Sunday, 31 July 2016

CSR Dark Sun Play Report # 2 - Dangerous Mystery Items (P1)

  • Play report 
  • Second session - Part 1 of 2
  • Rules: Cypher System
  • Setting: Dark Sun - Burnt World of Athas 
  • Number of players: 3 

This is the continuation of our Dark Sun campaign. The first session, "Mekillots and Marauders", was described in previous posts.

I was going to outline the prep work for this session before posting the play report, but I decided that it would spoil the surprise.

     Morning dawns in Balic. This is the city where Gator earned his freedom after years of fighting in the colosseum. It is a rich, beautiful city, known for both its gardens and its trade. The king/dictator, Andropinis, controls the matters he cares about with an iron fist. All other matters he leaves to a Democratically-elected council.

     The adventurers spent the night at the King's Pig Inn. They awake to a hot day, not uncommon in these parts.

     Nameless did not sleep well. He had crazy dreams all night about warring armies, fires, battling giants, and death. He does not remember ever having had dreams like these before. The images were vivid and persistent, repeating themselves many times throughout the night.

     When Nameless arrives in the common room, Goron is speaking with Amalia. He is negotiate with her to use kitchen that evening to prepare a meal  with the blood spice he obtained. Intrigued by the possibility of trying blood spice for the first time, Amalia agrees, on the condition that she and two guests of her choosing get to partake in the meal.
     Goron returns to his room and carefully pours half of one of the bags of blood spice into a new, smaller bag. Then he measures out the spice he will need for tonight's meal into a smaller bag, and places that back in the locker. He picks up the three bags and heads back to the common room.
     The half giant places one and a half bags of blood spice on the table in front of Gator and Nameless. "I'm going to use half a bag to trade for the ingredients that I will need for my meal tonight. The rest is yours."
     The half giant then returns to Amalia to get information about the best vendors from which to purchase ingredients. She gives him names and directions, all of whom do business on the other side of town.

     The three head out from the inn together. They leave their weapons and armour behind, as is the custom. Gator keeps the token of the Veiled Alliance deep in one of his pockets. Nameless leaves the wooden box in the inn. They take their ceramic pieces with them and, as a group, they head toward the guild precinct. They intend to find a safe house where they can deposit their earnings. Gator knows one that has decent rates on the holdings. He has used the same one for years to store his earnings from the arena.

     As they distance themselves from the inn, Nameless begins to feel better, as though he is finally managing to shake off last night's nightmares.

    They soon arrive at the IronWorks Repository. They are greeted by the owner, Rufus, who is a scraggly man with a mustache. He greets Gator warmly, but avoid further pleasantries. He informs the two potential new customers that he charges 2 ceramic pieces per month for a standard storage unit (lock box).
     Gator deposits 250 pieces, keeping 30 on his person.
     Nameless does the same.
     Goron deposits 230 piece, keeping 50.

     With their money safely stored, the group proceeds to the market. Gator intends to sell the blood spice while Goron hunts down his dinner ingredients. The two part parts as they enter the marketplace Nameless follows Gator, but peers at the crowd about them. He hopes to run into Tarez again - he is curious why the merchant would draw them into the Veiled Alliance.

     Gator heads to the shop of a shady elf trader he knows. Iggy (the level 2 shop-keep) is crafty and he will take full advantage of any weakness you betray, but he will also trade in just about anything.
     Iggy remembers Gator, and is quite interested in the blood spice. The two quickly begin to haggle over the price. Gator strikes an okay deal. Iggy agrees to take the one and a half bags for 100 ceramic pieces and two cyphers.
     (Note: Cyphers are randomly selected form a pack of cards and their level is rolled).
     The first cypher is a little glass pendant with feather inside of it. Iggy informs him that the thing is supposed to protect the wearer when he is high above the earth. Nameless glances at the item and identifies it as a device that lessens the impact of falling (Level 5 gravity dampener).
     The second cypher is a crystal ball set into a metallic-looking base. A faint light swirls within the crystal. Iggy states that his sources assure him that it is magical. Nameless looks at the item and shrugs. "It's magical, all right, but who knows what it does."
     Gator decide that both cyphers are more valuable than the ones he is currently carrying (both of which manipulate metal, which is exceedingly rare in this world). He places the new cyphers in his bag. He pulls his old ones out and places them on the counter. "Here. These are useless to me."

     Normally, Nameless would be more interested in a mysterious magical artifact. But just before Iggy produced the crystal ball, Nameless glimpsed Tarez walk by the window of the store. The merchant was walking slowly, turning this way and that, as if looking for someone. He was followed by several men who could only be described as "goons", including a half-giant.

     Not far away, Goron is negotiating with a root vendor for the final ingredients he needed. He had obtained everything he wanted with ease, as most vendors were anxious to trade for the spice. Now, he is completely focused on picking out the best tubers from the lot.

     Nameless emerges from Iggy's shop into street. He quickly spots Tarez and his followers. At the same moment, Tarez freezes and points to something further down the street. Looking in the direction he pointed,  fifty paces away, Goron towers over the crowd. The merchant beckons his gang and heads toward half-giant.
     "You there! There he is!"
     Goron turns around when he hears the shouting. Spotting Tarez, he smiles and calls, "Hello, friend."
     "Don't "friend" me! I know you took it! Give it back!"
     Goron looks down at the sack in his hand. "What? The tubers?"
     "No. My little wooden box. It was in my wagon. I know the elves didn't get it."
     Goron stares at the man blankly. He honestly does not know what Tarez is talking about.
     "I do not remember any little boxes. You had many big boxes. And some jars. And sacks…"

     Nameless moves close enough to overhear the exchange, but stays out of sight. Tarez continues to accuse Goron of theft, but the half-giant just stares back at the merchant in confusion.
     Exasperated, Tarez tries a new tactic. "Where are your friends?"
     Goron looks around. His height allows him to scan the crowd with ease. He can see Gator and Nameless approaching from across the marketplace. 
     "Nearby." Then he adds, "They will be here soon."
     Tarez looks around wildly. He spots the Mul warrior in the crowd. He points and yells, "There!" And he and the goons hurry toward Gator.
     Goron shakes his head at the merchant's antics and then tags along behind the small mob.

     Due to his long legs, Tarez's half-giant gets to Gator first. He glares down menacingly and growls, "Stop."
     Gator calmly looks about him for someone else who could have angered the half-giant, and then points to himself and asks, "Me?"
     Gator and Nameless wait patiently until the others approach.
     Tarez stomps in close to the two men and yells the same questions and accusations he previously fired at Goron. He is surprisingly energetic for a man who took a spear through the shoulder yesterday. As he gets close, Gator can see the blood stain on his jacket that indicates that the man is currently bleeding through his bandages.
     Gator bluntly states that he did not see the box Tarez is searching for. Nameless, who knows the exact whereabouts of the item in question, bluffs. "Frankly, I don't know what it is you are talking about."
     After more than an hour of questioning, accusations, swearing, and threats, Tarez finally clams down and accepts the possibility that these men did not take his belongings. He withdraws a bit, thinking and muttering to himself. Then he declares, "It must have fallen out of the wagon and got covered in the sand in the skirmish. Come on, boys! Back to the desert!"
     The whole group turns and hurries off the way they came. Goron calls after them, "What's in the box you're looking for? Something so small cannot be worth so much trouble."
     Tarez half turns to look at the half-giant over his shoulder and snorts. He storms off without properly answering Goron's question.

     Gator leans in close to Nameless and whispers, "What the hell was that all about?"
     Nameless stares at Tarez's retreating back and replies, "Tell you later.""
     (Chris: "Now I'm really curious about what is in this box.")
     (Matt: "Why didn't you open it earlier?")
     (Chris: "Forgot I had it.")

To be continued...



  1. Thanks for posting the play reports and prep work, they are great to read! Lots of good ideas to borrow for other games.

    Does the group have much experience with D&D, and if so how are they adapting to a D&D setting game with Cypher System rules?

    1. I'm glad you are enjoying reading them.
      The group for this game is actually pretty new to table top rpgs in general. So there hasn't been much to adapt to. :)

      The Cypher System makes it very easy to blend in your own custom rules modifications. So you can borrow bits from the other games to give the players a few familiar mechanics to help them grow into the new ruleset.

      For example, in this Darksun game I am using the Bloodied mechanic from D&D 4th Edition. The tiefling players special abilities allow him to Deal extra damage to foes who are below half health.

    2. You can use these borrowed bits of rules to make a CSR game feel more familiar to groups who spend a lot of time with one particular game.

  2. I am enjoying this as well. Please keep up the great play reports. I was hoping to run a game with the Cypher System inspired by Dark Sun. This has helped get me motivated to get it going.