With the assistance of John Hughes
Relatively powerless “natives” to exploit and abuse. Trollkin, Newtlings, and Jelmre are all possible alternates. The abused should be someone that has little to no chance of fighting back at the best of times. Trolls or Humans are probably not suitable.
A much more powerful group to exploit them. The God Learners, Dara Happans, EWF or Seshnela are all good candidates. This group should be outsiders to the region – colonizers who have found a previously-untapped resource to take advantage of.
A native group to aid in the exploitation of their weaker neighbors. This group provides the bulk of the guards and warriors in the scenario. They work with the exploiters because they get benefits and because if they don’t, they will be exploited.
An organization behind your main campaign villain. The villain isn’t involved directly in this scenario, though the sponsors of the villain are the same sponsors of the Sartar Exotic Goods Alliance, described below. Depending on your villain, she may be disgusted by the exploitation, or may be a fervent defender of it. If you have Champions of the Reaching Moon, the SEGA can be a subsidiary of the Moon and Sea, and the local helpers can be the Hoar Heron Clan.
InspirationsThis adventure came to me in a dream – don’t ask me why I dreamt of the Force Publique from the Congo Free State forcing Gloranthan ducks to make cloaks from their own feathers! The duck village is inspired by the German concentration camps of WWII, the Russian gulags, and the worst abuses of the slave system in the American South pre-Civil war. It is meant to be a nasty place, that the heroes should be happy to break up – whether by force, or by political or mercantile maneuvering.
BackgroundDucks, or Durulz, have lived along the Creek Stream River since time immemorial. Small, plucky, obnoxious and treated like dirt by the Orlanthi of Dragon Pass, still they are an important link in the trade of the region, having a near monopoly of carrying trade up and down the river. While few Orlanthi actually like Ducks, still they are part of the Storm Tribe in the region (a small and vocal part) and are put up with by most folk.
After Starbrow’s Rebellion, the Ducks were made scapegoats by the Lunars, and a bounty placed on their heads. Some Ducks fled to Esrolia, or the River of Cradles in Prax, or even farther abroad, while some remained in their homes, hoping not to be noticed.
With opportunities opening up in Sartar, a Lunar consortium was formed to “develop local resources”. A handful of “company men” (and women) traveled to Sartar. There they procured the services of the local River Hawk clan to act as guards, drovers and other ancillary personnel. With this force they conquered the Duck settlement of Draketun and enslaved its inhabitants.
The local resource they chose was to make waterproof cloaks from the feathers of the Ducks. Due to clever marketing and “generous” donations to a select few in the Glamour social scene, the cloaks have become the must-have item among the glitterati – this season at least. The cloaks are naturally waterproof, and the woven patterns are subtle; some Illuminates have claimed to see Cosmic Truths in the patterns of the feathers. This, of course, makes the cloaks even more desirable. The Ducks of Draketun are forced to pluck their own families in order to produce cloaks for export to the Empire.
Given the vagaries of fashion, the SEGA don’t anticipate a long-term need for cloaks (or Ducks), so have no intention to maintain a sustainable cloak factory. Once the fad for their cloaks wanes, they will leave the Ducks (those that are still alive) and move on to some other endeavor.
The Ducks have a number of escape plans, but they need help. One Duck has gone out into the wide wild world, looking for someone to aid them in their time of need. Cue the player characters…
Sartar Exotic Goods AllianceGold Hills Import and Export is part of the same Dara Happan league that sponsors the main villain (of Orlanthi heroes) or the heroes (if they are Lunar) of your game. A newly formed branch of Gold Hills is the Sartar Exotic Goods Alliance. The current goal of the SEGA is the creation and export of Duck-feather cloaks. Another subsidiary of the Gold Hills has taken over the river traffic which the dukes of Draketun used to control.
Andilo Seven-HelmsAndilo is the head of SEGA, a Dara Happan bureaucrat and novitiate of Etyries the Trader. Andilo spends most of his time at his “home away from home”, a fortified villa outside of Bagnot in Tarsh. Andilo visits Draketun as seldom as possible, and never travels anywhere without – at least– his five bodyguards. His personal coach is outfitted with all the mod cons: a drink cooler, cushioned seats that fold out into a bed, dwarf-engineered springs, and a commode that empties onto the road.
Pressure PointsAndilo is siphoning off a bit more of the profits from the SEGA than is considered politic, and, while there are no current plans replace him, he is vulnerable to corporate intrigue . Being the stupid sort of crook he is, Andilo has no clue about this.
Andilo has a phobia about the hazards of travel (it’s called hodophobia, but who wants to remember that in the middle of a game?). He prefers to travel in a well-guarded caravan, or with a military escort, if at all possible. He cannot leave his coach until it reaches its destination, traveling with the window blinds closed. The coach has room for a driver and guard up front, and two guards hanging on for dear life on the back. The last two guards ride horses alongside the coach (where practicable).
Lucilla BreakthornLucilla is Andilo’s daughter-in-law, and the on-site factor for the company. She runs the Draketun factory-town with a bronze fist (literally – her left hand is a magically-animated bronze artifact from an unknown source). Lucilla is a harsh taskmistress, and a fierce disciplinarian. Ducks are worked to death under her regime, and their bodies thrown into the woods for the local scavengers. She lives in relatively extravagant luxury (at least by local standards – it’s nothing compared to what is available in the Empire) in a Dara Happan-style villa built by Duck slave labor. She is a novitiate of Etyries the Trader.
Pressure PointsLucilla is addicted to trashy Lunar romances – you know, the kind with a willowy Lunar Heroine swooning in the arms of a Hunky Barbarian. She has aspirations to a writing career in the field. Her first book Storm God’s Lust is currently half-written. Under her iron-hard exterior she is a Romantic at heart (well, if the right barbarian comes along).
Her husband, Khorkenos One-Sheet (Andilo’s son), is a traveling merchant working the Glamour-Tarsh-Sartar-Esrolia circuit for the Gold Hills. He makes a point to avoid Draketun, as he says that the stench revolts him. Lucilla travels to Boldhome to meet him twice a year. Rumor (among the Lunars and among traders) says that theirs is not a happy marriage, with both parties cheating on each other. Rumor is wrong, in her case, at least.
Her bronze left hand is something of a mystery, appearing one night after a particularly vivid dream (involving both a Storm God and copious lust, coincidentally). It behaves as a normal hand, though the touch sensitivity is rather dull. As yet she has not discovered any other features of it.
Karamandas Maned LionKaramandas handles all security arrangements at Draketun. He lives on-site in the villa, and commands a squad of ten guards, as well as coordinating all activities with the local clan. He is a Carmanian Hazar, novitiate of Aronius Jaranthir. He is normally in a foul temper, as the muddy conditions in the Duck village preclude him riding his horse. Instead he travels in a sedan chair carried by four Ducks. This affectation is considered eccentric even by the other Lunars in the village. He has a habit of shooting Ducks with his enchanted crossbow, making a game of it – “If you can reach the gate, you’re free.” He doesn’t need to work hard at being cruel, it comes naturally to him.
Karamandas has taken a local girl , Nalda the Lark, as his leman - his servant and mistress. She is badly treated, but fears to leave because he has sworn to hunt her down and kill her, everyone with her, and her family if she does. He constantly plays cruel “pranks” on her, and she is rarely without bruises, scrapes, or broken bones of one kind or another.
Pressure PointsKaramandas is devoted to his horse, Night’s Mane. Any threat to his horse will work to make him back off. On the other hand, Night’s Mane is well trained and has several magical enhancements. Any actual injury to his horse will distract Karamandas even in the middle of a live-or-death struggle, if it dies he will fall into a months-long depression.
Karamandas prides himself on his archery skills. At short range (such as within the village) he is able to make called shots – hitting specific targets on a running Duck, for instance. Someone claiming to be able to outshoot Karamandas will trigger his pride – he can’t resist a challenge.
Karamandas is vain about his appearance, using concoctions to thicken his balding hair, and to hide the grey in his hair and beard. He wears special “support garments” (read: a corset) to retain his former impressive physique. This corset acts as light armor, and he wears it all the time, except when sleeping. It may be an unexpected advantage in a fight! On the other hand, he hides the fact that he is wearing it out of vanity, and would suffer great shame and ridicule if it became public knowledge.
Karamandas’ cruelty is ingrained, constant, and casual. Some may suspect him of being an ogre or a secret worshipper of some evil cult. He isn’t; he was just born bad.
Nalda the Lark is the daughter of a prominent thane from a local (neutral) tribe. When she first joined him, she and her family thought Karamandas was going to treat her well. The family wasn’t happy about her leaving, but they were compensated with a high bride-price, and they thought it the beginning of a long-term bonding. If they learn of her current situation, they will gladly lend aid to rescue her. Her father and three brothers will be especially eager to help, as she is the youngest and the darling of the family.
The River Hawk ClanThe local clan hired by the SEGA to guard and expand their interests in Sartar. The River Hawks can field seventy-five warriors with superior weapons and armor (supplied by the SEGA). The clan fyrd numbers 600, if fielded. The clansfolk are not taxed as heavily as the rest of Sartar, and can call on protection from the Lunar Army if necessary, though they have never had to do so. The clan warband (the Talons), have access to Flying magic through their wyter. The clan is actively involved in guarding the Duck village from rebellion (and attack), as well as expanding the SEGA’s sphere of influence. They are seen as traitors by all right-thinking Sartari Patriots (if your campaign has a local enemy clan, you could substitute them for the River Hawks).
The River Hawks long resented the near-monopoly on River traffic enjoyed by Ducks, and has ancient anti-Duck sentiments. Before the Invasion and Starbrow’s Rebellion, the River Hawk prejudice was kept in check by the Two Rock clan, allies of the Ducks of Draketun. After Starbrow’s failed rebellion, and with the aid of the SEGA, the River Hawks managed to slaughter the Two-Rock warband, capturing their wyter; and have the remaining clansfolk declared outlaw by the Lunar authorities. The River Hawks have moved some of their people onto the Two Rock tula, and several large Lunar families have been granted homesteads as well. Surrounding clans have been unable to prevent this, though they are not happy with it.
The River Hawks have always been a War clan; their wyter, the River Hawk, faces prejudice from the other Storm Gods, as it left two different pantheons before settling in the Storm Pantheon. Originally it was the Star Crystal Hawk, an over-proud member of the Solar Court. Star Crystal Hawk was banished from the Court for disturbing the Emperor’s nap with his relentless screeching. He wandered until he joined the warband of Mighty Engizzi, becoming the RiverHawk. He was unable to stay with the River folk because of his arrogant ways. Finally he met with the Thunder Brothers and proved himself a capable hunter and flier. Among the proud and noisy Storm Gods he found a rough home, though never a completely satisfying one. The River Hawk clan has always felt a little out of place in Sartar, and feel that other clans look down on them. Their attitudes have certainly not made them popular!
The clan worships the Moon Bear religion of Sylila (much to the disappointment of other Lunar missionaries who missed out on converting the clan to their own forms of the Lunar religion). Women of the clan worship Ernalda, with minor changes made to the rituals to name Red Moon Burning as Her husband.
There is a small group of exiles from the River Hawks, who left the clan when the previous chief allied the clan with the Lunars. More River Hawks joined them when Draketun became a concentration camp. These exiles are scattered through the neighboring clans, and are they are especially targeted by River Hawk Talons in battle. Their unofficial leader is Odanth Firebeard, former warleader of the talons.
There is another small, silent faction in the River Hawks that disapproves of the Draketun situation. They have not made their feelings known, as previous speakers against the current situation have been exiled, or worse. They are led (unofficially) by Gyrra Stewpot, an influential granny and former clan Matchmaker.
The River Hawks use a modified form of the traditional Hill Ring, changing seat names to better fit their new religion:
- King Moon Bear: Burlos Leaper; Chief
- Red Moon Burning: Hanafael Blue Cloak; Thane
- BendraYoo Standup: Berantyr Axe Shaker; Clan Warchief
- Barntar: Olortos Four-Furrow; Farmer
- Minlister: Hofstar Sparkbeard; Redsmith
- Moon-Gazer: Frieda Deer-Eye; Priestess of Kev the Visionary
- Ernalda the Wife: Leikal; Healer
Burlos LeaperChief of the River Hawks by acclamation after his predecessor was killed by the Two Rocks clan champion during the Lunar invasion. Burlos continued his predecessor’s policies and allied his clan with the Lunars. He worships Red Moon Burning, the Full Moon Bear. Burlos is always protected by his three bodyguards, Olend Twosword, Govaran the Red, and Harran Cleave-skull. Burlos is widowed, with two marriageable daughters (Ellyssi, 16, and Jenara, 15), and two sons who have taken up Lunar ways – Anteggi (19) has become a Slave-master in Yuthuppa, and Baran (18) changed his name to “Blessed of Natha” and joined the Order of Makabeus. He is currently studying at the Imperial Lunar University. The apples don’t fall far from the tree…
Pressure PointsBurlos is, at heart, a physical coward. He covers his affliction with loud, boisterous speech. He is careful never to over-boast of his deeds for fear of being called on his words, nor to make battle-promises. Personal battle challenges are met by appointing one of his bodyguards, or Berantyr, as his champion.
Burlos actually has a third daughter, Jeratha, who joined the worship of Babeester Gor and leads a rebel warband in the Quivin Hills. She is rather infamous for her necklace of red-painted testicles.
Burlos lusts after Leikal, the clan healer, member of the clan Ring, and devotee of Jera the Herbalist. She has refused to have anything to do with him, which has only inflamed his passions more. The fact that she is married to Hofstar Sparkbeard makes her (relatively) safe from harassment.
Ellyssi and Jenara are spoiled brats, indulged by their father. They lead on local boys with outrageous promises of affection, but have their eyes set on Lunar matches – the higher the better. Despite their upbringing, both are virgins, as they know that it is important to the sort of suitors they wish to attract. Needless to say, most local boys have rather nasty things to say about them.
Berantyr Axe ShakerWarleader of the River Hawks and commander of the Talons. Berantyr is the epitome of the “wild, unthinking barbarian warrior” that the Lunars fear so much. While not an Uroxi, Berantyr exhibits many of the berserker attributes of that cult. He worships Felantossi, a minor Thunder Brother, whose main attribute is the ability to hold his breath or expel it in a great roar. He has a lunar hoplon shield emblazoned with a half-red, half-black bear that has minor enchantments cast on it (they are Lunar blessings, and thus cyclical).
Berantyr is preparing to go on his first solo heroquest, to recover the Sword of Felantossi. In preparation, he is amassing an astounding amount of Storm Ram wool and rocks from every corner of Dragon Pass. Those able to bring him these items will find him grateful.
Berantyr really is a “wild, unthinking barbarian”. (Unfortunately - or fortunately - he is as ugly as sin, otherwise Lucilla Breakthorn would be throwing herself at him.) His idea of Strategy is “Get all my warriors and fly to our enemy’s tula”. His tactics are summed up as: “Hit them. Hard. Then keep hitting them until they go away”.
Berantyr has a fear of clubs, maces, and other bludgeoning weapons, after a fight with a Dark Troll that left him nearly beaten to death. He will fight defensively against an opponent wielding a weapon of that sort, looking for a chance to retreat.
The Ducks of DraketunDraketun was a typical Duck village on the banks of the River (Locate it where it best makes sense for your campaign). The Ducks made reed baskets, sailed their boats up and down the river, and generally acted like all other Duck villagers in Dragon Pass.
The Ducks heard of the Lunar Invasion, but were basically unaffected by it until Starbrow’s rebellion (not a single Duck from Draketun served with the Kheldon Queen). After the rebellion, the Two Rock clan protected Draketun until it was wiped out by the River Hawks. By that time, the bounty on Duck heads had been relaxed, but their travails were only beginning. The SEGA and the River Hawks spent less than an afternoon conquering the village, killing anyone who made any attempt at fighting.
The first cloaks were made from the bodies of the dead (and the bodies of those who complained about it). Once the cloaks became fashionable, the Ducks were made to pluck each other’s still living feathers. The humiliation was more than many Ducks could bear, and more bodies piled up.
The Ducks are kept behind the thorn wall of their village, unable to escape. They are pitiful creatures, plucked bare and filthy because they can’t get to the river for a proper bath. All religious regalia was taken by Lucilla (and sold as curiosities in Glamour). They are denied worship ceremonies, and any Duck caught praying or worshipping is summarily killed. Any act of rebellion is immediately punished – most often by a beating at the hands of the guards; repeat offenders are used as target practice by Karamandas.
Having the bodies of their dead disposed of by being thrown into the woods is a great desecration (Duck dead are ritually returned to the River). However, all pleas to dispose of the dead properly only lead to punishment, and the Ducks have given up their pleading.
The Ducks are totally beaten down - as far as the guards can tell there is not a spark of initiative in the entire town (which they figure is a good thing). Under the outward façade, however, a few Ducks have formed a liberation committee. Knowing that they stand no chance against the guards in a fight, they have resolved to get some Ducks outside the wall to seek aid.
There are somewhere between 500 and 700 Ducks in Draketun – no-one is keeping track any more, and the number changes (downward) daily. There have been a few eggs laid and hatched, but most Ducks are simply uninterested in sex any more. Plus, they worry that Duck eggs will become the new fad.
Tesling ProudwingOnce a mere basket maker, Tesling felt put upon even more than most Ducks, and his sour attitude and poor basketwork lead to a steady downward spiral. His own nestmate scorned him, his children were embarrassed by him, and life was grey and dreary. But, with the coming of the Lunars, he has risen to “mayor” of Draketun. He gladly collaborates with the Lunars, abuses his neighbors, and enforces the Lunar work quotas with a sadistic glee. He and his cronies (Farling BlueBeak and Essimi Eggtaker) are the only Ducks in Draketun with their full plumage.
Pressure PointsTesling likes his new-found power. Really likes it. He lords it over the other Ducks, stealing their meager food, their wives, and their goods. His hovel is filled with the finest Draketun had to offer before the Lunars came, “appropriated” from his neighbors. The Lunars consider the collection as so much junk. It’s possible that a macguffin the Heroes are searching for can be found among this collection.
Tesling is now a childless bachelor, having betrayed his nestmate and nestlings early on in the occupation of Draketun. He satisfies his perverted lusts on the prettier Ducks and those that scorned him before the Lunars.
The Liberation CommitteeThe Liberation committee consists of about a dozen Ducks intent on getting aid from the outside (since there’s no way that the Ducks will be able to liberate themselves). They are led by the mysterious “Duck Ekth”, a shadowy figure whose real identity is not known even to the rest of the committee. There have been several attempts to get Ducks to the outside, but all (until the last) were foiled by Tesling and his cronies. Ducks have tried to cut through the hedge, swim under the magical barrier on the river, throw a Duck over the hedge, tunnel under the hedge, hide in the cart picking up cloaks…
The escapee is Polla Crackbill, a Duckwife with nothing left to lose – her drake and nestlings have all died during the occupation, and she was raped by Tesling. She was approached by the Committee and eagerly accepted the chance to escape Draketun. She managed to tunnel out solo, pushing the loosened dirt behind herself as she moved forward.
Introducing the ScenarioBecause every campaign is different, players will have different motives to help the Ducks, and will have access to different resources and tactics.
Campaigns based around a Sartarite clan should probably start with Polla showing up at the clan tula looking for aid.
Lunar campaigns may have the SEGA as a trade rival, or even as a disgusting ally that has “gone too far”. They be simply handed the assignment by a superior in their League, or meet Polla on their own. She may even stagger into a local Lunar garrison while the heroes are there.
Wandering heroes may be approached in traditional fashion (i.e. in a tavern) or may come upon Polla out in the forest.
Wherever the heroes meet with Polla, she is plucked clean, her naked flesh pinkish-white with “goosebumps”. She is clad only in a threadbare cloak more fit for the rag heap than being worn.
She explains the plight of her village: Over five hundred Ducks are held in slavery, and are forced to manufacture Duck-feather waterproof cloaks for their cruel and oppressive masters. The natural rate of molting does not produce enough feathers for the quota of cloaks they must make, so Ducks are being plucked to provide enough feathers. Polla sacrificed her feathers to the cause early on, when it became apparent that they would not be able to maintain the rate of manufacture demanded by the SEGA. Other Ducks have not been so lucky, and have been forcibly plucked. All religious ceremonies have been ruthlessly quashed, the temples burned and pulled down. The Ducks are not allowed any spiritual comfort.
She asks the heroes’ help in rescuing her village. If there are particular reasons that the heroes might help (hate Lunars, can’t stand bullies, like Ducks, searching for some macguffin for a quest, whatever), you should bring these up during Polla’s plea - she just happens to mention it by happenstance, not as an intentional attempt to get the heroes to help. In the case of a particular macguffin for a quest, either the Ducks know where it is, or one of the Lunars just happens to have it, or she saw it in Tesling’s “treasure pile”.
Polla says that the Ducks are poor, but can pay for the services of the heroes. She talks up the prosperity of the Lunars, and says that the heroes can have all the plunder from the Lunars and River Hawks that they want, as well as all the money the Liberation Committee has managed to scrape together – about twenty Lunars. If the heroes belong to a clan beset by mud, she will share the secret of Duckboards. The Ducks may have other secrets of use to the heroes, instead, of course.
Polla explains the layout of the town, and the guard posts and schedules, so that the heroes have some idea of what they are getting into. She says that the heroes will probably not be able to rely on any active help from the Ducks – they are too beaten down to put themselves out for strangers, even strangers who are trying to aid them.
DraketunMap of Draketun
Whatever their motivations, the heroes have agreed to help the Ducks. The journey to Draketun can be as long or short as you like, but no major adventures should intervene between being hired and getting to Draketun. If the heroes want to pick up any special supplies, they should do so before they get to Draketun. But they shouldn’t be taking long side-trips to Pavis – there isn’t time. Polla will explain that the longer the heroes take in liberating the village, the more of her kin will die.
The entire village is surrounded by a thick hedge of hawthorn – this was the original defense of the village, and any destruction to the hedge has since been repaired. There is only one gate to the village. The river side of Draketun is closed off by a reddish-purple magical barrier. This barrier projects an aura of fear, which no Duck has been able to approach. Lucilla claims that the barrier will kill any living or unliving being that crosses it. Early escape attempts have proven her boast – at least as far as living beings goes.
The hovels of the Ducks are squalid piles of filth – if the heroes have ever seen a typical trollkin town, this is worse. If they have ever seen a ”normal” Duck town, they are horrified by the conditions (they should be anyway, but some heroes are less sensitive than others). The “streets” are mud filthy with Duck waste and rotting vegetation. Anyone who has visited a Duck village in the past will be surprised at the state of the streets – the Ducks know the secret of Duckboards, which keep feet clean and dry.
Since the Ducks can’t bathe in the river they are smeared with filth, with festering sores and diseases such as Foot-rot and Beak-mange. Most are bereft of plumage, and the rest have only a few feathers, except for Tesling Proudwing and his henchducks.
Three buildings outside the hedge draw the eye. The first is a two-story U-shaped villa in the Dara Happan style. This is the residence of Lucilla, and the grounds are kept immaculate by Ducks. The others are a Sartarite-style Roundhouse and Longhouse. The roundhouse is Burlos Leaper’s residence, while the Longhouse acts as barracks for the Talons. All three buildings are outside the hedge.
An incomplete brick wall surrounds Lucilla’s villa, and building materials are neatly stacked where workers (all Ducks from the village, kept under heavy guard) can get to them easily. The villa looks well-run and is kept in immaculate condition (again, by Ducks. Figure any work that gets done around Draketun is done by Ducks). The villa includes a hypocaust (under-floor heating system) as Lucilla is used to a much warmer climate, and a bathhouse. One wing of the villa is given over to the Lunar guards, while the other contains Lucilla’s private rooms. The roof is covered in golden-yellow tiles, imported from the Empire at great expense.
The roundhouse is a typical Sartarite structure, roofed in thatch with wattle and daub walls. The walls are whitewashed with blue decorations. A portico shades the doorway. The entire building is about 40 feet (12 meters) across, with a inner wall forming an outer ring of private rooms, and a central feasting hall surrounding the open hearth. Burlos’ room is directly behind his throne, with his daughters’ rooms on either side of his (no late-night hanky panky where daddy can hear!). The three bodyguards share a room next to the exterior door.
The longhouse is divided into three areas – Berantyr’s room is at the south end of the building, the main room is used as barracks, feast-hall, and general-purpose room by the Talons, and the third room is a small store room.
Guard RoutinesThere are a total of 75 Talons and 10 Lunar guards (exclusive of bodyguards) to run Draketun. Normal guard routine is for 5 Lunars and 20 Talons to be on duty at any one time, each Lunar in charge of a squad of 4 Talons. One squad guards the Villa, one guards the Roundhouse, one guards the gate of Draketun and two patrol outside the hedge. At night the guard routine is reduced to one squad at the gate, one on patrol, two guards at the villa and two guards at the roundhouse (One Lunar and one Talon at each location).
The remainder of the troops are either sleeping, eating, repairing kit, entertaining themselves, or out on raids. The Talons have their wives/sweethearts with them, while the Lunar guards have collected a variety of willing mates from the surrounding countryside – the lure of regular dinners, trinkets, the illusion of power, or just rebellion against their own families have led these men and women to the Lunars. Each guard who wants has at least one bed-partner.
Solving the ProblemNo battle plan can survive contact with the enemy, and no game scenario can survive contact with players, so I won’t try to tell you how to run this game. The best option is simply to present the details listed above (improvise details if you need to), and let the players come up with their own plans.
The easiest game is a simple fight – the heroes and their supporters against the Talons and the Lunar Guards. Even so, the players may take the time to scout out the situation before storming in, magics blazing.
More sensible heroes will try to learn and use the various “Pressure Points” given for the major opponents. Lunar Heroes will have more ways to apply pressure, as they are part of the “establishment”, but a surprise ally for Sartarite heroes is the main Campaign Villain, who is disgusted at the situation in Draketun (unless he is a complete cad, of course). The Campaign Villain may even approach the heroes to act as “muscle” in his own bid to free the Ducks!
Other resources exist that may have an interest in freeing Draketun: Jeratha and her band of Babeester Gori; Lunar rivals to the SEGA in the Gold Hills Association; an all-Duck heroband (‘Cwy Hueymakt!’) liberating their kin and cleansing the River of Lunar scum; or survivors of the Two-Rock clan.
A set of simplified descriptive stats are included below, using the Generic Systemless Stats. None of the characters listed are anywhere near Hero level, though Berantyr is working towards it.
The Talons are typical Sartarite warriors, of mixed ability levels. About a third are beginning-level warriors, half are average-level, and the remainder are experienced. All Talons are equipped with bronze armor (in a mix of styles), making them superior to most other clan warbands. They carry typical Sartarite weapons, and their magic is the typical mix of gods for a Sartarite warband. The warband wyter provides Flying magic which any Talon can call upon as long as they are within half a mile (800 meters) of the Hawk-winged standard.
The Lunars are merchant guards from the Gold Hills Association. They are armed and armored well, but in a mix of styles. Their guardian provides Vigilance and Protection magic.
The hawthorn hedge is an extremely difficult barrier to pass through, though it can be bypassed easily if the heroes have Flight, Tunneling, Plant Control, or other exotic abilities. It is about 10 feet (3 meters) tall, and thickly planted. Thorns will scratch and catch exposed skin or fabric, and will be awkward for armored heroes.
The magical barrier along the river is also a difficult barrier, though this is more because of its aura of fear – physically there is only a purplish light. The Fear actually will kill those who cross the barrier – only heroic levels of magical defense or courage will protect the hero.
Making it DarkerIf the basic scenario isn’t dark enough for your Glorantha, here are some ideas to make it worse.
Eaters of the DeadKaramandas isn’t just mean, he really is an ogre. The dead ducks are not being thrown into the forest to rot, they are being eaten by Karamandas and the Talons, who are well on their way to becoming ogres themselves. Karamandas is spreading his revolting habits by carefully seducing the Talons into his dark beliefs. Karamandas is a member of the Berak-tal, a Carmanian Ogre cult who find sentient beings the most delectable of delicacies. They gain some small benefits in health and strength from the practice.
The Talons, once typical Sartarites with a hatred of anything that smacks of Chaos or cannibalism, have been lead, step by disgusting step into durulzophagy (Duck-eating). Soon Karamandas will introduce them to true cannibalism. Fortunately (for the heroes) a faction of the Talons were away from the tula while Karamandas’ was seducing their fellows, and they are aghast at the depths to which their fellows have fallen. They will happily join any attempt to free their comrades from the insidious clutches of the Berak-tal.
Needed No MoreThe market for Duck feather cloaks has peaked. Within the next few weeks, Andilo will pass on the order to liquidate the remaining ducks. The heroes can learn of this somehow and have to speed up their plans, or they may arrive at Draketun at the same time as the massacre starts. In any case, they have a finite time limit to any sort of rescue!
Eaters of the Dead IIKaramandas isn’t an ogre, but Tesling Proudwing and his cronies are! In fact, it was Tesling who engineered the whole scheme and “invited” the SAGA to his village. Tesling has a secret amulet that grants the holder passage through the magical barrier at the riverside. He and his cronies leave the village every night to feast on the bodies of those ducks who have died recently.
Not a Happy ArmyThe Talons are not a happy army at all. The “real” Talons were killed or dispersed when the SAGA invaded their village. The current Talons are farmers and craftspeople, pressed into service by the Lunars. The clan Ring has little real power – they are allowed to meet simply to keep them compliant; Burlos really runs the clan as he wills. The River Hawks are in almost as bad a shape as Draketun, and will be grateful to the heroes if they manage to liberate the clan as well.
Who is the mysterious “Duck Ekth”?And why have all the escape plans failed? Is it possible that “Duck Ekth” is really Tesling or one of his henchducks? Or even one of the Lunars?
Lucilla BreakthornAbility – Experienced Merchant; Average Warrior
Equipment – Superior; Iron Hand - Excellent
Magic – Good
Andilo Seven-HelmsAbility – Experienced Bureaucrat, Poor Warrior
Equipment - Superior
Magic – Good
Karamandas Maned LionAbility – Elite Warrior
Equipment - Excellent
Magic – Superior
Lunar GuardsAbility – Average to Experienced Warriors
Equipment - Superior
Magic – Average
Wyter Magic – Vigilance, Defense
Burlos LeaperAbility – Experienced Warrior
Equipment - Superior
Magic – Good
Burlos’ BodyguardsAbility – Experienced warrior
Equipment - Superior
Magic – Good
Berantyr Axe ShakerAbility – Elite Warrior
Equipment - Excellent
Magic – Good
Talon WarriorsAbility – Beginning to experienced Warriors
Equipment – Superior
Magic – Average
Wyter Magic – Flight
DucksAbility – Beginning to average (mostly because of starvation, demoralization, etc.) TradesDucks
Equipment - Poor
Magic – None
Wyter Magic – None
Tesling ProudwingAbility – Average TradesDuck, Poor warrior, Experienced Collaborator
Equipment - Average
Magic – Poor
Tesling’s HenchducksAbility – Average TradesDuck, Poor warrior
Equipment - Average
Magic – Poor