Role-playing reviews

Reviews related to role-playing games, with a focus on Gods & Monsters, and a bit of superhero gaming.

Gods & Monsters Fantasy Role-Playing

Beyond here lie dragons

992 9 September 26, 7 AM

Jerry Stratton, April 2, 2016

The Crossroads

The logo on road signs for the highways that intersect with the crossroads, King’s Road 49 and King’s Road 61.

They talked for a bit with Mahukia. Akudaum, Mahukia’s somewhat bumbling assistant, was still asleep1. They mentioned the circus. He gave them his spiel about the circus, which I stole directly from Ray Bradbury:

Who are the insects? October people, I’d guess. Off one of the side roads there was a man who saw the flea circus, must have seen it, for he wrote the truest words about it I’ve ever read. I have it here somewhere. Ah, yes:

“Where do they come from? The dust. Where do they go? The grave. Night sand flows in their veins; the worm ticks in their heads; the blind burrower sees with their eyes, and they speak the tongue of flies. They are the abyss between the stars. They sift the divine storm for souls, eat flesh of reason, fill tombs with sinners. In gusts they beetle-scurry, frenzy forth, creep, thread, filter, motion, make all moons sullen, and cloud all clear-run waters. The spider-web hears them, trembles—breaks. Such are the October people.

“They set their clocks by death-watch beetles and thrive the centuries. These creatures want the flaming gas off souls who can’t sleep nights, that fever by day from old crimes. They build death-camps for our dreams.”

Zah Eil convinced them that the dragon-tail room was a safe place: the slug-creatures wouldn’t be able to find it.2

Zah Eil asked Ishtar for guidance on how to continue on the path she’s set for him. He was given a description of how to get to the tablet of music.

Ishtar stole the tablets of life from Enki, who hoarded the secrets that man would die. The secret of language and the secret of gardening were stolen from the city, and hidden in the passage of fire. But a third secret, the tablet of music and the arts, waits in the court of the lizard king, beyond the ebon demon, beyond the shrine of the moon, past the temples of the dead, in a city lost, ancient beyond imagining. Look you beyond, and beware, the hidden crossroads and the guardians of the lizard king’s rest.

He was also given a riddle:

Only a glutton may cross this portal, one who eats heavily and can never get enough, yet who cringes even at the thought of drinking, for drinking will sicken him until he dies.

Zah Eil decided that the riddle meant fire. He lit a candle and touched it to the door; the metal pooled a little.

They holed up in the dragon-tail room for 8 hours. Zah Eil healed Majelica and Owen, 2 points each. They holed up for another 8 hours. He healed Majelica and Owen, two points and three points, I think. Owen is at 2 injuries. Majelica now has no injuries.

Owen needed convincing to go through the door without staying in the temple’s library for a day or two3. Zah Eil convinced him that if they go back into the main part of the temple, they are likely to be found by the slugs.

They poured oil on the door, and lit it. The metal began to melt; then the door completely melted upwards. They stepped through, to more stairs. The stairs went up about two hundred feet—in a tower that was only a hundred feet high. It opened onto stairs that led out into the sky, ending in a round platform.

A pterodactyl flew by; Riana talked to it in lizard-speak, but it was mildly insulting. “You do not belong here. If you were on the ground, I would eat you. Phhht” and it flew away.4 They decided that this path is part of the road, and so it can’t attack.

Alvin walked up the stairs to the edge of the platform, and looked in at it. There was a shattered obelisk on the platform; it probably once bore the mark of the crossroads. They all stepped onto the platform; some of them examined the shattered obelisk. They discovered that it once bore gems on the top, in a pattern of some kind5. But they’re also shattered now.

After about one minute, the sky disappeared, and they were on a similar platform in a grove of fruit trees.

Small trees surrounded the platform, bearing strange red fruit. Creatures with fox-like/dog-like heads, like the ones on the upper half of one of the slugs, picked some of the fruit.6 The creatures carried halberds and longbows. Zah Eil addressed them.

“Where are we?”

“Gaaah!”

The creatures were caught completely off-guard.

“What are you doing here? You must step off of the platform. Drop those weapons.”

“What’s your name?’

“I’m Clovernose. What business is it of yours? Get off that platform.”

“Can we eat some of this fruit?”

“That fruit is the property of the king. Only he can eat it.”

“But you were eating it.”

“We were not!”

“Where are we? Is this city Rome?”

“Rome? What is Rome?7 This is the only city there is. Now get down from there.”

The player characters decided that they were safe on the platform. But also that it put them in a standoff. After some discussion, which resulted in them learning that they were to be taken to the minotaur-king, they stepped off.

“Drop those weapons.”

“Even my staff?”

“It’s a weapon, drop it.”

Owen and Riana dropped their staves.

The mananubi gathered the weapons and led them away.

In response to Caverns of Thracia session reports: I have been wanting to run Caverns of Thracia ever since I saw it—and probably ever since I heard of it, back in the day when Judges Guild was a producer of myth.

  1. Actually, Akudaum was running away with the tablets of language and plants, but the players haven’t realized this, and won’t, because they don’t return to the temple after they hide from danger in the dragon’s tail.

  2. There is a long and sinuous dragon carved in the walls of the first floor of the temple. They followed it and discovered that the head of the dragon led to a room where two of the tablets of Enki were hidden. The dragon’s tail led to another secret room that had no apparent purpose, though it did have a door that won’t open. If you don’t follow the dragon, the two rooms are impossible to discover—as if they don’t even exist.

  3. The library at the temple of Apuiporo contains many books from many worlds, and a few strange artifacts from the City.

  4. Riana’s charisma roll for this interaction was a 19, which exceeded even her prodigious social skills.

  5. On a perception roll of 1. I can’t remember if it was a group perception or an individual perception roll that did it, but I usually give harder-to-find information on a roll of 1.

  6. These were the jackal-headed mananubi, though a degenerate offshoot that lack the mananubi’s vocal powers.

  7. At this point, they still thought that the “first city” they were on the road to was Rome, from their own history. And it was, sort of, as the great cities of history are all echoes of the first City.

  1. Thracia session 2 ->