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.

Aftermath

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.

Comments

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

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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.

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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.

INTERLUDE: –

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…

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GM:
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(?)

GM
* 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.

Previously:-

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.

2511

Festival

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.

2512

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.