[Runequest] Razor Shells Update

Tony postmaster at runequest.za.org
Thu Jul 2 16:17:02 EST 2009

Hi Chris

Would you mind me posting this scenario, attributed to you of course, in
the Guest Articles section of my site. I think its a fantastic example of
GMing as well as playing in character, and is pretty well written to boot.


Chris Gilmore wrote:
> Hi Tony,
> I finally used the Razor Shells in game last session. I modified them
> slightly to fit my plot purposes, taking away the enzymes and giving them
> a
> mild poison with a memory loss component (which mechanically results in
> players losing % from their last skill check gains due to memory lapses -
> very insidious). I also placed them in a drying lake bed in a location not
> unlike the Okavango delta.
> The summary I send to my players concerning the event is here. Hope you
> enjoy your handiwork:
> Weekly summary of events from May 14 - part one:
> Dateline: The City if Assaria, first week of June.
> Weather: Hot and dry.
> PCs: Baran and Clovis (two tribelanders from the north), Eshubir and
> Lugesha
> (two agents of house Suzur in the southern city of Pavonis).
> NPCs: Maram, a slave girl of unknown origin (ostensibly from a farm in SW
> Pavonis) rescued from the Scorpionmen.
> Having trained for 7 weeks with no result in an effort to build up some
> muscle tissue (which they hoped would allow them to carry their heavy
> armour
> better), Baran and Lugesha decided they needed to give the training
> another
> go. Unfortunately the first bout of training depleted their funds, so
> their
> trainer introduced them to a friend of his who was willing to hire them
> for
> a service. This man was named Gigiris - a chariot maker.
> Gigiris' business had been very busy lately, with a lot of Akkanians
> wanting
> to purchase chariots. In a normal year he would collect all the young wood
> he needed for the chariot rails in the winter, but this year he ran out
> early so he sent his young apprentice (Amar) and a labourer (Degdega) to
> go
> and cut some more. These were cut from a specific cospe of Dimshilum trees
> located about a day's travel out in the Savannah to the southeast of the
> city. Unfortunately, that had been a week ago and neither the boy nor the
> labourer had come back. Gigiris' business was about to stall, his client
> was
> getting anxious, and the apprentice's father was starting to ask
> questions.
> So Baran, Eshubir, Lugesha, and Maram agreed to go and look for them. They
> tried to find Clovis to go with them, but he wasn't around - probably out
> with his latest girl - so they left on this venture without him.
> The party made their way south into the savannah by foot. They camped the
> first night in the long grass and carried on in the morning, following
> what
> appeared to be a week-old wagon trail. By noon, the shoulder height grass
> started to become shorter and then rapidly fell to nothing. They had come
> to
> a clearing in the tall grass that was about 300 yards across. The floor of
> the clearing was caked with mud which was dry and cracking on the surface
> but still moist down below - it appeared to be an ephemeral lake which was
> now drying up. Annoying flies of all types buzzed around the place, never
> settling long enough to swat. Clear tracks of a man on foot, an ox, and a
> four wheeled cart led straight into the heart of the clearing, and at it's
> centre could be seen a wagon lying on it's side, and in front of it a dark
> lump which appeared to be a dead ox.
> The group started to walk out into the clearing toward the wagon when
> first
> Baran and then Lugesha felt a sharp pain in their feet. They had not been
> wearing armour due to the heat of the season, and whatever had stung them
> cut right through their skin. On looking down they found that they had
> been
> pierced with small barbs attached to leathery tethers that disapeared in
> the
> mud. The tethers has the appearance of tough intestines and were about 2
> yards long when pulled taught. Baran first tried to run back to the edge
> of
> the clearing, but was almost tripped up by the tether. So instead he
> hacked
> at the tether until it broke, and then ran for the edge with Maram at his
> side. He was narrowly missed by another barb as they ran, but she was
> struck
> and cried out in pain. Baran rapidly cut her tether and the two of them
> dove
> for the edge of the clearing where they gingerly removed the barbs and
> healed themselves with magic.
> Lugesha had a harder time of it. Armed only with his spear and net and
> lacking a cutting edge, he decided to try to pull the offending
> dart-launcher from under the mud while the barb was still stuck in his
> foot.
> After several good heaves, though, he couldn't dislodge the culprit
> (though
> he could see the mud heaving slightly where it was buried), so he resorted
> to yanking the barb from his foot instead, causing himself more pain and
> leaving a large purple wound. He limped to safety at the edge of the
> clearing. Meanwhile, Eshubir, being light of foot, managed to avoid
> getting
> barbed at all and sat on the side shouting advice to the others.
> Rather than attempt to cross the mud again, the group circled the clearing
> to the west. After travelling around about a third of they way, they
> discovered a flattened spot in the grass - a place showing signs of recent
> activity by many people. Examining the ground here, they also noticed a
> series of small, round holes leading out towards the fallen wagon. These
> holes were about 2-3" in diameter and 6-12" deep. The party followed the
> flattened grass as it lead away from the clearing to the west came to a
> north-south running game trail. They followed the game trail north for
> ways,
> then south and found that it led to a copse of trees that had been
> pollarded
> for the harvest of many supple young stems. This was apparently the place
> Gigiris got his wood. Upon seeing this, Baran had an idea and cut two long
> straight stems with his axe. He then drove one knife into the side of each
> of them at about waist height, tying the knives in place. He held the
> posts
> upright and stood on the horizontal knife handles and found that they just
> might hold his weight and, with some agility, he could walk on these
> artificial legs, which he called 'stilts' after his uncle Stiltibris back
> in
> the tribelands who had long legs.
> They returned to dried up pond and Baran coaxed Esh (who was the most
> agile
> of the group) up onto the makeshift stilts. Esh practiced a bit on the
> makeshift legs and then walked carefully out into the mud where he could
> hear the occasional popping of a dart beneath him. He made it to the
> fallen
> wagon without incident and upon investigation found it to be empty. The
> black ox, though, was clearly dead and was laying on it's side still
> harnessed to the wagon. A thick cloud of flies hovered over ox, buzzing
> angrily when Esh came near. From this vantage point on the 'stilts',
> Eshubir
> could see a single set of human footprints heading from the wagon to the
> opposite (east) side of the clearing. Judging by the tracks, whoever had
> made them must have fallen about halfway across, then got up and continued
> but this time dragging something behind them. Esh shouted his discovery to
> the others and, wiping the sweat of the afternoon sun from his brow, set
> off
> on the stilts again to the east. The others ran around the south end of
> the
> clearing and joined up with him. Lying in the long grass a few yards from
> the edge was a human body - probably that of the labourer, Degdega.
> The body had been dead a few days, too. One of the sharp barbs was stuck
> into the inside of the upper thigh and this connected to a two yard long
> tether. Attached to the other end of the tether was an oblong object caked
> in dried mud. It was about 3' long and 8" wide and 2" thick and seemed to
> be
> made of two hard shells held tightly together with a round protuberance at
> one end from which the tether extended. Baran pried this thing open and
> found it to be fleshy inside - like the inside of a clam from the lake
> near
> his home.
> He cleaned out the insides and fashioned a makeshift pair of ski-like
> shoes,
> tying them to his feet with rope. He was about to set off again toward the
> wagon when Lugesha spoke up.
> "Hey - wait a minute. Didn't you see that those tethers are about 6 feet
> long? Those shell shoes of yours aren't going to protect your groin. Look
> at
> this poor sap pierced in the upper thigh!" he said, pointing to Degdega's
> body.
> "You're right." said Baran, and so took off the shoes and donned his
> ringmail pants, then put the shell shoes back on, and marched out to the
> wagon.
> On the way, he could hear the pops of more darts, but nothing penetrated
> his
> skin. He reached the wagon just in time because the ropes holding his
> shoes
> on fell apart. He jumped into the wagon and tied them up again. Then he
> hopped back to the ground and untied the ox harness and, with a great
> heave,
> righted the wagon. He then took hold of the harness and, walking
> backwards,
> slowly dragged the wagon about 10 feet closer to the edge of the pond,
> whereupon he hitched a rope to it and, with the help of those on the edge
> of
> the clearing pulling on the rope, pulled it the rest of the way. In the
> last
> few yards he heard a 'POP' sound and a dart nailed him in the groin, just
> piercing his ringmail pants through the seam. With a yell he cut the
> tether
> and leaped for the edge of the grass where he once again lay down and
> healed
> himself.
> The group spent the rest of the afternoon hauling the wagon to the copse
> of
> trees and set up camp there for the night. The next day they awoke to find
> that a fever had ravaged all those who were stuck. They hade been weakened
> by a poison coupled with a loss of memory which seemed to impact Lugesha
> the
> most. They spent that day recovering from the poison and taking turns
> cutting stems with Baran's axe, piling them into the wagon. On the third
> day, they set off north again, this time following the game trail they had
> previously discovered. It was a tough slog, but taking turns they managed
> to
> do it. They camped one more night in the open, and on the last day they
> came
> across a party of Zalamaran nomads coming south, their long spears seen
> dancing high above the top of the grass long before they themselves were
> seen.
> Eshubir seemed to be able to communicate best with them, despite not
> speaking their language. First he tricked them into selling a number of
> exotic striped animal hides for a pittance, and then he seemed to get
> across
> to them that they were looking for a boy - one who might be injured. At
> this, the Zalamarans gestured that they had seen just such a boy and
> rescused him (making stilt-like walking motions) and brought him to some
> farmers at the south of Assarian territory. With that, the two parties
> left,
> the Zalamarans continuing south and our adventurers heading north.
> Soon the adventurers arrived at a small farm on the edge of the settled
> lands of Assaria. Sure enough, they found the boy in the care of the
> farmers
> and so they took him back to Gigiris. The boy, it seemed, had been so
> impacted by the poison of the razor shells that he had forgotten who he
> was
> and where he belonged. Gigiris was happy to have his wagon load of wood
> (and
> paid the adventurers fairly for it) but not too glad to hear about the
> death
> of Degdega and to now have an apprentice who couldn't remember what he had
> learned. "At least," said Baran "he also doesn't remember his bad habits."
> Gigiris only sighed and paid them their money. Our party then then
> departed
> to get a good night's rest in a reasonable bed and look for Baran's
> brother
> Clovis, whom they had not seen now in four days.
> End of part one.
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