Runequest Thursday #82 - Downtime Adventures, Chaotic River Eels, and Cults - Oh My!

Clint Staples

Chaos River Eels


            1D20    Hit Location     AP/HP

STR     18             1-6           Tail              5/4

CON    15            7-14        Body            5/6

SIZ       20           15-20       Head            5/4

INT       2

POW   11

DEX    13

Combat Actions: 2

Damage Modifier: +1D6

Movement: 3 yards on Land, 8 yards in Water

Strike Rank: +10


Excellent Swimmer

Sense Movement 60%: Submerged river eels can detect movement in nearby water, up to about 4 yards distant. By comparison, their eyes are rather weak, especially out of the water.

Skills: Athletics 85%, Evade 65%, Persistence 43%, Resilience 43%, Spot 30%, Stealth 75%

Type     To hit   Reach   Damage                 Special

Bite      60%      +2          1D8+1d6             Grip and Roll

Tactics: Preferring muddy water and overhanging riverbanks or vegetation, river eels are stealthy hunters, lying in wait for passing prey. If a bite gains a special success, the eel will use its next action to establish a grip with its fangs, then roll to disorient and drown the target, or possibly tear free a limb. On the turn the grip is established, and every turn thereafter that it is maintained – roll STR vs. STR. If the target wins, she may withdraw from the grip. If the eel wins, it rolls and maintains its grip. The roll does 1d4+1 damage that is not reduced by armor. If the gripped location is an arm or leg, and it suffers a Major Wound as the result of a roll, the limb is torn off.

Chaos Taint: River eel succumb to chaos taint quite easily if exposed to it. If in a region where exposure is possible, they have a 25% chance of having a chaos feature for each 10 SIZ they possess.

A few weeks ago, I did a Runeuest Thursday post about what to do with Downtime. The reason, as one might expect, is that my own campaign, Brightwater Saga, is going through some right now, interspersed with bits of action. Essentially, I am advancing the clock by a few seasons within the span of a session or two, and possibly an adventure. You can take a look at what I asked of, and offered to, my players and their heroes in that post. Right now, I would like to feature some bits that they came up with. 

I asked each player to come up with a downtime activity that occupied their character's time, or a portion thereof. Partly this was to explain the rewards of the downtime (experience checks, etc) but One of the things that I suggested is that they could advance their personal stories or backgrounds. What also came of them is several player-driven adventure ideas - which I will note below.

I got some fairly detailed responses, and I don't want to go through all of them in their entirety here, so I am going to pick a detail or two from each. If I do violence to any of the characters', or players', motivations or intent, I apologize.


Lets start with Ughari, the Praxian nomad shaman in self-imposed exile from his people because he got a number killed. Much of his downtime was spent around Brightwater, reinforcing his shamanic ties to the spirits of land and water. But he also chose to return to a spot that the heroes had visited a couple of time previous - the Sunken Ruin - a portion of the ancient city of Rob-Cradle, hurled dozens of miles from its starting place centuries ago by a horde of giants bent on vengeance, to land in the Great Marsh a handful of miles from Brightwater. If you don't know why the giants would want to revenge themselves on Rob-Cradle, you need this, which will also allow you to run the scenario, The Cradle, which is awesome! In one of the eary adventures, the heroes of Brightwater cleansed the Sunken Ruin of a Chaos Naiad priestess and her attempt to corrupt the River Horse, a minor god of the region.

But much of the ruin was out of reach dozens of feet below the water level in Sea Season (when the marsh is in flood). Returning later, they found much more of it accessible and spent some time exploring, realizing that it was a place of great potential, and significant magic. Ughari also came to believe that it was deeply tainted with chaos.

So he returned in the beginning of Storm Season, before the rains drove the water level up again, and found more of Rob-Cradle's goodies, and baddies. The discovery of a vast hall filled with jars of what appear to be the remains of embryonic flesh golems or other horrors led him to the conclusion that the magic there would not lie dormant forever, and might in fact be tainting the entire region. He returned to Brightwater intent on paying a visit to the giants who tossed it here in the first place - perhaps for aid, perhaps to tell them what has come of their centuries old attack.

Adventure One - To Giantland!


Moving on to Sayid, the Grazelander who fled when her family, local anti-Lunar nobles, were massacred or outlawed. Currently, Sayid is struggling with the nature of what will be her central role in the return of the Blue Moon Goddess, Annihila, to Glorantha. It was almost a welcome relief when she got word from of surviving relatives in peril back home. Riding as only a Grazelander can, and aided by the power of her goddess, she (and another Brightwater hero, Wyrmhere Blackhand, of which you shall hear more presently) rode to the Blue Moon then leaped to the border of the Grazelands, returning in time to disrupt an attack on her kin and lead the survivors to something like triumph and safety.

Her kin safe for the moment, she, Wyrmhere, and her rescued brother return to the region of Pavis, where she had been told her missing sister is riding with the Yelornan Amazons, staunch enemies of the Lunar occupation of the region - and likely to get herself killed.

Adventure Two: Among the Amazons!


The aforementioned Wyrmhere also had a busy time. In addition to aiding Sayid, he moved his abode to Storm-Tiger Island and the keep he is raising there - the better to serve his master Jagrun Khan. Intent on keeping the island secure, he followed up on the trolls whose ritual he interrupted a while back - in which it appeared that they were trying to take command of Jagrun Khan by binding the Spirit Lord. Tracking down the trolls responsible (members of the powerful Xaragang clan of the Pavis Rubble), Wyrmhere proved to be heavily outnumbered and was nearly killed before elves stepped from the Verge, rescuing him as they slew the dark men.

It seems that these elves also pay homage to Jagrun Khan with occasional offerings of their hunting. They knew the sorcerer, even if he did not know them. Via their arts, they nursed him to health in the Verge, then deposited him on the doorstep of Brightwater in a glamored sleep in which he dreamed of his demon arm (the eponymous Black Hand) and his former master Valok. 

On waking, Wyrmhere finds himself in the care of Tana'Sar, who Wyrmhere desperately loves though he is unsure if she feels the same. During his recovery, he told of what he dreamt. Tana'Sar offers to accompany the sorcerer in his quest to rid himself of his demon. Riding for the Desolation Hills, They found the master sorcerer, and convince him to aid his former apprentice. Valok told Wyrmhere that he must face and defeat his demon, or sever the black arm. He then presented a blueprint of sorts, for a new arm made of metal and crystal, powered by magic, telling Wyrmhere of the Machine City, a ruin raised by sorcerers of the Second Age, where he might find the more exotic parts required - if he dares.

Adventure Three: The Machine City!


Finally, Zoe, the Orlanthi half-blood, whose father is a serving officer in the Lunar Army of conquest in Sartar. During the most recent Waterday Market at Brightwater, a band of Stormbulls had arrived looking to terrorize the market, take what they wanted and generally misbehave, as Stormbulls do. Zoe appeared in time to stop the devastation - essentially challenging the Stormbulls to prove that their god was a leader and hero, not just an animal. She backed this up with typical Orlanthi bravado. That and the shared runes of the two storm gods convinced the ruffians not to attack out of turn. Instead they challenged her to ride with them on a chaos hunt during Storm Season to see if she was as bad-ass as she claimed. Zoe could do little but accept.

So when the Stormbulls returned to Brightwater the following season, she joined them - leaving her war-horse at home and riding an aurochs purchased for the challenge. She learned much about the ways of the Stormbulls, some of it surprising because it showed her much more than their stereotypical behavior as crude berserkers.

Instead of a run down on Zoe's entire trip, I will give you an excerpt from her journal (kept by Zoe's player). This is from early in her travels during Storm Season, when the Stormbulls are still not sure what to make of her, and are giving some new initiates their introductory "hazing' adventure in chaos killing.

Harmony Week, Wildday

An interesting few days. Torva and Jorund speak some Sartarite, so I have told them about where I think the Scorpionids are, and they just nodded. Suspect they want to see first what I can do, and possibly give the younger ones a couple of easy wins before tackling bigger creatures.

The first day we headed out across the river and into the swamp directly to the east of Brightwater. Here we fought some foul-smelling brown eels, eels the size of goats. I waded in with the others, chopping them down. I would never have suspected they were there, but Torva seemed to know where to find them. There were three of the large ones, and probably a dozen smaller ones that were still the size of my arm. We dispatched the bodies by burning them, a process that the more experienced Storm Bulls carry out with practiced ease.

All day there had been general conversation happening around me and as it was all in Praxian I couldn’t help but wonder what they were saying about me. My nerves were keeping me very alert. A good thing as it turned out for as I was walking away from looking after Beast, I heard and felt hooves coming up behind me, and turned to see a grinning young man thundering towards me at high speed on his aurochs. I believe I startled him when I turned and raced towards him, rather than away, and then leapt up over the horns and landed facing him on his aurochs. The look on his face was quite priceless. I gave him a big kiss and then did a tumbling dismount to the ground to the sounds of hoots of laughter all around. Sprained my ankle on the landing, but managed to walk away without limping, and healed it myself later . . .


And because it is Runequest Thursday, I present the Chaos River Eels promised in the title of this post.

And as a bonus, the Feat of Arms that Zoe learned a while back, which allowed her to do her bit of equine (OK, in this case bovine) acrobatics.

Trick Riding: Prerequisites - DEX 15, Riding 75%

 Cost: 4 Hero Points, and you seek out a tutor who has the Feat, and convince her to spend a week teaching you, for a fee of a minimum of 500 Lunars.

This classic ability of those born in the saddle became famous in the ancient world via the skills of horse nomads who, on entering Byzantine military service, so amazed their employers that they were given the name ‘Trapezitoi’ in honor of the equine acrobatics. This feat of arms gives you a 20% bonus to Riding checks when attempting such stunts as mounting at a gallop, vaulting from side to side of a running mount, standing in the saddle, etc. It also allows you to mount or dismount as a free action without rolling on Ride.