Pariah Session 1 - Play Report
I’m going to try and write play reports more often. I think they’re an important part of the space which we don’t see enough of anymore. Rather than just narrativising play, I’m aiming to also talk about any techniques or decisions I made in play.
Prior to this session, I generated a hexmap which I’m filling up “ahead” of the players. I’m experimenting with extremely terse one-line hexfills in the style of Carcosa. I’m finding it fun to wildly diverge from my approach in Wolves - the entire session happened within a single hex with the fill “Spirits which appear as mudmen with bloody mouths. Blood controls them - banished by seawater.” That’s probably the longest fill I’ve written so far, most are more like “Stinging sulphourous water. 3 Giant Toads.”
The Band of Pariahs awoke on the beach, cast out from their homes for various crimes and misunderstandings. Set upon small, flimsy vessels and given to the sea. A hound of unusual intelligence dragged the disparate forms together - this taken as a sign of a multiplicity of ancestors dwelling within the dog, the group bound together.
Immediately they set to work - Idle-Quiet One White-Gazelle led much of the band in fishing in the sea, Blue Fallen Disgusting Honeybird and Cunning Mountain Disgusting Dreamingtime assisting with fish-traps. The Hairy Auroch twins moved up into the nearby hills to find firewood and shelter. Blue-Grove spied a herd of 8 yak cropping distantly whilst Golden-Other found low, tortured trees which could form a rudimentary basis for a simple camp.
The named Pariahs are the player characters here, obviously. The twins are such because they happened to roll the same “second names” - and both rolled a leopard skull helmet. Starting with skills and a pressing need - you have no food - set the band immediately in action. Their first encounter rolls led to no result, the Yak-spotting being a deliberate bit of tracking.
Those in the hills began constructing a camp of lean-to structures whilst the fisherman dragged their significant haul of fish up to the camp, beginning the process of smoking the fish they didn’t eat that night. All contributed to their joint song. Blue-Grove took a single dose of the Shaman Shroom before whispering to their bound spell-spirit to go and find more. The noise and the fire highlighted the presence of the band to any in the hills. Idle-Quiet One decided to practice using the tattoo-kit that had survived the journey, tattooing a mystic symbol on Blue Fallen.
As the songs ceased, Golden-Other took up watch. After some time, they spotted loping humanoids with large lumpy heads loping over the hills, silhouetted against the sky and heading towards the camp. They roused the band, who stood guard and awaiting the creatures. Having camped on one slope of a hill (avoiding the strong coastal breeze), they heard a strange “koo-koo-ko” noise from the other side of the hill. A brief conversation with the creatures indicated they wanted “a drink and a fire, that we might be like your little four-legged one.” Asked to show themselves, they emerged atop the hill - large heads of wet clay, empty eye-sockets gouged with thumbs and open mouth-holes scraped out of the material. From these ‘mouths’ dripped a liquid indiscernible in the night. One of the four commented that the “fire had no ward” - something which excited the group, and left the Band nervous. Blue-Grove commanded his spell-spirit, a mother leopard, to attack the group. The sudden sounds of a she-leopard sent the group fleeing downhill, pursued and slain by the band.
An encounter roll, boosted by the fire and song, led to the inhabitants of this hex being summoned. Pariah specifies a ritual for banishing spirits from a campfire - the lack of this being an invitation to such entities. A failed morale roll after the spirit-attack led to them fleeing, giving the Band a decisive upper-hand. For fighting whilst charging downhill, any failed attack caused a Save - failure resulting in that character tumbling down hill too.
Where these beings were struck, they did not bleed but emitted only black dust. From their wet-clay mouths, blood dripped. Set within the mouths was a chaos of human teeth, rammed in without thought or reason. Idle-Quiet One gathered this dust and some of the blood, forming a paste with it. He then proceeded to burn the bodies, which emitted translucent fumes. Blue-Grove led a chant over this, even if he kept a distance from the flames. This done, all retired back to camp to resume resting. The rest of the night was uneventful. On his watch, Idle-Quiet One began planning a tattoo using the materials gathered from the corpses.
In the morning, it was discovered the grass around this fire was not burnt but dead - and nothing remained but teeth. Idle-Quiet One smeared some of their ancestor-dog’s slobber on it for good measure. The Band decided to head North, seeking better long-term shelter. En-route, they discovered the trail of the Yak herd they saw yesterday - Golden-Other determining that one of the herd has a split hoof, easy prey for endurance hunters like Blue Fallen. The Band used numbers to spook the herd, separating the injured Yak and driving it to the coast where the sand and waves exhausted it quickly. The Band realised that the yak could feed all of them, and declared a feast - they would be unable to carry all of the meat if smoked and treated for journeying. Some set about trying to tan the hide of the yak to create tents, whilst Blue-Grove went to the hills to find entheogenic plants. He discovered six leafy plants, the flowers reminding him of bones.
Handling these spirit-corpses triggered a “secret” poison Save, which Idle-Quiet One failed. This was to cause a spirit-sickness resulting in a condition from the (very useful) spiritual bane tables provided in Pariah. The player explained that they were going to make a kill-tattoo - this seemed exactly the sort of action likely to give protection to a warrior killing spirits and handling their remains. As such, they already have the cure in hand even if the condition has yet to manifest. For a glorious waste of resources in a Feast, I gave the party an ‘X’ - analogous to XP for carousing in other games.
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