Friday, 22 September 2023

Hex Crawl 23 #250: The Screen of Hail and Dust

Two hexes southwest, nine northwest of Alakran.


Fully titled "The Skin-Flaying Screen of Hail and Dust," this elite company of the Wahatti military is made up of skirmishers who throw leaden sling bullets engraved with their names at distance, and hurl heavy armor-piercing javelins at shorter range. Their round shields spend much of the time strapped to their backs. Hide jerkins and helmets are their only other armor, the faster and farther to move without tiring. Each man carries three smoke pots to be lit and thrown in a retreat when concealment is desired. Completing their armament, a dagger with a rough quartz crystal for its pommel goes strapped to the buskins around each man's left calf.

Their fortress commands a view of the northern plain from a rounded hill. It houses half of the company, the others being quartered west of Mehershal's Caravanserai where the Road of Flowers is joined by the Eryptos road. Its tall walls have multiple angled slits from which the slingers are trained to shoot accurately, and each of the eight towers has a shot-arbalest that can pepper the ground below with a fast-flying shrapnel of sharpened stones. The men entertain themselves with footraces, rabbit hunts, and a kind of hide-and seek in the hills to the south, appearing in groups of 10-20 out of their total complement here of 80.

Thursday, 21 September 2023

Hex Crawl 23 #249: Slaves of Uketta

Three hexes southwest, nine northwest of Alakran.


Uketta is a settlement, but not one that formed organically. It is a project of the previous civilian governor of Wahattu. Burnaburiash the "Fretful Spectre" wasn't as bad as Erkuzakir of the Execution Spikes, but had some whims about social reform that were not necessarily for the better. He had it in for the Ayotochin armadillo-people, thought they were a rootless and uncontrolled element that led to social disorder. Any of them he found wandering, he had rounded up and sent to an oasis farm, Uketta, in the desert near the hills that give birth to the Khepu badlands. 

These ayoto are slaves; there are fifty of them, their second generation in bondage, but some of them being relatively new catches. They are kept in irons and terror, and the old saying holds true; slave labor is free, but guards (of which there are 10, tough and brutal thugs all) and dogs (of which there are 6, savage, burly breeds) cost money. The place is now run by the son of Burna, Zuuthus the "Mute Drunkard," whose epithet is fully ironic -- the man cannot stop talking and has his guards flogged if they even smell of wine.

This place of cruelty produces valuable harvests of grain and garden crops, and food prices will rise in Gesshed if it is disrupted. For this reason, and through various favors owed to the present governor Zakiti, it is allowed to stay in business. Zakiti hates this situation, though, and would gladly see Zuuthus overthrown, provided the ayoto can be persuaded to stay on and manage the farm where they have so many bad memories. Some wanderers with plausible deniability would be perfect for the job. 

But in addition to the guards and dogs they will have to contend with Zuuthus, who has lived hiding his born wild magic powers -- a 7th level sorcerer. Also, there is Zuuthus' right-hand house slave Cuzuco, a 5th level ayoto rogue thoroughly indoctrinated to support the order, and who can count on ten trusty ayoto to subvert and betray the other forty if they rise up in rebellion. The reward is rich; two generations of the farm have left a chest of 4000 gold pieces in the master's house, and half that amount in costly furnishings and artworks.