Friday, December 25, 2015

Fragments of the Last War 1.20 - A Game for Knights, part 1

My second GURPS game.  It ran smoothly again.  I intend to print out a combat maneuver sheet for next time.  Also, I need to make a list of everyone's disadvantages.

"I looked down at the chessboard.  The move with the knight was wrong.  I put it back where I have moved it form.  Knights had no meaning in this game.  It wasn't a game for knights."
                                                                                       Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep

Cymru, Tirane, Eifer
Ogronn 19, 21 OC

Louis Mentur woke with a massive headache.  Wiping the spittle from his face, he stumbled over empty wine bottles and out into the common room.  The underground headquarters of the North Cymru Irregulars was very warm this morning from the fire blazing in the massive common room hearth.

Their underground facility had several rooms off the common area and a hall and warren of rooms further underground.  "We need to hire a cook," Louis grumbled as he rummaged through the kitchen for something to eat.

From the magical and alchemical laboratory, Louis heard Nota'Cor yell.  "Do not turn my glass into candy anymore!"  Louis felt ill and held his head.

Through the door to a second room, Louis saw Grind dressed in a loincloth as he performed his morning kata.  "Today is shit," Louis rolled a cigarette and closed his eyes.

From the large wood and iron door leading to the front courtyard terrace of their headquarters came a pounding.  Louis slumped to the door and opened it to find a well-dressed, well-groomed dwarf standing before him.  "Good day to you, sir."

Louis pushed past the dwarf and peeked outside.  "I talked to the police.  I have a permit now."

"Yes, well."  The dwarf looked confused.  "I am here on behalf of the Cult of Desna.  Primarily our leader Mother Jahenna."  He eyed Louis suspiciously.  "I have a letter."

Grind appeared behind Louis and took the letter from him.  "Thank you, small man."  He opened the letter and read.  "She would like to speak with us now?"

"Yes, er..good..er..ogre."  He stared at Grind confused.  Then turned to leave.

Grind, Nota'Cor, and Louis dressed warmly for the day and soon made their way through the cold muddy streets toward East Cymru.

Along the way, they passed a dwarf shoving a halfing, who cried out.  "No, Smee.  Don't."

The dwarf scowled.  "Shut up, Fritz."  Louis shadowed the pair for a while, but soon returned to his comrades.

***

The temple of the cult of Desna was a fine stone building in a wooden structure Outer City.  Built during the first two decades after the opening of the Caers, the upper floor of the temple was an observatory for the worship of observation.  Inside the main structure, the Irregulars saw priests leading worshipers in song and dance while temple musicians played lyres and flutes.

Most of the Desna worshipers were not of "monstrous races" - as the dwarves described them (which means they were predominately human, gnome, halfling, and dwarf.)  However, in one corner they spotted a bugbear in a loincloth meditating and surrounding him sat an ur-akesh (half-orc) and a goblin.

Mother Jaheena - a middle aged human woman - greeted the trio as they stood in the middle of the temple.  Grind questioned her about the job.  To which, Jaheena told them that a piece of pure amber the size of a grapefruit had recently been stolen - four days earlier - and the Guard had no leads.  Grind negotiated both payment and spellcasting services.

She noted they stored it downstairs in a special warded room and it seems the wards were briefly suppressed during the theft.  There was no evidence of forced entry into the temple either.

After showing them - especially Nota'Cor - the storage room, Grind inquired about the bugbear.  Jaheena told them that Gar was a member of the temple staff - a caretaker - and had been with them for several years.

Grind asked to speak with Gar, and the bugbear mentioned during the interview that there was a underground entrance in the temple.  One of the subcellars had a loose stone that lead to a cavern.  He found it when he first came to the temple, but did not investigate it because the hole smelled of feces.  Gar did note that he covered the stone with heavy boxes.

They insisted on seeing the subcellar.  After seeing the hole, Grind asked Gar if he could make it bigger by removing more stones - he could - and said they wanted to investigate.

Gar replied.  "Oh man, yeah.  Let me get my things."

Grind questioned.  "Are you planning to accompany us?"

Gar laughed.  "Totally."

Inside the tunnel the were overwhelmed by the smell of feces and seawater, and had to tie wet rags to their faces in order to explore.  After some time, their tunnel opened into a larger cavern with multiple exits.  They continued on until Grind spotted light.  Dousing their own touches, they crept up on the light and found a dozen xzarts dumping debris rock from another tunnel.

Grind, Nota'Cor, and Louis stepped out of the shadows and frightened the xzarts.  Thanks to Gar and Louis, they managed to questioned these xzarts - none of them spoke dwarven - and learned 1) they were hired by a business in the Slipper District (a market in East Cymru) to clean a subcellar and 2) they had seen two humans(?) four days earlier in the passage going and returning from the temple direction.

***

In their initial interview, Mother Jaheena mentioned that the temple of the cult of Manoc in the south docks of South Cymru had been robbed three days before their own temple (the 12th of Ogronn.) Not being one who believes in coincidences, Louis insisted they investigate.

By mid-day, the weather had turned and begun to snow.  They trio walked across town, through the muddy but clean streets of East Cymru to the increasingly trash-laden streets of South Cymru.  Towering above the the crowd, Grind stared.  "These peasants are disgruntled."

"They live in shit," Louis shrugged.  "Who wouldn't be?"

Grind added.  "Perhaps.  But disgruntled peasants are dangerous."

"Nota'Cor is the best at being disgruntled," Nota'Cor commented.

As they contineud through South Cymru, several people pointed at Grind and said "That's him."

Louis distanced himself from his two companions and made his way through the crowd looking for a mark.  He spied a man in black leathers and a black poncho keeping off the light snow.  Passing quickly by, Louis cut the man's purse and hurried on quickly to meet his comrades.  In the purse was some silver and a bronze seven point star.

The temple of the cult of Manoc differed greatly from the temple of Desna.  For one the neighborhood was poorer, the streets were in worse shape, and the crowd looked more dangerous.  The temple itself was a single level wooden structure built on the top of a pier.

Grind and Nota'Cor waited outside in the light falling snow and, while waiting on Louis to join them, watched the sailors and fisherman enter the temple.  "Hoping the sea god spares them," Grind gestured toward the worshipers.

Once Louis rejoined them, the trio entered the temple.  Inside was warm and smelt of burning sage and chowder.  "Looks like they feed the kids, too." Louis noted.

Approaching an undine priest, Nota'Cor asked to speak with the head priest regarding some stolen driftwood.  The undine said they were mistaken and nothing had been stolen.   Only once Grind mentioned Mother Jaheena, did the undine nod and show them to the back.

As they waited, they said at a wooden table and were served hot fish chowder and ale.  In the middle of their meal a dwarven woman approached the table.  "I am Captain Lanori," she introduced herself.  "I understand Jaheena sent you."

Grind, his bulk towering over the room even while sitting, stated. "We want to know about your driftwood."

Lanori smiled.  "Of course, we don't like to mention it.  But finish your meal and I will show you."

Like the temple of Desna, the Cult of Manoc stored their holy icons in a warded room.  Immediately, however, Nota'Cor noticed the warding here did not protect from above and below, which he pointed out with delight.  "Nota'Cor is the best at warding," he declared.

Searching the room, Nota'Cor discovered the ceiling was loose and opened onto the roof.  Inquiring, Grind learned the temple had recently hired some locals to work on the roof.  Lanori didn't know much about them, but did recall they had been hired at the Sassy Pelican, a sailor bar nearby.

***

The trio decided to pay a visit to the Sassy Pelican, an average sailor bar near the South Docks.  Clean, but dated, a bronze pelican hung from a pole in front of the building.  The barkeep, Dominic, a one-eyed human, spoke with them and identified the workers as members of a local, yet ineffectual gang, the Dock Rats - a human and halfing gang.

He informed the group that they hung out at another place toward the south wall called, the Green Mold Inn.

***

The Green Mold Inn looked like a fairly new establishment and, despite it's name, well cared for at that.  When they walked in, the trio spotted a large table of goblinoids and orcs celebrating.  At one end of the bar, a troll sat drinking and scowling at Louis.  The innkeeper, a hobgoblin called Ricart, told the group they didn't like humans.  But Grind vouched for him. 

Louis bought drinks for the house to easy tensions, while Grind and Nota'Cor inquired about the Dock Rats. Ricart, while distrustful, was willing to talk with the ogre and ur-akesh.

He mentioned that he allowed the Dock Rats to come to his inn to drink because he charged them more and the regulars liked to intimidate them.  He also noted one of the humans, Jarzim, lived nearby with his mother.

***

After a questionable meal at the Green Mold Inn, the Irregulars decided to visit Jarzim's home.   Some blocks back from the oceanfront, the tenement home where Jarzim and his mother rented a pair of rooms was a newer, hastily constructed building.  As the Irregulars walked through the dirty streets becoming clean through snow accumulation, people on the street quickly moved inside.

Their building smelled of old food, unwashed bodies, and urine.  On the stairwell to the second floor, the trio met a goblin passed out drunk while children went through his pockets.

Finally, they found Jarzim's home and knocked.  A few moment's later the door opened and an elderly human woman looked out.  She was simply but cleanly dressed.  "Yes?" she asked.  "May I help you?"

"We are here about your son," Louis informed her.

The woman's face fell.  "Please don't hurt him!" she cried.

"Your son is involved in the robbery of two temples," Grind told her flatly. "We are looking for the Dock Rats and what they stole."

"If I help you, will you spare my son?"  she asked.

"We will try," Grind stated.

She sighed.  "Come in."

Inside, her rooms were well kept: faded curtains and seating, a small fire in a wood stove with a soup pot.  In the other room they could spy clothing in various stages of construction.  "I'm a seamstress.  I used to own a  shop in East Cymru, but had to sell it to meet my son's gambling debts."

Grind sat on the floor, while Louis and Nota'Cor took the chairs.  The woman put a kettle on the stove.  "Tea?" she asked.
 
Everyone agreed.  Though he would not admit it, Nota'Cor had never had tea before.  "It's Jarzim's cousin that is to blame," she said as they sat down to tea.  "He convinced my son to join the Dock Rats.  Pressured him really."  She looked frantic.  "Jarzim told me tonight they are robbing the temple of Abadar in East Cymru.  He doesn't want to do this, but he's in now."

"Why not go to the Guard with this information?" Louis asked.

The old woman shook her head.  "If I tell the Guard, at best my son is arrested and set to the east.  More likely he will be killed tonight."  She poured more tea. "I please try not to kill him."

Grind nodded.  As they were leaving, they heard crying through the walls.

Another great GURPS game, their non-combat skills for investigation and social interaction proved useful. 

The next part of the Fragments of the Last War Campaign and A Game for Knights arc is continued in Fragments of the Last War 1.21: A Game for Knights, part 2

1 comment:

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