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Earth Season 1626: Things Get Spicy

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Gallowglass

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Here is the recap for our last two sessions. The first one ended up being very short so I decided to lump them together. Previously, the heroes had learned that their neighbors, the Wozer clan, were having trouble with bandits in the Yellow Hills, particularly those led by Angtyr of the Horn, former king of the Balkoth Tribe and Lunar stooge. Egajia, in the name of restoring spiritual balance to the Yellow Hills and neighboring communities, convinced the other PC's to find this man and bring him to justice. The Wozer chieftain specifically requested that Egajia bring him Angtyr's enchanted horn as proof of his capture. 

To simulate the party's overland exploration of the Yellow Hills, I tried experimenting with a map-making program called Hex Kit, which I picked up in a Bundle of Holding. It allows you to draw a hex map, and then (if you have more than one screen) present a fog of war map to the players. It worked fairly well, but we had so little time for both of our recent sessions (each less than 3 hours) that we didn't do as much random exploration as I planned for. Anyway, here's a simple map I made of the Yellow Hills. The landmarks, towns and villages are mostly taken from the Hearts in Glorantha article by Stuart Mousir-Harrison. Each hex is meant to represent a mile, which makes it not quite consistent with the AAA maps, or accurate in general. Balkoth country covers the hills, the northern edge of Dundealos Valley, and the area south of Swenstown. 

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Last time, the PC's were traveling from Wozer's Redoubt to Darrold's Hold, in search of a bandit with possible connections to Angtyr. They were ambushed by more bandits on the way, but managed to kill or drive off their attackers. They captured one of these, who failed to escape on her flying horse. Although she initially proved reluctant to talk, Egajia successfully intimidated her after an augment of the Death rune, which she is very strong in. The bandit, whose name was Zavia, proved easy enough to interrogate. She was convinced that her brother Destor, the leader of their band, would suspect her of treachery one way or another, and try to kill her. She agreed to share info on Angtyr and her gang if the party let her go afterwards. They agreed, so she spilled the beans.

She told them the following-

  • She and her brother had been raiding caravans for years during the Lunar Occupation. After the Dragonrise, Angtyr of the Horn was driven out of Harnafal's Rest by Orkarl Windstorm, and went bandit. Orkarl became the new king of the Balkoth. Angtyr took control of the bandit gangs and families of the Yellow Hills, and started raiding his own former subjects. Any bandits who resisted his takeover were killed or driven away. 
  • Angtyr is always on the move, and Zavia and her brother rarely speak with him face to face. Instead he sends messages to his lieutenants, who run their own gangs. Her brother Destor is one such lieutenant, along with an Impala Rider called Naveed, and a Telmori woman. She said these other two raided caravans near Swenstown, and near the forest at the heart of the hills respectively. 
  • Angtyr is personally very dangerous. He was a priest of the Gerendetho cult in the Yellow Hills, and still has access to powerful magic, including the ability to summon rock slides. 

When the interrogation ended, the PC's let Zavia go. She headed off in the direction of Prax, with the look of a person who hadn't yet escaped her death. 

Darrold's Hold

Later in the day, the party arrived at Darrold's Hold. This was the traditional home and tula of the Daldari clan. They, the Wozer, and the nearby Untralos clan had stayed rebellious against the Lunars during the occupation, unlike the Penbal and Fimburos clans. After the Dragonrise, the former king of the Balkoth, Orkarl Windstorm, had returned from exile in Prax to reclaim his position. He set up court in Darrold's Hold, rather than the traditional tribal capitol of Harnafal's Rest. Upon arriving the party rendezvoused with Erindros, who had returned from business in Swenstown. 

Darrold's Hold is a stout hill fort with stone walls, built to withstand Praxian raids. There was a market outside the fort, and before speaking with King Orkarl, the PC's decided to listen for rumors or signs of bandits nearby. Egajia noticed one man standing out at the market place, due to his strange aura, which resembled red flames. He had a bushy red beard with singed tips, and wild hair. He was festooned with garlands of dried peppers and spirit charms. She also noticed he had a fetch, appearing as a small ball of flame. He introduced himself as Old Man Pepper, local shaman and seller of "invigorating herbal remedies." He claimed to be an expert on the nearby hills and woods, having lived rough outdoors for many years. Egajia asked him if he knew of any strange spiritual happenings nearby. He claimed that the local hunting spirit in the Smallwood to the north had been driven out of it's range. He had seen wolf spirits roaming the hills where none had been before, and heard rumors of Telmori attacking the goat herds. After asking if the PC's were hunting Telmori, he suggested that finding the lost hunter spirit would help in their search. He said the spirit resembled a giant saber-toothed cat (a sakkar). Egajia thanked him, and the party all purchased some hot pepper charms. These supposedly granted the ability to breath fire, although they had to be eaten, and thus only worked once. 

Next the heroes visited King Orkarl. They were granted an audience thanks to the Wozer guide, Hiark, who introduced them as emissaries of chieftain Orvengar. Orkarl was a fierce old warrior, who was suspicious of Dundealos emissaries at first. His thanes even more so. Egajia explained that they were operating independently of their clan and tribe, and wished to help the Balkoth hunt down their most notorious bandit. Orkarl's thanes reacted with shouts and disdain, demanding to know why the glory of finding and killing Angtyr should be given to Dundealos warriors. First Egajia sang the party's hit song about Angtyr that they had introduced in the Wozer village. It left the crowd laughing as it had the last time. Then Egajia explained that while Angtyr had betrayed and humiliated his people, he should not be given the status of a feared enemy. Rather he should be treated as a coward for hiding in the hills and stealing from his own people. Secondly, she and her comrades had no wish to steal anyone's glory. They only wanted to help build peace between her clan and their neighbors, and as skilled trackers (somewhat exaggerated) and deadly fighters (more accurate) they were in a good position to help. Orkarl was convinced, and offered the cooperation of his household warriors in hunting Angtyr. But he also explained that bringing the bandit in needed to be a joint effort, and he expected Egajia to report to him anything that the party learned. Egajia and the others agreed to this. 

The PC's then conferred about whether to stay in Darrold's Hold and look for the bandit Destor, or go deeper into the hills to follow leads on the Telmori. They went with the latter option, and set out north. 

Wolves and Smilodons

Travelling for several hours, they met some friendly goat herders, who shared an odd rumor. Many herders had seen individual goats from their herds walking in a straight line out to the hills, then disappearing. No one knew where they went, or why they would walk off with such fixed determination. Occasionally these goats would be found later, dozens of miles away in a different clan's herd. Some suspected trickster magic. 

As the day went on, the hills gave way to a small valley filled with pine forest. This was the Smallwood shown on the map. Egajia did some cursory scouting with her fetch, but did not notice any major threats, spiritual or physical. Night was beginning to fall, so she decided that the time was right to go on a journey to the Spirit World to find the Saber-tooth Spirit. HWSAD was able to locate a rocky overhang that provided shelter, and some defense if necessary. Egajia performed the ritual of discorporation, and left her fetch, and her companions, guarding her body. 

It should be mentioned that we didn't have Garkar for the first session. We explained his absence by deciding it was Orlanth's seasonal holy day, so he had to stay behind at Rooster Stead. Thus, it was just Erindros and He Who Spits physically guarding Egajia. After about an hour, HWSAD's Chaos sense started tingling. I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned this in previous recaps, but HWSAD's Sense Chaos ability manifests as a pain in the back of his neck, a la Berserk. He and Erindros prepared for trouble, and soon a shadowy figure appeared in the trees. I showed the players the picture of the Telmori from the Bestiary (who looks a lot like Kurt Cobain!). He was accompanied by another hunter in the shadows, and two very large wolves. The first one approached and warned HWSAD that they were trespassing on the Wolfbrothers' hunting range. He Who Spits tried and failed an Intimidate roll to run them off, and he was met with thrown javelins. Thus began a fairly one-sided battle as the Telmori hunters got more than they bargained for. 

Wolfbrother.png.b6d9696ff45e478f2e4cc4fc4d2c11ee.png 

We ended our first session here, and then picked it up a week later with the werewolf fight, and Egajia's spirit journey.

She successfully used Spirit Travel to locate the Sakkar Spirit. It wasn't far from where she started. She left the forest, and flew towards the hills. She found the spirit being chased by a pack of wolf spirits, nearly a dozen. The sakkar was huge, the size of a horse, and covered in glowing runes. But Egajia could see through her Second Sight that it was in a severely weakened state. After casting a powerful Spirit Screen, she charged right into the pack of wolf spirits, and engaged one of them in spirit combat, hoping to frighten the others. Unfortunately, she couldn't best it, and the pack soon surrounded her, taking turns in trying to overwhelm her soul. On the second round, she managed to roll a critical, and tore one of the spirits apart. The wolves momentarily withdrew in fear, and she used the reprieve to try communicating with the sakkar. She then failed her Spirit speech roll, although it wasn't a fumble. The sakkar did not attack her, but instead fled. It jumped into the sky, and began leaping from cloud to cloud. She had to use Spirit Travel again to keep up. The spirit wolves ran after them (flew after them?). 

Meanwhile, back in the world of flesh, the Telmori cast their eerie spells of transformation. They began to sprout fur, and take on more bestial features. Their teeth and ears elongated, their eyes became the yellow color of a wolf's. This was just from a casting of Wolfhide. The first Telmori charged, along with the two dire wolves, while the other threw javelins. HWSAD remembered that Gbaji's curse allowed the wolf-men to shrug off normal weapon attacks, so he whipped out one of the magical hot peppers. After chewing it, he immediately noticed certain side effects of the enchantment that the shaman had neglected to mention. His mouth was literally on fire at first, and he took 1 hp of damage to total hit points. But then the pepper worked as advertised, and a cone of white hot flame shot from his mouth, enveloping the Telmori brave and his wolf. They survived the blast, but were badly burned. 

Garkar (whose player returned for the second session) was tracking his allies through the woods to their campsite, where he saw the unfolding combat. He decided not to waste any time, and made a dramatic entrance by firing a lightning bolt at the first Telmori. It struck his leg with a crack of thunder, and he fell to the ground crippled. Erindros' player decided to roleplay his character's general ignorance and simply attack the other Telmori with his axe, to no effect. The tide was turning against the wolf-men quickly, and they made ready to flee. 

Egajia found herself swimming through the sky, up into the bottom of a black lake. She could still see the Saber-tooth spirit above her, and chased it up through the surface, onto a sandy shore in a forest. She knew the wolves were following as well, so she tried to talk with the spirit again, but failed a second time. The wolves came charging out of the water and swarmed her again, but she rolled well this time when defending herself. She blasted apart another two wolves in spirit combat, and again the pack withdrew, frightened. Looking at the sakkar in it's weakened state, she realized it might be easier just to subdue it. She grabbed it by the tusks and started to wrestle it. She was forced to do this and fend off wolves at the same time, and the sakkar proved to be a tough opponent in spite of it's depleted POW. After taking a few big hits in spirit combat, she managed to defeat it. It's spiritual body became hazy and amorphous. She turned it into a kitten (a symbolic defeat), and tucked it into her pouch. As the wolves began to renew their assault, she used Spirit Dance to make her escape. 

HWSAD had to fend off attacks from both of the wolves at once, but managed to cripple one with a swing of the maul. The fight had yet to turn truly deadly, when Egajia returned to her body. She fired off several Sleep spells, and soon had the Telmori and their wolves subdued. Garkar succeeded in a Lore roll to remember certain details about the Telmori and their customs. He remembered that they valued the lives of their wolves and treated them as family members. He advised not killing the wolves, and so they were trussed up along with their humans. Garkar graciously healed their wounds so they weren't crippled an longer. While they slept, Egajia bound the sakkar spirit in her fetch, and cast Visibility on it. She then woke up the Telmori, thinking they would already be intimidated upon seeing the saber-toothed cat. She was correct in her calculations, and the two wolf-men admitted to being in league with Angtyr of the Horn. 

They said that they (both brothers) and their sister Ashara had been driven south from Telmori country after a raid from the Cinsina Tribe had killed many of their family. They joined with Angtyr when he promised them protection. Erindros asked if their sister would take them back for ransom, and they said she would track them down sooner or later. The party decided to pass the night in the forest with their captives. The Telmori voiced their appreciation that they had spared their wolf brothers and healed their wounds. He Who Spits, who was initially prepared to cook the wolves in front of the Telmori, softened up on them a little in spite of their stench of Chaos.

Egajia spoke with the sakkar spirit. The Telmori had already found them obviously, so the spirit was seemingly no longer useful. But she then learned that it was Angtyr himself who infected the sakkar with a soul disease, diminishing it's power. It claimed that it could help Egajia track down Angtyr, as it knew his scent. It could smell him within a kilometer. It also knew some useful spells, and had the ability to possess someone and change their shape. She decided to keep it bound for the time being, but as an object of local worship for hunters in the Yellow Hills, she planned to eventually heal it and set it free. 

The night otherwise passed uneventfully. 

Follow the Goat

In the morning, everyone heard a strange bird call, and the Telmori called back in response. A woman appeared, dressed and tattooed the same as the other two, with her own wolf at her side. She harangued her two idiot brothers for getting captured, and then asked the party what their terms were for ransom. Erindros asked only that she help them find Angtyr of the Horn. She agreed, saying their alliance was one of convenience, and nothing more. She performed a strange ritual, drawing a rune resembling a goat in the dirt and whispering chants. She then instructed everyone to hide. After about an hour, an actual goat appeared out of the bushes. It stood still in front of her, not moving. She told it to give Angtyr a message, saying that Orkarl Windstorm was closing in on him, and he would have to move camps again within the next few days. After it left, she simply said, "follow the goat." She then left with her brothers. 

Instead of following the goat directly, Egajia sent the sakkar spirit after it. Everyone else stayed about a mile back from it. The goat walked in a straight line for a few miles, and eventually climbed down into another valley. This particular valley (the Balkoth call them "cuts"), was rocky and bleak, with more Praxian vegetation. He Who Spits sensed the lingering taint of Chaos on the place, although he didn't detect any specific entities. The goat wandered on towards a series of well-hidden caves. As soon as the sakkar spirit could smell Angtyr of the Horn (who smelled like goat of course), Egajia called it back, fearing any possible defenses he might have at his camp. The party then planned to return to King Orkarl, and inform him that they had found their quarry. 

We ended the second session there. I had originally hoped that the party would be able to confront Angtyr before we all took a break for the holidays, but alas, it was not to be. So next time, the heroes will finally take on the Goat King! Thanks for reading!

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