Shorthanded Palanquin

We returned to Palanquin by Jason Pitre this week with a small retinue bearing Princess Ulkualzi, the Ulanaki heir, to the safety of her Aunt’s palace across the kingdom after a coup kills the rest of her family. She is whisked away from the palace by Xanling the Scholar, Bearer of Society, and Periani the Hunter, Bearer of Nature. The princess is alone in the kitchen when the coup begins, but she is quickly joined by the other two, the scholar confused by all the commotion and the hunter determined to rescue the girl. Periani leads us through a trap door that takes us into the marketplace among the people, any one of whom could be a co-conspirator.

A dark-skinned woman in a cloak with an upraised hood glares off to the left in front of a fiery moon. Palanquin a roleplaying game of escape & trust is printed on the right side.
Image courtesy of Genesis of Legend Games.

The heir wants to explore the market and buy food, but Periani is concerned for how to blend in among people, having always preferred sparsely populated wild spaces. Xanling offers advice, but the hunter isn’t skilled at smiling or turning down the intensity. A large family of beggars surrounds us and starts making a lot of noise, pulling at our clothing, asking for alms. Periani fails to distract them by tossing an apple away from us, and instead a few take his bow and dart away while the others continue to surround us. To rid ourselves of them, the Princess must trade the food we just purchased for the bow, after which they let us pass. We talk of the river festival that is to happen next week, wondering how it will proceed without the royal family to preside over the ceremonies. Suddenly a man interrupts us, declaiming loudly about the adamantium oil he would sell us to enhance our strength. Before he attracts too much attention, Xanling steps forward with information about the history of adamantium oil and its general ineffectiveness, as proven by Atlas in ancient times.

At last, we slip into the Purple Jungle where Periani is master. He explains which plants are beneficial (the alohamora flowers and pennywhistle plant) and what dangers we must avoid (the fear mist is the worst) and what people we may find in the jungle (woodsmen to the north, jungle nymphs, and the aquatic mir people of the lakes and rivers). As we walk on, we begin to hear voices in our heads, voices that degrade us and make us doubt ourselves. We do not realize it is the madness brought on by the mists, but Xanling recites a riddle and its answer that allows us to block the shaming words from our minds.

When we reach the Holy River, we believe that we are safe. Periani knows the villagers who live upon the river on their stilt houses and their punting canoes. We learn about the dangerous animals on the riverbanks, and how the mir people have taken to capturing and killing humans. Periani takes us to the home of Bearded Brennan, a friend he has traded with in the past, who welcomes us with smiles and whose family gives the Princess the warm bath she longs for and clean clothes. But after dinner, Brennan locks us into the back room, talking of how he will give us to the mir people in the morning. Xanling makes an impassioned speech about the obligations of hospitality, and what terrible things await those who harm those in their care. After midnight, Brennan’s wife guiltily comes and unlocks the door and tells us to run away. We escape through the mists just before the sun rises and the shouts of alarm resound from Brennan’s village.

Now safe at the palace of the heir’s Aunt Baru, the Princess must decide what to do with us. For having solved the riddle of the mists, outfoxed the salesman, and saved us from the mir, she ennobles Xanling and appoints him to her royal council, for surely his knowledge will be needed if she is to retake her throne. To Periani, she gives her sincerest thanks for keeping us safe and sane on the road, and bestows upon him a future boon and a steed with which he can travel the open lands to his heart’s content.

Palanquin Across the Water

Tonight we played Palanquin by Jason Pitre in which we hear the tale of how five loyal courtiers escorted Princess Ulku-alzi to the safety of her aunt’s palace after her family had been killed in a coup. Besides the princess, our company includes Lan the Faithful who leads our worship of the goddesses; Ulu the Veteran whose heyday was long ago; Xanling the Scholar, an outcast from another land who has tutored the Princess; Periani the Hunter who saved the Princess’s life recently on her first royal hunt; and Illic the Shadow, a criminal who escaped out of the dungeons right into our flight.

We begin by fleeing the palace into the surrounding town, trying to find a way out through the night market. After procuring a cloak to hide the Princess, a group of soldiers from the palace begin searching the market. Illic the Shadow deftly guides the group away from the soldiers and into a dark alleyway filled with unsavory characters, so we avoid the patrols as we make our way into the smuggler’s tunnels beneath the city.

In these drainage tunnels we run into a number of problems, the least of which are the various creatures scurrying about, but little do we suspect that the creatures are fleeing the rising tide of the waters rushing into the tunnels. Ulu the Veteran tries to find a path he thinks he remembers from the war, but everywhere he turns leads deeper in rather than out. Xanling the Scholar finally finds a hidden compartment with a lever inside; he pulls the lever and a stone closes the tunnel behind us, cutting off the flow of water and the roar of the approaching flood. Next we encounter a group of the nights watch, rousting through the tunnels, but they’re no match for our Veteran, who disarms and routs them easily. But the greatest challenge is a lone palace guardsman who claims to be here to take the Princess to safety. First, Lan the Faithful tries to convince the guard he must be anointed in the waters before he can have the Princess, but the guard ignores her and grabs the Heir. The Scholar steps in to challenge the guard’s authority and position, but he appears to truly be a member of the palace guard. Losing patience and alarmed seeing the guard hurting the Heir in his grip, Periani the Hunter sends forth his falcon to attack the guard, which comes at the guard’s eyes with talons flashing, chasing him back up the entrance and away from us.

A young woman with long red hair and wearing a blue and white dress stands with one hand on her hip. Her limbs and dress have symbols on them and a sigil floats in the air in front of her. Lan the Faithful, Cleric of the Eternal Waters is written above and Palanquin 2-17-21 written below.

As we emerge from the tunnels at last, we see the holy river and a small village and remote temple across the water. We check that everyone is well and discover ticks covering the Princess’s cloak, which the Shadow brushes off before the Hunter gives her a tincture to protect her. Lan the Faithful asks the priests at the shore for a boat to cross the river, and they provide one, but rather than cross the river, we immediately head down it using magic-driven paddles. We are making good time until river pirates appear and surround the boat. Illic the Shadow tries to convince them that we’re poor travelers with nothing worth taking, but they know their quarry and persist. Lan the Faithful tosses each pirate a stone with the squiggly-lined sigil of Malsana, which immediately sends each into gastronomic distress, and we easily leave them behind as they retch and clutch their guts.

Safely ensconced in her Aunt Baru’s palace, Princess Ulku-azi judges the trustworthiness of each bearer and rewards them according to her judgment. To Ulu the Veteran, bearer of warfare who defeated the night watch in the tunnels, she grants a future favor from her royal person. Knowing that Periani the Hunter, bearer of nature who warded off the guardsman, cares not for worldly treasure, Her Highness bestows upon him a lifetime of hunting unmolested on royal grounds. She graciously gives Lan the Faithful, bearer of religion and the curser of stones, one week’s head start before being arrested, being too dangerous to walk free. Her Highness appoints Xanling the Scholar, bearer of society and learning who disguised her in the market and stopped the floodwaters, as royal counselor in the court. And for Illic the Shadow, convicted criminal who led her through the alley into the smuggler’s tunnels to escape the capital, she gifts a small chest of gold and a royal pardon for service well-rendered.

Palanquin for Two

Tonight we played Palanquin again, this time with only two bearers—the Bearers of Magic and Nature—to escort Princess Ulkualzi to her Aunt Baru’s home and safety. We begin, as always, in the kitchen with the Heir hiding from the sounds of the violent coup underway upstairs. The Hunter appears following a bear wandering through the halls and the Magister comes scrounging magical components from the kitchen supplies.

A dark-skinned woman in a cloak with an upraised hood glares off to the left in front of a fiery moon. Palanquin a roleplaying game of escape & trust is printed on the right side.
Image courtesy of Genesis of Legend Games.

As we exit the kitchen attempting to flee the palace, an animated suit of armor blocks our path, but the Hunter and his companion tear the suit apart and we escape into the surrounding town among the people. As we make our way through the market district, we find we’re being trailed by feral wildcats, but the Magister distracts with a light show that confounds the cats, allowing us to slip into the smuggler tunnels beneath the capital. As we make our way through this sewer, on the lookout for cultists and reptilian creatures, a shadow appears before us, barring our way. The Hunter attempts to make an offering of poisonous mushrooms, but the incorporeal being ignores him. The Heir, however, recognizes the shadow as the Weeping Lady, a ghost who haunts the capital, and calls upon the power of her station to command her to let them pass.

We emerge from the tunnels into the purple jungle with its alligators and places of divine power and native peoples. We create a makeshift raft to travel downriver, but a fairy known as the Tempest appears and the river becomes dangerous as a violent storm rises. The Magister asks the fairy to stop but the storm worsens as ferocious fish fall from the sky. So, the Heir rallies her bearers to row for shore where they quickly light a fire to ward off the wilds and protect them until the storm passes. As we begin walking through the jungle, a wasp the size of a bull flies toward us, but the Magister is ready with a malodorous spray that drives the creature away.

Finally, we come to the demon wastes, littered with broken bones and dark overcast skies. If we can find the right gravesite, we’ll have the instructions we need to escape the wastes and emerge into Baru’s lands. First, we must overcome the shadow poison that seeps into our bodies and souls. The Magister casts a protective spell that shields us from its noxious effects, but as we come upon the graveyard, we are attacked by zombie skeletons emerging from the ground. The Hunter and his bear try to fight them off but they keep coming in unending waves. The Heir begins a holy prayer for deliverance, but the zombies reach up and grab her legs and cloak as she kneels. The Magister must act to save her before it’s too late. His incantations bring forth a horde of fiery beasts that fly about and destroy the zombies to save the Heir.

In Aunt Baru’s royal chambers, Princes Ulkualzi offers Periani the Hunter, Master of Nature, her most sincere thanks and appoints Tanalor the Magister, Master Sorcerer, to a place on her royal council.

Palanquin

Tonight we played Palanquin by Jason Pitre with a full complement of Bearers successfully escorting the Heir to an overthrown queendom, Princess Ulkualzi, to her Aunt Baru’s house. In order to escape the palace, Illic the Shadow convinces a patrol of soldiers searching for the princess that we too were part of the coup and haters of the royal family. When we emerge from the secret tunnel, we find a police brigade blocking the exit. Malani the faithful tries to obscure our escape with shadow, but we’re too noisy and Periani the Hunter unsuccessfully tries to convince the police they’re needed to quell the unrest in another part of the palace. Finally, Ulu the Veteran takes matters into her own hands and cuts through the brigade with skill and ease. As we emerge from the castle, thousands of unquiet souls of the long dead rise up from the castle to threaten us, but Malani the Faithful steps forward again and puts the spirits to rest through a prayer that washes over them in blue light.

A dark-skinned woman in a cloak with an upraised hood glares off to the left in front of a fiery moon. Palanquin a roleplaying game of escape & trust is printed on the right side.
Image courtesy of Genesis of Legend Games.

After we enter the Purple Jungle, we’re threatened by giant jackals. Illic the shadow tries to throw them off our scent by creating a false trail but there are too many of them. So, Thanalor the Magister weaves a spell that reverses time and turns the jackals into harmless pups who accompany us on our journey. Next we encounter native wild ones who worship Devotita, but Periani the Hunter travels with the rare magical beast that is the symbol of Devotita and, being born with her mark, convinces the natives to lead us through the jungle growth. As we come to the jungle’s edge, a band of brigands seeking to ransom the princess to the coup-leaders surround us. Illic the Shadow attempts to outflank the brigands but the brigands cordon is not breached. Periani the Hunter then uses their magical companion to open a gap that allows us to slip past the brigands and escape to the Holy River.

As we pass through the village at the mouth of the Holy River, we learn that the temple at its center contains a powerful magical artifact that would endanger the princess if the priests complete their ritual. Illic the Shadow slips inside the temple to steal and replace the artifact, but a priest simply walks up to him and takes it back. Malani the Faithful sacrifices a jackal pup in the river and chants a spell to imprison the priests within their own minds, but the temple’s defenses dissipate his magic before it can take hold. Ulu the Veteran storms the temple, but her blows do not injure the priests, so she retreats in frustration. Periani the Hunter leads us to the river so we can escape, but the fisherman guarding the boats notice us and sound the alarm. The Heir decides to take the matter head-on, as we’ve done effectively throughout the journey, and walks up to the head priest and challenges him to take her or let her go. When the priest accepts and grabs her, Tanalor the Magister must save her by casting a spell that infuses the temple’s statues with demonic energy. The statues destroy the temple and carry the artifact back with them to hell, freeing the princess.

Finally safe now at Aunt Baru’s house, Princess Ulkualzi weighs the loyalty and contributions of each of her Bearers. She gives Illic the Shadow a steed and a week’s rations and suggests he use them. To Periani the Hunter, she offers a favor to be fulfilled at a future date. Malani the Faithful is allowed to stay with Aunt Baru for a month before he must return to the capital. Ulu the Veteran is rewarded for her long service with enough gold to retire in peace. And Thanalor the Magister is given the Heir’s sincere thanks.