Your search for the legendary Crown of Kings takes you to the Shamutanti Hills. Alive with evil creatures, lawless wanderers and bloodthirsty monsters, the land is riddled with tricks and traps waiting for the unwary traveller. Will you be able to cross the hills safely and proceed to the second part of the adventure – or will you perish in the attempt?
Sorcery tells a story that takes place in the land of Kakhabad, a place which has never been ruled, and instead represents the evil, undesirable rejects from other regions who now call it their home. So much so that it became known as the ‘Verminpit’. While Kakhabad soaked up all the scum, other regions flourished. This was particularly so in the wake of the discovery of the Crown of Kings, however, the nature of its discovery is not revealled . Chalanna the Reformer, as he was known, hailed from the land of Femphrey and as the first to hold the magical Crown of Kings in his possession, he was able to use its power to bring peace and prosperity to his nation. Believing in the power of the Crown, Chalanna sent the crown around neighbouring kingdoms, passing from ruler to ruler, bringing good-times with it at every step. War and strife were virtually unknown.
However, when the crown came to Analand, things went south somewhat. On the night of the Black Moon, the crown was stolen by Birdmen from Xamen and taken to Mampang in Kakhabad where the Archmage of Mampang planned to take Kakhabad as his own kingdom and potentially pose a huge threat to the neighbouring nations who had previously held the crown, the Femphrey Alliance.
And this is where we come in. Starting off at the very edge of Analand, I have volunteered to travel across Kakhabad and reclaim the crown before it can be used for untold evil deeds.
Bread and goat’s milk was for breakfast, not the heartiest of meals for someone being sent into the ‘verminpit’, but I’m only a volunteer I suppose. Preparing to leave Analand through the Cantopani Gate I was met by well-wishers, fully aware of my mission. Before I could set off, final words of guidance were offered by one of the Sight-masters, warriors who have far-seeing abilities that keep watch over the doorway between Kakhabad and Analand. Didn’t manage to see those Birdmen though, did you? Anyway, I was given a rough route to follow, the initial stage of my journey would take me through a number of small settlements across the Shamutanti Hills and would lead me to Khare on the Jabaji river. From there I would have to cross the Baklands, where day and night are supposedly controlled not by the sun, but by supernatural forces, which sounds pretty badass. He also gave me the fairly ominious information that from Khare onwards, my progress would be watched. I wasn’t told by who, but I’m presuming it’s gonna be the Archmage of Mampang. I stepped out of the gate in the crisp morning air, witnessing the rising sun and the natural beauty of the hills before me.
Through the eerie silence of the local scrubland I slowly progressed to a small village settlement at the base of the hills. A number of rounded clay huts with thatched roofs lay before me and suddenly a villager appeared, asking what my business in Cantopani was. Given that I began the adventure with two provisions and 20gp, I told him I was hungry and wanted to buy food. My character was fairly strong though, I’d rolled up stats of 10/21/11 and so I was in good stead for the hazards ahead. I was ushered into the village inn and it was at this point that I learned of the books hidden mechanic that you otherwise must discover for yourself. What is this? Dark Souls? What I learned was that this adventure is separated out into days and on each day you must eat or suffer a Stamina penalty, you also need to sleep and the quality of your sleep dictates how beneficial that sleep will be. I should also take the time to tell you about Libra – the goddess of justice; she is basically a replacement for the potion you normally start with, she will either restore all your stats to initial values, help you escape a conflict or cure a disease you have contracted. You can call upon her only once in each book at your discretion. Taking my new information on-board, I was offered two sets of provisions at 1gp each as well as a hot meal in the inn for another, so I handed over 3gp, threw some food in my pack and eat a hot meal at the inn.
About half an hour outside the village, the hills made me aware of their presence as the way forward started to get steeper. As the path ahead began to divide I was distracted by cries coming from the branches of a tree.
Above me sat an old man in the lower boughs of the tree, unable to climb down on his own I helped him descend. He was most thankful, apparently he had been waylaid by Elvins who robbed him and left him up in the tree. Grateful for my assistance, he gave me a page from a spell book he had found, page 102 if you must know, but it the instructions for the casting appeared incomplete. I was also told a rhyme which he felt would assist me.
‘See him though he sees you not;
The black-eyed creature creeps.
A guardian once, but now his lot:
The key to freedom keeps.’
Before I moved on, it was apparent that the tree was making a subtle buzzing noise, a brief glance at the illustration hinting that a bee related incident was about to occur. I climbed the tree and raided the bees nest, a D6 roll indicating I’d lost 4 Stamina points in the process, but as a reward I’d obtained some honey – good enough for one meal and some beeswax – an essential ingredient for casting the spell ‘RAZ’, increasing sword damage. Igoring the path that led down into the valley below, I pressed on up into the hills where I soon found myself within a wooded area which presented an opportunity for some rest. After tucking into a meal I found that I would only receive a miserly 1 Stamina point as I had already eaten since leaving Analand, in this book your Stamina gain from eating is not a flat 4 Stamina increase, you get what the text tells you! Horror of horrors though, I picked up my wriggling back-pack to find a happy looking squirrel-like creature bolt out of it, the fat little shit had eaten ALL of my food! I’d built up a nice little stash to keep me going there and now I have nothing to eat at all. I’m going to die aren’t I?
Thankfully, I’d been stuffing myself today, so I was able to keep going on through the woodland trail until the light started to fade and I set up camp for the night. Doing this brought me to a random encounter table where a D6 roll dictates your fate, my camp allowing me some safety and adding 2 to my roll. This time I managed to get through the night undisturbed and so gained 2 Stamina for a good nights sleep. Stamina loss was avoided as I’d eaten well on day one… lets see how that goes now I have an empty lunchbox to continue on with.
Having climbed a couple of hundred feet now, I reached the brow of a hill and was stopped in my tracks by the sight in the clearing to my left, numerous heads impaled on poles were looking at me through sewn-together eyes, some goblin, some human, some unknown. A large ‘X’ was painted on a tree as an obvious indication to go no further. Unfortunately, the direction in which to go no further was not as obvious as the sentiment, but I was reluctant to get into the technicalities of this with whoever was collecting heads for poles. Deciding to just keep going on up, I continued my climb into the hills. Noise and bustling activity began to emerge ahead of me and so I continued with caution, from a distance I could make out a number of goblins going in and out of what was apparently a mine carrying dull metallic nuggets. Were I quiet, I had the chance to sneak past them into the cave, so I took that option, waited for a chance and snuck into the darkness.
Shadows helped me remain undiscovered and they took me to a T-junction where I investigated the path to my right which led me up to a door. A spell to unlock the door was an option, but deciding to save the Stamina it would take to cast I decided to take advantage of my decent Skill score by barging it down, which only cost 1 Stamina as opposed to the 2 the ‘DOP’ spell would have. In the flickering candle-light which lit the room before me was a hideous ogre, grinding up rocks in a contraption of some kind. A horribly dark illustration, the style of which reminds me of probably my favourite Fighting Fantasy artist, Ian Miller.
Growling fiercely, the ogre came crashing towards me and again neglecting to use my magic, I killed him in regular sword combat as he wasn’t too tough at 8/7. Searching his filthy work-place didn’t turn up too much I wanted to take with me, but a couple of gems were pocketed. Each would be worth 10gp to me when buying items or supplies, but I wouldn’t be able to receive change! Leaving the mine I passed a Luck test to again avoid the attention of the goblin workers and headed off downhill into the woods, a walk over a few hours which took me up to another village which, as it was now afternoon, would likely be my home for the evening. Heading for nearest inn, it was time for a beer and I settled in to bring this first part to a close and enjoy the company of some… erm… lovely locals…