Goblin (Cobalus malignans)

A cave dwelling elfin subspecies. Encountered on many worlds, these malignant creatures have dwelt on Gæa for along time.

Goblins are a species of cave and underground dwelling humanoids. A degenerate form of elf, they prefer to dwell in caves, ravines and rocky land where trees do not easily grow. They despise elves, experiencing a racial obligation to battle them, and are despised and battled on in turn by elves. Generations spent stooped stooped underground have caused goblins to evolve into a far smaller stature than their tree dwelling kin. Their underground nature has led to them becoming adequate miners, resulting in the occasional skirmish as their mines encroach on the domain of other subterranean species.

When goblins do venture into the open, it is usually at night as they are easily demoralised in daylight, with only the hardiest of their kind being able to function normally diurnally. Their elven ancestry is not commonly known and most people view them as a sort of subspecies of orc, a misconception which orcs have been known to take exception to. While orcs will often enslave and sometimes even employ goblins, they hate them as much as elves and will not have a qualm with any action, which may result in the death of goblins.

Goblins come in many sizes, sometimes growing as tall, but not as bulky, as an average human, but they are generally of a far smaller stature. Although usually timid when alone, they can become most aggressive when encountered in numbers, an occurrence that their fast breeding readily facilitates.

Known for their mischievous ways, goblins are often blamed for any small thing, which may go wrong. As such, they are actively hunted to punish them for their misdeeds. They are not very intelligent and lack the ability to plan far in advance, often starving in winter as a result. They also routinely fail to maintain their weaponry, a fine sword in a goblins hand will be rusted and blunt to the point of being useless in a short span of time.

The depredations of orc slavers and other persecutors may keep their numbers in check, for if left to themselves for too long, a tribe will experience a population explosion, resulting in a migration akin to a locust swarm as the excess population leaves it mother tribe to search for a home where they can found a new tribe. Although extremely rare, goblin migrations extremely destructive as the massive number of goblins plunder the land they traverse in search of a new homeland.

See also Elves and The Lopsloss.

This take on goblins was first defined VIII August MMVIII

STR2D6 + 29Move 2
CON1D6 + 46-7Hit Points 7
SIZ1D6 + 36Fatigue 15
POW3D6 10-11
DEX2D6 + 613
R Leg1-41-32/3
L Leg5-84-62/3
R Arm13-1516-172/3
L Arm16-1818-192/3
Short Spear7401D8+12510
Pole Lasso330 + 54
Sling*315 + 51D8
Knife925 + 61D4 + 225 + 64

Skills: Agility + 4; Jump 15, Climb 30, Communications +11; Speak Other Language (Orc) 9, Knowledge 0; Mineral Law 20, Evaluate 10, Manipulate + 5; Devise 18, Perception + 3; Listen 30, Track 10, Stealth + 10; Hide 48, Sneak 42.
Armour: Generally no more that 2 point hard leather, although more protective helmets are often worn.
Magic: Although goblins mostly use spirit magic, some have been known to use sorcery. Due to the generally high mortality rate, it is rare to find a goblin sorcerer of much power. The contrary is true for shamans who are often them most powerful being next to the chieftain in a tribe. Many goblins will give their life to protect the tribal shaman and as a result goblin shamans can become surprisingly powerful.
* Few goblins live long enough to master the sling.

Fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox)

A small predator from Madagascar.

A small, ferocious, cat like carnivore. Although it does occasionally hunt by day, it is primarily nocturnal. With sharp powerful claws and needle like teeth, it has the ability to seriously wound creatures up to twice its size. Although not a real danger to adult humans, it could be a threat to small children, halflings, ducks and pixies. Its ability to climb extremely fast and jump make it equally dangerous to small flying folk like faeries.

In its native Madagascar, the solitary fossa uses its powerful body and sharp claws to scale trees in search of its favourite prey, lemurs

This wildlife program inspired entry was first documented on VI August MMII


STR1D6 + 35-6Move 8
CON3D610-11Hit Points 7
SIZ1D6 + 14Fatigue 15
POW1D6 + 69-10
DEX2D6 + 1219
RH Leg01-0201-020/3
LH Leg03-0403-040/3
Hind Q05-0705-090/4
Fore Q08-1010-140/4
RF Leg11-13 15-160/3
LF Leg14-1617-180/3
Bite1040 + 71D8
Claw750 + 7 1D6

Note: The fossa can claw its prey and bite in the same round if it so desires. If the fossa claws its prey with a special success, its claws will grip into its prey’s flesh, allowing it to hang on. It will continue to do claw damage every 3 strike ranks until its claws are removed. (No further hit rolls will required until its claws disengage).
Skills: Climb 70 + 6, Jump 60 + 4, Sneak 80 – 2, Scan 25 – 2, Listen 35 – 4.
Armour: None.

The Dogs of War (Canis Confligere)

A violent race of canines whose sole existence is to wage bloody war.
“Cry ‘Havoc!,’ and let slip the dogs of war.” ~ Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare

Their origins are a mystery. Whether the result of strong sorcery, the taint of chaos or beings from a far world called Sirius, no one can say. One thing for certain is that The Dogs of War are an extremely dangerous force that cannot be ignored, on the battlefield or off.

The Dogs of War are found in three states. Their highest (alpha) pedigree is that of the Prime Pooch, a muscular and intelligent creature which stands upright and is the size of an average human. They are calm and collected killers, who will use their strong dog jaws as readily as any weapon to damage an enemy. Although they have many humanoid features, they are still very canine in appearance. Their heads are those of a hound, with long floppy ears and strong jaws lined with sharp teeth. A dog snout allows for excellent sense of smell while eyes set to face further forward than that of a dog allow for three-dimensional vision.

The Prime Pooch’s back is partially curved, causing it to stand in a slight crouch, and terminates in a thin tail. Its shoulder blades are set further apart, to allow greater arm movement while its leathery hands have opposable thumbs allowing for weapons and such to be grasped, and used with surprising skill. Its most dog like features are its narrow hips and legs which terminate in a large, splayed paw which facilitate bipedal movement.

A Prime Pooch is a rare sight and a breeding pair even rarer. An aspirant warlord who is able to contract a breeding pair would be able to create an army within a year. They are able to breed a litter of up to twelve puppies of which there is a 10% chance that one puppy is a Prime and a 1% chance that two Primes will be born to the same litter. The rest of the litter will be of the beta pedigree – Dog Soldiers. Prime Pooches are the generals of the Dogs of War. They lead from the front and will spend much of their time training their Dog Soldier offspring in the art of war. In battle, they wear armour and prefer to fight with sword and or. They rarely use shields preferring to equip their free hand with fighting claws or a dagger. A Prime Pooch is long lived, in dog terms, with a life span which can exceed 20 years.

Dog Soldiers are a watered down version of their Prime Pooch parents. While they look alike in many ways, they are closer to their dog cousins in many ways. Their hands are more paw like, although they retain an opposing thumb and they stand in a crouch. The smaller opposing thumb means that they can only handle tow handed heavy weapons, or light one handed weapons, like the gladius. Classically Dog Soldiers will fight with a gladius and strap a target shield to their other arm, although some may opt for a bastard sword or flail. Narrower shoulders allow them to run on all fours although not as fast as a dog. Eyes face less forward than the Prime Pooch causing their three dimensional vision to be somewhat flat although their peripheral vision is enhanced as a result. Dog Soldiers have a shorter life span, averaging 15 years.

Almost as intelligent as the Prime Pooch, Dog Soldiers are loyal followers and usually take the place of non commissioned officers in the army. They are fertile and can produce a litter of up to fifteen whelps in once mating – effectively producing up to four litters a year. Up to 30% of each litter may be born as Dog Soldiers, the rest will be born ad the gamma pedigree – Skumdogs.

Skumdogs are the shock troops of the Dogs of War. While they can stand and fight on two legs, they are more at home on four. Their hands with opposing thumbs are paw like, allowing them only to grasp simple and lightweight double handed weapons like spears. Although they are not as fast whited as their higher pedigree compatriots, they more than make up for it in muscle and stamina. Standing shorter and more stooped than a Dog Soldier, with narrower shoulders and hips, they have thick muscles which run down their back and limbs, allowing them to leap far and run fast.

The Skumdog is usually trained for war by their Dog Soldier parents. They are naturally brutal and will turn on their own if locked up. While some will go on to learn how to wield spears, and even use a sling, most will only be trained in the fighting claw. Equipped with claws, leather vests and unleashed in the hundreds, they will gladly charge into the face on an enemy force, no matter what the odds, immolating themselves for the chance to cool their inbred fury with blood.

Although most Skumdogs are born sterile, a very few may be able to breed further litters of their own kind. Fertile Skumdogs who mate with Dog Soldiers, will produce Skumdog whelps 97% of the time, leaving a 3% chance to successfully produce a dog soldier. In the case of a Prime Pooch mating with a Dog Soldier, there will be a 1% chance of producing another Prime Pooch in a litter, the rest of the litter should be dog soldiers, although there is a 15% chance of the litter containing one or two Skumdogs. Like most large dogs, Skumdogs will only life for an average of 10 years, although most will die in battle long before reaching such an age.

It is thus possible for a mating pair of Prime Pooch’s to produce an army of skilled soldiers, buffered by ranks of vicious shock troops, who will tear into an enemy and leave a reeling, fatigued target for the Dog Soldiers to lay into. It should be noted that a Prime Pooch is not automatically a skilled tactician, but will also require training in the art of war.

All the above aside, the Dogs of War are extremely rare. It is unlikely that a fore to be reckoned with will occur more than once in a triad of lifetimes. The main reason for this rarity is that it is near impossible to locate a Prime Pooch, let alone a breeding pair who have been trained for war. A Pooch must be found as a puppy and be put through rigorous training to prepare it for its future as a leader. One cannot teach an old dog new tricks – an adage which is true for The Dogs of War as well. Any pedigree who is left without proper training will be of minimal use in battle.

This article was originally dreamed up XXIX August MMII

Prime Pooch

STR3D6 + 212-13Move 5
CON3D6 + 212-14Hit Points 15
SIZ3D69-10Fatigue 25
INT2D6 + 613-14
DEX3D6 + 212-14
APP2D6 7
Hit Location Melee (D20) Missile (D20)Points
R Leg01-0401-030*/4
L Leg05-0804-060*/4
R Arm13-1516-170*/3
L Arm16-1818-190*/3
WeaponSRAttack% DamageParr%PTS
Bite1030 + 71D8 -1D4
Bastard Sword640 + 51D10 + 1D4 +112
Main Gauche930 + 51D4 + 230 + 58

Notes: The Prime Pooch can use either bite or hand held weapon in a given round. It could use both only as per normal two weapon use, thereby depriving itself the ability to parry (with the main gauche) that round.
Skills: Track 50 + 1, Listen 80 + 1, Scan 70 + 1, Human Lore 35 + 4, First Aid 20 + 4, Jump 30.
Armour: Hide offers no protection. * The Prime Pooch’s value will usually result in it being equipped with plate or similar high quality armour.

Dog Soldier

STR3D611-12Move 6
CON3D611-12Hit Points 14
SIZ3D68-9Fatigue 23
INT2D6 + 413-14
POW 2D6 7
DEX 2D6 13-14
APP 2D6 7
Hit LocationMelee (D20)Missile (D20)Points
R Leg01-0401-030*/4
L Leg05-0804-060*/4
R Arm13-1516-170*/3
L Arm16-1818-190*/3
WeaponSRAttack DamagePass%PTS
Bite1030 + 7 1D8 -1D4
Scimitar740 + 5 1D6 + 2 + 1D410
Target Shield81D635 + 712
Javelin3/940 + 51D88

Notes: The Dog Soldier can use either bite or hand held weapon in a given round. It could use both only as per normal two weapon use, thereby depriving itself the ability to parry with its shield that round.
Skills: Jump 35 + 2, Throw 45 + 2, Listen 87, Scan 65, Track 40, Animal Lore 25 + 5.
Armour: Hide offers no protection. * The Dog Soldier is usually equipped with at least bezanted armour.


STR3D611-12Move 8
CON2D611-12Hit Points 16
SIZ2D610-12Fatigue 2
Hit LocationMelee (D20)Missile (D20)Points
R Leg01-0401-030*/5
L Leg05-0804-060*/5
R Arm13-1516-170*/4
L Arm16-1818-190*/4
Bite1030 + 71D8 -1D4
Fighting Claw835 + 51D4 + 1 + 1D4
Long Spear635 + 51D10 + 1 + 1D410

Notes: The Skumdog usually doesn’t learn to parry. The will uses their long spear until an enemy is within close quarters, at which time they will discard it to fight with claws and/or bite.
Skills: Dodge 30 + 3, Jump 40 + 3, Listen 55, Scan 35, Track 90, Sneak 10 + 2.
Armour: Hide offers no protection. * The Skumdog is often equipped with whatever armour is available, upgrading with the spoils of war wherever possible.

Lizard, Desert Walker (Saurus desertum)

Inspired by the Land Dragon, the Wazzat Lizards from Snarf Quest by Larry Elmore and a characters need for a decent dog/pack animal suitable for travelling through the hot deserts of Northern Araktor.

These bipedal lizards live in arid, open expanses such as deserts and semi-deserts. They are fleet footed carnivores, but have been known to chew on succulent plants in search of moisture. In the wild, these are solitary animals who tend to group mainly due to local geography rather than any pack instinct. Desert walkers are curious, even tempered creatures, intent on investigating anything new.

The manner in which these creatures are almost docile has lead many of them to be domesticated. In the desert they are more efficient than a dog, to which they can be likened in size. Many are used as beasts of small burden, pets and even exterminators of vermin in plantations.

Although they thrive in almost any conditions, bar sub zero arctic climes, they are most suited to warm, open places. Should one be taken into a place where the desert walker can not see far, they will become unsettled and non co-operative to the extent that they will refuse to accept food. If kept in such circumstances for too long, they will surely perish. Desert walkers average between eight and thirteen year life spans and are oviparous.

Desert Walker

STR1D6 + 36-7Move 6
CON3D6 + 111-12Hit Points 10
SIZ 1D6 3-4Fatigue 19
Hit Location Melee (D20)Missile (D20)Points
R Leg03-0504-062/4
L Leg06-0807-092/4
R Arm16181/3
L Arm17191/3
WeaponSRAttack %Damage
Claw830 + 10 1D4
Bite845 + 21D6

Notes: A desert walker will attack its prey with its claws in an attempt to hold it fast before it finishes it off with its bite. A victim will have to successfully grapple by overcoming the walkers strength with its own to escape. Domesticated walkers can be trained to bite first.
Skills: Dodge 18, Track 30, Hide 20, Jump 45, Devise 3.
Armour: 1 to 2 point scale armour in certain places.

Wergild Worries

Wergild Worries is a hack and slash adventure based on the Island of Valrones, west of Gaia. It should be easy enough to retrofit with most campaigns.

This fast and nasty is in PDF Format. This is the first “module” I ever wrote. Previous feedback received have noted it as being somewhat linear. I do appreciate your comments and feedback as through this mechanism future adventures should improve.

The module is self contained but ownership of the Monster Coliseum would be an added bonus.

It is geared towards characters with some fighting sills and could be useful as an introductory adventure for new players to cut their teeth on.

Wergild Worries is a Hack and Slash. If you are looking for a fast action adventure with lost of combat – download it now.

Lopsloss (Lopslosi rugosus)

RuneQuest rules for the monster briefly described in that Hugh Cook’s Chronicles of an Age of darkness Book 1 – The Wizards and the Warriors.

The Lopsloss is derived from Hugh Cook’s book: The Wizards and the Warriors Chapters 13 & 19. In the book it is described as an amorphous creature that lives under Castle Vaunting.

For RuneQuest purposes the lopsloss is distantly related to the head hanger. In its natural state it lives in darkened gulleys and caves, where it can feed on creatures that may fall to their deaths, or stumble within close reach. It can move slowly, but if food is in close proximity, can display a burst of rapid movement to snag its prey. It has an amorphous gelatinous form and is usually greyish in colour. Some specimens have been known to evidence pinpricks of bio luminescence, perhaps to lure [prey to within reach.

The Lopsloss is not a magical creature like its distant relation and feeds on flesh. It does however have similarities, with a tendency to retain the non digestible bits of its prey, such as armour , coin etc. It will feed by enveloping its prey within its gelatinous form and then excreting strong digestive enzymes to break down flesh and bone into a base fluid which it will absorb. These enzymes have the ability to immobilize prey swiftly, but while the prey is still mobile, the Lopsloss will move to suck the prey deeper into its mass to prevent escape. Given enough time, it will digest all organic parts of its prey, including bone, claws etc.

In terms of movement and propagation, it is similar to the amoeba, using pseudo pods to assist with movement and splitting via binary fission. Even so, it is a very rare creature to come across as it does not like daylight and any offspring would have to live within the same cave complex as they would not be able to migrate across land for any distance that may expose them to light.

Small lopsloss have been known to be captured and transplanted to other locales, such as crypts, to guard against grave robbers. In certain instances, goblins have been known to have a symbiotic relationship with lopsloss, whereby in exchange for food and protection, the lopsloss gestates goblin offspring within its mass.

A Lopsloss will vary in SIZ depending on the size of the area it inhabits, age and food availability.

this article was initially published on IX January 2010


STR4D6 + 620Move 1
CON4D614Hit Points 18
SIZ1D6 + 8 to 6D6 + 206 – 7Fatigue 15
POW2D6 + 613
Hit LocationMelee (D20)Missile (D20)Points

* Determine how many pseudo pods before combat (1D12) and list each as a hit location.
# The difference between 20 and number of pseudo pods.

WeaponSRAttack %Damage
Pseudo Lunge140 + 32D8 knockdown / entangle
Envelop1070 + 101D6 per round

Notes: The Lopsloss will use its pseudo pods to try and knock down or entangle its prey in an attempt to immobilise. If more than one pseudo pod manages to hit the same hit location, the prey will be considered entangled. It will then try to envelop its prey at the end of the round. Enveloped prey must match STR against the Lopsloss STR on the resistance table to escape. The Lopsloss does not like heat and will retreat from an open flame or similar, which can be used to force it to disgorge recently enveloped prey. Being enveloped will restrict movement and stop prey from cutting themselves free unless a critical success is rolled or the prey has freed their arms by matching STR on the resistance table. Prey enveloped for more than 2 rounds must try to survive asphyxiation as per standard asphyxiation rules.

Armour: 4 points skin.

Blend – The Magic of Camouflage

Look, its a chameleon.

1 Point
Touch, Temporal, Nonstackable, Reusable

This camouflages a person or an object by blending in with another object it is placed against. So a person blending in with a tree trunk to appear to the viewer to be part of the tree trunk.

The affected party must be touching the item it is blending with and the total SIZ points of the affected party must be less than those of the item it is blending with.

Multiple items of different appearances or textures cannot be blended with, , however one can blend with sand or pebbles on a beach or bark on a tress trunk. Blending does not make one invisible.

Where the affected party remains motionless, treat Blend as a special success Hide or Conceal roll. A successful Hide or Conceal roll in conjunction with Blend spell will be the equivalent of a critical success.

Moving will not break the spell, but will allow any person searching or looking at the affected party a better chance to see them. I.E. Moving will reduce the affects special affect of Hide or Conceal to a normal success.

Thanks to Leon Kirshtein and Stephen Posey of the RQ Rules List for their contribution to this spell.

Razor Shell(Ensis arcuatus incognitus)

Not quite your regular tasty shellfish.

These are not your regular razor shells that are often fished for in the sea bed and make a tasty shellfish treat, but a rather more sinister variety.

In the desolate wastes of a dried up sea bed lurk the razor shells. These are close descendants of the more mundane razor shells found under the seas sands, but have been forced to evolve as their habitat dried up.

The shells still eke out an existence beneath the harsh wastelands of the dry seabed and have managed to do so via some remarkable adaptations. Their original cylindrical, cut throat razor, shaped bodies have grown longer. The bottom most section which is deepest in the sand sports long barbs, which help anchor it in place, but still allow it to burrow forward (downwards). A denser and harder shell protects the organism from heat and water loss, allowing it to go for long periods without water, while also providing internal pockets wherein moisture can be stored in times of rain.

Its most remarkable and devious adaptation however is the means whereby the shell is able to sustain itself. Where its ancestor filtered the water for tiny organisms, no such contemporary nourishment now exists. Instead the shell has had to become a devious ambush predator. The upward facing portion of its body has developed a barbed harpoon tongue of razor sharp hard mother of pearl. This harpoon is held inside the shell waiting for pressure from above, the Razor Shell having positioned its top end just below the ground level. When sufficient pressure is applied, coiled muscles shoot the harpoon upward. This action is similar to that employed in the nematocyst of the hydra polyp or jellyfishes stingers.

The razor is not as subtle in subduing its prey as a jellyfish however as it has no poison. Instead it relies on the devastating damage its harpoon does as it pierces its preys flesh. This is where the Razors length and anchoring barbs, as well as its extremely strong muscles, play their role.

The part of the shells body that is attached to the harpoon can stretch to double its normal length. With the harpoon anchored in place, its prey is unable to escape and eventually succumbs to exhaustion, blood loss and shock. This does not mean that the Razor Shell waits for its prey to die; indeed thin feeding tubes extend through a small hollow at the tip of the harpoon and start to dissolve and devour the preys living flesh moments after the harpoon strikes.

While Razor Shells can grow up to a meter long and project harpoons that could be lethal to larger animals, their primary prey is smaller animals. However they do not appear to be able to distinguish potential preys SIZ and often cause a nuisance as they lacerate feet or damage horses inner hooves and cause lameness. Most shells encountered are a more manageable size of roughly thirty centimetres, although there are always travellers’ tales of monstrously sized shells that have skewered horses from beneath the ground.

Razor Shell

STR2D6(6D6)*Move 1
CON2D6 7-10Hit Points 10
SIZ1D6 + 2 5-6Fatigue 19
POW1D6 + 48-9
Hit LocationMelee (D20)Missile (D20)Points
Lower Shell01-0501-026/4
Upper Shell06-1803-196/4
Harpoon Tongue19-20206/5
WeaponSRAttack %Damage
Harpoon175+101D4 + 2 (1D4)#

Note: The shell lies in wait just below ground level and will shoot its harpoon directly upwards as soon as it perceives pressure from above. As such it has a very high probability to hit. Due to its position in the ground it will only be able to strike the lower limbs of large prey, whereas small prey can be struck in most logical hit locations.

# Damage is always impale damage. Treat as a regular impale but also note an additional 1D4 damage per round that the harpoon remains in the wound where the Razor Shell still lives and starts digesting its prey.

* The higher STR score is to represent the shell anchoring itself in the ground should its victim try to match STR on the resistance table in order to pull the shell from its burrow.

Skills: Hide 100%
Armour: 6 point shell armour.

Tribes of Eyha – Campaign Excerpt

Chris Gilmore is a member of the RuneQuest Rules List. After using a creature I dreamed up in one of his adventures, he sent out some notes. I thought it was a really good example of Role Playing, both from the players and GM’s perspective. He has kindly shared these notes here for all to read and hopefully gain inspiration from.


This is an excerpt from the Tribes of Eyha campaign log, a campaign which is currently being played by four players plus game master. The campaign can be classified as a Bronze Age fantasy campaign which draws inspiration from many sources, both historical and fictional. The specific inspiration for the first session comes from an episode mentioned in the tales of Sindbad from the 1001 Nights. A similar myth is also described in the travels of Marco Polo. The inspiration for the second session comes from a creature created by Tony Den (the Razor Shells) and featured on his website.

The inspiration for the third scenario is the Fritz Leiber tale “The Howling Tower” which appears in Swords Against Death published by Ace Fantasy.

Characters: Baran and Clovis are two Tribelanders from the distant north. Baran is on a quest to discover something of the strange tattoos which adorn his body. Clovis, his brother, has come along as his protector. Clovis was a respected March Warden of the Tribes, and likes to blow his Warden’s Horn before charging into battle. Eshubir and Lugesha and both agents of house Suzur in the southern city of Pavonis. The two Tribeslanders helped them out with a spot of trouble in the City of Pavonis, and they now travel together. Maram, a slave girl of unknown origin, is a non-player character recently rescued from scorpion men.

Location: The Kingdom of Assaria which, landscape-wise, can be likened to Iraq in our own world. This story takes place in the summer, and so the weather is hot and dry.


In previous sessions, the party had been travelling westward, following the course of the great river. After a series of adventures in the hinterland of the Empire of Pavonis (which involved freeing slaves from the larder of Scorpion men in an ancient desert city and a desperate chase on the river by pole-propelled reed barge) our Heroes have finally crossed the border into the Kingdom of Assaria, where they hope to finally be free of Pavonian political intrigue.

This session begins in a small Assarian village not too far from the border. There is a merchant’s enclave here where the heroes have put up for the night where they hoped to sell two of their donkeys to earn some money.

In this village, the Heroes were introduced to Pap Hallu, a small Assarian man with a long beard, and who offered to purchase their donkeys. By means of payment, he offered a small handful of crystals which, upon inspection, turned out to be uncut diamonds. Eshubir estimated that these were worth more than the donkeys and so the group was naturally intrigued by the whole transaction. After some discussion, Pap Hallu offered to pay them yet more diamonds if they would perform a service for him. Needing money, they agreed to meet him the next morning in the village.


The next day Pap Hallu was waiting for our heroes in the village with one of the two donkeys he had bought from them the day before. He led the group away from the village on foot, trailing the donkey with a tether. They travelled in a vaguely southeast direction, passing through fertile and irrigated farmland with young crops of corn, wheat, flax, and barley.

The Assarians, like the Pavonians, have dug numerous canals in from the river to assist with the growing of crops. After some hours, the farmland gave way to a tall grass savannah, and they followed what they took to be a game trail through the grass. Lugesha, the tallest of the party, was given the task of scanning the horizon looking for beasts or other things that Pap Hallu called ‘dancing sticks’ (evidently the long spears of Zalamaran tribesmen, when seen over the tall grass in the distance, look like dancing sticks).

Luckily they did not see anything except for an occasional flat-topped tree on the horizon.

By mid afternoon the little band of travellers could to see an elevated piece of ground in the distance, and by late afternoon they were climbing up the sides of some sort of old volcanic plateau. Nothing grew on this rock outcrop except for the sparsest of weeds, and there were signs of small animal life and birds. Pap Hallu led them to a small, roughly circular valley near the middle of this plateau where a jagged chasm cut across the floor.

He set most of the party to keeping a lookout in various locations while he proceeded to kill, skin, and butcher the donkey he had brought. Baran and Clovis, who had the most experience with these things, helped him. When finished, Pap Hallu threw the pieces into the chasm at various points while the rest of them watched. He then instructed everyone to keep a lookout in the sky and said that soon great birds called Rukhs would come.

He explained that these great birds would fly into the chasm to retrieve the donkey meat, which would now be studded with uncut diamonds from where they grew on the bottom of the chasm. He said that the bottom of the chasm was inhabited by dangerous snakes, so this was the only way to retrieve the diamonds. Explanations done, he crouched under a rock, sheltering from the hot sun while our heroes stood on the rock ledges and watched.

After a while Clovis noticed some birds approaching and called to the others. Everyone descended from their lookouts and hid near Pap Hallu in the shadow of the cliffs. Soon five very large birds arrived and perched at various places on the cliff-tops which circled the valley. The Rukhs stayed there for a while, looking around apprehensively until they determined that it was safe to descend. Then one by one the giant birds left their perches and flew into the chasm, and one by one they re-emerged with a large hunk of donkey meat in their talons and returned to the cliff tops. Once back on the cliff tops, they set to tearing at the donkey meat with their colossal beaks.

At this point Pap Hallu told Adventurers it was time to climb up, in pairs, and kill the birds and to be sure to bring back the donkey meat when they were done.

Baran and Lugesha chose to attack the bird on the west side of the valley while Clovis and Eshubir chose the bird far to the southeast. Maram the slave girl and Pap Hallu remained below, under cover of some rocks. While Baran and Lugesha were climbing up the west side, Clovis and Eshubir began to attack their bird from the bottom of the valley by launching arrows and sling stones at the bird.

This drew the ire of Pap Hallu, who came out of his shelter to scold the two – telling them go up on top and fight like men so that they could bring the donkey meat back. Slightly chastened and slightly annoyed at this bossy little man, Clovis and Esh began to haul their bodies up to the top of the cliff.

Baran and Lugesha reached their bird first and, while Baran distracted the bird by limping around, Lugesha threw his combat net over the bird’s head, preventing it from flying away. The two then quickly killed their bird with a few quick blows from their spears.

Meanwhile, Esh and Clovis had reached the top of their cliff and drew their melee weapons. From their cliff-top vantage point Clovis surveyed the surroundings and noted the four remaining birds scattered about, tearing off pieces of donkey, and he also saw that Baran and Lugesha were already engaged with the fifth bird far on the other side of the valley. A familiar idea formed in Clovis’ mind.

He drew out his March Warden’s horn from its case. He held it up above his head and let it catch the light of the afternoon sun for a moment, admiring it. It was a family heirloom, won by a distant ancestor from the King Ram of the Mountains in a bygone era. The bony ridges of the horn had been worn smooth by the hands of generations of esteemed March Wardens, and the marbling of the bone was clearly visible in the western sunlight.

Both ends of the horn were plated with bronze, and the bronze was in turn embossed with raised images depicting the victories of Clovis’ ancestors. The horn sat comfortably in his hand, like the breast of Mother Noahe Herself. It was like an old friend, a mentor, a lover, and a reminder of the nobility and greatness of the Tribe. He smiled at the horn and it smiled back at him.

Clovis arched his back and drew in a great breath of air. Then he put the horn to his sweaty, eager lips. It had the taste of blood, and of victory. With a great exhalation, he blew into that horn for all he was worth, and from it came the sound of Mothers of the Tribe crying over lost sons, of lambs bleating in the folds, of waves crashing onto the shore of the lake, and of all the proud songs of tribesmen rolled into one. It was the sound of home, and it brought a tear to Clovis’s eye.

And the moment he blew that horn, the great birds caught a frisson of fear that told them a mighty warrior was nearby, and one by one they put to flight, lazily winging their way toward the west and taking their hunks of diamond studded meat with them. Only the bird that Baran and Lugesha had killed remained behind, slumped over the cliff top.

Well, needless to say neither Pap Hallu nor Clovis’ brother Baran (who held the party’s purse) was very pleased with Clovis. Both gave him a stern talking to for foolishly scaring away the Rukhs and tried to make his see the error of his ways (which, I think, he did). And the group stood about for a minute looking at each other, wondering what to do next, for most of the diamonds they had risked their lives to get had now flown away.

And then Baran said “I have an idea.” Everyone looked hopefully at him.
”What is it?” asked Clovis, hoping that this would mean the end of the negative attention he had been getting.
“First, let me see that horn” Baran replied, stretching out his hand.”

”Sure” said Clovis, handing it over. And what followed will forever be etched in Clovis’ mind, for with a rebel yell, Baran heaved the priceless horn over the brink of that demonic chasm, and it tumbled into the depths to lie like a fallen warrior in eternal silence amongst the poisonous snakes and precious diamonds at the distant bottom.

What followed was the kind of argument that only brothers can have. Clovis accused Baran of abandoning tradition for the sake of a little money, and Baran pointed out that Clovis blew that blasted horn each and every time they needed discretion (which was most of the time), warning the foes that the rest of the party was trying to sneak up on. It seemed the rest of the group sided with Baran and so Clovis was cowed and apologized, saying that what he had hoped to do was to scare the birds away, but thought they would leave their meat behind.

Luckily for the group, Eshubir thought he had seen where the birds had gone to, so as a group all four of the warriors scrambled over the broken, volcanic landscape for a difficult hour to find the Rukh’s nest in the west on a flat-topped pillar of rock. Maram and Pap Hallu followed a little way behind

The four young Rukhs were now perched safely in their nest and were finishing off their meal of delicious (if gritty) donkey meat.

So the four adventurers tried to climb up the side of the rocky pillar and into the nest to grab what they could of the diamond-studded flesh from the Rukhs. Esh was up first, being the nimblest, and Baran next. But Esh took a blow to the head early in the battle and was knocked unconscious. Clovis climbed up next and he and Baran fought the birds for as long as they could, killing two of them.

Lugesha, in the meantime was stuck halfway up the side of the rocky pillar, not being able to find a foothold to move any further in any direction.

Then with a lucky scan Clovis spotted an even larger bird approaching from the distant west, the Mother Rukh, and called for a retreat. He picked up the unconscious Esh and was about to attempt to leap down to the ground with him (or throw Esh down first – this part of the tale is not clear) while Baran fought off the other two young birds, scaring them to take flight out of the nest.

Baran then called on the spirit of Elienna to heal Eshubir, and Clovis and Esh climbed down. Baran picked up what scraps of meat he could still find in the bottom of the nest and followed seconds later. While Baran was still climbing down, Clovis killed one of the circling young birds with an arrow from the ground, and as the great mother bird approached, all three of them were running for the shelter of the cliff face. They looked back only to notice poor Lugesha still clinging to the cliff face, unable to find his way down.

At that point, the great bird arrived and circled the great rock pier on top of which the nest was perched. It grabbed Lugesha by the head with a single great claw and tried to lift him into the air. But Lugesha is a big boy, and the bird struggled with the dangling warrior who writhed beneath. Lughesha grabbed at the leg of the bird and held on, which was lucky as he was unable to see very well. Seconds later the great bird was filled with arrows (and sling stones), for Baran, Eshubir, and Clovis had returned to rescue him.

The great bird was knocked unconscious by an arrow to the head, whereupon it let go of Lugesha who dropped to the ground and sprained his ankle. Half a second later the great Rukh fell on top of him. Luckily, Lugesha escaped being wounded by this as it seems most of the bird’s bulk was feathers. Lugesha killed the great bird with a spiteful blow, but it was decided not to take souvenirs since they might cause more trouble with the local tribes (who held them sacred) than they were worth.

They harvested what remaining diamonds they could and made a camp for the night in a sheltered location. The next day they returned to the village and Pap Hallu gave them another handful of diamonds for their trouble. They parted ways amicably enough, but they could not help feeling that Pap Hallu would be hiring other people the next time he needed Rukh hunters to do a job for him.


The party of five then proceeded to the west, entering the City of Assaria a few days later. It was here that, through a chance encounter, Eshubir and Lugesha found their old employer from Pavonis, the traitorous Procurer Sagga Mal.

With the help of a rival agent from their own house (a man named Sharuris the Shucker for his habit of leaving fish-eyes (pearls) as a calling card with his victims) they finally put an end to their political troubles back home. They decided to reward themselves to a stay in the city of Assaria, and to hire a master to train their bodies to greater strength. The master’s newly developed ‘Beer Swilling Technique’ looked promising…


Having trained for 7 weeks with no result in an effort to build up some muscle tissue (which they hoped would allow them to carry their heavy armour better), Baran and Lugesha decided they needed to give the training another go. Unfortunately the first bout of training depleted their funds, so their trainer introduced them to a friend of his who was willing to hire them for a service. This man was named Gigiris – a chariot maker.

Gigiris’ business had been very busy lately, with a lot of Akkanians wanting to purchase chariots. In a normal year he would collect all the young wood he needed for the chariot rails in the winter, but this year he ran out early so he sent his young apprentice (Amar) and a labourer (Degdega) to go and cut some more. These were cut from a specific copse of Dimshilum trees located about a day’s travel out in the Savannah to the southeast of the city.

Unfortunately, it had been a week ago since he had sent them and neither the boy nor the labourer had come back. Gigiris’ business was about to stall, his client was getting anxious, and the apprentice’s father was starting to ask questions. So Baran, Eshubir, Lugesha, and Maram agreed to go and look for them. They tried to find Clovis to go with them, but he wasn’t around – probably out with his latest girl – so they left on this venture without him.

The party made their way south into the savannah by foot. They camped the first night in the long grass and carried on in the morning, following what appeared to be a week-old wagon trail. By noon, the shoulder height grass of the savannah started to become shorter and then rapidly fell to nothing. They had come to a clearing in the tall grass that was about 300M across. The floor of the clearing was caked with mud which was dry and cracking on the surface but still moist down below – it appeared to be an ephemeral lake which was now drying up. Annoying flies of all types buzzed around the place, never settling long enough to swat. Clear tracks of a man on foot, an ox, and a four wheeled cart led straight into the heart of the clearing, and at it’s centre could be seen a wagon lying on it’s side, and in front of it a dark lump which appeared to be a dead ox.

The group started to walk out into the clearing toward the wagon when first Baran and then Lugesha felt a sharp pain in their foot. They had not been wearing armour due to the heat of the season, and whatever had stung them cut right through their skin. On looking down they found that they had each been pierced with a small barb attached to leathery tether that disappeared in the mud. The tethers had the appearance of tough intestines and were about 2M long when pulled taught. Baran reacted first and tried to run back to the edge of the clearing, but was almost tripped up by the tether which held him fast to the place where it emerged from the mud. So instead he hacked at the tether with his axe until it broke, and then ran for the edge of the clearing with Maram still at his side. He was narrowly missed by another barb as they ran, but she was struck and cried out in pain. Baran rapidly cut her tether and the two of them dove for the edge of the clearing where they gingerly removed the barbs and healed themselves with magic.

Lugesha had a harder time of it. Armed only with his spear and net and lacking a good cutting edge, he decided to try to pull the offending dart-launcher from under the mud while the barb was still stuck in his foot. After several good heaves, though, he couldn’t dislodge the culprit (though he could see the mud heaving slightly where it was buried), so he resorted to yanking the barb from his foot instead, causing himself more pain and leaving a large purple wound. He limped to safety at the edge of the clearing.

Meanwhile, Eshubir, being light of foot, managed to avoid getting barbed at all and sat on the side of the clearing shouting advice to the others.

Rather than attempt to cross the mud again, the group circled the clearing to the west. After travelling around about a third of they way, they discovered a flattened spot in the grass – a place showing signs of recent activity by many people. Examining the ground here, they also noticed a series of small, round holes leading out towards the fallen wagon. These holes were about 2-3” in diameter and 6-12” deep, but the party could make no sense of them. The party then followed the flattened grass as it lead away from the clearing to the west came to a north-south running game trail.

They followed the game trail north for ways, then south and found that it led to a copse of trees that had been pollarded for the harvest of many supple young stems. This was apparently the place Gigiris got his wood. Upon seeing this, Baran had the idea to cut two long straight stems with his axe. He then drove one knife into the side of each of them at about waist height, tying the knives in place. He held the posts upright and stood on the horizontal knife handles and found that they just might hold his weight and, with some agility, he could walk on these artificial legs, which he called ‘stilts’ after his uncle Stiltibris back in the Tribelands who had long legs.

They returned then to dried up pond and Baran coaxed Esh (who was the most agile of the group) up onto the makeshift ‘stilts’. Esh practiced a bit on the makeshift legs and then walked carefully out into the mud where he could hear the occasional popping of a dart beneath him. He made it to the fallen wagon without incident and upon investigation found it to be empty.

The black ox, though, was clearly dead and was lying on its side and was still harnessed to the wagon. A thick cloud of flies hovered over ox, buzzing angrily when Esh came near. From this vantage point on top of the ‘stilts’, Eshubir could see a single set of human footprints heading from the wagon to the opposite (east) side of the clearing. Judging by the tracks, whoever had made them must have fallen about halfway across, then got up and continued but this time dragging something behind them. Esh shouted his discovery to the others and, wiping the sweat of the afternoon sun from his brow, set off on the stilts again to the east.

The others ran around the south end of the clearing and joined up with him. Lying in the long grass a few yards from the edge was a human body – probably that of Gigiris’ labourer, Degdega.

The body had been dead a few days, too. One of the sharp barbs was stuck into the inside of the upper thigh and this connected to a two yard long tether. Attached to the other end of the tether was an oblong object caked in dried mud. It was about 1M long and 20cm wide and 5cm thick and seemed to be made of two hard shells held tightly together with a round protuberance at one end from which the tether extended.

Baran pried this thing open and found it to be fleshy inside – like the inside of a clam from the lake near his home in the distant Tribelands. He cleaned out the insides and fashioned a makeshift pair of ski-like shoes, tying them to his feet with rope. He was about to set off again toward the wagon when Eshubir spoke up.

”Hey – wait a minute. Didn’t they see that those tethers are about 6 feet long? Those shell shoes of yours aren’t going to protect your groin! Look at this poor sap lying here dead, pierced in the upper thigh!” he said, pointing to Degdega’s body.

”You’re right.” said Baran, and so took off the shoes and donned his armoured pants, then put the shell shoes back on, and at last marched out toward the wagon.

On the way, he could hear the pops of more darts, but nothing penetrated his pants. He reached the wagon just at the moment that the ropes holding his shoes on fell apart, and so he jumped into the wagon and tied them up again. Then he hopped back to the ground and untied the ox harness and, with a great heave, righted the wagon. He then took hold of the harness and, walking backwards, slowly dragged the wagon about 3M closer to the edge of the pond, whereupon he hitched a rope to it and, with the help of those on the edge of the clearing pulling on the rope, pulled the wagon the rest of the way. In the last few yards he heard a ‘POP’ sound and a dart nailed him in the groin, just piercing his armoured pants through the seam. With a yell he cut the tether and leaped for the edge of the grass where he once again lay down and healed himself.

The group spent the rest of the afternoon hauling the wagon through the long grass to the copse of trees and set up camp there for the night. The next day they awoke to find that all those who were stuck by the barbs had a fever, and deduced that they had been weakened by a poison which came from the barbs. One of the effects of this poison (besides a physical weakening) was a loss of memory which seemed to impact Lugesha the most.

They spent that whole day recovering from the poison and taking turns (when they had the energy) cutting stems with Baran’s axe and piling them into the wagon. On the third day in the savannah, they set off north again, this time following the game trail they had previously discovered. It was a tough slog, but taking turns they managed to make progress. They camped one more night in the open, and on the last day they came across a party of Zalamaran nomads coming south, their long spears seen dancing high above the top of the grass long before they themselves were seen.

Eshubir seemed to be able to communicate best with them, despite not speaking their language. First he tricked them into selling a number of exotic striped animal hides for a pittance, and then he seemed to get across to them that they were looking for a boy – one who might be injured. At this, the Zalamarans gestured that they had seen just such a boy and rescued him (making stilt-like walking motions) and brought him to some farmers at the south of Assarian territory. With that, the two parties left, the Zalamarans continuing south and our Adventurers heading north.

Soon the adventurers arrived at a small farm on the edge of the settled lands of Assaria. Sure enough, they found the boy in the care of the farmers and so they took him back to Gigiris. The boy, it seemed, had been so impacted by the poison of the razor shells that he had forgotten who he was and where he belonged. Gigiris was happy to have his wagon load of wood (and paid the adventurers fairly for it) but not too glad to hear about the death of Degdega and to now have an apprentice who couldn’t remember any of what he had learned.

“At least,” said Baran “he also doesn’t remember his bad habits.” Gigiris only sighed and paid them their money. Our party then departed to get a good night’s rest in a reasonable bed and look for Baran’s brother Clovis, whom they had not seen now in four days.


Upon returning back to the ‘inn’ (so called, it seems to the Tribesmen, because these camps are located ‘in’ the city) from the escapade with the Razor Shells, Baran was hoping to find Clovis, his brother, in the room they shared. But there was no sign of Clovis having been in that day, nor in fact for any of the last several days.

The boy Baran had paid to give a message to Clovis hadn’t seen him, so Baran started to worry and expressed his worry to his friends Eshubir, Lugesha, and Maram. They agreed to look for him.

First they went to this ‘inn’ with the dancing girls that Clovis had been frequenting. They spoke to the owner there and a few of the girls and found that the girl that Clovis had been seeing, one Ilati, had also not been seen in several days. When they suggested that maybe foul play was afoot, the owner of the establishment agreed to help them. Together, they convinced one of the girls who knew Ilati to lead the adventurers to Ilati’s house, where Esh discretely climbed over the roof, let himself in a window, and then let the others in the front door.

A thorough search of the place revealed a broken sandal strap under the bed apparently from Clovis’ sandal because it matched one from Baran’s sandal, and they had purchased them together in the now distant town of Telpa. They also found a number of small containers on a shelf, most of which were empty but one of which had a bit of lemon-smelling liquid in it.

They asked the girl who led them to the house about the vials and she said it clearly wasn’t perfume – in fact it could have been a love potion which she believed Ilati might have been using on Clovis. When asked where Ilati might have bought a potion like this, they were directed to a seller of elixirs in the fashionable east end of Assaria.

Taking the potion to this seller, she recognized it immediately as being the shoddy work of one Geshpapalis, a potion-maker who had tried to sell his poor work to her on numerous occasions. She didn’t trust this Geshpapalis, however, and refused to deal with him, so she consequently didn’t know much about him. The party asked if she could direct them to a reputable potion-maker to identify the ingredients and tell them whether it was addictive or not (which she did) and also to a less reputable shop-keeper who might agree to sell Geshpapalis’ poor potions (which she also did).

Here the party split up. Eshubir took the sample of love potion to the reputable alchemist and found out that it would take many experiments and more of the sample potion than was available to suss out the actual ingredients, but a quick sniff of the stuff led him to believe that it likely wasn’t that addictive over the short term (which had been one of their fears). Esh (keeping the remaining love potion for his own potential use) left and returned to the ‘inn’ where our heroes were staying and waited for the others.

Meanwhile, Baran and Lugesha went to the disreputable shop keeper in the west end to inquire after Geshpapalis. After warming the man up by purchasing some Crotch Crab ointment, they finally offered him a small amount of money to reveal the location of Geshpapalis’ workshop out in the country, which the man gladly took. As they left, Baran turned and said threateningly to the man “And remember, we haven’t been here.”

To which the shopkeeper jingled his newly earned bag of shekels, smiled a toothless grin, and replied with a wink “And they remember that I ain’t been here, neither”. With this new information, Esh, Baran, and Lugesha marched out into the country that evening to find this Geshpapalis. Following the disreputable shopkeeper’s directions, they came across a lonely wood-and-reed house in the middle of a wooded area surrounded by bushes and date palms. There they heard the faint sound of Jackals attacking prey as they approached.

Esh crept up to the window of this house and looked inside – and the sounds of jackals grow louder as he did so. Peering in, he saw that the room was hung with dried herbs, animal intestines, and other parts of things less easy to describe. The walls were lined with clay amphorae and there was a variety of smaller containers on shelves on the walls. A man was puttering inside over a copper cauldron.

When Baran and Lugesha tried to sneak up to the window, this man apparently heard them and made a hasty retreat out the back door, leaving it open. Esh watched him as he slunk across a fenced in enclosure and into another, smaller hut on the other side of the yard.

Baran and Lugesha entered the main house and looked around for a moment before following the man out into the fenced yard and to the door of the smaller hut. Esh, meanwhile, crept around the outside of the yard and climbed onto the roof (ever the refuge of a small man) of the hut. When they entered the fenced enclosure, Baran and Lugesha heard the sound of the Jackals quite clearly, but still there was no sign of any such beasts to be seen. They hesitated only briefly at the door of the hut and then, with two hasty kicks, they broke in the door while Esh listened from the roof. What they saw inside startled them, for Baran’s brother Clovis was lying unconscious on a bier in the middle of the small hut and was swathed in bandages, some of which were bloodstained. As they looked on in horror, they saw Clovis’ body jerk and a fresh patch of blood spread across an otherwise clean bandage. The potion-maker, Geshpapalis, stood behind the bier looking at the two intruders over Clovis’ body…

Baran and Lugesha circled the bier on either side of the tiny room and trapped the man between them. Esh, meanwhile, dropped down into the open doorway and blocked all escape. And so they put the question to him: “What in the name of the Great Spirits is going on here?”

Geshpapalis stammered out an explanation, saying that Clovis was here to do a job for him. But a little threat of violence can often straighten a man’s tongue and the truth came out:

Geshpapalis had been selling a love potion to Ilati to help her in her amorous conquests. It wasn’t a particularly good potion, so she had to buy a lot of it. One day she told him about this fierce northern barbarian who she was seeing and Geshpapalis developed an idea. Instead of love potion, he gave her something to knock this barbarian unconscious for a few days.

Sure enough Ilati came running to him worried she had given Clovis an overdose of the potion and that he was dead. Geshpapalis told Ilati that he would “take care of it” and that she should go into hiding for a week or two. Geshpapalis then loaded Clovis into a cart and brought him home, tied him to this bed and fed him another potion to send him into the spirit plane. Geshpapalis explained that he was haunted by the ghosts of the jackals he had captured, mutilated, and killed over the years in this very enclosure, using bits of them for his potions. He had sent Clovis’s spirit in alone to fight these jackals, while he watched over the body and healed its wounds as well as he could.

Baran looked down on the body of his brother. It jerked occasionally and his lips were pursed as if blowing into a phantom horn. At that moment another bloody patch spread across a bandage and Baran realised Clovis had been lying here for days now and this travesty must be stopped. He told Geshpapalis to put an end to it now, but the potion-maker explained he couldn’t bring the body back so simply – the only way for Clovis to come back was for him to kill all the jackals.

He then said that, if Baran and the others would be willing, there was enough potion left to send the adventurers into the spirit plane to help Clovis fight, and that this would end the battle sooner and ensure victory. Geshpapalis would take care of their bodies while they were gone, so they needn’t fear. Baran and the others stepped outside the hut to confer a moment while Geshpapalis dabbed at one of Clovis’ fresh wounds with a healing compound.

In conference outside, the three friends agreed to go into the spirit plane if they must, but said that Geshpapalis must be forced to go first. So they re-entered the room and told the alchemist they would do as he suggested. Lugesha then took the potion and, at that moment, Baran reached across for Geshpapalis in a grapple. Unfortunately, he missed the wiry old man and grabbed Lugesha’s arm instead.

Alarmed, the alchemist climbed onto the bier and dove for the door of the hut, intending to knock Eshubir aside and run away. But Esh kneed the man in the groin as he did so, causing him to fall to the ground in pain and the three friends pounced on him and forced that potion down his throat.

As soon as Geshpapalis swallowed the potion, the baying of the Jackals grew wild and large gashes started to appear all over the alchemist’s body. He writhed in pain as his flesh was flayed by ghostly teeth, and in moments it was over. The alchemist lay dead, and Clovis woke up. They explained to him what had happened and tended to his wounds.

Afterwards, the party spent a little time searching through the alchemist’s belongings for valuables. They found a number of vials and skins of suspicious liquids, as well as a number of dry ingredients. They took these, hoping to get some money for them from another alchemist in the city, and then they left to return to the ‘Inn’ and finally get that good night’s sleep.

No-one noticed as Clovis, lingering behind in Geshpapalis’ house for a moment, pocketed one item of particular interest from the potion-maker’s apparatus. It was apparently some sort of bronze tube-like instrument with a long, straight neck and a flared end down which liquids would be poured, apparently useful for getting liquids and powders into small-necked jars.

Clovis gave it a quick rinse in a barrel of water and wiped off the small end of the funnel. With a twinkle in his eye, he put this narrow end of this object to his lips and held the other und up high. But then a wiser thought crossed his mind, and he quietly tucked the instrument into his pack and left to follow the others with a smile on his face. He was sure it would come in useful later.


From here, the Adventurers eventually travel into the lands of the Akkanian Empire where they fall into the clutches of Amalnukris, the Sharru of Kish, who imprisons them and puts them to work in the Lirum, an ancient arena where gladiators fight beasts of legend and race chariots around. It is in the catacombs beneath this arena that they will learn something of the strange tattoos which adorn Baran’s body…

This article was originally published on VII July MMIX

Salgrin’s Transmuting Snakes

Very powerful artifacts which can be interesting and deadly.
Very rare.
POT 14, Charges 1D4

History: Salgrin was a powerful alchemist whose enchanted artefacts became legendary in his own time. Perhaps some of the most bizarre items he created were his transmuting snakes. Due to their dangerous nature, not many were demanded and all record of how many he actually created has long since been lost in the mists of time.

Description: The snakes appear as a highly ornate golden arm torque, made of two snakes loosely intertwined so that a head appears at each end. The torque is about 15 centimetres in length and gives the appearance of the snakes coiling around the upper arm. The snakes are relatively lose, allowing the torque to be bent to fit anything form a SIZ 5 to a SIZ 18 arm. When properly fitted, the fangs of each head will push against the skin near the elbow and shoulder. The eyes in each head can be of ruby, emerald or sapphire – they will not be mixed, i.e. if one head has ruby eyes, so will the other. (See below). Snakes with other kind of gems as eyes have been rumoured to exist, but whether these rumours are true and what effect the snake has is unknown.

Usage: The snakes are a combination of the fine craft, alchemy and powerful enchantments. Normally they appear as an item of exquisite jewellery, but when worn, they quickly change. To be activated, the torque must be worn in such a manner that most of its inner side is in contact with skin, the fangs must specifically be touching flesh. Wearing the torque over armour or in such a manner that it is not tight against the flesh will not activate it

When donned, the torque will remain inactive for up to an hour, after which the snakes will appear to come alive. The first sign of their activation will be that they constrict the arm coiling so tight that the wearer will be unable to remove them. Once this has occurred, causing the veins to rise under the skin, needles protrude from the fangs, easily penetrating the skin and injecting the alchemist’s toxin into the bloodstream. Once this process complete, the needles will retract and the snakes will loosen their grip, returning to their inanimate state.

The toxin has a POT of 14 and must be resisted like a poison. Should the wearer fail his or her resistance roll, the toxin will poison them as per the Rune Quest poison rules. (I.E. 14 points of damage to global hit points). Should the character successfully resist the following effects will occur, depending on what type of snake “bit” them.

Ruby Eyes: STR enhanced by 1D3. Side Effect: As the alchemists brew burns its way through their veins, the character convulses and is overtaken by an unbearable pain and nausea. They may pass out and or vomit as the potent brew warps their muscles. Resist vs. POT again and if roll fails, loose 1 CON point. The character will also have his/her fatigue points reduced to 1 and must rest up o recover from the ordeal. (Remember to adjust stats to reflect new STR). This process is instantaneous.

Emerald Eyes: Shapechange into a Lizard Man. (Use Shapechange Sorcery Rules). Side Effect: As the alchemists brew burns its way through their veins, the character convulses and is overtaken by an unbearable pain and nausea. They may pass out and or vomit as the potent brew warps their very being and scales push through their skin. Resist vs. POT again and if roll fails, loose 1 CON point. The character will also have his/her fatigue points reduced to 1 and must rest up o recover from the ordeal. (Remember to adjust stats to reflect new STR). this process may take a few hours to run its course. Note: One of the strongest rumours evidencing other types of snake revolves around one with jade eyes that turned someone into a dragon or ogre, depending on who tells the story.

Sapphire Eyes: Stone skin. Increase characters hit points in each hit location by 1 point. Global hit points do not change. The characters skin becomes leathery to form a type of natural armour. This process takes up to a week to complete. Side Effects: As the effect of this snake is more gradual, most of the severe side effects associated with the other two snakes are avoided. Characters may feel nausea and temporarily loose up to 1D6 Hit Points. Once the process is complete however, the characters Fatigue pints will be reduced by 1D4 to reflect the extra weight they now carry around. Any tight fitting clothes and armour would also have to be replaced or adjusted.

Note: Other snakes may well exist, their effects beneficial or deadly, on GM’s discretion. No one has been able to replicate Salgrin’s potent brews although many have tried, with sometimes disastrous results. Thus, when the charges on a snake are finished, they are finished for good. What is left is a nice piece of ornamental jewellers which occasionally “bites” the wearer. A critical success Devise roll will allow an appraiser to access the cavity in which the potions were kept.

This article was first published on XIII July MMII