Session Four: Emergence

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The Story

As the sun sets, Riordan and Dorn camp for the evening.  In the early morn, they make their way to Gnomengarde.  Townmaster Harbin Wester will pay them handsomely to uphold diplomatic relations with the gnomes and to procure any magical items that may help them with the dragon problem.  Closer to the Sword Mountains, the map points the way upstream.  Within a mountain side a large waterfall etches out a deep shadowy gully.  The air fills with spray as the waterfall roars.  Red, green, and purple thigh-high mushrooms peek out of the heavy mist gathering over large shallow pools.

Dorn and Riordan make their way up a narrow path to the first cave opening they spy.  Reaching the entrance, the adventurers move carefully down the first hallway and into a dining room with several tables and chairs; an intricately carved wooden hutch is filled with silver dinnerware.  The room is unoccupied, and they continue through to the next hallway where they find themselves at a locked door.  Upon hearing some bustling on the other side, Dorn knocks.  The sounds are hushed, and a female gnome opens the door only a sliver to listen.  “Hello,” Dorn says, “We are Dorn and Riordan, and we are seeking magical items to assist us on a quest for Phandalin.”  Dorn peers over the small woman and into a kitchen where he sees other gnomes toiling with the same type of mushrooms found in the gully.  “Go see Fibblestib and Dabbledob in the workshop,” she says quietly as she closes and bars the door.  Dorn and Riordan shrug at each other and proceed back from where they came following the second hallway in from the cave entrance.

Upon turning a corner and entering a large cavern, a crossbow bolt narrowly misses Dorn’s head and bounces violently off the stone wall behind him.  Dorn instantly gets down and drops back into the hallway.  A cackling laugh rings throughout the cavern.  Dorn calls out, “Hold!  We are friend not foe!”  Riordan peaks around the corner to see an elderly female gnome mumbling and cackling to herself while sitting on a large contraption that seems to be a seated crossbow.  She spots Riordan, laughs hysterically while pulling levers, and slams her fist onto a button.  Another crossbow bolt strikes the corner and sends Riordan careening backwards while evading stone shrapnel.  Dorn immediately casts thaumaturgy, causing the area to shake violently in hopes she would see them as a greater threat and frighten her off.  However, the machine is poorly and hastily constructed; it heaves, shutters, and collapses in on itself. 

The gnome feverishly pulls and pushes on the control board and then jumps off muttering while booting and poking at the heap.  Dorn and Riordan look around the corner again at the sound of collapse and tread carefully towards the old woman.  She seems unconcerned with their presence.  Dorn attempts to speak with her once more and finds that she is utterly mad and fixated on her machine.  The pair decides to keep moving rather than tempt fate, and venture deeper into the mountain.

An Analysis

Dorn’s reaction to the dangerous situation with the cross-bolt machine and the old gnome is quite different from how he reacted to the manticore at Umbridge Hill. I imagine he did so because Harbin specifically told him of the diplomatic relationships between the town, the gnomes, and the dwarves of the region. The way he unarmed the woman instead of attacking her was ingenious.

In Sum

Being aware of historical elements and practicing open awareness of the present situation can help a leader to clearly see the emergence of solutions that will have a proper impact. Take a look at the article linked above titled “Embracing Emergence: How Collective Impact Addresses Complexity” by John Kania and Mark Kramer to learn more.

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