(Note: Bold text refers to a Trait, Ability, or Rune that a character in question has).
Androgenus, a genderfluid Esrolian Eurmali trickster with the Illuminated Illusion, Earth, and Luck runes. They're out for blood vengeance against anyone who's ever victimized their family, their clan, and their homeland. in that order. Recently illuminated as part of a Heroquest that gave them temporary use of the Infinity Rune. Being hunted like a beagle puppy in an Orlanthi tula for whatever remnants of that power they might possess.
Iris, an Esrolian Earth Priestess in service to Takakia, the Goddess of Moss (we finally came up with a name for the Moss Goddess! She’s named after a genera of rather unusual mosses first found in the Himalayas). She's got the Earth, Movement, and Spirit runes. Iris, having wanted power and prestige amongst the Esrolians for her entire life, now finds herself being given very little of the first and a lot of the second—she’s Queen of the Three Step Isles now. That and a few pounds of silver’ll buy you a cow, though...
Waddlestomp the Bloodybeaked, a Hueymakti Duck thane with the Water, Death, and Truth runes. He has sworn a dread oath that he will personally slay one human for every Duck that is or has ever been killed or otherwise victimized by human hands. His plans of war and conquest are being put on temporary hold by the journey to the Three Step Isles, and boy is he unhappy about it! Played by the oldest in our group, and the most experienced with Glorantha. He wields an enchanted shield originally crafted by the Square Circle Temple.
- K'dud (pronounced Ka-Dude, named after the persona of a Knight in our local chapter of the SCA). K'dud is a Caladralander priest of Vestkarthan, God of Volcanoes, and also an initiate into the cults of Gustbran and Kalvan as well. He holds the Fire, Truth, and Mastery runes. He is a master of the Bronze Arms and Sharp Soul schools of unarmed combat, and seeks to help his people navigate the uncertain future after Belintar's death. To this end, he's following Iris and her band of misfits to the Three Step Isles.
We last left our heroes aboard the She’s One Of Ours, Sir, a sardonically named smuggler bireme heading across the sea to the three most Godsforsaken islands in the world outside of God Forgot. The captain (a burly Caladralander who’s always a little pissed off about having been press-ganged into this mission by the Queens on pain of pain) We rejoin them a week into their journey across open sea.
In the middle of a storm. The crew had brought in oars and reefed sail, hoping against hope that the sea-gods would be merciful. The phalanx of Esrolian pikemen assigned to Iris’s quest to retake the Three Step Isles were grumbling in their makeshift camp in the cramped hold, losing at a game of liars’ dice with Androgenus (making liberal use of their Luck rune’s breakout ability Supreme Gambler) and Waddlestomp (using his Unexpectedly Terrifying ability to put the soldiers off their game). Meanwhile, K’dud was busy being heartily sick out on the rain-swept deck (“I’m a Fire priest! Being surrounded by this much water is...unnatural!” He cried, in between bouts of pouring chum into the churning waves). Iris was in her cabin, conversing with the captain. Apparently, the plan was that the She’s One Of Ours, Sir would drop her and her soldiers off on the Three Steps, then leave. Immediately. Eventually, Esrolia was supposed to send reinforcements and supplies with another expedition in a few seasons. If they were successful, of course.
In the meantime, Iris just had to reconquer three of the most pirate-haunted, sheep-infested islands in the Sea. Three islands crawling with weird spirits and strange, forgotten gods. A place where ruins from the God Time still stood, beckoning foolhardy adventurers to plumb their secret depths.
A place where, hopefully, the first ever grand temple to Takakia would stand, and she would be hailed as Queen. Not much of a place to build a grand saga of glorious renown, to be true, but it was a start. First, though, they had to survive the storm. It seemed like Orlanth Himself was throwing everything he had at the little galley, tossing the poor craft around like a bit of soap in a toddler’s bath. Suddenly, there was an almighty thump, a horrid scraping noise, and the sound like a fist of an angry Godling punching through the bottom of the ship! It had struck a rock, running into an uncharted oyster bed.
”I’ve made this run a hundred times!” Bellowed the Captain over the howling winds, “This reef shouldn’t exist!”
The PCs immediately got to work trying to save the She’s One Of Ours, Sir. Iris Called Up Local Spirits to bargain with spirits of wind, wave, and oyster, trying to calm the waters. She got a minor success, making K’dud’s effort to Fix Anything (a breakout ability from his Volcano Cultist Trait) a tad easier—K’dud moved in a blazing blur, the heat of his body turning storm-spray into steam around him. He patched the ragged hole knocked in the hull and set to work bailing.
Meanwhile, Androgenus and Waddlestomp were left to deal with the boarders. While the other two PCs were distracted trying to keep the boat from falling apart and sinking after running aground, most of the other passengers had been fending off an attack from marauding Merfolk! Crawling up out of the waves, a school of sharklike merfolk had clambered aboard the deck with the crashing waves and were busy cutting down the crew who had rushed to meet them in battle.
Waddlestomp put his Enchanted Shield to use immediately; with an expert throw, he knocked three merfolk off the deck railing, skulls crushed by good Esrolian bronze. Androgenus used their Luck rune’s breakout ability Curse of Misfortune to make some of the marauding merfolk get knocked off the ship by the very waves being ridden by more of their own boarding parties. Between the two of them, they kept the actual number of merfolk being fought by the ship’s crew down to a handful at a time...but more kept on coming.
The next round of combat, the merfolk leader—a big, shark-finned brute with all sorts of nasty runic ritual scars flopped on deck; he wielded a trident (shaped like a Mastery Rune) and a barbed whip of kelp (signifying an Air/Storm Rune); as soon as the merfolk leader came on deck, the storm got so much worse. Waddlestomp leapt into the fray, matching magically-hardened coral with his Truesword, and barely holding his own (the player just started cursing up a storm with a pair of bare successes against the merfolk leader). Androgenus critically fumbled against their Trickster flaw and decided it would be a great time to just go hide (“You got this, Waddlestomp! I’m rootin’ for ya!”) in the hold.
Iris and K’dud rushed on deck to assist. K’dud used his Bronze Arms Style to parry punishing blows from the merman storm priest’s trident, but soon became entangled in the biting whip. Waddlestomp, taking the opportunity to retreat, used Vengeance-Seeking Swordsduck to push through the terrible wounds inflicted by the merfolk (“If I die before I get to kill that godsdamned trickster, I’ll take every one of you useless mammals with me!”) and assist the crew in repelling additional boarders. Then Iris got a critical success on her Call Up Spirits ability to awaken the ship’s own Spirit! Incarnating as a wild-haired woman made of wood and sailcloth, the She’s One Of Ours, Sir caused the ship’s deck to roil and buck like the sea itself, knocking the attackers to their feet while lifting the spirits (so to speak) of her defenders.
The merfolk leader—doubtless a Hero in his own right, at this point!—threw his trident at the spirit, hoping to capture or kill her. Waddlestomp (again, barely; the dice were definitely against the PCs tonight!) deflected the hurled weapon with his thrown shield, but both trident and enchanted shield bounced away from each other, falling into the churning water below. Thus distracted, K’dud used that opportunity to use his Sharp Soul Style to deliver a punch through the merfolk leader’s chest, splattering the deck with blood, saltwater, and a pile of fishy viscera.
The rest of the merfolk retreated, carrying the still-twitching, vengeance-swearing body of their leader back with them beneath the waves. The heroes had won!
The storm passed quickly thereafter. The relative silence was almost deafening. A red sun dawned over the waves, revealing a tropical island that the Captain (much like before) swore up and down hadn’t been there the last time he sailed in these waters.
An island that shouldn’t have been there. The She’s One Of Ours, Sir was stranded on a reef in the middle of the sea, unable to move without more serious repairs, many of her crew wounded or dead. Despite the victory, the PCs weren’t going anywhere.
Except, perhaps, ashore.....