Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Adventure Hook: Spiders of the Purple Mage by Phillip Jose Farmer

Very few people have the courage to go near the Isle of Shugthee.
Spiders of the Purple Mage is very good. It would make a good adventure, especially on a world like Lankhmar. Or heck, TW has its own out of print RPG, right? And I suspect Harley Stroh may have been influenced by this one when he wrote the module The Jeweler that Dealt in Stardust.

Hook: Have a solo scene with one of the PCs. They are walking through a bad part of town that is dark and pretty locked up. They are passing a house so reputed to be haunted that it hasn't even been scavenged. Ask the player who the poor youth is that just staggered around the corner and just about gave the PC a heart attack. Though the PC gets the sense that the youth is being pursued and it is best to stay out of things, they also hear the youth mutter something about a jewel before collapsing. 
 
‘All I know,’ she said, ‘is that they say that the mage came here about ten years ago. He came with some hired servants, and many boxes, some small, some large. No one knew what his native land was, and he didn’t stay long in town. One day he disappeared with the servants and the boxes. It was some time before people found out that he’d moved into the caves of the Isle of Shugthee. Nobody had ever gone there because it was said that it was haunted by the ghosts of the Shugthee. They were a little hairy people who inhabited this land long before the first city of the ancients was built here.’
If the PC ignores the boy, that will be that for the most part. Probably. Soon creepy sand-people looking dudes come in. If the youth is alive at this point, they look briefly at the PC and continue to him, grab him and interrogate him in their strange donkey language. He dies within minutes. The sand-people will then start searching the area and want the PC for interrogation. The PC could fight them, even kill them, that's fine. But they will soon be scared off by hearing the whistles of the town guard in the distance (a coincidence, but they don't know that).

The PC of course will probably help the youth, who will mutter things about dying and getting into the maze of the purple sorcerer and stealing a jewel. Spiders. Pain. Ow. Urg. Dies. If the PC has dragged the youth into the haunted house, the sandpeople will come in, but the PC will be saved by the bell.

At this point I would do something akin to in medias res narration and be like, "that was two months ago. Since then, the town somehow got word of what happened that night and got it into their heads that [youth name] dropped a jewel and a rat ate it, so everybody hunted rats for a couple weeks, then moved onto cats, and now finally dogs. You've been dragged before constibles, gang-leaders, the holy-mafia and the governer to tell your story, but everyone in power seems to be unwilling to mess with the Purple Mage. Nobody speaks sandpeople language, and they seem to have stop coming to town for supplies during the day anyway.

If the PC has a family, threaten that next. Have them be kidnapped.  But the whole party will probably start getting anxious about going out there without this step. Eventually, sandpeople will come for the PC if they are being passive. Then other servant come if the sandpeople are beaten or the Purple Mage can't find another way to get leverage.

Appendix N:
Now, not only would I mix in a little Lankhmar or Punjar (DCCRPG), but I'd try to find a way to get some good old Clark Ashton Smith involved too. I dunno, the henchmen remind me a bit of the priest-things from The Charnel God. And if you are going to include a mage maze, you got to get some Maal Dweb in there, son!

This story also reminded me a bit of running an old old old White Dwarf adventure,  Halls of Tizun Tane. Fond are my memories of making the faction-head-brothers Sega and Super Nintendo. Then I made the monkey creatures be neck-less things with upside-down faces in their chests. Man, I love this hobby. 
‘The fur trappers and hunters who’ve gone by the isle say they’ve seen some strange things. Hairy beast-faced dwarfs. Giant spiders.’ She shuddered.

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