When Tony sees how I've spelled that, he's going to flip his wig. But regardless of spelling, it was a good session last night. We had Takeno, the devious wandering ronin, Abdul-Hafiz, cleric of the Protector, and Ralph the crossbow-wielding spellslinger, and the very first thing I did was ask Takeno, since he was sitting across from me, how he knew Hafiz. He decided that he found him, naked and penniless on the streets of a city and took him in and clothed him. I then asked Hafiz how he knew Ralph, and he said that he was riding on one of his many camels when Ralph asked for a ride. Hafiz refused, but Ralph impressed the camel-rider with his spells and was allowed to ride in the end. And then, Ralph knew Takeno because once, when wandering through the forest, Takeno attempted to kill him but was stayed by sorcerous means. Takeno knew nothing of magic, and so was interested and delighted to find that the battle's cause was unintentional.
So we have three distinct characters in the first ten minutes of play, see? Hafiz is a pious, well-off cleric from pseudo-Arabia with perhaps a taste for danger, Takeno is a well-meaning but occasionally extremely violent samurai, and Ralph is a wandering wizard with little purpose or guidance.
That's one of the better tricks of the trade, really: Ask your players not how they know each and every other member of the party, but how they know the guy next to them. In fact, ask your players everything you can. You're not the only one playing the game after all- imagine how awful movies would be if only one actor really acted!
In keeping with this spirit, of course, I asked after we'd determined who was who and how they knew each other, I asked them where they were going and what they were doing and what they were after and how they were getting there and so we come across the story of three stolid men after an artifact of incalculable power- an Amulet to control the Undead, hidden deep in the desert wastes in the Tomb of Nebimute! Takeno bullied a map out of some townsfolk who didn't apparently know the value of what they'd had, and the three of them rode camels directly to the enormous obelisk in the center of a circular plaza, obscured by sands. The closed doorway sits in front of them, an oblong semicircle of smooth, solid stone. It must be forced open, as it hasn't been opened for many years. The sun is setting on our intrepid adventurers as they work on opening the door with a crowbar, and the winds begin to howl, sending stinging sand on our adventurers' faces.
When they enter, they come across a long, smooth, 20'' wide passageway made of blocks of limestone, sloping gently downwards. Though there are scones in the walls, they are unused. Takeno, the de facto leader of the party, shouts down the passageway, and though only a faint shuffling sound can be heard in response, decides that the best part of survival is caution, and instructs his sorcerous companion to light one of his many torches he is carrying and toss it down the slope. He does so, and the torch lands with a thud.
The party then decides to use a wedge formation to look for wall traps, and has Hafiz and Takeno on either side of the passageway at either wall, and then Ralph in the middle as lookout, armed with his deadly crossbow. The passageway slopes down uniformly until they come across a slight seam, as though the entire block pattern had shifted down an inch or so. A tap reveals a hollow sound, causing the suspicious Takeno to request for the cleric to bash the wall with his great hammer. Repeated smashings cause one of the blocks to wiggle slightly, as though not as solidly impacted, so Takeno bashes it in. Hafiz humbly suggests that they remove it, and lo! It comes out!
Hafiz makes another suggestion, this time that Takeno, "put his hand in there."
Takeno: "Fuck that. I poke my crowbar in there."
Crowbar poking hits some sort of mechanism, which clicks ominously, and repeated strikes cause the mechanism to complete its function. I pause. The wall across from you drops down slightly, and then slides into the wall across from you. A secret door! They enter.
In the roughly 20x20 room is a door across from them and an open doorway. They carefully cross the room, but spot a shimmering gleam about halfway through. Not a misty shimmering, nor a "semi-invisible" shimmering or even a glassy shimmering, but a tripwire. Ralph actually guessed it immediately, so kudos, right?
Anyways, they carefully track the wire to either side of the room, checking to see if it goes all the way from one wall to the next. It does, so they go underneath and try the door. It's not budging, and there's absolutely no way to interact with it- no doorknobs, no handles, no pushbars, nothing. So they go in the open doorway.
In that room, of course, there are two levers and an ivory statue on a two foot cylindrical pedestal, depicting man being devoured by scarabs while alive. The scarabs have inset gems in their carapaces. In their infinite wisdom, the adventurers decide to smash the statue above the muttering of their wizard. Upon smashing, the statue's scarabs come to life, hungry from possibly centuries of unlife.
Thinking quickly, Takeno and Ralph decide to use their torches to herd the scarabs (since we reasoned that most animal life is afraid of fire and scarabs aren't an exception) into Hafiz's hammer range, where he would take them out as quickly as possible.
More to come- watch for it!