Concurrently with my other HeroQuest Glorantha campaign, I’ve started to run an adventure for a group of five players based in North America, also via Google Hangouts. We had already had a character creation session a few weeks before this session, which means everybody was ready when our game started.
A very important point, though, was that everyone agreed to play two-hour long sessions, as time zone not helping, it is morning in North America while it’s afternoon here in France, and short sessions would prevent blocking their full Sunday. This also means that I needed to revise the whole structure of my scenario and cut it into more engaging scenes that would feel like a short adventure for each. And as you’ll read below, every GM should also always be prepared to build on your players’ fantastic unexpected ideas.
- Tarak the Sly Skald, initiate of Issaries
- Orlain the Novice Weaponthane, Initiate of Orlanth Adventurous
- Flicker, the huntress, initiate of Vinga
- Dubghall, the clan’s resident trickster, Initiate of Eurmal
- Hindala, the compulsive shaman, Grazelander of the Golden Bow, initiate of Jardanroste Polestar
The characters are all part of the Black Rock clan from the Amad tribe, which is openly rebellious to the Lunar Empire, and the adventure starts at the beginning of the Fire season, in 1621 ST.
Our heroes are on their way to Alda-chur, Sartar’s second biggest city, as their clan leader, Daradestra Swift Spear, a devotee of Vinga, entrusted them with a mission of critical importance: freeing the son of their tribe king who was kidnapped three months ago and held captive since then.
Three months ago, Garhinharl Shadowcat, king of the Amad tribe, waged war against Harvar Ironfist, the despotic ruler of Aldachur coalition, and the characters’ tribe lost. But the hardest blow came when Brolankhar, Garhinharl’s son, was captured by the tyrant’s army. The king tried to broker a wergild, willing to pay 200 cattle in exchange for his son, a King’s ransom.
However, Ironfist refused, preferring to keep the young man as a political prisoner. Travelling on horseback, our heroes decide to stop midway in a friendly tribe in order to obtain more information on how to enter an enemy city with Lunar sympathies. They then head to Fort Alone, a fortified town in the Tres tribe that serves as a central trading place.
As they don’t want to openly state the actual reason of the journey, Tarak the skald lies to the guards and pretends they’re going to Alda-chur for a poetry contest. The guards watching the fort gate start to be suspicious, as no member of the Amad tribe would go to an enemy city just for fame and glory. Fortunately, Dubghall the trickster manages to convince them that it’s actually a strategy to confuse the enemy.
Inside the fort, Tarak learns from another skald who has just travelled back from the city that Brolankhar isn’t actually chained in a jail, but kept as a “guest” in the great hall. Meanwhile, Orlain talks to Argyle, a local weaponthane, to check the overall mood. They become friend very quickly and he learns that Eulina, the beloved daughter of their clan leader, had also been kidnapped two years ago. And although the Amad tribe is eager to go back to war, the Tres tribe has lost all their will to fight.
Wishing to find out how the young man is faring, Hindala enters into a trance state and reaches the spirit world. She tries to project herself to Alda-chur, but she’s quickly blocked by spirits of the Sun and the Moon. However, the spirit of the Polestar, always shining in darkness, tells the shaman that Brolankhar, an initiate of Lhankor Mhy, has been biding his time in the main library, learning all he can about the enemy until he is liberated.
Then Hindala wakes up. At the same time, Dubghall manages to locate a group of local smugglers who gather around a very smelly area near the moat, outside the fort. He tries to lure them into revealing who could get him into Alda-chur unseen, pretending he has some shady business to do there. The gang of smugglers asks him for money and the trickster uses his Illusion rune, playing with their greed. He is tossed a tablet with some writing on it, and is told to give it to Uralh the Toothless, a local smuggler there. He will be found outside the walls of Alda-chur, at another very smelly place, where nobody would ever go.
When Dubghall comes back, Flicker notices that the smugglers are barging into the marketplace and point at the trickster, having obviously noticed that they got fooled. The huntress uses her Illusion rune to delay them by having them believe that all the carpets are flying about due to a violent gust of wind. Calling her companions, they all jump back to their horse and leave Fort Alone. The trickster is the last to get out of the place and he denounces the smugglers to the guards at the gate, who are eager to catch those thieves.
The session ends with our five heroes on a hill overseeing the city of Alda-chur.
Thanks to my previous session with the European group and to the character generation session with this one, I felt I had a much better grasp on the basic rules, which will allow me to explore more specific points in the system in the upcoming games. I had originally planned to have my players arrive in Alda-chur at the beginning of this session, but the players’ idea to stop at Fort Alone was just fantastic. There, they could try out some of their character’s abilities and feel better prepared to undertake their mission.
Besides, the two-hour format we decided to use for this adventure gives me feeling that we can spend more time playing one big scene per session, something that I’m definitely not used to. This also forces me to avoid overseeing any detail that might matter and to offer some new interesting dynamics to all the games I run in general. Our next game is in two weeks, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the characters will bring about their mission.
To be continued…