Daniel Bar Yeremiah (SteveR) - Shiradi Sage
Debora Bat Solomon (Tammy) - Shiradi Red Lion
Faqid the Witless (GM/NPC) - Amnesiac Merchant Prince
(4th day of the second Ten-day of the 4th Month of the year 5997)
The older man, dark-haired, with a bit of a belly and wearing what are obviously mercantile clothes, glares around furiously but receives no answer. The staff in his hands is clenched tightly, his knuckles almost white. From behind him, Tek peeks his head, looks around, and points at Daniel Bar Jeremiah, telling the man, obviously his father, that he’s the man who treated him so ill. Seeing no choice in the matter, Daniel gets ups and walks towards him. The man strikes Daniel with his staff [doing 5 damage after Soak] and knocks him to the ground. Faqid the Witless tells Debora Bat Solomon that he’ll tell her later what he learned during his sponge bath earlier, but for now he plans to enjoy the show. Debora also notes that the man is wearing an orange sash, comparing this with the red sash that she saw Faqid wearing back at the caravan in the desert.
The merchant tells them that he is Hamid Ibn Yussef Abd-Al-Salif, and states his grievances over the way Daniel Bar Yeremiah treated his son. He says that Daniel interrogated his son without family present, but adds that 1) he treated Tek as an adult when he is clearly not; 2) he insulted Tek’s family; and 3) his child earned certain details of what is going on that the Gods would not want him to know [at his tender age]. It is clear from what he adds that Tek is a younger version of his father, some 14 years of age but already sprouting a beard, and wearing the typical clothing that a Salifah would wear at his age. When Daniel attempts to rise, Hamid strikes him again [for another 2 points of damage]. Daniel attempts a rebuttal and refute the charges against him levelled by the Salifah merchant but stalls and fails miserably. Daniel decides to tell Hamid, his son, and those in the Black Dabbat the truth, but they clearly do not believe him, given everything he has (not) said and the inconsistencies and hesitation in his words. Faqid saves the day, using flattery and the Dragon-Marked status as a means of explaining Daniel’s crass actions and words having been due to a lack of understanding of Saabi culture and customs [he rolls a 23, with 5 Magnitude]. Hamid, his son, and the various others in the inn accept these words, and Hamid tells the three that they have a lot to answer for and a lot to live up to. Hamid also insists that Debora and Faqid are now responsible for Daniel’s future behaviour, though it will take some time for them to trust him at all. Hamid and his son, Tek Ibn Hamid, now join them at a table to talk.
Hamid tells the Dragon-Marked that Macus, his son, is some 17 years old, but looks about 12, with dark hair, some beard growth and eye and hair colour like that of his brother. He says that Macus stands to inherit the family business. When Debora asks about his unusual name for a Saabi, Hamid says that the boys’ mother is Agalanthian. Macus disappeared while on an errand to deliver some items to one Ibrahim, in the small Sorcerer’s area of the town. He had not taken Tek with him, as the boy is too young for such errands yet, but was going to meet him near the family’s favourite small restaurant when he returned. He says that Macus disappeared around 2 hours before sunset. Tek adds, somewhat off-handedly, that strange things started happening about three weeks ago. Tek and several other children snuck out to the area of the north gate (Faqid and Debora eye each other momentarily when he mentions the north gate), and saw mysterious, multi-coloured lights out in the desert, north of the city. They saw them twice more, but when asked by Debora, he says that Macus never went with them; he was too old for their games. Faqid casts a spell on the boy, barely succeeding, and Tek grimaces as if with a headache. Faqid looks worried, but doesn’t say anything in the presence of the father and son. Offering up a prayer to the Gods to find the children quickly and take revenge on those who abducted them, Hamid and Tek depart the inn.
The player characters depart the common room, and go upstairs to talk in Debora’s room. Faqid tells her and Daniel that the boy, Tek, was under a spell of confusion. When he cast his spell of clarity, Faqid saw that Tek had a multi-coloured, swirling glow of light in his eyes. They discuss the possible ramifications of this, and then Faqid tells them what happened with the servant girl who was to bathe him earlier, Munna. (See the previous session for details on that.) Debora and Daniel learn of the disappearance of Alia Bat Koran approximately a Ten-day ago, and that all that was found of her was a yellow scarf that she valued, given her by her father, and the two bags of (food) spices that she’d been tasked with purchasing. The three characters continue to talk, and Debora expresses the thought that it’s possible that Tek and the other children who saw the mysterious lights had left the city but don’t remember their experiences. The Dragon-Marked go over what they need to do: They must question the family of the sixteen missing children. They need to talk with Ibrahim the sorcerer. They need to talk to the guards at the north gate, and see if they saw the lights, saw the children… And they need to learn if the guards saw anyone coming or going through those gates. It is a troubled group of Dragon-Marked that seek their beds and a night’s rest…
The next morning dawns bright and clear, with a promise of the heat of the day to come. As Daniel, Debora and Faqid descend to the common room, they find Jabal waiting for them with a pair of guards as escorts. He tells them with feigned sincerity that he is there to make sure they attend their morning meal meeting with Sheik Ehadin Ibn Malik Abd-Al-Hassan. Faqid bristles at this, as he is a man of his word, but manages to keep his temper in check. Sheik Ehadin is somewhat restrained in his greeting of the Dragon-Marked, but tells them that what occurred in the Black Dabbat the night before has somewhat mollified his anger at them. He tells Daniel Bar Yeremiah that that he is not a sage Sage by any means, and that it was the prerogative of the Sheik to tell the people of Halifah that he had commissioned them to find out who has kidnapped the children of Halifah. His, not theirs, as the people don’t know how many children have gone missing nor certain “circumstances” that he will not discuss with them at present. Once more, Faqid mollifies the Sheik’s feelings even more, and Daniel says he will accept any punishment the Sheik sees fit to level at him [he succeeds at a Save Face roll, but with a mere 1 Magnitude]. Sheik Ehadin says that he will ponder the matter, and get back to him. After they talk a bit more with the Sheik about what they’ve learned, the Sheik dismisses them to go about their business of the day.
Over the next several days, the Dragon-Marked talk to various people around the town and question the families and children of those who’ve gone missing. They learn a lot of things: All the kids taken are in the 8 to 14 year age range. There were two groups of children taken, based on social status. In addition, one sorcerer’s child and one caravan child were taken. These two children have nothing in common with the others. The sorcerer’s child, a 9-year-old boy, was taken from the temple while engaged in his studies. The temple is not in the Sorcerer’s area, and the boy is a permanent resident of Halifah, and is training to be a kahan. He disappeared while on an errand to the souk. The caravan child is a 12-year-old girl, skilled with the sword, and a typical denizen of the souk. She was friends with another child from the caravan that disappeared 3 weeks ago, a 9-year-old girl. They were leaving her in the care of Issak, one of the teachers and guides, so as to learn the desert ways. Overall, 16 children have disappeared with a male/female ratio of 3 to 1.
There are also several things that the children shared in common. The child of the sorcerer and the child of the caravaneers disappeared in the souk. All of the children of the lesser families were taken from areas that were not crowded and they weren’t in places that they should not have been. Most of the children of the poor were on errands. Three-quarters of them were returning from errands when they vanished. Of the wealthier children that disappeared, two-thirds vanished while returning from their errands. Faqid learns, using his magic, that two of the children from higher ranked families have the multi-coloured, mysterious lights in their eyes. No adults have seen or saw the multi-coloured lights out in the desert to the north of Halifah. Six of the families mentioned that their child talked, before they disappeared, saying the word “Olobis”. None of the characters know what it means, but Daniel suspects that it may be a name.
In addition, the player characters go to the Sorcerer’s area, which is fenced off with wooden, seemingly magical, fencing, and managed to track down and find Ibrahim the sorcerer. He tells them that Macus delivered what he was supposed to and was paid for the items. He says that he believes Macus was then going to one of the inns that the Salifah families favour. When asked if he knows anything about the word “Olobis”, Ibrahim was surrounded by a white nimbus, and became possessed. In a female voice, he/she told the Dragon-Marked,
“Seek out the Olobis and face the Peril of Knives.”
He then returned to his normal self, continuing the conversation as if nothing had happened. When asked about what had happened, Ibrahim told the player characters that he is sometimes possessed by “She of Prophecy”. The player characters prepared to head back to the Black Dabbat. Before they leave, Faqid asks him if he knows who he is. Ibrahim shakes his head, saying, “You are under a curse, but it is not the time or my place for the answer to this question.” Both Faqid and Debora look concerned as the Dragon-Marked made their way out of the Sorcerer’s area.
The Dragon-Marked also went back to the North Gate to talk to the guards there. There are four guards on duty, and the gates appear to be pretty normal, with very little traffic in the area. When asked, the guards admit to having seen multi-coloured lights out in the desert, but chalk it up to sun blindness and tricks the Aramla El Nar plays on mortals. One guard, Mahum, says he has seen them twice in the day time. Another guard, Shakti, says he has seen them twice while on night duty. Faqid casts his spell again, and sees that Shakti has the mysterious lights gleaming in his eyes. Daniel makes a roll to look closely at Shakti, and he sees the mysterious glow in his eyes, swirling gold, reds, yellows, and greens - and then hears a voice: “Come, Olobis awaits.”
Sunday's game session of the Capharnaüm - The Tales of the Dragon-Marked RPG campaign was a pretty good one, once we got past some of SteveR's hesitation and indecision about dealing with the merchant at the beginning of the game session. SteveR didn't react the way Tammy or I expected him to, but the matter was resolved to the satisfaction of the players, though SteveR's still not happy about how he played the sequence out. Things got delayed with this early part of the afternoon's play that, rather than have the player characters actually question the families of the kidnapped children, I had them make a few rolls, talk a little bit about what types of questions they would ask, and then gave the player characters the highlights of that part. I did, however, have them play out questioning Ibrahim the sorcerer and the guards at Halifah's north gate. It was a pretty good afternoon, after the early part of the session, so I feel pretty good about it.
Overall, a decent game session of the Capharnaüm - The Tales of the Dragon-Marked Sunday afternoon campaign. The one thing it did highlight for me is the need to have another couple of players join the group, but I've been trying to get new players for a couple of years so far. Anyway, I'm looking forward to the next session of the game, but also need to get some work done for the CanGames 2019 games that I'll be running. See how that works out.