Tuesday, December 15, 2020

House of Worms, Sessions 206

The House of Worms Empire of the Petal Throne campaign has been ongoing since March 2015, meeting more or less weekly since the start. Each year, usually during the late summer, we have a stretch when we don't play as regularly, due to scheduling conflicts. This didn't happen this year, perhaps due to the unusual nature of world events that prevented summertime travel and other similar activities. Instead, we've had slightly more sporadic sessions since the late fall and that's led to a delay in my posting of session summaries. We've resumed play recently and this post covers session 206, with a similar write-up covering session 207 to follow soon.

At the end of Session 205, the characters were traveling west along the Miráho River, when they encountered a large number of dead bodies floating in the water. These bodies appeared to be those of rural Naqsái – men, women, and children. As their boat pressed onward, they also noticed that the area was much darker than expected for the time of day. Looking up, the characters saw that, between the tall trees that grew on opposite sides of the river, was a thick, bluish-black webbing that had not been there on previous trips down the Miráho. The webs were were dense enough that they obscured the usually oppressive sunlight and seemed to be home to numerous large, six-legged creatures vaguely reminiscent of the étla, a crustacean found along the coasts of Tékumel. These creatures scuttled about the webs and seemed to be following the passage of the boat, as it made its way down the river.

As the boat got closer to the end of the navigable part of the Miráho River, Znayáshu decided that it might be best to attempt to parley with these creatures. He called out to them, but they did not respond. Instead, for the first time, he and his clan mates saw that some of the bodies floating in the river had begun to move of their own accord, paddling oddly toward the shores. A few others instead paddled toward the boat. With weapons at the ready, they watched as some of the bodies wrenched themselves onto the banks of the river and began to speak.

The corpses spoke at intervals, with one starting and another nearby one completing his sentence. They asked who the characters were and why they were here. Znayáshu explained that they were simply passing through, on their way to the ruins of Pashkírigo and that they meant to harm. While this happened, the scuttling creatures began to descend the trees on the river banks and it soon became clear that they were somehow controlling the dead Naqsái and using them as mouthpieces. Over the course of the conversation, it became clear that these beings, who identified themselves as the Weavers of the Gaps, were a race of sharétlyal – "demons" or otherplanar entities – who had been summoned her by "an arrogant sorcerer" to open a portal for him in exchange for the souls of these poor Naqsái villagers. 

On hearing this, Znayáshu inquired if the sorcerer's name was Getúkmetek, to which the Weavers, through the dead Naqsái, responded affirmatively. Getúkmetek was a peculiar sorcerer the characters encountered some months ago beneath the city-state of Miktatáin. The sorcerer, who asked that he be addressed as Túk, seemed paranoid and deluded, entreating the characters not to trust "them," by which he apparently meant the gods – any gods, not just the gods of Pavár's pantheon – as they intended to "hold us back, prevent us from reaching our true potential." He warned the characters that they were "doing their bidding, even if they didn't realize it" and he would stop them if he could. A battle ensued against Túk, in which he turned Znayáshu to stone shortly before he himself was seemingly slain. Through the aid of the Shén Kŕsh, Znayáshu was restored to life. And if what the Weavers say is true, Túk would seem to have survived as well.

Znayáshu further inquired of the Weavers where Túk had gone and they answered, "The ruins." He took that to mean the very same ruins they were seeking and asked if getting there was why they had summoned them from "the Gaps." They answered affirmatively and added, "The sorcerer had other need of us as well, need of which we are bound not to speak." That was enough for Znayáshu and he asked if the Weavers would be willing to send him and his companions to Pashkírigo as well. They expressed a willingness but only in exchange for an appropriate gift. Znayáshu offered Túk's soul to them, which excited their interest – and their skepticism. The Weavers doubted he could defeat the sorcerer or bring him back to them, but he assured them he would be able to do so. The sharétlyal accepted his offer on the condition that he leave behind one of his party as insurance against duplicity. Znayáshu didn't hesitate and to offer one of Aíthfo's bodyguards for this role.

The Weavers opened a nexus point to the ruins of Pashkírigo and the characters entered. They found themselves in a section of the city they'd never seen before. Grujúng ascertained, by looking at the position of the sun and other landmarks, that they were probably at its eastern edge. As night was now falling, the group determined to hole up in a sturdy building and wait until morning before setting out. During the night, the building was assailed by Vorodlá – flying undead that had previously been observed to exist in great numbers in the ruins. Indeed, the central area of the city, which the characters had only observed from a distance, seemed to be some sort of whirling maelstrom around which dozens of these monsters flew. The characters fended off the undead and settled in for the rest of the night.

The next morning, the characters and their guards headed westward toward the center of the city. Along the way, they observed many intact buildings, some of them quite large. Apparently, this section of Pashkírigo was not as badly damaged as the western side that they had explored some months previously. As they made their way forward, Nebússa discovered a large, domed building outside of which were stationed guards that, judging from their armor and weaponry, were soldiers of the city-state of Pichánmush, the Naqsái settlement that had taken upon itself to guard the ruins and prevent the characters from doing just what they were doing. Deciding that a straightforward approach was probably best, Nebússa and Keléno made their way up the front stairs of the building and presented themselves directly to the guards, with the aim of finding out the current situation and, with luck, convincing the soldiers that they were all working toward the same goal, namely the elimination of the Vorodlá and whatever that maelstrom at the center of the city actually was.


  1. In regard to your first paragraph, when sessions start to get sporadic, do you get nervous about losing momentum? I've had many long term groups, but there are times, especially when player count has reduced, I start worrying about the continuation of the ongoing campaign. I've found there's a sort of algorithm in player groups. A person or two starts having to miss more sessions, often cancelling day of. More often than not these people end up having to leave the group for one reason or another (they stuck around a long while, so you know they enjoy the game).

    Life intrudes. Especially if you have games on a weekend night like me. When the group is made up less of friends and more of strangers who join along the way, the campaign always for me feels like its on the razors edge.

    Of course you Empire thing has gone on a long time so I imagine you have no fear of it outright halting even if it goes through slow times.

    1. In the first year or two of the campaign, I sometimes worried about it. After that, though, it's never been a concern, since it's clear that we're all committed to the campaign and, no matter how long a break might occur – and it's never been more than four weeks at most – we'll pick right up and start playing again. At going on six years, I think the campaign is self-sustaining and it'd take something major to end it.

    2. Excellent. To run an old school alternative to D&D you love must be a gamers dream come true. Been a few years since my last Glorantha RQ campaign, but I do daydream of getting another going.