(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!
Session 1 GM/conversion notes
I streamlined the Tomb of Ahkentepi and replaced the mining beetles with skeletons. Since there was only to be one combat in the tomb, I wanted to capture that ‘The Mummy’ vibe with a battle against the undead. I also streamlined the false sarcophagus trap to simply flood the room when a pressure plate beneath the dais was triggered. The players seemed generally concerned that they were in danger of drowning, so that was good.
The decision to let Vardis have a slave was made in the heat of the moment and worked pretty well from a RP perspective. Vic certainly seems invested in both his character and his NPC. I rolled a d20 on the NPC characteristic chart in the core Savage Worlds rulebook and got ‘Agile’. Based on this result, I am building a backstory that Boros was part of a travelling circus that was attacked by gnolls. I’m building a sub-plot based on this idea, but that probably won’t pay off until book 3 of the AP.
I was trying out a number of house rules from the Shaintar books, but I’m not loving the changes and am gradually reverting to the core SW rules as written. The one house rule I am keeping for now is the one that lets a player use a benny to add 1d6 to their existing roll, rather than re-rolling the total. I also tried the no Power Point variant, but I am starting to feel it invites abuse by certain characters and will be reverting to the use of PP also.
(Savaged) Mummy’s Mask – Session Two (18/10/2018)
As water flooded the tomb, the great golden doors behind the party began to close. Dropping his bow, Guud braced himself against the weight of the portal, slowing its inexorable descent just long enough for Billu to scramble to safety. The rest of the party were now sealed on the other side of the stone door, the sun-warmed water of the River Asp swiftly rising above their knees! Vardis splashed towards the far wall, hoping to find some mechanism to obstruct the flow. As he approached, Vardis saw two long, brown shapes drop into the water, like scaly turds being flushed down a giant toilet. Not recognising the danger, the Vardis continued fighting against the current. Suddenly, the water ahead erupted with teeth as a large, disorientated crocodile attacked, dragging the surprised shaman below the surface.
On the raised stone dais, Chenkov sheathed his sword and raised the lid of the golden sarcophagus. Nestled within lay a skeletal body in ragged leather armour. Chenkov was surprised by the lack of treasure. He was surprised further when the skeleton popped upright and began jabbering in ancient Osirian, which was incomprehensible to his untutored ear. Fortunately, Bes understood the skeleton’s tongue.
“Wait!” Bes cried, “He says that he means us no harm!”
The skeleton rummaged around inside the sarcophagus and produced a rusty shortsword. Suddenly, the skeleton lunged at Bes! With a single strike, he skewered the second crocodile, which had been drifting towards the masked man with gluttonous purpose. Chenkov used the heavy lid of the sarcophagus to club the second crocodile to death, releasing Vardis from its vice-like jaws.
With Bes acting as translator, the party were able to communicate with the skeletal warrior. They make the assumption that he is General Ahkentepi and the skeleton does not disabuse them of this notion. They express regret for robbing his tomb and the ‘General’ magnanimously accepts their apology. In fact, he can lead them to even greater riches! The skeleton shows the heroes how to deactivate the trap by lighting the four braziers around the room. The water begins to drain via a network of secret plumbing and both Billu and Guud rejoin the group. Billu heals Vardis’ grievous injuries, which had bought the gnoll shaman to the brink of death.
The skeleton explains how a false tomb would often be built to deter tomb robbers, then shows the heroes how to open a secret door to the real tomb and treasure vault. Guud is suspicious.
“If you’re General Ahkentepi, why were you buried in the false tomb?” the bowman growls.
The skeleton brushed the question off with bony fingers and heads through the secret door. Beyond lies a second, even grander sarcophagus, surrounded by clay pots full of funerary goods. Suspecting treachery, the rest of the party hang back while Bes and the skeleton removed the lid. Inside lay a second skeletal body in ragged leather armour. The first skeleton immediately punched the second skeleton in its bony face, caving in the grinning skull.
“YOU BASTARD!!!” the skeleton screamed.
“What the hell?” Bes cried.
“Wow! That felt great! You have no idea how long I’ve waited to do that!” the skeleton said, nursing his bony knuckles, “I have a confession to make to you guys, I’m not really General Ahkentepi, but I did have a grudge to settle with the guy. Y’see, it was this bastard here who had me buried alive, cursed to rot but never truly die. My name is Issa, by the by.”
“What did you do to deserve such a cruel fate?” asked Bes.
“I might have accidentally killed a few of his favourite concubines.” Issa admitted.
Entombed with the body of the dead general were two spectacular weapons that had defied the march of time that had reduced the rest of the ancient world to ruin. The first was a slender spear decorated with stylized eyes, the second a small black shield designed to resemble a scarab beetle. Vardis claimed the spear (all the better for prodding Boros towards danger) and Issa grabbed the scarab shield.
“What do we do with this thing now?” Guud said, raising his bow toward the skeleton, “He can’t come with us, the temple of Pharasma won’t allow the undead to leave the necropolis.”
“I could be useful!” Issa replied quickly, “Without me, you might not have found the real tomb. I am also an excellent cook!”
“Hmmm,” mused Billu, remembering Farhaan’s overcooked camel testicles, “We should take him along! How much trouble can one skeleton cause?”
Guud skinned one of the dead crocodiles and crafted the hide into a stylish hat to hide Issa’s frightful visage, plus scally mittens to cover his bony fingers. Gathering as much of Ahkentepi’s treasure as they could carry, the heroes exited the tomb and headed back towards the living city.
(Savaged) Mummy’s Mask – Session Two (18/10/2018)
It seemed the heroes had lost track of time, for the sun was setting as they emerged from the tomb. At the border of the living city, a group of masked Pharasman clerics guarded Wati against incursions by the dead. Beneath his crocodile-skin disguise, Issa began to sweat – then wondered how that was possible without skin. The party halted as one of the clerics raised a hand.
“Please surrender any treasure that you uncovered in the necropolis,” the cleric said, “The temple will perform checks to ensure that you have not bought any dangerous, cursed items into the living city. Any cursed items will be confiscated and destroyed. Everything else will be returned to you.”
Grudgingly, the Desert Storm hand over their loot to the watchful clerics, although they do hold onto the weapons they recovered from Ahkentepi’s sarcophagus.
“Anything else to declare?” asked the cleric.
“No officer, absolutely not officer, have a lovely night officer.” Billu said hurriedly, as the rest of the party hustled Issa across the checkpoint.
Billu and Guud returned to the Tooth and Hookah, while the rest of the party took Issa shopping at the night bazaar. Waiting outside the inn was a messenger bearing a note for Billu. The note bore the noble seal of Lord Okhenti and invited the handsome young shepherd to supper at the nobleman’s estate. Mistrustful as ever, Guud decided that he would be going too and shadowed his friend across the city. His concerns were unfounded however, as all Lord Okhenti desired was good company and entertainment.
Meanwhile, back at the Tooth and Hookah, a group of golden masked thugs were stirring up trouble with the Dog Soldiers. The two groups were on the brink of combat when the other members of the Desert Storm returned to the inn.
“What is going on here?” Bes cried in alarm.
“These masked buggers want to know what we found today,” growled ‘Mad Dog’ Marn, leader of the Dog Soldiers, “And I’ll tell you what I told them, none of your bloody business what we found!”
“You!” said the leader of the masked men, pointing to Bes, “You were at the lottery this morning! What did you find in the necropolis? Did you recovery anything unusual? Tell me!”
“We found nothing that would interest you.” Chenkov rumbled, “You should go now. You are not welcome here.”
Denied the information they sought, the masked men left. Jeering followed them down the street.
“You’re alright for a big fellow!” Marn said to Chenkov, “Fancy joining me and the lads for a drink?”
Chenkov joined the Dog Soldiers at their table, towering over the halfling cavaliers. Marn challenged him to an arm wrestling contest, which the towering paladin won. In fact, Chenkov slammed Marn’s hand down with such force that he broke the halfling’s wrist! The rest of the night passed uneventfully and the heroes got an early(ish) night in anticipation of the second day of the lottery.
Again, Sebti the Crocodile summoned Billu of the Desert Storm onto the stage in the centre of the Sunburst Market. This time, the group were assigned to explore the House of Pentheru, a wealthy merchant whose family had been massacred during the Plague of Madness.
(Savaged) Mummy’s Mask - Session Two (18/10/2018)
The house of Pentheru was a two storey sandstone building enclosed by a tall perimeter wall. Tarnished bronze gate stand ajar, leading into a sandy courtyard. The Desert Storm crossed the threshold warily and advanced into the main house.Bestial snarling could be heard from an inner courtyard, where a pack of large, black dogs had made their lair. Each animal had two heads and the grey flesh beneath their fur crawled with tiny worms.
“Death dogs.” Guud cursed, whipping his bow into the ready position, “Do not let them bite you! Their saliva carries disease!”
Chenkov charged into the fray, slaying three of the wretched hounds in a single swing of his blade. Suddenly, a hail of arrows rained down on the paladin from the balcony overlooking the courtyard. Three skeletal marksman looked down into the killing ground. Chenkov hunkered down behind his shield, but one of the arrows found his flesh and he cried out in pain as the shaft sank into his leg.
Guud clambered the remains of a collapsed staircase to reach the second floor. Three more skeletons, armed with spears and shields, were waiting for him. Before Guud could loose a single arrow, the skeletons fell upon him, driving their spears into his pallid flesh. This might have been the end of Guud’s story, had Billu not been there to heal his wounds. Vardis destroyed the skeletons with his shamanic powers, then intimidated Boros into attacking the final death dog.
After the skeletons and their worm-ridden hounds were vanquished, the heroes were free to explore the house of Pentheru in peace. In a dusty study, Chenkov found a golden amulet inscribed with the likeness of the Abadar, the god of merchants and commerce. The same likeness graced the face of a large vault door in the chapel. A pair of golden scales waited on the altar, beside them lay a small golden dish containing eight silver coins.
‘ONE OF THE COINS IS FAKE’ read the hieroglyphics around the vault door, ‘FIND THE FALSE COIN, BUT ONLY USE THE SCALES TWICE.’
Bes solved the riddle and the vault door swung open, revealing the sealed treasury. Gold and silver bars were stacked as high as a man’s waist, but the centre of the vault was dominated by a large, golden statue of a naked, muscular slave.
“I bet Lord Okhenti would love this,” Billu said, but the statue proved way too cumbersome to move, “By the gods, that's heavy! Let’s just take the gold and silver then.”
The moment Billu touched the precious metal, the golden statue took a step forward, raising its fist in silent warning. Issa picked up a silver bar and tossed it out through the vault door. Interpreting this act as theft (removing the treasure from the vault), the statue attacked, swinging its golden fist in a devastating haymaker than sent Issa flying through the wall!
Session 2 GM/conversion notes
Vardis almost died in the crocodile fight. Vic burnt through all his bennies on notice rolls to deactivate the trap and had none left to soak damage. On a raise, crocodiles get additional roll-over damage, so I was rolling 1d10, 2d6 and 2d4 damage, some of which exploded (in hindsight, maybe I did that wrong, the roll-over ability is not super clear).
We had a roll-off for the gear in the general's sarcophagus. I thought this was the fairest way, as the more outspoken players immediately claimed the items and I wanted everyone (including the new guy) to have an equal chance of getting some cool stuff.
More foreshadowing of the FP cult in Wati. I was going to use the quick combat rules to run a bar brawl, but the players rolled really well on their intimidation checks.
Again, I streamlined the house of Pentheru, removed the div and all the floating heads and focused on one set piece battle vs more skeletons and the death dogs. Unfortunately, I totally forgot the death dogs had two heads (and two bite attacks) and the party wiped them out before anyone contracted wormpox. :(
Guud almost died fighting the skeletons. He has d12 shooting, but his fighting (and therefore his parry) is really bad. He was convinced his character was going to die and he would need to roll a new one, but Moc rolled really well to heal him and cleared all three wounds.
I added a puzzle vault and gold golem. The party suspect some connection between the amulet and the golem, but did not puzzle it out before Issa triggered combat. I'm not sure if I should draw their attention to the connection or just let them get on with fighting it, I'll probably see how the first combat round goes at the start of session three.
Also, if anyone reading this thinks that Savage Worlds sounds fun (it is!), the new Adventure Edition is being kickstarted RIGHT NOW! The kickstarter has already smashed its goal and closes 14/11/18.
(Savaged) Mummy's Mask - Session Three (25/10/2018)
A skeletal arm rose from the pile of rubble where moments earlier a wall had stood. Half buried and still reeling from the golem’s jaw-rattling haymaker, Issa extended his unquiet spirit towards the scarab shield he had claimed from Ahkentepi’s tomb. Black legs sprouted from the edges of the shield as it transformed into a giant beetle. Finding purchase on its smooth, golden body, the beetle scaled the golem’s back and latched onto its head, blinding the silent brute. Ducking below the golem’s flailing fists, Chenkov wrapped his muscular arms around its waist and body-slammed the golden construct through a table! As the golem struggled to rise, Bes moved forward and drove his sword into the back of its neck, popping the golden head clean off its golden shoulders. Having overcome the final guardian of Pentheru’s riches, the heroes bagged up their hoard and headed back to the living city.
Unfortunately, the streets of the necropolis were treacherous and the Desert Storm soon realised they had become hopelessly lost. They reached an intersection between two main thoroughfares and found themselves looking down into a mass grave. Tens, if not hundreds of bodies had been dumped into the shallow pit. Gouges around the edge of the hole suggested not all of the occupants had remained buried. Covering his face with a fine silk handkerchief, Inspector Cluedo studied the scene and observed that several corpses were notably fresher than the majority. In fact, he recognised their ashen faces from the first morning of the lottery.
“These men are known to me,” Cluedo said sadly, “They called themselves ze Tomb Raiders. I wonder how they came to such an inauspicious end.”
“I smell something…” Vardis growled, his scarred muzzle twitching.
“I smell it also, my friend,” Cluedo replied, “In my line of work, ze smell of death is all too familiar. No matter ze means by which ze life was snubbed out, all bodies soon develop ze same corpse stink, non? Would you like to borrow a handkerchief?”
“No,” Vardis said, “Different smell. Sweet smell. Perfume.”
Reluctantly, Cluedo removed his own handkerchief and sniffed the air.
“Oui, I smell it also. There is someone coming. Hide!”
The Desert Storm concealed themselves in the abandoned homes facing the intersection. Moments later, a curious procession turned the corner and approached the pit. Leading the group was a beautiful, flame-haired woman of Ulfen descent. Behind her came four more, equally beautiful, women. Between them, each pair of ladies dragged the body of a naked, lifeless man. At the edge of the hole, the women unceremoniously rolled the bodies into the grave.
“These harpies are known to me also,” Cluedo whispered, “They call themselves ze Daughters of the Desert and are staying at ze very same inn as ourselves. Who would have imagined that these fair creatures would be capable of such skullduggery?”
“Maybe there’s a reasonable explanation for this,” Billu replied, although the young shepherd doubted his own words, “We should talk to them. Maybe they know the way back to the gate. It’s getting dark and we really don’t want to spend the night among the dead.”
“I will speak with them.” Guud said, stepping out into the street, “But I will let my bow do all the talking.”
(Savaged) Mummy's Mask - Session Three (25/10/2018)
Guud emerged onto the dusky street, the windblown sand gusting around him like a hellish aura in the light of the setting sun. The Daughters of the Desert turned from their grim task to face the pale bowman, slowly reaching for their weapons.
“Sisters, hold.” commanded the flame-haired Ulfen lass, then she turned to Guud, “Greetings and well met! My name is Sigrun Firehair and these are the Daughters of the Desert. We are registered participants in the grand lottery. I know neither your name nor your face, stranger, but know that we mean you no harm.”
“He’s just one man!” another of the Daughters hissed, none too quietly, “Why are we wasting time talking?”
Sigrun shot her a venomous look.
“I apologise for my companion's attitude! A group of men recently attacked us without provocation, although as you can see, it did not end so well for them. The necropolis is not safe to wander alone, stranger, you should come with us.”
With one fluid motion, Guud drew his bow and shot one of the Daughters dead!
“My bow speaks,” Guud said, “You have my answer.”
“Kill him!” Sigrun cried, cursing as the rest of the Desert Storm appeared, “Kill all of them!”
Sigrun and another Daughter advanced on Vardis, the first lashing out with her sword to put the gnoll off-balance, the second attempting to shoulder barge him into the grave. Bes stepped up and clubbed Sigrun with the hilt of his own blade, knocking her out cold. Issa engaged the other, lopping off her arm and the shoulder. With a scream, she stumbled into the pit. Issa glanced at the severed arm lying at his feet and kicked it in after her.
The other two Daughters took cover in the abandoned buildings to either side of the street, drawing their bows and waiting for a target to appear from the blinding sand. Suddenly, the sandstone wall exploded as Chenkov bulled through the partition, showering both ladies in rubble. Choking on dust kicked up by the collapsing wall, one of the Daughters staggered into the street and immediately fell as Guud put an arrow through her neck. The final Daughter dropped her weapons and surrendered.
“No surrender, only death.” Guud snarled, raising his bow to shoot the woman in cold blood.
Billu launched himself across the street, knocking the pale bowman’s arm and causing the shot to miss. Startled, the unarmed woman panicked and fled. The Desert Storm let her go.
While the rest of the party picked over the bodies, Issa stood at the edge of the pit, looking down at the woman he had killed. An ingenious notion was rattling around inside his hollow skull. In order to infiltrate and integrate himself into this new age, he must be able to move among the living unseen and unsuspected. How better to get into the skin of these strange, warm-blooded creatures than to literally get into the skin of one of these strange, warm-blooded creatures? Bes joined the skeleton at the edge of the grave.
“I know what you are thinking,” the masked warrior said somberly, “What a tragic waste of life.”
“Actually, I was wandering if someone would help me carve the skin off one of the bodies, so that I can wear it like a suit.”
Bes took a moment to really absorb that statement, removed him mask and vomited into the pit.
“What is ze matter here?” Cluedo asked, coming over to investigate. Bes explained.
Cluedo took a moment to really absorb the explanation, raised his handkerchief and vomited into the pit.
“Wow, you guys are really over-reacting about this,” Issa said defensively, “All I want to do is skin a woman and wear her flesh like a Halloween costume. There’s nothing weird about that!”
“In my tribe, we would often use the skins of dead slaves to accessorize our outfits,” Vardis volunteered, “You’ll notice that my money pouch is crafted from the face of a dead human. Practical and fashionable!”
“I want no part of this,” Bes said, turning a funny shade of green.
The rest of the Desert Storm retreated while Issa and Vardis set about their gruesome task. The unconscious form of Sigrun Firehair began to stir, prompting Cluedo to voice a few pressing concerns.
“Legally, we are in a very grey area here,” he said, twirling his moustache thoughtfully, “Although it iz likely that these women murdered and robbed ze Tomb Raiders, we have no proof of that and it will be their word against ours. Also, Guud fired first, so technically the Desert Storm instigated ze fight in which several Daughters of the Desert were killed. Further condemning us in ze eyes of the law, two of our number are presently in ze process of mutilating one or more of ze bodies so that an illegal skeleton can play dress-up in the skin. It might be better all round if there are no witnesses to this circus….”
“Are you suggesting that we kill an unarmed woman, after she surrendered?” Billu asked, mortified by what he was hearing.
“Wait!” Sigrun said, struggling to rise, “We can all walk away from this. You know that we killed and robbed those other guys and we know that you are harbouring an undead. We’ll keep your secret if you keep ours. We’ll all walk out of here together and you’ll never see us again.”
“We can’t trust her,” Guud growled through gritted teeth, “We should end this now.”
“No!” Billu cried, “There’s been enough death for one day! We accept your terms. Let’s just get out of here while we still can.”
(Savaged) Mummy's Mask - Session Three (25/10/2018)
The Desert Storm and sole surviving Daughter of the Desert left the necropolis. Sigrun Firehair kept her word and her silence as the party were waved across the threshold of the living city, determinedly ignoring the abomination that travelled with them.
“The eyeballs are still a problem.” Issa grumbled, “There’s no optical nerves to hold them in place, so they keep rolling out. Whose idea was it to make them spherical? Such a bad design!”
As soon as they cleared the checkpoint, Sigrun took her leave, promising to leave Wati that night and never return. Only Guud glimpsed the flash of fury across her features as she turned away. Despite her promises, the pale bowman had no doubt in his mind that their paths would cross again. It was inevitable. No prey survived once he had set his sights on it. Yes, he would look forward to their next meeting.
The heroes hit the night bazaar before returning to the Tooth and Hookah. Anticipating a huge haul of treasure on the final day of the lottery, Vardis bought a small handcart from a hunchbacked gnoll crone. Chenkov returned to the shop where he had pawned his father’s sword, only to discover the weapon had been sold. Intimidating the slimy merchant, Chenkov learned the buyer was none other then Damej Mahfre, Lord Okhenti’s rival on the noble council. Chenkov gave his shortsword to Issa and bought a greatsword with his share of the loot. Meanwhile, Billu got into an argument with a merchant over the price of a magical flute.
As the sun rose, the Desert Storm joined the crowd for the third and final day of the lottery. Noticeably absent were the Daughters of the Desert, but the golden masked gang were also missing. Billu drew the group’s token and their final site was marked on their map; the Sanctum of the Erudite Eye.
The route to the sanctum lead the party through a labyrinth of narrow, gloomy alleyways. Occasionally, the way ahead would be blocked by a wall of dessicated husks, forcing the heroes to find another way around. One of these detours terminated in an enclosed courtyard, in the centre of which stood an old, dry well. Suddenly, a group of robbers popped up on the roofs overlooking the square. More masked brigands rushed out of the neighbouring alleys, brandishing long knives!
With one powerful thrust of his new greatsword, Chenkov skewered two adjacent bandits like a human kebab! A third man attacked from behind and Chenkov expressed his displeasure by throwing him into the well. Issa grappled one robber and used the struggling human as a shield. Two crossbow-wielding thugs opened fire on the skeleton. One shot hit the meat-shield, the second missed altogether and hit Vardis instead. Leaking blood, the gnoll shaman staggered back to where Boros waited with the handcart. The human slave looked at his injured master and wondered how much it would take to finish him off….
“Don’t even think about it.” Vardis growled, summoning pure fury into his bloody paw. Another ruffian peeked over the edge of the roof and Vardis released the shamanic bolt, obliterating the target and part of the building. Rubble rained down on the melee.
The Desert Storm finished off the last of the robbers and started searching the bodies. All of the bodies were wearing the same kind of silver chain. Inspector Cluedo suggested the dead men were all part of the same criminal gang and the silver chains were their gimmick. With a growing sense of trepidation, the Desert Storm left the bodies for the vultures and continued their journey to the sanctum.
(Savaged) Mummy’s Mask – Session Three (25/10/2018)
The Sanctum of the Erudite Eye had once have been a grand, imposing structure, but like the rest of the necropolis, it had long since fallen into disrepair. Twinned statues of the god Nethys flanked a flight of marble steps leading to the entrance. Within the sanctum, the floor was a checkerboard of black & white tiles, though many were covered by puddles of freshly spilled blood. Several bodies lay strewn across the temple; most were ancient and desiccated, though others were fresher and wearing familiar golden masks.
“Zese are ze same men who harassed us in ze inn two nights ago,” Cluedo said, gingerly removing one of the masks. The corpse beneath bore the rugged, deeply tanned features of an Osirian native. “I am beginning to understand. From ze beginning, ze Golden Masks were using ze lottery to get into ze necropolis and search for zis particular building. But why? What iz so special about zis place?”
The Desert Storm spread out to search the temple, hoping to find some clue that would explain why the Golden Masks had weathered so many casualties to be the first to reach the sanctum.
“Not-so-secret door over here!” Bes called, “It’s propped open by another body!”
Before the heroes could investigate further, a wave of necromantic energy welled up from below the sanctum. Most of the party felt it as a sense of unease, as though someone had not just walked over their grave, but grabbed a shovel and started digging. Vardis felt the necro-pulse more keenly, so closely attuned was the gnoll shaman to the practise of tribal death magic. Innis was also effected by the wave; suddenly he felt stronger and faster than he had felt since emerging from his sarcophagus! His empty eye sockets began to dance with bright purple fire.
The corpses on the ground were similarly affected. They rose clumsily and converged on the heroes. Several zombies ganged-up on Chenkov, mortally wounding the mighty warrior! Fortunately, Billu was on hand to provide healing.
“This is not how I die!” Chenkov roared, swinging his greatsword in an arc that killed everything caught within its murderous circumference, “When my time comes, I will die holding my father’s sword!”
Still reeling from the potency of the necro-pulse, Vardis was unable to defend himself as a zombie shambled toward him. Although Boros felt no love for his master, he could not stand idly by and watch the gnoll be disembowelled. With an incoherent cry mingling his fear and fury, Boros snatched the Spear of Watchful Guardians from Vardis’ unresisting paws and drove the shaft through the zombie’s unbeating heart!
“You saved me?” Vardis panted, “You could have let me die. You would have been free.”
“I don’t know why I did it,” Boros replied, “Maybe you’re not such a terrible master after a-rrgghhhh!”
The moment was ruined as the zombie Boros had skewered grappled him from behind. The spear impaling the zombie was driven through the slave’s chest, killing him instantly! The rest of the zombies were dispatched, but it was too late to save the life of the valiant slave.
“At least in death, he has rediscovered the freedom taken from him in life.” Bes said respectfully.
“Nope!” Vardis barked, calling upon his dark, shamanic powers to drag Boros’ spirit back to the material plane. As the confused ghost appeared, Vardis slapped a pair of arcane shackles around its wrists. “Do you not remember me telling you that you would never be free, Boros? Did you think that dying would change that?”
“I take back what I said earlier,” the ghost replied, “You are the worst.”
The reunion was interrupted as yet more zombies shambled in through the open doors of the temple.
“Aren’t those the Silver Chain guys that we fought?” Billu cried, as the undead robbers skidded across the bloody tiles.
“There are too many to fight!” Bes said, “Quick! To the not-so-secret passage!”
Session 3 GM/Conversion notes
I introduced the random encounter rules from the SWD book and immediately drew a joker (two encounters at once). Next two cards were spades and clubs (obstacle and enemy). Fortunately, I had prepped three encounters for each suit (enemy/NPC/obstacle/fortune) and picked two that kinda’ worked together (obstacle: mass grave, enemy: rival party). Initially, I had planned for the Daughters of the Desert to ambush the party by pretending to be helpless women playing at adventuring, then dropping the smack-down on their ‘rescuers’ an stealing their loot. The encounter still worked well and I definitely recommend thinking up a few events for each suit beforehand if you are going to use these rules.
Things got kinda’ dark in the aftermath of the fight against the Daughters of the Desert. I am probably to blame, for introducing an undead character and not thinking ahead about the problems this would cause fitting into a human society that does not accept skeletons just wandering around. I was a little concerned that some people might be uncomfortable with the idea of skinning and wearing a person, but they took it in stride. It does raise questions about how long Issa can stay with the party if he has to keep shedding skins as they begin to decompose. I kinda’ like the comparisons to a snake shedding its skin, but from a role-playing perspective, it’s difficult to accept that the other PCs would tolerate it. I think I’ll have to introduce a relic that lets him appear as human (constant disguise power?). In Divinity 2, the Eternal character Fane has a device called a Faceripper that lets him…er, rip a face off a corpse, maybe I’ll steal that idea.
There’s a tradition in role-playing games to never split the party, which exactly what the group did this week. It actually worked quite well. Guud and Billu were not present for the fight with the Silver Chain ruffians (I moved things around in the write-up, Billu had his argument with the flute-seller after the draw on day 3 of the lottery), so rather than having them sit around doing nothing, I let their players run a few brigands each. Ross seemed to be enjoying himself, whereas Moc said “it was better than nothing”. Oops. I’m quite interested to see how that could work in future. Having 7 players means that combats can get pretty wild and run a little long. If a few PCs sit out the fight (maybe they are elsewhere or performing downtime activities) and run monsters, it could speed up the game and introduce some variety to the combat. Watch this space!
I need to stop rolling on the random treasure table in real-time. Tonight we ended up with a magical painting that grants +2 to streetwise rolls and a magic flute that makes people run faster. WTF? Still marginally better than the sentient bagpipes that turned up in the Rise of the Runelords campaign, lol.
The players were very suspicious of the black/white chessboard tiles in the sanctum, especially since I made the effort of colouring them in on the battle grid. I just like colouring stuff in! They spent ages leap-frogging around, only touching the black tiles.
First character death of the campaign, three sessions in and Boros the Agile bites the dust. Vic must have foreseen this in his tea leaves, as he specifically took the Summon Ally power so that he could summon spirits to wait on him from beyond the grave.
(Savaged) Mummy’s Mask – Session Four (01/11/2018)
With a mob of undead ravagers snapping at their heels, the Desert Storm retreated into the catacomb beneath the temple. A flight of narrow stone steps descended steeply into the dark. Issa advanced, lantern held high in his bony fist. The flickering flame illuminated a long, vaulted chamber. A low, mournful groan sounded from the shadows and a pathetic figure dragged itself into the light. Like many of the bodies the group had encountered since entering the temple, the zombie wore a golden funerary mask. Unlike many of the other bodies, this particular specimen had been cut in half at the waist. The top half of the pitiful creature dragged itself forward, leaving a glistening trail of viscera in its wake like some gory slug. Issa stepped forward, raised his foot and stamped down hard on the zombies head. Not hard enough it seemed; the zombie grabbed his leg and started clawing at his shins. Vardis moved forward and drove his spear through the zombie’s back, ending its dismal existence.
Nobody could fathom how the corpse managed to get itself chopped in half; then Issa stepped on a hidden pressure plate and two spinning blades emerged from the walls. The mystery was solved! Fortunately, the heroes were dexterous enough to dodge the deadly trap.
Vardis’ ears pricked up at the sound of fighting up ahead. Billu crept forward, moving quietly between rows of silent tombs. Suddenly, something started clawing at the inside of the nearest sarcophagi and Billu’s heart nearly burst out of his chest. Torchlight and the ruckus of combat originated from beyond a large door at the far end of the crypt. Peeking around the threshold, Billu saw another masked warrior fending off blows from two hulking mummies wrapped in rotting bandages. A third mummy toppled the sarcophagus from a dais, revealing a secret compartment hidden beneath. A young, bald-headed man in a voluptuous robe knelt to recover a golden funerary mask from the revealed recess.
“At last!” the robed man crowed, raising the mask above his head, “After years of searching; I, Nebta-Khufre, have found it, the mask of the Forgotten Pharaoh! With the power trapped within this gaudy trinket, I will raise an army of the dead mighty enough to rule Osirion!”
“That is no trinket, wizard!” spat the masked warrior. His blades flashed out, hacking chunks of rotting flesh from his two mummified opponents. “You have no idea of the forces you are meddling with! Surrender the mask!”
“I shall not,” the necromancer giggled, lowering the mask onto his own head, “But your pathetic demands amuse me. When you succumb to your wounds, I might well raise your body to serve as my jester.”
“I recognise that voice,” Cluedo whispered, joining Billu at the threshold, “Ze masked man was at ze Tooth and Hookah two nights ago. He was talking about a mask then too.”
“Everyone is talking about masks,” Billu grumbled, “There are altogether too many masks in this adventure!”
The Desert Storm kicked open the door and charged into the middle of the situation unfolding in the next room. Alarmed by their appearance at his rear, the masked warrior dropped his guard and one of the mummies delivered a blow that drove him to his knees. The necromancer summoned a portal to his lair and scrambled through. As the portal closed, he turned to deliver a parting curse – only to be stuck in the chest by the flask of oil fired from Billu’s sling! As the portal winked out, the heroes glimpsed the necromancer flailing as his voluptuous robes went up in flame.
The heroes defeated the three mummies, then levelled their weapons at the masked warrior. The man removed his golden mask, revealing the severe, deeply tanned features of a desert nomad.
“You beetles have no idea what you are doing,” the man said angrily, spitting bloody phlegm at Guud’s feet, “You scurry in the shadows of giants, interfering in matters you do not understand. Because of you, the necromancer has escaped with his ‘trinket’. The ruin he will bring upon this city will be as a noose around your necks.”
“You talk and talk, but say little,” Guud said, as he and Chenkov manhandled the struggling cultist out of the crypt, “Be silent now, soon you will tell us everything we want to know.”
(Savaged) Mummy’s Mask – Session Four (01/11/2018)
The heroes quit the necropolis and returned to the Tooth and Hookah with their injured prisoner. The guards at the gate of the living city advised that healing could be sought from the clerics of the Grand Mausoleum, but the Desert Storm had no intentions of handing their captive over to the temple. Billu and Guud handled the interrogation of the previously-masked warrior, learning that his name was Ikram and he belonged to a group calling itself the Cult of the Forgotten Pharaoh.
“Tell us why everyone is so hard for that mask!” Billu demanded.
“I would rather bite out my own tongue than tell you!”
“Tell meeeeeee!” Billu sang, striking a flamboyant pose.
“Your spirited performance has stirred my wicked heart toward redemption!” cried the cultist, “Lean in close and I will whisper to you all the secrets of my organisation!”
Billu leaned in close.
The cultist bit down hard on his own tongue and spat the bloody lump of gristle on the floor. As Billu recoiled in horror, the cultist leaped to his feet and hurled himself out of the window. He broke his neck in the fall and lay dead upon the ground. Fortunately, Billu’s room was at the rear of the building and the body had landed in the alley behind the inn, away from prying eyes.
Later that day, the Desert Storm were invited back to the estate of Lord Okhenti, who congratulated them on the success in the lottery.
“You have done very well, my friends, far better than I could have hoped! You have bought great honour to House Okhenti. That one-armed crone Damej Mahfre must be cursing the day she hired the Scorched Hand to represent her interests! I cannot wait to see her face at the next council meeting! Hohoho! The lottery is now closed and the necropolis will be resealed – at least until the Ruby Prince decides his treasury is growing empty again. Hoho!
“I understand that you are keen to sell your plunder. An auction is being held in the next few weeks, where all the groups who participated in the lottery will get to sell their loot. No date has been set, so you have some time to relax and pursue your own interests.
“There is one more thing that I need to say. Billu, I summoned you to Wati to join the group I was putting together for the lottery, but that was not my only reason for wanting to see you.
“Billu… I am your father.”
“Nooooooooooo!” Billu cried, “Wait, what?!”
“It’s true!” Lord Okhenti continued, “Many years ago, back in my adventuring days, a quest went bad and I was left wounded and alone in the desert. I was dehydrated and nearing death when an angel appeared before me, or so I though at the time, so addled were my wits. I later learnt she was a nomad and that she carried me to her yurt and nursed me back to health. Over time, we grew closer, then intimate. But I could not stay in the desert and she would never leave. Our love was as furious and fleeting as a sandstorm, then we were both tossed back into our old lives. Years later, I learned that she had borne a child and I knew I had a son. I brought you to Wati so that I might observe you and see what kind of man my son had grown into. I am proud to call myself your father and acknowledge you as my heir!”
The party continued into the night as Billu and his companions celebrated his nobility. Uncomfortable with displays of revelry, Guud slipped away into the sleeping city, sticking to the rooftops where he could think clearly. He was the Pale Bowman and his place was in the desert, not in this writhing mass of civilization; Lord Okhenti’s rambling monologue had reminded him of that. Guud climbed to the tallest point in the city, the domed roof of the Grand Mausoleum. It had been a while since he had checked his messages. People who needed his aid and knew how to contact him would leave messages at the highest point in the area, secure in the knowledge that eventually/inevitably; the Pale Bowman would be drawn there like a moth to an open flame. Two missions had been left for him; the first to deal with a group of bandits terrorising merchants on the caravan route between Wati and Tephu, the second to collect the hide of a rare, desert-dwelling reptile called the shasalqu. Guud memorised the details, then lay back against the golden dome, staring up at the night sky. Even the stars looked different here.
(Savaged) Mummy’s Mask – Session Four (01/11/2018)
With an undetermined amount of downtime before the auction, the Desert Storm were able to indulge in side-quests for treasure and personal growth.
Vardis made some discrete enquiries and located a slaver operating out of barge town, the floating slum moored on the banks of the River Asp. He purchased a matching pair of human children to carry his baggage when the ghost of Boros was otherwise engaged.
Billu shed the trappings of his former life, emerging from a cocoon of poverty to embrace his new-found nobility.
Guud prepared for an expedition into the desert to hunt the shasalqu.
Cluedo tutored Issa in the common tongue, enabling the skeleton to converse with the other members of the group without having to rely on Bes or the Inspector to translate. Issa began poring through the dusty tomes in the temple’s hall of records, exercising his tenuous grasp on the common tongue to search for descendants of General Ahkentepi. For some reason, the skeleton seemed obsessed with finding a living relative of his ancient enemy.
Chenkov spent his time in prayer to his god. After twenty-four hours of meditation, the brawny warrior slipped into a troubled sleep, whereupon he received a divine visitation. When Chenkov rose the next day, he felt the blessing of Gorum awakening within him.
Bes’ sleep was also disturbed by the gods. He dreamed he was back in his childhood home, eating a simple meal with his family. Bes noticed an extra place had been set at the table.
“Mother, who will be joining us?” Bes asked.
“Why, you of course,” his mother answered.
Bes looked back to the empty place and saw himself seated there.
“I am us as once we were,” Other-Bes explained between mouthfuls of their mother’s famous cactus stew, “Before the new gods rose to prominence, the people of this land worshipped us. Some still do of course, but their numbers are dwindling. Soon we will be all but forgotten, save for the old shrines buried beneath the sands of history. The land may have forgotten us, but we do not forget the land and we protect it still, as best we can. An ancient and powerful evil is stirring, we witnessed the first rumblings in the necropolis. Like a storm in the desert, we can’t stop it coming, but we can prepare for when it breaks. In the age of the old gods, we were served by four powerful jinn, generals who commanded our armies and the elements. South of Wati lies the Pyramid of Air, final resting place of Hesterpput. His name will open the way. Recover his bones, then we will speak again.”
When Bes woke he was back in his room at the Tooth and Hookah.
Although the lottery was over, the Desert Storm decided to stay together until they had divvied up the loot from the auction. The rest of the party accompanied Guud out into the desert to hunt the shasalqu. Vardis proved himself to be a capable tracker and led the expedition to the lizard’s lair. Several large, blue reptiles lazed in the sun, their scales glistening with ice.
“I have read about these creatures,” Cluedo explained, while Guud strung his bow, “They absorb the heat from the air and release it as a burst of freezing cold to catch their prey.”
The party bombarded the lizard colony from atop the dune then wandered down to collect the hides, which Guud could trade in for a suit of magical leather armour back in Wati.
Session 4 GM/Conversion notes
I wanted to put Nebta-Khufre (the BBG from book 2) in front of the players, but not give them the opportunity to kill him outright. This worked pretty well, as when they do run into him again, he will be horribly burnt from Billu's burning oil attack.
Ikram was a named villain from book 2, but I bought him forward to be the face of the cult in book 1. It didn't really matter if he lived or died, but I reckon I can still bring him back as a recurring villain. The interrogation scene played out differently in game, I was cagey with details I probably should have revealed (ie: name of the necromancer, name of the cult). I was worried I might reveal too much, which would negate a big part of book 3, which is all about going to Tephu to investigate the mask and the cult.
I had a real problem with shopping bogging things down this week. The solution I came upon was to flip over a 5 min timer and tell the players they had 5 mins to shop and then the market would close. I hope that this will speed things up in future. Two players now have the noble edge, so essentially the party has infinite money. This suits me well enough as I can just say "sure, you buy it and put the cost on your tab" rather than looking up/dickering over prices.
Billu took the noble edge and having him be Lord Okhenti's son seemed to make sense.
I worry that perhaps our treatment of the whole slavery angle has been a little cavalier. I 'm not going to let it bother me any, but I apologise if it offends anyone. I had V roll 3d20 to determine the characteristics of the slaves for sale and he rolled two 1s (young) and one 13 (observant). The other players are convinced his new slaves are bulletproof because no GM will kill children. We will see if V takes better care of them than he did of Boros.
I took the four elemental dungeons from the flying pyramid in book 6 and repurposed them as individual locations around Osirion.
When we finished book 1, I told the players that book 2 would begin with the auction I have been foreshadowing, but they could pursue their own goals and other side missions until they were ready to move ahead. They opted to hunt the shasalqu, but this did not go as well as I would have liked. I really wanted to use the shasalqu because it is a pretty cool and unique monster, but all the party did was stand at the edge of bow range and pelt them with arrows. The monsters never got close enough to use their cool freezing powers. In retrospect, I should have run this as a quick combat/encounter.
This was a difficult session and I did not really enjoy myself at the time (although I did enjoy writing the adventure up). In the past, one bad session like this has been enough to derail my enthusiasm for a campaign, but I recently read an article by Sean on Power Score RPG (see link below) that recounts his personal experience recovering from a bad game. I recommend reading it if you have ever had a similar experience.
[Savaged) Mummy’s Mask – Session 5 – 08/11/2018
The Desert Storm returned to Wati, where Guud traded the shasalqu scales for a suit of ice-hide leather. The armour replicated the lizard’s innate ability to absorb heat from the air and channel that energy into an icy blast. Reluctant to reduce his existing armour value (chainmail, AV2), Guud gifted the ice-hide leather to Issa.
Having discovered that Chenkov’s sword was now in the possession of Damej Mahfre, the heroes made enquiries about the reclusive noblewoman. They learn that she remains a formidable swordswoman despite the loss of her right arm and that she is not afraid to fight her own battles when her authority is challenged. She is also the patron of a rival group of adventurers called the Scorched Hand.
While the rest of the party were off making streetwise checks, Vardis was scouring the city for other gnolls. He bumped into a small pack of his former tribe on the edge of the marketplace.
“Well look who it is!” barked a scarred, one-eyed brute, “Vardis the Reviled. Vardis the Weak. Vardis the -”
“Enough!” Vardis snapped, “I know my own name and I know yours too; Scrotus the Curseweaver, as well as the part you played in my exile.”
“Your own weakness bought you low, no act of mine.” Scrotus sneered.
“You call me weak?” Vardis growled, summoning pure fury into his clenched paw, “Do you really want to test me, Scrotus?”
“What?! How…??” the Curseweaver gasped, stumbling back a step, “That power…!!”
“Tuck your tail between your legs and run,” Vardis snarled, “Run back to the desert and tell our brothers I will be coming for them. Tell our mother that I will be coming for HER!”
Scrotus and the other gnolls fled, leaving Vardis alone.
Anticipating an expedition to the Air Pyramid of Hesterpput, Bes was haggling with a second hand camel salesman when he felt a small hand reach into his pocket. Bes was too slow to catch the thief, who melted into the crowd still clutching his purse! Once a thief-taker, always a thief-taker, Inspector Cluedo collared the young ragamuffin before he could escape. Unfortunately, the scrappy urchin was not working alone and tossed the purse to a second young pickpocket, who tore toward the exit of the marketplace. With reckless disregard for the rest of the crowd, Issa fired his crossbow at the escaping thief and pinned him to a wall by his sleeve. Rather than hand the two wannabe rogues over to the guard (the punishment for theft was the loss of a hand, which was then nailed to the Pillar of Second Chances as a lesson to others), Cluedo offered the youngsters a deal; act as his liaison with the criminal underworld and avoid dismemberment by the state. The thieves took the deal and agreed to relay Cluedo’s message to their guvnor.
When the heroes returned to the Tooth and Hookah, a shady looking individual was waiting at their regular table. He introduced himself as Fadil and claimed that he represented the Silverchain gang. Fortunately, Fadil seemed unaware that the heroes had already run into (and murdered) a group of his fellows in the necropolis. Guud slowly rolled down his sleeves to hide the silver bangles he had looted from the dead robbers. Fadil was happy to talk business but became less happy when that business involved robbing Damej Mahfre.
“That woman is a witch!” he cursed, spitting on Farhaan’s nice, clean floor, “You would not know it from all her fine talk on the council, but she has an evil reputation for cruelty that is well-earned.”
Rather than outsource their hero work to a third party, the Desert Storm decided to rob the scary noblewoman themselves and frame the Silverchain gang for the crime. An elaborate and unnecessarily convoluted plan was conceived! Billu persuaded his lord-father to host a party to celebrate the end of the lottery and his acknowledgement of Billu as his son. Lord Okhenti did not need much persuading - until Billu specified that they should invite every nobleperson in Wati, including Damej Mahfre.
“But my son,” Lord Okhenti explained, “Damej and I have been mortal enemies for many years. I have no proof to take before the council, but I am certain that she has hired assassins to end my life on more than one occasion. Even if she agreed to attend, I am reluctant to invite that poisonous snake into my home, lest she bite me or someone I care for.”
“Fear not, lord-father,” Billu replied, striking a heroic pose, “You will have the Desert Storm protecting you! You cannot let this woman think that you fear her. Let my friends and I astound her with a display of strength! She will surely think twice about sending more hired swords once she knows you have such fearsome warriors at your beck and call.”
Not without some misgiving, Lord Okhenti agreed to host Billu’s soiree and invite the Mahfre viper into his bosom. It was a decision that he and the Desert Storm would ultimately come to regret.
[Savaged) Mummy’s Mask – Session 5 – 08/11/2018
Several days passed in a whirlwind of preparation for the party at Lord Okhenti’s estate. The Desert Storm was divided into two teams; Billu, Chenkov, Vardis and Issa would attend the party and keep an eye on Damej Mahfre, while Bes, Cluedo and Guud broke into her home and recovered Chenkov’s sword.
Damej arrived at the gates of the estate with an entourage of guards and three members of the Scorched Hand. As he welcomed them to his lord-father’s home, Billu took the opportunity to study the noblewoman and her trouble-shooters. Damej Mahfre was a steely-eyed old woman in her sixties, yet she walked and talked with the resolve of a much younger woman. Her right arm was missing and her sleeve had been pinned to her side, yet she did not seem overly inconvenienced by her disability. A masterwork rapier was sheathed at her hip. The three members of the Scorched Hand were Velriana Hypaxes (a Taldan noblewoman turned mercenary wizard), Azaz Arafe (an adolescent Osirian rogue) and Idorii (Mahfre’s half-orc bodyguard). Billu welcomed them to the party with a show of feigned enthusiasm.
“So this is the peasant boy you have taken in?” Damej asked Lord Okhenti, “He has a blunt charm about him, I’ll grant you that – but so hairy! I thought you preferred your playthings smooth and innocent?”
“Peace, father,” Billu said as Lord Okhenti blustered over the insult, “I am still rather rough about the edges, but no rougher than your own companions. Perhaps you would be interested in a wager to establish which of our two groups is the strongest?”
Billu proposed a wrestling contest between the two groups; Chenkov would represent the Desert Storm, the Scorched Hand would be championed by Idorii. Velriana snapped her fingers, conjuring a ring of fire around the two combatants. The other guests gathered to watch the spectacle, getting as close as they could without burning themselves on the flames. Issa looked for Azaz in the crowd but soon realised that he had slipped away. Concerned, Issa went looking for the young thief.
Within the ring of fire, Chenkov and Idorri wrestled. Chenkov could not help being impressed and aroused by the half-orc’s strength as they grappled together, as close as lovers. After ten minutes of sweaty grappling, Chenkov gained the upper hand and managed to pin Idorii to the ground. Idorii snarled and pulled a hidden dagger from her boot, but a word from Damej stilled her hand. Chenkov rose and offered his hand to the half-orc woman. She spat into his palm and stalked away. Lovestruck, Chenkov watched her go.
“I’ll never wash this hand again.” he said.
At some point, Azaz reappeared at his mistresses’ side. Issa eyeballed the thief suspiciously (as best he could without actual eyeballs), having failed to find him sneaking around the main house. Chenkov got very drunk and challenged Idorii to an arm-wrestling contest.
“If I win,” he slurred, “You have to give me a kiss.”
“And if I win,” she replied, “I get to break both your legs.”
Muscles rippling in his beefy arm, Chenkov forced Idorii’s hand down on the table. Idorii grabbed Chenkov and kissed him, biting down on his lower lip hard enough to draw blood.
“I think I’m in love,” Chenkov later confessed to Billu as they watched Damej and the Scorched Hand leave, “I feel light-headed and dizzy. Is the floor supposed to be spinning like that?”
“That could be love,” Billu hedged, “Or it could be blood loss. Maybe you should have a lie down.”
(Savaged) Mummy’s Mask - Session 5 - 08/11/2018
Meanwhile, across the Morning Sun district; Bes, Cluedo and Guud scaled the outer perimeter of Damej Mahfre’s walled compound and crept towards the main house. The guards stationed around the estate were attentive an vigilant despite the absence of their mistress, but for now at least the heroes remained undetected. Bes waited for the footsteps of the sentry on the balcony to fade, then quickly climbed up, before lowering a rope for the others to follow. Seeing that the mortar around the windows was crumbling, Guud took his dagger and began to chip away at the loose stone around the frame.
“You’re taking too long.” Bes hissed, as the footfalls of the returning guard grew louder.
Slipping his sword from its sheath, Bes pressed himself against the wall, around which the guard would appear at any moment. As the guard turned the corner, eyes widening in surprise, Bes struck the man with the flat of his blade, knocking him out. Guud finally removed the window from its frame and slipped inside the quiet house. Bes and Cluedo followed, dragging the body of the unconscious guard. Quickly, they stripped him of his uniform, which was a perfect fit for the Inspector. Crouching down beside the helpless sentry, Guud slashed his throat, then pressed a silver chain into the dying man’s hand. Now, when the body was discovered, blame for the party’s incursion would fall upon the Siverchain gang.
Disguised as a guard, Cluedo headed downstairs while Guud searched the upper floor. Bes remained by the empty window frame to keep an eye out for trouble. In the master bedroom, Guud found a curious chest without a keyhole. Instead, there was a strange indentation in the shape of a scarab. Unable to open the box, Guud opted to leave it alone and look elsewhere for Chenkov’s missing sword. Meanwhile, Cluedo searched the ground floor and blundered into a group of guards.
“Your memorable moustache and thick Galtan accent seem out of place….” one guard said suspiciously, “Do I know you?”
“Oui.” Cluedo replied, very (very) persuasively, “Mademoiselle Mahfre sent moi to pick up a sword from her collection and take it to be polished. Can you direct me to ze armoury, s’il vous plait?”
The guards escorted Cluedo to Damej’s personal collection. Swords adorned every wall and even more were sealed within glass display cases around the room.
“Careful!” one of the guards cried, as Cluedo followed them into the room, “You almost triggered the sword golem! Stay there, we’ll get the sword. Which one does she want polished then?”
Remembering the description furnished by Chenkov, Cluedo pointed to a two-handed claymore inlaid with Ulfen runes. The guards fetched it down and carried it over. Cluedo could barely carry the enormous weapon, let alone wield it.
“Merci beaucoup gentlemen,” Cluedo said gratefully, “I had better get zis monstrous thing to ze sword polisher! Bonne nuit!”
Cluedo regrouped with Bes and Guud upstairs and together they managed to abscond with the stolen sword. They returned to the Tooth and Hookah and Guud concealed the weapon in his room until Chenkov came back to claim it.
(Savaged) Mummy’s Mask - Session 5 (08/11/2018)
During the party, Lord Okhenti mentions to Billu that he is running low on sacred crocodile penis, which he crushes into a fine powder with the properties of a powerful aphrodisiac. Ever the dutiful son, Billu agrees to get some more, somehow. The clerics of Pharasma consider the crocodile to be a holy animal and respond poorly the black market trafficking of sacred crocodile penis. Billu brings this problem to the attention of the group and Issa presents a daring solution; he still has the crocodile suit he wore when the Desert Storm first smuggled him out of the necropolis, if they paint it white, he can use it to infiltrate the Grand Mausoleum.
Once inside the temple, Issa attempts to seduce one of the sacred albino crocodiles, but none of them seem interested in his romantic overtures. With sinking dread, Issa realises a more ‘hands on’ approach will be required. He does what needs to be done.
Billu takes the severed member to an alchemist, who crushes it into a fine powder. He delivers the powder to his lord-father, who is so grateful he invites Billu to join in his carnal revelry. Nothing about this seems weird to either of them; when in Osirion…. Issa spends the evening staring at the back wall of the inn, wondering how he can drink himself into a stupor without any internal organs to absorb the alcohol.
The next day, the Desert Storm decide to head into the desert south of Wati to find the pyramid from Bes’s dream. The first two days of the journey are uneventful, but on the third they are caught in a fearsome sandstorm. In the eye of the storm, they find the Air Pyramid of Hesterpput. Bes speaks the name of the jinn aloud to open the tomb. The way forward is blocked by a living cyclone, a gigantic air elemental bound to the service of the dead general. Issa shouts into the wind, reminding the spirit of Hesterpput of debts owed. Suddenly, the howling wind dies and the party are able to proceed into the pyramid.
(Savaged) Mummy’s Mask - Session Six - 15/11/2018
Vardis summoned the ghost of Boros and commanded it to secure a rope on the opposite side of the pit. With a mournful groan, the spectre complied. One by one, the Desert Storm crossed the bottomless void. The passage beyond was blocked by a series of fans, circulating dry, musty air around the tomb. Issa drew his shortsword and tried to stop the spinning blades, but the force was too great and his own was shattered, metallic fragments bouncing off his bony skull. Bes offered a quick prayer to the old gods, then stepped into the fan. Whether he had timed it perfectly - or the old gods were watching over him - he passed through the spinning blades without harm. The other heroes watched in awe as Bes repeated this feat another two times. He reached the end of the corridor and deactivated the fans.
Now that the fans had fallen silent, another sound could be heard from up ahead; the slow, methodical grinding of stone against stone. The next chamber was dominated by a wide, rotating column that rose 250ft, all the way to the top of the pyramid. Three large, bronze blades attached to the pillar spun lazily, as streaks of lightning arced and crackled between them. Four faded carpets lay on the ground around the base of the column. The heroes eyed the rugs suspiciously and steered well clear for now. The far wall was dominated by a large, stone door flanked by two equally large statues, but a barrier of flickering light prevented the heroes from getting any closer.
“Those are stone golems,” Issa said, pointing to the two statues beyond the wall of light, “They served Hesterpput in the Last War. She would issue commands to them via semaphore. We should look around for something we can use as a flag.”
Unable to proceed, the Desert Storm retraced their steps back to the edge of the pit. Another two ledges to the east and west lead into different areas of the dungeon. Bes and Guud explored the western passage; a narrow stone beam extended over a pit choked with sickly sweet smelling pink mist. The two heroes tore strips from their cloaks to cover their faces, but the effects of the gas remained potent even after being filtered through their makeshift masks. Bes’ eyes began to water and looking down, he saw he was walking over a pit of fire, the hungry flames licking at his boots. Meanwhile, Guud perceived a wall of water rushing towards him, filling the passage. Both heroes panicked as the nightmare fog flooded their lungs, but their balance did not falter and they reached the end of the beam safely. Out of the pink mist the visions quickly faded away. The room contained a single chest, containing three red flags and a pair of golden sandals (which Vardis later identified as Sandals of Leaping, which tripled the distance the wearer could jump).
The party headed across to the eastern ledge and found a long corridor. Black, leathery sacks - hundreds of them, some as small as a coin pouch, others as large as child - hung from the ceiling, rustling quietly. Billu tossed a flask of oil into the room and Guud shot it with an explosive arrow, splattering the black sacks with burning oil. Immediately, the creatures screeched and unfolded tattered wings - the party had disturbed a colony of undead bats! The party defeated the bats and moved up to open a second chest; this one contained a set of three green flags and an ancient papyrus depicting the blueprint for some manner of experimental flying machine. The plan required the bladder from a large monster and a special cage designed to contain a fire elemental. Bes tucked the scroll away for future consideration.
Having found the six flags required to issue commands to the semaphore golems, the Desert Storm returned to the large room at the center of the pyramid.
(Savaged) Mummy’s Mask - Session Six - 15/11/2018
Using the flags, Issa was able to issue rudimentary commands to the stone golems on the other side of the lightning barrier.
OPEN - THE - DOOR
For the first time in several thousand years, the statues rumbled to life and pushed apart the heavy stone doors. In the room beyond, Issa could see a golden sarcophagus set atop a raised dais; final resting place of the jinni general Hesterpput.
DISABLE - THE - BARRIER
The stone golems did not respond.
DISABLE - THE - BARRIER
Again, no response.
“Maybe we can just step through it?” Chenkov suggested.
Bes took his spare dagger from his boot and tossed it into the wall of light. There was a flash and the knife was instantaneously slagged into a puddle of molten metal.
Standing at the base of the rotating column, Inspector Cluedo craned his neck to scrutinize the three bronze blades spinning overhead. The blades flickered with the same energy that barred their progress into the tomb. Perhaps this was all part of an ancient mechanism that generated power for the barrier?
“If we can disable ze column,” he hypothesised, “I believe ze barrier will fail.”
“But how do we get up there?” Billu asked.
Vardis stepped onto one of the carpets. Immediately, it rose a few inches of the ground and hovered there expectantly.
“What’s the Osirian word for ‘up’?” Billu asked.
Bes spoke the command word and the carpet immediately began to rise, taking Vardis up with it. The fur covering his body began to bristle as the rose into the shaft. As he approached the first turbine, Vardis noticed a dozen mummified figures set into alcoves in the walls of the shaft, lithe female figures clad in bronze armour and bandages. Suddenly, the nearest cadaver leapt at him; broad, scabrous wings unfolding from her back! The mummified harpies were armed with bronze-tipped spears that conducted the electrical currents in the air and channelled them into a powerful bolt of lightning. It was around this time that Vardis realised nobody had told him the Osirian word for ‘down’. As the other eleven mummies began to stir, he continued to ascend into their midst. The gnoll shaman summoned pure fury into his paws and shot down several of the rotting valkyrie, their bodies fell among the heroes on the ground and both Bes and Guud snatched up their fallen lightning spears. Billu and Chenkov hopped onto two of the remaining carpets and rose to join the gnoll in battle. Together, the Desert Storm defeated the tomb guardians and worked out they could stop the column rotating by anchoring a rope around a pillar in the room below and twisting it around and around the column itself. The pillar groaned ominously, but the rope held and the column ground to a stop. Immediately, the wall of light blocking the entrance to Hesterpput’s tomb disappeared and the way forward was clear.
(Savaged) Mummy’s Mask - Session Six - 15/11/2018
Before continuing deeper into the pyramid, Chenkov decided to check the top of the shaft. A hidden door led out onto the pinnacle of the pyramid and the Ulfen warrior was momentarily frozen by the spectacular view that awaited him. Movement caught his eye and Chenkov saw another group of wanderers emerge from the sandstorm. He headed back down the shaft to tell the rest of the party what he had seen.
Billu, Cluedo and Guud decided to take the flying carpets and intercept the travellers before they reached the pyramid. Meanwhile, the rest of the Desert Storm entered the tomb of Hesterpput.
A mummified sphinx emerged from the shadows to place itself between the party and the sarcophagus.
“Shendakut.” Issa greeted the creature coldly.
“Issa.” replied the sphinx, “Have you come to pay your respects to the man you betrayed? You’re a little late, the funeral was over six thousand years ago.”
“I betrayed no-one,” Issa said, “I was discovered by General Ahkentepi and imprisoned in a false tomb under Wati. I have only recently been set free.”
“We were sent by the old gods to recover the bones of Hesterpput,” Bes said, “An ancient evil is rising and we will need the powers of the jinni to overcome it.”
“Answer me this riddle and you may pass,” the sphinx replied, “A wealthy merchant had a daughter upon whom he settled a great dowry. Unwilling to part with either, he rejected many suitors, until he was approached by two son’s of the Pharaoh’s chamberlain. Realising he could not turn them away so easily, the merchant devised an impossible means to determine who would marry his daughter; the two sons would race their camels around the city and whichever son’s camel came last would win his daughter’s hand. This way, the merchant thought, the race would never end. But the two sons were clever and devised a way to outsmart the merchant. What did they do?”
The heroes considered the riddle for a few minutes before deciding upon their answer.
“They both rode on the same camel!” Bes said.
“Wrong!” Shendakut jeered, as the ground beneath their feet began to rumble. The walls rattled and great blocks of stone fell from the ceiling. “Better get out of here while you can. I’ll see you around, Issa.”
The sphinx fled down a side passage, moments before it was blocked by falling rubble.
“Quick!” Bes cried, “Let’s get the bones and get out of here before we’re buried alive!”
Working together, the heroes lifted the heavy lid from the sarcophagus and bagged up the skeleton. They also grabbed the general’s funerary treasure; a stone mask that granted the power to create a powerful wind and a kite shield that literally functioned like a kite.
“Time to go!” Bes yelled, ushering the others back toward the exit.
Meanwhile; Billu, Cluedo and Guud rode their magic carpets toward the group of strangers approaching the pyramid. Getting closer, the heroes realised the other group consisted entirely of gnolls. Guud fired an explosive arrow into their midst, killing most of them in a single blast. The stragglers retreated towards the pyramid, which suddenly began to collapse! Abandoning the stragglers, the heroes flew back inside the tomb to collect the rest of the party. They escaped just in time and settled on the sand at a safe distance to watch the pyramid crumble. A few spluttering gnolls emerged from the dust cloud and the party rounded them up.
“These are members of the Gnawed Chain,” Vardis explained, “My old tribe. What are you doing out here?”
“We have orders from the Curseweaver to follow and kill you.” the gnolls answered.
“We should kill you instead!” Guud said, raising his bow.
“No!” Vardis said, “We should send them back to the tribe as a lesson to the others.”
“How many lessons must we send this tribe before they learn?” Issa cried in exasperation.
Session Six - GM/conversion notes
I did not intend for the PCs to use the flying carpets for anything other than navigating the turbine shaft, but letting them perform a fly-by on the gnolls seemed like a good idea at the time and I was able to run it as a quick combat as we were getting towards the end of the night. When I wrote that encounter, I had planned on the gnolls setting up an ambush in the first room of the dungeon, but it was not to be. To avoid disappointment, I have told the party straight up that the carpets lost the power of flight when the air pyramid was destroyed. I included blueprints for a fantasy hot air balloon because I think it will be cool and I have a few side-quests planned if they decide to try and build it.
I think I am going to have to give some serious thought to where the story is going. Two characters (Bes and Issa) were active in an era when Hakotep was alive and doing his thing. Because book 1 is so light on actual plot and I have been focusing so heavily on side adventures before moving into book 2, the main thrust of the narrative has gravitated towards Issa's role in the downfall of the four jinni generals and how this contributed to the old gods of Osirian losing their powers and prominence. Tom seems undecided on whether Bes is actually the god reborn or just a lunatic suffering from delusions of grandeur. I am planning on bringing other reborn gods from book 2 of the AP into the adventure at a later date, but how this will feed into the main story line about stopping the Sky Pharaoh I have no idea just yet.
(Savaged) Mummy’s Mask – Session Seven – 22/11/2018
Leaving the fallen ruins of the air pyramid to be consumed by the desert, the heroes broke camp and returned to Wati. The three day journey was uneventful, although the sleep of Bes was troubled by strange dreams. Again, a child-like figure appeared before him, face covered by a leering, stone mask. The avatar instructed Bes to deliver the bones of Hesterpput to the alchemist Htoht in the city of Tephu.
Back in Wati, the heroes immediately notice an increased number of guards patrolling the streets. Cluedo makes a few discrete enquiries and learns that the necropolis has been unusually lively in the last week and the dead have made several incursions into the living city. The consensus at street level is that allowing foreigners to plunder the necropolis during the lottery has angered the spirits. Remembering their brief encounter with the necromancer Nebta-Khufre, the heroes worry that there might be a more sinister explanation…. Cluedo also hears that the temple of Pharasma have authorised the deployment of esoboks to contain the situation before it escalates.
“What’s an esobok?” Billu asked, “It sounds like a Pokemon.”
“What’s a Pokemon?” Chenkov rumbled.
“Never mind that,” the Inspector interjected, “Esoboks are a kind of pyschopomp, a servitor of Pharasma. There are many different types of psychopomp and each performs a different function for the Lady of Graves. Specifically, esoboks are used to hunt down and destroy rogue undead.”
“Rogue undead like me?” Issa asked.
“Oh. Then I should probably keep a low profile,” Issa said, “I’ll head back to the inn and stay out of sight until things quieten down.”
Issa slunk off to the Tooth and Hookah. Cluedo decided to visit the Grand Mausoleum and research the remaining three jinni, while the rest of the Desert Storm went to check in with Lord Okhenti.
Several streets away from the inn, Issa feels a pebble bounce off his golden helm. He peers around and spots a hooded figure beckoning to him from an alley. Unperturbed, Issa wanders over to have a word.
“Are you Issa of the Desert Storm?” the hooded stranger enquires in a scratchy voice that’s thick with phlegm, “My name’s Bheg and I was sent by the Fading. You can’t go back to the Tooth and Hookah. The bronzecaps are watching it now. Someone tipped them off. They know you’ve been hiding out there and they’re waiting for you to go back. Meet me at the Whispering Stone and we can talk about ways we might be able to help each other.”
Without another word of explanation, the hooded figure turned and scuttled off, leaving Issa alone in the alley. Unsure of what to make of Bheg’s message, Issa decides to join the other at Lord Okhenti’s house and discuss it with the group.
The entrance to the Grand Mausoleum was heavily guarded and the Inspector joined the queue of supplicants waiting to be allowed across the threshold. Two bear-like creatures with bony crocodile heads flanked the doors and Cluedo realised these were the esoboks he had been hearing about. As he approached, the nearest esobok began to growl menacingly, perhaps detecting the lingering taint of necromancy from his time spent with Issa and Vardis. After answering a few perfunctory questions to the satisfaction of the bored looking sentries, Cluedo was ushered inside the temple. He headed to the library and began poring over dusty tomes and crinkled parchment, searching for references to the jinni from Bes’ vision. After several hours straining his eyes amongst the gloomy stacks, Cluedo finds the information he seeks. In faded hieroglyphics, the scroll records the final battle in which the four generals fell to the golden masked zealots of the Sky Pharaoh. In addition to Hesterpput, the ancient document furnishes the Inspector with the names of the other three jinni; Aluash (water), Kaahbek (earth) and Okaror (fire).
As he is jotting these details down in his notebook, Cluedo overhears a conversation being held on the other side of the shelf.
“Commander Shepses, I’m sorry to disturb your reading, sir. The men you assigned to watch the Okhenti estate have reported that the suspects have returned to the city.”
“Thank-you Corporal. Mobilize the Voices of the Spire. I will be along as soon as I finish this chapter.”
Realizing that his companions are in danger, Cluedo hastily rolls up the scroll and slips it into his bag. As nonchalantly as he can manage, he leaves the library. As soon as he is out of sight of the guards at the entrance, the Inspector breaks into a desperate run to reach his friends before Commander Shepses reaches the end of his book.
(Savaged) Mummy’s Mask – Session Seven – 22/11/2018
“Halt!” cried the surprised guards on the gate of Lord Okhenti’s manor, as Cluedo ducked beneath their raised spears and hared across the grounds. The rest of the Desert Storm were seated around the nobleman’s pool, just as they had been on the first day that they came together. Issa had just finished telling the others about his encounter with Bheg when the Inspector arrived in their midst, red faced and puffing from his run across the city.
“Guards – on their way – arrest everyone – have to run!” Cluedo gasped between breaths.
“They will not take the Pale Bowman alive!” Guud snarled, “I say we barricade the doors and kill anyone who comes for us!”
“Dibs on the bodies!” Vardis barked.
“Where are we going to go?” Billu cried, “They already know about the Tooth and Hookah!”
“The Whispering Stone!” Issa said, “Bheg said to meet him there. We can lie low in Bargetown until all this blows over!”
“We don’t even know that we can trust this Bheg character!” Bes argued.
“We don’t have much choice!” Chenkov rumbled.
Steel-shod boots rang on the flagstones as the Voices of the Spire swept into the compound. The heroes fled across the garden and scaled the back wall of the estate. They split up, taking different routes to the Whispering Stone, gradually trickling in over the next two hours. The only hero not to make it was Chenkov. The hulking Ulfen paladin had not been able to shake his pursuers and had been run down and apprehended.
Bheg outlined his proposal: the Fading (a gang of ghouls operating out of the necropolis) had long held a monopoly on the mummia trade in Wati. Recently, the Silverchain gang had set up a lab in Bargetown and started knocking out a vastly inferior product. In exchange for putting the Silverchain mummia lab out of business, Bheg offers Issa a soul ring that will conceal his undead aura from the servants of Pharasma and allow him to traverse the living city undetected.
“Why can’t you do it yourself?” Billu wanted to know.
“With all the clerics and psychopomps in the streets right now, it’s too dangerous for my boys to be out in the living city,” Bheg answered, “Since you lot are at least partially responsible for riling them up, I figure you can deal with the fallout. Plus, you’re getting a sweet magic ring for your trouble.”
“Maybe your ‘boys’ are more interested in my coin than your excuses?” Billu announced, brazenly, slapping a bag of daddy’s gold down on the table between them.
Bheg snarled. Bheg’s boys snarled.
“I think they might all be undead,” Cluedo whispered, “I don’t think they want your gold.”
“They’re totally undead.” Vardis confirmed.
“Lads, why don’t you escort Moneybags out back and ‘take his gold’,” Bheg suggested.
The other ghouls grabbed Billu and manhandled him behind the Whispering Stone, where they relieved him of his pouch (which to their surprise, turned out to be full of stones) then threw him in the river.
“It’ll do that boy good to learn not all his problems can be solved by throwing money at them,” Cluedo admitted, before turning back to Bheg, “Sorry about that. Where do we find this mummia lab then?”
Bheg explained that the Silverchain operated out of a boat moored behind a fishery on the edge of Bargetown. The fishery was a front for all manner of shady operations, but the mummia lab itself was located in the hold of the ship. The Desert Storm took their leave and prepared to blow up a boat.
(Savaged) Mummy’s Mask – Session Seven – 22/11/2018
Paddling a leaky boat he had bought ten minutes previously from a drunken fisherman, Billu approached the Silverchain ship from the water, hoping to remain hidden in plain sight among the many small boats plying the river. Covered by a ratty blanket beneath his bench was a wooden cask brimming with flammable pitch. The young nobleman was still smarting from his humiliation at the Whispering Stone and his mood was not improved when his small vessel was caught in a violent eddy and collided with another tub.
“Oi!” yelled the old riverdog piloting the other boat, “Watch where you’re rowing, you floppish fop!”
The noisy altercation drew the eyes of the Silverchain sentries aboard the large ship moored behind the fishery. With their attention fixed on the river, nobody noticed Vardis and Cluedo scaling the wall of the fishery building. Up on the roof, Cluedo used his vanity mirror to flash a signal to Guud, positioned on another rooftop overlooking the entrance to the warehouse. The Pale Bowman was lying prone beside a meticulously arranged row of ‘speciality’ arrows. Pursing his pallid lips, Guud made a bird call indistinguishable from the cry of a sun falcon. In the street below, Bes heard the cry and knew everyone else was now in position. He removed his stone mask and started walking towards the entrance to the fishery.
“Hello there!” he called to the Silverchain goons guarding the door, “I’d like to buy some fish!”
Before the thugs could answer, three of them exploded. From his rooftop vantage point, Guud reached for another explosive arrow. Bes and the one surviving goon were showered in gore. Without hesitation, Bes finished off the last man and re-donned his mask. He opened the door to the fishery floor and immediately leaps back as four more Silverchain thugs rush out to investigate the blast. Seeing a masked swordsman painted in their friend’s blood, the four goons surround Bes and draw their own weapons.
Back on the Silverchain ship, two bald bruisers emerge from the officer’s cabin. The first (Melu) has a wicked-looking axe chain coiled around one muscular arm, the second (Krem) brandishes a matching pair of bronze battle axes.
“What is going on h- ” roared the man with the twinned axes – then he exploded.
Guud had recommended the shop where he bought his explosive arrows to the rest of the Desert Storm and Inspector Cluedo had taken the opportunity to stock up. As the smoke cleared, Cluedo realised that the two men below were very much alive and very much angry. The Silverchain thugs turn away from Billu and open fire on the rooftop. Cluedo and Vardis are forced to retreat.
Unobserved, Billu paddles over to the Silverchain ship and starts applying a generous coat of pitch to the hull. After emptying the barrel, Billu pushes the boat away and readies the lightning spear he salvaged from the ruins of the air pyramid. With a crackle of blue sparks, he ignites the trail of pitch between his little boat and the Silverchain ship. Moments later, the larger vessel is ablaze!
From his position at the front of the fishery, Bes cannot see the plume of smoke rising from the rear of the warehouse. Even so, he is far too busy fighting for his life to take in the view. The Silverchain brutes are not expert swordsmen, but there are four of them and only one of Bes. Guud evens those odds by shooting another explosive arrow into the crowd, unfortunately Bes is also caught in the blast. The wall of the fishery is blown inward, depositing Bes in a pile of smoking rubble and stinking fish guts. Picking himself up, Bes sees Krem and Melu abandon the burning ship and enter the warehouse. The brute with the twinned axes heads for a ladder and starts climbing towards the roof. The brute with the axe-chain spots Bes and advances carefully, swinging the axe around his head.
THWUM. THWUM. THWUM.
Above, Vardis opens the hatch of the roof and sees the axe-wielding maniac clambering towards him, a murderous glint in his eye. Cluedo fires his crossbow, injuring the man but hardly slowing his determined ascent. Vardis summoned pure fury into his paw and blew apart the wooden mounting bracket holding the ladder to the wall. Krem wailed in despair as he plunged 30ft to the fishery floor.
Bes cringed as the man hit the ground, then turned his attention back to the chain-wielding killer moving towards him. Deciding that he wants no part of that, Bes scrambles out through the hole in the wall with the Silverchain enforcer in hot pursuit. Seeing Bes emerge from the fishery, Guud leapt from his sniper nest, reaching his friend in a single bound thanks to his new, magical sandals. Two Silverchain marksman took aim and fired at the Pale Bowman, arrows sprouting from his chest like flowers from a grave. Sluggishly, Guud returned fire, killing the two grunts. He reached for another arrow to shoot Melu, but found his quiver empty. Guud grunted in surprise as the axe-chain whipped out and cut him clean in half! His bow slipped from his pale fingers as the two halves of the albino’s body fell apart at the waist.
(Savaged) Mummy’s Mask - Session Seven - 22/11/2018
Bes watches in horror as the light behind his friend’s eyes goes out and barely reacts in time to duck below the next sweep of Melu’s deadly axe-chain.
“Clearly, the legend of the Pale Bowman was exaggerated,” Melu snorted, “He’s not half the man he’s made out to be.”
“You’ll die for that jest.” Bes said, discarding his sword and readying his lightning spear.
Before he could discharge the power stored in the weapon’s core, whistles sounded in the surrounding streets and a horde of bronzecaps swarmed out of the stonework.
“Throw down your weapons!” Commander Shepses bellowed, “You are all under arrest!”
Faced with overwhelming numbers and unwilling to start shedding the blood of the city watch, Bes tossed his lightning spear to the ground. None too gently, he was seized and secured by the Voices of the Spire and taken to the Grand Mausoleum for questioning.
Atop the fishery, Cluedo and Vardis watched as Bes was taken away. Creeping to the other side of the roof, they spotted Billu’s little boat bobbing in the shallows behind the warehouse. Rather than submit to the fickle hospitality of the temple guard, both Cluedo and Vardis leapt into the crocodile-infested river and splashed over to where Billu was waiting for them.
“What happened to the others?” Billu asked, as he hauled Cluedo out of the muddy water.
“Captured or dead.” Cluedo groaned, “And we will share their fate if we do not leave immediately.”
Billu hesitated, unwilling to abandon his friends.
“We cannot help them from ze inside of a Pharasman gaol,” Cluedo argued, thrusting the oars into Billu’s hands, “We must run now, so that we can fight another day! Now row, damn you!”
Grudgingly, Billu complied with the Inspector’s command, propelling the boat out into the river, where their escape would be hidden by the column of rising smoke.
Disarmed and de-masked, his weapons confiscated and wrists shackled, Bes is escorted from his cell beneath the Grand Mausoleum to an austere interrogation chamber. Waiting to question him are Commander Shepses and Sebti the Crocodile.
“Before we begin, you should know that you are seated within a circle of truth,” the High Priestess explained wearily, “You will be magically compelled to speak the truth, so I advise against any futile attempt at deception.
“Bes of the Desert Storm, you stand accused of violating the laws of this city and consorting with a creature of necromantic origin. You stand accused of smuggling the aforementioned abomination out of the necropolis and harbouring it within the living city. How do you plead?”
Bes explains how on the first day of the lottery, the Desert Storm were trapped in a flooded room and would surely have drowned if not for the intervention of a friendly skeleton, who they had inadvertently released during their exploration of the tomb.
“That you felt indebted to this creature and honour-bound to repay its kindness does not excuse the contempt with which you flaunted the commandments of this temple.” Sebti said sternly, “Also, there is a more serious accusation that we must now address….”
“Tell us about the Daughters of the Desert.” Commander Shepses said, his voice as cold as an executioner’s smile, “Tell us about the woman you murdered and skinned.”
“Ah!” stuttered Bes, “I was present during the incident, but I didn’t help. Also, we only attacked the Daughters because they had already killed and robbed another group! We bumped into them as they were dumping the bodies.”
“And you didn’t think to report any of this when you returned to the living city?” Sebti asked.
“You know how it is,” Bes answered, “What happens in the necropolis stays in the necropolis.”
“That’s not a thing.” Commander Shepses snapped.
“What do you know about the recent surge in necromantic activity?” Sebti asked, “Is that anything to do with you, your pet skeleton or that dog-faced necroshaman?”
Bes explained how on the third day of the lottery, they had encountered a man calling himself Nebta-Khufre beneath the Sanctum of the Erudite Eye. He described the exquisite funerary mask the necromancer had claimed and the conversation between him and the cultist Ikram Effek.
“Where is this Ikram character now?” Shepses asked, “We will need him to collaborate your story.”
“Ah.” said Bes, “He jumped out of a window and broke his neck.”
“Where is the body?”
“We filled its pockets with raw meat and threw it in the river.”
“Which bit of the river?”
“The bit with the most crocodiles.”
“You’re going back in your cell until we sort this mess out,” the commander said, “No doubt the rest of your friends will be joining you shortly. Make yourself comfortable. You won’t be leaving any time soon.”
Session Seven - GM/conversion notes
There’s only one session left in the current rotation (our games club splits the year into 6x eight week campaigns so that there is a lot of variety and player movement between tables) and I wanted to get the AP back on track, so as soon as the PCs returned to Wati, I told them the auction (that kicks off the events of book 2) would happen the next night. As it turns out, it seems unlikely that any of them will actually be able to attend, since two are in jail, four are on the lam and one is dead. I think I’m going to write up a few pre-gen characters and have the next session pick up with Bes and Chenkov in jail when the first major ka-pulse rocks the city. I have a plan to get things back on track, despite the trouble they are in.
The morale of this particular story: if you’re going to kill & skin someone, don’t leave living witnesses who bear a grudge.
It kinda’ sucks that Luke/Issa was absent this week, as I wrote this scenario specifically with his character in mind, but it still worked out pretty well. The fishery battle was pretty epic and there was a lot going on. I do like running with Savage Worlds because you can have these huge, sprawling battles with characters doing crazy stuff all over the place without it taking too long. It was still a pretty long fight though. I think Moc/Billu was getting a little bored, as he spent most of the battle painting pitch onto the hull of the Silverchain ship. I was initially quite worried that the party would bypass the fight entirely, when Vic/Vardis suggested rowing up and hitting the ship with enough empowered bolts to sink it right there. Fortunately, Tom/Bes suggested that it might be worth boarding the ship first to search for money/treasure, although ultimately they still set it on fire before anyone could have a look below decks.
I wanted to have a minor ka-pulse hit the fishery mid-combat, causing all the dead/gutted fish to flop around and a few rotting fish golems (reskinned corpse golems from the Fantasy Companion with an added stench ability), but the battle was already hectic enough without adding that to the mix.
Also, I didn’t mention it in the write-up, but Krem and Melu were werecrocdiles and escaped to return as recurring villains at a later date.
I didn't just have Commander Sepses turn up to disrupt the fight, Guud had been communicating with the temple via carrier pigeon prior to their assault on the fishery and as good as told the commander where the Desert Storm were going to be.
First player death, R.I.P Guud. His parry was dreadful (3!), so he had no business getting into melee range, but he did and he died. It kinda’ sucks that this is Ross’ first roleplaying experience, so I hope that his character dying does not put him off. He seemed to take it well enough at the table. Guud was an interesting character and I was looking forward to experiencing his character arc/development. Maybe there are other Pale Bowmen in the desert? Good news for Guud fans, I am planning a final Guud cameo in week 8!
(Savaged) Mummy’s Mask – Session Eight – 29/11/2018
While Bes and Chenkov languished in a Pharasman prison, the rest of the Desert Storm anonymously checked into a flophouse on the wrong side of the river to hide from roving bands of belligerent clergy. After spending an uncomfortable night on the lumpy, lice-infested pallets, the heroes rise to find a dark cloud has settled over Wati. It hangs above the necropolis like a great, black tumour. Dark rain fell like ichor over the dead city and flashes of sickly green light boiled within the diseased smog. This apocalyptic vista seemed familiar to Cluedo as he stood surveying the scene, he had seen something eerily similar in the scroll he pilfered from the Grand Mausoleum. Carefully unfurling the ancient papyrus, the Inspector examined the scroll for some clue as to the cosmic horror the dark cloud foretold.
“Gentleman, I have some bad news,” Cluedo said solemnly, “According to this surprisingly informative document, ze mask Nebta-Khufre recovered from beneath ze Sanctum of ze Erudite Eye was ze funerary mask of ze Sky Pharaoh Hakotep III. This Hakotep was a bit of a - how you say, bastard – and when he died, a secret sect cleaved his soul from his body to prevent him from ever being returned to life. Ze sect sealed the Pharaoh’s soul within his golden funerary mask, then spirited the mask away and concealed it here in Wati. When ze Plague of Madness decimated ze city, ze mask was walled away and forgotten along with ze countless dead.
“It is my belief that ze necromancer is channelling ze soul of ze Sky Pharaoh to summon that unsightly cloud. I do not know for certain what will happen when the storm breaks, but you can bet your last baguette it won’t be anything good.”
“But what can we do about it?” Billu cried, “Bes and Chenkov are captured - Guud is dead! There are only four of us and Vardis is wounded!”
“I agree that we’re a little shorthanded right now,” Cluedo replied, “Which is why we’re going to the temple.”
One hour later, Billu, Cluedo and Vardis stood on the steps of the Grand Mausoleum facing a bristling wall of spears. They had left Issa back at the flophouse to avoid escalating what was already likely to be a volatile situation. The Pharasman clerics disarmed the heroes and tied their hands behind their backs, before frogmarching them to join their friends in the dungeon. Sebti the Crocodile was waiting to criticize their poor life choices as they were ushered into their cells.
“I must say I’m disappointed. I expected better from heroes of your caliber,” she said, tutting mercilessly, “Tell me where we can find the abomination you call Issa and I guarantee leniency when your own sentences are settled.”
“Pardon moi, High Priestess, but one lost soul is not your biggest problem today!” Cluedo said, “Perhaps you have noticed ze evil looking storm brewing on your doorstep?”
“We’re evaluating the threat posed by that strange cloud and precautions have been taken to secure the living city. Your concern is noted, but you would be better served thinking about your own predicament.”
The heavy prison door clanged closed with the ring of finality.
After half an hour staring at the bars of his cage, Billu asked; “So what was the plan again?”
(Savaged) Mummy’s Mask - Session Eight - 29/11/2018
As the morning passed into afternoon and afternoon headed toward evening, the glowing cloud hanging over Wati grew darker and its rumbling more ominous. It sounded like the stomach of a predator that had not eaten and now scented easy prey. The first bolt of lightning struck a merchant in the Sunburst Market as he packed up his stall. One moment he was grumbling about his poor take for the day, the next he was ablaze with green fire as a twisted spear of lightning zig-zagged from the heavens. The marrow boiled within his bones and his flesh was burnt away from his superheated skeleton. His eyeballs popped in their sockets and his teeth melted in his mouth. Other merchants cried out in fear as the glowing green skeleton stood swaying in their midst, the smell of burnt meat rising from the crispy ashes at its feet. Without warning, the skeleton lunged at the nearest person, raking its burning claws across their face! The crowd panicked and ran. Merchants abandoned their wares to join the mad exodus. Another bolt of green lightning fell, another living soul was transformed. And then another. The storm had broken and the city was doomed.
From their prison beneath the Grand Mausoleum, the Desert Storm listened to the screaming. Bes gritted his teeth and gripped the bars of his cell as though he could bend them apart through sheer force of will. What use was a god if he could not save his people?
“Patience,” Cluedo urged, noting his friend’s agitation, “We will not have long too wait now.”
“And if you’re wrong?”
“We had all better pray that I am not.”
The dungeon door swung open and Sebti the Crocodile returned, flanked by two officers of the temple guard. The expression of anxiety on her face was hard to miss, even before the tremor in her voice betrayed her desperation.
“Recent developments have given me cause to reconsider your case,” she said, as the temple guard unlocked the heroes cells and returned their gear, “That cloud is a necromantic super weapon and it is decimating the population of my city. You five are the only living people in Wati who have seen the man responsible, this Nebta-Khufre villain. I am releasing you and pardoning your earlier crimes on the condition that you enter the necropolis and eliminate the necromancer.
“Commander Shepses has not agreed to this course of action, he believes that the Voices of the Spire can contain the situation. I no longer believe this is possible. The storm has driven the esoboks into a frenzy and they are no longer under our control.
“I cannot condone your alliance with the undead creature you released from the tomb of Ahkentepi and if it is found within the living city it will be destroyed.”
The heroes agreed to the High Priestesses’ terms and exited the Grand Mausoleum as free men, charged with the task of saving the city from certain destruction. Issa had been hiding nearby, waiting for the rest of the party to emerge. He was wearing the soul ring given to him by Bheg and appeared as he had in life, as a muscled Osirian warrior with long, red dreadlocks.
“Look!” rumbled Chenkov, pointing to a plume of smoke rising from the other side of the market, “The Tooth and Hookah burns. We should make sure Farhaan and his daughter are safe. They were not bad people.”
“We should also visit the auction house and check on my lord father,” Billu added.
“We don’t have time to rescue every NPC we’ve met so far!” Cluedo decided, “Our priority is killing ze necromancer and stopping this storm before Wati becomes one big city of ze dead.”
“No!” Billu cried, “I grew up not knowing who my father was, I won’t continue until I know he’s safe! You go on ahead, I’ll catch up as soon as I can!”
Billu hared off toward the Canny Jackal auction house, the rest of the Desert Storm made a beeline for the gates of the necropolis.
(Savaged) Mummy's Mask - Session Eight - 29/11/2018
The gates to the city of the dead were barricaded and watched by the Voices of the Spire. Issa donned the gusting mask of Hesterpput and blew into the kite shield to launch himself high into the air. Now he could see what was going on beyond the gate. A horde of undead had gathered at the threshold of the living city, clambering over one another like ants to create a groaning, writhing ramp to the top of the barricade. A slow but steady trickle of zombies clambered over the gate and fell onto the swords of the waiting guardsmen - but how long before that trickle became a deluge?
Not long at all, it seemed. A sound like a horn full of custard sounded from the necropolis and a huge, mummified elephant charged the barricade, scattering skeletons under its great grey hooves. The gates broke open on impact and the Voices of the Spire retreated from the wreckage as the undead behemoth stepped through. Behind the elephants' ears, which flapped like the ragged sails of a ghost ship, a mummified rider held the reigns that directed the monster's sluggish - but seemingly unstoppable - progress. Two more mummies stood on a wooden platform secured to the titans' broad back, hurling spears down at the wavering guardsmen.
"Steady, men!" Commander Shepses ordered, "We must hold the gate!"
Despite their previous conflict with the man, the Desert Storm could not but admire his bravery in the face of certain death. They rushed forward to help the Voices of the Spire defend the gate!
Chenkov and Vardis focused on damming the flood of zombies through the broken barricade. The rest of the heroes leapt onto the back of the mummified elephant (issa used the kite shield, Bes clung to the edges of the scarab shield and Cluedo was wearing the sandals of leaping recovered from the lower half of Guud's corpse) and quickly dealt with the other passengers. Bes grabbed the reigns and attempted to turn the elephant around. With a mighty heave of the chains, he suceeded!
"You are all under arrest!" Commander Shepses yelled, "Again!"
"That's a funny way of saying thank-you," Bes observed , "We just saved your life and now we have to save the city. Best you stay here and guard what's left of your gate."
Shepses was grinding his teeth loudly enough to be audible over the storm, but common sense prevailed and the commander relented, gesturing for his men to stand down.
"We're going." Issa said.
"I'll be here when you come back."
"Not coming back, chief." Issa said, as the Desert Storm rode their undead elephant mount toward their doom.
(Savaged) Mummy’s Mask - Session Eight - 29/11/2018
Before leaving the Grand Mausoleum, the High Priestess had given the party the location of three elegiac compasses erected within the necropolis. If the heroes activated all three, they would triangulate the source of the necromantic energy behind the death cloud that hung over the city. The first compass was located at the Gulla Market, headquarters of the Fading gang. The second was positioned atop the ruins of a crumbling bathhouse. The third was situated atop a tower near the tomb of Ahkentepi.
“Number three.” Issa decided, “Trust me, guys. Skeleton’s intuition.”
The mummified elephant was growing increasingly uncooperative and the Desert Storm ditched it near the tomb. The bandaged behemoth trundled off, trumpeting angrily.
Cluedo and Vardis scaled the ruined tower to reach the elegiac compass. As the gnoll shaman repaired the device, a bolt of green lightning struck the roof of Ahkentepi’s tomb! The walls exploded outward and Chenkov was very nearly crushed by the huge, stone disc that had previously sealed the entrance to the crypt. Green fire rose from the pit amidst the rubble and an ancient Osirian war cry rose from the bowels of the earth.
“How long until you get that thing fixed?” Cluedo asked, readying his bow.
“Too long.” Vardis answered through bared fangs.
A figure rose from the pit; a glowing green skeleton with a shattered skull where Issa’s fist had punched through the ancient bone. A spectral figure overlaid the skeleton, that of a tall, intimidating Osirian warlord.
“General Ahkentepi!” Issa screamed, launching himself at his hated enemy.
Ahkentepi’s arm shot out and his ghostly hand closed around Issa’s vertebrae.
“Issa, my treacherous nephew.” the warlord said, “Four thousand years to prepare and this is the best you can do? Pathetic.”
“What?!” Bes cried, “That guy’s your uncle? You kept that to yourself!”
“It was all in my character background.” Issa replied, struggling to free himself from the warlord’s grasp.
“Family or not, you have interfered in my ambitions one time too many.”
Ahkentepi tossed his troublesome nephew aside. Issa crashed through the wall of the tower supporting Cluedo, Vardis and the elegiac compass. As the warlord turned away, his gaze alighted on Bes.
“Impossible!” Ahkentepi cursed, “All the old gods were slain! How can you - wait, I understand. You are reborn, but possess only a faint echo of your former power. How fortunate that you should cross my path now! I killed you once already when you were at the height of your power! Diminished as you are now, how can you hope to stop me killing you again?”
Ahkentepi summoned his loyal troops and from beyond the pale they answered his call. A squad of spectral soldiers rose from the ground and formed up around their general. Chenkov charged forward and one of the spectral soldiers drove its ghostblade through his chestplate, inflicting grievous damage. Seeing the Ulfen warrior was in trouble, Cluedo jumped from the tower to administer healing. The spectral soldier stabbed him too, injuring him even more seriously than Chenkov. Bes ran over to assist and the same spectral soldier stabbed him too, driving the icy ghost-blade into his unmentionables! Bes collapsed, bleeding out from the wound.
‘Castrated by a ghost,' Bes thought, ‘What a foolish way to die. Wait! I have a healing potion in my pack! If I can just reach it….'
Bes felt a hand reach into his pack. His mask fell from his face as he turned his head to look. Chenkov was crouched over him, fumbling with the bottle’s cork.
‘Thank the old gods that I have such stalwart and true allies fighting alongside me.’
Chenkov finally managed to uncork the potion.
“Forgive me, my friend.” Chenkov said. Then he drank the potion himself.
‘M#*%%&$%##~$.’ thought Bes.
Chenkov crawled away, joining Cluedo and Vardis as they discretely extricated themselves from the battle.
Issa crawled free from the crumbling tower and once again confronted his wicked uncle.
“Your betrayal of the old gods and the jinni cannot go unpunished!” Issa cried.
“What are you going to do about it, nephew?” Ahkentepi sneered, “We’ve had this conversation once before and it did not end well for you. Perhaps I will seal you back inside my tomb for another four thousand years. When you next emerge, you will find this world a very different place.”
“Neither of us will see your new world!” Issa screamed, grabbing his uncle around the waist and throwing himself into the pit.
“Nooooooooooo!” the warlord cried, as he was dragged back down onto the dark of the earth.
The tower collapsed, burying both skeletons under a mountain of rubble.
Several blocks away, the surviving members of the Desert Storm paused for breath and listened to the sound of the tower fall.
“I feel a little conflicted about leaving Bes and Issa to die.” Cluedo admitted.
“There was nothing we could do.” Chenkov rumbled, “The weak die, the strong survive.”
“I can always summon their ghosts,” Vardis offered, “Wait, what’s that sound?”
“Sounds like someone trying to blow a horn full of custard.” Cluedo said, “I wonder what -”
Then the mummified elephant smashed through the side of a building and trampled all three of them to death.
(Savaged) Mummy’s Mask - Epilogue
The streets were full of terrified civilians and glowing green skeletons, but eventually Billu made it to the Canny Jackal. He opened the doors and entered the silent auction house. Bodies littered the floor including the corpse of his lord father. The body was covered by hundreds of tiny scratches. Overcome with grief, Billu sank to the floor beside the man who sired him and began to play a mournful, haunting melody. He continued to play as the swarm of mummified cats closed in on him. It was the last time that music would be heard in the city of Wati.
Session Eight - GM/conversion notes
I'm conflicted about how I feel about that. I was enjoying running the game and the players all had really interesting characters. The plot had already deviated from the course of the published books and would only have deviated further as time went on. I had a cool idea about the hidden library in Tephu continuing the book of time, which enabled the party to go back to the huge battle with the jinni. General Ahkentepi was set up to become a major, recurring villain at Hakotep's right hand.
On the other hand, seven players was more than I was comfortable with and I had been thinking that it was unlikely that I would ever put up another rotation to continue the campaign, so maybe it was for the best that it ended when it did. Also, Issa got to close his own character arc, so that was good.
I feel bad for Vardis and Cluedo as all of the stuff I wrote to flesh out their own backgrounds was going to start in book 3. Cluedo was looking for the organisation that murdered his brother and it was going to be the Sect of the Blue Feather introduced in Tephu. It was going to turn out that his brother had been a cultist of the Forgotten Pharaoh. Vardis was going to clash with his old tribe when they entered the Parched Dunes, and confront his own mother, a priestess of Lamashtu who banished him from the tribe.
Luke/Issa spent a benny during the fight at the gates to give the elephant reigns and a rider.
'Sure,' I thought, 'It's not like any of you can actually ride it.'
Only it turned out they could. And they did. :D
I was kind of on the back foot with this session as I had expected the players to spend more time in Wati, helping the NPCs I had introduced previously, but they were like 'F**~ those guys, we need to deal with the necromancer'. I made the confrontation with Ahkentepi sound epic in the write-up, but in reality, it was a bit of a mess.
One mook just kept rolling crazy damage. Bes legitimately died within the mechanics of the game, the rest of the deaths were narrated after I explained why I was unlikely to continue the campaign.