Friday 30 June 2023

Hex Crawl 23 #181: St. Sallos Monastery

Sixteen hexes north, one northwest of Alakran.


Here we find an outpost of the strange faith from beyond the Salt Sea to the north, the cult of Odaus. This colony some sixty strong is known as "the place where men weave and spin," but the absence of family life among these male celibates only spurs them to work harder at all their self-sufficient crafts. They live from goat herding, brewing, and the small farms and orchards around their low fortified sandstone complex that sits atop a steep hill. 

Today's monks are all drawn from the local populace, the place having lost touch with the mother church in the land of Lor centuries ago. Their worship is even slightly syncretic, with prayers to the sun drawn from the older traditions of Mitra, and a renunciation of the hermit life in favor of brotherhood and communion. Their abbot, Petras, is a robust man with a bald head and spreading beard so black it's almost purple. He holds court with a jester monk, Griphos, whose outbursts, riddles and parables are in imitation of the namesake of the monastery, St. Sallos the Holy Fool. The monks can fight in defense of their homestead, but these are civilians, clerics and mystics armed mainly with staffs and crossbows, not super-martial artists.

The monks are down-to-earth but also interested in amassing wealth, of which they have a large amount hidden away. They brew a selection of the more common potions for sale, also sells scrolls of lore produced in their scriptorium, and also are interested in buying rare items, especially if they can find clues to their worth in their well-stocked library..

6 random antics of Griphos:

1. He throws a dozen almond shells, all empty except one. If the gift is rejected he hurls abuse, but if the one good almond is found and eaten, he will praise the eater, saying "Thus is wisdom among the dross!"

2. A riddle:

Like the man who is his own king

The woman who is her own mother

The dog who is its own master

So stands what I say

("Riddle" is the answer to the riddle)

3. He lifts his habit to show his backside, with five carbuncles in the shape of the Holy Staff of Odaus (essentially, a short-armed cross), and screeches "Here is your salvation!"

4. A riddle: 

From dawn to dawn, without let or slack,

She bears white-haired children and swallows them back.

(The ocean, with its waves. But have any of the desert dwellers seen the ocean to be able to answer?)

5. He holds out his clenched fists and orders, "Choose the one with hope." In his fists he holds a dead beetle and a living one. If he likes you, he says you have chosen hope no matter which fist he opens, changing the explanation as it suits him. . For it is a greater hope that the dead beetle will fly tomorrow than that the live beetle will fly, but the live beetle is capable of infinitely more hope than the dead one.

6. A body is brought from the infirmary, for Griphos has proclaimed a miracle -- that he will make the dead stand up! Alas, he can only accomplish this by grabbing the corpse and dragging it to its feet. If visitors bring a dead or inform person, he will pull this trick by preference.

Thursday 29 June 2023

Hex Crawl 23 #180: The Vale of Ul

 Fifteen hexes north, one northeast of Alakran.


The people who live around the river Ul have their own dialect, and rebelled against Shasari two generations ago. Today they sullenly pay their taxes, and do not like to remember their loss. They see themselves as having common cause with the heretic monks and odd crocodile-people upstream, so welcome lone or paired travelers of unorthodox nature. But a larger armed band will remind them of past injustices, and the rumor will go out that Shasari has sent reavers to reawaken the old fight. Such a group who leaves from Katarga may well find themselves surrounded in Ulkish by several hundred hastily mustered armed peasants. Your fault, really, for tromping around the peaceful countryside all kitted out like you were looking for battle.

The groves on the hillsides bear aromatic ethrog, as well as life-giving dates from dwarf palms, while in the valley crops of barley and spelt are sown. It is a taboo in Ul to let outsiders see you working, and the people have unjustly gained a reputation as lazy for presenting a picture of agricultural idleness to travelers through.