Monday, 8 May 2017

Dark Spirits of the Rathori

For my 100th post I have turned to an adventure I wrote for a Game Zine back in the late 1990's. It never saw publication as the zine sadly ceased publication. It is presented here with only minor editing and the original maps. I originally wrote it for RuneQuest on Harn but changed the setting to Glorantha for publication.


Dark Spirits of the Rathori


This adventure is designed for Gloranthan adventurers early on in their careers. The adventure begins in Rathorela in the land of Fronela on the continent of Genertela. The adventurers are passing through Mortasor while travelling from Galstar on the Janube river to the Sweet Sea. Gamemaster's who do not use Glorantha should set this adventure near a large forest inhabited by primitive tribal clans.


The Rathori or "bear-people" tribes of Fronela are semi-nomadic, hunter-gatherers. Through the winter the tribes inhabit permanent settlements of wooden longhouses. When the spring comes they split up into family-sized groups and travel to the hunting ranges. In the fall the clans of each tribe come back together and re-inhabit their permanent winter longhouses to share food and companionship through the winter. It is important for each clan to gather as much food as is possible through the summer so they can last the winter - many Rathori tales tell of tribes the did not store enough food during particularly cold winters. The warriors of these tribes might be possessed by the wendigo, evil spirits that induce the starving Rathori to murder and cannibalism.

The Splitrock tribe of Rathori have remained at their winter site well into the summer, well past the time they should have moved on. Their new chief is a wendigo (Ghoul), and is effectively forcing the tribe to bring him corpses to feed on by keeping many of the children of the tribe hostage in his lodge. The new chief of the Splitrock tribe is Moon-eye, at one time a promising, bold young warrior. To demonstrate his worth as chief, Moon-eye decided his clan would hunt in an area of the forest rich in game. Against his Shaman's advice his clan set up camp last spring in an area of the forest called the Dark Grove. The Dark Grove was said to be haunted by an evil hag the Rathori called Pohjad. Moon-eye was not worried by this and promised to meet the witch in her lair and cast her out.

Moon-eye bravely entered the lair of Pohjad, but was killed by the hag and sent back to his clan as a ghoul. When the tribes came together for the winter the shaman Talpaek immediately recognized the evil spirit residing in Moon-eye's corpse and denounced him. Unfortunately, Moon-eye's tribesmen were not so quick to remove their chief and the shaman was forced to flee. By the time the tribesmen realized that Moon-eye was possessed by an evil spirit he had gathered their youngest children in his lodge as hostages. The ghoul now directs the tribe to break taboo and kill hunting parties of other Rathori and to bring the corpses to him. They have also attacked travellers and merchants in Mortasor and brought the corpses to the ghoul.

The adventurers come on the scene and are entreated by Talpaek to aid his poor tribe. Some of the warriors of the tribe have been seduced to evil by the ghoul, resorting to cannibalism and becoming Moon-eye's bodyguards. A few of the more fearful Rathori have fled to neighbouring tribes to warn them. It has become hard for the ghoul to find corpse meat in the volume he needs and he is beginning to turn his eyes upon the people of his own tribe.

Help I’m Drowning

The adventurers will encounter Talpaek, the Rathori shaman, at Whitewater ford in Mortasor. Talpaek wintered with the Swiftwolf tribe and tried to convince them to help. They refused him out of fear so he has gone to find other warriors to aid him. Talpaek feels "stone-dwellers" are his only hope as they would not be so superstitious about a wendigo or Pohjad. The best place he figured to find such help was at the ford where he could ask passing soldiers accompanying caravans. Unfortunately he has encountered a small band of bravos from Galstar who prey on travellers.

Whitewater ford is a section of shallow water and rapids in the Talo River, a minor tributary flowing out of Rathorela into the Janube river. The water shallows to a one meter depth over a 15 meter length before passing over a small 3 meter high falls. From the west the trail descends a steep hill (30 meters) and comes out into an open river valley. The adventurers are travelling east and come upon the scene from atop the hill to the west of the ford. They will be able to see and hear the commotion at the ford before the brigands spot them, however, the brigands look-out will notice them and raise the alarm. At the ford three brigands are busy trying to drown Talpaek in the river Talo. They have already beaten him severely and are laughing loudly at Talpaek's efforts to stay above the water.

Janubian Brigands (6 men)

STR 14 CON 12 SIZ 10 INT 10 POW 9 DEX 9 APP 8 Magic Pts. 9 Move 3
Hit Pts. 11 Fatigue 26 MSRM 6 - R&LL 2/4 AB 2/4 CH 2/5 R&LA ⅔ HD 0/4
Shortsword (1d6+1) SR 2 Atk/Par% 35/24 ENC/AP 1.0/10
Skills: Fist Attack 55, Sneak 40, Hide 40, Conceal 40, Listen 50, Janubian 80/15, Loskalmi 70/00.
Divine Magic (100-ENC%): Absorption, Heal Wound.
Note: They are wearing Leather Armour and carry Shortswords and Daggers. Each brigand has 3-5 pennies that they split from a merchant they robbed.


STR 8 CON 7 SIZ 10 INT 13 POW 9 DEX 8 APP 12 Magic Pts. 9 Move 3
Hit Pts. 4(8) Fatigue 5(15) MSRM 6 - R&LL 0/3 AB 0/3 CH 0/4 R&LA 0/3 HD 0/3
Dagger (1d4+2) SR 3 Atk/Par% 30/30 ENC/AP 0.5/6
Javelin (1d6+1) SR 2 Atk/Par% 35/10 ENC/AP 1.5/8
Skills: Fist Attack 32, Track 40, Dodge 50, Ceremony 25, Summon 25, Enchant 15, First Aid 65, Hsunchen 85/00, Loskalmi 55/00.
Spirit Magic (47-ENC%) Heal2, Befuddle, Protection1, Bladesharp2, Vigor2. (Special Shaman Magic): Exorcism, Second Sight. *Fetch: POW 10, INT 14, Magic Pts. 10. Spirits: Healing3, Fear2, Lightwall spell spirit4.
Note: Talpaek is wearing ragged leather and fur clothes and carries a leather sack full of herbs and medicines. The attribute values listed are those after his fight with the brigands The values in
brackets are his full values.

Realizing that he can not hope to defeat the brigands Talpaek is not resisting in hope that they will not kill him. If the adventurers intervene this will greatly change the odds and he will attack with full force - cast bladesharp2 on his javelin, fire it at one brigand and then attack with his dagger.

The adventurers can easily discover a small camp of 3 tents located 100 metres off the trail. In the tents are clothes and some extra weapons stolen from caravans. One tent also contains a pile of fur pelts taken from a trader worth about 1000 pennies in the Janube city-states. There is also food and cooking utensils. An old mule is tied to a nearby tree.

Talpaek will beg the adventurers to aid his stricken tribe whose chieftain has returned from the dead. He can offer to summon the befuddle, bladesharp2 or vigor2 spirits for payment and he will mention that the tribe has been raiding caravans of their wealth for Moon-eye. He hopes that the adventurers will be motivated by more than just greed. Talpaek will suggest that the adventurers scout the Splitrock tribe village, then decide on a course of action.

The Village

The Splitrock Rathori tribe at one time consisted of over 200 members subdivided into 8 clans. Each of these clans numbered around 25 people and were housed in their own longhouse. With the recent events one clan has successfully fled and another was burned in their longhouse (map #1). Some members of the other clans have also fled reducing the number of Rathori to 120 of which 40 are warrior-age men. This is still a more than formidable force of Rathori for the adventurers to fight head-on. Fortunately, most of the remaining Rathori do not support Moon-eye and will usurp him if they can protect the children. Only the 14 warriors of Moon-eye's own clan support him fully.

Observing the Rathori village from the forest is the safest way to get a look at the situation in the village. Even if they keep their distance the adventurers are in danger of being spotted by Rathori hunting parties returning to the village. These parties consist of 8-12 hunters from clans not supporting Moon-eye. It would take considerable convincing to keep the hunters from attacking foreigners.

A frontal daylight approach to the village will run afoul of Moon-eye's bodyguard of 14 well-trained warriors. Daylight observation of the camp reveals that Moon-eye does not leave his longhouse, but the longhouse is well-guarded by 10 warriors, the rest are asleep and guard at night. Rathori hunting parties are very active, during the day. There are women and children in the village doing work all day but all young children are missing. If Talpaek is along he will readily notice the last fact.

Nighttime observation will reveal a lone warrior guarding the door to each of the longhouses. The players will not be able to see the 3 warriors on guard inside the chief's longhouse. Only Moon-eye and his guards are active at night.

Rathori Hunters

STR 13 CON 12 SIZ 10 INT 9 POW 11 DEX 10 APP 12 Magic Pts. 11
Move 3 Hit Pts. 11 Fatigue 25 MSRM 5 - R&LL 1/4 AB 2/4 CH ⅖ R&LA 1/3 HD 0/4
Dagger (1d4+2) SR 3 Atk/Par% 35/30 ENC/AP 0.5/6
Javelin (1d6+1) SR 2 Atk/Par% 45/35 ENC/AP 1.5/8
Skills: Fist Attack 35, Track 70, Dodge 55, First Aid 45, Rathori 65/00, Loskalmi 23/00.
Spirit Magic (57-ENC%) Bladesharp1, Vigor1.
They wear leather and furs (1-point protection), carry javelins and hunting knifes.

Moon-eye's Warriors (14 men)

STR 16 CON 14 SIZ 10 INT 7 POW 11 DEX 12 APP 9 Magic Pts. 11 Move 3 Hit Pts. 12
Fatigue 30 MSRM 5 Damage +1d4 - R&LL 2/4 AB 2/4 CH 2/5 R&LA 2/3 HD 2/4
Dagger (1d4+2) SR 3 Atk/Par% 40/35 ENC/AP 0.5/6
2H Short Spear (1d8+1) SR 2 Atk/Par% 45/35 ENC/AP 2.0/10
Skills: Fist Attack 50, Track 40, Dodge 50, First Aid 40, Rathori 45/00.
Spirit Magic (53-ENC%) Heal2, Dispel Magic1, Bladesharp2.
They wear leather armour taken from stone-dwellers, and carry the Rathori war-spear. Each is unkempt and has painted his face with mud and chalk to resemble a skull.

MAP #1  Splitrock Village

Moon-eye's Longhouse

The longhouse has a structure of wood with double walls made of bark filled with leaves and grass for insulation. The interior walls are made of bark. Each interior room was a space for a separate family. Two of Moon-eye's warriors are on guard in the long central hall. The rooms off this hall near the entrance are used by Moon-eye's warriors. If his warrior's are not out raiding another tribe, four will be sleeping here during the day and ten at night. Two rooms have been set aside for the women of Moon-eye's clan and a few women the warriors have kidnapped from other tribes. At night twelve women can be found in this room. There are 18 malnourished young children lying miserably on the floor of one room which is kept under guard. In the council room all  of the council chairs except the chief's have been removed. There are heaps of furs on the floor and a large cooking pot hanging over a fire pit. The remains of a foul-smelling stew are still in the pot.

Some nearby gnawed bones appear human. Another warrior stands guard in this room before the chief's bed chamber. The chief's bed chamber is a mess with a few possessions scattered about and furs lying on the floor. A trap door in the floor covers a 3 meter deep hole from which a 1 meter high crawl leads to a 2 meter high rough cut cave that is filled with gnawed human  corpses and skeletons.

Counting skulls puts the number of dead at around 120. Moon-eye sleeps here during the day among the bodies, at the location noted on the map. An exit tunnel leads to the riverbank.


STR 20 CON 13 SIZ 15 INT 13 POW n/a DEX 11 APP n/a - Magic Pts. 15
Move 3 Hit Pts. 12 Fatigue 25 MSRM 5 Damage +1d6 - R&LL 1/4 AB 1/4
CH 1/5 R&LA 1/3 HD 1/4
Claw (1d6+1d4) SR 8 Atk/Par% 30/-
Bite (1d6+1d4+venom) SR 8 Atk/Par% 30/-
Howl (Demoralize) SR 3 Auto.
Skills: Track 40, Dodge 50, Ceremony 25, Summon 25, Enchant 10, Intensity 25.
Sorcery: Damage Resistance (35%).
Moon-eye is a ghoul commanded by Pohjad but possessing independent action. His most fearsome attack is his venomous bite. The bite injects potency 13 poison into a victim. If the victim's CON is overcome full potency enters their system, otherwise only potency 1d3. When the total potency injected exceeds the victims CON they are paralyzed until given an antidote. When the ghoul howls match its magic points against the INT of each foe, if they are overcome they are demoralized. Note that the ghoul must expend 1 magic point each daybreak or be destroyed. For each hour in the sun, it must spend an extra magic point. Ghouls gain one magic point for every 3 SIZ points of corpses devoured.

Pohjad has just begun to teach Moon-eye sorcery. The Damage Resistance spell he knows will be attempted at intensity 2. The damage done to Moon-eye will have to overcome the intensity of 2 on the Resistance table to effect him. He does not carry weapons and dresses only in a bedraggled chief's ceremonial garments. If seriously threatened in a fight Moon-eye will flee for the Dark Grove.

The Dark Grove

The Rathori know that the "Dark Grove of Pohjad" is a depression in the ground into which a stream flows. It is located 4 kilometers from the Splitrock village. The adventurers can find the Dark Grove by following the stream that passes by the village or by following Moon-eye's trail, if he has fled. Travel in the forests of Rathorela should take less than a 4 hours on foot from the village to the Dark Grove.

The adventurers will get their first glimpse of the Dark Grove when the stream and the trail they have been following emerge from the forest cover and look down into a large, open depression  300 meters across and 20 meters deep (map #2). The stream descends sharply down into the depression and falls into a hole at its bottom.

The trail winds down into the depression before ending at the lip of the hole which is 30 meters long and 10 meters wide.The sides of the hole are nearly vertical making any attempt to climb down unaided impossible. However, at the lip of this hole a stout wooden shaft with a frayed 1 meter rope attached to it, has been thrust into a crack between two large rocks. About 10 meters below the lip in the hole there is a ledge in the hole side 1 meter wide and 3 meters long. Another wooden shaft has been pounded into a crevice on this ledge. The fall of water from the stream completely blocks access from the ledge down into the hole. The water must be entered to descend further. Climbing down to the ledge requires no Climb roll but climbing through the water into the cavern below requires a climb roll. Beneath the waterfalls is a 8 meter high cavern and a 3 meter deep pool of water. The ledge at the edge of the pool of water leading to the dry portion of the cavern is 4 meters away from the waterfalls. Adventurers who fall into the pool must roll their Swim-ENC or begin to drown. Note that near the falls is a mound in the cavern bottom that lowers the water depth to 1 meter.

The Underground Grotto

The large cave (Cave B) is dimly illuminated, (-25% Skill Rolls), by sunlight shining through the waterfalls. The noise of the falling water is very loud. The cave ceiling has many stalactites hanging from it and three large stalagmites dominate the uneven floor. Behind the falls a small whirlpool marks where water is draining through a tunnel in the bottom of the pool. A ledge 5  meters up the far wall marks where a second smaller cave (Cave A) enters the larger one.

If Moon-eye has not been destroyed then he will be waiting to attack intruders, hiding behind one of the stalagmites. If Mooneye has already been destroyed then provide Pohjad with a giant Lizard which she controls.

Rock Lizard

STR 13 CON 13 SIZ 14 INT 2 POW 7 DEX 10 APP - Move 3 Hit Pts. 14 Fatigue 26 MSRM 5 - Tail(01-02) 3/4 RHL(03-04) 3/5 LHL(05-06) ⅗ HndQ(07-09) 3/6 FrQ(10-13) 3/6 RFL(14-15) 3/5 LFL(16-17) ⅗ HD(18-20) 3/5
Claw (1d6+1d4) SR 8 Atk/Par% 51/-
Bite (1d10+1d4) SR 8 Atk/Par% 51/-
Skills: Hide 24, Track 23.
Armour: 3 point scales.
Note: The lizard will attack with a claw until it scores a hit. Then it will hang on with the claw, and bite.

Pohjad will watch the adventurers fight from the relative safety of the small cave. From her vantage point she will target the adventurers with a flurry of spells holding back only enough to summon a Shade. She first casts Damage Resistance at Intensity 4 on her form, then she will attempt Smother at intensity 3, followed by Dullblade, and Demoralize. Whichever adventurer appears to be the most powerful fighter will be attacked with Palsy intensity 6.

Lair of the Hag

The small cavern can only be reached on a successful Climb skill roll or with a rope and grappling hook. Pohjad will retreat to her chair when the adventurers try to climb up to her cave. This cave has a stalactite dotted ceiling five meters overhead and an uneven floor. At the far end is a cold fire pit with a large cooking pot hanging over the coals. Behind the fire pit you can see an old woman with matted grey hair, dressed in dark rags. Beneath a cowl you see yellow eyes and wart covered skin. The woman is sitting on a seat of stone poking at the cold fire with a blackened stick.

At one side of the chamber is a dark pit about 2 meters in diameter and 3 meters deep ending in a pool of shallow, brackish water. This pit is the focus of the hag Pohjad and from whence she will summon the Shade. Pohjad will fight intruders with spells and the shade but rarely on a personal level, preferring to turn incorporeal if threatened and hide in the darkness of the pit. Pohjad's treasure is also hidden in the pit along with the skeletons of over 10 humans. The treasure consists of a gold chain necklace of Loskalmi make (300 pennies), a sorcery scroll in a wooden tube (Damage Boosting), 68 pennies (Galstar coins), 4 Dwarven gold crowns (240 pennies each), 45 pennies (Eastpoint coins), 3 daggers and a falchion.

Pohjad (Nymph hag)

STR 24 CON 12 SIZ 13 INT 20 POW 28 DEX 10 APP 4 Magic Pts. 25
Move 3/3 fly Hit Pts. 10 Fatigue 32 MSRM 5 Damage +1d6
RL(01-04) 0/4 LL(05-08) 0/4 ABD(09-11) 0/4 CH(12) 0/5 RA(13-15) 0/3 LA(16-18) 0/3 Head(19-20) 0/4
Claw (1d6+1d4) SR 8 Atk/Par% 66/-
Skills: Hide 73, Intensity 50.
Armour: none.
Spirit Magic (140-ENC%) Darkwall, Demoralize, Dispel Magic2, Dullblade1.
Sorcery: Palsy (25%), Smother (32%), Damage resistance (42%).
Notes: She can also form a body at will from the darkness of her pit, will retreat there in spirit form if her body is destroyed. Body is also destroyed by direct sunlight.

Shade (elemental)

STR 4 POW 5 Magic Points 5 Move 3 Hits 5 MSRM 1
Fearshock (1 per round), match Magic points vs. CON. On a critical success the victim dies, on a special success the victim collapses for 20-CON melee rounds and must roll CON*5 or die, and on a normal success the victim is demoralized for 20-CON melee rounds. Those engulfed by the shade take 1 point of freezing damage per round to a random location regardless of armor or protective clothing.
Note: The statistics are based on Pohjad expending 3 magic points to get a 3 cubic meter shade.

MAP #2 The Dark Grove


It is unlikely that the adventurers will be able to destroy Pohjad because this would require them to  destroy the cave grotto. Instead they will most likely destroy her body and it will take at least a year for the "Dark Grove" to form her another body. When she does return she will doubtless be angry. If the adventurers stole her treasure she may send several ghouls or vampires after them.

The Splitrock tribe will hold a three day moot and elect Breakbark as their new chief who will move them far east to new hunting lands. In exchange for their help, Talpaek will give them each a
rune-carved Bear token that identifies them to other shaman as friends of the Rathori bear clans.

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