Christmas is approaching, but the plague is still with us, so the game continues! This time I managed to get my hands on the wonderful “Neverland“. Its statted out for D&D 5e, but the majority of the game is rather system-agnostic. It is also a breeze to run (especially if you’ve read/watched/listened to the source materials). Amazingly it has a similar asthetic to The Gardens of Ynn, so the pair link together seamlessly (imho)
Lilith (Lost-boy / fighter)
Lilith missed her parents. Sitting in the cottage on the edge of the fairy gardens reminded her of home. The quiet drawing room. The tea and cakes. The faint smell of flowers and herbs. But looking in the mirror reminded her that she had run away and now lived with the Lost Boys in Neverland. If only there were a way home without Peter finding her…
The mirror darkened. Lilith leaned forward. Glass exploded as two people shot through the mirror frame, followed by a owl-griffin. In a second the darkness dissolved and the wooden backing of the mirror was left.
“Have you seen an old lady?”
“Who is it?”
“Its our aunt. She is a very clever woman. Perhaps she came this way? Have you seen her or heard of her”
Lilith frowned in thought. Trying to think of anyone older than 10, other than the pirates who didn’t count.
“Oh! The old lady in the swamp. She’s clever! Must be her!”
Autumn and Nihal looked uncertain, but followed the child’s lead.
The trip took hours. Down from the garden-hill and into the jungles. The air was hot and the insects bit. The little girl was constantly chattering and asking questions non-stop. Autumn and Nihal tried to keep up by talking about their home in Bracalonia and their trip to the Other Garden. Lilith talked about the wonders of Neverland, the beautiful mermaids, the evil pirates, and the people of the forests.
The ground slowly became wet and soft, while the insects became louder and more bloodthirsty. Lilith led the two lost women effortlessly through the swamp until they spotted the cottage high in the trees. “There she is!”
A wrinkled and bent old woman down from the porch. “Is that you little Lilith? Is everything well with Peter?” The house wobbled on two huge bird legs and lowered itself down to ground level. The woman hobbled down and offered some tea to the trio. “Who are your friends?”
“This isn’t our aunt Lilith!” The little girl shrugged in reply
The sisters explained their predicament to the old woman who introduced herself as Wendy. They described their aunt, Mayda Castaldo, and waited while Wendy considered. “I’ve seen someone that looked like that. She was talking to the fairies, asking about Queen Mab. At the fairy cottage.”
“We were just there!”
“At sunrise and sunset the backdoor goes into fairyland.” Lilith mentioned.
Everyone looked up at the sky. The sun was on its waning arc, but hours away from sunset. “We can make it if we hurry!”
The return trip was worse. No playful balancing on fallen trees or looking at strange new plants and insects. This was a slog through mud and brush. After many hours through swamp and forest the trio returned to the garden-hill just as the sun began to fall below the horizon. They all stopped when the heard chimes begin to ring. Lilith rushed into the cottage with the other two following close behind. The backdoor led out to a strange foggy night landscape, the tops of rolling hills visible above the foggy valleys. A narrow path led from the doorway into the fog.
“I don’t trust paths anymore. Lets go into the hills”. Nihal led the way.
As they walked through the foggy hills, Autumn began to notice the stars – they moved and circled each other in a slow dance, and the landscape moved as well. Hills huddled together, valleys moving to interrupt their walking way. The land seemed to be trying to direct them in a certain direction. She was thinking of telling her companions when screams broke the silent night. Lilith brandished her axes and ran towards the sound. Nihal followed close behind wheel Autumn wearily readied her bow before chasing after them.
The sounds came from a deep foggy valley, stone steps leading down into the mist. Once Autumn arrived Nihal started down the steps, expecting the others to follow. Lilith tried to follow silently, but the fog hid all manner of rocks and loose stones, which promptly clattered down, echoing loudly.
All stopped to see if anything had heard. Giggled returned to them. Autumn saw figures dashing through the mist – small, hunched, and wearing long trailing caps. They, or it, seemed to be all around. Laughing at them and trying to frighten them. Nihal and Lilith were twisting and turning, trying to catch sight of their hidden foe. Autumn pointed a bow into the fog and ordered Gentle “Catch!”. The owl-griffin flew into the fog, herding the figure until it ran infront of Autumn. She released her arrow which buried itself in head of their tormentor.
The figure looked something like a small old man. With a dirty white beard reaching it’s legs, and an equally long red stocking cap. The trio gathered around and began to examine the figure, when a screech came from the fog “Broder!!”
Another red-capped goblin launched itself onto Autumn’s back and began to stab madly. Nihal instinctively turns to help her sister, and tackles the goblin. The pair desperately wrestle on the ground, blood and bits of hair and clothing being left in their wake. Lilith sees Autumn taking careful aim, and sees the tear streaked face of this second goblin. The reaches down and pulls them apart while shouting “NO!”
She manages to calm everyone. The Goblin is still tearful over the murder of his brother, and is grudgingly convinced to stop fighting if the two “witches” can heal him.
Autumn stares at the arrowhead protruding from the eye socket of the dead red-cap, while Nihal opens her pack and desperately goes through the books they stole from the Other Garden. She pulls out a book bound in leather and leaves and behind to chant. The pages sizzle and turn brown as a green mist pours out of the book and into the mouth of the dead red-cap. Everyone holds their breath until the figure begins to cough and sit up. It’s eyes are still rolled back and blood drips from it’s eye. The other goblin point in shock “a wight!” it screamed, and turned to run into the fog.
The little girl stood behind him with brandished axe. “No you don’t” she said and buried her axe into it’s face. The others were shocked. “What? It would have told!”
The whispers started immediately. “Murderers… murderers…” The three stood back to back against the fog, and they saw shadows come forward and become armed and armoured goblins. Nihal realised why the spell hadn’t worked properly earlier “These are not flesh and blood, they are spirits, creatures of magic!” She stepped forward and started chanting the words of command taught to her by Aunt Mayda. The goblins stopped their accusations and seemed to be sleeping.
“It won’t last, what do we tell them?”
“Forget the two deaths. Forget we killed those two!”
The command spoken, the goblins once again stirred. They stared in surprise at the trio before levelling their weapons.
“You are intruders. All must be recognised by the queen!
Nice little cliff hanger to end on. I am not 100% sure of the players, but I feel the World of Dungeons is a wonderful base system that can handle any sorts of strangeness I throw at it. We’ve already hacked in a new XP system (thanks to one of my players pointing out the experience system from Dungeon World), and the basics of fiction-first and a simple dice-roll resolution system lets us play with any kind of situation. The Neverland book is able to be converted on the fly as we play (got it the night before the game, and a short readthrough gave me an idea for a starting point – and the island is so nicely laid out and the random encounters so flavourful that it was no stress to run! Cant wait till next session!