Monday, 10 December 2012

Tekumel - Session 2

Various real-life obligations have meant that the group hasn't been able to get back together for a month, but now we've finally managed to run the second session of the Tekumel campaign.

As I've said before, I decided to run the scenario "A Dark and Stormy Night" as the first adventure by substituting the PCs for the Travelling Party.

When the session started, there was a brief recap- the PCs were approaching the Golden Sheaf Clanhouse, had seen a dead body on the road nearby, and had just glimpsed a couple of armour-clad figures through the rain, observing the party.

After entering the Golden Sheaf Clanhouse, the PCs were offered a chance to bathe and change clothes before being introduced to their hosts. Tsolyani ettiquette warred briefly with practicality, until Tsodlan hit on the compromise of Ssiyor and Jugal, the lower-status Turning Wheel Clan hirelings, going up onto the villa's roof to watch for trouble whilst the White Stone Clan members took their time to be properly introduced.

The evening meal was served, and the PCs got to know the main NPCs of the scenario. In keeping with player's portrayal of the character, Kemuel sat at the meal looking bored until he finally decided that Migor's sickness must be because someone was poisoning him, and he didn't like the look of that shifty priest so it must be him. Ironically this was in fact correct, but the way in which he said it had everyone giving a polite laugh and then managing to divert Kemuel's attentions elsewhere. This wasn't hard to do, as after over-indulging with Chumaz he spent the rest of the evening attempting to press his attentions onto Ngaya, the Clanhouse-owner's daughter. Ngaya then attempted to have Kotaru defend her somehow, but Kotaru had learned his lesson about picking trouble with people from higher-status Clans.

The other PCs questioned the residents over dinner and managed to discover several useful facts about the situation. A servant had spotted armed men outside earlier that day, so runners had been sent along the road to alert the nearby unit of Sakbe-road guards and other nearby Clan-houses. Naturally the dead body in one direction and lack of Sakbe-guards suggested that these runners hadn't reached their destinations.

As the meal drew to a close, one of the lookouts came running in with news that armoured figures were approaching the Clan-house. Moving up to the roof, they saw Kagesh, the Tirrikamu of this unit of Deserters, and he made his demands for the Clan-house's treasury to be turned over to him. After several attempts at bluffing him, they were given their deadline to comply as the deserters made away to prepare for assulting the Clan-house.

It was at this point that I decided that Migor was to take a turn for the worse and expire. Not only did this leave the PCs wondering just what had happened to him, it also meant that there was nobody who knew where the secret compartment Migor's strongbox was located, and so there was no way to actually pay the deserters.

Tsodlan immediately began trying to organise the defence of the Clanhouse. He enlisted Kotaru (as the only real combatant amongst the villa residents) and Adlar the priest of Chiteng (since he knew healing magic and claimed knowledge of The Radiant Gaze) to assist, and began trying to prepare for a siege. A glance outside showed the Clanhouse was being watched, and none of the PCs had a stealth skill significant enough that they were willing to venture out and go for help.

Not able to assist in the defence effort, Sirukel and Gachaya instead began questioning the residents and searching any rooms Migor used in an effort to find the strongbox. Ostensibly this was so that they could pay off the deserters if it seemed necessary, but in reality both PCs had the Greed disadvantage and were planning to take it themselve and claim they never found it. The fact that this required them to work alone hampered their search efforts somewhat, and so the strongbox was never found. 

What was found, however, was the poison in Adlar's quarters that he'd been giving to Migor. An ill-timed remark from Kemuel resulted in it becoming publically known that Adlar had been doing this. Things spiralled out of control, as Adlar panicked and ended up using The Radiant Gaze on Kotaru. Fortunately, while he'd learned the basic incantation, Adlar's mastery of the spell was far from complete and Kemual was merely badly injured. When restrained, Adlar blurted out that it was all Mnektu (Migor's brother) and he'd just been doing as he was told.

Naturally, at this point the deserters returned ready to attack the Clanhouse if not paid.

In the resulting confusion, Mnektu fled and managed to hide himself somewhere in the Clanhouse. Adlar was locked in a room with Kotaru and told to heal him or face the consequences. And Ngaya, deciding that all was lost and she'd best hide before the Clan-house fell and she was raped by the deserters, used a secret passage out of the Clan-house that only she was aware of. Kemuel observed the passage being used, and followed her- after finding a torch, which gave Gachaya a chance to spot him and follow him down the passage.

Denied the money, the deserters began battering down the Clan-house gate with the makeshift ram they'd prepared. Tsodlan led the defence, having the servants heat boiling water to pour onto the attackers and throw anything heavy enough to cause damage from the roof. Inside, he had defences prepared- rather than try to hold the attackers indefinitely, Tsodlan's plan was to seal up several interior doors to try and funnel the attackers into places where they could out-number them in the local battle, letting them whittle their numbers down.

The secret passage led to a concealed opening some distance outside the Clan-house. Kemuel emerged from the passage in time to see Ngaya running off toward the Sakbe road. Running after her, he caught up and attempted to press his affections onto her (lecherous brat with a strong dose of Chumaz). Both characters lacking any sort of combat skill, they grappled inconclusively until a botch by Kemuel resulted in a well-aimed foot in his groin, letting Ngaya flee. The struggle had succeeded in attracting the attention of the deserters, and some broke away from the attack on the gates to investigate.

Gachaya attempted to fight one off, but found a quick lesson in how unforgiving Tekumel is when someone with a dagger and rapier attempts to fight someone with armour, shield and longsword. Injured and at the mercy of the deserter, he was saved by Kemuel. Screaming about how the Clan-house was stricken by plague and that was why they'd fled, the player rolled a critical success and managed to convince them ("Don't get their blood on you! DON'T GET THEIR BLOOD ON YOU!!!). The deserters decided to simply flee, leaving the group attacking the Clan-house reduced by a quarter.

Having had four people injured by the time they broke into the Clanhouse (due to Tsodlan's creative harassment of the attack- Kagesh kept pressing it purely because he felt his authority would crumble if he lost men with nothing to show for it), the attack wasn't going well. Feeling the tide may have turned, the deserters rushed inside, only to find a tough fight at every turn. Finally, they broke into the main hall to find a makeshift barricade in place. Battle commenced, with the superior armament of the attackers and barricade of the defenders making the fight a grinding and inconclusive affair.

During this, Gachaya and Kemuel limped back down the secret passage to the Clanhouse. Opening the secret door, they found themselves confronting a deserter- the passage led from a part of the Clanhouse which has been overrun- and quickly slammed it shut again. Trapped in the passage, they were left listening to the door being slowly battered down.

Back in the main hall, the N'luss warrior Mvekku was proving to be less useful in the fight than anticipated- while having high stats, I had the player of his master roll for him, and he couldn't get any decent hit rolls. The narrative description was of the deserters simply raising their sheilds and letting him batter away at them. Deciding things couldn't be left like this, Tsodlan ordered the N'luss back from the barricade, then had him pick up a table and throw it at the deserters, just before Tsodlan led a charge across the barricade. I ruled the table threw the deserters into disarray, denying them the use of their teamwork pool, whilst Tsodlan declared his side was using all the teamwork pool in one round as they charged.

The rolls finally went in the PCs favour as this happened. After five rounds of combat- during which Tsodlan rolled three critical hits and Mvekku managed to knock two deserters on their feet with the "using strength in combat" rules- the deserters broke. Kagesh started to rally them, but Mvekku's dice had finally turned in the PCs favour, and a blow of the N'luss warrior's greatsword took his bhead off. In retreat and with their leader dead, the deserters ran, and many were captured.

Following this, the PCs searched the Clanhouse for any deserters or injured, and forced Adlar to heal the more serious injuries. Ngaya returned, with the Sakbe road guards. And Sirukel, having spent the battle quietly passing notes and searching, had found the strongbox and transferred over a thousand Kaitars to his pack without either the residents or the other PCs realising.

 *************

All in all, the adventure was enjoyed by the players- though it did degenerate into mayhem rather quickly and didn't perhaps show as much setting-specific detail as it could have. But the players are at least getting comfortable with both the rules and their characters- so things should progress well from there.

1 comment:

  1. A very reasonable resolution under the circumstances.

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