Well, that was a really good decision.
After the painful last session (where it took forever to just move a few rooms and work out the mechanics) we went back to the Freebooters ruleset. All of a sudden we were swiftly exploring and moving through the tower! For those interested, it was a (slightly) modified Sky-Blind Spire from Trilemma. I changed the “goblins” to little demon things, and the 4 giants to Legion deserters. Anyhow…
We left the trio over the dissolving body of a “demon”. Thora decided to climb up the outside of the tower to see who was in the lit room… It turned out to be a group of Legion deserters. (the reaction roll was a crit success! They were very friendly) After a tense introduction, the Deserters shared their story of being stuck inside this tower. They had already looted some rooms before all the doorways started changing. Now they were unable to find an exit and their supplies were running low. Atli convinced them to join their escape plan, (rolled up a few NPC <3d12>) and explained the “path to escape” they discovered.
Checking the floor they found the 16&17 sigils in the pair of rooms. Atli remembered the 18 sigil from the secret room, quickly finding it in the following room – and then the secret door to the beginning! The 4 Deserters refused to leave behind their loot, so they carried their loot-sacks with them.
They retraced their steps from 1 -> 3 (bringing new sparks) and found rooms 4-6 in the same corridor. But room 6 had a staircase which led up to some kind of training room. An armory with suits and weapons in glass cases. When they went to investigate (Thora about to smash a case to get at a totally sweet set of plate) some of the “training dummies” on the wall came to life – warning them in Legion-talk to “not disturb the cases”. After some back and forth it turned out that the suits were animated by the tower! The Tower warned them of coming trouble (Shining Host) but it was limited to physically manipulating the suits in this room. Atli brokered an agreement – they could take gear from here, if they permanently shut the gateway – so the Tower would be able to prevent the Shining Host from passing through.
Thora took the armour (a light suit of Plate – some bone-like material), Elin took a “folding bow”, the Deserters took swords and maces, while Atli found a flamecaster… (limited use fireball!)
They slowly explored a few more rooms (With some ominous corridors leading away that they knew would be coming up soon) until they found another huge room – but full of some strange harpy-like creatures (Dire Pelicans from the module, but described as leathery, screeching things) Once spotted the monsters started to chase them into the tower… Then Atli convinced the Deserter leader to “draw them all close by” and let loose the flamecaster… 4 monsters and 2 Deserters were incinerated!
The survivors were not happy, and only some sweet-talking from Elin (also badly burned) managed to keep everyone from fighting. But the sacks of loot were now more valuable to the 2 surviving Deserters (and they were promised that they could keep it all, and the trio would just “help carry it”)
They continued following the sigils (now their sparks were as bright as a lantern). One corridor (sigil 13) that terrified them was full of reflections – mirrors(?) with spectral people inside. No one wanted to explore that. But after that they came to a worrying discovery. A dead end room with sigil 22. The room was full of books and papers. And maps – scores of different maps of the tower! Atli was overjoyed! He wanted to compare the partial map he had with the various “configuration” maps. While he was doing that, the others ran into another demon-thing coming out of the walls. Thora was badly hurt and one of the Deserters was killed.
But the time was fruitful. Atli found an exact match. Which gave the 4 survivors a map they could follow, and advanced warning of possible threats. The obvious problem they spotted was a 40′ drop they had to somehow climb. Elin and the last Deserter (they named Bob) mapped out a course (climbing out the window and through a couple of rooms) back to where the Deserters had been trapped to drop down a rope while Thora and Atli went to the bottom.
Unfortunately, due to some degradation of the tower’s magic, when Thora and Atli rejoined at the top, they had inexplicably shrunk. Now they barely came up to Elin’s waist. But the 4 sacks of loot were now mini-purses that the Bob was able to carry easily – but the tiny coins and loot felt much less worthy of being carried. Elin felt very worried in case they met any further trouble as she was the only one who could effectively fight.
The last path was a 2 story climb down the outside of the tower, followed by a one story ascent to the roof – effectively doubled for Thora and Atli! Elin decided to cut up their rope to tie the mini-me’s to the full sized climbers. Elin and Atli, followed by Bob and Thora (Atli didn’t trust Bob). Atli was exhausted by the climb down, and had to be dragged up (dangling and screaming the whole time) to the 6th floor portal room.
While waiting for Bob and Thora, Atli tried to convince Elin that Bob was a danger (“we accidentally killed his friends, i’m sure he’s going to kill us when he gets the chance”) Elin grudgingly agreed. When Thora climbed in the window first Elin cut the rope then leaned out the window weilding her short sword. “Climb back and leave the tower The exit is close by. Don’t follow us”
Atli was screaming in the room now… he’d wanted to take the loot carried by Bob first… Thora was very confused. Bob was furious, then panicked, then pleaded, but Elin refused to relent. So he climbed back down.
In the portal room, Atli and Thora examined the centrepiece. The main focus was a elaborately engraved gauntlet suspended in strange cables and liquids. (assisted perceive 2d6+1: 13) Atli guessed that the gauntlet was the “magical key” and the surrounding works were to somehow channel the gathered magic they had brought. The trio made a plan to take the gauntlet with them as they left. They worked (mainly Elin as the only full sized person among them) to loosen the gauntlet until it was barely held by some cables, then inserted their sparks into the device.
The magical energies were spectacular – opening a sucking portal. Thora jumped first with a parting thumbs-up. Atli nervously moved closer until he was sucked away, then finally Elin made her attempt (rolled 6, burn luck to raise to 7: success w/complications). Unfortunately Atli’s plan was ill-conceived as he knew next to nothing about magic. Elin managed to grab the gauntlet but the magical energies released cause a feedback-blast that caused the portal to collapse – the trio were cast out of the path and into the twisting void between worlds – their destination unknown.
Alignment goal: not really
Traits: yes, lots of RP on traits, 1xp each
Class: didn’t actually solve problems in class ways…
Discoveries: not especially this session
Obstacles: Yes, solved the puzzle and escaped! 1xp
Loot: well, yes-ish, and retrieved the magic portal maker 1xp
I am sure we made the right decision. Forbidden Lands has some awesome tools for detailed wilderness and combat – but it is a lot more “crunchy” than our table was able to handle happily. Freebooters ran soooo much faster and smoother for us. Comparing last session (and 5 rooms w/ a combat) to this session (of 20+ rooms, a few combats and social interactions) which took around the same time. Probably has a bit to do with system familiarity (as we’d just run 5 session prior) but the PbtA resolution system does handle “conflicts” much faster, but perhaps with a lot less detail than some people want. We find the “vagueness” of results license to inject our own fun ideas into the game, so apparently it works well for us.
Next up for the Lost Trio – exploring strange places!