A Fantasy Scenario set in Glorantha for two to six characters
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"Lost Child" is yet another scenario written up from an adventure I ran for the round-robin RuneQuest/Glorantha game I'm in. As always, I've included notes in italics on how events actually went in play.
Although the adventure was originally set in Glorantha, it should be easily adaptable to almost any fantasy setting or game system.
"Lost Child" took me two five-hour sessions to run, but your mileage may vary.
I. The Weeping Widow
II. The House
IV. In the Night
V. The Clearing
VI. Strangers On The Mountain
VII. Dreams and Visions
VIII. Ruins On The Peak
IX. Stair In Air
X. A Remarkable Vista
XI. The Valley
XII. The Caverns Below
XV. Down In The Valley...
"Lost Child" is a fantasy roleplaying scenario for a group of two or more player characters of low to medium ability. It can take between one to three weeks of game-time; most of that time is spent traveling through wilderness and mountains. Risk factors are low to moderate, and the magic level is high. Characters from most cults are acceptable, but player-character sorcerers and shamans are probably inappropriate for this adventure. "Lost Child" is designed with the assumption that the PCs are reasonably decent people, willing to help those in trouble and reward those who have helped them.
In a village near mountains, the characters are approached by a weeping middle-aged woman. Sobbing hysterically, she pleads for help: her young son has run off in the night, and she's terribly afraid that he'll be killed in the wilderness.
Once the party calms her down a little, she tells them more. Her name is Agatha Bramble, a widow; her ten-year old son is named Bendal, and he is all that she has left. And now he's gone; he has talked a lot about adventure in recent weeks, and now she believes that he has run off to find it. But the wilds are dangerous, no place for a young boy. There are animals, and bandits...he could fall off of a cliff, or into a lake...she bursts into tears again at the thought.
She has a little money, but offers as a reward the one thing that she has of value: a silver ring with a Magic Point matrix enchantment. It belonged to her late husband, but she'll gladly give it to the ones who bring back her son. She'll also give them 75 lunars and bake them a dozen gooseberry pies, too.
Assuming that the players accept her offer (if they don't, the adventure is over), their next likely move is to examine the house and question the widow more extensively. She has little more to tell them, however. Her husband has been dead for five years; he was a hunter, and when he was alive he told many stories and songs of adventure to his young son. Bendal just turned ten a week ago, and received a wooden sword as a present. He's about five feet tall and of medium build, with sandy hair and green eyes. He's bright, and brave, but doesn't realize how dangerous the world can be.
The widow's house stands near the edge of the village. It is small, but clean and neat. Bendal's room is in the back of the house; the shutters of the window are slightly ajar. The bed is slightly rumpled, but not slept in. Several things are missing: Bendal's small knife, his wooden sword, his brown trousers, blue tunic, a water-skin and enough food for two or three days.
It rained a bit yesterday in the late afternoon, and the ground is still somewhat damp; the prints of small feet can be made out in the ground outside Bendal's window. The tracks lead northward, towards the mountains.
The party may question the inhabitants of the surrounding houses. Most have nothing to add to the information that the widow has supplied. None saw Bendal leave the house, nor do they have any idea where he is. At most, they volunteer that he is a quiet boy, given to daydreams.
With a little searching the party finds Bendal's best friend, Dendo: a nine-year-old with straight brown hair, a thin face, and a solemn demeanor. He tells his story readily. Bendal had told him of his plan to search for adventure in the mountains, but Dendo refused to join him. Bendal was going to leave soon after sundown last night, and that's all that he knows. He hopes that Bendal isn't in too much trouble.
Bendal's tracks near the house lead north, to the mountains. The ground north of the village is still a little damp from yesterday's rain, making tracking there easy; there is a 20% bonus to finding them.
However, the tracks lead away from the village, onto stonier soil. As they follow the trail, the party must make a successful Track roll every hour. The first is at +20%, the second at +15%, the third at +10%, and the fourth at +5%. All rolls after that are at normal percentage.
The boy has a long lead on the adventurers -- he started shortly after sundown the night before. The adventurers are also slowed by the fact that they must search for tracks as they travel. Fortunately the boy doesn't seem to have been very careful about leaving tracks.
On the down side, he seems to have been traveling fairly quickly for a boy his age, and not always in a straight line. The party cannot simply assume that he followed the main paths, since in several instances he has not.
As night draws near, the party comes upon a small clearing. A successful Search turns up scraps of food that clearly show that someone has had a small lunch on that spot recently -- perhaps six hours ago.
During the night an intruder comes near the camp. A successful Listen roll by whoever is on watch gives them several minutes of warning: the sound of a medium-sized form moving stealthily though the brush near the clearing.
The intruder is a large, inquisitive skunk. It will tend to stay in the brush unless tempting food is immediately visible (and smell- able). What happens next depends on the actions of the party.
In play, one of the party members heard the noise and guessed that it was young Bendal, hiding in the brush. He decided to follow the boy into the brush and catch him. The skunk, naturally panicked by the sound of an adventurer in full armor plunging through the bushes after him, turned and ran. The PC continued in hot pursuit until they reached another small clearing, at which point the skunk took aim and let fly.
The skunk has a POW of 13, 7 hit points, and a "Spray" skill of 65%. The spray has a range of 3 meters. A successful hit requires the target to make a CON roll against a scent with a power of 16. If the hit is to the head, the scent has a power of 20. If the roll is failed, the victim spends the next 2d6 rounds gagging and retching uncontrollably.
Whether or not the CON roll is made, the victim will smell of skunk for the next several days, with obvious consequences.
Parries do not defend against skunk attack, but a successful Dodge reduces the power of the scent to 8 and the duration of nausea to 1d6 rounds. A Special Dodge reduces the power to 0, with no CON roll needed -- though the victim has a noticeable smell that lasts for a day. A critical Dodge avoids the attack completely -- it can't even be smelled on the dodger's clothes.
The party begins to encounter more mountainous terrain on the next day. The going is harder, and the path is less noticeable. Four hours after they start the day, the party comes upon a large clearing in the woods.
Those who make a successful Smell roll become aware of an unpleasant, animal-like odor coming from the clearing. A Special or Critical Smell success allows the character to identify the scent: blood. As they enter the clearing, a scene of incredible carnage greets their eyes.
Blood is splashed everywhere, painting ground, brush, and trees. One source is apparent: two large bears lie in pieces on the forest floor. Two small cubs are whimpering near the dead bears.
A thorough search of the clearing is necessary to determine just what has happened here; the search will take about two hours. Several skills are involved in putting the pieces together.
Fumble: The bears must have killed each other in a jealous rage. The bear cubs attack the character.
Failure: They've been dead a while.
Success: The bears have been dead for between three and seven hours. Both bears have been cut up by something sharp and straight. The skull of one of the bears has been crushed; the other seems to have been nearly severed in half at the abdomen.
Special: The bears have been dead for between four to six hours. A large sword was used on them, with a slashing style. It looks as if one of them was cut nearly in half by a single blow, and has several other sword-wounds. The other one has a single sword wound, an odd- looking long and narrow crushed area along its ribs, and its skull seems to have been crushed in by a large object from above. Several of these injuries would have required greater than normal human strength to inflict.
Critical: The bears have been dead for five hours, which means that they were killed a little after dawn. In addition to the special success information, it can be determined that the long narrow wound on one bear's pelt looks like a blow from a quarterstaff -- but caused far more damage than a quarterstaff can do. Several ribs are broken from that single blow. Its skull has been crushed in by an object roughly the size of a large ham, probably with a single blow.
Fumble: The bears must have eaten the boy here. The bear cubs attack the character.
Failure: Nothing more to see. There's too much blood -- it makes it hard to search.
Success: A broken wooden sword is found at the edge of the clearing. A torn piece of oily cloth is found next to a log in the clearing.
Special: As success, plus: The cloth smells slightly of cheese. The broken pieces of the swords are gouged near the break, and the gouges look as if they were made by bear claws. Under the claws of one of the bears is blood and a small bit of blue cloth.
Critical: As success and special, plus: There is an old silver coin, half-buried in the clearing. The coin is very worn, but it's definitely not any coinage that the party has ever seen. The scrap of blue cloth under the bear's claws could be from Bendal's tunic; he was wearing a blue tunic when he left home (see Section II: The House).
Fumble: The tracks now lead backwards, in the direction that the party came from. Bendal must have started walking backwards to throw the party off the scent...at this point the bear cubs attack the tracking character.
Failure: The tracks are too trampled and confused to make out. It's hopeless.
Success: The boy's tracks lead here, and stop. There are some new tracks, however. The marks of several booted feet can be seen; most seem fairly normal, but one set of tracks seem a bit large. The tracks lead north, to the mountains.
Special: The boy's tracks lead here, and do not leave. At least three (but not more than five) booted people have entered this clearing today, apart from the party. One set of tracks are definitely larger than a normal human being's should be, and the depth of the footprints indicates that whatever made those tracks was unusually heavy, too. The boot tracks leave the clearing and lead north, to the mountains.
Critical: The boy entered this clearing, and moved around in it a bit. Three people entered the clearing within an hour of the boy's entrance; probably after. One set of footprints are fairly small and light, and are spaced fairly close together. The second set of strange footprints are also small, but deeper and spaced further apart -- in at least one place, the tracks indicate that a leap of four meters was made. The third set of tracks are definitely larger than human -- at a guess, they were probably made by something roughly the size of a great troll. All three strangers were wearing extremely well-made boots. The footprints of the large one were deeper when they entered the clearing, and then lightened a bit; a large area of bent grass shows where a very large and heavy object was placed there for a while. The footprints of the three strangers leave the clearing and head north, towards the mountains -- which happens to be where their earlier footprints came from, too.
Note: The skill results are not meant to be a straitjacket. If a character searches a specific area that has something of interest -- under the bears' claws, for example -- they will see the described item(s). Optionally, extra time spent exercising a skill might increase the amount of information gained.
The trail leads swiftly up into the mountains. The path goes up in hairpin curves; trees become sparse, but occasionally there is a sudden stand of pines in a hollow in the mountainside. After two hours of travel the party is about half-way up the nearest peak.
The path ahead takes a sharp turn to the left, following the curve of the mountain. To the right, there is a steep drop of more than a hundred meters. Far below, a small river flows across stony ground. A successful Listen at this point reveals the sound of falling water up ahead -- not a major waterfall, but more than a trickle. There's an unusual odor in the air; a successful Smell roll reveals it to be smoke, and some sort of delicious-smelling stew. Those who successfully Scan spot something odd at the point where the path curves: a thin straight line at a forty-five degree angle. It is a golden rope, attached to a large light blue tent that is just out of sight around the corner.
Around the corner is a large flat hollow in the mountainside. The picture above is an attempt to show the general layout, but as I've said elsewhere, I'm no artist. So:
The path continues northward, gently curving leftward along the mountainside. On the right is a steep drop. To the left, a large grassy shelf cuts into the mountain; it is about eighty meters long and thirty-five meters wide. Against the far end of the shelf is a stand of pines.
Towards the peak, the mountain rises as a sheer cliff above the shelf. A small waterfall falls along it, descending to a pool in the center of the wall, against the base of the cliff. A stream spills from the pool and wanders across the shelf, eventually pouring off the cliff- edge to the right and into the river far below. The path is crossed by the stream, but it's small enough to be Jumped rather easily.
The party may approach the shelf cautiously, or not. If they enter openly, they see everything that's in the open immediately. If, on the other hand, they sneak up to the corner and peek around it, a Scan roll is necessary.
Fumble: There's a huge monster there, and it's charging!
Failure: There's a large open area there, a sort of hollow in the mountain. There are trees on the opposite side.
Success: As Failure, plus: There's a large blue tent just to the left of the path where it enters the clearing. A huge ugly man is near the tent entrance, but he's half-turned away from the path. There's a stream across the open area.
Special: As Success, plus: The stream comes from a pool at the base of the cliff to the left. Someone is bathing in the pool. There's a small fire between the pool and the tent, with a kettle hung over the fire. Between the kettle and the tent is what looks like a stretcher, with a small form lying on it motionless. There's someone near the stretcher, but they're mostly screened by the tent.
Critical: As Special, plus: The huge figure near the party is an extremely ugly and stupid-looking man, about size 23. His upper body and arms in particular are massive. Bathing in the pool is the most beautiful woman in the world. On a large rock on the other side of the pool is an empty suit of armor, a very large bastard sword, and a large shield. Lying on the stretcher is a young boy who seems to be unconscious. Standing over him is a small old man in pale blue robes.
The strangers are a party of travelers from the far West: sorcerers. The small old man is a Wizard, the woman is a Knight, and the hulking man is a servant. The wizard specializes in characteristic-increasing spells, among other things; numbers in parentheses indicate magically-enhanced attributes. These are the result of long-term spells.
STR: 9 (16) CON: 11 (18) SIZ: 8 INT: 18 POW: 20 DEX: 14 (21) APP: 8
Total HP: 13
Rt. Leg: +5 4 3 2 1 0 1 2 3 4 5- Lf. Leg: +5 4 3 2 1 0 1 2 3 4 5- Abdomen: +5 4 3 2 1 0 1 2 3 4 5- Chest: +5 4 3 2 1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6- Rt. Arm: +4 3 2 1 0 1 2 3 4- Lf. Arm: +4 3 2 1 0 1 2 3 4- Head: +5 4 3 2 1 0 1 2 3 4 5-
Weapon: Quarterstaff SR 5 A: 91% P: 92% AP: 14 Dam: 1D8+6
Armor: Robe, 7 points (Armoring Enchantment)
Active Spells: Damage Resistance 8, Spell Resistance 8, Spirit Resistance 8, Damage Boosting 5 on all extremities, Skin of Life
Spells: Knows all of the above except Skin of Life, which he had cast on him at home. Also knows Hinder, Mystic Vision, Treat Wounds, and Palsy. He is 120% in all his magic-related skills and spells.
Skills: Dodge 45%, Speak Tradetalk 35%, Speak Sartarite 27%, Human Lore 63%, World Lore 92%, Devise 81%
On his left hand a silver ring with a 23 point MP
A jeweled bronze amulet that is a matrix for all of his non-combat spells.
A gold ring on right hand is a matrix for his combat spells.
Trinkets, baubles, 400 SP, pouch of 17 jewels (total value 4765 L)
A rod with a glowing red crystal; this is glass with a long-term Glow spell, and is used to impress ignorant barbarians if necessary.
Hurlan is a Wizard from the west, an accomplished sorcerer. He looks the part; gnarled and a bit stooped, with a long grey-white beard and bushy eyebrows. He recognizes the danger of barbarian prejudices against sorcery, and so tends to wear nondescript clothes. He also avoid talking about his magic, though he will not absolutely refuse to do so if necessary.
He is on a quest. An ancient book that he found in his ancestral mansion told of the travels of one of his ancestors, Urtock Ettimore, who found a great treasure in the East: the Pangyricon, a mysterious object which may have also been sacred to the Invisible God. Urtock was slain shortly after finding the Pangyricon, but his squire brought a copy of his diary home to the West.
According to the diary, Urtock and the Pangyricon were buried "beneath the Tooth of the barbarian Wind God". Other details in the diary allowed Hurlan to narrow the area down to within a day's travel of this campsite.
Hurlan has the diary, but it's written in an ancient Western tongue.
STR: 16 (26) CON: 15 (25) SIZ: 13 INT: 16 POW: 14 DEX: 16 (26) APP: 14 (22)
Total HP: 19
Rt. Leg +7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8- Lf. Leg +7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8- Abdomen +7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8- Chest +8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9- Rt. Arm +6 5 4 3 2 1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6- Lf. Arm +6 5 4 3 2 1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6- Head +7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7-
Bastard Sword: SR 5 A: 129% P: 95% Dam: 1D10+8+1D6 AP: 18
Target Shield: P: 126% AP: 18
Armor: Soft leather (1) plus fine iron plate (9) = 10
Active Spells: Damage Resistance 10, Spell Resistance 8, Spirit Resistance 8, Damage Boosting 7 on all weapons & extremities, Skin of Life
Spells Known: Hinder 68%, Glow 54%, Damage Boosting 71%, Damage Resistance 70%
Skills: Intensity 70%, Dodge 101%, all Agility skills at 80%+, Manipulation skills at 70+, Perception skills at 80+, Stealth skills at 60%+. Speaks Western tongues only.
Possessions: An enchanted iron bastard sword and full suit of iron plate. Both are of superior Western workmanship. She also as a gold ring with a small pearl set in it; the ring is an MP matrix storing 8 points.
Sir Leeala (lee-A-la) is Hurlan's granddaughter, and a Knight in her own right. She's extremely competent in her field. Slim, blonde, and almost supernaturally attractive thanks to her long-term Enhance Appearance spell, she's aware of her effect upon barbarian males -- but though she doesn't take offense at polite passes, she gives them no more consideration than she would to a monkey. She does find such situations mildly amusing, however. She is extremely loyal to her grandfather, and in times of crisis is all business.
STR: 17 (27) CON: 15 (25) SIZ: 23 INT: 7 POW: 6 DEX: 10 APP: 5
Total HP: 24
Rt. Leg +8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8- Lf. Leg +8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8- Abdomen +8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8- Chest +10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10- Rt. Arm +7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7- Lf. Arm +7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7- Head +8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8-
Weapon: Mighty Fists SR 6 A: 65% Damage: 1D3+2D6+5
Active Spells: Various Enhances, all Resistances at 8, Damage Boosting 5 on fists
Skills: Dodge 65%, Climb 45%, Grunt 30%, Carry Insanely Overweight Load 90%
As a child Grond was captured by the forces of the Kingdom of War and used as a victim for magical experimentation. As a result of the experiments his INT and APP were markedly decreased, and his SIZ increased notably. He was rescued by Hurlan many years ago in a raid, and subsequently became his deeply loyal servant. Grond is not able to speak, but can grunt if necessary. He is not particularly violent by nature, but will fight to protect Hurlan, Leeala, or himself. He will also fight if Hurlan orders him to.
The boy on the stretcher is Bendal. Hurlan heard bears roaring and the boy's screams when they were searching the lowlands for the Pangyricon. When they arrived on the scene, the bears had already mauled the boy badly. After the group slew the bears, Hurlan healed the boy; unfortunately his injuries were so severe that the healing magic took more than a day to work. They decided to carry the boy to their camp for safety.
Hurlan has no objection if the party wants to take the boy away. He'll be well enough to travel by the morning. In the meantime, the party is welcome to camp on the mountain shelf.
If the party is willing to talk, the wizard will ask them if they are willing to aid him in his search. Local guides would be invaluable to him, and they may also help him to avoid inadvertently offending the Wind God (whatever that is). He has only a small amount of money left, but his ancestor's diary tells that a number of other treasures were buried along with the Pangyricon. These include barbarian magic, and are of no real interest to the Westerners. The party is welcome to anything else that is found on the trip.
SPECIAL: There's something that the party does not know about these strangers: they've been dead for sixty years. Even they themselves don't realize this. They're ghosts of an unusual kind.
The details they they tell about themselves are true. Sixty years ago Hurlan's small group did search this area for the Pangyricon, and during that search they were killed. Their uncompleted quest left them in a curious half-way state; they cannot attain Solace, and they cannot simply dissipate. Their spirits have re-formed on occasion to try to complete the quest, but each time they've failed. They don't remember previous attempts, and are not aware that they are dead.
It's possible that the blood shed by Bendal was the key that allowed them to take a more physical form. In any case, the party offers them an exceptional chance to complete the quest. They won't threaten the party, but will do what they can to persuade them to help them find the Pangyricon.
When the party first encounters them, they are solid and physical in every way. They have no special ghostly powers or abilities. They detect as magic, but that's hardly surprising, given their Western origins. As the quest progresses, however, the ghosts begin to see things that the party doesn't: the way that the world was sixty years ago, when they first traveled in this area. There isn't much difference -- the season and weather were very similar to what they are today, and the geography is basically unchanged -- but in certain instances which are noted in the text, the ghosts perceive an older reality from their memories, although they do not realize that this is the case.
However, they are not able to physically interact with those past visions. Until they re-live the moment of their deaths, the strange things that they see have no physical substance even for the ghosts (and of course the party cannot see the ghost terrain at all).
In play, one of the characters borrowed a crowbar from the strangers and had Grond bend it into a hook. Attached to a rope, it made a pretty good grappeling hook. After the ghosts disappeared, however, the PC found that the hook was gone.
The party now faces a decision point. They may choose to take Bendal back to the village and stay there; in that case the adventure is over. The widow thanks the party fervently and gives the promised reward to the group.
If they chose to take the boy back and then return to help the Wizard, they can make the round trip in about two days; they're able to travel much more swiftly now, since they don't have to watch for tracks.
In play, the party decided to split up (which is just what every GM doesn't want to hear, of course). Most of them took the boy back to his mother and returned; one stayed in the mountains to scout.
Just before the PCs sleep, the setting sun throws a red glow on the surrounding mountain-tops. Those who make successfully Scan the area note an odd-looking formation on the top of a nearby peak: the peak is thin and pointed, but the tip looks flat. Those who make special or critical scans see that the sun shines through an oddly regular series of breaks surrounding the mountain-top -- they look almost like the crenelation of a castle.
In the night, dreams can come. I'm a big believer in dreams in roleplaying games; they can be an excellent tool to convey a mood, foreshadow events, or just muddy the waters. Not every dream should be meaningful, of course. If every dream is a sure portent of the future, they become nothing more than the Western Union of the gods. In this case familiarity definitely breeds contempt. Still, a judicious mix of meaningless and portentous dreams can add an extra dimension to a good campaign.
Example: The PC is a worshiper of the cult of Orlanth (the Wind God and self-styled king of the gods). In his dream he sees an ancient tower of rock carved in the shape of a crowned man. As he watches, the crown crumbles mostly away. An amber light shines down, staining the huge statue blood-red. Between its feet, a strange little creature lies still. A cold foul wind blows the smell of rotten violets towards the character, sickening him. Just before he wakes up, he sees that a nine-legged spider is hanging from the hem of the statue's robe.
Example: The character is a worshiper of a cult associated with that of Orlanth. He dreams that he is a child again, sitting on a flat purple rock by a stream and playing with a miniature toy village. As he plays, a toy barn breaks apart into pieces. The pieces form a puzzle that can be put back together again, but not necessarily in the same shape as before. Suddenly a frog jumps out of the water, swallows a piece and jumps away. A shadow falls across the rock, and as the character looks up he sees his uncle looking sick and pale.
Example: For members of any cult. The PC dreams that he is wandering in a land where everything is edible. Animals made of chocolate stand motionless all around. If he bites into anything, he breaks his tooth on a stone. Spitting it out, he sees that it is a magical crystal.
Example: Any. The character dreams that he sleeps dreamlessly. When he wakes up, everything is as expected. Sensations are incredibly realistic and lifelike -- it is impossible to tell this from waking existence (the player should not be aware that the character is dreaming). During the day, the party is attacked by a disease-bearing broo. The broo is slain, but the character is exposed to the disease. The most competent character present examines him, and regretfully announces that the disease is terminal -- the infected character has only a day or two left to live. The character dreams that he goes to sleep normally. When he wakes up, it may take him a while to realize that he isn't going to die...
Example: Any. As above, but instead of a broo attack the character dreams that he discovers the most wonderful magic item in the world. This should be something that the player or character really wants. The party decides to give the character the item. He's likely to put it in a safe place before dreaming that he goes to sleep that night. When he wakes up, however, he's bound to be disappointed...
Example: Any. The character sees a boy on a hill far away, flying a kite. The kite is gold and light blue, and there is a drawing of a shield on it. Suddenly the kite swoops towards the character and crashes at his feet. When it touches the ground it instantly transforms into a puppet theatre. Though no puppeteer is in sight, a show immediately begins: the much-beloved classic The Golden Pig, a comic farce in which Quackbeak the Duck quests for a magical pig made of gold. Something is wrong, though; the strings of the puppets are tangled. Something unseen begins cutting the strings, one by one. As the strings break. The Farmer, the Maiden, the Old Man, The Angry Dog, and all the others lie down, become still, and fade away. Finally Quackbeak is left alone on the stage, looking around in terror. As his strings break, he turns into a golden duckling, spreads his wings, and flies away.
Example: Any. The character dreams that he is standing in the middle of his home village on a sunny day. Feeling a cold draft about his knees, he looks down and sees that he is naked. Everyone he knows is staring at him and laughing. There's nowhere to hide. Just before he awakes he looks down and sees a rotting apple near his foot.
Example: Orlanthi. The character is walking in a field. As he walks, a row of earth suddenly collapses downward several feet. The row is three meters wide, and stretches as far as the character can see. It lies along a north-northwest/south-southeast axis. As the character approaches the sunken area, a feeling of doom comes over him. His point of view is swept down, carried inexorably into the earth. Down below is a long tunnel; a weird mottled glow makes vision possible. The character's point of view helplessly moves north. Time becomes strange; it's hard to tell how long this is taking. With an explosion of dirt and pebbles the character suddenly finds himself in a large chamber. His priest and fellow Initiates are there, but they look strange; their clothes are in a very old style. All seem to be almost unable to move as a half-seen horror rampages among them, finally snuffing out the lamps that light the chamber.
Notes on Running Dreams: In my experience, it's best to take players out of earshot of the group when running a dream; dreams tend to be private, after all. Then too, if the character has to tell the others in the group about the dream, some details are almost always unintentionally altered (which I find very interesting). Players often try to take some sort of action in a dream; it can be difficult to decide how to handle this. My suggestion is to allow as much latitude as possible, but attempts by the player to "milk" the dream for prophecy should end the dream immediately.
Again, not all in-game dreams are particularly meaningful. In fact, most of them shouldn't be. And just as not every real-world person remembers their dreams, so too should some characters dream less than others. One way to run this would be to require characters to make a roll against their POW before sleeping; the higher the roll, the less likely they are to remember their dreams.
Assuming that the party decides to help the strangers, the next step is to search. The odd-looking mountain peak is their eventual goal, and eventually the strangers will steer them towards it. However, the party is free to follow whatever search pattern they wish. Other encounters may be inserted at this time. A meeting with a group of bandits, for example, could provide excitement and combat, if that's what the party craves. The strangers are likely to excel in any combat situation, of course. In combat Sir Leeala takes the lead among her group, and Hurlan tends to hang back unless necessary. Grond stands near him to protect. In any case, Leeala will take no chance with Hurlan's safety if it can possibly be avoided.
The peak is difficult to approach. Only from the south can it be reached -- beyond it and surrounding it are even steeper mountains which are extremely sheer and dangerous.
Close inspection reveals an ancient path to the mountaintop, however, and as the party comes closer it is clear that there is some sort of ruined stone building on the peak. The top is flat, and large boulders have been set around the edges providing a natural-looking crenelation.
The path ends in a ledge about ten meters below the peak. The ledge is fairly large; about ten meters long and crescent-shaped, hugging the mountain. The cliffside is steep, but not unclimbable.
There are a few points of interest on this ledge, if anyone cares to look. For one thing, it offers a perfect view of the only approach -- this would be a great place to defend from attackers. There are a couple of large semi-circular cuts at the top of the cliff; these are positioned facing the path up. War-minded PCs may deduce that these would allow defenders of the mountain to pour boiling liquids down on attackers. Fortunately there is no sign that the place has seen traffic for a long time.
A successful Search or Scan reveals scraps of decayed hardwood at the base of the cliff; these are the rotten scraps of what was once a removable wooden staircase to the mountaintop. Pegs (long since gone) joined the stair to holes carved into the mountainside. A Scan or Search turns up those holes, too, which ascend upward and to the left.
This is the first point at which the temporal difference between the strangers and the party becomes manifest. When the ghosts came to this area long ago, the stairs were still there; completely rotten and unsafe, but still partially standing. They still see these "ghost stairs", but the stairs are completely intangible to them. They find this to be a fascinating phenomenon, and spend some time running their hands and other objects through the inanimate phantom. To the PCs they will seem to be waving their hands through empty air near the wall, and dropping various objects onto the ground for no reason. If they inquire, the strangers are perfectly willing to discuss the matter. Since they don't remember their previous visit, however, they're likely to assume that the difference is simply that they are Westerners and sorcerers, and the party are barbarians.
The view at the top of the plateau is remarkable. To the south stretches the path that the characters approached by. Jagged mountain peaks lie in every other direction. The plateau itself is about twenty meters across at its widest point, and is roughly triangular. Large boulders ring the area, and at the south end the ruined wreckage of a cauldron lies near one of the channels at the edge. Anyone skilled in the art of war realizes that this is an ideal point to defend.
The ruins of an ancient shrine occupy the north end of the plateau. The ruins are of weathered stone; a Search of the ruins takes an hour. Success turns up a number of interesting items:
A cracked sheet of stone with an air rune inscribed on it in an ancient style
A fine bronze goblet that has been flattened under a rock
Several medium-sized bones. A successful Animal Lore identifies these as of a large feline; a special or critical further identifies the bones as those of a shadowcat. They are over a hundred years old, and very brittle.
Part of a stone frieze, depicting a cloud with a bolt of lightning emerging.
A golden circlet, half-mangled under a rock. The runes of air, mastery, and air are repeated around its circumference. The circlet is approximately six inches in diameter. An astute observer might guess that this was a collar for a special shadowcat, probably an Orlanthi familiar.
Beyond the ruins, the north edge of the plateau drops away precipitously. It reveals a startling sight: hundreds of meter below lies a narrow hidden valley.
The valley is small, about 1,500 meters along the long axis and 500 meters across at the widest point (in the middle). It is completely walled by towering mountains on every side, so high that it receives full sunlight throughout for only three or four fours of the day; long dark shadows creep across it in the morning and late afternoon. A small dark-blue river runs through it lengthwise, coming out of rock at one end and going underground again at the other side. The grass is thick, covering most of the valley floor like a rug; it may be an effect of the sunlight, but the grass is a dark blue-green, and gives an impression of cold.
The valley floor is dotted with patches of stone. Most of them are near the river. Those who make a special Scan or better (or use the Farsee spell) can see that some of the rocks are laid out in unnaturally rectangular patterns; they seem to be ruins.
There is a carved rock staircase on the edge of plateau, leading down toward the valley. It is broad at the top, and narrows as it winds back and forth further down; in many places it is cut deeply into the rock of the mountain, with stone walls rising more then a meter on the outer edge (the inner wall being the mountain itself, of course).
Hundreds of meters down the stairs reach a large semi-circular stone patio on the valley floor. The patio is almost perfectly smooth, and ten meters across at the base; it is obviously not natural.
The view from the floor of the valley is as spectacular as from above, but in a different way: dark walls of stone tower overhead in every direction, and in the bright sun the peaks throw dark shadows that sweep swiftly across the ground. It is a little colder down here, and the colors seem both darker and more lush.
A survey of the valley could easily take weeks. A quick search reveals a few things not visible from the top of the mountain:
There are definitely no entrances or exits from the valley. On closer inspection the patches of stone turn out to be ruins; the nearest ones seem to have been storehouses.
As it seemed from above, the river emerges from the cliff wall at the northern point of the and flows across the length of it. At the southern end the river flows into a very small lake; a large opening in the wall of the cliff shows where the water flows away underground.
There are a number of cave openings visible along the walls of the valley. They're of varied size, and the party could easily spend a season or longer investigating them all (if they do, these may serve as the basis of possible future adventures in the valley). One of the largest lies near the base of the stairs, leading in to the mountain that the ruined shrine stands on. It's the closest cave, and on inspection the entrance looks a bit odd. As the party approaches it, they see that although the entrance is about five meters across and three meters high, there is a wall closing it off two meters beyond the edge. In that wall is a large stone door. Engraved on the door are the Runes of Orlanth: Movement, Air, Air, and Mastery. The door is ajar.
See Section XVII: Notes for the history of the valley.
The entrance to the cave is a large finished-stone passageway, three meters wide and high, sloping gently downward. It goes straight into the mountain for 20 meters, and then opens into a large circular room. The room is filled with wreckage. A Search takes an hour; success turns up a great deal of undistinguished rubbish, moldy scraps of food, old wastes, smashed crockery, and scraps of a slashed tapestry. Piecing the tapestry together takes another hour, and a successful INT x 3 roll; if more than one person works on the project, the person in charge may add the Knowledge bonuses of all helpers to the number (i.e. he must roll under (his INT x 3) + (Knowledge bonuses of all helpers)).
The tapestry is missing several large pieces, and is stained and defiled. Nonetheless it shows a scene that is easily recognizable by Orlanthi; the young Orlanth Adventurous in the Middle Air, doing battle with the twin spirits of Drought and Despair. Non-Orlanthi recognize this scene from Godtime legend with a successful World Lore roll.
There are three exits on the far side of the chamber. Each is finished stone, 3 meters wide and 3 meters high. The one to the left goes straight north for five meters and is thoroughly blocked by rubble from a cave-in at that point.
The middle passage also leads straight north. After ten meters doors open up on the left and right; there are six doors on each side. The rooms on the left are former dormitories, the ones on the right are storehouses; all have been thoroughly looted and trashed. A long search in a room might turn up some object of very minor interest, but that's all.
At the end of the corridor is a large alcove. A huge broken statue occupies a meter-high circular basin of stone; the statue is a representation of Orlanth with his foot on the neck of a Chaotic water demon. Water from a spout in the wall once filled the basin, but now drains backward through a crack and into the rubble-filled passageway beyond. No further passage is possible in that direction.
The right passage from the central chamber slopes downward and to the right. Ten meters along the slope turns into a broad winding stair. The stairs descend another twenty-five meters (about ten more meters straight down).
The stairs open out onto a vast, shadowy cavern. Natural pillars of stone rise to the ceiling ten meters above. The caverns extend far beyond the light that any lamp or torch can provide.
A large natural-stone chamber opens in the rock wall to the left. The chamber is oval, with a flat finished-stone floor. The floor is covered with debris of all kinds: scraps of clothing, broken bits of armor, chunks of old bone, broken weapons, parts of skeletons, and other unidentifiable detritus. Against the far wall is a broken table of stone.
The most notable feature of the room is a huge, perfect tunnel that enters it at a 15 degree angle from below. It is perfectly circular, with a three-meter diameter.
This is the place where the Hurlan and his party died. As soon as they enter it, Hurlan stops stock-still and announces that the Pangyricon is near -- he's not sure how he knows, but he does. A few minutes later, Leeala hears a sound from outside the room; when they listen, Hurlan and Grond hear it too. It is the sound of the chaos horrors that slew them long ago. The party hears nothing, of course -- there's nothing there but memories.
Memories can be dangerous to ghosts, though. As the party watches, the Westerners re-live their deaths. From the perspective of the PCs, it looks as if invisible, inaudible monsters attack their friends and rend them to pieces. Yet Hurlan, Leeala, and Grond clearly seem to see their opponents, and fight back. One by one they are overborne.
Note: The GM should select an appropriate level of violence for this scene. It should be made clear that the Westerners are extremely powerful and skilled; that makes their defeat even more dismaying. If limbs fly across the room and huge wounds tear through armor, the effect can be quite dramatic. The party will likely attempt to interfere in this grim reenactment. They are unable to affect the invisible opponents, and likewise cannot be affected by them. The ghosts also become less tangible as they fight; at best, only partial contact can be made. For example, a Healing spell has only a momentary effect, the wounds opening up again after a round or so (since no Heal was cast when the Westerners actually died, 100 years ago). If a character comes too close to Leeala's whirling bastard sword, they feel a mild pain as they are unintentionally struck; but the blade doesn't do more than a point or two of actual damage.
As each of the Westerners die their bodies fall back onto a partial skeleton -- their own.
It is not necessarily impossible for the party to save the Westerners, but it takes great imagination and ingenuity. If they do succeed, however, Hurlan and the others are revealed as ghosts -- and fading ones, at that. Before they fade from sight Hurlan pleads for the party to find and use the Pangyricon so that they may go to their rest.
The party is alone in the silent chamber. The walls are covered with elaborate bas-relief carvings, all of which have been roughly smashed and defiled. An hour of study and a successful INT x 3 roll (INT x 5 for Orlanthi or Asrelia worshiper) allows PCs to deduce that these are images from the religious history of Orlanth and Asrelia.
Against the far wall is a large stone altar, which is also smashed and defiled. The altar stands a meter away from the wall; on the floor between the altar and wall a faint pattern may be discerned with a successful Search roll. Three runes are visible on the surface: Fertility, Earth and Luck (Asrelia's runes). On extremely close observation it can be seen that a fine crack marks out a square area surrounding the runes. Even the most dim PC is likely to suspect (correctly) that they've discovered a trap door.
A successful Devise is necessary to open the door; it slides slightly under the altar and opens downward. A wooden ladder leads down into a small room.
The room is very full; boxes and crates lie everywhere. One of the boxes is actually a coffin, containing nothing but dust: the remains of Urtock Ettimore. An ancient leather book binding rests at the foot of the coffin, but the pages have long since flaked away into dust.
This is a treasure room. As such it can contain almost anything that the GM wishes. One thing that it certainly contains, however, is the Pangyricon: a beautiful golden mechanism of intricate cogs and wires, with a large globe of crystal in the center. See Section XVII: Notes for the history of the Pangyricon.
Other possible contents include books, scrolls, gems, money, potions, ancient pots of woad, jewelry, etc. Some special possible items:
1. A bronze amulet on a silver chain with a stylized Air rune engraved on it. This is a matrix for the spirit magic spells Heal 4, Vigor 2, and Endurance 2. Also within is a Spell Spirit Binding, containing a spirit with a POW of 21, INT 17. These enchantments are tied together with several conditions:
A. The amulet may only be used by a devout Orlanthi of Initiate rank or higher.
B. Upon command the spirit casts spells from the matrices upon the wearer of the amulet. The wearer need only name the spell in Stormtongue.
C. The spirit can be taught other spells, which it casts upon the wearer when the spell's name is spoken by the wearer in Stormtongue.
D. If the wearer breaks their vows to Orlanth, the spirit is immediately released and attacks the wearer. If successful, it possesses the body and immediately commits suicide. It then returns to the amulet.
2. A hinged frame of a silvery metallic material: the Silver Cage. The frame is strangely shaped, almost organic in appearance (reminiscent of the works of H.R. Giger), and is indestructible by any normal means. Once unfolded, it reveals itself as a tenuous framework designed to clasp about the head and torso of any humanoid creature. In front, at the mid-point of the chest, is a large pale blue jewel.
The device is magical, of course. It allows the user to manifest part of their soul as a separate entity, in some ways resembling a fetch (this creature could be called a homunculus, if the term isn't used to describe some other kind of creature in the game). The user clamps on the device and sacrifices POW to it; each point requires an hour to expend. The process is not painful, but there is a feeling of slight queasiness and an unpleasant tickling feeling around the heart.
The user may sacrifice as many points of permanent POW as desired. One point always goes to the device itself, and the remaining points are used to create the homunculus. The more points that are used to create the creature, the stronger it is.
Homunculi have strange powers and characteristics. Their form is usually an ugly combination of the user and some animal form that reflects the darker aspects of the basic personality of the user; vultures, wolves, and even trolls are not unknown. But the homunculus cannot be mistaken for a natural creature, except in shadow at night.
STR: 1d4 per point of POW sacrificed
CON: 1d6 per point of POW sacrificed
SIZ: 1 per point of POW sacrificed
INT: 1/2 user's INT
POW: 1 per point of POW sacrificed
DEX: 3d6 + 12
APP:1/2 user's APP
Special: Perception +30%, Stealth +50.
Attack: Two claw attacks per round at 50%+. Damage is 1d6 + bonus, if any.
Homunculi live on blood. They must spend most of their time in contact with their master's skin, and drink small amounts of blood frequently. The amount taken is not enough to cause noticeable weakness, but the master does gain a small and unusual permanent mark where the homunculi feeds. If it is able to drink from others, a homunculus can and will drink all blood available, killing the victim. At such times, the stomach of the homunculus grows grossly out of proportion to accommodate large quantities of liquid. The distension passes within a day or so.
The advantages of having a homunculus are many. The master can perceive through the senses of the homunculus. The homunculus is able to spend one hour away from the master per point of POW that it possesses. When attacked by magic or spirits, the master adds the POW of the homunculus to his own, as long as the homunculus is touching his skin. The homunculus cannot provide magic points or spell knowledge to the master, but it can learn spells on its own and cast them at will. Emotion-affecting spells such as Befuddle, Demoralize, and Fanaticism do not affect homunculi (though their masters can still be affected). Homunculi are immune to normal weapons, just as werewolves are. Both the homunculus and the master are immune to all normal diseases.
As long as the homunculus exists, its master cannot die. Serious injury, unconsciousness, and dismemberment are possible, but the body cannot completely die while the homunculus lives.
While the homunculus touches the skin of its master, the master regenerates magic points and heals twice as quickly as usual.
The drawbacks of creating a homunculus are less obvious, but quite serious. The homunculus is evil, and will warp the creator over time. When it has the chance, it feeds on the blood of others; they particularly prefer the blood of newborn children. A homunculus might sneak off at night while its master sleeps and kill a baby with the master never realizing it -- though disturbing dreams would probably result. Eventually the master recognizes the truth.
In many ways homunculi reflect the darkest side of their creators, both mentally and emotionally. Their deepest loyalty is to the entity in the jewel in the silver cage, however: a spirit of pure evil. Every homunculus works to turn its creator towards evil, with the ultimate goal of gaining another worshiper for the jewel and eventually releasing the spirit trapped inside. Oddly enough, the spirit is not chaotic.
Natural animals instinctively fear and hate homunculi and their creators. They are much more likely to flee than attack.
If a homunculus is killed, its master dies immediately unless a CON x 1 roll is made. If the roll is made, the master lives but is permanently insane -- a vegetable.
The Silver Cage was stored here for safekeeping, to be kept forever unused.
3. A large box filled with large lozenge-shaped objects wrapped in extremely fine paper and cloth. A smell of violets comes from the packages. They are cakes of scented soap used by courtiers of long ago. Much of their virtue has been lost over time, but they are still worth a few wheels to the right people.
4. A fan made with a feather from every feathered species on earth. The owner will never be attacked by any flying thing.
At this point the has two major options. They may take as much loot as they can carry and leave the valley, or they may attempt to use the Pangyricon -- keeping in mind that they cannot be certain that the golden clockwork device actually is the Pangyricon. Which it is.
Several levers and buttons protrude from the Pangyricon. If any are pressed, the Pangyricon activates. The wheels and cogs go round and round. A musical clockwork noise begins, faint at first but getting louder and louder. Slowly a tiny golden light forms in the heart of the crystal globe at the center of the device. As minutes pass, the light expands. Before much longer, it grows beyond the confines of the globe; moments later, it exceeds the boundaries of the Pangyricon altogether.
At some point an attempt may be made to halt or reverse this process. No amount of pushing, pulling, punching, twisting, or otherwise manipulating any part of the Pangyricon has any effect. Nor can it be destroyed by any normal means.
Should anyone make contact with the light, they suffer no ill effects. A mild feeling of well-being is the only noticeable result. The light continues to expand, until it fills the room entirely. As it passes over the bones of the dead sorcerers, a shifting mist seems to seep upward from each of them. The mist coalesces into a glowing image of the Westerners, and with a look of transcendental release, their spirits pass upward through the roof and (presumably) into Solace.
If the players do not use the Pangyricon, the souls of the Westerners are not released. As years pass, their ragged ghosts periodically haunt the countryside, frightening wayfarers with their desperate pleas for help.
A final encounter remains in the valley. Although the tide of chaos which long ago infested the valley has receded greatly over the years, it is not entirely gone. A small tribe of scorpion men still lives in the caves on the far end of the valley (as far from the former Orlanthi holy places as possible). They have finally noticed the strangers in their valley.
If a final combat is desired, the scorpion men may attack as the party exits the cave. Alternatively, the party may see the scorpion men at sufficient distance to be able to escape the valley without combat, at the GM's option. If so, the extermination of the tribe remains as a possible future adventure.
On returning home, the party is thanked profusely for saving Bendal. The widow gladly gives the promised rewards, including pies. If the party released the spirits of the sorcerers, they may bask in the knowledge of a deed well done -- or worry that they have compromised their faith by trafficking with sorcerers. If they did not release the sorcerers, they may occasionally be troubled by nightmares -- and should they ever travel in the mountains again at this time of year, they catch glimpses of the ghosts of Hurlan and the others, looking at them in the night with sorrowful faces.
History of the shrine and the valley: Two hundred and seventy years ago, a Wind Lord with a reputation for add behavior named Forenn Windvoice had a dream: a vision of a hidden fastness beneath a spire reaching to the sky. He followed his dream into the mountains, and after searching for sixty-six days discovered the mountain that he named Wind Fang and the valley of Orlanth's Hold.
There he established a hidden Orlanthi stronghold. Why he did so is open to question; at the time the Lunar Empire did not threaten the region, and worship of Orlanth was both legal and widely practiced. Nonetheless Windvoice was able to persuade a number of Initiates to join him in building a secret religious retreat where he expounded on a mysterious entity called "Dream Wind". Above the retreat he built the Shrine of the Fang, to allow worship ceremonies to be held close to Orlanth. The shrine also served as a watchtower and defense against the only practical approach to the valley. The cave complex in the base of Wind Fang mountain was used for storage and living quarters; as the community grew, new buildings were built in the valley and other caves were occupied. The increasing population made it possible to build a small temple in the original caverns.
Forenn ruled the valley for twenty-seven more years. When he died, his son Thalt Forennsson, a Storm Voice (priest of Orlanth) led the people of the valley. Though he assumed the rulership at an early age (having become a priest only a few weeks before Forenn died), he ruled well, and for thirty-six years the community prospered under him.
The next ruler of the valley was Balt the Brave. A Wind Lord like his grandfather before him, Balt aggressively expanded the community of the valley. He made numerous trips to the outer world, recruiting many Orlanthi into the retreat. In his day all of the caves in the valley were inhabited, and many were dug out and expanded. New housing filled the valley, and warriors spent countless hours in training. The people of the valley were becoming a small and highly skilled army of Orlanthi.
During all those years, the secret of the valley was kept. But in the sixty-third year since its founding, the valley faced a crisis: the population was so large that it was no longer possible to grow sufficient food in the valley for their needs. It was necessary to import food from outside. It is conjecture, but highly probably conjecture, that at this point the secret of the valley got out.
For five years, nothing happened. When disaster came, however, it came rapidly. A drought reduced the river to a trickle, causing many of the crops and herd animals to die; more food was imported, but at a ruinous cost. Shortly thereafter, the first few people got sick.
The Plague -- there is no other word for it -- spread through the valley like wildfire. No one knew how Malia worshipers could have spread the disease, but there was little doubt of the source of the sickness. A delegation was prepared to recruit Chalana Arroy healers to come to the valley from the outside world.
But as the delegation was being blessed in the Cave Temple, there was a deafening crash and explosion of noxious mist. Krarshtkids poured into the Temple, followed by other chaos horrors. The Orlanthi fought valiantly, but were hopelessly overmatched. The sick soon joined their healthy comrades in death.
Balt led the few remaining Orlanthi up the stairs of Mount Wind Fang, to the sanctuary of the shrine. There on the mountaintop they looked down towards the south, only to see a swarm of chaos monsters coming up from outside the valley. Retreating back to the Shrine of the Fang, they held their desperate last stand.
Their defense lasted for three days. One by one they fell, as many of them dying from the plague as from the spells of their enemies. Last to fall was Balt, struck in the breast by the acid pseudopod of a gorp. As the armies of chaos trampled over his body to enter the shrine, thunder roared and lightning flashed from the sky. As the bolt struck the shrine, the roof fell in, crushing the krajalki within.
And there matters lay. A few people in the outside world knew of the existence of the valley, but kept the secret; chaos creatures stalked the valley, but as time passed many of them killed each other off, and many more failed for lack of food and victims until the chaotic population fell to the present low level.
History of the Pangyricon: Long ago in the West, a group of sorcerers developed strange insights and a peculiar interpretation of reality. They formed The Circle, a cabal of wizards who practiced unusual magics and HeroQuests in pursuit of their metaphysical view: the Authorian Legend. To that end, they manufactured the Pangyricon (among other objects).
Much of the lore of The Circle has been lost since their strange disappearance. Some scholars believe that they came too close to the forbidden RuneQuest Sight of the God Learners. Others believe that they simply left Time in order to concentrate their studies in Godtime. No one knows the truth.
But as far as it is understood, The Circle believed that the world was on the most basic level a product of Mind: a fiction, written and arranged in the fabric of reality. Some believe that they felt that this work could be amended, even completely re-written; some suggest that The Circle believed that the Will of more than one Author was loose upon the world, and that their role was to help the true Creator to refine and implement the great Plot.
Thus, the Pangyricon. The name is not an accurate one; a closer rendition of the metaphysical phrase that described this tool might be "Implement of Appropriate Transitions", or possibly "Transforming Plot Hook".
One thing is certain: the behavior of the Pangyricon is not easily predictable. No rules seem to govern its functioning, unless they are the obscure and virtually incomprehensible rules of the Authorian Legend. According to some ancient scrolls it requires a full season to re-charge itself after use, but this has not been confirmed. A wild number of effects have been attributed to it, from the destruction of an entire army to the removal of a wart. More disturbing are suggestions that it can effect extremely subtle alterations in the personalities and viewpoints of individuals. The limits on the power of the Pangyricon are not known, but some have argued that its apparent powers may be a matter of fortuitous timing more than any ability of the device itself.
A comparatively recent record which mentions the Pangyricon gives a third-hand recounting of the attempt of Jick Lokarian, a barbarian priest of "knowledge", to analyze the device using primitive divine magics. According to the notes of the Wizard Atranine Throckmore, the priest reported that the device was powerless, its only magical property being the false appearance of magical power (that the priest failed to note that such a property would itself be ipso facto magical, and therefore not false, is a typical example of sloppy barbarian thinking). The device was apparently activated as the spell ended, without apparent result. An appendix added thirty years after original publication mentions a report of a song dating from approximately that period which told of a priest named Jick who returned home one day to find that no one in his family knew him or remembered him at all. The nature of this data is too tenuous and indirect to allow any conclusion to be drawn.
There is little solid evidence on which to judge the Pangyricon. The ones most qualified to answer questions are no longer available to do so; nonetheless, it may be fortunate that no members of The Circle remain in the world. Given this lack of information, the wisest course of action for any field investigator encountering the Pangyricon is to refrain from activating it unless faced with a situation of absolute desperation.
[email protected] Copyright 1996 by Peter Maranci. Revised: January 26, 2007. v.2.1