Issue Six | Winter 1996
A Matter of Honour
A fine introductory adventure from Bob Dushay. [Note: A new version, slightly modified to improve internal consistency, is available here]
Notes for the referee
This adventure was designed for conventions, where it can introduce new players to Tékumel. It is set in Jakálla sometime in 2364, with all PCs members of the Clan of the White Crystal, an old and respected high status clan. The most common occupations for this clan are medium-level priests and bureaucrats. The scenario calls for two players who are experienced Tékumel hands, each assigned a so-called ‘senior PC’ character. These senior PCs are designed to be subtly opposed to one another during the game, and each has a secret to keep. Neither is intended to actually engage in heroics (In fact, one of them has no combat or sorcery skills): their role instead is to serve as sources of information for the other PCs, and to help move the plot along. They also have additional information the other characters lack, which can be found at the end of this article. These characters are:
1. Dlamúz hiSankolum Dlamuz’s clanfather Haikon hiSankolum was one of the clan archivists, in charge of the clan’s burial records, and he passed away about two months ago from injuries suffered after a bad fall when he left a party after drinking too much. Dlamuz is provisionally taking care of the burial records until the clan can decide on a suitable replacement. For now, Dlamuz is considered steady and responsible by Neqo hiArsanmra, the Clan Head, and he may be asked to accept the position permanently. However, Dlamuz has a dark secret: two days ago, he stumbled across a hidden scroll of his father’s that indicates that he had terrible gambling debts, and that he gave away some of the jewelry buried in the older tombs to cover these debts. The records show this went on for nearly four years, averaging a minor piece sold every month or so. (The fact that Haikon kept careful records of this implies that he intended to recover the jewellery somehow.) However, the last entry was about two and a half months ago: it simply says “Ta’anesh hiTukun”, and it is strongly embellished.
Dlamuz does not know what to do with this information. If it becomes known that his clanfather was stealing from the clan, the whole lineage may become disgraced; certainly his family will be. If he keeps it secret it becomes his responsibility, and he will be disgraced if it is discovered.
2. T’kan Chqitne This Pé Chói is a bit of a cipher to the clan. He joined only about three months ago, and nobody but him knows exactly why. He was admitted because he paid very well, and he had letters from officials working for Prince Eselne to vouch for him. Rumours circulating in the clan say he is close to the Prince (false). The few who had tried to speak with him found him reserved and distant, except when talking about his archaeological studies, or his paintings. T’kan joined this clan for financial reasons: the clan of the Iron Fist refused to pay for his advancement in either the army or the priesthood, and T’kan did not wish them to gain from his career. He believes the clan of the White Crystal will support a scholar, so he joined them. It is ignoble to admit such base reasons, however, so he keeps quiet about his motivations, telling the clan he wished to feel part of a long chain of priests and scholars.
There are 7 additional pre-generated characters for the other players. Each character has their own hidden motivations which may bring them into conflict with each other, but if everybody behaves honourably, it should be possible to satisfy virtually everybody’s goals. Hopefully not all of these characters will come along: optimal party size should be about 6, counting Dlamuz and T’kan.
1. Nyélme ("Illusionist") Adlár hiKhursa, a 4th circle sorcerer-priest of Sarku Cousin to Shemek. Adlar is ambitious, and intends to be sure that whatever the outcome of the adventure, it should reflect to his credit. Adlar has an Amulet of Resolve Against the Powers, a silvery half-moon the size of dime, worn around his neck. He is thus protected against spells as if he were a 10th level mage. If he fails to protect against a spell, it will burst in a puff of yellow smoke, doing the wearer damage on Table A.
2. Nyélme ("Illusionist") Chúrisan hiMrelsa, a 4th circle sorcerer-priest of Belkhanu. Churisan has a phobia about being buried alive, and he wishes to protect this secret. (Has a Control of Self spell ever been more appropriate?)
3. Gayán hiTessuken. Cousin to both Tsodlan and Zagar. Now a 4th circle bureaucrat in the Glorious Palace of War, Gayan is fascinated by the Underworlds and wants to see everything he possibly can with his own eyes. He also very much wants to return home unwounded.
4. Shémek hiKhursa, Kasi of the Battalions of the Seal of the Worm, on leave. Cousin to Adlar. Shemek has been haunted by nightmares of being captured by the Hlüss ever since his capture by the Sa’a Allaqiyani, and it is affecting his performance as an officer. He fears his present leave from duty is related to this, and this is intolerable to this fanatical Sárku legionnaire. He wants to prove himself capable of command again.
5. Tsodlán hiTessuken. Cousin to Gayan, brother to Zagar. A former Kasi in the First Legion of Ever-Present Glory, now a 5th circle bureaucrat in the Palace of the Realm, under clan-brother Dlamuz. If Dlamuz rises or falls from his position, Tsodlan may be promoted to it. He also keeps a protective eye on his younger brother Zagar, the “black Hma of the family”.
6. Visán hiMarassu. A foppish dandy, worshipper of Dlamelish. Wants to see what it’s like to kill somebody.
7. Zagár hiTessuken, cousin to Gayan, brother to Tsodlan. Worships Vimúhla, just to irritate his Karakan worshipping family. Rejected from the legion of Ever Present Glory, he struggled to make Kasi in the Legion of Mirkitani, Hero of Victories. Forced to resign because of politics, he is very bitter about his brother’s easy successes. Now a 1st circle official in the Palace of the Realm, thanks to Tsodlan’s intervention. How galling.
In addition to the various secrets held by the PCs, and the usual Stability-Change tension, the Mrelsa and Marassu lineages are feuding, and Churisan and Visan will cause trouble for each other. This is further complicated by Dlamuz being married to a Mrelsa, and his sister is married into the Marassu lineage, while Gayan is married to a Marassu.
1. Néqo hiArsanmra, the Clanmaster. He is 47 years old, short and tubby, but has a mellifluous speaking voice. His speech is florid, full of adjectives and rhetorical flourishes, and he is an accomplished orator (one of the reasons he was given the post as chief.) He is also a skilful politician, a ‘tough old bird’, who has kept the clan prosperous by selling grain and hides to Prince Eselne, Prince Rereshqala, and the Imperium. Neqo served a term in the Legion of The Glorious Prince. Neqo worships Hnalla, and he is fond of flash and appearance. He is proudest of the clan boys who go to join the army. He is a traditionalist who is very unhappy with the civil war, and eager to return to peace and ‘the usual’. He keeps his opinions regarding the succession very close to himself, and remonstrates any who express disapproval of the irregular Kolumejalim. His praises and toasts to the new Emperor have been formal, and somewhat less than his usual effusive efforts. Neqo has three wives (one he loves, one he was forced to marry, and one is much younger and like a daughter) and seven children, all grown. He enjoys poetry. Neqo prefers his quarters on an estate outside of the city.
2. Vurósa hiTukun. Quote from the Tékumel Journal #1: “Stern, business-like, abrupt; nicknamed ‘the Barrel’; clanmaster in Jakálla; owns ships that carry cargo of all kinds from Jaikalor to Jakálla, up-river to Béy Sü, and over to Kheiris in Mu’ugalavyá; speaks native Mu’ugalavyáani because of one of his wives; 2 sons; 9 concubines who do not care whether he lives or dies!” He is 45, worships Hnalla. The children in the clanhouse fear him. Rumour says he regularly has barbarians he meets in the street beaten and thrown in the sewer for failing to show sufficient respect.
3. Héttukeng hiGurúma, of the Great Stone clan (high status clan), a big shot in the field of Zu’ur smuggling. (Absent from Jakálla, and possibly permanently) Hettukeng was not a nice person. He was rotund, well-fleshed, with a severe, hawk-nosed face. He was fond of jewellery and of attending parties where he made many successful deals. A clever and suspicious man, he kept all of his activities compartmentalised, with different lieutenants running each part. Although a successful merchant in gold, precious gems, fine clothing, and jewelry (successful enough to live in his own manor outside of Jakálla), he was in the pay of the Surgeth, Baron Ald’s secret police, and possibly he answered to those serving Lord Fu Shi’i more directly. Hettukeng dealt with smuggling and other illegalities as well. Rich, powerful, and part of the social whirl, Hettukeng blackmailed and entrapped a few others of high status to protect his interests, including Haikon hiSankolum. (He caught Haikon by gambling him into bankruptcy, and threatening to reveal that he sold clan burial jewels to cover his debts. In exchange for his secrecy, he wanted some favours, starting with a secure hiding place for a large chest!) Hettukeng caught wind of an OAL investigation of one of his smuggling schemes and fled to Yan Kor quite suddenly—or perhaps he was disappeared by the Surgeth. In any case, his involvement with the Zu’ur trade has not yet been discovered by the OAL. Hettukeng disappeared roughly two months ago.
4. Nebussa hiGashíku, of the Dark Flame clan (High). Hettukeng’s lieutenant in the Zu’ur trade. Hettukeng kept his businesses compartmentalized, so Nebussa knew the Zu’ur trade and some smuggling concerns, but was unaware of his superior’s ties to Yán Kór. Nebussa is whip-thin, darker complected, with a facial scar that pulls his lip up into a sneer. He enjoys hurting people, gives lip service to Ksarul, and climbed up Hettukeng’s ladder from enforcer to administrator. He is quite smart, a practiced liar, and a good swordsman with the narrow, rapier-like sword he favors. Nebussa was told of the deal with Haikon hiSankolum, but not specifically in which tomb the Zu’ur was stored.
Nebussa didn’t suspect Hettukeng was truly gone until nearly a month and a half had passed. It took him roughly a month to assert control of Hettukeng's organisation, as much as he knew about. Now he is looking for the last shipment of Zu’ur. He went to see Haikon hiSankolum at the clanhouse about two weeks ago, only to discover he died recently. Nebussa is suspicious of coincidences, so he is proceeding cautiously. He uses the false name Migor hiKhanuma, of the Standing Stone clan (high). (Thus, he will appear as Nebussa/Migor throughout the text.)
He possesses an Eye of Joyful Sitting Among Friends (labelled in Engsvanyali, with 37 charges remaining, but there is no indicator).
You are all members of the Clan of the White Crystal, an old and respected clan of high status.
The adventure begins when ‘Speedy’, a boy that clanmaster Neqo hiArsanmra uses to run errands for him inside the clanhouse, tells each PC to meet with the clan master in his apartment that afternoon in four Kiren. ‘Speedy’ knows little about the conference, only that Neqo seemed thoughtful. Probing, or an attempt to discern clan gossip will only reveal that Neqo has been in a touchy mood since T’kan Chqitne (a recent addition to the clan, and a Pe Choi!) saw him early this morning. Afterwards, Neqo’s meshqu was briefly ‘The Plaque of Understandable Depression’, and after about two Kiren, it was replaced with his customary ‘Badge of Purposive Activity.’ He then saw Vurosa hiTukun briefly. Since that meeting, Vurosa’s meshqu has been ‘The Plaque of the Fist of Stern Retribution’. If any wish to seek out T’kan, he will avoid them, and if pressed, he should say it is not his place to tell them about his conversation with Neqo.
At the time of your appointment, you climb the stairs to Neqo’s apartment. His Meshqu is still “The Badge of Purposive Activity”, revealing nothing. His apartment is well-furnished, as befits the apartment of a Clan Head of a wealthy and prosperous high clan. Neqo sits on his dais, and he is accompanied by Vurosa hiTukun (on the next dais down). There are many levels available on his visitor’s daises. You choose a seat of the appropriate height. Other clan-brothers are here; some you know personally, and others by sight and reputation. T’kan Chqitne is present. Mivalish, one of Neqo’s slaves, offers a platter of sweet pastries and fruits. Neqo inquires after the health of the family members of all who enter, and tries to put people at their ease. When everybody has arrived, and Neqo has praised everybody’s family and lineage, he broaches the reason why everybody was summoned.
“I have received disturbing news from clan-member T’kan Chqitne. Disrespectful and ignoble persons have broken into the burial chambers of our ancient and illustrious clan, vandalising the crypts of the Tukun lineage, beloved of the Gods. These impious, contemptuous despoilers intend to continue their horrid depredations of our glorious ancestors’ tombs. We are going to instruct these ill-mannered dung-beetles how to respect their betters! I have asked you here because you are all either distinguished warriors or powerful sorcerers. I am asking for martial volunteers who will wield the rod of implacable chastisement upon the ignoble and lowly. You will capture these upstart despoilers, and we will turn them over to the tomb police for the high ride. Cha! Let no inducements free these clanless outcasts! Who wishes to serve as a scourge of correction?
“In addition to properly chastening the cowardly despoilers, we will need to determine what has been removed from the tombs of our honourable predecessors. You will need to conduct an efficient survey and determine what has been removed. Dlamuz, you currently maintain the burial records, as your noble father Haikon did before you. You will be in charge of making a precise record of what was taken. Perhaps the arrogant thieves have not sold our goods, and we may recover some of the items and return them to our glorious ancestors. Be so kind as to remain for a moment; the rest of you are dismissed.”
Vurosa leaves also. He will accompany a warrior PC (choose the one who is most likely to kill first, and ask questions later-consider Zagar hiTessuken or Shemek hiKhursa from the pre-generated characters) and ask them to accompany him to his chambers. Vurosa will whisper, “A fine young person such as yourself could climb high with the proper assistance. I am deeply angered by these slave-lineaged dungeaters who chose my lineage’s tombs to despoil. A person who saw to it that they did not escape punishment at the hands of the easily-induced tomb police, la, who personally administered the vengeance of Tukun would find me grateful, yes, very grateful. We need not even let the Tomb police know about this incident until we have repaired the damage to our honour. Ohe, need I mention that I would be extremely displeased at hearing of any robbers that escaped without punishment? I’m pleased you understand me.”
Neqo waits until all of the others are gone, then he motions Dlamuz to sit at the appropriate dais. “You have a wise head, and I trust all will be done properly. I have one other task for you, and you should perform it with circumspection. T’kan is new to our clan, and the heart in a Pe Choi’s breast beats differently than ours, ne? Keep watch upon his actions, and be sure he has no part in this outrage.”
If Dlamuz protests that the person who brings news of the problem is unlikely to be involved, Neqo will extend a hand to indicate he wishes to continue talking. “One may betray one’s comrades when one’s plan can no longer be hidden, ne? T’kan may have loyalties outside of our clan. Simply watch him.”
He hands Dlamuz a scroll. “These documents should be shown to any tomb police who would prevent our survey. They will grant you passage. Here are the keys to the tombs, also. May Hnalla watch over you and grant you success.”
In another four Kiren or so, the party is ready to go. They are a largish group: in addition to the PCs, there are six burly slaves to do the physical labor, three slaves carrying lanterns, and as many as are needed to carry the requisite bundles: armour, blankets, a fine dinner, a pot of mortar to repair what can be quickly rebuilt. The group crosses the city to the High Gate of Chaimaktel, and walks into the City of the Dead. To the left looms the massive, frowning pyramid of the Tomb of Ssirandar I, the Ever Victorious, founder of the dynasty of the First Imperium, dominating the whole City of the Dead. To the right, nearly as massive, squats the Pyramid Tomb of Bashdis Mssa (great-great-grandson of Ssirandar I, and builder of the Tolek Kana Pits, and other great prisons. Legend says he was buried standing, with his sword ready to strike), behind a row of lesser tombs. You don’t have much time to gawk, however, as you are swiftly beset by the usual crowd: people thrusting guidebooks at you to buy, or skull-shaped tomb candles to light the path of the dead to the Isles of Teretane, or amulets to protect you from ill-fortune. Ragged children beg for loose coins, old women carrying trays try to sell you sweets to offer to the dead, and oily young men offer to guide you to the most interesting tombs. These people are often a nuisance to those entering the City of the Dead, although they usually plague tourists, not high clan Jakallans.
If the party moves swiftly to scatter these scavengers, all is well. The party may also lose the crowd by dispensing 5-15 Hlash to various vendors or beggars and making it clear that they will spend no more. Otherwise, they will be harassed for 1-10 minutes, and there is a 40% chance that somebody will have their purse stolen unless they make a specific action to protect themselves (roll an additional d10 to see what happens to the crowd):
1-3 The crowd simply disperses.
4-5 Another large group of people enter, and the crowd will switch to easier pickings.
6 The crowd refuses to disperse, and will sullenly follow the party, grumbling, until they either enter the tomb or encounter the tomb police.
7-10 The tomb police show to scatter the crowd. If a purse was stolen, there is a 40% chance they will catch the thief, a grubby young man. He will be marched away, and the officer will caution the party to avoid such groups in the future: “Ts’allan diversion, nex’cellency. Thull catch yer eye widthur chatter, n’une takes yer pouch. W’impale ’em fast’n we can, but ther’s allus more.’
If the tomb police does not show to scatter the crowd, the party will encounter a squad of them as they cross the Necropolis. They wear copper breast-plates with the worm of Sarku on the breast, and carry banded staves and short swords. Their Tirrikamu, Quromdosh hiDagarum of the Clan of the Open Sepulchre (Low) asks for your papers. He offers to escort the party to its tomb: “Thursa party of priestesses furm th’ temple of Hrihayal celebratin’ a richul n’ th’ Temple of Hyashra, nex’cellencies. Wouldn’ wannabe m’staken fer their fancy-boys, ah, no ‘fense, nex’cellencies.” (Priestesses of Hrihayal are not above kidnapping victims for their rituals, although high clan members are usually safe.)
There is a hushed air in the City of the Dead. Well-worn paths through the grass lead to the most famous burial places, including the ruined tomb of Queen Nayari of the Silken Thighs, the great evil queen who founded the First Imperium nearly 15,000 years ago; the Tomb of the Lost King (a pyramid with all of its inscriptions erased, believed to be the tomb of the husband of Queen Larayn. Her tomb is in the Necropolis, too.); and the ruined tower of Mnettukeng the Sorcerer. Speaking of wizards, somewhere in the necropolis is the Tower of Ruvadis, The Wearer of Eyes, a powerful local wizard, but no sight-seeing trail leads to his home! It is easy enough to find the dome that marks the entrance to the tombs of the Clan of the White Crystal.
The dome stands roughly thirty feet tall, of white marble with sparkling white flecks visible in it, all atop a truncated pyramid another thirty feet tall.. Figures in clan dress from the Engsvanyali period are carved into the outer walls, along with Engsvanyali script praising the clan in the sight of the Immortal Gods. The entrance to the rotunda is a massive bronze gate, which is opened by a key carried by Dlamuz. Inside are verses from the priesthoods of Belkhanu and all of the gods of Change concerning death and funerary rituals. Another locked bronze gate leads to a sweeping spiral stair of marble descending under the rotunda. After one complete circle, the stairs straighten out and descend into the earth. The walls are of marble, with inscriptions praising the clan, and speaking of the transformations of death, and the paradises for the deceased. The corridor continues to a domed chamber, where the walls are now dirtier. Low daises are carved into the walls, and a cool breeze blows into the chamber. There are four exits, each closed by a differently elaborated bronze grate. Each gate has lineages carved above them, and Dlamuz selects the third gate, the gate to the tombs of the Sankolum, Tetkuru, Charunai, and Tukun lineages. This corridor is a bit narrower, with a peaked ceiling, damp walls, and puddles on the floor. The walls are now granite, and the script is now Classical Tsolyani, giving descriptions of the various paradises of the Illustrious Gods, O Beloved. A large, black crack splits the granite to the right, but Dlamuz proceeds. [Note for referee: this crack is how the robbers got in, but it is unmapped. If the party insists on exploring, they can find a few empty chambers and a dirt tunnel leading to the surface. One of the otherwise empty chambers has a hole in the floor that seems all but bottomless.] A tunnel angles off to the right, with the symbols of the Sankolum lineage. Further on, a tunnel for the Charunai lineage splits off to the left. Yet further, the tunnel to the Tukun lineage appears on the left, and the party proceeds that way. A short way in, there are three steps down. The Tukun lineage’s corridor is inscribed in the spidery script of Engsvan hla Ganga, with verses describing the Battle of Dormoron Plain. There are basalt plugs blocking some of the rooms, and others are closed by more bronze grates or portcullises, while some yawn blackly with only the bronze hinge pins remaining of their original doors.
This tunnel makes three zig-zags, and ends with a bronze door, green with corrosion. There is a bronze door to the right and another to the left. Fresh scrapes in the stone floor indicates the one to the right has been used recently, the one directly ahead less recently. T’kan Chqitne indicates that the one to the right is the correct chamber. [Note to referee: T’kan was studying in chamber “B”, hence the fresher marks in the floor, which deceived Nebussa into thinking the chest was hidden in that room.] The delicate glyphs of the Empire of the Priestkings are stylistically poor, but pronounce these the edifying remains of the excellent dead, honourable and worthy.
Chambers “A” and “B” are ancient burial chambers of the Tukun lineage, and the door to the left leads to a set of tombs for the now-extinct Cha’unqel lineage. (Individual tombs are number-keyed.) Chamber “C” has simple basalt slabs on the floor, from a poorer period in the clan’s history. Chamber “D” has a tomb similar to #5 in Chamber “B”, and Chamber “E” has a tomb like #6-8 in Chamber “B”.
Chamber “B”: This room has a tented roof, supported by six pillars of red marble, engraved with the Engsvanyali script with prayers for the dead. Tombs 1-3 are blocky mausolea with tented roofs, and a black marble block in the front identifying the occupant. Tombs 6-8 and 10 are simple daises with eight columns rising from them, and a square obelisk in the front. Tombs 4 and 9 are miniature ziggurats, tomb 5 is a simple slab of black basalt with a triangular obelisk. Tomb 11 is an unusual oval dais with two catafalques, each with a short, round column rising it.
Noteworthy are tomb #5, the oldest of the Tukun tombs, and tomb #11, in that it is the last resting place for twin brothers (Nriga and Yamashan hiTukun) who jointly commanded the Engsvanyali Legion of the Whispering Cliffs.
Tombs 1-4 and 11 have all been broken into. The robbers have hacked their way into the front of tombs 1-3, the top of 4 and the centre front top of 11. Their equipment (spare clean kilts, mattocks, sledges, spades, prybars, etc.) is stored in tomb #1, and the hole to tomb #11 has been hastily filled with cloaks and chunks of rock. The reason for this will be obvious once the hole has been re-opened: there is the horrid stench of a dead body, about a week old . He lies in a heap near the hole. His cause of death is not apparent, but smears on the floor show he was dragged from the middle of the floor to his current position near the hole. Dlamuz’s tomb records show this tomb was trapped with a poison dart trap, triggered in the middle of the room. To learn more, the body will have to be examined, either from inside the chamber or by removing the rotting corpse (or by magic.) The man was about 30 years old, thin and wiry. His kilt and amulets proclaim him a worshipper of Chiteng-not a deity for tomb robbers.
Each of the tombs that have been broken into has had articles removed, but none of them large. Gems and jewellery are missing, but items such as valuable pottery, coins, and urns have been left behind. More was taken from tombs near the entrance to the chamber than those further in. Anybody who knows anything about tomb robbing, architecture, or engineering can instantly say this is the work of amateurs: scars in the stone indicate they had to try at several points to open some tombs, they don't necessarily break through the thin points of the architecture, they are breaking in methodically rather than into the most valuable tombs first, there are no markings in tomb-robber argot to indicate dangers, and the burial shafts under the upper chamber have not been opened. [Incidentally, Haikon did not raid this room.] The thefts are from Nebussa's henchmen, who are taking souvenirs as they dig for the missing chest.
Unlooted tomb chambers generally have little of interest: 5-50 pottery items (dishes, ewers, bowls, etc.) dating from the late Engsvanyali to early Tsolyani periods; corroded coins (again, Engsvanyali or Tsolyani) in heaps of dust, some gems and jewellery, and pottery and corroded bronze grave goods. There is a 45% chance that the pottery or metal is valuable. (Of course, Dlamuz has a record of what lies in which tombs, so he will know in advance.) All items of wood, parchment, fabric, Chlen-hide, etc., have decayed to nothing.
In Chamber "A", there are eight individual burial-domes. All of the tombs are superficially identical: a low basalt or black granite dais, a low, elliptical dome, a short crawl-way into the dome in the narrow end of it, and a black stele engraved with the deeds of the sleeper within. Superficially, these resemble strongly the burial practices of the Bednalljans. However, the Bednalljans preferred massive blocks carefully fitted together, while these are smaller stones mortared together. The outer edges of the dais-slab were chiselled with tiny decorative engravings, men and other creatures dancing around the tomb. The four pillars holding up the roof of the chamber are firm and practical (these tombs used to be above-ground, and the chamber was built around them, so it is early Second Imperium architecture). There is an altar to Dlamelish at the far end of the room (the most popular deity in Jakalla at the time; a custom that continues to this day).
If the tombs in Chamber "A" are examined, it can be seen that the plugs to each of the tombs has had its original seals removed, and an easily removed mortar has been applied to disguise this fact. Each of them is missing one or two articles of jewellery or gems, but nothing else is missing. [Note for the referee: This was all Haikon's work. A semi-clever player will correctly conclude that the person who despoiled these tombs was not part of the same team that did the robbing in Chamber "B".]
The tomb of Ta'anesh hiTukun is #4; inside, one armlet is missing, but there is a strange chest made of a material like moulded eggshell, inset with small seashells and some tiny gems. It is not dusty enough to have been here long. If the party opens the chest, they will find it full of cloth packets. Each cloth packet is full of iridescent green powder: Zu'ur!
As anybody with a knowledge of narcotics knows, the penalties for possession of Zu'ur are the most severe imaginable: Those found using the substance are declared Nakome (clanless) and then impaled. All of their goods are confiscated and redistributed to the clan. Sellers of Zu'ur are to have their minds probed, and if they survive, they are sent to the Ultimate Labyrinth of the Tolek Kana pits.
About the middle of the night, Nebussa hiGashiku (false name Migor hiKhanuma) arrives with his muscle. Figure on one thug for each member of the party, and 1 warrior for every three members of the party.
|Body Damage: Head||7||8||8|
|Body Damage: Arms||6||7||7|
|Body Damage: Torso||10||12||12|
|Body Damage: Abdomen||8||8||8|
|Body Damage: Legs||7||10||10|
|Armour||None||Small shield||Concealed breastplate*|
|Weapon||Short sword, Dagger||Long sword, Dagger||Long sword, Dagger, Eye*|
|Initiative||+1/+4 +1/+1||+2/+2 +2/+2||+3/+6 +3/+3|
|Damage||C A||D A||D A|
[Note to Referee: Nebussa’s breastplate cannot be seen under his tunic. It is a very small, (QP: -1 to damage roll; HP: stops 2 hits to torso only). The Eye is an Eye of Joyful sitting Among Friends, with 37 charges remaining.]
In spite of the fact that Nebussa/Migor has the best HBS of anybody in the party, he will avoid joining the melee personally unless there is absolutely no choice or if there is virtually no chance of being injured while he preserves others of his group. Nebussa/Migor prefers to be in the background, and he will use the Eye as soon as it appears his gang may have trouble. REMEMBER: Nebussa/Migor did not expect a fight, and has no wish to engage in one. Unless he can overpower the defenders easily, he will leave with his men and revert to the schemes given below.
If the pre-generated character Shemek hiKhursa (who is a big fella) is with the party, Nebussa will need extra muscle to give his party a chance. Add a N’lüss bodyguard:
|Body Damage: Head||11|
|Body Damage: Arms||10|
|Body Damage: Torso||16|
|Body Damage: Abdomen||13|
|Body Damage: Legs||10|
|Armour||Light (-2 to wound roll/absorbs 2 hits)|
|Weapon||Long sword, Short sword, Dagger|
|Initiative||+3/+3 +3/+6 +3/+3|
|Damage||D C A|
Possible outcomes of the melee:
1. The party loses.
Unlikely, unless they are foolish. They should have a sorcerer, and they should be preparing an ambush. If the party loses, Nebussa/Migor will interrogate them for the location of the chest. He won’t be gentle, and will start with torture immediately after the first setback. He will use party members as trap-detectors. If they let him take the Zu’ur, he will sneer, and leave, reminding them that he’s got the goods on them, and “next time” he won’t let them off so easy. Nebussa/Migor may use the clan to do “favours” for him again, but he will feel a need to show them the consequences of interfering with his business.
Concluding the adventure: This will resolve the Zu’ur issue, but the party will have to face up to the clan elders that they failed to dispatch the tomb robbers, and possibly try not to reveal this latest robbery and/or the Zu’ur problem.
2. Nebussa/Migor loses the battle and escapes.
He will call a retreat as soon as it is clear that he will face stiff resistance. He doesn’t want a big fight. He is likely to try to capture one of the party and force him to tell him where the chest is. If it’s clear the party member doesn’t know, he’ll negotiate with the rest of the party. (See the paragraph below on negotiating with Nebussa/Migor.) If Nebussa/Migor can’t capture a party member tonight, he will return the next night, with a slightly bigger party (at least 2 thugs and 1 warrior per party member) and a gang of slaves. If he was overpowered by magic, he will either hire a special (such as a N’lüss or Shen mercenary, or a disreputable sorcerer or borrow an Eye of Raging Power), and stake the tomb out. He will then make a concerted attempt to find the Zu’ur as quickly as possible. He’ll find it in about 10 hours if he isn’t interrupted. If the party (or others) return, he’ll be prepared to capture one of them or retreat. If he cannot capture one, he’ll spy out how the party acts in the tomb to see if he can figure where the chest is, and work as best he can to get it.
Concluding the adventure: After Nebussa/Migor retreats, the party will have to figure out what to do. If they post guards, continue the adventure. (If there is no time, and they have not discovered the Zu’ur, then after they leave there will be one massive break-in of all the tombs, great damage will be done, and there will be no recurrence, as the Zu’ur will be gone. If the party makes sure the tomb is continually guarded, Nebussa/Migor will have to wait until the guard is weaker, and attack. The party will be disgraced by its failure to dispatch the tomb robbers at the first encounter.) If the game continues, look for the ultimate resolution either in Nebussa’s or the party’s favor.
3. Nebussa/Migor is captured.
He will ask why he is being interfered with and negotiate.
Negotiating with Nebussa/Migor: In the absence of other information, Nebussa/Migor will assume the party is trying to steal his Zu’ur, but he will be circumspect about actually mentioning the stuff, just in case. He will assume they know what’s going on, but he doesn’t want to give anything away. If his assumption is confirmed (or, in the lack of other information), Nebussa will offer to let them join his ring-he has the connections to move the drug, and he assumes his captors do not. He’ll dicker over the sharing of the profits, but be careful. Nebussa does not want to die, and he may say that if he does get killed, his men will reveal that Haikon hiSankolum has been cheating his clan. If this doesn’t bring co-operation, he will threaten to reveal all to the OAL. He’s likely to use his false identity of Migor hiKhanuma of the Standing Stone clan unless he believes he has the upper hand, in which case he may reveal his own name.
If Nebussa comes to the conclusion that the party doesn’t know what he’s looking for, he will explain: “My associate had a business deal with Haikon hiSankolum. He was to hold some property for me in this chamber, but he had the ill grace to die without telling us which tomb he hid it in! Tra! [The “Oh” of astonishment] My workers have been clumsy and poorly supervised! I will certainly pay Shamtla for the damage, ne?” If the party quizzes him as to the property, he will say he doesn’t know because he is the agent for another, but that it’s a large chest. If the party helps him find the chest, and they insist on his opening it, he will profess surprise at the contents, and cluck his tongue at the faithless rogues of the world. He will blame his associate, and offer to dispose of the stuff secretly, so as not to call attention to anybody.
If the party is not in the mood to talk, but simply wishes to execute prisoners, Nebussa will do his best to get their attention: a cruel irony in his eyes to die for tomb robbery when he has such bigger matters to attend to! He will then negotiate for his freedom and the chest.
Concluding the adventure: This resolves the Zu’ur situation nicely, but it leaves the robbers unpunished, and the clan elders will surely wish to know why Haikon permitted somebody to store something valuable in the tomb! Dlamuz would not welcome the resultant investigation, and eventually the whole party comes across looking like saps. Bad move, and dishonor to the party in the long run.
4. Nebussa and his henchmen are all killed or otherwise dealt with.
DO NOT let this happen quickly in the first melee unless the party works hard for it! This would be the party’s ultimate victory, but the Zu’ur must be disposed of also.
Concluding the adventure: If Nebussa is slain without explaining and if the Zu’ur is never found, then the party will assume all is wellÉuntil a new batch of tomb robbers appears in a few months as Hettukeng’s other henchmen begin to address the Zu’ur trade and search for this shipment. Depending on how lenient the referee is, the party might be permitted to get away with this solution, especially if the second batch of tomb robbers is considered a new bunch entirely. As long as the Zu’ur isn’t discovered, and Haikon’s ignoble behaviour also remains hidden, all will be well. A referee may also allow the party to return home, believing they have accomplished the job, only to be disgraced in three or four months when the Zu’ur is discovered. They may not be blameable directly unless Haikon’s behaviour is discovered, but they will be under a cloud nonetheless.
It is far better that the party capture Nebussa, find out about the Zu’ur, and deal with him and the drug at once. The Zu’ur must be disposed of, and a clear message sent not to mess around with the White Crystal Clan. This is the ultimate solution to the adventure, and what the players and referee should strive for.
Loose ends (if this adventure is used for a campaign)
There may be searchers looking for Hettukeng’s illicit businesses. The OAL may have caught wind of Hettukeng's dealings, and are tying up loose ends. Similarly, the Surgeth, who know of his drug deals, may be looking for the drugs, and possibly for a connection to the next distributor. Others in Hettukeng’s organization may have discovered his Zu’ur dealing and are looking for a piece of the action. Or, Hettukeng’s disappearance may have been temporary, and he can come back to cause big trouble for everybody. This much heat could be a good excuse for the party to get out of the country: Mu’ugalavya or Salarvya, anybody?
Things Dlamuz hiSankolum would know
As keeper of the tomb burial records, Dlamuz knows who is buried in each tomb, what is buried with them, and any traps that were set. Here is a list of who is buried where. (Actual tomb contents are not important for the game.)
Chamber A is for the Tukun lineage.
A1. Kagoth hiTukun, Chamberlain of the temple of Hnalla, XVIII Dynasty. If a secret catch is not tripped before descending the tomb shaft under the floor, a blade with scythe across the tomb shaft, disjecting robbers in two.
A2. Qoruma hiTukun, wealthy and esteemed.
A3. Mnela hiTukun, Priestess of Dlamelish.
A4. Ta’anesh hiTukun, High General of the Legion of the Weeping Sun.
A5. Dridakku hiTukun, Chancellor of the Palace of the Realm, XXIII Dynasty.
A6. Ssúri hiTukun, Aridani Minister of the Palace of the Priesthoods of the Gods.
A7. Arkutu hiTukun, wealthy and esteemed.
A8. Heredaru hiTukun, wealthy and esteemed.
Chamber B is for the Tukun lineage.
B1. Meshmuyel hiTukun, Grand Clan Head.
B2. Dadayel hiTukun, far traveller, beloved and revered.
B3. Tontiken hiTukun, wealthy and esteemed.
B4. Trasune hiTukun, who increased the clan’s wealth.
B5. Znayashu hiTukun, (first of the Tukun lineage to join the clan).
B6. Su’esa hiTukun, "She Who Preserved the Clan" (?) Her sarcoughagus has poisoned needles in the decorations.
B7. Nriga hiTukun,"Lord of Increase" (?)
B8. Mengano hiTukun, Adept of the temple of Ksarul. The true burial chamber is concealed behind a false one.
B9. Kurshetl hiTukun, wealthy and esteemed.
B10. Saku’u hiTukun, Adept of the temple of Belkhanu.
B11. Nriga and Yamashan hiTukun, High Generals of the Legion of the Whispering Cliffs. The breast plate of a demon carved into the floor in the middle of the room triggers a flight of poisoned darts. Further, if the third hand-hold is not skipped while descending the actual tomb shaft under the floor, the tomb shaft will not extend to the tombs, but will lead robbers to further tunnels in the Underworld where they will be unable to find their way back.
Chambers C, D, and E are for the now-extinct Cha’unqel lineage.
C1. Korikadan hiCha’unqel, Master Merchant, beloved and revered.
C2. Aknallu hiCha’unqel, "He Who Was Gladdened" (?)
C3. Eküne hiCha’unqel, "The River of Gold"(?) If the catch isn’t touched when the coffin lid is lifted, the opener gets a spread of darts fired at him from inside the coffin.
C4. Fashranu hiCha’unqel, wealthy and esteemed.
D. Kurkutashmu hiCha’unqel, "Architect of the Beloved Gods"(?) The tomb tunnels below are a maze. Follow the word "majesty" at each intersection to find the way to the tomb, or be lost forever.
E. LaSsútl hiCha’unqel, Chamberlain of the courtyard of the God-Kings, XVth Dynasty.
Things T’kan Chqitne would Know
T’kan does not have the records that Dlamuz has access to, but he can read the inscriptions on the tombs. Further, he has a good knowledge of basic tomb design: the visible structures in the rooms are simply offering chambers. A tomb shaft lies beneath the floor of each of these, leading to another set of tunnels further down, where the true burial rooms and the rich grave goods lie.
1. You have been studying the tombs in Room B since shortly after joining the White Crystal Clan three months ago. You have made four visits to this tomb, the most recent one being yesterday afternoon, and the next most recent visit was a month ago. Normally, you sit in the chamber, take notes of the various tombs, and make rubbings of the inscriptions. Yesterday, you saw that tombs 1, 2, 3, 4, and 11 had been violated. Peering inside the opened tombs to see what had been done, you noted the tools stored in Meshmuyel hiTukun’s tomb (#B1). You did not disturb the plug covering the hole in Nriga and Yamashan hiTukun’s tomb (#B11). You immediately returned to the clanhouse to make your report, but were unable to see Clanmaster Neqo hiArsanmra until this morning.
2. The tombs in Chamber B are a mixture of different styles, reflecting changes in fashion in the late Engsvanyali Empire. Tomb 5 is the oldest tomb there, the plain basalt slab reflecting either a brief fashion of simplicity or possibly a lack of funds. Tombs 6, 7, 8, and 10 are chronologically next, the eight slim pillars showing a respect for both a basic simplicity of the earlier period, with the gentle ornamentation of the eight slender pillars. The four corner pillars are all inscribed with praises for the Gods, who hold up the world as the pillars hold up a ceiling. The four inner pillars are inscribed with praises for the God King, the clan, the lineage, and the family. The four-cornered stele in front is delicately carved with spidery glyphs of praise for the individual within. The fact that most of these inscriptions are eroded and unreadable underline the shoddy workmanship that became common at the end of the Empire. Tomb 11 comes next chronologically, and it is highly unusual, being a dual tomb for the twin brothers Nriga and Yamashan hiTukun, who jointly served as High General of the Legion of the Whispering Cliffs. Again, most of the inscriptions have worn away. This tomb is unique, in your experience, and any desecration is a high crime as far as you are concerned. Tombs 4 and 9 are ugly imitations of temple pyramids, and come from a degenerate and bankrupt aesthetic. Tombs 1, 2, and 3 represent a return to a simple style, with a stone box with a peaked roof, with the deeds of the sleeper within inscribed on a black marble block on the front. In spite of the nearly 100 year period represented by these tomb designs, all show the poor quality stonework and engraving characteristic of the social decay towards the end of the Engsvanyali Empire.
3. You have not entered room A before. This room is filled with examples of tombs built sometime in the middle Engsvanyali period, which you have not studied. However, the tombs are all copies of the basic Bednalljan design, with daises, low domes, and a triangular stele in front. However, these can be clearly noted to be Engsvanyali because of the use of small stones mortared together, the fine decorative engravings on the edges of the dais-slab, and the fine proportions of the steles, engraved with the spidery characters of Engsvanyali. Bednalljans used larger slabs of rock, their steles were more powerful and massive-appearing, with knife-edged glyphs on them (and nowhere else on the tomb). The block at the far end of the room is an altar to Dlamelish. The pillars and chamber are of early Second Imperium design, so this room was built around the tombs.
4. Chambers C, D, and E are for the Cha’unqel Lineage. The four tombs in room C are rather old, predating the oldest tomb in Chamber B. They are simple flat slabs, with inscriptions along the sides, and the top is covered with the fine carving of Engsvanyali writing. These tombs are from the middle of the Engsvanyali Empire, before your area of study. The single tomb in room D is of the same design as tomb #5 in chamber B, and the tomb in room E is of the same style as tombs 6, 7, and 8 in Chamber B.
T’kan is absolutely going to realise that the so-called tomb robbers in room B are rank amateurs. The fact that they neglected to even attempt to smash through the floors of the offering chambers to get to the true tombs below, where the real riches lie, is very suspicious.
Gardásiyal Stats for the Pre-generated PCs
Dlamuz has worked at the Palace of the Realm since he was 17. He has climbed the ladder and is now a 6th circle official in the Department of Seven Commissioners, where he deals with tax levies. He is an avid fisherman, and enjoys sailing about the bay in one of the clan’s small boats. Thus far, he has succeeded in playing the great game of politics. Dlamuz is married to his clan cousin Sidla hiMrelsa, and they have an eight year old son. He has one sibling, a younger sister named Shanü, who is married to Treshelmu hiMaraSsú, an official in the Palace of the Realm in Katalal. Dlamuz takes his responsibilities seriously, and is gratified that the clan saw fit to grant him his father’s post as one of the burial archivists. He hopes to be able to keep the position.
T’kan was born in Paya Gupa. Rather than become an armourer, he joined the Legion of the Mighty Prince (after being rejected by the Legion of Ever-Present Glory), where he eventually obtained the rank of Hereksa. While in the army, he discovered his true love of archaeology and retired his commission at the end of his term. He then joined the temple of Thúmis. His clan refused to supply inducements for either of his career choices, so when he was reassigned to Jakálla to study under the great scholar No’omu hiRi’inyussa, he took the opportunity to leave the stingy Iron Fist clan and join a clan more inclined to accept a scholar. It cost nearly all of his savings and a great deal of pleading with his former superiors in the Legion of the Mighty Prince, but he was finally permitted to join the White Crystal clan 3 months ago. He mostly keeps to himself in the temple of Thúmis. T’kan is not proud of his military service, and would prefer to not become involved in melee in this adventure.
Adlar has a very pleasant and appealing personality, although his skin is too pale to be considered attractive. He is popular with his colleagues and has many lovers. He comes from a large family, and is charming and cultured. He is fond of poetry, both epic and modern, and he composes some himself, which isn’t half bad. He is driven to climb the ladder of power in the temple because he believes this is the best way to be considered "mighty in the service of his Lord". His favourite uncle Qumal, who died ten years ago, did achieve the eternal life in the tomb that is promised, but he only saw his uncle a few times since during the great temple festivals, and not at all for the past six years. Adlar desires more of his eternal life—to be a Jajgi. Now that the Emperor is favoured by Sárku, there is opportunity everywhere, and Adlar intends to make the most of it.
Churisan is easy-going, good looking, and good natured. He is interested in the older forms of religions, including Aspects of Pavar’s pantheon, heresies of the past, and the never spoken of Pariah Gods. Churisan was especially close to two family members: a younger brother (Kotaru) who was killed on the Atkolel Heights in the past war, and his clan mother Balane who bakes the finest sweet-buns in the clanhouse. She is full of folksy wisdom, and often has useful, albeit stern admonitions for him.
Gayan served in the Squadrons of Tlaneno the Steersman, 3rd Imperial Marines. The clan purchased him a position as a Tirrikamu. Not especially ambitious, he wasn’t promoted to Hereksa until his last year. Never much of a soldier or sailor, Gayan did enjoy the opportunity to sail the rivers and to meet travellers. He sampled the foods of other cities and swapped stories, especially tales of the Tsuru’umikh, the Underworlds. After his military term, the clan landed him the Palace of Glorious War, and he has enjoyed his new role as an administrator, and has been promoted every year. Suddenly popular with the small children for his stories, Gayan has recently married his clan cousin Talodel hiMaraSsú.
Shemek has wanted to be a soldier for as long as he can remember, following in the footsteps of his uncle Qumal, who served in the Legion of Serqu, Sword of the Empire. Always a large and muscular boy, and a bit of a bully, he looked forward to learning soldiering in school. However, in school he began to idolise the choirmaster, Priest Zhentyal, and became immersed in the teachings of his faith. By the time he left school to join a legion, Shemek was a full-blooded fanatic for the temple of Sárku. His family, which generally only paid lip-service to the temple, didn’t provide help, but Shemek ascended the ranks anyway. He spent his evenings listening raptly to the priests assigned to the legion, and learned about the mythology and demonology of his faith. At the battle of Anohl in Sa’a Allaqi, Shemek was wounded in the leg and captured. He was able to escape and return to his legion, where he was promoted to Kasi. However, shortly after this, he was sent home on leave. Shemek is most anxious to return to his Legion and continue his glorious career.
Tsodlan is good looking and popular. He seems to succeed in everything he does, and he makes it look easy. He is not egotistical, however, and is very good company. His looks, charisma, and family support made it easy for him to join the First Legion of Ever-Present Glory, and he quickly achieved the rank of Kasi. After five years, Tsodlan resigned from the army in order to be closer to his family in Jakálla. He easily obtained a position in the Palace of the Realm, in the Department of Seven Commissioners, under his clan-brother Dlamuz hiSankolum. Tsodlan is married to his clan cousin Atin from Tumissa, but they are waiting before they have children, so Tsodlan can pay off his 4000 Kaitar debt to the clan for his commission in the army. He possesses a complete set of a Yan Koryani officer’s armour, worth 300 Kaitars, as a going-away gift from his cohort.
Visan is a dandy who enjoys fine clothes, watching duels, and performances of epic poetry. He may be fairly described as having "smouldering good looks", and is popular with the ladies. He spends some of his spare time taking lessons from Nabusu hiArchelya, a tutor in the fine art of long sword technique. He wishes to live a life of luxury and pleasure, and believes this is his right for being such an excellent fellow of noble refinement. He has hidden strengths of character, as can be seen by his application to learning fine duelling. Visan possesses an elaborately decorated Chlen-hide long sword with a small emerald in the pommel, fine silver filigree, and tiny Kheshchal birds decorating the near third of the blade with their intertwining tails. It is worth about 200 Kaitars, and is much too fine for common use!
Zagar has always felt inferior to his popular older brother Tsodlan, and has followed in his footsteps. He decided to worship Vimuhla in order to differentiate himself from Tsodlan, in spite of the family’s wishes. Rejected by the Legion of Ever-Present Glory, he joined the Legion of Mirkitani, Hero of Victories. He finally achieved the rank of Kasi in the beginning of his second term, only to be forced to retire a year later as a political cover for one of his superior officers. Tsodlan was able to get him a position in the Palace of the Realm, in the Department of Seven Commissioners, where he broods over his misfortunes and makes things difficult for petitioners. Zagar has a dark personality, a fast wit (he was well-known in his legion for his clever dirty jokes), and a drive to succeed in spite of obstacles. He owns a Yan Koryani long sword which he took from an officer he killed. It is decorated with a snarling beast-demon head on the pommel with tiny topaz eyes, and has gold filigree on the handle. It is worth perhaps 100 Kaitars.