Sunday 7 May 2023

Hex Crawl 23 #126: Lions of the Desert

One hex northwest, five north of Alakran.


Tucked into the folds of the east side of the Scarp is a series of platform-like shelves on which a pride of 11 female lions, 4 males, and 5 cubs sleep, lounge and pace. The echoing roars of the males can be heard for 5 miles, and it is no wonder, apart from the dry and ungiving soil, that this region of the western Dulsharna plain has no human habitation.

Lions have an interesting dynamic of the sexes that goes beyond the "King of the Jungle" cliche (lions actually shun enclosed forests) or the equally cliched retort "yes, but it's the lionesses that do all the hunting." That is true in pride life, but the males who lord it over the pride have paid their dues and eaten many meals as an exile before being allowed in. These nomadic male lions go it alone or in pairs, and in encounter terms, if an encounter is rolled 2 hexes away from the pride base it will be with 1-2 of these nomadic males; at closer range, save for the lair itself, the hunting party will be d6+3 females. 

Lions loom large in the imaginations of the region's civilizations. They are both the symbol and the quarry of chariot-drawn kings from ages past. In the Mitraic traditions, the lion stands for the Sun, and the lion's head is a preeminent symbol of the faith. For that reason the lion hunt is no longer undertaken, except among those who consciously cling to and exalt the old Urig ways; the Band of Bronze's ranger Nepelope, for example, spent some years in the traditionalist vassal kingdom of Nabatu to the east. She had the good fortune to take part in a lion hunt organized for the benefit of the Viceroy's brother-in-law, though when asked how many lions they bagged, she just shakes her head and remembers instead the six magnificent chariot-elands who lost their lives.

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