3 – Out from the Roots, Trophy Gold: Roots of Old Kalduhr

I read over Level 1 again and read over a deeper incursion at Jason Cordova’s suggestion because of links it has to the current adventure; the Trophy Discord is a nice community (INVITE LINK).

While I run the game I’ve got 4 tabs: Trophy Gold and Trophy Loom, another for Paid for in Blood and one more for our Jamboard. This session I only used the Jamboard and the Mega-Incursion write-up, first level printed out so I can write notes on it.

Roots of Old Kalduhr title pic

Beams of light streak down on subterranean stone with a climber in front of a faceless statue of a Lost Sister in a cyclopean alcove.

It was Jim and Aaron this game as Jay had some work stuff come up. With Jim’s permission, we decided he had left camp, following a beautiful piper’s tune but had lost it when he heard a bell ring. Jay‘s character and Jim’s (Baso and Pela) switched places somehow because of the constructs with the silver bells’ magic that we don’t understand but makes it easier to explain the rotating cast. The constucts were dubbed Dollems (rhymes with golem) by Jim.

Characters and Hireling:

Spears Subject Divider Image 
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1922.26.a
Ancient and worn gold coin with Trophy Gold written above it.

Jim got his feet under him fast. Baso looted the silver bell off of the Dollums and Jim suggested that perhaps the animals around the fountain were some kind of astrology. I jumped on that; yes, the 6 animals (lion, griffon, pig, rooster, bull and tortoise) were for children born during various times of year and the 7th, the cthonic beast whose statue was broken, was for children who knew nothing of their births.

“Thanks, Jim. Now you’ve made me help make me sad by making something up with me. Are you happy now?”

The silver bell had no clapper…

Ancient and worn gold coin

In the Common Room was another Dollem, this one with a tortoise head. Baso mimicked its movements, holding the silver bell on his own hand. I asked for a Risk Roll and through dice and Devil’s Bargains, the Tortoise Dollem was bound to Baso, who now had an understanding of the bells – “You feel as if you are 3 rings away from a cliff-face, from being sent to a terrible place that you don’t want to fall into.” On the wall, in Old Kalduhri, Aksi read the inscription in bright but faded letters, “Good children get to sit, bad children get the pit.”

When the Griffon Dollem showed up, they held it at bay and took the bell off of its right hand. It looked confused for a moment and then went back to searching the Common Room, in cupboards and under tables. At some point Jim proclaimed, “Baso can ring the bell now even though it has no clapper,” and that made perfect sense. The Tortoise, when given a command, gave Baso a condescending pat on the head. Cartwheels seem to be an introduction and also a way of saying, “Thank you,” and “You’re welcome.”

Ancient and worn gold coin

Something so strange happened that I nearly forgot to write about it. Someone was in the midst of a Risk Roll (I think it was Aaron) and Jim’s Devil’s Bargain was about the bell breaking and doing something unexpected. He left that to me to decide, like a fell gift under a watchful and ancient Kalduhri tree.

I decided the bell broke and brought something out of the pit. A blob made of half a dozen children rolled across the Common Room, screaming and crying and singing. When they didn’t engage with it, it rolled into the barracks, as if remembering its old life (lives?). They debated killing it but in the end, left it.

As Baso said, “If we don’t destroy that thing I’m going to find myself thinking of it whenever I try to sleep…”

Ancient and worn gold coin

Kel and Aksi went into the office to look for the money; Baso stayed in the courtyard, dancing and humming, hoping to keep any other Dollems away. When the Rooster Dollem jumped out of the wardrobe, Aksi and Kel tried to destroy it but a bell went off – only 2 more until they were sent to the pit. Aaron did the math and spent 3 Hunt Tokens. Aaron narrated hulking out, Wolf Beast-Bitten Style, and smashing the room to pieces, coming out with the gold over his shoulder. Jim added a nice detail, the gold was in the remnants of one of the Dollem’s silk jackets.

At one point in the midst of this glorious frightening mess, Aaron said something about the events reminding Kel of how his monarchs in the Caliginous Grove were turned to wood and I need to go back and dig a little at that.

Ancient and worn gold coin

I did some describing of the way home, as Jim hadn’t been at the game where they ventured down. Aaron mentioned that they were going to take a careful route to avoid the Cave Hounds that were eating Treasure-Hunter remains on their way in.

I had a Devil’s Bargain about the exit being complicated because of the excess of blood they used in the ritual to enter the Roots. Chatwyn and Sprunt were there, waiting to rob them. Chatwyn had a crossbow. Listed among the weaknesses of the Lost Treasure-Hunters was intimidation, so when Baso approached them with his Tortoise Dollem (yes, it followed him out of the delve) and asked if they wanted to play and the Tortoise reached into its porcelain head and wound up a music box that played an off-key lullaby, they just backed off. Chatwyn even gave up the crossbow when Baso asked for it.

	Among Treasure-Hunters, this duo has a well-earned reputation for being reliable and near-impossible to rattle, even in the midst of the horrors the ancient forest can vomit forth.
	Their views on weakness are harsh. If any of the Treasure Hunters should hit 5 Ruin the duo will seek out (and sometimes even dsicuss) ways to leave them behind or push them more fully to their doom.
	"Doom's edge turns folk desperate and desperate folk is dangerous to those around them."
	Lovers or Comrades? Survivors of a failed revolution or the last servants of a dead noble house? None know. What is known is that for the right price they will venture into the Old Kalduhr with you.
	Some say the only thing that could break them is having to decide what to do if one of them should reach doom's edge.
	Burden 4 because they will never agree to be separated.

	12 Iron 

	Spiked Morningstar
	Tent (2 person)
Ancient and worn gold coin

They got back to Fort Duhrin without incident and Aksi made them tea and let them know that if they needed help with a future delve, they’d gladly join them as long as the Tortoise Dollem was nowhere near them.

Devil's Bargain with a scary black and white stag with a flame above its head between its horns.

Devil’s Bargains from this session:

I did not write down the Devil’s Bargains this game, which is a bummer. I know that the Dollem being bound to Baso came from one and the broken bell bringing the child-blob out of the pit was from another. They are good shit and one of the secret sauces of keeping everyone involved in every roll and marshalling the creativity at the table in a cool way.

What is a Devil’s Bargain, you ask? From the book:

Treasure-hunters laugh at danger, fueled by the folly of their pride. But failure nips at their heels, waiting
for the perfect moment to strike. When you gather dice to make a Risk Roll, the gm or any other player
can offer you a bonus light die if you accept a Devil’s Bargain from them. Common Devil’s Bargains include:

Causing collateral damage or unintended harm 

Getting lost or separated from your companions

Sacrificing an item or piece of treasure

Betraying a fellow treasure-hunter
Attracting unwanted attention

The Devil’s Bargain occurs regardless of the outcome of the roll. You make the deal, pay the price, and get the bonus die. The Devil’s Bargain is always a free choice. If you don’t like one, just reject it (or suggest how to alter it so you might consider taking it).

Anyone may veto or suggest alterations to a proposed Devil’s Bargain, especially if it would also impact their treasure-hunter. You may only offer and accept Devil’s Bargains when making a Risk Roll.
Bestiary with Trophy Gold and Trophy Dark symbols embossed on the worn leather of an ancient looking tome.


Dollems, a creepy name for creepy monsters…

Lost Treasure Hunters? Vultures…did someone call them that?

Child Blob Things need a name

Spears Subject Divider Image 
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1922.26.a

Takeaways: The 3 Hunt Tokens to get the Set Goal is not only a fun way to game the system a bit but it works as a pacing mechanic in a way that I can’t quite describe yet but have seen in both runs of Trophy Gold I’ve GM’ed. Trophy Gold can be pretty deadly and the fantasy horror can be a little unsettling. It is cool to be able to spend the capital from one’s past curiosity and cash out. Speaking of which, I feel like the horror elements came out in this session; I’ll email the group and just check in, give room for folks to contact me and to stop play if something in a future session is not fun-horror-movie-creepy but shitty-trauma-creepy.

Ready for Next Week: I’ll read over the Hearthfire downtime rules this weekend and brush up on the rest of the Roots of Kalduhr mega-incursion; it is a delightfully easy read that is also easy to use at the table.


These designs and more in my Threadless shop – t-shirts of all kinds, mugs, stickers and even shower curtains…

Blog of Judd Karlman from Daydreaming about Dragons

This session was played via Zoom on 4/29/22

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