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TOPIC: The Leg­end of Manek & Shahrul

The Leg­end of Manek & Shahrul 6 years 2 months ago #420

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In this thread I am going to post a session-​by-​session account of what prob­a­bly was the first cam­paign of Blade of the Iron Throne ever played. I hope that it will enter­tain, but mainly that it may serve as an exam­ple of how we mean cer­tain game mechan­ics, namely Pas­sions, Drama, and Com­pli­ca­tions, to be used.

This thread is locked for greater ease of read­ing the accounts of play, but if you have any ques­tions about what went on, or just like to com­ment, please do so in the Manek & Shahrul thread. This is also where you can find the char­ac­ter sheets of this lit­tle story’s two protagonists.
Bow down: I am the emperor of dreams;
I crown me with the million-​colored sun
Of secret worlds incred­i­ble, and take
Their trail­ing skies for vest­ment when I soar.

Clark Ash­ton Smith, The Hashish Eater or The Apoc­a­lypse of Evil
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The Leg­end of Manek & Shahrul 6 years 2 months ago #422

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The Leg­end of


Manek the Giant and Prince Shahrul



Drama­tis Per­sonae

Spoiler Alert! Each entry below is orga­nized chrono­log­i­cally, trac­ing impor­tant events in the lives of the NPCs. If you read an entry too far too early, you might spoil a sur­prise for your­self. If you want to avoid this, read an NPC’s entry no fur­ther than the num­ber of the episode you have already read.


Abdur II: Padishah of Khazis­tan, hus­band of Sammu-​Ramat, father of Shahrul. —- Episode Seven: Rec­on­ciled with Shahrul. —- Episode Eight: Slain by Muawiya’s sor­ceries.


Akur­gal Hissar: —- Episode Six: Newly appointed satrap of Zul-​Bazzir, a pos­si­ble enemy of Queen Sammu-​Ramat.


Ghoshir Bey: —- Episode Seven: Chief Jus­tic of Khazis­tan, one of Queen Sammu-Ramat’s clos­est allies. —- Episode Ten: Becomes Chief advi­sor to Padishah Yilzit.


Ghuz­man Bey: Pow­er­ful noble­man, for­mer owner and employer of Manek. —- Episode Five: After Khadim Bey’s death one of the rulers of Zul-​Bazzir, mur­dered by the Broth­er­hood of the Red Seal.


Hareeb: —- Episode One: A can­ni­bal cultist of Ia-​Azutlatl who tries to lure Manek to his death. —- Episode Two: Dogs­body ter­ror­ized by Manek and espe­cially Shahrul.


Isparana: —- Episode Four: An agent of Queen Sammu-​Ramat who has clan­des­tine deal­ings with Muawiya, lover of Prince Shahrul. —- Episode Six: Betrays Queen Sammu-​Ramat to Shahrul. —- Episode Seven: Aids in uncov­er­ing Queen Sammu-Ramat’s schemes and is awarded the rank of Sipahi.


Kerem: —- Episode Six: An agent of Queen Sammu-​Ramat who poi­sons Akur­gal Hissar and is cap­tured by the PCs.


Khadim Bey: Satrap of Zul-​Bazzir. —- Episode Four: Dies of thirst by the machi­na­tions of the PCs and the Broth­er­hood of the Red Seal.


Kirdir: —- Episode Seven: The eldest son of Abdur II by a law­fully mar­ried wife, the mal­con­tents’ favourite for impe­r­ial suc­ces­sion. —- Episode Ten: Exe­cuted on order of Yilzit, allegedly for plot­ting against him.


Lord Anulep: —- Episode Two: The awak­ened shade of a Kuthan sor­cerer and noble­man. —- Episode Four: Laid to final rest by Muawiya.


Malmi­ranet: —- Episode Seven: New favourite Yar-​Ammonite slave con­cu­bine of Abdur II, prob­a­bly of half-​Kuthan descent, claimed by Manek as reward for his part in uncov­er­ing Sammu-Ramat’s plot­ting. Episode Ten: Stoned to death by vil­lagers in the Tomb Hills.


Muawiya: —- Episode Four: Pow­er­ful sor­cerer, head of the Broth­er­hood of the Red Seal and High Prophet of al-​Tawir, seen to be plot­ting with Queen Sammu-​Ramat. —- Episode Eight: Mur­ders Abdur II by means of sor­cery.


Murad Pasha: —- Episode Five: An ally and adher­ent of Queen Sammu-​Ramat, after Khadim Bey’s death de facto gov­er­nor of Zul-​Bazzir.


Nephren Hotep: —- Episode Two: The most pow­er­ful sor­cerer of Yar-​Ammon, a spe­cial­ist on Kuthan Lore, thwarted by the PCs.


Olathoé: —- Episode Nine: A young girl sor­cer­ously cre­ated to be as close to the Ancient Kuthans as pos­si­ble.


Sammu-​Ramat: Most influ­en­tial of the wives of Abdur II, mother of crown prince Yilzit, caused Prince Shahrul’s fall from grace as col­lat­eral of one of her plots. —- Episode Four: Employer of Isparana, seen to be plot­ting with Muawiya. —- Episode Seven: Com­mits sui­cide after her schemes become known to Abdur II.


Yas­meenah: A slave con­cu­bine of Ghuz­man Bey, object of Manek’s affec­tions. —- Episode One: Fugi­tive from the house­hold of Ghuz­man Bey. —- Episode Three: Lover and depen­dant of Manek. —- Episode Six: Con­cu­bine of Akur­gal Hissar.


Yilzit: —- Episode Six: Only son of Sammu-​Ramat (though not eldest law­ful son of Abdur II), inept crown prince of Khazis­tan. —- Episode Eight: Crowned Padishah of Khazistan.
Bow down: I am the emperor of dreams;
I crown me with the million-​colored sun
Of secret worlds incred­i­ble, and take
Their trail­ing skies for vest­ment when I soar.

Clark Ash­ton Smith, The Hashish Eater or The Apoc­a­lypse of Evil
Last Edit: 6 years 1 month ago by Michael.
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The Leg­end of Manek & Shahrul 6 years 2 months ago #423

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Episode One:

Feast­ers in the Dark

Before actual play starts, the ref­eree openly Checks to see whether Shahrul’s Poor Con­nec­tions Asset is going to crop up in this ses­sion. The group notes that this will be the case, and play com­mences.

Hav­ing only just arrived in Zu-​Bazzir, Prince Shahrul takes up res­i­dence in the edge-​of-​town guest­house of Ekrem Babu. Ekrem Babu tries to turn the shabbily-​dressed Shahrul away, but as tem­pers flare and Sharul throws two pieces of sil­ver (his last ones) into Ekrem’s face, he accepts the guest.

Manek the Giant is taken by Hareeb, a recent acquain­tance and admit­ted admirer from his pit-​fighting days, to the guest­house of Ekrem Babu to sam­ple Ekrem’s exotic palm-​wine, imported from the black king­doms. He is sur­prised to see a young man in clean traveller’s garb with a loaded don­key appar­ently leave the guest­house, even though dusk is draw­ing near.

Tired from his jour­ney and dis­gusted with Ekrem Babu’s clients (apart from Manek and Hareeb just a few blacks sam­pling their native palm-​wine), Shahrul intends to retire early, just as Ekrem Babu meets another arrival at the door. Glimps­ing an exceed­ingly lovely woman past the innkeeper’s bulk, Shahrul becomes inter­ested and demands that she be let in, even though Ekrem Babu wants to turn her away, as the man she is look­ing for is not here any­way. At this stage, Shahrul suc­cumbs to his Lech­er­ous Asset, shoves Ekrem Babu aside and leads the young woman to his table.

Manek and the woman rec­og­nize each other; she is Yas­meenah, the slave con­cu­bine whose life Manek safed and for whom he has a Pas­sion. The three talk, with Shahrul resent­ing Manek’s pres­ence but unable to do some­thing about it. Yas­meenah con­fides that she is to meet here with Selim, her lover, with whom she wants to elope – and Selim is over­due.

Manek tells about the young man leav­ing just as he was arriv­ing, and Prince Shahrul recalls that Ekrem Babu did ear­lier turn away some­body and that he later did from his room’s tiny win­dow see a young man with a don­key hang­ing around a nearby copse of palm trees. Yas­meenah says she saw nobody, and both Manek and Shahrul vol­un­teer to look around the copse, with Yas­meenah insist­ing to accom­pany them.

Even though nobody knows any­thing about read­ing tracks, Manek with his uncanny nightvi­sion does still find an expanse of only very recently well-​trampled grass (where Selim has reclined wait­ing), one or two hoof­prints, and a quie con­sid­er­able patch of blood. Secretly hop­ing Selim dead but want­ing to impress Yas­meenah with his efforts, Shahrul demands that an expe­ri­enced tracker be found right away. Manek knows just the man, and the two, a dis­traught Yas­meenah in tow, go to get him.

Prince Shahrul’s pride (and car­nal lusts) demand that he take the lead in hir­ing the tracker, but he is pen­ni­less. Still, he uses the Enslave­ment Mys­tery to have the man accept a peb­ble as a gold coin in lieu of aris­to­crat­i­cally lav­ish pay­ment for his ser­vices, and promptly acquires 2 Taint.

Return­ing to the copse, the tracker fails to dis­cover any­thing new, due to dark­ness. By now, Manek and Shahrul sus­pect some­thing fishy about Ekrem Babu – whose guest­house lies silent and dark by now – and presently decide not to return there. Manek offers to hide Yas­meenah for the night in his rented room in town, and Shahrul forcibly offers his pro­tec­tion. The spend the rest of the night uncom­fort­ably at Manek’s.

Come the morn­ing, they leave Yas­meenah hid­den in Manek’s rooms, go to get the tracker, and return to the copse, where it is dis­cov­ered that two sets of short and heavy foot­prints, as from peo­ple car­ry­ing a heavy load between them, lead to Ekrem Babu’s gar­den gate. Their sus­pi­cions against Ekrem Babu sub­stan­ti­ated, the pair dis­misses the tracker. Manek wants to force the truth out of Ekrem Babu, but Shahrul stalls; he would like to use the Scry­ing Mys­tery to search the com­pound, but does not want to give away his sor­cer­ous pow­ers to Manek. Shahrul man­ages to win time by ask­ing Manek to allow him to go and recover his bow. The two make to leave for Manek’s room as four tired and weary-​looking rid­ers in the dusty garb of impe­r­ial guards­men arrive, obvi­ously mak­ing for Ekrem Babu’s – as deter­mined by the roll at the out­set of the ses­sion, Prince Sharul’s Con­nec­tions Asset has kicked in and his pur­suers have caught up with him.

At this stage, Manek’s player takes the Pas­sion: Hate for Army of Khazis­tan, jus­ti­fy­ing it with his first “step­mother” being killed by a guards­man.

Shahrul’s attempts to hide from the impe­r­ial guards­men fail. The four charge into the palm copse, and in the ensu­ing fight Manek stands at Shahrul’s side, quite prob­a­bly sav­ing his live. Both take a sin­gle lvl 2 wound, but slay all four guards­men. They then flee the copse, so as not to be con­nected with the slain sol­diers. Both play­ers are awarded 1 Pas­sion (Hate Army of Khazis­tan & Elude Padishah’s Wrath) for killing the guards­men.

Back at Manek’s, Shahrul lies about the sol­diers hav­ing been after him because of a per­sonal feud and man­ages to grab some time alone to work the Scry­ing Mys­tery. He begins scan­ning Ekrem Babu’s com­pound, start­ing with the main house, where he finds Ekrem Babu strangely pre­sid­ing an early and quite lav­ish lunch of his black slaves. Sud­denly, with a suc­cess­ful SY roll, Shahrul notices that the slave sit­ting oppo­site Ekrem Babu quite obvi­ously notices and watches his spec­tral form but tries to not let any­body on to that fact. Shahrul with­draws from the room, and as the slave fol­lows the invis­i­ble astral form as if by chance, he decides to with­draw.

The ref­eree might have rolled for Shahrul’s astral body being detected, but as this was impor­tant to him, he offered Shahrul’s player (me!) a point of Drama to accept it with­out and before a roll; the offer was accepted.

Upon Manek’s return, Shahrul, slowly recov­er­ing from the trance, ques­tions the giant about Hareeb, his com­pan­ion of the pre­vi­ous evening, claim­ing that he found the man sus­pi­cious – when he has in fact just seen him at Ekrem Babu’s table, sit­ting with the slaves. In the light of recent events, Manek finds that Hareeb has been strangely insis­tent about tak­ing him to Ekrem Babu’s guest­house. The pair decide to pay Hareeb a visit.

Back­story: After the fall of ancient Pta­haana, a per­verted form of the already per­verse cult of blood-​drinking Ia-​Azutlatl some­how took root on the nearby main­land, among the degen­er­ate sav­ages of the Ikuna Swamps. Hav­ing bought two of these can­ni­bals as cheap slaves, Ekrem Babu not only found them to be cultists of the Ia-​Azutaltl, but was actu­ally induced into the grisly cult with its can­ni­bal­is­tic rites. Under the guid­ance of one of the two orig­i­nal slaves, Gomba, a witch-​doctor of Ia-​Azutlatl, he bought select addi­tional Iku­nan slaves, and a secret cult of Ia-​Azutlatl was formed at Ekrem Babu’s com­pound. Ekrem Babu, Gomba, the black “slaves” and one or two ini­ti­ates from among the peo­ple of Zul-​Bazzir killed and devoured guests of Ekrem Babu to sup­pos­edly gain the favour of Ia-​Azutlatl and power.

Recently, the cult, under Gomba’s guid­ance, began to select vic­tims for their spe­cial prop­er­ties, which the cultists believe they can take on by inges­tion. Their most recent choice fell on giant Manek for his obvi­ous and well-​known strength and pow­er­ful, titanic pres­ence. Hareeb, one of the cultists, was sent to befriend Manek and to lure him to the guest­house, where he should be slaugh­tered.

The plan went slightly awry when guests arrived on the appointed evening. Ekrem Babu could turn awy Selim, but the force­ful and com­mand­ing Prince Shahrul would not be turned away; and, what’s more, Selim was dis­cov­ered to be hang­ing around the guest­house, another pos­si­ble wit­ness to strange events. When dark­ness fell, two slaves where sent to silently kill the youth, drag his corpse into the com­pound to hide, and drive off the don­key. Still, the fur­ther events of the evening pre­cluded the killing of Manek. Refus­ing to let Selim go to waste, the cult made a meal of him, and it was at this meal where Shahrul found them, and was found in turn by Gomba.

Rec­og­niz­ing the com­pan­ion of Manek and fear­ing dis­cov­ery, the cult decides to act. They send a team of four can­ni­bal slaves to mur­der Shahrul and Manek. Spy­ing out Manek’s rooms, they dis­cover that both men are absent, enter, abduct Yas­meenah, and lay in wait­ing to ambush Manek and Shahrul upon their return.


Manek quickly finds out where Hareeb is liv­ing, and he and Shahrul break into his tiny house, intend­ing to lie in wait­ing for him. Search­ing the premise, they find a small and crude statue which Shahrul can iden­tify as depict­ing Ia-​Azutlatl. In the face of this hint, Shahrul does sud­denly real­ize (his player is informed by the ref­eree) that the lunch he wit­nessed ear­lier today was one of noth­ing but meat; things begin to fall into place.

When night falls and Hareeb still does not return, the two sus­pect that he is stay­ing at Ekrem Babu’s. They decide to maybe use the cover of dark­ness to break into and search the com­pound, but first to return to Manek’s to talk to Yas­meenah, whom they have left hid­den there; both sus­pect strongly that Selim is dead and eaten.

At this stage, Shahrul’s player (me) takes Pas­sion: Be Indebted to No Man to draw closer to Manek, who after all saved his bacon against the guards­men. The Pas­sion is intended to kick in when­ever Shahrul is repay­ing a debt and is jus­ti­fied with Shahrul’s arro­gance, which makes it nigh unbear­able for him to be in anybody’s debt

Return­ing to his rooms, Manek has a clear and early pre­cog­ni­tion of the ambush and coolly warns Shahrul. When the four can­ni­bals spring upon them, they are met by two ready men; Manek actu­ally caves in the first attacker’s skull with his hammer-​fist. The pair doesn’t suf­fer a wound and quickly slay three of their attack­ers and seri­ously wound the fourth. Shahrul inter­ro­gates him and shows him that he means busi­ness by putting out one of the slaves’ eyes before even ask­ing him any­thing. The can­ni­bal howls out every­thing he knows, and Manek and Shahrul learn all of what is going on, includ­ing that Yas­meenah has been taken for a juicy meal. They kill the slave and decide to pay Ekrem Babu a visit. Both play­ers are awarded 1 Pas­sion (Crush on Yas­meenah & Be Indebted to No Man) for act­ing in a way that’s detri­men­tal to them (seek­ing out dan­ger) but in keep­ing with the Pas­sions.

The pair invade the com­pound and have sev­eral juicy scenes, my favourite being when the black watch­man in the gar­den notices them and Prince Shahrul uses his Enslave­ment Mys­tery to hold him motion­less (and silent), calmly walks up to him, and cuts him down with his scim­i­tar. The show­down with Ekrem Babu, Gomba, Hareeb, and the three sur­viv­ing can­ni­bal cultists is almost anti­cli­mac­tic, due to a string of incred­i­ble rolls in the play­ers’ favour and the antag­o­nists’ dis­favour. The dan­ger­ous Gomba is killed right away and the not espe­cially combat-​worthy Ekrem Babu is knocked out cold while try­ing to scam­per away. At least Hareeb man­ages to escape.

A ter­ri­fied Yas­meenah is recov­ered and Shahrul throws Ekrem Babu into the ken­nel of his very own pet hyena. The pair finds some nice pos­ses­sions of past vic­tims of the cultists (Prince Shahrul’s Loot goes to 2) and also some stone tablets and other stuff from the witch-​doctor Gomba, which Shahrul also takes along to look at later. Then they torch the place and leave, both gain­ing 1 Pas­sion (Crush on Yas­meenah & Be Indebted to No Man).

Manek’s player gets the 1 Drama for hav­ing had the best roll of the game (dis­cov­er­ing the ambush), but nobody gets the point for an excep­tion­ally bad roll. Each has earned 1 Drama and 3 Pas­sion.

Shahrul’s player (me) spends 1 Pas­sion point to improve his Occultism Skill and 4 to improve his Scry­ing Mys­tery. His changed stats are:

Scry­ing 3 (SP 8 ), Occultism 2, Loot 2
Regain Wealth and Power: 2
Elude Padishah’s Wrath: 2
Vengeance against Queen Sammu-​Ramat: 0
Be Indebted to No Man: 1
Drama: 1
Karma: 5

Manek’s player spends 1 Pas­sion Point to improve his Heal­ing Skill. His changed stats are:

Heal­ing 3
Learn About His Ori­gins: 2
Crush on Yas­meenah: 3
Make a Place for Him­self in the World: 1
Hate for Army of Khazis­tan: 2
Drama: 2
Karma: 1
Bow down: I am the emperor of dreams;
I crown me with the million-​colored sun
Of secret worlds incred­i­ble, and take
Their trail­ing skies for vest­ment when I soar.

Clark Ash­ton Smith, The Hashish Eater or The Apoc­a­lypse of Evil
Last Edit: 6 years 1 month ago by Michael.
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The fol­low­ing user(s) said Thank You: IanP., razor­c­catu

The Leg­end of Manek & Shahrul 6 years 2 months ago #588

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Episode Two:

From the Tomb

Eight days have passed since the events at Ekrem Babu’s house, and the char­ac­ters have, together with the run­away con­cu­bine Yas­meenah, lain low at some newly rented romms, wait­ing for some other ruckus in Zul-​Bazzir make peo­ple for­get the copi­ous killings con­nected with Ekrem Babu’s house. Their injruies have largely healed, and while Manek has tried to respect Yasmeenah’s grief for her lost lover Selim, Shahrul has sated his lust with har­lots, slink­ing away two or three times for some heavy wench­ing and con­spic­u­ous con­sump­tion – tak­ing his Loot down to a des­ti­tute 1.

Dur­ing this time, Shahrul has also exam­ined the clay tablet and dis­cov­ered that they are writ­ten in encoded Yar-​Ammonite. As he does not speak Yar-​Ammonite, but the illit­er­ate Manek does, he enlisted the huge man’s aid, and the pair learned two things: The (not yet com­pletely decoded) tablet con­tains promises of great wealth and power, and han­dling it gives Manek espe­cially vivid visions, usu­ally of being enthroned or rest­ing in a sump­tious cham­ber.

This is where play resumes.

The tablet engages with Pas­sions of both play­ers (Learn About Ori­gins & Regain Wealth and Power), so the pair decides to try and deci­pher it com­pletely. Lack­ing the cor­re­spond­ing Skill, Shahrul has to do this as an Extended Check using Sagac­ity as default, which takes an ample half dozen days, after which Manek and Shahrul are both com­pletely healed. The deci­phered tablet seems to date from well over half a mil­len­nium ago and to be part of a longer account, with ear­lier and later tablets miss­ing. It tells of a bur­ial of some dread Yar-​Ammonite lord by the name of Anulep. Anulep was interred a day or so beyond the out­skirts of some oasis in a great tomb built by his slaves, and fab­u­lous riches, items of great power and wis­dom, and his entire house­hold accom­pa­nied him into the tomb. The tablets close with a prophecy that a dis­tant descen­dant of Lord Anulep shall one day wake him from the dead; the text seems to con­tinue on another, miss­ing tablet.

Manek and Shahrul decide, both for their own rea­sons, to inves­ti­gate this tale. As the can­ni­bal cult of Ia-​Azutlaltl was clearly inter­ested in the tablet as well, they want to find the one sur­viv­ing mem­ber of the cult, Hareeb, and see whether he knows any­thing else about the mat­ter. They quickly dis­cover that Hareeb has not been seen this past fort­night, but a day of snoop­ing around gives them the name of Aisha, a cheap hooker and some­times kept girl­friend of Hareeb, who prob­a­bly is the per­son clos­est to him.

Upon enter­ing the dingy den of a tav­ern where Aisha works, Manek has a hal­lu­ci­na­tion of sev­eral Hareebs being in the com­mon room with sev­eral lordly-​looking Yar-​Ammonites being about to kill him. Try­ing to save their lead, Manek starts a com­mo­tion that alarms Hareeb, who is really hid­ing out in Aisha’s dirty upstairs closet of a room. Hareeb tries to make an escape through the win­dow, but is spot­ted by Shahrul, who chases after him through the nightly back­alleys of Zul-​Bazzir. He cor­ners the ter­ri­fied Hareeb, who offers up no more resis­tance and intim­i­dates him into spilling what he knows about the tablet.

The pair thus learns that Ekrem Babu and Gomba, the lead­ers of the cult of Ia-​Azutlatl, did obtain the tablet by chance from one of their vic­tims, a trav­eller from Yar-​Ammon. By means unknown to Hareeb they man­aged to find out from whom the Yar-​Ammonite had been flee­ing to Zul-​Bazzir, con­tact these per­sons, and enter a part­ner­ship with them. Hareeb pro­fesses to only know that the slain and devoured Yar-​Ammonite had been a part­ner of the men whom Gomba and Ekrem Babu had con­tacted, who had upon find­ing out that the tomb men­tioned in the tablet was not in present Yar-​Ammon, but in Zul-​Bazzir, betrayed his erst­while part­ners and absconded with the tablet to find the tomb on his own. Ekrem Babu and Gomba were try­ing to locate the tomb, but were encoun­ter­ing dif­fi­cul­ties, as the bor­ders of the oasis of Bazzir was not what it was in the time of Lord Anulep, some seven cen­turies ago, and did also not know in what direc­tion from the oasis the tomb lay. Two months ago, they did finally dis­cover its loca­tion, but Hareeb pro­fesses to know no more than that vis­it­ing it the two cult-​leaders left Zul-​Bazzir south­bound and returned on the fourth day. As Shahrul wants to cru­elly pry him for details, Hareeb tries to proove his hon­esty by betray­ing that the Yar-​Ammonite asso­ciates have been informed of the dis­cov­ery and that Ekrem Babu and Gomba have actu­ally been expect­ing their arrival for about ten days ago.

Shahrul had been intend­ing to kill Hareeb, but the abject way in which the man abases him­self before him and promises to serve him for­ever appeals to his van­ity and he decides to let him live, though ter­ror­izes him some more with hints at his sor­cer­ous pow­ers.

For draw­ing nearer the tomb, both he and Manek are awarded 1 Pas­sion each (Learn About Ori­gins & Regain Wealth and Power). Guess­ing that it might be use­ful and ratio­nal­iz­ing that he could have picked that up deci­pher­ing the tablet, Shahrul’s player does by spend­ing a point from Be Indebted to No Man pur­chase For­eign Lan­guage (Yar-​Ammonite) 2. It is also agreed that the knowl­edge about Manek’s back­ground the tomb seems to promise and the wealth it most cer­tainly promises do also engage the Pas­sion: Make a Place for Him­self in the World.

The next day, the pair pur­chases a camel and strikes out south, Manek promis­ing Yas­meenah to take her out of Zul-​Bazzir upon his return as a rich man. Within half a day, they gain the edge of the sprawl­ing oasis of Bazzir. Spend­ing the after­noon, evening, and fol­low­ing morn­ing gath­er­ing infor­ma­tion from among the semi-​nomadic herds­men liv­ing at the rim of the desert, they learn that there seems to be some­thing going in the vicin­ity Howl­ing Rock, a craggy hill a good day’s jour­ney to the south. Signs of activ­ity have been seen there from far off, and two for­eign­ers have been tak­ing drom­e­daries laden with water skins into the gen­eral direc­tion of Howl­ing Rock; as a mat­ter of fact, the two and their pack ani­mals have once again left the oasis only a short hour ago, just before dawn.

Manek and Shahrul has­ten after the tiny car­a­van, enter­ing the desert of peb­bles and baked earth. Nei­ther of them is how­ever much of an out­doors­man and they are towards noon spot­ted by by their quarry. Once again, Manek’s sixth sense warns him in time to shout out, and the two dive to the rocky ground, with two arrows hiss­ing over their heads, one hit­ting their drom­e­dary – which promptly runs off. By curl­ing up and press­ing them­selves to the ground, they just man­age to squeeze them­selves into cover, with their attack­ers not fifty meters ahead, cov­ered by a small rise that also affords them a decent field of vision.

After being pinned under the scorch­ing sun, they notice that one of their ene­mies is approach­ing, arrow knocked and cov­ered by his com­pan­ion, to get a clear field of fire and fin­ish them. Shahrul quickly whis­pers a plan to Manek, and on Shahrul’s sign, Manek jumps up, fol­lowed imme­di­ately by Shahrul. Manek is fired at by both men; the far­ther archer misses out­right, but the huge Manek fails to com­pletely evade the closer one’s arrow and incurs a lvl 2 wound to the belly. Shahrul man­ages in the mean­time to make eye con­tact with the nearer enemy and to suc­cess­fully use Enslave­ment on him. Keep­ing him between him­self and the other archer, he order him to “cut down his com­pan­ion”, fol­lows him up the small rise, and finally steps out of the cover to shoot the bewil­dered man with his own bow. The other enemy snaps out of his hyp­no­tism, just to be attacked and severely wounded by Shahrul.

The injured man is ques­tioned and reveals that he and his com­pan­ion were mem­bers of a party of nine, out of Yar-​Ammon, and agents of this country’s great­est sor­cerer, dread Nephren Hotep. Nephren Hotep is wise in all things per­tain­ing to the ancient Kuthans, and has sent his agents to unearth a tomb of one Anulep, a great Kuthan lord from the time after the fall of Elder Kuth. The party has for a week now been encamped half a day away, at the Howl­ing Rock, where they are exca­vat­ing the entrance to the tomb. Once the fabled riches and pow­er­ful arcane secrets it is sup­posed to con­tain are unearthed, they are going to bring them to Nephren Hotep. After the man has told every­thing he pro­fesses to know, he is slain by Prince Shahrul in typ­i­cal cold-​blooded fash­ion.

At this junc­tion, Shahrul and Manek each receive 1 Pas­sion point (Regain Wealth and Power & Make a Place for Self).

Manek and Shahrul press on towards the Howl­ing Rock, which they make by late after­noon. They hide their drom­e­daries and scale the rocky hill, from its height eas­ily spy­ing the Yar-Ammonites’s camp half a mile dis­tant. They learn that the Yar-​Ammonites have obvi­ously unearthed the entrance to the tomb very recently and are now busy remov­ing things from it. As Manek and Shahrul are afraid that the Yar-​Ammonites will soon become sus­pi­cious if the com­rades they sent to fetch water don’t return tomor­row morn­ing at the lat­est, they decide to raid the camp before dawn. In the mean­time, Shahrul will spy out the camp by use of the Scry­ing Mys­tery, using the remain­der of the night to rest.

As they have learned that the Yar-​Ammonite party is led by Nathok, a dis­ci­ple of Nephren Hotep and Shahrul doesn’t want to risk dis­cov­ery, his astral body watches the camp from a good stone throw away. He dis­cov­ers that the goods from the tomb have already been packed, apart from a huge sar­coph­a­gus, that one Yar-​Ammonite seems sick and deliri­ous, another one has been crushed to death, and that still another is being set as watch.

Back­story: What hap­pened is that the Yar-​Ammonites have opened and entered the tomb, where one of them was crushed to death by a trap. After that they were able to empty the tomb with­out a prob­lem.

The tomb does indeed belong to one Lord Anulep, a sor­cerer and true-​blooded Kuthan who had been liv­ing in the oasis atthe time Zul-​Bazzir was being founded. He was a pow­er­ful fig­ure in the city’s early days, being ven­er­ated as a god, but did not live for long, as he was already of very advanced age for even a Kuthan. Lord Anulep was interred with sor­cer­ous rites, which may or may not have gone awry – this is not known. In any case, when his sar­coph­a­gus was forced open, a cloud of chok­ing pesti­lence arose from it. All those open­ing the sar­coph­a­gus were taken tem­po­rarlily sick, but one man remained so, pass­ing out and bab­bling in deliri­ous fever. What had hap­pened, unknown to any­body, is that Lord Anulep’s spirit has taken pos­ses­sion of the man and is cur­rently strug­gling to gain full con­trol of him.


An ample hour before dawn Shahrul is sneak­ing up on the sen­try, fol­lowed in some dis­tance by Manek. Prince Shahrul’s player (me!) makes a mess of his Sneak­ing Check, fail­ing to get even a sin­gle suc­cess (with 9 dice!). The ref­eree decides to apply the aris­ing Com­pli­ca­tion imme­di­ately: Shahrul was spot­ted ten min­utes ago, etched against the bright desert night­sky, and the sen­try has incon­spic­u­ously roused all his com­pan­ions, who now only pre­tend to be asleep. So Shahrul is sud­denly faced with a lot of ready oppo­nents and taken cap­tive, while Manek man­ages to slink unseen into the obscu­rity of the open tomb.

In the empty tomb, Manek’s keen night­sight dis­cov­ers that the sump­tu­ous cham­ber where he seemed to be reclin­ing in his ear­lier vision is this very tomb, and promptly has another hal­lu­ci­na­tion of the tomb being restored to its fromer glory. His player is imme­di­ately rewarded 1 Pas­sion point (Learn About Ori­gins).

In the mean­time, Shahrul is very roughly ques­tioned Nephren Hotep’s dis­ci­ple Nathok, but now pulls off an incred­i­ble feat of False­hood and con­vinces them that he is just some harm­less, curi­ous beduin. Nathok orders his release, but the Yar-​Ammonite cut­ting his bonds patron­izes Shahrul in a con­de­scend­ing way, trig­ger­ing the Khazis­tan­ian prince’s Arro­gant Asset and hav­ing him fly off in a fit of haughty rage and giv­ing him­self away.

In this moment, the deliri­ous Yar-​Ammonite, pos­sessed by the spirit of Lord Anulep, snaps out of the coma, sits up, looks around, and walks straight for one of the packs with items from the tomb. Shahruhl is nigh for­got­ten as most Yar-​Ammonites con­verge upon their com­rade, who pretty much ignores their bab­bling. As one reaches out to touch him, he snarls some­thing at him in a for­eign lan­guage (Kuthan) and effort­lessly lifts and tosses him a dozen paces against a boul­der.

Now, with everybody’s atten­tion on the pos­sessed man, Manek stealth­ily dashes from the tomb to free Shahruhl, who is burst­ing his arms half-​cut bonds. All hell breaks loose. While Shahruhl frees him­self with Manek’s aid, the Yar-​Ammonites attempt to res­trian their pos­sessed com­rade, who dashes them to the ground and snatches an over­sized (Kuthan) sword from one of the packs. In that moment, the pos­sessed man spots Manek and seems to go apoplegic with rage. Clearly on its own acord, his huge sword leaps from his hand and flies like an arrow at Manek, who does not man­age to evade it entirely and takes a lvl 3 wound to the chest.

Shahrul and the Yar-​Ammonites decide that enough is enough and attack the pos­sessed man to slay him. He rages on against Manek, eschew­ing defense, but takes a few debil­i­at­ing wounds with­out flinch­ing. The sword does plunge at Manek once again, and he takes yet another lvl 3 wound to the chest. Shahrul man­ages to inflict a killing wound, and while the pos­sessed man crum­ples, a strange mix­ture of light and wind issues from his mouth and forms into a tall frayed shape that is a vague crossover between man and whirl­wind. It seems to glower for a moment, before speed­ing off north, in the direc­tion of Zul-​Bazzir.

Manek and Shahrul and Nathok and his one sur­viv­ing retainer decide to cease hos­til­i­ties and talk. By what they have learned from the Yar-​Ammonite ques­tioned pre­vi­ously, it is clear that Nathok is lying. He men­tions nei­ther Nephren Hotep nor the fact that he is him­self some­what of a sor­cerer, claim­ing to be a com­mon graver­ob­ber. He is in no posi­tion to refuse split­ting the loot, but strongly pro­poses tak­ing it to Zul-​Bazzir to sell it there, split­ting the profit. Shahrul and Manek know that Nathok has no inten­tion to fail his mas­ter Nephren Hotep, in fact can­not dare to, and is wait­ing to cross them, but they decide to play along, remain watch­ful, and see whether they can learn any­thing from the Yar-​Ammonites.

Manek is awarded 2 Pas­sion (Learn About Ori­gin & Make Place for Self), and Shahrul is 1 Pas­sion (Regain Wealth and Power) and 2 Drama for both a spec­tac­u­larly poor and good roll.

Shahrul’s player spends 1 Pas­sion to increase Shahrul’s False­hood Skill. His changed stats are:

Scry­ing 3 (SP 8 ), False­hood 3, For­eign Lan­guage (Yar-​Ammonite) 2, Occultism 2, Loot 1
Regain Wealth and Power: 4
Elude Padishah’s Wrath: 2
Vengeance against Queen Sammu-​Ramat: 0
Be Indebted to No Man: 1
Drama: 2
Karma: 7

Manek’s player trades spends 1 Pas­sion point to acquire Rid­ing 1 and exchanges 1 Pas­sion point for 1 Drama. His changed stats are:

Heal­ing 3, Rid­ing 1, Loot 1
Learn About His Ori­gins: 3
Crush on Yas­meenah: 3
Make a Place for Him­self in the World: 3
Hate for Army of Khazis­tan: 2
Drama: 3
Karma: 2
Bow down: I am the emperor of dreams;
I crown me with the million-​colored sun
Of secret worlds incred­i­ble, and take
Their trail­ing skies for vest­ment when I soar.

Clark Ash­ton Smith, The Hashish Eater or The Apoc­a­lypse of Evil
Last Edit: 6 years 1 month ago by Michael.
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The Leg­end of Manek & Shahrul 6 years 2 months ago #731

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Episode Three:

Lord of Mad­ness

A mere two days have passed since the events at Howl­ing Rock, and Prince Shahrul, Manek, Nathok and his Yar-​Ammonite retainer have reached the oasis of Bazzir, draw­ing in sight of the city itself. Thinly veiled mutual dis­trust and feigned com­pan­ion­ship are the names of their game.

Upon enter­ing the oasis, they have asked around a bit and quickly learned that the whirl­wind man­i­fes­ta­tion of what­ever had posessed the Yar-​Ammonite tombrob­ber has swept into the oasis from the desert, but even the tini­est stretch inside of it nobody seems to have seen it. Shahrul spec­u­lates that it has taken pos­ses­sion of some­body else, but Nathok pro­fesses igno­rance of such things. Much to Shahrul’s cha­grin, he also learns that a squadron of Impe­r­ial guards­men from Khaz­abad has arrived in Zul-​Bazzir; he fears that they might be look­ing for him.

This is where play resumes.

And it resumes with a Pre­cog­ni­tion Check by Manek, which he passes eas­ily, true to form. He shouts out a warn­ing as Nathok and his com­pan­ion each try to knife one of the heros. A short strug­gle ensues, in which the Yar-​Ammonites have 1 bonus die each from a pre­vi­ous use of the Prophecy Mys­tery by Nathok, estab­lish­ing a pro­pi­tious moment for the treach­ery. Still, the pair is slain.

Manek and Shahrul, the lat­ter anx­ious about being a hunted man, sneak back into Zul-​Bazzir and to Yas­meenah wait­ing in Manek’s rooms, where they want to lay low. Manek intends to recover, then sell some of the loot and take Yas­meenah out of Zul-​Bazzir and into Yar-​Ammon, where he hopes to learn more about his con­nec­tion to the tomb of the ancient Kuthan Lord Anulep. Shahrul con­sid­ers accom­pa­ny­ing them, as Yar-​Ammon is mildly hos­tile towards Khazis­tan and he might thus be safe there; and could maybe use the wealth from the tomb to build him­self a power­base in Yar-​Ammon, maybe even deliv­er­ing the objects to Nephren Hotep. But most of all he is inter­ested in the sword from the tomb that kills by itself; such a gift might get him back into his impe­r­ial father’s good graces. He con­vinces Manek that they should attempt to find out about the sword, as knowl­edge how to use it will make the sword twice as valu­able to any party they want to trade it.

For about five days (long enough for a heal­ing roll), Manek rests and enjoys the atten­tion of Yas­meenah, while Shahruhl is unable to resist sell­ing off sev­eral of the less con­spic­u­ous pieces of loot to have a roy­ally good time and stud­ies the objects from the tomb. He also tracks down Hareeb and both ter­ror­izes him and gives him a princely reward. He is to be on the look­out for strange occur­rences, any­thing that might hint at activ­i­ties by Lord Anulep; Prince Shahrul hopes to some­how be able to wrest infor­ma­tion about the sword from him.

At the end of the five days, Hareeb returns with news. Every night, sev­eral men are slain in Zul-Bazzir’s Yar-​Ammonite quar­ter, and even though each and every one of them was a big, strap­ping guy, they were seeme­ingly all over­come eas­ily and bru­tally mauled into unrecog­nice­able pulp. Manek and Shahrul decide to inves­ti­gate the Yar-​Ammonite quar­ter; this is recog­niced to engage Manek’s Pas­sions Make Place for Self, Learn About Ori­gins, and Crush on Yas­meenah, and Shahruhl’s Regain Wealth & Power, and (ulti­mately) Vengeance against Queen Sammu-​Ramat.

Half a day in the Yar-​Ammonite quar­ter and a sin­gle Infor­ma­tion Gath­er­ing Check yields that all the killed men were inor­di­nately tall, that sev­eral mad, crazy, and degen­rate mem­bers of the Yar-​Ammonite com­mu­nity have van­ished in the past few days (and are sus­pected of the killings), and that many mad­men from the rest of the city are wan­der­ing the alleys of the quar­ter.

At this junc­tion, Shahruhl is accosted by a pretty large squad of sol­diers in the employ of Khadim Bey, Zul-Bazzir’s satrap. It is obvi­ous that they are look­ing for Shahrul and as he seems to fit the descrip­tion, they ques­tion him. Once again, Shahrul passes a False­hood Check with fly­ing colours and smoothly mis­di­rects the sol­diers. For this, he is awarded 1 Pas­sion point (Elude Padishah’s Wrath).

Almost imme­di­ately after that, the pair is addressed by a Yar-​Ammonite priest by the name of Thutmes who claims that an omen has directed him to them. He asks to speak with Manek and Shahrul, and they fol­low him to his tiny embalmer’s shop plus shrine to Tefnut, Yar-​Ammonite guardian of the dead. Here, they learn that Thutmes has read the entrails and learned that unholy blas­phemy is threat­en­ing the realm of Tefnut (i.e. the local Yar-​Ammonite tombs), and that it is also threat­en­ing a huge man and his com­pan­ion, who at the same time are the key to rec­ti­fy­ing the blas­phemy. This prophecy is in game terms treated as if the Mys­tery of this name had been employed, and both Manek and Shahrul will get +1 die on all rolls to alle­vi­ate the blas­phemy.

Back­story: The spirit of Lord Anulep has indeed taken pos­ses­sion of another host, a shep­herd boy it encoun­tered at the rim of the oasis. Unfor­tu­nately, after eight cen­turies in the tomb, the Kuthan’s spirit is stark rav­ing mad. Once he gained full con­trol of the boy, he wan­dered into Zul-​Bazzir, and here felt him­self drawn to the Yar-​Ammonite quar­ter, prob­a­bly because the archi­tec­ture there reminds him of ancient Kuth. Again dri­ven by lit­tle more than instinct, he wan­dered where, after being dead for the bet­ter part of a mil­len­nium, he felt most at home – the Yar-​Ammonite tombs.

And other instincts are at work in Lord Anulep as well. He dimly remem­bers impor­tant pos­ses­sions he used to have with him, most of all a sor­cer­ous sword, and he feels their pres­ence some­where in the city, which he walks in seek­ing. And he remem­bers hav­ing encoun­tered a mad­den­ing abom­i­na­tion: The essence of a noble Kuthan some­how sul­lied by and bound to one hulk­ing giant of the slave peo­ple. This abom­i­na­tion must die. Thus the boy that is Anulep walks the street, slay­ing with his bare hands any tall man he encoun­ters.

On his sojourns through Zul-​Bazzir, the presece of the pow­er­ful mad Kuthan is, due to some inborn lord­ship of his race, in some strange way call­ing out to the mad­men of the city, those many degen­er­ates wracked by the rav­ages of alco­hol, drugs, or syphilis, or those born not quite sane. They flock to him, seek­ing him out in the tomb, some­how com­pelled to ven­er­ate this sor­cer­ous king of the mad.


At the end of the talk, Thutmes blesses Shahruhl and Manek – which in the latter’s case takes effect as as the Mend­ing Mys­tery, but with­out read­ily notice­able effect (just 2 Cast­ing Suc­cesses). The pair returns to the rented rooms, and on the fol­low­ing day sells some more of their loot, to buy sub­stan­tial armour. While out and about, Prince Shahrul, who arro­gantly refuses to wear incon­spic­u­ous clothes, is spot­ted by a pair of Impe­r­ial guards­men from Khaz­abad, who rec­og­nize him and fol­low him sur­rep­ti­tiously, to find out where he lives and return with rein­force­ments. Shahrul does notice them and leads them into a back­yard, where he and Manek ambush the guards­men. Manek is how­ever no use in the short fight, as a hal­lu­ci­na­tion from his Poor Asset pre­cludes him from get­ting involved. Due to the advan­tage of the sur­prise, Shahrul does how­ever over­come them both and receives 1 Pas­sion point (Elude Padishah’s Wrath).

Return­ing to Yas­meenah and uncer­tain of what the guards­men know, the pair moves again, to yet another set of rooms. The next day, they begin their search of the inter­con­nected maze of the Yar-​Ammonite tombs. At first, they find noth­ing out of the ordi­nary, save a haunt­ing that gives them the chills, but is not what they are look­ing for. Come evening they encounter sev­eral crazed peo­ple loi­ter­ing in the crypts. These sorry dere­licts do invari­ably attack Manek, and their crazed behav­iour reminds the pair of the first possessee’s reac­tion to Manek. The pair inca­pac­i­tates the third such attacker and hauls him out of the tombs, to ques­tion him away from their pos­si­bly malig­nant influ­ence. All they learn from his bab­bling is that he seems to think that he has to slay the “big beast” for the mas­ter. Now Manek and Shahrul are utterly con­vinced of the con­nec­tion between the mad­man and the spirit of Anulep, and they release their pris­oner on the fol­low­ing morn­ing, hop­ing to fol­low him to Lord Anulep. For this step closer to their goals, Shahrul receives 1 Pas­sion point (Regain Wealth and Power) and Manek 2 points (Learn About Ori­gins & Make Place for Self).

At this junc­tion, Shahrul’s player (me!) seonds 9 Pas­sion points to increase his TY to 4.

The freed mad­man leads Shahruhl, and Manek, who fol­lows at a dis­tance, right back into the tombs. Here, they encounter a great many of mad, gib­ber­ing peo­ple, whom Manek largely man­ages to evade; in Shahrul they are not inter­ested any­way. The pair passes a sleep­ing Anulep, not know­ing that this boy of about twelve years is not just some gut­ter child, but Lord Anulep’s host. Aroused by the prox­im­ity of both Manek and the sor­cer­ous sword, Anulep soon wakes and begins stalk­ing the cat­a­combs him­self, seek­ing Manek and the sword. His agi­ta­tion is car­ried over to the mad­men roam­ing the tombs – those nearby sud­denly per­ceive Manek clearly and rush him. The pair defeats the mad­men and largely avoids slay­ing them.

Just as the fight is won, a dreamy-​eyed Anulep appears. Manek and Shahrul are wary but not hos­tile them­selves, but as Anulep rec­og­nizes both the sword and the abhor­rent half-​Kuthan degen­rate Manek he bursts into cold rage. He does how­ever waste pre­cious time com­mand­ing the sword to slay – the sword is car­ried in a newly pur­chased sheath by Manek and is bound into this sheath with copi­ous strands of strong, but incon­spic­u­ous wires – an idea of Shahrul’s. The sword quiv­ers and leaps in its sheath, but is unable to break free.

In the mean­time, Shahrul tries to use his Enslave­ment Mys­tery on Anulep, but fails in spite of an excel­lent result – and gains 3 Taint in the bar­gain. Manek charges Anulep in his boy-​body and man­ages to knock him out cold (and seri­ously crack his skull in the deal). The pair then rushes the uncon­scious boy to a smith, whom they pay lav­ishly to forge the boy in many swaths of heavy chains – Manek and Shahrul well remem­ber the strength dis­played by the last pos­sessee. At this stage, Shahrul receives s Pas­sion point (Regain Wealth and Power & Vengeance against Queen) and Manek 2 points (Learn About Ori­gins & Make Place for Self).

The ses­sion winds down with Shahrul and Manek dis­cussing how to pro­ceed. Their attempt to ques­tion the bound and blind­folded host of Anulep fails, and Manek keeps Shahruhl from tor­tur­ing the host body. The pair decide to seek out a pow­er­ful sor­cer­ous dis­ci­ple of al-​Tawir said to live deep in the north­west­ern desert and to try enlist his aid in either ques­tion­ing Anulep or else ban­ish his spirit for­ever.

1 Drama is awarded to Shahrul for his excel­lent – even though unsuc­cess­ful – attempt to use Enslave­ment on Lord Anulep.

Shahrul’s player, already hav­ing bought up TY dur­ing the ses­sion, does not expend any more Pas­sion points. His character’s changed stats are:

TY 4, Scry­ing 3 (SP 8 ), False­hood 3, For­eign Lan­guage (Yar-​Ammonite) 2, Occultism 2, Loot 1
Regain Wealth and Power: 2
Elude Padishah’s Wrath: 1
Vengeance against Queen Sammu-​Ramat: 1
Be Indebted to No Man: 0
Drama: 2
Karma: 16

Manek’s player trades spends 15 Pas­sion points to acquire the Good aspect of his Giantism Asset. His character’s changed stats are:

Good Asset Giantism, Heal­ing 3, Rid­ing 1, Loot 1
Learn About His Ori­gins: 1
Crush on Yas­meenah: 0
Make a Place for Him­self in the World: 1
Hate for Army of Khazis­tan: 0
Drama: 1
Karma: 17

Back­story: What the play­ers do not kow, but are glee­fully told by the ref­eree, is that the Yar-​Ammonite arch-​sorcerer Nephren Hotep knows the Arcane Secret Whis­per My Name in Fear. In their plan­ning, Manek and Shahrul have fre­quenly used his name, and Nephren Hotep does thus know about them, how they have thwarted his ser­vant Nathok, and that they have in their pos­ses­sion not only the loot from the Kuthan tomb, but also an actual Kuthan, or at least his spirit. Nephren Hotep is almost a thou­sand kilo­me­ters dis­tant and thus unable to take imme­di­ate, direct action, but he is most anx­ious to gain for him­self the wealth of Kuthan lore the heroes have stum­bled upon…
Bow down: I am the emperor of dreams;
I crown me with the million-​colored sun
Of secret worlds incred­i­ble, and take
Their trail­ing skies for vest­ment when I soar.

Clark Ash­ton Smith, The Hashish Eater or The Apoc­a­lypse of Evil
Last Edit: 6 years 1 month ago by Michael.
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The Leg­end of Manek & Shahrul 6 years 1 month ago #806

  • Michael
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Episode Four, Part One:

Death Among the Dunes

At the out­set of the ses­sion, the ref­eree informs the play­ers that she is for­go­ing to check for Shahrul’s Con­nec­tion Poor Asset to enter play, but will roll a sec­ond time dur­ing a ses­sion in the near future.

The play­ers are fur­ther informed that the sor­cerer they seek to aid them with ques­tion­ing Anulep is one Muawiya, High Prophet of the Broth­er­hood of the Red Seal, and that the Broth­er­hood of the Red Seal is a semi-​secret nefar­i­ous cult of al-​Tawir, the Ancient One. This par­tic­u­lar cult of the already unpleas­ant deity attracts fol­low­ers almost exclu­sively from among the Khazraj nomads, who ven­er­ate al-​Tawir with human sac­ri­fie, hop­ing to gain favour with the Sleeper Beneath the Sands. Khazraj sheiks latently oppose the bloody prac­tices, but those who are too unyield­ing and out­spo­ken in this oppo­si­tion all meet with grisly ends, at the slaver­ing jaws of demons sent by Muawiya, so it is said. The same fate is also rumored to have befallen the pre­vi­ous satrap of Zul-​Bazzir, who was also mov­ing actively against the Broth­er­hood.

Muawiya, the cult’s High Prophet, is said to dwell in the water­less desert about five days north­west of Zul-​Bazzir, in a ruined old tem­ple.

This is where play resumes.

Manek and Shahrul pre­pare for a jour­ney into the deep desert. They sell off a good deal of their loot from Anulep’s tomb to buy equip­ment and drom­e­daries, and also to hire a Khazraj guide, as the pair is lack­ing in out­door skills. To con­trol Anulep in his host body, they do not only rely on the heavy chains he is forged into and a blind­fold he con­stantly wears, but buy als copi­ous amounts of Sil­ver Lotus with which they intend to kep him per­ma­nently drugged. After two days of such prepa­ra­tions, both char­ac­ters’ Loot is at 3, and much of the booty from the tomb still unsold. This is stashed with Yas­meenah, apart from the sor­cer­ous sword, which they take along, firmly lashed into its sheath and addi­tion­ally bun­dled up in a cov­er­ing of leather.

Guided by Khas­sek, the hired Khazraj, Manek and Shahrul set out towards the Whis­per­ing Waste to find Muawiya. It is decided that this endeav­our engages Shahrul’s Pas­sions Regain Wealth and Power & Elude Padisha’s Wrath, and Manek’s Pas­sions Learn About Ori­gins & Make Place for Self.

The first two days of the jour­ney pass with­out notice­able events, but from the sec­ond day on, Shahrul uses the Scry­ing Mys­tery every evening to scout ahead, spy­ing out the land they are going to tra­verse the fol­low­ing day, to guard against unpleas­ant sur­prises. On the third evening, he thus dis­cov­ers an encamped band of a dozen Khazrajs who seem to recently have had a fight and who are in the process of bind­ing cap­tives – three men – naked and spread-​eagled to stakes set into the desert floor. From lis­ten­ing in, he learns that the three cap­tives are sur­vivors of a group of Brethren of the Red Seal whom the Khazrajs attacked ealier that day, free­ing the female sac­ri­fi­cial vic­tim the cultists were tak­ing to their High Prophet. The nomads intend to test their cap­tives’ claims that al-​Tawir grants them pro­tec­tion from heat and thirst, watch­ing the desert kill them.

Manek and Shahrul see an open­ing to ingra­ti­ate them­selves to Muawiya by free­ing the cap­tive Brethren. They decide that they have to do it this very night, by stealth: They can’t take on the dozen Khazrajs who are intend­ing to stay and watch their cap­tives die, and they also can’t wait until the next night, as the cap­tives will hardly sur­vive a day under the harsh desert sun. Rest­ing until after mid­night, they then move their camp up half the ten kilo­me­ters to the Khazrajs. There, Manek knocks their guide Khas­sek uncon­scious from behind, as the pair is reluc­tant to leave him alone with Lord Anulep, even though the lat­ter is drugged. They bind the uncon­scious Khas­sek, then move out to free the cap­tive Brethren.

Back­story: Not all is as it seems. The res­cued sac­ri­fi­cial vic­tim was no such vic­tim at all, but was being escorted by the Brethren to Muawiya. When it became appar­ent that the Brethen could not stand against the clos­ing Khazrajs, she threw away her weapons and assumed the role of cap­tive, some­thing the vic­to­ri­ous nomads were ready to believe, as the Broth­er­hood of the Red Seal is well known to admit only men.

The woman, one Isparana, is in fact an agent of Queen Sammu-​Ramat, on clan­des­tine busi­ness for her mis­tress. She intends to wait until the night has well pro­gressed and then kill the sen­try, free the staked-​out Brethren, and make for Muawiya’s ruined tem­ple. To her mis­for­tune, one Khzara­jite waked just as he was free­ing the sec­ond cap­tive and raised the alarm. It is at this junc­tion that Manek and Shahrul appear on the scene.


Near­ing the Khazraj camp, Manek and Shahrul hear a com­mo­tion and notice that some­thing is very wrong. Manek’s uncanny night vision spies that the Khazraj sen­try is down, and two of the cap­tive Brethren, recently freed from their bonds, are just being taken down by the Khazrajs, as is the woman, who seems to be in with the Brethren. Rely­ing on sur­prise, the fact that they are the only ones wear­ing armour and hop­ing that the Brethren will find an oppor­tu­nity to enter the com­bat, Manek and Shahrul imme­di­ately decide upon quick, mad action against the ten desert nomads. Crouch­ing low to avoid imme­di­ate detec­tion, Manek charges, fol­lowed by Prince Shahrul, ready to loose an arrow the moment they are being noticed. That he does, tak­ing down one of the men immo­bi­liz­ing a Brother of the Red Seal.

In the mad melee that fol­lows, Isparana turns out to be very pro­fi­cient at arms, the two unshack­led cultists are slain, and a sin­gle Khazraj man­ages to flee on a fast drom­e­dary. Manek and Shahruhl each suf­fer level 2 wound. For draw­ing nearer their goals, Manek is awarded 2 Pas­sion points (Learn About Ori­gins & Make Place) and Shahrul equally 2 points (Regain Wealth and Power & Vengeance Against Queen). The sec­ond point, for the Vengeance Against Queen Pas­sion, is awarded because Shahrul rec­og­nizes Isparana as a woman he once spied leav­ing a secret audi­ence with Queen Sammu-​Ramat. Sus­pect­ing that Sammu-​Ramat may secretly be involved with the sor­cerer Muawiya, Shahrul per­ceives a pos­si­ble open­ing against her.

While get­ting to know each other, Shahrul takes the lead in pass­ing him­self and Manek off as pil­grims bring­ing a bewitched boy to Muawiya and tries to cre­ate the impres­sion that he is a sor­cerer who doesn’t want to let on that he is one. Skilled as he may be at lying, Isparana beats him at False­hood and dis­cov­ers that he isn’t telling the whole truth. She in her turn passes her­self off as the bodyguard-​mistress of an prince from Khaz­abad who is, since her child­hood, a devo­tee of al-​Tawir and who over­heard that Khadim Bey, satrap of Zul-​Bazzir, was form­ing an alliance with sev­eral Khazraj sheiks to move against the Broth­er­hood of the Red Seal in force. She claims to have fled Khaz­abad to warn the cult’s prophet of the threat, but was inter­cepted and cap­tured.

Back­story: An accom­plished liar, Isparana stays as close to the truth as pos­si­ble. It is true that Khadim Bey is mov­ing against Muawiya, but Isparana had only learned so from con­vers­ing with her cap­tors.

Shahrul hur­ries to fetch the drugged Lord Anulep and to rejoin Isparana and the sur­viv­ing Brother of the Red Seal, dis­charg­ing the immo­bi­lized guide Khas­sek and pay­ing him an indem­nity.

The next two days are nar­rated cur­so­rily, but Prince Shahrul fails to resist his Lech­er­ous Asset and is forced to make, against his bet­ter judge­ment, a seri­ous pass at the beau­ti­ful Isparana. Right before mak­ing the roll, Shahrul’s player decides to go for it all the way and spend 1 Drama on the Lucky Break for Isparana to be seri­ously attracted to him in turn. Despite this, Isparana, who is on a mis­sion for Queen Sammu-​Ramat and dis­trusts Shahrul, decides to deny her feel­ings and resist the advances. The prince fails in his attempt at Seduc­tion, leav­ing both his lust and Isparana’s feel­ings frus­trated.

When they set out from the water­ing whole the on the third day, the Brother of the Red Seal informs them that it is one and a half day until the dwelling of the prophet, and that there isn’t going to be any water until they return here, not even with Muawiya him­self. They take along as much water as they can and set out through a com­pletely life­less desert. On the sec­ond day, they draw near and enter an large area dot­ted com­pletely decayed ruins, often no more than scat­tered slabs of stone. Draped across the ruins are many hun­dreds of utterly des­ic­cated corpses – the human sac­ri­fices of cen­turies. Manek sees them lift their heads and warn them away, but he is the only one to notice that – maybe a hal­lu­ci­na­tion from his Poor Asset.

All of a sud­den, they are accosted by a rider in red, one of the Muawiya’s acolytes. He bids them wel­come, announces that the prophet is expect­ing them, but cur­rently deep in com­mu­nion with al-​Tawir, and that they are to wait until sum­moned. He then heads away from the ruin field, leav­ing the char­ac­ters alone.

Back­ground Infor­ma­tion: Muawiya is blessed by al-​Tawir; he does not need to drink or eat, and sun and samum can­not harm him. The half dozen acolytes attend­ing him in the ruin field are not so lucky. As there is no water here, they have to con­stantly head out to the water­ing wholes and return, only to again head out after a day or two. Some of this is imparted to the char­ac­ters by the Brother accom­pa­ny­ing them.

The group spends a mis­er­able after­noon among the ruins and is still not sum­moned. Wor­ried that their water might run out, Prince Shahrul decides to scout around for Muawiya dur­ing they night. He with­draws a bit from the oth­ers and secretly prac­tices the Scry­ing Mys­tery. He has not quite shifted his con­scious­ness from his body when he feels a malig­nant pres­ence deep under the sands; moments later, his astral body is grap­pled by what appears to be the snarling, tor­tured ghost of one of the human sac­ri­fices. While the two wres­tle incor­po­re­ally, he sees spir­its rise from all the sacri­cial vic­tims in the vicin­ity and hurry hun­grily towards him. In the ensu­ing wrestling match, in which Shahrul tries to fran­ti­cally break away from his oppo­nent before oth­ers ghosts can reach him, TY is used instead of all other Attrib­utes – which means that Shahrul is pretty much done for. With­out Pas­sions engaged, he finds him­self imme­di­ately pinned under­neath his assailant, whose teeth chew hun­gri­fly into his – incor­po­real – flesh.

A this stage, Shahrul’s player decides to spend his – last – Drama point for a Lucky Break for some kind of res­cue. As an out­right res­cue with­out neg­a­tive con­se­quences is deemed too pow­er­ful and too inor­ganic to effect, the fol­low­ing is decided upon:

A sear­ing spir­i­tual flame does sud­denly flare up from the rest­ing place of Shahrul’s com­pan­ions. See­ing this, the ghosts accost­ing the prince howl in mad fear and flee back into their bod­ies. A shaken Shahrul imme­di­ately returns to his own body, to weak and dis­ori­ented to play any part in what hap­pens now:

Lord Anulep has awak­ened.

Com­ing out of his drugged stu­por, he tried to break he chains he has been forged into, and upon fail­ing mut­tered a spell to melt the chains off him, the occult flar­ing of which fright­ened off the ghosts. This also wakes Isparana, the Brother of the Red Seal, and Manek, who promptly lapses into another hal­lu­ci­na­tion. As this is decided arbi­trar­ily by the ref, she allows a very easy TY Check to shake it off, which Manek man­ages. In the mean­time, Lord Anulep is again becom­ing madly enraged upon see­ing Manek, charges him, and offhand­edly slays the Brother of the Red Seal who is in his way. Real­iz­ing how dan­ger­ous the “boy” is, Isparana draws steel and wants to attack him, but she is shoul­dered aside by Manek. Believ­ing him­self doomed if the first attack doesn’t count, Manek swings his mallet-​like fist all-​out at Lord Anulep’s boy-​skull.; unlike last time he has now how­ever only 2 Pas­sion points (Learn About Ori­gins) aid­ing him. The blow con­nects heav­ily, but Lord Anulep is not knocked out, merely down. Manek fol­lows with a bru­tal kick to the head which finally send the host body back to sleep – and would have killed any other man.

In the after­math of these events, when Lord Anulep is again safely (?) drugged and Prince Shahrul found, Shahruls player asks whether the reac­tion of Isparana to his PC’s weak and shaken state might not be indica­tive of her feel­ings. The ref con­sents and calls for a Aver­age Opposed Check of Shahrul’s HT against Isparana’s False­hood, with the Pas­sion Revenge Upon Queen Sammu-​Ramat apply­ing. Shahrul does make it, dis­cov­ers Isparana’s sup­p­resed attrac­tion towards him and is now able to act upon this. For this, he receives 2 Pas­sion point (Revenge Against Queen & Regain Wealth And Power).

When the sun comes up, a very beau­ti­ful youth of about six­teen years and dressed in the garb of the Broth­er­hood of the Red Seal is dis­cov­ered seat­ing cross­legged on a closeby fallen obelisk, calmly watch­ing the group. It is Muawiya, holy prophet of the Sleeper Beneath the Sands.

In the ensu­ing con­ver­sa­tion, it becomes appar­ent that Muawiya knows much, maybe all, about his three vis­i­tors. When he is told about the immi­nent, well orga­nized attack upon him, he is slightly sur­prised; he did know about the prepa­ra­tions, but not that they had already pro­gressed that far. Still, he does not appear alarmed and pro­ceeds to talk seper­ately with his vis­i­tors, as he knows is their wish.

Isparana is first, and even though Shahrul would love to spy on the con­ver­sa­tion by use of the Scry­ing Mys­tery, he does not dare. Manek and Shahrul are next. Muawiya knows that they have brought the spirit of a Kuthan, whom he seems to hate. He con­sents to ques­tion the spirit for them and then send it “to al-Tawir’s deep­est hell”. He tells them that he will do so in grat­i­tude for the warn­ing they have brought him, and for the fur­ther aid against the attack they are going to give him against his attack­ers. How­ever, he will only do so after the attack, as he is con­serv­ing his stength to beat it off. For thus draw­ing nearer their goals, Manek receives 3 Pas­sion points (Learn About Ori­gins & Make Place for Self & Hate Army of Khazis­tan for thwart­ing them with the­in­for­ma­tion for Muawiya) and Prince Shahrul 1 Pas­sion point (Regain Wealth And Power).

This is where the ses­sion ends. As no player rolled mem­o­rably well or poorly, it is decidd to share out the Drama points for this equally, 1 point going to either char­ac­ter.

Shahrul’s player does expend 1 Pas­sion point to increase his Occultism skill and trans­mutes 1 Pas­sion to Drama. His character’s changed stats are:

TY 4, Scry­ing 3 (SP 8 ), False­hood 3, For­eign Lan­guage (Yar-​Ammonite) 2, Occultism 3, Loot 1
Regain Wealth and Power: 3
Elude Padishah’s Wrath: 1
Vengeance against Queen Sammu-​Ramat: 3
Be Indebted to No Man: 0
Drama: 2
Karma: 19

Manek’s player spends 2 Pas­sion points to increase his Rid­ing and Sur­vival Skills by 1 each. His character’s changed stats are:

Good Asset Giantism, Heal­ing 3, Rid­ing 2, Sur­vival 2, Loot 1
Learn About His Ori­gins: 3
Crush on Yas­meenah: 0
Make a Place for Him­self in the World: 2
Hate for Army of Khazis­tan: 1
Drama: 1
Karma: 19
Bow down: I am the emperor of dreams;
I crown me with the million-​colored sun
Of secret worlds incred­i­ble, and take
Their trail­ing skies for vest­ment when I soar.

Clark Ash­ton Smith, The Hashish Eater or The Apoc­a­lypse of Evil
Last Edit: 6 years 1 month ago by Michael.
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The Leg­end of Manek & Shahrul 6 years 1 month ago #823

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Episode Four, Part Two:

Death Among the Dunes

At the begin­ning of the ses­sion, the ref, who had not rolled for Prince Shahrul’s Poor Asset Con­nec­tions dur­ing the last game, exer­cises her pre­rog­a­tive to roll twice this time. The sec­ond roll comes up 11, indi­cat­ing thatthe Poor Asset will cause trou­ble.

Play com­mences imme­di­ately after the events of the last ses­sion, with Manek, Shahrul and Isparana hav­ing agreed to aid the nefar­i­ous Broth­er­hood of the Red Seal against the attack con­certed by the satrap of Zul-​Bazzir, Khadim Bey. Muawiya informs the trio that he wants them to infil­trate Khadim Bey’s camp in the guise of cap­tives escaped from the Broth­er­hood and hav­ing infor­ma­tion of pos­si­ble strate­gic impor­tance. As al-​Tawir is only ven­er­ated by desert dwellers and the three are quite obvi­ously no Khazrajs, Khadim Bey is unlikely to dis­trust them. In the camp, he wants them to assas­si­nate the two sheiks allied to Khadim Bey and his Jairan­ian cap­tain Ishme-​Sadu. While Khadim Bey is a sea­soned cam­paigner, he has lit­tle knowl­edge of desert war­fare, quite unlike Ishme-​Sadu. Khadim Bey trusts Ishme-Sadu’s judge­ment, but is too proud to lis­ten to the other, lesser offi­cers, or the demi-​savage Khazraj sheiks. With Ishme-​Sadu gone, Khadim Bey is likely to blun­der, and with the two sheiks, who pledged their hon­our to throw their lot in with Khadim Bey, gone as well, the Khazraj tribes­men will likey not feel bound to a blun­der­ing city-​dweller.

Before the three set out, the prophet of al-​Tawir asks for the favour of the Ancient One. A sud­denly appear­ing acolyte leads up a cap­tive elderly man, who is staked out naked in the sun among the ruins to per­ish, a sac­ri­fice to al-​Tawir. Muawiya then goes into a trance to locate Khadim Bey’s camp (i.e. he uses the Scry­ing Mys­tery) and finally reads al-Tawir’s will in the shift­ing pat­terns of the sand – that is, he uses the Prophecy Mys­tery and gets a pro­pi­tious result, which gives the char­ac­ters an Omen 1 rat­ing to com­plete their under­tak­ing.

Thus blessed by the dark ancient god, Manek, Shahrul, and Isparana set out by night­fall, guided by the acolyte. They travel with lit­tle rest until the fol­low­ing noon, when they reach the water­ing whole. Here, they rest until well after mid­night, when the acolyte of the Broth­er­hood points them into the direc­tion of Khadim Bey’s approach and leaves, while Prince Shahrul, Manek, and Isparana head out into the desert. Around night­fall of their sec­ond day out, they are picked up by a band of Khazrajs, out­rid­ers of Khadim Bey’s force. The prac­ticed liars Shahrul and Isparana eas­ily pass their small com­pany off as fugi­tives from the clutches of the Broth­er­hood and are escorted to the main force, which is just about to make camp at a tiny oasis. The force they encounter here is much larger than they expected – about a thou­sand war­riors, one third of them Khazraj tribes­men.

They are imme­di­ately brought before Khadim Bey, whose tent is just being erected. As he begins ques­tion­ing them, his offi­cers and the two sheiks join them. One of the offi­cers, the only one present who hasn’t the look of a Jairan­ian mer­ce­nary, fixes Prince Shahrul with a puz­zled gaze. All of a sud­den, he jumps to his feet, shout­ing out “Seize this man! He is Prince…”

Before he can fin­ish, Shahrul, who feared being dis­cov­ered by the offi­cer and was wary, whips out his scim­i­tar and cleaves the offi­cer to the teeth, eas­ily done aided by the Omen rat­ing and the Pas­sion Elude Padishah’s Wrath. Shahrul is imme­di­ately borne to the ground by the assault of the other fight­ing men present and his com­pan­ions held at sword­point, but he still receives 1 Pas­sion point (Elude Padishah’s Wrath) for avert­ing the dan­ger of imme­di­ate dis­cov­ery.

Back­ground Infor­ma­tion: The slain offi­cer had been recently trans­ferred from Khaz­abad, knew of Prince Shahrul’s crime, and had seen him at sev­eral occa­sions in the cap­i­tal.

After Shahrul’s bla­tant act of mur­der, his com­pan­ions are also in a tight spot, but Isparana can con­vince the offi­cers that the three of them only met in cap­tiv­ity of the Broth­er­hood and don’t know each other beyond that, though doubts remain. In any case, the offi­cers clam­our for the imme­di­ate exe­cu­tion of the mur­derer. Isparana can avert this as well by clev­erly giv­ing the men the idea that Shahrul did obvi­ously attempt to hide some­thing, which might be impor­tant to dis­cover, and that he should be ques­tioned first. Upon Khadim Bey’s order, Shahrul is bound and hauled away to be inter­ro­gated.

Prince Shahrul is securely teth­ered to a sickly lit­tle tree at the very rim of the oasis and two Jairan­ian mer­ce­nar­ies set out to glee­fully tor­ture him, at first with knives. Shahrul, who is quite bad at stand­ing pain, makes a brave face of it and taunts his inter­roga­tors, enrag­ing them with jeers and telling them that they will never get him to talk, not if they “set fire­brands to his feet”. His ploy suc­ceeds, and one of the sol­diers heads back into the camp to get just such a fire­brand. As soon as he is gone, Shahrul uses the Enslave­ment Mys­tery on the remain­ing sol­dier and com­mands him to loose his bonds. With his hands free, he snatches the man’s dag­ger, slays him, and cuts his remain­ing bonds. Know­ing that he can­not hope to escape into the desert and that the other mer­ce­nary will raise the alarm, he quickly drags off the corpse, resumes his for­mer posi­tion and feigns uncon­scious­ness. When the sec­ond Jairan­ian returns, he stabs him to the heart and then makes off. For his escape from even­tual dis­cov­ery he receives 1 Pas­sion point (Elude Padishah’s Wrath) – as well as 1 Taint and three lvl 1 wounds from the inter­ro­ga­tion.

At this stage, the play­ers con­verse and decide that Manek and Isparana must avoid every­thing that would sug­gest asso­ci­a­tion with Shahrul – oth­er­wise any infor­ma­tion they pro­vide would be imme­di­ately dis­be­lieved. Shahrul will attempt to carry out the mur­ders while Manek and Isparana appear innocu­ous.

In the mean­time, Manek and Isparana are fur­ther ques­tioned by Khadim Bey and his offi­cers, whom they feed a lot of mis­in­for­ma­tion, like that Muawiya has a secret sup­ply of ample water in his ruins, and that he has sev­eral dozen peo­ple with him. The con­ver­sa­tion is cut short when news of Prince Shahrul’s dis­ap­pear­ance arrive. Manek and Isparana are dis­charged. Manek is hon­oured – read: kept under guard – by being housed in a tent shared by two junior offi­cers (only offi­cers have tents), with instruc­tions not to leave the tent. Isparana, who has passed her­self off as a lady and been slyly seduc­tive, is offered a place in Khadim Bey’s own tent.

When Manek is shown into the tent, his Hal­lu­ci­na­tion Asset kicks in – he rec­og­nizes one of the junior offi­cers as the man who slew his “step­mother”. Manek’s player wants to play it cool, point­ing out that the sol­diers are all doomed any­how, but the ref demands a TY Check. Manek suc­ceeds suf­fi­ciently so as not to have to take imme­di­ate action, but not enough not to insult the offi­cer. The other offi­cer tries to smooth things over, the lodger hav­ing after all been sent by Khadim Bey him­self, but the sit­u­a­tion esca­lates and a reg­u­lar bout of fisticuffs is agreed upon to teach Khadim Bey’s guest a les­son with­out killing him. By now, Manek has dis­cov­ered his error, but it is too late to back out. The bout is fought in front of the tent, and even though the offi­cer is an excel­lent fighter, Manek defeats him with­out greater dif­fi­cul­ties and receives 1 Pas­sion point (Hate Army of Khazis­tan).

Remark: The ref con­fessed that she had at this stage dif­fi­cul­ties giv­ing Manek some­thing inter­est­ing to do and came up with this small activ­ity.

In the mean­time, Prince Shahrul has devised a rather cun­ning plan. He cir­cled the oasis and waited for a Khazraj tribesman to leave the oasis to relieve him­self. With more than 300 of them present, he hasn’t long to wait. He calmly walks up to him, uses the Enslave­ment Mys­tery to hold him motion­less (gain­ing another 2 Taint in the process), opens his cloth­ing across the chest, stabs him to the heart with­out spilling much blood on the clothes, drags the body off and then takes the dead man’s clothes. Dressed thus, he makes his way back into the oasis, stay­ing away from the light of the few fires of drom­e­dary dung and from the encamp­ment of the Khazrajs of the slain man’s tribe. After a few suc­cess­ful Checks to avoid sev­eral tight spots, he finds him­self near the tent of the sheik of the other tribe, who at this time is still at the talk with Manek and Isparana. He enters the empty tent, hides, and waits.

At about this time, his escape from the inter­ro­ga­tion is noticed. It does now not take long for the sheik to return to his tent. Prince Shahrul imme­di­ately uses the Enslave­ment Mys­tery on him, really going for it to ensure a suc­cess. His com­mand to slay the other sheik is indeed suc­cess­ful, but his Con­tain­ment roll fails com­pletely – he acquires 6 Taint (for a cur­rent subto­tal of 9 Taint!) and the Mys­tery does also turn against him. He is placed under a sor­cer­ous com­pul­sion to go and kill Ishme-​Sadu, the Jairan­ian cap­tain!

In any case, the entire table is full of glee for the clever plan of using one sheik to kill the other and thus remove him­self from the pic­ture as well and shat­ter the alliance, and Prince Shahrul is awarded 1 Drama point.

While Manek fights his vic­to­ri­ous bout, two ensor­celled men walk the camp, bent on mur­der, one of them swathed into a tan­gi­ble aura of oth­er­worldly evil (9 Taint) before which men and beast shy away. He attracts so much atten­tion that he doesn’t get far. He is con­fronted, rec­og­nized, appre­hended – and taken for an evil sor­cerer, for an agent of Muawiya, and a Brother of the Red Seal. As he is once again dragged before Khadim Bey, who is inter­rupted in his fun with a very com­pli­ant Isparana, Shahrul snaps out of the sor­cer­ous trance. While Manek is also being sum­moned, yet another com­mo­tion shakes the encamp­ment: One of the sheiks has treach­er­ously slain the other and then fled back among his tribes­men and holed up there. The men of the slain sheik are howl­ing for blood.

Chaotic dis­cus­sions and events fol­low. The mur­der­ous sheik leads his tribes­men away from the encamp­ment, and the other tribes­men fol­low to exact their revenge. Shahrul is taken to be a Brother of the Red Seal who used a staged escape of two cap­tives to infil­trate the camp and wreak havoc. Inter­ro­gat­ing him is again con­sid­ered, but as he escaped once, it is decided to sim­ply exe­cute him. As the east­ern hori­zon is just begin­ning to turn grey, Prince Shahrul is led off to his death.

At this junc­tion, he spends 1 Drama for a Lucky Break and the mirac­u­lous res­cue of a sud­den sand­storm – with al-​Tawir being also lord of sand­storms, it might well be, but is left open, that the storm was sent by him or Muawiya. As the cry “Simoom! Simoom!” dis­tracts his exe­cu­tion­ers for a moment, Shahrul makes a dash for it, out into the desert. Even though penal­ized for his bound hands, he man­ages to stay ahead of his pur­suers for a suf­fi­cient num­ber of Opposed Timed Move Checks that they dare not fol­low him any fur­ther for fear of the sand­storm and return to camp. With the storm hit­ting him, Prince Shahrul finds him­self exposed and bound in the desert.

With the storm rag­ing, Manek sees a chance for mur­der and slinks out into it. Blind and nearly suf­fo­cat­ing, he man­ages to find his way to Ishme-Sadu’s tent. He enters the tat­tered can­vas and falls upon the Jairan­ian. A hard strug­gle by nearly blinded men with dif­fi­cult Ter­rain Checks fol­lows, but Manek finally man­ages to knock out the sea­soned war­rior, not with­out receiv­ing a lvl 3 wound him­self. He then suf­fo­cates Ishme-​Sadu and drags the corpse out into the open, to even­tu­ally be found as a vic­tim of the simoom. Receiv­ing 1 Pas­sion point (Hate Army of Khazis­tan), he steals away.

Around noon, the storm abates as quickly as it began and army picks itself back together. The vic­tims of the storm are found to be very few, but Ishme-​Sadu is dis­cov­ered to be among them. Still, Khadim Bey, who believes the storm to have been sor­cer­ous in nature, decides to press on. Manek and Isparana, feign­ing deathly ter­ror of the Broth­er­hood of the Red Seal, plead to be allowed to remain at the oasis. Khadim Bey con­sents and even grants them two drom­e­daries to be able to leave the oasis, should any­thing hap­pen, and leaves three war­riors afflicted by the simoom with them. On the after­noon, the army decamps. There is no word of Shahrul not hav­ing been exe­cuted – afraid of reprisals, the sol­diers tasked with it have kept their fail­ure a secret.

Prince Shahrul has spent a hell­ish morn­ing in the storm, but with a lucky Sur­vival Check has man­aged to sur­vive. Bury­ing him­self in the sand of a dune, he did then keep a watch on the oasis, as he was entirely with­out water. Come evening, he steals down again into the oasis and stealth­ily rejoins his com­rades, who pro­vide him with food and water. He then returns to the desert, where he under­goes a rit­ual of purifi­ca­tion to reduce his Taint (cur­rently 8 ), as no drom­e­dary would let him near. He does so, dur­ing the night, reduc­ing his Taint by 3 plus 1 for another day pass­ing, for a cur­rent total of 4. In the morn­ing, he sneaks back into the oasis, where he and his com­pan­ions steal all the sick war­riors’ drom­e­daries and make off after the army. At this point, Manek’s player decides to spend 1 Pas­sion point to increase his Sur­vival to 3.

In spite of the increased Sur­vival, they go slightly astray and it takes them three instead of two days to reach the last water­ing hole before Muawiya’s ruins. Here, they encounter some twenty Brethren of the Red Seal with about fity drom­e­daries heav­ily laden with full water skins. They are just fin­ish­ing fill­ing in the water­ing hole.

The cultists relay the greet­ings of the prophet, who has again forseen their com­ing. The prophet bids them take as many of the water skins as they want, wait for one day, and then come to him.

Back­story: With the sin­gle day of wait­ing, Khadim Bey’s army is three days ahead of the group. Khadim Bey reached the ruins, but failed to find any­body – no Broth­ers of the Red Seal, no Muawiya. He searched the ruins for as long as he dared, but finally, with only one day of water remain­ing, ordered the return to the water­ing hole. The moment his army decamped, Muawiya had all the ghosts of the sac­ri­fice vic­tims of al-​Tawir arise necro­man­ti­cally. Being incor­po­real men, they did no harm to the men, but fright­ened off the drom­e­daries – all of them, laden with almost all of the water. Sud­denly, Khadim Bey’s army had water for less than half a day, but was a good two days’ march from the next water­ing hole. They are going to arrive at this water­ing hole half dead from thirst – and they are going to find it van­ished, filled in. The next water­ing hole is two days on foot away. None, includ­ing Khadim Bey, are going to make it more than half that far. The only sol­diers to sur­vive the cam­paign are going to be the three mer­ce­nar­ies aban­doned in the oasis.

As the trio trav­els to Muawiya, they meet the sorry army on the retreat. Many of the sol­diers try to run to them, but they give them a wide berth on their drom­e­daries. Prince Shahrul and Isparana are not untouched and Manek expresses out­right remorse, but still is rewarded 1 Pas­sion point (Hate Army of Khazis­tan) for aid­ing in bring­ing about the sol­diers’ doom.

They once again meet Muawiya, who seems immensely pleased and has a decidely mad gleam in his eyes. He hon­ours the bar­gain and calls up the spirit of Lord Anulep, who rages against his con­tain­ment. Manek now offi­cially learns that he has a strong strain of Kuthan blood, “sul­lied by ani­mal blood”; he is a direct descen­dant of Lord Anulep him­self and his actual sire or grand­sire may have been Kuthan (!), but he is “worse than an ani­mal and needs to be erad­i­cated”. For this, he gains 2 Pas­sion points (Learn About Ori­gins & Make Place for Self).

Prince Shahrul learns the sim­ple rit­ual with which the sor­cer­ous sword can be bound to a mas­ter and the com­mand word to have it slay. As he intends to use this mighty gift to get back into his father’s good graces, he receives 2 Pas­sion points (Regain Wealth & Elude Padishah’s Wrath). After that, Muawiya ban­ishes Lord Anulep’s spirit to al-Tawir’s hell.

What Isparana gains for her ser­vices remains a mys­tery. In any case the ses­sion ends wih Shahrul grab­bing her by the neck and kiss­ing her hard, fol­lowed by a pas­sion­ate romp amongst the ruins and the grisly remains of the sac­ri­fi­cial vicims.

As there was once again no espe­cially lucky or unlucky roll, he Pas­sion points for them are divided among Manek and Shahrul, with 1 for each.

Shahrul’s player (me!) does not spend any Pas­sion points. His character’s changed stats remain:

TY 4, Scry­ing 3 (SP 8 ), False­hood 3, For­eign Lan­guage (Yar-​Ammonite) 2, Occultism 3, Loot 1
Regain Wealth and Power: 1
Elude Padishah’s Wrath: 4
Vengeance against Queen Sammu-​Ramat: 3
Be Indebted to No Man: 0
Drama: 3
Karma: 20

Manek’s player has spent 1 Pas­sion point in-​game to increase his Sur­vival, and now spends 1 Pas­sion point to fur­ther increase his skill at Rid­ing. His character’s changed stats are:

Good Asset Giantism, Heal­ing 3, Rid­ing 3, Sur­vival 3, Loot 1
Learn About His Ori­gins: 4
Crush on Yas­meenah: 0
Make A Place for Him­self in the World: 3
Hate for Army of Khazis­tan: 2
Drama: 2
Karma: 21
Bow down: I am the emperor of dreams;
I crown me with the million-​colored sun
Of secret worlds incred­i­ble, and take
Their trail­ing skies for vest­ment when I soar.

Clark Ash­ton Smith, The Hashish Eater or The Apoc­a­lypse of Evil
Last Edit: 6 years 1 month ago by Michael.
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The Leg­end of Manek & Shahrul 6 years 1 month ago #874

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Episode Five:

Blades of the Broth­er­hood

At the begin­ning of the ses­sion, the ref Checks whether Shahrul’s Poor Con­nec­tion Asset will fea­ture in the game. The dice indi­cate that it won’t.

The play­ers set out from the ruins inhab­i­tated by Muawiya and return to Zul-​Bazzir. Their jour­ney is an unevent­ful one, though they encounter many traces of Khadim Bey’s per­ished expe­di­tion force. Return­ing to Zu-​Bazzir some 25 days after hav­ing set out, they find that news of the army’s fate has pre­ceded them. Fright and awe of al-​Tawir and the Broth­er­hood of the Red Seal are rem­pant, and the Khazraj tribes said to be rest­less.

The char­ac­ters sell some more of their loot from Lord Anulep’s tomb and spend half a dozen days recu­per­at­ing from the hard­ships of the desert. Manek, who in he mean­time has turned 19, rejoins Yas­meenah; after what he has seen and done in the desert, he finds him­self now both deeply touched and repulsed by Yasmeenah’s naïve inno­cence. His player decides upon a slight shift in his Pas­sion for Yas­meenah, from an out­right crush on her to “See Yas­meenah to Safety”; as the two Pas­sions are so very close to each other, the group decides that no points need to be expended for the shift. Prince Shahrul’s player seizes the oppor­tu­nity to announce an even smaller shift in his character’s Pas­sion “Regain Wealth and Power”: After what he has recently been through, Shahrul is less keen to take up the life of a courtier, even an influ­en­tial one. Wealth and power, yes, but as his own man and at his own terms. He clar­i­fies as much for the ref­eree.

Shahrul savours the heady com­pany of Isparana and tries to fathom what exactly she is after by trail­ing her by use of the Scry­ing Mys­tery. One of her absence leads her to a small, non­de­script tav­ern, where she meets with the pro­pri­etor. From their talk, it becomes quickly clear that both are in clan­des­tine employ of “the queen”, pre­sum­ably Sammu-​Ramat. Isparana tells the male agent that the out­ing went per­fectly well and reclaims some very tiny object from the pro­pri­etor. She then hands over two small strips of papyrus to be sent to Khaz­abad by car­rier pigeons. After hes­i­tat­ing for a moment, she also tells her part­ner that she strongly sus­pects that Prince Shahrul is hid­ing in Zul-​Bazzir, but cau­tions that she must still make sure and that it is yet too early to send word.

Her sec­ond out­ing is a secret nightly meet­ing with Murad Pasha, one of Zul-Bazzir’s lead­ing noble­men and mem­ber of the tri­umvi­rate gov­ern­ing the city until a new satrap to replace deceased Khadim Bey is sent from the court at Khaz­abad. Murad Pasha treats Isparana like an under­ling, but is still given instruc­tions by her. He is told that no new satrap is com­ing any­time soon, and that he shall build his hold over Zul-​Bazzir and pre­pare for a sud­den surge in “the queen’s power” in about two month’s time. If he has Zul-​Bazzir firmly in the queen’s camp, he can expect to be rewarded with power and hon­ours.

This is where play com­mences.

Prince Shahrul enlists Manek’s aid to abduct the tavernkeeper-​agent. Get­ting into the tav­ern unno­ticed by any lodger proves to be dif­fi­cult but suc­ceeds. Manek inca­pac­i­tates the tav­ern­keeper and Shahrul releases the (carrier-​) pigeons from the roost in the yard and then searches the agent’s pri­vate quar­ter, but find noth­ing incrim­i­nat­ing. The pair then drags of the unconc­scious man into the city’s Yar-​Ammonite tombs and Shahrul begins ques­tion­ing him with his cus­tom­ary ruth­less­ness. Manek, fed up with all the mur­der and tor­ture, steps in and a dis­cus­sion ensues. After all they’ve been through, and to get Manek to aid him fur­ther, Shahrul reveals who he really is; Manek grudg­ingly con­sents to the rough inter­ro­ga­tion.

The tav­ern­keeper proves to be sur­pris­ingly tough but even­tu­ally folds to Shahrul’s very bru­tal inter­ro­ga­tion. He admits to being an agent of Queen Sammu-​Ramat and that the Queen is prepar­ing some impor­tant move unknown to him. He also reveals the names of sev­eral adher­ents of the queen in Zul-​Bazzir – at this time apart from Murad Pasha delib­er­ately not spec­i­fied to leave room for devel­op­ment as needed. He also admits that Isparana is an agent of the queen’s, sent on some impor­tant mis­sion to gain the sup­port of the Broth­er­hood of the Red Seal for the queen. Before Isparana set out to meet Muawiya, she left a small, cheap brass amulet depict­ing the deity Nakhra­mar in his safe­keep­ing, which is some­how very impor­tant and was recently reclaimed; he denies any knowl­edge of the amulet’s sig­nif­i­cance. Shahrul does then silence the man for­ever and receives 1 Pas­sion point (Revenge Against Queen) for the infor­ma­tion obtained.

When Manek and Shahrul return to their com­mon lodg­ings, they find Isparana in con­ver­sa­tion with two Khazraj guests – Broth­ers of the Red Seal, who hail the PCs and give the prophet’s greet­ings. By an oblique remark they make it quite clear that the prophet (and they) knows about Prince Shahrul’s iden­tity; then they relay the prophet’s demands:

The two, and half a dozen more, of their broth­ers are in Zul-​Bazzir to abduct Ghuz­man Bey, to grue­somly dis­mem­ber him and then leave him dying in a very pub­lic place; as Ghuz­man Bey is the most promi­nent of the out­spo­ken oppo­nents of the Broth­er­hood of the Red Seal, this will fur­ther strike fear and awe of al-Tawir’s power into people’s hearts. But the Broth­ers are all desert­men, Khazrajs who are at loss in the city. This is why they need the help of the PCs – this, and also because Ghuz­man Bey is the for­mer owner of Manek, who does there­fore know his pala­tial villa very well.

But Ghuz­man Bey is more than that – he is also the owner of Yas­meenah, from whom she has fled, and the most pow­er­ful mem­ber of the rul­ing tri­umvi­rate of Zul-​Bazzir, and well known to fre­quently be at odds with Murad Pasha, Queen Sammu-Ramat’s adher­ent.

Isparana sup­ports the Brethren, Shahrul pre­var­i­cates, and Manek flatly refuses. The Brethren tell them mat­ter o factly that they have no choice any­how, that it is the Ancient One’s express wish, and al-Tawir’s wish will either hap­pen or they are doomed. It is not entirely clear whether they are express­ing their faith or threat­en­ing – in any case, the ref announces that Muawiya has suc­cess­fully used the Prophecy Mys­tery and that they are there­fore affl­cited by an Omen rat­ing of 1 to bring about Ghuz­man Bey’s doom. All their actions to bring it about have 1 bonus die, all their actions to pre­vent it are penal­ized.

Shahrul, Manek and Isparana demand to talk this over in pri­vate, but the Khazrajs refuse and inform them that they will not be left unsu­per­vised until Ghuz­man Bey is dead. At this, Prince Shahrul’s Arro­gance Poor Asset kicks in and he smashes his clay drink­ing jug in the speaker’s face, admin­is­ter­ing him a few vicious kicks as he lies on the ground. The other Brother stays eerily calm, and Shahrul also returns to a matter-​of-​factly bear­ing. He, Manek, and Isparana then pro­ceed to dis­cussing the Brethrens’ “offer” in Yar-​Ammonite, which they all know.

Isparana is vehe­mently in favour of com­ply­ing with Muawiya, Prince Shahrul per­ceives argu­ments for either course of action, and Manek is vio­lently opposed to aid­ing the Brethren; Ghuz­man Pasha may be a dan­ger to Yasmeenah’s free­dom, but he is actu­ally a very decent man for an aris­to­crat, and Muawiya and his cult are an abom­i­na­tion. Shahrul for­mu­lates the plan of feign­ing con­sent and then undo­ing the Brethren some­where in Ghuz­man Bey’s palace, thus get­ting rid of the threat they pose and earn­ing Ghuz­man Bey’s grat­i­tude – which seems prob­a­ble and tan­gi­ble, see­ing that Ghuz­man Bey is an hon­ourable man. Isparana finally con­sents to this course of action, but a most excel­lent Opposed False­hood Check (all 7 dice com­ing up as suc­cesses) shows Shahrul that Isparana has no inten­tion of not going along with Muawiya’s wishes and is cer­tain to play Manek and Shahrul dou­ble – even though she will prob­a­bly do her utmost that espe­cially Shahrul remains unhurt.

With that plan of action for­mu­lated it is decided that it will engage Manek’s See Yas­meenah to Safety Pas­sion, as he will ask – and receive – Yasmeenah’s free­dom from a grate­ful Ghuz­man Bey. As Shahrul regards him­self indebted to Manek for aid­ing him with the tav­ern­keeper, it will engage his Be Indebted to No Man Pas­sion and his Vengeance Against Queen Pas­sion, as keep­ing Ghuz­man Bey save seems to go against the queen’s plans. For embark­ing upon this plan, Manek and Shahrul each receive 1 Pas­sion point (See Yas­meenah to Safety & Be Indebted to No Man; Vengeance Against Queen is decided to be insuf­fi­ciently engaged at this junc­tion to war­rant a point).

Soon after mid­night, and joined by a fur­ther two Brethren, Shahrul, Manek and Isparana set out for the palace of Guz­man Bey. Manek knows a good spot to scale the gar­den wall and enter the gar­dens in a secluded spot, which they man­age with­out an inci­dent. With Manek’s Pre­cog­ni­tion Check fail­ing utterly (1 mere Suc­cess on 9 dice), they are sur­prised by the fierce guardian lion prowl­ing the grounds at night. Manek only just man­ages to throw him­self out of the lion’s pounce’s way.

With the lion dis­patched – and Manek, who is most strongly engaged in the endeav­our receiv­ing 1 Pas­sion point (See Yas­meenah to Safety) for this suc­cess –, they tra­verse the grounds to a side­door Manek remem­bers as being habit­u­ally open. As it isn’t any­more, Isparana reveals that she knows quite a bit about the pick­ing of locks and opens it silently. Imme­di­ately after enter­ing, the leader of the Brethren informs Isparana, Manek and Shahrul that, on the High Prophet’s orders and as guar­an­tees of fair play:

-) Yas­meenah has in the mean­time been seized and brought to a secret place, where she will be killed if Ghuz­man Bey isn’t suc­cess­fully abducted.

-) Word will go to the com­man­der of the city watch about a cer­tain man’s (Prince Shahrul) iden­tity and where­abouts if Ghuz­man Bey isn’t suc­cess­fully abducted.

-) The deal with Isparana will be called off if Ghuz­man Bey isn’t suc­cess­fully abducted

The PCs are very much agi­tated; espe­cially Shahrul only just man­ages to mas­ter his Arro­gance Asset at being thus black­mailed. Still, the Brethren assure them that these are just pre­cau­tions and that all will be well in the end. The party then enters the palace itself, and the ref informs the play­ers that they are free to dis­cuss basics of how the PCs should react, but not to work out details of well-​concerted strate­gies, as their char­ac­ters couldn’t do that with the Brethren all around them. The play­ers almost imme­di­ately come to the under­stand­ing that the PCs both intend to stick with their orig­i­nal plan of “res­cu­ing” Ghuz­man Bey, and that both of them sense this about the other. They intend to later spend Drama to pur­chase an oppor­tu­nity to save Yas­meenah.

With Manek’s knowl­edge of the locale, reach­ing Ghuz­man Bey’s pri­vate quar­ters isn’t dif­fi­cult – but they are empty. A sojourn to the harem, where a guard has to be sor­cer­ously frozen motion­less by Prince Shahrul to be silently knocked out, shows that Ghuz­man also isn’t spend­ing the night there. While the would-​be abduc­tors are at a loss what to do, there is a slight com­mo­tion on the grounds: Ghuz­man Bey is only now return­ing to his palace, escorted by a few atten­dants.

The PCs and their com­pan­ions hurry back to Ghuz­man Bey’s sprawl­ing quar­ters and reach them just in time to lie in wait for him there. There is a tight spot when slaves pre­ceed Ghuz­man Bey to lay out a sim­ple late-​night meal, and the lord of the palace enters with his elderly stew­ard, talk­ing about city pol­i­tics. As the Brethren of the Red Seal are about to rush the two men, Manek and Shahrul treach­er­ously attack them. As he stew­ard is flee­ing, cry­ing for help, Ghuz­man Bey, who is no cow­ard, whips out his scim­i­tar and also attacks the Brethren. Even ham­pered by the Omen rat­ing con­cern­ing his death, he, Manek, and Shahrul make quick work of the four cultists. Both PCs receive 1 Pas­sion point each for suc­cess­fully res­cu­ing Ghuz­man Bey (Be Indebted to No Man & See Yas­meenah to Safety).

Imme­di­ately after this, the ref offers 1 Drama point for a player’s accep­tance of the occur­rence of Isparana now killing Ghuz­man Bey. She offers this first to Prince Shahrul’s player (me!) – who accepts. As Manek’s player remon­strates with him, he states that, with Isparana an the Broth­er­hood obvi­ously in the know about Prince Shahrul, he feels that the secret can­not be kept any longer and that Shahrul must leave Zul-​Bazzir in any case – so why not cash in some Drama on the side.

So Isparana, in an unob­served moment, kills Ghuz­man Bey with a mas­ter­fully cast dag­ger, cries out – to Shahrul, as it seems – to flee, and drops from a win­dow down into the gar­den. Curs­ing her soundly, Manek and Shahrul fol­low, only moments before the guards roused by the stew­ard burst into the quar­ters. With the palace com­ing alive behind them, the PCs race after Isparana through the gar­den, scale the wall, and then flee into the alleys of Zul-​Bazzir. Here, they man­age to lose their pur­suers.

At this junc­tion, Shahrul’s player spends 12 Pas­sion points to increase his character’s BN to 5.

In the fol­low­ing quar­rel with the PCs, Isparana jus­ti­fies slay­ing Ghuz­man Bey with hav­ing already invested too much to have her – still unspec­i­fied – deal with Muawiya be ruined. She calms Manek and Shahrul by explain­ing that they can pride them­selves on not hav­ing folded to the Brotherhood’s black­mail and still, by her action, hav­ing averted dis­as­ter to them­selves. As the PCs seem to calm down, the ref points out that, with­out the slain Brethren return­ing to their com­pan­ions with an abducted Ghuz­man Bey, said com­pan­ions will likely not receive word about the death of Ghuz­man Bey in time to stop them from denounc­ing Shahrul and killing Yas­meenah. As the PCs explain her over­sight to Isparana, she is con­trite and offers to aid them in track­ing down and elim­i­nat­ing these com­pan­ions. She sug­gests that they see whether their “pet fer­ret” Hareeb hap­pens to know any­thing, while she seeks out a con­tact of hers, who is likely to have per­ti­nent infor­ma­tion. (As this con­tact is of course the slain tav­ern­keeper, there is no infor­ma­tion to be had – but Isparana learns that some­body seems to be on to the intrigue she’s involved in.)

It is agreed that this course of action will engage Maneks Pas­sion See Yas­meenah to Safety and Shahrul’s Pas­sions Be Indebted to No Man & Elude Padishah’s Wrath. (Even though Shahrul believes that he has to leave Zul-​Bazzir, not hav­ing the author­i­ties out­right know his where­abouts is of course advan­ta­geous.)

Manek and Shahrul shake down Hareeb, and the play­ers dis­cuss spend­ing Drama to have Hareeb know some­thing, which is oth­er­wise very unlikely. Shahrul’s player states that he will not spend any, as he per­son­ally just doesn’t care enough whether they track down the Brethren in time or not, so Manek’s player grudg­ingly spends the Drama point. So they strike gold: Com­ing to see Manek and Shahrul, Hareeb has this very evening seen three Khazraj leave their quar­ters, car­ry­ing a large, very heavy bas­ket, which they loaded on a drom­e­dary. Smelling soemthing fishy and hop­ing to be able to be of ser­vice to Manek and Shahrul, Hareeb fol­lowed them and saw them head out of town, towards a dilap­i­dated palm oil press in the oasis. A grate­ful Manek rewards Hareeb by hand­ing him all the valu­ables he car­ries and – later – forcibly asks Shahrul to quit lean­ing on Hareeb.

Being by now dis­trust­ful of Isparana in this entire affair, Manek and Shahrul head out of town with­out inform­ing her. Shahrul merely wants to inform the Brethren of what has tran­spired and ask them to wait until they receive inde­pen­dent word of the events, but Manek is adamant about “that ver­min being bet­ter off dead”. So the two man­age to find the ruined oil press (for which Manek receives 1 Pas­sion point), stealth­ily enter it, and fall upon the three Brethren. Unfor­tu­nately, Manek is out of the fight imme­di­ately with the Hal­lu­ci­na­tion Asset kick­ing in, so that Shahrul has to face the two Brethren alive after the ini­tial sur­prise attack all alone. He receives a lvl 3 wound, but man­ages to kill them both. Shahrul receives 2 Pas­sion points (Be Indebted to No Man & Elude Padishah’s Wrath), and Manek 1 (See Yas­meenah to Safety).

With the new day dawn­ing, Zul-​Bazzir becomes abuzz with the news of Ghuz­man Bey’s death at the hands of the Broth­er­hood of the Red Seal. Fear of the Broth­er­hood and al-​Tawir reaches hys­ter­i­cal lev­els. But there are also rumors that Manek is a mem­ber of the Both­er­hood – the stew­ard saw and rec­og­nized him as one of the assailants. As the ses­sion winds down, the play­ers decide that it is time to leave Zul-​Bazzir. Prince Shahrul’s player would rather go Khaz­abad to use the sor­cer­ous sword to get back in the Padishah’s good graces and then thwart Queen Sammu-​Ramat, but can also see him­self trad­ing the sword to the Yar-​Ammonite sor­cerer Nephren Hotep. Manek’s player would much pre­fer the lat­ter, but as Yas­meenah, who doesn’t speak Yar-​Ammonite, would be eas­ier installed safely in Khaz­abad he can also see him­self going first to Khaz­abad and then per ship to Nephren Hotep. The play­ers decide thatthey will sim­ply leave Zul-​Bazzir head­ing east and give the ref lee­way whether to take them to Yar-​Ammon or Khaz­abad. While Shahrul pre­pares every­thing for the depar­ture, Manek hides out in the Yar-​Ammonite tombs.

Each player receives 1 Drama, Shahrul for the excel­lent False­hood Check and Manek for the abom­inable Pre­cog­ni­tion one.

Shahrul’s player has already spent 12 Pas­sion points to increase BN and does now spend 1 Pas­sion point to increase his com­mand of Yar-​Ammonite. His character’s changed stats are:

BN 5, TY 4, Knock­out 5, Scry­ing 3 (SP 8 ), False­hood 3, For­eign Lan­guage (Yar-​Ammonite) 3, Occultism 3, Loot 1
Regain Wealth and Power: 2
Elude Padishah’s Wrath: 1
Vengeance against Queen Sammu-​Ramat: 1
Be Indebted to No Man: 0
Drama: 1
Karma: 33

Manek’s player spends 12 Pas­sion points to increase his Brawl­ing Pro­fi­ciency. His character’s changed stats are:

Good Asset Giantism, Brawl­ing 7 (MP 13), Heal­ing 3, Rid­ing 3, Sur­vival 3, Loot 1
Learn About His Ori­gins: 2
See Yas­meenah to Safety: 0
Carve Out Niche for Him­self in the World: 1
Hate for Army of Khazis­tan: 0
Drama: 1
Karma: 34
Bow down: I am the emperor of dreams;
I crown me with the million-​colored sun
Of secret worlds incred­i­ble, and take
Their trail­ing skies for vest­ment when I soar.

Clark Ash­ton Smith, The Hashish Eater or The Apoc­a­lypse of Evil
Last Edit: 6 years 1 month ago by Michael.
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The Leg­end of Manek & Shahrul 6 years 1 month ago #876

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Inter­lude

This might be the time to take a closer look at Isparana, who has become an – unusu­ally – impor­tant NPC, and to talk about her secret motives.

Isparana

Isparana grew up wild as an orphaned tomboy gut­ter­snipe in the back­alleys of Khaz­abad. When her frame and her face lost her boy­ish­ness, she real­ized the dan­ger of her blos­som­ing looks and tried to hide them, but in vain – she was made a woman in some dirty lane when she was twelve. At age four­teen, she was picked up by slavers and bought by some great lord as a play­thing. Three years later, Queen Sammu-​Ramat noticed her – and noticed some­thing in her. She bought her from her mas­ter, installed her with sev­eral over­seers in a house in Khaz­abad and had her sternly trained and edu­cated. A few years later, she began to serve as one of Queen Sammu-Ramat’s agents and was soon to become her most able and most trusted tool.

Isparana is a very intense and vital per­son, a ver­i­ta­ble tigress. She enjoys and savours life and every­thig it has to offer, drink­ing the cup to its dregs and savour­ing the sweet with the bit­ter. The joys of phys­i­cal love and feast­ing, the adren­a­line rush of dan­ger, the exul­ta­tion of hard­ships braved and tri­umphs won are what keep her going. But through it all, she is loyal to her mis­tress. Isparana knows well that the queen is only using her, but still, Sammu-​Ramat has always treated her fairly, even gen­er­ously, and it was she who afforded her the oppor­tu­nity to live a life that really mat­ters. By serv­ing the queen, Isparana can leave a mark on Xoth and wield more influ­ence than she ever thought pos­si­ble. As much as she is attracted by the sin­is­ter and suave Prince Shahrul – and she is attracted to him a lot – she is not just going to betray her mis­tress and relin­quish her posi­tion in life for the sake of a pos­si­bly fleet­ing affair, no mat­ter how pas­sion­ate.

She is 24 years old.

Tal­ents: Civ­i­lized; Cursed (+2 TN to resist sor­cery).

Brawn: 4
Dar­ing: 5
Tenac­ity: 5
Sagac­ity: 4
Heart: 4
Cun­ning: 5

Reflex: 5
Aim: 5
Knock­down: 4
Knock­out: 5
Move: 5

Good Assets: Con­nec­tions (Queen Sammu-Ramat’s agents, avail­able 10+ on d12); Leg­endary Beauty (-2 TN social inter­ac­tion with men, –1 TN social inter­ac­tion with women); Lit­er­acy.
Poor Assets: Lithe (Knock­down –1, resist blunt trauma at BN1).

Pro­fi­cien­cies: Cut & Thrust 5 (MP 10), Thrown Knives 3 (AP 8 ).

Skills: Climb­ing 3, Cus­toms 3, Eti­quette 3, False­hood 6, For­eign Lan­guage (Jairan­ian) 2, For­eign Lan­guage (Yar-​Ammonite) 6, For­eign Lan­guage (Zad­jite) 4, Infor­ma­tion Gath­er­ing 4, Lock­pick­ing 3, Rid­ing 2, Sneak­ing 4, Trail­ing 3.


Isparana’s mis­sion & Sammu-Ramat’s intrigue: Two dozen years ago, the beau­ti­ful, fif­teen year old Jairan­ian princess Sammu-​Ramat was wed as his first law­ful wife to newly ele­vated crown prince Abdur of Khazis­tan, ten years her senior. Even though a few other law­ful wives and dozens of con­cu­bines fol­lowed suit, Sammu-​Ramat remained, by virtue of her cun­ning and intel­li­gence, his prime wife, who, after three daugh­ters, finally bore her impe­r­ial hus­band the much-​awaited crown prince.

Now, approach­ing forty, Queen Sammu-​Ramat is still a beauty, and by a com­bi­na­tion of her influ­ence on her impe­r­ial hus­band and her own schem­ing and cun­ning the most pow­er­ful courtier in the entire sprawl­ing impe­r­ial palace. But time has taken its toll, and the queen feels her influ­ence on her hus­band slip­ping. What is more, it becomes ever more appar­ent that her son, fif­teen year old crown prince Yilzit, is a very mediocre fig­ure at best and a poorer choice for the suc­ces­sion than sev­eral of his equally law­ful half broth­ers. Sammu-Ramat’s unfail­ing polit­i­cal instincts tell her that it is inevi­able: Not today and not tomor­row, but in a year or three, her impe­r­ial hus­band is going to put Yilzit aside and name another crown prince, and that will also be the end of her own power. She is deter­mined to nei­ther have his son betrayed of his right nor her­self divested of her influ­ence.

So Abdur II must die, and die soon, and Yilzit must become the new Padishah – with Sammu-​Ramat at his elbow to guide him.

But he must die in a way that does not allow the shadow of doubt of foul play, to secure her unpop­u­lar son’s smooth suc­ces­sion. An irrefutable, very pub­lic acci­dent – brought about by sor­cery – is to effect the Padishah’s demise. She care­fully got in touch with one of the most pow­er­ful sor­cer­ers known to her, one whom she had some­thing to offer. So she courted Muawiya, High Prophet of al-​Tawir, head of the Broth­er­hood of the Red Seal, and when he seemed approach­able, she sent her agent, Isparana. The offer was sim­ple: Kill Abdur II and have the wor­ship of al-​Tawir made law­ful through­out Khazis­tan.

This was the offer made by Isparana, and when Muawiya con­sented, all that remained was to get the one all-​important thing into the prophet’s hands: A part of Abdur’s body, so that the Padishah might be cursed to death at a dis­tance. As learned men through­out Xoth know of the power inher­ent in parts and secre­tions of the body, those impor­tant enough to pos­si­bly arouse the jeal­ousy of sor­cer­ers have all their bod­ily secre­tions col­lected dili­gently and burned, so as not to be used in evil sor­cery. This does of course apply to the Padishah of Khazis­tan. Still, by means pos­si­ble only to a wife, Sammu-​Ramat obtained some of Abdur’s semen. This she put into a tiny, tiny con­tainer, hid­den within a very com­mon­place and very cheap brass amulet depict­ing the deity Nakhra­mar. Isparana took this with her to Zul-​Bazzir and stashed it there before set­ting out to meet the prophet; after all, the queen did not want this pow­er­ful token to fall into Muawiya’s hands with­out any return ser­vice.

With Muawiya accom­plice to Sammu-Ramat’s designs, Isparana returned to Zul-​Bazzir and reclaimed the amulet. As had been agreed, Muawiya did send a Brother of the Red Seal to claim it and have it brough to him. And now, with the amulet and its con­tents in his pos­ses­sion, Muawiya will, at an agreed-​upon time, set to work and invoke the Padishah’s doom.
Bow down: I am the emperor of dreams;
I crown me with the million-​colored sun
Of secret worlds incred­i­ble, and take
Their trail­ing skies for vest­ment when I soar.

Clark Ash­ton Smith, The Hashish Eater or The Apoc­a­lypse of Evil
Last Edit: 6 years 1 month ago by Michael.
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The Leg­end of Manek & Shahrul 6 years 1 month ago #894

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Episode Six:

Fiends of the Moun­tains

Half a dozen days pass after the mur­der of Ghuz­man Bey. After the recent events, fear of al-​Tawir reaches a fever pitch in Zul-​Bazzir, and there are rumors of some peo­ple even mak­ing secret offers to appease the Ancient One. In view of this per­ceived threat, and with his main rival gone, Murad Pasha man­ages to tighten his hold over the city.

Dur­ing these days, Manek, who is wanted for com­plic­ity in the mur­der of Ghuz­man Bey, hides out in the Yar-​Ammonite tombs, while Prince Shahrul pre­pares the depar­ture from Zul-​Bazzir. He sells all the loot from Lord Anulep’s tomb save a few small, eas­ily car­ried pieces and once again buys drom­e­daries, equip­ment, and pro­vi­sions for the jour­ney east. When every­thing is finally ready (and bot PCs’ Loot at 3), Manek sneaks out of town and meets up with Shahrul and Yas­meenah at the very fringe of the oasis. Also in their com­pany is Isparana, who is going to return to Khaz­abad and will share at least the first part of the jour­ney.

For sev­eral days, the four fol­low the clearly marked and very well trav­elled car­a­van road between Zul-​Bazzir and Khaz­abad. With the soft and entirely urban crea­ture Yas­meenah a mem­ber of their parts, their pace is a some­what leisurely one. The route, on which they avoid other trav­ellers and keep to them­selves as much as pos­si­ble, leads them out of the sandy desert around Zul-​Bazzir and into waste of hard-​baked, cracked soil, dry gul­lies, and grav­elly plains. On the tenth and eleventh day of their jour­ney, they veer around the Drag­onback Moun­tains.

Back­story: The extremely craggy and steep, though rather low Drag­onback Moun­tains lie about halfway between Zul-​Bazzir and Khaz­abad and due north from the Yar-​Ammonite town of Khadis. Until about half a cen­tury ago, the car­a­van route lead through a gorge cut­ting rather directly through the oth­er­wise untra­vers­a­ble Drag­onback Moun­tains, but then, all of a sud­den, the gorge became haunted. It is today known as Demon’s Gorge, and nobody trav­els it any­more. Instead, the car­a­van road goes around the Drag­onback Moun­tains, adding another day of travel time to the jour­ney from Zul-​Bazzir to Khaz­abad. This much is known to the PCs and play­ers, and also that this is where a path branches off towards Khadis in Yar-​Ammon, and where they will have to decide for good where to turn to.

What nei­ther play­ers nor PCs know, but what will become impor­tant, is that Demon’s Gorge is haunted by the rest­less shade of Semerkhet, the slain brother of the Yar-​Ammonite sor­cerer Nephren Hotep. Almost fifty years ago, Semerkhet and Nephren Hotep, born to the upper class of the Yar-​Ammonites of Zul-​Bazzir, were fledg­ling necro­mancers in their twen­ties. Some of their unwhole­some exper­mients forced them to flee the out­raged peo­ple of of Zul-​Bazzir and leave their home town. Leav­ing behind all their pos­ses­sions on their hasty flight, they man­aged to join a car­a­van going east, intend­ing to finally branch off south into Yar-​Ammon. One night, as they were encamped in the Drag­onback Moun­tains, Semerkhet, who was the elder, more knowl­edgable, and more tal­ented of the sor­cer­ous broth­ers, dis­cov­ered that Nephren Hotep had obvi­ously man­aged to res­cue one their sor­cer­ous Kuthan trea­sures and had taken it along on the flight, keep­ing this secret from his elder sib­ling. Semerkhet angrily con­fronted Nephren Hotep, there was a strug­gle, and Nephren Hotep knived his brother. He then trav­elled on into Yar-​Ammon, to even­tu­ally become this country’s most pow­er­ful sor­cerer – while his slain brother became a rest­less shade dis­rupt­ing travel through the Drag­onback Moun­tains.


On the evening of the eleventh day, the four trav­ellers camp on the east­ern foot of the Drag­onback Moun­tains; tomor­row morn­ing, Manekand Shahrul will have to decide whether to go on to Khaz­abad or to jour­ney south to Khadis.

This is where play com­mences.

As the east­ern sky is turn­ing grey on the fol­low­ing morn­ing, they are awak­end by the sounds of gal­lop­ping hooves on the hard ground. It is a Khazis­tani sol­dier, gal­lop­ping up at them sharply from an encamp­ment they had seen struck on the pre­vi­ous evening, about three miles dis­tant. He ejac­u­lates that they have a case of poi­son­ing and whether any present know some­thing of the heal­ing arts. They really don’t, but decide to inves­ti­gate any­way what fate had brought their way.

The encamp­ment is one of about thirty peo­ple, apart from a ser­vant or two all sol­diers. On their hasty way there, the com­pan­ions learn that it is the encamp­ment of Akur­gal Hissar, newly appointed satrap of Zul-​Bazzir, who is with his per­sonal guard trav­el­ling ahead of the slower main body of sol­diers rein­forc­ing the gar­ri­son at Zul-​Bazzir. Prince Shahrul knows that Akur­gal Hissar is a stern, sea­soned, and highly capa­ble mil­i­tary man and admin­is­tra­tor, one of the most impor­tant aides of his impe­r­ial father. Res­cu­ing such an impor­tant man – for it is Akur­gal Hissar who was dis­cov­ered to be inca­pac­i­tated with what can only be poi­son – and hav­ing him speak up for him might well be enough to rec­on­cile him with the Padishah.

As they enter Akur­gal Hissar’s small encamp­ment, Prince Shahruhl, aided by 2 Pas­sion points, suc­ceeds excel­lently at a False­hood Check and real­izes that Isparana and one of Akur­gal Hissar’s sol­diers seem to rec­og­nize each other, but are both try­ing to hide this. Tak­ing a look at the inca­pac­i­tated newly appointed satrap, they see that he shows all symp­toms of poi­son­ing and was, for the time, prob­a­bly only saved by hav­ing thrown up. An Apothe­cary Check, using SY aided by a Pas­sion instead, yields at least the infor­ma­tion that knowl­edge of what poi­son was used would be vital for the treat­ment. Sus­pect­ing Iparana’s acquain­tance, Shahrul talks as pri­vately as pos­si­ble to the com­mand­ing offi­cer. He accuses Isparana’s acquain­tance, which the offi­cer of course refuses to believe. Shahrul, who is lis­tened to as a man of obvi­ous breed­ing, means, and edu­ca­tion, then sug­gests at least search­ing the sol­dier for poi­son. As the offi­cer con­sid­ers this, the accused sol­diers jumps on a horse and gal­lops off.

Back­story: Akur­gal Hissar is not only an impor­tant con­fi­dant of Padishah Abdur II, but also among those influ­en­tial noble­men who are begin­ning to doubt the suit­abil­ity of crown prince Yilzit as a suc­ces­sor to the throne. He is, in short, one of the very last per­sons Queen Sammu-​Ramat wants to see in con­trol of the impor­tant city Zul-​Bazzir when she makes her move. Being wary of Akur­gal Hissar for quite some time now, she has inserted one of her agents, a cer­tain Kerem, into his per­sonal guard. It was indeed Kerem who poi­soned Akur­gal Hissar, and it was Kerem who was rec­og­nized by Isparana and rec­og­nized her in turn, as noted by Prince Shahrul. Catch­ing part of Shahrul’s con­ver­sa­tion with the com­mand­ing offi­cer, Isparana made a secret hand­sign for Kerem to flee, in part out of con­cern for her fel­low agent, but mostly to pre­vent Queen Sammu-Ramat’s involve­ment from being found out. Bet­ter for Kerem to be killed on a failed flight then to be appre­hended and ques­tioned.

To cut a long story short: Kerem flees to the only place where he can hope to lose pur­suit, into Demon’s Gorge, where even the hand-​picked sol­diers of Akur­gal Hissar’s guard dare not fol­low. But the PCs dare – or at least Prince Shahrul wants to. Grit­ting his teeth at being reduced to plead for assis­tance, he asks for aid, promis­ing Manek rich rewards and pos­si­bly even high hon­ours from the Padishah him­self for sav­ing Akur­gal Hissar. Leav­ing Yas­meenah in safety with the guards­men, he finally con­sents to accom­pany Shahrul – and so does Isparana (of course intend­ing to keep Kerem from being brought back alive). It is agreed that track­ing down Kerem will engage Shahrul’s Pas­sions Regain Wealth and Power and Elude Padishah’s Wrath and, to a lesser degree, Vengeance against Sammu-​Ramat, and Manek’s Pas­sion Carve Out Niche for Him­self.

At this junc­tion, Manek’s player announces that, while Manek is still very much inter­ested in installing Yas­meenah in some safe place, he doesn’t want this as a Pas­sion any­more. With this Pas­sion cur­rently at 0 any­how, he spends 1 Pas­sion point from his Learn About Ori­gins and changes the Pas­sion into Friend­ship with Prince Shahrul. The ref says that this is some­what lame, a cheap Pas­sion that will auto­mat­i­cally kick in when Manek aids Shahrul, but Manek’s player argues that he hasn’t cho­sen this Pas­sion friv­o­lously, that he finds this rea­son­able after all Manek has shared with Shahrul, and that he also feels the need for some­thing to glue the PCs more firmly together. Prince Shahrul’s player announces that while Shahrul feels some cam­raderie towards Manek he doesn’t really con­sider him a friend – Shahrul’s not the type to have friends –, but he does not regard the Pas­sion implau­si­ble. With two out of three in the play­ing group in favour of the change, the ref has to accept it – and it is decided that the new Pas­sion Friend­ship for Prince Shahrul is also engaged in track­ing down Kerem.

Thus, while Akur­gal Hissar’s men set a close watch over the mouth of Demon’s Gorge, Manek, Shahrul, and Isparana enter, accom­pa­nied by one death-​defyingly brave vol­un­teer guards­man. They are only a cou­ple hun­dred meters in when Shahrul is sur­pris­ingly fired at with a com­pos­ite bow by Kerem, who has hid­den up ahead, at Extreme Range. He can­not defend and gets an arrow right under the ribs, where he is how­ever armoured, tak­ing only a lvl 1 wound. Still, every­body dives for cover as Kerem shouts at them that he is going to shoot any­body com­ing up on him.

Prince Shahrul, who is the only one with a long-​range mis­sile weapon him­self, retreats a bit and then pre­car­i­ously climbs the wall of the gorge, where he moves for­ward until he can look down from above on Kerem’s hid­ing place. He loses an arrow and achieves an excel­lent hit (4 Suc­cesses out of 9 at Extreme Range, with 4 dice set aside to buy +/​– 1 on table 4.7), which, because of armour, comes up as a lvl 2 wound to the hip. Out­ma­neu­vered and wounded, Kerem limps to his hid­den drom­e­dary, avoid­ing another arrow of Shahrul’s, and flees deeper into the gorge. Shahrul fires yet another excel­lent shot, this time at the drom­e­dary, and inflicts a lvl 3 wound to the beast’s torso. Con­fi­dent that the quarry can­not escape on an injured drom­e­dary, he calls down to his com­pan­ions to halt their pur­suit until he rejoins them. For the dou­ble achieve­ment of dis­lodg­ing Kerem and seri­ously ham­per­ing his fur­ther flight the ref awards 1 Pas­sion point (Regain Wealth and Power).

As they make to fol­low Kerem, it is dis­cov­ered that Manek’s drom­e­dary has injured itself on some jagged rock or other sharp item and suf­fered a deep cut to one leg and is now lame. Shahrul, who does silently – and cor­rectly – sus­pect Isparana of tem­per­ing, asks for an Opposed Fal­s­hood Check, which comes up incon­clu­sive. With Shahrul’s sus­pi­cions remain­ing, they loose some time by get­ting a fresh drom­e­dary from Akur­gal Hissar’s guards­men before resum­ing the pur­suit.
At this junc­tion, Shahrul’s player decides that this is the time for a change in his character’s rela­tion to Isparana. He spends a Drama point for a Scene Request and requested a scene where Shahrul had the oppor­tu­nity to, at great risk or dan­ger to him­self, save Isparana from a very dire fate, or a scene with some other kind of oppor­tu­nity to have Isparana’s feel­ings for Shahrul over­power her loy­alty to Queen Sammu-​Ramat.

The char­ac­ters then head down Demon’s Gorge, where the blood from their wounded quarry has left a dis­tinct trail. They travel at a fast trot for the bet­ter part of an hour, pass­ing a num­ber of old, bleached skele­tons of men and draft ani­mals. Finally they come upon the dead drom­e­dary – which has not suc­cumbed to Shahrul’s arrow, but is found to have been lit­er­ally slaugh­tered by a great num­ber of cruel blows of most obvi­ously super­hu­man strength. Most gru­el­ingly, the drom­e­dary, though man­gled, has hardly bled from its many deep wounds. Of Kerem, its rider, there is no trace.

“Death is approach­ing,” Manek warns the oth­ers (5 Suc­cesses on his Pre­cog­ni­tion Check). As they ready them­selves, a vio­lent wind springs up around them, and coa­lesces into an almost three meters tall, vaguely man-​shaped form made up of gravel, sand, some bones, and small, dry twigs, and splotched by blood. The thing launches itself upon the vol­un­teer guards­man and his drom­e­dary and shreds both to pieces. Con­sid­er­ing dis­cre­tion the bet­ter part of val­our when up against the super­nat­ural, Manek, Shahrul, and Isparana use these moments to whip their already bolt­ing and pan­icked drom­e­daries to even greater haste and speed past the appari­tion, fur­ther down the Demon’s Gorge, where Kerem sup­pos­edly has fled, too. Invok­ing the author­ity granted her by Shahrul’s player in spend­ing the Drama point, the ref decrees that Isparana is hind­most and Manek in the lead.

The enraged demon (i.e. Semerkhet’s shade using what­ever mat­ter is avail­able to cloth itself in a phys­i­cal form) doesn’t linger over the man­gled guards­man, but races howl­ing after the three fugi­tives. Half run­ning and half fly­ing, it is far fleeter than any ter­ri­fied drom­e­dary. Shahrul’s player asks whether Shahrul knows any­thing worth­while about such a crea­ture, and the ref decrees that this would be a Leg­endary Occultism feat; aided by 3 PA points, Shahruhl actu­ally achieves the nec­es­sary 5 Suc­cesses with his Occultism 3 and learns that the crea­ture is the man­i­fes­ta­tion of a rest­less ghost that is sus­cep­ti­ble to nor­mal phys­i­cal dam­age and can be – tem­porar­ily – destroyed by it. He also hap­pens to know a sor­cer­ous word that will slightly dis­rupt the man­i­fes­ta­tions phys­i­cal coher­ence, though only once (Check Power TN 7, every Suc­cess yields 1 die penalty for ghost).

And then Semerkhet’s mon­strous shade tack­les Isparana’s drom­e­dary and bears both to the ground. Once again invok­ing the Drama point spent, the ref decrees that Manek does not notice that imme­di­ately, and once he does he will have slight prob­lems get­ting from his drom­e­dary – Shahrul is the only one able to act imme­di­ately. With that, the ref declares the Scene Request as being ful­filled. Shahrul has an oppor­tu­nity to win Isparana’s heart by a dis­play of death-​defying val­our for her sake.

Prince Shahrul jumps from his drom­e­dary, only to see the undead beast shred Isparana’s drom­e­dary to pieces – and Isparana trapped under­neath the fallen ani­mal. Shahrul com­mands – for the first time – Lord Anulep’s sor­cer­ous sword to slay the crea­ture, invokes the sor­cer­ous word and launches him­self at Semerkhet’s shade. Attack­ing like a mad­man, and aided by the sor­cer­ous sword, Shahrul actu­ally man­ages to cut down the appari­tion with a lucky first charge. The ref nar­rates how the cleft crea­ture begins to slide apart, but still grabs Shahrul and rends him, only to com­pletely loose coherency and slide into a mound of debris just as it does so. For sav­ing Isparana from cer­tain death, Shahrul is rewarded 1 Pas­sion point (Vengeance against Queen).

A vis­i­bly shaken and bruised Isparana is res­cued from under­neath the dead drom­e­dary. As Shahrul knows that the shade will be able to man­i­fest itself again very soon, the three make plans how to meet it. It does indeed not take long for the gravel and debris in the vicin­ity to slide together and for the crea­ture to arise again within swirling gusts of hot wind – but this time even taller than before. As the three despair, the appari­tion addresses them in howls of barely intel­li­gi­ble Yar-​Ammonite: “Kuthan sor­cery! Kuthan sor­cery! Are you the thrice accursed Nephren Hotep?”

In the ensu­ing con­ver­sa­tion with the undead necro­mancer they learn its iden­tity and the story of the flight from Zul-​Bazzir and its mur­der by the hands of its brother. As the thing’s off-​hand remarks show that it was inhu­man even when still human, they feel no com­pas­sion for it. Instead, they pre­tend to be mor­tal ene­mies of Nephren Hotep them­selves and pur­su­ing one of his agents. The undead Semerkhet may be pow­er­ful, but he is also insane and full of hatred and thus eas­ily fooled. It is how­ever not easy to steer Semerkhet away from his mad mouthing over his brother, but they finally learn that before them, no human being has come into Semerkhet’s por­tion of Demon’s Gorge for years. Kerem obvi­ously hasn’t been here. For learn­ing more about Nephen Hotep, Xoth’s lead­ing scholar on Elder Kuth, Manek is awarded 1 Pas­sion point (Learn about Ori­gins).

It is also Manek who deduces it first: Kerem must have sent his drom­e­dary on ahead alone and hid­den some­where in the gorge, where his pur­suers passed him by; he has to be some­where behind them. Hav­ing them swear many soul-​chillingly grisly promises to kill Nephren Hotep, Semerkhet finally lets them go. Once they pass Kerem’s dead drom­e­dary, they leave their own drom­e­daries and make their way from cover to cover fur­ther back through the gorge, look­ing for pos­si­ble hide­aways. They locate a likely cleft and trick Kerem, who is indeed hid­ing in it. Shahrul and Isparana, suit­ably dis­shev­elled, flee in feigned ter­ror past the cleft back towards the mouth of the gorge, while Manek lies in wait­ing. As Kerem still does not emerge from the cleft, Manek decides to storm it and inca­pac­i­tates the skilled war­rior after only a short strug­gle. For thus advanc­ing Prince Shahrul’s goals he is awarded 1 Pas­sion point (Friend­ship with Shahrul).

A search of Kerem quickly turns up poi­son, and even some­thing that might well be an anidote. A prelmi­nary ques­tion­ing of the revived pris­oner yields noth­ing, and they decide not yet to use tor­ture, but to leave this to the guards­men. As they haul Kerem back, Shahrul makes his move on a very obvi­ously anx­ious Isparana. He bluntly reveals who he is (know­ing that he does know this any­how) and also that he knows that she is in the ser­vice of Queen Sammu-​Ramat in some gam­bit for more power, and that Kerem is as well. He tells her that Akur­gal Hissar will be saved and learn the truth, and that he will inform the Padishah, who will believe his trusted ser­vant, and that the game is up. He also tells her that he is going back to Khaz­abad to reclaim his right­ful place and asks her to be no fool and to desert the queen; Isparana is dear to him and should throw in her lot with him. Still moved by him risk­ing his life for her, Isparana does what the Drama point has been paid for: She breaks down and con­fesses the entire plan to Shahrul. For obtain­ing this infor­ma­tion, Shahrul is awarded 3 Pas­sion points (Regain Power & Elude Wrath & Vengeance against Queen), and Manek, whom Shahrul now ropes into the plan to blow the queen’s plot open wide and thus (re-)gain high hon­ours with the Padishah, is awarded 1 Pas­sion point (Carve Out Niche).

They rejoin Akur­gal Hissar’s camp and admin­is­ter the anti­dote. In two days of rest, dur­ing which Yas­meenah tends to him, Akur­gal Hissar regains con­scious­ness and part of his health. Shahrul reveals him­self to him and tells him – slightly doc­tored – about the plot against the Padishah, and how Murad Pasha is sure to make trou­ble for Akur­gal Hissar in Zul-​Bazzir. Akur­gal Hissar over­sees a cruel inter­ro­ga­tion of the cap­tured Kerem, which cor­rob­o­rates some of the infor­ma­tion. To lull Queen Sammu-​Ramat in false safety, he imme­di­ately sends a mes­sen­ger to the court with news of his own death. The next day, as Akur­gal Hissar is just fit enough to travel, the main force of his troops comes up. The satrap writes a detailed let­ter to the Padishah and asks Prince Shahrul – as he is now once again styled openly – to deliver the let­ter. He also lends him an escort of ten of his per­sonal guards­men, who will aid in mak­ing sure the impor­tant pris­oner Kerem makes it safely to Khaz­abad. He then departs for Zul-​Bazzir, deter­mined to thwart Murad Pasha and take con­trol of it.

With him goes Yas­meenah. Akur­gal Hissar took a great lik­ing to her, and, assum­ing her Prince Shahrul’s slave, asked to buy her for him­self. When mat­ters were explained, Yas­meenah was actu­ally happy to go with Akur­gal Hissar and become one of his con­cu­bines – in her native city, no less.

The ses­sion ends with the PCs, Isparana, ten guards­men and the pris­oner set­ting out for Khaz­abad – and with the ref apol­o­giz­ing for hav­ing left Manek out of the action; the ses­sion went slightly dif­fer­ently then even her very loose plan­ning antic­i­pated, and she had found no oppor­tu­nity to insert his angles. As a small com­pen­sa­tion she awards him the Drama point for the worst roll of the ses­sion (there actu­ally was none); the point for the best roll goes to Shahrul (a tie between his False­hood and Occultism Checks).

Shahrul’s player thinks that trav­el­ling back to court might be the time to bol­ster Shahrul’s duplic­ity and thus spends 2 Pas­sion points to increase his False­hood Skill. His character’s changed stats are:

BN 5, TY 4, Knock­out 5, Scry­ing 3 (SP 8 ), False­hood 4, For­eign Lan­guage (Yar-​Ammonite) 3, Occultism 3, Loot 3
Regain Wealth and Power: 3
Elude Padishah’s Wrath: 0
Vengeance against Queen Sammu-​Ramat: 2
Be Indebted to No Man: 0
Drama: 2
Karma: 36

Manek’s player does not expend any Pas­sion points. His character’s changed stats remain:

Good Asset Giantism, Brawl­ing 7 (MP 13), Heal­ing 3, Rid­ing 3, Sur­vival 3, Loot 3
Learn About His Ori­gins: 2
Friend­ship with Prince Shahrul: 1
Make A Place for Him­self in the World: 2
Hate for Army of Khazis­tan: 0
Drama: 2
Karma: 35
Bow down: I am the emperor of dreams;
I crown me with the million-​colored sun
Of secret worlds incred­i­ble, and take
Their trail­ing skies for vest­ment when I soar.

Clark Ash­ton Smith, The Hashish Eater or The Apoc­a­lypse of Evil
Last Edit: 6 years 1 month ago by Michael.
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