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Runequest Thursday #137 - The Challenge on Stormwalk Mountain!

Clint Staples

After having liberated the wyverns from the Lunar Wyvern Patrol in the Clanking Ruin, the Brightwaters turned the creatures over to some Orlanthi allies led by Jarang Bladesong that they knew to be hiding and living rough in the Big Rubble. Jarang, a Wind Lord of Orlanth, got the notion of performing a heroquest to claim wyvernkind as Air creatures, by loosening their bond to the Beast Rune (as exemplified by the ultimate manifestation of the Beast Rune - the Dragon, from which wyverns are descended). Jarang consulted with his advisors, and decided that this heroquest could be performed by re-enacting the Legend of Orlanth Dragonbreaker, when the god defeated dragons before the world began.

Note for those unfamiliar with the concept of the Heroquest: In Runequest, Heroquesting is the action a mortal hero takes to claim some portion of godly power, though the reenactment of a mythic event. Generally attempted only by powerful heroes emulating the gods they worship, Heroquesting allows the hero to enter the God Realms, recreate some of the powerful magic that their god harnessed (or loosed) previously and carry it home. Mechanically, there are not really any official rules for this (although there have been many attempts by fans over the years, with greater or lesser success). I understand that Heroquesting will be addressed, and codified, in the new edition of Runequest: Glorantha, soon to be upon us. I look forward to seeing it.

So Jarang collected a number of potent allies - Including the famous Windlady Grizelda - to accomplish the heroquest of Orlanth Dragonbreaker. By doing so, the Orlanthi could claim all of wyvernkind as creatures of the Air, which could well remove these powerful monsters from the Lunar arsenal - AND add them to that of the Storm tribe rebels.

And since they Brightwaters brought the opportunity to Jarang, it seemed only fitting (at least to the heroically minded Orlanthi) to ask them to accompany the heroquesters to Stormwalk Mountain, guarding the entrance to the Storm Realm for the duration of the ritual, and providing any other aid that should arise.

AND - Since the Heroes of Brightwater agreed to this task/ honor, there was certain to be something for them to do while they stood watch.

I have talked about how to make powerful sites before, and Stormwalk Mountain is certainly one. A named location in the corpus of Gloranthan lore, Stormwalk is redolent of mythic power, especially the Element and Rune of Air/Storm. Sacred to Storm Bull and Orlanth, and many lesser creatures aside, it is one of the Great Peaks of Genertela, looming cloud-swathed amid furious winds, over the lesser Storm Peaks, Southern Sartar, and the Holy Country beyond.

Given its stature in the source material, I had to make sure that the Brightwaters' trip there was memorable and mythic. Here are my cleaned up play notes for the session:

Gleaned from various sources of published Gloranthan Lore (pretty much all currently available for purchase, or reproduced online):

History of Stormwalk Moutain as you know it: Make appropriate Lore check, or Charisma Check to wheedle the info out of others:

  • The winds whirling around Stormwalk are famous for their fury.
  • It is said that only those tied to the Air/ Storm Rune can ascend the Mountain.
  • Sky Bulls live on the upper slopes and are often to be seen soaring overhead. They are especially dangerous in Storm Season.
  • Stormwalk is one of the three great mountains of Dragon pass. Only surpassed in height by Kero Fin, Some say that Stormwalk was a rock monster during the Godtime, until Urox (Stormbull), tore his head off and threw it far enough away that it could not return to its body. Whether the Mountain is comprised of the head or the body is not known, but the spiral path that winds up from the valleys surrounding the great peak travels 9 miles to reach the summit.
  • Upon its slopes, Orlanth defeated Urox to make him a follower to the King of Air. Upon its peak Hendreik the Untouchable hid in splendor, though if you walk up it around the spiral you find only ice and snow, and perhaps the stead of gigantic men all frozen solid at dinner. Urox raised the other Storm Mountains to prevent a fight between his friends Tada and Vingkot. Heroquesters of the Storm tribe can tame the ferocious zabhur sky bulls that live on the top, gaining powerful flying mounts if they can wrest them from the storm spirits that rule the highest places.

All the Brightwaters managed to acquire an Air association before they left. Zoe Brightblade, as an Initiate of Orlanth, already has one. Wyrmhere, called Blackhand (but now for the blackened metal arm that has replaced his demon arm) gain Mastery of the Air Rune through his Patron Jagrun Khan, the Storm Tiger. Ughari, the Praxian Shaman, called and cajoled a pair of Air Spirits to accompany him and Sayyid.

Travelling double on wyvernback to the upper reaches of Stormwalk Mountain:

Possible Encounters: Nearing or Upon Stormwalk

Anyone with an Air Rune can Discorporate at will on Stormwalk Mountain. Those who have mastered an Air Rune can find their bodies easily. For others this requires a POW x4 roll, if this is missed, the next roll is POW x3, then POWx2, then POWx1, then they have lost any attachment to their body and become wind spirits.

Wind children: These slender winged blue-skinned humanoids have many eyries among the rocky clefts on Stormwalk’s flanks. They do not trouble anyone who has an Air Rune, and are often helpful. They speak Stormspeech, but there is a 25% chance that a group will have someone with Tradetalk or Sartarite. They wear, and make weapons and armor of ensorcelled air.

Sky Bull: Small herds of sky cattle wing about in the middle air, or graze in one of the narrow clefts of Stormwalk or nearby alpine valleys. They are placid unless riled, or within an Urox Cloud, when they sometimes panic, or become belligerent. Bulls are especially dangerous in Storm Season when the cows are fertile.

 

Trials of the Guardians:

Stormwalk is a potent and primal manifestation of the Air Rune. The peak is constantly surrounded by hundreds of air elementals, and buffeted and caressed by as many winds of varying power. It is easy to bind an elemental here, if you have the ability and an Air rune association. It is held as sacred by many air related cults, but it is not specifically associated with Orlanth. It is very near the God Plane and a threshold at its peak opens onto the Storm Realm near Orlanth’s Steading.

Air spells are automatically extended until the caster wishes to dispel them. They can be maintained indefinitely with a Magic Skill check. In addition, all air elementals, or storm spells, are heightened by 1 die of their type over their normal amount here (So Skybolt would do 3d6). Finally, Air spells are cast automatically here, only failing on a 96+.

Upon arriving at the summit, they find a wide ledge, with evidence of occasional encampment. The Heroquesters follow Jarang’s lead when he says to make camp and prepare. He asks that the guardians remain on watch while the questers rest, then begin the ritual. The Heroquesters are:

Jarang Bladesong, burning with Herolight, Currently the Vessel of the Argrath.

Grizelda, Windlady of Orlanth Adventurous, seemingly unmoved by the occasion, her thin lips tightly closed

Tana the Patient, Priestess of Chalana Arroy, Companion of Jarang

Tostig Silversides, an Issaries Priest, out of Adari and possibly out of his depth

Holger the Argumentative, a Lhankor Mhy Greylord, famed for his logic, sharp in debate, keen of blade and wit.

The Heroquesters each cast a Hero Point and begin to glow as their clothing is whipped about by air spirits, each is lifted off the ground in a little whirlwind. Beyond them, the blank face of the mountain fractures silently as a huge air rune appears, glowing blue. All can make a Theurgy or POW x5% roll to gain Hero Points, 1 for each 20% by which the roll is made, and massive energies pour from the Air rune. Then the face of the mountain whirls away and you can see into a broad valley surrounded by while-peaked mountains. The Heroquesters mount their beasts and soar into the Void. As they lift off, Tana the Patient turns and says, “Beware, something comes!”

For some time, nothing happens: The Winds whirl, Air demons howl, but nothing attacks as the Heroes of Brightwater stand Vigil.

Then comes the Urox Cloud, driving Sand from Prax. It always smells of bullsweat. Challenge each character’s Heroic Stat in the whipping Sand of the Cloud: How will they send the Urox Cloud elsewhere, using their Heroic Stat.

Using the cover provided by the Urox Cloud, several Krarshtvermin clamber and tunnel to the summit, eager for the flesh of heroes and the essence of the Storm Realm. The Brightwaters must defend the threshold to the Storm Realm from the assault of these chaotic creatures.

Attached: the Krarshtvermin - if you want to inflict them on your own player characters. The image at the top of the post is a representation of krarshvermin found scribed into the rock at the base of one of the Storm Mountains. When asked, the local Lhankor Mhy sage suggested that is represented a krarshtvermin.

If you want to read more of my Runequest material, jump on over to the Index and dive in!