Cursed Myth 1.0.0

[This and future campaign diaries will be titled with level.full-heal-ups.incrementals. Hence, 1.0.0 for the very first session…level 1, no full heal ups or incrementals taken.]

Ritual Preparation

It was an early spring night. A new moon hung over the sacred Great Tree. Nearby, a lone and extremely rare Lothlúrien lily grew from the dark earth covering the new grave of elf Queen Moro-Līanae.

Less than a week earlier, elves sang laments for this great leader. For half an age, she kept the peace while maintaining the elves’ fierce independence from the world’s feuding superpowers, led by dwarf King Battlehammer and human Divine Emperox Xìnyǎng. But on this night, they gathered for another purpose. To perform the ritual to initiate Othlonnôl, the mythquest that would identify the late Queen’s successor and grant the Orb of Leafblood needed for that successor’s coronation.

[Read the full player- and GM-created backstory.]

The elves’ honored guests—

  • Oramir the Seer, a Speaker (holy one cleric) of the Gold Spear Covenant

  • Duncan Flametorn, human swordmage of the Defenders

  • Stink, goblin ranger of the Goblin Liberation Front

  • Aso, dwarf abomination of the O Men

  • Lord Belderone, human diplomat (bard) of the Divine Emperox’s Halos (who had, in fact, been kidnapped and replaced by Revan the Bonehook, cave elf necromancer of the Cursed Skull)

[Read full descriptions of characters and their factions.]

—gathered in a large tent-pavilion and met for the very first time. Elven poets and artists bore witness. Attendants adorned the guests with garlands of flowers, butterflies, and oversized blades of grass.

The Ritual Master, Anu Indorim, greeted them and began to explain the Othlonnôl:

“You will not be traveling in time, only in myth itself. You will become Esselda the First Elf and Beraldăron Treesaver and the Astaldalim. You will save the root cutting of the Minya Galadhon, First Tree, commune with Aearanna, defeat Gûlrymsúl.”

Then a commotion outside the tent interrupted her. She sighed heavily, excused herself, and went outside to investigate.

Inside, the poets leaned closer to spy, but the adventurers stayed still and quiet. They heard raised voices. At least two individuals seemed arguing with each other and raising objections with the Ritual Master. They felt the guests were unprepared for or unworthy of—the details were unclear—the Othlonnôl. The clearest bits they heard were, “…that disfigured dwarf…” and “King Battlehammer’s only concern is peace and safety.”

Meanwhile, in one corner of the pavilion, a male elf attendant quietly encouraged a nervous female elf attendant. She steadied herself, then approached Aso. Blushing and gushing, she finally said, “Here, this is from the Lothlúrien,” and suddenly reached out and dabbed a cool fragrant substance behind Aso’s ears. Surprised and awkward, he thanked her. Then she retreated quickly as the Ritual Master returned.

The Ritual Master Anu Indorim apologized and continued:

“Aearanna will tell you who she has chosen to succeed the late Queen. And only after you defeat Gûlrymsúl will you find the Lassercë, or Orb of Leafblood. And the Othlonnôl will end. And you will return here. To yourselves and to great honor.”

She then introduced a young servant, the very same who approached Aso, and said, “Lyana will teach you the epic poem.” Which she did.

The poem told the myth of the birth and rebirth of the elves. It also outlined for the adventurers the stages of the Othlonnôl mythquest, which they would either witness or enact.

  1. Esselda the First Elf is awoken by the world.

  2. Gûlrymsúl rises. Esselda is betrayed beneath wounded Minya Galadhon, First Tree. Beraldăron, aided by the world itself, saves a root cutting of Minya Galadhon and escapes across the western sea.

  3. Cîr Galadhon, Second Tree, thrives in new land. Aearanna blesses elves by sea.

  4. Gûlrymsúl and his spider army find Cîr Galadhon. The Astaldalim kill him, but not before he grievously wounds Cîr Galadhon.

  5. Aearanna heals Cîr Galadhon with a drop of her blood, the Leafblood.

At last, near midnight, the adventurers were led in solemn procession, surrounded by elven singers, to the ritual location. They recited the epic poem, and reality faded away…

Othlonnôl mythquest

[13th Age Glorantha, heroquest rules]

1. Esselda

[skill challenge]

Aso became the star/tinwë, falling and piercing a great leaf. Duncan became the leaf/las, bleading much blood which ran down to the root of the tree. Oramir became the root/thond, pushing into the earth. Stink became the rain/thalos, which carved a cave beneath the roots of the tree. Revan became the cave/feleg, gathering the blood into a pool. Despite a few failures, together, they became Esselda the First Elf, naming the Star, the Tree, and the Cave.

Then they became themselves, and Esselda drew near to Oramir, whispering: “Kill me kill me kill me end it help me.” Oramir tried to talk to Esselda but the First Elf became more insistent in begging. The adventurers wondered, “Was this part of the poem? No?” and they began to worry about this broken myth. Meanwhile, the muttering Esselda suddenly drew Oramir’s sword and and slew herself. Esselda collapsed into Oramir’s arms, they both began to fall and with them the rest of the adventurers, falling and falling into darkness…

2. Beraldăron must survive and escape with the root cutting

As if in a dream, the adventurers suddenly saw a beastly giant—Gûlrymsúl, they knew. He was exallting over a dead Esselda under.Minya Galadhon, First Tree—its majestic trunk an interweaving of many trunks, its roots spread wide across the surface of the ground, a delicate sprout growing up from a root not far from this scene. Feleg, Esselda’s son who betrayed her to Gûlrymsúl, stood nearby. Then with violent joy, Gûlrymsúl began pummelling the tree with his massive fists.

Then suddenly, the adventurers were far away from this scene and on the opposite side of the First Tree. They could see it shaking with Gûlrymsúl’s blows, but Gûlrymsúl, Feleg, and the sprout were hidden from view by the great tree’s woven trunk. Stink became Beraldăron, who had to save the sprout and survive the coming battle. The others became the will of the world around, aiding Beraldăron.

[I told players their victory conditions for the battle, and gave them +1 to background checks for each success from the previous scene.]

Battle began, and Aso and Revan stayed back as Stink/Beraldăron snuck closer and Oramir and Duncan shielded him. But Feleg [Gnoll War Leader, CRB 229] was alerted, and running across the roots, he attacked Oramir with a heavy flail. As Oramir counterattacked Feleg, Duncan rushed forward and cut the sprout free. Stink/Beraldăron followed and took the root cutting from him. Aso approached and made a spit attack against Feleg. Revan approached too and threw a spell at Feleg.

Then Gûlrymsúl joined the battle. With a terrifying stride closed the distance to Oramir, Gûlrymsúl [Fire Giant Warlord, CRB 227] and swung at him with a deadly greatsword. Stink/Beraldăron let loose an arrow at Feleg, then turned and ran with the root cutting. Duncan pinned Feleg down. Aso rushed in to attack Gûlrymsúl but ineffectively. Revan threw another spell at Feleg.

Stink/Beraldăron kept running. Duncan held his own against Feleg. But suddenly Esselda rose as a ghoul, another sign of a broken myth. She fought Duncan alongside Feleg. Oramir swung at Gûlrymsúl, and Aso landed a fierce claw attack on the giant. But Gûlrymsúl repaid Aso with a smiting blow, killing him. And looking up, Gûlrymsúl locked eyes with Revan, grinning.

Gûlrymsúl strode forward, grasped a struggling Revan and lifted him to his face, sniffing. “Yes, yes,” Gûlrymsúl said, and then he licked Revan’s face with his giant tongue. Revan’s Lord Belderone disguise fell away. And Gûlrymsúl placed him back on the ground, opposite the other adventurers and said, “Kill them.”

Revan hesitated, indecisive. And just then, Stink/Beraldăron escaped from the field of battle and the scene dissolved like smoke in the wind…

3. Communing with Aearanna

The adventurers, rejoined by Aso, witnessed another dreamlike scene: Beraldăron’s journey west, crossing the sea, replanting the Second Tree, then dying of old age and being buried beneath it while it was still quite young but thriving. All of it matching the epic poem.

But where the poem said the party would commune with Aearanna as she blessed elves by the sea, they found no Aearanna, no blessing, no sign of which aspirant to the elven throne she had chosen. Instead, they found three elven children, between 10 and 12 years of age. One, a wood elf boy, was crying. Another, a high elf girl, was yelling in anger. The last, a cave elf boy, sat catatonic on the ground, staring at nothing.

The adventurers were at a loss. Then, the wood elf boy cried, “Don’t leave us here alone!” And the high elf girl yelled, “We’re all alone! We’re on our own!” Stink moved forward and led the group in picking up the children and carrying them as they walked through emptiness.

Suddenly, the children were gone. The great Second Tree, much grown, appeared behind them. To their left and right stretched a host of elven warriors. Before them, Gûlrymsúl, flanked by a great spider army…

4.Kill Gûlrymsúl before he kills the Tree

Aso became Ulmellon; Stink, Thû Eruvao; Oramir, Domwë; Duncan, Eärendur, Servant of the Sea; and Revan, Núro Firn-i-Guinar. Together, these mightly elven heroes battled Gûlrymsúl as the elf and spider armies clashed all around them.

[In this battle, players received a bonus equal to 10 minus the ending escalation die value from the previous battle, or 7. So they received a +7 attack bonus and a x7 multiplier for the damage they delt. The damage.Gûlrymsúl delt was divided by 7.]

As the battle started, Revan/Núro Firn-i-Guinar declined to attack Gûlrymsúl But Duncan/Eärendur cast blurring sigil on Gûlrymsúl, and thereby drew all the giant’s attacks.

The first blow Duncan/Eärendur landed against the giant brought Gûlrymsúl to a knee. But the giant took hold of Duncan/Eärendur’s hand which wielded the flaming blue sword. Gûlrymsúl plunged it deeper into his great body, closed his eyes breathed deep, and seemed to draw his dtrength again. He pulled Duncan/Eärendur’s blade free. The blue flame was gone from the sword, and when Gûlrymsúl opened his eyes again, blue flame flickered in them! Duncan/Eärendur was stunned. Gûlrymsúl roared with rage and delight and charged the Tree.

Nonetheless, the combined strength of the heroes soon overwhelmed Gûlrymsúl. He did little damage to the Tree, before they killed him dead. The scene shifted…

5. Retrieve the Orb of Leafblood

The injured tree was repaired, and the adventurers approached to retreive the Orb of Leafblood. They found it, but it was wrong—more a limp and discolored sac of fluid than the proper orb they expected. Stink stepped forward and took it.

As soon as he did, a voice from behind the adventurers said, “Give me the orb.” They turned to find a masked figure, dressed in bands of tight-fitting cloth, with a quicksilver staff. The figure was unlike the rest of the people they had encountered in the mythquest. While everyone from Esselda to Gûlrymsúl appeared fuzzy and dreamlike, the figure appeared as they appeared to each other: sharp and real.

“Who are you?” Duncan demanded, as Stink stepped behind his companions.

“Give me the orb,” the figure repeated.

“Who are you?” they demanded again.

“I’m sorry,” the figure said and, with a flick of the quicksilver staff, cast sleep on the party. One by one, they fell unconscious…

Aso alone

All except Aso. Instead, he was overwhelmed by the powerful fragrance of the Lothlúrien lily as the skin where Lyana had touched him tingled. The figure gaped in shock.

[In a separate room from the rest, Aso’s player and I finished this scene.]

The figure recovered and quickly moved to the sleeping Stink and—eyes on Aso—bent down and took the orb.

“What are you doing?” Aso asked. “What is this about?”

“I’m sorry,” the figure said a second time and flicked the quicksilver staff again.

Aso saw the mythquest dissolve and the real world resolve. He was in a place he’d never seen before, but he wasn’t alone. His companions—still sleeping—were with him. And the mysterious wizard who held the Orb of Leafblood. And a waiting troop of goblins.

“Do not kill him,” the wizard ordered. Then, stepping closer to Aso, he said in a low voice, “This was the only way.” He stepped back.

Aso declined to fight, and the goblins clubbed him and the world went dark….

Awake

Everyone but Aso woke up.

It was near-dusk. They were in a valley, on a small hill or large mound surrounded by eight 30-foot-tall dark purpleish crystal obelisks—ancient, some broken, one toppled outward onto the ground. The hill was covered in prairie grass, some two or three feet tall. They heard the sound of a lively river nearby.

They scared a couple of large vultures away from Aso. A few more vultures circled overhead.. They roused Aso and tended his wounds,. He told them what he saw before being knocked out.

They puzzled over the trampled grass where the goblins apparently waited, but found no trail marking the goblins’ or wizard’s departure. They decided they needed shelter.

While they got their bearings—noticing rice paddy terraces on the slopes across the river and a lone hut above them—they heard a screeching scream in the distance. Then, closer, the same screeching scream again.

A harpy!

The party prepared for battle, realizing that all their weapons, armor, gold, and other supplies were gone…

{Here is the next session.]