Introduction and NPC stats
Apart from a letter to the editor which still rankles my Canberran friends, my first ever piece in Tales of the Reaching Moon was the Jaxarte story published way back in issue #3. Well, maybe 1990 wasn't all that long ago, but Tales has come a long way since then as those of you lucky enough to own dog-eared copies of the early issues can attest. The enthusiastic response to that article from the readers and especially Greg Stafford prompted me to write some more; I actually headed off in two directions - another Jaxarte story, and more material about the lands of the Sun Dome. Both eventually bore fruit - Avalon Hill's Sun County was published a year-and-a-bit later, and to my great surprise the Jaxarte stories were voted most popular articles in the first Tales survey.
The stories are written as Jaxarte's personal journal, annotated at a later date by a young Lhankor Mhy sage, Floriat Fedora. I chose this style deliberately, so as to cram two Gloranthan points of view - one, an idealistic Lunar; the other, a somewhat more worldly Pavisite - into the same piece of writing. And although I hope these stories help amplify the world of Glorantha in some way, as Greg Stafford showed us with King of Sartar, writing from a Gloranthan's point of view is great defense against accusations of "factual" inaccuracies!
For those you who would like to do more than just read about young Jaxarte's misadventures in Prax, here are the game statistics, or at least my interpretation of them. Given the uncertainty as to which direction our gaming rules are going to take in future - RQ4, RQAiG, PenDragon Pass, Glorantha the Game? - I have used used the RQ3 mechanics by default. Those of you using a variant system should be able to modify from there. I have also included the Pendragon Pass personality traits, which are useful no matter what system you play.
Like my Lunar Coders (Strangers in Prax), player characters will have few cheap reasons for hating Jaxarte apart from the fact he is a Lunar (though for some PCs this may be reason enough!) In many ways he is one of the better of the Lunars player characters may meet: inquisitive, curious, tolerant and friendly, he has a growing interest in the ways of the subject peoples of the Empire, and a genuine regard in their well-being under the just rule of the Red Goddess.
The nephew of Governor Sor-Eel, Jaxarte Whyded came to Pavis in early 1617 to fill a position on his uncle's staff. At a loss for something to do with the inexperienced and naive youth, Sor-Eel gave him the grand title "Commissioner of the Imperial Census for Prax"; an insignificant appointment because a census had been already been carried out several years earlier. Jaxarte's task is to revise the existing figures, a job which carries him the length of the River of Cradles and occasionally out onto the plains. Unfortunately, many of governor's subjects treat him with suspicion, for although officially the census has nothing to do with taxation, many view Jaxarte's activities as part of some scheme of Sor Eel's to increase the tax revenue.
Jaxarte's family background is somewhat peculiar, yet perhaps typical of the decadence of Lunar high society. He was born in 7/28 (1599 S.T.) at the family palace at Good Shore, in the Silver Shadow satrapy . His father, Sir Arapiles, was an important official in the Lunar bureaucracy, serving in the Red Emperor's City of Dreams until a financial scandal forced him to retire from active service a few years after Jaxarte's birth (he then spent the next sixty-eight years in a life of desperate dissipation, dreading imminent arrest and death; ironically, he lived to survive all of his nine wives and all but one of his thirteen children). Jaxarte's mother Euridice Eel-Ariash, was Arapiles's fourth wife, and the elder half-sister of Sor Eel. She came to Arapiles with independent wealth and an independent mind. When her husband slipped into his life of reclusive debauchery, she returned to her family fold, and young Jaxarte had a sheltered childhood on an estate in the Oronin satrapy. He later attended an elite academy in Jillaro, where (although only a mediocre student) he gained his lasting passion for architecture. Shortly after graduation Jaxarte found himself en-route to Prax.
The Whyded family are devout Lunar cultists, and for many generations also venerated their ancestors. This practice had fallen into decline by Arapiles's time; Jaxarte's devotion to his ancestors is perfunctory at best and he doesn't really believe they would ever come to his aid. Ironically, Jaxarte is currently being shadowed by the spirit of his great-great grand uncle, Count Syrinx Whyded, who lived during the family's heyday in the Second Wane (1301-1357 S.T.) Uncle Syrinx has returned to the material plane to coax his descendants back to the old ways of ancestor worship. Syrinx has somehow latched onto Jaxarte as the instrument of his hopes, but has not chosen to reveal himself to his great-great grand nephew as yet. He might, however, intervene to save Jaxarte's life if the situation warrants it. [Syrinx later gives up on the skeptical Jaxarte and concentrates instead on his younger sister Marion, a Deezola sister. Her subsequent attempt to revive the family's ancestor worship was only looked on with amusement by the rest of the family and Syrinx returned to the spirit plane in disgust.]
Jaxarte is fairly tall, but clumsy, with the wide-eyed look of the innocent abroad. His clean-shaven face is perhaps more good-natured than handsome, and his hair is worn in the current Lunar style: clipped short at the sides and worn long at the back. His clothing and accent marks him as a member of Lunar aristocracy, yet Jaxarte takes the Lunar notion of egalitarianism seriously, and is genuinely friendly to everyone he meets. Jaxarte has had limited military training and no combat experience. If a conflict occurs, he does his utmost to resolve the situation peaceably. If fighting occurs, he resignedly defers to his more military-minded escorts.
The illustration above is ©1998 Dario Corallo, and first appeared in Reaching Moon Megacorp's Rough Guide to Glamour (1998).
In Pavis, Jaxarte has rooms at his uncle's palace, and may be encountered with Sor-Eel at official functions and parades. He does not have his uncle's permission to visit the Rubble, but may wish to sneak in there with the help of adventurers to survey the architectural wonders of the ruins. While in the city, Jaxarte is regularly tailed by Sor-Eel and Gim-Gims' agents (such as Photius - see Jaxarte and the Bison Khan), to ensure his safety. Journeying along the river valley or out on the plains, Jaxarte may have a large or small escort, as the situation dictates; such an escort may be the player characters. Of course, Jaxarte would make an excellent candidate to be taken hostage by player character outlaws; or rescued by PCs after the reward. Player characters could easily take the place of Onar Onari and the troll D&D in Jaxarte and the Chaos Fiends, rescuing Jaxarte and the young nun Melissa from the clutches of the Squid and his band of chaos slime.
As Commissioner of the Census, he is supposed to be received with honour wherever he goes in Prax. Whether this occurs or not depends on the attitude the local rulers have to the Lunar occupiers: for example, in Raus's Grantlands, Jaxarte was received with honour because the Duke cannot afford to offend Sor-Eel. In Sun County however, he was treated with barely-disguised contempt.
Jaxarte NPC stats
Human male. Born water/fertility/earth 1600 S.T. (Lunar date: 7/29)
Initiate of Seven Mothers and inactive Ancestor worshipper.
Hit Points: 13
Magic Points: 18
Travelling Gear: Total Encumbrance = 12. Fatigue = 11 (23 - 12). Cuirboilli and soft leather armour, finely crafted and decorated with Lunar motifs. Scimitar and dagger.
Scimitar (1d6+2+2+1d4) A-39 SR-7 Parry (10)-33%
Dagger (1d4+2+1d4 A-40 SR-8 Parry (6)-29%
Hoplite Shield (not usually carried) Parry (18)-38
Spirit Magic (90% - ENC): Heal-5, Befuddle (2), Glamor-1.
Divine Magic (one-use): Heal Wound x1, Madness x1.
Skills: Dodge 20% (-ENC); Ride Horse 23%; Orate 20%; First Aid 21%; Architecture 13%; Listen 37%; Scan 40%; Ceremony 16%.
Languages: New Pelorian 57/55 (during his stay in the River of Cradles Jaxarte picks up a smattering of Pavic, and even less of Praxian).
Personality Traits (Pendragon Pass):
Ransom: 6720L from his family back in the Heartlands; his uncle Sor-Eel
would initially offer considerably less.
Hit Points: 14
|Uncle Syrinx Whyded (Ancestor spirit of the Whyded Family)
Magic Points: 23
Spirit Magic (115%) Spirit Screen-6, Mindspeech-3, Visibility (2), Heal-1, Dispel Magic-3, Endurance.
Divine Magic: Spirit Block x3, Incarnate Ancestor x1, Summon Ancestor x2.
Skills: Evaluate 55%, World Lore 67%, Ceremony 158%, Summon 122%.
Languages: New Pelorian 90/90.
Chaotic Feature: absorbs spells up to 5 points, adding magic points to self.
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