Tuesday 21 June 2016

Tekumel: The P'raka

(The scenario on the home island of my Tekumel party comes here for general use; next, a short report of how they handled it.)

To while away time until Captain Tarshar's arrival, the elders have taken the unusual step of adding to the dwindling food supply by hunting the p'raka, a low-slung six-legged beast like a wild boar, covered in porcupine-like quills. Which happen to be saturated with a flammable oil.

The plan is for the more useful members of the tribe to circle the p'raka grazing ground in the waist-high, dry whipgrass, and for the vocally talented hunter, Kemune, to imitate the attack cry of the flying serpent Ben'gega (known on the continent as Vringalu). Ben'gega is the only thing the p'raka fears more than fire. In panic, at least one beast is expected to bolt across a low ridge, to where the soon-to-be-exiled PCs are tasked with catching and killing it.

The elders figure that if the PCs fail to catch the beast, it is a bad omen and ample pretext to send them off in shame and oblivion. But if the PCs succeed, this is proof that She Who Hides Behind the Sun smiles on them.. Their quest to find the Greater Eye of Shaping the Earth will be praised and feted, and the elders will give the Keeper twenty well-knapped red-flecked obsidian stones to take along, each the size of a fist.

A warm wind blows steadily from the southwest. The party has about an hour to prepare their ground. If the chasers are successful, the p'raka will burst out of the tall grass between a great red sandstone rock and a stand of thorny-leaved kema bushes. In front of it will lie a 200' wide by 400' deep flat expanse of ground mostly covered with dense, short, dry clawgrass.

The savanna is dotted with 5-8' tall um'hehue trees, about one per 20' area, unclimbable by p'raka but easy climbing for people, with boughs of thorn-edged disk-shaped fireproof, glossy, green-black leaves. At the same frequency are bare patches of stony red sand, tangles of twiggy bushes that can be broken off and woven into fencing, and jutting rocks that block a 5' area or 5' side. Somewhere in the area is a patch of a dozen or so oil-melons, whose slimy internal tissues are very flammable if inedible. The PCs should be encouraged to improvise traps and ambushes, under time pressure (figure one person, in 10 minutes, can alter one 10' x 10' area, dig a 3' cube, or do twice that if skill succeeds.)

The p'raka (3 HD, AC 13 spines, MV 12 with 3 round bursts of 18, attack tusks d6+1) will run out of the grass on the second round of one of its speed bursts, covering 60', then 180', then slowing to 120', then off the map. It will only stop for fire unless restrained, breaking out of cages or nets on a 5-6 on d6. Even faced with fire it makes a morale check on 2d6: 9+ it runs right through, being set on fire, taking half a d6 damage for 3 rounds and doing a full d6 extra if it overruns someone; 5- it turns around and runs in circles looking for someone to gore; other results it seeks a way around the fire.

Complications on d6, 1: The wind changes direction suddenly and blows blustery, fanning and blowing any fire unpredictably; 2: The p'raka emerges from an unexpected area on the map edge; 3: Two p'raka! 4: If someone is up in a tree, there is a blood snake there, 1 HD, attack 1 damage + poison, AC 12 (speed) 5. Unexpectedly, Kemune's call is echoed from behind you - a real Ben'gega is out there hunting! 6: Roll twice, ignoring further 6'es - except if you roll 5/5, 5/6 or 6/6, the Ben'gega arrives on the scene in d6 rounds...

Sunday 19 June 2016

Tekumel: The Island

Yesterday a group of four players started my Tekumel campaign. In the great tradition of "barbarians coming to the big city and learning the setting" they created characters, members of an island tribe. They each took party roles.

The Speaker (caller in social situations) was a necromantic shaman with a blow-gun, who contributed that the tribal totem was the Wild Dog. He follows He Who Sets the Night In Order, lord of the moons and planets, ordainer of bad fortune, and casts fortunes by scattering bones in moonlight.

The Rememberer (note taker and mapper) was a not particularly competent hunter. He decreed that the rival groups on the island were the Wild Cat tribe and a group of Hlutrgu frog-men, all separated by mountain ranges and a dormant volcano.

The Keeper of the group's resources was a blind healing shaman ("Can I be blind like Daredevil?" "No, you're just blind"). He determined that what the tribe trades with one Captain Tarshar, boss of that big canoe with wings, is red-flecked volcanic obsidian in return for trinkets, hatchets, cloth and food.  He became blind by staring too long in search of She Who Hides Behind The Sun, ordainer of good fortune.

The Defender, lord of military strategy and the initiative die, was a strong and resilient barbarian warrior whose weapon of choice is a big rock on a rope. To him fell the invention of why the PCs, their zero-level followers and about 20 other tribespeople had to leave the island. Famine, due to increasing heat and decreasing water, was the answer. The other three were among the least necessary members of the tribe. The other twenty also had less desirable qualities -- lazy, complainer, drunk, quarrelsome -- and somehow got the short end of the "random" selection by lots conducted by the Wild Dogs' elder shaman. The Defender took pity on them and decided to accompany them. The tribal legend says that across the sea, in a place where people build mountains and live in them, is the Greater Eye of Shaping the Earth, relic of the dawn age, which can bring prosperity to the most ravaged land.

The elders decide that Captain Tarshar, whose seasonal visit comes any day now, must be convinced to take the surplus tribespeople to this built-mountain-place. The quest of the Eye seems like a good use of these exiles. How big, after all, can the world be?

Next: The Hunt