Chapter 01: The Fellowship and the City of Mists

Introduction, Part 2: The Fellowship and the Setting of Settings


Updated some information (backed into the Overlord info on the first part of the Intro).


“Siflae betrayed everything they loved to serve me.”
Ekki (former Harbinger Council member … Mike?).

Question 3: What impossible thing has the Overlord actually done?

This was not attributed to the Overlord except for ourselves: the Overlord brought a Sky Island out of the sky. Precipitously. The island was uninhabitged. It was in farmland in the Toskan Empire (a Colonial Empire), on the borderlands. A small town in size. Nobody knows why it happened. (But Rowan knew it was, stormcrow-like – done intentionally, by the Overlord, here are the reasons.)


Virens: The Mages … Orcs believe if you step in a Harbinger’s shadow, you are cursed, because they put their evil into their shadows.

Rowan: The Overlord … Amongst the Magisters, there is the Council of the Twelve, and the rumor they have is that there is a 13th: Magister Tenebrios.

Overlord: The Catlings … The reason that the Halflings are free now is because they were originally created from inferior stock.

Carabas: It is said that the people of Nelres (the Ohir) used the wisdom (or perhaps the souls) of the Catlings to channel their magics. Victims? Familiars? You decide!

Wynn: Humans have always been around, and will always be around, but will continue to remain dumb as a rock.

Ann: It’s common knowledge that the Orcish Empire something of a pyramid scheme, and wouldn’t survive if it didn’t keep expanding – economics, tax base, etc.



  1. Grayclaw is my riding Varg
  2. Overlord: I killed someone important to Virens
  3. Wynn is my party buddy
  4. I will use my strength to keep Carabas safe
  5. I would give my life for Rowan Greenhanded without a thought
    Nobody knows the real me like Wrangler Ann does

C: I have mesmerized Hambone (my War Dog) with my stories.

  1. I will never lie to Ann (She caught me in a lie once, terrified the hell out of me, and we now understand each other very well.)
  2. Ann has my back when things get tough out there.
  3. I once told a lie so good, Rowan STILL thinks it’s true.
  4. One of these days, I’ll be as good at this adventiuring business as Virens is.


  1. Rowan found me in the ruins.
  2. When Ann tells me that she does not fear me, I believe her.
  3. I cannot let Virens fail in their quest.
  4. I often go hunting with Carabas.


  1. I know I can trust Wynn no matter what.
  2. I’ve bailed Carabas out of trouble more times than I can count.
  3. Virens and I have shared a moment of peace together.
  4. I’m afraid of losing Rowan.


  1. Remiel, my Fox Rabbit: Remiel is my constant companion.
  2. I have done many a favor for Wrangler Ann.
  3. I am teaching Wynn the ways of the modern world.

Going Deeper?

Ohir: Races get along with, not so much. Insular. Borders festooned with Argonath statues of various genders.

Nalres empire size. Widespread by virtue of needing knowledge and servants. Less an empire, more a supply chain.

Humans: Cities. Less an actual city than an ideal. A center of trade and exchange of ideas.

Catlings: Get along with Wood Elves (clumsy oafs, if pleasant). Not so much those Orcs (they charge taxes, also rumors!)

Orcs: What we have: an animal shamanism of ritual hunted creatures. Drummers.

Harbingers: The Cloud Tower is a mystical marvel. It’s still there.

“Mages in any number, especially if the dark cloud of [Cloud Tower] hovers in the sky, is an ill omen.” Sort of like the cops.

[Nobody seems to be into necromancy or ancestor-worship.]

Chapter 1: A Long-Expected Party of Characters

We have been together for some time. Some poking around. Some aimless wandering while we gather intel. Then the great cataclysmic fall of a Sky Island. Has provided a bit of direction to Rowan, prompting new examination of clues and extrapolation … leading us to …

A former city of the former Nalres Empire, now a single city-state, down in the Lowlands: Rauörfold (Redvalley). The tree leaves are ruddy (maple?).

Tall city walls, circular, filling the valley – exceedingly tall (and wide!).

In the fog, megafauna moose wandering past.

Mist rises up the walls, but does not flow into the city itself, due to the great statues within the walls – four of them, at the four cardinal positions, built into the walls, which rise up to mid-thigh. (The statues are modeled after the original Protectors. Hand, plus a signature weapon.)

[Ohir, humanoid, lacking eyes - oral tradition]

Frustrations the past few days … Rowan is sure something is happening, signs growing, “I’m missing something.”
Ann heard him (never far away).

Good-sized city, a place where the sun actually reaches. Parks. Amphitheaters. Pretending they are not living in a graveyard.

We are in an inn.

Rowan: The fallen island led you here. What must have been done to hide what should be in your sight?
–> After the sky island fell, prepared a horoscope, where will the next danger be. Led us here, but feel it should be much closer, so something must be interfering. Perhaps the Ley Lines are distorted.
Something must be happening, here, not elsewhere, must be …
“Oh, no.”

Carabas: Major shifts in power cause a physical reaction: hair rising ALL OVER.
Magical tinnitus / white noise is suddenly GONE.
Cracking stone.

Ann: Notices.

Virens: hear cracking stone.

Wynn: Your people’s magic has been removed from this place. The Mist is coming in, and the statues aren’t going to be able to stay erect.

And the statues are collapsing. And the cracking of stone audible inside.

Virens: We need to leave and get as many out as we can! – steps out and takes a look around. One of the statues, collapsing, dust bursting out. Open street – distance to the Mist Barges.

Rowan - get everyone out as orderly as possible. The building. Innkeeper and Family.
Ann … what’s the plan? (To Virens)
Talk Sense (Emotion) --> 2!
“I can come, that’s fine, but my son and wife aren’t here right now! And I’m not leaving without them!”

Virens - Ann coming to him. Heading for Mist Barges, but if the statues are jacked up, they may not be using.
Cunning As Can Be --> Mist barges, alternate route?: The city has a fixated tunnel vision … there are four gates not where the statues are, and nobody uses them. Going out into the Mists will have dangers, but … they will work!

Can we keep our horses going mad in the Mist? Ann:

Ann: Can set up bonds beforehand.
Ann: If can do something to rescue people from errors she advised against, can do it with hope.

Walls – 30x30m

Ann: Head for the gates, decide if we need to be inside or outside the wall.

Ann: Wrangler voice: Everyone out! It’s not safe in here!

Bonds: Cook who comes in during the day, and complains about Carabas stealing incoming food.

Carabas: Grandiose Lie to convince the innkeeper to go?

Wynn: Statues are coming down reminiscent of the fall of the capital? --> No, no statues there, they are border things mostly.
This city … great forges that were used to decorate Nelres. Passageways (less used).

Next time …

[Discussion about tweaking Ann’s custom move]

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The great argonath like statues are called Ögomní, pronounced similar Alumni but starting with an “Uhg”

Early feedback: I feel like the game’s specific rules around running the spotlight will benefit us, but only if we use them. My understanding of the rule is “whoever has the spotlight should use it well, and it probably ends with a move”.

For example, what I wanted with Virens was to establish that the conventional way out of the city might be bad - but save more people in trade for taking a riskier course. Once that move got made, it’s time for others to motivate NPCs, face down risks or challenges of the evacuation, etc. By the time the spotlight swings my way again, Virens can hold the line against whatever enemy is on the way, and so on. Does that make sense?


While I agree the spotlight felt a little off last night, my only complaint that I feel we went too long. I like getting to bed around 11PM and that’s hard when my wind down time post-game is only 15ish minutes. While I don’t mind occasionally going a little long (<30 min), it’s felt like it’s become more of the norm lately.


Agree the Spotlight felt a bit off – I think everyone had something in mind they wanted to do in response to the threat, and that didn’t quite happen. Nobody’s specific fault, just everyone getting a feel for the cadence of the game (and playing with the new toys).

That said, I think there are a lot of possibilities in how the characters are set up and how they interrelate. Keeping track of Bonds looks like it has the potential to be tricky, as does juggling not just the Basic Moves, but the variety of individual Moves as well. And when we start throwing in Companions, that’s going to further complicate matters.

I look forward to seeing how it all goes.

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I have thoughts on ways to deal with tracking bonds. But right now, I think the only important points are:

  • Rowan doesn’t work well with Carabas and Virens (since he does not have any bonds with them) due to the Bonds That Break Us move (though that isn’t to say they don’t work well with Rowan, as they do have bonds with him, if I’m reading everything correctly about bonds being one-way streets in a way).
  • Carabas doesn’t work well with Wynn for similar reasons.

Other than that, I don’t see bonds as being super important like Influence was in Masks (except for Wrangler Ann)–though I may well be wrong about that.


Here’s why I think that happened, and why I think it’s going to work out okay for us, and what I think we as players can do.

The actual play came at the tail end of a long discussion about characters and the world, and as Mike pointed out, it was running long for him (and hence probably other people too). I understand the desire to jump into the game in a second session, but I’m also okay waiting if it sets us up better.

I think the issue stemmed from us being presented with one problem (“which of these X routes do you want to use to escape?”) and us trying to answer with the solution to another one (“what are our priorities for getting out of here?”). It seemed clear that we all had the same motive - save as many people as possible and organize an evacuation.

In this case, Doyce’s typical no-prep GM style works to our advantage - the Overlord player presents us with a general situation, and we make moves that drive a solution to that situation forward.

This also means it’s on us as players to set an agenda for ourselves. This might mean setting aside some of our PBTA habits (like “make a move but don’t name it”), and being more explicit about what we’re trying to do. And it also means treating moves as decisive - not just excuses to roll dice, but real shifts in our positions in the world.

Virens was probably not the right person to question the Mist barges as an escape route, but “what do you do” dropped and someone had to answer, and I as a player thought that would be a neat thing to put into question. Next time, I’ll state my intent as a player as well as making an IC move, and see how that works.

How does all this sound?

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I will point out that this (at least for actual Apocalypse World) is only a GM thing: the players are expected to make their moves and indicate which one they’d like to do (both to remind others what their moves are and for when they’re not sure how to make the fiction work and are looking for suggestions) and the standard MC answer to “I would like to use [move here]” is “What does that look like in the fiction.”

Otherwise, completely agree. We were given a very broad issue and while we did implicitly take a course of action (“save as many as possible” as Bill pointed out), we didn’t explicitly state it and that might have left some things a little disjointed.

I think Doyce was trying to get us to pick a route by which to escape, but no one explicitly called out “okay, we’ll run through the graveyard and then over the bridge and out the gate” because I think that crosses the GM-player role line for some of us. But I was low energy at the time, so I wasn’t going to try and take the spotlight in that situation. I was passive and wanted someone else to make decisions. Which I probably should have vocalized, but didn’t think to at the time.

But making mistakes are what first sessions are for. Next time I will try to bring more energy to the table and follow my agenda (the three all the heroic PC’s share) a little more.


For me, it was less about this boundary, and more about how they seemed sort of arbitrary. What’s good or bad about these routes? We don’t know. It felt more fitting to figure out our agenda - which way we intend to travel, and why - and then work back from that to a route, if that makes sense.

My understanding from what folks have said about this game is that pushing the GM-player boundary back is important, that we need to take more authority in declaring things or asking about things, and that was the gist of my earlier reply.

I agree, even if that’s not always in my comfort zone.

(Actually, no, I know Doyce well enough to push back. I don’t want to push the other players. :crazy_face: )

But, yeah, I agree.


Seriously, if you ever want me or my PC to do something different, I’m explicitly giving you license to push, it won’t bother me at all.


I should have been more clear. I was starting the action off with a set piece from the book, basically called “Let’s GTF Out of Here” or something similar. In some ways, it’s a mini-game, in that there are some additional ‘chase scene’ type rules layered on for ‘this is how many hurdles you need to cross in order to get to relative safety/away from the worst of the catastrophe.’ I liked it because it’s set up to engage a WHOLE BUNCH of the basic moves (yours and mine), and gets things moving in a hurry.

Rather than mask all that, I simply laid it out as a flowchart with movable components you guys could see. Through the graveyard first? Cool, here’s what’s happening there, what do you do? We do our stuff, maybe use some resources, make some rolls, gather up some more people to protect, overcome that bit, and move on to… what? What’s next? Your personal route out of the city sort of builds itself retroactively (which is always going to be true anyway).

Now, since I was unexpectedly but predictably strapped for prep time and needed to look a bunch of stuff up for Ursula, I grabbed the set piece thing whole cloth with the proposed locations and just got it up on the screen so you could see the pieces available on the board. That’s what I needed to do, but not what I should have done.

What I SHOULD have done is have about twice as many more flexible encounter/locations sitting in a box, ask someone 'how are you getting out of this area? where are you going?" get the answer/citybuilding :slight_smile: , and then find (or just as likely need to make up) a challenge bit that appropriately fits the situation you’re describing, and go from there, taking the whole movable boardgame screen out of the equation.

That is what I’ll do for next time.


PART of what ground things to a halt was not having the ‘mini game’ properly explained, so no one really knew the expectation there, but that’s actually not the important disconnect:

The assumption of that set piece is ‘our top priority is getting the heck out of here’, and almost the first thing anyone said in response to what was happening was identifying a completely different Top Priority.

Which is good and true and exactly what you should be doing! I just spun my wheels on it for long enough it got awkward. (Ironically, I overprepped, or at least prepped the wrong direction. In hindsight, and thinking about these characters I’m still meeting and getting to know, it’s quite obvious.)

I can still use the material, I think, in modified form, but I need to loosen it way up in the manner described in the previous post, especially when it comes to assuming highest priorities of the fellowship.


It sounds like we all are on the same page, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it works out next time!


Starting in media res with a group is narratively fun and even fulfills some of the goals of the game itself, but it does make for some start-up challenges in having a sense of how the fellowship will react (something the characters would know, and even the Overlord would anticipate, but which the players, let alone the GM, might not have a handle on).

We will persevere.

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