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Hârn Campaign (2005 - 2006)

Pepper and Spice – Part 2: Doomsayer, Session 3

Note: Hârn specific terms are underlined. Place your cursor over the word and the definition of the word will appear.

Scenario Author: Edwyn Kumar and N. Robin Crossby
Scenario Publisher Columbia Games, Inc.
Write-up Author: Allan Goodall
Run Date: June 26, 2005
Game System: HârnMaster III
Game Master: Allan Goodall
Characters: Kieran of Boru, a Fyvrian Shek-Pvar Satia-Mavari (Jason Gallagher); Merrick of Larani, an ex-gladiator and mercenary (Jimmy Pope); S'arnat of Pherisa, an artist/cartographer (Alana Goodall)

Spoiler Warning: This scenario is taken from the Columbia Games HârnMaster supplement Trobridge Inn. If you are a Hârn player you may wish to ask your Game Master if they intend to run this scenario before reading this write-up, as pertinent scenario information will be revealed.

12th of Nuzyael, 720 TR, 4th Watch

Caverns Beneath Trobridge Tower

Kieran felt around the rocky surface where S'arnat detected the hidden door, but he couldn't find a seam. He concentrated on the door and moved his hand along the cavern wall. He touched something that gave way slightly. The door opened with a hiss. Beyond was a passageway made of a gray-brown stone. Kieran recognized the material as pseudostone, the favored building material of the ancient Earthmasters. Kieran pushed the door wider and stepped inside. He was followed by S'arnat and Merrick.

The adventurers walked down a corridor roughly ten feet wide, their torches illuminating an area twice that distance in front and behind them. The corridor looked as though it had been made from a single piece of pseudostone. There were no seams or fissures to suggest that it had been made in multiple pieces. The sound of their steps echoed through the passageway. They heard nothing else, not even dripping water. On the walls were frescoes of various animals and creatures. The style was such that they could not make out what they were supposed to represent.

After proceeding about 100 feet, they saw a hole in the floor. The hole was the width of the passage and completely circular. S'arnat walked to the edge and peered over. Even by the light of her torch she could not see to the bottom. The sides of the hole were smooth pseudostone. An arm's length from the edge were a pair of metal rings set into the pseudostone. There was no obvious way to climb down except by rope.

Kieran looked around for a pebble. The passageway was remarkably clear of rock and debris. The corridor was old, but the ground was stable and the seals were tight. He did, at last, find a small pebble. He tossed it down the hole and listened. He counted as it fell, but he didn't hear it hit the ground. "Did you hear it? Did you hear it?" he asked the others, worried that the hole was bottomless.

The others had heard it. Merrick estimated that the rock took a couple of heartbeats to hit what sounded like a stone floor. Merrick walked up to the edge, held out his torch, and dropped it. They watched it fall. When it hit, it bounced off a stone floor but did not go out. Kieran estimated the depth of the hole at 60 feet.

Kieran pulled the rope from his pack. He tied it to one of the metal rings. Merrick tested it. They threw the rope down the shaft. It stopped about three feet short of the floor. Merrick swung over the hole and climbed down.

At the bottom, Merrick found himself on a raised disk in the center of a large room. The room was made of the same gray-brown stone as the passage. Like the passage, it looked as though it was made of a single piece of material. The room, too, was circular. Six equally spaced arches were set into the walls. Five of the arches were filled with bare stone. The sixth arch was narrower than the other five. It opened onto a corridor, also of pseudostone. This corridor was like an extension of the one where S'arnat and Kieran still stood. It was about the same width and headed in the same direction. Merrick picked up his torch and walked to the edge of the disk. The corridor extended 20 feet. He could not see the end of the corridor.

Merrick looked up. The hole he came through was in the center of a roof about 20 feet high. On the roof were more frescoes. They displayed a progression of creatures moving from one body form to another. These pictures were similar to those he had seen in the second floor of Trobridge's tower, but they are of a much higher quality. The pictures were done in vibrant color, but they were also set into the stone, as though the paint had been injected into the stone.

"What do you see down there?" called Kieran. Merrick waved them down.

S'arnat was the second to climb down the rope. When she arrived at the bottom, Kieran followed. When he got to the end of the rope, he let go and fell a couple of feet to the floor. As soon as he landed, he felt a tingling in the soles of his feet. Kieran reached up and untied his staff. All three adventurers now stood on the circle in the middle of the chamber.

Merrick moved toward the narrow arch. S'arnat looked around the perimeter of the circle. At the edge opposite the narrow arch she found a skeleton. The skeleton lay face down with an arrow sticking out of its back. A rotten haversack lay open beside the remains. It looked like someone had looted the sack. Kieran and Merrick joined her. S'arnat and Kieran thought the skeleton's decayed clothes were about 15 years old, but Merrick thought the clothes were closer to 40 years old. The gladiator pulled out the arrow. The arrowhead was incredibly well crafted. The shaft was absolutely straight, yet so flexible that he could bend it back on itself. He thought it was made by Elves.

Merrick was all for continuing their exploration. "He's been here a long time. He's dead. I don't see any Elves around here, do you?" The others, though, were in no hurry to leave the central disk.

Kieran looked around the chamber. His feet continued to tingle from magical energy emanating from the disk. The importance of what they were seeing washed over him. There was no question that this was an Earthmaster site, but it may or may not be known to other mages. If it was unknown within the Shek-Pvar, this was an important find.

The mage studied the frescoes on the chamber's ceiling. They were old, but he couldn't quite place them. He did know that, unlike the arrow, the pictures were not Sindarin. They could have been of Earthmaster creation, but they were unlike any Earthmaster images he'd ever heard of. He noticed that the frescoes showed five vaulted openings with a progression of different creatures coming out of each arch. One arch looked like it had elves, dwarves, and men coming out of it. Another had only men exiting the arch. A third had what appeared to be dragons coming through the arch. A fourth had small, vaguely human shapes marching through the arch. The last fresco was incomplete. Vague lines suggested that initial sketches had been made, but the fresco was never completed. Merrick held his torch up as high as he could to aid Kieran, but the sketches were too faint.

S'arnat looked around the disk for signs of blood. She found a dark patch that was probably dried blood near where the body lay. She crouched near the blood. Almost all of it was on the disk, not on the ground beside the disk. The victim of the arrow was probably shot on the disk and dragged off it. As the palm of her right hand approached the disk, her hand tingled. It reminded her of the sensation she felt when she ran her hand along the outline of the hidden door.

The adventurers jumped off the disk and walked over to the nearest sealed arch. It didn't look like the chamber had collapsed or sunk. It looked more like the arch had been filled in. The rock was almost smooth, like it had been cut to fit the archway.

They moved from the sealed archway to the narrow arch and corridor. They walked down the corridor. At the end was another arch. Crudely attached to that arch was a rough, wooden door. Like everything else, the corridor was made of pseudostone. The far wall and the arch were made of pseudostone. The door, and the frame that it was set in, were made of wood. Kieran thought they were of human manufacture. The door was not locked. They opened it.

The room was oblong, deeper than it was wide. It contained two sets of wooden tables, with benches pushed underneath. Against the left hand wall stood a metal brazier. A padded chair slouched beside it. Empty bronze candleabras stood in each corner. Beyond the tables were ten pseudostone disks, five on each side. On the disks stood lifelike statues.

The nearest statue of those on the left-hand side was of a gargun, or what the adventurers thought was a gargun, as only Merrick had ever seen one in real life, and that was in the Pamesani Games. On the neighboring disk was a statue of something that looked like a gargun, but it was bigger, with more human-like features. Next to that was a figure of something shorter and stouter than the gargun. The fourth disk in the row was reminiscent of a gargun but with lizard-like features. The statues on the right-hand side were of things they had never seen. One statue was humanoid but with four arms and two legs, another was a large, heavy, four-legged lizard. The third statue was human-shaped, but its body was made of flat panels and its limbs were cylinders. Three other disks — one on the left, two on the right — were empty.

At the back of the room lay another corpse. This skeleton did not have an arrow in it, but it did have a large gash in the skull. The clothes were of the same vintage as those on the other skeleton.

Kieran felt magically potent while standing in the room. He suspected that it was a magical sanctum, a space designed to amplify magic.

S'arnat's head buzzed. She moved about the room. A shiver ran through her as she walked along the left-side wall. This was how she felt when she found the hidden door in the caverns. She moved her hand around the wall. A tingling sensation showed her the outline of a magically hidden alcove, about three feet square. She found a metal ring hidden from normal senses. She twisted it and pulled it open. Inside the alcove was a small bronze chest. The chest was latched shut, though there was no obvious latch. She picked it up and got a weird, tingling sensation in her palm. She could not open the chest, though. It was magically sealed.

Kieran sat down and cast Nurture of Isla on himself. He fell asleep for ten minutes, and then woke up feeling much better. While Kieran slept, S'arnat put the box on one of the short pedestals. Nothing happened. Merrick tried to open it with a dagger, but he could not slip the blade under the lid.

After he woke, Kieran tried to cast Balm of Griesan on himself. At first the spell's Form started to develop properly, then it began to go horribly awry. He dissipated the spell, which tired him slightly. He sat down to rest while the others searched the room. He was now certain that the room was a sanctum. Since his magic worked much better than it normally did, the room was either a Fyvrian sanctum — designed to work with his magical convocation — or it was a neutral sanctum — designed to amplify all magic.

Merrick searched the skeleton. Down the front of its leggings was a brittle, folded sheet of paper. He carefully extracted it. It was a map. Along the outside edge were pictures of deformed humanoids. In the middle of the map was a path leading to a fanciful building surrounded by trees. A lake was drawn above and to the right of the buildings. The map had writing on it, but Merrick could not read it.

"Hey, I found a map!" said Merrick.

"What, of the caverns?" asked S'arnat.

"No, something else."

"What does it say," asked Kieran.

"I don't know, I can't read it," replied Merrick. "Why don't you get off your frail ass, and come read it."

S'arnat came over to try and read the map, but she could not. Kieran finally got up and walked over to them. The script near the buildings said, "Elkall-Anuz". Elkall-Anuz was the capital of the Fowlspawner, the evil mage who brought gargun to Hârn.

Kieran looked over the map. He estimated it's age at 600 years, but the parchment was not of human manufacture. Merrick suspected that the dead person hid the map in his leggings.

The script around the map wrote of things "spawning" and the "spawning ground". Part of it was an invocation, part of it talked of "modifications". It was not a full spell but an addendum to another spell, and that spell apparently had to be cast in this room. S'arnat copied the spell as best she could. She was certain she had copied it properly, but Kieran wasn't so sure. She sandwiched the map between sheets of vellum to protect it.

Kieran attempted to cast Balm of Griesan again. The Form was flawed, and so he aborted the spell. He rested for a few moments and then cast it again. Once again the Form was flawed and he had to abort it. He rested, then cast it a third time. This time the Form was perfect and the spell washed over him. The spell did nothing for him, though. This was not really a surprise because he had already cast it on his wounds; the spell could only work once on any given injury. Kieran asked S'arnat for the box, but it did nothing to augment the mage's casting ability. He tried to dispell the magic protecting the box, but it was beyond Kieran's ability.

The adventurers were hungry, so they sat down to eat. Merrick pulled out some jerky from his pack and shared it with the others. After eating and resting Kieran once again cast Nurture of Isla on himself. The spell was formed perfectly, and he fell fast asleep. When he awoke he felt refreshed. He cast Hand of Iliam on his chest wound, preventing it from getting worse. He cast the spell again on his remaining wound, and that, too, was stabilized. He turned to the others and said, "Would anyone else like to avail themselves of my increased potency?"

S'arnat said, "If you are talking about your spellcasting..."

Kieran cast Hand of Iliam on S'arnat's shoulder. After the third attempt, the spell worked. Her wound was now immune from infection. Kieran rested for a while and then cast the same spell on Merrick's chest injury. It worked on the first attempt. Merrick's wound was now protected from infection.

With nothing left to investigate and no other spells to cast, it was time for them to climb back up the rope. They stashed the small chest in Merrick's pack, then walked back to the large disk and their rope. S'arnat began climbing but lost her grip early on. Merrick caught her. He began climbing the rope, but he,too, slipped and fell back down into the chamber.

"Got any rope spells," S'arnat asked Kieran.

"Yes, but you wouldn't want me to cast it. It would be too dangerous."

S'arnat tried to climb the rope a second time. She climbed up 25 feet before she started to slip. She lost five feet of distance before she stopped herself. She climbed again, making it all the way up to the top.

Merrick tried next. He put out the torch, stuffed it into his pack and began climbing. He managed to get about 10 feet up before he lost his grip and fell. He landed on his feet, lost his balance, and rolled heavily on his left arm. Fortunately his armor protected him from injury. Merrick tried again to ascend the rope. He climbed 10 feet, then slid five feet down the rope. He pulled himself up, getting to the 35 foot mark before he lost his grip and dropped to the 25 foot mark. The gladiator paused for a moment, and then climbed once more. This time he got to the top of the shaft without losing his grip.

Due to the danger inherent in climbing, Kieran tied himself to the rope and Merrick and S'arnat pulled him up. They pulled Kieran up in jerks. When he was 30 feet up he yelled, "Tie it off!" but there was no easy way for them to hold him in place and tie up the slack rope. Instead, they pulled again. He rose to 40 feet. S'arnat was tiring. Her hands slipped and only Merrick's strength kept Kieran from crashing to the stone, below. They paused for a moment and then pulled again. Kieran got to the edge of the hole and pulled himself out, but not before Merrick felt a twinge of pain in his lower back.

"I threw my back out lifting you," said Merrick. "Can you help me out?"

"Okay, let's go back down to the sanctum..." answered Kieran.

"No, let's just do it here."

"Okay, but you take your life into your own hands."

"I do that every day I take a step beside you," said Merrick through clenched teeth.

Kieran cast Balm of Griesan. The Form was absolutely perfect. The Principle flowed smoothly into the spell, with no effort. The pain in Merrick's back immediately disappeared, and Kieran wasn't the least bit tired.

After a few minutes rest they lit their torches, picked up their things and walked back down the pseudostone corridor. When they got to the end of the passage they saw they had left the hidden door open. Fortunately no one, and no thing, had followed them.

Once they were back out in the caverns they discussed what to do. Should they return to the tower or go on? They chose to keep exploring. They turned left and continued down the narrow passage. The rocky floor sloped down and was slippery, so they had to watch their step. After a dozen paces the passage split off into two forks. They took the right fork, but it soon ended in a depression filled with water. They doubled-back to the left fork. This section opened into a larger passage that bent to the right. In front of them was a rock fall. A little further down the passage was another rock fall. Beyond that the passage angled to the right.

Kieran moved toward the first rock fall. There was a gap a couple of feet wide at the top. He scampered to the top of the rubble and looked in. Beyond the rubble was a small catacomb. He saw a barrel. The others climbed up beside him.

Merrick squeezed through the gap and into the catacomb. The barrel was intact, but it was empty. He glanced around, his torch licking the catacomb's ceiling. The catacomb was about 10 feet square. He saw a finely made wooden crate, which he took to be of Sindarin manufacture. He also found a chest and a barrel. Merrick tried to open the chest, but it was locked. Kieran and S'arnat squeezed through to join the gladiator. They tried to open the chest, but they could not pick the lock mechanism that kept it shut. Merrick walked over to the crate and broke it open. Inside were the hard remains of bread; it was inedible but had been protected from pests for years. The gladiator moved to the barrels. He opened them up with his sword. They smelled slightly of vinegar, and probably once held wine.

Kieran and S'arnat debated taking the chest. Kieran thought they should, S'arnat thought they could come back for it. While they argued, Merrick picked up the chest, slid it through the rubble, and followed it. Kieran followed Merrick and the chest, and S'arnat followed Kieran.

Merrick hoisted the chest on his shoulder. The adventurers continued further down the cavern. They stopped in front of the second set of rubble. There was space to squeeze through here, too. Behind the rubble was a passage. Merrick pushed through the gap in the rubble. Rocks gave way as he pushed, forcing him to back up until they stopped falling. He stuck his head through. He saw a deep pit.

Merrick backed out of the gap. "Hey, there's a pit in there!" The pit was at the base of the rubble pile.

S'arnat volunteered to explore the pit. They tied a rope around her waist. Merrick helped her up to the gap in the debris. She squirmed through and slid down the rubble pile into the pit. Her torch showed that the pit was only 12 feet deep. At the bottom of the pit was another passage, which ran off to the left. As she got to the bottom her feet splashed into shallow water. She walked down the passage, careful of where she stood for fear of finding a deep pool or slipping. Just as the rope had almost played out, she saw buried in the rock a gray-brown stone building.

As she stared at it, S'arnat hit on the idea that this was outside of the Earthmaster building they had just explored. The structure hadn't been built underground. Instead, it looked like the structure had been built on the surface and then sunk underground.

She could only see part of the building. The rest was hidden within rock. The visible portion looked like a small rotunda attached to a short corridor. She could see that the corridor was arched on top. She reasoned that this was what was the other side of one of the archways that had been blocked with stone. Broken picks and stacks of stone indicated that someone had been excavating the building, though by the amount of mold on the pick and the decayed condition of the shaft she knew that the excavation was not recent. The left side of the corridor and rotunda was almost completely excavated. The right side was only excavated enough to reveal an arch in the side of the rotunda. The rope prevented her from seeing further.

S'arnat walked back to the pit and told them what she saw. She asked if she should untie the rope and explore a bit further. Kieran answered, "Sure, go ahead!"

"Do you want someone to go with you?" asked Merrick? S'arnat said she did. She untied the rope. Merrick hauled the rope back up and tied it to himself. Kieran played out the rope — which was more of a safety line than an aid to climbing — as Merrick slid down the rubble pile and dropped into the pit. Merrick joined the scribe and they walked, together, back to the building.

Kieran called out to them. "Stand right there!" He tied the rope to the chest and lowered it down. He then untied the rope from around his waist and threw it into the pit. He squeezed through the gap and clambered down the rubble pile. At first he couldn't find a handhold — he was in danger of slipping — but his foot caught a solid piece of rock. Within moments he had easily climbed to the bottom of the pit. Merrick and S'arnat were waiting for him. Kieran wrapped up the rope and Merrick picked up the chest. They trudged through the water to the Earthmaster building.

They looked through the archway into the rotunda. The room within the rotunda was octagonal. It was surrounded by frescoes of men, but the frescoes were unfinished. There was something with the men, but they couldn't make out what they were supposed to be other than they were human-shaped. In the center of the room stood a seemingly solid block of pseudostone. The block was several feet high and about four feet wide. It was slightly wider and longer at the base than it was at the top.

Kieran knew about these blocks. They were called godstones. A godstone was an Earthmaster relic. Although they looked like simple blocks with an entrance in one side, they allowed passage to other places, sometimes over very great distances. They fascinated the Shek-Pvar and they caused everything from disquiet to terror among laymen who lived near them. Kieran told the others what he knew of these artifacts. S'arnat walked closer to the godstone. Her whole body started to tingle. She walked entirely around the godstone, but didn't find an entrance.

The Shek-Pvar had researched godstones while studying magic. If there was no entrance that meant it was not active. He could maybe activate the godstone if he could become attuned to it. "It's dormant," he said. He grasped his staff in one hand and placed his other hand on the stone. He concentrated. A few seconds later he looked up and smiled. It was hard to explain, but he felt like he could control the godstone. The godstone was a part of him. He willed the godstone to come alive, and it did. A portal opened on the side facing the blocked archway. The mage hadn't even broken a sweat.

"All this resting has done you world's of good," smiled S'arnat.

The mage concentrated in an attempt to read the godstone's setting. An image flared in his mind. He saw down an alley of what he believed was a very large city. Much of the city was ruined, though some buildings were still intact. He did not see any people. Kieran didn't recognize this location. He did know, somehow, that the godstone opened onto another godstone. In other words, a trip through it would not be one way.

He offered to reset the godstone to another location while the others stood back and watched. Merrick and S'arnat asked why, as someone had set this godstone to that location for a reason. Kieran had no good answer for that, so he asked if they wanted to go through the godstone. After a short discussion they decided they would.

The adventurers entered the godstone with Kieran in the lead.

The mage felt he was walking down a long, dark corridor, but in his mind he knew that the godstone was only four feet deep. Light appeared ahead of him. He approached the light. The light grew brighter and larger, then he found himself stepping out of a godstone into sunlight. It was quite a bit warmer (wherever he was) and the sunlight was brighter than he was accustomed to seeing on Hârn. Before him was the alley he saw when he read the godstone's setting.

Merrick followed Kieran. He, too, walked down a long, dark passage that brightened before him. As he stepped through the godstone he suddenly felt like a burden was off his shoulders. Literally. He was wearing his clothes, but he had nothing else with him. He was unarmed, unarmored, his backpack was missing, and he had lost the Elven chest he was carrying.

S'arnat followed the men. She experienced the same sensation of walking through a dark passage. When she came out the other end of the godstone she had all of her possessions.

"Without my weapons," cried Merrick, "I have nothing!"