A Star for Queen Zoe

Chapter 2 – Stalled in Steinbach

The survey ship stood in the courtyard of the castle, almost filling it. De Meister nodded appreciatively.

“It’s bigger than I thought. That took some skill to land. Maybe this guy is a good pilot”.

The ship was long, with rounded curves designed for atmospheric operations. The forward section, presumably the bridge, was linked by a wasp-waist to the main body. Surprisingly, there were no windows. In the lower forward part was an opening, with a ramp leading up and in. Two guards stood at the foot of the ramp, armed with halberds.

“First, we breakfast”, said the Duke. “The Count is very strict on routine. We will meet him and the others in the Great Hall.”

“A question,” De Meister stopped the Duke. “Should you not rig up something over the ship to hide it from above?”

The Duke looked up, puzzled. “From above?  Cumberland has a few balloons; but our sentries are on watch for them and have fire arrows.”

“Oh I see. Then the humans from the Bright Empire also use balloons to keep watch over their new territory. That is a comforting thought.” The Duke went pale. “You are right. Camouflage will be arranged immediately.”

In the Great Hall, servants were dishing food out to three people seated at the High Table. As they entered, a herald blew a fanfare and announced “The delegation from Her Majesty the Queen for Andrei Shvedov, Count of the County of the Stein and Herald of the Queen of Richmond”.

“Approach the table, bow and kneel”, advised the Duke. “The Count is your leader and commander of this expedition. He commands respect.”

Dr Ferring started forward; Treggs gave his huge grin and stayed put; Lady Lissia was nowhere to be seen and de Meister and Leila glanced at each other; then both drew their weapons; but held them blade-down.

The herald blew again. “Andrei Shvedov, Count of the County of the Stein and Herald of the Queen of Richmond, states that he is in command of this expedition and will be accorded the respect that his position demands.”

De Meister stepped forward. “Listen, Count Shvedov. We are under no illusions as to the importance of this mission to Queen Zoe and the kingdom of Richmond; and we are all committed to it. Nothing will be gained though this pomp and ceremony. If you are the captain; then so be it. However, I do not know you. If I think you are making a tactical error, then I will challenge it. I am here as a warrior and fighter under the command of the Queen herself.”

Leila stepped forward, staring at the Count. “I am here for the Queen. I will obey you, but I will not serve you.”

Count Shvedov looked unhappy; but then his face cleared. “I too serve the Queen. To gain our interstellar colony almost certainly will require diplomacy. That is my area; I am empowered to make deals under the authority of the Queen.”

The Duke of Kincaid stepped forward. “Let me introduce your other crewmembers. This is Professor Albert Murphy; ex-chair of mechanics at Perth University. “The balding man nodded; said “I can’t wait to show you around her; she is beautiful”, then went back to his food.

“This is Gita Chandrakala.” The young Asian woman wore the uniform of the Richmond navy. “She is the ship’s pilot.”

De Meister started forward. “How did you get to be trained as a pilot? We all know what starships are. But there has not been one here for five hundred years. Why are you so special?”

Chandrakala looked at him. “I am an officer in the Navy; I fought in the battle of Deep Lagoon. Also; I read some books obtained from the Sistema. I can fly this ship; if you have any doubts then there are coldsleep pods in one of the holds.”

The Count rose and declared that they would convene again at sundown to discuss strategy.

“Sundown? I was under the impression that this mission was urgent.”

The Count dabbed delicately at his mouth with a napkin and waved his hand. “You need to learn about the ship and I have an important hunting expedition organised with the Duke of Parun.”

“One more thing, then. Does the ship have a name?” The Count thought for a moment. “It shall be called ‘To the Eternal Glory of her Majesty Queen Zoe of Richmond’.

Leila hissed at this. “It should have a name that will strike fear into our enemies. The ‘Star Huntress’”

“How about ‘The Shuddering of Forgotten Enemies?” said de Meister.

“It already has a name – SV2305”, said Lieutenant Chandrakala.

“Why don’t we just call it ‘Glory’?” suggested Treggs.

“You cannot leave until King John holds the Great Feast. This is scheduled in five days”, said the Duke. “You have been assigned rooms in the castle. You will find everything you need there. Get yourself settled in and we will meet again in an hour, in the courtyard by …” he smiled, “’Glory’”



The personalities of the crew are beginning to show in more detail now.


Episode 2.4 – All My Sins Remembered

Early Homecoming in the Fifty-Second Year of the Leopard, in Kularni

Drogo and Galadiir had buried Shadows body underneath the statue of Geoff the Mighty on the farm, then spent some time with Gallmus and the family. There was growing excitement as Miriam’s baby was due during Festival, although Galadiir was due to meet with his uncle in Lhobanport during early Harvest. Kerim Shah awarded them a generous sum of money on behalf of the town for dispersing the Ayaka threat.

They were in the tavern in Kularni, having a quiet drink, when suddenly the flickering shadows around them started to deepen and form into small hideous demons, clawing at them.

“We are under attack!” cried Galadiir. “I know this spell, it is of House Dyath; one of my ancestral enemies”

Through the door strode a dandy, clad in leather armour with an ornate decoration, bearing a short sword and a dagger in either hand.

“I am Ilyrios of Syranthia and I claim the bounty on Galadiir of House Xymart”. Behind him was a large man clad in bronze armour with a large axe.

“I am Bullias of Ekul, here for the bounty on Khal Drogo, a savage from the Savannah Tribes.”

With a roar, Bullias ran down the tavern towards Drogo, pulling his axe as he did so. The other patrons in the tavern rose and fled out of the door, all except for one. A young man sitting alone, he put down his drink, sauntered over to Ilyrios and casually enquired “what’s going on here?”

“We are here to collect the bounty of ten thousand Moons offered by the Priest-King of Caldeia for these men.”

“What did they do?”

“They destroyed a large part of the city. Thousands of innocents died. Now stand aside, this is not your fight”

The young man stepped back, thought for a moment; and then kicked the table towards Ilyrios, drawing his sword as he did so. Ilyrios jumped back, startled as the man said “now it is a fair fight”.

Galadiir stood to face the charging Bullias and cast his “Army of the Dead”; two ghostly warriors materialised in from of him. From out of nowhere appeared a black raging shadow demon that tore the warriors to pieces* Bullias was upon him and struck a blow with his axe. Galadiir fell back, blood streaming from a wound in his side.**

“I am Drogo and I need no armour. Armour is for weaklings”.

Drogo leapt to his feet, up onto and over the table and dived upon Bullias, trying to wrest the axe from him.

Ilyrios danced forward, his twin blades flashing in a blur. The young man put up a spirited defence but to no avail, he took a gash along one arm. The transformation was startling, he stood for a moment bolt-stiff; then his eyes turned blood-red and he launched a frenzied series of attacks against Ilyrios.***

Revealed out of the shadows was a black-skinned Tricarnian, who cast a whirling network of clawed shadows towards Galadiir. Galadiir recognised him; “Xythen of House Dyath”. He sent three “Roses Thorns” at the wizard, who took a hit directly in the chest. Galadiir then re-summoned his “Army of the Dead”.

Drogo and Bullias were struggling in a grapple, Ilyrios pressed an attack that wounded the berserker again but then took a massive blow in return that he barely survived. Yelling to the others to regroup, he ran from the tavern.

Bullias broke free and moved to defend Xythen, he took out one of the “Army” but then had to defend against a fresh assault from Drogo, who had drawn his war club. Xythen broke for the door but was cornered by the berserker; at this point he surrendered. Bullias also lowered his weapon; a chorus of yells broke out to try and snap the berserker from his rage. Fortunately, this worked and the redness faded from his eyes.


Galadiir went up to Xythen and offered him his hand; Xythen accepted and they shook.

“You are Galadiir of House Xymart”.

Drogo said “You are a good fighter” to Bullias. Bullias grunted and made a crude reference to Drogo’s loin cloth being used to hide a weapon; Drogo laughed at this. He went to the bar and broke open a barrel of ale.

“Drogo says drinks all round”. They all righted a few chairs and sat round a table and shared stories. All eyes turned to the berserker.

“My name is Geoff and I am from the Empire. My father was a famous fighter; he was killed and I am here to avenge his death. I am as skilled with bow and sword as he was.” ****

“Why do you want to kill us?” asked Galadiir.

“Kill you? We don’t want to kill you,” said Xythen. “You’re worth nothing dead. The Priest-King wants you alive. I would imagine that it will be a long time before you are permitted to die. You understand; it’s not personal; it’s just the money.”

At this point, Kerim Shah and a group of guards entered; followed by the tavern keeper who was wailing about the damage caused.

Kerim Shah was prepared to let the matter drop provided they made reparations with the tavern keeper. After all, they were heroes; having helped defend the town against the Ayaka and being instrumental in stopping the war. However, this sort of thing could not be tolerated in the town, more bounty hunters will likely turn up; he suggested that they ‘lay low’ for a while. As it turned out, he has just the thing for them; a message needs to be taken to a remote keep up on the border with the Red Desert. He has no men to spare, many are still recovering from the battle and others are still being trained.

Geoff went off to buy a bow, quiver and arrows whilst Galadiir settled up with the tavern keeper. After some negotiation, the man settled for 100 Moons. Galadiir was suspicious about this, but paid up and left. *****

GM Notes

* The trappings of a Dispel spell cast by Xythen.

** Matt rolled Snake eyes on a Soak? We couldn’t decide on a Critical Failure for this, since Soak is a meta-Game concept anyway.

***Another Berserker! I rule that berserkers attack the nearest target, friend or foe, and keep fighting until the snap out of it or there is no-one left. They cannot voluntarily try and break the rage; it needs an outside stimulus for them to attempt to roll.

**** Yes, this is Harry’s new character, Geoff, son of Geoff the Mighty (Harry’s first character, who died in Caldeia)

**** Persuade gone wrong (Matt rolled Snake-eyes). The tavern keeper accepted 100 Moons, but Galadiir is going to find that his purse fell off his belt and that he has lost a further 500 Moons.


A major fight with Wild Card opponents. In the first session, the Players dice were not with them and they were getting well and truly kicked. The second session they were really cooking and the tables were turned.

Notable quote: Galadiir “I can’t believe this. One minute they’re trying to kill us, the next they’re sitting and having a drink with us!”

XP = 2


GM update (24/09/17) – Things have changed a lot in real-time. Matt (Galadiir) is at Uni now and is not a regular attender and back in the early days of this Game there were a lot of mistakes made (too much XP for example).

There has been a lot of interest expressed about carrying on; but there may be new characters. The issue of the Burning Moon? – that’s a different issue. I have a good idea of what’s going on there.

Episode 2.3 – The Dogs of War

Storm Season had broken with a vengeance and the rain poured down, turning the ground to a sea of mud. Drogo, Shadow and Galadiir stood at the edge of the farm and looked to the south.

“They will surely not attack in this weather “said Shadow. Drogo shrugged. “Drogo would. Take enemy by surprise, sheltering inside in dry”.

“Listen”, called Galadiir. In the distance came the braying of horns. “They have been sighted from Kularni”. Two of Drogo’s men came in; a force of Ayaka was approaching the farm from the south; a large number accompanied by three hunting spiders.

Drogo reviewed his army. Along with himself, Galadiir, Shadow and Akazar, he had his men and the farm workers. There were several others; friends and relatives of the workers; plus he had Deneris and Galadiir’s “Army of the Dead” and “Wall of the Dead”. Furthermore, he had organised the men into digging some earthworks and clearing the vegetation around the farm perimeter.

That night, after the sun had set and the boiling red moon was in the sky, they heard a loud noise in the distance, like water pouring over a mighty cataract. In the morning, three men had gone; thrown down their weapons and deserted their posts. Drogo took up post in the centre, ready to command the army and to help in the defence. Galadiir had built himself a low platform to cast spells from; Akazar and Shadow stayed in the centre of the farm with a reserve of men.

As dawn broke the Ayaka attacked from the south; screaming their battle cry “Ootini, Ootini!” Drogo leapt into the fray and Galadiir loosed several spells. As before, once the Ayaka saw he was a sorcerer they turned their attentions to him. Drogo leapt across to defend him; the initial charge was repulsed. The second wave of attacks saw Drogo battling to protect Galadiir and the Ayaka surged past them and into the farm. Drogo took a deep blow to the leg; saved by his Loin-Cloth Hero Edge; Galadiir was running out of energy; having to maintain several spells at once.

In the farm, Akazar went down under a frenzied onslaught by a group of Ayaka; Shadow fought a desperate battle around the statue of Geoff the Mighty aided by the reserve men. A final battle round the statue saw the defeat of the Ayaka; who routed and ran south.

Shadow mourned the death of Akazar; they searched for and found his body; he was buried under the statue of Geoff.

“This will be our graveyard, where we will all be buried”.

After a few hours rest they left a garrison at the farm and headed north to the battle at Kularni. The Ayaka were laying siege; they had climbing ladders to scale the walls and several spiders were on the roof of the caravanserai. The heroes fought their way through to the main gates; Galadiir was wounded by a spear thrust and then bitten by a hunting spider that dropped on to him from inside the gates. The arrival of the heroes helped turn the tide. Drogo, Shadow and Kerim Shah led a sortie out of the gates whilst Galadiir went to help the healers in the market area. The sortie was a success and the Ayaka withdrew to the south.

As darkness fell, Kerim Shah met with Drogo on the roof of the town, by one of the ballista. He was covered with spider bites.

“My thanks for your help.” He looked to the south, where the horizon was lit by a flickering glow. “That was just a skirmish, to test our defences. The main army lies there, waiting to attack.”

Later that evening, in the tavern, Drogo challenged Shadow to The Drinking Game. It was not Drogo’s night; he passed out after the first drink and Shadow collected 500 Moons in wagers. Across the room Galadiir saw Toorkman, surrounded by his men. Toorkman doffed his hat and made a sweeping bow; then turned back to his men.

To be continued…

GM: Our first test of the Mass Battle Rules from SWD. I used the rules as written; with the bonus of a Benny at the end of each Round in which they went out in personal combat. I’m going to quantify things a little more using “Tattered Banners”

They have discussed a plan for Shadow to sneak in and assassinate the Ayaka leader


Session 2

Storm Season (Returning), in the Fifty-Second Year of the Leopard

Galadiir, Drogo and Shadow discussed a plan to take the fight to the enemy. Leaving a garrison at the farm, they headed south into the Ivory Savannah, with Drogo riding Deneris. Drogo and Shadow were excellent trackers and were able to follow the trail left by the fleeing Ayaka. It was during the third day that they encountered trouble.

“Halt!” called Shadow, who then scaled the nearest tree into the lower branches. “There are several creatures approaching from the south, through the grass.”

Drogo leapt onto Deneris and readied his Buffalo Spear.

“Drogo is ready”

Soon the creatures were visible, Giant Hunting Spiders. The size of small ponies, they bounded through the grass towards the heroes.

“Spiders”, groaned Galadiir. “Why does it have to be spiders? If I create a “Wall of the Dead”, they’ll just climb over it”*
Drogo and Deneris charged the nearest spider and ran it down; Deneris trampled it into the ground. Galadiir summoned two of his “Army of the Dead” to engage the spider closing in on his left; Shadow stood ready in the centre. The spiders showed a disturbing grasp of tactics; two of them climbed up trees and jumped at Shadow and Drogo. Deneris reared up but to no avail, the spider landed on her and attacked Drogo. One of Galadiir’s Army went down; Shadow used his newly-learnt Shooting to shoot his bow at the creature; both shots missed.
Another spider ran out of the grass towards Galadiir, Shadow dropped his bow and leapt in front of it. Drogo stabbed at the spider as it fell towards him; his spear caused a deep gash; enough for the spider to jump back into the tree. Galadiir used his “Sea of the Dead” (Blast) to take out one of the spiders that was lurking up a tree; Drogo decided to snare the last one in his net to make a spider cloak out of its hide** However, he succeeded in snaring the spider up in the tree too well; he pulled it out of the tree and the fall killed it.

They stored the spider hide and Shadow was able to recover one spent arrow. Continuing on, they reached the edge of the Savannah and the thick wall of the Lush Jungle rose before them. Venturing in, they soon found there were few ways of navigating and they wandered for several days before exiting onto a river bank.

The river is wide and fast flowing. The bank rises up on the right to a knoll; from there to the opposite bank is a rope bridge…

To be continued

GM’s Notes
* Galadiir is developing a real phobia about spiders (IRL, his player HAS got a spider phobia)
** This is a throwback to a very early Game of Talislanta when they fought and killed a Crag Spider
*** They have no food, water or supplies with them!

Session Three

Storm Season (Returning), in the Fifty-Second Year of the Leopard, somewhere in the Lush Jungle

Drogo looked at the river and considered whether to risk Deneris swimming it. The river is wide and with a fast current tumbling over rocks and cataracts. The only option was to risk the bridge. Drogo ran up the slope to the top of the knoll; the others followed. Shadow ran to the bridge and started out across it; with loud screams of “Ootini! Ootini!” a horde of Ayaka poured out of the jungle opposite. Shadow grabbed his bow and nocked an arrow; the swaying of the bridge unbalanced him and he fell forward; to his dismay he watched half of his arrows fall into the raging river.

“Souls for Xymart, I call on the Sea of the Dead”, cried Galadiir and raised his arms. A shimmering spectral host engulfed the Ayaka, two fell dead with expressions of sheer terror on their faces, the rest scattered. Drogo ran onto the bridge and attacked the pygmy who was running towards Shadow, with one blow from his Tribal shield he knocked the screaming pygmy off the bridge and into the river; where he was swept into the rocks.

“Drogo will take you all!”

A flurry of blowgun darts came from out of the jungle, several struck Drogo’s shield and one struck Galadiir in the shoulder. He concentrated on the burning sensation spreading from the wound and it faded.

Shadow slung his bow and drew one of his swords in time to beat off an attack from another Ayaka. He killed that one; only to see two more rushing towards him. Drogo intercepted one and used his shield to push the man off the bridge. Galadiir cast “Rose’s Thorns” and took out two Ayaka; he then was hit by another blowgun dart. Again, he was not affected by the poison (perhaps Xymart was watching over him this day).

The bridge was not meant to take this; with an ominous “snap” one of the lianas parted.*

Galadiir called upon the Sea of the Dead again and took down more of the Ayaka; Drogo pushed another pygmy into the river (it would appear that they can’t swim), then ran for the end of the bridge; followed by Shadow. Galadiir took out two more pygmies with “Roses Thorns” and survived another hit from a blowgun dart. He crossed the bridge; but there were no more attacks.

Drogo spent some time coaxing Deneris to cross the bridge; it groaned alarmingly under her weight but she crossed safely. Drogo and Shadow then scouted for tracks of the Ayaka. They found obvious ones; leading south into the jungle.


Several days later they were on a hill overlooking a large hollow. There were two large camps; bivouac shelters around fires. Beyond the camps were areas with large cages. A central slope led up to a crumbling vine-grown ruin; beyond the ruin are the light of a huge fire and the sound of rhythmic drums…

To be continued…

This was the first test of mine and Ben’s combat battle system, adapted from Mantic Game’s “Mars Attacks”. It combines the best elements of table top war gaming with a 3×3” grid to regulate movement and combat. It worked really well.
* There was a very real chance that the bridge could have collapsed if too many people were fighting on it.
** Drogo’s use of the Push (Shield Bash) to push the enemy off the bridge was inspired and he has gained +1xp

The Gamers are very interested in sponsoring / setting up a Gladiator school to use the published rules. Has anyone else tried these yet – if so, how did it go; or is there an ongoing tournament they can get involved in?

Note: They have settled on a name for the group – The Gallant Band of Manic Strangers

Session 4

Storm Season (Returning), in the Fifty-Second Year of the Leopard, somewhere in the Lush Jungle

Galadiir strained his eyes, trying to see what was in the cages nearest to them.

“Spiders! “, he cursed. “Always damn spiders. Spiders hate me.”

Drogo and Shadow studied the layout of the camp. The way to the entrance of the ruins lay straight through the middle, past the large fires that were serving as cooking fires. Around the fires, in groups, were Ayaka pygmies; Drogo attempted to count them but ran out of fingers. Beyond the camp a slope led up to a shadowy vine-grown ruin, from beyond this came the sound of muffled drumbeats and the flickering of firelight.

“The leader has to be in the ruins”, declared Galadiir. “Shadow goes and does his assassination thing and we create a diversion.”

“Drogo will ride Deneris across camp and split many small man skulls open.”

Finally, they decided on a plan that involved Shadow using his stealth to sneak towards the entrance to the ruins whilst Galadiir crept into the middle of the camp using Drogo’s camouflaged tribal shield as cover. Once in position he could then summon several “Sea of the Dead” to cause confusion in the camp whilst Drogo charged in on Deneris.

The plan was going well; Shadow nearly made it to the ruins when Galadiir tripped over a sleeping Pygmy. The man stood and rose to full height – far bigger than a pygmy.

“Anda akan mati untuk itu, pria jahat!”

Galadiir did not know what the man had said, but it sounded like a challenge. He replied in High Tricarnian and pulled out his short sword.

“Tev jāmirst, ka ļauns cilvēks”

The Ayaka leapt forward and struck down hard; Galadiir managed to parry but missed on the riposte. He jumped back and the Ayaka came after him. This time the stone club hit Galadiir on the upper shoulder and he half-fell. He struggled to his feet to see Drogo grappling with the big Ayaka; a telling blow sent the champion reeling; Galadiir stabbed him with his sword and Drogo struck the killing blow.

“You are my brother”, said Galadiir; they high-fived then turned to face the hordes of Ayaka charging them.

Meanwhile, Shadow had made it through into the ruins. He headed up the slope; pausing only to duck into cover as several Ayaka ran past him. He crept forward and hid in the shadow of a large column. In the centre of the ruins were two blazing fires; on a low dais sat a large grinning monkey-headed man, flanking him were three Ayaka champions and a pygmy wearing a necklace of skulls carrying a gnarled wooden staff. Shadow drew back behind the column and readied his bow.

Something about the column disturbed him; he looked up to see that it was one leg of a gigantic monkey statue that straddled the entrance.

“Prepare yourself, my brother”, said Galadiir and loosed off a set of “Roses Thorns” at the attacking Ayaka. Many fell; the rest milled around in disarray. Drogo whistled for Deneris and leapt into the melee; he took several wounds; all soaked by his Loincloth Hero Edge; his return use of Sweep held off the Ayaka until Deneris charged into them from the rear; tossing them like ninepins. A furious melee ensured but eventually the PC’s held and rode Deneris to the edge of the jungle; Galadiir loosed off several “Roses Thorns” to discourage pursuit.

Shadow drew back even further as number of Ayaka ran up from the camp, shouting and yelling. He presumed they were raising the alarm. Hoping it would draw off some of the guards around the monkey-head, he readied and aimed his bow at the monkey face.

Drogo turned Deneris around and they charged back into the camp*, only to be jumped by two hunting spiders. Galadiir took down one with a “Rose’s Thorn” and Deneris trampled over it; Drogo speared the second one on his Buffalo Spear. Racing through the remains of the encampment, they charged into the ruins…

Next week – the concluding episode(?)

* I didn’t follow the conversation that led to this decision

Hmm … I’m a bit unsure about how this went. I wanted to get the feel of them fighting a huge horde, so I treated the Ayaka as a series of SBT similar to swarms, with the champions, shaman and Masked Warrior acting on their own cards. It didn’t feel like the PC’s were under threat at all, although the exploding damage dice did wreak havoc amongst the Ayaka (it was unbelievable; practically every combat roll or damage roll the PC’s did exploded.)

Session 5

Storm Season (Returning), in the Fifty-Second Year of the Leopard, somewhere in the Lush Jungle

Shadow saw Drogo and Galadiir on Deneris charge into the group of Ayaka round the entrance*, scattering them. Shadow took his chance and started to climb up the ruins. The ancient stones crumbled under his weight and he fell backwards. The noise caused the nearest Champion to notice him; in a flash he raised his blowpipe and sent a dart towards Shadow. The purple-tinged dart stuck into Shadow’s armour near to his neck. The Ayaka charged Drogo and Galadiir; Drogo’s First Strike proved effective at keeping them at bay. The shaman gestured with his monkey skull rod and four Headless Zombies clawed their way up out of the earth and advanced.

Shadow climbed up the ruins again and found a vine-grown ledge about 30’ up. The Masked Warrior (aka “Monkey Man”) swarmed up the wall on his right and let out a high-pitched chattering screech, directed at Shadow. Unnerved, he watched in disbelief as the Masked Warrior swung on a liana towards him, axe raised.

Galadiir jumped off Deneris as Drogo rode her forwards towards the nearest Champion and the shaman. Just in time he pulled her to one side as a huge pit opened in front of them. He looked up to see the shaman gesture with the monkey skull; a cloud of green spiders engulfed him. The shaman gestured again and a second cloud of spiders struck Drogo. Again he laughed off the attack.

“Drogo does not fear your sorcery; Monkey Man. Drogo will split your skull and let the magic pour out onto the ground”

Deneris gored a Headless zombie and threw them into the pit; Galadiir managed to kill the last Ayaka hunter and summoned his Army of the Dead to face off one of the Champions. They killed two of the Headless zombies; the shaman used his power to raise three of the dead Ayaka as zombies.

Meanwhile, up in the ruins, Shadow and the Masked Warrior were battling; swinging in and out on lianas and striking blows in passing. The Warrior took a savage blow from Shadow that he was able to Soak; in return Shadow took a Wound. The Warrior took the opportunity to scream a bloodcurdling howl straight into Shadow’s face. Fazed by this, Shadow was unprepared for the attack and took an axe wound deep into the guts.

Drogo was suddenly thrown by Deneris, who tried to charge him from behind** He jumped aside and tried to barge the Champion down into the pit; it was a close call but the Champion failed to fall in. They attacked back and Drogo took a Wound; Soaked by his Loincloth Hero Edge. A gesture from the shaman and Deneris bolted off the map. Galadiir cast three ‘Roses Thorns’ at the Masked Warrior; they did some damage but exhausted his magic.

“Drogo does not understand. Deneris is loyal to me and would never run away”.

Drogo battled the Champion; Galadiir battled the other Champion; doing significant damage with his short sword. Suddenly they heard a terrible scream. Looking up, they saw Shadow falling from the upper levels; a stone axe embedded deep in his guts. He hit the ground with a wet sound*** Drogo and Galadiir looked on, stunned.

“Xymart”, called Galadiir. “A soul for you, Lord Xymart”

The shaman gestured again with his monkey skull rod; the shape of a huge spider began to form in the centre of the ruins. Suddenly his expression turned to outright terror as a twisted rip in the air opened behind him and dimly-glimpsed was the image of a monstrous spider****. Two spider legs, thick as young tree trunks, dragged the shaman into the rip; which closed with a satisfied smacking sound. The remaining zombies crumbled to dust.

The Masked Warrior swung back across the lianas and disappeared into the jungle, along with the Champion. The jungle was thick and pursuit almost impossible.

Deneris was found hiding behind a tree down in the Ayaka camp. On recovering Deneris and Drogo giving her a strong telling off; they loaded Shadows body and headed north for Kularni and the farm. The Ayaka army was breaking up; it’s driving force gone.

The End

XP = 4 each (3+1 for the death of Shadow)

*I’d given up on the swarm idea and replaced the swarm with a group of six Ayaka hunters.

** Ben (Drogo) really could not get to grips with the effect of a Beast Friend spell on Deneris.

*** Shadow was Incapacitated and rolled snake eyes on his Vigour roll.

**** Backlash from using Sorcery

GM: The first real battle that pushed the PC’s to the limit. There were several Jokers drawn and extra Bennies awarded on all sides from Joker’s Wild; Shadow spent several on re-rolling damage. He drew two Jokers during the fight.


Episode 2.2 – Shadows in the South

It was Sorrows End and Drogo, Galadiir and Shadow were at the farm just south of Kularni. It was early evening and the sun was setting. They were speculating whether they would see Raven again and Shadow was swapping tales with Akazar. It was then that they saw a troop of soldiers approaching. Gallmus and Drogo went out to meet them. It was Kerim Shah, Captain of the Kularni Guard.

The news he brought was grim. The Ayaka Pygmies have massed in the Lush Jungle and are on the warpath. There were reports that Veranzar was under siege. Now, there is news that a small village two days travel to the south has been attacked. Kularni is preparing for war; many of the population are packing up and heading north to the Independent Cities or Kyros. If the news about the village is true then the Ayaka are even closer than he realised.

He proposes that the heroes go scouting to the south, to find out what has happened to the village and to gauge some idea of the Ayaka numbers. He cannot spare any of his own men; they are busy training militia and keeping an eye on the mercenaries being hired.

Galadiir proposed that he, Shadow and Akazar should go. Drogo was not happy about this.

“My friend”, said Galadiir. “This is a stealthy mission. You should stay here with your men and guard the farm.”

“You go to seek an army. Armies are not stealthy”, replied Drogo. Galadiir persisted and Drogo gave in*.

The following day, Galadiir, Shadow and Akazar set off south. They took very little with them other than their weapons; Akazar had escaped from Ekul with very little so Shadow lent him his bow and quiver of arrows. At the end of the first day they were on the edge of the Verdant Belt, with the Lush Jungle before them. It was then that they chanced upon a body by the side of the track. The body was male, clad in tattered rags with fair hair and a straggly unkempt beard. A short sword was gripped in in his right hand.

“Syranthian?” mused Galadiir. “What brings him so far south?” He moved in closer and wrinkled his nose at the stench of putrefaction. He turned the body over with the side of his boot and recoiled in disgust at the two puncture wounds in the man’s neck. The punctures were green and black and were the source of the smell. Shadow scouted around and determined that the man had come from the south. Galadiir wanted to burn the body, but had no way of doing so. A quick search revealed a small bag of 50 coins of an unknown type; Galadiir took these without Shadow seeing him do so. They camped for the night; they took turns in standing guard but nothing happened; other than Galadiir having a strange dream about a pair of eyes watching him.

The following day the sun rose as a pale shadow; wreathed in dense fog. Heading south, as the day moved on the sun burned the fog away. They came upon a burned village; in the centre lay three bodies. A quick examination showed they were similar to the man they found yesterday and they had died in a similar manner.

Meanwhile, back at the farm, Drogo went into Kularni to gather some supplies. Kerim Shah had spoken truly; many of the smaller traders had packed up and gone; although Orrando was still doing business. He saw Drogo enter the courtyard.

“Drogo! Drogo, my friend. I have not seen you for some time. Come inside and share a flask of the finest Caldeian vintage. I have a job for you.”

“Not now, Orrando. Drogo has other business stopping an army.”

“Another time then? I too have an interest in stopping an army.

Camped outside was a mercenary company; “Toorkmans Gentlemen”. A flamboyant crew dressed in scarlet and green; led by a foppish dandy wearing a feathered hat who was talking to Kerim Shah. Drogo just grunted.

“Wait until they see a real fight”

Back at the village, Shadow found a trail leading north-west. They followed this for two hours; it ended in a clearing with no other exits. A large pile of branches sticks and leaves lay at the opposite side to the entrance. Galadiir’s curiosity got the better of him and he advanced across the clearing. Shadow and Akazar stayed back by the entrance; Akazar readied his bow. As Galadiir took another step forward, several blowgun darts rippled out of the undergrowth. One struck Galadiir and he felt a numbing poison spreading out. Undeterred, he made it to the pile; only to recoil in horror as it unfolded into a brown and green giant spider**. The spider struck and bit deep, causing a deep wound; however it was not able to inject its venom. Akazar loosed an arrow at the spider, distracting it; Galadiir leapt backwards and loosed off a trio of “Rose’s Thorns”, killing the creature. He turned and ran towards the exit of the clearing, another blowgun dart hit him in the neck and he felt himself becoming drowsy. Suddenly an Ayaka burst out of the undergrowth and ran at Galadiir, a stone axe raised. A well-placed shot from Akazar took him down and Galadiir staggered out of the clearing.

Back at the farm, Drogo set some of the workers and his men to preparing some defensive positions, digging some trenches and preparing earthworks. The farm was not fenced other than around the animals and anyway, to construct stone fortifications is out of the question. A wooden palisade though, is a different matter.

Helped along by Shadow, Galadiir made it back to the village. They noticed something was different; the three bodies they had left were now standing upright, impaled on wooden stakes. A chorus of war cries broke out as Ayaka poured into the village…

To be continued

GM: Players are getting their first hint that fighting the Ayaka is not going to be easy.

* I have no idea why Drogo was left behind. Ben’s idea to try and fortify the farm was a good one.
** Matt (Galadiir) hates spiders in RL and so his reaction was a picture


Shadows in the South – Episode 2: Session 2

Shadow dropped Galadiir to the ground and they stared as a horde of Ayaka ran towards them, seemingly melting out of the surrounding jungle. The hesitation proved to be costly as a cloud of blowgun darts shot towards them. Most clattered off Shadows and Akazar’s leather armour, one struck Akazar in the neck and the fatigue poison took effect. In retaliation, Akazar put an arrow into the pygmy that had shot him. The pygmies screamed a strange battle cry “Ootini!” as they charged and attacked.

Galadiir struggled to his feet, the wound he had taken from the spider burning hot. He cast Army of the Dead and his two ghostly bodyguards appeared and attacked the nearest Ayaka. Galadiir laughed and yelled “More souls for you, Lord Xymart”. At that point a dart hit him in the left cheek; he felt his vision blur and he fell to the ground; as his eyes closed he saw the Army shimmer out of existence.

Shadow was fighting a desperate battle against three opponents; he was trying to get across the village to help Akazar, who was down on the ground. A Pygmy was trying to drag him off into the surrounding jungle. Shadow took two blows to the head; as he shook his head trying to clear it, three darts struck and the world went black.

“Ootini! Ootini!”

Shadow woke with a sore head and a mouth that tasted like a badger. It was dusk, there was a fire burning and several men, warriors by the look of them, sitting or standing. One of them came across.

“Greetings to you. I am Xaltepec, leader of the Jaguar Warriors of Veranzar. We have been tracking this Ayaka raiding party for several days, but they will trouble no-one anymore. We heard your fight and decided to join in”.

Shadow saw the piled bodies of many Pygmies and that of a giant spider.

“We owe you our lives”, said Galadiir, who had also woken up. “Does your kind use coins at all?”
Xaltepec was amused at this.

“We are not barbarian savages my friend. We are professional soldiers, part of the Veranzar army. However, a little danger money can always be put to good use.”

Galadiir paid over 400 Moons to Xaltepec.

“We shall stay with you until the poison has worn off. The Pygmies are sly and treacherous, preferring to use poison from ambush. You are lucky that this was a hunting spider; not a Death Spider that killed the three unfortunates in the village. Where are you from?”

“We are from Kularni, about two days travel to the north. We heard about the army coming north and were sent here to scout out their numbers. Do you have any idea how many there are?”

“The Ayaka are the main tribe, plus there are several lesser tribes. In total, about a thousand, along with their hunting spiders and possibly worse. They have been driven mad by the Burning Moon; they see it as an omen.”

Galadiir swallowed with effort. “A thousand you say. I was hoping for a couple of hundred. How near is the army to us?”

“We are being watched right now. The Pygmies are masters of woodcraft. You hear the birdsong? Not all of that is natural.”

At dawn, they took their leave of the Jaguars. Shadow invited them north to Kularni but Xaltepec demurred.

“We are part of the Veranzar army and our duty is to our city. A safe journey to you”

Two days later they were back at the farm. They saw that Drogo and his men had been busy digging trenches and preparing earthworks. Galadiir went into Kularni to report to Kerim Shah. Outside the town was camped a mercenary company. Kerim Shah looked harried.

“Do they have cavalry? Chariots? Siege engines?”

“They have giant spiders”.

Kerim Shah glanced up at the ballista on the roof of the caravanserai and frowned.

“I shall post more mounted patrols to the south”.

As Galadiir passed the mercenary camp, a foppishly-dressed dandy wearing a red and green tunic and a feathered hat came out of one of the tents. He looked at Galadiir and sniffed loudly.

“So they are reduced to hiring riff-raff now”

Galadiir just stared, although inside he was boiling mad. He noticed that the dandy had the fourth finger of his left hand missing and that he wore a rapier and a main-gauche.

“Who are you? How many battles have you fought in?” asked Galadiir calmly.

“I am Toorkman. Remember my name” replied the dandy.

Several days passed, Sorrows End was drawing to a close and the weather was worsening as Storm Season (Returning) approached. They all continued to work on the farm fortifications. Then, just after midday, they saw two riders approaching fast from the south; they wore the Kularni crest.

“What news do you bring?” called Galadiir.

“The Ayaka are marching north and are only a day to the south. War is upon us!”
End of Episode 2
XP awarded = 2 each

GM: The biggest battle fought so far in any Game. As the PC’s went down early due to the poisoned blowpipe darts I had all of the Jaguars turn up and split control between Matt and Harry. Ben ran the Pygmies and Spiders. This allowed them to have a no-holds barred fight between Extras. There was much use of Gang-up bonuses, Taunts and Tricks. The Jaguars took no casualties and several of the Ayaka escaped.

Next issue: Kularni and the farm are attacked by the Ayaka. This will be our first test of the Mass Combat Rules (CR, modified by Tattered Banners)



Season 2.1 – Moonmadness

I’ve been intending to update this for some time, but most of my free time has been taken up with running “The Tears of the Gods” Numenera PBF over on the Geek.


Season 1 ended with the PC’s in Lhobanport and something had happened to the moon, it now burned a boiling blood-red and there was the shadow of a massive horned snake moving upon it.

I decided to move the Game on a little bit, so we used a version of my off-time system to see what the PC’s had been up to in the intervening months.



Galadiir did some entertaining for the crowds massing for Festival; Shadow was watching from the shadows (where else) when he saw a group of drunken rowdies preparing to throw rocks at the “dirty Tricarnian”. Shadow managed to warn Galadiir and the rowdies were beaten off; one suffering severe scarring to the face.


Late Harvest

Drogo returned to Kularni and worked on Gallmus’ farm to earn his keep for himself and Deneris.

The farm was doing well, Gallmus now employed ten men and grew root vegetables, bananas and had a herd of auroch herdbeasts.

Shadow recounted the tale of how he had to assassinate a high-ranking military officer of the fortress of Janesse in Zandor who was suspected of selling the details of the city defences to the Valk

First Sojourn

Drogo went north into the Savannah and challenged a headman to a test of strength. He won, but gained little as a reward other than a show of respect.

Mid – Sojourn

Shadow headed for the city of Ekul, looking to sell his services. Following a glorious night of revelling and carousing, he awoke in the street to find most of his gear was missing; including his clothes. All he had was his armour, a short sword and 100 Moons; which he had left behind at his lodgings.

Drogo continued through the Savannah; he challenged another headman and won; this time he gained ten warriors as Allies

Late Sojourn

Shadow undertook a series of minor jobs in Ekul, not all of them legal. He netted 250 Moons from all of them and started looking to replace his stolen equipment.

Storm Season (Embarking)

In Lhobanport, Galadiir related a tale about his long-lost love Amanda (Amarantha). They had trained together in Tricarnia and had grown close. When their training was completed they went their separate ways, never to meet again. When he finished, there was a clapping sound from the back of the room.


“Well Galadiir. I never thought I’d meet a Tricarnian who was in love with anyone but their own ego”.

It was Raven.  They embraced and exchanged stories. She and Spark had escaped from Kularni under the cover of night; she went north whilst Spark went west. The last she heard; Spark was a concubine to the Priest-King. She was leaving in the morning on an expedition to an island in the Brown Sea; but promised to meet up again.

In Ekul, Shadow bought a bow, a quiver with twenty arrows and a second short sword.

Winter’s Night

In Ekul, a commotion drew Shadow’s attention to a public execution; a hanging taking place outside the Grey Tower. He recognised the criminal as Akazar, a friend of his and a fellow assassin. There were too many guards to attempt an open rescue; instead Shadow crept underneath the scaffold. At the instant Akazar dropped; Shadow cut the rope with his dagger. He dragged Akazar into a drain tunnel before the guards could react; then made it through the sewers to a safe area.

Witching Season

Galadiir sold some of the gems and jewellery he had accumulated; he netted 400 Moons but no merchant would touch the strange flat black gems he had found on the mummy under Nal Sagath. There was growing unrest; the moon, normally not visible at this time, now hung low in the sky and burned a baleful blood-red. Tempers were short and people were quick to anger.

Season of Sorrows

A troop of soldiers from Kularni came to the farm, enquiring about the defences. Rumours were coming from the south that the Pygmy tribes were massing and moving north; maddened by the Raging Moon.

In Ekul, Shadow and Akazar were betrayed and ambushed by the city guard. They escaped following a chase through the city and made their way south.


Sorrows End

All the PC’s met up again at the farm. Gallmus and his family were pleased to see the, the big news was that Miriam was pregnant; the baby was due in Festival (“surely an auspicious omen”.) However, the other news was worrying; war was brewing in the south and Veranzar was strengthening its defences and recruiting mercenaries.

End of Session 1: all gained 2 xp.

GM notes: the off-time system is a card-draw, coupled with the use of Story Cubes and a stripped down version of Mythic GME. Skill and Trait rolls were made as necessary. The players really enjoyed the session; it gave them a chance to narrate a story and they really got into it.

Episode 12 – Larceny in Lhobanport



Early Harvest 2511.

Drogo, Galadiir and Shadow accompanied by Deneris the war buffalo, after burying Marvellus, left Nal Sagath and headed north-east towards Lhobanport. After ten days travel they reached the shores of the Brown Sea and turned east towards the mountains, which began to dominate the skyline. Many days later they spied the glistening white stone of the city of Lhobanport and hurried onwards, glad to put the eerie Land of Idols behind them.

The city loomed large before them as they approached the Serpent Gate; they could make out several tall towers, one of which was curiously twisted, they could see the gilded dome of the Hall of Enlightenment and beyond this, crawling like ants, they could make out pilgrims ascending the Ten Thousand Steps beside the cascading River of the Clouds.

The Serpent Gate was in the shape of a rearing cobra; guards manned the upper battlements and stood either side of the gate. There was a steady flow of merchants and wagons in and out of the gate. The guards wore lacquered leather armour and carried moonblades; they were friendly.

“Greetings, friend traveller. Have you visited us before and do you have goods to sell?”

“It is our first time here”, replied Shadow, “we have a small amount of ivory to trade.”

The guard waved his hand through the gate. “You will need to take lodgings in Gaijun’s and do your trading in Small Traders. Be peaceful.”

They decided to check out the lodgings first, they assumed Gaijun’s was an inn or tavern. They actually found that it was the Foreigner’s district, a maze of short alleyways and courtyards; with lots of small blocks of lodgings. It was also walled with low walls, effectively isolating it from the rest of the city. The rooms were reasonable; 3 Moons for a shared room and meal. The rooms were basic with an unglazed window; but still far better than many days out on the road. Drogo went to the owner and offered his services as a bouncer/guard; this was politely declined; the man saying “Thank you, but we have all the protection that we need.”

They soon realised that the chiming bells ringing out over the city at intervals were a timekeeping mechanism of some kind; two bells had sounded when Galadiir and Shadow set out to Small Traders. This was a crowded bazaar, with many traders operating out of baskets or spreading their wares on the ground. They found a spot and spread out the twenty pieces of ivory that they had won betting on Drogo in the wrestling match.

Drogo, meanwhile, hefted the mysterious bronze staff onto his back and headed across the river into the Market. This was better quality than Small Traders; the stalls were made of wood and the area was roofed with billowing silk cloth. It was then that he chanced upon a beggar.

“A coin for a prophecy, master?”

“I am Drogo. I have no coin. I hump women to make payment.”

The beggar stood, easily as tall as Drogo and hissed foul breath into his ear, “Even when you carry the wealth of Kings on your back?” He vanished into a small alley. Drogo puzzled over this; then decided to return to Small Traders.

Meanwhile, Shadow and Galadiir were attracting very little attention when a very attractive young lady stopped and looked at the ivory. She wore a long blue dress and tunic, with a veil which was undrawn. She was VERY attractive.

“Your ivory. How much per piece?”

There followed a few rounds of haggling until they settled on a price of 25 Moons per piece.

“Please parcel them up and deliver them to this address at seven bells this evening.”

Drogo joined them shortly afterwards and Galadiir produced two orange gems and laid them out for sale. A pair of black-booted feet stopped; Galadiir squinted up into the sun to see a tall man wearing black leather and a long cloak.

“A Caldeian dagger for your gems”

“I do not think that …” started Galadiir, and then jumped to his feet to stare into the face of his uncle Anatoiir! “Uncle!” he cried. “I have not seen you for years”.

“Perhaps,” smiled Anatoiir, “but you’ve been making a name for yourself recently. Your father wants to see you. Be at the docks in the morning.”* Galadiir looked worried at this, but insisted that he went alone.

Seven bells came and they headed off to the address with the ivory; it was a townhouse just off the market. A maid answered the door and they were led into a wood-panelled room which smelt of sandalwood. The lady was very pleased and a servant brought a chest with 5 bags of 100 Moons. As they left, she spoke softly to Shadow “my name is Shameena.”

At the hostel they dined and Drogo drank lots of fermented yak’s milk (“it tastes like its name”), then they retired to the room. In the dead of night Galadiir woke to see a cloaked figure disappearing out of the window, carrying the staff. They gave chase across the rooftops, Drogo caught up with the figure and grappled with him, trying to wrest the staff away. He nearly succeeded when suddenly the thief fell backwards off the roof, an arrow through his chest. Drogo grabbed the staff and Shadow grabbed the falling thief. Looking down, they saw a group of figures, all armed with bows …

To be continued


GM notes

* I have a card system that quickly generates family trees; useful for noble houses when sometimes you need to know who’s related to whom. Galadiir has two uncles and two aunts, plus three female cousins; his father is a merchant.


Session Two

Early Harvest, in Lhobanport

Drogo and Shadow dragged the thief back on to the roof and ducked for cover as a flight of arrows came their way. Drogo took a minor graze off an arrow, but shrugged it off. Galadiir ran to the edge of the roof and cast “Wall of the Dead” to block any further arrows. Drogo quickly searched the thief; he found a bronze dagger and a medallion with the symbol of a mountain embossed on it.

A trapdoor opened in the roof and a horde of black- clad figures poured out; from below the archers shot their arrows at the “Wall of the Dead”. A melee ensued as the heroes fought a fighting retreat to the edge of the building and then jumped across to the next roof. At one point both Galadiir and Shadow were Shaken but the opponents did not pursue the attack. Drogo was the last to leave; he took out several opponents with the Staff of Geoff (as they have named it); then leapt over to the next roof and escaped.

The following morning, Galadiir set off to the docks to meet with his father. A black bireme was moored, flying the flag of House Xymart. The deck guard called him “Sir Galadiir” and indicated that he was expected. Entering the captain’s cabin, he saw a tall, black robed figure standing staring out of the stern window.

“Father?” he began.

“Well? What do you have to say for yourself?” The figure turned and Galadiir saw that it was not his father; it was his Uncle Ilroniir, Head of House Xymart.

“Tell me, how do we make our money? You don’t know? Of course you don’t, since when did you show an interest in your family’s business? We are a trading house and currently we are losing money. You may ask why? It’s because one of our major trading partners is pulling out of deals with us. The Priest-King of Caldeia is not very pleased with our family; there is a ten-thousand Moon bounty on your head.”

Galadiir was lost for words.

“Not only have you interfered with the legitimate slave trade of the city; you have also been responsible for the destruction of part of the city itself!” thundered his uncle. “Now you have brought ruin upon the whole family. Have you any idea of what the Priest-King could do if he even mildly exerted himself? Xymart may be our patron, but even he answers to a higher authority.”

Ilroniir sat down at the captain’s table.

“Your aunt and your cousins are all for turning you in for the bounty and to re-negotiate our treaties.”

Galadiir summoned up the words. “Do you agree, Uncle? What would you do?”

“I will not turn you in – yet. You are family. I have a task for you instead. Listen carefully. Be here on the first day of Harvest next year. You will meet a friend of the family. The friend will give you a task to complete. You must complete the task to the best of your ability. Fail; and the Priest-King will get his prize and you will no longer be a member of House Xymart. Is that clear?”

“I will not let you down” said Galadiir and shook his uncle’s hand. There was a faint sting and a pop, with a smell of brimstone. Galadiir recognised a defensive spell of some kind.

Returning to Gaijun’s; Galadiir found that Shadow had bought a bow and was practicing with it.


GM: Most of the session was the combat; the PC’s are getting very good at fighting and so the number of opponents is increasing. They’ll be facing off some WC’s soon.


Session Three

Early Harvest, in Lhobanport

The following morning they were woken by a knock at the door. Opening it, Drogo saw a Jademan, dressed in ornate green and gold robes, accompanied by guards wearing ceremonial armour. The man bowed and presented a scroll.

“You are all cordially invited to attend the Hall of Enlightenment. You will not need your weapons; please bring the bronze staff with you.”

“This looks like an “offer we can’t refuse”, said Galadiir to Shadow. Both of them secreted a dagger somewhere on their person; Galadiir took his own staff as that hadn’t been mentioned. Drogo carried the bronze staff.

Outside, they were escorted to a wheeled palanquin drawn by two yak. The guards marched either side; the heroes realised that this was quite a heavy escort. They passed through the marketplace and turned onto the Street of Lanterns; finally halting at the Hall of Enlightenment.

The Hall was a large domed building; behind it was the mountain with the Ten Thousand Steps leading up. Inside they entered a long hall, lined with monks in green and gold and guards carrying moonblades. Looking up, they saw that the dome was transparent and they had a clear view of the sky. At the end of the hall was a simple chair, with a very old monk sat upon it.

“Come, approach closer. Sit and we shall take tea”

Galadiir and Shadow sat on the proffered low chairs; Drogo sat on the floor and did not drink the tea.

“May I see the Staff?” Drogo held it out, the monk looked carefully at it and sighed. “These runes – have you read them?”

“No,” replied Shadow. “It’s an unknown language”.

“They are written in a language that was old even when the Keron Empire was young. Have you fought using it?”

“Drogo has. It is a good weapon, but heavy for someone without Drogo’s strength”

“Indulge me. Show me some moves”. Drogo moved to the centre of the hall and swung the staff around, making some fighting strokes.”

“Permit me”. The monk took up the place in the hall and in his hands the staff became a spinning blur, moving faster than the eye could see. “This is one of the Seven Staffs that belonged to the Tai-Lin Monks. It is said that when all seven staffs are reunited then the monks will wake again to fight the last battle of the world.”

Outside the Hall they became conscious of a growing commotion, of people shouting and crying out. Looking up through the dome, they saw the moon was in the sky. But it was not the familiar silvery moon, now it was a boiling blood-red colour and moving upon it was the outline of a massive horned snake …



GM: This went well as the season finale. The Game is taking a break over the summer period.

I had been looking for a good place to set the finale, looking at my notes it is almost exactly a year since we started playing B & B. Also, this was the twelfth episode; again making it a good place to stop for a time.

SEASON TWO – what’s coming up

There is Galadiir’s quest to complete, a couple of loose ends to tidy up and also finding out what has happened to the moon.

Back soon!

GM: 28/02/17 – as will be seen, Season Two didn’t quite go according to plan.

Episode 11 – To the City of the Clouds


11 Homecoming, 2511, at Kularni in the Verdant Belt.

Drogo and Galadiir made their escape from Caldeia and returned along the caravan route to Kularni. They deemed it wise to avoid Caldeia for some time as the Priest-King has posted a 10,000 Moon bounty on their heads. Galadiir was intrigued with the bronze staff that they had found in the Temple of the Slime-God, the runes carved on it were Lhoban, although he couldn’t read them. After a pause at Kularni, they intend to continue to Lhoban and the City of Clouds.

They visited Gallmus and his family on the farm outside Kularni, the farm was doing well and the family were eagerly anticipating the first harvest of maize and vegetables. Drogo and Galadiir went into the town and commissioned a statue of Geoff; Galadiir wanted a stone one but found it would cost around 6000 Moons, he settled for a plaster and lath one for 500 Moons. Whilst in Kularni they kept a look out for Raven and Spark but didn’t see either of them. However, in the tavern they remarked upon a man seated alone, wearing a hooded robe. They sat with him; he was a Valk from Jalizar. He told them a tale of chivalry and honour, resulting in his exile from Jalizar. He called himself Shadow. They provisioned up and made ready for the journey east.

Four days later, travelling along the fringe of the Ivory Savannah, from ahead they saw an explosion of light in the sky, verdant fountains and rainbows of colour fanning out and spiralling upwards. As brilliant orange and yellow starbursts bloomed in the sky, they ran forwards to the edge of a Savannah tribesman village. Many of the tribe were gathered in a semicircle around a small man wearing silver and purple robes.

“And now I, the Great Marvellus, will show you the mysteries of the ocean”

At a gesture, the centre of the village was filled with a wind-blown ocean, foam-flecked waves crashed and broke and in the distance a sea serpent reared its head against a darkening sky. The tribesmen hooted and cheered; some dipped their hands in the water and tried to drink it.

Galadiir looked on in amazement. “I must get to know this Marvellus and find out how he does this. I am the greatest sorcerer in the world and I know of no spell that can do this.” He moved closer through the crowd.

 “And now, I shall show you what it means to soar high above the ground”.

The scene changed in the blink of an eye to drifting clouds, with the ground a green and brown blur beneath. The tribesmen began to look concerned; Marvellus waved his hand and the village re-appeared. A burst of cheering erupted, the tribesmen beating their spears on their shields in appreciation.

Later that evening there was a feast held. Galadiir got to speak with Marvellus; he was a wanderer from the Empire out to see the world.

“I’m heading for Lhobanport, looking for a ship across the Brown Sea to Kenaton or Ekram.”

“Where did you learn your magic?” asked Galadiir. “I’ve never seen it’s like”

“A good magician never reveals his secrets”

A tribesman approached Marvellus and gave him a sack full of ivory horns.

“Not bad for a day’s work.”

Galadiir went to speak but then a commotion caught his eye. The tribesmen were drawing out an arena circle in the dirt. Drogo stepped into the centre, stripped to the waist.

“Asagwara of the Babangida tribe! I, Khal Drogo, do challenge your champion for the right to earn a buffalo spear!”

Into the circle stepped a huge black man, the tribe champion; his entire physique dwarfed that of Drogo. Asagwara (the headman) stood and called out “the challenge is accepted, Khal Drogo. You will wrestle; first one to three throws to the ground wins”.

As Drogo and the champion clashed for the first time, both Galadiir and Shadow were offered bets; 10 ivory pieces for Galadiir’s short sword and Shadow’s armour if Drogo loses.

To everyone’s amazement, including Drogo’s, he won every bout by a clear margin (the dice were with him).* The champion was thrown every time. At the end, he was rewarded with his buffalo spear, Galadiir and Shadow got their ivory and the feast continued into the night.

The following day, Galadiir, Drogo, Shadow and Marvellus continued east towards Lhoban. After several days they reached the edge of a steep escarpment overlooking a plain of shallow hills and woods.

“I have heard of this place. This is the Land of Idols”, said Marvellus. “It has an evil reputation.”

The air grew thick and heavy and the light faded fast. Out across the plains a huge storm was brewing; bright threads of lightning split the sky. Shadow scouted for a suitable hiding place; he found a cave large enough to hid Deneris in. They made shelter as the storm broke; massive purple-blue bolts of lightning crashed down nearby and the concussion of the thunder deafened them.

The storm cleared a s quickly as it had begun and under a blue sky they continued onwards and downhill. Scouting ahead, Drogo came across a lightning-struck tree that looked like a man, a rough face in the bark and two twisted outstretched limbs. Shadow inspected it and realised that the whisper of the wind through its branches were forming the words “burn me”.

As Drogo scouted around on Deneris, Galadiir used a flask of oil to burn the tree. It gave off a sickly stench of burnt meat as it burnt; finally it toppled over to reveal a large hole in the ground, sloping downwards.

To be continued


GM:  An omen? The last time this happened was in the Temple of the Slime God and it all went FUBAR next session.


Session Two

25 Homecoming, 2511, in the Land of Idols

Galadiir, Shadow and Drogo prepared to enter the hole uncovered by the burnt tree.  Marvellus demurred and said he would set up the camp for their return. Drogo instructed Deneris to keep an eye on him.*

The hole sloped downwards for a short distance; then opened up into a passageway. Galadiir lit his lantern and they all looked round in amazement. The entire passage was lined with dark wooden panels, including the ceiling. The floor was closely packed earth. The panels had sigils carved upon then, spaced seemingly at random, although many repeated themselves. There were between eight and twelve sigils on each panel; they all shared a common twisting, curling style. Galadiir shook his head.

“I have never seen the likes of these before”

He made to prise one of the panels away from the wall to see what lay behind; but something made him reconsider and he put the dagger away.

At a fork in the passage they took the left-hand passage, emerging into an oval chamber, panelled in the dark wood. At the last minute Galadiir looked up and registered several objects falling towards them; he jumped aside and the creature fell past him onto the floor. Shadow also avoided the creature, but Drogo was not so lucky and the thing landed on the crown of his head. A loathsome grey creature about the size of a city cat was on Drogo’s head, six spindly legs gripped under his chin and jaw. Under the thing they could see scissor-like mouthparts chewing. A final long leg/tail protruded from the rear of the thing.

“Spiga,” breathed Shadow. He drew his swords and slashed at the two on the ground that were trying to scuttle back up the walls to the ceiling. They burst with a spray of evil-smelling grey slime. Drogo, meanwhile, drew his war club and beat at the Spiga on his head. He felt something, like a blunt needle, sliding into the wound on the top of his head. He knocked the Spiga off and Shadow killed it. Two others fell from the ceiling but Galadiir was ready for them, two “Rose’s Thorns” put paid to them.

“They are common in the sewers of Jalizar”, said Shadow, “as well as caverns and ruins throughout the Dominions. Have you never wondered why tomb-robbers always wear hats?”

“Khal Drogo has no need for a hat”.

Pressing on; the passage led to a circular chamber. It was empty and there was nothing remarkable about it so they continued to another fork in the passage. The next chamber they entered had two exits, but one was almost completely blocked by a cave-in. It looked like the ceiling had come down. Shadow climbed up to the top and was able to determine that passage continued. They had no digging tools and Galadiir’s magic could not help; so they took the other exit. A side passage led towards another chamber; suddenly the floor gave way beneath Galadiir’s feet and he fell into a deep pit. Fortunately he wasn’t hurt and Shadow climbed down to join him.

They became aware of a faint susurrus, a rustling sound that gradually was growing louder. The examined the walls of the pit and saw it was honeycombed with small holes, each about 2 inches in diameter. Galadiir’s inherent fear of swarms kicked in and he climbed out of the pit as quickly as he could; even so, Shadow beat him to the top.

Drogo examined the pit, it was 10 feet across. He decided that he could do a running jump and leap over it. He managed it; the others followed his example and also made the jump. There was nothing in the chamber; but in the next one they found a skeleton!

The skeleton was clad in traveller’s robes and a cloak, not really suited for the Ivory Savannah or the warmer southlands. A satchel held a leather-bound journal, a bronze dagger and a pouch of 20 Moons. Galadiir examined the journal. It was the journal of one Jaron Greybane of Syranthia. It was quite detailed. Galadiir turned to the last few entries in the book.


25 Harvest

Have left Nal Sagath and am heading south-east. Nal Sagath is a dull, cheerless place, although I am told the spirit is better during the Carnival.


29 Harvest

We have reached the Land of Idols. I have had to pay off several bearers as they will not set foot into the cursed land


37 Harvest

It is the fifth day of Festival at home and I am missing it


38 Harvest

My guides tell me that the ruins of Sisanak are only a day or so journey from here! I have just enough time to explore the small building near to our campsite. Garm, my loyal body guard, will keep entrance at the front of the building.


After some confusion over the map reading, they finally arrived back in a chamber near to the entrance. Exploring the route they didn’t follow at first, they found a chamber with an upper level reached by scaling a 60’ cliff. Shadow scaled the cliff and found the remains of an old campsite, with a cache of five sealed bottles. He recognised the type from his days in Jalizar; the could be used for potions or poison. Suddenly the cliff edge crumbled beneath him and he fell to the floor of the cavern! Fearing the worst, Galadiir and Drogo rushed to him; to their amazement Shadow sat up, brushed himself off; then he stood up.**

“Sheera’s Horns”, he swore. “Three of the bottles are broken”.

To be continued …


*GM: war buffaloes may be trained and loyal, but I’m not sure they’re THAT well-trained!

**GM: Shadow took four Wounds from the fall and was Incapacitated. Harry opted for a Soak roll (they had lots of Bennies due to Joker’s Wild). He soaked FOUR Wounds! so literally got up and walked off, dripping potions everywhere.


Session Three

25 Homecoming, somewhere in the Land of Idols

As Shadow picked himself up following his fall from the cliff, Galadiir was outraged.

“You, you clumsy oaf!” he screamed. “We’ve lost those potions for good. What are you, a farm labourer?”

“No”, replied Shadow. “I am a member of a secret assassin’s guild from Jalizar.”

“Really? Then it’s a good job you don’t talk about it then”.

“Even the best assassins can slip and fall.”

“You’re the best?”

Heading back into the tunnels, they went through the Spiga cave and back to where they had found the pit. Ignoring a side passage, they entered another wood-panelled chamber, oval in shape. Stretched out on the floor was the skeleton of a huge snake, easily thirty feet long from nose to tail. No-one was able to identify the type (not easy from just a skeleton), other that it had been venomous, judging by the large curved fangs.

Continuing along the passage, another chamber held three large land lizards, obviously hungry. As Shadow moved to attack it sent out an impossibly long tongue that wrapped around him and dragged him to the creature’s mouth. He was badly bitten before managing to get free. Drogo was likewise attacked but was unhurt. Galadiir cast “Rose’s Thorns” on the lizard attacking Shadow and killed it, Drogo killed the lizard attacking him, but Shadow was badly bitten again and Wounded. Drogo ran over to help, took a swing and missed completely. The war club spun out of control and cracked Shadow on the back of the head, Wounding him a second time.

“Idiot tribesman!”

“Khal Drogo is sorry, although he does not say so.”

Galadiir hesitated over casting another “Rose’s Thorns”, but when both Drogo and Shadow failed to kill the creature he relented and the spell killed it dead. He used his healing talents on Shadow, curing his Wounds. Galadiir offered up the souls of the lizards to Xymart, his House patron demon*

Examining the chamber, the lizards had been feasting on eggs, each one a large leathery ovoid about 2 feet in diameter. There was no indication of what they were or what creature might have hatched from them. Drogo hefted one; he estimated the weight as being around two pounds.

Moving on, wading through a short passage half-filled with water, they emerged into a chamber where the far exit was blocked by a cave-in. On the floor was a calcified skeleton, humanoid but not human. The jaw was the wrong shape and the head had a bony crest, plus it sported a tail. It was then that Drogo spotted something glinting inside the ribcage. As he started to break the calcified ribs to get at it, several swarms of Strip Beetles poured out from between the panels lining the walls. Galadiir cast his “Sea of the Dead” spell (Blast); a horde of spectral warriors appeared and stamped two of the swarms into the ground. The third swarm swept forward and engulfed them all, despite being bitten badly, Drogo continued to hammer away at the bones, breaking a hole large enough to garb the object; a key on a chain. The final swarm of beetles was moving rapidly towards them; they beat a hasty retreat out through the water; rightly surmising that the beetles wouldn’t follow.

The key was ornate, made of a dull red metal. It was ‘twisted’ in a curious fashion; ‘sinuous’ was the word that sprang to mind. Drogo shrugged and hung the key round his neck.

Investigating the final chamber, it had once contained about thirty of the leathery eggs. Most of them were smashed and broken, their contents missing. Finding nothing else of value in the chamber they left via the Spiga cave and returned to the outside. Night had fallen.

Out on the plain they saw a campfire; there they found Marvellus and Deneris.

Next Episode: Onwards to Lhobanport – or do they get side-tracked again?


* GM: I did comment that Xymart, being the patron of a noble Tricarnian House, probably wouldn’t be interested in the souls of three scabby lizards. Matt, however, was adamant that he was going to keep in Xymart’s good books. Hmm. Wonder how Xymart feels about receiving the demonic equivalent of junk mail.

** The players commented that it was good to have a good old dungeon crawl every now and then. This particular one was created in about an hour, using a simple d6 table to give passages and chambers and using Story Cubes to generate the contents of the chambers.


Session Four

26 Homecoming, somewhere in the Land of Idols

Having rested overnight without incident, the following morning dawned crisp and clear, as befits Homecoming. They continued north-east, heading for Lhobanport.

“Are there no roads in this god-forsaken country?” asked Shadow as they proceeded up out of another shallow valley.

“Once there were cities here, I believe”, replied Marvellus. “But they are long gone.”

“Long gone where?”

“Crumbled back into the earth from which they came.”

Shortly afterwards they spied a ruin on a nearby hill; a square arrangement of low mossy walls. They rested to eat some food; as Drogo sat down something crunched underneath him. Under the moss and grass were lots of snake skeletons; smaller versions of the one they had found in the wooden passages.
“I don’t like this”, growled Galadiir. Suddenly he stood and pointed to the north. “Look! A large number of birds are circling and swooping on something.”

They hurried to the north, cresting a low hill they saw a rough-hewn pillar of rock, about 60’ tall. A squawking, milling flock of bright red and blue plumaged birds invested the top. Shadow ran forward and began to climb up the rock, immediately three of the birds peeled off and attacked him with beak and talon. Drogo hefted a rock and threw it; the shot hit well and true, splattering one of the birds against the pillar. Galadiir loosed off two “Roses Thorns” and took out the other two birds. As Shadow climbed to the top of the pillar, both Galadiir and Drogo were engulfed in an angry gaggle of birds. Drogo realised that they were going for the face and eyes; twice he narrowly avoided having an eye pecked out, but got a deep gash on the cheek. He and Deneris prevailed; whilst Galadiir was able to summon his “Army of the Dead” warriors to help guard him. Galadiir also narrowly avoided losing an eye from a frenzied attack and reluctantly drew his short sword to fight hand to hand.*

On top of the pillar, Shadow drove off the attacking birds to reveal their target; a middle-aged woman clad in a simple hessian robe. She was Wounded and had many bleeding pecks and scratches, yet she still seemed to be in a meditational trance of some kind. Despite his attempts, she would not speak; it was only when he tried to move her that she reacted; lifting her right arm and pointing to the south-east. Down on the ground, Drogo had escaped from the circling birds and had joined up with Galadiir. At that moment; as if in answer to some unheard signal; the birds rose as one into a flock and streamed off to the north-east.

As he was unable to move the hermit-woman; Shadow climbed back down the pillar. Alas, history repeated itself and he fell from the top, 60’ to the ground**. He was badly Wounded, despite Galadiir’s healing skills and magic. ***

“Going up, I’m ok. It’s the coming down which is the problem.”

As is his habit; Galadiir took some of the red and blue plumage off the dead birds. He noticed that they were all ringed.
“Someone owns these.”
The rings were copper; all stamped “HK” in the Syranthian alphabet. Galadiir gathered up several of the dead birds and cut the rings off them, then stored the birds. “Should make a nice pie tonight”, he said. ****
Continuing north-east, in the late afternoon they spied a group of travellers heading north. Thirteen men and women, with three pack horses, were heading for Carnival at Nal Sagath. The PC’s shared their fire that night and Galadiir recounted a long story about Geoff the Mighty (to earn an Adventure Card); at the end a ghostly figure of a mighty warrior appeared across the campfire; courtesy of Marvellus.

Next Episode – The Carnival at Nal Sagath
*Galadiir was seriously considering Ground Zeroing his Blast spell, reasoning that both he and Drogo could probably take the damage.
** Shadow rolled snake-eyes again; which cannot be re-rolled with a Benny
*** Due to a GM oversight; Galadiir has a Healing spell; which Sorcerers cannot have. However, it has a special backlash; on snake-eyes it kills the recipient of the spell and sends their soul to Xymart.
**** This from a RL veggie!
There was a very real danger of being blinded or ending up with the One-eye Hindrance in this encounter.


Session Five

Late Homecoming, in the town of Nal Sagath

(as this is a published adventure I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just give some key events that happened)

Nal Sagath was a dreary town of red-brick buildings near to the Kyros border. The original town had been razed during the Kyrosian civil war and largely rebuilt on its original foundations. Every year the townsfolk celebrate their Festival. Everyone is welcome, there is food and drink laid out to eat, with better quality provender available to buy; there are strolling entertainers and contests of all kinds. The Festival reaches its climax with a show re-enacting the Princess’s Liberation from the Four Ghosts.

Drogo had to stable Deneris at the edge of the town, then he, Shadow and Galadiir went off into the streets. Marvellus spied an opportunity and set himself up producing illusions for the crowd. Drogo was invited to join in a dice game for money; he had none so he borrowed 50 Moons off Galadiir and played. To his surprise (GM: and mine!), he won all the games, pocketing 50 Moons after returning Galadiir his loan. Eventually they headed for the town square and the Princess’s Liberation.

The show went well, right up to the point where Dalla, the innkeepers daughter who was playing the princess, was kidnapped for real. After some investigation, they found the entrance to the tunnels below Nal Sagath and set off in pursuit. There was much tracking and backtracking in the dark tunnels, Drogo took the lead and narrowly avoided falling into a pit and a nasty encounter in a flooded corridor. Shadow heard someone following them and ambushed Oggo, the strong but dim-witted blacksmith’s helper.

“Why are you following us?

“Oggo wants to help save Miss Dalla. She pretty and has nice smile at Oggo”.

Noticing that Oggo was carrying a wooden sword; Galadiir offered him a bronze dagger; then quickly took it back when Oggo said he wasn’t usually allowed to have sharp things.

The passage was blocked by a locked gate; they couldn’t get past it and so had to backtrack. Descending a steep set of slippery stairs; looking back Galadiir saw four shadowy figures push a huge boulder down the steps! They turned and ran, with the boulder bounding down the stairs behind them, drawing ever closer. Oggo slipped and fell; Drogo grabbed hold of him and dragged him along. Finally Galadiir cast his “Wall of the Dead” across the stairwell behind him, too late as the boulder rolled over Shadow and Oggo*, they were not badly hurt. Drogo leapt out of the way as the boulder slammed into the “Wall of the Dead”. Galadiir ducked into a side alcove; eventually the spell expired and the others were able to get past the boulder to join him.

At this moment, a large albino rat landed on Galadiir’s head. Shadow stepped forward and killed it with a single blow. It let out an unearthly dying shriek and a horde of albino rats poured out of the shadows towards the heroes.

“Swarms,” cursed Galadiir. “By Xymart, how I hate swarms”

To be continued

GM: * Was unsure how to handle this; the Barrier would block the stairwell and the boulder would have to do damage to get through it. However, there was the potential for another player to get trapped between the boulder and the Barrier, also due to the abstract nature of the Chase rules it was hard to figure exactly where the Barrier could be cast.

Any comments appreciated.

Session Six

Late Homecoming, in the labyrinth beneath the town of Nal Sagath

Galadiir grabbed the corpse of the albino rat and threw it into the path of the oncoming rats, this distracted them long enough for the heroes to escape.

(Again, I don’t want to give too much away as this is a published adventure).

Suffice it to say, they eventually found the missing girl Dalla and after a prolonged battle, succeeded in rescuing her.  Oggo was pleased to see her, but Dalla only had eyes for Drogo (this might have been for his imposing physique or for the fact that yet again he had managed to shed his loincloth in the middle of the battle*).

Back in the town, the grateful innkeeper threw a party, with drinks on the house for the heroes.

Later that evening, Drogo had disappeared off with Dalla and Galadiir and Shadow went outside into the tavern courtyard. There was a body lying there; turning it over they saw it was Marvellus. His clothes were torn to bloody shreds and his eyes had been pecked out. Shadow noted that Marvellus’ ornate ring was missing.

Next: They finally get to Lhobanport.


* As this is becoming a regular occurrence, does Drogo get the benefit of Loincloth Hero if he isn’t wearing one (or anything else for that matter)?