Sunday, August 29, 2021

King of Kings Session 10 & 11 (10.5?) After Action Report

 Yes, two sessions in one post... or well, perhaps more accurately one session split between two days of play? It got split due to confusion on my part that caused a mixup during the first session. For the purposes of continuing numbering, gonna consider the second one as session 11. Just gonna describe it in one go though, just because it is easier. The events described in this post occurred on August 9th and August 18th.

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
also Parsani, scrawny son of a rural matriarch

The group made camp at the edge of the Holy Cedar Forest following the battle with the smoke-billowing headless bull-thing. After some discussion, they decide to call for Fire Eater, their jinn ally in the woodland. They get a fire started, burning some of Rohm'Daan's shiny acorns and some of the ancient silks they had found in an ancient tomb as a sacrifice. Fire Eater, in the form of a slimy black salamander, dashes out of the forest and swallows the flame whole.

They got into asking Fire Eater about what that headless bull-thing was, and they tell them that it was a "poor sort of being", specifically a marid, that only started living there three months priorthat the people who lived there were already gone by the time the bull-thing took residence there, and that there are small creatures that crawl out at night with axes and handsaws to slash at the fields surrounding the abandoned farmstead. When the group mention "that with yawns deep" which they heard about from the oracle back in Temple Town, Fire Eater thinks for a moment and just replies "a hole in the ground." After this, they say goodbye to Fire Eater and discuss what their next course of action will be.

They decide to go back to the ruined farm and investigate some of the collapsed buildings that they didn't look very closely at before. The largest of the buildings collapsed in on itself due to the ramming attack that the marid bull-thing did, so they go to the leftmost of the two smaller buildings still standing. Crawling one after another through a hole in the wall, they find what looks to have been a familial house, with beds strewn about everywhere and children's toys and animal bones on the floor. Manchugo investigates under some of the beds and finds a strange silhouetted form beneath one... which they push out from underneath it using a broom, revealing the desiccated mummified corpse of a child. Their body is intact other than their left hand which is much more destroyed.

Our adventurers take the body and bury it outside, then move on to the next of the pair of buildings. Inside, it is much the same; except for a basement at the back, which they descend down into after investigating the beds for other bodies (none were found). In the lantern light, they see silhouetted humanoid forms hanging from the ceiling, and presume that they are some sort of bat people. Manchugo wonders if they are the former farmers, transformed into bat-oids at some point. They discuss among themselves whether to burn the whole place to the ground, but ultimately decide against it.

After some more deliberation, it is agreed that they will investigate the ruins of the collapsed building and then wait out for the creatures in the basement to come out at night, assuming that they are the beings that Fire Eater mentioned. The big collapsed building seems to have been the house of the farm's matriarch, and they find her skeletonized corpse in the rubble, in what seems like a side room with a bed in it. There, Ishthyromeda finds a lockbox and, after fiddling with it with her knife, she finds a silver necklace, three brass nose rings, and two iron finger rings, all of which she pocketed. There wasn't much else of note in the collapsed building. After this, the five of them took the bones and buried them along with the dried out child corpse outside of the compound's walls.

Then they took to the walls and waited for nightfall... their plan was for Manchugo to throw a lasso around the last of the creatures as it exited the hole in the wall of the house with the basement, in order for them to interrogate it or otherwise figure out what is going on... but this is kind of where it fell apart. You see, in the process of me explaining the creatures crawling out of the abandoned house and Manchugo, Kusa, et al handling their actions during the encounter, I got so confused about what was going on (mostly due to communication problems on my end), and it was getting really late on top of that, that I elected to end the session there and pick up where we left off next time.


So yeah Manchugo had rope and used it to lasso the last of the little critters when it crawled out from the hole in the wall of the building. By this point ten other creatures had crawled out, with four of them remaining within the walls of the compound. Manchugo throws it at the last of the creatures, which now they can see has hirsute goat-like legs and massive ears, but he fails to catch it, misaiming and letting it hit the dusty ground uselessly. However, the creature doesn't notice where the group is, and ends up just running to join its brothers. Manchugo rushes forward and throws the lasso again, and ends up snagging the thing in the rope! He runs and grabs it up in his arms, tying it up with the ropes, before waving to the rest of the group for them to run out of the compound and to the edge of the forest to interrogate it while giving the rest a wide berth. Surprisingly, they are able to dash out of the compound without alerting the others.

Not gonna describe the whole interrogation and whatnot, but basically the players discovered quite a bit! The creature repeatedly told them to "fuck off" and was impervious to threats and torture but was ultimately coerced into helping the players with a gift of an abacus and reassurances that they would return it to its brothers. In the ensuing interrogation/conversation, it identified itself and its brothers as "we who gnaw" and "ka-li-kan-tsa-roi", frantically desperately tried to count the individual strands of the rope it was tied with, was appeased with the aforementioned abacus, described how they and their brothers gnaw at the roots of trees, and described how the farmstead was built by humans but that they had not seen the humans there (i.e. it was not those-who-gnaw nor the bull-marid who killed the peasants). The players decided to call the little creature Higgles.

Locheil wasn't playing in this session but he very graciously drew our lovely little pal :3

After the impromptu interrogation and the abacus deal that they made with Higgles, the group brought the small being back to the compound to return it to its brothers and ask them some questions too. It took some convincing on the part of Higgles to get its brothers to agree to talk with the man-things, but eventually the players asked some questions and those who gnaw asked some in return. Oftentimes those who gnaw would speak in unison or in singsongy chants. They asserted that there was no ruler among them to parlay with and asked the group what they did to make the bull-marid go away (they used what the creatures called "the poison metal what pisses off jinn" of course). In response to the players' questions, they said that all they do is gnaw and cut, describe how before they arrived here there were the "half-men" who were sorrowful and ashy-skinned and who were themselves chased out by wolves, mentioned that those who gnaw cannot smell, and said that they did not kill the owners of the bodies the players found earlier and in fact did not touch them at all when they found them.

Oh and also, when asked about the "that which yawns deep" thing that they heard about from the oracle back in Temple Town, those who gnaw spoke in unison (after a bit of muttering about whether or not to even say it): "big spiral, deep down, full of slime and gunk... a word of warning for the lot of you, a foul nasty funk... beware that which yawns so deep, the hole beneath the earth.... or else in the end you will find your life, in dearth... ancient kings dug down deep, a dismal dark so dreary! do not descend lest you desire naught but death and diadems of pale bony stone..." if you can't tell this was improvised during the game

After this, the group decided that they were much too tired, starving, and beaten up to continue pushing on, at least for now. They return to Tabur via the northern gate at the Tigerskin Quarter, where Kusa's connections got them into the city without having to pay an exorbitant tariff.

Treasure Acquired
1 Silver Necklace
3 Brass Nose Rings
2 Iron Finger Rings

Non-Treasure XP Acquired
Burying Abandoned Bodies (12 XP each before Prime Requisites)
Capturing Higgles (2 XP each before Prime Requisites; for being the one who lassoed Higgles, Manchugo gets 6 XP before PR)
Total: 14 XP/18 for Manchugo

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