Campaign of the Month: May 2016


Afternoon Tea
Conversations in a spice bar


Old Tolot the Toothless had come down from his tower in the Minarets of Dust to spend some quality time with some old friends, drinking quality tea in a reputable spice bar. The bar was awash with winter spices – cinammon, nutmeg, vanilla – and, of course, the stong coffee of the Tamasheq patrons.

Many tales and stories crisscrossed the room like flies aroud a corpse in summer. Some lingered, some buzzed quickly in one’s ear and then receded. Not all were true but not all were false. Some were inciteful. Some were outright lies. The emeperor’s daughter walking around at night? Ach! She died years ago! An army of dragons flying in from the North East? Some people still smarted from the old days and the Mharoti Invasion. Somewhere in this tale lay the dividing line between vigilance and paranoia, thought Tolot.

He turned to his spice bar companion, Ahmed Singh: “What have you seen with your own eyes, my old friend?”
“Well, I saw the burned and broken body of Ahebek the Lucky before it was taken to the Necropolis for burial.”
“A terrible sight, by all accounts…” surmised Tolot. “Any theories?”
“Some talk of a terrible discovery at some Oasis near the Sands of Sorrow,” Ahmed replied, “but these are just whispers. Nobody knows, really.”
“And what of the Northerners,” Tolot asked, “Any news of them?”
“They’ve been quiet since they returned with tales of that library. Some of them even may have left the city, I hear. The were-lion’s been seen a lot at the Temple and I believe that dark dancer pops in and out of Old Ralph’s place quite a bit. But otherwise, not much!”
“Ah, well…can’t say I’ve missed their music much. I’m not one for all that screeching. Give me the sonorous tones of Peter Lafayette anyday! More tea?”
“Yes. I’ll call the porter.”

Saturday Night's Alright (for Singing)


It was a cool winter’s day in Siwal and Arcael Rennaus was alone in one of the fine chambers belonging to his mentor, Emir Beg Khan of the Qamari, practising his sorcery, when he was interrupted by one of the Emir’s servants:
“There’s someone famous to see you, Sir. He awaits you in the parlour.”
Arcael gathered his sorcerous things together and followed the servant to the room to find a young man in splendid dress – a man he knew: “Ah, Peter my friend…” and he extended his hand in greeting towards Peter Lafayette, most famous singer in all of Siwal.
“Arcael. I thought it best I come myself to tell you the news: The Puddings are on tour! We leave the day after tomorow for Per-Kush and will be doing all the major towns – Per-Kush, Per-Bastet, Corremel, Laksor, and ending in a Royal Concert in Nuria Natal at the halls of King Thutmoses the 23rd himself!”
“That’s wonderful news, Peter,” Arcael exclaimed, hiding his disdain for the young man for the sake of the Emir’s servants, who were trying not to show their excitement of being in the presence of the shining star of Siwal.
“But we have a problem,” continued Peter, “and I was hoping you could help us out…..”.
“Go on…” Arcael replied.
“Well, we had the Yuletide Festival booked at The Lingering Odour and we can no longer meet this commitment. But I have spoken to Sheila and she will be happy for The Oooze to take our spot. What do you say? It’s a door deal and it’s the busiest night of them all. Last year we got almost 1,000 GP from Door Takings alone. So what do you say?”
Arcael thought for a moment. He’d heard Bartiman had returned from his journey south and he himself had just about perfected his latest charge. The group hadn’t yet replaced Iron Wall. Yes, it was time they started practising again:
“Why of course, we’ll take it. Tell Sheila Zweels that Arcael and The Oooze will be there! Now, will you have some tea?”
“Sorry,” replied the other singer, “I must run. So many fans to see before we leave. I’ll tell Sheila though! And good luck! We’ll send you a postcard!”

And with a smooth and graceful twirl, Peter Lafayette of Peter and the Puddings left the residence of the Emir.

Elephant Talk


For Saabu Theet, almost no pleasure could equal his days spent with Cassandra Per-Aten researching in the Temple Library of Thoth-Hermes. Sometimes they would ponder over bibliographic wonders together, sometimes they would study apart, meeting only for a light mint tea in the library gardens. Sometimes Saabu would conduct spell research in the antechambers, and sometimes he would do this in the library itself.

On one such day, alone, in an underground vault in the library, while Saabu was experimenting with Moonlight Magic, a very strange thing happened. One of the books in a shelf nearby his spellworkings lit up like a beacon and flew out of its shelf, lying open on the ground beside him. Saabu picked it up and delved into deeper research in that very chamber using moonlight that was not of the moon.

An ancient book it was, describing days of the dark desert, when gods fought with each other for dominion over the sands. Reading a chapter called The Serpent and the Elephant, Saabu learned of an ancient battle between the God Aposis, Dragon of the Apocalypse, and the God Maraut, the Elephant God – a battle of great sorcery and power, ending with the entombment of Maraut and the gradual destruction of his once thriving desert cult.

Saabu read for many hours of the horrors inflicted upon the local people by these two dark gods. He learned of the sorrows that created oases in the dry desert from the tears of the world itself. And one other thing: A prophesy made by a devout Priest of Maraut, that one day the Elephant God shall rise again! As he read this, Saabu received one of his Divine Inspirations from Thoth-Hermes himself: “Save the Gravebinder’s Daughter and ye shall know the TRUTH!”

After receiving the Divine Message, Saabu found that he was sharing mint tea with Cassandra in the Temple Garden. She knew nothing of the book, and he did not have it. Nor did he ever find it again.

"Sail to me, Let me enfold you."


In his great hall of eternal darkness, ANU-AKMA sits resplendent in gold and sapphires as he accepts new entrants to his halls. One of the servants brought forth is from the North, his soul ripped from its half machine body in an occulted library of Thoth.
“Send that soul to the Plane of Gears. And what of its companions?” the King of Jackals asked of the scribe to his right.
“One other entered the waiting room, my Lord, but he was recalled. The rest of his party have moved to the Garden City of Siwal.”
“Let me see…” and the God of The Underworld bent over to look into the scribe’s holy book, The Preservation and Migration of Souls.

There, in that book, that is an account of all living beings, ANU-AKMA, Purifier of Souls, glimpsed a slice of mortal life with his divine eye.

He saw two great scholars learning – one arcane, one divine. He saw a combatant of the Green Walker travelling to the jungles of the Kush, and he also saw a dark shadow searching for deeper darkness. “Lend that one a hand!” and he pointed to one in Fae Armor.

ANU-AKMA sat straight in his chair again and looked down the line of new souls stretching endlessly from the long entrance corridor. “Next!”

The Book I Read
Thoughts of an Oracle of Aten


Ali Akbar had been honoured when his current sponsor, Emir Beg Khan Malik of the Qamari had asked him to accompany a group of Northern minstrels on a quest to discover the lost Library of Thoth, but Thoth’s tests had been harsh. Two had died, and the mighty Iwandornless Walderin (Iron Wall) it seemed, would not be returning.

As the recently risen, and usually invisible rogue, Goran descended into the darkness of the final plunging passage, Ali said a quick prayer to ATEN and prepared himself. Deep in the ground, a passage continued into a small room, magically lit. Goran discovered a trap, which was encouraging, but a puzzle awaited them in the underground chamber – a lifeless construct and a cylinder of ectoplasmic goo housing a withered head, its mouth held shut by silver string. He looked to the great sorcerer Arcael, and noticed that he stood at the back of the hall. “A great vantage point” he thought to himself.

After much debate, the glass was smashed and Ali tried to use his healing skills to remove the string. Alas, it set up a trap of loud noise, magic, and the attack of the construct, now revealed as a Posessed Pillar. The druid Bartiman Greenbough changed into massive bear form and engaged with the statue, while the others maneuvered as best they could over the slippery ectoplasmic floor. The cleric of Thoth-Hermes, Saabu Theet tried various options of translation but eventually had to join in as the whole group fought to destroy the statue, its eventual distruction opening up the secret door to the library below.

The library was massive, containing many books of ages past, all cared for by three Axiomites – creatures that looked like elves, and yet seemed somehow more powerful. Saabu went by himself into a secret chamber and returned with a self satisfied smile and an interesting ring on his finger that he was not wearing when he went in, and the axiomites offered writing materials to copy some of the most ancient hieroglyphic magic he had ever seen.

After spending two full days of wondrous study in the Holy Library, the group decided to leave, being escourted by the axiomites to a rising pillar that brought them out into the desert where they had found the temple. He looked around at his companions. Surely, these were mighty adventurers, and not only that – he had also heard they were most excellent musicians to boot. He made a mental note to himself to make sure he was able to attend The Lingering Odour next time they played.

A Moment of Darkness


Goran slumped against the wall and slid down until his rear hit the floor. When he had awoken from the darkness his memory had been a blank, but gradually the events of the last ten minutes started to flow unbidden to his mind. The entry to the library had gone with only a minor issue so far. A pit trap that he should have spotted had swallowed him up and left him to the mercy of some damn bugs. I guess managing to be invisible doesn’t help much in these cases. He had spent the next while playing chase with the bugs. Eventually his companions managed to get the roof open again and Iron Wall floated down to his rescue. Ah, Iron Wall….. The swarms must have sensed the fresher air and flew upwards to the groups waiting grasp. He had managed to acquire a set of shiny treasure hunter googles, but that hardly made up for what was to come.

The room had seemed not particularly dangerous at first. A pair of golden statues and some small golden statuettes waited. His first thought had been of their value, not that the fuzzy priest would have allowed it anyway, but it all a seemed insignificant now. Goran had let the others mess about with the statues. Understanding these southern gods wasn’t his forte so he tried his new googles to find a secret door in the corner. He informed the others and paced around, waiting for them to deal with the statues. Some of the smaller ones were moved about and the next thing darkness enveloped the room. It must have been magic or else he would still have been able to see.

The blackness wasn’t only it the room it would seem. It was only now the memory of the next few moments were coming back and even then only in snatches. Flashes across his mind of his hands, darkness stretching from them in vicious claws. Chunks of Iron Walls armour being gouged from his body. The beast had crawled into his body. Used him. Turned him into a weapon to harm his companions. The pieces of Iron Wall lay scattered across the room, blown there by the explosion resulting from the damage he had sustained. Goran’s hand slid across the floor, it brushed against a small gear, slightly singed from the blast. He picked it up and looked at it. It happened to be just the size to slip over a finger. A constant reminder. He looked to the ground and pushed himself up the wall. “I’m sorry my friend”.

Dancing In The Dark
Shadow Demon Encounter


The summoning of the Shadow Demon was a predestined effect of failing the Test of Thoth re: balanced judgement of facts without bias toward emotion. The way I played this was as below:
Cast Deeper Darkness, choose a victim likely to have a slightly lower will save (fighter or rogue – random roll designated Goran), Roll 50% miss chance to be able to touch Goran from under the floor, Will save to avoid possession. Goran succumbed.

Iron Wall bravely fought and did very well. As soon as Goran was possessed, he was destined to die unless expelled by Sunburst, Sunbeam or similar. I limited the Shadow Demon by not giving him his normal options of summon other demon (instead he used the lesser power of Shadow Conjuration ). I also excluded Telekinesis and Greater Teleport and allowed him only one casting of Deeper Darkness (normal ability is “at will”).

The death of Iron Wall was tragic but dramatic and you all did well to put the demon down so quickly after the death of the two characters. Fortunately your Raise Dead scroll was able to restore Goran and it seems that Lewis is quite keen on starting a new character for the next campaign session. Well done everybody!

Are we Human? Or are we Dancer?
Plane Speech


Zepti: These mortals always get so emotional when it comes to moral judgements, don’t they?
Tehut: Well, at least we know the gate is working well, but honestly, I really do HATE letting those shadow demons in here.
Zepti: Staff and Dagger, Brother, Staff and Dagger!
Tehut: By the 150 Sacred Rituals….
Zepti: Oooh, I feel a tingle at the gate again. Looks like Anu-Akma’s returned one of the packages.
Tehut: Which one?
Zepti: Are we human? Or are we dancer?
Tehut: Bit of a brute, that one. Almost looked as though he enjoyed being possessed.
Zepti: “Ours not to reason why…..”
Tehut: I know, I know….Book of Starry Wisdom, Chapter 4, page 3, paragraph 6.
Zepti: Well, time for light and mirrors!

A conversation from another plane


Zepti and Tehut are two lesser acolytes of Thoth-Hermes, once known throughout the Southern Lands as Thoth. Their charge is the implementation of Thoth’s will in an abandoned library, deep within the Sarklan Desert:

Zepti: Wake up. There’s someone here.
Tehut: What? Are you sure? Aw no! It was that librarian subject of yours, wasn’t it?
Zepti: But she didn’t know where ….
Tehut: Well, someone found out!
Zepti: Probably those scrolls you left in the Library of Bemmea. These guys have a distinctly “northern” feel about them.
Tehut: Are all the tests in place?
Zepti: Of course! And there’s a symbol carrier with this lot.
Tehut: Well, I suppose that gives them a chance….. but look what happened to the last one.
Zepti: Hey, these guys have got instruments with them.
Tehut: Instruments? What kind?
Zepti: Musical. Musical instruments.
Tehut: Maybe they’ll sing their way out.
Zepti: We’ll see about that. Have you checked the gates?
Tehut: All working.
Zepti: Good. Well, let’s get to it then. May the moon’s light be upon you.
Tehut: And the Power of the Staff Guide you.
Zepti: ….and them.
Tehut: What?
Zepti: ….and them. You know, the musicians.
Tehut: Ah, yes. Why not.
Zepti: Ready then?
Tehut: Yes.
Zepti: Then let us begin!

Research, and the path before us.


Looking into the great hall Arcael recalled the words of the teacher-priest he questioned: “Thrice-great Thoth-Hermes, in his ibis aspect, is the god of magic; when wearing the celestial disc upon his head-dress he controls the cycles of time and the seasons…”

The door could only be opened upon a specific day, a full moon. This was congruent with his realm of power.

“…He is the weigher of hearts, guide and reckoner of the dead. He can appear as a baboon and in his human forms he can be male or female, aspects of his role as the god of equilibrium and a mediator in disputes between the other gods, ensuring that neither good nor evil are ever triumphant. He is master of all knowledge as well as moral and divine law.”

A guide, and judge, to the dead… Given the local culture’s predilection for undeath we had best be prepared for them. His role as a god of balance also has aspects of mortals knowing ‘their place and limits’. Tales are told of the terrible fate of those that accessed knowledge meant only for the gods, some eternally cursed for their hubris. This is linked to his writing of the ‘moral and divine laws’, interesting.

Well Thoth I am no normal mortal…

Thoth’s hermetic works, in particular deals with the conjuring of spirits and the animation of statues before moving on to the art of imprisoning the souls of demons and angels within statues.

We should assume all the statues are potentially hostile or here to test us…

The teacher-priest was unskilled at evasion and Arcael recalled his visible consternation at mention of ‘the Emerald Tablet’. The priest ended the conversation there and then and Arcael was escorted from the library by two guards. Interesting. Knowledge forbidden to outsiders. The N’kosi also mentioned certain lore that he could not copy. We shall see. What price clues to a work of secrets written by Thoth-Hermes himself? Or even lore, possibly not meant for mortals to access?

Arcael smiled, caution and patience would be called for. The corpse at the front entrance was testament to the fate of the unworthy, but Arcael was resolved to explore and be alert to, every opportunity to acquire greater power.


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