Are we there yet?
The SPI DragonQuest campaign is reaching Irillian. I have not posted much about the previous adventures, as they are all based on commercially available scenarios, and I don’t want to spoil them, but Irillian is technically OOP and 38 years old, so more detail on this. The campaign is based on the world I am building for the replacement for C&S Essence, so the world can change as I develop ideas, but also scenarios I change to fit.
Irillian is a case in point. A Classic White Dwarf adventure and city over six parts in 1983, firstly it is meant for an Dark Ages Anglo-Saxon based gameworld, not mine, and some elements I don’t like, eg the start is a combat heavy hex crawl, so this is not immune to my adaptions, probably for the worse.
A version of the Irillian adventure, redone, is available http://kellri.blogspot.com/2018/09/the-rising-dark.html
A version of the city info from the series, redone, is available http://kellri.blogspot.com/2018/09/irilian-remastered.html
– Farshad – A merchant adventurer, small of stature, blamed for more than he should be
– Dhran the White – A farmboy seeking his way in the world, owning his name to a brush with fear
– Juan José – A mercenary and healer from the barbourous West
– Jushuur – A mercenary and ranger, deadly in combat, a half-immortal Perim
– Utana – A noble and agent of the Haraxan magistrate Niralha
– Jalabu – A merchant guard with questionable skills from the far south, who thinks Farshad could be blamed for more
– Gunion – scholar and practitioner of mystic arts, currently studying secret tablets in an unknown location, a half-immortal Perim
Our heroes had, some weeks ago, at the behest of Harvan, a court official and aide to the magistrate of the northern Haraxan kingdom, Niralha, investigated a long forgotten tomb in a deserted city and, while disposing of a sorceror who had not quite resurrected, found the tablets and books engraved on metal plates that Harvan was seeking.
However, there are books that cannot be read, the knowledge is not at Harvan’s disposal. Therefore he has given the group rubbings of them and asked them to go to the city of Irulan, far away, across Haraxan, across the vast Rule of Ishtir, into Quulbar, a lost outpost of the former Rule of Haxamanis to which all once belonged. There should be a Temple in which works that will aid in the translation, and scholars that can read it should be found.
The journey has taken weeks, accompanying a trade caravan in which Farshad invested party funds for part of the way, then striking north, having adventures along the way, including depriving a charalatan of their earnings, putting to peace a nature spirit corrupted by dark forces and clearing an inn of some rats.
Now, they are ready for the the last leg of their journey to Irulan.
We start in the “Dancing Lamprey”, an inn on the river port city of Majinv. With foes defeated the pall was lifted from the inn, and a good night sleep was had by all, restoring fatigue and bringing the start of happiness again to the lives of owner Vuntosghan and the remnants of his family, his daughter Annranesta.
They had had that inn arranged by Katyavan, a factor working for a previous contact and employer Baltajniz. His forest sawmill was the subject of a curse put in place by a nature spirit that had somehow been raised to anger by agents of a god intent on working evil. The group had seen signs scrawled on the walls of the mill where they had made their camp after the curse had lead to the deaths of all who worked there. They had found traces of that band after they left the mill, being joined by others, but that large group left the road before they reached Majinv and they decided to inform Katyavan rather than chase a large band.
That Katyavan now comes in, full of apologies, having heard your troubles, and brings supplies and news. She knows of a barge going downriver to pick up a cargo, it will have space for the group and beasts, and will take the group to a village that is close to the main road to Irulan. From there it should just be a few days to get to the city.
The three days of river travel is quicker than the overland route, and takes them to a village, the first purely Quulbari place that they have been. These are peasants, the long term inhabitants, subjugated by the new ruling class of Qomeri invaders. Seeing armed and armoured strangers, the locals hid away in their homes, peering out the shutters at them as they rode through the village.
The group have directions and ride through the fields and head along the track that will take them to the main road, Utana scouting ahead, Jushuur guarding the rear. At noon, they came across a trail made by about 10 people the day before, cutting across the path. Using their ranger skills, they determined that the prints were made by feet wearing shoes of different cultures, finding a discarded, ruined pair that originated in Ishtir, so at least two hundred miles away to the south, across the mountains. Jushuur also found a green brooch made in the form of a leaf, discarded by the trail, but it was just a cheap knock off.
They debated following this trail, which Utana estimated would join the road to Irulan, but decided that with their riding mules, they would be better pushing on at speed and intercepting this group further on. However, maybe it would not be so long as all that, for an hour ahead Utana spotted as a varied and ragged number of attackers were ambushing a train of wagons defended by Kotharim, children and grandchildren to the nth degree of the god Hayyan wa Kothar.
The group ran in to the rescue, surprise aided them, the archery of Dhran and José did much to clear the attackers, but Utana skewering one foe with one charge with his spear, then another was frightening. Jushuur’s trademark stabbing people while their back was turned was effective, but his mighty sweep with his oversized sword in both hands, slicing through two foes, was the thing that broke the foe, or maybe it was Farshad’s sliding under a wagon to slice through an attacker’s femoral artery, instantly felling his foe.
The surviving attackers fled, most were cut down by the Kotharim defenders as they ran, but Dhran and Josê fired at the two attackers who managed to get away. Dhran killed his, but José wounded the other, dragging him back for questioning. As Jalabu is still away away with Utana’s servant, holding the riding mules, if falls to Utana to put him to the question, but the captive bites his tongue off and drowns in his own blood. He would give no answers.
The field is awash with corpses, twenty or more Kotharim and over thirty attackers are dead. The atttackers are heaped onto a mount, their gear is not worth salvaging. The Kotharim are laid in shallow graves with cairns, the Kotharim will arrange for more permanent rest later.
The wagons were rearranged, space made for wounded on one of them, with José tending to them. Fhran comforted the live beasts and dead mules were hauled from the harness and the lightest wagon would now be pulled by Kotharim. The group never offered their mules to the task.
The corpses are examined, and there tattoos are found on the corpses matching symbols scrawled on the walls of the mill they investigated three weeks ago, on the other side of the mountains. Perhaps the group remember that they followed the trail of that band for a while on the way to Majinv, wrangling over whether to follow the band or continue to the city.
The Kotharim thanked them for their help. After burying their dead and stacking the fallen attackers bodies by the side of the road, they spoke to the group, explaining that they were taking raw materials and crafted goods to Irulan, and could they hire the group to escort them there. The group agreed, it would be a few days, and there was safety in numbers. Who the attackers were, or why, the Kotharim did not know.
The first night drums started sending messages back and forward across the hills, mystifying everyone, and these kept up for the next two days.
The second day was uneventful, but at night, when Farshad was on watch, he heard weeping and howling across the sky. The Kotharim explained that it might be the Lady of Woods and Beasts with the warhound of her son. Why they should be in distress they do not know. Both are generally favourable to mortals, and why the hound should be with the Lady, rather than her son Hamman, mystified them.
During the third day, the drums stopped, causing some worry, “Too damn quiet!”. In the fading light at the end of the day, as the group were setting up camp, Utana and Jushuur heard heavy footsteps coming in front of and behind the caravan, and to one side. A large figure, a two headed giant who introduces himself as Bakbak.
This shocking appearance reminds Farshad of a little lore about mountain dwellers called Kevu, that they kidnap and eat people. They often have two or three heads, but it is rare for any to have more than one personality in their bodies. Worringly, some know magic.
Bakbak explains that he has been ordered to kill and eat the group. This he could do, but it seems like hard work. Give him food, either beasts or people, he doesn’t care which, and he will go away. Refuse, he will go away, but he will pick a time to come back, and do that hard work.
He ignores questions about who ordered him. The group refuse, and Bakbak, true to his word, orders his family away. Utana and Jushuur notice that his tracks away are visible, then vanish, obviously Bakbak knows some spells.
Dhran recalls an old story he heard about the Kevu, in which the Kevu refused meat because it was too fresh, they like to hang it a while. Quickly the group call out, hoping that the Kevu are still within earshot.
The woods came alive and chatted to them. They explain that while they are not going to give up any of their people or beasts, about 25 to 30 miles back is a mound of corpses, killed just two and a half days ago, would that be suitable?
Bakbak thinks about it and agrees, though if the group are lying, they can be back before they can go far with those carts. They Kevu head off along the road to find the promised food, and Bakbak calls out as he goes “Mazd. Their name was Mazd. A priest of the god who seeks the destruction of all.
And there we left it