Monday, November 16, 2009

The Barrow: A Runequest Cameo

Note: I ran this encounter under RQIII rules.  Obviously the changes to spirit combat under MRQ rules will make it a little different, but it should still work.

While walking through farmland, the players are approached by a young girl, around 11 years old.  She is looking for a Humakti warrior.  Sample dialog, “Sir, are you a Humakti warrior?  We need one.  There is an Undead menace causing my family woe.  An evil ghost is haunting my grandfather’s barrow.  My father says if a Humakti warrior defeats the ghost, it will leave us.”

As the girl leads them towards the barrow she will explain that her grandfather was a Sword of Humakt and that her grandmother was very beautiful.  However, an evil companion of her grandfather’s desired her.  Spurned, he left the cult and joined the cult of Zorak Zoran, the troll god of hate and war.  He killed the grandfather and accidentally killed the grandmother while beserk.  After their burial he killed himself outside the barrow, but his hate kept his ghost in the area.  He continues to haunt the area, and has been getting worse and worse, now making the fields barren and drying up the cows’ milk.

Outside the barrow is a skeleton holding a large mace and dressed in scraps of black leather armor.  Inscribed on the skull are the runes of disorder, darkness and death.  Beside the corpse is another heavy mace.  As the players approach the skeleton the ghost will form, resembling a warrior in black, holding a maul, his face morphing between human, trollish and skeleton.

At the same time, however, the girl will scream and faint.  From her will coalesce another spirit, a woman in flowing robes whose appearance will morph between beauty, ugliness and decay.

The male ghost will attack to possess a Humakti.  The female ghost will attack to possess a woman, choosing the one with the highest APP.

Male ghost: INT 15 POW 9, MPs 9, Move 9, Spells: Bludgeon 4 45%, Demoralize 45%, Fanaticism 45%, Create Skeleton (one-use)

(Note: the reason this ghost is so weak is that it has already prepared the skeleton – its own – that it will raise as a last resort to help fulfill its plan.  If it does not look like it will be able to possess the Humakti, it will attempt to kill him and hope to try again with another victim)

Female ghost: INT 13, POW 17, MPs 14*, Move 14, Spells: Shimmer 2 85%, Strength 2 85%, Repair 85%

* Three points expended in possessing the local girl.

Skeleton: STR 9, SIZ 12, DEX 9, Mov 3, Heavy Mace 55%/55% 1D10 AP 10

Tactics: The male will attack to possess a Humakti then, once possessed, he will cast Demoralize on the most powerful-looking remaining fighter.  Next, he will drop the Humakti’s sword and move to pick up a mace from the corpse, then fight.  If he cannot possess or is losing, he will raise the skeleton.  The female will attack to possess the best-looking female, then cast Shimmer on herself, Strength on her lover if he has possessed someone, or on herself if the body she occupies feels like a fighter.  She will save at least one repair for the skeleton.  The ghosts will flee if they are losing, but will try to kill the bodies they are occupying first.

What has actually occurred was that the “grandmother” and the Zorak Zoran cultist were actually adulterers.  The “grandfather” discovered this and slew his faithless wife, but was then slain by the Zorak Zorani, who promptly called for DI to preserve his lover as a ghost.  After the burial, the Zorak Zorani killed himself, having taken steps to preserve himself as a host too.  The doomed lovers have since been looking for a Humakti and attractive woman to possess so that they can live again, taking pleasure in their victory over Death.  The female possesses local girls for the purposes of luring likely subjects here.

Inside the barrow are the remains of previous victims – when the bodies become unattractive, old or weak (or start to fight back), the lovers bring them here and commit suicide.  The remains contain a gold ring (225L), a jeweled armband (450L) for SIZ 13-15, a Heater-style shield bearing the Death Rune that has received and Armoring Enchantment to raise its APs to 21, with the condition that it can only be wielded by a Humakt initiate (or higher), and a fragmentary Grimoire that teaches Intensity 40%, Treat Wounds 20% and Palsy 15%.  Finally, a ring on the finger of the “grandmother” herself holds a an Intellect Spirit binding enchantment.  The body of the Humakti warrior wears Iron chainmail and bears an Iron sword, but no self-respecting Humakti would desecrate this grave.

Destroying the skulls of the Zorak Zorani and the “grandmother” after reducing their MPs to 0 will banish the ghosts to the Hell they deserve.

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