Actual Play – Restoring the Balance (2/9/2017)

GM: Edmund Metheny
Players: Sophie Lagacé, Karen Twelves, Adrienne Mueller, and Sean Nittner
System: Dungeon World
Setting: Land of 10,000 Gods

Our campaign concluded with an epic battle atop the tower of heaven where:

  • Merit swindled Death.
  • Ram turned away from his goddess Death and aided his friends.
  • Rahi saved the captives of the tower including Death, the Mirror Kanta, and Long.
  • Kanta fell in a trap Merit could have warned her about, but didn’t.
  • The False Kanta consumed some of Kanta’s soul, but in doing so revelad his nature as a Rakshasa impersonating her to destroy the balance of the universe and control Death that it could have power of who lived and who died.
  • Rahi slew the False Kanta with her sacred blade and sent him spiraling back to the Abyss through a portal that Kanta and Mirror Kanta created.
  • Kanta kissed Ram and then leapt in to the portal herself. Creating a balance by leaving Mirror Kanta in heaven.
  • Death rewarded all the heroes richly, but Ram decided his friends were more important to him that Death and so he left her service.

And then we found our selves transported back to Fish For Dinner, where all was right (or right-ish) in the world again. P.S. Rahi and Long hooked up!

Actual Play – The Clash of Heavenly Armies (12/8/2017)

GM: Edmund Metheny
Players: Sophie Lagacé, Karen Twelves, Adrienne Mueller, and Sean Nittner
System: Dungeon World
Setting: Land of 10,000 Gods

New art!

Look at this gorgeous art that Sophie commissioned from Claudia Cangini. It is amazing. Front: Ram the Holy Killer; behind him, from left to right: Rahi the Relic Bearer, Merit the Trickster, and Kanta the Mage. Sophie writes more about the commissioning process and how it makes for a wonderful gift to friends here.

The Celestial Armies Clash

In heaven, our heroes found three armies blocking them from the tower on which the False Kanta perched.

Kanta (the True) used her sitar to summon forth an army of Indra’s golden soldiers.

Rahi met a  mighty demon in single combat. Felling the beast but suffering a mortal wound in the process.

Ram leapt upon the infantry with ferocity that would make his goddess smile had she been there to see it.

Merit out maneuvered the archers causing them to fire upon the priests and turn False Kanta’s forces against each other.

Celestial Winds

When the battle was coming to an end, Kanta, who had learend the name of the celestial winds, called them to lift her up to top of the tower where she finally faced her opposite self!

Actual Play – Fell Citadel (9/29/2016)

dungeon_world_finalGM: Edmund Metheny
Players: Sophie Lagacé, Karen Twelves, Adrienne Mueller, and Sean Nittner
System: Dungeon World
Setting: Land of 10,000 Gods

From the Scribe Adrienne:

– Arrive at tower. Basin filled with gnoll army or Mirror Kanta. Not sure how to cross. Rahi consults Vidjaya; Merit is the key. Proposes Merit be deceitful / talk to Queen. Merit also considers using mountain.
– Discussion about what to do with Priestess/Queen. Rahi wants her spared / allowed to leave without harm. Kanta wants to obey letter of law. Merit wants her dead; Ram does too. Queen says she knows how to get through tower, but party unimpressed. Merit tosses mountain which turns into huge mountain; crushing all of the gnolls. Kanta starts walking up it. Ram says he can wait and get vengeance later. Merit decides she wants it now and sends a knife into the priestess before Rahi can react; priestess dies.
– Get to top of mountain and enter tower; very confusing construction. Kanta’s ritual completes and Ram is whole again with conditions; he’s very grateful. Kanta reminds him that what she wants is to have her mirror self chucked into the abyss.
– Kanta starts searching but Big Maggoty Gnoll Demon attacks. Rahi slices into him; Ram tries to spin him into stairwell, but wind pulls him along too. Kanta uses the wind to smash gnoll to ground. Merit looks for traps; finds one that will cave in the roof as well as some gems buried in the wall; shouts a warning and picks up a rock. Rahi kills the beast but is injured by its fingernails which come off in her flesh.
– Merit collects the gems, including one that’s from another world and has a color unlike any she’s ever seen.
– Ram keeps searching with windlike leaps, but his arm turns insubstantial and he almost plummets. Kanta tells him it will get better and he’s mollified but more circumspect; finds nothing.
– Merit searches and we come across a djinn. Rahi tells him we wish him no harm and he says we have one wish left. Kanta uses it to get him take us to the top of the tower, though he says she will ‘pay the price’.
– At the top of the tower we emerge into green landscape with houses of the Gods and another tower like the one we were in. This tower feels out of place / wrong. Everything is more vivid and amazing. Our hero marks are fully manifested and we’re larger than life.
– Mirror-male Kanta is on the top of the tower and we say we’re going for them; but then they say they’ll come down. An army swarms out of the tower; but we know that, here, we can fight them.

Actual Play – Dreams from the Gods (9/1/2016)

dungeon_world_finalGM: Edmund Metheny
Players: Sophie Lagacé, Karen Twelves, Adrienne Mueller, and Sean Nittner
System: Dungeon World
Setting: Land of 10,000 Gods

From the hand of the scribe Adrienne:

Battle with the priestess and her gnolls.

  • Merit had thrown the first dagger.
  • Kanta cut her tongue out and put the gnoll tongue in. Sent flames around the room, especially at the priestess.
  • Ram taunted the gnolls into only attacking him.
  • Rahi stepped in; was confused thought we were there to help the priestess. Layed into some gnolls.
  • Next round: another dagger from Merit; Kanta sucked the air out of the priestess; Ram bit one of his attackers – helping to free up Rahi who discerned realities. There was a great rumbling Merit took out the priestess – who can’t really die. Kanta tried to figure out what the rumbling was from – probably a God. Rahi, Merit and Kanta pick up Ram and the priestess and try to escape the crumbling palace/citadel. Lose all our stuff in the process and Rahi takes some damage.

We see that it is the gnoll great god who is ramming his spear into the citadel; tearing it down. We flee as fast as we can and ‘undertake a perilous journey’ with Kanta succeeding as trailblazer, Merit as scout and Ram failing as quartermaster.

Rahi (unintentionally) asks her sword for guidance in helping Ram complete his mission. Sword says: go to the temple of the false Kanta; enter heaven; slay Him.  Kanta is surprised to hear about this false Kanta temple and the gender change, but has heard about ‘dark temples’ etc. Feels a stong tugging leading her in that direction too though.

On the road Ram asks Kanta to help heal him. She uses black thread in a long ritual that will complete when we get to the new citadel. This requires her spending a lot of time cajoling/coercing spirits into mending his limbs to him and being over his prostate form. At some point she tells him that he may have to kill her to kill the false Kanta and save his God and he reluctantly(!) agrees.

Merit is gouging the priestess whenever she gets the chance and so Rahi keeps an eye on her; eventually promising her that she will not be harmed and allowed to heal if she tells us what she knows. Which she does.

More info about the dark Kanta; the night of blight; the gnolls. We’re all pretty sure the citatel is the conduit to the abyss, where all the worst bits are flushed into our realm during the Night of Blight.

Picking Sides

Kanta not pleased with Rahi’s decision to not hurt priestess but won’t break our word. Merit pissed and very happy to break Rahi’s word. Ram eager for priestess to suffer. Rahi won’t back down and semi-threatens Merit. Who tells Rahi she should be careful putting too much faith in Kanta. Merit agrees not to harm priestess in case she might be useful when we get to dark Kanta temple.

Merit and Ram have a nice moment where he thanks her for avenging him (as best one can under the circumstances) and she says she was happy to and thought he’d want some space afterwards.

Before reaching the citadel we all have dreams. Ram hears from Kali and knows he can kill things now and gets a head that looks like Kanta’s. Could be male or female. He asks it what it will do (spout lore) and it will help defeat false Kanta somehow.

Merit gets a tiny mountain and suspects it will help her carry any burden.
Kanta gets a sitar which she plays imperfectly.
Rahi – I think didn’t make the roll, but got xp.

What rocked

I think the moment when Raji and Kanta stood against Ram and Merit was probably the most meaningful confrontation in the game so far. Mostly because they all had good reasons for standing their ground.

Rahi could not abide by torture and cruelty. Kanta could not break her word (again). Merit could not stand to let the priestess go unpunished. Ram was unable to act, but clearly wanted his own torment avenged. Nobody was right or wrong for what they wanted, but at some point someone had to yield either giving up on their desire or on their bond to their companions. This was a really tense moment and I feel like it make each of our characters resonate in the game.

What could have improved

I nearly worked against the idea of Ram just healing normally after being chopped up because it felt like such an un-doing of what had happened in the game. I don’t know if this was the right thing for me to do as a player (Ram is Adreinne’s character) but I really want actions that take place to have consequences. Kanta has a wax tongue. Ram’s limbs are bound by spirit thread. These things seem interesting to me where “you get better” falls short. So, I’m not sure I did the right thing interfering with another character’s recovery (i.e. player’s agency).

Actual Play – The Priestess and the Bad Joke (7/28/2016)

dungeon_world_finalGM: Edmund Metheny
Players: Sophie Lagacé, Karen Twelves, Adrienne Mueller, and Sean Nittner
System: Dungeon World
Setting: Land of 10,000 Gods

In a rare event, I didn’t take notes during the game. In some ways that actually meant I was a lot more present. I didn’t bother to stop myself from playing and jot down everything we did. On the flip side, however, writing this a month later, I’m hoping that between Adrienne’s report and my memory I can piece together the bits of what happened.


  • All but Kanta drank potions of change our form so we looked like gnolls and another so we could speak with the gnolls as well.
  • Keiker To was totally disgusted that we could speak his language. Which was odd because they revered Kanta when she could do it with magic, but simply speaking it (rather than summoning spirits of wind and knowledge to translate) was an abomination in his mind.
  • We didn’t understand the battle at all. Two gnoll armies fighting each other because apparently Kanta’s mirror self had told them to, so Kanta thought that she would have sway over them, however when we first approached the outside of the battle, the contingent that saw Kanta were incensed and immediately dropped what they were doing to slay her and her allies (still not technically possible, but the would have chopped us all up to bits if they could).
  • In an absolutely horrific scene we realized that the gnolls had be chopping people up and eating them, despite the fact that nobody could die, only suffer horribly. The “food” wagon we stopped was filled with people in various states of dismemberment. We gave them all our healing potions but that was like trying to put out a fire with a water fountain. For the few we could help, hundreds more rolled in on wagons.
  • After that debacle, Kanta reluctantly took a potion to change her appearance to that of Gnoll as well. Though she loathed deception in any form, a false image was much less harmful than a false word.
  • Advancing through the enemy line was successful until we came across a Gnoll Emmisary who wanted to know our orders…seeing that we had none, she gave us some: to be meat shields for a towering Bhakshak that would breach the walls of the city they were sieging.
  • We followed this plan not at all. Merit and Rahi, along with Keiker To split off to find the secret entrance that he knew about. Eventually they made it in, but not without running into some scrapes.
  • Ram and Kanta stayed by the side of the monster and Ram got a chance to inflict violence on Gnolls, which was something of a delight, until we got close to the wall and then agian, by hook or crook we made it over, though we were separated in the process.
  • Inside we found the priestess who was now a queen. Ram was dismembered by Gnolls [Fell to 0 hit points but still no dying]. Merit asked the priestess what the hell this was all about and when the priestess laughed at Ram’s plight as if it was a joke…Merit put a dagger in her.
  • Kanta, catching this at the last moment, finished the job of cutting out her own tongue and jammed the waxen Gnoll tongue into her mouth so she could speak once more…or rather so she could summon her magical wrath to bear down upon the still loving priestess and her minions.

What Rocked

I’m a big fan of characters being irrevocably changed. Gnoll wax tongue seems very fitting for the cursed Kanta.

I love that Merit was not going to endure anyone laughing at her friend’s peril. Who caries if she’s the high priestess mucky muck, Ram is Merit’s friend and nobody is going to laugh a his suffering.

Kanta’s confidence in “oh, I got this, they will all follow my lead” being shattered when the first band of Gnolls attacked was great. As a player I didn’t understand what was going on, but I did love her being totally perplexed by the situation as well!

Watching Rahi deliberate over her decisions is wonderful. She is the really human element of our story. She always asks the moral questions the rest of us either don’t both asking or are unconcerned with the answers.

What could have Improved

We’re all eager to understand what’s going on a bit more. Two Gnoll tribes at war because of a priestess (who we stabbed) and Mirror Kanta (who they now hate). It’s all very outside our characters. We went to a party to gather some information witnessed a Gnoll attack and then Death died. We care about Death, but really don’t understand any of the circumstances around what happened. So for now we’re just moving forward until someone can explain what happened.

As much as I just said I love characters changing irrevocably, I’m not sure what to make of Ram being dismembered. I mean, yeah, 0 hit points may very well mean your character is dead, make a new one…so I can see loosing all your limbs being an adventurer’s equivalent to that when death isn’t really on the table. I’m concerned for the outcome though. One possibility is that when Death is restored Ram dies (as do many, many people who have enduring grievous wounds) which would be poetic, especially if Ram was able to make that choice or do something to make that happen.  The other is that somehow Ram is healed and that all that mutilation is undone. I’m sure there are other options as well, but both of those leave me wondering what Adrienne’s role in all this will be.

Actual Play – Keikerr To (6/30/2016)

dungeon_world_finalGM: Edmund Metheny
Players: Sophie Lagacé, Karen Twelves, Adrienne Mueller, and Sean Nittner
System: Dungeon World
Setting: Land of 10,000 Gods

Kanta hates the swamp. Why? Because it smells terrible!

Mueller Memoirs

From Adrienne’s notes (thank you Adrienne!):

We tied up our gnoll associate, took his weapon, and indicated that he should lead us to his priestess. Kanta made it clear that she had no intention of breaking her vow of silence to help us communicate with him. We smelled smoke on the air and the gnoll was eager to make progress. Not long later, he became very agitated and clearly wanted to have his weapon back and hide in the bushes. Sensing trouble, we made ourselves ready. Ram passed the gnoll’s lead to Kanta, who obligingly followed the gnoll into a bush.

We were quickly set upon by several gnoll archers. Rahi and Ram took them head on while Merit snuck around to the back. We traded shots but things quickly devolved when we strayed too near the sentient Swamp. First Merit’s leg was snagged by a tentacle-like vine. Then Ram, in freeing her, became entangled with it. Rahi noticed that one of the gnoll’s was the greatest threat and wasn’t what they seemed. Meanwhile our gnoll, Keikerr To, had been snatched up by a foul swamp-tree and was being slowly suffocated while first Kanta and then Rahi did their best to save him. Rahi herself became ensnared and need to fight free with the help of her friends.

Ram went after the strange gnoll but didn’t cause it much damage and was thrown back. In response, it rained boiling blood down upon all our heads. Kanta, seeing it used its voice to summon this magic, vaulted over to it and ripped its tongue out of its mouth. It turned into a waxy form that made it even harder to hit. And then Kanta poured a potion of healing down Ram’s throat which, mingled with the creature’s blood, set his heart racing. We quickly finished off the gnolls and took stock of what they carried. [Assume Rahi did the killing blow on the magic gnoll, but could have been Ram.]

Continuing our march, we eventually came to a rise to find a great gnoll city – consumed by combat and flame.

Lots of bonds changed. Merit trusts Ram again – thinking he has her back. Rahi has also proved herself to Merit (think bond changed on both sides there).

Loot found!

  • Amulet of the Death’s Head: This amulet of a gnoll skull with ruby eyes is non magical, other than a very weak spell to make the rubies glow slightly (not enough to see by, just enough to look cool in poor lighting conditions). It is worth 600 coins.
  • The tongue of a strange, waxen gnoll you encountered. It is clearly magical though it’s exact properties have yet to be determined.
  • 6 potions of Speak Language: these viscous, dark red potions are made of the blood of some creature or another. It tastes terrible, but allows the imbiber to speak and understand any non-magical language.
  • 2 potions of healing: the basic ingredient for these potions is clearly yaksa blood, but they work just like any other healing potion.
  • 4 potions of polymorph: these potions are jet black and as thick as oil, and can double as smelling salts due to their powerful odor of burnt hair. They allow the imbiber to polymorph into any humanoid creature.

What Rocked

Keikerr To had all sorts of quirks. He doesn’t like being touched (fine, we don’t really want to touch him). He doesn’t like us behind him (a little more tricky to negotiate). And he really doesn’t like this other tribe of gnolls (now that we can get behind).

Nope, still won’t talk! Still a mage, still know stuff, just not going to make the mistake of speaking a falsehood again!

What could have improved

The HP system in Dungeon World rankles me. Always has, but it flared up particularly tonight when Ram did a few awesome moves but kept rolling a 1 on his damage die. Grumble, grumble. Old curmudgeon here.


Actual Play – The Return of Ram (6/2/2016)

dungeon_world_finalGM: Edmund Metheny
Players: Sophie Lagacé, Karen Twelves, Adrienne Mueller, and Sean Nittner
System: Dungeon World
Setting: Land of 10,000 Gods

Ram meandered into The Golden Cornucopia of Nourishment That Yields the Purest Milk and Cheese This Side of the Great River, unsure exactly how or why he was arriving there but vaguely recalling consorting with his mistress Death and the gift she granted his boon companions.

Merit, savior of Copia

When he arrived he found Merit in the center of the village being adored with gifts. Wheels of cheese, smoked meats, bouquets of local flowers….more wheels of cheese.

She was not, however, all that please to see him. Why did you leave? What have you been doing? Did you know Rahi was a stinking coward?

Merit, unconformable with all the attention, and now upset that Ram has arrived out of the blue, stalked off to her home, followed by Ram, and by the many villagers who still wanted to give her gifts, but were blocked by Ram’s large frame occupying the doorway. So they just started piling gifts outside! Inside Merit told Ram that she had a new plan, to give up the live of a hero and return to her village. Taste this… it was bread she made this morning. Ram could not abide this. Not only did he know that Merit lived for adventure and would be bored with this sedentary life, he also needed her to rescue his mistress Death!

Kanta and Rahi, the silent couple

Meanwhile, outside, Rahi and Kanta were also being adorned by gifts, albeit fewer that Merit received, and with the mayor’s family keeping their distance from Kanta. They stood in the shadows of the village wordlessly. Rahi because she felt terrible that she had disappointed Merit, and Kanta because she had taken a vow of silence for telling a lie (also her tongue was so badly damaged, she couldn’t really form a word if she tried).  So they emoted looks of regret to each other.

The communal silence was broken when Ram found them to find out what was wrong with Merit? Rahi was at first sheepish, afraid that Ram would also be upset with her for beating him up over the fate of a child and his parents (the child which Ram now had following him as his apprentice). To her delight however, there were no hard feelings at all. In fact, with the disappearance of Death, it had slipped his mind…as thought it happened many months ago.

Ram did want to know what was going on with Merit, however, and neither Kanta nor Rahi were much help. Kanta on account of not talking, Rahi because she was still beating herself up about what she had done. Kanta began poking Rahi, rather forcefully mind you, in the direction of Merit’s home, to prod her into action, but the sullen warrior would not move, or at least not fast enough. The mage scrambled over the mounds of cheese outside and tumbled into Merit’s home. Before she could really begin to emote however, Merit shrugged and said “Yeah, you’re right. I’ll get my things and we’ll head out.”

A Long Road to travel

Though many objected to the heroes leaving (except Kanta, nobody really minded her leaving) it was Long who took it the hardest. He saw the strapping tall figure of Ram enter the scene sweep Rahi out of the village and assumed she had affections for the holy killer. Despite this he followed us, with a lame excuse that he was bringing us supplies from the village (a cart with food, and all the coin that could be mustered, and a half dozen healing potions). It was a final attempt to stay by Rahi’s side and he earned a kiss for his efforts, but was still sent home. We were going to dangerous places not safe for a farmer (some pretty classic Buffy/Xander dymanics here…including the stalkery bits).

Gnoll Town

As we continued traveling west into the boggy gnoll territory we saw signs of their various tribes. Insignia that we could not recognize but that we could differentiate from each other, clearly the gnolls were not united.

As we inspected one of them, we heard a gurgling sound and when we investigated further, found that a gnoll was trapped in a bog and was slowly drowning in it. Not that we had any love for gnolls, but because we thought this one might provide us some information about the gnoll emissary (more on gnoll society below) we sought.

Freeing the gnoll turned out to be more trouble than we expected. He wasn’t stuck in any old bog, but in the manifestation of a small swamp god that he had stumbled into. We chased off the god with fire and steel, but not before being wrapped up in it’s tangled vines, pulled under the surface, and in all other ways getting bruised, battered, and mucked!

When the gnoll was free of captivity, it still wanted to chew off our arms, but through body language and a drawing that it shared (which was crude but was clearly of us) and a new drawing that Kanta made (which was of the emissary we sought) we learned that it sought us, and we convinced it instead to take us to the emissary. Threats and cajoling were involved.

Gnoll Ecology 101

Here’s the lore we received about these creatures that were belched out of the abyss during the Night of Blight.

Gnoll TrackerGnoll Tracker

This is the typical gnoll, and the one most likely to be encountered in numbers outside of the badlands. They much prefer to strike from ambush and at range, and are much better at raids than pitched battles. Nevertheless they are not to be underestimated, particularly when encountered in numbers. Those found outside the badlands are always male. Those found in the badlands can be of either gender.

Gnoll EmissaryGnoll Emissary

These are not emissaries to other cultures, but emissaries representing their particular tribe to their terrible god. They are powerful beings capable of dangerous magic, and are never found unescorted. They are the only Gnolls found outside the badlands that are commonly female.

This was the image we saw as we fought to save Copia.

Gnoll alphaGnoll Leader

Formidable opponents even for heroes, Gnoll leaders nevertheless prefer to lead from the rear, the better to drive their troops forward to attack. They are skilled bushwhackers and often wield one or more magical items.


The exact method by which these creatures come into existence is unknown, but they are not the same as vetala. Gnolls generally employ them in numbers to help soak up casualties and cause terror. They are well known for ripping the limbs from victims and for biting off fingers, ears, noses, etc.


Big as a house, these creatures are best known for consuming the souls of its victims. These souls do not reincarnate, nor do they rejoin the Source, but seem to be gone forever, though there is speculation on this matter. Always solitary, and even gnolls tend to avoid it. One has been known to destroy an entire village, consuming the souls of everyone and everything.

This was the creature we fought in Copia.

Merit’s Regard for Kanta

During a watch while we were camping Merit woke Kanta early and had words for her. She knew Kanta had done something, had some reason for not speaking, and also knew that her morals were not so lofty as she claimed them to be. This was the point where Merit told Kanta that she know about the village Kanta sacrificed to save Rahi in the past. Thought Kanta did not feel regret for the lives she had given, she did agree (if silently) that she was not so scrupulous as she often claimed to be.

What Rocked

Oh it was good to have Ram back. We needed that levity especially after Rahi was so ashamed, Merit so betrayed, and Kanta so disillusioned.  Having his happy-go-lucky quest to save Death was just what we needed!

I love that all our secrets of each other’s past have come out. Now Rahi must prove herself to Merit and Ram, and Kanta must keep Merit from telling Rahi what she did.

It was great when Merit’s mother told her they were going to rename the village after her and she said that was going to far, but then they said they would call it the “Meritorious Golden Cornucopia of Nourishment That Yields the Purest Milk and Cheese This Side of the Great River” she actually quite liked it and said that would do just fine. So good!

Merit’s ability to understand Kanta is a life saver. I like that Karen just chose to have that, instead of us trying to work out some labored means by which she could communicate. I like that it also means Merit can choose to understand Kanta anyway she likes! Can’t wait for the “Oh, Kanta thinks we should go steal all those golden lion statues while the monks sleep… for truth and stuff” lines.

What could have improved

There is this “gods are among you” vibe that is in the setting, but I haven’t been able to bring out in play. The gods feel like they are either somewhere else, or they are present in the form of avatars. Both of those are good, but I think I’m missing the “gods as concept” expression. Like the god of the swamp is manifested in this swamp creature but it’s also all of the swamp, and we should interact with it as such. It’s this wanting to exist on both a physical and a celestial level that is part of mythology but hard to capture in play. Or rather, I’m having a hard time capturing it.

Actual Play – The Past Corrected (5/26/2016)

dungeon_world_finalGM: Edmund Metheny
Players: Sophie Lagacé, Karen Twelves, and Sean Nittner
System: Dungeon World
Setting: Land of 10,000 Gods

In The Golden Cornucopia of Nourishment That Yields the Purest Milk and Cheese This Side of the Great River, our heroes slumbered after a long journey, and a very confusing day.

And they woke to destruction and chaos by way of tender romance.

Long’s attention

Rahi, who was to big to fit in a Yaksa bed was sleeping in a hay loft outside Merit’s families house. She was stirred away by hearing something approach. That something was Long (Merit’s brother) who was coming to check on her in that way that was both sweet and stalkery.

They talked and he revealed, if not with words then with body language, that he had missed Rahi these last five years (FIVE IMAGINARY YEARS MIND YOU) and still pined for her. Rahi didn’t really get a chance to respond with her feelings, because Long was then pulled down the ladder by something snarling and ferocious.

The town is Burning – It’s all Ram’s Fault

Rahi ran out to find what had taken long and discovered two gnolls, each about to devour him…

Kanta was sleeping and woke to the sounds of gnolls tearing open the wall of the yaksa home, grabbing hold of Dazzling (the mayor’s daughter) and preparing to tear her apart…

Merit woke crazy early to bake some bread (having broken down and fallen into the rhythm of her old life) but her bake was ruined when a castle size gnoll ripped the roof off her home…

Like heroes do

Rahi slashed at the gnolls, protecting Long from them, then chased the creatures to the temple of Durga.

Kanta used her magic to perform the worst of offenses…she lied. She told the gnolls that she was their dark god and they must follower her, which the believed but only after she accepted Dazzling as a sacrifice (which the mayor and his family saw her do).

Merit distracted the titanic gnoll so her family could escape, then led out of the village, to the temple of Durga.

Righting Wrongs

Through all this, Ram continued to appear to each of us, telling us that none of this was real, and that we could not save them. HA! Ha is what I say to that!

Rahi realized the giant gnoll was the same one that destroyed Merit’s village five years ago and faced it with her holy blade.

Kanta transposed the present with the past, overlaying realities on top of each other, so the heroes might not only defend the village today, but in the past as well.

Merit through her blade at the flicking past image of the gnoll and shattered it into a thousand shards of scintillating reality (five years ago Death was not dead, so the creature could be killed).

No danger in time travel

Rahi announced her new significant other Long.

Merit returned home for real this time.

Kanta was found doing a terrible job of trying to cut out her tongue but only made it half way through.

Yep, all is well. Oh, but the Mayor has the funniest feeling that he shouldn’t trust Kanta. Go figure


Actual Play – This town has Merit (4/21/2016)

dungeon_world_finalGM: Edmund Metheny
Players: Sophie Lagacé, Karen Twelves, and Sean Nittner
System: Dungeon World
Setting: Land of 10,000 Gods

Without Ram, we didn’t know what to do about Death, or the lack thereof. However, we received a heroes summon and answered it!

Dreams of another world

After the darkness of death faded, we were each transported in a dream:

In the wake of the battle against the gnolls, with the not-quite-dead all around you, you fall into an exhausted slumber. You awaken on a vast plain, with armies arrayed for battle. Various traditions and deities have their own versions, but one of the more common depicts this as the battle between Indra and the snake demon Vrtra at the beginning of the world. It is the archetypical battle between Dharma (righteousness) and Adharma (wickedness). In your dream, you are there, arrayed in armor of light and with god-made weapons in your hands.

Kanta dreamed that she rode on the great elephant Aravata offering wise counsel to Indra as the battle progressed. In her dreams she cut to games of chess played with Vrta where she learned of the giant serpents plans, however his presence was so commanding that Kanta was distracted and conflicted in her duty.

Merit convinced Vrta that she was an ally and confused the snake demon with her silver tongue and clever words. In the dream we saw the juxtaposition of the serpent that could swallow a sea and the small figure of Merit beguiling him with her friendly demeanor.

Rahi stood at the front of Indra’s army smashing the forces of Vrta, slaying 5,000 of his soldiers. A dozen with every sweep of her great blade.

When we woke from the dream each of us felt we carried wisdom, cunning and strength [mechanically we had hold which we could use for moves later in the session] and our heroes marks were changed:

  • Kanta, when looked at closely appears to have an army of Indra’s soldiers glistening over the horizon behind her.
  • Merits tattoos now move of their own accord, forming the signs most need at any time.
  • Rahi glows with a golden aura.

GnollAll about Gnolls

The creatures who attacked the Dark Moon Festival were monsters that came from the Night of Blight. They spoke not earthly tongue, but Kanta was able to consult the winds to whisper truth into their ears, and the meaning of their words into ours. We learned of their natures and desires:

Gnolls are a race that live in the badlands to the south and west of Wet Plains. They are believed to have originated during a Night of Blight, and it is widely speculated among those who spend their days speculating about such things that one or more of the portals that open in that area are stable connections to another realm. In any event gnolls have been occupying the area for as long as anyone can remember.

Despite this, little is known about them because they are extremely xenophobic. They are believed to have their own gods, and their style of dress is distinctive and unusual. Based on markings, banners, and scarification it is believed that they form loose tribes, which appear to be constantly at war with one another. Their society is divided along gender lines, with females generally staying home to guard tribal territory and males being sent off to hunt, raid, etc. Female gnolls have proven to be stronger, tougher, and more intelligent than their male counterparts, and it is believed that their society is matriarchal.

Tribes bordering other lands will occasionally raid for loot and slaves, and what little is known about them comes mostly from those who have escaped captivity. Gnolls are carnivorous, and typically eat those they capture after a time, using them as labor for only short periods. Though they are known to cook other foods, such as game, they prefer their sentient food raw and struggling.

Fear the Little One

Once we could speak with them and realized they did not understand what happened to Death either, Merit threatened that we had greater powers that mere whispers on the wind, but could infact cut them off from there god the Demoness of Wrath and Destruction. Like beaten dogs the mewled in sorry and were quick to tell is whatever we wanted to hear in order to stave off our wrath.

Unfortunately for our cause they knew very little and all we could learn was that the came from the badlands to the west, far past the wet plains. They were sent by their dark mistress, and perhaps she had some knowledge of the great calamity that had just befallen us.

A bell ringing in the west

As we began heading in that direction, and we observed the terrible suffering of sick or injured people who could not die, Both Merit and Rahi began to hear a bell tolling, and to both of them, it sounded very familiar. The sound of the bell from the small Yaksa village The Golden Cornucopia of Nourishment That Yields the Purest Milk and Cheese This Side of the Great River (Copia for short), that Merit was from, and that Rahi allowed to be burned down.

When we arrived we saw the village just as one would expect it if it had not been raised to the ground years ago. All the people were there including Merit’s family, and greeted us kindly. Merit was welcomed home while Kanta and Rahi were offered the hospitality befitting heroes.

This of course did not go over well with either Rahi, who revealed to Merit that she had let her town burn down, nor to Merit who believed all these people, people that she loved, were dead.

What rocked

The dreams were a fun way to incorporated the 10,000 gods and the settings backstory without being dogmatic or making us listen to eons of flavor text. The move outcomes were fun and were a great way to bridge the terrestrial and the celestial in the mind’s eye of our heroes.

Bringing Merit’s home town into the story was great. This is what all those bonds are for; i’m so glad they are coming up.

Seeing Merit all put out by Ram being gone was great. She depends on Ram for her stability, and without him, she’s kind of a mess. It was great fun to see!

Kanta got to do more weird ass names and truth magic shit. Fun times.

Rahi’s guilt. Oh, the guilt. You could eat it with a spoon!

What could have improved

It always happens that just as the story looks like it’s going to focus on one character, that player can’t make it to the game. Just as Ram’s patron goddess death had departed, Adrienne schedule prevented her from being there to play it out. Edmund resolved it by going on a “side quest”, which worked out pretty well though.

Actual Play – Dark Moon Festival (3/10/2016)

dungeon_world_finalGM: Edmund Metheny
Players: Sophie Lagacé, Adrienne Mueller, Karen Twelves, and Sean Nittner
System: Dungeon World
Setting: Land of 10,000 Gods

Despite tradition stating that only members of the Thugee can attend the Dark Moon Festival (all others must die if they attend), Ram decided to bring all of his companions to the event!

We were heading the the death worship festival to find out who ordered the assassination of the Sirdar, and of course to get to know Ram’s fellow holy killers.

Price of Admission

The catch of course, was that we had to die to be admitted. Or at least we had to die symbolically. We opted to bring goats as sacrifices, ones that resembled us in some way. Merit’s was small and plucky, and adorable though, and the Yaksa did not want to sacrifice her, but before that became an issue, we all had to pledge ourselves to Death to find out if she would accept our offering in the first place. Rahi was deemed worthy and could proceed with the sacrifice. Khanta needed to give a bit more, and her right arm fell limp. Merit felt a great darkness grow around them, appearing to consume them all, and then suddenly it disappeared, as did her sensation of being alive (akin to Cotard delusion).

Family disputes

As we attempted to reconcile our brush with death, we witnessed another family brought to be sacrificed. The parents, who were among the group of bandits we brought to Big Drum City for justice, had apparently committed another theft since arriving, and were now being pushed and given as an offering. Though most of us ranged from approving (Ram) to ambivalent (Merit), Rahi objected to the child being killed for his parents crimes, even if he was their lookout. The Thugee offered that the child could instead travel with Rahi, and that his education would be her burden. Ram however protested that the lady Death needed her due!


Unable to reconcile their differences with words, Rahi and Ram turned to their weapons. Or, at least some weapons. Rahi would not use Vijaya, her holy sword to fight Ram, but she would pummel him with her fists! And quite a pummelling she offered. Each time Ram tried to seize the advantage, he was robbed of it by Rahi’s quick movements and brutal blows. Meanwhile Merit was considering just killing the kid herself (remember, dead inside) but decided she didn’t care that much either way.


Just as Rahi was about to deliver a finishing blow that would have knocked Ram into unconsciousness, there was a cry, and for a moment the sky filled with arrows. Some new enemy was attacking us. Goblin-like creatures armed with sword and bow were upon us!

Merit took and arrow to the arm and just lied down. She fiddled with the arrow idly as she bled (dead inside).

Kanta used her one good arm to throw Vijaya to Rahi and then called upon the winds to bellow the flames from fires and torches, using black magic to incinerate two of the creatures.

Rahi caught her stunning blade and hacked one of them to bits in two swift strikes.

Ram ran to protect Merit, who had lost all sense of self preservation. He knocked the creatures away from her and tried to revive her.

A disturbance in the force

In the melee the dark presence re-appeared, seeming to stop all action, as did Kanta’s shadowy double. When arrow flew, or a sword came swinging down, or perhaps when black magic was employed the presence disappeared again, but this time there was a finality to it. Merit at once felt alive again, and was very upset that there was an arrow in her, Kanta’s arm was restored, and nobody would die.

The fight ended with the goblins cut apart, but except for the first one that died from Rahi’s blade, and the family that were intended to be sacrificed who died from the initial volley of arrows, nobody was dead. Just chopped up, bleeding, like the should be dead. But not dead.

Because Death. Because Death was dead!

What rocked

The showdown between Rahi and Ram over their principles was great. Kanta believes in a lot of things absolutely, but she wouldn’t fight someone over it. Merit is plucky and quick with a joke (except when she’s not, see below), but not exactly principled. It took two warriors of conviction to throw down and start swinging. We had a little bit of confusion about whether they should just be trading Hack & Slash for Hack & Slash moves or if Defy Danger should enter into it. And if someone rolled a 7-9 on Hack & Slash (or a 10+ and chose the option to inflict extra damage but expose themselves to danger), does that mean it triggers and action from the other character in addition to the action they would have already taken next? What about interfering? There is some interesting discussion of handling PVP in Dungeon World on an old Story Games post, but I think managed it pretty well.

I really love playing characters that become disabled during play. I’m never quite ready to make a character with a disability from the get go (though reading Feminist Sonar has got me rethinking that a lot recently), but I love playing character that are disabled in game. In this case Kanta’s arm was lame. In Midsummer Mischief, my character had be sprayed with itching powder and couldn’t stop itching. In Brian Isikoff’s Iron GM game, my character’s arm was taken over by an necrotic force (evil hand!). I just like watching a character suddenly deal with a new obstacle they aren’t prepared for, and that they can’t just stab to get rid of. There is a dark side to this, which is playing up disabilities for comedic effect. I’m a lot more mindful of this now that I have been in the past but I think even in this game Kanta’s arm was the source of some humor. I don’t think laughing at our character’s struggling is a bad thing, but mocking people with disabilities is harmful, so I’m working on removing that from my lexicon of “things that should be done for a laugh.”

Death died! WHAT? Death is dead? What does that even mean? Find out next time in the Land of 9,999 Gods!

What could have improved

Merit’s defining characteristic is being plucky, so having her lose that due to a failed roll was really diminishing to the character. Further, as Karen played her collapsing in on herself, all of the other characters were too embroiled in other plights (Ram and Rahi fighting, Kanta concerned with her shadowy double) to notice. In another context seeing the character crushed under this weight could have been cool, but in this session it was a bummer.