Pre-Game (Turn 0) News
News of the 321st Day of the 1st Year of the Reign of Her Most Faithful Magnificence, Amlatta the Pious
Calipha in mud-splash splash!
'Five pounds of yams, please. Hey, careful! They're all covered in mud. Watch it!'
'Don't know what you're complaining about, good veg these, straight from the Jerezad farms, only got them yesterday, still smell the dew on them, you can…'
'Just put them in a bag will you, I need to keep my hands clean. Unlike some.'
'Charming - I'm only doing my job, just as well not everyone feels like you.'
'Well, the Calipha does, so there. I heard she had one of her dresses splashed by mud from some rampaging brat, and she's going to get what's coming to her. Just as well, children today, no discipline…'
'Poor lass, I'm sure the Calipha will be merciful, she's only a child, and it was only mud…'
Son saved from watery peril
Ooh yes, I was there, terribly dramatic it was, we'd all given up hope of poor Erasmus being found alive. He's the eldest son of the Emira, he is. What do you mean, which Emira? - the Hadar, of course. Anyway, as I was saying, he'd been swept off to sea in a terrible storm, and the Emira had had all her ships out sweeping the coast looking for him in the hopes that he'd been washed ashore but no luck. Then we all look up, we're all there on the docks, all us servants, in the hopes he'll be found, and we all look up and there he is! Riding a huge wave like he's some kind of seahorse or something, and he's deposited on our dock as gently as you please. Looks a bit sheepish really, and apologises for causing all this trouble. He's a sweet lad is Erasmus.
Hadar in Hole Shocker!
[Deep in the gardens of a Hadar mansion, there's the sound of a crash, and then a scream. Then voices are heard.]
'By Shaliq! Darling! Are you alright?'
'Alright... alright! do I look alright! Get me out of this hole at once!'
'Well, as far as I can tell, I was sitting reading under the gazebo when suddenly I heard a faint rumbling, like distant thunder. The next thing I know, the ground's shaking like a cheap bellydancer, and then the earth underneath me just, well, gave way! What are you staring at? Well? Stop gawping, man, and get me out of this accursed hole in the ground!'
'Whatever you say dear...'
Bumper Baby-Birthing Tragedy
'Not another one?! Dear Shaliq above all!'
'Yep. My wife says her sister's one of the Fesk's most prominent midwives, and that's the third stillborn the family's had in as many months.'
'That's dreadful! How's the lady bearing up?'
'Well, apparently the Fesk are not by any means the only house to have been suffering stillborn children recently. There were no shortage of noblewomen from all the families rallying round to support her. I tell you, it was the saddest thing I've ever seen.'
'Oh, that's terrible. Just terrible.'
Rugs? Rugs! We don't need no stinkin' rugs!
[Through the streets of Shalazar, from the gates of the Freeman's Trading Guild to a large bazaar at the opposite end of the city, a procession of about sixty men, all holding aloft wooden placards painted with slogans, cry out their protests to the people gathering to line the streets]
'Carpets cheat us out of an honest living!'
'My mules just aren't being used, soon I won't be able to afford to feed them!'
'Some idiot swooped down on one of those damn things and spooked my horses last week - none of them would ride for two days!'
'Carpets use dark magics! They're against the will of Shaliq!'
'If Shaliq had meant us to fly, she would have given us wings!'
'Three! No less than THREE of my finest message falcons now have broken wings caused by mid-air collisions with those damn things! How am I supposed to feed my family without any air-worthy birds?!'
'Ban carpets now! BAN CARPETS NOW!'
[The men are allowed to parade for two hours before being dispersed by the Order of Khal'Nayak for causing a breach of the peace]
Northern Trade Route to Empire of Jade Cut Off
Rumours are rife of a Bookwala caravan which disappeared shortly after leaving Abib en route to the Empire of Jade. Only one man has returned from the caravan, telling tales of maurading raiders of a tribe of northern barbarians. It appears that they have begun skirmishing with the Empire itself, and that until the situation is resolved, the northern route to the Empire is closed.
Trade continues through Guise to the south, a route almost entirely controlled by the Jerezad, as their city is the only watering hole in the Burning Wastes between Huzuz and the Empire.
Babe in Wolf's Clothing
'Pour me another, I've had a hell of an afternoon.'
'Oh, it was terrible; I was assisting in the birth of the Emira's niece's daughter's baby, and, by Shaliq, it was horrible. The baby... it was covered in what looked like... well... it was a wolf-skin!'
'On my daughter's life! Right where the mother's blood should have been around the baby, there it was - the entire skin of an adult wolf! All crusted in blood and gore, the teeth and claws digging into the baby's skin! It was the most horrible, brutal thing I've ever seen!'
'Unbelievable... what happened to it?'
'Well, after the mid-wife screamed, three of the nurses fainted, and I vomited, we pulled the skin off the child, and it was fine. It had some scratches from where there were teeth and such, but apart from that, it was absolutely fine. A priestess was immediately called, and the skin burnt, but the priestess said the child was innocent - it must have been something to do with the parents.'
'What do you mean?'
'Well, either they've been dealing with someone or something they shouldn't have, or they were cursed, I suppose.'
'Who would curse someone like that? It's the nastiest, most disgusting thing I've ever heard of.'
'Ha! You didn't SEE it... Pour me another...'
Emissary arrives from Empire of Jade
'Hear ye, hear ye: all hail the arrival of T'zu-yang the Humble, Ambassador of the Emperor of Jade, who comes carrying the respect of his Emperor and requesting the support of the Calipha's justice!'
Many rumours spread about T'zu-yang during his early days in Shalazar: that he is urbane and quiet, certainly, and that he has been asked to wait some time before presenting his case to the Calipha. But amoung those on the street, the greatest rumours concern his entourage, which is 200 strong with the most fearsome of guards, the most lovely of courtesans, and all manner of luxurious trade goods. There are even those who speak of a beautiful Shalazarian girl kept within his harem, but this is barely believed. In general, the luxury of his lifestyle is second only to the greatest of Emira.
Council of Elders Announcement: Pygmies have no souls
Guided by the wisdom of almighty Shaliq, the council of Elders has met in judgement on the matter of the short creatures of the jungles of Punt, commonly known as Pygmies. Be it known that they have studied the reports of travellers and sent an investigatory committee of priestesses to the jungles, and that based on these reports they have judged that the creatures were not created human, and hence have no souls. Therefore, it is clear that Pygmies may and indeed must be taken as slaves, and though they may claim to worship Shaliq, as soulless beasts they are still considered property, and unworthy of freedom.
Be it known that the Emira of Yilden will grant the stewardship of her city of Abib to any godly woman or man who shall strike down the Grey Tower of Abib, and find and bring to judgement those sinners who persist in their heretical worship at its gates.
Bookwala Buying Big
'What are all those wagons for?'
'I heard they're buying up growth potions.'
'What do they want them for? They've got 14 hogsheads there. That's enough to grow a small army.'
'Maybe their army has been caught short!'
GM's Note: Further news may arise as a result of Player Generation--this is merely the scene setting for the first session. Don't feel that if you don't have your character in yet, the plot has passed you by.