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[Campaign Journal] Sword, Sorcery and Minarets #13

hétfő, február 11th, 2013

#13 Fiasco in the Beggar’s District
by Gabor Lux

The dun battlements of the City rose above the horizon. The boat sailed into a crescent bay, where, just in sight of the walls, a cluster of dismal huts perched on high poles rising from the sea, forming a dense multi-level village connected by wooden walkways and stairs that seemed to be close to collapse. Someone suggested it wouldn’t be a bad idea to stop and ask about the recent news, just in case the Warriors of the Tiger were still looking for dangerous fugitives. They moored their vessel on a pier, and turned to an old, ragged man sitting on a pile of boxes, hinting of a small tip. Bawragh, the ancient beggar, immediately looked interested. Beckoning to the group, he lead them up a few flights of rickety stairs, explaining that he’d prefer to be further from the group of half-naked urchins who were even now hurling insults at him.
“Don’t trust the old man!” one cried.
“What is this?”
“They are ruining my life with their constant taunts and thievery. They are all little miscreants and thieves. Let’s go to my hut, where we can talk safely.”
“That is not a very good idea. Those kids are looking too fondly at our boat.”
“Be it as you wish. But please wait just a minute, I have to have a bit of my cough medicine before I can speak well.”
Bawragh shuffled off in the direction of a large hut, Marasura and Vifranavaz looked around, catching sight of a small group of tall young punks smoking something in the shadow of another dirty shack looking close to collapse.
“Hey! Care to talk?”
“What’cha bringing?”
“I have got these green bars from Arfel. The first one is always free.”
“Thassomethink! Cool! I’m Midjar, and this is my best pal Zhorf. Have some of this grey square, it’s fucking great stuff!”
“I know we would understand each other. I would like to know more about your settlement.”
“I thought you’d want to know my sister.”
“Let’s not rush to conclusions. Where has Bawragh gone off to?”
“Probably to call the red-eyes. They live over there in that big hut.”
“Red-eyes? That doesn’t sound promising. We might have to be going sooner than we thought. Do you know any interesting news from the City? We are sailing there, and wouldn’t want to… well, it’s better to know the recent stuff.”
It turned out there were interesting news from the City all right. There was much talk of a recent murder that had taken place recently: a respectable stargazer, Chandir Lakh, had been found killed in his own quarters. Much sorrow, it is said, had also fallen on the house of Khojar Mirza, although here the news were unclear about the nature of these calamities.
“Well, there comes Bawragh again.”
“Isn’t that kid down there looking at our boat?”
“I think we will be going now.”
“A pleasure talking to you guys. Can we count on you if we have… business in the City?”
“You bring the bars, we bring the hands, you know the way.”
“I think we understand each other perfectly. Nice talking to you, boys.”
Bawragh was back, much less morose than before. He suggested that the characters seek out the large hut in the centre of the pier village, where they would find satisfactory answers to all their pressing questions.
“We really have to be going.” Burzasp answered, pushing a silver piece into the dirty palm of the disappointed beggar.

[Campaign Journal] Sword, Sorcery and Minarets #12

szombat, december 29th, 2012

by Gabor Lux
A Holy Quest

The mountain trail, now very familiar, wound below steep cliffs and crossed impossibly steep gorges which lead down to the plainlands.
 “This is the spot where we recovered our equipment.”
“Yeah, I can see a horse skeleton down there. Shall we rest?”
“No, and if Sohrab has half a brain, he has spotted us this time. If we can’t find a way to get off this road, he will overtake us before morning.”
“What about the girl? Untie her?”
“No way! She is still under the Khan’s magic, or more likely already half a vampire. We shall take her to the Citadel of the She-Sultan, and see if Karttekeza’s priests can help her.”
Marasura was leading the group, looking for a mountain trail that would allow them to escape from this meandering path. At last, he found a very dubious goat trail that seemed to descend to the valley. It was unfit for both horses and men, but they took the opportunity, dismounting and leading the steeds step by step towards a rocky ravine. It was a tortuous and very slow process clambering down large rocks and finding the path, but ultimately, they were on the bottom, bruised and tired but all intact.

[Campaign Journal] Sword, Sorcery and Minarets #11

hétfő, december 24th, 2012

by Gabor Lux
The Saviours

After a long hike up the mountain trail, the characters were once again standing before Sohrab Khan’s keep. In the sunlight, it looked smaller and less menacing. Burzasp, under invisibility, snuck in to see if anyone was in. The passages were deserted, and everything lay as it had been left last time. Still, not missing an opportunity to explore the so far unpenetrated donjon, they headed for the room north of the dining hall, where the iron statue of a tiger stood watch over stairs going up to a second floor gallery.
“This old stuff looks dangerous, ready to collapse.” – said Santiago.
Not trusting the stairs (which were just in the way of the tiger), Vifranavaz threw a grappling hook up on the banister and climbed – to come back crashing down as the ancient woodwork collapsed under his weight.
“It is safe now that Vifranavaz has found the weak spot.” – Burzasp took aim with the grappling hook, and climbed, pulling down another section of the venerable construction in a shower of broken wood and dust.

The third time was lucky, though, as the rope held on what remained of the gallery. Looking around, and defeating a glowing-eyed undead sentinel who lay in wait with a scimitar, they emerged first on a terrace overlooking the surrounding lands. North of the pass, in the dust bowl, a procession of riders were coming towards Birtham – Sohrab Khan, returning from his fruitless hunt with his retinue. Another door lead to an abandoned suite, where there was little more than a few books (Zer Arnaz the Woman of the Sky; The Armies of Kahtoslan), and a handful of small semi-precious stones in a brass gridwork. The rest of the donjon proved even more vacant. They descended back down to the gallery, then down the stairs. There was a huge whoosh coming from the direction of the tiger statue, and the space before it, dry wood and all, was engulfed in a gust of flames. The rest of the gallery fell with a tremendous crash, blocking the double doors back to the dining hall.

[Campaign Journal] Sword, Sorcery and Minarets #10

vasárnap, december 2nd, 2012

by Gabor Lux
The Infiltrators

 “And so, we have provoked the siege of the fortress of Birtham.” – said Marasura.
“Well pardon me! Sequentiality does not imply causality! We will present the story differently.” – responded Burzasp.
“We have seen the lady – and this is the story we will be telling.” – Santiago concluded.
Under the shadows of the great tree in the courtyard of the Citadel of the She-Sultan, Surgat the Weapon Master regarded the company with interest. Sohrab Khan dead yet alive? An army of skeletons and wraith-riders risen against the frontier fort? Gulafshan Zer alive and well, but with the khan? And she has a strange look to her? At last, he spoke:
“You have done very well, and I do not wish to place a yet harder task upon you. The valiant heroes of the Citadel will handle this – all I ask of you is to bring news of this development to the City.”
However, everyone was adamant that they wanted to offer further help. Surgat nodded and ordered his underlings to bring them their rewards for the task already accomplished: 400 gp, a holy symbol of Karttekeza (which Santiago hung around his neck), two ancient and dusty vials filled with holy water, two healing potions, a magical scroll with Dispel Paralysis, and three doses of hydrocreator dust.

[Campaign Journal] Sword, Sorcery and Minarets #09

csütörtök, szeptember 13th, 2012

by Gabor Lux
The Skirmishers

“This was not in the plan.” — someone suggested. In the cool night, Sohrab Khan’s keep seemed darker and more forbidding than before the discovery. Winds wailed through the pass, and amorphous shapes flitted around the mountain peaks. Marasura stood watch while the others slept, and when the night was over, it seemed everything was back to normal – the ruins were silent, and Sohrab Khan and his retinue were nowhere to be seen when the party finally entered the dining hall. Were they sleeping? A door lead to downwards stairs, then a room below a bastion, a corridor with wall niches, and finally a hexagonal room. Three stucco-covered openings were walled up, and Burzasp suggested they were the crypts of the dead: better let them slumber for now. A door to the north bore the mark of a single star, and below it a tiger’s head which had a keyhole in its mouth. Vifranavaz reached inside with his lockpicks to open the mechanism, and the jaw snapped open, trapping him. Finally, Marasura cast enlarge, then reduce on the lock, smashing it apart with the opposed forces.

[Campaign Journal] Sword, Sorcery and Minarets #08

vasárnap, július 15th, 2012

by Gabor Lux

The Guardian

“210 gold pieces, 60 platinum pieces, and eight green bars that look like expensive drugs.” – Ambrosius counted the contents of the iron lockbox.
“That’s not the 93 gp you had missing.” – remarked Burzasp. Marasura was also sceptical: “I do not want a single gold piece.” – he added.
“He was animal torturing scum.” – Vifranavaz interjected.
“We can still smoke this green stuff, though –” said Santiago as he pocketed two of them – “But we have to get out of this city now.”

That was a plan. Thorlig the Northman had to stay behind in the rented room, as he was wracked with vomiting and diarrhea due to a particularly unpleasant tropical illness, and that was the last his companions saw of him. [GM’s note: Basically, Thorlig’s player was absent that session, and later lost his character sheet in a round of housecleaning. So it goes.] The others separated into two companies, and in the grey hour before dawn, Burzasp, Ambrosius and Vifranavaz stalked through the streets to avoid detection. In the gateway of a deserted house, a mound of slime glistened, and a spectral form arose, a skeleton surrounded by transparent jelly. “Come…” – intoned the visage, but the party decided to make a run for it, and was soon standing next to the eastern gate. The guards of the Seigneurs were lost in conversation. Vifranavaz cast a spell on Ambrosius, turning his appearance to that of a decrepit old man. They lead their mounts to the gate.
“Hail! What is your purpose this early morning?” – asked a bearded man.
“We embark on a pilgrimage.” – Vifranavaz answered – “We are escorting this old man to Birtham.”
“But there lies nothing but the Waste of the Unbelievers—“
Burzasp drew the guard aside – “You know. We arent’t taking him too far…”.
“So that’s your game!” – the man laughed – “Well, I’m not keeping you. Good luck, and may the gods be with you – Ozolba excepting, of course.”
Slightly later, another pair approached the northern gate. Santiago and Marasura had heard the cries on the market, news of a gruesome find in the streets, and hushed whispers that the Scarlet Man might have had something to do with it. They walked out unchallenged, and when they were out of sight, circled around to the road leading southwest.
“You know, that cat merchant really was suspiciously wealthy.”– mused Ambrosius.

[Campaign Journal] Sword, Sorcery and Minarets #07

vasárnap, július 15th, 2012

by Gabor Lux

City State of the Charnel God

The marble and alabaster terraces and gilded cupolas of the Citadel of the She-Sultan receded in the distance; the road wound along the seacoast on a high escarpment. After purchasing horses and leaving their boat in the harbour, the characters were approaching the walls of Arfel. The road was empty of traffic, and there was grass among the stones. Finally, among a double row of crumbling statues standing on ancient columns, there was Arfel’s southern gate, or where it used to be: the entrance between the two round towers was walled up and obviously out of use. Beyond the wall rose dark and dilapidated-looking buildings.

After circling a plateau dotted with shanties and chaotic clusters of houses, the party now approached the western gate, wide open with a motley gang of fighters in colourful garbs watching the road. They hailed the newcomers, and, after collecting their one gp fee, warned them about Arfel’s peculiar customs. The City State of the Charnel God was ruled by the cultists of Ozolba the Zombie God, and his immense, labyrinthine temple-complex dominated every view. All within the walls was free for Ozolba’s taking, and the veiled priest exercised this right without mercy, seizing anything and anyone they wished, and carrying it back to their vast necropolis. The city aristocracy was in turn a circle of noble families, who mostly populated the orderly but rather abandoned upper city: their windowless mansions like so many mausoleums, they observed the Necrotic Traditions, which ascribed a funereal life to both living and dead. Neither the priests nor the aristocrats concerned themselves much with worldly interests (or at least they hid them well), and therefore, civilian rule in Arfel was practically left to six Seigneurs. Their names were Salvar Afzal the Sailor; Rahman Rashid Uthman; the lady Zaida Shura; Omar Nezam the Alleyway Lord; Hyelmékshú; and The Crimson Man. The armed forces of the city consisted of their followers, and key points like the gates or the harbours were under common supervision.


[Campaign Journal] Sword, Sorcery and Minarets #06

kedd, május 8th, 2012

by Gabor Lux
A Picaresque

After searching the cave for more clues and finding nothing, the characters set out along the northern coast to see more of Tridentfish Island. Approaching a village of dismal huts they had spotted previously, they now observed a gang of rag-clad women picking among the flat stones of the beach with long wooden poles. Approaching a smaller group, Burzasp and Vifranavaz greeted them, inquiring about the place and what they knew about the island. It turned out they were pariahs who considered themselves so low-born they were only fit for this life, and were currently foraging for the slinking rootcrawler, their main source of nourishment: one pointed at a reed basket full of disagreeable-looking crablike things with barbed stingers. Of the rest of the island, they only knew they were forbidden to visit it, but mentioned that Pavat, their foreman, could tell more. (tovább…)

[Campaign Journal] Sword, Sorcery and Minarets #05

csütörtök, április 5th, 2012

by Gabor Lux
Trials on Tridentfish Island

Note: Since Mr. Premier is busy preparing to earn his degree in English Studies, I have taken over the duties of writing this campaign journal until his return. — G. L.

Dissatisfied with the fiasco in the Cycloptic Cave, the procession turned back and marched along the rocky paths of Tridentfish Island to the palace of Tulashnar. Dur Lani was waxing morose, and although some party members considered telling him of the other cavern where they discovered the wormlike statues, they decided not to test his tempers. Arriving at the palace at sunset, the assembled company settled down for an evening of feasting and music, the servants building a makeshift throne for their master and Burzasp, but the festivities were forced and the mood downcast. Night fell on the great pyre before the gates, and everyone was lost in private thoughts as the hours advanced and the men drank.

[Campaign Journal] Sword, Sorcery and Minarets #04

szombat, március 3rd, 2012

by Kalman Farago
An excursion

As we were discussing our next move — we intended to leave the City of Vultures behind for a while, at least until the disarray over Khojar Mirza’s death and the slaughter of a patrol settles down –, we spotted a mighty army heading for the city. While the others chose to remain hidden behind the hills, Burzasp and Ambrosius went and, pretending to be travellers of no importance, took a closer look. They learned it was the army of Lord Khair Rabani Daneeshwar, returning to the city after collecting taxes from the nearby town of Avendar. They also received information about two travellers accompanying the army, who were recently rescued from a sandstorm and who were looking to join up with likeminded fellow spirits. These two — Marasura Aamir Nazar and Yar-Shalah by name — were taken back to the others for introductions, and they decided to travel with the rest of us for a while. Yar-Shalah was a nondescript traveller in a ragged, torn burnous, armed with spear, scimitar and composite longbow; the other also seemed to be a drifter, lean and muscular. Both had been waylaid by the robbers of one Razi Yazeb, who had let them go without much harm, but left them to the mercy of the elements.

“And this terrible sandstorm we got trapped in, it tore the bone and skin from the meat… I mean, it tore the bone and the meat from… no, wait.. the skin and the meat…”