Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Imaginary Legends: The First Hunt

In my impromptu RQ6 Griffin Mountain campaign, as I believe is the case in all RQ games, myth is central to the story because it is central to the characters who create it. Thus, as the campaign progresses, the PCs have been learning more and more of the myths that drive their people and see these myths reflected in the things they do. 

This coming Fire season, the would-be hunters of the tribe currently earning their adulthood, must undergo the Trial of the First Hunt. For the folks who have read Griffin Mountain and have maybe run it a few times, this is the basic "Obstacle Course" scenario suggested in the Growing Up chapter (so you won't see the actual Trial here), but given context important to their clan, that context being the clan's myth of "the First Hunt."

"The Found Child had become hungry, for it was the Fire season, and the Hearthmother’s plants were still growing, so he dared not eat them. The voice of his stomach uttered bleak mumblings to him, and so the Found Child set off to fill it so it could no longer worry him with its dark words. He leapt from her high hall and fell upon the rocks below, but he was spry and found his feet before the rocks broke him. The Found Child saw the fish in the River, and so dove in to catch one to eat. The River was strong, though, and she tried to drag him down to drown with the fishes. The Found Child watched the fishes and learned how to swim and swam to the other side of the River before she could drown him. On the far bank, he found himself in a small valley, lined with trees and crowded with bushes. There, the Found Child looked on the trees for fruit and on the bushes for berries, but he found none. Instead, he found two things. The first was a great tooth from Uncle Tiger; Found Child knew the tooth for what it was and named it Fang. He took a sharp stone and carved the rune Death upon it, that this may be his Fang as it had been Uncle Tiger’s before him. The second thing he found amongst the bushes and brush was a footprint. It belonged to Father Eubuck, and the Found Child followed it out of the valley to the top of the Hill.

"The Found Child climbed up Father Eubuck’s trail up the Hill surely, quietly and when he broke the brush, he saw the tawny, golden hide and great horns of Father Eubuck as he rested on the Hill’s crest. The Found Child’s stomach grumbled angrily at him, such as he feared that Father Eubuck might hear him. ‘Surely,’ said the Found Child to his groaning stomach, ‘we shall dine of Father Eubuck’s flesh and quiet you.’ But then the Found Child saw that the Dog Brother was patrolling the Hill, and he stopped in his tracks. So great was the Dog Brother’s hatred of intruders, that he would bark his warning and would likely scare off Father Eubuck. The Found Child summoned all his quiet and stillness and scolded his stomach, telling it ‘If you give me up, I shall not fill you for a year and a day!’ And so man and body filled up with the sounds of nothing, the sights of no one and even stomach cooperated, duly castigated. Found Child watched the Dog Brother sniff his scent on the air, but Dog Brother could not see him, for the Found Child knew stillness. Nor could he hear him, for the Found Child knew quiet. Drawing close to Father Eubuck, the Found Child drew his Fang and killed the Father, asking him to forgive the Found Child for what he must do to silence his stomach.

“Much to the Found Child’s surprise, Father Eubuck did not fight him, but let Fang strike true. As he died, Father Eubuck struck the ground before him thrice, writing the rune Harmony upon the ground. The Found Child did not like to kill so wise a creature, and so he made his cuts peaceful and wept quiet tears over the Father’s body, asking the Father to forgive him and wishing him a speedy passage unto Death’s meadows. Where his tears fell upon the ground, they welled up and made a pool. The pool became a stream, and that stream ran down the Hill to meet up with the River and be carried off to the Sea. In the sound of the stream, the Found Child could hear a voice and with a start he realized it was Father Eubuck’s voice.

“Father Eubuck taught the Found Child the wisdom of the Harmony rune: that we should not take more than we need and that we should use what we take; that Death may be forgiven if Death is wrought to preserve Life. Found Child called out to Dog Brother, and both ate of Father Eubuck’s body, lest any go to waste. Found Child’s stomach was quieted, and so grateful was he for he Father’s wisdom and sacrifice that he swore to Dog Brother that never again shall he hunt a eubuck. ‘We shall see,’ said Dog Brother, ‘I will hunt with you from now on to help you keep your promises. Now, leave nothing to waste, as Father Eubuck has taught you.’

“The Found Child wore the Father’s skin as a cloak, for night had fallen, and with it, cold had come. He fashioned a bow from the Father’s horns, as you will do from wood, and carved both Death and Harmony onto this new weapon. Thus armed, he cast Fang down the Hill and it fell into the River, for some other hungry hunter to find, and he would not see Fang again for many years. Dog Brother would ever hunt alongside the Found Child, and never would they hunt the eubuck, for they held the animal now to be sacred.”
I felt a little strange writing this myth. The whole Death & Harmony rune combo of the Found Child cult felt a little Lion King to me and I was sort of afraid of Elton John breaking in with ... I can't even bring myself to mention the song. You know the one. The one with the title that's a cliche. Yeah, that one.

One of the big things that I'm trying to do in my myths is explain how certain deities become involved with particular runes, to provide those details with some context. The PCs in this campaign (well, the ones who show up, Hobbs!) have learned about these runes in-character so far and have even learned about the Peaceful Cut (I'm treating Peaceful Cut like a skill rather than a spell, just like the game did in RQ2).

The next myths will likely center on Votanki, if only so that the players have a sense of the myth cycle advancing.