Cursed Myth 1.0.1

[Stink’s player was late for this session, joining at the start of the first round of combat. Oramir’s player was very late. Here is the previous (and first) session.]

Harpy and vultures!

As the sun set, the harpy [CRB 234, modded] flew from the north. It circled the adventurers on the small hill and landed atop the northernmost obelisk, taunting them. “You’re tresspassing in our valley. What a tasty treat you will make.”

Unarmed and unarmored, Aso, Duncan, and Revan did not hesitate to join the fight. But strangely, Stink and Oramir stayed hidden in the tall prairie grass. Aso the dwarf abomination made a spit attack but missed. The gloating harpy sang a fiendish song, targetting Aso and Duncan. They took psychic damage, and Duncan was hampered. Revan the necromancer cast ray of frost, dealing cold damage. Then the harpy called to the vultures and they stopped their circling and plunged downward: one each on Duncan and Revan, two on Aso. They pecked and clawed, dealing minor damage. Duncan punched at a vulture and shook off the hampered effect.

Suddenly, Stink lept up from hiding and with two fists attacked the vulture on Revan and killed it. Aso swiped at one vulture with his claw. The harpy exclaimed, “Oh, a fight! This will be fun!” It sang its fiendish song again, damaging Aso and Duncan. Revan frosted the harpy again, staggering it. The two remaining vultures pecked and clawed at Duncan and Aso. This time it hurt. Duncan swung and hit the vulture on him.

Then Stink attacked the vulture on Aso, and Aso finished it off with another claw attack. The harpy screeched in rage and, goaded by Duncan’s sigil, attacked him with its talons, ripping at him painfully. Revan hit the harpy again. Duncan killed the vulture on him.

At last, Stink and Aso swarmed the harpy and killed it. Not much of a threat despite its taunts.

During a quick heal up, the adventurers found Oramir passed out, a large chunk of crumbled crystalline obelisk nearby. They could not rouse him. They also could not discern their location, the west-to-east flowing river was not enough of a clue.

the lone farm hut

Aso shouldered Oramir, and they all started south. Crossing the lively but shallow river, Aso twisted his ankle. Then they climbed many levels of densely overgrown rice paddies, toward what they presumed was a farmers hut up the mountainside. By the time they reached the edge of the cultivated paddies, they stood in shadow. Only the peak of the mountain glowed in failing sunlight. They noticed coy-like fish in these paddies. They heard a dog barking from a kennel behind the hut. Revan wondered about killing the dog. A pungent incense log burned between three bushel-baskets of a rice-like grain.

They saw a flash of movement from the hut’s window and decided on a direct approach. Stink knocked.

“Go away!” a voice called from within. Stink knocked again. “Go away! You know what day it is. Go back to your hut.”

“No,” Stink answered. “We are lost travelers seeking shelter.”

The door opened a crack, and the large yellow eye of a lizardperson came into view. “Close your eyes,” the lizardperson demanded.

“What? Why?”

“Just blink hard like this” and the lizardperson showed them. Stink and Aso complied. Duncan hesitated but finally did too. Revan defied the request, but the lizardperson didn’t notice. “Now drop your weapons.”

“We don’t have any.”

“Okay, then come in quickly! You’re putting us in danger coming here tonight!” They all entered. Revan, last, found a corner to lurk in, holding the insense log from outside. “Hey! Put that back! What are you trying to do?” Revan complied.

The hut was one large room, except for a single closed door leading to another room. In one corner lay mattresses. On a mattress sat a lizardperson holding an infant. Near the center of the room, a table and four chairs. Another lizardperson sat there (later identified as Sung), wary of them. Herk, the lizardperson who invited them in, quickly fetched drinking water. She also brought out some prepared grain for them to eat.

rising tension

Herk gave short answers to the adventurers’s questions. And even though they percieved the lizardfolk as tight-lipped and obstructionist, nonetheless, thanks to Herk, they soon guessed their approximate location. The river in the valley was the Green Star River and the wilderness to the north, the Dragon Wood, they decided. Herk told them the nearest large settlement was a four days journey to the east. It was called Valor, and it was a port on what the adventurers guessed was the Iron Sea. A lizardfolk village was on the other side of the mountain ridge, to the south. Still, the adventurers became impatient. Revan wondered about killing the lizardpeople, starting with the baby.

[In hindsight, I wonder if I should've said, "You get the feeling you interrupted a bitter argument between mother and daughter, an argument about some of the very things you're asking about." Instead, the way I played it was to drop breadcrumbs and wait for players to pick up the trail. Was it too subtle? Did I underestimate players' anxiety to discover their location and resupply? Would being perfectly opaque have sacrificed the dramatic tension between the PCs and NPCs? Or would it have simply given players clearer choices and a better understanding of possible consequences? TBH, it never crossed my mind to say, “You get the feeling…” So how could I play this misunderstanding/conflict of needs next session? Pondering.]

Then they asked about the obelisks. Herk said she didn’t know anything, but maybe Nani Raan did. Nani Raan was sleeping in the other room. Stink went to open the door, but Herk blocked him, as graciously as she could. “It’s late. Nani Raan is sleeping.” Stink and his companions agreed to wait until morning.

Stink asked how long they had lived here. Three years, Herk said with grief in her voice, glancing at Sung and hesitating to say more. Stink cheerfully guessed a tale of woe was involved. Confused, Herk confirmed this and said, the village was considering relocating again, glancing again at Sung. Brigands with eyes painted on their eyelids chased them from their original home and now had found them here.

Oramir suddenly woke up, no worse for the wear.

[Oramir’s player arrived at this point. I didn’t want to break the flow of what I thought was a fun, dramatic roleplay. But I do have a little twist to reveal later, explaining Oramir’s blackout.]

The adventurers asked about the incense and grain outside. “They’re for the harpies,” Herk said. “We killed a harpy,” they said.

Herk’s eyes went wide with fear, clutching the carved wooden fish hanging from her necklace. “You doomed us all!” Sung cried. There were two other harpies, Herk said. And they commanded an ogre.

Revan said something that insulted Sung. She lept up from the table. “Who the hell are you?!” she shouted. “You come into our home, and insult us?! Get out! GET OUT!!” Revan complied, saying he didn’t care about these lizardpeople, he only cared about the mission, maybe he should just kill them.

[I took this as Revan’s inner monologue, nonetheless evident in his outward manner.]

Just then a harpy screech echoed across the valley. Then another. The dog outside began barking. Stink asked if they had any weapons. And Herk quickly produced two knives, which Stink took. An ogre-ish roar sounded outside. The dog barked more. But suddenly squeeled and stopped—Revan killed it with necromancy. “Come out! Come out, wherever you are!” sang the harpies.

The rest of the adventurers went outside to confront them, Sung following…

two harpies and the ogre!

The dark figure of the ogre [CRB 240] began charging up the terraces. As it did, Revan cast terror, and one harpy flew screaming from the fight. The second harpy sang a fiendish song, and Aso answered with a spit attack. Stink charged the ogre and scored a critical hit with his borrowed knife. With his second melee attack, he scored a second critical! The ogre bellowed. Duncan and Oramir attacked the ogre too.

Despite Duncan’s sigil, the ogre swung its big club at Stink, dealing significant miss damage. Revan frosted the remaining harpy. It answered with another fiendish song, weakening Duncan and Stink. The other harpy kept fleeing. Stink landed another blow against the ogre, and then another critical!

[Stink, a ranger, has the double melee talent. In four attacks against the ogre, he rolled a 20, 20, 18, and 20! Amazing!]

Aso, Duncan, and Oramir also kept up the attack.

Staggered, the ogre gave Stink, Duncan, and Oramir a big shove, then partially hit Stink again. Stink was hurting. But Revan and Aso felled the harpy, and the ogre soon fell too.

A distant harpy screech sounded across the valley. It did not return.

aftermath

As the party congratulated each other and caught their breath, Sung—who had hung back during the battle—went to check on the dog. Finding it dead, she spun and pointed at Revan. “You killed him!”

{Revan’s player immediately said, “I’m going to kill these lizardpeople.” I said, “Okay. I’m going to slow the action down.” To the other players I said, “You see what’s happening. Are you going to intervene?” They hesitated. Revan’s player decided to try to convince her it wasn’t him.]

She might have struck him, if his “who, me?” patter was not so earnest.

[Revan’s player succeeded on a “hard” charisma-based background check. I could’ve realistically ruled it “ridiculously hard,” in which case he would have failed (forward?), but this was maybe for the best.]

Regardless, Revan’s companions grumbled against him, siding with Sung. Just then, Herk came outside, further defusing the situation. Clutching her fish necklace, she shared her grateful amazement with the party, especially Stink. She invited them back inside.

Sung, however, grumbled about the remaining harpy. Stink suggested they hunt it down, and his companions agreed. They asked Herk where the harpy lair was. She said, “We don’t cross the river.”

[I offered the players a choice: pursue the harpy in the morning, or spend a full day on a full heal up. They opted for a full heal up. Which sets the stage perfectly for more fun lizardfolk roleplay in the next session! But before you read that, read this “story interlude” game fiction I shared with players before the next session.]