Three Flowers

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A word of explanation: "Three Flowers" was written for publication in the Interregnum amateur press association, which I founded in 1994 and published until last year, when I burned out and handed it off. There are three things that should be therefore be noted about this writeup:

1) It was written for an audience that included people not familiar with RuneQuest or Glorantha. Explanations and simplifications have been included that Gloranthaphiles can simply skip over.

2) It immediately followed a writeup of the RQ/Gloranthan campaign that it was created for. I therefore included notes indicating how things went in play. Since my scenario design approach might be called "Deist" in the Jeffersonian sense, I retained those notes in the ASCII version as useful guides to possible results.

3) No stats were included in the writeup. Why?

A) I feel that the concepts of a scenario are more important than the numbers,

B) Every gamemaster will do a better job of designing specific stats to suit his campaign,

C) it allows portability between different versions of RQ (including RQ:AIG, and,

D) I was lazy. To tell you the truth, a lot of the numbers were generated on the fly. :-)

It worked out very well nonetheless.

If you run this I'd particularly like to hear how it turns out.

Peter Maranci: peter@maranci.net http://www.maranci.net/rq.htm


Three Flowers

Copyright 1996 by Peter Maranci

First published in Interregnum #21, June 1996.


DESIGN NOTES

I should begin by briefly explaining my approach to scenario design: I set up situations. There are gamemasters who can devise wonderfully clever problems, puzzles for which the only proper answer becomes blindingly obvious just after it has been deduced. I respect the hell out of those rare GMs, but I'm not one of them. My strengths as a GM are probably my NPCs and my ability to work with a situation off-the-cuff. I design scenarios to play to those qualities.

When creating a scenario, therefore, I work up a situation that has certain tensions and plot flows built in. Various NPCs will likely be in conflict in some way, and the players will find themselves in the middle of it all. I plan exactly what the NPCs want, what they know about each other, and what misunderstandings they have. I also try to figure out at least a few ways that the situation might develop, and how the PCs will become involved. Almost always the party finds a new angle of approach, and complications always develop that lead to situations that I haven't anticipated at all. In that sense, my design philosophy is an open-ended one, not necessarily suitable for everyone else. I'll include notes in italics to indicate how things went in actual play.

"Three Flowers" was designed for RuneQuest's Glorantha, but it should be possible to adapt it for other game systems. It took me about six three-hour sessions to finish, but your mileage may differ. :-)


TABLE OF CONTENTS

THE SETTING
THE CEREMONY
OPENING MOVES
THE FESTIVAL CALENDAR
THE CONFLICT
NON-PLAYER CHARACTERS
WRAP-UP
MAGIC ITEMS


The Setting

A grand Festival of Flowers is held once every five years at a point several days travel from the home village. The festival lasts seven days, and serves a number of functions. It is an extremely large market. It gives people from distant villages a chance to meet and strengthen their cultural bonds. Most importantly, the Festival is a major religious ceremony for the cult of Voria and the Orlanthi pantheon in general. Other activities include plays, dances, and songs.

Technically the cult of Voria (Spring) is the host of the festival. However, as part of the ceremony the Vorians (mostly female children) remain hidden for much of the event. Priestesses and Initiates of the cult of Ernalda serve as proxies for the Vorian maidens.

The Festival is held at a huge field near a major crossroad. Since most of the dwellings there are temporary, tents cover the field; however, there are a few permanent buildings. A sturdy wood and stone inn called the Broken Flagon is within the Festival area nearest to the crossroad. A wooden barn that is used by the inn serves as a Temple to Uleria (the Goddess of Love), and does a brisk business. A large stage is erected at the center of the festival. Several large barbecue pits are spaced through the area, and vendors everywhere hawk goods and food of all kinds. For the seven days of the Festival, the area is more like a city of tents than a field.

Groups tend to set up tents in distinct areas: the Orlanthi, Yelmalians, Ernaldans, and other groups all have their own districts. A delegation of Chalana Arroy healers set up a fair-sized clinic in a good location. A small delegation of Humakti are present, their campsite notable for several dueling and practice rings.


The Ceremony

The primary purpose of the Festival is to insure the return of Spring. It is an ancient ceremony, a re-enactment of the loss of Spring in the earliest days of Time, when Winter reigned for three years. It was then that the people of the region gathered together to chose a Queen of Flowers, rediscover Spring, and drive out winter. Since that mythological event, every fifth winter has been unusually cold until the successful completion of the ceremony.

There are two main parts to the ceremony: the crowning of the Queen of Flowers and the Rediscovery of Spring.

Only the most beautiful women of the region may compete to win the crown. Since this is a religious event, entries are by cult; there is only one Orlanthi entrant, one Yelmalian entrant, etc. These are referred to as Flowers with a cult-appropriate prefix. The Orlanthi is known as the Windflower. The Yelmalian is the Sunflower. An Ulerian contestant would likely be called the Loveflower. If a worshiper of Malia were ever to compete (unlikely -- although no cult is specifically barred from entering the contest except Valind, the people would destroy an openly chaotic delegation) she would no doubt be called the Sickflower, or perhaps the Pukeflower.

When I ran this scenario a couple of Irripi Ontor sages played an amusing little game of wits with a Lhankor Mhy PC by coming up with unusual cults and trying to create an appropriate prefix for each. Trickflower or possibly Squirtflower (for obscure reasons) for the Trickster; Healflower for a Chalana Arroy worshiper; perhaps Splitflower or Headflower for a Thanatari; etc.

Thirty judges are selected by the Ernalda priestesses to select the Queen of Flowers. Most of the judges are highly placed or reputable men of good standing in their community. Women are traditionally excluded from judging the contest.

There are four main categories for the contest: Song, Dance, Oration, and Beauty.

The Queen of Flowers receives many gifts from visitors to the festival. Her cult and home village are especially blessed by Voria in the following year.

When I ran "3 Flowers" I had only three serious competitors in the contest: the Windflower (a thinly-disguised Orlanthi entrant), the Sunflower (Yalmalio), and the Moonflower (Lunar). Other Flowers could easily be added, depending on the makeup of the party.

The second part of the ceremony is the Rediscovery of Spring. Spring, in this case, is represented by a small ancient flower, carved with superlative skill from pure gold and studded with gems of all kinds; before the festival it is placed in a wooden case and hidden somewhere in the fairgrounds by the Ernaldan priestesses. The only rule to its hiding is that it is not hidden within any private dwelling, nor in the sacred place of any temple.

All the men at the Festival are eligible to take part in the search. He who finds the Spring Flower is crowned the King of Flowers. He receives a portion of the gifts that are presented to the Queen of Flowers. His cult and home village are also especially blessed by Voria in the following year. The King of Flowers is usually considered lucky for the rest of his life, and is likely to receive several advantageous offers of marriage.

When the Spring Flower is found, the Voria Initiates (all young children) come out from hiding, all carrying flowers which they give to one and all. The air, formerly chill, begins to warm.

This is a good example of a time when I wish that I could come up with a clever puzzle; were I better at that sort of thing, for example, a priestess might have recited an obscure poem that would reveal the hiding place when properly interpreted. Since I couldn't think of one, though, I simply went back to the original myth; since Winter reigned while Spring was lost, I decided that the boxed Spring Flower had been buried next to the spot where the Valindi (Ice) worshippers camped. Scott's character Roc followed that chain of logic (a path which Vuli started, but failed to pursue) and searching that area, he found the box. Roc made an odd King of Spring, but it seemed fair that he should have won that prize -- particularly since he'd nobly wasted a one-use Divine Heal Wound spell at the start of the game.


Opening Moves

I. Traveling Orders. The village elders have delegated the PCs to represent the village at the Festival of Flowers. Their duties there will be light: to uphold clan honor, serve as judges of the contest if asked, and to present a gift to the Queen at the final ceremony: a beautifully crafted bronze rose, studded with semi- precious gems. They are given a large tent, (sufficient to house the entire party) to use at the Festival; although it is marked with wind runes it is not explicitly Orlanthi. The party is advised to look up Azeth Strongarm at the cooking pit, who will tell them where to pitch their tent.

II. On The Way. Travel encounters are traditional in RPG scenarios, of course. None of the encounters on the seven-day trip need be of great import, and as many or few may be used as you wish. Here are three possible encounters:

A) A white deer races through the party camp in the middle of the night. Following swiftly after it is an old Wild Hunter, a man who lives alone in the woods. He is friendly, and willing to talk for a short while, but must continue the hunt before long. I find it convenient to sometimes pattern NPC personalities on minor characters from film and TV; this makes it easy to give them a distinctive feel quickly, and players have never caught on. In this case I patterned the Hunter after Oliver Reed's portrayal of the god Vulcan in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.

B) As the party marches along, keen-eyed characters may spot something odd ahead: a large swath of brush on the side of the road is simply gone. As they get closer they may see an odd glimmering at one end of the bare area; it looks like a lump of water one meter across. Close observation will show that this is a gorp, an acidic and chaotic blob-like creature. It possesses two chaotic features: it looks like a blob of clean water, and it can leap up to eight meters once per day (yes, even though it has no legs. That's chaos for you!).

C) A fellow traveler hails the party, and asks if they are going to the Festival. He claims to be a storyteller. In fact he is an accomplished storyteller, but of the con-man variety; he is a rogue and ne'er-do-well. If he finds out about the gift for the Queen, he may try to steal it at night and sneak off -- but only if he's sure to get away with it. He's a cautious, charming fellow, and if the party is polite but wary they will find him a pleasant companion.

III. Arrival. The PCs may well feel overwhelmed when they finally reach the Festival; it's the largest gathering of people they've ever seen. Once they make contact with Azeth they are guided to a place to set up their tent. Their campground is in a comparatively quiet corner of the Festival.

IV. In The Night. Late that evening after the group has gone to sleep a figure staggers pell-mell into the party's tent. It is a man, apparently an Orlanthi but lacking any clan markings; he is bleeding copiously from numerous stab wounds in the back, and is obviously dying. He has no weapons, and a small object is clenched tightly in his right hand. Gaspingly he tells the PCs that he is one of the Secret Wind; a Lunar agent is after him. He has a message that must be given to the Wind Lord tomorrow at the Broken Flagon. He knows that he's dying, and insists that someone must go for him. The courier doesn't know what the Wind Lord looks like, but whoever goes should wear his green serpent broach (which the courier is presently wearing). The password is "the Bull's guts".

Just before he dies, he opens his hand and gives the contents to one of the PCs. It is the message: a common lunar (silver piece). The back is covered with fine scratches, which look random to a casual glance but reveal an odd pattern on careful inspection. The pattern is not decipherable by any of the party, however.

If the party attempts to heal the courier, they find that most of his wounds do not respond to healing magic. Some sort of poison must be in the wounds, which are oddly small and deep. No matter what they try, the courier dies.

V. Stuck! The party is now in a real pickle. For one thing, they have an extremely inconvenient dead body on their hands. For another, they'll soon discover that Lunar patrols are on the hunt for a man with a green serpent broach -- someone (the Lunar Agent in disguise) has tipped off the law that a criminal at the Festival is wearing it. Their duty to Orlanth demands that they try their best to deliver the message, nonetheless...


The Festival Calendar

Day 1 -- Selection. The Flowers arrive, an opening ceremony re- enacts the loss of Spring, and people settle in. Judges are selected by the Ernalda priestesses.

Day 2 -- The contestants are shown to the people on the great stage. This event is not judged; it is as much to give bookies a chance to set odds as anything else.

Day 3 -- Song. The contestants take turns singing. They may also play musical instruments.

Day 4 -- Dance.

Day 5 -- Oration. A five or ten-minute oration is typical, on whatever subject each Flower chooses. Poetry is a popular choice.

Day 6 -- Beauty. The contestants show themselves in their most beautiful clothes, one at a time. At the conclusion of this event the votes for all four categories are totaled, and the winner is crowned the Queen of Flowers. As she stands on the stage with the King of Flowers warmth and the perfume of flowers spread through the air; Spring has finally come. The Queen spends the rest of the Festival parading around the ground with the King of Flowers (who spends that night with her as well, though she is not obligated to sleep with him).

Day 7 -- Closing ceremony.


The Conflict

Two major conflicts obtain at the Festival; one is obvious, one secret.

Conflict 1: Uninvited Guests. Though they have never competed in the Festival before, there is a large contingent from the Lunar Empire (conquerors of this region) present at the Festival this year. Among them is the Moonflower, who will be competing to become the Queen of Flowers. The Lunars have roped off a large area for their use, and have erected large and elaborate tents; their campground is heavily guarded and patrolled by a force of forty troops.

The Moonflower is the subject of much gossip and speculation. She is almost never seen, and the few who glimpse her are unable to see her face beneath her heavy veil. Some say that she has danced before the Red Emperor himself, and is acquainted with dark and seductive mystic arts. No one in the Lunar contingent will discuss the Moonflower at all.

The Lunar presence makes life difficult for Orlanthi at the Festival; since worship of Orlanth is banned throughout the Empire, they must be careful not to reveal their religious affiliation. Beyond that, all good non-Lunars will be concerned that the Moonflower not be selected Queen of Flowers, since that would constitute a blessing on the Empire and give them a notable cultural foothold in the region. The obvious threat of the troops on hand and the power of the Lunar Empire which backs them makes direct action difficult and dangerous, however.

One or more of the PCs should be chosen as a judge of the contest, if possible; the politics of judging should lead to interesting conversations and debates. Throughout the festival the competition between the Flowers is a common subject of discussion, argument, and wagering.

Note that the Lunars do not wish to win the Festival. It would be difficult to do so in any case, since the majority of judges will necessarily be anti-Lunar. The Lunars have come to establish a greater presence in the local culture, establishing a foothold in the regional consciousness. An outright win would antagonize many in the region.

Conflict Two: A Secret War. A continuing battle between the Lunar Empire and the underground Orlanthi resistance movement known as the Secret Wind has entered the Festival as well. Agents of the Secret Wind have amassed a large cache of magical weapons. Some are ancient artifacts discovered in ruins within the Empire. Others have been stolen from the Empire itself. The weapons have been buried in a hidden spot a few hours ride from the Festival, and a Secret Wind courier is at the Festival to hand over the consignment to a disguised Orlanthi Rune Lord for transport deeper into Orlanthi territory. Although the courier and the Rune Lord do not know one another by sight, a rendezvous has been planned to take place at The Broken Flagon.

Unfortunately an agent of Lunar Internal Security has been close on the trail of the weapons. The agent has captured and killed several Secret Wind agents within the Empire, and has pursued the courier to the Festival. The true battle at the Festival is thus between the Lunar agent and the Rune Lord of the Secret Wind. Both are anxious to keep the affair secret. The Rune Lord desires secrecy because it will be virtually impossible to smuggle the weapons quietly away if things get out of hand. The Lunar agent cannot afford a major diplomatic incident with the people of the region; if the Empire disrupts an ancient and important ceremony they will make many enemies at a time when their resources are stretched thin. Another problem is that the Lunar contingent at the Festival is unaware of the presence of the agent. Telo Apporat, the Lunar Constable at the Festival, is rigorously honest and fair even to barbarians. If he were to discover that the Lunar Agent had committed several murders in the area, he would probably cause trouble.

The agent is therefore reluctant to go public except as a last resort. Instead, the agent will use a hired gang of thugs to threaten the party and manipulate events.


Non-Player Characters

The Lunar Agent. The agent possesses a daunting array of Hero abilities (for those not familiar with Glorantha, a capital-H Hero is a mortal who has attained virtually superhuman abilities of some sort). These include mastery of most types of weapons and superhuman strength, vitality, and dexterity. Most valuable in the agent's arsenal of abilities is a Heroic disguise ability. The agent is able create disguises that are virtually impenetrable. Alteration in appearance, voice, gender, and class are ridiculously easy for the agent. Height may be increased or reduced by up to eight inches, and weight by a comparable amount. The Agent also speaks an enormous number of languages, including Stormtongue, the Orlanthi holy speech. A vast repertoire of powerful spells may be assumed as well. The Agent has a small dagger of unusual shape; the metal is dark and of an unknown type. The handle is a sharp crescent moon, making it virtually impossible to wield in combat; it should be treated as a dagger with a -25% chance, doing 1-3 points of damage. However, the dagger acts as a slave collar when inserted in a victim, blocking their ability to cast spells or seek Divine Intervention. The dagger also causes a feeling of extreme pain and cold.

In straight-on combat the Agent has an excellent chance (at least 50-50) of defeating the entire party. Fortunately, such combat is unlikely.

If the Agent has a weakness it is a touch of arrogance and over- confidence. The use of disguises is almost an addiction for the Agent. In fact, the Agent is two of the other NPCs on this list! If the Agent becomes aware that the party is somehow involved in this affair (which is likely) a plot to trick them is the first course of action. If the PCs happen to notice who is present and who isn't during various events they may start to draw connections and develop suspicions...

Unfortunately I can't reveal the identities of the Agent here; in the ongoing game some or all of those identities remain unknown, and since all the players read Interregnum it simply isn't possible to give that information without ruining that part of the game. If you're dying of curiosity, or think you have a good guess as to who the aliases are, drop me a line!

Azeth Strongarm, Orlanthi Initiate. Human male, 58 years old. A tough and grizzled old Orlanthi, he is a distant relative of one of the clan elders and is kindly inclined towards the characters. He spends most of his time running a large cooking pit, where he hears and recycles most of the gossip and rumor of the Festival. Bluff and boisterous, he knows almost everyone who is anyone at the Festival and is respected by all. He is not part of the Secret Wind, though he has heard of it. Physically, he is slightly taller than average but very stocky; his arms are extremely burly, his skin browned by long exposure to smoke and fire, and his beard singed in spots. When he is away from his fire it can be noticed that he smells strongly of cooked meat and smoke.

Telo Apporat, Seven Mothers Initiate, Lunar constable. Human male, 35 years old. A fundamentally decent man with a strong conscience, which is why he is working as a Constable in the barbarian hinterlands. His responsibilities include Low and Middle justice at the Festival, as well as law enforcement and investigation. He has been assigned twelve regular troops to patrol the Festival. They patrol in groups of four.

Telo is intelligent and scrupulously fair. He will investigate the murder of an Orlanthi as rigorously as that of a Lunar citizen -- that is, both to the best of his ability. If his investigations imperil the activities of the Lunar Agent, the Agent will contact his superiors and have him taken off the case. In that case Apporat will suspect corruption is involved, and will attempt to secretly interrogate party members to discover what is going on. If he is informed by the Agent or a credible proxy that the entire matter is one of State security he will reluctantly drop the investigation.

Nameless Lunar Noble, human male, 35, tall. He may be called in by the Lunar Agent to sit on Telo Apporat if necessary. This scary gentleman dresses in black (except for tiny red insignia), and silently exudes an aura of menace. He may bring up to 100 additional troops if these seem necessary, though that would be a highly inflammatory choice.

The Windflower, Orlanthi. A human female, age 17. As is to be expected she is beautiful, talented, lighthearted and brave. Her hair is a pleasing shade of gray. Her instrument of choice is a small bagpipe. She is constantly surrounded by her kinsmen and female friends.

The Sunflower, Yelmali. Human female, age 19. Tall, beautiful, blonde, and patrician in bearing. She is somewhat distant and very proud of her education. A cold fish by Orlanthi standards. Her instrument of choice is the harp. While her talents are undeniably great, her approach is comparatively aloof and her song and dance are obscure and emotionally cold; she is not a favorite with the audience.

The Moonflower, Red Goddess worshiper. Human female, age 26. Always heavily guarded, and heavily veiled except during the contest itself. Pale skin, long blood-red hair, very graceful. Knows a dance which clouds men's minds (Heroic Dance skill). Her instrument of choice is her voice; if she wishes, her singing voice can sound like many birds singing at once (an eerie but beautiful effect). If caught in conversation she is polite, but careful; she is very aware that this territory is still not entirely pacified.

In play I rolled a critical success for the Moonflower's dance. She had not intended to mesmerize the audience, but since I'd already determined that she had Heroic Dance skill, I decided that such knowledge can be a two-edged sword; she slipped into the dance without meaning to. The results were startling, as may be seen below. :-)

Via Bladesong AKA Deathflower, Humakt Initiate. Human female, age 25. She is tall, has light brown hair, and is extremely skilled in the arts of war. That and her great beauty have led some to nickname her "Deathflower", a title that she does not find amusing. A child of privilege (both of her parents are Priests of Humakt) she is kind but somewhat distant to all but fellow Humakti.

Urin Thegg, Trickster. Human male, age 24. The party may not even meet this rascal, but will surely be impacted by his great trick at the Festival -- as is everyone else attending. He is thin, dark, and accomplished at running away from angry mobs. He has a respectable selection of spirit and Divine magic, and is extremely clever. He is also rather ruthless, as can be seen in his treatment of the:

Nameless Trollkin AKA "Darkflower". Trollkin slave, age 10. The Darkflower is entered into the competition by his owner, Urin Thegg. He is kept hidden even more completely than the Moonflower until the contest begins. At that time he is wheeled onto the stage in a large covered wagon. When the cover is removed it may be seen that the trollkin is dressed in a red wig and gown that strongly resemble those of the Moonflower. The reaction of the crowd will likely give Thegg time to escape; the fate of the Darkflower is less certain.

The Darkflower endured much abuse in play. When the Moonflower's Heroic dance began bewitching onlookers at the Dance Contest, a Eurmali used Divine Intervention to place the Darkflower directly above the Moonflower, twenty feet in the air; the resulting impact broke the spell of the dance. It should be noted that DI does not normally allow such direct action against others, but the argument that Eurmal does not always follow rules, along with the humor of the situation, persuaded me that an exception would make sense. Incidentally, the Moonflower tended the trollkin's wounds after the contest, and had it taken safely away from the Festival.

Thurin Farwalker, Issaries trader. Human male, 35. Actually a Wind Lord of Orlanth and a member of the Secret Wind, he is big, brave, handsome, and clever -- a storybook hero. Depending on how the PCs dispose of the courier's body he may be aware that his contact is in jeopardy. Nevertheless he attempts to complete the rendezvous at The Broken Flagon. If no one present is wearing a green serpent broach (which, given the number of Lunar patrolmen about, would be a dangerous thing to do), he will attempt to make contact by employing the services of:

Ged Sweetvoice, Donandar Initiate. Human male, age 17. A scraggly punk, as minstrels go, and a very poor harper. Only charity has allowed him a place by the fire at The Broken Flagon. When the big Issaries trader makes a special request and offers silver, he's more surprised than anything else. Nonetheless Ged sings a song which includes a reference to a snake. Thurin's hope is that the party will make the connection, but the Lunars won't...

In the actual run the players mistakenly thought that Ged was their Secret Wind contact, followed him outside after the performance and gave him the message coin (he assumed that it was a tip). This led to a situation I'd been hoping for: the coin was loose in the Festival, one among many thousands of others. By the time the party was contacted by the true Wind Lord, Ged had spent the coin. The party searched everywhere he'd been, and at long last found the coin and gave it to the proper recipient. But there was definitely a moment of panic. :-)

Old Storm Bull worshiper. Human male, age approximately 40 - 60. Is never seen sober enough to tell his name. Somewhat short and grizzled, he bears an axe that he uses with incredible berserk skill, if roused. He's mostly interested in alcohol, however, and spends most of his time in a state of stupor. If the party will give him alcohol, he'll drink it and sleep it off on the floor of their tent.

Gerth and Geddy, Issaries Initiates (traders). Human male, 29, and human female, 31. This married couple are typical innocent bystanders. As feelings run high among attendees (over the Flowers and any other issues that may have risen), Gerth finds himself caught up willy-nilly in a fight between two gangs of thugs near the PCs' tent. Geddy will plead with the characters to save her husband. If they do, the grateful couple will reward them as best they can -- they aren't rich, but they do know some important Issaries people who have many connections. They could get the party a free consultation with a Lhankor Mhy Sage, for example.

Unkel Feg, Black Fang Initiate. Ogre male age 26. This bulky and moderately handsome fellow has a gang of humans (as many as needed) who follow him slavishly. If the it seems necessary, the Lunar Agent will hire Feg and his gang to manipulate the group -- by planting false evidence, say, or stealing their possessions. Feg has few scruples.

In play, Feg and his gang were hired to make a midnight attack on the party. Their orders were to hurt them, but not to kill them. As it happened the old Storm Bull was in the tent at the time of the attack, however. Berserk, he killed all of the gang members with the help of the PCs, and ran off into the night. This led to a long session of questioning of the PCs in Telo Apporat's tent.


The Wrap-up

As the Festival draws to a close, the party is contacted by Thurin of the Secret Wind. Several people (including the courier) were supposed to help him retrieve the weapons after the Festival. As a number of them have been killed, however, he asks the PCs to help him. They are not obligated to do so; the task is dangerous. If they do accept, they will find themselves in a race to beat the Lunar Agent to the cache. How close the race is depends on how much information the Agent has gained during the Festival. A battle of titans is a strong possibility, in which Thurin and the Agent will attempt to destroy each other.

At this point the true identity of the Agent will become apparent. In all likelihood the Agent will be alone; this is not entirely hubris, however. The Agent has a notable advantage in ability and magic. However, if Thurin has reached the weapons first (as is likely) the balance with be even again. It remains for the players to make the difference in the combat. In any case, the Agent is unlikely to be killed; an escape via Divine Intervention is assured.

In play the party chickened out, and declined Thurin's request for aid. They came up with a reasonable excuse, but there's no denying that the end of the scenario was a little anticlimactic as a result. Still, I can't fault them for taking the sensible course of action.


Magic Items from the cache:

A shaman's belt of bindings that contains 100 spirits of various types. These include spell spirits, power spirits, and a great variety of others. Unfortunately many of the uses of the belt require a password, but there are certain features that will work for anyone: the belt will cast a spirit magic Heal 6 spell once per round on the wearer when they are injured, up to a total of 80 points of healing. A spirit in the belt will cast a Strength 4 spell on the wearer in combat, and another will cast Bladesharp 6 at the same time (if a bladed weapon is in the wearer's hand).

A giant's ring of invulnerability. This bronze ring is large enough to be loose around an armored man's waist. As long as it is around the wearer, they are protected with the equivalent of a divine magic Shield 10 spell (protecting from 20 points of damage and up to 20- point spells). Unfortunately the ring is enormously heavy -- its weight is equal to to a STR 30. Holding it up requires a STR vs STR roll, with the wearer at half chance if only one hand is used. The ring could be tied on, but its excessive weight will make movement difficult. Others could stand behind the wearer and hold up the ring, but they would not be protected by it -- and the situation would be very awkward in combat.

A scimitar of iron and Adamantium (?)

A piece of Moon Rock in a lead box

An ebony rod with a Mistress Race Troll hand on the end. This rod allows the creation and manipulation of vast amounts of darkness. It may be used to command or destroy Shades.

The Wind Shield. An ancient air spirit of great power is bound into this shield. At the user's command a driving wind bursts from the shield, blowing against anything before it. The wind has a STR of 25 that must be overcome to approach it, and attacks against the holder are at -50%. Missile weapons and arrows cannot strike the user. If the user falls or loses hold of the shield, the wind will continue to blow for one round -- during which time chaos (small "c") is likely to ensue as the shield flies around at random. There are legends that the shield may be used to fly by directing its flow against the ground, but this would require superhuman dexterity and much painful practice.

All of these are major objects of power, of course, vitally necessary to the success of the Secret Wind. The PCs will not be allowed to keep them. Even if everyone else dies someone will soon come along to take these weapons away. However, if Thurin prevails and the weapons are recovered the Secret Wind will likely reward the characters at a later date. A reasonable (though not huge) amount of money is likely. The PCs may also be gifted with small serpent-shaped amulets of luck. These are very minor magic items: when the wearer must make a luck roll, they count their POWer as being one higher than it actually is.

The characters will have the gratitude of the Secret Wind, and their names will be remembered in the future should they be needed. On the other hand, the Lunar Agent may well remember them too, depending on what happened at the Festival...

-end-

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