Going to hell (not to be read by my Stonesnake players)

Submitted by RoM on Thu, 13/12/2012 – 09:52
I am running the Colymar campaign since the day the Sartar book was published. Finally we have reached the point that my group descended into hell. Because all characters became perjurers in the process they frown to cross the bridge over the River of Swords. So Lhankor Mhy has to find the right place to cross the river elsewhere and Issaries has to negotiate with the Ferryman for a safe passage.How can I make Lhankor Mhy’s task a challenging and intriguing undertaking? What is the Elder Tree?How can Issaries negotiate with Jeset? What does he want?By the way, I have to tell you a cool story. My group decided on doing the Lightbringer Quest on their journey through hell. They found an appropriate deity for all the player characters but one. She was the beloved wife of the Lhankor Mhy character and had no abilities corresponding to any of the Lightbringers. So the group stunned me by deciding to do a pre-quest. By the summoning of evil they found a Thanatari to literally kill the wife/Elasa. Then they had an Uroxi kill the Thanatari. Now the wife/Elasa is in hell and can be rescued by Lhankor Mhy on his Lightbringer Quest. Meanwhile the wife’s player plays Fleshman. It goes without saying that I gave the group a big bonus for this idea.

Meeting Jeset
Submitted by RoM on Fri, 15/02/2013 – 08:10.

FYI here is an update as to what happened last game session:My players in hell met Jeset. He was bored and tired and didn’t want to carry them over the river. Negotiations failed when they rejected taking over his job. Instead they offered to destroy the bridge. Thereby all the dead would have to take Jeset’s ferry to cross over to the other side and he would be back in business. I thought that was a marvellous idea. Unfortunately when they saw Janark the players got frightened by their own courage and abandoned the quest. Instead they convinced a dead person from the queue to become the ferryman. They struck the deal with Jeset who set them over the river. However, by the time they landed Helamakt had become so angry about Jeset’s unwillingness to cooperate that he attacked him. I ruled that Jeset was in fact another aspect of Jarnak. So my players were surprised when they realised that the old pensioner was in fact the same threat they wanted to bypass all the time. In the end they won the fight, but only after most of their NPC Lightbringers flew and vanished and Helamakt was kicked into the River of Swords.Thanx everybody for your suggestions, you helped me making our game session great fun.

Igor does MEAN Heroquesting

Submitted by Herve on Fri, 14/12/2012 – 14:00.

Your story is horrific, if the sage really had his “beloved wife” killed/sacrificed so they could do the LBQ. Is it what happened ??
Whatever the case, tell them they’re wussies to be afraid of Janak. He/it can be overpowered, outsmarted, blindsided. Just charge him, or go Invisible, or whatever. This being said…
Lankhor Mhy pulls a leather sheet on his face and THINKS. He has a Revelation (make it a costly success if he fails). It shows him the way to The Start, where all road cross each other. Here Issaries must find the Right Way. I trust you to put in appropriate Guardians/challenges, and interesting dead ends or ways to other, unplanned places.
Jeset is greedy, but he is also tired of always doing the same thing. Someone might afford to replace him/it (I read this long ago, can’t remember where). BIG PROBLEM : once you’re the Ferryman you’re it, Forever. Unless you can trick/think your way out of it.
So : Lankhor Mhy questions Jeset to find his True Motives, then Issaries bargains with the creature with LM’s lingering bonus.

Another take on Jeset

Submitted by boztakang on Thu, 20/12/2012 – 14:49.

The replacement idea for Jeset is an entertaining one, but the downside of losing one of your Heroes on “success” seems problematic, and there are definately other interesting ways to handle Jeset’s challenge.Jeset is dour, and intimidating, and very, very serious. Crossing into hell is not a decision to be made lightly, and while he can get you across, once you set foot in his boat, there is no turning back or changing your mind. He is silent and frightening, and there should be no question that he is only offering a one-way trip.Jeset is also lonely and bitter. His mother has been killed and mutilated, his home ruined, his other kin mostly ignore him, and hardly anyone really appreciates his role and the personal sacrifices he has made to fulfill it. Other gods, like Zorak Zoran and Humakt send people to hell by the thousands, with no deliberation or concern for the consequences. Hardly anyone has the patience to take Jeset’s route anymore.All he asks is a token of appreciation. Something to prove that you thought about HIM. It does not have to be valuable, just thoughtful – Something you brought to the underworld specifically for the ferryman, to indicate that you value his service. A coin or small magic item is traditional, but any sort of sincere gift will do.If the Heroes came prepared with the gifts, then the hard part for them will be facing their fear of death, and actually getting on the boat. A significant, but almost certainly manageable task for such Heroic types.  The difficulty, of course is that hardly anyone does think about Jeset anymore, and the Heroes are highly unlikely to have actually prepared a thoughtful gift ahead of time. Ironically, having Issaries negotiate the fare may well have been one of the more difficult approaches. The real Challenge for Issaries in this case might be to recognize that Jeset doesn’t actually care about the Value of passage, just the recognition…Other Lightbringers would have been better suited to gaining passage: (in rough order of difficulty)Eurmal can Lie – “No really, we each brought these bits of lint-covered string all the way here in our pockets, Just for YOU.” – and be belived.Flesh Man can always beg for passage. He is clearly broken and in need of help. Jeset will allow him aboard, gift or not.Chalana Arroy can offer the sincere compassion and understanding that Jeset craves, without painful prying, or uncomfortable talk.Orlanth can try intimidation – “I killed the Bright Emperor, who you cannot face. What makes you think that you can prevent me going where I want?” A high-risk gambit, but plausible.Or if all else fails, Ginna Jar could do something mysterious and mystical to convince Jeset of the necessity of passage.Hopefully, this gives some additional useful ideas on how to stage an interesting trip into the underworld. [edit: shortly after hitting “submit”, i noticed that I had managed not only to completely side-step the original question, but to utterly butcher the actual myth. I have made changes to fix that, ahem… “oversight.”]

So what happened to NEW LOLON GOSPEL ?

Submitted by Herve on Fri, 28/12/2012 – 14:42.

A pleasure talking to the man who made Imther live for me. Your “Lokarna becomes the ferryman” was always a favorite of mine, and that’s where I found the idea. Were there only TWO issues of NLG ? Anychance of reading more cool stuff about Shanizorum, Cider and Cheese, colonization of the elf sea shores?

New Lolon, Imther, etc.

Submitted by Harald Smith on Sat, 29/12/2012 – 19:06.

I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the Lokarna story — it was always fun to see the stories develop.Yes, I only ever got two issues out the door — actually had a good bit of material for a third at that point, but was trying a couple times to get an ImtherPak produced and sadly that never saw the light of day.I still have a large volume of material never seen, including what was created for Imther plus a full Verenmars Saga and history/myths of Vanch and Saird, though some of it is likely superceded by what’s developing in the Guide.I could certainly post some of the material that’s been lurking in the shadows — just not sure what the best place is to do so.

Sorry for the late answer

Submitted by Herve on Sat, 19/01/2013 – 11:57.

Not used yet to this presentation. So, if I may be so bold, I for one would be delighted to read your stuff, and to discover what happened to these imtherian settlers who tried for a better life on the Elf Sea’s southern shore. Also, I don’t know what the “Verenmars Saga” is but I’m good to discover it. Last but not least, more cheese and cider ! No sorry – I meant more Janisor.

I like the replacement idea

Submitted by RoM on Sun, 16/12/2012 – 10:01.

I like the replacement idea. It might be a bit harsh for a ferryman to deny ferrying the party but it might trigger an interesting debate whether they should sacrifice a Lightbringer or not.As for Lhankor Mhy finding the crossover I am worried that a failure might not provide interesting story hooks. They could end up wandering up and down the river for all eternity looking for Jeset. Any ideas here?Janak is a big no go. I think my players believe him to be the single most dangerous being in the underworld. We had a major adventure involving breaking the oath of hospitality to kill some Tarshites, and the players discussed endlessly about it. Now they really feel guilty.And yes, the “beloved wife” sacrificed herself to give her husband an augment in performing the Lightbringer Quest.

Replacing the Ferryman

Submitted by Harald Smith on Tue, 18/12/2012 – 19:05.

Going way back to my Imther material, the guide in their Lightbringer myth is Alakarma (they claim she is the daughter of Lokarnos or the Wagon planet).  She had to make a deal with Jeset.  You might find my original writeup (as follows) of some use:In hell, Alakarma faced her greatest task.  There she had to bargain with the Ferryman of the Dead for passage into the deeper hells.  She succeeded, but the deal required her to relieve the Ferryman of his task so that he could visit his kin.Some Imtherians say that the Ferryman eventually returned but made another bargain with Alakarma—that she must return regularly to relieve him of his task so that he could visit his kin.  That is why Alakarma moves so slowly across the sky, for she only reluctantly agreed and tries to prolong her time away as long as possible.  An alternate story says that Alakarma fell in love with the sad Ferryman and agreed to marry him.  As she was still bound to assist Lagavar, she did so, but gave the Ferryman a hamstring so that he knew that she would return.Since then, she spends half of her time in the Underworld, ferrying the dead across the Styx so that they may reach the Halls of Judgment.

replacement vs. temp job

Submitted by RoM on Tue, 18/12/2012 – 19:18.

Cool idea. So depending on the victory level one of the Lightbringers has be either the replacement or has to do a temp job, while the Ferryman is on holidays. Reminds me of Terry Pratchett’s “Mort”. I wonder if the player character will start talking in capital letters. :-)Any more ideas on Lhankor Mhy finding the crossing?

Your players are sickos

Submitted by Herve on Fri, 28/12/2012 – 14:47.

These guys are revolting. A beloved wife sacrifices herself for her husband (I’d really like to know more – PC or NPC ?), they betray Hospitality, etc. I LOVE that they are dead afraid of Janak – keep him for a later moment, but make sure they meet it/him anyway !
“Finding the Way” is more an Issaries magic than Lankhor Mhy’s. I can only see him succeeding if he discards all his useless, dry, soulless data and fully opens to the Lady of Inspiration. Who is about to be garroted by thanatar – this is hell after all. He gets one chance to save her, and She grants him the knowledge he needs. If she dies… I dunno. After all, LM didn’t save her either.

“Finding the Way”

Submitted by Harald Smith on Sat, 29/12/2012 – 21:36.

I like the idea of finding and opening up to the Lady of Inspiration.  Perhaps the Lhankor Mhy character must find her in the Forest of Forgotten Paths?  Of course, she’s not on a path — all attempts at logic fail.  And there are the Bad Dogs in the Forest (Jajagapa’s Pack) waiting to seize and tear apart the soulless (or those who no longer get any support from their community).  Plus the Forest is intersected by the Streams of Forgetfulness (not a good thing for characters to drink from or fall into).They clearly need a clue as to how to find her.  That of course needs some sort of test for the Lhankor Mhy character.  Maybe the test is posed by a troll shaman travelling the Underworld — count all the spirits on the tip of blackthorn or something like that.  Or maybe the test is posed by a mystical hermit who transcends the worlds?  Or perhaps it’s an evil witch in a Baba Yaga-like hut who will eat them unless they outwit her and find a clue trapped in a bottle or jar?The tests imply finding or accepting aid in the underworld.  An impish demon? A soulless sorceror trying to escape from the Bad Dogs?  A lost spirit fleeing the troll shaman? Anyway a few more thoughts to consider.

finding the crossing – thoughts

Submitted by Harald Smith on Tue, 18/12/2012 – 20:36.

Well, browsing through my old Verenmars Saga, here are some Heroquest tasks he had to perform to prove his worth which might be applicable or convertible to your needs:to go to the XXXXXX Vale and return with something hidden but visible, something old but unknown.  In the story, he tries known/obvious paths without success, then follows a meandering path discovering various footprints as he goes.  In the end, he found what was hidden for it was not on the Straight Path but visible for it was easily found on the Curving Path.  It was old for it was of the chariot of Shargash, but unknown for no one knows its use.to find the secret of the Hermit of the Black Staff and reveal it to XXXXXX.  He finds the Hermit and must pay a price to learn the secret.  The price is to:  enter the cave and clean the cave of birth and blood, of age and death.  He must not leave the cave for any reason during that time.  In so doing, he finds some old bones and learns that these are the secrets of the First Birth and the First Death. to find and choose one mask from the walls of XXXX and invoke its power.  The masks of the sun lords hung there, as did the masks of the great councils.  The masks of the horse lords hung there, as did those of the beast riders.  Indeed many other masks hung there as well which no longer had a story.  At last he chose a mask and invoked it and the mask leapt onto his face.  He can use the powers of the mask, but must realize and cast it aside, for it is but a mask and must accept his own true form that is no mask.Hope those help.

Drugs, Sex and Rocks

Submitted by RoM on Wed, 02/01/2013 – 07:36.

First of all many thanx for your assistance. You guys already helped a lot.About Elasa the Inspiration: Afaik Lhankor Mhy did resurrect her when he accomplished the Lightbringer Quest, took part in the Great Compromise and resurrected the world. The two lovers ascended to the surface in Nochet, where they married. Today the Great Library stands on that place. Considering she is already dead and probably waiting in Yelm’s hall she cannot take an active part in the LBQ. That is my understanding.I like both the replacement job idea as well as the gift of appreciation idea. I think I will give the decision to the group. Jeset complains about being useless. Nobody needs him any more since all the dead take the bridge upriver. He is going to quit his job and taking his boat with him, leaving no chance for the group to cross over. The players then have the chance to either convince him of his important role in world by bringing him a worthy gift or by taking over his job. My Lightbringer group has four NPCs (Orlanth, Issaries, Eurmal and Ginnar Yar/Wyter, the PCs are Lhankor My, Fleshman, Chalana Arroy, Helamakt and Hedkoranth). They could decide on leaving one of NPCs behind. Though I would rather keep Eurmal to cause some more havoc in the steps to come.According to the Sartar book that part of the way (between the Path of Silence and Jeset at the crossing) is not *found* by Issaries but *known* by LM. It has to do with the Elder Tree. Thanx to your advise here is what I am going to do: They will not be able to find Jeset. However, they will have a strange encounter with a shaman who will give them one or two tasks (maybe Shargash’s chariot or the masks on the wall). Afterwards they will know that the Elder Tree is in the Nightforest where they just came/escaped from. It stands on an island in the Stream of Forgetfulness. From there LM knows where to go.What do you say to that? Any more advise?@Hervé: Since you asked I will gladly tell you what happened. My players had to go to the Shaker Temple to negotiate with the Maran Gori. On the way we played an adventure from “Tarsh in Flames”. There they had to battle a village of Lunar Tarshites by first receiving hospitality and then breaking it by turning against their hosts. My players discussed one full game session (about four hours) whether they should do it or not. No kidding. In the end four of six players did it. The other two were in the rearguard and hence did not receive hospitality. However, one of the two PCs was an Ernaldan who later became an oathbreaker, too. Erissa Marn (an NPC from the Snakepipehollow booklet) agreed to join the players’ clan if they swore never to use any poison. Later the Ernaldan and some of the other PCs were invited to join a trollish Kygor Litor high holy night ceremony. There the Ernaldan used a potion to tranquillise a rival (human) woman so that she could have sex with the Orlanthi PC. I think it is needless to say that this had consequences. Not only had she broken an oath by poisoning kin. She also got pregnant that night. And because it all happened during a Kygor Litor ritual one year later she gave birth to strong and healthy twins – who were revealed to be in fact incarnations of Gore and Gash.Both the LM-character and his wife are player characters, so she sacrificed herself voluntarily to give her husband the will to succeed (and thereby a big augment). Before that Lhankor Mhy did not believe in the importance of their quest at all. In fact he never trusted Ernalsulva or her mother and thinks they are both evil schemers. What they are indeed. BTW the wife is the very same character who got drugged by the other Ernaldan in the story above. 🙂

Your players are sickos 2

Submitted by Herve on Wed, 16/01/2013 – 16:30.

First, only germans could argue about the “breaking hospitality trick” for four hours! When I ran this scenario as part of my Blackwater Tribe Troubleshooters (tarshite) campaign, the players hesitated for two seconds to do it, then took twenty minutes to work out ways to break the spirit but not the letter of the Hospitality laws. They proceeeded to make themselves as obnoxious as possible without never crossing the line. They hit on the chief’s wife, gave him dirt as present and gold to his cottars, managed to get provoked to a duel by his warthane, etc. It was one of the funniest games we ever had.Second, this campaign is twisted +++ !!! Which means it’s probably great fun for all involved. But it is… well, too german for me. We keep things simpler generally.

Another debate.

Submitted by RoM on Fri, 18/01/2013 – 06:44.

Well, I agree that my players are sometimes sickos (myself included), but I don’t know if that is a German phenomenon. I think my players simply like to debate. This week we had two quests of Harald’s “Verenmars Saga”. First we did the hidden but invisible thing in the vale. That was soon over. Then we did the mask thing. I gave them the job to go into a cave and pick one mask from the wall. If they wanted they could keep it. I decided that the masks belonged to every deity that died as some point (although my players weren’t aware of that). I figured that once a mask was put on a face it could not be removed as long as the wearer lived. Instead it would turn him/her into that deity (or a devotee heroforming) with all the corresponding magical powers.First my players discussed whether to choose a darkness or sky god. After half an hour they agreed on Yelm. Can you imagine? Of all the dead gods available they chose the Emperor himself! And of course one player (the Lhankor Mhy) had to try it on. He became Yelm. But there was a problem cause he was in a room with Orlanth who was on the Lightbringer Quest to free him (a.k.a. Hofstaring Treeleaper). This encounter made their LBQ come to an end. For three hours (!) my players discussed what to do. We agreed that they had three options: 1. Abort the quest and return to the surface world, leaving LM/Yelm behind. 2. Invoking Orlanth’s pledge of friendship and creating the great compromise, then return home with Yelm instead of LM. 3. Kill Yelm/LM. My players had the plan to do an “Inception” style sub-quest. They wanted to kill Yelm to be able to search for the dead LM PC. Then they would resurrect LM to be able to continue their first LBQ and free Hofstaring. So Orlanth challenged Yelm to three duels (music, dance and weapon). He won the third only by a marginal victory. The LM PC dropped dead and his mask fell from his face.At this point I ended our game session. Of course not disclosing that dying in hell before the river of swords isn’t bad at all. They don’t need the Inception-sub-quest. The LM character can simply continue and will be resurrected together with Hofstaring. I only revealed that to the LM player after the session in private, while the other player still have a bad conscious about killing a friend.

You and your players might not be sickos

Submitted by Herve on Sat, 19/01/2013 – 12:00.

Robin, I spoke in jest – except about the part about how german it is to argue four hours about a RPG decision. It is “Gründlichkeit” incarnated.This indeed sounds like a fascinating, mad campaign where you have populated Hell with your own inventions, and like you hit players on very deep, moral issues. I like that very much. Can’t wait to hear more about this.

masks sub-quest

Submitted by Harald Smith on Sat, 19/01/2013 – 11:43.

Sounds like a great session!  I really like the use of the dead god masks — seems very appropriate for their location and looks like it created some very interesting challenges and roleplaying. And, of course, they still have to get across the Styx / River of Swords!  But now LM is a dead soul — must he now travel in silence? does he still recognize the other characters? does he just follow the trail of the others?I wonder if this slaying of “Yelm” (very appropriate for Orlanth) has other implications for their quest?  Did a troll see the fight and offer to show them the way to Jeset in exchange for the fallen mask?  Is this a good or bad deed in the court of Havan Vor?  I’d suspect they must ask or argue to resurrect LM at the court (won’t be in the Pits with Hofstaring) — maybe Orlanth must atone for the deed?I’m interested to here how this quest continues!

And that is what makes

Submitted by soltakss on Sat, 19/01/2013 – 08:29.

And that is what makes HeroQuesting fun! Some people think that a HeroQuest is dull as you have a series of predefined stations and have to behave exactly as your god did – duoll, dull, dull. Quite the opposite – HeroQuests are dynamic, living things where the actions of the Questors can radically change how the HeroQuest works. I liked the fact that it took 3 hours to decide which deity to use and I am sure that the 3 hours did not drag and were, in fact, a lively discussion that people enjoyed. In our game, it sometimes takes a whole session to decide that the PCs are doing in one station, as the choices are important. Sounds like you have a fun campaign going on.  Simon Phipp

Submitted by soltakss on Sat, 05/01/2013 – 15:55.

> About Elasa the Inspiration: Afaik Lhankor Mhy did resurrect her when he> accomplished the Lightbringer Quest, took part in the Great Compromise and> resurrected the world. The two lovers ascended to the surface in Nochet, where> they married. Today the Great Library stands on that place. That sounds about right – not sure about them ascending to the surface in Nochet, but the Great Library is a fgood a place as any for them to marry.> Considering she is already dead and probably waiting in Yelm’s hall she cannot> take an active part in the LBQ. That is my understanding. Not necessarily.She is the Light of Inspiration, so what is to stop her sending dreams to those trying to help her? It may be that she is sending support to the HeroQuestors in some way, inj the same way that Orlanth recieved a feather from his supporters on the LBQ.Just because someone is dead doesn’t mean that they can’t participate in a HeroQuest.Yelm drew Orlanth into the LBQ in order to force him to make amends, for example.Flesh Man died on the LBQ but just got up and carried on as a ghost.I’m sure there are other examples, but I can’t think of any off the top of my head. Simon Phipp

Submitted by Harald Smith on Wed, 02/01/2013 – 08:34.

>Jeset complains about being useless. Nobody needs him any more since all the dead take the bridge upriver. He is going to quit his job and taking his boat with him, leaving no chance for the group to cross over.While the Orlanthi don’t cross by Jeset’s boat, I think plenty of others do.  Now that doesn’t mean that he may not complain or demand more than the PC’s have to offer (I seem to recall him charging a fee, usually a coin of some sort) or refuse passage to the living.  He may be like a cantakerous, bitter old troll (I always picture him as troll, not human, though I also like the deep bass voice of the Ferryman in Monteverdi’s opera Orfeo) who constantly complains about all sorts of things (no respect, no one visits, the dead are always silent, etc.), but isn’t about to be bullied.>My Lightbringer group has four NPCs (Orlanth, Issaries, Eurmal and Ginnar Yar/Wyter, the PCs are Lhankor My, Fleshman, Chalana Arroy, Helamakt and Hedkoranth). They could decide on leaving one of NPCs behind. Though I would rather keep Eurmal to cause some more havoc in the steps to come.If they go that route, certainly let them decide who to leave behind.  However, they really, really don’t want to leave Eurmal behind.  That is bound to have some really bad consequences further along such as:  1) he won’t be there when he is supposed to betray them (or maybe he is brought in by troll guards); 2) he lets the wrong creatures across the Styx to follow the PC’s; 3) he doesn’t let the rightful dead pass; etc.>Thanx to your advise here is what I am going to do: They will not be able to find Jeset. However, they will have a strange encounter with a shaman who will give them one or two tasks (maybe Shargash’s chariot or the masks on the wall).There are lots of things they can find in the forest — after all ‘everything’ dies (paths are forgotten, books burn up, chariots break apart, essence nodes are disconnected, etc.). >Afterwards they will know that the Elder Tree is in the Nightforest where they just came/escaped from. It stands on an island in the Stream of Forgetfulness. From there LM knows where to go.Might be interesting figuring out how to cross the Stream of Forgetfulness as well — they could easily forget a skill, etc. if they touch the water or more if they drink of it.Sounds like a great questline!  Hope you enjoy running it and I’ll be interested to hear how it turns out.

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