Blood for Heaven

Step out of the darkness and seek justice: face the light of Shamash! He who presides over light and darkness, truth and wickedness! You can hear the drums, the horns and the bells calling you to the final judgment. Meet the sunrise with high heads!

At the festival of the summer solstice, warriors and beasts are sent to fight and die in front of the Ziggurat of the Zenith Sun. As the blood mix with the chalk on the ground the veiled Barû-priests leave their temple to foretell events of the coming year in the patterns formed and in the entrails of the slain. Only by this sacred ritual can the enduring prosperity of Sippar be ensured.

The PCs will be forced to take part in three ritual trials of blood. Each trial is designed to foretell things to come: it isn’t the participants that are on trial, but the enterprises and proposals that they champion with their lives. After each trial is settled, the Barû-priests make haruspices from the fallen contenders to learn the reason their cause wasn’t favored by the gods and what could be done to cheat their verdict.

Outline

Blood for Heaven is a brief scenario designed to familiarize new players with the combat system of Blood & Bronze. As the referee, you should start the scenario by describing how the adventurers step out into the searing light of the courtyard. Roll on the tables below to determine who they will be fighting, what their objective is and what special rules apply to the fight. Ask the players about their characters: how they look, what their names are and what weapons and equipment they carry. Consult the Character Compendium or page 18 in the Rules Booklet for more details on creating characters.

If you want the adventurers to face more than one trial, let each player roll on the chance event table to determine what happens to their characters between trials.

Finally, there is also a table containing brief description of twenty NPCs to help you flesh out non-combat encounters in and around the Courtyard of the Zenith Sun.

The Courtyard of the Zenith Sun

Map by Doug Anderson – click to enlarge

BronzeAgeCityFinalGreyscale
Courtyard of the Zenith Sun – by Doug Anderson

Adversaries

1d20 The adversaries
1 Slaves. Fighting for the slim chance of being rewarded freedom.

Slaves (6): pwr 1 (+Vigor -Guile), save 4, end 6. Clad in rags and armed with cudgels (dmg 1d6; no crit).

Humusi, their leader: pwr 2, save 12, end 8. Her body is covered in whip-scars and burns. Fighting with a bone awl (dmg 1d4; backstab +1d8).

2 Commoners. Forced to fight by an unfortunate casting of lots.

Commoners (4): pwr 2, save 6, end 10. Clad in flax skirts and fighting with two javelins each (dmg 1d6; thrown).

Arwia, their instigator: pwr 2, save 4, end 14. Equipped with an oval shield (def 2) and a duck-billed axe (dmg 1d6; versatile 1d8)

3 Soldiers. Deserters from the last campaign, atoning their cowardice in the arena.

Soldiers (5): pwr 2, save 5, end 12. Clad in light leather harnesses (armor 2) and fighting with short spears (dmg 1d6; thrown).

Ulambuya, their captain: pwr 2, save 8, end 14. Wearing a gleaming helmet (armor 3) and fighting with a mace (dmg 1d8).

4 Bandits. Without any hope of pardon.

Bandits (4): pwr 3, save 6, end 12. Clad in rawhide breast-bands and loincloths and fighting with two long knives each (dmg 1d6; roll twice and choose best outcome)

Jhemeka, the bandit queen: pwr 4, save 7, end 16. Wearing a fringed flax robe and fighting with a great club (dmg d10; 2-handed).

5 Cultists. Found guilty of treason for plotting against Shamash.

Fanatics (5): pwr 2, save 6, end 8. Wielding hooked swords (dmg 1d6; guard breaking).

Aos, the idolater: pwr 3, save 7, end 10. Wearing a moon-mask (def 2; wt 2) and armed with a curved meteorite dagger (dmg 1d6; iron). Carries 3 doses lotus powder, and knows a single lotus spell that he casts like a Rank 6 Mystic.

6 Elamite warriors. Loved by the crowd for their beauty and skills, hated and feared for their allegiance.

Elamite warriors (6): pwr 3, save 9, end 18. Fighting with strange bone spears (dmg 2d4; first strike; wt 5).

Mushezi of Elam: pwr 5, save 12, end 24. Wearing bright Elamite trousers and a tunic, armed with a great club (dmg 1d10; bludgeon 1d8; wt 4).

7 Savages. Prisoners of war from the Zagros mountains.

Savages (7): pwr 2, save 9, end 12. Armed with stone clubs (dmg d10; bludgeon 1d10). Susceptible to magic: must roll twice when targeted by spells, sorceries, potions or similar and choose least favorable outcome.

Eshal-Katan, the jackal-born: pwr 4, save 12, end 22. Clad in bones and tresses of hair from dead enemies (def 4). Fighting with a bone axe (dmg d10; guard breaking; wt 8).

8 Cannibals. Degenerates, seeking to cure their miserable condition by eating human flesh and practicing dark magic.

Cannibals (5): pwr 3, save 6, end 8. Disfigured and hideous, armed with spears (dmg 1d8).

Rawann, the leprous: pwr 4, save 10, end 10. Covering her bloated head with a shawl and fighting with a mace (dmg 1d8) and a great bow (dmg 1d10; reach 4; wt 4).

9 Amazons. Fierce warrior-women from beyond the great desert.

Anun-Gula and her four man-slayers: pwr 4, save 10, end 26. Clad in beast hides and fighting with bows (dmg 1d6; reach 2) and broad axes (dmg 1d6).

10 Half-ogre. Living its life imprisoned under one of the temples, an undefeated champion for four years.

Orban, the half-Ogre: pwr 3, save 6, end 55. Wearing nothing but a bear-head and fighting with a giant obsidian adze (dmg 1d12; bludgeon 1d12; wt 10).

11 Veterans. Aging twin soldiers and their closest men, put here unjustly by court intrigues and politics.

Hydardes: pwr 3, save 8, end 20. Wearing ornate brocades and fighting with a crescent axe (dmg d10; guard breaking; wt 3).

Hydea: pwr 3, save 6, end 20. Carrying a large wicker shield (def 3), four short javelins (dmg 1d6; thrown) and a leaf-shaped Akkadian sword (dmg 1d8). Formation.

Veterans (4): pwr 3, save 5, end 12. Wielding large wicker shields (def 3) and spears (dmg 1d8). Formation.

Formation. When the veterans lock shields, they add their closest comrades’ defense rating to their own.

12 Hettite Horsemen. Condemned to death and sent here as tribute to wash away their sins with blood.

Hettite horsemen (4): pwr 3, save 7, end 16. Wearing leather armor (armor 4) and fighting with tall bows (dmg 1d8; missile: reach 2; 6 arrows each) and thin blades (dmg 1d6; piercing +2). Riding nimble horses (fast – see below).

Hurian the condemned, their leader: pwr 4, save 12, end 24. Wearing heavy bronze scale (armor 8) and fighting with a two-handed axe (dmg 1d10; wt 5). Riding a strong horse (fast; momentum – see below).

Fast. When mounted, a horseman moves two zones each round

Momentum. For each previous round of movement, Hurian adds 1d4 damage die to melee attacks. If Hurian is unable to move two zones in one round, or if doing so forces him to enter the same zone twice, all momentum is lost.

13 Kassite raiders. Brought here as prisoners of war, they fight with fierce hatred of the Sippar and its god.

Kassite raiders (4): pwr 3, save 5, end 18. Wearing hides (armor 2) and fighting with short spears (dmg 1d6; thrown; carries 5 each). Riding nimble horses (fast; momentum – see below).

Balshara, their leader: pwr 4, save 10, end 30. Wearing armor made from animal bones (armor 6) and fighting with a two-handed mace (dmg 1d10; bludgeon 1d12; wt 8). Riding a strong horse (fast; momentum – see below).

Fast. When mounted, a raider moves two zones each round.

Momentum. For each previous round of movement, a raider adds 1d4 damage die to attacks in melee and by thrown weapons. If the raider is unable to move two zones in one round, or if doing so forces her to enter the same zone twice, all momentum is lost.

14 Great Ape. Caught in nets of hemp, sedated by lotus and brought to the arena by Sippar’s famed beast-catchers.

Great Apes (1d6): pwr 3, save 3, end 25. Fighting with enormous fists or sticks and rocks (dmg 1d8; bludgeon 1d6).

15 Rhinoceros. Trapped in almond-wood cages and rolled to Sippar on logs like stones to a temple.

Rhinoceros (1d3): pwr 4, save 8, end 40. Thick skin (def 4). Horn and trample (dmg 1d6; double dmg if charging).

16 Great Lizard. Bred on the flesh of miscreants in the royal hatchery.

Great Lizard(1d6+2): pwr 2, save 5, end 15. Thick hide (def 5) and strong bite (dmg 1d10). Immune to all sorcery.

17 Fighting dogs. Short-furred and small, these dogs are bred for aggression.

Pack dogs (3d6): pwr 1 (+Vigor +Senses), save 4, end 6. Bite (dmg 1d6). The dogs will start by attacking the weakest opponent first. Only when this target is killed or when needed to defend itself will a dog change target.

18 Elamite hounds. Long-haired hounds, taller than a man when rearing.

Hounds (2d6): pwr 2 (+Vigor + Senses), save 4, end 8. Bite (dmg 1d8).

19 Hyenas. Cruel beasts with the power to crush a skull in their jaws, bred for war by Amorite nomads.

Hyena (2d4): pwr 2, save 5, end 12. Powerful bite (dmg 1d10).

20 Great lions of Sippar. Kept in the lush temple gardens and hunted for sport by princes and their well-armed retinues.

Lions (2d4): pwr 3/2, save 8, end 20. Claws and bite (dmg 1d8; dice explode on both 7 and 8).

 

Objective of the trial

1d10 Objective
1-2 First blood. Anyone reduced to half end or lower is out.
3-4 Surrender. Fighting continues until all fighters on one side are either killed, out of action or have surrendered.
5-7 Death and Defeat. Anyone reduced to 0 endurance is out. Surrendering is not accepted.
8 Captain. One character on each side is elected the captain: when she is killed or brought out of action her side loses.
9 Control. A target location is decided (1: statue, 2: ziggurat top, 3: bull gate, 4: small bridge, 5: sacred tree by ziggurat, 6: tunnel under aqueduct). The first side to control this location for three consecutive rounds (no-one from other side in zone at rounds’ end) is declared the winner.
10 Race. The first side to complete a full lap around the courtyard is declared the winner.

 

Special circumstances and rules

1d12 Special
1 No special rules.
2 One item. Each fighter is only allowed to bring one piece of equipment to the trial. Choose wisely.
3 Two items. Each fighter is only allowed to bring two pieces of equipment to the trial.
4 Slave collars. All fighters are equipped with slave collars, causing 1 point of damage per turn in sunlight and 2d8 if broken or removed.
5 Naked. All characters must enter the courtyard naked and unarmed. All their equipment is gathered in a pile at equal distance from all parties.
6 Multiple sides. More than two groups are fighting simultaneously. Make 1d3 additional rolls on the adversary table.
7 Gauntlet. The crowd hurls rocks at the combatants. Each round until a winner has been declared, all characters must make a Senses-save or suffer 1d4 damage.
8 Lions. Each round, 1d4-1 hungry and wounded lions are released into the arena, attacking the nearest character.
9 Sunset. The sun hangs low: mark shadows on the map. When not in shade, all characters looking west suffers a negative reroll on all actions requiring sight and precision.
10 Sunrise. The sun has just risen above the rooftops: mark shadows on the map. When not in shade, all characters looking west suffers a negative reroll on all actions requiring sight and precision.
11 Torrential rains. All surfaces become slippery: failed Vigor tests indicate falls or lost footing. On flat surface this is but a nuisance; on sloping surfaces it results in the character skidding one zone.
12 Strange constellations. All successful attacks do an additional damage die.

 

The Portico of the Fated

The Portico of the Fated is a wide covered walkway, bordering the courtyard of the Zenith Sun. Normally a waiting hall for plaintiffs and defendants, it is transformed into a resting place for the champions of the trials during the festival of the summer solstice. The portico is guarded at all times to keep the champions from fleeing but even more to keep kids from harassing them or kinfolk of the slain from murdering them.

Things to do in the Portico

When the PCs arrive in the Portico of the Fated after their first trial, they should get the opportunity to train and recover. In addition, each player should roll once on the chance events table (1d20) to determine what happens during the downtime. Of course, you are free to expand and elaborate on the scene if you want.

Train: wise from the first battle, the PCs may choose to hone their skills. All PCs choosing to train may replace their chosen class skill/ability with another from their class. This is a one-time offer only, devised to save new players grief over having chosen unwisely.

Recover: All PCs automatically recover to full endurance during their stay in the portico, unless a chance event dictates otherwise.

Chance events

1) Romantic entanglement. Your adventurer befriends a young (wo)man of good pedigree, but the affair is soon discovered and the angered family demands recompense. Your adventurer must choose: a costly marriage or a clan of influential enemies.

2) Bath. Thanks to an unknown sponsor, your adventurer is allowed to spend a day in Sippar’s luxurious bath-house. Your total endurance is temporarily increased by +1d4. Once this extra point of endurance is lost, it doesn’t recover.

3-4) Gambling. You while the time away gambling on the outcomes of the other trials. Roll 1D6: on a 1-3 you lose, and must forfeit one piece of equipment at random; on a 4-6 you win 2d6 x 10 shekels’ worth of silver.

5) Disease. The crowding masses, the searing sun and the ill-tended wounds causes several of the champions to suffer from fever and nausea. Your adventurer begins the next trial already lacking 1d6 endurance. However, for each human opponent in the trial there is a 50% chance that they are similarly affected.

6-7) Punished. Embittered by your attitude, the guards decide to set an example. The next trial, they withhold your right to arms. You may only choose one item to bring into the courtyard; the second they choose for you as a loaf of bread.

8) Brawl. Check Might: on a miss you start next trial bloodied (at half endurance); on a hit one of your adversaries does. If the trial is to first blood, even a single point of damage will have you (or the opponent) removed from combat.

9) Talisman. A disfigured monk awards you with a small protective talisman in return for accepting his curse as your own. If you accept, there is a 50% chance that his strange sickness will be passed to you, gradually deforming your face and features. The talisman increases its bearer’s defense rating by +2. In addition, it can be forfeit in exchange for rerolling any one armor roll.

10) Beaten and robbed. You are overwhelmed and can do nothing to prevent it. Lose a tooth and an item at random. Check senses: on a hit you identified the assailants; on a miss you only glimpsed their weapons.

11) Enamored. You fall madly in love with one of the wo/men that visits the portico. There is 50% chance that your beloved is married, and an equal chance that you are under a spell.

12) Hangover. During your next trial (or first day of adventuring), you always act last during the first round of combat. After that, the adrenaline keeps you focused until you disengage or switch targets, in which case you once again act last for the first round of combat.

13) Insulted temple official. Check guile: on a miss the enmity is irreparable; on a hit you can make amends if you donate half your wealth (including every other item carried).

14) Summoned. You are summoned to a noble’s court for a night of masked orgies. If you accept, you gain a moderately influential contact, otherwise an enemy.

15) Benefactors. Check guile: on a hit they will aid you by smuggling an item of your choice into the arena, where you can retrieve it during the next trial; on a miss they still do it, but there’s half chance that your adversaries reach it before you do.

16) Poison. You receive a small vial of poison from an unknown benefactor. If you apply it to your weapon, all hits inflict 1 point of ongoing poison damage (recovers on a 5+) but you must make sure that no-one knows, for it would be considered a terrible sin and punished in accordance.

17) Sages. Every day, sages come to chronicle the deeds and temper of each champion, creating records to accompany the clay models of their livers for the Archive of Champions. Check Lore: on a hit you learn the others weaknesses –reroll any damage dice showing 1 or 2 during the next trial; on a miss your knowledge is superficial and you may only do it once.

18) The Barû-priests. You spy on Byblos the portico-steward, as he meets with the Barû-priests to discuss the upcoming trials. Check Senses: on a hit you learn what determines the matching of champions –roll twice to determine opponents and choose the best result; on a miss you are spotted and misled – roll twice but choose the worst.

19) Favored by the crowd. The champions are constantly on display, allowing the public to garner sympathy for the brave, the beautiful or wondrous and disdain for the meek. Check Might: on a hit the crowd loves you – their cries of warning and cheers grants you a reroll during the next trial; on a miss they are divided – you gain a reroll but so does the opponents.

20) Roll twice.

Faces in the Crowd

d20 Name Appearance Occupation
1 Tatar A deeply religious man with small head and brightly colored clothes Selling fried scorpions from a small cart
2 Shimini An androgynous youth with shaven head and a beautiful voice Picking pockets in the crowd
3 Uhabara A small but muscular man with a happy face Looking for an army to join
4 Sinjana A portly woman with spring in her steps Dances in the palace of the Akkadian Emissary
5 Abu Bakar A young farmer with stained clothes and beer on his breath Selling mangoes and almonds
6 Havil An elderly woman, carrying grandchildren on her back Paving roads in the northern city
7 Deesha A young woman dressed in the fine but slightly oversized clothes of a bureaucrat Studying to become notary in the slave market
8 Chokhaya A short woman wearing a tall turban with a golden peg on top Selling salves and pharmaceutical ointments
9 Bilbar An old man, dressed entirely in blue except for an orange turban that suits him poorly Tutoring noble youth in astronomy
10 Baram A well-dressed and finely perfumed man with ill-kept beard Selling shoes and textiles
11 Giwan

Chebeh

A pale and slightly awkward woman, seemingly unaccustomed to crowds A princess in disguise
12 Gandar A leg-less boy, pulling himself forwards on a piece of wood Betting on the outcomes of the Trials
13 Khamur A man with exceptionally long beard, dressed in fine silk garments Working as a granary-keeper
14 Pittus A young man with extravagant clothes and a colorful bird on his shoulder Part of a small ensemble of traveling actors, performing religious plays
15 Belathi An angry old woman who is feeling her way with a stick Registering new grievances every day at the arcade of complaints
16 Jafaro A nervous boy who seem to be waiting for someone Playing a reed flute while banging a small drum with his foot
17 Jangar Belu A bored man with bad posture, accompanied by a guard Enforcing laws for the temple
18 Eskharia A tired man who keeps getting in the way of others Herding goats
19 Assani A handsome woman wearing battered armor Guarding the Emissary’s palace
20 Kharusu A woman with foreign clothes but no accent when she speaks An assassin, waiting for his target to pass by

 

Advertisements

One thought on “Blood for Heaven

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s