Wel­come, Guest
User­name: Pass­word: Remem­ber me
  • Page:
  • 1
  • 2

TOPIC: The Leg­end of Manek & Shahrul

The Leg­end of Manek & Shahrul 6 years 3 months ago #908

  • Michael
  • Michael's Avatar
  • OFFLINE
  • Posts: 756
  • Thank you received: 518
  • Karma: 12
Episode Seven, Part One:

Blood Royale


At the very begin­ning, the ref checks openly for Prince Shahrul’s Con­nec­tion Poor Asset. It turns out that it will not come up this ses­sion — at least not in addi­tion to what’s going to hap­pen any­how.

The char­ac­ters and their party are trav­el­ling at speed to Khaz­abad. Under­way, they again avoid other trav­ellers as much as pos­si­ble. Dur­ing these days, Manek learns inter­est­ing news from the guardsmen’s talk: The Padishah has a newly acquired exotic slave con­cu­bine who is his cur­rent favourite. What makes this stat­uesque Yar-​Ammonite so spe­cial is that she is a giant­ess – she’s said to be two head’s taller than a man. Sus­pect­ing her – cor­rectly – to be of Kuthan her­itage, Manek makes her an objec­tive of his.

In the mean­time, Queen Sammu-​Ramat is grow­ing tense. Lack of word from Zul-​Bazzir (due to Prince Shahrul killing her local agent) and word all man­ner of news from her net­work of inform­ers have her sus­pect that every­thing in’t going as smoothly as it appears on the sur­face. She redou­bles her watch­ful­ness, takes steps to move her sched­ule for­ward, and dis­closes her scheme openly to one or two of her most reli­able polit­i­cal allies.

After seven days of rapid travel, dur­ing which Isparana is anx­ious and unhappy about her betrayal of the queen, who has “never shown her any­thing but kind­ness”, the party arrives under the walls of Khaz­abad, metrop­o­lis of the world.

This is where play com­mences.

Mind­ful to avoid dis­cov­ery, Prince Shahrul and his party spend the night out­side the closed city gates and enters the Khaz­abad the next morn­ing together with a throng of other trav­ellers wait­ing for the capital’s most well-​used gate to open in the morn­ing. Shahrul is muf­fled and dis­guised, but the ref informs the play­ers that all gates are watched by men of the queen and offers a Drama point for auto­matic detec­tion by those agents. Both Shahrul’s and Manek’s player (in this order) refuse, and an Opposed Check of Shahrul’s Digu­ise (default CG, aided by 2 PA points) and the watcher’s SY are made. Curs­ing his rot­ten luck, Shahrul doesn’t even achieve a sin­gle Suc­cess – not only is he rec­og­nized by the watcher beyond any doubt, he also earns a Com­pli­ca­tion, which the ref decides to keep for use in the very imme­di­ate future.

The party makes for Akur­gal Hissar’s estate, as had been planned, but Shahrul sur­prises every­body (and hopes to thwart any trai­tors in his party) by turn­ing the party off this path and lead­ing them towards the only other rea­son­ably safe haven he knows: The house of an afflu­ent mer­chant who is a mem­ber of one of the for­bid­den mys­tery cults in which Shahrul did dab­ble, and thus open to black­mail. On the way there, Opposed Trail­ing Checks against Sammu-Ramat’s agent are nec­es­sary and actu­ally suc­cess­ful. The informer is spot­ted and ambushed and inca­pac­i­tated by Manek; the party, plus the uncon­scious agent, con­tin­ues to the town­house. How­ever, the ref informs the play­ers that the Com­pli­ca­tion was that they are were dis­cov­ered and are being fol­lowed by a sec­ond spy. Unsuc­cess­ful at another Opposed Trail­ing Check, they are being fol­lowed to the merchant’s house. Still, Manek receives 1 Pas­sion point (Friend­ship with Shahrul) for dis­cov­er­ing and inca­pac­i­tat­ing the first trailer.

Shahrul bursts into the ter­ri­fied merchant’s estate and imme­di­ately uses his guards­men for a com­plete lock­down of the premises. Isparana, who is very pass­ingly acquainted with the queen’s cap­tured agent, affects to be merely bid­ing her time until there is an oppor­tu­nity to free him and sounds him out. Through her, the PCs learn that Sammu-​Ramat has all her inform­ers and agents on high alert; some­thing big is about to hap­pen. Shahrul ply­ing the man with his scim­i­tar cor­rob­o­rates the story and yields no new facts.

Note: Shahrul’s favoured (and quite suc­cess­ful) means of ply­ing some­body for infor­ma­tion is to ini­tially not ask any­thing, but to start a rou­tine of chop­ping off hand – tes­ti­cles – foot – hand – foot, with the pok­ing out of first one, then the other eye mixed in, and remark­ing after the first chop that the other man knows what he wants to know, and if he decides fast enough to talk may retain enough of his body not to have to live out his exis­tence as a blind beg­gar crawl­ing the gut­ter on his belly.

With Isparana’s and Shahrul’s knowl­edge of the palace they for­mu­late the plan to sneak in at night by a secret route and make their way to the harem, where the Padishah is only ever lightly guarded, and there to con­front him. How­ever, Sammu-​Ramat pre-​empts them by inform­ing an offi­cer of the city watch loyal to her of Shahrul’s where­abouts and ask­ing him to take a large force to arrest him. As twi­light falls, as many as fifty watch­men force their way into the mer­chants com­pound. There is no defeat­ing such a force. As Akur­gal Hissar’s guards­men go down or are inca­pac­i­tated all around them, Manek, Shahrul and Isparana fight their way through the mas­sacre to get clear of the house. With the aid of the sor­cer­ous Kuthan sword they man­age to cleave a bloody path through the mul­ti­tude and escape into the night. They have lost their pris­oner and wit­ness Kerem (and their remain­ing Kuthan trea­sure), but have each gained 2 Pas­sion points (Elude Padishah’s Wrath & Regain Wealth and Power, Hate Army of Khazis­tan & Friend­ship with Shahrul).

Prince Shahrul wants to do the fool­hardy thing which he says Sammu-​Ramat will not expect: To actu­ally invade the palace instead of flee­ing and hid­ing. He con­vinces the oth­ers, and together they make their way towards the palace, which is not easy, as Khaz­abad is begin­ning to swarm with sol­diers. Avoid­ing sev­eral tight spots (not least of all because of Manek’s Pre­cog­ni­tion), they reach the palace, infil­trate the cor­don of guards thrown up around it, and climb down the well which opens to a secret tun­nel into the palace, a means of access used pre­vi­ously by Isparana. For get­ting this far, Manek is awarded 1 Pas­sion point (Make Place for Self), and Shahruhl 2 points (Vengeance against Queen & Regain Power). As this maxes out one of Shahrul’s PAs at 5 points and his player doesn’t want to loose any future rewards he spends 1 point from it to increase his Infor­ma­tion Gath­er­ing Skill to 2.

In the mean­time, Sammu-​Ramat has learned of the out­come of the raid on the merchant’s estate, includ­ing the sto­ries about the fly­ing giant sword and Shahrul hav­ing escaped with a beau­ti­ful fight­ing woman and a hulk­ing war­rior. While Sammu-​Ramat does at this stage not expect an infil­tra­tion of the palace, she becomes unsure of Isparana’s loy­al­ties, whom she sus­pects behind the beau­ti­ful fight­ing woman and has a watch set over the secret entrance to the palace known to Isparana. She also com­mands that the cap­tured Kerem be brought to her; she will soon learn from her agent what has tran­spired in the Drag­onback Moun­tains.

The PCs and Isparana emerge from the tun­nel into a remote area of the cel­lars of the palace. They would imme­di­ately be spot­ted by the queen’s two hid­den watch­ers, one of whom would speed away to sum­mon the queen’s men, while the other would fire his bow at who­ever emerges from the door and keep them pinned there – but only would. The ref asks for a Check of Manek’s Pre­cog­ni­tion to be warned off the arrow, and the 11 dice (Skill 8 + 3 PA points) come up ten Suc­cesses, for which the ref decrees that Manek knows exactly what is going to hap­pen the moment he draws near the door. Thus for­warned, the three burst from the door and sur­prise the hid­den watch­ers instead, over­com­ing them eas­ily and hid­ing their bod­ies in the tun­nel. Prince Shahrul, Manek and Isparana have entered the palace with­out any­body being the wiser; for this Manek and Shahrul are each awarded 3 Pas­sion points (Regain Power & Vengeance against Queen & Elude Padishah’s Wrath, Make Place for Self & Friend­ship with Shahrul & Learn about Ori­gins [for draw­ing near the half-​Kuthan con­cu­bine]).

This is where the ses­sion ends. The Drama point for an espe­cially unlucky roll goes to Shahrul’s player for being spot­ted by two of the queen’s inform­ers at the city gates, and the one for an espe­cially lucky one to Manek’s player for pre­sag­ing the ambush at the tun­nel.

Shahrul’s player has already increasd his Infor­ma­tion Gath­er­ing Skill dur­ing the ses­sion and does now spend 4 more points to fur­ther increase his False­hood. His character’s changed stats are:

BN 5, TY 4, Knock­out 5, Scry­ing 3 (SP 8 ), False­hood 5, For­eign Lan­guage (Yar-​Ammonite) 3, Infor­ma­tion Gath­er­ing 2, Occultism 3, Loot 3
Regain Wealth and Power: 3
Elude Padishah’s Wrath: 0
Vengeance against Queen Sammu-​Ramat: 3
Be Indebted to No Man: 0
Drama: 4
Karma: 41

Manek’s player is sav­ing for a large expen­di­ture and once again doesn’t 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: 3
Friend­ship with Prince Shahrul: 4
Make A Place for Him­self in the World: 3
Hate for Army of Khazis­tan: 1
Drama: 4
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 2 months ago by Michael.
The topic has been locked.
The fol­low­ing user(s) said Thank You: IanP., Allan, Mozusuke

The Leg­end of Manek & Shahrul 6 years 2 months ago #917

  • Michael
  • Michael's Avatar
  • OFFLINE
  • Posts: 756
  • Thank you received: 518
  • Karma: 12
Episode Seven, Part Two:

Blood Royale

The ses­sion starts with an open Check of Prince Shahrul’s Con­nec­tion Poor Asset. The dice sig­nify that it won’t fig­ure in this ses­sion.

At about the time Prince Shahrul, Manek, and Isparana are suc­cess­fully infil­trat­ing the palace of Khaz­abad, Queen Sammu-​Ramat learns every­thing that has tran­spired at and since Demon’s Gorge from Kerem and feels that her hand is being forced. As she has long been wary of Akur­gal Hissar putting his sup­port behind Prince Kirdir (the Padishah’s eldest son, though by a more junior law­ful queen) as suc­ces­sor, she has long since pre­pared to pre­vent this even­tu­al­ity. A spy had been intro­duced into Akur­gal Hissar’s house­hold, and now Sammu-​Ramat sends word to him and also sum­mons Chief Jus­tice Goshihr Bey, one of the two high offi­cials to whom she has recently dis­closed her schemes. She is about to set in motion a plan to dis­credit both Akur­gal Hissar and Prince Kirdir.

Addi­tional Infor­ma­tion: Padishah Abdur II is nei­ther blind nor deaf or stu­pid. At about this time, he does him­self learn about the com­mo­tion in the city and the reported sight­ing of Prince Shahrul, as well as about the unusu­ally thick com­ing and going around Sammu-​Ramat. Even though actively pur­su­ing his crim­i­nal son isn’t high on his list of pri­or­i­ties, he had learned that Shahrul was sup­posed to be in or around Zul-​Bazzir; his fool­hardy return to the lion’s den of Khaz­abad tells Abdur II that some­thing has to be amiss. The Padishah begins to involve him­self…


This is where play com­mences.

Prince Shahrul, Manek, and Isparana make their way through the cel­lars of the impe­r­ial palace to a spot where they are likely to be able to acquire dis­guises for tra­vers­ing the palace grounds above. They emerge and in turn man­age to get an impe­r­ial guardsmen’s out­fit for Shahruhl, a servant’s kit for Manek and a slave girl’s dress for Isparana, whose weapons Shahruhl is car­ry­ing. They hide the bound and gagged bod­ies of the robbed per­sons in a remote cor­ner of the vast cel­lar, through which they sneak back to a spot where they can emerge close to the impe­r­ial harem. As Prince Shahrul knows that the Padishah does not nor­mally seek out his con­cu­bines before mid­night, they set­tle on a nerve-​wrecking wait in the cel­lars, where the risk of detec­tion is lesser than in the harem.

While they are wait­ing Queen Sammu-​Ramat has a talk with her co-​conspirator Chief Jus­tice Goshihr Bey. Her spy in Akur­gal Bey’s house­hold is on his way to Goshihr Bey, and she informs Goshihr Bey that the man will bring him word of Akur­gal Hissar hav­ing in the recent past approached Prince Kirdir with trea­so­nous designs that were repu­di­ated by the prince. Goshihr Bey is to relay these news imme­di­ately to the Padishah and present them – and the “wit­ness” – as results of his own watch­ful­ness. These news will under­mine Akur­gal Hissar and at least sow a doubt about Prince Kirdir.

When Shahrul and Manek can stand the wait­ing no longer they emerge from the cel­lars and make their way to the harem. They saunter up to the two sol­diers guard­ing access to the harem, at the same time knock­ing out one and hold­ing the other motion­less with Enslave­ment before inca­pac­i­tat­ing him, too. They know that a harem entrance being left unguarded will arouse imme­di­ate sus­pi­cion, so they drag the two guards­men into a nearby court, lay them down in the shadow of a mag­no­lia and pour down copi­ous amounts of liquor appro­pri­ated for this use in the cel­lars down their throats and over their clothes; if they are missed, searched, and found, no imme­di­ate alarm should be raised. The ref does like this cun­ning device pro­posed by Manek very much and awards him 1 Drama point, thereby max­ing out his Drama Attribute. For gain­ing access to the harem, where they intend to con­front the Padishah, Shahrul and Manek are each awarded 2 Pas­sion points (Regain Power & Vengeance against Queen, Make Place for Self & Learn About Ori­gins), with a third one for Manek for the very dire pun­ish­ment that is going to be vis­ited upon the guards­men for being drunk on duty (Hate Army of Khazis­tan).

As Shahrul’s PAs are at this stage so very high that new points being awarded are in dan­ger of being wasted, his player spends 14 PA points to increase Manek’s Brawl­ing Pro­fi­ciency to 8.

The PCs and Isparana enter the harem, where Enslave­ment deals with the highly alarmed eunuch on duty in the antecham­ber, who is then bound, gagged, and hid­den away, with a Drama poin spent by Shahrul for a Lucky Break that the van­ished eunuch is against all odds nei­ther found nor missed. Still, the two male PCs can hardly tra­verse the harem with­out caus­ing a stir. As the PCs expect that the Padishah will seek out his cur­rent favourite, the sup­pos­edly half-​Kuthan giant­ess Malmi­ranet, Isparana is sent to find her on the pre­text of deliv­er­ing a mes­sage. As Isparana is very crafty, the ref decrees that she man­ages to find Malmi­ranet, and a quick Opposed Check between Isparana’s False­hood and the concubine’s SY yields the result that Malmi­ranet believes the tale fed her – that a plot is afoot against the Padishah and that she is to hand the sov­er­eign a let­ter telling him all about it. This let­ter is of course the one writ­ten and sealed by Akur­gal Hissar in his very own hand.

At about this time, Chief Jus­tice Goshihr Bey craves admis­sion to the Padishah with dire news. He imparts the news about the sup­pos­edly deceased Akur­gal Hissar, cor­rob­o­rates it with the queen’s fal­si­fied and clev­erly cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dene and tales about a wit­ness to Akur­gal Hissar’s talks with Prince Kirdir, and finally reveals the incred­i­bly news that Akur­gal Hissar is stil alive and has only feigned his death to be free to act in secret – for what­ever sin­is­ter pur­pose.

Isparana returns to Manek and Shahrul’s hid­ing place with news of Malmiranet’s com­plic­ity. As they will have to be close when the Padishah has read Akur­gal Hissar’s let­ter, they embark upon the mad ven­ture of a stealthy path through the par­a­dis­i­cal, but all-​feamle grounds of the huge harem. With the aid of Isparana scout­ing ahead and Manek’s uncanny Pre­cog­ni­tion, and boosted by their PAs, the PCs man­age to make their way through the harem and find a new hid­ing place near Malmiranet’s lav­ish favourite’s apart­ment. For advanc­ing their plans that far, Manek and Shahrul again earn 2 Pas­sion points each (Make Place for Self & Friend­ship with Shahrul, Vengeance against Queen & Regain Power).

It is how­ever still a long wait. After the talk with Goshihr, Abdur II con­sults with his con­fi­dants, some of whom halt­ingly attest that they, too, have been har­bour­ing a fledling sus­pi­cion that Akur­gal Hissar is unhappy with the suc­ces­sion of Prince Yilzit. How­ever, the Padishah also learns that Goshihr Bey has ear­lier on that evening had a talk with Queen Sammu-​Ramat. Thought­ful and trou­bled he finally retreats to the harem, where he hopes that Malmi­ranet will offer diver­tisse­ment. At this time, Queen Sammu-​Ramat hap­pens to hear gos­sip of the two drunken guardians of the harem and imme­di­ately deduces that Shahrul must have gained access to the harem where he will…

Prince Shahrul’s player does step at that junc­tion and expends anoher 1 Drama point for yet another Lucky Break – that the queen doesn’t learn about the guards. Thus, this event doesn’t come to pass, and the queen remains in the dark.

From their hid­ing place, Manek, Shahrul, and Isparana hear the Padishah and his body­guards arrive at Malmiranet’s quar­ters. They wait. After he has read the let­ter, Malmi­ranet is to tell the Padishah that the slave girl who has deliv­ered it is wait­ing nearby for the Padishah’s plea­sure. Read­ing in Akur­gal Hissar’s own hand that his death was only feigned and the accu­sa­tions against Queen Sammu-​Ramat and the heir Prince Yilzit does cor­rob­o­rate Goshihr Bey’s “find­ings”. Highly alarmed that accom­plices of the sup­pos­edly treach­er­ous Akur­gal Hissar might lurk nearby, Abdur II has Malmi­ranet call one of his body­guards into the apart­ment, where he gives order to speed­ily sum­mon all the eunuch guards­men in the vicinty for his imme­di­ate pro­tec­tion.

When the body­guard reemerges, orders his col­leagues to extreme watch­ful­ness, and then heads at speed out into the harem, Manek and Shahrul fear that some­thing isn’t going as planned and that they might be los­ing their chance to speak with the Padishah. They burst from their hid­ing place to force their way into the Padishah’s pres­ence and come face to face with the three remain­ing body­guards – one of whom is imme­di­ately slain by the sor­cer­ous scim­i­tar. As Manek and Shahrul each engage one of the body­guards, Isparana meets the last one, who upon hear­ing the clamor behind him is rac­ing back from his errand to sum­mon the eunuchs. Aban­don­ing all stealth and secrecy, this body­guard now calls loudly for the eunuch guards­men to come to the Padishah’s aid.

The body­guards are extremely tough, the hardi­est war­riors the PCs have faced up until now (MPs around 15). It is only with the aid of PAs that the PCs over­come them, but Isparana, not endowed with this edge, is out­matched. She goes down with a lvl 4 wound, but then her oppo­nent is slain by the sor­cer­ous blade com­manded by Shahrul – whose player, expect­ing fur­ther PA rewards now imme­di­ately expends 12 points from his cur­rently maxed out PAs and thus increases his TY to 5. As eunuch guards­men are heard to be approach­ing at the dou­ble, Manek breaks down the now barred door to Malmiranet’s apart­ment and Shahrul drags Isparana in. They are met by Shahrul’s father, the Padishah, with naked steel in hand. Before any­thing else hap­pens, Shahrul receives 3 Pas­sion points (Elude Padishah’s Wrath & Vengeance against Queen & Regain Power) and Manek 2 points (Friend­ship with Shahrul & Make Place for Self).

Abdur II ignores Shahrul’s asse­ri­ons that he is not here to harm his father but to warn him of an insid­i­ous plot and clam­ours for the eunuchs to break down the (already burst) door and save him. Curs­ing bit­terly, Shahrul tells Manek to bar and hold the door and attacks his father. The fifty year old war­rior monarch is no slouch at sword­play and MP-​wise a good match for Shahrul, but the PAs give the prince the advan­tage nec­es­sary to dis­arm his father and hold him at scim­i­tar­point. Threat­en­ing the Padishah’s life, he orders the eunuchs burst­ing into the room out. While Manek tends to Isparana’s seri­ous injury, Prince Shahrul speaks, and tells his impe­r­ial father every­thing about Sammu-Ramat’s machi­na­tions, includ­ing Isparana’s role in them. A weak Isparana cor­rob­o­rates the tale, which wouldn’t amount to much in the Padishah’s eyes, if she did not also name those of the queen’s allies known to her, with Goshihr Bey among them. In view of Sammu-Ramat’s ear­lier meet­ing with Goshihr Bey, the Padishah’s com­plete con­fi­dence in her is shaken.

By now the entire palace knows that the Padishah has been taken hostage. Fear­ing the worst, Sammu-​Ramat knows that only nerves of steel can save her now. She wants to be seen as unper­turbed by the events (save of course the dan­ger for the Padishah), but com­mands her son Yilzit to be seen tak­ing an active hand in the attempt to save his father.

In Malmiranet’s quar­ters, Prince Shahrul has fin­ished his account, sheathes his scim­i­tar and hands his father back his blade. He coun­sels his impe­r­ial father not to act, but to sim­ply wait and observe what queen and crown prince are going to do next, to see whether their hand is thereby revealed. So the five of them remain in Malmiranet’s apart­ments, bar all win­dows and doors and douse all lamps, and wait in com­pelte silence, not react­ing to any calls from with­out.

This silence is hard on espe­cially Sammu-Ramat’s nerves. She is how­ever a vet­eran schemer and refuses to do any­thing hasty on the mere sus­pi­cion that the Padishah and Shahrul come to an under­stand­ing. Instead, she employs mid­dle­men to have her son, Crown Prince Yilzit, be seen com­mand­ing a cir­cum­spect lock­down of the entire harem, which in fact is planned and con­ducted by her. After an hour of futile wait­ing for the queen to make a move, Prince Shahrul for­mu­lates another plan. Again on his advice, his father calls his trusted com­man­der of the guard into the apart­ment and does here, away from pry­ing eyes and ears, instruct him to silently dis­patch bands of his most trusted guards­men to appre­hend all the queen’s accom­plices high and low named by Isparana. This he does, refus­ing to inform even the crown prince of any­thing that has tran­spired in the apart­ment.

Half an hour later a very hale and com­pel­tely free Abdur II and his three “cap­tors” emerge peace­fully from Malmiranet’s quar­ters. The Padishah force­fully for­bids any vio­lence against Shahrul, Manek, or Isparana and is informed by the com­man­der of his guard that the appre­hen­sion is well under­way. He is futher­more informed that Goshihr Bey could not be appre­hended as he has appar­ently departed his res­i­dence in great haste, i.e. fled. Upon learn­ing this, he imme­di­ately orders the queen to be placed under guard in her own apart­ment.

A new day break­ing has the Padishah in per­son over­see­ing the inter­ro­ga­tion (read: tor­ture) of the low­born agents of the queen. What comes to light thereby has him soon sum­mon Shahrul to attend him in the tor­ture cham­bers. By noon Abdur’s doubts about Sammu-Ramat’s trea­son are dis­solved, and he is resolved to sen­tence her to the traitor’s death of being boiled in bitu­men. By this time, she has how­ever already taken her own life – for which Shahruhl is awarded – a final – 2 points to his “Vengeance against Queen Sammu-​Ramat” Pas­sion.

Rid­ers are sped to the High Prophet of al-​Tawir to inform him of his ally’s death and the futil­ity of curs­ing the Padishah, and to also warn him of dire con­se­quences for the Broth­er­hood of the Red Seal should any­thing hap­pen to Abdur II. Prince Shahrul, Manek, and Isparana spend a dozen very pleas­ant days at the palace until the final and pub­lic inquest into the plot. With his court in day-​long ses­sion, Abdur has the wit­nesses and the evi­dence against Sammu-​Ramat pre­sented. The queen is con­dem­nded posthu­mously, but Prince Yilzit, who really does seem to have been in the dark about his mother’s machi­na­tions and who has been seen to valiantly come to his impe­r­ial father’s aid when held hostage is cleared of every­thing, much to Shahrul’s frus­tra­tion.

The Padishah does then ask Isparana and Manek to name their own rewards for their ser­vice. Isparana asks for and receives the rank and income of a Sipahi, a kind of Khazis­tani knight, highly unusual for a woman. Manek sim­ply asks to be given Malmi­ranet, which a vis­i­bly unhappy monarch can­not refuse, and for which Manek receives 1 Pas­sion point (Learn about Ori­gins).

The Padishah does finally address Shahrul. First, he par­dons him or his past trans­gres­sion, for which Shahrul receives 1 Pas­sion point (Elude Padishah’s Wrath) – though only one, and not the final one; read on. He then announces grandly that his son with a con­cu­bine has done him and the empire a great ser­vice, and that he does there­fore acknowl­edge Shahrul as a law­ful son. There is a lot of clam­our in the hall at this move unprece­dented by any Padishah, espe­cially as it is unclear what this might mean for the suc­ces­sion. As the noise and the accla­ma­tion by syco­phants dies down, Shahrul speaks with a cold sneer: “So the Padishah finally remem­bers that he has one son who is a man. I thank the Padishah — but I would have noth­ing of him.”

With that, Shahrul makes to stride from a hall shocked into silence. Some shake off their daze to inter­cept him, but the Padishah, pale and near apoplegic with anger, orders them to let Shahrul go. The table crows with delight at this move of Shahrul, and the ref rewards his player an imme­di­ate Drama point.

As the ses­sion winds down, Manek and Shahrul deem it wise to make a quick exit from Khaz­abad; after retriev­ing their con­fis­cated Kuthan arti­facts, they book a pas­sage on the first ship out­bound to Amenti in Yar-​Ammon. Manek’s new slave Malmi­ranet is taken along, but Isparana is left behind; she has become morose about her part in Sammu-Ramat’s down­fall and death and is lay­ing the blame equally at her own and Shahrul’s door, sour­ing her still pow­er­ful attrac­tion to him.

In clos­ing the ses­sion, the ref informs the play­ers that fanat­i­cal Muawiya does not desist from the deceased queen’s designs. Even with­out rec­om­pense, slay­ing the Padishah will demon­strate the power of al-​Tawir to all Khazis­tan and beyond. Gravely cursed, Abdur II dies of an acci­dent about fif­teen days after PCs leave Khaz­abad. Yilzit is crowned Padishah, and Shahrul does still very much have to con­tend with the wrath of the (new) Padishah, who blames him for his mother’s death.

This is where the ses­sion ends. The Drama point for the lucky roll goes to Manek’s player, the one for the unlucky one to Shahrul’s.

Shahrul’s player has already increasd his TY dur­ing the ses­sion and does now expend 3 more to increase his For­eign Lan­guage (Yar-​Ammonite) and his Occultism to 4 each. He has spent his Pas­sion “Vengeance against Queen Sammu-​Ramat” down to 0, and as it has run its course the ref decrees that no expen­di­ture is nec­es­sary to change it. Shahrul’s player tells her that he has to think about the change, but that he will inform her of it in time to pre­pare the next ses­sion. His character’s com­plete stats at this stage are:

Brawn: 5
Dar­ing: 5
Tenac­ity: 5
Sagac­ity: 5
Heart: 5
Cun­ning: 5 (focal)

Reflex: 5
Aim: 5
Knock­down: 5
Knock­out: 5
Move: 5
Power: 6

Good Assets: Lit­er­acy.
Poor Assets: Arro­gance (TY to stay calm in face of dis­re­spect); Con­nec­tions (death war­rant by Padishah of Khazis­tan, comes up in a ses­sion on 10+ on d12); Lech­er­ous (TY to resist sex­ual temp­ta­tion); Sus­pi­cious (+2 TN friendly social inter­ac­tion); Wastrel (Loot goes down way quicker).

Pro­fi­cien­cies: Cut & Thrust 7 (MP 12); Bow 4 (AP 9).

Sor­cery: Enslave­ment 3 (SP 9); Scry­ing 3 (SP 9).

Skills: Cus­toms 2, Eti­quette 4, False­hood 5, For­eign Lan­guage (Yar-​Ammonite) 4, Infor­ma­tion Gath­er­ing 2, Occultism 4, Rid­ing 4, Seduc­tion 3.

Pas­sions:
Regain Wealth and Power: 1
Elude Padishah’s Wrath: 1
To Be Deter­mined: 0
Be Indebted to No Man: 0
Drama: 3
Karma: 56
Loot: 3


Manek’s player has already increasd his Brawl­ing dur­ing the ses­sion and does now only expend 1 point to change a Pas­sion Attribute. Feel­ing that Manek has caused the sol­diers of Khazis­tan enough grief by now, and not inter­ested in this story arc any­more, his player changes “Hate for Army of Khazis­tan” to “Locate Kuthans”. The ref asks whether he isn’t afraid of too nar­row a focus for his character’s Pas­sions, but as he isn’t and the entire group finds the change reaon­able, it is effected. His character’s com­plete stats at this stage are:

Brawn: 7 (focal)
Dar­ing: 6
Tenac­ity: 5
Sagac­ity: 4
Heart: 3
Cun­ning: 6

Reflex: 6
Aim: 5
Knock­down: 7
Knock­out: 6
Move: 6
Power: 5

Good Assets: Aggres­sive (-1 offen­sive TNs before first defen­sive action); Brawler (-1 TN unarmed); Giant (Ter­rain Checks –1 TN, Reach +1); Night-​sighted (dark­ness penalty 13 nor­mal) .
Poor Assets: Giant (+1 TNs grace & eva­sion); Hal­lu­ci­na­tions (hal­lu­ci­na­tion 11+ in any scene).

Pro­fi­cien­cies: Brawl­ing 8 (MP 14).

Skills: For­eign Lan­guage (Yar-​Ammonite) 4, Heal­ing 3, Pre­cog­ni­tion 8, Rid­ing 3, Sur­vival 3.

Pas­sions:
Learn About His Ori­gins: 3
Friend­ship with Prince Shahrul: 2
Make A Place for Him­self in the World: 3
Locate Kuthans: 0
Drama: 2
Karma: 50
Loot: 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 2 months ago by Michael.
The topic has been locked.
The fol­low­ing user(s) said Thank You: IanP., Allan, Mozusuke

The Leg­end of Manek & Shahrul 6 years 2 months ago #1036

  • Michael
  • Michael's Avatar
  • OFFLINE
  • Posts: 756
  • Thank you received: 518
  • Karma: 12
Episode Eight:

The Deep Waters of the Fakhuum


In between ses­sions, Shahruhl’s player mails Manek’s player and the ref that Shahrul’s changed PA will be “Mas­ter Kuthan Sor­cery”. He argues that this is not unrea­son­able for some­body as pow­er­hun­gry as Shahrul, espe­cially as he was recently exposed to quite a bit of Kuthan sor­cery, and that it should also tie in well with Manek’s “Learn About His Ori­gins”, allow­ing for the cre­ation of sce­nar­ios fit­ting both of them. Both the ref and Manek’s player agree and the change is effected as desired. The ref inquires what mechan­i­cal effects Shahrul’s player might be think­ing of, and he replies vaguely that he might want to acquire an Asset or two.

Also, from this time for­ward, and even though he will soon be a wanted man again, Shahrul does once again use his proper name and his title as impe­r­ial prince, and brooks no treat­ment other than befit­ting this sta­tion.


Prince Shahruhl and Manek enjoy their sea jour­ney from Khaz­abad to Amenti, both of them tak­ing their ease, Shahrul with two hired danc­ing girls to keep him com­pany and Manek with his new slave, Malmi­ranet. He learns from her that she hails from the Tomb Hills in far west­ern Yar-​Ammon, that she never knew her father, but that her mother is cer­tainly no giant­ess and still alive. Manek wants to seek her out, and Shahrul, who feels embarassed by all the aid his com­pan­ion has given him in Khaz­abad, read­ily agrees to sup­port him in this. Hav­ing pretty much accom­plished his goals, Shahrul is cur­rently a bit at a loss what to do any­how. After six very leisurely days, they enter the delta of the Fakhuum and make land­fall in Amenti.

Both Manek and Shahrul feel that they well deserve some ease, so they are no hurry to leave Amenti but do instead take their time get­ting a feel for the lay of the land and tak­ing in the local sights. Shahrul also takes the oppor­tu­nity to find some local scholar to give him starters in the Skill Ancient Lan­guage (Kuthan), which he pur­chases for 1 PA point at rat­ing 1. After a dozen lazy days, dur­ing which Shahrul turns 24, they book pas­sages on one of the river­boats going up the Fakhuum.

Towards the end of their stay, and unknown to them, Abdur II dies in Khaz­abad of Muawiya’s curse. As per the mechan­ics of the Con­nec­tion Asset, Shahrul checks HT, with the resul­tant 3 Sucesses sig­ni­fy­ing that the ref must not check for the occur­rence of the Poor Con­nec­tions for this and the next two ses­sions.

The river­boat makes only slow progress, reg­u­larly putting in at towns along the Fakhuum for as much as an entire day. After eight days of travel, and half of the 500 miles of wind­ing river towards their des­ti­na­tion, they hear tales about local ruins that are said to be of Kuthan ori­gins and to be inhab­i­tated by degen­er­ate out­casts. Manek wants to visit the ruins, so they dis­em­bark at the town of Men-​Apu.

This is where play com­mences.

The play­ers have to check their Loot to account for their recent expen­di­tures. Manek’s Loot remains unchanged, but Shahrul gets a poor result, mean­ing and his Loot drops by 1; he’s almost broke.

Shahrul spends a day dis­creetly sound­ing out the peo­ple of Men-​Apu (about 15.000 of them) about the ruins on the oppo­site river bank. An Infor­ma­tion Gath­er­ing Check yields 2 Suc­cesses, and he learns a lot of partly con­flict­ing facts:

The sprawl­ing ruin field is believed to have been a Kuthan fortress (unlikely), or a tem­ple, necrop­o­lis, or sorcerer’s abode, and to be haunted by ghosts or demons or some either undead or unhu­man sor­cerer, or to be the lair of some gar­gan­tuan man-​eating croc­o­dile. In spite of all that, a lot of degen­er­ate cut­throat scum lairs there under sub­hu­man con­di­tions, sub­sist­ing on what they can for­age or hunt in the marsh or steal from hon­est peo­ple. This rab­ble has not been smoked out of the ruins because the locals fear going there, but every once in a while, when the degen­er­ates go too far, an enraged lynch mob may ven­ture into the ruins; this hap­pened for the last time about ten years ago. Some of the scum have been glimpsed to be freak­ishly tall.

There are also whis­pered rumors about vast trea­sure hid­den in the soggy ruins and about a small, secre­tive coven of local Yar-​Ammonites who meet in the ruins to con­duct black sor­cer­ous rit­u­als by which they hope to har­ness the power of the Elder Kuthans for their own advance­ment. Finally, there are oblique and because of exactly that prob­a­bly true remarks about some rob­bers using the ruins as a base and hide­out.

It is under­stood that explor­ing the ruin field will def­i­nitely engage Manek’s “Learn About Ori­gins” and Shahrul’s “Be Indebted to No Man”, and may, depend­ing on what they are going to find, likely engage PAs like “Regain Wealth and Power”, “Mas­ter Kuthan Sor­cery”, “Make Place for Self”, and “Locate Kuthans”.

Shahrul also learns about a local scholar who has once vis­ited the ruin field. The scholar, one Dua­mutef, relates that he dared vis­it­ing the ruins right after the last time a lynch­mob descended there and found them picked clean, the Kuthan inscrip­tions and murals defaced or eroded, but he admits to hav­ing aban­doned his expe­di­tion in face of the fierce scum lurk­ing in them even then. He presses home the immense dan­ger from the bel­liger­ent degen­rate inhab­i­tants of the ruins. How­ever, a Fal­s­hood Check tells Shahrul that Duam­tutef is lying and try­ing to keep them from the ruins.

Shahrul’s palyer thinks about using Infor­ma­tion Gath­er­ing to find out facts about Dua­mutef, but as the ref tells him that the Check would have to yield at least 3 suc­cesses for any­thing half-​definite, he desists, as he does not want to risk a Com­pli­ca­tion. So all he learns is what’s com­mon knowl­edge – that Dua­mutef is a local scholar who has become rich by clev­erly invest­ing his con­sul­ta­tion fees with sev­eral mer­chants.

Shahrul next uses the Scry­ing Mys­tery to spy out the ruin field, but as he well remem­bers encoun­ter­ing the ghosts of the sac­ri­fi­cial vic­tims of al-​Tawir is care­ful not to actu­ally pen­e­trate far into the ruins pos­si­bly haunted by some super­nat­ural men­ace. He only snoops around the out­skirts, get­ting an idea of the lay of the com­plex and find­ing tracks of a decent num­ber of horses and men hav­ing recently headed out of the ruins and away to the south . Pen­e­trat­ing slightly into the ruins he encoun­ters traces of very prim­i­tive habi­ta­tion and a few mal­formed peo­ple hang­ing about. One of these does seem to get decid­edly uneasy and afraid, pos­si­bly notic­ing Shahrul’s scry­ing, so that he decides to with­draw.

Back­story: Pretty much all of the rumors about the ruins are true. Apart from being inhab­i­tated by degen­er­ate out­casts and a huge croc­o­dile, it does also serve as one of the hide­outs of a band of rob­bers harass­ing the bor­der­lands of Yar-​Ammon and Zadj. There is even a secre­tive coven led by Dua­mutef, who is a very minor sor­cerer and exploits the coven pri­mar­ily as a means to gain wealth and power and only then has actual inter­est Kuthan her­itage and sor­cery. He also dou­bles as part-​time fence for the ban­dits using the ruins as one of their bases.

Dua­mutef does not know what to make of Manek and Shahrul, whether they know some­thing per­ti­nent about the ruins, or whether they plan some­thing which may – inad­ver­tently – dis­rupt his own use of the ruins or even his grander designs. To make sure, he has them watched by mem­bers of his coven and alerts his cronies among the degen­er­ate inhab­i­tants of the ruins.


Once Prince Shahrul has recov­ered from his sor­cer­ous exer­tion he and Manek leave Malmi­ranet in a room in Men-Apu’s best inn and have them­selves fer­ried across the Fakhuum to the vil­lage clos­est the ruins. They pen­e­trate the local marsh to near the ruins and there lie in wait for sev­eral hours, observ­ing the tum­bled down edi­fices. Notic­ing signs of only light activ­ity, they finally ven­ture into the ruins.

They find the area pretty much as described by Dua­mutef – the build­ings are extremely derelict and three quar­ters gone, over­grown with reeds, fre­quently half-​submerged in the marsh, their still intact walls either defaced or their inscrip­tions and fres­coes eroded. Manek has a hal­lu­ci­na­tion (his Poor Asset kick­ing in for the first time in ages) of a stately pro­ces­sion of what can only be pure-​strain Kuthans leav­ing the area.

Manek and Shahrul find tracks of bare feet, aban­doned fires, extremely prim­i­tive shel­ters and other signs of habi­ta­tion, but do not encounter any humans – they only glimpse a few mal­formed freaks flee­ing from them. At long last, they encounter one of the degen­er­ate dwellers who is more for­ward and offers to trade them an assort­ment of dried rep­tiles and amphib­ians. Shahrul gen­er­ously gifts him with a dag­ger, and a con­ver­sa­tion ensues. The degen­er­ate tells them about a sin­gle, remote cham­ber slid­ing into the marsh but oth­er­wise with intact inscrip­tions and reliefs and offers to lead them there for another gift. The PCs con­sent, even though Shahrul’s False­hood tells him that the degen­er­ate isn’t play­ing them com­pletely straight and hides some­thing; Shahrul warns Manek to be wary.

Back­story: Dua­mutef has informed his cronies among the degen­er­ates that Manek and Shahrul are com­ing and ordered them to both keep the other freaks away and lead the PCs into a trap.

Cross­ing a thigh-​deep pool in a partly sub­merged and over­grown build­ing, Manek’s Pre­cog­ni­tion kicks in and warns him of an attack from a very large croc­o­dile. Even with­out com­plete sur­prise the fight in the water is a very tough one, with the croc­o­dile clamp­ing down on Prince Shahrul’s calf for a lvl 5 wound before it is injured severely enough to flee the com­bat – some­thing their “guide” has done at the first sign of trou­ble. With this wound hav­ing bled pro­fusely (2 failed BL Checks before Manek can ban­dage it) and still inflict­ing Pain 9 (4 after TY is sub­tracted) even after the Check for the It’s Just A Scratch mechanic, Manek and Shahrul decide to retreat from the ruins for now. For being on to some­thing in the ruins, Manek receives 2 PA points (Locate Kuthans & Friend­ship, for pretty much sav­ing Shahrul from the croc), and Shahrul 1 point for aid­ing him at con­sid­er­able risk to him­self (Be Indebted to No Man).

Back in Men-​Apu, they spend half a dozen days recon­va­lesc­ing, tended by one of the town’s best physician-​priests, bring­ing Pain from the wound down to a man­agable 5 (0 with TY sub­tracted). As this period’s expenses depletes Shahrul’s ressourcers (his Wastrel Asset tak­ing his Loot to 0), they decide to sell one of their four remain­ing Kuthan trin­kets. To gauge Duamutef’s reac­tion, Shahrul offers it to the sage, claim­ing that they found it in the ruins and even telling him where exactly. Dua­mutef shows aca­d­e­mic inter­est in the object but pro­fesses to too lit­tle funds to pur­chase it – some­thing that Shahruhl’s False­hood once again dis­closes as being not entirely true.

The fol­low­ing night, Manek and Shahrul lie in wait­ing, expect­ing a bur­glary attempt that doesn’t come. The fol­low­ing day, they sell off the trin­ket, which takes Shahrul’s Loot to 3 and Manek’s to a whop­ping 4. At around this time, they do also learn the news from Khaz­abad that Abdur II has died and will be suc­ceeded by Yilzit as new Padishah.

Now pretty cer­tain that there is no sor­cer­ous men­ace in the ruins, Shahrul risks a foray by use of the Scry­ing Mys­tery. In the area where they claimed to have found the Kuthan trin­ket, about ten degen­er­ates are busy sift­ing through the mud, look­ing for some­thing, and it is pretty obvi­ous that three of them boss the oth­ers around, even though sev­eral of these oth­ers look as if they could break the “over­seers” in half. The crip­ple who has lured Manek and Shahrul towards the croc­o­dile is one of those three.

While Shahrul is still snoop­ing around, his astral pres­ence is sud­denly noted by a teenaged mud-​sifter who becomes afraid and alerts the oth­ers. Even though they notice noth­ing, Shahrul decides to return his con­scious­ness to his body and tell Manek what he has learned, includ­ing his sus­pi­cion that the teenager with the sixth sense might have Kuthan blood. The two of them decide to visit the ruins again, find the sus­pected Kuthan and cap­ture at least one of the three boss-​degenerates, whom they sus­pect of being in with Dua­mutef. Both earn 1 Pas­sion point (Be Indebted to No Man & Locate Kuthans).

Instruct­ing Malmi­ranet to feign their con­tin­ued pres­ence in their rooms at the inn, Prince Shahrul and Manek leave Men-​Apu after dark and secretly cross over to the ruins. Sus­pect­ing that the boss-​degenerates lair in the least derelict, dri­est part of the ruins, which were spied out sor­cer­ously by Shahrul, they silently make their way there just as dawn is break­ing. They find Duamutef’s cronies just where they sus­pected them and eas­ily over­power them and the two mal­formed female crea­tures lair­ing with them in their sleep. The three degen­er­ates fold almost imme­di­ately and pro­fess that they were only fol­low­ing Duamutef’s orders, and that they are deathly afraid of Dua­mutef, who is a very pow­er­ful sor­cerer, mas­ter of a cir­cle of sor­cer­ers, and has sold his soul to demons from the black­est hell. The two dox­ies pretty much cor­rob­o­rate the story, adding only that Duamutef’s cronies hang the threat of their mas­ter over the entire com­mu­nity of the ruins and thereby lord it over the oth­ers.

The PCs are so dis­gusted by Duamutef’s three crea­tures that they can’t even man­age to be mad at them. It is only out of prin­ci­ple and a sense of oblig­a­tion that Shahrul feels he needs to kill the guy hav­ing led them toward the croc­o­dile, but tak­ing a cue from Duamutef’s meth­ods, uses this death to turn the entire degen­er­ate com­mu­nity around. He declares that Dua­mutef is less than noth­ing and proves his own supe­rior power by hav­ing is sor­cer­ous scim­i­tar slay the offend­ing freak. As the other four are cowed, Shahrul “reveals” him­self to one of the women as a demon in human guise – that is, he uses the Enslave­ment Mys­tery to force her to see him in his demonic, and sup­pos­edly real, guise. As she crawls befor him abjectly in the mud, so do the oth­ers; Shahruhl has got the degen­er­atea bagged. The ref declares that she doesn’t quite see what Shahrul’s going to do with them, but that she is delighted at how clev­erly and sim­ply he has brought them around from Dua­mutef to him, for which she awards him 1 Drama point.

With the day finally break­ing, Manek and Shahrul are taken to make the nau­se­at­ing acquainance of the other degen­er­ates of the ruins. Over the course of the morn­ing, they learn sev­eral things. They learn about the ban­dits using the ruins, about Dua­mutef and his fel­low sor­cer­ers con­duct­ing rit­u­als in the ruins every new moon (two nights hence), and also that there used to be a few men and women as tall as Manek among the inhab­i­tants of the ruins, but that they were all taken away up the Fakhuum by a ter­ri­bly pow­er­ful and inhu­manly tall sor­cerer a long time ago (read: beween ten and forty years ago). They also learn that the teenager who noticed Shahrul’s sor­cer­ous pres­ence isn’t a teenager, but a freak­ishly tall nine year old boy. At this junc­tion, Shahrul is awarded 1 PA point (Be Indebted to No Man), and Manek 2 points (both to Locate Kuthans, one for find­ing the boy and another for learn­ing about sup­posed Half-​Kuthans hav­ing been led away upriver).

Much to Shahrul’s cha­grin, Manek declares that he will take the feral lit­tle boy, whose name is Leech and who quite obvi­ously has Kuthan blood, away from a sub­hu­man exis­tence in the squalid ruins. The prince is how­ever much bet­ter pleased by the dis­clo­sure of the exis­tence of a wall with an exten­sive Kuthan inscrip­tion. Too unsure of his lan­guage skills to make proper sense of it, apart from a sor­cer­ous and/​or reli­gious con­tent, he copies it down painstak­ingly and is awarded 1 PA point (Mas­ter Kuthan Sor­cery).

Finally, almost as an after­thought, Manek and Shahrul decide that they feel obliged to repay Dua­mutef his attempt on their lives. When the ref points out that no PAs will aid such an endeav­our, the play­ers declare that tak­ing vengeance just seems right for the char­ac­ters and go ahead any­way. The plan is to osten­si­bly depart Men-​Apu by river­boat, but to return to the ruins before the night of the new moon. Before this plan is car­ried out, Shahrul’s player does expend 6 PA points to increase his character’s Enslave­ment Mys­tery to 4 and imme­di­ately employs it to once again “reveal” him­self as a demon, ter­ror­iz­ing espe­cially Duamutef’s for­mer cronies into utter com­pli­ance.

The ref informs the play­ers that Dua­mutef is ner­vous because of recent events and is using the Prophecy Mys­tery to see whether there is dan­ger. Rolling the dice openly and get­ting 2 Cast­ing Suc­cesses, she informs the play­ers that Dua­mutef is prob­a­bly alarmed to some kind of dan­ger. As they watch the six animal-​masked coven mem­bers and Duamtef assem­ble at the ruins, they also see that Dua­mutef has brought four guards, two of whom appear to be proper fight­ing men. Still, the PCs decide to con­front Duam­tutef proudly and openly, reveal­ing them­selves to inter­rupt his (mostly bogus) rit­ual. Manek quickly dis­patches one of the charg­ing guards­men, and Prince Shahrul kills another with the sor­cer­ous sword, halt­ing the other two guards in their tracks and greatly alarm­ing the coven mem­bers. With the degen­er­ates creep­ing up on the assem­bly, Shahrul cock­ily engages a very anx­ious Dua­mutef in a Duel of Will. An excel­lent roll on a Sneak Past Maneu­ver (6 suc­cesses out of 8 dice) imme­di­ately blasts through Duamutef’s defences and throws him to the ground with a lvl 3 injury. As the mob of degen­er­ate out­casts surges over the coven mem­bers, Prince Shahrul and Manek with­draw, the lat­ter pro­tect­ing the two sur­viv­ing guards.

The ref decides that he awards every PC 1 Drama point as a reward for engag­ing the coven with­out a PA fir­ing. The Drama point for the best roll goes to Shahrul for his Duel of Will, and as there was no out­stand­ingly unlucky Check she asks whether there is any objec­tion to her giv­ing this Drama point to Manek. There isn’t, and he gets the point.

Shahruhl’s player (me) has alreay spent points to increase his character’s Enslave­ment Mys­tery dur­ing the ses­sion and does not expend any more. Shahrul’s changed stats are:

Enslave­ment 4 (SP 10), Ancient Lan­guage (Kuthan) 1.
Regain Wealth and Power: 1
Elude Padishah’s Wrath: 0
Mas­ter Kuthan Sor­cery: 1
Be Indebted to No Man: 1
Drama: 3
Karma: 62
Loot: 3

Manek’s player is sav­ing PA points for an Attribute increase and does not expend any­thing. His changed stats remain:

Learn About His Ori­gins: 3
Friend­ship with Prince Shahrul: 3
Make A Place for Him­self in the World: 3
Locate Kuthans: 3
Drama: 5
Karma: 50
Loot: 4
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 2 months ago by Michael.
The topic has been locked.
The fol­low­ing user(s) said Thank You: IanP., Allan

The Leg­end of Manek & Shahrul 6 years 2 months ago #1057

  • Michael
  • Michael's Avatar
  • OFFLINE
  • Posts: 756
  • Thank you received: 518
  • Karma: 12
Episode Nine:

Curse of the For­bid­den Vale


Prince Shahrul and Manek the Giant, with the boy Leech and his slave Malmi­ranet in tow, leave the town Men-​Apu and travel fur­ther up the Fakhuum, that is, its north­ern­most, minor branch. The jour­ney is even slower going as before as they dis­em­bark at every town, stay there for a day or two, and try to pick up any tales or fables about a mys­te­ri­ous group of giants going upriver a few decades ago. At this pace, it takes them the bet­ter part of a month to travel com­pletely up the river, but they do at least in one place hear tall tales about strange occur­rences involv­ing a group of trav­el­ling giants, some thirty years ago. These trav­ellers, sup­pos­edly the Half-​Kuthans from the ruins at Men-​Apu and maybe oth­ers, did also go up the north­ern branch of the Fakhuum.

Halfway up this branch, at a very small river­side town, the ref also informs Manek’s player that there would be an oppor­tu­nity to appren­tice Leech to some arti­san who seems gen­uinely sym­pa­thetic. Not want­ing to bur­den his PC with a giant child, he takes the oppor­tu­nity and has Manek pay the appren­tice­ship fee. Con­tin­u­ing upriver, they reach the tiny town of Kaura at the foot of the Tomb Hills, native place of Malmi­ranet.

This is where play com­mences.

First, the deple­tion of Loot has to be Checked. Manek’s Loot stays unchanged at 4, but Shahrul’s com­pul­sive spend­ing and con­spic­u­ous con­sump­tion has him go down to Loot 2.

Manek and Shahrul pay a visit to Malmiranet’s impov­er­ished mother, who doesn’t seem pleased to see her daugh­ter. She is com­pletely unwill­ing to talk about Malmiranet’s father, and a quick Infor­ma­tion Gath­er­ing Check in the neigh­bour­hood fails to yield any­thing salient: Nobody knows any­thing about a father, the mother being an impov­er­ished coun­try girl from the Tomb Hills who was prob­a­bly already preg­nant when she came to town 17 years ago. Manek doesn’t want Shahrul to lean hard on the woman; instead he offers her an astro­nom­i­cal amount of money. This brings her around and she tells reluc­tantly of how she, still hardly more than a girl her­self, did one day end up by acci­dent in an a tiny moun­tain val­ley held by her peo­ple to be both sacred and haunted, and that she has no mem­ory of exactly what hap­pened there, only that it was ter­ri­ble. She was found by her peo­ple bruised and bleed­ing and near-​delirious in the moun­tains and only just man­aged to flee a ston­ing for hav­ing ven­tured into the for­bid­den val­ley. She thus made her way to Kaura, where she found that she was preg­nant, the result being Malmi­ranet. For learn­ing about the for­bid­den vale and its loca­tion, Manek is awarded 1 PA point (Locate Kuthans), but a Loot Check has his Loot going down to 3 for the money paid to Malmiranet’s mother.

Infor­ma­tion Gath­er­ing per­tain­ing to the val­ley does yield no more than that the bel­liger­ent back­wa­ter yokels up in the Tomb Hills hold many places sacred or haunted or for­bid­den, but that nobody with half a brain is tak­ing them seri­ously or is inter­ested in their idiot opin­ions. The PCs also learn that the Tomb Hills are only lightly con­trolled by Yar-​Ammon, a con­trol fad­ing away to noth­ing the deeper one goes into them.

Manek and Prince Shahrul decide to ven­ture into the Tomb Hills and to take Malmi­ranet along; despite the dan­ger of the trip, it is thought that she might some­how con­sti­tute an impor­tant con­nec­tion to her native place. It is under­stood that the explo­ration will engage Manek’s PAs “Locate Kuthans” and pos­si­bly “Make Place for Self” and “Learn About Ori­gins”, and Prince Shahrul’s “Be Indebted to No Man” and pos­si­bly also “Mas­ter Kuthan Sor­cery”.

After three days of travel through the increas­ingly arid, rugged, and des­o­late hills, they arrive at what must be Malmiranet’s mother’s native vil­lage. To avoid rous­ing sus­pi­cion, they claim to be trav­el­ling to Azimba and ask for any dan­gers on the way. They do indeed learn of the for­bid­den vale and are cau­tioned to give it a wide berth. In the past decade, “things” have begun ven­tur­ing forth from the vale, slaugh­ter­ing life­stock and men alike.

Leav­ing Malmi­ranet at the vil­lage, Manek and Shahrul set out the fol­low­ing day, appar­ently to reconoi­ter the route towards Azimba, but soon mak­ing for the for­bid­den val­ley, which is tucked into a rift between two moun­tain­tops. It takes them all day and a few Checks to reach the right moun­tain and to scram­ble up its rugged side. They camp for the night a short trek away from the val­ley, hud­dling into a cleft and eschew­ing any fire. Dur­ing his watch, Shahrul is called upon to make an Opposed Sneak­ing Check. Lack­ing this Skill, he rolls SY instead, fail­ing abom­inably with just 1 suc­cess and get­ting a Com­pli­ca­tion in the bar­gain – the ref invokes it imme­di­ately and decrees that Shahrul has fallen asleep on his watch.

With Prince Shahrul soundly asleep, Manek’s Pre­cog­ni­tion (6 suc­cesses with 8 dice) saves the day (night?). He wakes in time to see (quite clearly, too, with his Nightvi­sion Asset) some huge humanoid shape coil­ing up like a beast to spring at them. As he jumps to his feet and shouts a warn­ing, the ref demand a Check for his Hal­lu­ci­na­tion Asset, which duely kicks in – instead of a feral enemy, Manek sees the oppo­nent stand up erect and reveal him­self as a Kuthan war­rior of aris­to­cratic aspect, address­ing Manek impe­ri­ously in an unnown lan­guage. As Manek tries to speak to the “Kuthan”, the man-​beast pounces at him and takes him down, defense­less as he is. With Manek lying wounded under the hulk­ing, four-​armed (!) oppo­nent who makes to tear out his throat, Prince Shahrul wakes from the noise and comes to the res­cue. It is a short, but hard strug­gle, made even harder by the oppo­nent obvi­ously see­ing per­fectly in the dark. Still, an early lucky attack roll of Shahrul’s wounds the man-​beast quite deci­sively, allow­ing him to fol­low through and dis­patch it. For sav­ing Manek’s life (who took a lvl 4 injury to the ribcage which turned out to largely be Just A Scratch), he receives 1 PA point (Be Indebted to No Man).

The dead attacker turns out to be bes­tial, four-​armed and even taller than Manek, naked, brutishly mus­cled – and female. Fin­gers, toes, teeth and fin­ger­nails of the uncouth giant­ess dis­play markedly animal-​like traits.

The next morn­ing, Prince Shahrul and Manek make the short climb to the lip of the rift and gaze down into the sacred val­ley. It’s less than a mile long, with clumps of sparse veg­e­ta­tion – and a large and quite intact build­ing of obvi­ously Kuthan ori­gin. Look­ing on, they see a brutish humanoid shape emerge briefly from among the shrub­bery, who at the dis­tance seems to be at least as tall as Manek, maybe taller. For com­ing this far, each PC is awarded 1 PA point (Locate Kuthans & Mas­ter Kuthan Sor­cery).

Manek’s player does now quite rad­i­cally spend down all of his PAs to 0 (save Locate Kuthans, which he retains at 1) and increases his DG to 7, in the deal also increas­ing both his Reflex and Move to 7.

Prince Shahrul decides to risk spy­ing out the val­ley with the Scry­ing Mys­tery, keep­ing his mind’s eye away from the Kuthan edi­fice and any spir­its it might con­ceiv­ably har­bour. He finds a sin­gle easy way down into the rift, but none that lead out again eas­ily; there is no way out of the vale that is half sim­ple or can be nav­i­gated in a hurry. The val­ley itself is pop­u­lated by some­thing like an incred­i­bly prim­i­tive tribe of around eight feet tall giants with var­i­ous defor­mi­ties; there’s some­thing like a cyclops, one who is scaled, one with a third arm sprout­ing from between his shoul­der blades, another with fangs and tusks and claws and bris­tles, and more of the kind. There seem to be at least two dozen of them, scat­tered in var­i­ous small groups through­out the val­ley – and quite a few do obvi­ously notice Shahrul’s spir­i­tual pres­ence, to which they react like rabid dogs.

Back­story: Once, there was a scholar of part-​Kuthan descent who was fas­ci­nated with his ances­try and the legacy of Elder Kuth. He delved deeply into lore and sor­cery, his aim to recre­ate the glory of Elder Kuth and to reclaim what he con­sid­ered his her­itage and his birthright. He found a near intact Kuthan build­ing in the Tomb Hills and made it his secluded base for his grand design: To recre­ate the lost race of the Elder Kuthans. He scoured the land for those with Kuthan blood and brought them to his base. Here, he worked his mighty sor­cery, exper­i­ment­ing with the Arcane Secret Abom­i­na­tion to breed pure Kuthans from his Half-​Kuthan sub­jects. The fail­ures of his great labour he either destroyed or kept as ser­vants, and promis­ing sub­jects he sor­cer­ously impre­ganted again to grad­u­ally breed out any­thing un-​Kuthan.

Of course, it all failed in the end. Even­tu­ally, his more bes­tial ser­vants grew restive and began to defy their cre­ator and self-​styled mas­ter; the rape of Malmiranet’s mother was their first mis­deed. When their cre­ator finally took steps to erad­i­cate his increas­ingly way­ward chil­dren and to retain only the few most prom­sis­ing ones, his bes­tial cre­ations rose up against him and slew him, with only very few sur­vivors.

This hap­pened nearly 15 years ago. Since then, the few sur­viv­ing part-​Kuthan abom­i­na­tions have bred, their off­spring being even more degen­er­ate than their sires, and matur­ing unnat­u­rally fast, as if bred by use of Abom­i­na­tion. The for­bid­den val­ley is by now quite well-​populated by phys­i­cally pow­er­ful but bes­tial, degen­er­ate and mal­formed giants with var­i­ous super­nat­ural traits and pow­ers bred into them by sor­cer­ous means.


After Shahrul has recov­ered from the tax­ing ordeal of the Scry­ing Mys­tery, he and Manek make their way down into the val­ley. They move fast, to avoid detec­tion by its inhab­i­tants, and move quickly and stealth­ily through the shrub­bery towards the dam­aged build­ing, tak­ing a cir­cuitous route pre­vi­ously spied out by Prince Shahrul to avoid meet­ing the giants. The ref informs the play­ers that, because of this reconais­sance, they will be able to reach the edi­fice with only one auto­matic encounter with a dweller of the vale and need to Check Sneak­ing for only a sin­gle more. This they pass, hav­ing only a sin­gle encounter with a freak­ish giant who was rest­ing after hav­ing taken, animal-​like, a mud bath and who is alerted to the PCs’ pres­ence by his own Pre­cog­ni­tion just as Manek is to his. The com­bat with the giant, who has legs jointed like an animal’s, a hyena-​like snout and necrotic skin hang­ing in over­sized flabs from his body, is quickly decided by the sor­cer­ous Kuthan scim­i­tar Prince Shahrul held at the ready.

Now dash­ing into the dilap­i­dated Kuthan build­ing, Manek and Shahrul imme­di­ately come upon indi­ca­tors of habi­tancy by the bes­tial giants. The orig­i­nally very well pre­served or restored décor has quite recently, but very thor­oughly, been defaced, and the giant’s ani­mal stink is every­where, as are piles of bones and other refuse.

Stealth­ily, Manek and Prince Shahrul begin to explore the defiled Kuthan halls, tak­ing care to avoid an encounter with their inhab­i­tants. The building’s inte­rior has been van­dal­ized so vio­lently that they learn next to noth­ing, but steal­ing into a gallery look­ing down upon some cen­tral hall which the lair of the edifice’s cur­rent inhab­i­tants. It is some kind of mix­ture of throne room and ani­mal war­ren whose lord is a phys­i­cally very impos­ing giant who seems to be two indi­vuals welded together back to back at the waist, with only one set of legs. Apart from him, there are a few dis­gust­ing females and half a dozen giant chil­dren in var­i­ous stages of degen­er­ate devel­op­ment – pre­sum­ably the Siamese giant’s con­sorts and off­spring.

The char­ac­ters have only a heart­beat to take in all of this before the ref calls for an Opposed Check of Pre­cog­ni­tion between Manek and the Siamese giant, who has a very respectable 6 dice. Manek again wins eas­ily and drags Shahrul back from the ledge just before the giant’s head whips around sus­pi­ciously. He bel­lows some­thing uncouth in an unknown tongue, and his prim­itve court begins to scram­ble from the hall, as does he. Manek and Shahrul bolt as the giant brood neg­li­gently searches the build­ing. They man­age to evade the degen­er­ates, save towards the very end one teenaged female with a hunch­back, ram’s horns and a toad’s moist, warty skin, whom Prince Shahrul once again slays with his sor­cer­ous blade.

As they drag the dis­gust­ing body deep into a room, they hear ulu­la­tion from out­side. Glanc­ing from the win­dow, they under­stand that the other slain giant has been found and that sev­eral of his mates are head­ing for the Kuthan edi­fice. Trapped in the build­ing they are now unable to leave unob­served, Manek and Shahrul hear shout­ing from the hall where the new­com­ers meet with the Siamese giant, fol­lowed soon by the bray­ing of horns and the beat­ing of drums. The dwellers of the val­ley, now esti­mated to be upward of forty, are being alerted that some enemy has come to their abode.

Manek and Prince Shahrul are hop­ing for some kind of hid­den sub­ter­ranean exit from the Kuthan build­ing and descend the stair to the cat­a­combs which they came across while evad­ing the search­ing giant brood. The stair­way ends at a huge (even for Kuthans) por­tal of cast bronze decked with carved Kuthan char­ac­ters – strangely unde­filed, like noth­ing else in the entire edi­fice. Sus­pect­ing some­thing impor­tant, Shahrul’s player expends 1 PA point to increase his character’s Ancient Lan­guage (Kuthan) and approaches to try and make some sense of the inscrip­tion.

As they scru­ti­nize the por­tal from close up, Manek’s Pre­cog­ni­tion does once again kick in invalu­ably. Drag­ging Shahrul along, he throws him­self back just in time as the huge cast cop­per snake wound about the door’s han­dles comes alive and strikes at them. The gar­gan­tuan metal beast, as thick as a man’s thigh, does once again become inert after the failed strike, its coils still seal­ing shut the leaves of the door.

With the com­mo­tion from above grow­ing louder, Shahrul’s player pon­ders using Drama to open the door but despite his fellow’s pleas decides against it and first attempts to make some sense of the inscrip­tion. Aided by the Mas­ter Kuthan Sor­cery PA the nec­es­sary 3 suc­cesses to get any infor­ma­tion on just a quick scan of the inscrip­tion are actu­ally achieved. Prince Shahrul steps up to the gate, lays his hand on the ser­pent, and as it comes alive uses the Enslave­ment Mys­tery on it, which it fails to resist with only 1 die. The ser­pent uncoils itself, the por­tal swings open, Manek and Shahrul step through, it closes again and its guardian reset­tles. For attain­ing the inner sanc­tum of the Kuthan edi­fice, Manek is awarded 2 PA points (Locate Kuthans & Learn About Ori­gins) and Prince Shahrul 3 points (Be Indebted to No Man & Mas­ter Kuthan Sor­cery & Regain Power).

Behind the door is a flight of rooms dimly illu­mi­nated by a weirdly phos­pho­res­cent ceil­ing which were until quite recently obvi­ously a sor­cer­ous work­shop but have now a decid­edly lived-​in appear­ance. One huge vat has been trans­formed into a sar­coph­a­gus har­bour­ing the not-​yet com­pletely decom­posed remains of a not very tall giant woman with­out obvi­ous defor­ma­tions, scraps of a decom­posed dress and jew­elry of Kuthan design still on her, and care­fully arranged mush­rooms placed like an offer­ing before the sar­coph­a­gus.

Back­story: When the sorcerer’s slaves rebelled and slew their mas­ter and his more suc­cess­ful cre­ations, he had just fin­ished sor­cer­ously impreg­nat­ing yet another of his chil­dren. She was still in his work­room when all hell broke loose, and thus became the sole sur­vivor of the slaugh­ter above and with­out. Even though the sor­cer­ous por­tal opens eas­ily from inside, she found her­self trapped by the feral and hate­ful abom­i­na­tions above, and at once pro­tected from them by the insur­mount­able cop­per ser­pent. Thus, she lived in the work­shop, sub­sist­ing on the sor­cer­ous mush­room plan­ta­tion in the adjoin­ing cat­a­combs, and thus she birthed her sor­cer­ously begot­ten daugh­ter. In iso­la­tion from the world and in eter­nal gloom, the child matured phys­i­cally in the accel­er­ated fash­ion of sor­cer­ous abom­i­na­tions (i.e. within about four years). Five years ago, her mother died.

Since then, she has dwelt here in soli­tude. Her name is Olathoé, and she is a strange, unworldly crea­ture of thir­teen, with the bod­ily devel­op­ment of a woman in her early twen­ties. She is oth­er­worldly fair, sor­cer­ously gifted, and the clos­est to a true Kuthan so far encoun­tered, though of decid­edly stunted growth for one, being just under two meters tall.


Manek and Shahrul explore the halls of the work­shop, where they find ample evi­dence of Olathoé’s res­i­dence and a trea­sure trove of notes writ­ten in Ancient Kuthan by the deceased sor­cerer. For acquir­ing those, Prince Shahrul is awarded 1 PA point (Mas­ter Kuthan Sor­cery), even though they are too numer­ous to be car­ried past the degen­er­ate giants above casu­ally.

Still look­ing for a secret exit from the com­plex, the char­ac­ters make their way into the exten­sive cav­erns with their mush­room plan­ta­tions. Here, they are sud­denly attacked quite fee­bly by an instinc­tive, untraind sor­cer­ous out­burst from the hid­den Olathoé, who believes pretty much every­body from the out­side world to be mon­sters. She is quickly sub­dued, and after she calms her­self a very dif­fi­cult con­ver­sa­tion betwee her and Prince Shahrul is struck up – she only speaks the lan­guage her sor­cer­ous cre­ator recon­structed as Ancient Kuthan. Con­vers­ing with her, Shahrul is called to Check his Lech­er­ous Asset, fails, and eas­ily seduces the entirely inex­pe­ri­enced Olathoé, which nearly leads to a quar­rel with Manek, who also receives 1 PA point (Locate Kuthans).

After what the char­ac­ters esti­mate to be four days with Olathoé, dur­ing which Shahrul also teaches her the rudi­ments of his native Khazis­tani and much about the outer world, he has learned pretty much all she knows abou the his­tory of the val­ley. He and Manek decide to attempt to make their way out of the val­ley and to take Olathoé along, hop­ing that the demi-​Kuthan abom­i­na­tions above do by now think them gone. At night, they emerge from the serpent-​guarded por­tal and make their way out of the build­ing, when the ref offers Manek’s player (who cur­rently is out of Drama) 1 Drama for a Lucky Break for the Siamese giant to con­front them with­out the need for Checks. Manek’s player asks if that will also mean that the other giants of the val­ley are aroused auto­mat­i­cally, and when he learns that this is not an auto­matic con­se­quence but can be averted by the PCs actions, he con­sents to the trade.

Thus, the char­ac­ters are noticed by the Siamese giant just as they make for the edifice’s open gate. Bel­low­ing, the giant charges, lead­ing with a sor­cer­ous attack, a bolt of some invis­i­ble force directed at Shahrul, but caus­ing the sor­cer­ously puis­sant prince lit­tle harm. This sit­u­a­tion is ime­di­ately reversed when the Kuthan sword is equally repelled by the giant’s inher­ent sor­cery. A bru­tal com­bat ensues, in which each char­ac­ter engages one of the ene­mies two bod­ies, and in which Shahrul is at a decided dis­ad­van­tage for lack­ing the other two com­bat­ants’ night-​sightedness. His armour saves him from cer­tain anni­hi­la­tion from an over­head blow by the giant’s stone-​headed mace, but he still takes a lvl 6 injury and is out of the com­bat with a shat­tered shoul­der. In a des­per­ate strug­gle, in which he takes a lvl 3 wound him­self, Manek man­ages to carve up the giant and strike him down for dead (which he isn’t, but only nar­rowly). As the giant’s brood is heard to be approach­ing, Manek snatches up a near-​incapacitated Shahrul and dashes into the night with Olathoé, leav­ing behind the two heavy satchels with the sorcerer’s notes (a pal­try few, tucked away else­where on the PCs’ bod­ies, are retained). As Prince Shahrul rages at the loss, Manek is awarded 1 PA point (Friend­ship Shahrul).

With Shahrul and Olathoé both able to see very well in the dark, they man­age to make their way through the valey with the neces­sity for only a rather easy Check of Sneak­ing, which they pass. They make the dif­fi­cult climb out of the val­ley, haul­ing up Shahrul, and make their way towards the vil­lage.

This session’s Drama point for a lucky roll is awarded Manek for the It’s Just A Scratch Check after the giant­ess’ attack, and the one for the unlucky roll to Shahrul for the Com­pli­ca­tion of falling asleep on his watch.

In wind­ing down, the play­ers tell the ref that they are next going to fol­low up on a tale told Olathoè by her mother, which she had got­ten from the sor­cerer: That there are oth­ers like him­self and them­selves (i.e. Half-​Kuthans and Kuthans) in the moun­tains to the south of a king­dom of black peo­ple, which the char­ac­ters have iden­ti­fied as Azimba. The ref in turn tells them that they are going to find the vil­lage very hos­tile and Malmi­ranet stoned to death by its inhab­i­tants, who found her out to be a crea­ture form the for­bid­den vale. As the play­ers decide not to retal­i­ate, the ref informs that that play will recom­mence the next time some­where on the way to Azimba. She also informs the play­ers that she would now held Sharuhl’s debt to Manek paid, had he not saved the prince’s life, which is rel­e­vant for future Pas­sion applic­a­bil­ity.

Shahruhl’s player has alreay increase his character’s Ancient Lan­guage (Kuthan) dur­ing the ses­sion and does not expend any­thing else. Shahrul’s changed stats are:

Enslave­ment 4 (SP 10), Ancient Lan­guage (Kuthan) 2.
Regain Wealth and Power: 2
Elude Padishah’s Wrath: 0
Mas­ter Kuthan Sor­cery: 3
Be Indebted to No Man: 3
Drama: 4
Karma: 63
Loot: 2

Manek’s player has alreay spent points to increase his character’s DG and does not expend any more. His changed stats are:

DG 7, Reflex 7, Move 7, Brawl­ing 8 (MP 15).
Learn About His Ori­gins: 0
Friend­ship with Prince Shahrul: 2
Make a Place for Him­self in the World: 0
Locate Kuthans: 3
Drama: 2
Karma: 68
Loot: 3
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 2 months ago by Michael.
The topic has been locked.
The fol­low­ing user(s) said Thank You: IanP., aljen

The Leg­end of Manek & Shahrul 6 years 1 month ago #1106

  • Michael
  • Michael's Avatar
  • OFFLINE
  • Posts: 756
  • Thank you received: 518
  • Karma: 12
Episode Ten, Part One

The Dream­ing Gods


As Manek and a very wounded (Pain 10) Prince Shahrul return to the vil­lage where they left Malmi­ranet, they find the Half-​Kuthan slave girl stoned to death and the vil­lagers hos­tile to the point of bel­liger­ence. Under the present cir­cum­stances, they press on back towards the small town of Kaura at the west­ern foot of the Tomb Hills. Here, they finally con­sult a sur­geon to see to Prince Shahrul’s shat­terd shoul­der, and to give it the rest it requires to begin heal­ing prop­erly.

They spend half a month of rest and care at Kaura, with Shahrul’s Pain from the shoul­der going down to 4. Dur­ing this time, a recon­va­les­cent Shahrul is study­ing the scrolls brought from the for­bid­den vale, for which his player (me) spends 1 PA point to fur­ther increase his Ancient Lan­guage (Kuthan). They finally embark over­land to the south­ern, major branch of the Fakhuum, where they intend to take the car­a­van route south into the Black King­doms. Three days of easy trav­el­ling take them to the town of Nekheb on the Fakhuum, where car­a­vans assem­ble for the jouney south across the moun­tains. Within five days of their arrival, a small car­a­van is leav­ing, and Manek, Shahrul and Olathoé join up. Prince Shahrul’s shoul­der is now com­letely healed, but for rea­sons of flavour the group decides that there will remain a cer­tain per­ma­nent stiff­ness to it, and an occa­sional pain that will stay with the prince for life.

At Nekheb, they do also hear (con­flictig) news from Khaz­abad. It seems that there is some kind of armed insur­rec­tion against the new Padishah, Shahrul’s teenaged half-​brother Yilzit, that a plot by Prince Kirdir to usurp the throne has been dis­cov­ered and the prince been killed, that some kind of witch-​hunt for trai­tors against the Padishah is on, and that Goshihr Bey, the one accom­plice of the late Queen Sammu-​Ramat who could not be appre­hended, has risen to be the most impor­tant advi­sor of the throne. The ref also reminds Shahrul’s player that this is the last ses­sion in which his character’s Con­nec­tions Poor Asset is not going to be Checked.

It takes the car­a­van ten days to cross the moun­tains and emerge into the savan­nah to their south. A fur­ther twenty days, five of them wait­ing to evade an armed clash between the forces of the Azim­ban king and one of his sub-​kings, take the car­a­van all the way trough the savan­nah and into the heart of Azimba, to the foot of the Shin­ing Hills, the fringe of the jun­gle – and the great royal city of Zim­bal­lah.

The ref does now ask for a Check of Ancient Lan­guage (Kuthan), aided by the Be Indebted to No Man Pas­sion, to see what Prince Shahrul could glean from his doc­u­ments con­cern­ing the tale about Kuthans in Azimba. The result­ing 3 suc­cesses allow the trans­la­tion of the sorcerer’s notes to the effect that he was very cer­tain that a pure-​blooded Kuthan has been using the cult of Jul-​Juggah as a front for him­self for at least half a cen­tury, prob­a­bly pos­ing as that cult’s famed ora­cle and steer­ing the priest­hood through his prophe­cies. This valu­able bit of infor­ma­tion is rewarded with 1 PA point each (Be Indebted to No Man & Locate Kuthans) and prompts Shahrul’s player, who is expect­ing these Skill to come in handy, to expend 1 point to increase his Cus­toms Skill and 2 points to pur­chase For­eign Lan­guage (Azim­ban) at 2.

The events so far have been loosely nar­rated. Play now actu­ally com­mences with the char­ac­ters arriv­ing before Zim­bal­lah.

Loot is Checked for both PCs to accout for the expenses of the past two months. Manek’s Loot stays unchanged at 3, but Prince Shahrul’s goes down to 1, imply­ing that he has no ready means any­more, apart from the three remain­ing Kuthan trin­kets he and Manek own com­mu­nally. The char­ac­ters set­tle in such a man­ner that the sor­cer­ous Kuthan sword is now for­mally acknowl­edged as Shahrul’s pos­ses­sion, with the prince in turn renounc­ing his claim to any of the three remain­ing pieces of jew­elry, for which Manek gives him enough funds to take him back up to Loot 2. Check­ing his own Loot to account for this out­lay, Manek takes his Loot for the ses­sion down to a func­tional 2 (though remain­ing at an over­all 3).

Prince Shahrul’s Infor­ma­tion Gath­er­ing (aided by his Regain Power PA) is Checked to deter­mine what he has learned about cur­rent affairs in Azimba by speak­ing with locals while cross­ing the savan­nah and by ask­ing around in Zim­bal­lah. They learn that King Akibu (who is the father of Princess Sha­bela, Shahrul’s father’s new wife from Shahrul’s back­story), has dur­ing the five years of his king­ship forcibly estab­lished Zimballah’s author­ity over the sub­kings. Akibu’s father had lost much of his hold over the other kings by devot­ing him­self to a power-​struggle with the cult of Jul-​Juggah – which he lost, along with his life, when the priest­hood unleashed an enraged mob of the faith­ful against him. King Akibu, who enjoys the suport of High­priest Ngatun, has regained every­thing his father lost, and is still tight­en­ing his hold over the sub­kings, turn­ing Azimba into a strong, cen­tral­ized state. In view of the excel­lent coop­er­a­tion between Akibu and the priest­hood of Jul-​Juggah, some Azim­bans sus­pect that Akibu did already have a hand in the down­fall of his impi­ous father.

Back­story: He didn’t, actu­ally. Akibu is only very shrewd and takes great care to give Ngatun no rea­son to sus­pect him of any dis­loy­alty to the priest­hood. As Ngatun does also want to strengthen the cen­tal author­ity of Zim­bal­lah and thus turn Azimba into the south­ern pow­er­house it could be, his and Akibu’s goals con­cur – for now. In real­ity, Akibu chafes under the hold of the priest­hood and does very much want to get rid of it. He is a vital man of 36, and raw mate­r­ial for becom­ing a great king – should he be able to eman­ci­pate him­self from the priest­hood of Jul-​Juggah.

A sec­ond Infor­ma­tion Gath­er­ing Check con­cern­ing the ora­cle yields that it is housed in the depths of the tem­ple of Jul-​Juggah and can only be con­sulted by the priest­hood, by Azim­ban nobil­ity, and the rare indi­vid­u­als favoured by them. The tem­ple itself is acces­si­ble for laity only dur­ing a human sac­ri­fice. At other times, it is fre­quented only by the priest­hood and by the royal fam­ily, who may wor­ship there. The priest­hood is said to have fear­some sor­cer­ous pow­ers – but then that’s said of more than half the priest­hoods of Xoth.

Manek and Prince Shahrul decide to cap­i­tal­ize on Shahrul’s aris­to­cratic sta­tus and approach King Akibu openly to gain his sup­port for con­sult­ing the ora­cle. For a suf­fi­ciently grand and royal entrance, one of Manek’s Kuthan trin­kets will be gifted to the king. Also, as he was instru­men­tal in the shame of Akibu’s daugh­ter Sha­bela, Shahrul will use the name of one of his many half-​brothers instead of his own.

Prince Shahrul and his two “atten­dants” Manek and Olathoé are well received at the Azim­ban court. Some courtly social­iz­ing is played through cur­so­rily, described in broad strokes by ref and play­ers alike and its out­come deter­mined by sev­eral Checks of HT, Cus­toms, Eti­quette, False­hood and Infor­ma­tion Gath­er­ing, allow­ing Shahrul to shine at these endeav­ours. Apart from King Akibu, already described above, the courtly pro­tag­o­nists who are going to be impor­tant in what comes are:

Prince Juba: 29 years, the king’s brother. Made of poorer stuff than Akibu, he’s keen on the throne, but too irres­olute to act on his desire. He would have no qualms to sell out to the priest­hood of Jul-​Juggah if it gained him the crown.

Princess Kalunga: 22 years, Prince Juba’s wife. She‘s (of course) as beau­ti­ful as she is ruth­less, and wants the throne even bad­der than her hus­band, whom she is con­stantly egging on to take action – which she would be far more ready to do than he is.

Gen­eral Apil-​Sin: 30 years, a Jairan­ian mer­ce­nary. King Akibu hired this hard-​bitten sol­dier of for­tune half a year ago to raise, train, and com­mand a force of native cav­alry to aug­ment the Azim­ban infantry forces. He is mainly inter­ested in mak­ing a splash, but was unable to resist the charms of Kisana and has a secret affair with her, of which Princess Kalunga is aware.

Kisana: 20 years, a royal slave and danc­ing girl. The buxom yet lithe and very sen­su­ous Kisana is King Akibu’s cur­rent favourite. She har­bours car­nal desires for pretty much all white or white-​ish men and did seduce Apil-​Sin, with whom she car­ries on a secret affair.

High­priest Ngatun: 66 years, sor­cer­ously gifted high­priest of Jul-​Juggah. He has been head of the cult of Jul-​Juggah for some ten years now and was the one to incite the revolt against King Akibu’s father. His ini­tial sus­pi­cions against Akibu have largely been lulled by the latter’s shrewd­ness. Ngatun wants Azimba to extend its power over the entire south, thus spread­ing the wor­ship of his lord Jul-​Juggah.

Kayinde: 39 years, rank­ing priest of Jul-​Juggah. Hulk­ing and ath­letic Kayinde is the youngest mem­ber of the priestly high-​council of Jul-​Juggah, risen to this rank due to his sor­cer­ous tal­ent, his clev­er­ness, and his ruth­less­ness. He isn’t really devout, but he wants to become high­priest, imme­di­ately if pos­si­ble. He also wants Kisana for him­self.

The fol­low­ing events take place over the course of half a dozen days at court:

Shahrul, some­what fed up with cou­pling with exquis­ite though child­ishly inno­cent Olathoé, is approached by Kisana, and, true to his Lech­er­ous Poor Asset, begins a secret affair with the insa­tiable danc­ing girl. He learns of her affair with Apil-​Sin and also that she believes Kayinde, of whom she is deathly afraid, to lust after her

Apil-​Sin, who knows Khazis­tan and Khaz­abad quite well, tries to sound out Shahrul. He utterly fails to draw out the intrigue-​hardened prince and turns to Manek, who is eas­ier prey. Apil-​Sin becomes nigh cer­tain that Manek, and thus pos­si­bly also Shahrul, hides ulte­rior motives. To keep an eye on devel­op­ments he strikes up some­thing of a friend­ship with Manek.

The ref offers Shahrul’s player 1 Drama for auto­mat­i­cally fail­ing his Lech­er­ous Check against Princess Kalunga. Shahrul’s player accepts, rolls and with a very vico­ri­ous Opposed Check suc­cess­fully seduces the princess. Based upon the qual­ity of the Check it is decided that the princess has really fallen for him, aided by his royal sta­tus. Shahrul learns that Kalunga wants to be queen, that she judges Kayinde to be an ambi­tious, up-​and-​coming man, and that she thinks Ngatun to be close to the king and too stodgy to allow any­body per­sonal access to the ora­cle.

The char­ac­ters are invited to attend the next of the two monthly human sac­ri­fices to Jul-​Juggah at the grand tem­ple. In the after­math, Shahrul attempts to sound out King Akibu on his opin­ion about cult and priest­hood, and with an excel­lent Opposed False­hood Check actu­ally man­ages to over­come the sea­soned dis­sim­u­la­tor Akibu. While he doesn’t learn the king’s actual feel­ings, he at least learns that his claims of utter piety are false. Shahrul does strongly sus­pect Akibu’s loathing for the priest­hood.

Fool­hardy and insa­tiable Kisana also seduces Manek the Giant, though she fails to learn any­thing sig­nif­i­cant from him.

Shahrul and his wish to con­sult the ora­cle are pre­sented to High­priest Ngatun, and Shahrul gifts the priest with the penul­ti­mate of Manek’s Kuthan trin­kets. Ngatun promises to “con­sult with Jul-​Juggah” on the request. He does so, and an SP (his? the ora­cles?) is Checked openly, with a very averse result for the char­ac­ters (It was a Prophecy Check reveal­ing that the char­ac­ters are false and very dan­ger­ous to the cult of Jul-​Juggah and Ngatun him­self, though the play­ers do not know these details).

Dur­ing a lion-​hunt hosted by the king a Devil-​Bird of Jul-​Jugah, pre­sum­ably sum­moned by Ngatun, attacks Manek and Shahrul while they are iso­lated from the oth­ers. It is only with the aid of Shahrul’s sor­cer­ous Kuthan blade, which imme­di­ately deals the rep­til­ian beast a griev­ous wound, that he and Manek man­age to slay the mon­stros­ity. Tak­ing a few tro­phies from the Devil-​Bird, they cam­ou­flage its car­cass and then leave it behind, claim­ing their wounds to be from a scrape with a lion. (They rather sus­pect that killing a Devil-​Bird might be sac­ri­le­gious.) Unknown to them, they are watched by Apil-​Sin, who sneaks in after they have left and also takes a few tro­phies, just in case.

At this stage, sev­eral PA points have been earned by both char­ac­ters, mostly to “Be Indebted to No Man”, “Mas­ter Kuthan Sor­cery”, “Locate Kuthans”, “Learn About Ori­gins”, and “Friend­ship Shahrul”.

With an enemy, pre­sum­ably Ngatun, hav­ing openly played his hand, Manek and Shahrul decide that they have to act deci­sively and regain the ini­tia­tive. They count upon Kayinde being power-​hungry enough to betray his own cult and approach him directly. They tell him that they want to con­sult the ora­cle with­out any inter­meiates and ask him for help, offer­ing the sor­cer­ous sword for his aid (which Shahrul has no inten­tion of relin­quish­ing). After Kayinde learns of the sword’s power he reveals that the ora­cle is only ever con­sulted by the high­priest, that it is said to be an actual female avatar of Jul-​Juggah, and that it doesn’t dwell in the tem­ple, but in a secret place reached through a hid­den tun­nel from the tem­ple, and pre­sum­ably quite dis­tant – when Ngatun con­sults the ora­cle, he is usu­ally gone two days (as he has been just now). Kayinde fur­ther says that the door to the tun­nel is locked, with the only key being among the highpriest’s insignia, and that there are grisly sto­ries about its super­nat­ural wards. Only ever the high­priest and his mute porter-​bodyguards go there, apart from two infants sent every year to serve the ora­cle. Kayinde does how­ever not reveal where the door is to be found, demand­ing to be first given the sword. Prince Shahrul gives up the sword, but demands to be shown the door before divulging the com­mand words. In the dead of night, Kayinde smug­gles the char­ac­ters and Olathoé into the tem­ple and takes them to the crypt where the door is hid­den. Here, he demands to test the sword on a slave he has brought along. Shahrul tells him the com­mand words, and Kayinde uses the sword to slay the slave – not notic­ing that Shahrul is mur­mur­ing the words along with him. Kayinde does not know that the sword has to be attuned to a (sin­gle) wielder, and that it is still Shahrul alone who com­mands it.

Believ­ing to have con­trol over the sword, Kayinde shows them the hid­den door, which Manek imme­di­ately sets about break­ing down uncer­e­mo­ni­ously, though with con­sid­er­able effort from even his giant body. As the door opens to a long, dark tun­nel into whicht Manek, Shahrul, and Olathoé ven­ture forth, Prince Shahrul is once again awarded 2 PA points (Mas­ter Kuthan Sor­cery & Be Indebted to No Man) and Manek 1 point (Locate Kuthans).

The Drama point for the best roll goes to Shahrul for his either his Opposed False­hood against King Akibu, and the one for the worst to Manek, though I failed to note exactly for what roll.

Shahruhl’s player has alreay increase his character’s Ancient Lan­guage (Kuthan), Cus­toms, and For­eign Lan­guage (Azim­ban) dur­ing the ses­sion and does now expend most of his remain­ing PA points to increase his CG to 6, thereby also increas­ing his Reflex and Aim to 6. Shahrul’s changed stats are:

CG 6, Reflex 6, Aim 6, Cut & Thrust 7 (MP 13), Bow 4 (AP 10), Enslave­ment 4 (SP 10), Ancient Lan­guage (Kuthan) 3, Cus­toms 3, For­eign Lan­guage (Azim­ban) 2.
Regain Wealth and Power: 0
Elude Padishah’s Wrath: 0
Mas­ter Kuthan Sor­cery: 0
Be Indebted to No Man: 1
Drama: 1
Karma: 81
Loot: 2

Manek’s player is sav­ing his points and does expend noth­ing His changed stats remain:

DG 7, Reflex 7, Move 7, Brawl­ing 8 (MP 15).
Learn About His Ori­gins: 2
Friend­ship with Prince Shahrul: 3
Make a Place for Him­self in the World: 0
Locate Kuthans: 3
Drama: 5
Karma: 68
Loot: 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
The topic has been locked.
The fol­low­ing user(s) said Thank You: IanP.
  • Page:
  • 1
  • 2
Mod­er­a­tors: Mozusuke, Phil, Michael
Time to cre­ate page: 0.290 sec­onds