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Necromancing Xuun Pt.11: Funny Little Death Games Pt.2

Game day, the morning the pit-games were to begin. The pit-games functioned as an amateur Weapons fit for a fighterfighter-league apart from the formal and in some respects over regulated official gladiatorial circuit. The fighters matched according to general size and weight with some attention paid to their respective physical prowess and strength. Armor restricted to the arms, legs, and the center of the chest. Other bits legal if both opponents are equipped similarly. Weapons were similarly regulated and rigorously inspected more so than the fighters.

Just before dawn Jíen got his fighter to the arena. It was a large stone building with coliseum seating covered by an awning-like ceiling under which lay the vault-ceilinged galleries. The wounded tended to and fighters vetted and equipped within. Also under the stone step-seats was the entry gallery where vendors sold their wares and bets tendered. The ring was a dirt floor surrounded by a shallow moat meant for the handlers, referees, and judges. On opposite sides of the arena were the gates through which the fighters would enter the ring.

Jíen’s fighter Bludbaer was to face off against one Zurat, a Westlander savage armed with a double-sword. The place was bristling with flags, banners, and ribbons of every color imaginable. The fight doctor cleared Zurat, his face painted with evil blue designs. The doctor moved over to Bludbaer as Zurat jaunted out of sight to await the match behind his assigned gate. The doctor cleared Bludbaer after a cursory glance. Jíen let out a relieved breath.

The Swampers’ Guild was backing Zurat and Jíen couldn’t resist making a gentleman’s bet that his fighter would win. Pit fights continued until one of the competitors couldn’t. They were almost always a death-match. The bookies gave Bludbaer 2-to-1-odds in his favor. Jíen took that bet.

It wasn’t long before Jíen collected 290 gp from the swampers but Bludbaer had taken a fair amount of damage (a whopping 20 Hit Points). Fortunately the wine-blood gambit had proven believable to all onlookers. So much so that White Star healers kept approaching and offering their services for a small charge. So the necromancer quickly shuffled his fighter into a quiet corner of the hospital gallery and repaired the undead thing’s damage the best he could using his Necrology (and spell slots).

The next match and the last of the day for Jíen’s creature would be against a double-axe wielding fighter named Scarnor but the odds were again on Bludbaer’s side. Again, it was a short bout and the necromancer took 2,075 gp in winnings. At the end of a very bloody day the fighters left in competition were Baenox Blood-Axe, Zarcar the faun (Rantcor’s “guy”), Skull-Smasher a half-hill-giant, and Bludbaer. After some of the officials began making off-hand comments that Bludbaer had an uncanny resemblance to another fighter, one who had come in second place last year Jíen took that as a sign to get out of there quick. He was long gone when they remembered the second place fighter’s name, Baercor.

Later at the Troll packed and noisy with fight fans, Jíen fed Bludbaer red wine which several fans were also sending over to the table. It was soon crowded with bottles, tin goblets, and wood cups by the time the necromancer retreated with his fighter back to the tomb.

The next day at midday, Bludbaer was again in the arena facing off with Zarcor the Rockhollow faun armed with a trident and gladius. The odds were 10 to 1 in favor of Zarcor. Jíen bet 2,000 gp on Bludbaer. Emboldened by his observation of the pit doctor, Jíen had cast Invigoration of Unlife into his creation just before leaving the tomb that morning heightening his fighter’s abilities a few notches.

The fight was a desperate one nonetheless. Bludbaer fell quickly and Jíen mentally controlling the undead fighter from the sidelines put his charisma to use. He howled and pulled at his hair and actually got the crowd to begin chanting Bludbaer’s name. That’s when he allowed the creature to rise again to wild cheers from the bloodthirsty throng. Though as a result it’s Negative Aura (the animating force behind the undead and their abilities) diminished (permanent -1).

The second round was brief. Bludbaer chopped down the unbelieving faunic warrior. The arena was erupting with chants of Bludbaer! Jíen’s take on that fight was a respectable 18,000 gp. Only 8,000 of it was given in coinage however, the rest was in a Writ. The matches concluded with Skull-Smash wining his match in quite the messy fashion. The other fighters were either dead or too wounded to continue progressing through the ranks. It would be Bludbaer versus Skull-Smash the next day with 5 to 1 odds in Skull-Smash’s favor. Jíen was hoping for a massive payday as he had a plan forming in his wicked little brain.

Jíen with his bandaged fighter in tow (just to keep the healers away) went straight to the betting tables to make a 10,000 gp wager. A grizzled faun introducing himself as Skull-Smash’s manager approached the young necromancer and the two began a bragging contest which the faun won. After a little more verbal sparring the young necromancer became flustered and ended the conversation with “oh yeah”! He then went on to place the 10,000 gp on Bludbaer to win on the morrow because “that’s how unsure” he was about his own fighter. The young necromancer walked hurriedly away back towards the tavern eager to leave the arena behind when he stopped suddenly in his tracks as a sudden realization smashed into his brain.

Me (Jíen’s Player): “$#!*”

Cris (the GM): “Ahahah! That’s right! You were supposed to bet AGAINST yer guy! Nope! You already made the bet! Ah-hahaha!”

Later at the Troll the necromancer again found himself talking to the faunic manager of Skull-Smash. After a few rounds, on the faun of course, they decided to wager a little side bet; 2,000 gp each winner take all. After that Jíen sat back, drank, and ate a little more.

Later in the night, the necromancer saw some Scael Nagas surround a peasant in a dark corner of the tavern as they harassed the poor man with questions about the theft of a certain star metal dagger. He also spotted the mark of the Shakai tattooed on their arms. After they dealt with the peasant he approached the one that appeared to be the leader and was paid 150 gp in exchange for some information about Rantcor and the Broken String. The necromancer was disappointed as he thought that the information provided was worth more but he shrugged and left the Troll with Bludbaer following.

Instead of retreating to his familiar old tomb this night though, Jíen decided to crash at the haunted villa instead for safety’s sake. He simply had the resident wraiths open the locked gates to him. During the night before going to sleep the necromancer had a conversation of sorts with the “boss” wraith. At least as much, a conversation a mindless undead creature can provide. Wraiths only retain a few negative emotions and the thoughts tied to what they used to be both of which replay like broken records in random combinations.

They do harbor some of the knowledge and secrets they knew in life though that can be brought out through careful and clever manipulation granted the thing isn’t trying to kill its interrogator. The withered-horror revealed to the necromancer a long undisturbed cubbyhole, unfortunately empty, in the bedroom wall. So Jíen used it to stash a small horde of 8,520 gp.

To Be Concluded…

Necromancing Xuun Pt.10: Funny Little Death Games Pt.1

Late morning in the Whiskey Troll Tavern, Dravor the blackguard and Jíen the necromancer were eating a breakfast of stewed stringy gray meat, probably rat, tough coin bread, and whiskey Dagger and snake assassin guild markfortified ale. Trantox the assassin swooped in and sat at the table joining his compatriots. The Poisonwood assassin turned to the young necromancer.

Trantox (Played by Jenn): “Hey! Could you I.D. this for me? But don’t let anybody see.”

Jíen did as he was bid but as a favor. The weapon had a razor sharp serpentine starmetal blade with decorative runes winding up the cheek and a finely wrought gold guard and gold-wire wrapped grip with a strange purplish-black stone as pommel. The Deadlands necromancer visibly tensed as he touched the weapon and after summoning up the best of his arcane knowledge, almost spasmodically he slid the thing back to the assassin.

The assassin snatched it up and tucked it under his cloak quickly surveying the half empty tavern to make sure nobody saw the item. Jíen told Trantox that the weapon was intelligent and evil to boot (also a +2 weapon). The assassin was affected by a strange and disturbing (in Jíen’s opinion anyway) sort of glee. Trantox immediately slunk away softly giggling. The necromancer was suspicious that the weapon’s ego was already taking root in the assassin’s mind.

A little while after the assassin left the tavern for destination unknown the blackguard casually pointed out a corpse slumped against a pillar to the necromancer. Upon investigation the corpse appeared to be a murder victim with a gaping wound in the back, its feet bare, and the tethers to its missing coin purse cut. So, naturally the necromancer dragged it back to his tomb under the pretext of delivering it to the charnel house.

It took until evening to animate the corpse, programmed with a mission of vengeance against the one(s) responsible for its death whoever they may have been. Frankly, it was just something for the necromancer to occupy his time. A short while after the thing stumbled off into the streets Jíen made a beeline back to the tavern.

The Troll was packed it was again a familiar but reeking, as if it ever smelled anything but bad, sea of yellow light. After wading through the congested haze the necromancer quickly found a seat near the wall where hung the giant spiked club and near the always vacant and bone dry carven table. The place was noisy with agitated conversation and excited argument. The atmosphere as taught as knotted troll-gut, everyone was anticipating the games. There were Westlanders, Ivorans, and various others of all stripes most wearing cheaply dyed sashes painted with the heraldry of their favorite fighters marking them as games fanatics.

Then a fight broke out between the members of what appeared to be an adventuring group. Jíen spotted an unrolled parchment upon their table, the apparent source of ire. The young necromancer tried to keep an eye on it to see if anyone snatched it up. Eventually a few of the adventurers ended up dead and the others fled. Somewhere in this Jíen had lost track of the parchment and only realized too late that it was gone.

It wasn’t long after that before a duel between two pirate swordsmen broke out. Weary with boredom the necromancer took his leave of the place and retreated to his tomb. He spent the night preparing his fighter, making sure its makeshift stomach, a wineskin, was secure and filled with red wine.

Come morning the necromancer found himself breakfasting alone. Just as he finished eating Trantox stumbled to the table. He was covered in blood with a serious gut wound. A fat sack of swag tucked under his left arm.

Trantox (to Jíen): “You sense any magic?”

Jíen (Played by me): “I can only sense death and undeath.”

Trantox: *Blank Stare*

Jíen: “I have to inspect the item (using my Spellcraft skill). And it takes a little while.”

Trantox (disappointed in a sinister sort of way): “Oh.”

With his usual uncanny sense of perfect timing the bard, Rantcor wandered in and sat down with the necromancer and Poisonwood assassin. He passed Trantox a small vial of healing potion. He told the assassin to meet back up with him at the Broken String at midnight. To maintain appearances the bard signaled for a round of whiskey fortified ale for the table.

Jíen engaged the bard in some small talk about a few odds and ends eventually turning the subject towards the upcoming games.

Rantcor: “Putting my money on Zarcor, last year’s pit champ. 3 to 1 odds; can’t lose.”

The necromancer also found out that the underdog was one Blood-Axe with 12 to 1 odds. He was a half-faun from a place called Rockhollow or somewhere thereabouts. The bard took his leave soon after that. A few minutes later, a few of the city guard chased some “scumbag” thieves into the tavern from the street and thought that they had cornered the rogues who still were able to slip away.

Come midnight, Jíen found himself accompanying the assassin to the Broken String. The place was low key and quiet as usual with the same drunk passed out at the bar and the same faun bartender on duty. Exotic incense still perfumed the air that the necromancer found repulsive in its sweetness and for the first time he noticed that, the plastered walls were lavender in color. Quite the expensive pigment, he thought.

Already there, Rantcor waved them into a private booth. Trantox placed his sack on the table and slid it across the table over to the shady bard. He peeked into the bag shifting it a little here and there, inspecting its contents. After a few seconds, he produced a leather sack of his own and poured out a measure of gold coins. Nothing could make the necromancer’s eyes gleam more but a beautiful corpse or a pile of newly struck gold.

In total, the bard insisted that Trantox count them over a bottle of wine, the assassin had netted 3,600 gp. Trantox bagged the money and placed the purse inside of his shirt next to his heart. Rantcor then took it upon himself to give the hapless assassin a “head’s up”.

Rantcor (almost casually): “The Shakai are after you.”

The assassin shrugged it off meanwhile Jíen shot the assassin a wide-eyed WTF glare. The Shakai were the premier assassin’s guild of Xuun. Their emblem, a dagger with a red serpent coiled about the cold blade. The necromancer sat stunned while the bard took his leave. Trantox unconcerned went to haggle with the faunic bartender for some healing potions. After he was able to recover his senses, Jíen quietly slipped away back to his tomb.

To Be Continued…

Game Mastery: War as Set Piece

Another hubpages article from Robert A. Neri Jr. about War and Mass Combat in tabletop RPGs.Ah, Chess and Mass Combat

The article examines why, when, and how to use battle scenes and Mass Combat rules in a roleplaying campaign. It presents the idea of using War rules in conjunction with any standard melee combat rules but does avoid any specific rules citations.

In all kinds of fiction battles become set pieces providing drama, structure, and an action highpoint in many works. In a similar way Game Masters can use war to enhance their RPG campaigns.

Read it Here.

 

 

Necromancing Xuun Pt. 9: Poison Phantoms

The dark duo stood before the looming adobe villa under the light of the white moon. It was time to face the wraiths of the house and earn some gee-pees. They had met up at the Troll, as usual, earlier that evening but Dravor the blackguard had been late.

On the way back from their initial inspection of the villa Jíen the necromancer and the blackguard had encountered a minor but loud argument in the street. A couple of town guardsmen were harassing a small group of peasants. One of the guards was holding a wanted poster aloft which was bearing the likeness of Dravor.

Jíen immediately pivoted and began walking, calmly, the other way away from the blackguard and the small group of guards and townsfolk.  The necromancer burst into a panicked run when Dravor cast Banefire on the wanted poster. As the Deadlander skidded around a corner he heard shouts of: “Over there! That’s HIM!”

After things had calmed down Jíen met Trantox the assassin from Poisonwood at the Whiskey Troll Tavern and the assassin had passed him 2 vials of paralysis toxin to be used to complete the gas grenades he had already ordered from the Deadlands necromancer.

It was dusk before all three were finally around the damp boards of their customary table. The newly united trio was again destined to split as Trantox had some mysterious “business” to take care of. The blackguard and the necromancer had decided to go on the ghost hunt come nightfall.

Both exited the place leaving the warm yellow light of the raucous and overcrowded tavern behind and trading its thick pipe-smoke rich atmosphere for the fresh empty night air of the city streets. They had little trouble finding their way back to the accursed villa.

They entered the place; Zarkar had lent the necromancer a key, and immediately the duo noticed that they had forgotten about the corpse in the kitchen.

Cris (the GM): “HA-HA Ha! That’s right! You guys left it right there! It’s all rotten!”

Me (Jíen’s Player): “Damn. Well, I guess after I’m done here I’ll drop the body off at the charnel house.”

Ignoring the sweet stench of rotten human flesh, Jíen began to use his uncanny sense of the undead to “sniff out” their quarry. It was no surprise that he was able to sense something hovering about the kitchen where the maggoty corpse lay.

Suddenly, emerging from the shadows was the wraith of the dead cook bearing a butcher’s knife. Its flesh appeared pale blue and withered which stretched it tight across the phantom skull underneath.  Jíen tried to rebuke the creature but to no avail. But, unable to resist its aura of despair (he rolled a natural 1), the young necromancer collapsed to the ground rendered utterly helpless at the feet the monster.

Dravor’s faith in his demon lord preserved his sanity. It slashed at him fumbling the attack badly losing grip on its weapon. The wraith’s butcher-knife flung across the room landing point first into the butcher’s block in the corner.

The blackguard used his Hold Undead ability against it stopping it in its tracks. He smashed his zanbato into its strange demi-corporeal phantasmal flesh then fumbled the follow up blow flinging his weapon across the kitchen floor. As he ran to fetch his horse-cutter Jíen was finally able to shake off the effects of the monster’s unholy energies.

The blackguard readied his weapon after snatching it back up and waited for the necromancer to work his magic. Jíen seized control of the shriveled monster (a successful Rebuke Undead). Upon questioning as to where the one who turned it the creature simply pointed up.

They guessed that in the upstairs bedroom they would find the “head” wraith. So without hesitation the daring duo stomped up the steps and found the heady old wooden door ajar. Just inside they could it. Its skull was bald and its mummified face hideously withered with its skin pulling away from the wet black rims of its eyes and gums. It was dressed in fine blue-green garments which appeared as if new. In its claw-like right hand it clutched a mace.

The pall of despair that surrounded the creature failed to take hold of the young necromancer’s mind but the blackguard backed off and wept that it was a losing battle. They were going to lose and die and if they didn’t die here they would eventually die anyway.

The creature struck out at the necromancer thumping him with the mace. Jíen felt a little of his life-force seep away (he suffered a Constitution point drain) so the young necromancer tried to seize control of the creature but failed. The cook’s wraith put itself between the necromancer and the mace-wielding monster granting Jíen some cover. Dravor fighting through his deep misgivings and loss of drive tried to cast Hold Undead on the creature but failed.

The necromancer tried with all of his will again to try to control the monster but again failed. The blackguard readied his weapon should the necromancer fail again.

Me (Jíen’s Player): “Aw man, don’t kill it! I want this thing as one of my minions!”

Gil (Dravor’s Player): “Okay. It’s your funeral. But if I get a chance I’m going to destroy this thing!”

The necromancer’s last rebuke attempt was successful. Jíen dismissed both wraiths to the astral plane “until further notice”. The creatures faded back into the gloom from whence they came.

Later that night, the duo split up and went their separate ways, after collecting the 25 gold pieces Jíen headed back to his tomb. He was certain he had a new place to hide out besides the stuffy and somewhat crowded tomb even though Zarkar had taken his key back. As he laid back on the slab to sleep Jíen counted the days until the games. He figured only 2 or 3 more to go.

Next morning Jíen headed back to the Whiskey Troll and passed by a sight that caused him to rubber neck, stop, then cock his head to one side. There were wanted posters, a lot of them, and everywhere. All of them had the woodcut likeness of Dravor on them.

The bills listed his crimes. He had robbed the Silver Coil, roughed up the clerk at the Golden Feather Inn, a place he had also robbed, and killed a couple of city guards. The price on his head was 1,500 gp.

To Be Continued…