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.
Follow-up. Always more than a session?
Yes, as written. An arc.
Massive spoilers. Players who have not played this should stop reading now.
Hengast’s absence meant some re-planning, but I decided he could always join them in the Upland Marsh after all, and announced that part early on. It was that or play board games instead, and we’d come together for RP.
The adventurers discussed trying to get an army, and using trollkin or thralls. The Bard recited to them the story of Indrodar’s Haven, or how he got through the mist and monsters of the Upland Marsh to find a place where he and his men could rest and heal. This had cost half of his band, although some had lived after making a great sacrifice, and that was counted as half a loss.
Amusement was provided by watching Venlar fall over in mud, which seemed to be something so normal that most of his compatriots ignored it. He lay there for a bit just recovering, and then Jon helped him up. Venlar explained that it was a thing that happened a lot and he was fine, but his spirit had never entirely grown into his body and sometimes he forgot where his feet were. When he was performing the part of Orlanth he was fine, but walking was not an exclusively Orlanthi activity, and he was used to being clumsy.
Watching them, they saw his mother Thenaya. Venlar agreed that, being the Thrall Mistress, she might be happy to lend thralls, and there was a cost for this. However, as soon as Thenaya found out what it was for, she refused, demanding that they go back to Lord Eril and say no. Enough people had died last time. Laika and Rastar tried to hide behind each other as they headed away.
Later, as they talked to Jorrim about other Heroquests they might try, Silor came to Gastara to ask what had happened, and say that a man might need dealing with about the tears of a woman. Gastara explained what Jon had said, and that there had been no threat, or she would have acted. Silor winced a lot, and explained that Thenaya had helped Eril buy thralls the first time around and had had to pay the families death-prices when he was exiled for their deaths. They decided that Jon was not to blame, and nothing more needed to be done. Silor went off to comfort a woman who was not his wife.
After some thought it was decided that Jon Pol Joni was the most Orlanthi, and the most used to leadership, and could play Queen Lismelde. This would allow the others to ‘rescue’ him and end the story of the Marsh. Rastar went off to ask Aelna about how to be an Ernaldan Queen, as he had not heard the part where Lismelde was a Vingan. Aelna was nice about it, and introduced him to a variety of sticky or clean children after finding out he loved his family.
They went into the Marsh, expecting that Hengrast would catch them up. Jon went in first, and then the others. In following him they walked a little faster than the zombies that appeared behind them. Soon they found a body that been decapitated. They followed the tracks leading away from it, along a halfway hidden path that had the water weeds beside it tied into Undeath Runes.
Unbeknownst to them, but guessed, this was the path that Jon had taken.
The Marsh fight was funny – the PCs took the path that was easiest, and destroyed the vampire, and that was that.
The Earth Women headed off into the forest when Gastara was sure she heard screams, and found a cliff that echoed everything back to them as a scream. It had what they thought was a water elemental beneath it, and they wisely ran away. It was in fact a Vough. This was nothing to do with the plot, but the fumbled Listen check and the repeated failed Survival checks were taken in good heart, so interesting things happened.
The Temptation of Rastar (And Jon not leaving). And Rastar not being tempting.
Massive spoilers. Players who have not played this should not read past this point.
Hengrast not being here meant some re-planning, and also exposed just how vital he is, with the game as written. It definitely needs his importance stripped out – he’s a plot hook, but he should not ever be a plot blocker just because he is absent. Giving the index of problems to the players in the first Heroquest scene should be a big help – they don’t need ‘Eril’, but it helps.
The early death of the Vampire means maybe there is a fallback vampire, but possibly I can live with rewarding characters who are actually smart…