Write-up 30th May 2024 – The Tenacious Three in the Smuggler’s Hole

Coming to terms with a long deserted house and grounds somewhat littered with corpses of former slaves of a demon, the group find themselves interrupted by news from the Capital. Smersh has been granted the status of Databdara, a combination investigator, magistrate, supervisor of local tax collectors and general public morals, with Utana there to instruct him. José Juan has been contacted by an agent of his new Ambassador controller, Hortensia, and Fetnah can see her companion spirit as clearly as I of she were flesh and blood.

Our cast

  • José Juan – Foreigner from the far west, warrior, healer and agent of the Rule
  • Farshad – Merchant of the Rule of Ishtir, musician and agent of the Rule
  • Jalabu – Noble of Dilmun, Merchant-Adventurer and agent of the Rule, currently coming to terms with his inner demon, literally


  • Arpaesis – From the far western land of Ta-Khemet, student of Arcane Lore, and agent of the Rule, currently studying books of Lore
  • Dhran the White – of humble origin in Ishtir, warrior, agent of the Rule, currently studying in the capital and trying to unionise
  • Utana – Noble of the Rule of Haraxa, Agent and Officer of the nation
  • Fetnah – Shaman from a long time ago, and a forgotten and lost land, and agent of the Rule
  • Smersh – Larcenous Priest from long time ago, and a nation long gone, Databdara (Magistrate) and agent of the Rule

The scene opens as it would to a normal day in any adventurer’s hero’s life. Smersh and Fetnah are clearing Smersh’s home, having a major clear out, just as the players are, though one hopes the players do not have to also deal with a few stray spirits. Smersh, aided by the local priests of the Cold Ones, led by the senior priest An-Dimikhan, are also intending to ritually cleanse and reconsecrate the family temple and door shrine.

Map of the town of Spah and surroundsBack in the town of Spah, in a temporary office set up by Smersh’s factor Afghaq, Farshad is going over the accounts, and noting the current outgoings to labourers hired to clear away the corpses and renew the road to the Estate, the start of which is encroached by the marshes.

In another corner, José Juan is going through a collection of cuttings from the estate’s feral herb garden, checking against a book of herbs of the region sent by Hortensia, perhaps not all are intended purely for the kitchen, occasionally checking with Jalabu, who has brought some of the Alchemist’s equipment from the house and is conducting experiments of his own with the plants.

The cavalry troopers have been left behind until Smersh can gather constables of his own, and their officer Mina comes in with news of a strange find. Taking the group with her, she points out some of the contents of the dead pedlar, Amuura’s, pack. These proved to be valuable spices in waxed linen, but the packs had Haraxan customs seals. Fake ones, reasonable fakes. The spices marked on the packets, pepper corns, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, mace, saffron, anise, cumin, tumeric, whilst not as valuable as they would be in José Juan’s homeland, is still of sufficient value that cheating customs is worthwhile.

The group had a think, and decided that returning to the house where they found the dead pedlar would not be productive, it had been searched and all traces would have been walked over many times. So they asked around. Amuura was a frequent visitor, but had not been seen since heading south a few days ago. She did not have any particular person she stayed with, but stuck to a few homes that she would trade goods with for accommodation. She was last seen heading down the south road to the gate there, which also functions as a jail, militia armoury and duty barracks. However a cavalry trooper rode there, and she found out that Amuura did not pass through the gate.

There was a question here about a rule in another RPG about automatic success in a task if a greatly extended time was devoted to it. This is what the current manuscript for BtBG says about that.

In most cases, if a character wants to do something, and have the knowledge, time and means to do it, then they will succeed.

Example, the characters want to break through the mud brick wall of a building to get at the oil pots within. They have picks, the building is empty and no guards. They will be able to do it, but it will take an hour or so.

“Only use random chance when there is difficulty, doubt or danger. Only then let the die decide if the character succeeds or fails.”

The group searched around the path that Amuura would have taken, and found a side path heading back through the marsh to the coast. There was no trace of Amuura’s tracks, but they touch a hunch and carefully followed it, pinging on a path atop the cliff edge. Heading south, they looked every so often until they saw signs of a sea caveSea cave

There was no path down from the seaward side, but they followed the path on, and spotted a cleft in the rock, with a possible entrance, they scrambled up the rocks and through the narrow passage, finding themselves in a small chamber, their way guided by Jalabu’s magic shield.

The passage from the left headed down, and forked, they took the upper fork, intro a damp chamber into which a spring leaked, the damp floor covered in algae.

The floor was treacherous, but Farshad was able to cross, his feet dry, using the fallen bodies of Jalabu and José Juan, who were not so lucky. Picking themselves up, they continued, through what appeared to be a room used for sleeping, with beds, bedding and personal belongings moved aside to keep the area clear for, something.

One way out led to the main way in from the outside world, the other back towards the sea cave, carved by the stream coming down from the hills. Having established a route out, they took the other route, but the sound of voices ahead caused them to mask the light, and continue cautiously on.

The found a store room and workshop, in which a Kurrim and three humans worked, unarmoured by armed with close combat weaponry. Although the group approached  stealthily, eventually they were noticed, but rather than outrage it violence, the Kurrim looked at Farshad and said

“Hello Boss, didn’t expect you until the ship arrived in three or for days time.”

With aplomb and conviction, Farshad leant into the mistaken identity, learning that he was presumed to be one Uktannu, and that this place received valuables from inland, and exported them to the Lands of a Thousand Gods, and received goods in return, in both ways avoiding taxes, but faking the stamps to make distribution easier, and profits higher as there would be less need to bribe officials to look the other way.

Farshad was convincing as Uktannu, and José Juan and Jalabu as prospective partners, explaining their exotic looks, played their part to the hilt. They got a look at the goods on the shelves, and the stamps and dies, but José Juan did get a look at the books used for naming the couriers used to carry packets off, including Amuura, and the goods assigned to her match *most* of what was found.

Checking the main cave, they saw other workers preparing loads for the ship when it came, the workers were also convinced the Farshad was this Uktannu. By this point, Farshad was promising too meet the demands of the workers, increased pay, any pay actually, releasing their families, giving them false expectations, and hope,  of Uktannu.

Leaving before they pushed it too far, the group headed back, cudgelling their brains. Farshad remembered that one Uktannu had some dealings with his family, years previously, and that memory logged Jalabu’s memory.about an approach for a business venture from one Uktannu that his family rejected. This was before they got involved with the venture they blame Farshad for going wrong.

And so back from the Smuggler’s Cave to the village of Spah, fore scones with cream and jam and lashings of ginger beer!


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