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Subj: The Peachwood Grove

Date:	97-03-18 21:11:13 EST
From:	ilium@juno.com (Stephen P Martin)
To:	Ethesis@aol.com


PEACHWOOD GROVE, a Shattered Norns Heroquest
Originally presented in The Wild Hunt 57.


Elovare Starson was renowned as a harpist and swordsman (harpist/variant
cleric) who had returned from a frightful quest against the Demon Lords
of the Chain of Pearls to find that his leman, Thalia Sherrilene
(philosopher/crystal mage) had been unfaithful. With a gesture of
unbinding he slew the godling Liune of the Ice Eyes and then spoke these
words:


    In your eyes I see things
        and the truth it shames thee
    Only in your love is
        that which will reclaim me.


Then, weapped in fiery chains and bound by demons, he passed from sight.


Her emotions released from Liune's powers, Sherrilene realized that her
acts had broken protective barriers. For three days she neither ate nor
slept. Then she retired to a private place and cleansed her bodies of
impurities. Sherrilene broke her fast on clear water and white lemon and
cast forth her harmonic crystals to summon the Grey Dweller (similar to
Iphara, Goddess of Mist).


Hazarding sanity and hope, Sherrilene finally forced an answer and an
opening into the mystical world. There she went, clothed only in renewed
love, and armed only with magic.


In a cloud of incense, Sherrilene crossed over the Bridge of Iron and
Brass. She faced the Swordsman in Red and survived the Three Passes. Then
she continued on. Coming to the great River (of Death) she conjured
square coins from her blood and with these paid the Boatman to safely
ferry her in the Ship of Heroes across the Waste Waters (i.e., the Grey
Zone).


Leaving the waters, Sherrilene ascended to the Peachwood Grove below the
entrance to the Holy City. She made a staff of wood and ate three sweet
but bitter peaches. From these she gained in understanding and went to
break Elovare's enslavement, which had come from her betrayal.


To do this, Sherrilene sacrificed herself, and in that act sundered the
demon lord's hold in the other world (as had Elovare's slaying it
disrupted its existence in the mundane world). In the ensuing battle she
slew the demon's magical form, and she and Elovare returned to live.
Their adventures returning home from the Chain of Pearls are in another
tale.


WHO QUALIFIES

Any seeker after knowledge and/or any who has betrayed a loved one whom
they wish to regain.


PREPARATION

To succeed, a questor must have gathered harmonic crystals from the
Faceted Caves; white lemon from starstrands (a realm that was inhabited 
by a titan sized dream spider); clear water from the
Land of Mists; and much knowledge from all over.


TO BEGIN

Retreat to a private, personal place of power. Undergo purification rites
and fast for three days. Then, eat the white lemon and drink the clear
water. Go into a trance for 24 hours (via skill or spell) (or drugs?).
Finally, cast the crystals for a divinatory reading (I Ching is given in
the original example).


ENTRY

The crystals will fade and summon/form/embody the Grey Dweller , a
guardian of the Other World (once a god, now a power similar to Drough
the Accepter). It will engage the questor in a series of question and
answer games (the number of question and answer sequences is related to
the number obtain in the crystal divination): roll d100 vs. General
Knowledge (could use Glorantha Lore in RQ3). Each failure -2%, each
success +1%. Alternately, the gamemaster can require Idea olls, giving -1
INT for each incorrect answer, +1/2 INT for each correct answer.


After the ordeal is over, the Grey Dweller will swallow the questor and
deliver him/her into the new world, naked and alone (i.e., no clothing,
allied spirit, magic items, etc.).


TRIALS

The first trial is the Bridge of Iron and Brass. It will stay together
only upon speaking the proper word of power, which will form the
questor's sweat into a cloud of sweet incense.


The second trial is the Red Swordsman, who will strike three times at the
questor. (200% Sword Attack and Divine spell equal to 6 points of
Bladesharp). Magic and dodging may be used to defend, but striking back
invites a true battle.


The third trial is the Boatman, who will demand three red coins for
payment. The spell Sherrilene used reduced her CON by 3 points.


The voyage includes the normal perils of the Grey Zone, and 3-12 heroes
to protect the questor from them. (??)


RESPITE

This is the Peachwood Grove. For the sacrifice of one's three best
spells, the questor gets three peaches. The spells are gone forever.


Each peach contains a godgift (roll on Beneficial Chaotic Features table,
though without the chaos taint, of course). Eating the peaches also
restores all magic points, and heals all wounds (i.e., all General and
location HPs are restored).


Cutting a Peachwood staff costs 1 point each of STR and CON; the staff
will have 2d3 x normal APs for a staff. It will have points of POW equal
to its Armor Points. It will fight as a Dancing Sword for 5 magic points
per round of combat (this is all that the staff's own magic points can be
used for); Attack Chance is staff's POW x3% or the questor's, whichever
is lower. The staff will do double damage to chaotic creatures, triple to
demons, as long as it has MPs remaining -- each strike uses 2 (or 3) MPs
to cause the extra damage. The staff regains MPs at the normal rate.


RESOLUTION

Leaving the Peachwood Grove, one drops to an evil/chaotic place of power.
In Edwyr, it might be the dwelling of a ruling nightdemon; in Shattered
Norns, it leads to one of the castles of the demon lords of the Couranth
or the Lands of the Mists.


The questor releases spirit from body (causing losses as if resurrected
after 1 day). This weakens the demon (questor gains +4 Mps for purposes
of resisting spells cast by the demon), and binds questor and demon into
single combat in the mystic realm.


For this fight, the Peachwood Staff powers are doubled; the demon can use
only its spells, natural abilities, and whatever weapon it had closest to
hand (if any). All damage done to the demon or questor is permanent (thus
requiring Divine Intervention or Heroquesting to heal). This is one
method to permanently slay a demon.


At the end of the battle, the winner wrests one power from the loser,
then the loser is dissipated into the Primal Chaos before creation. The
winner returns to the mundane world, though not at the exact spot from
which he/she left (within 20 miles). At that moment, the questor may
choose to turn another's heart back to them (thus regaining the
love/respect of the one betrayed) by releasing all gains made (except the
Peachwood staff). This sacrifice draws the one whose heart is to be
regained to the questor.


THE RETURN

Not automatic, often accomplished by walking or spells. See the quest
example (below).


NOTES

This quest pattern was found by Sherrilene, but it was not created by
her. Makes for leeway (???).




EXAMPLE OF THE QUEST BEING RUN

Originally run using variant D&D rules, so please excuse the somewhat
clumsy translations.


On an adventure, four characters found an old book describing the inner
story of this quest. With research and work they found a sage who could
help them make the story into an outline of what they needed to do (and
they all hoped they had guessed right when the details were sketchy).


They summoned a demon of desire using an old ring, and forced it to
collect six crystals for them. Then they voyaged across realities , slew
some spidermen (scorpionmen?), and picked twelve white lemons. To finish
their preparations, two went to a temple and learned the words given to
the dead to cross the Bridge of Brass, while the other two went to the
top of a holy mountain and collected rainwater in a consecrated bowl.


The characters returned to their home, got out some scrolls and took
ritual baths. After three days of fasting they ate the lemons and drank
the water. They read a spell from a scroll that put them into a trance,
and another that put a prismatic sphere around them for that time (added
insurance to the house defenses).


When they awoke (and found that each had lost 1d4 points of STR) they
threw the crystals. Skipping the reading, the gamemaster played the part
of the Grey Dweller and had a question and answer series with them about
things they should have known about the world. One lost a point of INT
and three gained 1 point each. The questors then entered the next world.


There they found themselves naked, and the one found that his familiar
was not with them (the surprise here indicates that the book may not have
given full details). Facing the bridge, they used the words and were also
required to state a runic association that would work. They declared
Stasis and Mastery, which worked; they were glad the priests had briefed
them well.


As they crossed the Bridge they cast defensive spells. Shimmerspeed, Iron
Skin, Air Shield, and Avert Weapon all worked (specialist D&D spells?).
They were able to pass the Swordsman intact.


The mages conjured cash, the priest used a divine favor, and the warrior
used the joints of his little finger to pay the Boatman. (The mages each
lost 3 CON, the fighter a point of DEX, and the priest 2 points of STR.)
The questors were attacked by a great serpent, but the Man of Stone (who
was in the boat with them) jumped down its throat and killed it by
ripping out its heart.


In the Peachwood Grove, each of the questors lost their three best
spells, either the highest point value spells, or (in the case of the
warrior) the ones they used the most. One questor gained +5 STR, +4 CON,
and -10% to all attacks against him. The second gained +4 DEX, permanent
Silence around him when he desired, and the ability to enter a new body
if he was slain. The priest gained Hands of Iron, the ability to Reflect
1 and 2 point spells, and a gem on his forehead which gave him a +10% in
all resistance rolls when casting a spell at a target. The warrior gained
+3 INT, +6 Magic Points available to cast spells each day (regenerates
with his normal MPs), and the ability to appear unwounded in battle until
slain.


They all cut staves in order to have weapons to fight with. The warrior
lost his damage bonus, and two of the other questors (including the
priest) ended up with negative damage modifiers.


Upon leaving the Grove they returned to the Mythic Plane, where they
faced a Serpent Demon with Darkness powers. They all lost some of their
stats and skill abilities, but gained a resistance to the demon's magic.
The strongest mage was slain, while the priest was nearly killed. But
they won, and the three survivors divided the demon's Hit Points among
themselves, as a permanent gain (as with a Strengthening Enchantment).
The lesser demons in the castle fled from them as they left.


Back on the mundane plane, the mage and priest used magic to return home,
while the fighter gave up all of his gains to return his wife to him. She
had been slain by trolls in a bitter fight when he had broken in fear and
run from them. Thus, his net loss was 1 point each of INT, DEX, STR, and
CON, losses to most of his skill levels, and all defense modes (???). He
gained back his wife, and a magic staff.




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Date: Tue, 18 Mar 1997 21:07:56 EST



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