Baboons in the Apple Orchard
Today, I want to share a bit of what has been happening in my online game of Runequest: Roleplaying in Glorantha. One of the best aspects of the RPG community is the ability to share our experiences and inspire each other with our stories of, "What happened in my game". Even if we are all playing through the same adventure, each group has different experiences and stories to tell that are fun and worth sharing - that might be something inspiring for something new. Though this post is not about an adventure or module that my group played through, but rather what happened recently between adventures. But hopefully, it can inspire you for your game nonetheless.
Between Adventures in Runequest: Roleplaying in Glorantha, is a whole chapter of the core book for anyone reading this who hasn't yet read the whole core book of the game or who hasn't played the game yet. In the chapter, it goes over how to make your experience checks and how to train your abilities; either through self-guided learning, from an instructor, research, or in the case of POW - through worship and meditation. The players can choose what they want their characters to improve or learn from season to season when they are in between adventures. Some of these improvements take a week at a time, some others take a season or more to improve. At the end of each season, I ask my players what they plan on making any improvements or train in anything for the coming season(s).
Because the adventurers are members of a community and have other commitments, unlike the average D&D character. They often spend a lot of time pursuing their professions back home, as well as, fulfilling other responsibilities to their cult, clan, tribe, and kin. So Between Adventures is an important moment, in my mind, to help communicate to the players their connections to their community. And I have my own set of random roll tables to help give these moments a bit more life and possible drama. Essentially, I make a series of random rolls to see if anything interesting happens during each week when the heroes are not on an adventure; either an event that happens to them or to someone they know. But I will get more into how I do this in a later post. it's not relevant for today's post.
Some groups like to handwave the in-between adventure stuff but I like to at least play through them a little bit. So the following is one such situation that arose during our recent in-between adventures moments. I will also say that this situation is based on one presented as an Adventure Seed in the back of the GM's Adventure book. Which only gives you the broadest strokes of the situation and leaves all the details up to the GM.
Irilla and the Baboons
The group had just finished the Smoking Ruins adventure and had been back in Apple Lane for about three days; this would not be the last time they will be sent to the Smoking Ruins. A caravan came through Apple Lane and along with this caravan was Irilla of Esrolia, daughter of Gringle who has traveled from as far away as Gryphon Mountain to lay claim to her father's abandoned business and the hides of lands that were in his keeping, given to him by Prince Tarkalor. She met with the Elders of the community to present the scrolls and items given to her to prove her identity, and scroll and item from her father, Gringle, and a scroll from Queen Samastina of Esrolia.
While this stranger, who was claiming to be a member of this hamlet met with the elders, a troop of Baboons showed up at the market that was formed around the Issaries shrine of Apple Lane. There are two types of baboons in Glorantha, the ones like the earth baboon, and then there are the 6ft+ tall talking Baboons that come from around Prax. This troop was the latter and their appearance was a call back to the original Apple Lane adventure. They talk very little trade talk, and what little they do speak is very rough and disjointed. They showed up making demands but then spotted the Local Shaman - who was a member of the Daka Fal cult, who was here with his apprentice (one of the players) in search of hard-to-find herbs and such he would need for his work. The Baboon troop's leader made a beeline for the Shaman, asking for the shaman to tell them where the thief Gringle was. That they demanded Gringle be given over to them.
It should be noted that very few people in the hamlet at the time that the Baboons showed up, know that Irilla exists let alone is in the hamlet. The only people who know this are the elders and a retainer to the thane of Apple Lane (one of the player characters); who were elsewhere in the hamlet speaking with Irilla and trying to decide if she is who she says she is. So with that in mind, the shaman and his assistant were trying to get the Baboon leader to understand that Gringle hasn't been in Apple Lane for at least the last 5 years, but the Baboon wasn't buying it. The Baboon leader told them that Grandfather Baboon told them that Gringle was here with that of which he had stolen from them. There was some confusion involved with this conversation due to the Baboons talking about a Grandfather Baboon - which later was revealed to be what they call Daka Fal. So seeing how the Baboons were not going to take his word for it, the Shaman had his assistant (the one player character) lead the Boboon leader and a few of his troop to where the ruins of Gringle's shop still stands so that the baboon could see with his own eyes the truth of the situation.
Once outside the old shop, which is a burned-out old building that stands as a testament to Sartar under Lunar rule, the lead Baboon began yelling in bad Trade Talk. He demanded that Gringle come forth and return what he has stolen from them. This is the moment when the Elders of Apple Lane were ready to accept Irilla as who she says she was, after having the local Lhankor Mhy scholar look over the various scrolls. But with all the yelling coming from nearby they paused their decision to see what was commotion was. During this moment as well, Irilla was over in the Tin Inn waiting for the Elder's decision, speaking with the retainer (one of the other players) and Brightflower. Upon hearing the commotion from outside, the retainer asked everyone in the Inn to stay inside while they went outside to see what was going on. The Retainer and the Elders all came out at the same time to see the Assistant Shaman standing awkwardly off to the side while a big Baboon was yelling at an empty, old, burned-out shop.
This went on for some time during which several things happened. First, the Assistant Shaman told the various NPCs and Player characters what was happening. Second, the Thane approached the Lead Baboon and spoke to them with the help of the Assistant Shaman to translate. He further explained that Gringle wasn't in the village and hadn't been for a long time. He said nothing about Gringle's daughter though, who was still inside the inn during all of this. The thane then leads the Baboons inside the ruins of Gringle's Pawnshop to see firsthand that no one has lived there for years.
While the thane kept the baboons busy, the Elders of Apple Lane discussed amongst themselves the situation involving Irilla and the sudden appearance of the Baboons. It wasn't the first time that Baboons had been seen in Apple Lane looking for Gringle. Once the Baboons were placated, for now, and after they had left, the Elders all went inside the Inn to tell Irilla their final decision and to further discuss the Baboons. The Elders decided in the end to not accept Irilla as who she was and told her that if she wanted to push her claim then she should travel to Clearwine and present herself before Queen Leika Blackspear. If the Queen of the Colymar Tribe accepts her claim then they would as well. They then told her that until that time she would not be afforded any protection as a member of the hamlet. They made it very clear that the Baboons were the real issue here and were looking towards making sure that the community was made safe for the time being.
This was the setup we started with for a situation that would last for the next 3 or so weeks during the current season (Sea Season) ingame. The Baboons camped a few miles away from the hamlet, off the main road, where they stop anyone traveling on the road to bother them about the thief Gringle. People who live in and around the hamlet and work in the Groves, occasionally reported seeing a Baboon scout or two in the hills watching the hamlet or looking to see if they can find where the thief Gringle was hiding. But no Gringle was to be found.
Irilla left Apple Lane the same day she arrived, hiring the heroes to escort her to Clearwine so she could speak with the queen and then gather whatever supplies she would need to rebuild her father's shop. She wasn't thrilled with the Elder's decision but at least understood their position.
After that, the heroes return to Apple Lane and continue with their daily lives, which was only interrupted by the occasional Baboon sighting or demands of giving over Gringle. None of this came to a head until this past week's game. After the return of Irilla, now full a member of the community - the Queen of the Colymar having accepted her claims - Irilla was very ready to start on the clean-up and rebuilding of her father's pawn shop. A few days after her return, at the very end of the season, the Baboons appeared once again to stand in front of Gringle's old shop demanding that Gringle would turn over what was stolen. However, this time a Gringle stepped out of the building. Irilla was inside at the time with some laborers, finishing cleaning out the years of dirt, grime, broken walls, etc when the Baboons came-a-calling.
The end result of which was Irilla telling them who she was and telling them that she was her father's representative in the area. If they wanted to make any deals or demands that they could present them to her. The discussion between her and the lead baboon, all done in trade talk, probably lasted about 5 minutes in total. Wherein they demanded that the Sharptooth that was stolen was returned and she told them that her father never stole from them and that if they wanted the Sharptooth then they would have to pay for it like any other customer. It took more time to explain that to a group of Baboons who have only a small bit of understanding of trade talks, in-game terms they had a 30% to their skill. In the end, they told her that her terms were unacceptable and that if the Sharptooth was not returned by the setting of the sun, then they would come to take it away from her, even if that meant from her corpse.
Now you might, like a few of my players, be asking why doesn't she just give them the Sharptooth since it could lead to not only her death but also to possible harm to members of the community? The simple fact is that She is 100% correct. The Sharptooth wasn't stolen - this goes back to the original adventure in the old Apple Lane booklet. An adventurer acquired the Crystal Sharptooth from a baboon after being attacked and defending themselves. The Sharptooth was a treasure found after the battle was over. This adventurer continued their journey for a time and then sold the item to Gringle. So the truth is very important to Irilla as much as it was to her father. To just give the Sharptooth over to the Baboons would be to accept that it was gained unfairly and dishonorably. That it was stolen. Pair this with the fact that she is an Issaries cultist; to give in trade in such a way would be to go against her Cult beliefs. So she was very much against this idea when it was presented to her by the players.
The heroes and Irilla, after the Baboons left, went to the Thane of Apple Lane (who is a cousin of one of the Player Characters). In the thane's house, they discussed at length how best to resolve this situation. The thane is a warrior, but he is also a very honorable person with a strong harmony rune. He wanted to resolve this peacefully if at all possible; which would be in the community's best interests. He didn't want to have to revisit this issue in 10-20 years, for instance. So the players tried to find a resolution for all of this and they had time working against them, so any plan that would take time to get started was not an option.
In the original story of how Gringle came in possession of the Crystal Sharptooth, he bought it from an Adventurer for a fair price. This adventurer had encountered some baboons and fought them off. From one of the corpses, he found the Crytal Sharptooth. Now the way I was handling this situation was that the leader of the Baboons, who was told about the Crystal Sharptooth and how it was a family heirloom - wasn't told the full story. He was only told that his father before him, went west to retrieve the family heirloom from a merchant named Gringle who stole it. So for him, it was in fact stolen. That's his truth. Anything that says otherwise would call his ancestor a lier. He probably wouldn't react well to this. The lead Baboon is very prideful.
How Did the Heroes Save the Day?
I, the GM, let the players try to come up with a plan, answering questions or giving them information that they didn't have or that they didn't remember but that their heroes would know. Their first reaction was to go to the Baboon's camp and just attack them before the Baboons could come and attack the hamlet. Irilla wasn't even sure the Baboons would go through with their threat and just wanted the retainers to guard her in the old shop, which was her home now. This would funnel the combatants in a closed space, at the very least. The heroes had been to the baboon camp before to speak with the Baboons in a previous week. With the help of Gooseberry Sprig, they got a rough count of their numbers, which was between 22 and 30 Baboons (when the Baboons came to Apple Lane they only ever came in a group of 6-8).
After hearing everyone's ideas the Thane of Apple Lane asked his cousin how much richer she had become from her recent journeys; an idea was forming in his mind. One of the other recent events came from the Prince of Sartar, Kellyr Starbrow, by way of a messenger from Queen Leika Blackspear - informing the Thane of Apple Lane to begin preparing for the coming campaign against the Lunars during Fire Season (setting up the battle of the Queens and running the Jonstown Compendium adventure "The Duel at Dangerford"). The players gave the thane a rough idea and also spoke about a few treasures they had found as well, some of which they didn't know how much they were worth. One such item, was an emerald necklace with an inscription on it. Irilla became interested in this item in particular but waited before revealing her interest. The thane told them, his idea was that they could appease Irilla and Issaries by purchasing the Sharptooth from her and then taking it to the Baboons. With it, they could possibly get the Baboons to make promises to join them on the campaign in the coming battles with the Lunar Empire. Irilla accepted this idea but only if they would trade the Sharptooth for the emerald necklace that they spoke of earlier. When asked why she wanted that necklace, in particular, she would only say that Issaries had given her a hunch that the necklace would be a worthy trade and could lead to further success down the road for her.
By this point, my players didn't like Irilla. So they were suspicious of her and didn't accept what she told them about the necklace. They originally were waiting to find out if the necklace was an heirloom to a powerful or important clan or family in the hope to get more for it. So in this case, they suspected but had no proof that Irilla knew more about the necklace than she let on. So before, they would agree to trade the necklace for the Sharptooth they wanted her to give them any of the lunars that she gained from the sale of the necklace if it was greater than the stated price of the Sharptooth. She heard their concerns but said only that she would agree to make sure that any of the profit she made over that price from the sale of the necklace would be used towards the benefit of the community.
They didn't love it, but they didn't hate it either. They nailed her feet to the floor as best as they could but in the end, they gave in and traded the Crystal Sharptooth for the emerald necklace. Then they followed the thane's plan and took the Sharptooth to the Baboons before the sunset, taking Gooseberry Sprig along to translate for them using beast speech, so that nothing was lost in translation. They brokered the deal while ensuring that the Baboons and the Sharptooth would not be an issue in the future. After making a few rolls on my side, The lead Baboon gave his promises, bound in the use of the names of the god important to each group, that he and the Baboons under his command would fight alongside the Coylmar Tribe in that years coming battles with the Lunars. The words used here are important. They would only fight by the side the Coylmar tribe. Fighting against the Lunars. Fighting only that year or what remained of it. This meant that if the Coylmar were not there, in any shape or form, then the Baboons would not go to fight. If the enemy wasn't under the Lunar banners then they would not fight for them at that battle. And come Sacred Time, the Baboons were no longer under this oath and could not be expected to follow it into the following year.
All of this will make the coming season pretty interesting.
Until next time, thanks for reading!