Saturday, July 31, 2010

Secrets of Pavis Campaign: A Heroquest

It's been a while since I updated the campaign log and even longer since some of the sessions, so memories are hazy and almost certainly inaccurate, but for the record, here we go.

When last seen, Xaraya, Grom and Skye had agreed to aid Marcilla, High Healer of the White Sisterhood, in a Heroquest to bring Darnbar Chaosknower back to life.  The PCs escorted Marcilla to Horn Gate, stopping off at Ronegarth, where they picked up Lady Jezra, who was intent on visiting the White Sisters to get some herbs to help treat her mother, who had fallen quite ill.

They reached Horn Gate without incident, and Xaraya was able to restrain herself from confronting the Sables.  At the hospital, Marcilla gathered her sisters and explained the legend to her helpers.  During the Gods War, Lhankor Mhy went missing. Chalanna Arroy was worried at this, and asked Humakt, Issaries and Vinga to help find the Knowing God. Each was unwilling, but the Goddess persuaded them.  They overcame obstacles on the way to the land of the dead, where they found Tien about to decapitate Lhankor Mhy.  Humakt defeated him and drove him off.  Chalanna Arroy healed Lhankor Mhy, Issaries told him where he was, Vinga gave him a pair of walking boots and Humakt gave him a sword to defend himself.  In return, the Knowing God gave each of them a reward.  Then the gods returned to their homes.

Xaraya agreed to play the role of Issaries, while Skye and Humakt of course agreed to play the roles of their patrons.  Marcilla explained HeroQuesting for the PCs’ benefit, and emphasized that if the PCs veered too far from the ritual, very bad things could happen and if they did so on purpose then they would commit the sin of God Learning.  She stressed that if they failed at their tasks, they would likely fall out of the God Plane, with possibly bad results.  If they died on the God Plane, however, they would almost certainly be lost there forever.  In the earlier parts of the legend, when they are being recruited, they would have to play the parts of disinterest well.  If they simply agreed to go along, they would have failed and would fade as the legend goes on.  If they played their part too well, however, they would not accompany CA on her quest and would fall out of the HQ.  The PCs gulped and agreed to these conditions.

The sisterhood began their prayers and the questers found themselves on the God Plane, each heroforming into the gods they represented.  First Marcilla approached Xaraya, who as Issaries was engaged in a market.  Xaraya successfully resisted Marcilla's first two attempts to persuade her/him to come with her, when Marcilla argued that she/he must help her friend, and that without knowledge the market goods would be worthless, but agreed to come when Marcilla said that Issaries' customers were falling in numbers, for they did not realize they needed his goods.

Next, the gods approached Vinga, who was playing with Yinkin.  CA failed to get Vinga's attention until she sent Yinkin away, but was glad to see Vinga did not follow.  Then CA explained she needed someone who could climb far over hill and dale to find Lhankor Mhy, and the goddess agreed to go with them.

Then the gods approached Humakt, who was locked in combat with a Zombie god.  Grom defeated the Zombie easily and realized his sword was now enchanted against zombies.  Marcilla asked him to come with  her, but he said he had other zombies to dispatch.  So Marcilla showed him affection, and Grom was eager to help her, realizing his emotions for the beautiful healer.

The gods then came to a great scarp, which the legend said Vinga climbed and then pulled up her friends, with some undefined help from the other gods.  Skye climbed the cliff with difficulty, but then was at a loss as to how to pull her friends up as she failed in exerting herself.  Xaraya/Issaries shot an arrow up attached to a rope, and with the two ropes the questers were able to continue.

The legend then said that Issaries guided the gods across the River Styx towards Havan Gor, judge of the dead. Xaraya did not know the secrets of Issaries' travel in the underworld, and so was left to her own devices.  She managed to bring the gods to the dark river, where again she shot an arrow tied to a rope, which enabled them to cross over.

At last the gods found Lhankor Mhy, unconscious and with a garrote around his throat, put there by the headhunting Chaos god Tien.  The god was a headless monster, and Grom/Humakt challenged him.  Grom won swiftly, setting the monster to flight.

The questers could now see that Lhankhor Mhy was Darnbar, suffering from a grievous head wound.  Marcilla healed him and he opened his eyes.  He asked where he was, and Xaraya told him.  In return, the god gave her a magical map that could tell her where she was at any time, if she could read it.

Next, the god said he needed boots to make his way back to the God Plane.  At this point Skye realized she had forgotten to bring a pair that would fit him.  She faded out of the Heroquest.

Finally, Lhankor Mhy asked for a sword.  Grom realized that he, like Skye, had forgotten to bring the item, but he had the sword at his side.  Reluctantly, he turned over his newly-enchanted sword.  In return, the god told him the secret of Defending Knowledge.

The gods started back to their homes, although Lhankor Mhy did so with difficulty because he had no boots and Vinga the pathfinder was not there.  The questers woke up back at the hospital.  Darnbar was breathing and would live, but Marcilla said that because the myth was not wholly successful, he had not found his way back easy.  Ever after, she lamented, Darnbar would be subject to the Relife Sickness, and would be a shadow of his former self.

Nevertheless, the quest had succeeded in its main objective, and the party celebrated with the sisterhood that night.  Grom found himself unable to take his eyes off Marcilla all evening.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Gringle's Pawnshop

Thanks to James at Grognardia for linking to Gringle's Pawnshop, a discussion board for old-school Runequest fans.  When I get my act together I'll be posting there as Lucky Eddi.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Summons of the Wyter

The first adventure in the Mongoose Second Age "Living Glorantha" campaign is out.  Summons of the Wyter, although suffering from the sadly usual proofreading issues (they even misspell Wyter in the title, for Orlanth's sake!), is actually a very nice episode.  In particular, it introduces the mythical nature of Gloranthan gaming very well right up front.  In fact, I think that if Avalon Hill Runequest had developed along these lines rather than the chaos-and-caves of the Runequest Renaissance (which are excellent adventures in their own right, I should stress) then we might never have had the Hero Wars schism.

It's also nice to see some MRQ2 NPCs statted up.  The NPCs of Blood of Orlanth, for instance, during the MRQ1 era were very magic-lite and so, while the setting and plot were recognizably Gloranthan, the NPCs didn't seem right.  These guys are much more evocative of the magic-rich Second Age, as is the dilemma the PCs are presented with.  A very nice beginning - even if you're not going to port your characters around between Living Glorantha GMs, it looks like this campaign will be well worth playing.

Image taken from Questlines.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Second Age Adventure Setting: Pythos University

I've become more and more interested in running adventures set in the Second Age, and have been toying with a few different settings.  Here are my first few notes on Pythos University, a God Learner academy located in Slontos.  I'd love to know what you think.

Doomed to a hideous parody of existence after the fall of Slontos, Pythos University is currently a center of experimental Heroquesting, pushing the boundaries of myth to come up with new theories about the way the hero plane works.  The University is made up of several Collegia (vulgarly, colleges), associations of scholars centered around differing theories or avenues of inquiry.  The leaders of these colleges – variously called Masters, Principals, Wardens and Deans – are often in quiet, and sometimes noisy, competition. 

The University is famous for having developed artificial Heroquest Gates, allowing researchers access to the Hero Plane directly from the colleges.  Because of the experimental nature of the magic involved, the University is a dangerous place, and at least one college bears the marks of backlash damage.  Crippled students are common, and, although the College of St Xemela looks after them, many have severed ties with their colleges and settled in the town, which recognizes the wealth the colleges bring, but worries about the horrors the experiments can unleash on the town.

Attempting to keep order in this town is Inspector Fanto, a former student of great intelligence who found himself stripped of magical ability during one experiment.  There is a high level of mortality in the town, and it is the Inspector’s job to sort the accidental from the deliberate.  The Inspector is highly respected by the University’s leaders, but often finds that researchers dismiss him for his lack of magic.  Townspeople often do not trust him because of his status as a former student.  Nevertheless, the Inspector and his staff are often all that stands between the University and oblivion.

The Colleges

Collegium of the Fifth Action (Action College): Action College is headed by Master Hedin tel Frolos, leader of the Hedinist or Hypotheticalist School.  Hedinists are interested in what happens when central characters or events are altered or prevented in Heroquests.  Hypotheticalism is extremely dangerous, because often the myth falls apart or “snaps back” with massive backlash.  Hedin’s leading researcher is Doctor Hawk, who has been crippled so badly that he is confined to a magical flying chair and can only speak through mental link with his Venator servant.  Doctor Hawk is zeroing in on a grand unification theory of Heroquesting, something that will underpin the artificial Monomyth that is central to God Learner theory.  Other personalities at the College include…

Collegium of Hwarosian Mystery (Old College): Old College was the first college established at the University.  It is headed by Warden Moser de Suler, one of the oldest and wisest researchers at the University.  Old College is a mainstream God Learner research establishment and does not push the envelope particularly, which is why the other colleges were established.  Warden Moser is concerned at just how far his colleagues are going, and often employs agents to spy on their activities.

Zistorite Research Institute (Machine College): Machine College is a combined effort of the Cogs of Zistor and the Order of Otherworld Exploration.  Led by Clarxo the Wheel, the College devotes itself to applied mechamagics, and the Advanced Mechamagic Building has produced some very important advances over the years.  However, there have not been many breakthroughs in recent years, and Clarxo is becoming impatient.

Collegium of St Volanc (St Volanc’s College): St Volanc’s ceased to be a college devoted to the war order some time ago and is now the home of the Conditionalist School of Enginistos Got, a former Hedinist who took his research one step further.  Conditionalism seeks to promote other participant(s) in a myth to replace the protagonist(s).  The central concept of Conditionalism is The Could-Have-Been King, whose power the Conditionalists are attempting to harness, along with an army of Meanwhiles and Never-Weres.  Needless to say, this is even more dangerous than Hypotheticalism.  The college’s East wall has been blown down and several dozen students killed in the past couple of years.

More to come if people are interested.

Time and tide wait for no man, and neither do blogs.  Sorry I haven't posted in so long, but I do have lots of content ready to see the light of day.

In the meantime, here's an interview with one of my gaming heroes, the great Paul Jaquays, co-author of Griffin Mountain and the splendid Hellpits of Nightfang.