Tuesday, 9 June 2020


You can listen to this post being read aloud on anchor at the following link:https://anchor.fm/alonein-thelabyrinth/episodes/SoFINHO-STRIKES-BACK-ej33ro

Last night we concluded the fourth session of a discord "voice chat" game of PARIAH, and it occurred to me that maybe a brief summary of the sessions would offer some value. Have a look at some of the posts collected under the label pariah or visit https://atelier-hwei.itch.io/ if you have no idea what I'm talking about.

Starting regional maps, 6 miles per hex.

The players begin with a map of the region their characters have entered: the map is assumed to be a mental one, representing a combination of rumour and what they have glimpsed from the peaks of mountains.

Play begins with a small band of pariahs fleeing the lands of the north, having been pushed southward by the numerous tribes competing for dominance over the plains. The sole elder of the band had led three young adults and two youths through the mountains with promises of a new life among the settled people: sadly, he perished during the crossing, leaving the remaining pariahs bereft.

Charged with the care of two children (Boy and Girl) the pariahs decided to complete the mission their late elder had set them, and headed down the slopes of the mountains towards the coast.


Quiet One is strong and lean but suffers from an unusual affliction that led to his expulsion: his skin alters in colour according to his mood... sometimes quite dramatically. It almost certainly contributes to his social awkwardness! He currently struggles to wield a double-handed axe with an enormous flint head.

Illustration by Pierre Joubert, from Le temps préhistorique

Fox-through-the-Spring is bright, strong and nimble, although his overall health is not quite as robust as the rest of the band. Pushed out of his tribe for the malevolent spirit that has haunted him for as long as he can remember, Fox seeks a new homeland where he might rid himself of that curse.

Neanderthal by Fabio Parva.

Somewhere beyond the plains to the north lies a great desert... and it was here that Witheringly-Footed-through-the-Point once had a home. Bright and cheerful, Wither has a magnetic charisma that belies logical explanation, and this manifests in his confidence with drinking, music... and animal handling. We don't know what he did to displease the elders who cast him out, but he managed to charm an auroch out of them, whom he named Rocky. On his travels south he also picked up a dog named Flea.

Characters were made using tables in Pariah Volume 1 or with the online generator.

Picture of an auroch, primitive ancestor of modern cattle.
Rocky, in happier times.

Though the dry season was just beginning, the pariahs need not worry about water: mist still clung to the mountain tops and the more verdant lower slopes positively dripped with water. Of more pressing concern was food, and as they made their way down the slopes towards the coast they foraged. They found enough food to stave off hunger for the time being but it would not go much beyond that. They hoped to find some sustenance among the settled communities on the coast.

Fox did find some poisonous mushrooms which, with a little preparation, could be rendered into a paralysing toxin. He would have to make time to prepare it later, however, and there were more pressing matters afoot.

Witheringly-Footed tried to coax Rocky into taking a passenger, but for the time being, this seemed an unrewarding pursuit, and more effort would be required should Rocky show any signs of becoming the world's first passenger-bearing giant bull.

The party made good time during there descent down towards the coast, unharried by encounters, but it was dusk by the time they came to the shore and Boy & Girl were tired and hungry. Distant torchlight was spotted both to the north and south. The party decided to follow the rocky beach to the southernmost source of light.

A small cluster of simple huts, right on the beach, came into view. Quiet One stood guard with the children and the animals while the charismatic Wither stepped forward, with Fox backing him up.

The settlement was silent but, when they called out, an older man emerged and explained that they were welcome to join them for their evening meal, though they had little to share. Quiet One and the children came forward, and noted a circle of small huts, outside of which groups of adults were tending smaller fires at which they prepared grilled squid. 

The hosts said little, only that the spirits of the sea seemed displeased, as their yield was pitiful compared to their haul of previous seasons. Yet they seemed content to share what they had, and by way of gratitude Quiet One presented the older man with a carved wooden antelope. He accepted it with grace and something like solemnity.

The band were invited to sleep by the lager central fire in the open air. They took turns to take watch and to tend the fire while the others slept.

Disturbance in the Night
During the first watch, something seemed to catch a sliver of silver from the thin crescent moon, something beneath the waves. Quiet One roused the others from their slumber, but they noticed nothing more. Nothing occurred during Fox's watch, and it was not until Wither's watch that the shapes beneath waves made their presence felt.

Four human-shaped figures strode slowly from the waves, making their way towards the camp. The pariahs ordered the children to flee, and confronted the four creatures: scaly, fish-like men with large black eyes, exuding slime.

While the three fought courageously, one of the fish-men snuck around in pursuit of the children.

During the ensuing melee Quiet One was critically wounded and fell to the ground in a heap, but was able to slay one of the creatures before quietly gasping in a pool of his own blood. 

Wither struggled against the fish-man, which seemed to gnash with teeth, claw and even tail... even at one point attempting to vomit all over him. His efforts to blind it with sand from the beach did not help his cause.

Fox had attempted to rouse the rest of the villagers but to know avail — perhaps they were cowering in their beds? His own struggle with the fish-man was resolved and, having obliterated his opponent, and set off in pursuit of the creature chasing the children, taking a burning stick from the fire as a temporary torch.

Witheringly footed finally impaled his enemy upon his bonesword, and ran to Quiet One's side, finding him stable but having lost a lot of blood from a wound on his chest.

The sound of combat having faded, the local fisher-folk began to emerge from the huts.

The creature had chased the children to the edge of the forest, but its shambling gait meant that Fox quickly caught up with it, and impaled the creature from behind. The two children emerged from the jungle, shocked by the spectacle before them.

The Morning After  
As Fox returned to the settlement in the first rays of a new morning, his ears were pierced by an inhuman wail. Upon witnessing the corpses of the three sea-monsters, the villagers responded not with gratitude but dismay. The elder who had invited them to dinner but a few hours before, threw himself to the ground and began sob quietly.

Wither attempted to assuage the mood of some of the locals with some reassuring words, but he was met only with confused or terrified faces. That fear and misery soon turned to anger and hatred, and the band no longer felt their position was secure.

Fox mad his stand: presenting his bonesword to the angry villagers, he broke it over his knee, driving the broken blade into the sand.

The band walked away, taking Boy, Girl and Flea with them. Wither calmed Rocky while Fox laid him on to the beast-of-burden's back. They began following the coastal path to the south, the sounds of the villagers wailing behind him fading into the din of crashing waves.
The voice of a woman called out to them from behind:


They turned to see a young, dark-skinned woman with curly black hair tied in a bun on the top of her head: she was one of the villagers to whom Wither had previously appealed:

"Let me come with you! I can guide you to the Great Settlement."

Fox and Wither looked to one another and shrugged.

"Sure," said wither, "what's your name?"


Behind the Curtain
While foraging, players make a D6 roll and add it to their wisdom. They can focus their efforts on finding botanicals, herbs or firewood as well as food.

Quiet One was quickly reduced to 0 HP- this is not death, however. Characters are rendered prone and may continue to act if desired (though they receive CON damage if they do so). Further damage necessitates a roll on the DEATH & DISMEMBERMENT TABLE.

Quiet One acquired an "X" against his HD for experiencing this wound: three Xs enable him to increase his HD.

All pariahs receive an "X" for overcoming a lethal situation: they can place this anywhere on their character sheet. Each player earns an "X" for the character of their choice, having attended the session.

Pariahs acquire Xs for critical hits and fails, but I can't remember if any of those occurred...

Read the session 2 play report to find out what happened next!

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