Tuesday, November 3, 2020

House of Worms, Session 205

At long last, the characters' "hunting expedition" set off into the wilderness. The party consisted of Aíthfo (governor of the colony); Grujúng (clanmaster of the House of Worms); Nebússa (vice-governor of external affairs); Lady Srüna (daughter of the previous governor); Znayáshu (vice-governor of internal affairs); Keléno (scholar priest of Sárku); his third wife, Mírsha; his translator-slave, Chanchayánto; Chiyé (fellow priest of Sárku); Kirktá (priest of Durritlámish); and Qurél (an engineer, formerly a legionnaire). This is in addition to a small party of Shén mercenaries and Tsolyáni guardsmen. 

The expedition made use of a riverboat to travel westward along the Miráho River. The plan is to travel as far in that direction as the river will allow (it becomes unnavigable after about 250 Tsán (a little more than 200 miles). At that point, the characters will set out on foot, heading northwest toward the ruined city of Pashkírigo. This is a path the characters have used before in the past. Consequently, they were not only familiar with the river itself but also the sights along the way. One is a strange, squat stone building, built along the banks of the river, while the other is a taller structure that the characters took to be a Naqsái observatory of some sort.

The journey to the point where the stone structure was visible was uneventful. Nebússa asked the pilot to stop the boat just as the stone structure came into view. When last visited, there was evidence that someone had visited it recently. Nebússa was concerned that perhaps these same people had returned. He went ashore, along with Keléno, Grujúng, Chiyé, Mírsha, and Kirktá. They found no evidence of anyone being at the site, but Nebússa was skeptical. He asked everyone to fan out and search along the walls of the building, looking for any evidence of another way into the place. After a while, Grujúng located a pair of stone blocks that were discolored and looked loose compared to the others nearby. 

The blocks were removed, revealing a tight crawlspace that seemed to terminate in a shaft. Nebússa crawled in and employed a light spell to reveal the depth of the shaft – perhaps 10 feet. Using a rope, he climbed down toward the bottom of the shaft to get a closer look. At the bottom was a large chamber with a single bricked-up exit. The floor was covered in innumerable pieces of broken pottery, on all of which were a number of painted symbols. Nebússa grabbed a selection of the shards and then returned to the surface to show the others what he found. 

Mírsha took a great interest in the shards. She pointed out that there were three distinct symbols, two of which she recognized. She explained that the symbols were used in Naqsái sorcery and were of extremely ancient origin. One represented "earth," another "fire." The third symbol she did not recognized, but she added that the complete set of symbols used in sorcery was over 10,000 in number. The Temple of Ksárul in Linyaró, she said, he a nearly complete catalog of these symbols and she could consult it when they returned to the colony. Keléno theorized that these shards had once been pots, possibly filled with some sort of offering, and that they'd been thrown down into the shaft as part of a ritual. Mírsha conceded that was possible, as many rural Naqsái villages engaged in superstitious behavior derived from half-remembered rituals of their ancestors. 

Nebússa took little immediate interest in this and suggested the characters return to the riverboat and resume their journey. This they did and half a day later, the pilot spotted bodies floating in the water. There were three bodies who, from their appearance, looked like local Naqsái. Keléno asked one of them to be brought aboard. Examination revealed the corpse's skin was discolored, with a large laceration near the upper right shoulder. Yellow mottling radiated from the wound, which suggested to Keléno that it was venom. He extracted a sample from the wound and then ordered that the body be thrown back into the water.

Shortly thereafter, the pilot called out again. There were more bodies floating in the water – so many, in fact, that the boat was now plowing through them as it made its way forward.


  1. Perhaps you've answered this before, but the large size of the expedition party made me curious. Do your players have singular characters, or do they have multiple characters that they play as events touch them? And is there any fluidity between characters being PCs or NPCs (e.g. has a player chosen to take up a former NPC, or has a PC continued in a NPC role after a player departing?)

    1. I'm not sure I have written about it. I probably should.

      In brief: most players have multiple characters and swap between them as needed, based on what's happening in the campaign. Each player has a "main" character that they've been playing since 2015, as well as one or more secondary characters whom they play for specific circumstances.

    2. Thanks for elucidating that. I was in a _Stars Without Number_ game some years back where we took a similar approach, each player creating three characters to fill out a ship's crew. It worked quite well. We also had the characters begin at different levels which was interesting as players because we could explore both high and low level play at the same time.

    3. That sounds almost exactly like what's been happening in the campaign, right down to the varying levels.

      I should definitely write more about this; I think it's a subject worth discussing.