Thursday, October 21, 2010

OCP The autumn of my year of Tekumel

OCP or Off Campaign Post.

Well, I am going to U-con to, among other things, sit joyously among friends. Registered, with time set aside for the trip, but still no place to stay. Geo might join me, but that is not yet set in stone, and I have offered an invite to a gamer in Milwaukee, since I will be traveling by there, and it wouldn't be too inconvenient to pick up a rider. Also not confirmed. At any rate, it seems a proper tribute to my year of Tekumel. I will continue with Tekumel after the years end, and my campaign will continue, but I may spend a bit of time on other things as well after the first. Probably not much though. I no longer have free time..

I spent some time sorting figures, but my attempt to inventory them got lost quickly. I have acquired a lot of figures over the past year, nearly all proxies, but a collection of the new Eureka and a fair number of old Non humans as well. Painting is even farther behind than attempts to inventory. I have puttered a bit on building some terrain, but not a lot.

I have started re reading Flamesong, after reading Sharpe's Rifles, and the first two Gor books. I really enjoyed Sharpe's Rifles, and see some ideas I will crib. Napoleonic politics is not that far from Tsolyani politics in some ways.. Gor is ok, easy to read, despite awkward writing. I am reading Gor to learn a bit about the world so I can explore the Gor Grid. I want to make a Virtual Tekumel, and they have done a lot with their virtual Gor. Good artists borrow, great artists steal, as they say.

It had been my plan to try to make a Penom gazateer during NaNoWriMo but I think it will have to wait. November is looking to be a complicated month, what with U-Con. I know that I would get little to no writing done during those days. I had also hoped to put up a stand alone OpenSim Grid, and bring it with to U-Con as a demonstration of the potential. It is late October, and I doubt I can do that either, though I have found a computer on craigslist capable of the task, I am not sure I am, at least not in the time remaining.

This pic is from Second Life, but it demonstrates the potential, I think..

Friday, October 15, 2010

When Life Hands you Étla

I seem unable to create a proper sense of danger in my players.

Faced with a writhing mass of Étla, they retreated to the surface, then used the Chnéhl cage as a filter to keep the largest at bay (actually, the largest couldn't manage the stairs). They then set about capturing the smaller ones that came up and made crab of dinner. Like the water, the Étla carried a drug effect, a mild hallucinogenic, euphoric effect. Someone came up with a plan to make money. They set up a simple processing facility, and smoked all the Étla they could manage to capture. Suni took this to Butrús to find a market. En-route, she came to the village at the Sákbe road gates and witnessed a crowd, piously taking in the instructions of a small cluster of dead children.. Concerning, but not enough to keep her from finding a vendor in Butrús who gave her a big contract for all the wunder-crab she could deliver. With the money from the initial batch, she hired more guards, a Chnéhl specialist, and bought a few more slaves. She also contracted a Chlén cart to come to the camp. None of this was what I had in mind when I envisioned a writhing mass of Étla rising from the cave floor..

The Étla processing attracted meat eaters, so they moved the processing farther from the camp. As the harvest declined, Dlákolel came in force and raided the processing site. The Slaves were brought back to camp, the processing abandoned, and the focus became, once again, fortifying the camp. They left the Chnéhl expert and others to oversee this, and Mriga, Suni, and one Beast handler took 10 guards and 10 slaves into the cave to free Sanjesh. The vast majority of the remaining Étla had long since run out of food. The remaining Étla foraged among their carcasses, and the cave reeked. Slaves swept away the remains, and Guards drove off whatever seemed bold enough to approach. They found Sanjesh, a pink Étla free zone, and hit him with a charge from their excellent ruby eye. They lost one slave on the way back to a Haqél that was, surprisingly, in the river. They also encountered Hú bats near the entrance. It has become a ritual now for the players to eat every thing that they find in the caves, so they caught a Hú bat. It was only {meh..}

Leaving the caves, Sanjesh returned to Butrús to see Mis, the Hriháyal high priestess. This was due to a mis communication, but it worked out well. First, Sanjesh got the reward that Mis had hinted would come his way. Several times. He also told her about Mriga and Suni's attempts to get into the library of Avánthe, and Mis suggested that they probably needed to go into the underworld. She offered to help get them in. He was also promoted, with the recommendation of his boss, and the support of Mis.

Back at the Camp, Mriga, Suni and the Chnéhl experts went off in search of Chnéhl. They found a trio, not the ones they sought, but ones from the local group. Someone used a sleep spell, and then the beast handler used zoic domination to control one Chnéhl. They escorted it down to camp. It was the idea of the Chnéhl expert that, owing to the strong community bond of the Chnéhl, the others would come to its aid. They finished fortifications, set a few traps, finished pits, and waited.

The next session was a miniatures battle. Our heroes, vs a large group of Chnéhl . The heroes were pretty well defended, with several pit traps, a low thrush wall, and various traps in the woods. The Chnéhl approached at dusk, but triggered a trap, and then waited until nearly dawn to attack. This is easier to tell with a few pics, so, I have some eye candy. Note that Chnéhl miniatures are not real common. I tried to find a decent proxy, but on short notice, I ended up using a bunch oft mage knight figures of werewolves, and bears and such.. It worked, but I am still trying to find a decent Chnéhl proxy

The Chnéhl approached fairly cautiously, until they got to the wall. They knew quickly that they were out numbered, and showed a surprising sophistication in attempting to capture Suni, rather than drive deep into the camp. They lost a leader into a pit trap, and that was a major hindrance throughout. They finally managed to grab Suni, and pass her over the wall to the other leader, but it was too late. The beast handler took a contingent and blocked their way back to the woods. The leader and his companions wrestled Suni to the ground, and placed a maw on her throat, but didn't bite down, in a move intended to cause her to surrender. They appeared to be attempting to barter. But Suni, if you will recall from way back, has bloodlust and overconfidence, and was having non of it. She managed to to wrestle out her dagger, and stab the beast. Surprisingly, she managed too enough damage to stun it, and this allowed her to press the attack. I don't recall if anyone else joined in, but, she did win, though she only barely survived. The remaining upright Chnéhl attempted to flee, but fell into a pit trap. I think the players captured 7 or 9 Chnéhl. Including the leaders.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Finally, something written

Glorious readers, with abject apologies, I prostrate and flagellate myself before you. I have been ruinously remiss in keeping this blog up to date. There is much to tell. So much, that I am sure to miss bits here and there.

When Last we left our party they had fought with the priestess of the Blue Lady and won. They then recovered her from the underground river, and she was suffering the hallucinogenic quality of the water. When she was revived, they interrogated her. She was recalcitrant, but realistic, and offered up information that seemed to not surrender her mission. She maintained that the attack was self defense, as the party had locked them into the caverns. Starving, and out of water, they were sure that they would not be allowed to live if they did not have a hostage.

The party maintained that they were just controlling access to the caves that they had found, and would have let the leave, had they asked. As a gesture of goodwill, she offered to have the temple provide an excellent ruby eye to release Sanjesh. In return, she asked for permission to look for her two lost guards, and leave. Our heroes agreed. The party left a slave to watch the stairs and provide fresh food and water for the priestess. I think that is who alerted them to the undead. It arose from out of the river, and began to (horrors) lecture them on the proper method for sacrifices. Some in the party could understand its speech, others could not. I don't recall who was who.. At any rate, the tried tossing a net over it. And it crumpled back into a much more natural pile of corpse. They identified the corpse as the Avánthe guard who had fallen in the river during the fight that left Sanjesh in stasis.

They exited and left the cage off the entrance so the priestess could leave at will, propping the cage so that she could drop it over the hole when she was out. The party left of Butrús, both to obtain the eye, and to research and resupply. In Butrús, they discovered Mis was hosting a party, in part to honor her rescuers, and in part because she can. The crew got invitations, though she was disappointed to learn that Sanjesh had not returned with the party. She had received and understood the message suggesting the temple acquire the land. That was another function of the party.

The land in which the cavern mouth sits belongs, currently, to the Plume of White, a clan locally dominated by Chegárra worshipers, and none to wealthy. With the war raging against Yan Kor, and their members joining legions and posting to far off lands, Mis figured they might be open to the idea of selling some land to finance the effort. The members of the Four greater black clans were also hoping to buy the land. They arrived at the party as well. The Group was given the task of keeping the Black Clan representatives busy so that Mis could cut a deal with the Plume of White.

There was the ordinary hob nobbing and such, but the action got interesting when Suni found the pit fighting rings and people started gambling. Wine and a few powders were flowing freely, and pretty soon Suni was signed up in the early competitions. Nothing lethal. But, as a complete unknown, she garnered a good deal of speculative betting. I don't recall the individual fights, but Suni eventually bested the lot, with help form her ring manager and personal healer Mriga. At the end of the night, Suni had an open offer for contracted bodyguard work, and Mis had an agreement to purchase (assuming all clerical paperwork was processed and accepted in Avanthár) the land in question for the temple of Hriháyal to open a small retreat for wayward girls. Mis also offered the party a contract for both the Chnéhl she had lost, and any others they could capture, with a hefty bounty, and some up front funding.

They spent most of the week in town, figuring Sanjesh was pretty safe, being in inter dimensional stasis and all. Suni got word from her temple that she could probably learn more about the Goddess of the Turin River if she could acquire a book from the library's of the temple of Avánthe entitled “A history of the flood of 643 and the appearance and disappearance of the Irriguous Dead”. It was probably held, they told her, in the second level below the temple. She took this to mean the basements and sub-basements. She recruited Mriga to go fetch the book.

A dutiful friend, and convinced that his temples alignment with stability and close ties between Avánthe and Thúmis would make him a better candidate, Mriga agreed. He entered the temple, toting a blue statue he scrounged from an unkempt storage room in his own temple, and made offerings, then slipped below grade. Down into the kitchens, and the coolness of the dorms. He could not find a Library. Eventually, he simply asked someone where he might find a book on past floods. He was directed to up and over to the temple of a lesser followed aspect. I think he fetched another offering, and tried again. He found the scholastic libraries this time, and, having some success with this approach before, he decided to simply ask again. The librarian looked in his records and told him they had no such book. Mriga returned empty handed.

But Suni was not about to give up that easily. If I recall, she bought an offering from the temple vendors and made her way down to the library. What she didn't know was what the Librarian had actually found when he looked in his records. The book had been tagged as heterodoxy, and moved to the secret libraries in the Tsu'urum. Mriga's request had been relayed to the temple guard, as was protocol, and initially just written off as random request for the book by a scholar who had seen it referenced some where. But when Suni asked for the book as well, the librarian suspected something was up. He had her wait, and told her he would get the book. Then he got the guards. She found herself outnumbered and didn't put up a fight. They escorted her to a small cell block and told her to wait. The book was valuable, and this was the only way she would be allowed to see it. Then they got the the fifth circle head of the order for preservation of the purity of the Ladies aspects, who came to interrogate her.

Now, she had not done anything wrong, and Suni was pretty sure that if they meant to kill her they probably would have done so. But she was also pretty sure they weren't interested in seeing her simply walk out. They asked why she wanted the book, and she told them it was for a fictitious scholar, who sounded to me a lot like Mriga. They sent queries to determine the validity of the story. The temple wasn't sure they could simply kill her and be done with the issue. There were suggestions that people might miss her and since they might be forced to release her, they were hesitant to harm her. She pushed the idea that her clan would demand Shámtla, and eventually they asked on what grounds? “Holding me against my will she replied. “We aren't holding you”, they replied, “you are waiting for a book.”. And with that, she decided to quit waiting, and they were forced to let her go, as their other option was to hold her against her will, and they weren't sure if this was worth the path that might eventually follow.

Mriga encouraged the party to leave town. They returned to the caverns and found that the Avánthe priestess had left, with or without her lost comrades they did not know. They entered caves to find and free Sanjesh, but suddenly discovered the floor seething with Étla. From large to small, and representing varieties from all around the empire and beyond.

Check in soon, there should be more.. (not like last time..)