Wednesday 10 May 2023

Hex Crawl 23 #129: Hebat the Peasant of Shasari

 Six hexes north, one northeast of Alakran.


Among the reeds at the banks of the Shi-Ar, the Band of Bronze found a pair of peasants with large baskets on their backs. The old woman Hebat and her young male relative were country folk of Shasari province to the north who devoutly followed Mitra. They said they were on a mission from the Mitraic priestess Arinna of Sheshe Shema, who unlike the co-opted hierophant Arnuwandas, had resisted the takeover of the holy temple of Pethalah by the Setite cult and their priestess known as the "Ogress."

Hebat had been sent to gather incense resin at the Perfumed Hill, at great danger from the lurking leopards of the area, bandits, the shunned Plague Tower which stood along the way, and the dread citizens of Gheenatru who used the fragrant essences for their own purposes. She also told of a band of adventurers led by one Halpa-shulupi, who worked to liberate Shasari, and ranged beyond the lone mountain peak visible to the north. The party decided to escort the nervous peasants to the perfumed hill.

Gamemasters running a hexcrawl should think about two approaches. In one approach, things just happen in a hex when entered, like animated dioramas in a Disney ride. You can certainly have Hebat and her great-nephew play such a part. But my approach was more to have this stretch of the Shi-Ar be a thoroughfare, and encounters rolled while on it could come from either end of that, or even further beyond. When it's time to detail the hex just to the north I will show an example of this kind of play.

This encounter was a hook to make the players curious about the area developed to the north, and in particular an adventure based on Richard LeBlanc Jr.'s The Ogress of Anubis. More on that adaptation later.

One final note: the names of Shasari folk and places are generally coded up from the ancient Hittite naguage, unlike Wahatti names which are mostly based on ancient Akkadian. To this end, during the campaign I kept a "name file" and drew from it as necessary. Sketchy bookkeeping meant that I actually re-used the female name "Hebat" later on for a much more significant NPC. Such confusion is frowned upon in fiction. But perhaps it rings more true to life -- after all, even among the Twelve Apostles there were two men who happened to have the same first name (and more than one such pair according to some lists!)

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