Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Guest Post: Cynidicean Bee-people, the Breath of Zardoz, and Giant Geckos

When the reinforced party descends again to Room 6, I start rolling for Wandering Monsters and hit one immediately. I am relieved to roll up the most benign of all possible results: four Cynidiceans, in papier-mâché bee masks, carrying four clay jars full of honey. They are clad in wispy, flimsy tunics. Their skin is incredibly pale. They pop in through the southwest door, making buzzing sounds, arms stretched out as though flying. They buzz and circle the PCs harmlessly, simultaneously attracted to and alarmed by the bright lights of the party’s lantern.

Brother Otto, a bit of a xenophobe and the most cautious member of the party (run by the most cautious player, Ryan), is inclined to knock them on the head with lethal blunt force. I lean hard on the apparent harmlessness of the “bees” and the party merely subdues them and binds them with rope, which the “bees” do not particularly resist. These drug-addled Cynidiceans (Tom, Dick, Henriette & Margitte) wish only to share the glorious honey of their Queen, and they repeatedly entreat the party to imbibe. They are interrogated, but without much effect. They aren’t resistant, they just don’t have many non-bee concerns. “Yes, we are so bees. There are many more of us, and many other animals too. Our Queen is Zardoz, from whom the glorious nectar flows.” They give off a vibe of fear about Zardoz, but “her glory is great and all depend on her for sustenance. All life flows from the Queen.”

When the PCs strip off the bee masks, the four react at first with terror “You tore off our faces!” But when all is well they forget the affront. The PCs are wary of the honey in the jars, believing it to be hallucinogenic. [The honey has healing properties and acts as a half-strength healing potion.] Having gotten all the information they are likely to extract, the party unbinds the “bees”, but keeps them tethered at the waist, to use them as advance scouts moving ahead as they explore.

They shun the stairs for now, and hear faint, ominous moaning behind the northwest door [totally arbitrary “breath of Zardoz”], so they explore east:

Room 10 (“Abandoned Priest’s Quarters”) yields cobwebs, ancient rotted furniture, and an old holy symbol depicting a set of scales reminiscent of those in the left hand of the statue above. Brother Otto, a zealous Cleric of Osric (a second-tier god of the Amranin pantheon), takes the holy symbol, no doubt intending to destroy it later.

Room 9 (also “Abandoned Priest’s Quarters”) yields a similarly disheveled room. But when they shine the light of their hooded lantern into the room, the blue and orange head of a giant gecko pops up from behind a cot. Ribbons of flesh hang from its jaws. It blinks.

I call for initiative rolls. Gecko wins. It leaps forward and seizes Dick in its jaws, killing him. The second Gecko, having been clinging to the ceiling, drops to the floor right in front of the door. The PCs have no idea how much trouble they’re in. These lizards have a combined total of 27hp. They’re fast, and do they D8 damage. To my great relief, Golan unleashes his Sleep spell, and both Geckos go down.

The party cuts their throats. Tom, Henriette & Margitte are briefly phased, but recover quickly since the life of a bee is fleeting, and they have all that honey to look forward to. Behind the bed lies a dead Cynidicean with a finely wrought bird mask inlaid with gold. Thus endeth Session 2. The party has explored four rooms, over the course of about 14 hours. They’ve engaged in three melees, each resulting in a fatality (two PC, one NPC).

Read Earlburt’s entire series on The Lost City:

  1. Setting out for the Lost City
  2. Nonvariable Weapon Damage, Alignment Tongues, and Rolling Hit Dice
  3. Setting and Player Introduction for The Lost City
  4. Into The Desert
  5. Context, Cut Scenes, and the Pen and Paper Experience
  6. Death Lurks in Every Nook and Cranny
  7. Guest Post: The Mythic Underworld and Gygaxian Naturalism in The Lost City
  8. “Yes, of course we’d love to go see the Priests; but first…”

2 responses to “Guest Post: Cynidicean Bee-people, the Breath of Zardoz, and Giant Geckos

  1. jeffro December 14, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    (Hmmm… you must have rolled 6 or higher when you threw down 2d8 for that Sleep spell….)

    It sounds like you are on the party’s side even though you have to kill them.

    • earlburt December 14, 2012 at 5:17 pm

      I know I rolled, and I know it was a legit kill (though I don’t remember the dice I threw). I don’t really have to help them get killed. They kind of take care of it on their own.

      I have found that, when they come with a plan that seems rash or unwise, it generally goes badly for them. When they seem cautious and rational, they’re generally fine. I’m not fudging anything. It’s just that when they do something that makes me silently think “Huh, that’s dumb”, subsequent events and rolls usually affirm that thought.

      They are their own worst enemy. Well, they and the dungeon full of creatures that want to kill them.

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