When we first met our heroes, they were already well on the way to making a name for themselves. Sherman, Cuthmar, Eirik and Celiophane had taken on the task of rescuing a local merchant’s daughter from a band of marauding goblins, tracked the goblins to their cave-lair and fought their way to the goblin shaman who was about to make a blood sacrifice of the young girl. They figured they’d won, but with his dying breath the shaman uttered a dire curse. The cave shook, the ceiling started to crumble, and the floor gave way under the group. They fell, physically and mentally, into darkness.
Waking, who knows how long after, they found themselves in a dark tunnel lit only by a strange ambient blue glow, surrounded by gaunt, three-fingered man-apes - Gritchlings - intent on robbing them of their gear. Swiftly dispatching a few of the gritchlings saw the rest break ranks and run for the sake of self-preservation, and the party recovered most of their gear.
In relative safety, the party made their way along the tunnel towards a distant blue light and a strange roaring noise, but unfortunately Cuthmar becomes separated from them in the dim light. Hope remains high that they will meet again soon.
Emerging from the end of the tunnel, the party beheld an awe inspiring sight. They stood on a ledge overlooking a massive circular shaft rising up and down further than the eye could see; hundreds of feet away, a waterfall originating far above fell down through the centre of the shaft, its fate lost in the darkness. And there, clinging to the sides of the shaft, shrouded in that mysterious ambient blue light was, to all appearances, a town. Platforms cantilevered from the sides of the shaft or suspended from rock overhangs hung over the unfathomable depths; connected by wood and rope bridges, ladders and zip-lines were an uncountable number of tents, shacks and larger buildings; and the place was alive with… people? Making their way down a spiraling ledge towards the town, the party made their way into Bone Falls.
Unlike any town they had ever seen before, Bone Falls was truly unusual. While most of the people there were… people, a good number were considerably stranger. Making their way across bridges between platforms the party saw tall gangly apes, walking upright and carrying bags and packs - apparently peddling wares in the street; a card game was being led by a giant clam-like creature with legs that looked more like arms and unnervingly human eyeballs poking out from its shell; humans with tree bark covering their skin and branches growing from their heads shopped at passing stalls.
When they tried to talk to anyone to find out where they were, it became apparent that nobody here spoke the Common tongue, until a little old lady grabbed Sherman’s attention. “Eyah, eyah?”, she gestured towards her rough stall. Sherman followed, a little warily. At her stall, the old lady offered Sherman a mug of hot, glowing blue tea which, after some encouragement, he tried, finding it a little bitter with a hint of lemon.
“There you go dearie, that should be better now. You’re new here, aren’t you?”, said the old lady. She explained that the light around them and the ability to understand language were gifts of the “Fuzz” - an abundant glowing fungus that grows throughout the Down. As long as one drinks a cup of hot Fuzz-tea each day, communication with any of the denizens of the Down is possible , no matter what their language. Trading with the old lady, Athild, the party found that the local currency was… keys. Celiophane getting all of ten keys for her Void Creature’s egg.
They also learned from Athild that she must leave Bone Falls soon, because no one is allowed to stay there for longer than a single year, and heard the names of some other realms of the Down: the Obsidian Ocean, the Great Machine of Meacrivion, the Quag of Irimot, the University of Fan Ming and of the Girids of the Necropolis of Kajadin and their “games”.
Following Athild’s directions, the party made their way to the upper levels - meeting Chunkle, the elevator boy along the way. Using their newly acquired keys, they managed to find an unoccupied shack to rest in. The blue light from the Fuzz outside faded as they fell asleep to the relentless roaring of the waterfall.
Rested and recovered, their armor repaired and their wits together, the next day the party headed out looking for a way to earn more keys… and possibly some food. On the way, they found out that traveling down was easier, if a little more painful, than traveling up and resolved to use the elevators whenever they could afford to.
Dropping by Dangles, a bar where all the chairs and tables are suspended by chains from a cantilevered platform above the abyss, Erik and Celiophane decided they would look for work elsewhere (“Fuck that!”, said Eirik) while Sherman braved the lack of a floor.
Both groups found out that the type of work they were looking for was exactly the work a being called Gwindore paid well for. They made their way to Gwindore’s “mansion”. Gwindore, it turned out, was a stunningly good looking Elf dressed head to toe in fine clothing made from yellow canary feathers, a glow emanating from his mouth as he spoke.
Several days ago, Gwindore sponsored - at considerable cost - a team of adventurers heading into the catacombs far above Bone Falls but they had so far failed to reappear. Gwindore was willing to pay the party to go into the catacombs and retrieve the earlier adventurers along with any loot they’d found: 10 keys for each of the party with another 5 keys per adventurer found alive.
A good deal? Maybe. Dangerous? Almost certainly. Profitable? Don’t push it.
Next session: Into the Catacombs.
Although we role-played all of this, applying the Downcrawl system rules means:
Sherman used the Update the Map move while talking to Athild, gaining 1 Tack and learning of far-off lands: the Obsidian Ocean, the Great Machine of Meacrivion, the Quag of Irimot, the University of Fan Ming and the Necropolis of Kajadin. He can choose one of these to add to the map (unconnected).
By Keeping his ears open, Eirik used the Update the Map move, gaining 2 Tack and learning the way to Gwindore’s mansion.
Sherman and Erik have used the one Update the Map move they are allowed for this Volume. Further information will require spending Tack or rolling to Force the Map. Celiophane has yet to Update the Map.
The party has 3 Tack.