Friday, October 19, 2018

North-West Marches Session One; or, How Much Money Did We Start With?

The world ended a few hundred years ago, but civilisation has slowly dragged itself back up. A pass was (re)discovered into the Northern part of the continent, but none of the squabbling nobles could risk trying to conquer it without losing their home territory. So, it's been left open to mercenaries, weirdos, vagabonds and out-of-luck-citizens to try and explore the new/old land. There's a tent with booze, some guy selling pickaxes and daggers, a sullen crowd of despondent losers, dirty mud, muddy dirt, and a whole world out there. What do you do?



Gonzo landscapes and procedurally generated dungeons, oh my. Credit Connor Sheehan


THE CAST

Grendel, a Gnome Barbarian Peace-and-Nature-Loving Explorer. Totally does not go violently insane whenever he sneezes.
Bartholomew, a Spiderling Barber. Incredibly optimistic about this endeavour. It was determined that Spiderlings usually have four "arms" and four "legs" making anything involving haircuts or surgery incredibly freaky and gross.
Rosé, a Human Fighter. A late-comer, to humorous effect.


ACT ONE

Grendel and Bartholomew were keen to leave behind the sodden, disreputable bunch of losers that have travelled to the great unknown as a last-ditch effort for riches and fame, or else, abandoning a wasted life. Fitzroy, the entrepreneurial tavern-owner, bid them an adieu from his lean-to as they headed out. Into the wilderness we go! 

Some frantic hex generation later, and it was determined that there were three options: to the North-West, a swampy marsh, fog swirling in strangely regular patterns despite the bright sunlight (roll of 5, 6), to North-West, rough, inhospitable looking foothills of the mountain range behind them (4, 6) and due North, a lush and verdant forest (3, 5). The duo, presuming that the woodland life would hopefully have interesting hairstyles for Bartholomew to study, declared that the latter was the place to go.

Some relatively aimless wandering later, they arrived at a river just as the sun was setting. Grendel spied a strange, long-haired creature on the far side of the river, but it disappeared before he could reach it. Not dissuaded, they set up camp by the river to keep an eye out.

Bartholomew awoke covered in leeches. They decided not to stay by the river, and that it 'twas a silly place. They crossed over as quickly as they could, heading through the unsettling hills and into a dense, thick, hungry looking forest (3, 3). While exploring, Grendel found truly ancient remains of human presence, crumbly yellow bones, while Bartholomew put one of his boots deep into something sticky. Grendel hastened to assist his friend out of the presumed quicksand, before steeping on a vine. It was at this point it was revealed that the sticky substance was a red, gooey, digestive fluid produced by a large carnivorous plant. And that they were both in the middle of it's "limbs". Grendel breathed in some pollen, sneezed, and combat began!

Grendel, pupils massively dilating and tendons bulging on hands and neck, snapped the bone over his knee and yelled a traditional gnomish war-squeal. Bartholomew simply started stabbing the thing until it stopped eating his foot. Grendel eventually got the one of the whipping vines in an arm-lock, and protected Bartholomew while he stabbed the plant-creature in a throbbing root. Reddish fluid gushed out in a veritable geyser. Both explorers were utterly delighted to discover, that since this was virgin territory, it was their duty to name it! It's red colouration and acidic properties resulted in "Red = Rose + Ooze = Rooze".


A slightly larger, flatter one of these. With teeth. Credit Eldar Zakirov

The deceased Rooze vomited up quite the array of weaponry, supplies and one unconscious human fighter. The man was amnesiac and entirely hairless, but accepted the assistance of the odd pair with some grace. Upon returning to town, the trio lamented at the apparently barren nature of the lands around the town, and the rate at which they were devouring their precious supplies. Bartholomew took stock of their level of funds: flat broke. He then traded his flute for a singular ration after a distinct lack of any bargaining. He was extremely disheartened with city life, and longed for the deadly, uncaring countryside once more. Grendel stayed behind to spruik the new fluid liberated from the carnivorous Rooze as a hair-removal product, and the amnesiac fighter was christened "Rosé" after his vector of 'rebirth'.

Bartholomew and Rosé took to the untamed wilds once more, travelling swiftly north to the scrublands (2, 6). While travelling through the foothills, they had felt the presence of eyes upon them, and now they were amongst the rolling dunes, the feeling was unavoidable. While on-watch, Rosé witnessed the black silhouette of a man several miles away. It stood, unmoving, but when Rosé awakened his Spiderling companion, it was nowhere to be seen…

Discomfited and suffering from bizarre nightmares, the Bartholomew and Rosé fled the desert towards the bizarre multi-coloured trees they had seen (3,6). Bartholomew fell down a hole and was covered in strange purple pollen. Rosé tried to inspect it, but ended up inhaling a glob of the stuff. After cleaning themselves off as best they could, Rosé posited that there must be a way deeper down the hole, and as a matter of fact, there was! The pit seemed to have been caused by an uprooted tree, and had exposed a set of stairs leading down into the earth.

The cracked and crooked stairs led deep underground, eventually reached some kind of semi-collapsed subterranean building. Exits led every which way, and upon encountering multiple shambling corpses and a giggling madman with a rapier, the complex was declared a problem for Another Day. [E: The giggles in the darkness were perhaps a tiny bit cheesy, but I was told afterwards that they started just as it got fully dark where one player was, and was remarkably effective]. Bartholomew and Rosé fled towards the light, and escaped the dungeon into the setting sun. Who knows, perhaps the knowledge of the complex will inspire more explorers to brave the weird wilderness of the North...

The sketched map thus far. Done in a hurry by someone with little artistic knowhow...

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