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Game details

Rules and System

This game will be played using Dungeon World.

Campaign Background

The game is set near the mouth of the Murghab River, where the small trading port of Murghabkanda lies. This port, a far flung bastion of the mercantile Khorafan Empire, was built to lodge a foothold on the edge of the great wilderness through which the Murghab River flows. The area is rugged, ranging from barren rocks to fetid swamps to dark, mist-filled jungles, all covering the vestiges of an ancient civilization destroyed by own its own evil and savagery.

The characters are vagabonds, called ayyair in the tongue of Khorafan. They are persons who seek out a life of adventure and hardship, relying on their own cunning and strength to make their way on the edges of what wealthier, fancier people call civilization. They are guards for river convoys, odd-job troubleshooters for the small settlements that are sprouting up in the Murghab Basin, occasional policemen and brigands, and always on the lookout for a lost treasure or a lootable ruin. They are appreciated and sought out when danger threatens, and shunned and reviled in times of peace.

The Elves of Khorafan - the Elves are wanderers, driven from their sacred jungles in Aneran by the depredations of Cambyses the Magnificent.

The Dwarves of Khorafan - the Dwarves are well known for their love of mining, of course. They have the knowledge of mechanomancy, although others can learn it. They have complicated family relationships. They do not have "commerce" per se, among themselves; everything is done through favors, gifts, loans, etc.

Linguistic Touchpoints and Names

With respect to thinking of names, consider the following linguistic touchpoints. Each of the pages below has the list of names for characters. All characters will need to have a name from one of those lists.

The Map

Murghab River Basin001.jpg

  • Aneran - In Elvish, the living light. A primordial jungle considered holy by the elves, large portions of it have been razed and settled by the Khorafan Empire under Cambyses.
  • Murghab River Basin - a large river complex that empties at Murghabkanda. Not Amazon big, more like Congo or Mekong big. Littered with steep rocky outcroppings, and varying from twisting channels in steep banks to wide flows to swampy muck.
  • Murghabkanda - a small trading port that lies on the rocky coast at the mouth of the Murghab River. Founded by merchants and settlers from the Khorafan Empire but not officially part of that nation. A free town, for all the promise and danger that entails.
  • Nardaran River - a part of the Murghab River complex, dark and slow moving, full of twists and turns
  • Susara - A Dwarven mining village on one of the many rocky outcroppings in the Murghab River basin
  • Parsassus - A province of the Khorafan Empire, a demesne carved by axe and fire from Aneran (in Elvish: the living light), once thriving jungles held sacred by the elves. Ruled by Cambyses.

Characters

Dungeon World playbooks can be found here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/e31xwvn3nfqmo4n/DW_Sheets.pdf They will be used exactly as written except for the lists of names. Those are superseded by the lists found on the Humans, Elves, Dwarves, and Halflings pages. Also, Class Warfare can be used to create new characters as they become necessary.

Player characters

Living
Atumaspa Nijara An Elvish wizard, sharp eyes, wild hair, strange robes, pudgy body.
Jaquinder Chāyā kī, vākara andhērē mēṁ An Elvish Shadowmancer, black eyes, pale skin, lithe body with long thin hands. (Character Sheet) A vignette from his past...
Nasrim A Human Bard, Fiery Eyes, wild hair, travelling clothes, fit body
Rashanak A human thief, shifty eyes, turban, fancy clothes, lithe body
Zari a human paladin, glowing eyes, styled hair, fancy holy symbol, fit body
Not so Living
Dooga a thri-keen druid, wise eyes, ceremonial chitin carvings. The Death and Song of Dooga

Nonplayer characters

Shadee Thrice-Wise a very wise sage, currently residing in Murghabkanda. Gave Nasrim his lute.
Shabnam Not-So-Wise a not-so wise sage, student of the Thrice-Wise, currently missing somewhere in the jungles and swamps surround the Dwarven mining village of Susara
Nigora mayor of Susara
Cambyses the Magnificent "the Cruel" to his subjects, satrap of the Khorafan province of Parsassus
Mierim Grand Master Mechanomancer, the "Renderer of Aderan". Close henchman of Cambyses the Magnificent, and hated almost as much, if not more, by the Elven diaspora.
Zhubanysh dead senior bath nook attendant. Better not to ask how he died, or what happened to the poor wretch shortly afterward.
Guzal Younger bath attendant, mostly grief-stricken but also pretty brave
Farkhunda Master Hunter of Susara, and seemingly local expert on the lizard-folk
Sukhrab Master Mechanomancer of Susara, combination of mining engineer, alchemist, sorcerer, and priest in the mines
Crew of the Mining Barge
Aslanbek a dwarf, skipper of a mining barge taking mining equipment to Susara
Dastan big for a dwarf, and not that smart
Adolat 2nd in command
Guldasta mining engineer in charge of the equipment
Shairkul Young lookout
Gulrakhsor Mule keeper, very sad
Zhyrgal killed by Bakunawa, much mourned but little known

Creatures and Others

Bakunawa a really big freaking turtle. There should be a ritual to befriend Bakunawa, but it would require the help and/or knowledge of a Khangua Shaman
Figures on the Hillock there were four of them, one big and three smaller. Nasrim attracted the attention of the big one for good or ill. They were too far away to see clearly.

The story so far

Chapter 1

Our vagabonds find themselves aboard a barge, powered by mules and crewed by dwarves, skippered by Aslanbek. This barge is taking some mining machinery up the river to Susara, a small mining community on one of the many mineral rich rocky hillocks that poke out of the jungle of the Murghab River.

In the evening, the mules are killed by poisoned darts from the shoreline. As the barge drifts, diminutive lizard people (known as Khangua in the tongue of the Khorafan Empire) attack, hurling spears from the trees. A sharp battle ensued, with Zari demonstrating her bravery and agility in leaping into the trees, but nearly losing her sword, Rashanak showing that he can catch a sword with the best of them, Atumaspa and Nazrim showing that it isn't easy to make a hunting caiman give up it's prey, and Dooga proving he does indeed know the jungle well.

But as the remaining Khangua ran off into the evening jungle, the vagabonds found themselves in a pickle; far up the river with a mule-powered barge and no mules to speak of.

Chapter 2

The vagabonds dealt with the outcome of the death (by poisoned darts) of the mules that powered their barge up the Murghab River to the Dwarven mining settlement of Susara, after beating back an attack of the diminuitive Khangua lizard-folk. Dooga, the mysterious thri-keen druid, communed with the spirits of the dead mules and become as one with them, able to then, in mule form, power the barge at roughly one third speed.

So a tense voyage upriver continued, with Khangua scouts pacing the barge along the side of the river, and the vagabonds keeping watch. At one point the Khangua detonated some mining charges, felling a massive tree and blocking the barges retreat.

After entering a wider part of the river, Zari the Paladin notices that some of the Khangua had climbed upon a nearby small island, and seemed to be doing something on it. However, on closer inspection, she realized that this was no island, it was a massive snapping turtle the size of an inn!

Dooga called out, startling the Khangua on the turtles back, but unfortunately waking the giant turtle prematurely. Dooga prompted Nasrim the bard to sing the turtle a lulaby, which seemed perhaps to be working, but Dooga perhaps lost his nerve, and tried to spear the beast anyway.

This turned out to be a bad move. The giant turtle attacked. Zari leapt onto the beast, attempting to stab it in its neck but mostly battering herself against its shell. Atumapsa the elvish wizard attempted to use Magic Missle, but barely scorched the beast. Nasrim rallied the dwarves to grab a large stake to try to stab the beast, but this only resulted in one of the dwarves being snapped in half.

Dooga, who had been tossed into the river, sought to turn to bat form and distract the creature. But, getting to close to its jaws, he was nearly snapped in two. As the thri-keen druid fell towards the river, dying, Death gave the druid a hard bargain; he could return to life, if only he was willing to turn against the natural order of this place, where life had run amok too long. Dooga refused, and his spirit became one with the jungle.

Atumaspa became invisible, and made her way onto the back of the beast. She noticed that the Khangua had pried a section of shell away, exposing soft flesh marked with strange patterns. She realized that this was the method the Khangua used to control the turtle, by massaging it in this spot, they could put the turtle into a hypnotic state and therefore control it. Atumaspa quickly began the process, and while Nasrim sang an elegy for Dooga, rallying the dwarven barge crew, the turtle, with one last mighty blow that shattered the front of the barge, entered a deep trance, rumbling so that ripples spread across the water.

Atumaspa quickly arranged for Aslanbeck, the barge captain, to hitch the turtle to the rear of the barge, and thus the barge traveled much more quickly. However, Nasrim, in attempting to heal the wounds of Zari, conjured up too much life, and the barge was beset by a pestilence of insects, almost certain to cause sickness among the vagabonds and crew. Nasrim remembered, however, that Dooga had once told her that turtle urine made an excellent insect repellent. And did they not have the largest turtle in the universe?

It is best we pass quickly over the events of the next hour or so, as they are not for the delicate minded. Needless to say, a much smellier but insect free barge continued on and arrived, much battered, at Susara. Dooga and Zhyrgal the dwarf were lost, as were several pieces of the mining equipment the barge was carrying.

Why had the Khangua attacked? What was angering Nardaran, the spirit of that part of the river? And who were the shadowy forms seen just before the turtle attacked?

Chapter 3

Zari stayed to keep Bakunawa quiet and pacified.

After arriving in Susara, the very first item of business was getting clean, as, let's face it, our Vagabonds smelled bloody awful. Fortunately, on the rocky cliff above Susara a hot spring fed bath nook had been carved into the rock, a public facility for any to use. So the Vagabonds made the climb up the dangerously steep steps to the well appointed and cozy nook to perform their ablutions. The nook was the size of a small swimming pool, with the hot mineral water bubbling up out of tiled opening into the tiled pool, then pouring over a lip down the side of the cliff.

On arrival, Rashanak promptly lifted some coins out of the strongbox kept by the nook attendants, while Nasrim distracted everyone with a song, because that's just what they do; it's old habit for them. While Nasrim was playing, and Rashanak was thieving, Atumaspa realized her old acquaintance Jacquinder ("Jac") was in the baths. The last she had seen him, ten years ago, she had just opened a portal for him into the planes of Shadow, and had warned off contact with the Syndicate of Shadows a.k.a. the Umbral Cartel. It turns out that Jac is also searching for Shabnam Not-So-Wise for his own reasons. After some discussion it was decided that they should collaborate.

Meanwhile, as Nasrim played her song, no one noticed that the water had turned black, black as the Nardaran river itself, and two of the attendants were attacked by strange vines coming up out of the opening of the spring. Jac showed a new trick, created a blade of darkness out of his own hand and slashing the younger attendant free as that young dwarf tried to block the opening with towels., but Rashanak was unable to stop the vines from squeezing the life out of the older, more senior attendant. Atumaspa quickly realized what was happening; somehow a spirit or elemental of the river itself had snuck up through the rock and was pouring out into the space; perhaps drawn by Nasrim's song? She quickly told Rashanak to plug the spring opening up somehow, as if it could be blocked the elemental would retreat.

Rashanak quickly grabbed the nearest thing that looked like it would fit into the opening. Unfortunately, that thing was the corpse of the older attendant. Wrapping the poor wretches head in a towel, he shoved him head first into the opening, with some gruesome sound effects. Jac hacked away at the vines, defending Rashanak in the process. With the opening stoppered, the elemental retreated.

They soon learned that the dead senior attendant was named Zhubanysh. The younger attendant, Guzal, was bereft. Shortly, the Master Mechanomancer of the mines arrived, in his iridescent green robes and golden vestments. He established there was no longer any bad influence in the place, and asked Atumaspa to meet him the next morning in the mines, to discuss these events.

Finally cleaned, smelling of mineral water and dwarven soap, the Vagabonds arrived at Nigora's chamber for the planned wake for young Zhyrgal, the crewmember of the barge who had died. Aslanbek was excited at the idea that so many interesting and august personages would perform in Zhyrgal's honor. Nasrim organized the performance, with Atumaspa tasked (and begrudging it) to recite a poem of Zhyrgal while Rashanak hummed an accompaniment and Nasrim performed an interpretive dance. Unexpectedly, Jac pitched in creating shadow forms on the walls with his hands. The performance came off very well; the only twist being Rashanak's part was so ludicrously incompetent that the dwarfs of Susara will long think of him as a buffoon.

After the performance, Atumaspa went off on her own to a quiet spot, only to be joined by a dwarf. Looking at this dwarf, she realized this was none other than Mierim, also known as the Renderer of Aneran. This Grand Master Mechanomancer had been a key ally of Cambyses the Magnificent in his conquest of Aneran, personally supervising the capture, death, and "rendering" of many elves into magical energy with her grotesque machinery. Atumaspa made a secret whistle to call Jac over, while a brief conversation full of cruel threats and deadly innuendo ensued. It seems that Mierim remembers Atumaspa as "one that got away", and is eager to ensure she goes to her final fate. On her part, Atumaspa would like nothing better to see Mierim receive a brutal and final comeuppance for her crimes. Mierim indicated she was representing Cambyses' interests in the Murghab River basin. In fact, his pleasure barge was at anchor near Murghabkhanda.

Hidden in the shadows in case Atumaspa needed sudden and violent assistance, Jac had heard the entire conversation. Jac and Atumaspa had a conversation after Mierim walked off. Jac swore to assist Atumaspa in her attempts to end Mierim, in light of the debt he owed her for introducing him to the Umbral Cabal. Atumaspa refused, claiming his allegiance on Elven pride alone. A heated debate ensued and Jac's thirst to avenge the elves came into the open. For her part, Atumaspa argued for honour and the need to maintain the nobility of the Elven spirit, and hoped to challenge Mierim in an open contest. Atumaspa counciled against quick action; they needed to learn more. Also, she did not want Mierim to die unknowing or unaware of who had brought about her end. Atumaspa needed to look in the dwarf's face as she died. Jac proposed an assassin's death for Mierim, insisting it was only paying them back in their own coin. Jac then implored Atumaspa to use her magics to entrance Mierim. In the end, the issue lay unresolved with each saying that they would consider further and revisit. Jac left thinking Atimaspa lacked the stomach to do what had to be done while Atumaspa perhaps questioned whether Jac was too willing, had sacrificed too much to the darkness for vengeance.

Jac followed Mierim and identified the dwarven home she was staying in.

Meanwhile, Nasrim noted the strange dwarf that all the others seemed afraid of. But, Nasrim being Nasrim, she went about the more important task of celebrating the life of Zhubanysh, the unwitting hero of the bath nook whose post-mortem behaviour as a drain plug had saved the day. She led a crowd of the younger dwarves, drunk and rowdy, up to the bath nook, accompanied by Rashanak. On the way, Rashanak learned that Shabnam Not-So-Wise had been enquiring in detail while in Susara about the lizard-folk that lived to the south, deeper in the basin. He was interested in their practices, their organization, their armaments, but strangely also in their diseases. Did they have rashes? Coughs? Boils? The young dwarf recounting this was an assistant to Farkhunda, the Master Hunter, who had been questioned closely by Shabnam in this absurd fashion.

The night closed with Nasrim cementing her position among the dwarves as a wonderful person, and adopted "sister-cousin", and Rashanak being the butt of many jokes. The sounds of the dwarves humming the praises of Zhubanysh filled the air above Susara from the bath nook.

Links

Pinterest Board

See: http://www.pinterest.com/hansmessersmith/vagabonds-of-murghabkanda/

Ask Hans if you want permission to add pins. This is a board for visual idea for the game.

Templates specific to this campaign

See also Category: campaign templates

Forms specific to this campaign

See also Category: campaign forms