Friday, 11 January 2013

Tekumel - Session 5

At the end of the last session, the PCs had finally reached the first waypoint on their journey- the gates of the City of Urmish. The Sakbe road afforded them a magnificent view of the walls as they approached the Gate of the Green Staff. Passing through the massive stone arch, they crossed the Bridge of the Twelfth Emperor and entered the city.

All the characters had visited Urmish at least once before. Tsodlan had served for decades in the Legion of Lord Kurakaa, one of the three Legions based in Urmish (and just as lacking in prestige and experience as the other two). Sirukel had stayed at the White Stone Clan-house here several times in his journeys with the Clan-owned merchant caravans, and Gachaya had stayed at the city for a night on his way to his rural exile. Even Kemuel had made the journey once, as his Clan-house was in the habit of sending it's youngsters to the Temples of Avanthe or Dlamelish when they turned thirteen to take part in the ritual deflorations- it was on this occasion that Kemuel's powerful magical energies had been sensed by the High Priestess of Dlamelish in Urmish. The basics of the city were thus explained to them- it was a sizeable city (if not so much as Bey Su or Jakalla) and primarily a centre of trade for the surrounding agricultural breadbasket regions. It was also mostly peaceful and prosperous due to it's location, completely lacking the glorious histories of cities such as Tumissa or Fasiltum.

Heading down the great avenue, the PCs had their first (roleplayed) introduction to some of the non-human races of Tekumel amidst the throngs of Urmish's citizenry- Pe Choi adopted by Tsolyani Clans and so allowed to travel beyond the Foreigner's Quarter, and armour-clad Shen of the Legion of the City of Chri, the toy Legion of a Red Mountain Clan nobleman. I produced a map of Urmish (a copy of the Swords & Glory one) and indicated the various regions of the city as they travelled.

Since the White Stone Clan are a High Clan and Urmish is a city, there was naturally a Clanhouse there. It was large and prosperous, even though the White Stone Clan was not a major power in Urmish. The welcome for the PCs was less than what some of them hoped for, but what the more worldly-wise expected. Seen as essentially no more than poor bumpkin cousins from the hinterland, they were given a perfunctory greeting by the Clanhouse Master and whichever of the Clan were curious enough to come and look at them whilst they were being officially received, before being assigned some rooms. Polite enquiries as to how long they intended to stay were made by the majordomo as they settled in.

A few hours were spent becoming familiar with the Clanhouse and some of the inhabitants, and Gachaya decided to make some inquiries about some of the resentment he was sure he'd sensed from the Clanhous Master (the player decided it was time to flex the under-used social skills on his sheet). After all, if Kemuel was important enough to be sent all the way to Sokatis at the request of powerful Clan members there, surely they could expect more help than they were getting. For that matter, why had the Sokatis Clanhouse not sent a better escort, or even someone to accompany them? But for now, he could only answer questions about the Clanhouse here.

It transpired that the residents of the Clanhouse knew nothing of Kemuel's potential; and that the former High Priestess of the Urmish Temple of Dlamelish, who had discovered it, had died recently. The magics used to preserve her youth had apparently failed, and so she had undergone a ritual death via Concupiscense. Her replacement was not of the White Stone Clan- and probably didn't know about Kemuel. The Clanhouse Master thought that he was simply some brat who showed a trace of magic, and who someone had pulled strings for by inflating the stories of his talent.

The next day, the PCs went about their various errands in town. Several items of potential value were taken from the Tower in the Citadel of Sighs, and they went to see who could assess these. Deciding to stay with the Faith, they tried the Temple of Dlamelish first, and were introduced to the Tsolyani Temples as they walked through the Temple district and reached Dlamelish's Temple. They were shown how thing would work here- an offering appropriate to their Clan status was made (sacrifices of a base value equal to the base resources for that Clan level) and the PC making the offering was then allowed to either participate in the outer rites of the Temple, or make a roll with a Social skill to make some other request. Doing exceptionally well on the roll to question the priesthood about the items (from the time of the Fisherman Kings even if not magical), the two minor amulets were identified and the rest of the items valued (as if jewellery from the Gardisiyal treasure tables). Finding themselves after several rolls to be thousands of Kaitars richer, the PCs in question (Tsodlan and Sirukel) decided to simply use it to improve their status with the Urmish Clanhouse and donated the bulk of the money to the Clanhouse treasury (they cashed it in for a Respect point each, having worked out that this was likely much more valuable in the long run) after using some to get better weapons and armour for their escort (see below).

Kemuel had looted a number of scrolls written in Bednalljan Salarvyani, a tongue he had some familiarity with (I decided to let him get a taste of magic that way, given how long it'd be in play before he got spells) which he was struggling to identify. Gachaya had grabbed an important looking book from the shelves, in the same language, which turned out to be a spellbook describing the Invisibility spell (or "The Myriad Incantations of Striding Forth Unseen" as the book was titled IC). He'd given this to Kemuel before he found out just how much it was likely to be worth.

In addition to the other-dimensional loot, the PCs had burdened their slaves down with several sets of weapons and armour from the deserters in the second session. Reasoning that simply re-laquering and refitting these would be cheaper than buying armour outright, the PCs looked into doing this. The problem was that the armour was in the colours of a Tsolyani Legion, and so many might assume it was stolen and want no part in handling it. How were the PCs to go about dealing with this?

The answer was for Tsodlan and Sirukel to spend a day walking back and forth between the Palace of War and the barracks of the Legion of Lord Kurukaa, Tsodlan's old comrades in arms. After several social rolls and some judicious use of bribery, they were given paperwork to state it was legitimate spoils of war (the Legion in question had been on the losing side of the Civil War) and that Tsodlan was it's legitimate owner. Not as cheap as they had wanted, but still less than the book price.

The donations by Tsodlan and Sirukel had improved things for the PCs back at the Clanhouse, and the Clan Elders were now willing (more RP and social rolls) to consider seeking Shamtla for the events on the Sakbe road when Lumetl had kidnapped Kemuel. Since the Golden Bough Clansman had simply been there to look to his Clan-cousin's well being and he was under guard by the Temple of Ksarul, the Clan felt the Temple was a better prospect. There was little hope the case would produce significant money, but after some brief negotiations an "out of court settlement" of a token amount to restore face to the White Stone Clan was proposed by the Temple of Ksarul. Rather than a petty sum of Kaitars, the Temple then offered to give him some basic instruction in controlling his energies to prevent a repeat occurrence. This was accepted as fair by all, and Kemuel began receiving instruction in the Energy Management skill.

The PC had been saving his advancement points up. Knowing that this campaign is unlikely to last for years, I'd been assigning bonus points to the PCs so they can see their characters advance before it ends. This meant Kemuel's player had points and to spare for buying the first level of Energy Management. Normally I'd require that enough IC time pass to realistically allow for the purchase, but as the player pointed out- Kemuel was supposed to be some sort of prodigy. In fact, could he also buy Familiarity with Psychic and Ritual magic just by observing the Priests of Ksarul and learning some basic principles?

I'd been about to say No, but then I thought- yes, he's supposed to be a sorcerous genius in the making. And more importantly, I had a sudden inspiration for what this could lead to.

So I allowed these skills to be purchased based on ten days of instruction- and the Priest of Ksarul instructing him noticed this. The Temple is now aware of Kemuel's potential power. He's not aligned himself with any Temple yet, so their initial thought will be to try and recruit him (I decided Kemuel's monstrous innate magic resistance is the only reason they haven't just tried to Mind-Bar him on the spot), but if that fails- why let someone joining another Temple grow to reach his full power? Better to finish it now...

The session was a brief one that merely served to wrap up some loose ends and set the scene for the next plot hooks, but the PCs seemed to have fun- and things will definitely get interesting next session.

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