Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Runequest solo 2 - part VIII, Days in Hasharu
chaos: 3 (I don't like it to drop below 3, so I'm using that as a minimum)
Setup: 2=interrupt (was: go to meet the sage)
Interrupt: Move away from a thread
1. Ni'arouj, the Caravan leader
1. find a certain sage
Hasharu, 'the Sheepfold', is a sprawling desert city that grew up round a large oasis. Hasharu was once rules by a coalition of noble families, but following a disastrous war against Anzakàr, the conquered city had been made a protectorate. The Anzakàrite governor is the nominal head of state, whose power in practice is tempered by the council of elders, the matriarchs and patriarchs of the local nobility. Anzakàr's army defends the city, and a large fort is located without the southern wall. The local language is closely related to Anzakàrite; sages disagree on whether one is dialect of the other or the two diverged soon after the cataclysm. A smattering of nomad tongues are common second or third languages, but ophidian is scarcely spoken at all, there being neither serpentfolk nor any organised sorcerers in the city. The greatest god of the city is the Divine Shepherd, though most other common faiths are represented.
Lachaidiga and Wihiyaba bid a terse goodbye to Ni'arouj, and set off into Hasharu. Wihiyaba feels he must report to the army and disappears into the fort. Lachaidiga finds herself a room at an inn, again the best there is to be had.
Despite her fatigue, she lays awake that night, pondering her next move. Her master at the college had bid her seek out a certain sage: a sorcerer living a monastic existence with his order in one of the city's many temples. But the old serpent hadn't told her the name of the sage, nor even the name of the temple wherein he may be found!
She had been given a message to memorise, as cryptic as you like. Turning it over and over in her head provided no hints as to the sage's whereabouts. She thought back, too, on the final admonition the serpent had given her: "You must look into yourself for answers. We both know your resistance to outside influences. I would not ask you to undertake this task if I did not think you ready. Your brother is right about you needing to grow up, but not in the way he thinks."
Tomorrow, she decided, she would get up early and begin to unravel the mysteries in earnest.
. . .
A very somnolent sorceress makes her way to the inn's common room some time around mid-day, finally compelled there by the rumbling in her stomach. She makes idle conversation with one of the serving girls, and without meaning to finds she has divulged her entire mission. Her surprise is further compounded by the girl's answer. "Sorcerers? There aren't really any in Hasharu. Well, excepting that group what lives all hidden away-like in the temple of Ishq-Ihar. But they mostly keep themselves to themselves."
"That was too easy," thinks Lachaidiga, rushing across town.
. . .
Ishq-Ihar, the Lord of Silence, is a seldom-worshipped god of unknown origin. Lachaidiga isn't even certain she's ever noticed a shrine to him on Gods' Street, though she is certain one must be there. Certainly the temple in Hasharu is an unpreposessing affair, a squarish building sandwiched between its neighbours, and mostly hidden from view. The only means of ingress is a doorway at the end of a long alley.
Lachaidiga sees a group of young monks milling about the entrance, all with shaved heads and flowing robes. They take no notice of her as she walks right up to them, and seem deaf to her repeated salutations. "This must be the real test," she thinks. She tries addressing them once more, in Ophidian, and with all possibly formality.
Yet do they ignore her, attending only to their prayers and incense. She espies movement within, and sees an older monk -- probably about her age -- coming out of the dim interior towards her. He motions for her to come inside the temple, and studies her intently for a few moments. "You are Lachaidiga," says he. "Your coming has been foretold."
"Yes!" she whispers, afraid of how her voice should echo in this gloomy place. "But how...?"
"That is not for me to reveal. The first of us has said it; we do not not question his wisdom."
"You know then... I mean... I must see him. Or another of you.... I bring a message from Master Hhsasv!" This last she nearly shouts, though her words are swallowed up by the very darkness of the place.
"I am sorry, sorceress, but I may not admit you to the sanctum. It is not yet time."
"But, the message...?"
"It is not yet time."
"When will it be time then?"
"When it is time."
Lachaidiga does not answer, but turns to leave immediately. Her departure is momentarily arrested by the frightening visage of the great basalt idol of Ishq-Ihar, past which she then rushes towards the rectangle of light which shews the exit. She slows her pace so as not to crash into the novices, but when she steps forth into daylight the alleyway is empty.
Setup: waste time in Hasharu until 'it is time'
1. Ni'arouj, the Caravan leader
1. find a certain sage
[Once again, I'll be using the City Catch-up Tables in Cities. Lachaidiga still has a +5% for event occurrance since she attracts trouble. Wihiyaba is better behaved, so has a -20%. Any event of a military nature for Wihiyaba will indicate he's been called to active duty. After the event determination step, there is a 1-in-6 chance per week that 'it is time' to visit the temple. I've already picked out an event/picture to go with it.
Lachaidiga mostly lounges around the inn, Wihiyaba gets acquainted with the soldiers in the fort.
Random event: Lachaidiga offends a townsperson; this will result in a -1% to the conviction roll if accused of crime. Should this later amount to anything, I'll work out some details, but as it stands it's not interesting enough to devote any time to the project.
Expenses: Lachaidiga, for Room & board (finest Inn) spends 80sp.
Wihiyaba is staying in the barracks, so has no expenses.
Bored with the inn, Lachaidiga takes in the sights a bit. Wihiyaba drills with the army. Lachaidiga calls at the temple every other day, but is not admitted.
Random event: Lachaidiga makes a friend, an Underworld Character, one afternoon in a less-than-reputable (but still expensive) tavern. Again, details can wait, but this has potential so I will add 'Underworld Character' to the Mythic NPC list.
Expenses: Lachaidiga spends 80sp on the inn, and 100sp for companionship (Level 5 (of 6), the second most expensive option).
Wihiyaba is still staying in the barracks, so has no expenses.
Another random event for Lachaidiga, none for Wihiyaba.
Random event: offered a dangerous mission. It pays (1d20x100=) 1000sp and entails a 1d6x10% chance of the PC's death: no modifiers, determine odds only if the mission is accepted. That's a bit too old-school, not to mention dull, so I'm going to use a 5-room dungeon instead. Cities does have mission tables, so the base mission is to Free a Magician. I used the d30 Companion to get a few more details: trigger=message, key NPC=treacherous alchemist, villain goal/reason: envy. For location, a random picture. But to set it up...]
Lachaidiga is returning to the inn one evening, meditating upon her possible plans for the night's entertainment, when a street urchin runs up to her, shouting for her attention. "Hey! Hey missus!" he says, tugging on her gown. "You're the sorceress!"
"In fact, I am."
"You have to come with me."
All thought of other diversions instantly drains away as she follows the child through the still-busy streets. "This can only mean," she thinks, "that it is time for my audience at the Temple."
But after a while, she begins to distrust her initial instinct. The surest route to the temple certainly cannot be through this neighbourhood. None of the buildings look familiar, and they're rather run down in places. Could it be a test?
When the child has lead her to their destination, another one of those low establishments that never bode well for her, she wonders if she has, in fact, been set up. But she hasn't any enemies in Hasharu yet. Well, there was a run-in in the market the other day, but that can't possibly be leading to an ambush.
The urchin runs across the common room, into a dark corner where a mysterious man is lurking by himself at a table which wobbles every time he sets down his clay drinking-bowl. A second bowl sits on the table near a clay jug filled with something frothy. The oil lamp hanging above him is cracked and useless. The urchin whispers something theatrically in the man's ear, and is rewarded with a pair of copper coins. The excited child nearly knocks Lachaidiga down as he runs back outside.
Wishing she'd come here with her sword instead of just the knife at her belt, Lachaidiga strides purposefully through the room. She sits down across the table from the mysterious stranger.
"Well?" she says.
"You are the sorceress who recently came to Hasharu with the caravan from Peren'osh?"
"It would be awfully embarrassing for you, were I otherwise."
After a few moments of uncomfortable silence, Lachaidiga looks pointedly at the empty drinking-bowl. "I believe," says she, "you were going to offer me a drink before we discuss the business for which you brought me here."
The man flushes crimson beneath his heavy cowl. "Oh, no, m'lady!" he blurts out. "I mean, I had intended to... but it tastes like... like the horses have been here."
Lachaidiga can scarcely contain her laughter. The stranger's face blanches from an embarrassed red to a rather consternated white. Lachaidiga looks at him squarely, as if to say something, but his expression only elicits another peal of laughter. "I'm sorry," she says, wiping a tear from her eye, "this is just so unexpected. I have no idea why you want me here, and I was half expecting it to be a trap. And then... what you said..."
Lachaidiga bites her lip to contain herself, but only succeeds in spluttering out in a new fit of giggles. "My lady," ventures the stranger again, "you are a sorceress, are you not?"
"You don't know who I am? How is it, then, that you can tell I'm a lady."
"That ring you're wearing," he says, "looks like it cost more than everything contained in this whole room."
"I hadn't thought to be coming here for this... well whatever it is. Here, take some silver, and go buy something potable. I'll compose myself and we can start fresh."
The stranger accepts the handful of coins, and sheepishly complies. When he returns, Lachaidiga is waiting patiently, having given the rest of the jug of foul-smelling beer to the residents of a nearby table who seem less than picky about their tipple. She sees her companion sat down and, pouring the wine like the good little hostess Enzzal was always trying to make her into, bids him speak.
"My name is Kurkeza. Though I look like a barbarian, I am actually a native of Hasharu, an orphan to be sure. I survived on my own as a thief and petty criminal for many years until at last I met a man who claimed he could sense the magic within me, and took me under his wing. He was one of a group of wandering sorcerers, and together they taught me the Art. But there is one who is jealous of our power, and uses his own perverse sorcery to drain it quite away form us. My master is his captive, held prisoner somewhere within his mansion. We are a simple band of scholars, and dare not go up against this Alchemist, for we fear what he can do with his potions and conjurations. But when we heard there was another sorceress lately come to Hasharu, we knew that the gods had sent us a great boon. We have heard tell of your battle with the witch-woman. You must be the one to help my master. We can offer you a great reward, one thousand silver coins. Please, say you will help!"
"Oh, all right," says Lachaidiga. "I was getting bored with waiting around."