Monday, 21 January 2013

Tekumel - Session 7

The PC were now planning to leave Urmish, but first, were hoping to get hold of some more slaves to allow them to travel faster- only having the bare minimum reduced them to the Leisurely pace to avoid tiring the slaves carrying the litter, and now having two litters would mean even more slaves would be required. They discussed various methods by which they might raise money or get the Clan to supply them, but all these failed to prove worthwhile when considered at length. In the meantime, Tsodlan contented himself with drilling the guards in the hope of getting them properly trained in Formation Fighting and Kemuel amused himself with his new slave girl.

Then, one night, the Clanhouse was awoken by sounds of a commotion.

Fearing the worst, the PCs grabbed weapons and rushed to see what was going on. Slaves and servants were running about in a panic, and after Tsodlan's NCO bellowing restored some sort of order, questioning them revealed that screaming had been heard down in the subterranean storage levels, in the sub-basements below the basements the Slaves and Servants slept in. Gathering their guards, the PCs ventured down, brandishing the Endless Light stones they'd looted from the tower back in the Citadel of Sighs.

The screams in question had ceased by the time the PCs started to investigate, but questioning the servants revealed that for a few days they'd mentioned strange sounds, but been ignored. Looking at the likely source in a sub-basement store-room, Kemuel rolled high enough on an Observation roll to spot that a block of stone was missing in the wall behind a pile of crates. Moving the crates, closer examination showed that someone had been attempting to tunnel into the sub-basement from outside.

Slaves were set to work clearing this entrance, and soon the PCs were looking at a tunnel leading off into the darkness of the Underworld. Looking at the ground, they could see fresh blood there, and an occasional dropped weapon- but no sign of bodies. Deciding that this mystery needed to be solved before they simply re-sealed the tunnel, the PCs gathered some supplies and set off into the darkness with their guards.

As the PCs followed the trail of blood, I explained the extent and origins of the Underworlds that existed beneath many of the ancient cities of Tekumel. After going some distance in (and remembering to have Sirukel mark their passage so they could find their way back), they heard screams once again. Approaching the sound, they found a large chamber where a badly wounded man had crawled into a crevice to escape from an especially large and hungry Dlaqo which had decided that he was close enough to being carrion to count as dinner.

Realising the man might be their best chance to understand what had occurred in the tunnel to the Clanhouse, the PCs moved to attack. Tsodlan led the guards in a co-ordinated assault, but the Dlaqo's chitinous armour proved resistant to their best efforts, the mightiest blows only lightly marking it. Not inclined by nature to confrontation, the Dlaqo attempted to back away, but Tsodlan pressed the attack. In a panic, the Dlaqo lunged for the nearest adversary- Dresu, Tsodlan's eldest son- and delivered a mighty blow (critical hit) that struck him down. Scampering over him, the giant beetle now tried to flee- but Tsodlan would have none of this. Surrounding the beast, the guards finally battered the Dlaqo down and rammed spears into the joints of it's exoskeleton. Examining Dresu's wounds, they were dire indeed- but Kemuel produced one of his cache of scrolls and after casting it found that it did indeed contain the healing spell he's expected. A most potent one at that- Dresu's wounds were completely healed.

Sirukel had Mvekku grab the man (who'd been attempting to crawl away) and proceeded to question him. Intimidation revealed that he was a Nakome bandit, one of a group who lived in the Underworld. Their band would find ways to access the city above and use them to steal from the Clans, and then retreat back to the Underworld. Whilst passing along a corridor one day, one of the band had heard faint noises, and realised an occupied area was nearby- he marked the place, and a plan was formed to tunnel through to whatever was on the other side. Just as they had been on the verge of breaking into the White Stone Clanhouse, though, a large band of Mrur had descended on them, slaying the band without mercy- and then leaving, taking the bodies for whatever strange purposes he knew not.

Whilst the PCs were now completely in the dark as to what this band of Mrur might be about, their captive also revealed that only a third of the band had been slain at the tunnel- the rest were at their refuge in the Underworld. He also revealed that their leader was an Ahoggya renegade, cast out by his own kind for who knew what offence and commanding the outlaw band through sheer intimidation- it would kill and eat any who disobeyed him.

Returning to the Clanhouse, the PCs reported these events to the Clan Elders. The Mrur would remain a mystery, but Gachaya and Kemuel both declared that an assault on the Nakome band was required. This Clanless rabble had attempted to invade the Clanhouse, and their location was know thanks to the prisoner. They should strike now! The Elders agreed, and after making plans the PCs gathered some more equipment and took the prisoner as a guide, watched by Mvekku at all times.

The route to the Nakome lair seemed somewhat circuitous, arousing the PC's suspicion, but their hapless guide insisted that the most direct route led through a section of the underworld where a Ngoro was known to lurk. Fortunately the PC didn't test this advice, though they didn't know enough to question such a dire creature being as close to the surface as this. Finally, the band reached the Nakome lair.

The entrance to the lair was a double door at the end of a corridor. There was a pit trap with spikes of obsidian at the bottom in front of it, which had been triggered at some point in the past and never reset, leaving a ledge less than a foot wide on either side and in front of the doors. The prisoner had told the PCs how the band kept ladders on the other side, which the guards would place across the pit to allow access then remove before closing the doors.

The PCs had brought two ladders of their own (the guards carried them), and the plan was for Tsodlan and Mvekku to lead the charge across once these were in place and then have Mvekku throw the doors open; the guards would then follow two by two. Hopefully, with the element of surprise they would overwhelm the guards near the door and be into the main dwelling chamber before the bulk of the Nakome had roused to give a proper fight. The Ahoggya was of some concern, and the plan was for Kemuel to have one of the scrolls which seemed to have an offensive function out ready to deal with it when it appeared- with this most fearsome combatant eliminated, overcoming the rest of the lightly-armed and poorly trained rabble should be simple enough.

Tsodlan and Mvekku made it to the doors and threw them open as planned, readying their swords as they stepped into the chamber beyond. The plan started to fall apart with the second wave- Dresu and Quren were the next across, and Quren slipped whilst crossing the pit and fell, bringing the ladder down with him. Fortunately he was able to grab the ladder as he slipped, and ended up clinging desperately to it as it wedged diagonally in the pit. The rest of the guards would only be crossing one at a time, and one of those had to stay behind to help Quren.

Luckily there were only three Nakome guarding the door. A few rounds of fighting had one of them down and four guards across the pit, at which point Tsodlan told two of the guards to finish the last Nakome here whilst he led the charge to the main living area- he wanted to give the Nakome no time to rally and form a proper defence. Rushing into the largest chamber, Observation rolls let them identify those men who seemed to be trying to rouse the defenders, and these were singled out for attack. Mvekku claimed one, Tsodlan took another, and the Nakome forces started to fall back.

The Ahoggya burst out of an adjacent room at this point, charging the PCs. Kemuel had his scroll readied, and one successful roll later the Ahoggya clattered to the floor a dried-out husk. Success, though the PCs don't know enough magic to realise just how much overkill using a scroll of Dessication in this case likely was. With their leaders and strongest fighters dead, the remeining Nakome soon surrendered- Sirukel immediately began tallying up just how much they'd be worth as slaves.

With the lair secured, the PCs began to explore it and tally up the loot. The room the Ahoggya had lived in was a foul mess, and some players decided I must have hidden something important inside, knowing they'd not want top look. Several Nakome were forced to sift through the piles of refuse until they began to physically vomit. As this happened, Kemuel had been examining the various carvings and inscriptions on the walls of the lair, attempting to ascertain what this had been before the bandits lived here. With good rolls to read the fragmentary Engsvanyali script, he told the rest of the PCs that this was apparently the tomb of Dortlavyanu, a self-proclaimed "God-King" of the Time Without Kings. He guessed that this petty ruler with delusions of grandeur had been buried here, with the rooms they were in a shrine to worship him after his death. The abandoned state suggested his cult hadn't outlived his reign, but Kemuel suspected that his actual tomb was nearby and undiscovered.

Searching the tomb (and with another round of Nakome being forced to enter the Ahoggya lair), Kemuel located the secret door to Dortlavyanu's tomb (the player has a habit of rolling critical success on Observation rolls). Knowing that there was a significant chance that Dortlavyanu was still present as some form of higher undead, the PCs debated what to do. Tsodlan stated that he was staying by the entrance to the lair with the guards, watching the prisoners- the other PCs could go and be killed by "Whatever name Tekumel gives to a Liche" if they wanted. The opened the secret door and entered.

Dortlavyanu's tomb was filled with bodies- all long dead, and all apaprently having fallen whilst fighting each other. Closer examination suggested that some had been Dortlavyanu's undead guards, and others had been attacking the tomb itself. The attackers all had the colours of the Temple Guard of Qon- clearly, the followers of the Cohort of Belkhanu hadn't appreciated Dortlavyanu's claims to godhood. The last few Temple Guards seemed to have fallen around a strange chest, carved with the bestial, six-limbed form of Qon himself. Within was a strange yellowish powder that smelled of spice and incense.

As the PCs explored, just as they'd anticipated, Dortlavyanu appeared- now taking the spectral form of a Huru'u. His scream destroyed any thoughts of co-ordinated opposition- Kemuel bolted for the guards, Sirukel was paralysed with terror, and Mvekku took the excuse to drag Sirukel back to safety to cover his own fear.

Strangely, only Gachaya stood resolute against the horror (critical success on Will). Quickly deciding that the yellow powder had to have been brought here for a reason, he thrust his rapier into it and rubbed handfuls into himself before engaging the Huru'u. He'd guessed correctly- blessed by the Temple of Qon, the ritual powder did indeed make his sword more effective against the undead horror than a Chlen-hide weapon should have been. After several rounds of dancing around Dortlavyanu and stabbing at him, he lured the Huru'u back toward the chest and managed to throw a handful of the powder into its face, before stabbing it repeatedly. Tsodlan arrived with reinforcements just in time to see it fall.

The funerary treasures of Dortlavyanu were quickly looted- being of a minor rule of the Time of No Kings, they were less than impressive, but enough to help fund the PCs travels. Tsodlan lucked out (I used the Gardisiyal treasure tables again, because, this was a dungeon bash- you can't not roll on treasure tables) and found a steel shield, at which he started muttering "my precious" and clutching it to himself.

Returning to the surface, the PCs were showered in acclaim by the Clan, and they set about calculating how much they could get for their loot (less Tsodlan's shield, which he was planning to get covered in a layer of Chlen-hide to hide the fact it was steel). The slaves were "traded in" by their slave-handler, the loot sold, and enough slaves to have a change of bearers for both litters was bought. This was immediately negated by Sirukel, who talked his way into handling the "Party Fund" and promptly invested the lot in several thousand kaitars worth of luxuries from the Urmish area to carry to Jakalla. With the spare slaves thus pressed into work carrying these, the speed wouldn't be as great as the PCs had hoped. Sirukel also ended up having to pay for the hire of ten caravan guards from the Turning Wheel Clan, which the White Stone Clan had an agreement with locally to help run their caravans, and another two slave-handlers.

The PCs set off from Urmish in much grander style than they'd arrived, in a small caravan that now straddled two levels of the Sakbe road.


The purpose of this session was obviously to introduce the PCs to the Underworlds of Tekumel with a small old-school Dungeon Bash. I think it managed to get the origin and nature of the Underworlds across, whilst providing fun for all involved.

As always, comments are welcomed.


  1. Bravo!

    Kudos to Gachaya for his intelligent and courageous action!

    Hisses to Tsodlan for his ignoble ideas of covering up the shield. That's a bit like giving your Rolls-Royce a crummy paint job to hide it from thieves. It really misses the point. He needs to go big or go home. :)

  2. Don't know how I missed it. Just added you to Skein of Destiny Blog Roll.. nice work..

  3. Brilliant series of adventures. The players did a good job playing their part I think, and you too of course.
    For a first foray into Tekumel, this is a brilliant one.
    Congrats on handling all the Tekumel details so well.
    - alx