That’s not a knife, that’s a LUCKY knife!
– 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
So, for the first time in running the White Dwarf scenario “Irilian” by Daniel Collerton, this game sees a material plot divergence from the rather linear original, a consequence of me adapting it to my game world, my, what I laughingly call my GM style and reducing the almost constant combat. Other changes in the order of things happening or details have not been significant, maybe this one will be.
Having found Tamiz the sage as suggested, and extricated him from a potential bar fight so that he can research and explain the verse told to them by the priestess Teralag. He is using alchemical means to sober up and, whilst looking pale and unsteady, seems resolute to the task, to try and get some meaning from the phrase
Out of the West, The Dark comes crawling, Higher and higher. Till it touches the sky. Whlle in the East. The Light, still burning. Sends the Hero, Gifting the sacrifice pyre.
Reasearch will take time,givingrthe group have a day to their own devices, to get gear, for the mechanics of the XP Spend to take effect and to rest, whilst Tamiz consults his books.
Dhran buys a helmet to go. with his armour, Utana has his armour repaired and Jushuur is measured up so that his plate armour can be made to actually fit him. Silvered arrows are replaced, as they have found them so useful in combatting various creatures and Dhran looks to have a scabbard made for his weird hooked dagger, taken as war booty from a cultist. The rest of the group look askance at him keeping this, it bearing all sorts of unholy symbols and which Teralag seemed to sense. He, however, insists that is is his lucky dagger, and he will return to this theme throughout the session. The armourer was reluctant to actually touch it but enough silver changed hands to change his mind.
That evening, guided by their on retainer urchin, returning to Tamiz, they find that he has tidied up a little, and tried to be more presentable, and a responsible host, before giving what explanation he could on such a short verse. There is disagreement about what the Dark is, is it merely a philosophical concept, a drawing together of many evils, or one evil gaining power from gathering lesser evil to itself?
The group enjoins on a philosophical discussion on the nature of evil, and in particular the lesser evil in the group, namely Farshad, being lesser both in scope and stature. Whatever “The Dark” is, it is known to draw those lesser evils to it, and can bring out the evil in those that might otherwise be thought of as good and, whatever the Dark is, as it gains power it will certainly act as a coherent entity. It cannot be wholly defeated unless all that is evil in the world is destroyed, but without that, it can be delayed.
Tamiz suggests that the next person to consult is a Sakah astrologer, Tothagoz, who might be able to provide further insight, for surely the evil will mark itself in the stars.
At the astrologers, they are brought in by a tall, cadaverous man, her servant and shown upstairs to a chamber where Tothagoz comes to meet them. Tothagoz is a Sakah, a nomadic peoples from the East who form some of the nobility of Quulbaqr, the state surrounding the free City of Iralun, but she has overdone the costume and jewellery, possibly to appeal to her customers as a more exotic figure. She listens to the group’s tale, finds out their birth dates and places and makes notes and calculations. She declares that there are links between the groups as shown in their Birth Aspects (DragonQuest’s equivalent of character horoscopes).
This takes some time, and it is now dark enough to observe the stars. The group are lead to the roof, an open area, screened at the sides with a tent like arrangement at the centre and some stools set around. Tothagoz uncovers the “tent” and collapses the frame to reveal an arrangement of lenses in a frame, each lense linked by wires of truesilver. She takes some preliminary sightings before turning it west and to make her proper observations. Whatever she saw, proved too much for her, and she collapses, blood coming from mouth, nose and ears.
At this problem, one of the issues of running such a well known, in fact legendary, scenario rears its head. One of the players remembers this portion, and intimates that that has triggered memories of the ending, and what the ending requires of the group. My response is that is now, because of my changes, that requirement is not the only only way that it can be interpreted, and that there is another way.
Jalabu decides to have a look through the lenses also, and he swoons, though is not injured. José does what healing he can, whilst Jushuur gets their guide to run back to the Temple of Ghalmerha, to get healers from there. Between them all, Tothagoz is stabilised and Jalabu brought round.
Whilst Jalabu is less affected, between them, the group get the impression that a formless intelligence to the west, one that mocked and dismissed Jalabu and, while mocking of Tothagoz, it drew her in, examined her and spat her out contemptuously. She did, however get an address, 3 Khalkedon Way. The group leave Tothagoz in the hands of the Temple Healers and plan what to do next.
The group, apart from being pleased that they now have, they think, ultimate evil’s home address, go back to the Temple to rest. Suspicious about what they are getting themselves into, the ensure that they all armed and armoured as best as they can be, before setting out to tackle evil in daylight. This fully armed and armoured mercenary approach worries the local citizen watch who shadow the group, archers ready.
What the group would do if ultimate evil was not in, they never planned for. I assume that they’d scribe on a bit of clay “We tried to deliver your doom but you were out, you can collect your doom at the Temple of Ghalmerha during the following hours.”
The building they ended up at was in disrepair and closed up, the lower floor blocked by mortared stone, the upper by nailed boards. Farshad’s inspection revealed, at the rear, a hidden, and well maintained, lock in the blocked rear door that, when he picked it, revealed that the blocking stone was a thin layer on a working door. What neither he nor Jalabu found was the release that tripped an alarm elsewhere. Inside the place was bare apart from rubble, lathe was exposed, chunks of plaster were fallen, rocks, broken furniture and the corpses of dead rats.
In the scenario as written, the next fight involves giant rats, I changed that, as they had recently tackled giant rats, but left the corpses of the rats in to commemorate them. Not finding the alarm changed what happened later, allowing those inside to prepare
Proceeding upstairs to the first floor, the way is blocked by a floating, flaming skull with skeletal arms descending from it, a creation of necromancy (as opposed to healing magic). It casts a spell of agony, affecting all but in particular Jalabu and José, who are locked in pain and blocking the stairway.
In DragonQuest magic resistance is based on Willpower with modifiers, like casting counterspells or what college of magic you are in and its relationship to the college of the caster. If you are NOT in a College of Magic, that in itself provides a bonus and, with an active group entirely of non-magical characters, they al got it, but it did not help for the agony spell.
The skull then conjures mortal shaped constructs made of the rubble, who seek to attack the group with sharp claw like endings to their arms, though seemingly vulnerable to silver. A short fight was hampered, on the group’s side, by the pain of the agony, and Jushuur was hurt by some clutching spell that seemed to grip his heart, but after the realisation that the attackers, save for the skull, was illusory, then the swift application of silvered arrows and a smashing blow the skull was felled. The skull was decorated with engravings, semi-precious stones and metal wire, which Jalabu pocketed.
The two rooms of the upper floor were also bare, save for two boxes of assorted discarded and stained clothing, as was the attic space, but a pile of broken furniture in the corner of the main room proved to be a secret trapdoor over a ladder which went down a chimney breast like space to the cellar, or possibly below the cellar.
The group descended, assembling in an ante-chamber in front of a simple door. Prepared, they proceeded into a large room, and it seems apparent that this space extends under neighbouring buildings. In front of them are six posts, each with someone tied to them, facing that door. From the left a woman then a man, both seemingly in their late twenties and attractive, the other four are occupied by robed and hooded figures.
Above, on a T shaped cross is hung a heavily tatooed Kurrim, hanging by his arms and not moving. As Jalabu is about to untie a robed figure, José uncovers its head, the figure is obviously dead, but that hasn’t stopped it moving. The robed figures prove that their restraints are fake, looped ropes, and they attack. Jalabu is grappled, the others manage to handle the remaining dead with light wounds.
Durign the struggle, they ignore the desperate pleas from the woman to be set free, and the listless groans of the man, probably asking the same thing if anyone could understand him. Eventually Jalabu shoves the dead figure back, allowing the others more freedom of action to cut it down. Despite Dhran’s most powerful exercise of will, he cannot see anything untoward in the pair that are left, no illusions or disguises, and the two other prisoners on the posts are released.
José, helping the woman up, guides her to the ladder and out. Jalabu, not unfamiliar with torture, notices that the wrists of the man seem barely damaged, rather than the rope burned and abraded ones he might expect, however as the man thanks all, he explains that he was recently enticed into an alley by the sound of a child in distress and set upon by the four dead folk in the robes and dragged here. Still thanking people on his way out, he claps Dhran on his back, and a weird touch of kinship sparked between them, perhaps delighting or perhaps upsetting Dhran, who can say. Maybe both.
The Kurrim is gently lowered. Their tattoos are of a sort the group has not seen before, certainly not those of the worshippers that they have followed. He seems close to death, but the first aid he is getting, allows him enough strength to reveal that he too has a story of kidnap, only in his story, the woman and man that the group freed were priestess and priest of this underground temple.
However those two, and José, are gone
And there we left it
So I was less prepared for this than usual, real life stuff taking over meant that no prepared maps and being tired the patter was less “show” than “tell”, must work on that.
There are a couple of things going on, including the disappearance of the two from this temple and with them a party member, that are not as the scenario as written intends, so we’ll see what we all make of that in future. There are a couple of other player/character things going on, which is great for me, not knowing everything that is going on. These being so, I have not written about some of the things that have been going on, I will reveal all later maybe.