Plague Island – Session 1 – The Curse of the Idol

Last Friday we had our first session in the game that is alternating weeks with Kaigan. This one which we’ve been calling Plague Island (Probably not a fully accurate name after we went through situation burning, but I titled a blog post after it so we’re stuck with it now!).

We settled on on a pulpy game set in a fantastical version of colonial times, and the game takes place on a topical island that serves as a sort of pit-stop on the way across the sea. The main focus is on the colonial port town of St. Henry’s, a place that was founded by a Spain analogue (Kuspain), but eventually handed over to our Great Britain analogue (B’ret Shen) as part of the terms of some treaty/deal.

As a result, there are three distinct groups of people present on the island. The Ululak, the native people of this island, generally distrust outsiders, but they mostly live in the deep jungle, and the colonists stay near the shore, so there has not been much conflict recently. The B’ret Shen, who are the new “owners” of the Port, and the Kuspanish who refused to leave ‘Port de San Henriquez’ when it was handed over. Right now, tensions are highest between the British and the Spanish as the B’ret Shen Military rule is trying to assert its control.

More immediately though, several people in town have been falling ill, and then becoming violent and irrational at the later stages of the illness, to the point that they have to be put down like rabid animals. In the midst of all this/as the possible root cause, two of the PCs assisted a B’ret Shen researcher, Dr. Birchwood, in his venture into the jungle, where they entered an ancient Ululak temple and stole a Golden Idol.

Dr. Birchwood has come down with the illness himself, and him beginning to reach the later stages of it is where we start our game. Our principle characters are:

  • Namtar: A foreigner from a distant land, a middle-east analogue. Through a series of circumstance Namtar has found himself to be the “Indentured Servant” to Dr. Birchwood. He seeks to forge proof of his freedom and sell the idol to make a life for himself.  He is versed in the spirit binding arts of his native land.
  • Raul: A Kuspanish Woodsman who fell in love with the natural beauty of the island (and one of its natives).  He is strongly against further colonial efforts to expand deeper into the jungle, although served as a guide for Dr. Birchwood’s expedition.  He is the only member of the party with no magical talents.
  • Anju (my character): Raul’s wife, and a native Ululak.  Anju is a neophyte of the religious/magical caste of the Ululak, which invokes the sacred “Rite of Calling” (Summoning).  Somehow the native girl is the only one of the trio that can read, and the only one with any resources to her name (even if it is only a b1)

Anyway, we start with Dr. Birchwood getting worse and Raul thinking his wife can help with this, on the basis of they’ve never seen anything like it before and maybe it is an island thing.  Namtar tries to ask some of the spirits what is going on, but really only succeeds in pissing them off.

Raul and Anju show up and Namtar tries to hide his circination circles but does a pretty bad job of it, and Anju still notices.  Anju, doesn’t really know all that much about the idol or what is going on (thanks Astrology FoRK), but at the very least knows the idol is bad Juju and refuses to have anything to do with it.

At that point, Namtar grabs the idol and Dr. Birchwood appears to “die”, only to get back up and try to claim it from him.  Steel tests are failed, and we go through a rather long series of rolls, which took up most of the session but didn’t really accomplish much overall. I was probably most out of it because I rarely even got a chance to throw helping dice in because Anju has no actual combat skills and never was determined to be the primary roller to beginners luck.  It was one of those situations where busting out the full system didn’t seem nessicary cause the resolution always seemed like “one roll away

End result is that Namtar escapes the room with the idol, Dr. Birchwood goes after him. Anju tries to tell her husband something along the lines “Forget this guy, let the military deal with it” but fails to hold him back.  Raul “kills” Dr. Birchwood, and Anju wants to get out of here to consult with her mentor, but Raul says we should explain ourselves to the authorities.  Fine.

Meanwhile, Namtar has made his way down to the docks, and is trying to find someone to buy the idol ASAP.  He fails a circles roll and ends up talking to some sailors who try to fleece him, he manages to get them to let him speak to their captain, but the failure consequence is that this guy will WANT the idol, but he is not about to BUY it.

Anju talks to the guards and tries to explain that Dr. Birchwood’s behavior as well as those who have been acting the same way, are the result of a terrible curse brought down by an ancient god.  They want her to explain her story to the Admiral and the priest, so they get taken in.

There were some rough patches, and I feel like there were some issues resulting from a mutual miscommunication of the nature of the first scene of the game, but honestly things are shaping up to be interesting and I have high expectations for next time.