Bell Digest vol09p08.txt

To: RuneQuest-Digest@Glorantha.Holland.Sun.COM
From: RuneQuest-Request@Glorantha.Holland.Sun.COM
Subject:  RuneQuest Digest Volume 9, no 8, SPOILERS!
Reply-To: RuneQuest-Digest-Editor@Glorantha.Holland.Sun.COM
Sender: Henk.Langeveld@Holland.Sun.COM

	Nick Brooke's write-up of Mike Dawson's "Gaumata's Vision"



	Same rules as for Clay Luther's version:  Reading
	this will spoil any pleasure you may find in playing
	Gaumata's Vision.   
		Delete now, or repent forever...

Henk Langeveld, Maintainer/Editor of the RuneQuest Digest and RuneQuest Daily
Submissions for the Daily to:		
for the Digest: 
Subscriptions and questions: 
Me: Henk.Langeveld@Holland.Sun.COM	

Date: 20 Oct 93 20:04:07 EDT
From: Nick Brooke <100270.337@CompuServe.COM>
Subject: Gaumata's Vision Spoiler...
Message-Id: <931021000407_100270.337_BHB23-2@CompuServe.COM>


When I first read "Gaumata's Vision," I knew I had to run it -- it was the 
best scenario for RuneQuest I had read for a long time. Last Sunday I got 
my chance: our usual group was taking a break from Lismelder Lands while 
David Hall was in Germany. I got them together with a few old friends of 
mine, and we headed off for our first experience of Sun County. The game 
was a first playtest for the new "MoonQuest" RQ/Pendragon crossover system 
we've been working on; in honour of the locale, it was rechristened 

The players were a half-file of Sun Dome militia, with no weirdoes or 
outsiders among them (the scenario's "Scheme 1"). Soltei Brightbow (Dan 
Barker) commanded, as he'd rolled the highest starting age on 2D6+15; his 
file, "The Oy-Boys" (after Yelmalio's Runes: OY), included Eudoxus the 
Ill-Favoured (Steve Thomas), Orlanthio the Two-Fingered (Jon Quaife), 
Yelonidas the Linen-Worker (Chris Gidlow), Euphorbus (Old Uncle Geoff), 
Solarus Goldenray (Patrick Waterson) and Peltas Longarm (Mike Hagen).

Everything started quietly enough. The players had happily soaked up the 
"Spartans in the Wild West" characterisation of the Sun Dome Templars, and 
were all playing Upright Solar Males as best they could -- though, funnily 
enough, by the end of the game people were suspecting that Eudoxus (STR 
18, SIZ 18, APP 5) was a woman in disguise... They also adapted well to 
the laconic Yelmalion ways, and "Permission to speak, sir!" was a frequent 
cry through the latter part of the scenario.

Start-up was uneventful (Haloric Glowbrow didn't spot which of his militia- 
men muttered, "and when I woke up, the sheets were all damp!" after hearing 
Gaumata's Vision). The march across Prax in Fire Season was made more 
difficult by Soltei's insistence that they wear full armour all the way, to 
put on a good show if anyone should see them coming. As they travelled, 
various of the troops asked for implausible applications of pike technique 
-- "What's the drill if we find ourselves facing Gorp, sir?" They arrived 
at Black Rock and were suitably impressed by Fethal ("He's a REAL Templar, 
you know: not just a militia-man like us lot") -- they greeted him with the 
equally-Yelmalion sacred phrase, "YO". Soltei asked if he'd had any trouble 
from red tentacles, but learned nothing.

At the celebratory feast their first night in Black Rock, Yelonidas found 
himself reclining next to Thosah Strongspear. Quite deliberately, he said 
only one thing during the meal: "You ought not to have given us so much to 
eat.  There might be a famine at any time." He didn't try to find out who 
the guy was, or why there was a vacant look in his eyes: too busy being 
dourly moralistic... Scratch one potential source of clues and information.

Euphorbus, meanwhile, was casting his eyes around in search of "an 
attractive boy with thighs like a young gazelle's" (after a while, people 
convinced him this wasn't really something to wish for in Prax: it might 
just happen). He hit on Varloz as someone interesting to talk to, but his 
comradely offers of "private spear lessons" were fobbed off for the nonce 
(I kept them in mind for possible later use).

The half-file were challenged to a game of Shield Push by the village kids, 

but cried off -- a few hours afterwards, they worried about what would have 

happened if they'd lost. They didn't worry that the noisy kids were still 
running and fighting all over the place at midnight, whacking each other 
with their hurly-sticks, doing nasty things to small animals the next day, 
etc: they put it down to youthful high spirits, and (if anything) blamed 
their parents' laxity.

Next day they asked about the name of the Red Toad Falls, and learned that 
there was a local Wise Woman. "That's a contradiction in terms," said 
Peltas. Yelonidas said, "Now we know who's at the root of this problem.  
Someone's been worshipping toads round here, eh? Must be Chaotic. We'll 
just go and stick her up on a pole, then we can go home again." Eudoxus, 
who had previously been taught illicit (non-Yelmalion) spirit magics by a 
Wise Woman in his home village, pointed out that there was probably one to 
be found in every Sun County village, and that toads weren't necessarily 
evil. This was when his comrades started to wonder how he knew so much 
about womens' matters...

So they climbed the Falls (Climb rolls from Pendragon: Soltei went first 
and rolled a "1" on 1D20 == minimal success. He crawled up the stream-bed 
on all fours. The rest of the half-file followed in the same fashion, to 
avoid outdoing their leader. Yelonidas offered everyone lumps of chalk to 
whiten their badly-soiled linen cuirasses.) At the top they found Penliss' 
lean-to. They interrogated her but learned nothing -- thinking she might 
be modestly overwhelmed to be confronted by seven strange men, Soltei 
offered to "interview her more privately," fumbling an APP roll at the same 

time: he inadvertently drooled at her, and once again nothing was learned. 
Eudoxus firmed everyone's suspicions when he noticed that there was 
something odd about her hairstyle.

Orlanthio ("I didn't ask my parents to call me that!") was meanwhile 
looking down on the village (aided by Farsee 6) from the top of Black Rock 
Bluff. Hedging his intentions a bit, he eventually confessed that he was 
staring at the womens' bellies to see if he could see any sticks poking out 

of them -- "Well, not staring at them; I'm a married man, after all; I'm 
just, you know, sort of looking that way from time to time." He couldn't 
really help noticing that almost everyone he saw was obviously pregnant, 
and ("although I don't really know much about these matters") though that 
might be a little odd. He also wondered why the village had so many more 
women than men in it...

Revelation struck Peltas: the Secret of Black Rock was that the women were 
demanding -- and getting -- too much sex from their men. No wonder they 
were all pregnant all the time, while the men lay around looking drained! 
Eudoxus came up with a very peculiar suggestion as to what the "filthy 
sticks" the sex-crazed women wore "sticking out from their bellies" might 
be: "Now, THAT'S what I call Chaotic!" If nothing else, the Oy-Boys 
concluded, he must have spied on the hidden Ernaldan rites at some time. 
Perhaps he was giving away the secret of his masculine disguise...

Back down to the village (except for Yelonidas and Euphorbus, left on watch 

above and idly speculating about how you became an Ogre -- "Probably by 
eating Ogreberries; did they serve us any Ogreberry Pie last night?"), and 
Soltei ordered a house-by-house roll-call to find out just how many men and 

women lived in Black Rock. They went around with Fethal, and couldn't help 
noticing the number of Visla's they met. Fethal stonewalled -- "It's a 
nice name, isn't it? Don't you know anyone else called 'Soltei'?" -- and 
they made no real progress.

Meanwhile, Solarus had been sent to the Earth Shrine (accompanied by 
Eudoxus) to read the temple tablets. Eudoxus spoke briefly with Azdala -- 
"She's not very cheerful, is she? Are all the earth priestesses in Sun 
County like this?" -- then speculated about the many forms of Chaos. 
Solarus was methodically working through the tablets, but it took him the 
rest of the day to extract any really useful information from them, one 
cuneiform character at a time. By evening he knew that there had been an 
earlier Visla, but had discovered nothing else about her. His report 
brought the second solution to Black Rock's plight -- Yelonidas said, 
"Trouble all started when the Copper Chalice broke. Fix that, no more 

Now, Soltei thought, was the time to ask Yelmalio's advice. He went to the 
village shrine and laid out the paraphernalia for a divination, inhaling 
incense and staring at the dome until he could see through it to augur from 

the flights of birds in the Praxian sky beyond. The message he got was 
that something in Black Rock was VERY wrong -- Lust, Shame, Murder, Death, 
Sex, all played a part. But Soltei learned nothing more. (His player was 
by now suspicious that a succubus might be involved, but Dan said he didn't 

think his character would know anything about succubi. He also volunteered 
that Soltei was unmarried, a virgin, and very sexually frustrated. I LOVE 
helpful people like that!).                                          ^^^^

Armed with this knowledge, Soltei decided to climb back and "ask the Wise 
Woman a few more questions," which was the cause of much ribaldry once he 
was gone. He found that she had fled, and returned none the wiser. Two 
village kids met him at the top of Black Rock Bluff, and he had a pleasant 
chat with them about rock lizards biting the heads off sheep -- he thought 
they were "cute kids". He decided on a bold plan to lure out the evil of 
Black Rock: he would use himself as the staked-out goat, as it were, hoping 

to attract the attentions of whatever predatory sexual fiend lurked in the 
village. The only flaw in his plan was, he didn't think to tell anyone 
else what he was doing...

Now the Oy-Boys broke up for the evening. Yelonidas and Peltas went early 
to bed in Fethal's hut, while Solarus engaged him in conversation outside, 
hoping to pierce his 'cover' as a Sun Dome Templar. Soltei sat down under 
the palms, sighing melodramatically and pretending to drink from a 
wineskin: the troops refrained from comment. Orlanthio went for a walk in 
the fields; Eudoxus followed him to see what he was up to; Euphorbus 
followed him in turn. They all lost sight of one another and blundered 
around aimlessly for a while.

Down by the stream, Soltei made the acquaintance of young Asiya (per 
handouts GV2+3), accompanying her to the Ernalda Shrine and watching her 
hand the white-swaddled baby to the black-clad crone without demur. He had 
followed her back to the hut when he lost his nerve -- "What if one of my 
men was looking!" -- and bottled out. Seems the domesticity of the scene 
had momentarially allayed his suspicions: he went back to the bank and had 
real drink...

Solarus talked to Fethal, hoping to notice if he was outstandingly 
handsome, or had sharp teeth, or red hair -- "Yes, I know it's a cliche, 
but I'm grasping at straws here." Once they'd swapped war stories until 
midnight, he stopped trying to poke holes in the supposed 'cover story' of 
life as a Templar (which Fethal knew more about than he did!) and went to 
bed, joining Yelonidas and Peltas. Eudoxus and Euphorbus returned, looking 
askance at their presumably drunken and besotted leader by the stream, and 
likewise dossed down for the night.

Soltei summoned up his courage, and asked if he could see any light from 
Asiya's hut. He went to look, pulled aside the goatskin drape to see 
better, then entered with a few lame excuses -- "I couldn't sleep" - "I was 
worried about you" - "Don't you feel lonely all on your own?" He was 
quickly (and willingly) swept off his feet and into her bed, entering a 
new, bewildering and *very* exhausting world of carnal experience.

As Orlanthio was returning through the fields, he overheard two voices 
talking quietly -- kids out long past their bedtime. He used his Catseye 
and crept closer, catching part of GV5 before he misstepped and alerted 
them to his presence. They ran for the village, and he followed after: as 
the older boy (Varloz) made it to the gate, he turned and glared "with a 
look of inhuman hatred" at Orlanthio (true ogre nature coming out under 
stress; besides, how was he to know the grown-up could see in the dark?).  
Orlanthio chased him back into the village, then went to look for him in 
the headman's hut.

Bursting into the hut, he disturbed the sleep of his comrades (muttered 
curses and calls of "Shut up and go to bed!"). He pulled aside the 
hangings, strode into Fethal's bedchamber, and grabbed young Varloz from 
where he lay pretending to sleep at his father's feet. The child screamed 
blue murder. Fethal woke with a start, and cried, "What are you doing to 
my son?" Orlanthio replied, "He's coming outside with me!" *Very* Yelmic... 
He dragged the boy outside, kicking and shouting; Fethal wrapped a cloak 
around himself, grabbed a spear, and followed. By now, the other militiamen 
were starting to stir.

Outside, Fethal stabbed at Orlanthio, who tried to parry with Varloz 
(putting the father somewhat off his stride!). But he had to drop the 
child when he was viciously bitten -- Orlanthio is now known as the 
Two-Fingered, on account of his permanent, involuntary left-handed gesture 
of defiance. Fethal attacked again, as Varloz scampered away, and 
Orlanthio found himself fighting for his life against an enraged veteran 
opponent. Things were looking black for him, when Solarus emerged from the 
hut, strode up behind Fethal, and stabbed him from behind with a spear in 
the kidneys. Fethal dropped and lay groaning on the dirt. Orlanthio 
turned, caught a flicker of motion out of the corner of his eye, and rushed 

to the gate in hot pursuit of Varloz -- he thought (an untimely Scan 

Nobody else had any idea of what was going on. Peltas rushed around the 
village searching for Soltei -- he thought he heard his leader crying, "I'm 

coming," but might have been mistaken. Euphorbus examined Fethal's wound, 
alarmed at the prospect of inadvertently killing the headman in some futile 

squabble -- as he saw how many fresh injuries covered his body, he asked 
Solarus, "How many times did you stab him?" Fethal, now in a more stable 
condition, was beseiged with questions; unable to brush them off, he gasped 

out "The Big Lie". Consternation!

Yelonidas said, "Right. That's it. We're clearing this place out," and 
started going from house to house, waking the villagers and ordering them 
to assemble by the stream, prepared for a day's march. Eudoxus did likewise 
on the far side of the village. No real resistance was offered, but there 
was clearly some difficulty involved in the operation. The other soldiers 
began to aid them, herding the villagers together.

Peltas heard his leader's voice again, and burst in on Soltei and -- no, it 

was just Soltei, alone in a sweat-soaked bed and obviously caught 
committing a flagrant sin against Yelmalio (must be: after all, it makes 
you go blind). "Come quickly, something terrible is going on!" he cried. 
Soltei groaned: "I know.  They're tainted.  They're all tainted.  And now, 
I'm tainted too!" Wrapping a stained sheet around him, he stepped out into 
the night.  He and Peltas made their way quickly towards the Ernalda Shrine 
-- after all, Soltei reasoned, if his fears were true then the aged Azdala 
would be the only one in the village free from contamination.

The evacuation started to go wrong when one of the soldiers, faced with 
recalcitrant villagers, decided to smoke them out. In Prax, at the height 
of Fire Season. The hut burst into flames, and on the far side of the 
village Eudoxus saw what had happened and thought new orders must have been 

given. He, too, torched the nearest hut. Flames leapt high into the 
night; the villagers began to protest; the soldiers nearest them levelled 
their spears in self-defence...

As Soltei and Peltas approached the low entrance to her shrine, the crone 
emerged, cradling in her arms Asiya's dead infant (would you honestly trust 

your child to that woman?). The file-leader asked what they could do to 
lift the Curse of Black Rock. Azdala sighed, and said, "Death. Death comes 
to us all. We must all die, in the end. It is the only way." (She had said 
exactly the same -- more or less -- to Eudoxus that afternoon, but Soltei 
didn't know that). Taking her words at face value, he slashed her throat 
with his knife, crying, "Kill them all!"

And so, in an orderly fashion at first, the Massacre at Black Rock began. 
The Oy-Boys guarding the villagers thrust at the most threatening, slaying 
them easily (all those low CONs). Soltei and Peltas still stood apart, 
watching what happened. "What did you mean, you're tainted too?" asked 
Peltas. Soltei screamed: "Yes!  It's true!  You must kill me too, right 
now!" Peltas loyally drove his spear through his leader's heart. Without 
their commander, there was no hope of restraining the troops...

The next day, the militiamen noticed that there were rather fewer dead 
children than they had expected to find. They couldn't track them, though, 
as Orlanthio had torched the fields during the night ("in case that little 
runt is hiding out there"). Yelonidas had slaughtered all the sheep and 
goats ("breeding stock for the broos, else"). Peltas built a rather small, 
smoky, slow-burning pyre for Soltei's funerary rites -- most of the good 
fuel had gone up in smoke in the burning of Black Rock. Eudoxus and 
Euphorbus dragged the corpses of the villagers together into a mound, 
realised there was no hope of burning or burying them, and left them for 
the birds under the hot Praxian sun. Solarus sat with his head in his 
hands, making the third Yelmalio-Rune invocation of the game: "Why, oh why, 

oh why..." (Y - O - Y -- geddit?). Then, assembling into column two 
abreast, in their blood-stained, soot-blackened linen cuirasses, the 
half-file of Oy-Boys marched leaderless back to Queenscliff.