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Showing content with the highest reputation since 07/08/2019 in Blog Entries

  1. 4 points
    I played RQ3 back in the 1980-ies. I remember running Apple Lane and Trollpak. I also remember the PCs all died when they attacked a Dream Dragon on their way to Pavis. I returned to Glorantha with the new edition and ran a play-by-forum game for awhile. We ran through the Apple Lane scenario of the Gamemaster Screen Pack, and I was hooked. Having found five interested players I've now decided to start a new tabletop campaign. We will play by the new rules, but I've decided to run the old Borderlands campaign set in 1615. As some of the players are new to rpg:s and almost all are new to Glorantha I decided to reduce the number of variables and make them all Sartarite exiles from the Red Cow clan. They will be siblings or cousins, and we will generate their family history together when we meet for our first session tomorrow. I decided on the Red Cow to leave open the remote possibility of having the PCs eventually return to their homeland to run through the Eleven Lights campaign. The probability of the campaign lasting that long is low, but one can dream. The campaign starts ten years earlier than the standard RQ:G-campaign, so I had to rewrite parts of the family history section. With help from the BRP forums and some Glorantha blogs I added events for earlier years. I also decided to replace the personal skill bonuses with added language skills, in order to make the characters be able to communicate in Prax. My plan for the first session is a short intro talk about Glorantha (bronze age, runes, gods etc) and Runequest (skills, deadly, etc) followed by Daine's Briefing. After any questions, we'll do the actual character creation. That might take the entire evening, we'll see. I use Kanka.io to store my information. I've also prepared a Discord server. At the first session we will talk about our attitude to online activities between game sessions.
  2. 4 points
    During my time here on BRP I've come to more deeply enjoy the world of Glorantha, and may have gotten some understanding of some of its "secrets", the style with which the texts are often written, and arguably some of the intent behind them. While it's unlikely that anything I write down is totally in line with the canon, it would be fun to try my hand at making up some hopefully-engaging pieces, most likely some kinds of flash fiction and the like. These are my current ideas, off the top of my head: - How Moss Was Made and How Moss Died (Green Age, Greater Darkness Plant Myth) - How Ygg Seastorm Saved The World (Greater Darkness Yggite Myth) - The Tragedy of Shargash, Most Dutiful of Sons (Storm Age and Greater Darkness Shargashite Myth, possibly heretical, definitely secret). - The Buraroxi of Northern Pent (Overview of Storm-worshipping Muskox pastoralists of Northern Pent, not based on Guide material). - Yelmalio the Scapegoat (Low-tradition folktale of the Cold Sun's selfless sacrifice in the Greater Darkness, likely apochryphal). - Rearguard Shale's Last Stand (Greater Darkness Praxian Myth, and guide to gaining spell based on said myth). Not sure when/if they will be made, but I thought I might as well post it up so I don't forget about them.
  3. 3 points
    Huge step for this industry.
  4. 3 points
    We need more interaction on here...
  5. 3 points
    I have decided to start writing recaps of my ongoing RQG campaign, which is centered on the Bardori clan in Sartar, of the Dundealos Tribe. I've been feeling like it would be helpful to get myself writing regularly again, and I would like to have some sort of record of our campaign. Hopefully, folks will also enjoy reading about an ongoing story in the relatively new RQG system. I began my current campaign back in March. My plan is to quickly cover the background and events of the campaign so far, and then hopefully write more detailed coverage once I catch up to the present. Background After immersing myself in Gloranthan material for many months, I found myself struggling to find the right framework for creating a campaign. There was simply so much lore and background information to absorb, I didn't know how to do it justice. Then I discovered The Coming Storm/Eleven Lights, which inspired me to run a campaign focused on a single clan in Sartar. This seemed like the ideal way to tie a group of PC's together, and give them the motivation to go on adventures together. Faced with the choice of which system to use, I found myself more interested in the new RQG rules. I usually prefer more rules-lite systems or story games, but Runequest seemed to be experiencing a revival that was very exciting. I also liked the idea of setting the campaign later in the timeline, after the Lunar occupation. My next big decision was choosing which region in the core book to focus on for my campaign. I felt like Sartar and Prax were the most detailed with prior published material, and Sartar was slightly more interesting to me. With a clan-based campaign, I also had to choose which tribe would be a good fit. The Dundealos immediately jumped out to me as being in a unique position in the setting's start date of 1625. They were one of the few tribes to be completely disbanded by the Empire, but they had returned to resettle their valley after the Dragonrise. This is detailed very briefly in the core book on p. 108, under the section on Swenstown. This would allow me to run a campaign focused on rebuilding, and reforging a lost connection with past traditions (not unlike King of Dragon Pass). The Dundealos also have some interesting neighbors, who could make good allies or antagonists depending on players' actions. These include the nomads and creatures of Prax, the impoverished Balkoth Tribe, and the slave-taking Sambari Tribe. When I was writing notes on the setting, I found the fanzine Hearts in Glorantha very helpful. The first collection contains an article on the Dundealos Tribe by Jeff Richard, of which I used most of the clans for in my campaign. It also has an article on the Balkoth, which I made use of (and it's awesome, there's so much more to them than just goats!). The Sartar Companion was also very helpful in mapping out the Dundealos Valley. The Bardori Clan I wanted to create a clan of my own for the campaign. The Bardori are typical of many Dundealos clans: they herd more sheep than cattle, they produce many fine riders, and they tend to fight in a skirmishing style with bows and javelins from horseback. They are also unusual in several ways: their clan wyter is a rooster, they consider all chickens (especially roosters) sacred, and they see Elmal and Redalda as equally important to Orlanth and Ernalda. They worship several heroes known for their skill in riding, including Hyalor, Ulanin, and Derik Pol-Joni. The Bardori were disbanded in 1618 by the Lunar Empire, after the Dundealos rebelled, and were defeated. The survivors either went into exile, lived as bandits, or were enslaved and forced to work on the New Lunar Temple. The core rulebook for RQG states that the tribe was disbanded in 1615, while the HQ books say 1618. For my campaign I went with the later date, because I wanted there to be a faction of former slaves in the clan, and 10 years felt like too long for anyone to survive in a Lunar slave camp. The core book mentions a "Pol-Joni adventurer" being responsible for recreating the Dundealos tribe. I decided to flesh out this character more, and give him the name Ekil Blackmane (or just Blackmane). He led a band of warriors back to the valley, only a few days after the Dragonrise, and destroyed the remnants of the Lunar Enstalos tribe. He then became the new tribal king. What exactly happened to the Enstalos people, specifically the women and children, was left to the new clan chieftains. Most were enslaved or ransomed if possible. The new Bardori chieftain, Angarr Broad-Back, returned to the Dundealos Valley with his warriors at the same time as Blackmane to reclaim his people's land. The harvest was not yet complete, so he chose to go against clan tradition and keep the Enstalos survivors as thralls to finish the harvest. All of the player characters were either children or teenagers when the clan was forcibly disbanded. When I had my players make characters, I had them think about how they fit into their clan's recent history. This was in addition to the normal family history generation, but they ended up being fairly compatible. They had the following background options to choose from- Exile - Fled with family or sent to live with distant kin. If players chose this option, they had to also choose where they spent their exile. This option allowed players to choose Homelands other than Sartar, to reflect a different style of upbringing. Banditry - Stayed in or near the former Dundealos tribal lands, and lived a precarious existence as bandits. Enslaved - Forced to work in Sartar in Lunar slave camps, or sent to Lunar Tarsh. Players could also choose to be married or adopted into the clan, which opened up even more options. Here is a segment of the Dragon Pass map by Darya Makarava. The river running from Boldhome into Prax (near the Dragonrise), and the surrounding valley, is the campaign's "home base." The river is called the Willow Beck, and the valley is named for the Dundealos Tribe. The Heroes We started with three players, and ended up adding a fourth fairly recently. Garkar - Former bandit, Initiate of Orlanth - Garkar lived as a bandit, and fought against the Empire after the clan was destroyed. The harsh life of banditry formed him into a vengeful, somewhat paranoid man with many grudges (most of his passions start with "Hate"). Garkar has few ambitions other than to see his clan back on their feet, and to punish their old enemies. Erindros - Exile in Esrolia, Initiate of Issaries - Erindros is the scion of one of the two merchant families in the clan. His wealthy aunt in Nochet took him in as a child, and he was raised in the (relative) safety of great city. When the Empire was driven from Sartar, Erindros was encouraged to reclaim his family's land in Dundealos Valley, and he did so (somewhat unwillingly). He discovered his family's farm was in great disrepair, and set about rebuilding it. Erindros is effete and snobbish towards his "barbarian" cousins, but in spite of this he is a great leader in battle. Egajia - Praxian, adopted into the clan by the chieftain, Initiate of Daka Fal - Egajia was born among the High Llama riders, her family were rebels who fought the Lunars alongside Angarr Broad-Back and the Pol-Joni. Her family were all killed, and Angarr adopted her into his own household. She returned to the valley to serve the chieftain as a thane, and lives a strange half-life, spending time with her new kinfolk, and visiting her shaman mentor in Prax. He Who Spits at Chaos (formerly known as Brun) - Exile in Prax, Initiate of Storm Bull - Most of Brun's family were slaughtered by the Lunars after the last Dundealos uprising. He found a sense of belonging with a band of Storm Bull warriors based in Prax. After his initiation, he took his new "name." HWSAC only recently joined the campaign, and is determined to build a shrine to his god on Bardori land, which will also double as an inn and beer hall. His kin appreciate his talent at fighting Chaos, but see his future ambitions as... problematic. Next time... More background material, and covering the campaign events up to the present. Thanks for reading!
  6. 2 points
    Review: Refractions of Glasston for Call of Cthulhu When I first heard of a group of college students working with faculty and Chaosium mentors to write a scenario I was simultaneously hopeful and skeptical. On one hand, anyone who has played role-playing games for an extended period of time knows that writing content for a wide audience for a game is challenging. My head spins a bit when I think about taking quality writing and needing to support it with art, handouts, editing and layout that makes for a truly professional-looking package. That isn’t easy. On the other hand, Miskatonic Repository has provided a lovely platform to allow amateur writers access to publication avenues that were not present in the past. Why shouldn’t a college course provide an opportunity for experiential learning? With these competing perspectives in mind, I dove into Refractions of Glasston (RoG henceforth) with a positive and open mind. And I was not disappointed. The scenario is a 1920s-era investigation set within the historical context of Indiana at the time. This is probably my favorite part of the endeavor. I learned a bit of Indiana’s glass manufacturing history by reading this scenario. Call of Cthulhu has always had the advantage of being a nice vehicle for exploring true history in the context of fiction. Having real world tie-ins in any CoC scenario are useful for giving players reasons as to why their character would be present and engaged. I think this will help the scenario especially if run at conventions. At this point, note that there will be spoilers moving forward. There are specific plot points that I want to give as feedback to the student writers and I can’t really do that without making specific references to happenings. I enthusiastically recommend this scenario for play, so if you are a player and want to send it off to your Keeper, I think you can feel confident in doing so. Please direct your Keeper to read the rest of the review for tips for running it. I have a long list of things that I like about the scenario. The biggest one for me is the cast of characters. The authors have done a great job of fleshing out the details of a wide variety of different characters for players to interact with, each with their own personal motives. This micro-setting feels “lived in” and the characters give it that authenticity. I think it is particularly important for a scenario of any game to have characters that players want to interact with. RoG has NPCs with a variety of motives. The town is really well fleshed out. Glasston, as presented, has the right number of buildings for exploration activities to have solid depth, while not also being overwhelming in scope. Of particular note is the temporal variations that the authors have worked into the text about specific locations. There are many options as to what could happen depending upon the timing of when the investigators explore a particular location. Whether a Keeper uses these as written, or adapts them to their own purposes, it can never hurt to have more options. I find “the monster” of this scenario to be very interesting. I think fear of being cut by glass is a very real phobia of a lot of people, and for good reason. Any scenario that targets common fears is immediately aiding in the development of mood. The Glass Plague is creepy and deadly and gives investigators added incentive to continue to find out more critical information as to what is happening in town. This threat also has a calculating intelligence behind it. I think the scenario could probably stand on the Glass Plague alone, without the entity at all, but the added layer of a cold, directed intelligence behind what is happening just makes everything even more interesting and terrifying. The attacks of the creature are varied and interesting. The overall organization of the scenario follows three distinct acts. The first act is a sandbox with a large amount of supporting material to help it feel fleshed out. The last two acts are a bit more prescriptive. One of the most interesting elements of the sandbox act is the idea of the suspicion tracker. This is a simple but very powerful mechanic that I think could be broadly used in many investigative horror scenarios. A question constantly facing Keepers is timing of when sinister elements make their move. I’m sure opinions on this will vary on a continuum from “when the Keeper deems the time to be right,” to a more objective method of determination with the suspicion tracker. At the end of the day, the “correct” answer is whatever makes the game most interesting for a particular group. The suspicion tracker adds a concrete option for Keepers who prefer discrete triggers to events. The extent to which particular events contribute to the tracker make sense in the context of the overarching narrative. The layout of the scenario is professionally done. Everything that makes the organization of 7E scenarios great is present here, down to the consistent formatting of character information blocks. This standardization makes it immediately easy for new fans to pick up the importance of getting characters down first before any events transpire. The art of the handouts, the town map, and character portraits are all well done, given the amateur group producing the scenario. It is refreshing to see character portrait artwork that breaks the mold of what is “usual” for 7E. That isn’t a criticism of 7E so much as an appreciation for art variation in any product. The pre-generated characters are well designed and each follows the “Holy Trifecta” rule of at least one or two critically useful skills (Library Use, Social, Investigative). This is a free product being produced for learning purposes for students and as a benefit to the community. So, I think anyone needs to keep that in mind when they are evaluating. I’m not inclined to get too nitpicky here, except when that could have a positive impact on learning. I’ll end my “things I like” section by just mentioning how important I think it is that a class at a religious college is publishing this scenario. Role-playing in general, but especially “occult”-themed games like Call of Cthulhu, are often demonized by faith groups. I think it is a critical act of gaming leadership for a class at a religious college to publish a secular scenario. Thank you for sending a positive message about story-telling from your vantage point! As to stretches, there are a couple aspects of the narrative that I think deserve mention for prospective Keepers. A linchpin of the narrative is setting up the concept of the Sand Pit as a key location for the third act. The sandbox portion is pretty light on concrete mentions of the Sand Pit. It would be up to the Keeper to plan by having a list of NPCs that are the most important sources of Sand Pit information. For me, the top four (in order) are: Dennis Adkins, Gloria Hillis, Barry Coddle, and Elias Winters. Barry Coddle is the only character that gives explicit references to the Sand Pit. I think that relevant sections of the text would benefit greatly from reminding the Keeper that each of these characters are important sources of information for helping the investigators learn about the significance of the Sand Pit. For example: “Keepers should note that, if the investigators have not learned about the Sand Pit before now, Gloria is an excellent opportunity to communicate that information...” A journal entry handout cryptically references “sand.” But other than that, scouring the scenario, I find scant reference to the main sources of info about the Sand Pit. I’m guessing the authors had the idea firmly placed in their minds as they wrote and edited. In my opinion, it doesn’t come out in the text. I could see an inexperienced Keeper failing to do enough to set up the idea of the Sand Pit and, by extension, I could see a group of players completely lost as to how to act on the information they have about the Glass Plague. As written, it is entirely possible that if the investigators don’t talk to Barry Coddle, they would never hear the term Sand Pit uttered in the adventure. A good axiom to follow in scenario preparation is that players always need more chances to find information than you might think. References to the Sand Pit seem too light to me. There are a couple points in the scenario where the NPCs seem overly aggressive. For example, the interaction with the Sheriff seems odd. One failed Fast Talk roll and not leaving immediately is enough to get an investigator shot? By the sheriff? Yikes. I understand that one of the central ideas is that the Glass Plague alters people’s minds, but this action seems in direct contradiction to what we learn about Joan McKay in her character bio. She wants to “keep outsiders from suspecting its plans” and her “strong moral code often outweighs Kh’yrenery’hk’s influence.” These statements seem to directly contradict her just shooting an investigator because she doesn’t like the cut of their jib. Shooting somebody isn’t an effective way to curtail suspicion. Another example would be the Brawl in Aisle 12. That just doesn’t sit well with me as a Keeper. It kind of smacks of “let’s be sure to get a combat encounter in here.” I think perhaps the goal is to give investigators an opportunity to study the Glass Plague, but those opportunities abound in the scenario. Does it function to influence the suspicion tracker? Is the goal to increase tension through violence? It just seems overly aggressive. The Jim Crow Laws sidebar feels like a tacked-on and missed opportunity. It basically says: “Jim Crow Laws existed. Use that if you want.” Without any guidance on how to use them appropriately, I think the section potentially does more harm than good. Maybe the writers didn’t feel qualified to write advice on using Jim Crow in a historical scenario? If that’s the case, it is probably best to not try to do something you aren’t prepared or qualified for. It just leaves a hollow taste in my mouth. I feel like Call of Cthulhu is a great opportunity for us to engage on tough social issues as gamers. But without guidance on how to do that it risks making a mockery of very serious historical issues. So, my advice is either to flesh out this sidebar a bit more to give the tips needed for Keepers to be effective (maybe consulting with someone who can give appropriate guidance?) or to just ditch it entirely. I think this is a pretty deadly scenario, whether we are talking about physical or mental harm. This could be considered a strength or a weakness of the scenario, depending upon who you ask and whether it is used as a one-shot or as part of a campaign. I wonder if it was independently play-tested, because I see a TPK here as being pretty likely, unless the investigators have a well-thought-through plan for fighting Kh’yrenery’hk. Very minor nitpicks: Page 24, first paragraph: “Visint” Page 26, first column, last paragraph: Sounds (pun intended) like it should be a Listen roll, not Spot Hidden. Page 28, Glass Behemoth stat block: Damage bonus is +5D6, but Brawl attack has +1D6 In summary Refractions of Glasston is an excellent scenario with an interesting cast of characters and a truly frightening, otherworldly, unique threat. I find it easy to visualize squirming at a gaming table as the clues are uncovered and the Glass Plague is encountered. This student group should be proud of what they accomplished! Verdict: A solid 4 out of 5 for me. Highly recommended.
  7. 2 points
    Really enjoyed this amazing podcast, made me want to play a game I had really never heard of!
  8. 2 points
    Hello All, So, I'm way behind on my recap blog. Things got really crazy back around the holidays, and I lost my motivation to keep writing. Our campaign is still ongoing, although it is scheduled to end after Sacred Time 1626. Right now we are in Storm Season. At this point I have some more free time on my hands due to being shut in from the virus, so I figured I would catch up on my chronicle. These will be more brief because I've forgotten some of the details. Earth Season 1626 Finale - How my players became terrified of Sakkars The party had successfully tracked down Angtyr of the Horn to a hidden cave in the southern Yellow Hills. Instead of charging right in, they returned to Darrold's Hold and rounded up the posse. King Orkarl himself decided to accompany them, along with 20-ish warriors. This session was one big string of battles, most of which were very one-sided. Garkar was nearly killed after getting stabbed in the neck by a sentry, but recovered with some quick healing. After that, the posse split up to cut off all escape routes for the bandits. The party and King Orkarl continued with 10 men. Sneaking up on the cave proved impossible, and the alarm was soon raised. Angtyr appeared, naked and wielding a very large spear. After some banter and mockery, he commanded his bandits to attack while he slipped away. I was hoping this final battle would prove to more challenging for the crew, but I had given them one particular toy that threw things way out of balance: the Sakkar spirit. Since they had spent most of the last session trying to find and ally with it, I wanted to make it worth the trouble. They had already used it to help find Angtyr, but it had another useful ability. If it was allowed to possess a human host, it would transform that person into a flesh-and-blood saber-toothed cat. I figured Egajia would do this, but it was decided her spirit magic would be more useful. Erindros, who is somewhat lacking in combative skills, volunteered for possession. Angtyr, who was a priest of Gerendetho, had the power to summon rockfalls from his god. He started the fight by doing this, bringing down Orkarl and a few other warriors in a large rockslide. He then ran for it. As soon as Erindros saw this, he invited the Sakkar spirit in, and transformed. Egajia cast some damage-boosting spells, and Erindros/Sakkar managed to leap right over the defensive shield wall that was guarding Angtyr. The bandit king had a hefty Shield spell up, and as soon as Egajia realized this she called on an ancestor spirit (pre-summoned) to tear it down with a big Dispel Magic. Angtyr had lasted only 3 rounds before Erindros caught up with him. In tiger form, he managed to tear open Angtyr's chest with a claw swipe, which was nearly enough to kill him. Then he rolled a Special for the bite attack on his HEAD! Typical. He rolled high enough damage to decapitate poor Angtyr, so that was it. Before his untimely demise, Angtyr had pulled on a rope nearby, opening up a pit in the ground. Out of the pit climbed a massive broo, vile and pustule-ridden. As Erindros engaged with the beast, the other bandits were quickly falling to Garkar, HWSAD and Egajia's signature Sleep spells. The giant broo lasted another two rounds, but was quickly eviscerated by saber-tooth fangs, and a finishing blow to the chest by HWSAD's maul. King Orkarl was healed, and everyone witnessed the Sakkar bound up a cliff and back into the woods. This was done to make the Balkoth men think that the tribe was avenged by a local spirit, rather than by a group of Dundealos adventurers. Egajia took Angtyr's enchanted horn as a gift to the Wozer clan, and the rest of the party split up the spoils with King Orkarl. They returned to the Wozer clan in triumph, presenting the chieftain with the horn, and sealing their friendship. Next time I will recap Dark Season, which will also likely be short. Thanks for reading!
  9. 2 points
    For our most recent session, the players took the reins and decided to visit the neighboring Balkoth Tribe. I hadn't really planned for this, but thankfully I had some good material to fall back on from Hearts in Glorantha, with the Balkoth article by Stuart Mousir-Harrison. Erindros' player could not make it for this session either, but since he had a wedding to plan, it was easy to explain his absence. Friendly Neighbors I usually start off a new season by sharing the local news from passing merchants and travelers. The biggest news came from Boldhome. For weeks after the Battle of Queens, Kallyr had lain in state at the Royal Palace, her body preserved with magic. Finally, in frustration, Leika Blackspear of the Colymar Tribe decided to torch Kallyr's body, and leave the city with her entourage (these events are covered in various books, including the core rulebook). The PC's reacted with unease at this news, until a messenger from Blackmane arrived. The messenger explained that the Dundealos would stay strong even if the Kingdom of Sartar disintegrated, thanks to their close alliance with the Pol-Joni Tribe. Earth Season rolled through, with the harvest being meager, but free of raids or strange occurrences. The players reviewed some of the recent problems affecting the clan, and pondered their next course of action. Bandit activity in the Verge was getting worse. A gift from the Bardori to the Hyaling clan had recently been stolen. The Wozer clan of the Balkoth had successfully repelled all counter-raids after stealing cattle from everyone south of the Willow Beck river. Many Bardori thanes still agitated against them. Many Storm Bull warriors from the Valley were heading to Heortland to fight the Scorpion menace. Egajia meditated on the problem of the Wozer clan. They had always been troublesome neighbors, with a long history of slights, raiding, and land grabs. However because she was adopted into the clan during the Dundealos exile period, she didn't have quite the same animosity towards them as her kinfolk. Their behavior since the Dragonrise had been unusually hostile, and she sensed that something spiritual might be the cause of this. She made up her mind to speak with the Wozer's wyter spirit, and convinced Garkar and He Who Spits at the Devil to go with her. Here are some maps to get a sense of where the Balkoth live (the left one is from the AA Atlas, which is why it still includes the New Lunar Temple). None of the PC's could remember what the Wozer spirit was, or where it was kept. Egajia tried speaking with the Bardori's chief trader, Stolf Argin's Son, who visited the Wozer occasionally. He was uninterested in helping them, as he suspected that Egajia was trying to get neighborly with the Balkoth clans. He explained that the Balkoth were once the wealthiest tribe in the Swenstown confederation, but since the occupation had become the poorest, losing all of their cattle and gaining nothing but filthy goats. The Wozer were the poorest clan of the tribe, and their constant cattle raiding was because no-one would willingly trade with them from the Valley. He wanted to keep things this way, as "weak Balkoth mean strong Dundealos in the Swenstown markets." Egajia left in frustration, and decided to visit the Wozer chieftain without any background info. The plan hatched by the three heroes was that they would openly approach the Wozer patrols, and announce that they were investigating rumors of Chaos activity nearby. Because most clans are eager to dispel any rumors of harboring Chaos, this would hopefully get them an audience with the chieftain. They crossed the Willow Beck going north, and immediately met some hostile weaponthanes on horses, demanding to know their business. Garkar did some fast talking (unsuccessfully), and then HWSAD relied on his intimidating bluster to demand an audience with chieftain Orvengar. The patrolmen acquiesced, not wanting trouble from Storm Bull. The party passed through the stunted, yellow pastures of the Wozer. Gaunt herders tended to goats (gasp!), sheep, and the occasional cow. The Wozer's harvest was clearly even more pathetic than their neighbors'. Egajia was not bothered by the omnipresent goats, but I really tried to underscore the revulsion that Garkar and HWSAD would feel at confronting these beasts. I described them as "basically broos with four legs, playing with children." The PC's also noticed a lack of young men or women, with many folk being older, or just children. The chieftain's hall was located on high ground, near a rocky outcrop of sandstone. Chieftain Orvengar was a twisted old man, nearly crippled from falling off a horse many years ago. His hall was filled with cows stolen from various clans. He was in the process of milking one of them when the heroes entered. He greeted them with jeers and derision at having their beloved cows stolen. Egajia did the talking, while the other two fumed at the obnoxious old man. She accused Orvengar and his people of betraying all of Sartar with their raids and selfishness, and also said that he brought Chaos upon everyone with his reckless leadership. Orvengar denied that Chaos had visited his people, and said that raiding was the right of any Heortling clan. Egajia then suggested that the Wozer clan looked "sick" to her, and asked when the last time the chieftain had spoken with the clan's wyter. This seemed to catch him off guard, and after more pressing, he admitted that he had not consulted the wyter for several seasons. Egajia asked to join him in consulting the wyter, and promised to help him "overcome his clan's sickness." He agreed to this, although they were accompanied by armed thanes. They went further up into the Yellow Hills, to a hilltop crowned with broken sandstone. There they found a hidden statue of a grotesque-looking man, with massive hands, feet, and genitals. As Orvengar prayed to the statue, it became animated, leaping about and making faces at the chieftain. It excoriated him for not making proper sacrifices, and ignoring it's advice. After many apologies, Egajia asked the statue what troubles affected the Wozer clan that they could help alleviate. The statue grinned and said- "Change is coming to the Yellow Hills, and our people must embrace it! But they cannot become strong again until they remove all traces of the shameful past. We must cleanse ourselves of past stains, and bring justice to the one who brought that shame unto us!" After this, the statue went silent again. Egajia was not sure what all of this meant. Orvengar explained that the statue was talking about the Balkoth's former king, Angtyr of the Horn. While he didn't know about "embracing change," he knew that Angtyr unquestionably was the tribe's greatest shame. He was a Lunar hostage, who returned to rule the tribe during the Occupation. He brought foreign goat cults with him, along with the Seven Mothers, and lived a debauched lifestyle while his people starved. After the Dragonrise (which he managed to avoid), he became a bandit and disappeared into the hills. While Angtyr had not come from the Wozer, he had targeted them for reprisals due to their rebellious disposition. The people longed to see him brought to justice, but so far he had escaped discovery from the new Balkoth king. Egajia then offered help join the hunt for Angtyr, if it would help the Wozer. Orvengar said this would help to build friendship between Bardori and Wozer, as well as friendship between tribes. But the Balkoth had already been hunting Angtyr for many seasons, with no luck. He also said there was no chance of anyone getting their stolen cows back. "A Goat King, for a Goat People" The chieftain offered the PC's hospitality for the night. They decided to ask around among the Wozer folk about Angtyr, and see if they could learn anything interesting. They didn't pick up much (bad rolls again) other than what they already knew. One bit of info that Orvengar shared was that the two "goat cults" Angtyr had introduced to the Balkoth were still going strong in his absence. These included Gerendetho, an Earth god from the Lunar province of Kostaddi, and Uryarda, the Goat Mother. Angtyr himself was a priest of Gerendetho, embodying his more violent and hedonistic traits. The Gerendetho cult had been outlawed by the new king, but Uryarda's was still going strong. The people found that the goats did well in the dry Yellow Hills, and many admired their hardiness. There were also rumors that Angtyr still had supporters among both of these cults. The heroes decided to try something that would get some attention. They improvised a song satirizing Angtyr, and sang it to an assembled crowd of farmers. Their rolls were successful (and their lyrics were spot-on), so after a few hours the whole clan was singing it. I can't remember the lyrics now, but they involved Angtyr's alleged flatulence, and something about "blowing his own horn." While they had their crowd laughing away, they noticed a group of women at the edge were clearly not amused, and saw them slip away into the night. Garkar successfully followed them without being seen. He observed the women entering a large stead, and hunkered down to wait for anything interesting to happen. He heard loud arguments from within, and eventually a man stormed out of the stead. He mounted a horse, and surprisingly, the horse took off into the air on it's own, galloping as if the air were solid ground. Garkar, as a former outlaw, recognized the signature spell of the god of outlaws, Gagarth, the Wild Hunter. He assumed this man must be a bandit, and possibly might have a connection with Angtyr, the local bandit king. He heard the women refer to the man as "Destor," and also heard mention of "Darrold's Hold". He returned to the others to share this information, and also let Orvengar know. The chieftain told them that the women they saw were of the clan's Uryarda cult, and he would question them himself. There was no-one in the clan named Destor who fit the man's description, so he was likely an outlaw. Darrold's Hold was a hill fort owned by the neighboring Daldari clan, and the current seat of the Balkoth king, Orkarl Windstorm. The party decided to visit Darrold's Hold and find the mysterious Destor. Orvengar offered the services of one of his thanes, an Odaylan hunter and tracker named Hiark. He would guide them to Darrold's Hold (only a day's journey), and also make an introduction to king Orkarl. The heroes set off. They were going into the Yellow Hills, which were the traditional lands of the Balkoth. Dry, dusty, and rocky, the hills make for poor grazing, and are part of the reason for the tribe's poverty. The terrain is more like Prax than Sartar. I showed the players some random googled images to give them a sense of the place. After a few hours of travel on a herder's path, they entered a dry ravine (classic ambush spot). Egajia sent her fetch away from her body to get a bird's eye view of the land. She noticed two horses tied up near the edge of the ravine, and a man hiding nearby in the brush, readying a sling. Garkar noticed him as well, and warned everyone to take cover. The party cast a few spells in preparation, and then arrows and slingstones started to fly from both sides of the ravine. What followed was a short but bloody battle. HWSAD rode his antelope up the edge of the ravine, trying to close distance with the one attacker they had seen. Garkar and Egajia ran up on foot, he with his shield up, and she casting Disruption spells. Their guide Hiark stayed back and fired arrows. Her fetch continued to float above the battle, trying to locate other attackers with Second Sight. Egajia took an arrow in the arm from behind, Garkar was hit in the leg, and was forced to stop and heal himself. They noticed two other bandits, one a tall, muscular man with a bow, and the other a short woman, who began running for her horse after seeing HWSAD charge in. The first bandit they had seen rose up, and drew a two-handed sword. He was well-armored and tattooed in Death runes, marking him as a Humakt initiate. He whispered prayers to his sword, and closed in. HWSAD caught up to him first, and cast Berserker on himself. He then prepared to leap from his steed, but the Humakti got the first blow in. He cut deeply into HWSAD's leg, and had he not been raging it would have been severed clean. The extra hit points allowed him to keep it attached, and the Bull's rage kept him from going into shock, but he was now crippled. He fell to the ground. Thankfully, he could still swing his maul from the ground, and rolled a special success against the Humakti. As usual, he dealt a massive blow and rolled well for damage. The other warrior was crippled as well, and sank to the ground screaming over his crushed leg. Garkar let loose a javelin and impaled the big fellow, also through his leg. He then ran up to heal HWSAD, who rose and finished off both bandits. Arrows continued to fly from the other side of the ravine. Garkar took one to the head, but his helmet stopped it from doing serious damage. Egajia meanwhile was pursuing the fleeing woman. She attempted to cast her go-to Sleep spell, but the woman had fairly strong Countermagic up. The bandit leaped onto her horse, and it took off into the air, rising quickly. Egajia sent her bound Wraith after the bandit. Before it even caught up, Hiark, who had not accomplished much up to this point, let loose a well-aimed arrow. We ruled that a ranged attack from below would most likely hit the horse, and... it did. The arrow went through the poor horse's skull, and it died in mid-air. Rather than crash to the ground, it slowly sank down. Egajia's wraith enveloped the bandit, and began sucking her very life force way. The woman screamed for mercy, and then jumped free from her falling horse. She offered herself up as a prisoner. Everyone then looked over and saw another bandit, an impala rider by his steed and stature, take off into the air from the other side of the ravine. He was heading in the direction of Darrold's Hold. That's all! Pretty good session, considering I improvised almost the entire thing. With our next session, we will go deeper into the wild parts of Balkoth country, in search of Angtyr of the Horn. Thanks for reading!
  10. 2 points
    Our most recent session was very eventful. Three of the heroes fought in the Battle of the Queens and survived, only to see Prince Kallyr cut down by Lunar assassins. In the aftermath of Queen Leika leaving for Boldhome with her entourage, Erindros, Garkar, and He Who Spits at the Devil contemplated the future of Sartar. Upon hearing the rumor that Kallyr could not be revived from death, even with the most powerful magics, HWSAD wondered if there were some way to succeed where others had failed. Short of attempting their own Lightbringer's Quest, which was beyond the party's abilities, no one could think of any solutions. They trudged off for home, hoping that things had not fallen apart in their absence. Egajia Finds the Garlic Man Egajia's player decided not to participate in the big battle, since it didn't really play to her skills. Because she had to sit out for much of the last session, I gave her some extra screen time as she attempted to cleanse the Bardori tula of disease spirits. She was approached by the clan's own Chalana Arroy healer, a man named Durri Kind-Eyes. He was a soft-spoken man who had endured life as a Lunar slave for much of the exile period. Durri had been trying in vain to drive off the foul spirits that had been plaguing everyone since the last broo attack. He told Egajia that he knew of a powerful healing spirit that had helped the clan before, but it could only be contacted in the Spirit World. The spirit was known as the Garlic Man, and he (it?) could create charms that would protect the people from further infection. Egajia agreed to travel into the Spirit World to find the Garlic Man, and bargain with it for help. She spent some time preparing to discorporate. She rubbed herself in rancid butter and garlic oil, and also chewed enough garlic cloves to make her breath deadly. Her fetch stayed behind to guard her body while she journeyed. Without the fetch present, Egajia's POW score was much reduced, making her magic weaker. I also ruled that she could not bring her bound spirits or charms with her to the Spirit World. She could still draw on her fetch's magic points however, so she wouldn't be helpless. The journey began in Egajia's hut. Although her senses were dulled in the Spirit World, she could detect the faint scent of garlic, drawing her on towards distant mountains. She followed her nose, and flew towards them. As she went farther beyond the border reaches, which resembled physical Glorantha, the landscape became more twisted and Seussian. She was soon drawn to a canyon, and then a dark cave. The area was festooned with garlands and garlic charms. Egajia looked within the cave, and saw a humanoid figure, tall and musclebound in a loincloth, with a head resembling a massive bulb of garlic. The strange being was wrestling the largest disease spirit Egajia had ever seen. This creature resembled depictions of the goddess Malia: spherical, with many limbs, and a gaping, fanged, vertical slit for a mouth. This was obviously the Garlic Man, so Egajia prepared an ambush. Egajia was alone in the Spirit World, without her fetch, so she only had her reduced POW to draw on for casting spells. In past battles with otherworldly entities, she has used spirit magic in conjunction with her powerful spirit combat skill (now also reduced) to bring down her enemies quickly. She attempted to Befuddle and Disrupt the disease spirit, but both spells failed. The spirit was alerted to her presence, and charged. The Garlic Man seemed incapacitated, so it was a one-on-one spiritual duel. The disease spirit proved very powerful, after a few rounds, Egajia had to draw on her fetch's magic points to stay in the fight. She managed to fire off a few Disruption spells to even the odds. Because both entities were in spiritual form, their combat was envisioned as a simple wrestling match, with Egajia also using her deadly garlic breath to great effect. Eventually, Egajia was reduced to a mere 4 magic points. She had to face the choice of fleeing, or being defeated and likely possessed by this vile spirit. Thinking of her clan (and her Passion, Loyalty: Bardori Clan), she chose to stand her ground. First she attempted to rouse the Garlic Man, hoping he could help her. She used her Sing skill, but was drowned out by the shrieking of the disease spirit. She had to withstand one more round of spirit combat, but managed to win by a hair's breadth (92 against a 94). The disease spirit then chose to flee, inflating itself like a balloon and floating off to the horizon. Egajia let loose a parting shot with a final Disruption spell. She couldn't finish it off, but she did manage to pop a hole in the spirit's skin, which made it's escape much more undignified. The Garlic Man eventually recovered his strength, and stood before Egajia. They negotiated in Spirit Speech. She asked him to inhabit the Bardori tula and help protect the community from further infections. He was grateful for being rescued from the disease spirit, so he agreed. But he did ask to for "flesh" to inhabit while he stayed in the physical world. Egajia assumed this meant possession, but the Garlic Man assured her that he just needed a single limb. She popped off her left arm, and gave it to him as a fetish. Back in the real world, Egajia's physical arm actually came off at the shoulder, her skin healing smoothly. When she came back to her body, she wrapped up the arm in bandages and gave it to Durri to use. The arm was still warm, and pulsed with a heartbeat. The Garlic Man bade her farewell, and assured her that she would get the arm back after the tula was fully cleansed. A Rude Welcome The other three heroes returned from the Battle of the Queens, bearing the bad news about Prince Kallyr to the clan. Afterward, they reunited with Egajia and retired to Erindros' farm to rest. As soon as they arrived, one of Erindros' cousins ran to intercept him. He explained that a stranger from the Blue Jay clan had come to speak with him, and seemed angry. The man soon materialized, a young warrior, handsome, but clearly drunk and worked up into an impressive rage. He staggered up to Erindros, took a swig from a wine skin, and spat into his face. He then unleashed a tirade of insults, claiming that "the woman Oranvale" was his alone to marry. That "she had already chosen him", and should Erindros pursue her, then they would meet on the dueling ground. He also claimed that he had defecated in Erindros' boots, pointing to a pair of boots that belonged to someone else. Erindros had only an inkling of what the man was talking about, remembering a certain encounter with a Togarth woman back in Storm Season. The man stormed off, climbing onto his horse, falling off first, then successfully rode off. Erindros' cousin then explained that before the Blue Jay man showed up, a woman from the Togarth clan, "lightly pregnant," had arrived with servants and asked to speak with him as well. Wiping his face, Erindros decided to pay this woman a visit at her own farm. He donned his finest hat, and mounted his ostrich. His companions joined him for moral support. They passed through Togarth farms, and the patrols recognized him immediately as one of the heroes of the Rastorling raid. They directed him to a rich farm owned by a woman named Oranvale. They noticed fat herds, sun-ripened crops, and many tenants working in the sun. They found Oranvale with her servants, weaving a tapestry. She was a classic Sartarite beauty, in fine clothes and with a healthy Ernaldan figure. She was unmistakably the same woman that Erindros had a fling with after the big raid in Storm Season 1625 (see the end of this post for more details). They greeted each other in an almost business-like manner. Oranvale told Erindros that since their last encounter she had been with child. Divination had shown that the child was his. She was the only daughter of an exalted bloodline, who traced matrilineal descent back to Orgorvale Summer. Because of her wealth, beauty, and magically powerful ancestry, she had had many suitors for marriage after she had come of age. Now that she was pregnant, she was ready to choose a husband. She informed Erindros that she planned to marry a man of the Blue Jay clan named Andrinorth (the same cad who spat in Erindros' face). As a renowned warrior and skilled rider, he embodied the qualities of Ulanin the Rider more than any other suitor. However, as the true father of her child, Erindros had a right to be also be considered as a marriage prospect. After a pregnant pause (pun intended), she asked Erindros if there was something he wanted to ask her. With as much awkwardness as possible, he doffed his hat, and proposed to Oranvale. While I don't remember the player's exact word choice, it was something romantic like, "I would like to enter into a marriage contract proposal with you!" She asked him if he had brought her a gift (he hadn't). He presented her with the ostrich feather hat, and promised her a pleasant life on his farm with the Bardori clan. She accepted his gift, and informed him that if he was serious, she would sponsor a series of contests between him, Andrinorth, and anyone else who wished to compete for her favor. She explained that as a descendant of Orgorvale Summer, daughter of Vingkot, she sought a husband who displayed the qualities of Orgorvale's husband Ulanin. Namely, his skill in riding, great strength, and a mix of cunning and bravery. She proposed three different contests, of which Erindros would have to best Andrinorth in at least two- A race to display skill in horsemanship. Or at least skill in riding some kind of animal. A wrestling contest to prove strength. A contest to outwit or defeat Oranvale's fierce family guardian, a giant pig with skin made of bronze. She informed Erindros that she would announce the contests to her clan, and they would start preparations immediately. The Great Togarth Race A week went by. Erindros received word that the Togarth were preparing a race course, and inviting folk from other clans to witness the event. Oranvale announced that anyone who wished to take part in the race could do so for their own glory and renown. But the choice of her future husband was between Erindros and Andrinorth. Garkar, Egajia, and HWSAD all decided to participate. Erindros was anxious about this particular challenge. Andrinorth was reputed to be an excellent rider, while he had middling skill at riding an ostrich. Egajia had an idea at how the odds could be evened. She proposed contacting one of the clan's Pol-Joni ancestors, and asking them to "help" Erindros with his riding. By this she meant have the ancestor temporarily possess his body, and win the race for him. Erindros was reluctant to accept this plan, not because it seemed dishonorable, but because it was dangerous. He considered the next two challenges. He was a fairly good wrestler, and the contest with the Bronze Pig could be solved any number of ways. After realizing the race was his weakest prospect, he assented to the possession plan. Everyone traveled to the Togarth race course. Hundreds of people were gathered to watch the event, and some two dozen Dundealos folk would be racing. The riders were mostly on horses, but there were a few exotic Praxian beasts as well. The party gathered in a tent near the race course. Egajia summoned a powerful ancestor from the Pol-Joni tribe named Jekk, who claimed to be a master of riding every animal in Prax, including ostriches. He assured Erindros that as his ancestor (or distant cousin?), he would take good care of his body and steed. Egajia then cast Incarnate Ancestor. Erindros felt as if he was floating out of his body, and then observing himself in the third person. Jekk took charge, and swept out of the tent with great panache. He mounted his ostrich, and headed for the race course. The riders were gathered at the bottom of the chieftain's hall, where Oranvale and her household servants stood watching. Chieftain Arnsulva welcomed everyone to the event, and wished luck to all those racing. Erindros (actually Jekk) flashed a roguish smile at Oranvale, who smiled back confusedly. HWSAD decided to harass Andrinorth with insults saying, pointing to Erindros and saying "he's the father!" Andrinorth pointedly ignored him. I ran the race using the chase rules from the core book. Everyone made Ride rolls each round, with the degree of success determining how far ahead they got each round. We used six counters: four for the PC's, one for Andrinorth, and one to represent the other competitors. When I made Ride rolls for "the other guys" I gave them a very high skill to make it difficult to actually come in first place. Erindros was not expected to win the whole race, just beat Andrinorth to the finish line. The race track was basically just a herder's path that went through some woods, near the Willow Beck, and then back to the chieftain's hall. The race went as followed- Oranvale threw a sheaf of barley onto the track, and everyone took off in a cloud of dust. HWSAD rolled a critical, and blasted ahead of everyone else on his horse. Egajia on her llama had a bonus to her rolls, so she kept up, and so did Erindros and Garkar. Andrinorth failed his initial roll, and trailed behind. The race passed through some pasture land. As soon as Erindros passed near some cattle pens, a group of men with sticks opened up a gate, and began driving cows right into the race! Things ground to a halt as everyone was caught in a slow stampede. Those who were trailing behind soon caught up, and Andrinorth was now neck-and-neck with Erindros. HWSAD still held a strong lead. The competitors passed through a wooded area, and the track began to wind. I imposed a light penalty on rolls, but everyone succeeded except for He Who Spits. He now had lost his lead as other racers got ahead of him. Erindros was floating above his body as a spirit, and saw a strange, grotesque thing flying toward him rapidly. Egajia saw it too and recognized it for a Fear Spirit. She cast Befuddle, and then convinced it to fly at Andrinorth instead. It complied, and his horse began to buck and kick. The race passed near the river. Andrinorth kept pace with Erindros in spite of his spooked horse. HWSAD had now fallen behind the rest. The chieftain's hall came into sight. Andrinorth had apparently shaken the Fear Spirit, but still fell behind Jekk's peerless riding. Erindros' ostrich practically flew along the ground. As the finish line approached, there was a great clap of thunder, and an incredible gust of wind kicked up dust. Some were thrown from their mounts, and most were slowed in the dust and wind. Erindros brought out his trump card. Since he had incarnated Jekk the Pol-Joni, he had access to all his spells, including Rune magic. He cast Decrease Wind to create a pocket of calm around himself. He saw that Andrinorth was also shooting ahead in spite of the wind, but he couldn't beat Erindros to the finish line. None of the PC's actually won the entire race, but Erindros defeated his rival, and so won the first contest. Andrinorth cursed and spat, and had to endure more insults from the PC's. Before Jekk left Erindros' body, he swept Oranvale off her feet for a kiss. She assented, but reminded him that he had two challenges to go. Next time, mud wrestling and pig wrangling! Thanks for reading my recaps!
  11. 2 points
    While I work on the Tragedy of Shargash and the Buraroxi Muskox People writeups (titles pending), here is a teensy thing that was inspired by a discussion in the RuneQuest forum a while ago: when you cast Rune spells during play, what does your character do? Do they literally just say "I cast [spell] for [x] number of Points of Worship"? I prefer to think no, so I came up with this generic prayer that a character (or player, for some extra immersion) could recite fairly quickly. May not fit with what anyone imagines this to be, but this is my take on it: Generic form (feel free to change): O, hear me [deity], [additional title]! Your most worshipful follower calls upon your divine grace for a boon! In this, my hour of need, I seek your [positive quality of deity] to aid me against my foes! Always have I kept your laws, and given unto you the worship that is yours, always have I remained virtuous in your eyes! Now, I call upon your [spell effect]! As once you did [quick summary of mythological story that associates deity and spell effect]! Protect your faithful, and I will bring you honor, always! Example: O, hear me Orlanth, King of Storms, Master of the Middle Airs! Your most worshipful follower calls upon your divine grace for a boon! In this, my hour of need, I seek your Mighty Breath to aid me against my foes! Always have I kept your laws, and given unto you the worship that is yours, always have I remained virtuous in your eyes! Now, I call upon you to Clear the Skies of Clouds, as once you did clear the skies for your sons, the Vingkotlings to protect them against hostile Cloud Raiders! Protect your faithful, and I will bring you honor, always! Hope this might be of use to someone.
  12. 2 points
    Preparing for the Expedition For this session, we played without Egajia. Because everyone was heading into Prax again, and she was ready for her shaman initiation, we explained this by saying she had ventured out early to meet with her mentor and prepare. The other three party members would organize the caravan, and meet with Egajia at the Paps. Here is the route that everyone decided on for reaching Pavis. The party divided up their loot from the raid on Ft. Enstala, and made some purchases. They gave a portion of the goods and silver they found to the Togarth clan, another portion to the Bardori, and some for personal use. The rest they put aside to purchase trade goods, supplies, pack animals and steeds. I allowed them to purchase animals on loan from various sellers around the valley, so they ended up with three pack mules, two bison, and a sable antelope at a discount price. The heroes had achieved a small measure of fame for successfully looting the ruined fort, but their chances of returning alive from Prax were still seen as not good by the clan's elders. They set off on their journey with little fanfare. As they passed through the neighboring Hyaling clan's territory, He Who Spits decided the caravan needed more hired guards, and grew very excited at the prospect of hiring some "real native baboons." There happened to be a mercenary troop camped near the household of the Hyaling chieftain. HWSAC continued the party tradition of botching Communication skill rolls while negotiating for rates. The alpha baboon would only offer the services of two green recruits, but Erindros still managed a good price for their services. Thus, baboons Kurruk and Garr joined the caravan. Day's Rest and the Block After roughly three days of travel, the party arrived again at Day's Rest. The oasis had changed somewhat since their visit back in Earth Season 1625. There was a great mustering of Praxian warriors, several hundred in all, from four different tribes. Erindros learned that most of them were riding to Pavis, where Argrath White Bull was gathering his new army. He saw a familiar face among the Bison Riders, the very same Storm Bull warriors who rode with them to hunt the wicked shaman (see the second blog entry). Their leader, Mokwar, greeted them as friends. He and his band were also traveling to Pavis to join the White Bull's army. Before they did so, they planned to travel to the Block with a young member of their clan, a boy of 16 named Argwaha. The young lad was preparing to initiate into the Storm Bull cul t, but before he did so, he needed to visit the Devil's Marsh and kill a creature of Chaos. Erindros and the rest of the party were undecided on whether they wanted to make a detour to the Block. Mokwar told them that he would consider it a favor if they could accompany young Argwaha, and act as witnesses for his initiation trial. He also offered to give them the name of his cousin, an Issaries trader at the Block, who was known to trade in precious Truestone. The party agreed, and Mokwar and his Storm Bulls left immediately for Pavis. Argwaha proved to be something of a handful. His desire to kill a creature of Chaos was somewhat unsettling, and he saw enemies in every shadow. The journey to the Block took a day and a half, and when they arrived, they didn't have time for sightseeing. Argwaha immediately dismounted his bison, and ran off screaming in the direction of the Devil's Marsh. The PC's followed in hot pursuit. HWSAC had been to the Devil's Marsh on several occasions before. Although he had also shown little restraint around Chaos creatures in the past, now he was cautious, having seen many good men lose their lives to the Marsh. He encouraged Argwaha to show caution as well, but the boy was scornful and bellowed challenges to any creature who could hear him. After a few hours of mud, quicksand, leeches and mosquitoes, the landscape of the marsh took a more Chaotic turn. Soon there were tentacled trees, whispering puddles and frogs that shrieked in human voices. Argwaha finally blundered into a broo hunting for its dinner. The broo defended itself against his attack, while secretly it's mate lay hidden in the bushes from all eyes present. Everyone else initially stayed out of the fight, only casting protective magic on Argwaha. But then the hidden broo threw a javelin, piercing the boy in his side. The first broo took advantage of this and drove it's own spear into his leg, impaling him. Argwaha fell to the ground, but stayed conscious. Garkar flew at the hidden broo, trying to drive it off. Erindros healed Argwaha in time, and HWSAC "shared" a portion of the Bull's rage by casting Fanaticism on the young warrior. Argwaha rose up and then struck a mighty blow in the broo's most vulnerable location (you know the one), killing it at once. Garkar crippled the other broo's leg, and allowed the boy to finish it off as well. With two bloody broo heads to bring back for the Bull priests, the young Praxian had succeeded. He thanked the party for their help, and apologized for his rash behavior earlier. Upon returning to the Block, everyone found that a raucous celebration was beginning. This was no great surprise, as people were always getting drunk and celebrating there, and there was no particular reason for it other than surviving another day. When the Praxians there learned of Argwaha's success, the party grew more wild still, and everyone broke out the bison kumis. Erindros managed to drink a seasoned Storm Bull warrior under the table (he has unusually high CON), while HWSAC was doomed to suffer a hangover the likes of which he had never experienced before. The next day, the party located Mokwar's cousin, and presented a token that he gave to them. The trader revealed his hidden wares, several shards of valuable truestone. He drove a hard bargain for it, but Erindros managed to drive the price down slightly, and purchased three good-sized shards. Argwaha planned to stay and complete his initiation rites, and the party was free to venture on to their next stop, the Paps. Next time, I will have finally caught up to the present session! The party will reunite with Egajia at the Paps, and she will attempt her shaman initiation rite. Thanks for reading!
  13. 2 points
    Edit: I've decided to add more of my AWFUL maps to help visualize the many different locations I'm describing. Storm Season (Off-time) At this point in the campaign, I think we had about 4 sessions under our belt. I decided that I wanted to allow the players more control over what their characters did each season, and so I took a break from the usual, "Chieftain tells you to do this for the good of the clan, so do it." Instead I started giving them a quick overview of what the clan folk were doing week by week, dropping rumors, and sharing news about what the other clans and neighbors were up to. My hope was that they would either choose something interesting to look into, or come up with a scheme of their own. At the beginning of the Storm Season, the events were as follows- In spite of their vindication, the Bardori are still angry at the Togarth clan. There are disputes about stolen pasture land, and their chieftain also refuses to return the cattle that were lost the previous season. The Balkoth clans, in particular the Wozer (another one I created) are hitting everyone in the valley with repeated cattle raids. Now that they don't have to herd goats anymore, they are replenishing their herds (although they still have the goats). Fort Enstala, the ruined capitol of the late Enstalos Tribe, is rumored to be haunted by vengeful ghosts and demons. It is also rumored to still have treasure hidden in the Temple of the Seven Mothers, passed over by Blackmane's raiders. Chieftain Angarr has forbidden anyone from raiding until next year. He feels the focus should be on rebuilding steads, repairing defenses, and reestablishing old ties of friendship and trade with other clans. In spite of this, the young weaponthanes are chomping at the bit, and ready to fight their own neighbors. The atmosphere is a bit tense. Erindros agrees with the chieftain that feuding with the Togarth would be a bad thing, and cattle raiding may not be enough to satisfy the hotblooded warriors. He comes up with a plan that will hopefully improve relations with the Togarth, and also let the warriors test their mettle. Storm Season: The Big Raid (or, Everyone Hates the Sambari Tribe) Political Map of Dundealos Valley Erindros' idea was this. He, Egajia and Garkar would go to the Togarth chieftain as emissaries, bearing gifts and offering to smooth over recent disputes. They would then propose a joint raid as one-time allies against a common enemy: the Sambari Tribe to the northwest. The Sambari are famous thrallholders, and many of their clans once paid annual tribute to the Togarth, who would go raiding against them otherwise. Since the Dundealos Tribe was disbanded, they have not had to worry about this of course. Raiding one of their clans, specifically the Rastorlings, would help to reestablish the old tributes. The Bardori have no quarrel with any Sambari clans (except for Garkar of course), but they would benefit by liberating and adopting more thralls. Erindros and Egajia convinced the chieftain and the Inner Ring that this would be a good idea. They then had to visit the Togarth chieftain, Arnsulva One-Eye, and convince her. The party got a cool reception at first, and had to suffer various insults from Arnsulva, a Vingan warrior. Then Garkar, bolstered with magic and fueled by his irrational hatred of the Sambari, convinced the Togarth thanes that the thrallholders needed to be taught a lesson. He also impressed the chieftain, and plans for a joint raiding party were agreed upon. The Togarth would send the chieftain's eldest daughter Orane, a warrior of Humakt, and eighty warriors. The Bardori would send one hundred, led by the PC's and a member of the Inner Ring named Leif Lightspear. Leif was a Sun Thane of Elmal, and originally from the Pol-Joni. Before setting out on the raid, the clan prepared with rituals and prayers to their war gods (mainly Orlanth, Elmal, and Humakt). The chieftain presented the Black Arrow to the clan's warriors, and took part in the masked war dances. The next morning the raiders set out north, and met up with the Togarth contingent on the way. Rastorling lands would take a full day and a half to reach. On the way, the raiders would have to pass through the Ulandring clan's territory. The Ulandrings are a Dundealos clan, and in my version of the setting, are the more cool-headed parent clan of the Togarth. They allowed the party to pass without issue, and even allowed a few of their own warriors to join the raid. The Rastorling clan (I can't remember if I made them up or not) are based in the northern Tantrell Hills around a hill fort, simply called Rastorl's Fort. The raiding party camped for the night at the edge of Ulandring territory, then struck out the next morning. They stayed under the cover of woods as they approached the fort, and Garkar scouted ahead to help everyone avoid the border patrols. The raiders managed to reach the fort itself without being discovered, and were thus able to strike before the full Rastorling militia was prepared. The fort's defenders numbered about 100, including the farmers nearby who took up arms. Before the two sides clashed in battle, challenges were called out. One particularly obnoxious warrior named Orlestan "Mad-Beard" was getting under Garkar's skin, and he met the warrior's challenge. Unfortunately, Orlestan had a Lightning spell prepared, and nearly blew off poor Garkar's sword arm. Garkar decided the duel wasn't going well, and used his Leap spell to get safely back to his allies, and Egajia's healing magic. The battle was then met. The raiders outnumbered the defenders, and again Erindros' leadership skills in battle helped to win the day. The defenders were driven back into the fort. Rastorl's Fort boasted a high stone wall and a stout gate, and the raiders had little hope of breaching it. Erindros realized however that the Rastorlings' most valuable assets, their thralls, were also likely imprisoned in the fort. He went to the front gate, dodging arrows as he went, and attempted to rouse the thralls within to fight back against their captors, and open the gate for their future liberators. Perhaps sensing an opportunity, the thralls within (who now outnumbered the Rastorling defenders) responded, and after a short brawl within, raised the main gate for the raiders. They swarmed into the fort, and the looting began. Further Complications The raid was a success. The Togarth warriors were allowed to take the larger share of silver and loot, while the Bardori rustled the cattle, stole food, and rounded up as many thralls as they could find to offer them freedom. Erindros, Egajia and Garkar were overseeing this process when they noticed something odd. By this time, it was late afternoon, and the sun was sinking low. Yet, from the southwest, a massive shadow was quickly approaching. It looked as if night was falling, but only over a region a few miles across. Suspecting that some foul magic was at play, they ran off to warn Leif and the other raiders. No sooner had they done so, when a cold shadow swept over the Rastorlings' entire tula. The sun became a dim blot in the sky, and general visibility was reduced to only a few meters. Soon after this, the PC's began hearing terrifying howls, grunts and squeals. A band of trollkin wielding spears came loping out of the darkness, and tried to engage the party. Egajia also sensed through Second Sight that other, more powerful creatures were staying hidden and watching in the darkness. They all decided unanimously that they were too spent to fight any kind of troll, and retreated. The trollkin couldn't keep up with them, and they escaped successfully. Unfortunately, the darkness combined with the bewildering noises made it difficult to find their way, and everyone became lost. After a few hours of wandering, the strange darkness dissipated, and gave way to actual night. The PC's found Leif Lightspear and other Bardori warriors under the effects of a Sunbright spell. They learned from him that trolls had swept in to take advantage of the chaos and carry off prisoners and cattle. The giant shadow was apparently a massive elemental, of the kind found in Shadow's Dance. Among the prisoners taken was the Togarth chieftain's daughter, Orane. The party was then faced with a difficult choice. They felt they needed to save Orane, as it was the honorable thing to do, and it could also potentially put the Togarth chieftain in their debt. By this point however, they had spent their rune magic, and other resources as well (augments, MP). Still, they decided to follow the trail of the Uz war party (which was not hard to find at all). Their quickly improvised plan was to ask Leif to use his remaining rune magic to distract the trolls, while they crept in and rescued Orane. The trolls had left to the south, into thick woods. The party borrowed horses, and rode along with Leif and a few others to follow them. The trolls left a trail of mangled brush and discarded bones that was not hard to follow, even in the dark. The rescuers found that the trolls were traveling with several giant rhinoceros beetles, laden with spoils (mostly food), and crude cages to store prisoners. These were mostly Togarth warriors, many wounded and unconscious. There were dozens of trolls present, and twice as many trollkin. Thankfully, Leif's distraction worked as he blinded the trolls with light, and set trees on fire. Most of them gave chase. Garkar and Erindros freed as many Togarth captives as they could, but were not able to heal those who were otherwise too wounded. They found the chieftain's daughter, who was unconscious, and carried her back to the horses. Several trolls noticed the heroes escaping, but Egajia still had plenty of MP left for Sleep spells. They escaped, as did Leif, and the trolls did not bother pursuing. The group had to go the long way around Rastorling land and avoid their patrols again, which they managed to do. They were reunited with the raiding party, and breathed a collective sigh of relief. All in all, the raid could still be counted as a success. The Togarth were furious at having their men taken as food by the trolls, but none of them blamed the Bardori or the PC's. Orane, when she came to, gave them her thanks. The raiding party returned the way they had come. Arnsulva One-Eye praised the PC's heroism at rescuing her eldest daughter, and threw a feast to celebrate the successful raid. While she could not be convinced to set up a permanent alliance between the two clans, she admitted that she was in their debt. Sacred Time 1625 Originally I had planned to make Sacred Time a separate adventure unto itself, but the timing didn't really work out. Instead it was treated as part of the seasonal off-time. I narrated the story of the Lightbringer's Quest, and each PC took part in a ceremony for their respective gods. Egajia was off in Prax for most of the two weeks, celebrating Daka Fal's high holy days. Here is how the Sacred Time sequence from the core rules worked out for everyone- Worship ceremonies - None of the PC's had more than 4 rune points with their gods, and they manage to recover them in previous weeks. Heroquest - No one felt like they were ready for this, and I didn't have to time to invent my own Heroquesting rules (can't wait for the Campaign/GM book to come out!!!) Harvest - For modifiers, the omens of the previous year were Ill-Favored, due to the Dragonrise and general instability in the region. I also considered the attack from the Lunar garrison to count as Light Raiding (-10% modifier). This added up to a -20% for the Harvest roll. The result was Bad. People were hungry, and barely scraping by, but at least it wasn't a famine. Adventurer Income - Despite the poor harvest, Erindros and Egajia succeeded with their rolls. Garkar did not (should have spent more time on the farm I guess). Erindros' player realized that he did not take steps to increase his stockpiled goods, thus his merchant income was meager. For the next year, he decided he would plan a trading expedition. Aging - Everyone is in their early 20's, nothing exciting here. Family Rolls - Nobody felt motivated to get married yet. One of Garkar's uncles was blessed by Orlanth and received a magical spear. Nothing interesting happened in Egajia's family. Erindros was the big winner, fathering a son! We all tried to figure out when and how this would have logically happened. Erindros' player agreed that the big party with the Togarth clan may have resulted in a drunken liaison. This also meant the baby was not born yet, so this would give Erindros time to figure out how to take care of his new family (and if he was going to get married). Omens - I knew something of what was coming for 1626. I decided the omens would definitely be Ill-Favored again. The chieftain was the one to perform the divinations, using a sacrificed rooster of course. He went into a frightening trance, and gave the following prophecy- "The Red Moon waxes bright, Chaos grows strong. A foul wind blows from the East. A great house shall fall, and after comes war and darkness." The spilled blood from the cockerel then moved of its own accord, and formed into the distinctive shape of a woman holding two curved swords. Next time, Sea Season 1626. The next season actually contains multiple adventures, so I will summarize it in 2-3 entries. Thanks for taking the time to read about our campaign!
  14. 2 points
    Edit: I've added some AWFUL maps that I made in a free paint program called Artweaver. Dark Season (Off-time) To the best of my recollection, my players and I spent one session doing off-time activities, and then preparing to introduce the next big adventure. Still, they were very busy during this off-time. Sartar was in great upheaval, and emissaries arrived at the chieftain's hall claiming that Fazzur Wideread was marching on Sartar to crush the latest uprising. The PC's were given the option of joining Kallyr Starbrow in the north to defend Sartar against the Tarshite army. Partly because all the PC's had relevant Passions (Hate: Lunar Empire), and partly because they all wanted to take part in a big battle, they rode north to Swenstown and joined the 1st Swenstown Foot Militia, and then on towards Kallyr's camp at Red Cow Fort. I used the material at the end of the Eleven Lights campaign to provide details and imagery for the battle, and actually read Kallyr's speech before the big fight. In some ways this felt like cheating, because players in the Red Cow campaign have to come a long way to earn this epic finale. But I thought it encapsulated the struggles of the last few years very well, so I went for it. After a whole lot of buildup, we actually handled the Battle of Dangerford as a simple series of rolls using the Battle skill. Garkar and Egajia fought well, but Erindros (who oddly enough had the highest Battle skill) took command of a group of fighters defending the Isle Dangerous, and played a decisive role in holding off the Lunar advance. After the battle ended in fiery carnage for the Lunars, Kallyr Starbrow herself commended Erindros for his leadership. The party returned to Bardori lands in triumph, but they found that all was not well at home. The clan's ancestral spirits, who resided in a series of sanctified barrow mounds, had manifested and marched into the chieftain's hall, in a rather foul mood. They demanded to know why their descendants had deigned to keep thralls when doing so was forbidden by clan tradition. The chieftain had in fact kept about 50 survivors of the Enstalos Tribe as thralls to help finish the harvest after the Dragonrise occurred, and ensured his people wouldn't starve for the winter. The chieftain told the spirits as much, but they were unsatisfied with the answer, and threatened to withhold their blessings unless the situation was rectified. Chieftain Angarr then summoned a clan moot to discuss the issue. These Enstalos survivors were mostly women and children of Tarshite origin, although they included several families of former Dundealos who had converted to the Lunar Way. These families had joined the new Lunar tribe instead of supporting their kin in the last uprising. When they were discovered by Angarr and the returning clan, all were spared death to avoid the curse of kinstrife. The clan moot was a loud and raucous affair, and it became clear that factions were forming between different members of the Inner Ring. Two different solutions were proposed- Free the thralls and adopt them as full members of the clan, or- Sell them at a slave market, either to the Sambari Tribe or at Pimper's Block. The PC's mostly argued for the former option, with Garkar abstaining from the debate, and only saying that the Sambari Tribe didn't deserve anyone's business (Garkar hates the Sambari Tribe). On of the main sticking points for the adoption argument was that the thralls seemed reluctant to abandon the Lunar religion. The PC's were unable to sway the chieftain's opinion, and so he vowed to think on it for another week before he made a decision, and call another moot then. Dark Season - Murder and a Nighttime Raid Bardori Lands The party gathered again at the chieftain's hall a few days later, after hearing grim news. A young man of 16 had been found dead that morning at the edge of some pastureland. His name was Aldis, and he was a member of a Pol-Joni family that settled with the clan. Many of the clan's cattle had also been stolen. Some were found scattered throughout the tula, while others were sighted across the river to the north, in the lands of the Togarth clan. The Togarth are a Dundealos clan (also of my own invention), but also a War Clan who were known conduct cattle raids against fellow tribesmen. Many Bardori thanes assumed that the Togarth attempted a cattle raid that went badly for them, and Aldis was killed before he could alert the militia. More hotheaded voices demanded immediate retaliation against their northern neighbors. The chieftain called on the PC's to discretely look into Aldis's murder. He personally suspected that the Togarth had nothing to do with it, and wanted to avoid a potential feud so soon after resettling. They agreed, and started by examining Aldis's body. They met with the boy's father, and convinced them to allow an "autopsy." They had only one chance to examine the body, as the family were Elmal worshipers who cremated their dead. They found that Aldis had been shot from behind with several arrows, but were unable to gather any more relevant information. They did notice that Aldis's sister seemed nervous and reluctant to speak with them. Erindros attempted to speak with her in private, and she offered to give him more information on her brother's death after the cremation, when she could get away from her father. Next the party decided to inspect the place where Aldis was killed. This was at the edge of pasture land belonging to one of the clan's main bloodlines. There were many confusing tracks, and much spilled blood. There had also been light snowfall the previous night. Thankfully Garkar had decent Tracking skills. He discovered that Aldis's body was likely dragged to the place where it was found, from closer to the southern edge of clan territory. They walked to this place, near the edge of a tract of woods. Here they found more fresh blood, and the tracks were much clearer. The evidence suggested that the boy was attacked by a small group that came out of the woods. They also noticed poorly concealed tracks leading back towards the thrall stockade, where the Enstalos folk were kept prisoner. At this point, various theories were being batted around about the killing, including bandits, some other clan, or a person within the clan who had a motive to kill. Before jumping to any conclusions, Erindros decided to speak with the victim's sister, whom he had met earlier. She told him that Aldis had been seeing an Enstalos girl named Sostra, who was a thrall. She didn't want to reveal this in front of her father, for fear of dishonoring him, and because her family hate the Lunars. With this information in mind, the party finally went to visit the thrall stockade. This was a hastily constructed series of shelters, surrounded by a wooden palisade. Within they found Sostra, and encouraged her to cooperate with them, for the good of her own family. She admitted that she and Aldis had been meeting each other secretly in a hay loft for the last few weeks. The previous night, Aldis had awoken and seen a cowled figure leaving the stockade. He followed in order to determine the person's identity, and then never returned. Sostra lay awake worrying for the rest of the night, and then saw the mysterious figure return to the stockade shortly before dawn. The party promised the girl their protection, and went about privately interviewing the other community leaders of the Enstalos thralls. They proved a tight-lipped bunch, and no new information was gleaned. At this point, the day was drawing to a close, and Erindros and Garkar decided to report what they had learned to the chieftain. Egajia, sensing that something dangerous might occur soon, decided to visit the site of the killing again, and attempt a divination spell to reach Daka Fal. Chieftain Angarr, after listening to the report with a grim countenance, decided there might be a danger that one of the thralls could be communicating with outsiders, and planning something. He raised the fyrd, increased patrols along the boundaries of the tula. Thinking that the thralls might be planning an uprising, Garkar decided to have them all moved to the chieftain's stead, and placed under careful guard. Egajia, meanwhile, had successfully contacted her god, and asked him to show her the face of Aldis's murderer. She received a vision of a man walking through a forest, holding a torch. She had never seen or met this man before, but he wore the battered armor of a Lunar infantry officer. She also saw that he marched at the head of several dozen other well-armed men. Egajia assumed that this was the mysterious group whose prints they had seen at the edge of the woods, and that they might be headed for the tula. Still naked and covered with ash, she ran off barefoot through the snow to tell the others. When she reunited with the party, they saw that farms were burning on the northern end of the clan's land. Knowing that the chieftain was already riding with his weaponthanes to deal with any raid, they decided to head for the thrall stockade. They suspected that the intruders, apparently Lunar soldiers, might try to meet with the mysterious cowled figure they had learned about at the stockade. If this were true, then an ambush could be staged. Erindros organized a group of militia to hide in the thralls' huts, and wait with bows drawn. Garkar and Egajia waited by the palisade gate, planning to close it after the soldiers entered. The Lunars did in fact come, bearing a bundle containing swords, spears and axes. Egajia saw the officer from her vision leading a handful of men into the hut which belonged to Sostra's uncle. She then closed the gate behind them, and cast Glue to shut it. A fierce battle ensued. Egajia was nearly burned alive by a fire elemental, and the others narrowly avoided being struck with Lunar madness. But with the help of the fyrd's bows and javelins, and Egajia's Sleep spells, they took all the Lunar soldiers alive. The chieftain fought and killed the other raiders, who had been sent to burn steads as a distraction. The raiding party was discovered to be made up of Lunar garrison survivors, who had been hiding in the hills since the loss of Fort Enstala. Their commanding officer was a man named Vasilides, from Tarsh. He was executed by Aldis's father. The next morning, it was found that Sostra's uncle, a thrall named Gontar who was once of the Dundealos Tribe, had been sneaking out to meet with Vasilides, and was planning an uprising. Aldis had discovered him meeting the Lunars at night, and Vasilides killed the boy with his bow before he could escape. Gontar then tried to make the murder look like part of a failed cattle raid. He came forward to the chieftain to proclaim his guilt, and implicated his sons and a few other followers in his conspiracy. But he claimed that most of the other thralls did not know of his plans, and asked for the people's mercy in judging them. The chieftain called another moot to discuss the issue. Most of the clan folk were enraged, and ready to take extreme measures to punish the conspirators. Egajia successfully calmed the crowd, and reminded them that most of the thralls were likely innocent. Gontar clearly was not, but killing him and his family would still technically be kinstrife. She proposed exiling Gontar and the others to Prax, with little more than water and some supplies. The chieftain was swayed by her words, and assented. Egajia then spoke to the remaining thralls, saying that it wasn't impossible for them to be accepted as future members of the clan, but they would need to work hard at winning everyone's trust, and leave their past behind them. Taking her implied meaning, they all publicly renounced the Red Goddess and the Lunar Way. The chieftain later chose to adopt the Enstalos thralls into the clan as cottars. The clan's ancestors were satisfied by this, and stayed quiet in their barrow mounds afterwards. Next time, Storm Season 1625, and maybe Sacred Time!
  15. 2 points
    More Character Creation We started our RQG campaign back in March. At this point I don't actually remember how many sessions we've had, something like 8-10. Before character creation, I gave everyone a brief overview of the setting. I explained that their characters' choice of cult was one of the most important, and probably something they should have in mind beforehand. At first, I was kind of reluctant to do the Family History generation. I wanted to fit character creation into one session, and I feared that we wouldn't be able to. Thankfully, my players insisted that we go for it, and I'm now glad they did. Here are some notable highlights for each characters' history. Garkar - Grandmother was a bandit who fought to save Boldhome, then was killed by the Sambari Tribe. Father fought in Starbrow's Rebellion, and was killed by the Lunars. Garkar nearly starved during the Great Winter, and lost other family to troll raids. Fought in the Liberation of Pavis. Erindros - Grandfather was killed at Grizzly Peak. Mother was a Dundealos Vingan warrior who fought in many uprisings against the Lunars, but died of illness. Erindros fought in the Siege of Nochet, and distinguished himself at Pennel Ford. Egajia - Grandmother was (oddly) a Lhankor Mhy sage who married into the High Llama Tribe. Father was a typical Praxian who died in a raid on the Redwood Elves. Egajia refused to pledge loyalty to Argrath, due to the influence of her new Dundealos kin (the Dundealos distrust anyone who would revive Jaldon Goldentooth). Took part in the Liberation of Pavis, but was nearly driven insane by Lunar magic. Garkar and Erindros' players rolled up fairly average characters, who excelled at a few things (fighting and bargaining respectively), but were rather poor at using spirit magic. Egajia ended up having very impressive stats for a future shaman (POW 20, CHA 18), and a spirit combat skill of 125%, partly thanks to her encounter with the Lunar demons. For occupations, Garkar chose warrior, Erindros chose the life of a merchant, and Egajia went with assistant shaman. We had to discuss how these occupations fit in with their character histories. Garkar technically started as a bandit, but after the clan's return to the valley, became a weaponthane for the new chieftain. Erindros had learned the merchant trade with his family in Esrolia, and decided to expand the family business to Sartar. Egajia's role as an assistant shaman was somewhat hard to explain, due to the great demands placed on assistants by their mentors. We decided she would have an agreement worked out with the clan chieftain where she would spend roughly half a season serving him as a thane, and the other half in Prax with her shaman teacher. Early Sessions - The Sacred Rooster The first session of actual gameplay involved a journey east into Prax. It took place in late Earth Season, 1625. The clan was still in the process of trickling back to their ancestral lands, but the PC's had all returned. A new chieftain, Angarr Broad-back, had been chosen by the clan. He in turn had chosen his Inner Ring, including a mix of cults and people representing different groups from the exile. The PC's, being prominent heroes already, were considered to all be thanes on the Clan Ring. Other clans in the Dundealos Tribe had also returned by this time. Most of these had to create new wyters for their clans, although a few had managed to preserve their old wyter. The Bardori wyter was traditionally bound in a red rooster, supposedly of a lineage of males going back to before Time began, originally owned by the clan's founder. The last wyter was defeated and lost during the most recent uprising. Angarr had resigned himself to creating a new wyter from a less exalted lineage of birds, at the risk of weakening the clan's magic. However, he began having recurring dreams of being trapped in a cage, and looking out on the chaparral of Prax. He believed that the old clan wyter still lived in it's original body, and was trying to communicate with him through visions. The chieftain summoned Erindros, Garkar, and Egajia to discuss his dreams. He explained that the Sacred Rooster was likely imprisoned somewhere in Prax, and described a place of weeping statues, with a small sheltered pool nearby. He also mentioned seeing a man with a painted face, wearing a long-horned headdress. He asked the three of them to travel east to the oasis of Day's Rest, and determine if anyone could help them find the place, or the mysterious man. The chieftain provided everyone with riding beasts and supplies. They set off for Day's Rest, which took more than two days to reach. On the way, they encountered a group of Morokanth travelling with their herd-men. Egajia attempted to give them gifts from the clan, and ask if they knew any information to help their mission. She addressed them through song and dance, hoping to flatter and praise them. Unfortunately, she made a poor choice of improvised lyrics and compared them to stupid beasts (the result of a fumble). Instead of talking with them, the Morokanth commanded their herd-men to chase them away and pelt them with feces. Which they did, quite successfully (after all, you can't parry flying projectiles). Eventually the party arrived at Day's Rest, tired and still covered with shit. The oasis was bustling with activity, as the Sable Tribe had recently been driven out, and the oasis claimed by the Bison Tribe. The party planned to stay the night at a Geo's Inn called the Shady Rest, run by a person (gender unclear) named Fosli the Beautiful. They were permitted to bathe behind the stables. Day's Rest included an inn, an Issaries Market, and several sandstone dwellings on one side of the watering hole. On the other side, the Bison Riders made their camps, near a small village of Oasis Folk. The party set about ingratiating themselves to everyone around, seeing if they could gather some information. Egajia met with a group of Bison Riders led by one Mokwar, all apparently Storm Bull cultists. Gaining their trust, she learned that they were hunting a shaman from the Sable Tribe, an enemy of their clan and a Lunar collaborator. After describing to them the man from the chieftain's dream, they confirmed that he was likely the same shaman, named Keshluk. Egajia told them about the place with the weeping statues, and they claimed to know of a place half a day's ride east which fit the description. Unfortunately, the Bison Riders were ready to spring into action immediately and investigate the place, and the party was forced to ride after them in great haste. They rode until sunset, and then approached several tall rock formations, which sheltered an ancient courtyard of ruined statues. The Bison Riders charged in. They quickly found their shaman, but he had been dead for several days, and picked at by vultures. They rode off, leaving the party to poke around on their own. Garkar noticed that Keshluk's throat had been cut, and his various charms and fetishes had been smashed around his body. No one could immediately locate the Sacred Rooster, or any other valuables in the shaman's camp. Egajia used Second Sight to look for any spiritual activity. She found that there were several powerful Death Spirits gathered around the shaman's ghost, which was writhing in pain. They appeared to be inflicting some kind of spiritual torture on him. She attempted to communicate with them, and determined that they had been enslaved to Keshluk, and were now enacting their revenge. They spoke only in the vaguest of terms, and mentioned the shaman being killed by "the boy." No sooner had the spirits mentioned this, than the party was attacked from the shadows by three human-like figures. Up close, they realized that these figures were human, but likely possessed by malevolent spirits of some kind. Their heads, hands and feet were all twisted backwards, and their fingers sprouted long claws. Garkar and Erindros held them off while Egajia engaged them in spirit combat to drive out the possessors. The party defeated them fairly quickly, and the spirits fled after being driven from their hosts, fearing Egajia. The three attackers appeared to be from the Sable Tribe. They needed healing after their bodies had been so grossly malformed. Simple spirit magic fixed the problem. The party bound and interrogated their attackers, and learned that two of them had served as bodyguards to the shaman, and the other, a young boy, was his apprentice. The boy, named Maralak, had murdered his master after he returned from a taxing journey in the Spirit World. Keshluk was apparently a cruel man, and the boy regretted nothing. Except for the fact that all of the shaman's bound spirits were set free, and then took control of Maralak and the bodyguards. The Sable men asked to be ransomed back to their tribe. The party agreed. Maralak told them of a cave nearby where Keshluk kept his valuables. The entrance to the cave was blocked by an earth elemental, which moved when Maralak spoke a certain word. Within the cave, they found the Sacred Rooster, along with other stolen goods and charms. The clan wyter was happy to see it's kinfolk. It had been trapped in a cage made of wicker and iron nails, which sapped it's magic points. The party destroyed the cage (it had been built specifically to hold the wyter), and looted the shaman's former belongings. The heroes traveled back to Day's Rest, and paid an Issaries priest to bring their captives to Pimper's Block for ransom, in return for a percentage. They returned to Bardori lands in triumph, and the chieftain threw them a feast. The wyter had returned just in time for the chieftain to perform a heroquest that would ensure the hens' fertility, and that they would produce a supernatural surplus of eggs to enjoy in the winter. This involved a ritual dance in full regalia for the chieftain and his wife, and then the two of them spending a vigorous night together. Thank you for reading! I've been trying to stick with the seasonal model for my campaign. This first session was the Earth Season adventure, next time, Dark Season 1625. P.S. Comments are welcome, but no chicken jokes please, I've heard them all from my players.
  16. 1 point
    I am loving this system, and so felt it was time to go back to my roots and create a new "How to get into" mini series, this time focusing on the unique and awesome system/game/setting RQ:G
  17. 1 point
    General top 5 for all role-playing games. As always I stress the importance of tying everything to the unfolding narrative, but also express the opinion that most puzzles actually are drags and must be used with caution.
  18. 1 point
    Well, this is what to say to those who feel changing game elements is cheating or dishonest. All of this about whether or not fudging die rolls or other game components is cheating is completely subjective. This is my personal TTRPG Game Master Advice, and it's not a popular opinion. If you are always a player, maybe think twice before watching this one:) Also attempting to get more people to join the hive mind of the BRP forums. We are all Us.
  19. 1 point
    We go over what goes into making spells, and how much they differ from most other spell systems.
  20. 1 point
    Want to learn how to survive?
  21. 1 point
    I've had the recent fortune of having a few Keeping Conversations with new Keepers. They always want advice, and I am normally happy to provide some, so long as the advice can actually do some good. Most advice given in the world is wrong. Not in of itself, but given with poor timing and without considering someone's improvement needs. Human experience is too varied for advice to do what it is intended to do. It isn't about "what worked for me." It is about what will work for the other person. I've been mentoring colleagues as an educator for many years, and the way we address this problem is by giving less advice and instead asking more questions that can help someone find what they need to be successful. I do believe that there is some baseline advice that can be safely given to new Keepers. 1. MGF (Maximum Game Fun) 2. Work towards balanced involvement at the table. (Quieter people may want to stay quiet, and that's ok. But also, some people need to be invited to participate. You shut down a table hog by inviting others to be involved and using the phrase: "Great idea, I'll come back to you" for people who Bogart time.) 3. Communicate with players early and often. (topics that are off the table, are we at MGF? etc) I think that is pretty safe advice and gives new Keepers actionable things to practice. Anybody can practice asking questions around a table so all are involved. Each of those has their own specific skills that need to develop, but it doesn't hurt to have them as axioms to aspire towards. But what about advice that most Keepers wouldn't immediately think of? What is deeper advice that could make a big difference? I'm specifically thinking about scenario execution. This leads me to the title of this post. I also just want to give a disclaimer here that I am not a scenario designer, nor am I trying to unfairly criticize scenario designers. I don't have those skills, but at the same time, I know what I most frequently change about scenarios. I think there is a generalized fallacy that is assumed in role-playing games that I'll call the "perfect timing fallacy." The idea is that many encounters are designed such that player characters are expected to be in the right place at exactly the right time. This classically manifests itself in a variety of ways. Dungeons are all stocked full of monsters that, for some reason, stick to within the boundaries of their room despite their being open corridors between them. They are always awake. Investigators stumble upon a ritual exactly as it is being completed, or right before they can have an impact. The cop who saw something is on duty when the investigator's ask for them. Monsters in a room are always prepared to fight, or willing to fight. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of those examples, so long as it is fun for the participants. Scenario designers frequently do a great job of proposing "alternatives outside the norm." And sometimes "the norm" is what produces MGF. And that's great. Perfect timing is arguably critical from a narrative standpoint. It moves the narrative along when it needs to move. That isn't lost on me. Managing the ebb and flow of the story at a table is another critical skill for Keepers to develop. But what advantages can be gained by breaking with perfect timing? I think that it is also worth considering the potential benefits of imperfect timing for investigative horror role-playing (or role-playing in general). I think Jaws is a perfect example of using imperfect timing as a narrative tool. Brodie, Quint, and Hooper spend most of the movie too late to do something. And the shark is only barely on screen for the majority of the movie. Them always being late produces a frustration that drives the narrative because it just makes them work harder to engage the threat. Now, imperfect timing works until perfect timing is needed. The movie has a time cap and they gotta ramp it up, so the shark shows up. And when it does show up, the payoff for the audience is huge. They had to work to get the payoff, rather than the payoff just appearing immediately for all to see. So how does this translate as a tool for gaming? Here are some examples: 1) Curating existential dread. Fear of the unknown is one of the greatest and most primal human emotions. This is why horror movies that work are those that don't show the threat ever or until as late as possible in the narrative. In the Jaws example above, the dread is created by the heroes arriving after the shark attacks and seeing the grisly aftermath. And the shark promptly sinks back into the waves and out of actionable distance. It is often better for the Investigators to arrive late to something happening, especially if violence is involved. The pendulum can swing the other way too. Don't underestimate the power of investigators arriving early and then having no idea how to prevent or engage with an issue. Being early and being late is often far more frightening to people than being "right on time." This also has the advantage of really selling the idea that "shooting your gun" or "swinging your club" isn't going to fix this situation. Taking that off the table forces investigators to use other means to address a threat. As always, know your group and what they like. 2) Eliciting healthy struggle. If your players always arrive on time, there may not be as much brain work that they have to do to work out a situation. Speaking for myself, when I play, I love not knowing what is happening with a situation because it encourages me to turn the wheels in the head. This can be particularly useful when players arrive really early and the number of clues present in a location, right at that moment, is minimal. Or, they may stumble upon a total orgy of evidence but have no idea how it all relates to the current time at the current location! That in of itsekf can be frightening. Or, maybe they arrive early or late and what could have been a critical narrative location has now become a red herring. This last one is particularly useful when running games in which the players know the scenario and are struggling not to metagame it! 3) Keeping investigators alive in campaigns. If you play mostly one-offs at conventions, it is understood that the gloves are pretty much off for lethality. People who play CoC at Cons know that their characters aren't likely to live, even if they make a string of good decisions. There is also the "Sandy Petersen killed me" dream of a lot of gamers. But when you do campaign play, it is a completely different ball game. This is an area where communication is key. And while some players are perfectly ok with their character getting slaughtered or going insane at any turn, many players get attached to their characters. If we could criticize one aspect of early (1970s) scenario design, it is that a lot of early scenario work featured "gotcha" deaths that were nearly impossible to avoid if ran as written. That does not contribute to a positive table feel unless it is known in advance to expect that. People often ask me how I am able to Keep (capitalization intended, he he) characters alive when playing campaigns with a reputation for lethality. The answer to that question is that players often arrive early or late to situations that would just end the narrative unnecessarily prematurely. in thinking about MGF for my group, they are very attached to their characters. I think it is incumbent upon CoC Keepers to consider that scoffing at that attitude in players isn't the most productive way to get to MGF, even if you think that "frequent character death and insanity is how CoC should work." This is less about how a game works, and more about how your table works. If you play a game the way it "should work" and your players aren't into that, then you've failed. You can have your cake and eat it too in campaign play. It just takes considering having characters arriving early or late to encounters that are designed to be "right on time." These techniques are not new to horror role-playing. Many published works emphasize rigid or flexible timelines for events. The key is simply to consider the possibility that "right on time" may not be the best decision for maintaining a slow descent into madness. I'm prepared to venture that going extended periods being alive and sane is far more frightening than just dying and going insane instantaneously. Your game will vary, of course. There is a sprawling continuum of what different people find fun. The key is to consider: How can you avoid being trapped by perfect timing as a Keeper?
  22. 1 point
    In this video, you shall see the pros and cons of each system. Thank you for all the awesome support, we're almost at 100 subscribers:)
  23. 1 point
    Do you want to learn how to create memorable monsters? Here's Dethstrok9 on what he knows about scaring your players and readers!
  24. 1 point
    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. 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. 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!
  25. 1 point
    We started up our campaign again last night, after a month-long hiatus. It was good to be back in the GM saddle! We left off last time with a successful sojourn into the Big Rubble. The party acquired a valuable set of enchanted armor, originally worn by their tribe's greatest hero, Derik Pol-Joni. Additionally, Argrath had entrusted the PC's with delivering a gift for the king of the Dundealos Tribe: a herd of fine cattle, horses, and even ostriches. The PC's set off west on the Pavis Road, which would take them back to Sartar. Everyone made a concerted effort to finish up their business in Pavis before the end of Sea Season. I had given the players several warnings about Fire Season being the prime time for Praxians to hit caravans, so I didn't want to punish them for listening to me! Thus, the journey back to Sartar was blissfully uneventful. The party was accompanied by a dozen or so Pol-Joni who drove the herds for them. They passed by the Obscure Plinth, Jaldon's Rest, and after about a week of travel re-entered Sartar in the forested hills of Telmori Country. Everyone was on their guard against werewolves, but the Pol-Joni assured them that they were still licking their wounds after being thrashed by the Cinsina Tribe several years back. They passed on to Dangerford, then went south through Jonstown and Boldhome. From there they continued to Fort Jaldonkill, the de facto capitol of the tribe. The fort didn't look like much at first, being a handful of steads and small temples, surrounded by a wooden stockade. It's claim to fame wasn't that it was impregnable, but that Derik Pol-Joni had finally defeated Jaldon Goldentooth there in the time before Sartar was founded. The king of the tribe was Ekil Blackmane, more commonly known as just Blackmane. He had brought many of his Pol-Joni kin to resettle Dundealos Valley after the Dragonrise, along with the remnants of the old clans. Blackmane is a man in his forties, with distinctive long coal-black hair and beard. I decided the "Pol-Joni Look" for men is long, un-braided hair, trousers made of hide, and the usual Orlanthi tattoos. The PC's wanted to impress him, but their "social skills" are somewhat weak. Egajia decided to make an entrance with a dance, and she also summoned a Pol-Joni ancestor spirit, a female warrior. The spirit was made visible to everyone else in the king's hall, and introduced the PC's as "heroes of the Bardori Clan." Egajia succeeded so well with her Dance and spell rolls, that Blackmane was immediately impressed. He rose from his throne (an ornate milking stool) and danced with the spirit with wild abandon. He then welcomed the PC's with embraces. Blackmane was pleased with the gifts of cattle and horses. It was agreed that the small herd of ostriches would make an ideal gift for the bird-loving Bardori clan. Notably, the PC's avoided mentioning that they had recovered Pol-Joni's armor. Instead they planned to gift it to Angarr, their chieftain. I hinted that there might be later consequences for this choice, but my players firmly made their decision. Blackmane was also immensely curious as to why Argrath White Bull was sending gifts to him and other tribal leaders in the first place. The party mentioned the hordes of Praxians (and Pol-Joni) gathered in Pavis. Before everyone left, He Who Spits at the Devil met with one of the tribal ring officers. Ynga the Rock was the Bardori clan's representative on the ring, and also the rep for Urox/Storm Bull. She was described as a massive "Valkyrie-esque" woman of impressive musculature. She mentioned to HWSAD that many warriors of the Bull were gathering together and heading south to Heortland. An army of scorpion-men were flooding out of Larnste's Footprint, and claiming the lands of their clan's ancestors in the name of Chaos. Ynga was heading south as well, and invited her kinsman to join her in the next few seasons. He Who Spits was intrigued, but also wanted to start building his mead hall. The party took their leave of the king, and continued on to the Bardori tula. They brought the ostriches, and several cows with them to present to the chieftain. Everyone got to use the Herd skill for the first time! Even though the PC's were terrible at herding, they successfully drove the cattle and ostriches along the valley without losing any. Angarr welcomed them back with embraces, and they received cheers and applause from the Clan Ring when they presented the exotic herd, and the many goods and treasures from Pavis. Stolf, the clan's Issaries representative, grudgingly praised Erindros and the others for their success. When Egajia presented the armor to Angarr, he grew silent in awe. He then ordered the weaponthanes to bang their shields in praise for the four heroes. Fire Season 1626 The heroes settled in for some off-time, which of course was very busy. HWSAD decided to forge ahead and began building his mead hall (mostly alone). Erindros convinced the chieftain that the clan could make good money if they expanded their ostrich herd. He set about converting part of his family farm into an ostrich pen. Egajia was now free of obligations to her shaman mentor, so she started laying the groundwork for being the clan's shaman. Garkar went back to his patrols. While the party was away on their mission, a few notable events occurred for the clan- A band of broos arrived in the valley and began impregnating herd animals from many different clans. The Bardori lost some cattle and sheep as a result, and now disease has been spreading among animals and people alike. The broos were driven off however. In addition to the broo attack, the clan has been beset with bad omens and strange happenings since Kallyr's failed heroquest. Vultures flying backwards, cows' milk turning sour in the udder, and stillborn calves. A delivery of gifts and silver meant for the allied Hyaling clan was stolen by bandits in the Verge. The Wozer clan of the Balkoth stole some Bardori cattle and escaped back across the river. Several weeks went by. Later in the season, a messenger from the Kheldon tribe arrived, bearing a request on behalf of Kallyr Starbrow. Angarr called the Clan Ring to hear the message. Kallyr was attempting to muster the tribes of Sartar again to meet an attack from Lunar Tarsh. This time the invading army was led by King Pharandros himself. The messenger left to call on other clans to the south and east. The Clan Ring discussed the possibility of sending warriors north again, as they had done when the Lunars came to Dangerford. Unlike last time, there was much uncertainty and some grumbling about the prospect. Many of the farmers blamed Kallyr for the Chaos incursions, and ill fortune that had befallen the clan. Even the weaponthanes seemed unsure about leaving the tula behind when there were bandits and broos on the loose. The PC's spoke out in support of Kallyr, and for fighting off the Lunars again. This was only after much discussion however, as they all had different priorities at this point. Erindros was interested in retaliating against the Wozer clan, Garkar wanted to hunt bandits, HWSAD wanted to go south and kill scorpion-men, and Egajia wanted to cleanse the tula of disease spirits. Fighting Lunars was the choice everyone had in common. In the end, Egajia stayed behind while the other three rode north to join the Kheldon militia. The Battle of the Queens The tribal armies were gathering at Runegate. The PC's went to Boldhome first to join the Kheldon warriors. The quickest way to Runegate was to travel north to Jonstown, then west along herder's paths. They joined Cinsina and Culbrea infantry along the way. After a journey of three days, they arrived in the lands of the Colymar tribe, and were told that Kallyr and her household warriors were preparing to meet the Tarshites at the bottom of Old Top Hill. The PC's camped there. They caught glimpses at a distance of the various tribal leaders that were present: Queen Leika of the Colymar, Queen Amalda of the Malani, King Ranulf of the Culbrea, and King Farandar of the Cinsina. Previous to this, HWSAD had expressed interest in trying to meet with Kallyr in person. He and the others had heard rumors that she suffered from wounds that would not heal. He proposed that if they could do something to heal her, or at least alleviate her pain, it could help remove the curses and bad fortune plaguing the Dundealos. He decided to wait until after the battle to try getting an audience, thinking that if he distinguished himself in the fighting, it might help... The next morning, the Lunars crossed the Creek over the ford at Two Sisters village. Soon the two armies squared off. The three PC's who had joined the fight saw that the Lunar army was greater in numbers, and a contingent of Lunar magicians had come along as well. Given the choice to hang back in reserve and guard Prince Kallyr, or fight on the front line, everyone chose the latter option. There was little time for glorious duels or challenges in this fight, as the Tarshites marched forward with shields up. Soon Erindros, Garkar, and He Who Spits were caught in the crush of the front line. We handled this battle in rounds, using the Battle skill. I avoided having the PC's fight in normal combat, because Egajia's player was sitting on the sidelines, and I didn't want to draw things out too much. I allowed everyone to cast protective spells if they wanted to. If there wasn't an obvious effect for this, I just let them have a 10% bump in their Battle skill. We went through 3 rounds. Depending on the strength of their rolls, I narrated certain events to make everything a little more exciting. The three PC's had to survive the initial crush. Everything was blood, mud, screams, and the clang of swords on shields. Erindros got a special success on the first roll. We decided he inspired the fighters around him with his bold antics. He was also riding his ostrich, so he was hard to miss. Garkar failed his roll, and nearly had his arm crushed by a heavily armored Tarshite. HWSAD started plowing through the enemy ranks in an attempt to disrupt the mages behind the line. Overall, the Sartarites were pushed back towards the base of the hill, and began to falter. Erindros and Garkar rolled well, HWSAD did not. Garkar freed himself from the enemy soldier by stabbing him through the foot. HWSAD was pig-piled by infantrymen, and wounded in the arm with a sword thrust. Rather than give up his ability to fight with his enormous maul, he called on Storm Bull to fill him with the holy rage. At the end of this round, there was a bright flash. Far up on the hill, everyone saw a group of strangely dressed warriors (some of them looked like trolls) suddenly surrounding Prince Kallyr. She and her guards fought them off for as long as she could, but it wasn't long before everyone heard cries of "Kallyr has fallen!" Some of the Sartarites began to lose heart and flee. Erindros (who should have been a Trickster) casts Flight on himself and He Who Spits while he is in berserk mode. The two of them attempt to reach the sorcerers behind enemy lines and disrupt their spells. At this point, said sorcerers have summoned Moonfire, which trickles down onto the Sartarites in glowing threads from the Red Moon. It does not make for easy flying. Erindros attempts to rally those Sartarites fleeing the battle, and does so successfully. Garkar, hanging back, is confronted by an elite soldier, well-armored and wielding a scimitar. He fights for his life. After the third round, Queen Leika rallies her own warriors, and leads a desperate charge into the heart of the Lunar battalions. Her ferocity and the strength of her magic are so great, that she manages to turn the tide of the battle. When her charge cuts off the escape route across the ford, the Lunar soldiers panic and begin fleeing into the Creek. The players participating in the battle were given the choice of joining Queen Leika in pursuing the Lunars. They all chose to do so (HWSAD didn't have a choice actually, he was still berserk). Erindros and Garkar cut down many more soldiers as they fled into the rushing waters. HWSAD was struck in the head by a stray slingstone. Were he not already in a bloody, frothing rage, he would have been knocked unconscious and probably drowned. The pursuit of the Lunars into the wilderness continued into the night, and on into the next day. The three Bardori men did not join in for this part, and retired to Two Sisters village. Kallyr Starbrow's body was guarded by the Colymar warriors, as all of her household guards had been killed. When Queen Leika returned the next day, the PC's witnessed her riding back to Boldhome, with Kallyr's body carried behind her on a bier. Sartar no longer had a Prince... Thank you for reading! Next time, we will continue adventuring in Fire Season.
  26. 1 point
    Our last session was a short one, partly because HWSAD had to bow out for the evening. Still, we covered many exciting events, and the party finally arrived in Pavis. Leaving the Paps There were still a few loose ends to tie up at the Paps, including worship rolls and a traditional celebration for Egajia. Erindros also decided to buy some copper to sell in Pavis. When all this was taken care of, Mok bade farewell to his protege, and wished the rest of the party well. The caravan then set off again for the dusty plains. The plan was to take a day for travelling around Eiritha's Sacred Hills, as no-one wanted to offend any devout Praxian khans just for the sake of taking a shortcut. The party then crossed the Long Dry over a period of roughly four days. Everyone loaded up the mules with extra water and rations, and because it was still Sea Season, the weather was only slightly blistering. Our heroes reached the Zola Fel River Valley after another day, and stopped to rest at a small farming village with an inn. The next day they reached the famous city of Pavis! New Pavis Given that information about New Pavis in 1625 is somewhat lacking, I had to add a few details of my own. I decided that the biggest visible difference is that the walls around the South Gate have been pulverized, and what was once the Farmer's Quarter has now effectively become the Nomad's Quarter. The tight streets and alleyways of the city have become even more cramped with Praxian herd beasts and nomad warriors strutting around as they please. Several large nomad camps also cluster along the southern side of the walls. This was the direction that the caravan entered, and thankfully no-one gave them any trouble. Argrath, the "King of Pavis," had occupied the Count's Palace for his court (I wasn't sure if it was there or the Temple of Pavis, but the former was more convenient, for reasons which will eventually be made clear). He Who Spits at the Devil decided to stay at the temple of Storm Bull, and drink himself into a stupor for the next few days (this is how we explained his player's absence). Erindros set up his market stall in Founder's Market, and stored the caravan's goods near the temple of Issaries with the baboons to guard them. Garkar and Egajia were both present at the liberation of Pavis, and had spent some time there before their exile. They both recommended staying at Gimpy's for the good food, reasonable rates, and fine entertainment. Many of those already staying at the inn were warriors from Sartar, looking to join up with Argrath's army. They passed the night uneventfully in a shared room. The next morning in the common room, Garkar saw a familiar face. In his days as a bandit in Sartar, he had often crossed paths with Orstalor Spearlord, one of the most prominent rebels during the occupation. Orstalor and his band, Miki's Mudhens (mentioned in the Coming Storm) raided the empire in the northern parts of the kingdom, and Garkar aided them on several occasions. The former rebel had now joined Argrath's band of heroes and was helping to organize his army. Just as a note, I wasn't sure if this particular NPC had even joined up with Argrath yet. Looking back on it, it almost seems more likely that this would have happened after the Battle of Sword Hill, but out of all the Sartarites connected to Argrath, Orstalor seemed to be the most likely person that any of the PC's would have met previously. Orstalor told everyone that word had gotten back to the King that a caravan from the Dundealos Tribe had come to the city. As a representative pf Argrath, he hoped to offer gifts to the king of their tribe, and asked Erindros if he would be willing to see these gifts safely back to Fort Jaldonkill. He offered goods, silver, and a herd of 50 cows, 20 horses, and for the bird-loving Bardori clan specifically, 10 rare riding ostriches! Erindros was trained in ostrich riding, but so far had failed to find a proper steed in any Sartar market. Thus he was thrilled by this offer. Still, he and the others were somewhat suspicious at Argrath's generosity, and questioned Orstalor as to why he sought the favor of the tribe. Orstalor said only that the King was looking to build alliances and encourage more trade with Sartar, and that he had sent gifts to many tribes already. When asked about the many warriors, nomads, and adventurers gathering in Pavis, Orstalor said that the city couldn't support them for long, and that he would be "back in his old stomping grounds soon enough." Everyone found this a bit disturbing. Before he left, Orstalor also shared a rumor that he thought the party would find interesting. During the city's occupation, the Lunars had supposedly gotten their hands on a suit of iron armor that belonged to none other than Derik Pol-Joni, the Dundealos Tribe's greatest hero. After Pavis was liberated however, the armor went missing from the vaults at the Count's Palace. Not long after that, a group of dwarfs from the city's Flintnail cult presented Argrath with another, entirely different suit of armor as a gift. Orstalor pointed out that dwarfs rarely give gifts to anyone, and when they do it is often more than simple generosity. He suggested they speak with the leader of the dwarfs, Ginkizzie, at Dwarftown, about the missing armor. Finding it and presenting it to the Dundealos tribal ring would be even more impressive than showing up with lots of cows. Dwarf Problems For the rest of that day, Erindros sold many of the goods he had purchased in Sartar and Prax at a decent profit. Egajia went among the Pol-Joni camp outside the city, and offered her shaman skills to help fight off disease spirits infecting the camp. Later everyone went to Dwarftown to speak with Ginkizzie. Speaking with any of the local dwarfs proved difficult, as they were all very caught up in their routines. Speaking with head dwarf seemed impossible, until Erindros mentioned that someone from Argrath's band had sent them. After that, Ginkizzie appeared at the front office within minutes. None of the PC's (or the players) knew about Ginkizzie's unusual heritage, but it was clear that he looked a bit different from the other dwarfs. His features were more human-like and symmetrical, and he also had a pale, greenish cast to his skin. Otherwise he dressed like a gold dwarf, ostentatiously. When asked about Pol-Joni's armor, the head dwarf only said that whoever had stolen it from the Lunars' vaults was likely hiding in the Big Rubble, and that they should search for it there. Garkar noticed that their presence and questions were making him uncomfortable, and he pressed the dwarf for more information. Ginkizzie relented, and invited everyone into a private office. He explained that the disappearance of Pol-Joni's armor was because of a local dwarf. Argrath knew this somehow, and so Ginkizzie had offered him a different suit of enchanted armor to placate him. Meanwhile, he and the other members of the Flintnail cult had been searching for the rogue dwarf who stole the original armor. His name was Vorlokk, an iron dwarf and expert blacksmith. Ginkizzie explained that Vorlokk had been acting strangely over the last few seasons. Some dwarfs fall prey to a strange illness, in which they become obsessed with recovering items that they have made and lost (or given away). Vorlokk was the original creator of Pol-Joni's armor, and gave it to him when they met at Dwarf Knoll in Prax, centuries ago. Vorlokk disappeared from Dwarftown not long after Pavis was liberated. Since then, the humans in Manside, and the Loricek troll clan have also been robbed of artifacts that Vorlokk had originally made. Ginkizzie is certain these events are connected to Vorlokk, and now considers him to be an apostate from the Pavis community of dwarfs for his reckless actions. He asked the party if they would be willing to lend their efforts in bringing Vorlokk to justice. In return, they would be allowed to claim the armor for their tribe, but would have to swear that the dwarfs could reclaim the other stolen goods and any dwarf secrets. He also asked that they keep the entire matter a secret from other interested parties. The PC's agreed, and so Ginkizzie introduced them to one of the renowned Rubble Trackers, another iron dwarf named Chain Song. He would assist them in following leads in the Big Rubble. We ended the session with the party debating the best place to start looking in the Big Rubble for Vorlokk and the stolen armor: the human community in Manside, or the trolls of the Loricek clan. That's all, thank you for reading this rather exposition-heavy recap! Until next time!
  27. 1 point
    Note: Up until this point, I have been getting the name of "He Who Spits at Chaos" totally wrong, it's actually "He Who Spits at the Devil." So, from this point onward, HWSAC will be HWSAD. In our last session, the party traveled on from the Block to the Paps, with a brief stop at Tourney Altar. Before leaving the Block, HWSAD took part in Storm Bull's seasonal holy day ceremonies. He entered the Eternal Battle, and witnessed the Bull grappling with the Devil himself. I debated whether or not this should involve a Battle roll or something, but I decided against it. The party then pushed on, leaving their insane young friend Argwaha behind. The journey to the Paps took three days. I wondered if I should be rolling up more random encounters for the travel between locations, but again it seemed inappropriate. Sea Season is one of the only "peaceful" times on the plains of Prax due to the calving season celebrations, so any nomads that the caravan saw in the distance were not interested in raiding. When they arrived at the Paps, they immediately noticed the landscape becoming more green. Dust and chaparral were replaced with palm trees and cool springs. The temple complex itself was vast, and thronging with pilgrims of various sorts, including Praxians, merchants from Sartar and Esrolia, and even a party of Aldryami. I couldn't find any illustrations of the Paps temple itself, so to give my players a good visual, I showed them some pictures of the rock-cut Kailasa Temple. They were unable to enter the temple itself, due to the terrifying Babeester Gor initiates guarding the entrance, but there were numerous shrines around the oasis to be visited. As it was Windsday, Garkar tried to find a shrine to Orlanth in which to pray. He found one as part of Ernalda's lineup of Husband-Protectors, but was unable to reach his god due to a rhino wandering into the worship space (explanation for a bad roll). As he left, he noticed the group of Aldryami watching him, but they were uninterested in talking. Their great height, reddish skin, and needle-brush hair suggested that they were from the Redwood Forest to the north. Egajia was nowhere to be seen at the temple or oasis. Instead the party was greeted by her shaman teacher, Mok. Her mentor has often been mentioned in previous sessions, but this was the first time the rest of the party had met him. Egajia's player decided Mok should be an eccentric, stern Llama Rider who had been somehow "magically enlarged" in the past. He was over twelve feet tall, and did not have a riding beast. He simply ran across the plains like an Agimori. He lead the party further up into the hills, to a narrow canyon littered with broken statues. Here, Egajia was found meditating inside the shattered stone head of an ancient, nameless goddess. She had been fasting and preparing for her journey into the Spirit World for many days, and was in no state to greet her comrades. Mok explained that she would pass into the Spirit World in a few days, to undergo her shaman trials. During this time her physical body would be vulnerable, and her enemies could potentially be drawn to her. As her kin and comrades, it was the duty of the party to defend her, until she either returned or died on her journey. Mok himself could not stay to help. Even though he was also Egajia's kinsman (uncle actually), he was not allowed to interfere with any part of her initiation directly. Before he left, he gave Garkar a spirit charm to use, a simple painted stick. He claimed that it contained a fragment of Oakfed, the Great Wildfire, and that it would follow the instructions of whoever broke it. Mok then left by scrambling up the rock walls. Defending Egajia The canyon in which Egajia was meditating was easily defended. The rocks on either side were insurmountable, and she was well protected inside the stone goddess head, which mostly blocked the side facing the hills. Everyone in the party knew that worship rituals, heroquests, and other gatherings were often disrupted by enemies, and so they expected trouble. HWSAD used his maul to knock down a few statues, to serve as extra cover. Garkar hid himself among the boulders further away from the stone head. Erindros went about instructing the baboons on how to properly defend a confined space. Before long, one of the baboons spotted a group creeping up the hills toward the canyon. Garkar recognized them as the same Aldryami he had seen at the Paps, and counted six of them. Their leader introduced himself as Onakal, and said that his brothers and sisters had come to bring Egajia to justice for crimes that she had committed. He explained that years ago, she had led a group of llama riders into the Redwood Forest on a raid, and burned many trees and elves. The PC's knew that Egajia hated elves for killing her father, but not that she had feuded with them on other occasions. HWSAD attempted to appeal to their sense of honor, asking for them to wait until she returned from the Spirit World, but his words fell on deaf ears. They prepared to attack. The Spirit World Egajia had discorporated a few hours before the elves showed up. She entered the border regions of the Spirit World, and saw the landscape around her come alive with genius loci spirits, and other strange beings. She wandered for a short time, until she saw a huge man, as big as her mentor. His skin was covered with swirling runes and patterns, and a large pair of bison horns grew from his head. She knew him to be the Horned Man. They greeted each other as if they were old friends. He gestured for her to follow him, and she did so. They traveled through the Spirit World (I described it as combination of stumbling, flying, and dreaming), and arrived at the edge of a new place. There was a vast oasis, surrounded by desert and scrub land. In the distance was an enormous mountain, big enough to warp the horizon itself, the Spike. The Horned Man stopped, and asked Egajia if she was ready and willing to give him her gift. She said she was. She reached into her own chest, and pulled out her heart. The heart turned black, and crystallized into something resembling obsidian. With a gaping hole in her chest, she gave the Horned Man her heart, a sacrifice of 15 POW! He accepted it gratefully, and in return gave her a set of chimes, carved from human bones. He left, telling her that she must find her own way to the place she sought. She turned and walked to the oasis, where she saw many people and herds gathered. Meanwhile, at the Alamo Everyone on both sides took cover behind the rubble, and began casting protective spells like Shield and Protection. It was six against five (counting the baboons), so Garkar wasted no time in breaking the magic stick over his knee. Immediately, a huge fire elemental flowed out of the charm (medium-sized), and stood ready to fight. HWSAD also summoned his air elemental to join them. Four of the elves drew swords and spears, and each cast Aldrya's spell Chameleon on themselves. They immediately became very hard to spot. Onakal and another elf stood back and cast Arrow Trance, becoming stiff and focused. Initially everyone stayed behind the boulders, as the Arrow Tranced elves used multimissile to blacken the sky with arrows. The elves with melee weapons quickly moved up the canyon to close in, hoping their stealth magic would protect them. Unfortunately for them, Garkar had very sharp eyes, and a high Scan skill. He directed the fire elemental at them while they were close together. It closed in for a fiery embrace, and two of the elves were incinerated at once. Two more managed to make it past the elemental, but were confronted with Erindros, HWSAD, and the baboons. They proved very difficult to hit, due to the Chameleon spell. No one was able to scratch them until Garkar ran back with his broadsword in hand, and slashed one across the belly for a crippling blow. As soon as he left his cover however, he was hit in the neck with an arrow. His helmet thankfully saved his life. Eventually He Who Spits also landed a hit, crushing the the remaining elf's leg. Before the fight began, HWSAD had built a bonfire near the stone head, thinking that Aldryami were weak against fire. He then asked his air elemental to pick up the burning embers and drop them on the archers. It did so, and managed to badly wound one of them. The fire elemental took care of the rest. Two elves still survived but were badly wounded. They yielded and asked for mercy, and the PC's allowed them to live. The elementals then dissipated. Back to the Spirit World Egajia came to the oasis, where she found the spirits of her ancestors, and their herds, all gathered around the watering hole to rest. She met kinfolk that she had summoned in the past, including kindly Uncle Dimalag, Aunt Sadesh, and Cousin Abjal (who everyone hates). The Founder and Protectress of her tribe were there as well, but she couldn't get close enough to speak to them. Suddenly a strange figure rode up to her. He was thin, almost skeletal, with dry leathery skin. He had golden teeth and bulging eyes, and rode a strange animal that Egajia had never seen before. He wielded a spear, and a dagger-axe that looked more like a scythe. She had seen him before at the Battle of Hender's Ruins, where he was last killed (at least in my version of the timeline). It was Jaldon Goldentooth. He asked her, "Who are you? A Praxian, or a Sartarite foreigner? You are caught between two worlds, and I cannot decide if I should kill you, or embrace you as my kin." Egajia's answer, "I am a Praxian woman of Sartar. If you wish to cut me in half with your blade, do so. One half shall stay here, the other will hop to the Cave on one foot." Jaldon seemed very satisfied with this response, and let her go. He pointed to the spirit of a strangely dressed woman before he left. Egajia went to speak with her. It was her grandmother Sebayok (the one we created in her Family History). She was a philosopher from Pavis, and an initiate of the city cult. She died before Egajia was born, but her own people told her stories about how she died valiantly at the Battle of Grizzly Peak. Sebayok embraced her granddaughter, and they chatted for awhile. She then showed Egajia a vision of her comrades fighting off the Aldryami. She asked- "What do your companions mean to you? Would you lay down your own life for them?" Her answer, "They are my friends and kin, thus they are a part of me. I would have no choice but to sacrifice my life for them, for in losing them I would already have lost myself." She was pleased with the answer. She then pointed to another spirit, this one very familiar. It was a man of the High Llama Tribe, tall and thin, and riddled with arrows. This was Egajia's father Harjoon. He had been killed by elves only a year before the start of the campaign. He praised his daughter, and she gave him honor. He then asked her- "What would you sacrifice to see your enemies defeated? Your life? Your friends and family? The world itself?" Her answer, "They are my enemies alone, and so I could only sacrifice myself to see them destroyed." He nodded, and at last pointed to the base of the Spike. There, among tumbled rocks, Egajia saw the Cave. She bade her ancestors farewell and walked toward it. The Cave When she entered, at first there was only darkness. Egajia's player then described the Cave as having it's own light. It was made up of narrow rock passageways that spiraled and fed into each other. It was a labyrinth. Eventually, she came to an open chamber. Here, she felt the open wound in her chest throb, and something felt as if it was trying to escape from inside her. She vomited out a white, smoky substance, and felt as if what remained of her soul was escaping her. She performed a Spirit Dance, attempting to contain the power leaking out of her, and it formed into something more solid. Her fetch, when it finally materialized, appeared as a large snake, wearing a wooden mask. Finally feeling complete, she continued on through the Cave. As she felt her way through one of the tunnels, she noticed that the walls became increasingly tight. Soon she was trapped, and the light of the Cave faded into total darkness again. She became aware of another, malevolent presence nearby. Someone grabbed her arm roughly, and dragged her through an opening into another chamber. This figure was a living shadow, human-shaped. It's only distinguishing feature were it's red, bloodshot eyes. Bad Man then pulled her into a private hell of his own creation. Spirit combat with Bad Man lasted for four rounds. Each round, he pulled her into another vision, and tormented her by making her live out her worst fears. Her spirit combat skill was 125%, and Bad Man's was 175%. This was adjusted to 50% vs. 150%. In the first round, Egajia was with her old Praxian clan, surrounded by elders including her father and brothers (now dead). They accused her of betraying the clan's traditions, of turning her back on the gods and consorting with foreigners. They condemned her to exile, and severed her spiritual connection with her people. She was unable to say anything for herself, as Bad Man had stolen her voice. Bad Man wins, taboo: Never eat Bison meat. In the next round, Egajia is trapped in a burning forest of redwood trees. They fall and crash around her. A giant Aldryami, at least 50 feet tall, appears and chases her. She calls on her fetch, who coils around the giant elf, and crawls into it's mouth and nostrils to destroy it from within. Egajia wins, shaman ability: To be determined later. Next, Bad Man takes her back to the Battle of Hender's Ruins, where Lunar magic and demons are tearing her comrades apart. She runs from the carnage, only to be confronted by the pulsing glow of the Moon itself. It fills up her vision, and she is forced to relive the temporary madness that consumed her during the battle. Bad Man wins, Taboo: Sleep outdoors once a week. Egajia finds herself back outside the entrance to the Cave. Suddenly, a giant version of Bad Man appears from behind the Spike. A horde of Chaos monsters follows in his footsteps. He directs the horde to attack Egajia's ancestors. She stands helpless as her ancestors are devoured, and their souls annihilated by Chaos. The Spike implodes, leaving only a gaping hole in the earth, and she is sucked into the blackness. Bad Man wins, taboo: Make a pilgrimage to Daka Fal's Fire once per season. Finally, Egajia reappeared by the real entrance to the Cave, still in the Spirit World. Bad Man was gone, but Horned Man was waiting for her. He accompanied her back to her body, and she and her fetch returned to the mundane world. She awoke, and left the broken statue to see her comrades, standing over two terrified looking elves. They explained to her what happened, and she both thanked them and apologized for putting them in harm's way. The party went back to the temple complex at the Paps, where Mok awaited them for a celebration. Next time, the party will finally reach Pavis! Thanks for reading.
  28. 1 point
    Storm Season Postscript There was one important detail I forgot to mention in my last entry. Actually, we forgot to address it in actual gameplay too, so we had to do a flashback of sorts. One of the main reasons Erindros proposed the joint raid on the Sambari clan was to liberate thralls, and then offer them a place in the clan as cottars. Even with the former Enstalos cottars bolstering the population, the Bardori are still at just over half their former numbers before 1618. The party was able to liberate just over 100 thralls in the big raid, they were mainly composed of 3 distinct groups. Sartarites - These were the biggest group, made up of former outlaws and indentures who had fallen into debt. Most of them agreed to join the Bardori clan, and Erindros was able to convince the chieftain this would be a good idea. Praxians - Mostly Impala and Bison Riders. Egajia attempted to convince them they would be welcome in the clan, but I gave her a pretty hefty penalty for her roll, due to the Praxian distrust of the settled lifestyle. All of the Praxians decided to take their chances on the plains, and attempt to find their former clans. Egajia generously gave the group a portion of her loot, to help them purchase new mounts. For this I gave her a free 1% bump in reputation. ??? - The third group were mysterious to the PC's, and no one could figure out where they came from. They spoke a strange dialect of Heortling, and didn't have any identifying marks or tattoos. One of them came forward to explain that his people were purchased by the Rastorlings from the Sun Dome Temple to the west. They called themselves "Ergeshi," and claimed to worship their own gods and ancestor spirits, although none of their past owners had allowed them to worship these. Their spokesman claimed that they had kin in the Holy Country, but that they would not be welcome there, having been isolated from them for generations. Egajia was personally offended that their worship rights had been denied to them, and insisted on offering them a place with the Bardori. The Clan Ring debated whether it was a good idea to let them stay or not, as they were "weird and unsettling," but the issue was allowed to lapse, and they hung around, out of sight and out of mind. Sea Season 1626 - Planning an Expedition Here were the local and major events that occurred in Sea Season - Kallyr Starbrow failed in her Short Lightbringer's Quest, with serious consequences for all of Sartar. Chaos attacks were reputed to be on the rise, and the Prince's position as leader of the kingdom became much more tenuous. The Bardori had cattle and sheep stolen by their immediate neighbors in the Balkoth Tribe, the Wozer clan. Argrath White Bull has been building a new army in Pavis, and gathering more Praxian warriors to his cause. He is rumored to be planning an attack on the Lunar Empire, or their allies. Would-be heroes from many clans have gone to explore the ruins of Fort Enstala, but none have returned. We discussed what the PC's next course of action would be. Erindros expressed interest in planning a trade expedition, either to Pavis or the Holy Country. Egajia felt ready to attempt her shaman initiation, but was willing to wait until other business took them back into Prax. Garkar was on board with a trade mission. Between Nochet and Pavis, the group decided that going east would be a better idea. Egajia could visit her mentor, and the clan could reestablish old trading links with the their distant kin in Pavis, and among the Pol-Joni. They did some calculations, and decided it would be prudent to ask the clan for a loan for purchasing mules, trade goods, and other equipment. They met with the chieftain and the Inner Ring, and made their case. The Issaries representative on the Ring, Stolf Argin's Son, was the head of a Bardori bloodline which had long controlled the clan's trading interests. His family considered Erindros and close kin to be rivals, and the feeling was mutual. Stolf argued that an expedition to Pavis would be reckless and dangerous, and that the clan should instead work to reestablish regular caravans in Sartar, and expand their influence in Swenstown. Egajia is generally the party spokesperson in these situations (which is funny because she only speaks a little Heortling), and she tried to rouse the Inner Ring's excitement by pitching the journey as an adventure that would be worthy of a clan of heroes. Once again, she fumbled on her roll. Her player explained this by inadvertently putting emphasis on the dangerous aspects of the journey - "Only a clan of true heroes could face the hordes of broos, screaming nomad warriors, cannibals, whirlvishes, dust storms, etc!!!" The chieftain and the Ring refused to give them a single clack. They would have to fund their expedition themselves. They tried to think of a way to quickly get some disposable income. Raiding was out of the question, as most of the clan was involved in sowing the crops. Garkar pointed out that Fort Enstala was rumored to still have piles of silver hidden away somewhere. The party agreed to check out the ruins. Before they did so, another exile arrived in town from Prax. He Who Spits at Chaos Our newest PC, hereafter known as HWSAC or He Who Spits, rode into town and introduced himself to the chieftain. He was boisterously welcomed and offered mead. HWSAC is a follower of Storm Bull, who had spent his exile in Prax riding with a mixed band of Sartarites, Pol-Joni, and Praxians, all Storm Bull cultists. He returned to his kin upon learning of their resettlement. He also harbored ambitions to build a shrine in honor to his god, which would double as a beer hall. He immediately pitched his idea to the chieftain, who responded with hesitancy. Being strapped for cash, and hearing of his other kinfolk going raiding in a potentially Chaos-infested ruin, he asked to join them. They welcomed him along, thinking that his skills could be useful. Fort Enstala The fort was the capitol of the Enstalos Tribe from 1618 to it's recent destruction in 1625, after the Dragonrise. The chieftain, Angarr Broad-Back, was present when the fort was attacked and razed. He met with the PC's before they set off to describe it's layout. The fort itself consisted of a stone tower, with a surrounding village and temple, all encircled by a wooden palisade. He mentioned that Blackmane had allowed the Lunar garrison to evacuate their women, children, and elderly before the attack, but some had insisted on staying. The outer wall was easily breached, but the garrison held out in the tower for days. In the end, someone had lit a fire which consumed part of the structure. The remaining soldiers either fled, or burned to death. None of Blackmane's warriors were able to breach the Temple of the Seven Mothers. It was apparently guarded by a powerful spirit or demon, in addition to more warriors, and so they left it alone. With this information in mind, the party set off. The fort was located in the foothills of the Stormwalk Mountains, and technically lay within Togarth lands. This was a complication, as that clan might decide that any loot within the ruins might belonged rightfully to them (even though they had so far failed to take it). At Angarr's suggestion, the PC's decided they would initially go to the fort in secret, but then offer a portion of any treasure they found to the Togarth chieftain out of respect. They traveled north for a day, through the foothills, and arrived without incident. SEE AWFUL MAP ABOVE - Entering the ruins was simple enough, as the walls had been breached and the main gates destroyed. The former village was in shambles, with most of the longhouses partially burnt down, and overgrown with vines. Nothing of major interest was discovered. The party continued to the fortified tower. Here they found many corpses in various states of decay. Most were in a charred pile near the base. Other bodies were found that were more fresh, appearing to be slain Togarth adventurers. Most curious of all were several dusty skeletons, wearing antique hoplite armor. Erindros recalled various painted urns he had seen depicting Dara Happan soldiers from the First Age, which these seemed to resemble. Before investigating the tower, Egajia used Second Sight to see if she could locate any ghosts or spirits. She was not disappointed. She witnessed dozens of ghosts arrayed around the tower, some of them resembling Sartarite warriors, and others Lunar soldiers. They were locked in combat, and ignored Egajia completely. They appeared to be caught in a loop, reliving their final moments in the battle to capture the tower. The PC's decided they needed to learn more before they could help lay any of these spirits to rest. Within the tower itself, they found more of the odd armored skeletons slumped against the wall. Unlike the ones outside, these were the moving variety, and they attacked. HWSAC proved his combat prowess here, using Berserker and smashing skeletal limbs and heads with his maul. It didn't actually take very long to wipe them out, and Egajia had to use a Sleep spell to put him out of commission, before he turned on his companions. The party left their new Storm Bull friend asleep outside, and continued to explore the tower. Egajia used Detect Enemies to see if any other threats were inside. She felt a malevolent presence on the second floor, and so everyone attempted a stealthy approach going up. Unfortunately, they all had to climb a creaking wooden ladder going up, and everyone failed their roll. The second floor was partially collapsed, and a man watched them from the darkness. He was dressed like a local, either a hunter or else a bandit. Yet he also wore a Lunar officer's plumed helmet and cloak, and had a wild, haggard appearance. He demanded they help defend the tower from "the accursed rebels," and then began asking what regiment they were with. Egajia immediately suspected possession by a ghost or spirit. She used Second Sight to confirm this, and tried casting her Free Ghost spell to remove the possessor. The spell worked, and the man fell unconscious. Soon after another man, who looked to be in even worse shape than the last, called down to the party from the top of the tower. He introduced himself as Bermakt, and claimed to be a hunter who was passing through the area with his companions. One of these was a woman named Yandissa, who was badly wounded at the top of the tower. The other was named Harstar, who was the man possessed by the spirit. Bermakt was otherwise very vague about which clan they came from, or why they were in the ruins in the first place They had been camped near the tower, when they were attacked by the armored skeletons and chased in. Soon after, Harstar began acting strange, and attacked the other two. They managed to climb up to the roof, where they had lain for an entire day. The party offered to heal them and give them supplies. Bermakt warned them that they had seen the skeletons come out of the Seven Mothers Temple, and that a voice had told them to leave when they tried to enter. The PC's did a little more exploring in the tower, and then moved on to the temple. It was a rectangular structure, built of marble. The outer walls were decorated with scenes of the Red Goddess's victories, and a large red globe protruded from the top of the temple. The first room contained a series of small shrines with votive images, devoted to many different Lunar deities. The party was not able to admire them long, as He Who Spits began smashing and defacing them with his maul. Immediately after that, a horrible creature materialized out of thin air. Eight feet tall, four-armed, fanged, and with skin coated in black slime, it introduced itself as the temple's guardian, a demon of the underworld who served the Red Goddess. HWSAC's Chaos sense was tingling, and without any hesitation called on Storm Bull to fill him again with the holy rage. The others stood back and cast magic while the berserker went after the demon. It drove it's claws into his stomach, and raked his arms, but then He Who Spits aimed for the head, and rolled a critical. Overcoming the demon's (very high) armor, he crushed it's head like a rotting pumpkin. The demon, now headless, turned, walked into the altar room, and disappeared. HWSAC gave chase, but it had apparently discorporated. He then set about trying to bring down the temple by smashing it's supporting pillars. Egajia used Detect Enemies to see if the demon was still present. She found that it was, although it's presence seemed to be dispersed throughout the temple. The party was now in the main hall of worship, where there was an altar, and a silver plaque depicting the goddess. The hall was littered with the bodies Enstalos men, women, and children, in an advanced state of decay. Something had brutally killed the people who had fled to the temple for safety. Each adjoining chamber was a smaller shrine to each of the Seven Mothers. Egajia searched each one, using Second Sight. She eventually found the demon in incorporeal form, hiding within the altar to Queen Deezola. She bested it in spirit combat, but even this would not drive it away completely, as it continued to flee to the other shrines. The party decided they needed to loot the place before the demon could reconstitute itself. HWSAC eventually came out of his rage before the building came down. The party went through each room, some of which were trapped with Safe spells. In the dormitories they found an old man, and a young girl dressed as Teelo Norri. The man turned out to be a wraith, mad with grief and rage. Egajia defeated it, and trapped it within a charm she had kept as a family heirloom. The girl was a ghost, but not hostile. She told the party that she had been hiding with her parents in the temple during the attack. The junior priest had called the temple guardian to fight off the Dundealos raiders, but then lost control of it. It turned on everyone inside, killing all her kinfolk. She did not seem to be aware that she had died. Egajia again used the Free Ghost spell to give her rest. The vaults on the upper floor of the temple held silver, trinkets, and valuables including silk and rare books. The PC's took as much as they could carry, and made ready to leave. They noticed as they were prying off the silver plaque, that there was a passageway underneath the altar. Egajia crept down it and used various Detect spells to see if anything dangerous was there. A tunnel ran beneath the temple, into what appeared to be a large barrow. She sensed many beings ahead of her that sounded like the skeletons from before. She raced back up, and tried to block the entryway. Erindros realized that the large globe that hung above them, made of interlocking bronze plates, was suspended with ropes and wedges. He and Garkar cut the ropes, and knocked the globe free (after everyone cleared the area). It fell onto the altar, crushing it, and fully blocked the tunnel entrance. The heroes then ran for it, dragging their many spoils behind them. They determined to come back at some point, and permanently exorcise the place of it's remaining ghosts, and demon(s?). But for now they had what they needed. Behind the Scenes I spent a lot of time planning this adventure, since it was our first dungeon experience. There were a lot of things the players ignored or avoided because they had burned through their resources fairly quickly. These include- The 3-Headed Dragonsnail from the map - I included it just to give the Storm Bull player something to use his abilities on, but he used his spells really quickly on other (non-Chaotic) things, and it didn't seem fair to hit everyone with such a tough monster after that, for no story-related reason. The Priestess' quarters - The former priestess of the temple was the one who bound the demon to serve as a guardian, and she knew of various ways to control it, mostly based on impersonating the Red Goddess. Had the PC's been unable to defeat it, they could have tried some more theatrical solutions. Honestly the demon was pretty tough, he had 15 armor and 15 hp! I just didn't count on that critical hit, and he almost rolled maximum damage to the head. That's the way it goes sometimes (sigh). The possessed guy also had a Seven Mothers "rosary" amulet that they could have used to repel the demon, had they examined it or tried using it. They took it off him, but forgot all about it afterwards. There was also a Trickster NPC that I wrote up who would have acted as a sort of unreliable guide, but we just didn't have enough time in the evening to fit him in. Anyway, next time the party sets off on their big trip to Pavis. Thanks for reading!
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