Wednesday, July 28, 2021

King of Kings Session 9 After Action Report

 Just pickin' up where we last left off, this session was a direct continuation of the previous one (find it here) and there will be another session following up after this one.

Dramatis Personae
Ishthyromeda the Small, level one amazon 
Kusa, level one cleric of the exiled and half-dead foreign goddess Nasitu-Neb 
Manchugo Coldeswain, level one cleric dedicated to Damir, foreign god of the trade routes 
Rohm'Daan, level one cleric dedicated to Anzhalar, a local chthonic god of subterranean flame

So the four adventurers, having retrieved information and a payment agreement from dehqan Shahab Manati, depart to investigate the three farming communes that have been slacking in their payment of tribute. Their first point of call is the estate to the north, along the road to Humakuyun. They come upon a wide expanse of tall grain with a singular path dug through it, and as they enter in they are met by a single arrow whizzing by their cart! After another arrow, they hear a voice yelling from a small copse of trees up ahead, telling them to "fuck off" and that they don't want any "agents of house Manati here any longer". Yelling back to reassure the disembodied voice that they are not agents of that house, they are apologized to and told that they can move forward, but to please bring the arrows with them, since they're not easy to make.

Coming upon the trees, they are met by a wiry young man with a scraggly beard and a red hat cocked upon his head, who explains rather nervously that they are rather reticent to deal with the insistent agents of Shahab any longer. When the players started asking questions, he said that he didn't really know what he could say and that they needed to talk to his mother. Guiding the group down the path in the field, they eventually come upon a collection of mudbrick houses encircled by a low-lying wall, teeming with his brothers and sisters. They meet with the boy's mother (who, by the way, informs the group that his name is Parsani), and ask just a whole lotta questions about the situation. To summarize: two other farming communes have become wholly empty about a month ago, their families disappeared into the ether, and dehqan Shahab hasn't done anything to help them, instead just expecting the same amount of tribute. As a result, the family here has changed their allegiance to house Taburi (which, when Manchugo mentioned they were servants of Farzaneh Taburi, made the matriarch smile and open up considerably more). They ask if her and her family would ever be willing to renegotiate with Shahab, but she refuses (though this prompts Manchugo and Rohm'Daan to wonder at perhaps organizing a meeting between Farzaneh Taburi and Shahab Manati at some point in the future (although neither are the heads of their respective houses)).

After the conversation, the group and the farming family of eleven settle in for the night, the kind peasants hosting the adventurers for the night. Ishthyromeda teaches Parsani and a number of the other boys how to make better arrows. The next morning, before they depart for the other abandoned communes, Parsani comes forward and asks if he can join the group on their travels. Once convinced that his family will be just fine without him, the four allow him to join. They depart on the dirt paths out of the farm, traveling south to the next nearest farming estate. While on the road, the group hears sounds of loud cawing up ahead, and peek beyond a hill to see seven griffons clawing and tearing at an immense hairy beast. A strange beast indeed, everyone recognized it as something that wasn't from around here. They choose to not intervene, and just continue on the road, letting the beasts duke it out behind them.

My players have provided many a visual reference this session

Another hour or two of travel later, the group comes upon wild untended to expanse of grain, being overtaken by weeds but with paradoxical random patches that have been cut low to the ground. Beyond the field is a slumped over partially collapsed farm house, and beyond that the edge of the Holy Cedar Forest. As they approach, they see the more thorough destruction of the mudbrick wall and the houses therein, empty animal pens scattered about. They spend some time discussing what to do, but ultimately just decide to look around the complex.

When they approach the main farm house, Ishthyromeda at the front with javelins in hand, they hear no noise. Ish peeks around a corner of the crumbling building, and sees a very strange form: a massive bull with pitch black skin rippling with muscles, an empty headless stump of a neck on its shoulders. She immediately threw a javelin at it, which flew right through the beast, leaving a gaping hole in its wake billowing out choking black smoke.

Another player-provided visual aid, which served as a size reference in-game

A combat ensued, using the new combat system I wrote up in this post here, but I won't describe it in a play-by-play, that'd probably be a tad too longwinded for an already too rambly post. It mostly worked out, though the headless bull-thing didn't really get to shine in the system because it was impaired by a choice it made at the start of combat: to rush at the wall of the farm house to collapse it, which ended up having no effect on the players due to lucky rolls on their part. With its shoulders embedded in a mudbrick wall, the group started whalin' on it, but bronze weaponry simply clanged off of its thick skin, while iron implements slid through it like butter, making deep slices that bled dark smoke. The beast's kicking legs knock Rohm'Daan and Manchugo to the ground. In the end, the horrible thing was pushed to fleeing by Kusa deftly grabbing onto its neck stump to attempt to hammer in an iron spike (which ultimately failed, with the thing's thrashing making Kusa fall to the ground, trampled by its feet and left with many broken bones) and subsequently by Rohm'Daan, prone on the ground but not injured, throwing sharp pieces of scrap metal at the thing. A single morale check later and the headless beast fled off into the distance through the field of grain.

After the battle, Kusa and Manchugo were helped to their feet, Parsani was found cowering behind a collapsed wall, and the group decided to make camp out at the edge of the Holy Cedar Forest, to investigate the area further next session.

Non-Treasure Experience Acquired
1 horrible headless bull thing (213 XP each before Prime Requisite modification)

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