Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Tekumel - Session 13: It Returns!

The blog has, sadly, fallen into neglect due to a combination of factors. I had several RL reasons for not having as much free time to write up sessions as I did, and so the updates began to fall behind. The session began not being as regular, and so I started to forget Tekumel-related stuff in between them. I started a new campaign on a different night, which then took up some of my time. And when I finally did look back at writing more session reports, I was so far behind and the blog was so long without an update that it hardly seemed worth bothering.

Well, I've since heard from a few places that people still occasionally read the blog, or miss the updates. And there's been a recent challenge issued on the Tekumel yahoo list that people should “do what they can” to keep Tekumel alive. Taking these two together, I decided that going over my old session notes and writing up what happened in the remaining sessions of the campaign would be a good start for me, to get my mind back into Tekumel mode.

So, here's the first of the belated updates. They may well be not as long or detailed as those before, as the events aren't as fresh in my memory, but they should at least let people who followed the blog know what happened after I stopped updating. The Tekumel game has since ended, but there's the possibility of continuing in some form in the near future, so who knows- there might be more updates by the time I clear the backlog.


(Sirukel's player was periodically absent from the game from this point on due to RL issues, hence the character not being present in this and some future sessions.)

With Sirukel now planning his marriage and integration into the Clan businesses in Jakalla, the rest of the PCs were left to try and find their own way to fit in to the city, since none of them particularly wanted to go back home. Tsodlan found that the Clan had a very suitable position for him- they had several Clan members in influential positions in the Palace of the Realm, overseeing the Musa Jakalla docks. Specifically, a Clan member was running the guards for a section of the docks, ensuring that there was no theft from the ships being unloaded, the cargo being carried about by bearers and Chlen-carts, or the many warehouses in the district. While the city guard in that area wasn't in any way understaffed, it was felt that it was best to try and place suitable Clan-members in the more important roles in the dock guard- if only to make certain that any bribes made their way into the Clan's coffers and not those of the lower-status people who made up the majority of the guard.

Tsodlan accepted the position of Hereksa in the city guard, and took up his new post and duties at the docks finding it easy to settle into his new routine. Truth be told, the Legion of Kurukaa was more like a glorified city militia than a Legion and Tsodlan's experience serving in it had made him better prepared for patrolling the streets and collecting bribes than for waging war. Opportunities for nepotism were quickly uncovered, and within a month both Tsodlan's sons had been made Tirrikamu under him.

(Under the T:EPT rules for employment, I decided that the sort of position that lets people farm inducements like this counted as a professional salary based on the Bribery skill, with the level of income determined by the position itself- some give better opportunities than others.)

The other PCs visited the docks to see if anything that appealed to them could be found there (Gachaya was without any gainful employment or other personal means that might give him an excuse to remain in the city and Kemuel was bored waiting for his initiation into the Priesthood), but nothing came of it. Gachaya found that whilst there was money around the docks, squeezing the various inducements out of people was a full-time job and too much like real work for his tastes. Kemuel found the White Stone bureaucrat who oversaw that section of the docks developed an interest in the boy and started to press his unwholesome attentions onto him, so he mostly found places to watch the docks for a few days.

Becoming bored and having now learned an area-effect version of his party trick, Kemuel decided to throw Terrorisation at a random group with a Chlen-cart (he'd at least learned to make sure any targets of this were Low or Very Low Clans). A panicked group of carters abandoned an equally panicked Chlen, which rampaged through the docks- and it was naturally the job of Tsodlan to try and restore order. Tensions were already high, as it was the height of summer and the slowing of trade meant the spectre of a Food Riot was looming just as it did most years at this time. Tsodlan managed to prove his worth, a combination of prompt commands to his men and good rolls managing to diffuse the riot for now. But when they came to start cleaning the mess up (including the Chlen and Cart which had fallen into a dock), something worrying was found.

Many crates, barrels and baskets had been scattered and broken open in the brief rampage of the Chlen, and from one of these a green dust was spilling out. Whoever this small basket of marsh-rice belonged to had been smuggling Zu'ur into the city. Not wanting the OAL or other higher-ups to start poking their noses around the docks, Tsodlan immediately began trying to ascertain who had been carrying the basket before it was dropped. Gachaya and Kemuel started assisting, though all they discovered was that Tsodlan's younger son, Quren, had already managed to fall in with a bad crowd and was associating with what amounted to the Livyani Mafia based in the Foreigner's Quarter. The investigation had to be put on hold, though, as the summer heat and humidity rose to near-lethal levels and the mood of the city grew worse.

Fearing that a Food Riot was immanent, several of the richer merchants of the city began scattering inducements amongst the city guard to ensure that their property would be safe. The guard couldn't possibly protect everything, but by concentrating their efforts in a few places, select parts of the city could be saved. Which these parts were was determined by the bidding war of bribes now taking place. This was how, one steamy, oppressive night in Jakalla the PCs found themselves standing guard over several warehouses as the sounds of rioting spread from the poorer areas of the city toward the docks. With the river having dried enough to temporarily cut into river traffic, the amount of food entering the city was less than what was consumed during summer, and if this period lasted long enough, food grew short, and the famous Jakallan Food Riots could occur.

Tsodlan had formed up several of the city guard, and being in full armour with shields and having a narrow street to guard- with prepared barricades- things seemed hopeful. There were unguarded warehouses nearby, and the rioters would surely pick those over a serious attempt to force their way past armed guards- the biggest dangers looked to be heat exhaustion if they had to fight for long in their armour in Jakalla's summer. In the event of a serious rush by large mobs, Kemuel was stationed on the roof with Gachaya, so he could throw his Terrorisation spell into the crowds. But unknown to the PCs, something more serious was approaching.

In the marshes of the river delta was a small rural clanhouse of the Green Reed Clan which had recently fallen on hard times. Somewhat isolated from the most prosperous of the other Clanhouses, they had been forced to consider more extreme ways to see them through these difficulties- but they had reached the limit of how many of their Clan could be sold into debt-slavery before their holdings became unworkable. In desperation, with their Clanhouse by a small river leading to the sea, they began making deals with the Zu'ur traders, giving them a place to land their goods from which the drug could then be shipped to Jakalla. Large ocean-going ships were more likely to be searched than local skiffs loaded with marsh rice, after all- and so things continued, with the Green Reed Clan making enough money to even start buying back some of their members from slavery.

Until a basket of Zu'ur was broken in public and the new Hereksa of the city guard started asking questions instead of shrugging, filing a report and then forgetting about it. Then, the Green Reed Clan, having their first serious scare concerning the chance of discovery, began to panic. A desperate plot was hatched- everyone knew that a Food Riot seemed inevitable this year, and the guards would be protecting those warehouses they were bribed to as usual. Every able-bodied clansman was brought into the city, with what weapons they could muster, with the object of killing Tsodlan once the riots broke out and then hoping this was written off as being due to the riots.

The initial plan was to take the guards from behind by surprise whilst they were busy with rioters, and this would have succeeded had Gachaya not been on the roof. As it was, whilst the guard were defending one barricade from rioters throwing stones whilst Kemuel Terrorised them, he stated he was watching the other end of the roof. He saw a dozen men with spears and shields pushing down the barricade and passing over, running toward the guards around the corner. Shouting a warning, Kemuel was able to take several with his spell, which delayed things enough for the guard to turn and face the new attackers. They were quickly dispersed, but this was not the end of things. The spell wore off and a second attack was made, this time trying to goad the guards into chasing them. It succeeded, and only Tsodlan's quick thinking and good Command rolls saved them from disaster when they were attacked out of formation by unarmoured infantry that managed to make them run long enough to become fatigued. Forming a circle, they held off the Green Reed Clan long enough for Kemuel to resume his spell-throwing. There was a brief moment of panic when three of the Green Reed climbed onto the roof to try and take Kemuel out, but he was rescued by Gachaya's panicked heroics (“If he dies, I have no excuse to hang around Jakalla- and I'm not going back to that farm!”).

Two unfortunate members of the Green Reed Clan were taken alive during the fight, and “interrogating” them the next day revealed who they were and why they had attacked. The details were passed on to the OAL as pertinent to the Zu'ur trade.


In many ways I felt unhappy with this session- to me, the Zu'ur trade seemed almost a cliché to use in a Tekumel adventure, given what I'd read of the background. But I needed to establish Tsodlan in his new role and create an adventure at the docks, and smuggling seemed the ideal answer. And my players, of course, didn't know about Zu'ur before this and so didn't care if it was used as a plot device by previous GMs.

Hope people enjoyed this, and post a comment if you want me to keep going with the write-ups!


  1. I'm going to go back and reread the others before I get into this one, but yes! keep going!

  2. Just found this blog if you're still playing I'm interested in reading more about your sessions!

  3. Yes, a cliche ... but cliches are, as you note, good at kicking things up. Moreover, because the situation the PCs are in are unique to them, the cliched plots, when they come, feel less like cliche plots and more like fun romps.
    - alx