domingo, 22 de noviembre de 2020

Playing RuneQuest Glorantha: Chaotic possession!

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This is the second installment in a series of play examples of RuneQuest Roleplaying in Glorantha. Follow the link to read the first part about melée combat and chases. This time, you can read about the adventures of the three characters after they defeated the scorpion men. In particular, the following text deals with the rules for spirit combat.

As the first installment, the following text was created by Trotsky from the BRP Central forum. He gave me permission to publish it here so that more potential players and GMs can get a better grasp of the rules with these examples of play. I have only added a small detail to further improve it. Enjoy!

The picture to the right of this collage is from 13th Age Glorantha rulebook, art by Andrey Fetisov

From the last session…

A minute or two later Korig appeared, out of breath... ‘Is it dead?’ Despite a heavily damaged spear, the heroes were relatively unharmed, with only Korig nursing a sore shield arm. Saroangan then began the trek back to the cave to retrieve her bow and pack animal.

As the adventurers turned to go back, something about the scorpion man’s corpse caught Balgan’s eye. He thought he saw the body move. He called to the others and they all turned towards the broken creature’s body. They watched in dread as the creature’s spirit slowly materialised and ripped its way out of the body and set its hollow eyes on Balgan.

The scorpion man had a Chaotic feature that caused its spirit to attack and try to possess the mortal that slew it. I used an ‘average’ ghost spirit from the Glorantha Bestiary for the creature’s avenging spirit. The spirit would be ‘bound’ to take revenge on whoever killed it... but would also be drawn back to the cave for some unknown reason...

The adventurers had little to help them in the way of protection against an imminent spirit attack, and so at first they could do nothing but watch on in horror... (they could have attempted to flee, but as the spirit could move at a speed equivalent to its POW they decided it would be futile).

The spirit fixed its vacant eyes on Balgan and pulsed through the air to envelop him. Balgan, with a POW of 12, still had 11 of his 12 magic points left.

Round 1 – The spirit materialised and as the horror-stricken adventurers watched on...
Round 2 – As spirit combat would not be initiated until SR 12, on SR 1 Balgan decided to spend his two remaining Rune points to cast the common Rune magic spell Spirit Block, which would provide him with 4 points of spiritual armour. He tried to roll under his Air rune, but he failed with a result of 85! Korig then prepared and attempted to cast Disruption at the angry spirit. He had a 60% chance of success, which he achieved. He then attempted to overcome the spirits POW of 7 with his own of 12 – a 75% chance. A 32 was rolled and a 2 damage was caused, dropping the spirit’s magic points to 5.

Spirit combat was then joined. Balgan and the spirit made opposed rolls using their Spirit combat skills.

Balgan: Spirit combat 35% Spirit damage 1D6, Magic Points: 11
Spirit of the scorpion man: Spirit combat 70% Spirit damage 1D6, Magic Points: 5

Balgan rolled a special success against the spirit’s regular success. The special success meant that Balgan doubled his spirit damage. However, he rolled a 1 on the 1D6, so the spirit only lost 2 magic points – reducing it to 3.

Round 2 - Balgan again tried to cast Spirit Block but failed again! Korig again attempted to cast Disruption on the spirit but this time failed. In this round, the rolls were reversed with the spirit gaining a special success whilst Balgan made only a regular success. Balgan took a huge 10 magic point loss – leaving him on only 1 point.

Round 3 – Balgan again tried to cast Spirit Block and this time he succeeded, so he gained 4 points of spiritual armour after spending his 2 remaining Rune points. Korig was successful in casting his Disruption this turn but failed to overcome the spirit’s POW. Balgan decided he wanted to try and disengage from the spirit combat. The spirit and he rolled regular successes – so Balgan could disengage at the end of the round. However, the spirit’s successful attack damage would be rolled first. Balgan lost 5 magic points. Four were absorbed by his Spirit Block spell, but 1 passed through – enough to reduce him to 0, and so he dropped to the ground unconscious. The spirit entered Balgan’s body and possessed it!

Balgan’s spirit infused body immediately jumped up, looked around with an evil grin, and then charged into the vegetation back towards the cave mouth. Saroangan and Korig looked at each other with pained expressions and set off after Balgan – on another chase...

Balgan, possessed by the spirit of the slain scorpion man, started two-lengths in front of the other adventurers. The previous chase lasted 5 chase rounds and so if Balgan was still ahead after 5 rounds he would have made it back to the cave. The spirit possessing Balgan did not have the benefit of Balgan’s Mobility spell, and so all the adventurers were at MOV 8.

The chase starts again!

Chase Round 1 - Balgan with a DEX of 15 (DEXx5 = 75%) rolled a 13, a special success. Saroangan with a DEX of 18 (90%) rolled a 9, also a special success. Korig with a DEX of 11 (55%) rolled a 65 and failed. The result being that Korig dropped two ranges behind.

Chase round 1

Chase round 2 – Balgan made a special success again, Saroangan a regular success, and Korig failed again. Saroangan lost some ground to Balgan. Korig effectively fell off the chase chart, and would need to Listen or Track to follow the next turn. Korig was allowed to take an INTx5 check to try and realise that Balgan was in fact heading back to the cave mouth – his INT of 12 gave him a 60% chance. He rolled a 38, and so the GM (me!) allowed him to break from the chase and make his way straight to the cave arriving the round after the others – if they made it that far...

Chase round 2

Chase round 3 – Balgan and Saroangan both rolled regular successes and so kept the status quo going. Korig dived off into the undergrowth making his way straight to the cave mouth.

Chase round 4 – Balgan fumbled as the scorpion man's spirit possessing him struggled to control a body with such few legs. Saroangan made a regular success and was now on top of the possessed Balgan.

Melee round 5

Stated intentions this round...

The spirit possessing Balgan’s body did not have his skills and its combat movements were jerky and uncoordinated (it had only the base chance to strike with the spear and parry with the shield). The spirit looked at the spear in its hand and threw it to the floor (having only a 05% chance to strike). Instead, it clenched its fist and would be prepared to punch Saroangan (which was better at 25%). However, it wanted to return to the cave and so attempted to disengage. Saroangan not wishing to hurt her friend would attempt to subdue Balgan with the flat of her blade (using the rules from Rune Fixes 1). Her aimed blow would not land until SR 12.

SR 12 – Saroangan tried to land her subduing blow at Balgan’s head using half of her sword skill (it was an aimed blow). She failed and the possessed Balgan disengaged and the chase was back on…

Chase round 5 – At the end of this round, they would have returned to the cave mouth. However, Balgan failed his roll and Saroangan succeeded and so the fight broke out within sight of the cave mouth. Korig could hear the fighting as he was just a little way off.

Melee round 6

Stated intentions this round...

The spirit possessing Balgan still wanted to return to the cave and so would attempt to disengage.
Saroangan would again attempt to subdue Balgan.

SR 12 – Saroangan rolled a special success and landed her subduing blow at Balgan’s head. This caused 15 points of damage from which 5 were deducted due to Balgan’s closed helm. The 10 damage was compared to the 6 HP of Balgan’s head and a resistance roll made. A 12 was rolled and the subduing was successful with Balgan knocked unconscious as well as taking a 1 actual damage – to give him a headache when he regained consciousness. Saroangan quickly stripped Balgan of his weapons and armour and when Korig arrived, they both bound him. A sinister rumble emanated from the cave mouth and the adventures lost no time in dragging the unconscious Balgan as far away as they could.

When they had dragged the body some distance and gagged him after he became conscious and started yelling obscenities in a language neither of them recognised – at least they sounded like they were obscenities, they stopped to consider what to do next.

Somehow they needed to drive out the spirit possessing their friend. Neither were too sure about how to go about it and both decided to return to Clearwine and consult with the priests at the Lightbringer's temple...

On returning to Clearwine, the adventurers immediately sent a message to Baranthos heralding their triumph over the Chaos creatures but also including details of the cave and that they suspected it to be a source of further Chaos. The streets of Clearwine were crowded as their return coincided with the weekly market. The bound and struggling body of Balgan caused a few looks as they made their way to the upper city, but there had been much stranger sights since the Dragonrise and nobody, beyond the guards at the gate, commented. 

Clearwine - Art by Simon Roy in the RuneQuest GM Screen Pack

On reaching the Lightbringer’s temple, they sought out Asborn Thriceborn, High Priest of Orlanth Thunderous, a figure well known for his fight against Chaos. They had to wait some time before Asborn was available to see them. While they waited, several others waiting listened to their tale of fighting the scorpion men, as those Chaos creatures were not common on Ernaldori lands. Many had a look of equal pity and disgust at the wriggling form of the possessed Balgan.

The audience with Asborn was short and to the point. They explained how Balgan had become possessed and Asborn nodded slowly and carefully inspected him. ‘You need a shaman,’ Asborn finally spoke. ‘Seek out Barabos, son of Barbaros. He worships the Judge of the Dead. He lives outside the city about half a day’s ride upriver.’

Saroangan and Korig both wondered at the strange-sounding name of the shaman but held their tongues.

The adventurers’ left the temple and began to make their way out of the Upper City. Neither knew much about Daka Fal beyond the stories they had been taught and that it was no friend of death or Chaos. They had no idea what a shaman might require as payment for helping their friend (neither had any Daka Fal Cult Lore skills). They made their way to the market and purchased a fine impala for a cost of 5L – that would have to suffice for an offering to the shaman. They then left the city and made their way along the bank of the river.

With dusk fast approaching, the adventurers saw a ramshackle set of shacks and wooden buildings on the banks of the river, a few short steps later they were aware of several sets of eyes on them and froze. Then several meters in front of them a large male baboon holding a short spear stepped out in front of them and said something in a language neither of them understood.

Art by Andrey Fetisov for the Glorantha Bestiary

Saroangan replied in Tradetalk, ‘We have come to see Barabos, son of Barbaros.’ The baboon replied again in words and sounds neither adventurer recognised apart from the word, ‘Barabos,’ or at least something that resembled it – as the sounds the baboon made were hard to make out. Two baboon warriors came out from the undergrowth and examined the bound body of Balgan. They shouted something unintelligible to the large male baboon, who in turn barked out what must have been some kind of order. Both Saroangan and Korig attempted an Elder Race Lore check, but both failed and were nonplussed on how to proceed.

Saroangan and Korig made to move forward towards the village, but were immediately met with spears appearing from the undergrowth all around them and the large male baboon taking up a less than friendly stance with his spear. This stand-off lasted for several minutes before a baboon wearing necklaces of skulls and other bones approached from the village.

The baboon looked over Saroangan and Korig quickly but once it saw Balgan it did not take its eyes off him. It began to shout and dance around making the most hideous animal howls. The howling was taken up but the hidden baboons in the undergrowth and eventually by the large male baboon blocking the path. Korig suspecting that the new arrival was Barabos, son of Barbaros, and moved forward dragging the terrified impala behind him. Korig pointed to Balgan and then pushed the impala forward hoping the shaman would see it for the offering it was. The noise all around the adventurers rose to a crescendo and then slowly died down.

The shaman said something in its rough animal voice and gripping the impala by its neck strode off toward the ramshackle village indicating that the adventurers should follow. Saroangan, with Korig leading the pack pony with Balgan on its back followed the shaman. As they followed the bestial cries and howls of the baboons all around them sent a shudder down their spine.

Barabos led them to a large hut and went inside, outside the hut lay the rotting remains of several rabbits, deer, and other wild creatures. Saroangan took the body of Balgan inside and was followed by Korig. The space inside the hut was littered with more animal remains and the stench was nearly overpowering. Saroangan and Korig had to make CONx5 rolls to prevent being sick. Korig failed and was immediately sick in the corner of the hut, Barabos looked over at him and made a comment that sounded not at all complimentary. The shaman tied the impala to a stake near the centre of the hut and lay more logs on a small fire, before sprinkling something from a small pouch hanging from a cord around his neck Barabos then appeared to be having conversations with invisible spirits all around.

Although neither Saroangan and Korig could see the spirits they felt the presence of a great many. Barabos signaled to lay Balgan down in the centre of the hut and then began an ugly dance around his
body – making a rhythmic series of animal grunts that could almost be called singing. A notable chill entered the hut and Barabos’ dancing and singing intensified in volume and coarseness. Just out of the corner of Saroangan and Korig's vision they felt they could almost see shadows moving in opposition to the flicking flames of the fire. Then above Balgan’s struggling body a spirit slowly materialised – it was of a great baboon wearing a red mask and holding a rattlesnake’s tail. When it was fully materialized, it began to follow and mimic Barabos in his dance around the hut – ever so slowly gaining on him. Saroangan and Korig could now see their breath condensing in the cold air. When at last the spirit reached Barabos, the shaman's dance and song ended abruptly. The baboon spirit surrounded the shaman and Barabos’ body stood still and silent.

The substance that the shaman had sprinkled on the fire was hazia (as described on the Glorantha Bestiary). The hazia had only a 3 POT (probably due to being burnt on a fire rather than a pipe). Both adventurers rolled to resist its effects. Both Saroangan and Korig succeed in their resistance roll to prevent addiction. Under the influence of the hazia, Saroangan and Korig witnessed the walls of the hut fade, and all around them a whole host of spirits appeared, mainly baboon but there were also many woodland creatures such as rabbits, snakes, and birds. The spirits were circling slowly watching with interest the actions of the shaman. The shaman’s body enveloped by the great baboon spirit momentarily shuddered as the spirit form of Barabos stepped out from it. Its eyes fixed firmly on the body of Balgan, who the adventurers could now see as a warped and Chaotic spirit.

Barabos’ spirit form snarled and viciously assaulted the Chaos spirit possessing Balgan with its teeth and claws.

Barabos: Spirit combat 100%, Spirit Damage 2D6+6, Magic Points: 20
Spirit of the scorpion man: Spirit combat 70%, Spirit damage 1D6, Magic Points: 7
(it had had time to recover from its last spirit battle)

Spirit combat round 1 – Barabos rolled a critical success whilst the Chaos spirit rolled a regular success. Barabos rolled 16 damage and within a single round, the Chaos spirit was driven kicking and screaming from Balgan’s body. The Chaos spirit screamed and plummeted into the crowd of watching spirits scattering them before it…

The surrounding spirits then flocked in towards Barabos talking in the otherworldly tongue of Spiritspeech. Slowly, for Saroangan and Korig, the spirits faded and were replaced by the near-empty hut. Barabos’ physical body was still standing perfectly still, the only sounds the spitting of the fire and bleats of the impala. At the centre of the hut was Balgan, his chest slowly rising and falling in the pattern of sleep. Korig untied Balgan and Saroangan’s help carried him outside. There, they were met by about twenty baboons, of all ages, in a semi-circle facing them – all were perfectly silent and still, in stark contrast to how they were previously. The large male baboon they had met earlier signaled to them to sit and said something in its bestial grunting speech which could only have meant wait.

Over an hour passed with no sound or movement coming from the assembled baboons, all their eyes focused on the doorway of the shaman’s hut. Finally, Barabos appeared leading the impala by a thin twine, the creature was now covered in crudely painted beast and spirit runes. He moved to the centre of the semi-circle and gave a short speech in his native tongue which all the baboons listened to intently. When he had finished he stepped back, and several of the baboons moved towards the impala and ripped the animal from limb to limb, covering themselves and those nearby in blood and entrails. The whole group erupted into howls and cries. There was much brutish dancing and chanting. The adventurers were offered a few choice cuts of the raw impala and all the baboons stopped and watched until they reluctantly chewed on those pieces offered.

After a little while longer the adventurers’ pony was brought into the ring and before they could object that too was torn limb from limb – obviously, a single impala was insufficient an offering. It looked like the adventurers would be carrying their own equipment home...

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