Campaign Notes · GURPS

A Curse Tablet

This post is another part of my prep for my new GURPS group’s second session, which takes place today.

Near the end of the first session, the PCs acquired an ancient clay tablet with a mysterious inscription on it in a dead language.  Both the Unholy Warrior and the Cleric sensed evil radiating off the tablet – and indeed, shortly after discovering it, they were attacked by three vicious human-like creatures made of smoke and shadow.  At the same time, the shadow-creatures were accompanied by a whole platoon of city guardsmen, who had clearly been possessed by some dark power.

clay-tablet
The ancient clay tablet.  The top section is quite heavily damaged, and the bottom ends in a jagged break, indicating that there is at least one large fragment missing.

So they already know that the ancient clay tablet is bad news!

They haven’t yet managed to read the inscription on the tablet, but the player of the cleric has informed me that he’s going to use his Gift of Letters spell to read it at the start of our next session.  So I need to have a translation handy.

Here’s the translation I’ve prepared:

The Ancient Clay Tablet

[The upper portion of the tablet has been badly damaged, rendering parts of the inscription unreadable.]

O mighty, matchless, peerless, immeasurable, highest, deepest… [unreadable]… S… [unreadable]… I consecrate to thee … [unreadable]… Blindfolded God, and [unreadable] beseech thee to cast thy hatred upon them [unreadable] that they may … [unreadable]…

May they lose their earthly positions and honors.  May they be burned alive without mercy on a pyre of blood.  May the [unreadable]turn against them in the daytime, and the moon at night.  May the wolf hunt them in the mountains, and [unreadable]  in the hills, and every creeping thing poison their noxious veins in their beds at rest.  May [unreadable] out of time, never to be reborn, and may the world never again suffer them to exist inside it.  May they … [unreadable]….

[The bottom of the tablet has broken off; clearly, there used to be more.]

As my players should realize pretty quickly, this is an ancient curse (for the record, I modeled it on some real curses from Ancient Egypt).

During this afternoon’s session, they might also discover the missing bottom fragment of the tablet.  (Naturally, whether they actually discover it or not will depend on what they decide to do…)  It reads as follows:

The Missing Tablet Fragment

…. [unreadable]…. their fathers mourn them and their children belong only to the fire. 

May they be consumed forever by holy shadow and ashes.  May their loved ones turn against them in hatred, and they against those they love.  May their wicked surgeon’s knives turn against the hands that wield them.  May the hills of Valtumoinen be free of their taint forever, may the mountains of Valtumoinen be free of their taint forever, may the world entire be free of their taint forever.  So let it be, I beseech thee, until the ending of all things in ash and shadow.

What does it all mean?  Will the PCs decipher the first fragment, and find the second?  Will they make sense of it?

To find out, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait for my session reports…   Sorry 🙂

Happy gaming to all.

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8 thoughts on “A Curse Tablet

  1. Very cool hook idea.

    With a new group, I always tried to let the new group discover something like that together on their first session, although I usually went with something like part of a treasure map, a folk-tale, or old song, or one time, a parrot named Captain Flint..

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    1. In my defense, this curse tablet just possibly *might* lead them into a big fight with some swarthy buccaneers, if the plot ends up heading in that direction.

      (Didn’t want to you to think I’d committed the unpardonable crime of leaving out Pirates! entirely)

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      1. That was basically the reasoning behind the parrot. We had such memorable lines in that campaign
        as “Give him the bird!” and “I do not know why they are still trying to kill us, I just gave them the bird…” Both said in character and without intention, but humorous none the less. Its the simple pleasures in life.

        I was unable to log on and comment on your other post, but the things about the GURPS rules are this, basically everything is optional and the basic combat system is very elegant, if you have a copy of the 3rd edition, there was a chapter on basic combat that might be worth a quick review, once you are reminded of the basics, the rest comes with time. Main thing is you had fun. Keep the story moving and eventually all the bonuses and penalties and advanced combat rules are there.

        My girl is a lawyer and last thing she wants to do is think deeply and number crunch while playing. In combat her character always go for a generic body shot and no fancy maneuvers. She never goes all out attack or all out defense. She enjoys combat but she doesn’t want to make it a harder than it has to be. She has fun, and I enjoy having someone who’s combat turn is “I attack (Rolling dice)…”

        The rules you need, you pick up. I have played in games where Game Master and a player will pour over the rule books in the middle of a combat to find the specific rule and slow the game to a crawl. I don’t do it. If I do not remember the rule, I eyeball and decide a bonus or penalty, then roll and go keep going. Study the bell curve and know the odds of a particular roll. Ultimately if you know that, you don’t need the details rules, I call it the art of GM Improv.

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