(Savaged) Mummy’s Mask – Session One (11/10/2018)
Tom – Bes (reincarnated god of ancient Osirion – or so he claims, anyway, wears a mask depicting a leering dwarf)
Ted – Inspector Cluedo (genius level intellect and a magnificent moustache)
Morgan – Chenkov (towering paladin of Gorum, framed for murder and exiled from his homeland)
Vic – Vardis (scarred gnoll shaman, banished from his tribe)
Ross – Guud (hooded albino marksman, doomed to hunt the desert’s most deadly game)
Moc – Billu (handsome and virile manchild, bare-chested and boisterous)
Beneath the remorseless Osirion sun, an unusual group of individuals gathered around the pool of a wealthy nobleman to be offered a unique proposition. The Ruby Prince had decreed that the necropolis of Wati, the sealed city-within-a-city, be opened to adventurers and historians from across the breadth of Golarion. The temple of Pharasma (goddess of the afterlife) had been given the unenviable responsibility of organizing the rush of treasure hunters and tomb raiders flooding into the city, to prevent a bloodbath as rival groups battled each other for the best loot. Sebti the Crocodile, high priestess of the Grand Mausoleum ordered that a lottery be held, to randomly assign specific excavation sites to individual groups; failure to adhere to the rules of the lottery would result in disqualification.
Ahbehn Okhenti, the nobleman around whose pool the heroes were gathered, raised his goblet of chilled camel milk and drank deeply, surveying his strange guests over the rim of the glass. A motley crew and no mistake, but maybe… just maybe, destined for greatness, if the augurs were correct.
“You might be wondering why I have invited you into my home.” Ahbehn said, “It was not just to drink all my wine, although you have made good start on that! You are likely aware of the decision that the necropolis be unsealed, so that the wealth of our ancestors can fill the new pharaoh’s coffers. Wati is full of adventurous types hoping to find their fortune amidst the ruins. I fear that many will be disappointed and find only their doom, for the dead rest unquiet behind those walls. The necropolis was not sealed without reason.
“However, for the right group of skilled individuals, fame and fortune await! I believe that together, you could be such a group. If I were thirty years younger, I would be tempted to go with you, but these old bones are better suited to brandishing a chequebook than a sword!
“I propose that I pay the 1000 gold registration fee to the temple and you participate in the lottery on my behalf. You may keep any treasure that you find and there is to be an auction next week, where you can sell anything that you have uncovered but do not wish to keep. This could be a once in a lifetime opportunity. What do you say?”
Bes, his expression masked and inscrutable, crossed his bare arms and nodded his assent.
Inspector Cluedo pocketed the small mirror he had been preening in and smiled.
“Eet would be a privilege, monsieur Okhenti,” the inspector said, his thick accent immediately betraying him as a Galtan, if the spectacular moustache had not already given him away, “I ‘ave always yearned to pit my wits against ze ingenuity of your lands' infamous deathtraps.”
Chenkov grunted, a sound like gravel shifting on a mountainside, his cold gaze never leaving the scarred gnoll that stood nearby. Vardis insolently returned the man’s look, then turned away to chastise his human slave Boros the Agile, who was leashed to his master by a length of ratty cord.
“Why must we take this beaten mongrel?” Chenkov rumbled, “What skills can it possess, besides the ability to lick its own balls?”
Vardin stopped licking his own balls and extended his gnarled staff of sun-bleached bone towards the pool. Moments after it broke the surface of the clear water, the entire pool began to bubble like a cauldron on the boil.
Ahbehn and his attendants clapped politely. Chenkov grumbled.
“You had me at licking your own balls,” Billu drawled, then burst into a Bollywood-style song & dance number.
Guud the Huntsman watched this play out from the shade of a palm tree in the nobleman’s garden, a sneer twisting the corpse-pale features beneath his hood. These bickering children would not last a day in the parched dunes beyond their walls. Guud cocked his head to one side, listening for the sweet song of his quarry, calling to him from the depths of the desert. Soon. Soon he would return to the hunt. But not yet. For now, he would travel with this strange group and do what he could to keep them from getting themselves killed.
(Savaged) Mummy’s Mask – Session One (11/10/2018)
Lord Okhenti had arranged lodgings for the heroes at the Tooth and Hookah, an inn in close proximity to the Sunburst Market, where the lottery would be held at dawn the next day.
“The Tooth and Hooker?” Cluedo queried, his dour Galton demeanour turning momentarily sunny.
The owner/bartender was a bald Osirian man named Farhaan, his scalp scarred by the claws of a fire drake he crossed paths with in his youth.
“We don’t serve gnolls,” the barman said bluntly, crossing his meaty arms and glaring balefully at Vardis. Chenkov nodded at this wise and prudent policy of segregation.
“Today you do,” Vardis replied, flashing Lord Okhenti’s noble seal.
“Apparently I do,” Farhaan grumbled, retreating behind the bar, “My daughter Kemu will show you to your rooms.”
On their way upstairs, Kemu told the heroes that two other groups staying at the inn would be participating in the lottery; the War Dogs (fierce halfling warriors on dog mounts) and the Daughters of the Desert (all female adventuring party). Kemu asked the heroes what name they had chosen for their group. This question prompted a heated debate among the heroes, who eventually decided to call themselves The Desert Storm. Everyone except Billu decided to get an early night, but the energetic young shepherd returned to the common room and started putting drinks on Lord Okhenti’s tab.
Several hours before dawn, Inspector Cluedo was woken by the sound of hammering from the market. Opening the blinds, he saw a Pharasman cleric supervising the construction of a large stage. Cluedo dressed quietly and headed outside to speak to the workers. The cleric explained that the registered groups would be called onto the stage and randomly assigned a location within the necropolis to explore. Cluedo innocently enquired if a generous donation to the temple could make the draw a little less random.
“The lottery represents the divine will of Pharasma,” the cleric replied, “You are a stranger to our lands and our ways, so I will do you the courtesy of pretending this conversation never happened, but any further attempts to influence the outcome of the lottery will result in the disqualification of your group.”
The rest of the party rose and joined Billu for a full Osirian breakfast (grilled camel testicles and goat’s cheese), before joining the crowd gathering in the Sunburst Market. Sebti the Crocodile, high priestess of the Grand Mausoleum stood upon the stage, gaunt and imperious in her robes of office. When the Desert Storm were summoned, Billu took the stage as the group’s representative. Looking out over the crowd, his eyes were drawn to a curious group of men and women, their faces hidden behind golden funerary masks. Despite his cheery and courageous nature, Billu’s heart trembled at the sight of those silent, masked figures.
On the first day of the lottery, the Desert Storm were assigned to explore the tomb of Ahkentepi, a general of some renown who had died honourably hundreds of years before the necropolis was sealed. Not without some trepidation, the heroes passed through the gates into the dead city.
(Savaged) Mummy’s Mask – Session One (11/10/2018)
Following the map provided by the clerics of Pharasma, the Desert Storm reached the tomb of Ahkentpi. Windblown sand had piled up around the entrance and Vardis ordered his slave to dig. Pitying the poor wretch, Bes rolled up his sleeves and helped the slave clear the door.
The entrance to the tomb proper was blocked by a large, heavy stone disc, standing upright against the far wall. The surface of the disc was marked with ancient Osirian hieroglyphs, which Bes was able to translate.
TO THOSE WHO WOULD DISTURB THE REST OF AHKENTEPI, TURN BACK NOW OR JOIN HIM IN THE AFTERLIFE
Disregarding the warning, Chenkov stepped forward and wrestled the heavy slab out of the way. The room beyond was bare, apart from an ominous shaft descending into the dark. Knotting a rope around Guud’s waist, the heroes lowered the albino huntsman into the pit. Guud descended sixty feet, brushing aside centuries of dust and cobwebs, until he reached the bottom of the shaft. The skeleton of a long dead grave robber lay broken at his feet. The rest of the heroes followed and forced open the next door, leading further into the tomb.
A long corridor led to another set of stone doors. Both walls of the passage were decorated with murals, recording the military exploits of the General Ahkentepi. Remembering all he had read on the cunning of Osirian trapmakers, Inspector Cluedo emptied his backpack and re-filled it with sand. He tossed the bag into the corridor and sure enough, triggered a deadly dart trap that would have made life short and uncomfortable for anyone in the passage.
The next chamber contained a large, dusty mirror and several clay jars filled with ancient bronze coins. While Guud and Billu transferred the treasure to their packs, Bes brushed a thick layer of dust from the surface of the mirror. Rather than his own reflection, Bes found himself looking into the eyes of Ahkentepi, whom he recognised from the murals in the trapped passage. Ahkentepi raised his arm and pointed accusingly into the room, his lips forming a single word.
Boros the slave cried out as hieroglyphs spelling THIEF were branded onto his face by the magic of the cursed mirror. His judgement passed, the vision of Ahkentepi faded from the glass.
“What does it say?” Boros asked, unable to read the ancient language.
“It says superstar!” Billu guessed, optimistically.
“It says freedom.” Cluedo said, hoping to cheer the poor wretch.
“Freedom?” Boros replied, “Will I be free?”
“You will never be free!” barked Vardis, yanking hard on the slave’s leash.
The heroes discovered the adjacent antechamber had once been used to prepare bodies for mummification. Cluedo claimed a fine set of embalming tools for his own personal use. A step of darkened steps led deeper into the tomb.
“Stop.” Guud warned, “I will go ahead and check for more traps.”
“There’s an easier way to check for traps.” Vardis said, “Boros, you go first.”
Boros shuffled fearfully ahead. Minutes passed, yet there was no sudden scream or sounds of bloody dismemberment. Boros called back that he had reached a large, golden door. Chenkov forced the door open and entered a large, silent tomb, the centre of which was dominated by a raised stone dais. Atop the dais rested a golden sarcophagus. Cold iron braziers were mounted to the walls of the crypt and Chenkov raised his torch to kindle the nearest of them back to life. As the flames lit the chamber, Chenkov realised he was not alone – standing not 10 feet away was the skeleton of a long dead warrior, scraps of rusty armour clinging to its brittle bones. In fact, the tomb was full of skeletal veterans, sworn to defend their general until the end of time itself!
The Desert Storm swept the battlefield of foes, although Bes was wounded in the fray. Chenkov eagerly approached the dais and his golden prize. Surely there would be enough treasure within to buy his father’s sword back from that cursed merchant! As his lead foot fell on the first step of the dais, he felt the slab shift underfoot as he triggered yet another hidden pressure plate. Immediately, the golden doors slammed shut and water (channelled from the River Asp) began flooding the tomb!