This campaign was run by Pete Windsor from 77–79 (at school), 79–80 (at college) when I joined it, until it ran into problems, and then all was wrapped up in one humungous session in early 1985. The material up to and including the Army of Heroes section is a contemporary (c1978) account tersely transcribed by me many years ago, and edited only slightly in this presentation. The later section is a write-up made after the campaign concluded, from the viewpoint of my character, Hank “the Tank”. Notes on machanics and such follow after. Pete now plays in Saxum Caribetum and is its webmaster.
- History — before play started
- The Army of Heroes — first phase of the campaign
- An End to Some Things — second phase and conclusion
- Orcish — a lexicon
- Magic System
- Other Systems
- Rogues' Gallery
The calendar of Ranlyr numbered the years from the discovery of magic by L'mosso, later lord of Sevefe [city founded by him in year 10], who was at that time still a young man [born in -20]. Four major historical figures were born in the early 30s. The first was Wafioty, who was apprenticed to L'mosso in the latter's 75th year . The second was Gytai, to whom the god Fune-Resht manifested himself at about that same time, inaugurating the start of modern religion. A few years later, Akaoz the Warrior founded the city of Akiz , and Quyrmuoz demonstrated the first psychic abilities. On discovering this, L'mosso, now a self-made immortal , began to research psi-magic.
During these years, Wafioty quarrelled with L'mosso about the latter's intention to teach magic more widely, and was banished from Sevefe , seeking refuge in Akiz. In the year 68, the Council of the Four convened in Akiz, and declared war on Sevefe. A season's campaign humbled Sevefe, and L'mosso took exile in his northern home province of Duyen .
The council ruled Ranlyr and the annexed territories of Dorlyn throughout the second century, encouraging the spread of religion, while keeping magic and psi restricted. The 3rd century of the age dawned with goblin incursions over the Keyov mountains , and by the end of the decade , a pogrom was declared against goblin-kind. Two years of slaughter cleared Ranlyr of all orcs and goblins , but just a few years later , orcs began to reappear in the west. This was not at first discovered, as Akiz was at that time under attack from Cebnaix, the first dragon, and the Four were compelled to summon Akiampzulkettytyviu, Demon Lord of Destruction to serve them .
When Akiz came under siege from an army of terrible monsters , the Four and Akiampzulkettytyviu loosed powerful magics upon them, but the Demon Lord was treacherous, and loosed an uncontrolled field of annihilation in the north. For two years, this magical storm devastated the land, until the Four were compelled to humble themselves and call upon L'mosso's aid . He managed to quell the field, but in the conjuration, Akiz itself was destroyed, sinking under the waters of Lake Pewis which extended a further 10 km. L'mosso himself was rescued from the steaming crater by Cebnaix.
From the ruins, a council of magicians assumed rule from New Akiz , controlling the use of magic, and gathering much knowledge and wisdom in the great Library. Comparative peace reigned until the early years of the 6th century, when barbarians out of Dorlyn overran much of Ranlyr, sacking Akiz , and sending the council fleeing west to Sevefe. In the wake of the barbarians, the goblins expanded once more, while the council, after much deliberation, agreed to summon the demon lord Vaifotyviucoftycuy , who unleashed a field of terror, routing the barbarians.
The years that followed were marked by two events. One was marked at the time, the appearance of the castle of Trisend Power , the other was the birth of Theodore Wespin . Sent as one of the youths diving into the ruins of Old Akiz for treasure by the council, Theodore discovered a small black pyramid , and fled with it south into Dorlyn. Soon thereafter, he reappeared at the head of a barbarian army , and using the power of the pyramid, smashed the power of the council. Barely pausing to set a new government in place, he declared his intent to destroy Trisend Power, who has been causing havoc . Opposed by an army of monsters, he defeated them in the Great War, and laid siege to Trisend Power. After some months , Trisend Power emerged, and single-handedly defeated Theodore's army. Only the power of the pyramid allowed Theodore and ten companions to escape his wrath, but with that aid, they defeated Power, burned his body, and razed the castle.
Peace established, in 536, Theodore took the crown, and wed Alytal, the high priestess of Daena. His line ran as follows; after Theodore [d 540], the regency of Alytal, until their son Kiaj came of age . He was succeeded by his son Eakamn , called “the Pathetic”, in whose reign the pyramid was lost; and he in turn by Uyest [reigned 615–641], who reformed the council of magicians. The line continued through minor kings to the present day.
In 803, Tsoxys built the Tower of Ice, and declared himself King in the West. In 830, Theodore II ascended to the throne. In 832, Ytyviuch, high priestess of Agia was arrested for murder, and escaped, destroying much of Akiz in a firestorm. In 833, the Chancellor of the Realm died from a drug overdose, and was found to have raided the treasury to feed his habit. In 834, Lord Seyroj was sent with an army against Ice Tower, but was annihilated. In 835, all senior mages, save Klovin, Theodore's personal wizard, were assassinated. Theodore called together an army of heroes to rid Ranlyr of its enemies.
The army of Heroes was officially sent on its way by His Eminence, Theodore II, on New Year's Day, 836, but in truth the months of Nadow and Agia were spent in preparations. Krait divided his forces into three teams, in order to expedite the first phase of his campaign.
Those under Eajamn were first to set out, with the task of destroying the orc village in the south-east plains. Despite ambush by the orcs, they achieved their aim with the use of a fireball, and great skill at arms. In the skirmish, Dhuxy and Tyvi were sore wounded, and were forced to return with Eajamn to Akiz, while the other heroes split up to augment the other groups.
These forces, under Krait, and Lord Osso, had set out to attack orc villages in the south and north of the Keyov mountains. Krait's band had the misfortune to meet a manticore, which killed Spaow, and severed Hovipet's arm. On reaching their objective, they repeated Eajamn's fireball tactic, but were less successful, destroying only part of the village, and after a brief skirmish in which Ketys was killed, they retreated. The devious Krait decided on a siege approach, killing those orcs found outside the village. A large proportion were killed that way, including those taken by Krait and Pequy for torture. Finally, an assault was made, and the remaining orcs killed, Voxyb demonstrating great bravery and skill.
On their return journey, the party were attacked at night by a wolf pack, and only by the timely intervention of Sudyro with a light were they saved. Voxyb lost an arm, Glaj was badly mauled, and Krait took a head wound. Two days later, in an ambush by gnolls, Zulk became the third to lose a limb.
While Krait was spending time waiting for orcs, Eajamn had regenerated Hovipet's arm and Dhuxy's leg, and set out again to complete Lord Osso's work. This was achieved by use of a fire elemental, summoned by Dhuxy. Their return was marked by the attack of a wyvern, which was despatched by means of psi-blasting and a fireball.
By the time Eajamn had returned, Sudyro had been able to regenerate all outstanding wounds, and the army was formed into one group. The next objective was an old iron mine in the central mountains, which had become the abode of goblins. The march was uneventful, but on reaching the vicinity of the mine, the army was assailed by a large group of goblins. Although individually no match for the heroes, the goblins wounded some, and a blow to the head killed Tyvi. At Krait's command, Pequy compelled the soul of the hobgoblin leader to reveal secrets of the mine.
With this knowledge, Krait reached the mine head without trouble, and began a siege by destroying the simple winding gear. When the siege began to drag, the army descended, clearing their way with magic fire. On their home territory, the goblins were a terror, striking from hiding to kill Bewisp and Kiaj. It was clear that such guerrilla fighting would only be overcome at great cost, so magic was used to clear out the caverns, save for the deepest parts where the Goblin King was protected by an anti-magic field. Thus the army was forced to battle, with valiant Hovipet at the fore. Soon only the Goblin King and his guard of huge gnolls were left; the army charged again, but were met by magical fear, causing many to turn and run — Veyr died from a blow to the back as he fled — but sufficient of the heroes were brave enough to stand, and there ensued a bloody fight. The gnolls were slain, but took Zulk and Tysvoy with them. To have killed the King would have been equally costly, so the heroes looted the caverns and sealed him into the mine
The next target was the hideout of the Lyrn bandits, a group to whom many crimes were attributed. Krait decided to allow the army's sorcerers to remain in Akiz to learn more spells, while the remainder dealt with the bandits. Although the hideout was quickly located, the assault was botched. Krait, entering first, had his legs cut off at the thigh, and was dragged clear by Gyobl. Sudyro was summoned from Akiz for aid, but before she arrived, others attempted entry — Pequy, Gyobl and Hoagl were briefly captured, and Hovipet levitated and silenced.
With Krait once more intact, calmer counsel was adopted. The Fire-priests conjured a wall of illusory fire, which terrified the bandits, and though some fled by sorcerous means, their chambers were looted of magical goods.
The mages rejoined the army after their studies, for its attack on the pirate lord Girif. Pequy was captured as a decoy to provide information, before the army entered by night while the pirates feasted, and having slain the guards, were ready in ambush as the feast broke up. Then it was simple to release Pequy, and slay the pirates. From Girif's quarters, Krait took part of the black pyramid.
The army turned now to Ytyviuch, the renegade high priestess of Agia, in her temple at the edge of Lake Zamn. Pequy was again sent in to investigate, but found little, though several detects allowed Krait to Dimension Door adjacent to Ytyviuch and drag her back as prisoner. Pequy later re-entered the temple to find another piece of the pyramid, and was transported to the temple of Agia in Akiz. Priestesses from this temple set out to destroy that of Ytyviuch and its undead inhabitants, while Krait coerced the release of the new fragment, which aided clerics as the first aided fighters.
Krait now ordered a march on Coaix in his castle on an island in Lake Pewis. They approached with little trouble, but coming closer, Hovipet and Voxyb were overcome by some glamour, and approached the castle where they surrendered. Despite this, the other heroes were able to enter safely after Lord Osso, using his ring of invisibility, had killed the guards at the gate. The proceeded through the chambers to the great hall, locating Coaix by ESP. Several heroes tried single-handed attacks, which failed, but a summoned fire elemental was able to attack successfully. The attack was backed up by psychic assault, and Coaix, unable to hold of both, succumbed. When the third fragment was taken from him, he underwent a transformation into a kindly old man, who showed the heroes about his collection of monsters.
It was now decided that Cebnaix was the easier of the remaining opponents, and the army moved safely to his lair. Gyobl and Glaj volunteered to reconnoitre proceeding for some hundred meters, then venturing into a side cave where they were attacked by some strange earless rats, who killed Glaj and left Gyobl barely able to escape. The army advanced en masse, using clairvoyance to locate Cebnaix. Hovipet advanced alone into his cave, and was killed, and Cebnaix was seen tearing her body for food. Pequy cast a contamination onto the body, enraging Cebnaix who hurtled down the cave breathing fire. All but Krait fled in terror; he alone held his ground, the pyramid in his hand, and the fiery breath was diverted around him. The other heroes barely escaped, with Pequy caught in the edge of the breath and burned within a millimetre of her life. This increased the dragon's anger, and he swung at Krait, who met his blow with the pyramid. The dragon's foreleg withered at the touch. Again it swung, and the other foreleg withered, but the blow flung Krait against the wall of the cave, while baffled and frightened, Cebnaix fled.
Recovering his wind, Krait sent Eajamn through a Dimension Door to cast Cause Wounds at the dragon; and amplified by his pyramid, the spell destroyed the dragon. Pequy, now healed, was able to animate its corpse as a zombie.
After a brief respite in Akiz, the army set forth on the final sortie, the zombie dragon serving to keep the heroes unmolested en route to the Ice Tower. The villages of the area were suffering from dictatorial repression, and seemed worried by the army's presence. Perturbed by this, the heroes approached the tower itself. A huge green bird took station over them, and when the dragon was sent to investigate, it was soon dispatched. The rearmost members of the army were assailed by burrowers and at the same time, the bird struck, carrying off Eajamn. Next, a pack of yetis joined the fray, but were defeated by a symbol on Pequy's shield. She animated them, and threw them against a group of men with a hell-hound. Then another green bird struck, carrying off Dhuxy. Only now did they have the tower in sight; and now ethey were attacked by a group of people identical to themselves, the spell casters attacked by the most powerful spell in their repetoire. The illusion was only broken by Krait killing his double.
Waiting now at the bottom of the mound from which the tower rose was a flock of the green birds, with a gigantic black bird in the lead. Lord Osso, whose father had been killed in the first attack on the tower charged invisible up the hill to achieve surprise. Hoagl, on Krait's command, threw a magical bomb taken from the bandits' hideout, killing many birds. Two more were set to flight by the illusion of a red dragon. Now Pequy turned coward, and spirited herself away — and was later executed by her order for that shame. Meanwhile, the remaining green birds struck. The fight was short and bloody. Sudyro, Gyobl, Viuc, Brohot and Laing fell, while Kot-hisser was wounded nigh unto death. Moments later, Lord Osso reached the black bird, and attacked it in revenge for having borne his father's body back to his castle. In his fury, he prevailed, but was wounded as he slew the bird.
The four survivors, Krait, Voxyb, Hoagl and Osso, came to the tower of ice that was warm to the touch, and entering by the metal door, ascended the central stair. Almost at the top were the two remaining birds that had fled, and behind them the great blade of Osso's father. Osso and Voxyb moved to attack, and they slew the birds, but Osso's breastplate was ripped away, and his ribs smashed. He had regained the sword only to lose his own life. The heroes mounted the final stairway, Voxyb in the lead, then Hoagl, then Krait with the barely conscious Osso.
Tsoxys was almost a giant in stature, wielding a great golden sword as if it were a rapier. Voxyb and Hoagl charged him, but their blows glanced off his silvery armour doing little damage. Soon only Krait was left, equally matched, but without Tsoxys' strength or enchanted armour. Krait's left arm was broken, and though twice he hit his opponent square on the helm, he was soon too weak to fight. At the end, he must have given Tsoxys his death blow, for his body was later found there with those of the four heroes. Of the pyramid, there was no sign.
The Army of Heroes section of the campaign was nominally run using D&D — but aside from the notion of character classes, used essentially nothing of the systems from that game. Clerics used the Pasadena mana/klutz system, combat fixed hitpoints, absorptive armour and hit-location, and magic an older branch of the .DSYS ancestry, called Red Book, where mages had a level that governed total spell-points, but took skills in individual spells. Psychic abilities were run by some fearsome home-brew system.
It is about the year 900 in the old reckoning. An ancient sits outside the tavern on a fine summer's day, regaling any who will listen with tall tales he claims from his younger days.
The world I was born in was different from the way it was now, in many ways. For one thing, there was magic, but no horses, earwigs, or gerbils — or was it guinea pigs? I'll come to the important changes their proper time, else I'll be telling somone else's story. I took up the arms of a warrior in 837, the year after Theodore II's Army of Heroes had found the lost Pyramid of Power, and with its aid, cleared the land of goblins and pirates, slain the dragon Cebnaix, and died to a one in defeating Tsoxys, the self declared King of the West, in his Tower of Ice. The pyramid wa not found amongst their remains.
With the deaths of the Heroes, there were other chanqes. Over the previous years, many mages had been slain, and now too few remained to enforce the pacts that L'mosso had built up in the first decade. All their pretty and precise spells failed, and they needed now to directly command the lesser spirits of magic, using old and fragmented texts that only cryptically listed their powers. When I found a cell of the Adventurers Guild, from whose numbers the Army of Heroes hid been raised, only Gwillam, the leader, and one mage, remained from the old days, to take us into the secret maze they knew. My own dreams of prowess were soon slighted, since the company numbered two mages, two priests, one a teleport, two teleporters, Gwillam, veteran ot the Royal Arena, and myself.
We had only ventured twice into this place, a hell of huge spiders (of which Katharine vas sorely afraid), orcs, undeath and lycanthropes, and where to step through a doorway and then back again would lead to a different room than where one started, when a were-rat managed to bite through the leather of my britches, after we had used our last Medicine spell. Fortunately, we reached a haven before the curse had full hold, but another such bite would have condemned me to descend to the estate of the beasts. Our only prizes from these ventures were a disc of gold a span across and two fingers thick, and a silver sphere a span across, each obscurely enchanted, and scribed with runes. There vas some tale of these being keys of some sort.
While I was laid up, the world outside took a turn for the worse. Klovin, the royal magician, pursuaded Theadore to proscribe the Adventurers' Guild, or possibly usurped the throne. In any case, as soon as I was able to travel, we were on our way in two ox-waggons, into the deserted plains of Dorlyn, across the mountains. A bird was spotted high above, following our miserable caravan. Zira, a mage of Tibresuasio, of the Sphere of Knowledge, sought out its purpose with a spell. Hours later, as we forded a stream, we found the answer, written in the patches of lichen growing on exposed rocks From Klovin, to kill Gwillam.
It attacked, and managed to spit a poisoned dart into Gwillam, before a Change brought it tumbling to the ground, its powering flywheel stopped. Gwillam, our mentor, was dying fast, and all our Medicines could only barely keep him alive. How often have I regretted that we used our magic so. Gwillam then gave me his sword and his belt of protection, both of which contained part of his spirit, and so could only be used if freely given, and I tasted power for the first time. I could hardly feel the blots of the ogre who thought to assail us, and the sword despatched it as quickly as its bulk permitted.
We found a deserted tower, manned only by the corpses of its last occupants, and claimed it for our own. The giant hamsters that burrowed everywhere were our meat, and Fertility spared us the worst of farming. But we had other obligations. To heal Gwillam, we had to venture into the tower of the Great Serpent, to bring back more of the venom that had lain him low. This stood in the middle of a strange valley. As one descended into it, grass gave way to rushes, and then water-weeds, but there was no water, and fish flew through the air. The tower itself contained only nightmares in which we each wandered alone, until we found the chamber of the Serpent. One of our number, Katharine, a teleport, had dreamed that she had lost a leg, but was here whole. The serpent, which we later discovered was the Creator of the world (as opposed to the ten gods, who first manifested in the year 52, and the ten demons that L'mosso bound — everything used to come in tens — ten seasons in a year, ten hours in a day, a hundred tinutes to the hour, and seconds to the minute, but the calendar takers couldn't do much but match the year with five weeks of five days to each season), permitted us to slay it, as it seemed a novel experience to it, and milk its venom.
Once healed, Gwillam left us, to revenge himself on Klovin, or so he said. We instead were visited by the elders of a local tribe of nomads, riding on pink and green horizontally striped three-legged elephants, who, mistaking for the rightful occupants of the tower, called upon us to perform our ritual duty, and slay a sandstorn that was menacing their tribe. Discovering our imposture, they insisted that we must play theritual part, but they would aid us and they led us to their encampment, near a small cave that held a skrying mirror, which showed how, in the past, Akiampzulkettytyviu, Major Demon of the Sphere of Destruction, had ruled this land, and kept it barren with sandstorm spirits, and how L'mosso — that name again — had created a bane weapon for them.
In a cave behind the mirror chamber, we found a nest of huge spiders, each one's body as large around as I am tall, and their legs as long as any four men are tall. Deceived into thinking we were not food, they ignored us, as we removed the treasure we found there — six suits of mail, woven to stretch and fit most men, with pot helms, the whole weighing only half as much as normal. I was stronger than most men, but only wore mail hauberk and helm, trusting to the stout leather of my britches for the rest, dur to the wieght while on the trail. These suits were lighter yet, and were a treasure beyond price, especially to me. Most of the others had magic, and those who found could appear behind their foes. I alone had to face them fairly, and this did not endear the others to me.
We hunted doun the weapon, the broadsword Stedath, that had been stolen from the tower by another group of refugees from the Guild who had fallen to consorting with goblins and were under Akiamp's sway. They had found ancient writings that told how to invoke the spell-spirits to cause permanent effects, and had produced several items, like Gwillam's belt and sword (which were in facts relics of the schools of magic that had so recently been lost), and the battle was a fierce one. But they left us great treasures : Stedath, sheets of the half-weight armour-metal, and their books of magic.
Zira took these books and went into seclusion. The rest of us hunted down the sandstorm, which by this time had littered. I slew the young singly, while my comrades fended off the unnatural beasts that Akiamp had summoned to their aid, and learned the effects of some of their unusual spells — such as Cruelty, which inflicted agony on all those too closely approaching the caster. But the mother storm as another matter. It had raised a veritable army of goblins and some of Akiamp's black birds accompanied it, and we had to hack our way through, outnumbered a score to one. Aid arrived when hope was failing. Immortal L'mosso himself appeared, riding Cebnaix, recently recovered from his demise. The dragon waded into the battle, and L'mosso transported me through the mêlée to the storm. From then on, the sword controlled me like a puppet, for all that it condescended to stop the storm scouring out my lungs. I was too caught up in being used against the storm, that I did not see the appearance of Zea-Jol, the blazing goddess, who destroyed, the bulk of the goblin army by fire.
It was during this battle that I realised I hated L'mosso, as much, perhaps, as I felt compelled to strive against Akiamp. The sword also tried to persuade me to use its power in invoking spells, but I didn't care to be a second-rate magician as well as being handicapped as a fighter by my lack of psi powers. My time was to be devoted to practise with the greatsword instead.
When we returned, we had found that Zira had invoked Tibresuasio, and now posessed a focus of quicksilver, which aided her invocations and could store fabulous numbers of spells. Time passed, while she filled the staff and I practised with the greatsword, using Thought spells that she provided to aid my concentration, until I could use the weapon more proficiently than the tainted Stedath. Also, from the armour-metal we had captured, I forged a suit of plate armour and a greatsword, the latter laminated with silver to be proof against lycanthropes.
During this time L'mosso appeared to us and asked that we aid him against Akiamp by freeing his lieutenants who were trapped in the maze in which I had first adventured. I had no choice in the matter, Zira had an obligation to Tibresuasio, Katharine to the Great Serpent, the clerics to their gods — and to add insult to injury, some other being had provided Sam, the teleport, with an enchanted spear, and the other mage, Vascaramo, with a focus, without requiring them to go throuoh the usual rituals. None of us trusted the others. Zira used her spells of Thievery, Forgery, Mimicry and Deception to replace Vascaramo's focus for her own use at the very outset. I recruited a band of the indigenous orcs to protect me, by use of a spell of Pride, and my own oratory in their crude tongue (a limited one of a score words or so, but very satisfying for oaths). To achieve our goals, it was necessary to complete the set of keys, gold and silver (which we already had), tin, iron, clay, bronze, wood, lead, and one other.
I do not recall how lonq it took to find our way through the maze, laying waste to all we found, and collect the retaining keys, and could enter the hidden parts of the maze. There I had recourse to the sword Stedath which saved me from the necessity of breathing, while I cleared a room of delicate globes of Yellow Gas, one breath of which gives a view into all possible futures, causing madness. Beyond this room was the control room of the complex, where L'mosso's lieutenants were held in enchanted sleep There confusion reigned as each tried to fulfill their goals : Katharine and the simulacra she had acquired against Sam, the other teleport, and Vascaramo, who now realised he only held a stick, and not his focus, and the clerics against all of them, until Zira used a Time to beat the rest of us and awaken the sleepers.
L'mosso was glad to see his lieutenants — enough to replace Katharine's leg when it fell off (when the Great Serpent withdrew Its favour), and to invoke the demon of Travel to give me the gift of swift movement. Those who had disappointed Akiamp had their gifts withdrawn — along with the power that he had placed in them. Our tower was later assailed by Akiamp's black birds.
We had hoped for peace, but were disappointed. Sam and Vascaraao were banished, and other refugees welcomed, and though. Katharine. remained troublesome, life was looking up, until. L'mosso returned, demandlng, our aid against. Akiamp, and his pawn Gwlllam. I demanded arms and armour to match Gwlllam's, for I knew I could not match him otherwise. L'mosso offered me the sword of Judgement or of Illusion, which could be used to invoke the major spells of those spheres at will. Neither, he said, were fighter's swords. I scorned him — were they ladies' models then? The true warrior's sword would be that of Destruction, and Gwillam surely had that. I would need its equal. He gave me Teowompha. (which is orcish, teowom meaning threat, pain or wound, pha being the superiority of ores over other beings), which had the spirit of an orc within it, adding to my skill and strength its own. Armour he denied me. In frustration, we attempted a raid on Gwillam's camp, to steal his belt of Protection, and failed.
We then decided that we could not live as L'mosso's puppets, and rebelled against him. I hoped that perhaps we could flee far enough, or find some way to overthrow him. I know not what happened next to the others, but found myself torn out of the real world, into some limbo, to where L'mosso stood on a hill-top and worked his magic, while his two lieutenants fought off the black birds. Others were with, me there, taken from who knows where. He called on us as friends to help save the fair land of Ranlyr, and I cursed him. Ignoring this, he then despatched us to where he said we were needed, and then as we drifted away, called some instructions, of which I only caught a phrase or so.
When the world solidified again, I was without my armour or my swords, lying on a raft. With me was a woman called Tassi. who had been amongst L'mosso's other victims. She retained her sword and dagger, which were not enchanted. There was no sail or oars, so my only hope was that I could summon an undine, despite lacking any of the props for invocation. To my astonishment, no sooner had I begun, than one appeared. Here, I could invoke at will like a demon or a god. I commanded the undine to take us to the nearest shore, but its bafflement confirmed what I suspected : here there was no shore. With it, it had carried a piece of driftwood, so, I instead asked it to convey the raft to the source of the wood, until eventually we collected the parts of a broken bucket. When fitted together, it purified water within it, and seemed to be magical, and when Changed to perform its function, it became heavy enough to slowly sink the raft, until dispelled.
At this point Selina, a dark skinned woman with silver hair appeared on the raft. She told us that she had answered L mosso's summons, and had appeared in a dirigible balloon floating in Air without land below (even letting gas out of the balloon didn't allow them to go up or down : it was suggested that to do so, the balloon might have to be turned on its side, so the propellor pointed down). There, they had found cloud-caves that were sources of the four winds, and in the caves, a flag, a sail. a parachute and a kite (Earth, I later found had sand, mud, pebbles and flint, Fire four spheres of flame). Pooling the fragments of L'mosso's message, we understood him to tell us first to bind the elements; I summoned an undine from the bucket, and it pulled the raft down into the heart of the elemental water.
Next instant, we were standing on a raised dais in the centre of a great circular hall, On the floor, ten mosaics, nine shimmering with energy, the tenth, bearing the seal of Destruction, was scarred and burned. Sixty six alcoves, one for each spell demon, around the hall, all but four shinering with energy, those containing tiny flames on pedestals. All who had been summoned were now here, There were ten, one for each sphere, and I, and together put together the message — this was where L'mosso had bound the demons in year zero. Now, they were coming free, and while each could be bound in time, that we did not have, and we must bind the great demons, an the lesser would then follow.
While the mages squabbled and tried to Bind the spirit of Binding, and were themselves Bound, I circled the room. In the alcoves of the spell corresponding to their function were our magical items, so near, yet so far. Ignoring the others, I cursed L'mosso, drew my knife, and stepped onto the symbol of Chaos, which was my sphere of Magic, expecting to be transported to the realm of its demon, where I might fight and perhaps prevail. There was nothing tangible, and something tried to possess me, so I withdrew, in time to see the fighter who represented the third sphere release the spirits of Battles and Weapons. I charged him, and he dodged, but that gave him away. As if I would not recognise the style of the man who taughtme to fight!
Phaedreus of Power came to my aid with his sword, and Lord Merion, a mage of Judgement, who Deceived GwiIlam into thinking he was caught fas. While I swung furiously at Weapons, which now assailed me, Phaedreus gave my helpless foe a mighty blow, I shouted at the bastard not to die just yet, as I had need of him. My knife could not affect the demon, and I realised that it would be necessary to attack each demon after its own fashion. A magic weapon was one containing a spirit, so I used the helpless Gwillam to batter the spirit until it was bound, and he faded away. I had no joy in that victory.
Meanwhile. the representative of Invention, a sort-of Otyugh calling itself Headcase, had begun to attack the major demon of Invention with its own major spells, and with help from others who could cast those spells, bound it. This then bound the minor demons, and freed the artifacts they held, and also made invoking those spells much easier. With the procedure established, Selina and I combined our mastery of Chaos, and bound that sphere, releasing many useful items and spells. I went to collect Stedath, and found it missing. Then suddenly we noticed that other demons were being loosed. I Changed the invisible source visible, and with Travel now bound, I charged across the hall, dodging Missiles as it attacked me, only to be brought up short by Protection. Gwillam, for it was somehow he, vanished, to reappear by Hunting and freed it. I followed, and had my hands around his filthy throat when he faded away.
Others dealt with the first two spirits. I gave Hunting a start of three, and Travelled into the height of the hall in pursuit, Changing my weight so I would float down. The demon, part bound, I left to flying familiars, while I watched the dais come to life with pictures from the history of Ranlyr. I summoned my armour, to speed my descent. By now, most of the major demons were bound, and when I landed I summoned Teowompha, releasing Corruption which guarded it. The spirit did not care to face the blade, though, and bound itself.
Again Gwillam appeared, releasing War and Vengeance, but they could not stand against Teowompha, and Lord Merion managed to Deceive Gwillam that we were allies. The remaining spirits were bound, leaving only Akiamp and L'mosso at large. Dee, of the Sphere of Love, a cleric, tried to call the ten gods, and found them trapped, and oracular Truth told us that there was no right side in the battle to come. We were soon of one resolve : slay or bind these last two. But how? The dais responded to our commands, showing how L'mosso had had to expend most of his power facing Akiamp unaided, and had called on the gods, and had used their own power to trap them. Of my former comrades there was no sign. From the Ice Tower, we could steal the pyramid that had been lost, to aid us. Back in time, we saw Cebnaix whom I had thought L'mosso's pet, to be against him as often as for, and in the remote past, that he was the spirit of Ranlyr. We bade him through the gate.
Dragon power is neutral, but at our request, he healed our wounds and restored our energies, and then revealed to us the battle between Aktamp and L'mosso by making it appear in the Hall. On the mundane world, skirmishes had begun between orcs and goblins, but the true battle was a contest of wills on the magical plane, between the two who stood on hills above their armies. I demanded to know which to kill first. “Akiamp”, they cried, and I Travelled toward him. But the battle was miles across, and I had to speed that distance in magical or mundane worlds. In the hall, I approached Akiamp, and Travelled to magic, but was blocked, and arrived at the foot of the hill on which he stood, with a hundred yards of black birds to fight through. L'mosso then? I Travelled in the mundane world, and arrived, to be faced with Phaedrus and another defending him. I shifted to magic, to split their forces, and attacked.
Though Phaedreus used magic, and I scorned it, he seemed to tire himself more with his spells than his attacks tired me, but I could not pass him and attack L'mosso. Gwillam, now sane, and Merion, who had healed him, joined in the fight, Mimicking Phaedreus and Lupus. Others attacked Akiamp, and one, casting a Miracle of Dark caused the Sun to be eclipsed. There had been no moon before.
Slowly the two demons were worn down, Akiamp slowly but surely, L'mosso only at the end. when Phaedreus, was Deceived into taking him for me, and came close to slaying him outright, while leaving Akiamp able to destroy us all. Cebnaix drove us all onto the material plane, where the demons could not be greatly affected, commanding us to keep the balance, but also breaking the spells on L'mosso's lieutenants. Filshi, of Corruption, invoked the spell of Battles from her axe, to coordinate our attacks, which gave Phaedreus time to deal me a mighty blow, but not to prevent me slaying L'mosso as I had sworn to do.
We were standing on a single hilltop with no armies Two corpses of aged men lay there, and two senile veterans in armour. Cebnaix spoke for the last time, telling us that now the magic was flowing away. The others hastened to depart to their own worlds, while their enchanted items functioned. They asked if I wished to come with them, but I refused. This was my victory, unsought, at last. I removed my helm, and walked over to shake Gwillam's hand. He smiled, as once my weapons master had, and walked away. Alone, I removed the rest of my armour that now weighed heavily, and piled it against my swords, and my shield against that, and walked down the hill and home, with its sixty minute hours, and its horses and earwigs, and moonlit nights.
And so it ended. I hope it interested, rather than bored, I am glad for the chance to share this campaign, now that it is finished, despite the frustration and heartache it inflicted at the time, Partly, this is because the campaign has meant something to me, and partly to illustrate the unusual directions in which gaming went amongst my acquaintances.
What I wrote up was the entire campaign, and the final battle, from Hank's viewpoint. The Army of Heroes were PCs at Pete's (and my) old school about 77–79 I played when Pete came up to Cambridge, in the year 79–80, which finished with the dungeon crawl and player rebellion. I missed out many digressions to simplify the flow especially when player level confusion reigned. As you will have gathered, the GM control of the campaegn was rather extreme — Pete confessed after we rebelled that he could easily have written scripts, and we could have sat and read them out, without much fear of contradiction. Instead, he started a new campaign (Allayne) which went to the opposite extreme so far as GM coercion was concerned. I can't say that one was startlingly better than the other. In Ranlyr, Hank could be the warrior confounded by Fate, as Hawkmoon, and his final victory worked emotionally. I felt with Hank his new freedom, and so it seemed did others.
By contrast, in Alyayne the PCs became bored with immortality in a dying world of spiritless people, neither of which could be remade. Goals ceased to have meaning, and the game petered out. into experimerts with the scope of Pete's ideas.
As might be expected, there was a complete game system replacement for the start of the second phase, and for the final battle. The combat system had most continuity through that transition.
- sword, cutting, metal, the pleasure derived from the sensation of a sword slicing through an enemy's soft flesh
- spear, long, straight, wood, thrusting
- bow, curved, tension, safety, negation
- arrow, flight, mmovement, distance
- shield, frustration, protection, round
- fire, heat, warmth, a jumbled mass of orc bodies (their usual manner of sleeping)
- water, wet, cold, drinking
- small, timid, female, potential edible
- frightenting, large
- procreation, eating, female
- friendly, orc, self
- excrement, non-orcs, filth, squalor, pleasure
- hate, non-orcs
- revulsion, aversion, outcast, outside, foreign, non-orcish
- noxiousness, deadliness, foul, rotten, decayed, non-orcs
- better, orc leader, the superiority of orcs over all others
- dislike, repugnance, insufferable
- meat, eating, cooking
- dark, comfortable, home, safe
- contempt for non-orcs
- contempt, low, surrender
- something that upsets an orc, impropriety, outrage, rong, offensive
- disturbance, agitation, threat, pain, wound
- eating, hunting, fodd that has not yet been caught and killed, non-orc
- knowledge, information, counting, many, puzzlement
- death, killing, pleasure
- confusion, battle, sport or game
- strength, force, might, power
- destruction, damage, waste, pleasure
The second system was presented to us just as the list of spells, major for the sphere, and minor [in brackets], with no mechanics whatsoever. We were left to work out what the spells could do. However, with beginning mages taking long times to invoke spells, and storage for them being limited we stuck with the obvious simple applications. We never did discover the delights of combining multiple spells for better effect (we were told about that up-front in a later campaign using a version of this system).
I've added the basic time cost in hours to invoke the spell once in parentheses (for the elements, the first is for a raw manifestation and the second for an elemental) against the first instance; this is multiplied by 2 for a minor spell in one's sphere and 10 for a spell not of one's sphere. In the indicated month, the each hour counts as 1.5 hours of ritual
First Sphere — Power (Zea-jol, the 7th month)
Fire (50/180), Heat (40), Leadership (30), Light (40), Pride (25), [Constancy (50), Courage (30), Cruelty (40), Medicine (70), Music (20), Strength (40), Truth (40)]
Second Sphere — Chaos (Bivat, the 9th month)
Change (225), Dark (40), Fertility (20), Insanity (60), Sustenance (30), Travel (40), Water (50/180), [Cold (60), Light, Love (20), Silence (30), Thievery (50), Weather (70), Youth (80)]
Third Sphere — Destruction (Agia, the 2nd month)
Battle (35), Courage, Cruelty, Hunting (40), Missiles (50), Protection (70), Speed (40), Strength, Vengeance (25), War (80), Weapons (80), [Fire, Flight (60), Heat, Technology (50), Water]
Fourth Sphere — Knowledge (Ho-nord, the 10th month)
Communication (40), Deception (30), Forgery (25), Knowledge (30), Languages (25), Mimicry (30), Thievery, Thought (60), [Air (50/180), Earth (50/180), Hunting, Travel, Treachery (30)]
Fifth Sphere — Judgement (Fune-resht, the 6th month)
Avarice (20), Gambling (30), Gluttony (30), Judgement (40), Truth, [Fire, Knowledge, Medicine, Missiles, Sustenance, Water]
Sixth Sphere — Love (Daena, the 8th month)
Love, Music, Peace (20), Vanity (20), Youth, [Air, Deception, Earth, Fertility, Gluttony, Seduction (40), Truth]
Seventh Sphere — Entropy (Dumlok, the 3rd month)
Age (60), Binding (60), Cold, Constancy, Earth, Fear (40), Hate (40), Silence, Time (40), [Air, Corruption (40), Dark, Murder (30)]
Eighth Sphere — Invention (Nadow, the 1st month)
Air, Electricity (70), Explosion (80), Flight, Miracles (200), Technology, Weather, [Change, Communication, Thievery]
Ninth Sphere — Illusion (Machal, the 4th month)
Illusion (60), Navigation (30), Seduction, Sleep (40), [Change, Deception, Forgery, Medicine, Mimicry, Travel, Water]
Tenth Sphere — Corruption (Niquul, the 5th month)
Corruption, Disease (50), Murder, Treachery, [Avarice, Change, Medicine, Seduction, Thievery, Vengeance, Water, Youth]
Mages could devote about 7 hours (Guess — CON/2) per day to invocation. Their invocation level, starting at 1, went from N-1 to N by invoking N spells. The time taken is reduced by a factor of the level, and some fudge factor of order 1 (Guess — based on stats), with a suitable focus reducing the time about ten-fold. Spheres were (usually) assigned by birth month.
Strength, Dexterity and Constitution are the usual physical characteristics. Them are defined as LINEAR scales, with the average man having a value of ~6. (Superhero derived characters take note: you cannot lift busses in your Ranlyran incarnation).
Power defines the characters raw magical ability, as in Runequest. Again it is a linear scale, the average man has power ~3. Power over 20 implies a natural magical talent, such as is possessed by many monsters
Speed determines reaction time and order of precedence in combat, following Champions.
Move gives the number of 1 metre hexes a character may move at a time.
Phases shows in which sub-divisions of a combat round a character may act, after Champions. ( There are 10 phases because everything in Ranlyr is decimalised.) Allowed actions include : Move, Defend, Attack, Use skill, Cast spell, No action
Composite actions, eg half move and attack, are allowable ONLY at the discretion of the DM. As in Champions, all ‘Fights’ start with a phase 10, when all characters may act and a character may defer actions to phases after his / her / its scheduled ones ( but actions cannot be carried over to a subsequent round ).
The grid on the character sheet has one square For each ‘fatigue point’ the character has ( no character has more than 150 ). Any action may ‘cost’ fatigue points, the DM will inform you of this as play proceeds. The squares should be crossed off in PENCIL as fatigue is taken. Under some circumstances, again the DM will inform you, you may recover fatigue, in which case the crosses are erased. It is unlikely that the characters will have sufficient rest time to recover fatigue naturally. ( Note — the Ranlyran incarnations of characters possesions, both magical and technological, MAY induce fatigue when used or even merely as a result of possesion. )
Ranlyran magic is based on astrology, as the characters know from the stories they have heard / seen. Each character is associated with a particular astrological sphere ( actually one of the heavenly bodies ). The spells of Ranlyran magic ( which I'm not going to explain here! ), are grouped together into the spheres, with each sphere having a major and a minor group. The characters may find that they are able to perform some magic related to their spheres and that they are more affected by related magic.
Everything characters can do ( beyond the mundane bits like breathing ), is described as a skill. Each skill has an A ( attack / ability ) or a D ( defence / difficulty ) or occasionally both. Each skill is also related to a spell and, under some circumstances magic can be used to enhance or degrade a skill. ( Typically you degrade other “peoples'” skills, but it all works both ways. ) Finally each skill has an 'expected cost' in fatigue points. Note that this is a guideline only and mau be VERY WRONG in some situations. ( You have been warned, life may not be easy. )
When an ‘active’ skill is used the procedure is as follows : The actor rolls d20 and adds this to the ‘A’ for the skill.
If the roll is 20, then a further dl0 is rolled and added on, further dl0's if the rolls are 10.
If the roll is 1 then 10 is subtracted, a dl0 rolled and added on, repeating if further l's are rolled.
The final total is compared with the D for the action attempted ( typically the D for a defensive skill in combat ), the action succeeds if the total equals or exceeds the D. The difference between the total and D is termed the ‘excess’ and determines anv quantitative measure of success ( eg damage done with a blow, duration of spell ).
Again, like the magic system, this was done with hidden mechanics; the first character is how one was described to the players for the second phase — a few objective measures and some hand-waving relative values.
Age 18, Height 1m75, Wt 59 kg, Bld 1.0, STR 10/10 DEX 9/8 Magic Very high, WIS Avg, Faith Low, CON Very high, Will High , CHA Avg
For my own character, I later saw the GM's version of the sheet — and there were more exposed numbers for the later system
Age 22, Height 1m80, Wt 87kg, Build 1.2, STR 17/16, DEX 16/15, Magic Avg(9), WIS Avg (12), Faith Avg(13), CON high (16), Will High (16), CHA Avg (10)
Skills Running — Travel(2) A=20 Greatsword — Weapons A=24/30 with Teowompha Parrying — Protection D=40/50 with Teowompha Spellcasting — Trav(2)/Trea/Thie(5)/Weap/Medi/Sust(2)/Prot A=9 as spell. Magical Defense — Chan(2) D=19
Skills/spells cost 10 fatigue (of 120) except where noted in (). Physical attack and defense cost only 1 fatigue.
Move 5 speed 6