I've been planning an OpenQuest game set in Glorantha for a couple of weeks because of a confluence of events getting me interested in d% gaming again, including managing to get a copy of the new RuneQuest.* I had a couple of ideas for what I'd want to run and had the players do a vote and this is what came out as the winner.
The premise is that the PCs are the young-adult children of members of a Sartarite clan ring. Due to their family prominence, the ring uses the PCs as troubleshooters in hopes of grooming them to take over the clan one day. They generated their clan a week ago using the system from HeroQuest Kingdom of Sartar (given to me by Jeremy Duncan, who should blog more). That was probably a mistake because it was much longer than I expected and they seemed to get lost in a way that a shorter one I could've worked up of the questions from Dragon Pass + some stuff about the Lunars wouldn't have caused. Live and learn.
Their clan is the Swan Song. They have an affinity for all water foul (including the Durulz), a deep hatred of dragons, a less deep but still pretty deep hatred of the Telmori, and they think the Lunars should go home. They are members of the Cinsina tribe.
The PCs are...
Amsi - A Vingan and daughter of the chief of the clan
Armind - A Stormbull known for his great strength and respected despite not having relatives on the ring
Henkel - A Trickster with the god-given power to make people vomit
Eirick the Chartreuse - An Odyalan hunter who desperately wants to impress his aloof "papa"
Sometime during Harmony Week of the Fire Season, a shaman named Ordag the Earless snuck into their clan's great hall, befuddled the ring members, and absconded with a sacred stone depicting the family history of one of the prominent families in the clan. The ring kept this a secret from the rest of the clan, though people knew something was up because the chief and his family had been sleeping in the warriors hall.
Derek the Green, father of Eirick and member of the ring, had the party pretend to be assigned to the outer patrol and then meet him in the great hall. It was Windsday of Deathweek, and on the previous day the ring sacrificed to Humakt using help from priests of the Malani clan to both keep at bay the angry ghosts of their ancestors and to divine the whereabouts of the sinister shaman. Harvar the Striker, the chief of the clan, now informed the party that they must head about a days journey into the Telmori wilds to find where the shaman had taken the stone and then return it without alerting the village.
The party set off and after traveling through rocky hills they came to a belt of forest that lay between them and the open country before the Creek. Heading into the forest, for it was there Ordag supposedly dwelt, they encountered a patrol of elves. The elves initially acted with hostility, demanding the party "return their brothers," but after noticing the tattoos of an Odyalan hunter, they hesitantly asked for aid. Unfortunately for the elves, the trickster had a different idea. He forced the only one who could speak Heortling to vomit uncontrollably. Seeing no other option, the rest of the party set on the elves and quickly slew them. Henkel explained that "we already have our own problems, and it is best to not become involved in the problems of others." However, he did not know how intertwined their problems were.
Thanks to the skillful navigation of Eirick, the party found the clearing in which the hovel of the shaman reportedly lay. Around the clearing was a strangely "mechanical" patrol of four elves, who moved with strange symmetry and rotated sunwise around the center point of the clearing. That center point was a large, dying tree with a hovel set at its base. Henkel and Amsi were able to sneak by the elf patrol, and tried to investigate the hovel. Unfortunately the dying light made it difficult to see. Amsi, with few other choices, decided to make her way towards it, but her stumbling in the darkness caused Ordag to become aware of her present, and he quickly cast a spell that summoned one of the ancestor spirits whose deeds were described on the stone.
Seeing the apparition and realizing the jig was up, Armind set himself into a rage and set upon the nearest elf guard, breaking him into splinters in one blow. Eirick supported Armind with bow shots, and Amsi was forced to rely on thunder-magic to face off against the ghost. Amsi called on Orlanth's Lightning and blasted the spirit, who seemed affected by the battle magic. While this use of magic aided the spirit in his attempt to possess her, the power of it dissipated the specter after a few short blasts. Henkel now joined the fight against the elves, this time forcing one to vomit and causing it enough physical damage that it broke its spine (or rather its spine became crusted with cedar apple rust such that he could no longer move). Eirick and Armind slew the remaining elves and then rushed upon Ordag and crushed his skull with a deadly blow.
Armind, still feeling the rage, then set about the trees with his maul, smashing them and screaming. The rest of the party investigated the hovel, finding that the spirit-talker had somehow burnt a handprint into a part of the tree where he had removed the bark. He also had the stone surrounded by rudimentary rushlights. Armind had been wounded by the elves, so the party decided to rest at the hovel for the night and return with the stone the next day.
The next morning, Armind gave Ordag funeral rights - burning the body and placing the remaining... remains under a cairn. While he was doing this a group of Red Cow warriors - better equipped and clearly of high station - came into the clearing and expressed shock at what they saw. Apparently they had been attracted to the location by the magical thunder from the night before, and had also been hired by the elves to rescue their brethren from Ordag. Henkel "explained" that all the damage had been done by the shaman, and that they could have the paralyzed elf to return to his kin. They didn't seem to trust the word of a trickster, but it allowed them a socially convenient "out." They left carrying the elf.
The party then struck camp and head back home. They returned without further incident but before reaching the tula had to decide how to sneak in such a large stone without it being recognized and causing alarm. Henkel cast mischief on it, turning it into rubber and causing it to make silly farting noises. This new, frankly bizarre object was totally unrecognizable to the carls and cottars they passed. It greatly disturbed the ring, but after seeking out Henkel's mentor and... father? Randan the Reckless, they were assured the measure was temporary. Randan then utilized the farting aspect of the rubber stone to be a weirdo.
At that point we stopped. The players said they enjoyed it and found the setting "weird, but in an interesting way." They liked the OQ rules and advancement system so we'll keep using that for now.
However, later one of the players confided in me that the antics of the trickster bothered them a bit because it made it too hard to getting anything done. They compared it to the problem of having the asshole who plays the overly lawful good paladin that makes it where you can't actually play D&D. This made a certain sense to me so I plan on talking to the trickster's player and asking him to tone it down a bit or perhaps come up with another solution.
*I decided to stick with OQ because I vastly prefer its skill list and simplicity, though there are lots of things about the new RQ I like. I may do a review of it in the near future.