The Wing has ventured out into the Aerie's corridors.
As they moved through the waist high mist, they noticed odd shapes
within. Black shadows the size of insects were writhing through it.
After studying them for a moment, Tome, the Shrouded, came to the
conclusion that these things were a type of spirit, tiny manifestations
of fear. Whenever one grazed a Phoenix, they experienced visions of
their first death.
As a Game Master, I object to having players forced into such
situations. I eased the consequences so that anyone unable to reach 15
would be given an Exposed Condition instead. This represented
their character being in the grip of fear and gave them negative
modifiers in a fight, putting them at a disadvantage later on. As
written, this would have occurred provided a player didn't reach 20.
While they managed to shake off this fear effect, the Aerie's mortal
staff was not as fortunate. First they encountered a soldier throwing
around his sword wildly, seemingly fighting off unseen assailants. The
Phoenixes unarmed and grabbed him but were unable to reason with the
soldier through his screams of terror. After a moment he collapsed in
Ram's, the Durant, arms. They found a chamber to leave him in and continued to the main gate.
At one point during their trek, Tome was reminded of a tale of a Fallen
called The Harvester of Fear. It spoke of a Skavi warlord who made a
bargain with The Harvester to get himself rid of a clan encroaching on
his land. The Harvester gave material shape to the warlord's enemies'
fears which slaughtered the clan. Unfortunately, the fears then turned
on the warlord and ravaged his lands. This is most certainly who, or
what, they were dealing with here.
Normally, going through a structure erected by an inhuman will would be
difficult for someone who has never walked these halls before but the
Wing knew exactly which path to take thanks to Tome's Astonishing Luck, a special Trait
the character possesses. It turned out he remembered being in this very
Aerie during his mortal days when he had to navigate his way through
the twisting corridors blindfolded. While at the time he didn't encounter
people lying on the floor in a catatonic state, screaming their throats
out or seeing the bodies of people who tried desperately to claw their
way out through solid stone, he nonetheless brought the Wing to the
As they inspected it, they noticed there was no forced entry. The gate
must have simply swung open, allowing the Fallen to enter unmolested.
This made sense considering this Aerie was once The Harvester's
stronghold in this part of Skavia. As they pondered their next move,
they heard screams coming from a lower level. Gale, the Forceful, dashed forward towards the sound. The Wing followed suit.
Gale ran down the stairs leading to the lower floors with astonishing
speed. He was the first to reach a large chamber that once must have
been the great hall of this palace. Within it stood a statue of an
enormous ebony tree to which the Aerie's staff and local villagers were
strung. An ominous figure wearing an ivory mask, wielding a sceptre and
clad in a black cloak on which one could see faces writhing in agony
moved around it. It weas cutting symbols into a villager while assuring
him that the longer he were to scream, the longer he would live.
The rest of the Wing joined Gale shortly after he witnessed a black mass
bleeding out of the villager's wounds and being sucked up into a sphere
atop the tree. Although the hall was additionally guarded by a
Dreadknight similar to the one they fought earlier, they wasted no time
before charging in.
Armed with knowledge as to what to expect of the creature, they defeated
the knight with extreme prejudice before going after The Harvester.
Unfortunately, the moment its knight fell, it called out to the knight's
essence, creating a psychic shockwave that plunged each Phoenix into
their personal nightmares. Some were able to shake off the effect while
others suffered fear-induced hallucinations
Willow, the Elemental, slung fire at the Fallen One while Ram
used his inhuman strength to drive a fist into it. That temporarily
disabled The Harvester and he had great difficulties landing a blow.
Meanwhile, Gale shot arrows at it while running towards and onto the
tree. Tome proceeded with his surgical strikes from the shadows.
Since Phoenix Dawn Command relies on playing cards as a form of
resolving actions, rather than the typical dice rolling mechanics, it
took some getting used to for the players last session. I was extremely
happy to see how, in this second combat encounter, they worked together
as a team, relying on their abilities to strengthen their Wingmates. The
Elemental burned his Health so others could recover Sparks, while the
Durant used a card to redirect The Harvester's attack. When the Shrouded
decided to go for the killing blow, the rest of the Wing played cards
that added to his result. I was worried that due to their extreme
teamwork, they didn't get a sense of how powerful an opponent they were
facing but I managed to land at least one blow that nearly killed a
character... the look on the players' faces was truly priceless when
they heard Gale would lose all but one Health Token if the attack were
Unlike during the last session where I had to use a piece of paper for the Torch,
due to the template that came with the game proved to be especially
resistant to pencils, I managed to find a file on the game's website
that had a print out of all the Torches for the published scenarios. Our
main issue was explaining the Initiative Order which the game technically lacks.
When The Harvester had its Speed reduced by 1 after getting Stunned,
the players seemed confused why when their Initiative Order reset itself, it
went before them. Surely, the Fallen One should have gone after them but
rather than moving a character up or down on an initiative track,
Phoenix Dawn Command allows each player to take an action in whatever
order they decide. The only restriction is not to that each of them has
to act before the cycle resets. This ensures that each player has a
chance to act. Non-player characters, however, act after a number of
Phoenixes equal to their Speed have acted. This caused some
confusion for players who are used to every participant acting once
before the entire cycle begins anew. I have to admit, keeping track of
active participants is somewhat tricky but overall, the fight went well
and we finally had a heroic death!
Which means Tome will get an upgrade when he is reborn for the next mission.