O'er Windswept Golden Fields Play Report: Into the Crack in the Cemetery Wall
So I've run my second playtest of O'er Windswept Golden Fields. I considered doing a play report of the first one but now it's not fresh in my mind so oh well. These will also be important because these will serve as session summaries because I have started something of a West Marches style campaign with Golden Fields to limit my prep load. So I will be doing play reports of these games. I've done sort of a wilderness dungeon/point crawl thing for this and you will see how this works for a Golden Fields game. I would hope that this would be the adventure I package with the game should it ever become a thing I can sell to people.
HDA playing Billy, a junkyard boy wearing a barrel and a cardboard box, and wielding a bb gun and Grandma's Blanket.
7th playing Sally, an ethereal girl with a fatal illness, wearing a flower crown and wielding her Pocket New Testament.
Alistair playing Mick, a lanky, self-conscious boy in a baseball uniform, wielding a Map of His Favorite Hidey Holes.
Dan playing TAG KING. He has never been it. He is lanky but confident and fast, wielding the Crown of the Tag King!
There is a Crack in the Cemetary Wall. It wasn't there before. To stay in the local cemetery overnight is a rite of passage for the children of Pleasant Hill. Jimmy was going to undergo that same rite when he discovered the Crack. He went in and didn't come out for days. When he did finally come out, he had no memory of where he had been and had a silver key in his hand, decorated with a raven.
Now our intrepid adventurers from the Pleasant Hill Adventuring Club have gathered after nightfall to brave the Crack and see what lies beyond. As they began crawling, the passage beyond was longer than it should have been. The stone wall isn't even a foot thick yet they had to crawl for around thirty seconds to get out. What they saw on the other side seemed to be a strange overgrowth of the cemetery. Graves spilled out haphazardly, lacking their usual even rows, instead, they are scattered amongst the lumpy uneven earth. Tall black trees stick out of the soil like broken ribs.
They were presented with three paths. One led to the north where they could see ravens taking flight. The eastern path snaked between mossy stones marked with faded ancient symbols. Distant violin music could be heard down the western path.
They chose the eastern and found themselves at the entrance to some kind of tomb. Large bricks like stone henge make up an archway which gives way to curved stairs, spiraling downwards into blackness. Within each of these great stone bricks are skulls surrounded by carvings of coiling serpents.
They lit Sally's candle and proceeded downwards. After a long walk down, they found themselves confronted by the blue semi-transparent image of a wild-haired man, his skin covered in strange markings, wearing odd armor like knit together bones, his eyes glowing with a baleful light, wielding a savage, chipped sword. He cried at them: "Flee from this place! Do not make me vanquish you! Flee!"
Sally tried to engage him in conversation and quickly found that he seemed to just be spewing a handful of doom promotions every thirty seconds, not even looking directly at the kids, but looking in their general direction and making no move to stop their advance. They passed right through him and arrived at the bottom of the stairs at a rectangular room with a silty trench about its edge. The walls were carved with the image of a serpentine ouroboros and three objects lay on the ground: an iron ring, a wide-bladed obsidian dagger, and a ruby which seemed to house a tiny white snake.
As soon as they stepped foot in the room, they immediately felt a cold slithering presence about their feet though they could see nothing. A voice that sounded like many voices said: “Leave this place. There is doom in this place for you. Do not challenge the gods.”
Sally proceeded to ask this creature very directly what was going on. That and other questions from the party produced the following information:
- The Guardian was once many creatures but was made one long ago. They may have been prehuman or protohuman creatures who were destroyed by the coming of humanity proper. Or maybe an ancient tribe that was destroyed by conquerors.
- They have been tasked with guarding the iron ring which is of great ritual significance. They say if they take the ring, it will be forced to cause them grave misfortune.
- The other two objects are traps of a kind or distractions, meant to attract the hands of thieves away from the iron ring.
- The obsidian knife shows things as they truly are in the reflection of its blade. Sally catches a glimpse of the Guardian's true form in the blade and is deeply terrified.
- The ruby is another kind of trap. If anyone takes it, the Guardian can be present with them communicating with them and springing out to scare them, but if the Guardian is friendly it can advise and be used to frighten enemies. This it promises to do for the party's politeness and conversation.
- Death has been imprisoned in this place. The world beyond the crack is a result of this after a fashion. Unnatural things roam here and the dead walk. Death must be released to reinforce the natural order.
- Someone is digging up the graves, always shoveling, always searching for something. The shoveling began when Death was locked away. Beware the shoveling.