A playtest of something called Path of Blood
Not yet. We’ll be throwing this out to try publication, and an any-time guess is a good guess.
Gastara, Laika, Rastar, Hengrast, Jon
Massive spoilers. Players who have not played this should not read further.
Hengrast went to report to Lord Eril on the morning’ heroquesting, taking the others along, but only bringing Gastara into the room with him. Rastar stayed outside with Laika and they talked to D’Val, who was cheerfully doomed about the whole thing. Eril was marginally more pleased by Hengrast’s report than he had been by the failure.
Hengrast went off to arrange for Asborn for the next stage of the Heroquest, getting the artefacts out of the city, which would hopefully let him remember more plans. It seemed that Eril was terrifyingly good at compartmentalising, and was only thinking about the next part of his plan. Asborn asked where they would be getting the worshippers from, as they would need about a hundred; Hengrast asked for that as a favour, and Asborn said it would happen after noon the next day. This left them time to go do other things.
Rastar went for a walk along the path he had been running along in the quest, and found a crack in a wall that he remembered. He could poke his fingers through the rotten daubing, but when he went to the front of the house to ask the woman within whether he could look inside her house…
Rastar failed his Charm, but he was prepared to listen to her, in the rain, for ages. Then she invited him in so she could talk more, because her daughters had all married and gone away. Then she fed him. And kept feeding him. He finally escaped, bloated with dumplings and vegetable stew, to let people know he had found a thing; inside the house, there had been no sign of the crack in the wall that he could push his fingers into.
Meanwhile, Jon had been hanging around in the marketplace, watching the people who were watching the group, and finally he walked up behind one, failing his Move Silent/Hide combo, but not getting laughed at. He chose one with a grey beard, who introduced himself as Jorrim Half-Ear and quite happily revealed he was watching the group on behalf of several others. They came to an arrangement where Jorrim would come with them and help them, and they would not have to try to stop him from following.
They decided to do an old lady a favour by fixing her house. Hengrast called on her and got permission, then got talked and and fed for about three hours. Meanwhile Laika started peeling away old bits of wall, revealing what needed to be repaired. Inside the wall was a cavity about a foot wide, leading up into the tiled section of the old lady’s house. Rastar managed to get inside to look, and could climb up and see an area within the tiled roof that had Death and Truth markings on the wall, and a broken square beneath it that, as an expert in temporary altars, he recognised as a temporary altar.
Laika went to ask her friend D’Val to come and take a look. He needed help to climb into the roof, and told them not to come in. After some time they clearly heard him say, ‘oh thod’.
Laika and Jorrim the Scribe got into a discussion on the sort of manure and mud needed for making the wall, and Jorrim sent off one of the other spies to go find some. Eventually D’Val came down and declared that this had indeed been a Temple, he had attempted to sanctify it, failed, got caught up in a Hero-fight with Zorak Zoran, defeated the troll, and finally managed to re-establish it as a holy Temple. He had Divined what had been there. The Temple Relics had rested in that place.
It was time to go to the Heroquest, so they went off to the gates, with Jon bringing one of his carts. Once more, Rastar found himself in charge, trusted by the Lunar Empire! Once more, his friends were sensible. This time, Jon was a carter, hired to drive a thing outside town and deliver it. Hengrast, as Eril, found himself as just another refugee. However, Jon saw that there was another man in the crowd who looked just like him, a Lunar Commander with Eril’s height, bearing, and features.
A combination of the approaching Commander and his friends’ laziness meant Rastar stopped searching the cart – which he had been doing far too well – and let the cart through. Meanwhile, a number of people leaving the city had got away cleanly, including ‘Eril’. Outside, Eril could remember the next parts of what he was thinking; he was going to buy warrior thralls and go to his home Tula, where he was sure his brother Silor would help him.
After a short discussion on whether it was a good idea, and whether they could stop him finding out anyway, some of the group went to tell Eril what had happened. Rastar ended up in the meeting, and managed to bite his tongue when Eril said he had had no help, because he knew what Roka had said. Outside, D’Val was spending an awful lot of time sitting in a rain shelter, sharpening his sword.
Hengrast had taken Jorrim to the library, where there was a lot of looking into people who might have been around in the Lunar Invasion; Jorrim dug up the names of two axe maidens who had been around, for Gastara to follow up on. They were Alefa and Irilla. Alefa was available, and Gastara struck up a conversation with her. She did not remember a lot – she had been knocked off the wall and had been unable to get back into the city as it was taken, so she decided to leave and live.
Jon went to the Temple to ask D’Val about the Relics. While the Temple could in no way help him, D’Val had Divined on the subject, and was certain that they rested in a place where the Undead were very strong. (Did he tell someone else that, earlier?) Jon had requested a divination from the Air Temple and had watched one of the Initiates panic and go an odd shade of green, so this matched with what he aleady knew.
As Jon was leaving, D’Val asked if he could buy a sharpening stone, offering a large silver coin for it. It was not a Lunar – it had a cross on one side, some etchings, and was definitely a Matrix of some sort.
Massive spoilers. Players who have not played this should not read further.
This was a sort of picking up and working out what to do session, and the players picked up and worked out what to do. This was good, as I, the GM, wasn’t giving them hints but answering what they might find.
When we got to Rastar, we had our first Soup NPC, so I made her into a literal one.
(Art by N Bedell, who is probably Blue Moon Rabbit on Deviant Art.)
A soup NPC is someone that the players like who becomes a person, even though there were a throwaway. It turns out this woman could really cook, and was lonely. So now, although the adventurers may not know it yet, there is someone who will feed them any time. Functionally, she does nothing else, and exists only because Rastar went looking, but I think she should be on a rumour table somehow. Irilla the Axe Maiden should be too. A list of people who remember things or live somewhere important is a good call.
Rastar has so far reliably been a Good Lunar by his rolls, and that’s funny. It’s an accident, but a fortunate one. He nearly derailed the plot, but they got to see the Other Eril, which was good.
This was hard to write up a week after I had done it. I knew what the episodes were, but not how they fitted together. Not really surprising as I had not written down much that HAD to happen, and was filling in with NPCs, but… filling in with NPCs off the top of my head is a strength of mine, and here I was papering over cracks. What WAS important was letting the adventurers Heroquest more, and find out where they were going. A thing I need to do is let them know how they can do it without Asborn’s help. Mind you, I have an idea for that – the Ultimate Bad Guy NPC is making sure things happen, and so if they do not come up with a plan, and they don’t make enough friends to help, it can Just Happen.
That is, of course, impossible.