Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Fate of the Norns – Fafnir’s Treasure – Session 3

[Fafnir’s Treasure is an introductory adventure written by Pendelhaven to introduce the game to players and gamemasters.  The Other GM is using it for our playtest.]

[Spoilers – This will spoil the intro adventure for this game system, so if that’s something that worries you, be aware.]

Player Characters
Elric Windgazer – a male Galdr, Diviner subtype (Essence: 4, Destiny: 3), Liberated Thrall
Einar – a male Galdr, Enchanter subtype (Essence: 6, Destiny: 2), Gravedigger
Gunnarr – a male Galdr, Enchanter subtype (Essence: 6, Destiny: 2), Foreign Import Merchant
Vigdis – a female Daughter of Ratatosk, Death Dancer subtype (Essence: 4, Destiny: 3), Hero of Renown
Bodil – a female Daughter of Ratatosk, Death Dancer subtype (Essence: 6, Destiny: 2), Town Guard

Missed the Session
Masrur – a male Ulfhednar, Wolfen subtype (Essence: 6, Destiny: 2), Hunter/Trapper
[Masrur’s player could not make the game due to illness.]

Day 1, Sometime in the 2nd year of Fimbulwinter
[We resumed right where we left off last session.]
Vigdis, Bodil, and Gunnarr, fresh off of picking a fight with the town guard [See Session 2], hustled into the tavern to talk with a prospective employer.  The trio picked up Elric and Einar, telling the two that they had a line on an employer, but they needed to move quickly.  Einar asked Gunnarr if there was room for another on the job [thinking about Rolf the street urchin].  Gunnarr said he had no idea – they should find out what the job was first.  Einar accepted that reasoning.

Following the directions given by Hakon [before Vigdis started a fight with him and the rest of the town guard], the five vikings went up to the second floor of the tavern and rapped [politely] on the first door on the left.  A man with brown hair, a long beard, and standing at least ten feet tall opened the door.  If the group had not traveled to Evingard with someone just as tall, this would have been near to shocking.  The man asked what the group wanted.

Gunnarr explained the group had heard that the worthy man was looking to hire servants for a quest and this group was here to serve as best they could.  The man raised an eyebrow and then looked the group over.  Nodding at last, he explained the quest.

His name was Volstagg and he was a newly created Einherjar.  He was assigned by Odin to come retrieve Fafnir’s cursed treasure.  However, being new to his immortal state, Volstagg was prone to bouts of rage where he would attack and kill all around him.  Therefore, he needed servants to go out and retrieve the treasure while he stayed in his room to continue to adjust to his new immortal form.  The vikings were charged with securing a ring in the treasure, the ring Andvaranaut, and return it to Volstagg to prove the job was done and the path to the treasure clear.  In exchange for doing this, the group of vikings would be allowed to keep one item from the treasure.  When asked [by Gunnarr] what would happen to the rest of the treasure, Volstagg stated it would be taken to Odin to help prepare for the coming of Ragnarok.

Harboring some reservations about the whole thing but needing to get out of town, Gunnarr looked over to see if the other vikings we willing to accept the quest.  They all nodded, so Gunnarr accepted the quest on behalf of the group.  Volstagg told the vikings that the treasure could be found in the cave Skridnir, near the mines this town was famous for.  Gunnarr thanked the einherjar for the information and the quest and bid him farewell.

The group of vikings went downstairs and discussed what they knew about the approaches to Skridnir.  Looking at a map, they could see that Skridnir was west of the town and there seemed to be three routes to the cave: through the Ancient Barrows, through the Groaning Woods, or up the icefall known as Hreidnar’s Tears [the map handout did not actually show this, but the Norn explained it to us – see my comments about the map later].  None of the group knew any more than that, but Bodil and Elric knew a local druid, Ivar, and Bodil asked if they should go talk to him.  The rest liked this idea and so they all went to Ivar’s home.

Ivar’s home was on a low hill inside the town walls [we think – the adventure was unclear on this point].  Ivar and his many wives were home and the druid was willing to talk with Bodil, Elric, and their friends.  Bodil and Elric led the discussion with Ivar, asking him about the possible dangers on the three routes to Skridnir.  Ivar said the Ancient Barrows were cursed – haunted by the ghosts of four children whose parents’ graves had been desecrated.  The Groaning Woods used to be safer, but since the beginning of Fimbulwinter, trolls had taken up residence there.  The rumor was that there is a cave deep in the woods that leads to Jotunheim, which is where the trolls came from.  Hreidnar’s Tears is now completely ice-covered and impassible.  [This sounded odd to us, but the Norn said there was no explanation other than it was impassible.  We, the players, wrote it off to “plot reasons” and let it go.]

The vikings discussed the routes in light of this new information and decided that the woods seemed to be the easiest path: they knew they could hit trolls – ghosts they were not as certain about.  Bodil and Elric asked Ivar if there was any other help he might be able to give the group and Ivar offered six healing potions.  The vikings gratefully accepted the potions and then left.  As the vikings left Ivar’s home, Gunnarr noticed some town guards making their way towards them or possibly Ivar’s home.  They decided to not find out which and “walked casual” away.

The vikings then fell to discussing how they would get to Skridnir: skis or snow shoes.  While most of the vikings had skis or both skis and snow shoes, Gunnarr only had snow shoes, which would make him fall behind.  Gunnarr countered that by getting a cart and ox he had stored in Evingard.  They would all ride and stick together.  The rest were quite OK with riding rather than walking and agreed.

After travelling for some hours, the group arrived at the Groaning Woods.  Elric’s navigation saved the group a fair amount of time getting there.  The trees were immense – it would take six adult men linking hands to encompass just one of the trees.  The branches grew high and thick, blocking out what little light there was from the stars so that under the trees all was dark and ominously quiet.

With no sun or moon to track the time in the dim twilight of Fimbulwinter, the group had been active nearly non-stop since arriving at the docks.  Feeling tired and somewhat safe away from the town [and the town guard], the vikings decided to stop and rest before pushing on.  Tents were set up and a fire started for warmth and to cook food.

Before anyone could get to sleep, the thumps of heavy tread alerted the vikings to approaching danger.  The vikings circled the fire, facing out.  The heavy thump sounds came from all around, and then five immense trolls appeared, surrounding the camp.  The trolls brandished tree trunks with sharpened branch-stumps sticking out of them.  Both groups stared at each other for a moment and then the trolls started their attack.  The trolls got several easy attacks in on the vikings due to their reach, with the viking counter-attacks doing little damage to the troll’s thick hides.

Feeling desperate and needing a way to tilt the battle to favor the vikings, Gunnarr sang the spell song Muspeli Nightmares with as much fervor as he could.  A small aperture formed and the atmosphere and heat of Muspelheim spread out, covering the entire battle.  The fumes and heat paralyzed the trolls, who, being ice creatures, slowly started melting.  The other vikings cut down the trolls to quickly end their suffering.

End of Session

[Muspeli Nightmares is a bit complicated, despite the short description given of its effects, and should be explained as it provides an example of several Fate of the Norns: Ragnarok game mechanisms.  Gunnarr had wyrded (drawn) the rune he tied to this power (Uruz in this case) and his sole Mental rune this round.  Activating this power required use of Uruz and a Minor Sacrifice +1, meaning he drew one of his runes from his Essence pool and put it into Stun, leaving three runes in his Essence.  It took a separate Minor Sacrifice +1 to only effect enemies in the area of effect (an option granted to spell songs).]

[Next Gunnarr chained his Void rune (which is always available each round) to the Uruz rune – meaning he played it along with the Uruz rune.  The Void rune acts as a Physical rune for Gunnarr, which granted the “Area” meta to the power, doubled the free Area meta all spell songs get to a 40-foot radius.  He also chained his lone Mental rune, which activated the “Maintain” meta for Muspeli Nightmares, allowing him to keep the power active over multiple turns (without Maintain, all powers only act for the current round and then end).  This tied down his Void rune and two of the six runes in Gunnarr's Essence for as long as he kept the power active, plus activating the power put two runes in Stun (he’d get them back in the next Upkeep phase), leaving only two runes in his Essence.  That was a significant investment of runes into one attack, but paralyzing the trolls at this juncture seemed worth it.]

[Muspeli Nightmares does Mental damage (which for this casting stole runes from the trolls In-Hand category first) instead of Physical (which pulls them from Essence, moves one of them at a time down the wound track until they hit Death category, and then pulling the next one down).  The power also invoked the “Degeneration” condition on the trolls, meaning they took half their level as damage each Upkeep.  With the expanded area, all of the trolls were affected.  When the power was cast, and during each Upkeep phase while maintained, Muspeli Nightmares steals two runes from each troll and they were only drawing two runes each turn, leaving them with zero runes In-Hand.  With zero runes In-Hand, they could perform no actions as every action requires the use of a rune.  As long as Gunnarr maintained the power, the trolls were paralyzed and slowly dying.]

[Not surprisingly, the Norn called the game for the night once the trolls were paralyzed.  It was stopping time and the players were just going to slaughter the trolls at this point.  Several of the players wanted to continue so they could actually use their powers and see how they worked, but the Norn was done for the night.]

[So is Muspeli Nightmares over powered?  I don’t think so, especially compared to some of the other powers available to the players.  This was the first time I had drawn that rune in four fights.  Also, I was lucky to have drawn my single Mental rune at the same time, and it is necessary to Maintain the power.  Plus, I sank four of my six runes plus my Void rune into that one attack.  That left me only two runes as hit points and/or to move or defend myself.  A Skald with only four Essence would have had zero left and been rooted in place.  Archers (far enough away) would have been safe and able to target Gunnarr.  Is it OP for this adventure?  Probably.  We’ll see.  The Norn says we are within a session or two of completing the adventure and then I can get a better look at how it is written.]

[Speaking of.  The map handout is terribly inaccurate and doesn’t match the adventure text very well.  The text says Evingard is divided into two parts, but the map clearly shows three.  The text says that Skridnir is near the mines, but the map shows Skridnir to the west of town and has an arrow pointing off map to the north, locating the mines in that direction.  The map shows that you must get past Hreidmar’s Tears to get to the Groaning Wood, but the text lists it as a separate option.  This is bad editing and lack of paying attention to the details, which seems to be endemic to this adventure.  As this adventure was written for an earlier edition, I would have thought fixing those issues would have happened as part of an update, but it looks like no update actually happened to the adventure between editions, just a change in the copyright information.  This does not bode well for their other products.  Their other, very expensive, products.]

[The players have also decided that sticking together is way better than splitting up.  The archetypes each do something very well, but other things poorly.  They seem to be designed to require the group to always stay together or fall flat on their face.  This is not bad from a design standpoint, but it would have been nice if there was a GM section that explained things like that to the Norn.  There is no guidance for running in the main rules and I’m hoping that that material is in the notes for Fafnir’s Treasure and our Norn just missed it.  It is sorely needed advice if you do not have an experienced GM to explain things.]

Session 1
Session 2

Session 4

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