From: Martin Crim (email@example.com)
Date: Wed 29 May 1996 - 05:01:02 EEST
Back by popular demand! I apologize to those who have seen this before. I
_have_ adopted the suggestions of several people about the ending...
MOROCANTH THUMBS: THE QUEST
Copyright (c) 1996 by Martin Crim
Permission granted to copy for non-commercial use as long as credit is
given; otherwise, all rights reserved
Hairy black or grey thumb-shaped lumps of flesh. Usually found in pairs,
and usually on a Morocanth's paws.
The Morocanth, alone among beasts, won Waha's contest to keep their
intelligence. They had a disadvantage because of their lack of thumbs.
Eiritha took pity on them, and showed them how to get thumbs.
All Praxians know that Morocanth can get thumbs, and that only about 1% of
them do. Morocanth know that the priestesses of Eiritha keep the knowledge
of how to go about getting thumbs. They will tell the secret to any
Morocanth whom they like and whom they believe can survive the quest.
Morocanth also know that they can take the thumbs off a dead Morocanth with
a proper prayer to Eiritha.
With the thumbs, a Morocanth gets normal base chances in all Manipulation
and non-missile weapon skills. He or she gets a 5% base in all missile
weapons (except those with a base of 00% for humans) and in Throw. He or
she gains 5% in all current weapon skills except natural weapons and Dodge,
to a maximum of 100%, and can use melee weapons without the special
adaptations for Morocanth paws. A Morocanth with thumbs does not have the
normal species maximums in manipulation and weapon skills.
The priestesses tell the quester that he or she will relive the survival
covenant contests. The quester must compete without any tools. (Naturally,
since this is Prax, cheating is expected. There is no penalty for cheating
unless the priestesses catch the quester at it. The priestesses won't go
out of their way to detect cheating, but cannot ignore blatant acts in their
presence. The spirit-judge described below will actively watch for cheating.)
First, the quester must live off the land for a week. This represents the
time before Waha's pact when all the people of Prax were hungry. The
quester must live apart from his or her clan, without any herd men. This
portion of the quest tests such skills as Plant Lore, Animal Lore, World
Lore, Tracking, Scout Plains, Hide, Sneak, Run, and weapon attacks. Smart
questers make water the first priority: roll World Lore, with a bonus for
wet seasons and location. (Obviously, no roll is necessary if the quester
is on the banks of a river.) Finding food takes Plant Lore or, in most
times and places, the other skills listed above. (Morocanth like to hunt
from ambush, but can run down prey by wearing it out.) Lack of adequate
food or water subtracts from the Morocanth's FP (or decreases fatigue level).
The priestesses then summon a Waha spirit to possess a male Morocanth and
act as spirit-judge. (The Morocanth host must be willing, and it is the
quester's job to find someone who agrees to it.) The spirit-judge goes and
finds the quester, bringing with him a man. If the spirit-judge sees either
person cheating, he will declare the other the winner of that contest.
The human opponent must be a warrior or hunter. In most cases, the human
is a recently captured man, but when captives are scarce the quester pays an
outsider to do the ritual. The priestesses of Eiritha handle the transaction.
While the quester has been fending for himself, the man has eaten the best
food, exercised and practiced with weapons, and not done any chores. (The
Morocanth once tried using an old, tired slave, but the quest failed.) The
idea for a scenario here is that the man is a PC, captured by or sold to the
The contests begin shortly after the spirit-judge finds the quester, at the
next following dawn or dusk. From the time the spirit-judge finds the
quester till the end of the contests, the Morocanth and man must neither eat
The Waha spirit-judge orders the quester and the human to stand beside each
other before him. The spirit-judge stands on a rock or hillock. He
declaims Waha's famous Call to Survival, and then announces the terms of the
contests. After that, the spirit-judge does and says nothing except watch
for cheating, declare the winner of each contest, and cast Dispel Magic at
the end of the Magic Contest.
There are five contests in the ritual: the Race, the Throwing Contest, the
Firemaking, the Magic Battle, and the Fight. The Morocanth almost always
wins the Race and loses the Throwing Contest. The Morocanth usually loses
the Firemaking, too. The winner of the ritual is the person who wins three
contests. It is possible there will be no winner.
The Race is a sprint of about 500 meters. The contestants need to avoid
getting too fatigued. The man can make the Morocanth work for his victory,
or hang back and save his own wind.
The Throwing Contest begins immediately after the race ends. Each
contestant goes to a five meter wide circle traced in the dirt. The circles
are about ten meters apart. Then the man throws rocks at the quester.
Morocanth have no Throw skill, so the quester cannot Throw back, but may
Dodge (at the usual 1/2 skill). This contest ends when the man injures the
Morocanth (this requires a critical hit or a man with a 1d6 damage bonus) or
runs out of rocks. There are usually 5d10 usable rocks in the ring. If the
man did not injure the Morocanth, this part is a draw, and neither side gets
to count it as a victory.
The Firemaking starts immediately after the Throwing Contest ends. The
winner is the first person to start a fire. The Ignite spell is a good way
to win. If neither person has the spell, or both try to light a fire the
hard way, use DEX x 3 for the human and DEX x 1 for the Morocanth. Roll
after three melee rounds, and each round after that. If both succeed in the
same round, the one with the lower DEX SR succeeds first; ties in DEX SR go
to the human.
The Magic Contest starts next, again with no pause. The quester and the
man cast spells at each other until one of them cannot continue. This
usually occurs when one or the other succeeds with a Demoralize or Befuddle
spell. If each falls to 1 or 0 MP without affecting the other, the contest
is a draw, and counts as a victory for neither.
The Waha spirit-judge Dispels the Demoralize or Befuddle, and the Fight
begins immediately. Both sides get to use weapons, but do not have to. The
spirit-judge lets the man pick up his usual weapons and strap on a shield,
but he gets no armor. The winner is the person who can still stand after
the fight. (The Morocanth can stand on three legs, or even just the hind
legs, but cannot balance on one hind leg and fewer than two forelegs.) If a
contestant stays on the ground more than five melee rounds, he or she
automatically loses. (It is possible that this part will also end in a
draw.) Weapon magic, Healing, and the like are allowed, but offensive magic
is against the rules.
If the man wins three contests, the Waha spirit-judge sets him free and
gives him a herd animal. (If the man was already free, he gets whatever the
Eiritha priestesses promised to give him.) If the Morocanth wins three
contests, he cuts off the man's thumbs and, if he makes a Ceremony roll,
attaches them to his paws, where they become hairy and match the Morocanth's
skin over the course of two weeks or so.
A Morocanth can also take thumbs off a Morocanth who has been dead less
than ten minutes. The Morocanth sacrifices a point of POW per thumb, makes
a Ceremony roll, and, if he or she is successful, the thumbs graft onto his
or her paws. If the roll fails, the thumbs are useless.
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