Campaign of the Month: May 2016

Mysteria

"Sail to me, Let me enfold you."

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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!”

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The Book I Read
Thoughts of an Oracle of Aten

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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.

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A Moment of Darkness

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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”.

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Dancing In The Dark
Shadow Demon Encounter

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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!

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Are we Human? Or are we Dancer?
Plane Speech

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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!

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Angels
A conversation from another plane

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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!

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Research, and the path before us.

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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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A Bee Eater Lands on the Balcony...

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I’m sure you’ll already have heard of Il Zawbaa Saia’s display at the city limits the other day.

After being tasked by Marakesh to bring him the Sand Ship the ‘Winds Mistress’ we ran afoul of Il Zawbaa Saia on our way back to the city. We later found out he’d sent his Mephit spies watch us and tell him when we’d found the ship. We were unaware the Genie that was bound to ship was in fact Il Zawbaa Saia’s long lost love Nadirah and having being cursed into his present form, he’s actually been roaming the desert for centuries looking for her. I kid you not.

He mercifully spared our lives for our part in reuniting them, giving us little time to grab our gear and get off the ship before tore it apart from within and broke the bonds that have held his love for so long. Reunited and released from the curse, he thanked us and we watched the two lovers walk into the winds before the mighty maelstorm dissipated in front of our eyes as if it had never been there at all. It truly was a moment of marvel.

On our return we managed to convince Marakesh that this could work in his favour still, having rid the city of the maelstrom forever, and the slaying of the Sand Corsairs the desert trade routes are the safest they’ve been in hundreds of years; so all was not lost.

We’re helping a family friend of Arcael’s with some research at an ancient site somewhere outside the city over the next couple of weeks, so I’ll get in touch when we get back. Hope all is well with you.

Bart

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Yo Ho-Ho

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Goran sat on the edge of the docks, his feet dangling above the sands. He had captured a taste for the sand sailing. Before coming to Siwal the only ships he had known were the slave powered warships of the Ruby Despotate. They had fought off a Kraken and yet that display of the dangers of the desert gave him no pause.
He thought of the fun they could have had sailing the sands for a while. Running wild. Perhaps this group’s ideals weren’t ideal when it came to what Goran wanted. First the fountain given away, ok at a hefty sum, but he was sure he could have kept it in check. The mistress will supply other opportunities he supposed.
He could see the reasoning for releasing the entity bound to the ship. Binding is just another form of slavery after all and I guess every creature should have to chance for love. He sighed and clambered to his feet. He took a look back at the sands and threw his new tri-corner hat out from the dock.
“Well,” He sighed, “I guess I better tell that animal dealer that I won’t be needing that parrot”.

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City-Guard reporting, Sir!

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Sir,

It was around mid-morning, the bazaars were already busy with people and that means pick-pockets, so I had my men deployed mainly to patrol the markets.

I received a report of a sand-storm coming in, but there was no real wind to speak of. I formed a patrol and as I reached the gate I could see it clearly. A spiral of sand and winds some three miles out of town. I could see the smashed remains of a sand-ship breaking up within the body of the storm. The remains of the bow were thrown high into the sky and spun down, shattering upon a rocky outcrop. I felt that nothing could have survived the storm or the impact. I was about to sound a storm alert when it then appeared to change course and moved further into the wastes leaving wreckage scattered in its wake.

A partol of ten, led by myself, mounted camels and headed out to investigate. As we approached the wreckage we could see a small group of five figures that had somehow survived. Two humans, an elf-blood, an N’kosi and a Gearforged, all foreigners and adventurers, all without a scratch. We searched the area and there was no sign of any of the ship’s cargo or crew amongst the wreckage.

The adventurers requested to see Ramon Marakesh who had apparently hired them to re-take the ship from pirates, ‘The Wind’s Mistress’. I have taken the name plate from the wreckage and have confirmed that the ship was formerly a wanted pirate vessel. We detained the adventurers briefly on suspicion of involvement in piracy until Ramon Marakesh confirmed that he had indeed hired the adventurers for this purpose.

Further questioning of the adventurers relating to the crew, in particular the ship’s captain, Asad al Nar. The adventurers stated that they had slain the captain and crew when attacked by the vessel. The djinn bound to the ship transferred command to the gear-forged when Asad was slain and they were discussing how to transfer ownership of the vessel back to Marakesh when a djinn in the form of a storm came and destroyed the ship to free the djinn bound to the ship, a long-lost love apparently.

I found this fanciful tale suspicious and so I questioned the group further, they stated that the pirates had secreted their booty somewhere in the deep desert as there was none on the ship. I found the adventurers did not seem too disappointed about this which leaves me suspicious. However unless some divination magic is utilised I fear we will not learn the truth of this.

Ramon Marakesh appears happy with the outcome stating that both a terrible pirate and the maelstrom will no longer pose a threat to sand-ships plying the deep desert. It would appear that the adventurers have done some good if this is the case Sir, but I remain unconvinced.

Guard-Captain Afiz

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