor leapt into the air changing into a parakeet and flapping above the razor shards of ices whilst Strike and Korra threw various items into the water in an effort to lighten themselves and stay out of the water. Looking around Korra recognised the ships closing in on one side of the ice sheet, they bore the royal blue griffon banner of the Sapphire Island’s Imperial Fleet, the personal warships of his excellency the Emperor of the Sapphire Islands; Strikes’s attention had been drawn to the other side of the ice sheet where a handful of ships in a similar style were engaged with the Imperial Fleet, Strike recognised the green House Folder livery displaying a gold peregrine falcon, he has been on one of their ships before. A House Folder ship with an ice plough mounted to the front plowed towards them through the already broken ice and a familiar voice, that of the chef James shouted down “Get onboard quickly!”
Ignoring Strikes’ cry of “But they poisoned us!” as the two of them recognised Mikhails ship, Korra persuaded him to climb onboard, although as he duck a flying cannonball Strike demanded “What in Odin’s eyesocket is going on here?”
“I’ll tell you everything once we get out of here” shouted a strained voice, looking up Strike could see Captain Mikhail wrestling with the wheel of his ship, struggling to make himself heard above the din of battle; shouting for oil and a lamp, Strike dipped his arrows in the oil, lit them and began to fire a hail of burning death towards the Imperial vessels, a number of them striking home and one of the ships was soon ablaze; from the lead ship a figure in blue robes strode to the prow of the ship, Korra grimaced as she recognised the regalia of an Imperial War Wizard. The blue robed man, gestured with his hands and blue fire burst forth, starting to melt a channel through the ice, it would only be moments before the Imperial Fleet was able to smash into the much outnumbered vessels of House Folder and obliterate them; holding his breath, Strike drew back his bow-string and fired, a single arrow catching the war wizard in the chest and sending him sprawling to the deck, blue fire already fading.
“The Erinyes! She’s going down!” cried one of the sailors as a House Folder ship gave up the ghost and began to sink below the water, screaming men plunging into the icy depths
“We can’t spare the time to help her” cursed Mikhail “they’ll soon be through that ice sheet and then we’re done for!”
“Head for the shore” shouted Strike, relying on his knowledge of these frigid waters, “lose them in the fog banks!” Mikhail nodded and spun the wheel; Korra meanwhile had headed below deck and was assisting the ships sawbones performing triage on a number of injured crew, he explained that, after their last encounter, they had returned to the Sapphire Islands to tell the Emperor that they had been unsuccessful in obtaining one of the stone men, but that Captain Mikhail had heard or seen something horrible in his audience with the Emperor, so much so that he ordered all House Folder ships to set sail, immediately, shortly after they came under attack by the Imperial Fleet. Mikhail, it seemed, had fled to the cold waters of the Northland hoping that his excellent navigational skills would enable them to lose the Fleet.
Lurking in the fog, Mikhail quietly ordered all the men to remain as silent as possible before gathering their new passengers, Demanor returned to her elven form and landed quietly on the deck as Mikhail explained, that when he had arrived at the Imperial Court he had witnessed a creature like Demanor but with grey skin and evil fangs being treated as an honoured guest; through his contacts he had been able to discover that the creature had been bought there aboard a vessel of the Imperial Fleet. Realising that the Emperor must have either allied with the creatures or been co-erced by them, he gathered his House Fleet, but his contact must have sold them out and they were set upon by the Emperor’s ships.
Strike told him that the fog would not hide them for long and that their best chance would be to go ashore on the Northlands and send the boat out to sea, with any luck the Imperial Fleet would follow the boat and destroy it, not realising they had escaped; realising that they would have to give an impression of the crew still being aboard, Captain Mikhail grimly ordered the dead be lashed to their posts and the wheel fixed in place to send the ship out to sea and then the remainder of the crew, Korra, Demanor and Strike lowered rowing boats gently into the water and made for the shore.
Strike looked down at his newly red dyed left hand, he recalled the look of shock and surprise on Mikhail’s face when he had gathered up the blood of the slain shortly before leaving the vessel and had Demanor perform a ceremony to dye his left hand permanently, the traditional sign of Northlands leadership (had he not slain the last of the chieftains after all?) James, the young chef had been quite perturbed by it and had asked Korra what he was doing, she explained that Strike was attempting to claim the rulership of the Northlands and that this ceremony was part of it. Trying to shake of his black mood, Strike thought about the only chief of the North unaccounted for, an ancient orc known as the Rugorim, chief of the orc one-eyes, he had served as an advisor to Ragnar and would have to be dealt with if Strikes’ claim was to be successful.
Jogging ashore they soon came across the signs of a small village as they headed inland, Strike raised his red hand and approached, the gnarled orc villager chief Urut was skeptical but had respect for the old ways, including hospitality, in return for a token of friendship he agreed to provide them with food and lodgings in the village; nodding Strike drew out the dagger that he had taken from Ragnar and presented it. After a pregnant pause whilst Urut looked at the dagger he nodded and gestured for them all to follow him to his longhouse at the centre of the village. Korra asked if they had a village tale-teller and was directed to an old man with a greying beard called Ulric, a strip of cloth covered one of his eyes, identifying him as a one-eye or shaman; Korra began to tell stories of Strikes bravery and skill in combat, although Ulric did question his suitability saying that Strikes’ poisoning of Ragnar was well known and such weapons were not the northland way.
Chief Urut seemed to have less concern about how Ragnar had been killed, saying it was enough that such an abomination had been removed from the world, he also told them how the Rugorim had visited their village a few days before, he had a creature who looked like Demanor with him but he had pale white skin and black hair; Rugorim had tried to convince Urut to ally his tribes with his forces, but Urut was proud and said what need did the Northlanders have of allies? Rugorim smiled and said that he would give Urut three days to re-consider, and that when he returned he hoped that the chief would have a more reasonable answer.
Full of drink and food, as everyone fell asleep on furs in the longhouse, Demanor (who had been huddled near the fire throughout) fell into a fitful dream haunted sleep; in her dreams she was walking amongst a small elven settlement, it came under attack from barbaric northland humans and orcs, in the midst of the carnage walked a small smiling elven child, as an orc ran towards the child, raising a notched axe, it suddenly collapsed, bursting into flame. A fur wearing orc with one snaggled fang grinned lopsidely and said “This is the one”, he reached a hand out to the elven child, who took it and, still smiling walked off into the night with northlanders, the settlement collapsing into a flaming ruin behind them.
A scream dying on her lips Demanor woke up, the noise waking Korra; as Demanor explained her dream she saw that one-eye Ulric was also awake, he nodded and said “Yes I saw it too, I believe it to be a vision of the past, I recognised the orc, it was the Rugorim, but much younger than he is now.”

Sapphire Islands – Dungeon World Mini-campaign – Session 5

Looking for a place to rest, Korra locates a small inn situated in the poorer outskirt region of Royal City, entering the ‘Rose & Dragon’ they make the acquaintance of the innkeeper Samson Trebeck who, in response to their enquiries about drinks furnishes Strike with a pint of a local stout called Stiffbristle that has a picture of a boar emblazoned on the pump; all of the ales in the tavern seem to be associated with particular animals and, as she regales the innkeeper with chilling tales of the dead rising, Korra orders a flagon of Hopfoot, a light pale ale whose pump carries the image of a hare. Seeming out of her element in the surrounding of the city, the elf Demanor seems entirely confused by the bewildering array of drinks that her companions are ordering.
Having listened rapt about the legions of undead that prowl the jungles to the south, Trebeck tells them a story of his own, heard from a traveller through the city, he relates how apparently huge spiders the size of horses have been ranging far beyond the edge of the jungle; Demanor, who knows of such creatures within the jungle depths, is trouble by this, such creatures seldom leave their own territory, let alone the jungle. The innkeeper laughs when our heroes mention warning King John V about the unliving menace, saying that the King is already paranoid enough given the recent stone men that have marched out from below the mountains to defend the most ancient section of the boundary wall surrounding the kingdom; apparently the king sees them as a threat to the nations security, he has double guard patrols and imposed a curfew covering the hours of darkness. Trebeck says that they might be better off trying to speak to Salandra Drummond who is head of the city guard or, if they’re really well connected, perhaps Uzriel Godric, Seneschel of the city. Strike asks about the name Godric, recognising it as a norse name, Trebeck says there are all sorts of rumours that the Seneschel’s family were originally Northlanders, but nothing has even been proved.
Having retired for the evening and gone to sleep, Strike is awoken in their room at the inn by something tapping on the window; drawing his dagger the Northland assassin creeps over to the window and cautiously opens it. Pinned by a knife to the outside of the window frame by a rusty knife is a shawl that he recognises as belonging to his sister, stirred by the wind it has been rapping on the frame; standing silhouetted by the moonlight is a ragged figure, dripping putrid river water, dried blood crusted around a single clean slit across it’s throat. Strike recognises the undead form of the trader Tibbs, a man he sent to the afterlife, before he has a chance to ask any questions Tibbs speaks in a voice other than his own, the voice of Ragnar (deceased chief of the Northlanders, a man Strike also sent to the grave) saying “Face me in open combat or your sister will die!”
“Let your puppet go Ragnar!” shouts Strike, the corpse’s face twists into a leering grimace and then collapses, a puppet with it’s strings cut.
Hearing the sound of guards approaching (no doubt drawn by the shouting), Strike climbs back thrown the window into the inn, tucking the shawl into his belt. Meanwhile Demanor has been dreaming, in her dreams she sees the young elf Zephandius reaching out to her, pleading for help, then a darkness flows over him like oil, absorbing him, she jolts awake, a scream dying on her lips and shakingly relates her dream to the others.
Strike has decided that he must confront Ragnar and he knows exactly where to do it, on the ice sheets between the Northland and the mainland, a place he knows all too well from his first flight from his home, the others agree to follow him and, leaving the city behind, they travel back to where their boat is moored and make ready to sail.
Days later the ice sheets loom in the distance, a single line of dark figures stand on the ice, numerous burning arrows rain down upon Strike’s small vessel threatening to burn it to a cinder if he cleaves to his course; intent on rescuing his sister and on dealing death to Ragnar, Strike plows on heedlessly reaching the ice sheets and vaulting out of the boat, even as the burning hulk begins to slip below the water. Strike’s sister stands behind the line of deathly figures, gagged and restrained by two festering jailors, Ragnar steps forward, a giant whom death has done nothing to diminish
“You should have killed me like a warrior when you had the chance Strike, but thanks to you the doors of Valhalla were closed to me and I found a way back to the living world, I have become more powerful than you could dream” came the mocking taunt of the putrid undead Northlander
“Well i’ll just have to kill you now” spat back Strike, drawing his weapon and charging forward.
Sparks jumped into the air as Ragnar aimed a mighty blow with his axe, but Strike nimbly stepped around it, ignoring the huge chips of ice that sprayed into the air, but unable to land a blow back on the huge undead monstrosity; lashing out with a vicious kick Ragnar sent Strike stumbling backwards, the wind knocked out of him, bearing down on the wiry assassin Ragnar began to choke the life out of him.
Taking the opportunity now that Ragnar was in close, Strike headbutted him and slid beneath the undead chieftain, stabbing up with his sword and slicing sidewards, his reward was shower of mouldering innards and Ragnar sliding to the ice, his last words sounding almost proud, “So you do know how to fight like a man after all.”
Demanor and Korra had been working their way around to rescue Strike’s sister, but at the death of Ragnar all his unliving troops also collapsed as though the animating force behind them had been removed, Strike’s sister also collapsed, it seemed that she had been dead for some time and her “survival” was merely a ruse intended to lure Strike to this place.
Running over to Ragnar’s corpse as Demanor gave Strike the bad news, Korra discovered a scroll in tucked into his jerkin, covered in black angular writing of an elven variety, with her knowledge of elven Korra was able to translate the document was a list of elvish prisoners along with some instructions to “hand them to the child.” Checking over the corpses of the once unliving army, Demanor was able to confirm that their were no elves amongst their number.
Strike put his sisters body on the burning wreckage of his boat and pushed it away from the ice sheets whilst, in the ultimate act of disdain for Ragnar, he carved off a chunk of the iceberg, kicked the corpse onto it and pushed the freezing pyre away into the cold water. The wiry northlander looked at Korra and Demanor and seemed to pause for a moment, lost in thought, before speaking: “We’re going to need another boat.”

Sapphire Islands – Dungeon World Mini-campaign – Session 4

After three days of travel food and rations of water on the small ship begin to run perilously low, Strike attempts to fish but is used more to ice-fishing that catching his food on the open river, more successful is the elven Druid Demanor who transforms herself into a dolphin and swims alongside catching fish and throwing them (still squirming) up onto the deck. A thick fog has drifted in and the group, intent entirely on the task of catching enough food to survive, are taken by surprise when a large galleon looms out of the mist, Korra recognises the green sails as belonging to House Folder, oone of the merchantile houses of the Sapphire Islands, hoping that her family ties (via a distant cousin) might stand her in good stead the bard hails the ship. The hail is answered by Mikhail Folder, captain of the vessel, a rugged looking man in a long green wax jacket who is happy to see a fellow islander and invites them all aboard to have dinner on his vessel.
During their discussions in the galley they are fussed over by a the chubby red-haired ships cook, a man called James, who seems delighted to have some more discerning palettes to provide food for, he shoots Captain Folder an exasperated glance when he asks for just his normal bland bowl of porridge. As they all tuck into their food, Strike tells them about the two armies of dark elves and of the northlander dead that are slowly heading up the mainline towards Royal City, as he talks Strike begins to feel a little light headed and too late he identifies the sweet taste on the meat he had been served, oil of tagit, a sophorific, glancing around he sees that Demanor and Korra appear to have already succumbed to the poison and he attempts to stand but it is too late and he falls into a deep sleep.
Unaware that Demanor does not need to eat and had only sampled the barest mouthful of the food (and is only feigning unconsciousness) the Captain leaves to fetch his men, instructing James to keep an eye on their slumbering guests. As James returns to the kitchen, Demanor risks opening her eyes and, turning into a rat, bites Strike on the nose, waking him from slumber, after a brief discussion she makes a loud noise like she had just started to wake up and Strike hides behind the door; when the chef re-enters Strike swiftly knocks him out and enters the kitchen, he finds only a young kitchen boy who he also renders unconscious. 
Meanwhile Korra slumbers peacefully, through a drugged haze she dreams of an ancient elven tale that tells of the Tree of Life, from where all life is descended.
Hiding the bodies of the kitchen staff, Strike and Demanor hear the Captain returning with his men, realising that they are outnumbered, they return to their seats and pretend to be asleep, allowing the Captain’s men to take them to a prepared cabin; the Captain laments having to drug them saying that he simply couldn’t allow them to ask questions about the cargo, but that they are still guests and all due care should be taken of them.
Once they are left alone, Demanor returns to her rat form and sneaks out of the cabin past the two sailors on guard, eventually finding her way to the cargo hold where a squat, thick set figure stands unmoving, secured with numerous chains and girded in stone armour; being one with the spirits of natural things Demanor attempts to communicate with what she assumes to be a statue, but is unable to make contact with the spirit of the thing. She returns to the cabin and bites Korra, waking her, Strike’s commanding voice cutting through her drug-induced haze, “We need your intelligence.”
Listening to Demanor’s description of the strange statue-like being, Korra remembers an ancient legend that talked of the mythical stoneborn, the creatures who built the oldest section of the wall that now surrounds the Kingdom; deciding that enough is enough Strike confront the Captain, who explains that he was concerned that they were Kingdom customs officials, but given that they know about the cargo and haven’t attempted to raise any alarm that is clearly not the case. Mikhail apologises for drugging them and takes them down to the hold where the strange statue creature rests, remembering that (in Korra’s tale) the Stoneborn had dealings with the ancient elves, Demanor tries a number of phrases in ancient elvish; none of them have any affect until she says “The wall is in danger”, the stone creature reacts to this by taking hold of her arm, although it moves slowly and remains silent.
One of the sailors tells them that the statue had a hammer when bought on board and, following instructions from Strike he runs to fetch it, the hammer is presented to the Stoneborn at which point it releases Demanor’s arm and holds the hammer aloft, jagged lightning flashed through the porthole striking the weapon and, in a strangely echoing voice the Stoneborn says “The wall is threatened.”
Captain Mikhail explains that they were paid a kings ransom by the Emperor of the Sapphire Islands to illegally smuggle one of the statues (one of thousands discovered below the Great Peaks by a recent Kingdom dig) out of the Kingdom, Strike wonders whether this is connected with the news of a recent ban on quarrying in the Great Peaks that had reached his ears, apparently order by royal decree of King John V. Distracted, Captain Folder fails to notice when Strike pockets the small container of Oil of Tagit, the northlander tells the Captain to move the Stoneborn to his boat and then he can legitimately tell the Emperor that the northlanders took it and hopefully escape any reprisals from the leader of his homeland; nervous of the creature in his hold the Captain agrees.
An hour later the two ships part company, the Stoneborn standing on the deck of Strike’s vessel, as they near shore, with a low grinding sound it steps overboard and disappears like a stone weight below the water, seemingly unconcerned it walks up the beach as our heroes disembark and begins to walk in a methodical fashion in the direction of Royal City.
Days later as they reach the outskirts of Royal City the Stoneborn continues to walk forward pushing through the assembled city guards that gather around it, barely seeming to notice them, Korra hears one of the guards say “It’s heading to the wall, just like the others.”
Theorising that the Stoneborn have become active now the wall is threatened, Strike says that they should head to the palace and warn the King of the many dangers his kingdom now faces, the Stoneborn may help, but that depends on whether they prove to be allies or not.

Sapphire Islands – Dungeon World Mini-campaign – Session 3

As Demanor reflected on the departure of her people (well, most of them) from the world of men she felt a lingering disappointment that they had so easily abandoned the world that had been their home for so many years; Strike was a good deal less introspective in his opinions, mocking the cowardice of the elves for “running away” from their responsibilities and leaving their “mess behind them.” Korra for her part was quiet, no doubt her head was still whirling with the thought of all the stories that she had collected from the elves prior to their departure, stories which were now entirely unique.
Zephandius (one of the younger, zealous elves who had chosen to remain behind) was talking to his fellows saying that they must guide the humans and show them the error of their ways, Demanor listened by counselled caution lest the humans see the elves as another enemy, Korra advised them to visit smaller settlements first and give the humans time to adjust to the idea of accepted elven aid in current affairs.
Troubled by her vision of the pulsating, dark tree Demanor wanted to set off in search of the strange dark elven figures that the vision had revealed to her and, joined by her two friends, headed into the western jungle; as they continued westwards the feelings of anger that seemed to bubble below the surface of the natural world and that were reflected in the elven druid herself seemed to grow stronger and it was only Korra’s soothing singing that allowed the elf to maintain a grip on her temper. A shout from Will caused them to stop as he pulled back the foliage revealing the greying flesh of a dead man, clad in the furs and humidity rusting armour of a northerner, an axe lay near the man’s hand, a strange, thick reddish substance coating the blade; not wanting to see one of his kinsmen go to Valhalla without a weapon in his hand Strike picked up the and placed it on the dead northlanders chest. Without warning the ribcage of the corpse collapsed causing Will to fall forwards and his hand to sink into the stick red substance, immediately Strike started to feel a little queasy and suspected that it must be poison of some kind, luckily he was able to wipe the rest off before any further damage was done to him (although he still felt slightly weakened).
Trying to hide his momentary weakness from his companions, Strike began to analyse the poison using his years of experience attempting to identify it, however, it was like nothing he had seen before, it had the consistency of tree sap but was like nothing natural he had come across; Korra was reminded of an old tale where a man attempted to poison his wife but was tricked into drinking the poison himself, when he died his spirit was not allowed entry into the afterlife and wandered the land, corrupting it until the spirit killed the wife and the land returned to normal.
Without warning the dead body suddenly jerked upright, cadaverous hands grabbing Demanor’s leg, Strike spun round and with a slice of his blade beheaded the creature, the skull rolled to rest against a tree, a piercing shriek emanating from it as the foliage and roots around them began to move and disgorge more of the rotten half-dead, orcs, farmers and northlanders all stumbled forward, hands grapsing and eyes blank. Korra finished off the still moving body of the original creature, meanwhile Demanor concentrated and, leaping up into the nearby trees, she assumed the form of a great jungle ape, brutally dispatching one of the shambling creatures with a blow from her mighty simian arms. A few moments later the group had destroyed the creatures, they stood panting from their extertions and several injuries Korra began to sing her songs of healing whilst Demanor applies some herbal poultices to the bard.
Demanor had been examining the trees, they all seemed tainted with the poisonous sap, she suggested burning them and purifying the area with fire but, as Strike pointed out, the wood was entirely too wet to burn; a ragged voice from the many shattered and destoryed skulls littering the clearing shouted out the word “Coward, the gates of Valhalla are closed to such as you!” Although he didn’t recognise the voice, Strike looked thoughtful, he had an idea who might be responsible.
Deciding that she must risk being overwhelmed by the feelings of anger in order to find out more about their current situation Demanor merged herself with the natural forces running through the area, her eyes rolled back in her head as her spirit travelled elsewhere, in her trance she found herself standing before a huge shadowy figure that vaguely resembled a northlander in outline, twin points of red light serving as eyes. The shadow lashed out with a huge axe and, as she dived backwards, abruptly ending her trance a shallow wound opened on her chest where the tip of the axe had grazed her flesh. Once again the ragged voice echoes through the clearing, “The bloody left hand awaits.”
Seeing Korra and Demanor looking puzzled, Strike explained that in northlander culture when several tribes elected a warleader they dyed his left hand permanently red as a sign of his leadership and he was known as the bloody left hand, they were interrupted by a crashing growing closer through the trees, Demanor transformed herself into a jungle grass snake whilst he two companions dived behind trees. A bedraggled looking elf burst into the clearing, seeing this the party revealed themselves, the elf told them that, after they had left the elven city in came under attack from strange creatures who swamped the elves, it was a massacre; Zephandius ordered a couple of his fatest men to flee to try and warn nearby settlements, thanking the elf for his news they suggested that he continue to warn the human settlements. The elf nodded and, after accepting some healing poultices from the druid, he left them to continue on his mission of warning.
Strike mused that the fate of the jungle was clearly somehow linked to his own people, he suggested that they head for Axeholme, the only northlander settlement on the mainland, nodding numbly after news of the potential massacre of her remaining people Demanor agreed. Days later they arrived at Axeholme, however, the once bustling village had been reduced to little more than a smouldering ruin, all except one building, the central long-house. Walking in they saw that the room was mainly taken up by a huge stone eagle, lashed to it was a battered but alive figure that Strike recognised as his uncle, the once chief of his tribe; gasping the bloodied but proud northlander coughed as Strike cut the ropes fastening his to the eagle and said “Ragnor has returned, with an army of the dead, he has killed me… but do not let me die without a weapon in my hand.”
Nodding Strike passed his uncle a weapon and dropped into a fighting pose, he parried the clumsy tired blow that the tortured, older man aimed at him and then, seizing his moment, he stepped in under the older northlander’s weapon and stabbed his sword deeply into his uncle’s side; the old man nodded, a faint flicker of a smile on his lips as his last breath left his body and he crumbled to the floor.
A few minutes later a boat transformed into a blazing funeral pyre left the shore, carrying the deceased chief, heading in the opposite direction a second boat containing our heroes began to sail towards Royal City, Demanor and Korra listening with rapt attention as Will told them that Ragnor was the previous chief of the northlanders and that he himself had been banished for poisoning the old chief after he had laid hands on his sister.

Sapphire Islands – Dungeon World Mini-campaign – Session 2

After their encounter with the orcs on the south-eastern coast of the mainland, Will manages to limp the damaged boat to the shoreline and is just about to jump down from the boat when his keen spot one of the planks of the decking is a little raised from the others; nearly down he pulls out a dagger and pries it loose from it’s brothers, underneath is a small leather pouch containing many coins worth of shining blue sapphires, jewels common in the Sapphire Islands (and indeed the foundation on which much of their wealth is build) but rare here on the mainland. Korra also finds a shipping manifest or log book in the cabin, there are strange scrawlings in the margin but she pays them little mind. Following his directions the band begin to range further out on the beach, looking for driftwood and flotsam that can be used to make repairs to the boat. They are stopped in their task by the sound of cheerful whistling as a middle-aged man pulling an empty cart behind him comes walking down the beach, hailing them the man introduced himself as Tibbs a trader who has recently made a killing selling stone in the town of Three Rivers; he quite happily explains to the group that Three Rivers is expanding and there is great demand for materials to make new buildings to houses the blooming population. Tibbs pats a bulging coin purse hanging from his belt to demonstrate his good fortune, for a moment Will’s eyes widen at the sight of such wealth.
Demanor has been exploring the woods searching for additional materials to patch up the boat, all around the animals chatter in their own tongues, a language as clear as her own and the word they shout is the same, no matter the animal, “Elfmeet! Elfmeet!” Summoning a parrot from the nearby trees Demanor questions it and discovers that the elves have asked the animals to spread the word and that they are all gathering in the one remaining elven city to make a big decision.
Arriving back at the boat Demanor explains to the others about the meeting, Will meanwhile has been talking to Tibbs and has offered to give the trader a lift aboard their repaired boat to his destination, the village of Crossmount in the shadow of the Great Peaks, where he intends to pick up another concession of stone and sell it on for a profit; they agree to drop Demanor and Korra off in the town of Three Rivers (which Demanor says is near to the elf city) while the boat continues north to Crossmount. On the way they pass the village of River Morton, a procession of villagers is gathered along the riverbank, ferrying the arrow riddling bodies of their dead to burial holes prepared for them, priests of River Morton are saying prayers over their dead whilst the nearest and dearest of those dead, wail for their loss. The dead are heaped into pyres and burnt, once the flames have faded, grim faced gravediggers turn their ashes into the earth; Will finds it all strange and not at all like the burning boat burials that he is used to, he finds the whole thing lacking in spirit whereas Demanor finds it all a little barbaric, elves preferring to return their dead straight back to the earth.
Slowing down, they investigate the arrows riddling the bodies, finding them of curious manufacture; peering at them closely, Korra is put in mind of the tales of ‘Edwin the Great’ about the last great battle when elves and men joined forces, the arrows are graceful and seem of elven manufacture, but they are black and use the same ravens feathers as the orc arrows that they saw earlier. A woman from the shore hails them, she tells them to be careful if they are sailing north, that orcs are abroad and that they did for her husband Ted; as a mark of honour Korra begins to play a mournful tune of solemn respect as they continue their journey north, the locals tearfully hum along with the tune until they are lost from sight around a bend in the river.
A few days later they arrive at the town of Three Rivers, Korra has not been here for eight months, but the town has almost doubled in size since then; as they approach they are hailed by one of the local foremen working on the new buildings whose skeletons litter the outskirts of the town, the man called Roberts tells them that if they get any stone and give him first refusal then he’ll give them more than a fair price.
After leaving the boat Demanor and Korra make they way through hidden ways into the jungle, Demanor leading her bardic companion through trails and hidden byways until the land drops down into a secret valley, a large ziggurat rising from the centre of it, vines and leaves gathering along the surfaces of the stone, not destroying it but seeming to caress the masonry, as though they were both part of the same whole. Roughly a thousand elves gathered around the sacred building, all of them looking towards the wise figure of an elf clad in brown and green robes. Demanor recognises the elf as Silanthus, the wisest of the elves in the settlement; the gathered crowd is discussing the recent imbalance in nature and the strange anger that many of them feel building in the natural forces, Demanor steps forward and tells them about the Ent massacring the human village nearby.
Meanwhile, back on the boat, out of sight of civilisation, Will’s knife flashes out so quickly that Tibb’s barely feels his life slip away nor the northlanders hand close around his coinpurse and push his body silently into the flowing river.
Demanor visit Silanthus in his chambers, they are passed by an angry elf on the way there, there is much discussion in the chambers and Silanthus tells them that the light of the elves has faded from the world, most of them are planning to leave this world on the last  of the Great White Boats. Korra asks Silanthus whether he can decipher the strange notes scrawled in the ship’s logbook, the old elf looks at the book and says that it is a simple crpytographic code discussing a secret exchange of precious sapphires from a quantity of stone and that apparently the writer believed secrecy was imperative.
Far to the north, Will arrives in Crossmount and purchases a quantity of stone from a paunchy, red bearded stonemason called Erik with his newly acquired wealth and begins his journey southwards towards Three Rivers where he plans to sell it for a healthy profit.
Leaving Silanthus’ chamber, Demanor sees that the angry elf they spotted previously (a younger member of the race called Zephandius) is saying to his fellows that the recent decay of nature and their relationship with it is a sure sign that their previous policy of inaction has resulted in nature forsaking them as they have forsaken it; Zephandius says that they must act as parents to the younger races (who are as children) and that sometimes parents must exercise a firm hand. Demanor is worried about Zephandius, he is very persuasuve and seems to be swaying many of the crowd to his point of view. 
Will, meanwhile, on his journey to Three Rivers has come across a small fishing boat floating unrowed along the river, in it is the body of a dying man, he tells them that his party was set upon by elves and that he is trying to get to the capital to warn the King; Will tells the dying man that he will see the message delivered and then closes his eyes as the fisherman’s dying breath leaves him. His boat later makes its way into Three Rivers where Will takes the opportunity to rest and spend some of his recently gathered wealth int he local taverns, he overhears some of the locals saying that they have heard a rumour King John V is planning to announce it illegal to mine stone in the Great Peaks, although they don’t know why. A few hours later Demanor and Korra arrive to meet up with him as arranged and Will tells them about the “elf” attacks.
Taking the two of them back to the elven settlement Demanor tells Silanthus about the supposed attacks and gives him the strange hybrid arrow, the old elf looks troubled but tells them that most of the elven people are leaving this very night about the last of the White Ships, although it grieves them greatly some (like Demanor) have decided to stay; not wanting to seem unhelpful though the old elf performs a scrying ritual with Demanor as the willing subject (despite his warning that it can be a little intense even for those as experienced as himself). In her vision Demanor rushes as a disembodied presence throught the woods until she hovers before a huge, corrupted, blackwood tree, bones and skulls litter the floor around it and seem entwined with the very structure of the vegetation, even as the roots writhe and pulse obscenely. Most disturbing is the fruit of the tree, giant blood coloured fruit that pulses as though something lives within it; one of these bloody fruits falls to the ground, spilling it’s juices as a creature crawls forth from the collapsing skin. The creature stands, it bears the beauty and chiselled features of an elf, although they seem to reflect cruelty rather than the radiant beauty of the elves, but the albaster skin fo the elf is replaced by the warty grey hide of the orc and bloody, yellowed tusks jut from it’s jaws as a bellowing roar echoes from the creatures drooling lips.
Demanor awakes and tells the other about the strange ‘black elves’ that she has seen; the other elves are climbing aboard the White Ship and waving farewell as they set sail, between the persuasions of Demanor and Zephandius 150 of the once widespread race of elves remain, the druid feels her heart grow heavy as the majority of her people pass from the world, their light lost forever.

Dungeon World – Sapphire Island mini-campaign

Okay, so last night I started up a mini-campaign (10 sessions or so) for my wife and a couple of friends, we’ve been playing a few one-offs together recently and they’d agreed to have me run some Dungeon World for them; people who’ve read my earlier blog entries will know that i’ve just started running a Dark Sun-esque Dungeon World campaign for my regular group as well, truth be told I was keen to see how different a world and game we’d end up with, having a different group of players.
We started off with the players picking their character classes and genning them up, we ended up with the following:
  • Will (known as ‘Strike’ to his “friends”), a hooded human thief, outcast from the northern barbarian tribes after poisoning their old chieftain; although his uncle the current chieftain was unable to take him back since he’s broken one of their most sacred taboos by using poison, the old warrior had seen his nephew safely to the mainland.
  • Demanor, an elven druid from the mainland, her wild eyes belie a deep and spiritual connection with the lands of the river delta, nestled amidst the jungles of the mainland that she calls her home. Once the elves were a mighty civilisation, but they recognise that their time has passed and, with the grace and calm only such an ancient species could possess, they accept their decline, using what little time they have left attempting to shepherd the younger races into a more positive relationship with the land.
  • Korra, a fiery eyed human bard from the distant Sapphire Isles, she is the bastard child of a noble, receiving little other than some basic schooling by way of compensation for the social stigma that she faced; desperate to add something to the status of her noble house and bring some glory to their name (and hopefully gaining acceptance of herself in the progress) she travelled to the mainland in search of ancient legends and to carry news to the mainland outposts of her house.
We followed up the character creation with everyone introducing their characters and the rest of us taking turns to ask questions, fleshing out the characters and the world using peoples responses, via these questions some of the things we discovered were:
  • Will had encountered Demanor when he first came off the boat on the southern coast of the mainland, he was only able to survive this strange environment due to her help and, as a mark of respect, shared blood with her in a northlander ritual of brotherhood.
  • Korra met Demanor whilst exploring the jungles of the mainland eager to discover storied; whilst there she was poisoned by a serpent and was only saved by the timely arrival of the druidess, whilst Demanor melted back into the jungle when she saw that Korra would recover, the bard would often think on the incident and made an effort to track her down so that her tale could be told.
  • Korra also recorded the story of how Will was banished for poisoning the chief after he took advantage of Will’s sister, in her fictionalised version, Korra re-wrote it so the sister did the poisoning and Will took the blame; worried that someone may one day read this and take it as the truth, Will stole Korra’s most treasured possession, an ancient flute given to her by her half-sister and held it as surety to prevent her account of his banishment ever being made public.
We also discovered a lot of facts about the world, including:
  • There are three known species that have built civilisations in the world:
    • Humans: The only species to populate the Northlands, the Mainland and the distant Sapphire Islands.
    • Elves: Once the sole occupiers of the jungle covered Mainland in a bygone age, the elves were the first to notice that the younger races were starting to forget how to communicate with the wild and strove to preserve these techniques by introducing some of their druidry techniques to those younger than themselves. The elves are fading custodians of the world whose time has passed, but they seem mostly restrained and possess a zen-like calm about this, being wise enough to realise that everything has it’s time and everything ends.
      • As the elves have begun to fade from the world, the Ents, once wise and noble custodians of the woodland reaches have begun to sleep, falling into a deep state of slumber rendering them like the trees that they once protected.
    • Orcs: A wild an barbaric people who focus on conquest and a life of constant fighting and warfare, the orcs mix freely with the people of the Northland, both have a very similar culture, their are mixed tribes of human and orc northlanders who raid the mainlands for supplies, particularly in the winter months when the ice sheets form between their lands and those of the Mainland.
  • The Mainland and the Northlands have been locked in conflict for years with the barbarian tribes constantly raiding and harrassing those on the mainland, this allowed the Sapphire Islands many years of peace and time to devote to improving themselves, meaning that the level of sophistication and technology is higher in the Sapphire Islands (late medieval as opposed to bronze age).
  • A hundred years ago the Sapphire Islands aided the ascension of a royal dynasty to the rulership of the Mainland Kingdom and sold them technology allowed King John I to build a wall around his kingdom to protect it from invasion; since that day the rulers of the kingdom have taken the name ‘John’ by traditions, the current ruler is John V.
  • The Sapphire Islands have come under attack from the Northlands since they provided the Kingdom with their aid, and one of their islands is currently occupied by Northland forces.
    • Having faced little in the way of organised opposition the Sapphire Islands are ruled by noble houses who spend their time competing and squabbling with each other, each house rules one of the smaller islands with the largest island (Mercia) being occupied by three houses, including the royal house of the Sapphire Emperor.
    • Even in with the threat of the Northmen bearing down on them the houses have, as yet, been unable to put up a united front against them.
    • Legend says that the Sapphire Islands were formed when two giants fought and killed each other in the ocean, the smaller islands were where their teeth fell and Mercia is where their bodies collapsed.
  • The barbarian tribes of the Northlands (orc and human) occasionally unite under a charismatic leader who is ‘crowned’ in a brutal ritual known as the ‘rite of the bloodhand’; a slaughtered foe has his blood mixed with various berries and dyes, watched over by the tribal shaman(druid) the new leader dips his left hand in the mixture and has his hand dyed permanently red as a mark of leadership.
Here is a picture of our rough world map (although we have left a fair amount of blank space to explore):
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First Session

The first sesson began with our heroes travelling to a frontier settlement that the Kingdom had setup in the ruins of an ancient elven city on the southeastern part of the Mainland, they had sought (and been given) permission by the elves on the understanding that the elves would monitor them to make sure that their logging did not cause too much of an impact on the environment, Demanor had been chosen to check on them; Korra had also heard that a ship from the Sapphire Islands was going to be docking there shortly and wished to hear news of her homeland.
When they arrived at the settlement they find it nought but a smouldering ruin, huge behemoth-like footprints dotted the scene but there were no signs of any bodies; eventually they discovered a single, barely alive old logger tied to a tree, his eyes had been put out, his left hand cut off and a strange geometric web-like design carved into his flesh. Demanor felt a strange sense of unease as though the wilds had somehow been roused or disturbed, making the man as comfortable as possible they headed to the coast, hoping to intercept the ship from the Sapphire Islands and see if they had any news about what had occurred, but on arrival they found only the wreckage of the boat and a number of crew bodies bobbing in the water.
Will waded out to the boat whilst Korra scoured the beach and Demanor attempted to attune herself to the energies of the wild; reaching the boat Will saw that it was not as badly damaged as it first appeared, in the water he spotted an orc body alongside the crew and a number of primitive black orc arrows sticking from the craft, turning to tell Demanor he saw that the druidess appeared to have disappeared, but their was a trail of her footprints heading back into the jungle the way they had came. Will and Korra ran through the trees back to the ruins where they found Demanor, an expression of utter fury on her face, choking the life from the still-injured logger, when they touched her however the fury seemed to drain from her and she released her terrified prey; all she could remember was joining with the spirit of the land and then feeling a red anger come over her, as though the very spirit of the land itself had been roused.
They had little time to ponder this however when the treeline burst open and a huge lumbering tree-like figure strode into the clearing, roaring inarticulately; recognising an Ent, but being quite unaccustomed to the murderous look on it’s face, Demanor gestured for the others to hide; she tried wrestling the blind logger into cover but he screamed and broke free of her grasp. All they could do was watch from their hiding place as the huge treeherder smashed it’s mighty foot down on the screaming man, crushing him to death, before it roaring once more and stomped off into the trees; as it departed Demanor and Will noticed that the same bloody spiderweb was daubed onto the back of the tree and at it’s centre someone had nailed a severed hand to the Ents trunk-like body.
Arrows filled the air around them, our heroes dived behind a stone outcropping as fur clas orcs began to emerge from the treeline, firing black fletched arrows at them; shouting that they had to get to the boat, Will lead the others on a mad race to the beach, easily outpacing the lumbering orcs. Wading out to the boat he dived onboard and began searching for weapons, whereas Demanor focussed the power of the wild through her, once again feeling the red anger but this time she was ready for it and mastered the feelings, transforming into a huge saltwater crocodile biting and snapping at the orcs, felling two as Will threw spears from the boat felling a third huge orc. However the orcs had inflicted several deep wounds on Demanor and she could feel her alligator form ebbing away, transforming she grabbed hold of the boat and, with the aid of Korra, began to haul herself aboard; spotting the last remaining orc about to attack the druidess, Will launched an attack on it, taking some injury himself but felling the mighty beast and allowing Korra time to pull Demanor aboard.
With their opponents seemingly all dead Will was able to limp the boat to the shoreland, but as he waded ashore he briefly spotted another orc, it’s eyes glowing with reflected light, clad in bones and feathers, slinking back into the woods. 
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So how did it go?

I thought the game went pretty well, especially considering that it was late and we were all quite tired, however people really seemed to get into the idea of creating the world along with the characters; as previously it took everyone a few minutes to get into the idea that we were going to create the world around their characters (since this isn’t the philosophy espoused by a lot of RPGs), but once they had the ideas started coming thick and fast. We ended up with a very different world to the one that was created for my Dark Sun style game, the first session went very smoothly and everyone seemed to enjoy it; this is one of the things I love about Dungeon World, I went it with just the character sheet playbooks and some very basic ideas and a whole campaign has sprung from that and the players input.

I’m now ready to write out the fronts for the mini-campaign and prepare for the next session 🙂

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