Scene 22: Treeless Forest.   Posted by Gamemaster.Group: 0
Gamemaster
 GM, 355 posts
 That GM Guy
Mon 27 Feb 2017
at 08:02
Scene 22: Treeless Forest
After some backtracking to pick up the two dancing girls, the Cloud People advance through the Dragonfly Swamp to their next destination. The Sand People are said to live in a harsh and dry environment just west of the swamp. Toadstool leads the expedition by rafts through his swampy home towards the home of the dancing girls.

The change is so sudden that feels jarring. The wet swamp water very abruptly ends at a sandy beach. Not one reed of vegetation crosses the straight line between two climates. Stepping off the raft, the Cloud People enter a world of course sand and tall sand dunes which block the horizon. Even the air feels dryer a single step from the swamp. Not a single tree nor bush anywhere can be seen in this new world. The clouds above are suddenly visible, and they form soft white wispy patterns in the sky.

The two dancing girls do not have names. One of them answers to the description "Long Hair" and the other to "High Stepper". Long Hair seems pleased to see her home region again. She explains, "We call this place home, but to other tribes who have visited us, it is the treeless forest. Much life survives here, but it is hidden from harsh sunlight and hidden from your eyes as well. I know a trail from here. It is not marked, but it connects one pool of water called an oasis to another oasis. Staying to the trail is the only way to survive traveling through this place for any period of time."
Vug
 Cloud People, 114 posts
 Prowler
 Spirit: 9/9
Mon 27 Feb 2017
at 12:00
Scene 22: Treeless Forest
Vug stayed alert, not liking the idea of a single path spelling the difference between life and death.

"If there is only one trail to your village, how did the lizards catch you two?" He asked idly.
Neerga
 GM, 217 posts
 Cloud Tribe
 Caster, Crafter
Thu 2 Mar 2017
at 20:48
Scene 22: Treeless Forest
"I suspect the Serpent People are better in this sand having the heart and blood of the foul creatures they look like. If so we need the help them in driving away the enemy but we need their help to. I think though they might have ambushed them near these sources of water if I was going to that's what I would do. One of you go on each side and show your not threatened so your people know we come as friends.," Neerga said moving to the front but moves the two women also towards the front.
Gamemaster
 GM, 356 posts
 That GM Guy
Sat 4 Mar 2017
at 06:34
Scene 22: Treeless Forest
Long Hair confirms the deduction. "Yes, we were at an oasis. Our caravan was headed towards a settlement to the north called the Village on the Hill. We trade with the Hill People, the Salt People, and recently the Scorpion Women. The Hill People there are poor and have little to trade, but they are skilled leather tanners, and they crave our jewels. During the night, we had guards watch over us, but this attack came while we rested through the hottest part of the day. We were asleep when Serpent People arrived, so we did not see much of the fight, otherwise I would tell you about their tactics. I know only that the Serpents have little desire for jewels because they dumped our treasures into the sand and took only prisoners with them."

The march through the sand is difficult for those not accustomed to it. Feet are weary and throats are parched when the dancing girls lead everyone to the first oasis. The party arrives late in the day.

Current party: 3 Cloud People (Neerga, Vug, & Nin-kagina); 2 Sand People (Long Hair and High Stepper); and 1 Toad Person (Toadstool). Am I missing anyone?
Vug
 Cloud People, 116 posts
 Prowler
 Spirit: 9/9
Sun 5 Mar 2017
at 13:44
Scene 22: Treeless Forest
Vug glanced around before he dipped his hands into the pool and began drinking gratefully.

22:43, Today: Vug rolled 4 using 1d6-1.  Perception.

Gamemaster
 GM, 357 posts
 That GM Guy
Tue 7 Mar 2017
at 08:05
Scene 22: Treeless Forest
The water is clean (enough) and very refreshing. It seems to be fed from some underwater spring which keeps it cold and replenishes what water evaporates in the desert air. The pool even has some small fish which are adequate for catching and eating. The trees around the water pool provide small but flavorful fruits.

Toadstool warns, "Drink as much as you can, but do not bath in desert water. I was always told that desert water can make someone have wild dreams even while waking."
Vug
 Cloud People, 117 posts
 Prowler
 Spirit: 9/9
Thu 9 Mar 2017
at 17:03
Scene 22: Treeless Forest
Once Vug filled up on water, he sat down under the shade of a palm and took a break after the long journey.
Neerga
 GM, 218 posts
 Cloud Tribe
 Caster, Crafter
Thu 9 Mar 2017
at 17:12
Scene 22: Treeless Forest
"I suppose some light washing would be fine to cool the skin, Nin-kagina can you pick us some fruit and we can rest awhile here in the shade. Long Hair tell me about your people more, who leads you and what is your god or goddess honored?," she decides to learn more of the people of the desert so when they meet she is informed well enough.
Gamemaster
 GM, 358 posts
 That GM Guy
Sun 12 Mar 2017
at 09:46
Scene 22: Treeless Forest
Long hair explains weaves a story about fantastic sights and events which must be witnessed to be believed. The City -- as she calls it -- is the largest settlement of humans known. Most of the Sand People are nomads, but they all pass through the city from time to time and thus the population of that village can shrink to two dozen or swell to over two hundred at a time.

Generations ago, a nomad chief lead his people through the harshest part of the desert to a new and bountiful oasis. The chief died immediately upon arriving. The city was built around a oasis in a rock canyon deep in the desert. Wood is a precious resource, so shelters within the city are domes built from dry mud. Others live in caves in the canyon wall.

Slavery is the primary industry, but the Sand People also export gems which they create themselves by melting sand. Their currency is a slave-day; this means that loaning a slave out to perform labor is a common way of repaying a debt. Ten slave-days converts to a slave-life which means owning the slave permanently. They also trade glass beads when slave-days are not convenient. To become a slave, one must either be born to a slave parent or else be captured after committing some crime or taboo.

The leader of the Sand People is the Unkillable King. The king died generations ago, but his spirit remains tethered to the oasis spring, and he leads his clan from beyond the grave. Cultists speak with the king's authority outside of the throne room.

The Sand People worship no specific god, but they do have their beliefs. They hate the sun, and they love the moon for chasing it out of the sky every night. Priests and ritualists tend to each pick a different god and specialize in honoring that one god or goddess.

The next day, the weather turns -- interesting. Somebody please roll me a D100 to determine the weather event. Somebody else roll me another 2D100 to determine the weather's duration and severity.
Vug
 Cloud People, 118 posts
 Prowler
 Spirit: 9/9
Mon 13 Mar 2017
at 14:10
Scene 22: Treeless Forest
Vug listened carefully to the descriptions.

23:09, Today: Vug rolled 68 using 1d100.  Interesting Weather.

Neerga
 GM, 219 posts
 Cloud Tribe
 Caster, Crafter
Fri 17 Mar 2017
at 10:44
Scene 22: Treeless Forest
"Longhair and your friend can advise us on these taboos that will cause one to be a slave, and we will after returning you need to consult with your Undying King to join the alliance against the Serpent Men. I just hope he is wise and sees the threat and looks kindly on us returning you both and freeing you both and it will be good to see your families again I'm sure.," Neerga said to the two Sand Women.
Gamemaster
 GM, 359 posts
 That GM Guy
Sat 18 Mar 2017
at 03:10
Scene 22: Treeless Forest
The explorers cross large sand dunes, each one larger than previous until they seem more like great hills than piles of sand. Along the way, the Sand Girls explain their tribe's concept of taboo.

Long Hair explains, "It is all very practical. Natural water sources are sacred for one example. One must never foul nor poison an oasis pool or well. Doing these things even in war or in defense of oneself is taboo. A sin like that tarnishes the very spirit of the offender, and the offender has her freedom taken freedom taken from her, never to be returned. If the offender escapes, the desert punishes everyone else who claimed failed to produce justice."

They go on to list taboos: disrespect of natural water sources, killing of another person's slave (if you kill a slave, you take her place), aiding a slave in escape, keeping the body of a dead man or any part of it (animal parts are okay), eating during a fifth day, mixing the meats of any two types of animals during the same meal, and treason against the undying king. There used to be more taboos, but the undying king has removed many which were no longer necessary.

While this is all explained in detail, the party passes into a region where large red stones poke out through the sand. The stones soon become pillarstwice your height and then walls. High Stepper tells you that there is a rock canyon nearby where the walls spit fresh water into a stream.

Just past noon, a dark red cloud fills half the sky. It rumbles angrily. The sand girls notice the cloud suddenly and look terrified. Toadstool the Toad Man explains, "I have seen clouds like these on the desert horizon when I fished at the swamp's edge. Storms like that burnt away all of the plants and water in this cursed land! We never should have left Dragonfly Swamp!"

I consulted my handy Geomatrix. A roll of 68% results in a fantasy classic, the Fire Storm. Here is a copy and paste of the text.

A Fire Storm, while just as destructive as Black Rain, is
much easier to see coming and thus avoid. The clouds of a
firestorm are orange to orange-red and churn and froth like
a boiling sea, initiating fires on unprotected combustibles,
and shooting forth devastating fireballs like lightning bolts.
The ambient fire damage is equal to 1d10 points of damage,
and all within the AOE of the storm are subject to this
damage. The fireballs cause more considerable damage,
though they are fortunately infrequent. One fireball per
round (max) is loosed during the height of a storm, while
one fireball per minute is normally observed. Horribly,
the path of the fireball typically terminates at the largest
concentration of organic sentients in the path of the storm,
leading some sages to postulate that the Fire Storm is in
fact a magickal relic of chaos, perhaps the result of some
Shadar Lordís tampering with things that should not be.
Others believe that the storm is a result of disturbed Fire
Elementals on the rampage.
Fire Storm Duration: 1d100 minutes.
Fire Storm AOE: 1d4 square miles.
Fire Storm Movement Rate: 1d20 CMR.
Fire Storm Ambient Damage: 1d10 points per round

Neerga
 GM, 220 posts
 Cloud Tribe
 Caster, Crafter
Sat 18 Mar 2017
at 04:13
Scene 22: Treeless Forest
"High Stepper where is this canyon of water, we have to go now to that lace and find a water cave or we die unless there are other deep caves you know of closer. If so women speak up now.," Neerga said actually not speaking in a panicked way.

She will lead the group to the canyon or someplace the two native women recommend.
Vug
 Cloud People, 119 posts
 Prowler
 Spirit: 9/9
Mon 20 Mar 2017
at 13:42
Scene 22: Treeless Forest
Vug nodded vigorously.  "Yes, let's find shelter in that canyon quickly."
Gamemaster
 GM, 360 posts
 That GM Guy
Wed 22 Mar 2017
at 08:46
Scene 22: Treeless Forest
Reacting to a direct command, High Stepper breaks into a sprint. Everyone chases after her with Toadstool falling only slightly behind despite his stubby legs. All around, the smell of smoke fills the air. Fireballs begin falling from the cloud onto the desert floor behind the explorers. Fortunately, there isn't any grass to burn here. As the explorers run for all they are worth, the shower of fireballs grows closer and closer to them. One fireball strikes a rock monolith nearby leaves the entire stone a black hissing mess.

The rocks they pass seem taller and closer together around the explorers. These monoliths are forming into canyon walls even as the runners can feel the heat of fire at their backs. Exhausted and with sweat dripping down into their eyes, the runners pass into the shadow of a gully. A tiny waterfall here drizzles out of the rock surface and forms a small pool on the ground which feeds an even smaller stream.

The water offers no protection, but behind the waterfall, the rock wall curves inward to form a shallow concave overhang. Long Hair and High Stepper hide beneath the overhang.

The storm last for several more minutes. Occasional fireballs splat against the sand and leave a hissing, sulfur-smelling mess. Other fireballs, the size of people, strike against the rock walls and knock chunks of blackened rock to the gully floor. One ball even strikes the stream, evaporating water within a two pace radius before more cool water rushes in to replace what was lost.

After a minute of calm, the Cloud People realize that the storm has ended.
Vug
 Cloud People, 121 posts
 Prowler
 Spirit: 9/9
Mon 10 Apr 2017
at 16:00
Scene 22: Treeless Forest
Even after the storm ended, Vug kept himself close against the reassuring canyon wall.
Neerga
 GM, 223 posts
 Cloud Tribe
 Caster, Crafter
Mon 10 Apr 2017
at 19:33
Scene 22: Treeless Forest
"We should wait to be sure and get some fresh water in our skins before we head back out, we should remember this valley for later if we visit their lands again.," she makes sure her wife is fine and everyone is safe. She will go out first to check it out.
Nin-kagina
 GM, 204 posts
 Priestess
 Ritualist, Soothsayer
Thu 13 Apr 2017
at 16:16
Scene 22: Treeless Forest
Nin-kagina smiled at Neerga and nodded, then made the Arc of the Sun in front of her wife. "Be well as you search," she said.

Neerga can make one reroll any time in the next day.