Friday, 4 September 2020

PARIAH ACTUAL PLAY — DISCORD SESSION 10 [TRIBUTES & TRIBULATIONS]

A summary of the TENTH session of the discord live voice-chat game of PARIAH. This is a continuation of events in the eighth session, but if you're curious what the ninth session was all about you can find out here.

An old-school proto-neolithic roleplaying game, you can find out more about Pariah at this page. Additionally there are multiple posts collected under the label pariah  including play reports, themes and mechanics, or you can pick up a copy at https://atelier-hwei.itch.io/pariah.


SESSION 10: DAY 12 CROW MOON 

(This session took place on Sunday 9th August 2020)

DAWN EXPEDITION

Wither and Antelope were still in recovery following their confrontation with the hill tribe raiders the previous night, so Rides-the-Grave was invited to join the the armed tribute expedition without his comrades. He was joined by a new face: Worm, a pariah fallen into the service of Etau for his wise counsel and powerful storytelling.

Four Spearmen

Following some brief introductory exchanges, the party are joined by 4 male spearmen of the settlement. Barely a moment later 3 porters (2 male, 1 female) arrive carrying 3 sleds laden with sacks of grain.

This is Worm; portrait Made by Bluewolf using https://artbreeder.com/
They begin their journey.

Only Rides-the-Grave has made this journey before, and the party are all wary: the guards form a wide perimeter, encircling the central party of porters. Regular stops are made to scout ahead: this slows the party down somewhat, but it enables the porters to catch their breath.

They follow the familiar mountain trail, tracing the path of the stream as it slides down the mountain through the densely forested jungle slopes.

Two hours pass without incident... then...

Dreary Eagle

One of the spearmen—Dreary Eagle—calls out: he has found something.

Worm whistles and the entire party halts.

Worm and Rides-the-Grave go to jungle, they find a shrine by an ancient tree: no sign of Dreary Eagle. A recent trail leads into the undergrowth. They call but hear no response.

Rides-the-Grave takes some shaman shrooms, Worm returns to the travelling party with an update. They are told to sit tight until further notice and stay wary.

Worm gets back to find Rides-the-Grave more than a little high, feeling the bark of the tree. An insect swarm of ravenous black beetles emerges from the shadows, surrounding the tree.

Worm lays his large animal femur at the foot of the tree in tribute. The tree feels hostile, yet he observes the beetles surrounding the tree are forming a perfect circle, as though there were an invisible, impassable barrier.

Rides-the-Grave watches the world around him swirl and contort, as he glimpses the ever-changing realm of Dawn rubbing up against that of the Here and Now. Above him the spirit of the tree manifests as an enormous, bark-skinned snake: it whispers into his ear that Dreary Eagle has been given as tribute to the Forest Spirit.

Fight

Rides-the-Grave summons a spirit of Beyond from deep within him: it takes out a large chunk of the swarm. The remaining beetles reform to continue encircling the tree: it's comparatively easy for Worm to leap over the swarm and return to the party... half of the swarm breaks away and pursues him, enabling the spearmen and porters to stamp and squash them with bare feet and spear-butts.

Worm then leads the party back to the tree to take out the remaining insects.

Covenant

With the immediate threat of the weird demon bugs abated and the fate of Dreary Eagle established, Rides-the-Grave yet lingered by the strange tree-snake-spirit.

This is NErvously Rides-the-GRave; portrait Made by Eugene using https://artbreeder.com/
It offered him a deal.

His hand in return for a greater power.

Rides-the-Grave barely equivocated, allowing his hand to rest in the jaws of the serpent.

To the assembled party, a slightly sweaty Rides-the-Grave seemed to push his arm into the tree: he releases an ear-splitting cry and falls to the ground.

Where once was his left hand nothing remained, the skin seemed to have grown smoothly over the stump where his hand once was. Smooth aside from the faint trace of multiple concentric circles, almost like the rings of a tree...

One of the spear-brothers helped Rides-the-Grave to his feet. The atmosphere was tense, and the porters seemed more than a little on edge: they had lost a comrade and witnessed the peculiar pariah sacrifice his limb to an invisible tree-spirit.

Seeing the unease eating at his fellow party members, Worm stepped forward and began to relate a tale:

Worm's Story:Three brothers & the Mountain



Here and a long time ago, there lived three brothers at the foot of a great mountain.
Spirit of the mountain was weary and burdened with age. She said to herself:  
“The brothers are youthful and filled with energy. I’ll call upon one of them and take him as my apprentice.” 
On a night of a full moon she flew down from the mountain and woke up the oldest brother. 
“Come with me boy. You’ll serve me in my old age and I’ll grant you great many gifts for it. I give you until the next full moon to say goodbye to your parents and your brothers and all your loved ones. On that night climb the mountain. I’ll lead your steps, that you may come to me safely.”
Next morning the oldest brother told what he saw and heard to his parents and his brothers. And his parents pleaded with him to heed the call of the spirit but he wanted to hear none of it. He was a skilled hunter and enjoyed spending time in the forests stalking the prey. 
Days passed and a night of full moon came. And the oldest brother slept soundly, making nothing of the spirit’s call. More days passed and he went on a hunt with his friends. But he did not return that day, as a beast surprised him and tore away at this throat.
Another month passed and the spirit flew down from the mountain again. This time waking up the middle brother.
“Come with me boy. You’ll serve me in my old age and I’ll grant you great many gifts for it. I give you until the next full moon to say goodbye to your parents and your brother and all your loved ones. On that night climb the mountain. I’ll lead your steps, that you may come to me safely.”
In the morning the middle brother told what he had seen and heard to his parents and his brother. His parents pleaded with him to heed the call of the spirit but he would hear none of it. He had a young lover and he enjoyed spending time with them in the meadows and near the river.
Days passed and a night of full moon came again. And the middle brother slept soundly, making nothing of the spirit’s call. More days passed and he went to swim in the river with his lover. But he did not return that day, as a wild current pulled him under dragging air from his lungs.
More time passed and the spirit flew down from the mountain one last time. She woke up the youngest brother and told him this.
“Come with me boy. You’ll serve me in my old age and I’ll grant you great many gifts for it. I give you until the next full moon to say goodbye to your parents and all your loved ones. On that night climb the mountain. I’ll lead your steps, that you may come to me safely.”
He stood at once and girded himself and put on his sandals.
”I will walk with you on this night. My parents and friends know how much I love them. There is nothing left for me to say or do. Nothing tethers me to this place. Lead my steps, that I may serve you well.”
And they went, and the boy served the spirit for great many years, and received great many gifts from her, and his descendants were many in number and they live on the mountain to this day.
Worm's tale seems to assuage the anxiety of the expedition somehow. Worm detects a glimmer of respect in their eyes when they glance towards him and Rides-the-Grave.

They make their way up the hill towards the hive.

Ant Hill

The great clearing opens up, revealing the vast earthen mound known as the hive. It is not yet noon, but the sun is hot and high. Rides-the-Grave invites the party to wait at the edge while he and ides-the-Grave approach the hive.

Knowing they will be venturing underground Rides-the-Grave and Worm fashion simple torches before making their entrance. They way is blocked by a soldier ant.

It calls into tunnel. Worm cautiously returns to the tribute party and leads them slowly up the ant hill back to the entrance. A worker ant appears and inspects RtG. It goes into the mound, Rides-the-Grave carries a torch and Worm takes a sack.

They travel through the labyrinth, to the Queen's court. She is disappointed not to see her servants (Wither, Fox, Antelope and Lake) but pleased her project continues apace. A troop of worker ants begin to file out of the hive. The Queen ushers the pariahs back to the surface. She does not follow but her voice still rings in their ears, as the worker ants take the sacks of rice grain into the hive. A second line of ants wanders back down the path to the settlement, each one carrying an amber honey-globe.

"Look upon our great work!"

Ant-Queen's voice is deep and sonorous.  Rides-the-Grave looks troubled as he witnesses more than one dozen giant ants carrying honey globes towards Etau's village:

"What of the hill tribes?"

A cackle echoes in their ears and, judging by the look of disquiet emblazoned upon the faces of the spearmen and the porters, in their ears too... the silence is broken by the Ant-Queen's voice once again:

"They cannot stop what we have started: the Great Spirit fears change, the Great Spirit will be crushed. We shall be victorious!"

* * *
The campaign continues in this post right here https://aloneinthelabyrinth.blogspot.com/2020/09/pariah-actual-play-discord-session-11.html.

No comments:

Post a comment