Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Fellowship of the Braunstein

Fantasy Flight Game Center
I see posts from a few who were there on their blogs. And pictures and video. Figured I should probably also post a bit on my experience.

Chirene hosted a classic "Braunstein" like event at Fantasy Flight Games in Roseville MN. They were gracious hosts, and we had a fair amount of space and players up on the balcony.. enough to make me worry at time about capacities and structural engineering.. One does that if one has ever read "Why Buildings fall down" and considered the potential for contractors to make minor alterations that have major consequences.. but I digress..

Chirene, for those not acquainted, was painter and miniatures maven for M.A.R. Barkers tekumel campaigns, as well as functioning at various times and in various capacities in the business end of things. As a character, he was a Battle Magic Priest of Vimuhla in the original thursday night group run by the Professor. (Not to be confused with the myriad other Thursday night gaming groups in the country.. I understand some people are having trouble with this disctinction.. )

He has been collecting, archiving, and living Tekumel history since very nearly its inception. And he has amassed a museums worth of of terrain and figures to support his events. They are remarkable productions. (He has not one, but two separate sets of Sakbe Road props..  I am not worthy..)

This battle was played out in a low lying Archipelago occupied traditionally by the Hlutrgu, and most expectedly in recent times by the Sisters of Serqu, and their would be rescuers / Hlutrgu fodder.. I found myself a home on Team Hlutrgu, and could not have been happier about it. Gave me a whole new perspective on the Species.. Must find a way to get them into my campaign..

Sisters in distress
We located the girls fairly quickly, and they surprised us with some nasty firepower in the form of eyes.. This attracted the attention of every faction on the board, and everyone tried to converge on the fracas. We had no real shot of getting the girls after that, but I reasoned with our chieftain that there was no real reason to care. Tasty human was tasty human, and we agreed that fighting for two scrawny females was not in our best interest. Dead bodies were.

The Sisters bite back
The Ahoggya concerned us, traditionally swamp neighbors, and generally hostile, we also knew that we had some commonality. We both found humans tasty. We invited them to help us harvest. They agreed, but wanted the girls if they could get them. Seemed a reasonable trade.  So we piled on the humans we found in the North, and they struggled against the pirates in the south. A lot of bodies were wasted in the mouths of critters in the sea, I am afraid. In the end we reasoned we had a good harvest; even if many were our own, the humans that lived and the Ahoggya were leaving, and we were going to need to rethink our picket lines..

Tasty humans for the food pit
The rules were minimalist. Ranged combat that hit simply killed, no hit points. (save for some reason when one of the girls took a grapplying hook to the stomach from an Ahoggya who was trying to secure her safety from the pirates by pulling her off their ship..)  Close combat was resolved using the old charts in Qadardalakoi. Compare combat factors vs armour and lose a number of bodies in a melee.. keeping the flow moving is important when you have this many actors each with this many figures.. and a few wandering monsters..
Outnumbered? Tasty Hlutrgu.

The sisters had chosen, probably wisely, to start at the far end of the board from the Hlutrgu village, so our slippery rubbery body count at that end was kind of short.  But in the village, where we had piles of unaccounted bodies hiding inside the huts, we easily overwhelmed the tasty humans. Well on one island.

Other areas we were overwhelmed.. but we turn lemons into Lemoned Hlutrgu bake.. So, we don't mind so much. Chaos ensued until the Sisters chose to leave with the pirates.. (What? And that was somehow a more dignified end? Tasty humans not as smart as Hmelu... )

The Sisters are in the forward ship

The humans that were not marooned started to leave at that point, with the "Rescuers pursued by the remaining active boatload of Ahoggya.. The humans had control of some parts of the table, but, we were limitless, and simply assembled until we were overwhelming. That is our way. This would have happened post game, but be assured, it would have happened. The isles of the breeding pool would have been cleansed and feasting would have occurred..

The marooned Ahoggya would have been invited to the feast, as our chief allowed. And then hunted for desert. They probably didn't think of that.

Thank you Chirene, Fellow Hlutrgu, and Noble Food stufs, for the bounty we were to recieve..

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

On the roads again

Their biggest obstacle in leaving was that the Sakbe road guards didn't really want to let them leave, and there was a steady flow of refugees cluttering the lowest level coming into Tumissa. There were a few members of Merchant clans heading towards Butrus, but anyone headed out of Tumissa would be swimming against the tide.

It was observed that the middle Tier was nearly empty, and the party started conspiring to get an upgrade. In order to do that, they were going to need to become part of a party with some Status. Mriga went to his temple, and he made some contacts. They found a High status Priest of Thumis who was looking for body guards, and they signed on.

Even so, security was tight, and they only made it one third of the way on the first day, when the Sakbe road guards announced that Mu'ugs had been reported on the road ahead, and no one was allowed through. (Unless, of course, they insisted, and had the status to back it up - which our priest of Thumis did.) They made good time for the morning, then they hit upon a guard house, Tower, with the doors locked from the inside. There were signs of a fight outside, debris, perhaps a merchants retinue? And blood. The Gate house on the lower level was passable, but the stairway up was locked. They climbed up the wall, and cautiously peered at the top Tier.

Technically, none of them had any right to go up to this level. Probably a capital offense. But there was blood on the Beautifully inlaid path, and it lead to the door to the tower. The group reasoned that someone of import had been attacked, and further reasoned that they would not be judged any less harshly by the system if they failed to attempt to render aid.  So they climbed onto the sacred third tier. The blood led to the tower. On the far side, on the wall facing the Chakas and Mu'ugalavia, a lone long slender ladder scaled the wall. Probably not the work of the Mu'ug army. Deserters? A strike team? Spies?

If you are not knowlegeable of the ways of Tekumel, the Sakbe roads are tiered to reflect the class conscious social structure. The bottom tier is for commoners, the next for nobles, the top tier is for imperials and the highest nobles.
The image should give you more information if you follow it to the source.

 Mriga discussed attempting a spell to force the door, but wiser heads prevailed. It was generally believed that the Sakbe Roads Gaurd houses, being both roads, and imperial bastions of defense, also contained wards - said wards being geared to protect against Military magic. A solitary priests spell would probably only result in his own death.

They decided to check the roof, where they did find a open hatch, and they went inside. What they found was a body. An imperial messengers body. He had, apparently, been running the top tier when he came across someone and was injured. Perhaps he was the target, or perhaps a victim of circumstance.

Now a note on Tsolyani culture. In most RPGs, a dead messenger would be an invitation to loot the body. On Tekumel, this would be a crime. And crime has consequences. Our heroes bound up the body as they found it, built a litter, and carried, otherwise unmolested, back to Butrus. There they underwent a long, and serious line of questioning. And a few moderately intrusive spells. But, as their story checked out, and they did the best they could at securing the messenger and his cargo, and did not shirk their responsibility to the Empire, they were released, provisionally, to their respective clans recognizances.

Butrus was suffering a shortage of legionary defenses. The Itos had stepped up, and organized the various temple guards to pull watches, and patrols. The Itos, being the most powerful local clan, with a history of rebellions against the Empire, and establishing their own independent principalities, could always be counted upon to try to run things in times of trouble. The big question would be if they would be as willing to stand down when things were calm again.

Word came that the Itos had also begun snooping about the cave entrance area. It was decided to stage a cave in, and close down the cave entrance, try to hide it, and cease operations there until they knew which way the wind was blowing.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Time to catch up to the Party..

When we last left our heroes.. well, that was a while ago anyway..It has been over a year since my last post on the campaign..

When we last left the party, they had just arrived in Tumissa, amd Mriga had met his charge, and learned he would be going to Avanthar to deliver her to the festivities of the Kólumejálim, but they had some time. Sanjesh made inquiries, but Mis would not see him, as she was in a state of ritual preparation for the 32nd Unspeakable act. In My tekumel this involves the death of the Officiant, an experience every Devotee should try at least once. He learned the purpose of the  Chnehl that had been the focus of so much effort was to rend her into pieces. There was a new body awaiting her, should all go well. Should things go badly, there was a fair chance that the new body might need to be donated by her hand maiden - a woman of whom Sanjesh was quite fond. But still, duty, and all, it was not his to interfere.  Well, not much. It proved also to be true that he was given the honor of being listed as an alternate in the ritual, should any of the primaries become incapacitated.. not that there was any reason to thing they might..

Word was coming from the lines that the Mu'ugs were closing, the local legions, outnumbered, were falling back to defend the city and the roads, and at some point, it was expected that the city would go into lock down to endure a siege. With no emperor, and no heir yet chosen, it might be a bit before relief came. This wasn't a huge concern. Tumissa has survived sieges before, but the party had places to be. All save Sanjesh, whose top priority was to attend the ritual. It was agreed that, should the situation reach critical, the rest would leave him in Tumissa, and they would make way back to Butrus, and then on to Avanthar.

Sanjesh made contact with the serving slaves of some of the primaries, with the help of Mis hand maiden. He also acquired some minor poisons. A deal was struck, the slave would be purchased, and taken back to Butrus, to be given a safe and pleasant detail in Sanjesh' clanhouse, if she would deliver said poison to one of the guards from the ritual. Nothing designed to kill, only to make him ill, and unable to take part. And so Sanjesh found himself called to duty at the last minute.

The ritual was long, and complicated. The problem presented to Sanjesh, and the other guards, was to keep the Chnehl at bay, and away from Mis, until the appropriate time. If they reached her too soon, they would ruin the ritual, and it would be far less likely she would survive her death. There were alternatives in place, but they were chancey. 

We didn't go into a lot of detail on the process here. I think, however, it could serve as an interesting miniatures game, and I may try it one day. Suffice it to say, though a guard was injured, none were killed, and the ritual went off as planned. It was not a pretty sight, and the Chnehl were then herded of for sacrifice. But, by morning, word had come that Mis was well, and recovering, in a new body - no explanation was given as to where she got it. She still could not receive visitors.

And word also came that the last of the legions were headed for the city gates. It was time to leave.