Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Guest Post: Joining the Brotherhood of Gor’m

After dispatching the giant geckos in Room 9, and calming the surviving “bees”, the party continues to explore the ziggurat. A long corridor runs along this side of tier 2. At the north it dead ends, at the south are two doors. Intrigued and suspicious, they go north.

Exploration reveals a small hole at the top of the wall (to Room 8 “Abandoned Room”), from which a sickly, wet smell emanates. The tip of an inserted 10’ pole comes back covered with unsavory, green slime eating away the wooden end. They debate pouring in flaming oil, but decide against wasting that resource.

Creeping south they see the soft glow of a small gold statue of Gor’m at the end of the hall, but quickly establish it as a fake. They detect nothing at the door of Room 11 (Brotherhood of Gor’m). There is faint light and mumbling from Room 12 (Grand Master of the Brotherhood of Gor’m). Taking a leap of faith, they knock on the door, and step back behind the Cynidicean “bees”.

The door opens, and a man in blue tunic and chainmail with a gold-inlaid mask of a bearded man asks their business. After revealing their status as “topsiders”, the man fetches his leader Kanadius. The party is invited into the room, where there are five armed and armored men who had been sitting around a table full of charts and maps. The five men from Room 11 soon join them, and the party realizes the wisdom of not having charged in against these odds.

A long conversation ensues wherein the party is told a lot about the ziggurat, the city far below, Zardoz and its Priests and so on. They get a glimpse of the factional conflicts between the Brothers, the Warrior Maidens of Maduara and the Magi of Usamigaras. Kanadius’ contempt for the other cults is evident. He doesn’t view their gods as false… just as lesser. And he is frustrated that they don’t realize that the best way to combat the evil influence of Zardoz and his Priests is for them all to band together under the banner of Gor’m. Their ultimate goal is to liberate Cynidicea from the evil grip of Zardoz and to help the masses escape their meaningless, drug-induced half-lives.

The party also reveals a good deal about where they come from. Since they do not really know the purpose of their expedition, they can only speculate as to whether it had anything to do with the Lost City. “Outside” is not unknown to Kanadius, though it has been two generations since the outside world has “returned to” Cynidicea. He laments that this might bring attention topside from the Priests of Zardoz, which is confirmed when the players tell him about the Goblins they encountered. The Zardozians seldom bother to infiltrate this high in the pyramid without good reason. Scumville, Far Imran, the Upper Kingdoms and other outside place names mean nothing to the Cynidiceans.

Using his Helm of Telepathy, Kanadius confirms that the party is, for the most part, sincere in their offers of friendship. They all go outside to gaze upon the wonder of open sky. Kanadius and his men have heard of it (sun, moon, sky, etc.) but are eager to experience it firsthand.

Outside it is about 10:00PM. The Brothers stare in wonder at the stars and moon, the infinite sky, and the towering statue of their god Gor’m, before whose image they bow down in reverence. But the party notices something quite different.

The night sky is… wrong. Where there should be a nearly new moon, they see one nearly full. Where there ought to be a sky full of familiar constellations, they see stars—but all of them are alien. Not just out of place. Rather, they are completely different. The Cynidiceans have no awareness of the “wrongness” of the night sky. After initially being overwhelmed by it, they settle into sheer wonder and enjoyment. The PCs have no idea what is going on. [Out of character, they float a few theories—time-travel being my favorite.]

After more discussion (over roasted gecko, mushroom and wine) Kanadius extends the offer of membership into the Brotherhood of Gor’m to Otto, Gregor and Fortunato. He uncomfortably extends lesser membership to Kraalll and Golan on account of their Elven blood (“It’s not us, it’s you”). They all accept, and a brief initiation ritual is performed outside, under the stern gaze of the statue of Gor’m. Full members get a small tattoo of a blue lightning bolt on their right shoulders.

Without explaining the Helm of Telepathy, I told Ryan and R.J. to be sincere with me about their characters’ intentions with the Brothers. R.J. took me aside for a conversation wherein he asked if he could change Fortunato’s alignment from neutral to lawful, which I allowed. [I guess the death of his brother Rictur really did have an effect.] Ryan was a little coyer, trying to reconcile dedication to the Brotherhood without abandoning Otto’s devotion to the god Osric. He made what amounted to a different-means-to-the-same-end type of argument. The Amranin, like the Cynidiceans, have a pantheon wherein exclusive worship of one god is not the norm anyway. While the Cynidicean pantheon is not culturally or historically familiar to the Upper Kingdoms, the notion of different and even new gods is not world-shattering.

As all this is happening, other Brothers have gathered up the corpses of orcs, golbins and men. They are laid out in Room 24 (Ceremonial Chamber of Gor’m), waiting to be brought to the city below to be ceremonially mulched. A runner is sent to the city to inform members about developments Topside and to retrieve masks and bracelets for the new initiates.

The party takes an extended rest, and then propose to explore the rest of Tier 2. Kanadius is uninterested in this mission, but does not forbid it. He cautions that it is unnecessary and unwise to open random doors in the pyramid “for the foul influence of Zardoz seeps into every dark corner”. Some of the party (Otto in particular) are incredulous that the Brothers have not secured more of the territory surrounding their safe haven. Despite his misgivings, Kanadius sends two of his men, Rufus and Klacus, with the party and gives the mission his reluctant blessing.

In Room 4 (“Priest’s Quarters”) they find a swollen body of a goblin. Rufus explains that it was probably killed by the giant bees that the Brothers keep for security (and honey) in Room 7. He explains that the bees will attack anyone not wearing a mask of Gor’m. [The party had learned about the healing properties of the honey in prior conversation and took some jars of it from the “bees” before Kanadius had one of his men lead the hapless Cynidiceans back to the underground city.]

In Room 2 (“Storage Room”) they find nothing of interest. They hear high-pitched chatter in Room 5 (“Fireworks Storeroom”). Nothing behind the door to Room 8 (“Abandoned Room”). And notice three clay jars at the end of the hall. Starting with the jars, they note that two are full of sand and one is empty. They tip over the sand jars and in one a small pouch tumbles out. It contains some coins and a key. [Someone pockets the key, and the players have since totally forgotten it].

They debate an assault on Room 5. Eventually, they decide to simply knock, since that worked out rather well last time. [Then I fetched my only real prop of the game– a helium balloon to do the voices of the Sprites.] A chorus of fey voices replies to the knock “Who is it?” A friendly conversation commences through the door, and the sprites invite the party to come in. The characters sees a party in process—sprites flitting about, with teeny-tiny drink and foodstuffs aplenty. The sprites are friendly, but mocking. They tease the masked “Blue Men”, Rufus and Klacus, for being so stern and boring. They mock Kanadius, and Cynidiceans in general.

The sprites offer to escort the party to the city along a quick and safe path… for a price. They seem to know a lot about the ziggurat, but won’t give up information. In general, they encourage the characters to be blasé about rooms and hallways that are especially dangerous and cautious in places that are the most secure. They describe the green slime in Room 8 as the harmless “snot of Gor’m”, and tell the Brothers they should be proud and happy to lap up the snot of their great god.

Eventually, the characters negotiate a deal. The sprites aren’t strong enough to open the crates in this room, but know they contain fireworks. They offer to split the contents 50/50 if the PCs pry them open. After doing so, the PCs talk to the sprites about burning out the green slime. The sprites offer to fly lit fireworks through holes near the ceiling, provided that they use the PCs share of the fireworks to do so. They burn out the green slime (flying about half the inventory out of the room to the other side unbeknownst to the PCs).

We end the session with the players believing that they have fully explored and cleared out Tier 2. Session 3 had a lot of roleplay, a lot of information bandied about, and no direct combat. It was super fun. But so far, their total experience earned has only been about 1500xp. They’re nowhere near leveling, and the only direction to go is deeper… or up and out, but that never occurs to them.

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…”
  9. Cynidicean Bee-people, the Breath of Zardoz, and Giant Geckos

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