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.”

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):
* * *
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. 
* * *
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 🙂

* * *