30 May 2013

Earthdawn: Adventure Log 17 - Tournament Troubles

This is the seventeenth Adventure Log in an ongoing series about Earthdawn. Introduction and Index.

Typically, I take this opportunity before the Adventure Log to relate some information about the Earthdawn setting, often through the lens of this campaign. This time, however, I am going to be a little selfish and use this to relate where the various setting elements currently stand. Which is a fancy way of saying the trouble that is happening and the trouble that is brewing.

The most direct threat that has been encountered is the influence of a still unknown Horror. It has been active in some form or another along the northern Serpent River, to Bartertown, down to the southern Throal Mountains and the Servos Jungle. They have seen it's Mark and know something of methods (objects; crystal, metal and stone).

Next they encountered a troll Sky Raider, Korrolis, that they thwarted in exacting his revenge. He seems to have transferred that old grudge on to them because of it.

There is also considerable trouble going on in Bartertown that they have become involved in. In particular are the growing hostilities between two different factions within the city, the libertarian "Consortium" loosely united behind Auntien Tighe, a Swordmaster from Jerris, and the populist "Patrol" that have been gathered behind a local Weaponsmith, Maester Bleys. The conflict has boiled over into violence on more than one occasion, particularly with the shadowy support of Tarr, who controls the local Thief activities. Not only that, but there is also an underground slave trade and gladiatorial arena under the nose of Throal and a growing drug problem that may have connections to Horrors.

Ardanyan is a continual hotbed of racial tensions. Getting freed from the pressure cooker of the Kaer has done little to calm anything, particularly once the treachery of the followers of Raggok had been revealed. It is still a city divided and ripe for plucking by an increasingly organized and brazen Scorcher tribe united under a very skilled leader.

Even the Servos Jungle is a place of concern. Two Theran expeditions have been seen there, working with their old t'skrang allies, House K'tenshin. They were looking for something, and although it is uncertain what exactly they were looking for, it seems that they found it.

While Blood Sworn to secrecy, they also discovered a long lost passage from under Throal to the Serpent River. It turns out that they were not the first to make this discovery, as House K'tenshin had already established a foothold under the mountains. Much of the nature of that expedition still remains a mystery.

A new power has moved into the province from the North. Calling themselves urshan and riding the formidable urgarlshan, this could be the one bit of good news they have encountered. While not overly aggressive, these new Namegivers represent the vanguard of their population, refugees from the vulfaider, with no real explanation as to what that is. The stoic obsidiman, Sogun, decided that maybe he didn't want anything to do with whatever bears riding bears were running from.

With this new tale, it is clear that external powers are moving pieces to exert influence in Travar through their t'skrang proxies; Iopos through House Ishkarat and Thera through House K'tenshin. Even the vaunted tombs of Travar play host to corruption and the undead. 

Above and beyond all of this, the very nature of one of the boon companions is in question. What is his role in all of this? Is he a new threat, gestating in their midst (Horror Jesus, as so eloquently put by one of the Group), or is he their salvation? (No one really thinks that last one, but everything sounds better when you put it in terms of a juxtaposition, so there it is.)

Adventure Log – 017 Tournament Troubles

Written By: Sogun of Ayodhya and Honeysuckle Sunspray of Glenwood Deep

Date: 25 Mawag – 16 Gamhil, 1507 TH
Group Name: Mismatched Steel

Group Members
Elmod the Nethermancer
Honeysuckle Sunspray the Windmaster
Jak’Tak the Weaponsmith
Sogun the Messenger
Ting the Swordmaster


We start our adventures in Travar. The festival(1) is about to start and the shops increase prices and stock up on wares.

We set up camp in Travar for about a week. I take this time to stretch my legs and make a trip to K’tenshin(2). So far my Group seems to have the heart of an obsidiman: Very slow pace. They love taking their time in the towns we visit.

We spent most of the week pouring over texts and scrolls to uncover the history of a few items we found(3).

Elmod had quite a few questions about my Messenger abilities. I feel he is planning something.(4)

We are approached by an elf that seems a little too well informed about our team for my liking.

We agree to help him in the tournament.

Like any great adventuring group, we hit the bar! Then the next day we continue our bar crawl to a bar named the Broken Cutlass. We meet a man Named Bokin who proved to be a dead end.

The first day of the tournament was deceptively easy. Windlings are easily able to cross the paths and the questions were easy.


During our celebration we were approached by the man accused of murdering Torvak – Koll was his name(5). He denies everything and says that Galonar is part of an Iopan conspiracy. Wasn’t sure I believed him until a poisoned arrow went through his throat. Assassins aren’t typically called in to silence those that are guilty. We attempted to track down the assassin, but she was too fast for us. Seems like an elf Archer.(6)

The second day of the tournament was a chariot race. Sogun was our valiant driver and the rest of us were dedicated to destroying the other chariots. I cut the reigns to many chariots. Elmod was magical artillery, causing pain to those around and Ting was able to flip onto the other chariots and cause havoc. In the end, by the skin of our teeth, we won the race.

The finals we faced off against a Warden Group of t’skrang and the Winds of War. We knew we wouldn’t win, but we didn’t want the t’skrang to win. So, while we were greatly outmatched, we managed to allow the Winds of War(7) to be victorious and the incumbent magistrate to continue her place of power.

We were victorious in being the surviving underdogs. That was a sweet victory.(8)


*     *     *

(1) This refers to the Games that elect one of the ruling council of Travar every year.
(2) The t'skrang House. Also huge assholes that sided with Thera over Throal.
(3) Why can't they ever include any information of historical significance? If we don't know where legendary items have been, it's harder for future generations to make use of them. They generally end up in some horribly dangerous place with no survivors, after all.
(4) He's an elf and a Nethermancer. The question isn't "is he planning something", but "what is he planning?"
(5) We heard about this, it was a big deal and still is. What does Iopos want with this?
(6) Details! What else happened here? I have not seen any of this information from our other sources and I have seen a lot of the intelligence on this situation.
(7) The winners aren't that surprising. Not many mercenary Groups are as uniquely suited for this type of activity. Impressive that Mismatched Steel made it this far for a Group so young.
(8) Received and edited by Ela Pono.

This was an adaptation of a published adventure of the same name from Shards Collection Volume One. The overarching plot fit nicely into the web of power that I have been slowly putting together in the background and the tournament would represent a nice change of pace to the game. Particularly the covert elements and the intrigue.

So, of course, the players ignored any potential cheating. Not interested. Most of the actual plot of the adventure wasn't recorded, which includes all of the intrigue and power plays by outside factions (including their own patron). With all of the skulking out of the picture, I quickly whipped up some more extensive mechanics to handle the chariot racing.

The chariot racing (with expanded rules and detail) was a big hit. Every player got to meaningfully contribute to the event and it was honestly a hard won battle that came down to the very last die roll. No punches were pulled on my part and they were clearly the underdogs - there was no guarantee they would make it to the next round and things may have turned out poorly if they hadn't.

In the end, they were given the opportunity to play spoiler and absolutely delighted by that. To be fair, they didn't want to win - not trusting their patron at all. They got to generate some buzz about their Group; even if they didn't win, who doesn't love a Cinderella story?