Thursday, 23 April 2015

Campaign Journal: AS&SH - The Anthropophagi of Xamboola (Session 2)

SPOILER ALERT: This journal is extracted from an unpublished and upcoming Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea adventure I am currently completing. This account eventuates from the playtest. You have been warned!

Visitors to the desert-city of Xamboola beware! Demoniacal cachinnations and dull totemic drumbeats sound nocturnal from the outskirts of the city. Too, vile shrieks echo in response to the nightmarish noises, making even those of heroic aspect shudder in repulsion. Residents do not tarry to lock themselves in their homes at night, for something sinister lingers in the fringes of the black of night. Whisperings and warnings intimate that foreign guests residing at the inn of one Aramis D’athak oft disappear at night, never to be seen or heard from again. Where they disappear is not known, nor do the people of Xamboola speak of the hellish noises that darken their oasis city in the gloom of night.

Session 2: The Wrath of Helios

The Party

Sint the Pict Ranger (Level 1)
Heron the Kimmerian Druid (Level 1)
Moloch the Male Ixian Witch (Level 1)
Grimnear Hothgar the Viking Berserker (Level 1)
Estorane the Ixian Thief (Level 2; Hireling)

Part I: Prisoners!

Atop the steps of Helios the adventurers stood. Grimnear was spent. Winded, he could not run, yet the only sure escape was fleeing the city. The adventurers scattered from the temple, amidst the rumblings of an angry mob being roused near the satrap's palace. Despite Grimnear’s usual hale he began falling behind. Those ahead rounded a corner to be confronted by half-dozen of the satrap’s finest, doing their regular rounds.
“Halt” the one commanding spoke.
“We’ve been attacked!” gasped Sint “There was a battle at the temple. The priests...”
“Why would the priests of Helios attack you?” asked the sergeant sternly.
After a brief discussion the murderers agreed to accompany the soldiers back to the temple 'to help against the attackers'. Once the guard's backs were turned however, they began to bolt. Grimnear, weary and lagging, ducked into an alley to avoid the confrontation. He lay behind a barrel panting, eventually cleaning his blade. 

Six soldiers chased the remainder of the party. Heron was slowed by the weight of his armour. The lithe and scarcely armoured soldiers easily gained on him, surrounding him and casting him in manacles. Estorane, stricken with panic and grief, turned herself over to the mercy of the soldiers. Sint and Moloch continued to flee. Two of the satrap’s soldiers threw spears, missing Sint but pinning Moloch - mortally wounding him. Sint continued to flee into the dusking desert alone. Taken to the satrap's palace Moloch was patched up, then thrown into the  dungeon unceremoniously along with Heron and Estorane.

Grimnear, after discovering the fate of his friends, headed over to the Grotto of Rel. There he enquired among the thieves of the possibility of breaking his friends from their confinement. The price was 200 gp. Alternatively he could hire a spokesman for 10 gp to represent his friends. They were scheduled to be judged in the town forum. Having a smooth-talker was surely a wise option. Sint, after throwing off his pursuers and waiting until nightfall, had descended upon Xamboola, scaling the cliff-face and entering the grotto too. It was decided to hire the spokesman. The two soon fell asleep on the floor weary from battle and shock.

Part II: The Fighting Pits
After the thieves of Rel furnished some false witnesses to testify favourably for the imprisoned adventurers, Grimnear and Sint arrived at the forum. There many townsfolk packed into the building, angered and curious about the horrible temple massacre. The representative from the temple and the party’s spokesman were both eloquent and fiery, delivering impassioned testimony and persuasive argument. In the end, the satrap pronounced the murderers 'guilty' after a confession from Moloch, along with the overwhelming evidence against the imprisoned. In his grace however, the satrap allowed the guilty to fight for their lives in the fighting pits. Should they defeat a fierce opponent, it would be proof that Helios himself had pardoned them, thereby proving their innocence. It would be a sign that the death of his priests had been willed by Helios himself. As is custom in Xamboola, the satrap extended invitation towards any who wished to expend their lives proving the innocence of their friends.The guilty prisoners were joined by Grimnear and Sint.

Hours later and the murderers were within the Fighting Pits of Xamboola. The wealthy sat in stands eating meats and fruits, while the common folk sat on bleachers, not 7 feet above the pit. All were undignified: hooting and hollering in appreciation as the first barbarian prisoner was released to battle the party. Despite charging the adventurers and wounding Heron almost unto death, the barbarian was easily killed. Bow and sword cleaved through his thewy chest, his intestines spilling on the ground. Those in the bleachers cheered in glee and exaltation. 
“And now…” proclaimed the Arena Master, “we release the true foe of these murderers. Should the guilty defeat this fearsome foe in combat, we will take it as a sign that Helios smiles upon them, and their actions were, in fact, just.”
Released from its confinement a ravenous tiger was released upon the party. Snarling, it bounded towards Sint. Again, arrows plunged into the beast, while the blades of Grimnear and Heron clove deeply through flesh and bone. The beast was felled, the party proclaimed innocent before the town. Despite the insatiable fury of the high priest of Helios, justice was served. The guilty were pardoned, free again. The wrath of Helios was complete.

Part III: Theosophist in the Desert

Recovering from their wounds, Heron and Moloch slept. Estorane, Sint and Grimnear sat atop the roof again, watching the inn of Aramis by night. In the depths of gloaming they spotted a droopy captive being half-carried by three darkened figures. Climbing hurriedly from the roof and following the four into the cold desert. Without warning the three adventurers attacked, surprising their prey entirely. Sint’s arrows penetrated one's cranium, while Estorane shot another from behind. Grimnear hewed through another, as easily as warm butter. The assailants were naked, ebony-skinned cannibals, with teeth filed to points. Their prisoner appeared to be a drugged merchant. The night stalkers kept one cannibal alive, questioning him, but gaining little information.They took merchant and cannibal alike back to the grotto and slept.

In the morning the merchant fled the grotto in terror, believing himself accosted by the adventurers (the drugs administered to him had addled his memory). He hurried back to Aramis’ caravanserai to tell Aramis of the nightly troubles, and his kidnappers. The party again questioned the slave but to no avail. It was decided to head into the desert to see if they could unearth more information, killing their prisoner on the way. Moloch plunged his dagger into the cannibal's throat, leaving him to bleed out on the sandy ground. 

As they headed towards a known oasis, the wanderers stumbled upon the house of a strange man with boggling eyes, smelling of fish and unwashed clothing. He was friendly however, and invited the group inside his abode. Appearing a theosophist he even offered Moloch a parchment with esoteric scrawling upon it. After describing the sacred gem he was seeking, the theosophist kindly sketched some approximate topographical drawings of the old city as it was fabled to be in yesteryear. The party headed towards where they believed an ancient palace to be. Upon arrival they realised the doors had been refitted recently, suggesting a newly-arrived occupant within. Ancient, hateful pillars depicting monstrosities of occult suggestion flanked the ominous doorway. It's the doorway through which the wanderers surely must enter...

Adventure Rewards

5 sp payment from murdered daughter’s father for killing Jak’n at the temple.
Mysterious scroll from theosophist.

41xp for defeating Barbarian
340xp for defeating Tiger
72xp for defeating Antropophagi Slaves
375xp for attending the session
200xp for problem solving

206xp each.

Party owes the thieves guild 50 gp for help with the court/fighting pit.

The session lasted three days.  

Note: If you'd like to listen to the 2.5 hour version of this as it actually happened, feel free to follow the link to my DropBox and Download/Listen.

Previous Entry - Session #1 The Cannibals On The Edge Of Town
Next Entry - Session #3 An Unholy Feasting

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