This week we played Sorcerors & Sellswords by Ray Otus (a hack of John Harper’s Lasers & Feelings) as a bad ass and stylish company of adventurers righting wrongs and looking good doing it. Our cast includes Rook the flashy archer, Madison a shrewd beastmaster, Jinseng an airy shapeshifter, Hevlin the spritely elementalist, Ekanna the furtive psion, and Bahar the dauntless pitfighter. We make our way into a new town and visit the tavern, where we learn about Lord Crofton, who rules from the castle in the center of town and how he’s been in power here for 8 years when he replaced the previous lord of the castle. He is famed for the hipbullgriff that he rides when processing through the streets. We notice and ask about the many enslaved elves in town but learn little about them from the tavernkeeper.
We split up and Madison, Rook, and Bahar go to an armory and discusses the mysterious black metal that Lord Crofton has had this blacksmith forge into weapons, armor, and chains for the elven slaves. The black metal seems to sing in the fire, he tells us. We order a throwing dagger and arrowhead made of the mysterious substance, not knowing whether it will be useful in the future. Meanwhile, Jinseng, Hevlin, and Ekanna have been investigating the town. Jinseng transforms into a bird to spy inside the castle and sees a line of slaves walking toward and behind a bonfire, dropping something in as they go. Those not at the fire go about in a daze, as though asleep. Hevlin and Ekanna question slaves outside the castle directly but none seem to remember a life before coming to this town to serve Crofton or his vassals. They behave, to us, like undead creatures, not fully present but still active. As we speculate whether Crofton might be powerful psion controlling the minds of all these people, Jinseng reveals that she saw something else strange on her flight: a windowless room at the top of the castle’s tower that draws a lot of attention from the guards and slaves.
We brashly charge into a two-pronged attack, one diversion for the other, Bahar, Hevlin, and Madison raiding the stables while Ekanna, Rook, and Jinseng assault the tower during the commotion. Bahar leads the way to the stables killing any who get in their path while Hevlin drops firebombs to draw as much attention as possible. Having set the stables on fire on their charge, they know they cannot stay long. Madison begins weaving her magic to calm Crofton’s fabulous beast, a giant creature with the body of a chicken and head of a bull. Her spell does not fail her might might be too effective as now the beast begins to coo and chirp around her, nuzzling it’s massive head into her. Hevlin is able to warp the links of the chain holding the beast by bending the metal but the black metal immediately reconnects around Hevlin’s wrist. He is now chained to the beast and the fire is spreading.
In the tower raid, Rook employs a grappling arrow to pull himself and Ekanna up to a window opened by Jinseng about halfway up the tower. When they climb into the room, they find the door is locked from the outside. Ekanna uses her mind powers to manipulate the guards outside into opening the door and freeing them, so they charge up the stairs to the door to the hidden room. It’s locked so Jinseng transforms small enough to crawl under the door and confronts something frightening and indescribable, leading Rook to shoot open the lock with a special key-arrow. Ekanna is psychically overwhelmed by the presence she feels in the room, which they discover is a mysterious darkness they cannot understand and that seems to absorb the light of their torches.
The stable team decides they must dash out before the stable burns down with them inside, so Madison and Hevlin, unable to part from the beast, mount him with Bahar running point and again killing whoever tries to stop them. Our tower crew decide they must also flee, and throwing their torch at the dark blob, run back down the stairs to the window to zipline away. Behind them, a slow-moving mass floats to the ground; the Darkness follows. When we rendezvous after our raids, we decide we must confront Lord Crofton directly about the Darkness now loosed upon the lands, but first to the tavern for more courage and gossip.
When the tavernkeeper further learns that the Darkness is now loose, he becomes serious and confesses that he is Crofton, the enchanter who rules these lands. He explains that the elves are immune to the demon’s soul-stealing powers, though it does leave them in a stupor they do not find unpleasant, so the elves voluntarily serve short stints helping him keep the demon trapped in the castle, the one place in all the lands with the spiritual confluence to hold it in stasis. Our only hope is to set a trap for it using the anthracite chains. Crofton tells us it will be drawn to the place where human souls congregate to open themselves to the divine. If we can work with the elves to chain it, Crofton will repair the castle from our fires and prepare it to contain the demon once more.
We go to the temple of Diana and lay our trap. Ekanna sits inside with the worshippers using her powers to magnify the signal of their worship to entice the Darkness. Hevlin has excavated an escape tunnel for all those inside to get away and a trench around the temple that will be lit afire by Rook once the demon appears. The elves are also inside with Bahar, Madison, and Jinseng waiting to assist. When the demon arrives with a crack of thunder, Madison goes to release the chains from their perches in the temple’s rafters, but instead the chains get entangled with each other and drop useless to the ground. The worshippers begin to panic and cannot get the escape hatch open, and the company is left to face the demon with nothing but their wits. All these souls are consumed in the temple of Diana that day. Will Crofton and the elves succeed where our heroes have failed?