[Runequest] Razor Shells Update

Chris Gilmore strobus at sympatico.ca
Thu May 21 09:26:32 EST 2009

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 
"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 

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 

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 

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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