Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bujilli: Episode 5

Last we saw Bujilli, he was discussing a possible game of chess with the Miasmagaster he had just encountered. Thinking quickly, Bujilli tried to talk to the bizarre creature before attacking it out of hand. He got its attention on his second try, using Etrurian to address the thing and to declare that he meant no offense nor trespass.

It had been a long, long time since the Miasmagaster had last heard anyone speak Etrurian. Not since he had helped that giant escape.

It stopped in its tracks. It examined the little almas adventurer with a level of scrutiny that bordered on the malevolent, but it relented in its pestilential attack and they spoke. The miasmagaster was lonely. It had been trapped down in the old section of the ruins beneath Zormur's Palace. It challenged Bujilli to a game of chess. The stakes were simple. He would play for his life.

An Unfriendly Game of Chance
Tulwar in hand and gloomlight gleaming upon the billowing clouds of fetid vapors spewed forth by the miasmagaster, Bujilli followed the bizarre creature back through the open passage-way to its lair. He wasn't thrilled with following the thing, but there weren't a lot of other choices. At least not yet. The vapors surrounding the miasmagaster were noxious, sickening and highly toxic--they swirled and swarmed at the creature's command. If he didn't play along with the lonely old monster it would simply fill his lungs with poison or disease, possibly bursting him like a balloon. The thought of his lungs puffing up until they exploded in a pestilentially terminal mess prodded Bujilli onwards. If he could get close enough to the creature, or maybe find some way to distract it, maybe he could kill it or escape from it.

But then it occurred to him; the miasmagaster was very, very old. It knew this place. What if he could earn its trust, make friends with it? It would be a powerful ally.

Bujilli followed the miasmagaster back along a corridor, past a pair of niches filled with old bones and dried garbage on either side. One of the niches, the second on the left, had a stack of small animal skulls lined-up along its ledge. The other one on the left had a small pile of human or humanoid skulls placed right at the edge, all of them staring outwards through empty eye sockets.

They came to a passage to the left that opened into a small room. The miasmagaster pointed into the room. Bujilli looked inside. It was dimly lit by some small rocks that were twisted-up into an elaborate hanging made up of small bones and dried sinews.

"Sit here," the miasmagaster pointed to a block of fallen masonry that formed a rough seat. The miasmagaster shambled farther back into the dim regions beyond the little corridor to another room and started to rummage around for its chess set.

Bujilli set his tulwar along his leg, within easy reach should he need it. He took a deep breath. He had no spells that he knew would be effective against the miasmagaster...but then he didn't know his spells as well as he'd like--most of them he had stolen from his uncle or had collected from other spell-casters in trade, and he only knew the rudiments of what they actually did or could be made to do. That was something that Bujilli vowed to himself to accomplish as soon as possible--to gain a much better grasp of what all his spells could do and what he could do with them. Most sorcerers were self-taught. They learned via trial and error. A poor half-almas like himself was unlikely to ever gain a mentor let alone a patron, though there were ways to accomplish that...if he dared.

The miasmagaster returned, wheezing and whuffing and puttering about with its prized possession, a classic Yilanian chess set cut in the traditional style. Humming some obscure tune that reminded Bujilli more of an upset stomach than a song, the miasmagaster arranged the laminated boards into position and set-up the pieces in precise order. Then it sat back on its haunches and offered Bujilli his choice of color.

Bujilli chose bone and amber. The onyx and bloodstone pieces looked poisonous to him.

That meant that he moved first.

Bujilli considered the board. It was a hexagon and each of the players sat at a flat-sided edge opposite one another with the hexagon's points flaring out to either side. He had three ranks of carved figures before him and as he examined them he realized that this was nothing like the game he knew as chess.

This could be bad.

Very bad.

Then Bujilli had an idea.

He hoped it was a clever idea.

His life was on the line, after all.

"I apologize, but this configuration is new to me--I do not recognize it; would you perhaps be willing to instruct me in how one is to play this version of chess?"

The miasmagaster rose only a slight bit before it settled back down on its haunches. It burbled and sputtered softly then quickly came to a decision.

"Yes. I will teach you how to play. When you are ready, we will play our match to determine your fate. I am in no hurry to kill you and it has been a long time since I had anyone to talk to, let alone play against."

"I am happy to make your acquaintance friend miasmagaster--"

"But that cannot be so. I might yet be the death of you!"

"I am half-almas. I do not fear death. I know what awaits my soul on the otherside and am unafraid."

"Everyone fears death..." sputtered the miasmagaster.

"No. I do not. Fear is born from ignorance, not from knowledge." Bujilli sat back and observed the creature across the hexagonal chess board from him. The miasmagaster was shaking, either in anger or possibly for some other reason. Could the thing be afraid of something? Afraid of dying, perhaps?

"I know not of almas or your kind. You are a strange one, coming into my den like you did, agreeing to play a game for your life with such a one as me. You are either very brave or very stupid."

"I came because there was no point in letting you just kill me out of hand. Besides, I stand to learn something new that I would probably never have a chance to learn otherwise. I value knowledge. It is the one form of power that nevers fails or betrays."

"Bah! Now you prattle philosophy. Let us play."

The miasmagaster proceeded to explain the nature of the pieces, their capabilities and various attributes and how one was expected to devise strategies based on their various ways of moving, attacking and so forth. It took hours as Bujilli was an apt pupil and continually asked questions, requested demonstrations, and showed great natural talent for discerning the classic strategies of the game's established masters. The miasmagaster found itself absorbed with its teaching, lecturing and instruction.

Finally the miasmagaster felt itself succumbing to weariness. It lacked the stamina of an almas who feared for its life. Bujilli remained alert and awake. He continued to pester the miasmagaster for details, explanations, and knew that his ruse was working when the miasmagaster finally raised its foreclaws and stood up from the chess board.

"I am tired. You have learned quickly and show a remarkable gift for this game. I shall forego killing you for now. You may rest in this room while I go sleep in another. If you remain here, you will be safe and we can continue tomorrow. If you leave, then I shall kill you on sight next time our paths cross, which would be a shame, as you show great promise. You could very well become a chess master if you applied yourself. But the choice is yours to make. I bid you good rest."

The miasmagaster shambled out of the room leaving Bujilli with the chess set...

Here's the map so far:
Bujilli is in the room on the top-left of the hallway with the niches along its sides running towards the top of the map from the room with the collapsed floor just behind the secret door...

Should Bujilli stay and face the miasmagaster in the morning for their game to determine Bujilli's life or death?

Would it be wiser to flee from this place?
Where should Bujilli run to if he does try to escape?

What would you do in Bujilli's place?

You Decide.

Previous                                                    Next

Series Indexes
One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six

About Bujilli (What is This?) | Who is Bujilli? | How to Play

Bujilli's Spells | Little Brown Journals | Loot Tally | House Rules

Episode Guides
Series One (Episodes 1-19)
Series Two (Episode 20-36)
Series Three (Episodes 37-49)
Series Four (Episodes 50-68)
Series Five (Episodes 69-99)
Series Six(Episodes 100-ongoing)

Labyrinth Lord   |   Advanced Edition Companion


  1. Playing might be the safer option, given we don't know how much deeper into the complex Bujili could get before the miasmagaster caught up, and of course Bujili would still likely defend himself if he lost.

    He might even be able to persuade the miasmagaster to agree to a series of matches over time, to keep the relationship going and stave off the miasmagaster's loneliness.

    Bujili could also get some practice now even before sleeping, maybe some in the morning. He could even try something tricky, like hiding a piece so the game can't be played, and suggest they go off together to look for it.

    Then again, what if the miasmagaster emits nocturnally? That could be a danger.

  2. Previously C'Nor rolled an '11' for the chess-discussion in Episode 4, so the miasmagaster is somewhat favorably disposed to Bujilli. For now. The lonely old thing has taken an interest in Bujilli, and it is going out of its way to teach the little almas everything it can about what it calls 'chess.'

    If someone were to roll another D20 or roll a perception check, or possibly make use of a spell from (Bujilli's Character sheet), and offer up the result(s) here in the comments, we could determine whether or not Bujilli noticed anything potentially useful/interesting about the miasmagaster, it's behavior, or actions.

  3. 17

    Also, I vote to stay, but say that we use Listen to the Walls to see what he's like.

  4. I'm back first so I say save the spells - naive? - and let's roll. A red gem D20 just came up 19. That's likely rather good news or rather bad...

  5. @C'nor & Porky: Double Plus Good!

    Bujilli decides to stay. He practises a few moves that he has come up with, but didn't want the miasmagaster to see him do--they're potentially a surprise. He has been doing all he can to learn and push the limits of the miasmagaster's tutelage without revealing just how well he has learned. The strain has been very difficult for Bujilli, very demanding. It is precisely because of his own effort that Bujilli has noticed that the miasmagaster has not been completely focused on the game, nor on Bujilli's progress as a player. It has been almost obsessed with its effort to train Bujilli, but it is also distracted somewhat.

    There is something wrong with the miasmagaster. Bujilli can sense it, feel it, but has no idea just what could be wrong.

    Eventually he falls asleep. It is a fitful rest and he wakes up in the dark, sweating and shaking and nauseous.

    Bujilli casts Listen To Walls and can hear the miasmagaster gurgling, vomiting and making other grotesque sounds as it is wracked with intense pains. It is horrible to witness, even at a distance and via a spell.

    Bujilli realizes that the creature is dying.

    It is dying and spawning at the same time.

    It tricked Bujilli into staying so that he might feed its ravenous young.

    There isn't much time.

    What Will You Do?

  6. C'nor snuck in there very stealthily..! Those are the skills we need now too.

    If the miasmagaster is far off, I say pack up and go, maybe with the chess board for desperate bargaining or fun and games later. If the miasmagaster is blocking the way, there's more trouble.

    Maybe then Bujilli could hide in one of the alcoves and wait till the miasmagaster passes to make off, ideally the topmost alcove on the map so as to be out of sight as the miasmagaster enters the room Bujilli is in.

    Throwing a piece of the remains from one of the alcoves deep into that room, or in the wrong direction generally, could also provide a distraction if necessary.

  7. @Porky: From the Listen To Walls spell, Bujilli knows that the miasmagaster is just around the bend towards the right of the alcove-hallway. He can also tell clearly and unmistakably that the old miasmagaster is dying and that there are several--certainly more than four--younglings mewling, burping and hissing as they claw and squiggle their way out of their parent's corpse.

    It is unclear how soon the spawnlings will be ready to move away from their parent's corpse.

    It is also unclear how dangerous they will be, but they are certainly going to be ravenously hungry--the walls resonate with their implacable, voracious appetites. They are already devouring their parent's body...and some of their own siblings. The sound is truly disgusting.

    Bujilli has a number of choices before him.

    A quick and cursory examination of the alcoves/niches in the hallways reveals a shiny object towards the back of the one nearest the birthing-mess. The one directly down from that has room enough for Bujilli, but it is a one-way niche, and slopes down to the fron so it affords little to no real cover. the skulls and bones in each alcove are so old and brittle that they crumble to powder and shards when touched.

    Staying clearly means being outnumbered by hungry little miasmagasters.

    None of the alcoves really offers much more than a dead-end in which to die and be devoured.

    The chess set takes surprisingly little time to collect and repack, as Bujilli watched the miasmagaster set it up with great attention to detail--his life being in the balance and all gave him great personal motivation to pay attention. He can collect the chess set easily, and store it in his pack--it just fits.

    But what then?

    Should he examine the shiny object in the farther alcove?

    Or should he beat a hasty retreat before the spawnlings come wriggling after fresh meat?

    Or might the clever almas rig some sort of trap and capture a potentially vulnerable new-spawned miasmagaster? But how? And why?

    Perhaps Bujilli has a spell that might help him to set-up a trap or an obstacle that will help delay the spawnlings long enough for him to get away...

    But should he proceed farther down this hallway, or go back?

    What Will bujilli Do?

    You Decide...

  8. Bujilli should check out the shiny. It might be helpful, or just cool. :)

    As far as which direction to go, if he feels there's time he could consult the gem. If not, he should go back to the large chamber and head down the corridor to the left on the map above.

  9. Well, we could use Dimlight centered on the doorway. That should be where the fire-equivalent is, right?

    Oneiric Bubble, should be usable to trap the young ones, from my reading. (By the way, is it reversible, specifically, could one use it to expose those within to the Cacophony?)

    In any case, Bujilli should be able to rig up a slipknot, and then arrange for them to stick their head in it. I'm thinking something like this:

    Rope with a slipknot on the ground. Food in it. They stick their head in to get it, Bujilli pulls the rope, and the slipknot catches. Now we have a leashed Miasmagister.

  10. @EntirelyTooPerky: Roll a d20 and let me know the result.

    @C'nor: Dimlight is a good choice. That should work fine. Oneiric Bubble is definitely reversible, and would work extremely well as you suggest in Zalchis, but Bujilli is trying to get to Zalchis. Since there are no notes on-hand regarding the Background Oneiric Activity of this world--roll a d20 and a separate d% and let me know your numbers. The Oneiric bubble will prove useful, even effective in this situation...I'm just curious how well the spell will tap into whatever is present and whether that's enough to create a resonant effect between here and Zalchis...Oneiric Bleed-Over might make things interesting...

    The slip-knot is no problem, so your plan to get a leash over the head of a miasmagaster-spawnling should work. Bujilli can sacrifice some of his rations--there's honey in a small pot that ought to do the trick for bait.

    Things are about to get really interesting...

    Have you given any thought to what you'd like to do with the spawnling once you've caught one?

  11. If the leashed spawnling could be kept at a distance, maybe using the pole Bujilli made earlier, it could be used to fill the corridors and passages ahead with fumes and force out or push back anyone or anything lying in wait.

  12. A virtual D20 this time, through the widget, came up 12...

  13. I used the handy Wolfram Alpha RPG Die Roller widget in the side-bar and rolled a 20. :)


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