Sunday, 23 August 2015

12 Tales Your Traveller Might Like To Tell Around the Campfire

A Turanian man in traditional dress.
He knows a thousand stories. One or two of them might even be true.

Ynas pointed out that I'd done these tables for Fighters, Scholars, and Tricksters, but not for Travellers. This is because I started writing a list of twenty traveller's tales, of the 'You'll never believe what we saw when we were out in the deepwoods one summer' variety, but I found them much harder to come up with than the other three lists: I ended up stalling at thirteen. So now I'm just gonna cut it down to a 1d12 table and be done with it.

(Observant readers may note a couple of implied storylines spread across the four tables...)

Traveller Additional Starting Possessions Table (Roll 1d6)

Mountaineer's gear: Layers and layers of heavy clothing (treat as heavy leathers, +3 AC), climbing pick (1d6 damage), musket (1d10 damage, 3 rounds to reload - may replace with longbow if proficient), 50' rope with grappling hook, climbing spikes with hammer, sure-footed pack mule, 1d6x10 sp.
Huntsman's gear: Heavy leathers (+3 AC), hatchet (1d6 damage), musket (1d10 damage, 3 rounds to reload - may replace with longbow if proficient), 30' rope, animal snares and skinning knives, bag of dried healing herbs, large and faithful dog, 3d6x10 sp.
Horseman's gear: Weatherproof buff jacket (+2 AC), two pistols (1d8 damage, 3 rounds to reload), sword (only if proficient), sturdy riding horse (in addition to the regular horse everyone starts with), saddle and bridle, 1d6x10 sp.
Caver's gear: Light leather coat (+1 AC), light crossbow (1d6 damage, 1 round to reload - may replace with shortbow if proficient), climbing pick (1d6 damage), 50' rope with grappling hook, climbing spikes with hammer, set of chimes used by the Deep Folk to signal one another underground, spare lantern, 2d6x10 sp.
Boatman's gear: Buff jacket (+2 AC), hatchet (1d6 damage - may replace with sword if proficient), musket (1d10 damage, 3 rounds to reload), compass, spyglass, 3d6x10 sp.
Airshipman's gear: Windproof buff jacket (+2 AC), crossbow (1d8 damage, 2 rounds to reload- may replace with longbow if proficient), mechanical repair kit, flask of lighter-than-air gas (wrapped in lead weights to stop it from floating away), homemade 'rosary' made from hundreds of lucky charms,  2d6x10 sp.

Traveller's Tales Your Traveller Likes To Tell Around the Campfire (roll 1d12)

1.    There’s gold in them there hills! You've seen it with your own eyes, ore glittering out of the broken rocks! Shame about the bandit clans. And the predatory local wildlife. And the haunted ruins full of hungry ghosts. Still, though: gold…
2.    This one time, you met a mad old hermit out in the woods. He kept howling and gibbering like some kind of animal; but from time to time, you could swear you saw him looking slyly at you out of the corner of his eye, like this was all an act. His cabin was built over some kind of old ruin, too. You wonder what was really going on out there…
3.    When you were young, you were caught in a terrible shipwreck; you would have died if you hadn’t been rescued by a girl with skin the colour of river-water, who dragged you out of the river and onto the shore. Sometimes you even wonder if you didn’t hallucinate the whole thing. But every night you see her in your dreams; and some day, somehow, you will find a way to repay her.
4.    One night, you were out in the taiga, well and truly lost. You came across this rocky outcropping and saw that someone had driven a huge iron ring into it, and attached to that ring were an enormous pair of shackles, like someone had tried to manacle a giant. There was some kind of weird old writing on the shackles, too, but you couldn’t make much of it out because both of them had been bitten right through. You’ve never been able to find the place since; but sometimes you hear a sound like something huge crashing through the woods, and you wonder just what it was that was chained up out there…
5.    You know the story about there being some kind of magical golden city hidden up in the mountains, right? Everyone thinks it’s just a legend; but this one time, you were tracking a mountain lion and the trail just kept going higher and higher until you’d left all the paths you knew far, far below. That’s when you saw it: a shining city, glittering up on some distant ridge, glimpsed through a gap in the clouds. You tried to reach it, but the blizzards came and forced you back downwards. One day…
6.    You worked with this old guy, once, out on the sheep trails. When he got drunk, he’d start telling tall tales about his youth; but the one story he kept coming back to was how he and his brother had found the wreckage of a giant clockwork dragon deep in a cave, once, and made friends with the strange, tiny, silver-metal creatures who worshipped its corpse and tried to repair it, until one day they accidentally broke one of its cogwheels and were banished from the caverns forever. You tried to joke about it with him once, when he was sober, but he just looked you straight in the eye and said: ‘Laugh if you want. But the rate they were going, I reckon them little silver fellers will have him all fixed up any year now...’
7.    Every hunter knows the story of the Red-Gold Stags; according to legend they were bred in ages past by a magician addicted to the pleasures of the hunt, swifter and more stealthy than any other deer, with antlers of enchanted red gold. Most people claim they were all caught years ago; but you'd swear that you saw one, this one time, deep in the western forests, its antlers flashing in the morning sun. They'd be worth a fortune as a trophy - but just think what you could get for a live one...
8.    You used to go fishing in this lake out in the woods, small but very, very deep. The fish that lived there were unlike any others you've ever seen; swift, darting creatures with spectacular rainbow-coloured fins and scales, which tasted delicious when smoked. From time to time, though, you'd cut one open and find strange things in their bellies: illegible octagonal electrum coins, or tiny fragments of what must once have been silver figurines. The fish lived their whole lives without leaving that lake; and that means that there must be something down there, at the bottom...
9.    This one time, you were tracking a man through the hills. The trail led up to a remote hilltop, and then it just stopped: it was as though he'd sunk into the ground, or been carried off into the air. The only clues as to what had happened to him were some furrows in the ground, like the marks of some enormous talons, and a sheaf of torn-out pages from a book, describing in enormous detail how to construct some kind of mechanical heart...
10.  One year, you travelled with a caravan, and you found yourself getting very close to one of the traders. You became friends, and then you became lovers, and you made all kinds of foolish promises to each other; but at the end of the season they told you that this was their last expedition, and they were going to return to their homeland and settle down. Back then, you felt as though you couldn't leave the travelling life, not for them, not for anybody. But as the years pass, you find yourself thinking of them more and more...
11.  One summer, years ago, you and a friend were prospecting up in the mountains when you hit it big: a narrow vein of gold running just under the surface of the rock! Eagerly you set up a makeshift mine, agreeing not to tell anyone else so that you wouldn't have to divide it; by the end of the autumn you'd mined out enough to set you both up for life. The next day, he whacked you on the head and set out with all the gold and both the horses. Last you heard of him, he was apparently riding off towards the Wicked City...
12.  You spent one winter snowed in at this border fort, with a half-crazy young woman who called herself Red Kate. She was the veteran of some kind of war, you gathered, although whether she'd been discharged or deserted seemed to be a touchy subject; she boasted endlessly of the men she'd killed, and claimed that as soon as the snow melted she was going to begin a new career as a travelling monster-slayer, because mere human prey no longer represented a challenge. You wonder what happened to her, in the end...

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