Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Empire of the Petal Throne

Where did all these tusks come from?

Saturday afternoon at Jeff Berry's house was once again devoted to GM Rob Leduc's EPT campaign. It had been a couple of months since I was last able to play; it was great to get back in the game.

In Rob's campaign, our party are fresh-off-the-boat tribal islanders who arrived in Penom, and shortly thereafter signed up en masse with the marines. Several sessions ago, we completed our basic training, and began our two week survival stint on the desert island that the marines' use for recruits' capstone "do or die" field experience. We say "desert island," but it was anything but deserted. Wildlife was plentiful; we even had an encounter with a Serudla some time ago. We also discovered the presence of other humans on the island. These humans are indigenous non-Tsolyani, most of whom the marines had relocated off of the island long before we arrived.

The clues were there from the beginning. Mysteriously large and fecund frog populations. We'd been feasting on them for days. Some of the party were quite paranoid about the frogs, but, hell: they were edible, and unlike going out on the water in fishing boats, gigging frogs didn't put our lives at risk from predation by Tekumel's abundance of carnivorous sea creatures.

So I have to admit that a bunch of noisy and edible frogs didn't concern my two mage characters, Akho-Akho (the 1 HPer) and Tsuralnali (6 HPs), very much. But Saturday afternoon's explorations of the tusked giant frog god's underground shrine complex (apparently - at least in part - built by the non-Tsolyani islanders): these explorations brought everything together, resulting in both a rude surprise and a revelation.

The complex was located inside the largest mountain on the island. Near the first shrines adjacent to the entrance, a passageway split into two directions. We took one of them. Our party discovered several successive levels of shrines to the tusked frog god, as well as archways flanked by giant tusks. Up and down we went through tunnels and shafts. We checked out a number of chambers and shrines, and far below found pulpy, stringy vegetative life forms with odd saccules. Creeped out a bit, we decided to retrace our steps and walk back towards the original fork in passageways near the entrance to the complex. We walked past an underground lake.

Just as we were about to clear the lake, a giant tusked frog leaped out of the water to attack the party. One of the shamans cast a "Talk to Animals" spell, and spoke with the giant frog, who demanded large quantities of meat. The shaman told the giant frog that we'd be back with plenty. But that wasn't good enough for the frog, which extended its large tongue and snapped up a member of our party. We fought back, cutting off the frog's tongue, and then we beat a fast retreat (as did the frog). We went upwards towards the original fork in passages near the entrance of the complex.  .

When we reached the fork, we decided to explore further. We headed in the opposite direction from our original explorations, and soon found ourselves in an ancient chamber with a large multifaceted crystal in the center of the room.  On the smaller of the two mountains on the island we had discovered a Lightning Bringer emplacement; so this was intriguing, to say the least!

In the chamber, there was also a strange altar with all sorts of slots (i.e., a control panel with many broken knobs and buttons).

Akho-Akno began fiddling with them.  He may have even licked them. (Did I mention Akho-Akho came out-of-the-box with 1 HP? Such people by definition live life close to the edge.)

The giant crystal shuddered into motion, and turned.

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