Wednesday, 7 June 2023

Hex Crawl 23 #158: Judgments of Aish Mashuila: A Double-Header from Shakalul

 Twelve hexes north of Alakran.


Among these sleepy villages, Shakalul is the one with a story of judgment to tell. It belongs to the time of the Band of Bronze, and of the Khilan priest Korth's ascension as Judge of Balance after the defeat of Azeneth. But -- because at the time of our survey, the Band's deeds are in the future -- a visit to Shakalul itself will acquaint travelers with the strange tale of the son, or sons, of Hahharti the roof-builder.

Hahharti had already two daughters, but after his son was born he begged of his wife, "One more!" For the infant was one child with two heads, or two twins with one body -- a debate expected to be moot, for such prodigious births did not live long in the midwife's experience. But the child, or children, confounded expectations and grew to adulthood, while the wife could not comply with her husband's wish, for she died of a lingering childbed fever. Although called by one child-name, the adult heads preferred different names -- the left going by Amur, the right by Ashur.

The conundrum that confronts visitors today is simply that Hahharti is seeking a wife, or wives, for Amur-Ashur so that his trade, which he taught the son(s), may continue. There is an eligible lass, Tupalli, daughter of a wall-builder. The union would augur in a construction dynasty for the ages! Yet Tupalli fancies Amur, but is indifferent to Ashur, and before that conundrum can even raise its head the village elder, the keen-eyed centenarian Dumanima, has forbidden the marriage as the result of reasoning that goes like this:

1. If there is marriage among Tupalli, Amur, and Ashur, then the marriage would be biandry, which is most unnatural and unconventional.

2. If Tupalli marries Amur but not Ashur, then Ashur would either be a participant in their sexual congress, which is adulterous, or a spectator thereto, which is voyeurism and also a misdeed.

3. Reinforcing point 2, if Tupalli consents to congress with both, it is an orgiastic misdeed, but if she consents to congress with only one, the other would nightly commit a violation.

Anyone who solves this riddle by suggesting a way for the marriage to proceed lawfully and morally will gain both the gratitude of Hahharti and a plot of land worth 100 gold that is coming to him as part of the dowry, as well as a reputation throughout the land as a wise and benevolent lay judge. The best way is to convince Dumanima that the two men are in fact one person, but this will not be easy. Certainly when Amur-Ashur's two sisters came before Judge Korth after the death of their father, requesting a third instead of a quarter of the inheritance due them all, the wise judge noted that the two men had different names, and different tastes, and therefore were owed a half instead of a third share. But different judgments are indeed possible.


  1. It's gold! That's good stuff. How do you decide on the story/quest to include in each hex? Do you use some kind of oracle to spur ideas, just come up with stuff, etc?

    1. Thanks for the appreciation! This particular one arose from actual play. The party had defeated the bad guys who had taken over Aish Mashuila and Korth, their lizardfolk sun-priest, was installed by popular acclaim as the new Judge of Balance. I made a mini-game where he and the party could confer on cases and get xp for good solutions. The inheritance case (see link) was attributed to Solomon and the others in the series are derived from legends as well. For this hex, in a time period just before the campaign started, I had to imagine some of the other problems a two-headed man would face.

      I'll probably fill a dull hex in the coming weeks with some of my content creation techniques. Yes, they are worked up from random generation in many cases.

    2. Thanks for the feedback. Really interesting stuff.