Oh well I’m pickin’ ’em up and I’m laying ’em down
I believe he’s gonna work me into the ground
I pull to the left I heave to the right
I wanna kill him but it wouldn’t be right
‘Cause I’m working for the man working for the manRoy Orbison, Working for the Man, RCA Victor, 1962
Gotta make him a hand when you’re working for the man
Lost Temple of the Nagaji – Episode 2
One of the things about using WHAT from Two Hour Wargames to write a story is that things don’t always go according to plan. I know writers who create meticulous outlines before committing a single word to paper and there are writers like me who are called “pantsers” because we write by the “seat of our pants.” Of course, the most famous pantser is Stephen King. Being a pantser simply means you try to write what the character is experiencing as it kind of happens. Sure, you have a vague plan – Taji was supposed to wake up with a hangover and be introduced to the leader of the group and offered a job, simple, right?
There was an incessant buzzing noise near Taji Mbutzi’s left ear. She didn’t want to wake up, so she sleepily batted at whatever was buzzing. The buzzing retreated and then came back. This time, whatever it was, it landed on her earring. Taji batted at it again and it bit her.
“Shit!” exclaimed Taji. If her mother or any of her aunties had been around, Taji would have been scolded for her choice of language. Tamu would have laughed. She raised her head from the table to see a large bright blue bug hovering in front of her face. The bug seemed excited and buzzed as though it was trying to tell a long story. Taji waved at it and it backed away. She watched as the bug landed on her purse and proceeded to crawl inside. Then, Taji heard the slosh of water and noticed the two cleaning women scrubbing the floor. One of the women dipped her brush into a pail and sloshed soapy water onto the floor. The sloshing made Taji realize she had to pee – she had to pee, bad.
If Taji had rented one of the rooms, she could have used a chamber pot, but guests who stayed in the Gnarly Hyena’s common room had to make a dash in the pouring rain to the outhouse. She grabbed her purse and took off at a trot hoping she wouldn’t slip in the alley.
She was drenched when she made it to the outhouse. It was dark inside, from the crescent moon cut into the top of the door she could only see heavy grey clouds. Taji tied her purse to her belt near the loop of her scabbard. Lifting her skirts, she hovered over the seat, one did not sit on the seat of an outhouse, especially an outhouse behind a tavern. In addition to the usual outhouse smells, this one had the additional odors of alcohol and vomit. A sane or reasonably sober person would not dare sit. A gust of wind rattled the outhouse reminding Taji not to linger. She opened the door to a deluge, it was only twenty feet to the tavern, she wondered if she should run or swim.
Taji felt a little bad about dripping puddles on the freshly scrubbed floor as she walked back into the common room. That feeling vanished when she saw him standing there. The scowling mountain that was Goncalo Machado stared at Taji with an air of disapproval. He must have just arrived for his skin was covered in beads of water. He growled something in that incomprehensible language of foreigners from the night before.
“You should have brought your wizard friend; I still don’t understand you” Taji replied.
Gomcalo took a step forward and growled again, this time louder as if that would help Taji understand. Then he pointed at the door. While she didn’t understand the words, she did understand the gesture.
“No, I’m not going anywhere with you” she said shaking her head.
Goncalo glared at her, muttered something under his breath and then grabbed Taji by the wrist and started dragging her towards the door. Taji protested; tried to break free; dug in her heels, but all to no avail. Then she kicked him – she was aiming for between his legs but caught him behind the knee causing the big man to stumble. It worked, so it seemed. He let go of her and then turned around and backhanded Taji sending her across the room knocking down chairs and a table on her way to the floor. She bounced up from the floor in a crouch putting her hand on the hilt of her sword. The glint pf her steel caused the big man’s eyes to grow wide, but before clearing the scabbard, a voice shouted “Stop! What’s going on here?”
It was Omai, flanked on both sides by bouncers and bar staff. She was not happy with the disturbance in her tavern. Goncalo Machado said something in his foreign gibberish pointing at Taji.
“He says you are ordered to go with him” said Omai.
Taji stood up straight and said “I’m a free woman. I am under no obligation to this man and I will not go anywhere in his company.”
Omai conveyed Taji’s words to Goncalo. The big man glared at Taji, huffed, and then left the Gnarly Hyena.
Embarrassed, Taji picked up the chairs as Omai approached. The bouncer helped Taji pick up the table and arrange the chairs around it. “Thank you,” said Omai, “Carl, I’ll take my tea here at this table.”
“Yes, mistress” answered the bartender.
“Won’t you join me, Taji Mbutzi?” she asked as the bouncer seated her. Looking at Taji, Omai smiled and said over her shoulder, “Chosani, you know what to do.”
“At once, mistress” replied the bouncer leaving the room.
Taji sat down as Omai poured the tea. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to cause such a scene.”
“Nonsense, the Gnarly Hyena has seen much worse. But more importantly, what brings the sister of Tamu Mbutzi here?” Omai asked adding, “You must try one of these scones, the chef makes them so light and flakey.”
“I’ve come looking for work, no one will hire me” answered Taji.
“People don’t know what to think of you, Taji. They don’t know if being a lone survivor of the Kaava is a curse or a blessing. This will pass in time” said Omai.
Taji sighed, “What do I do in the meantime? A girl has to eat.”
Smiling as Omai sipped her tea, she asked, “That short sword or dagger you carry, it’s a seme a Zengi warrior gives to her daughter, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” replied Taji “but among my people all women train as warriors as well as the men, we travel in small groups rather than living in large villages, so if we are attacked, everyone has to be able to fight.”
Omai asked “Have you ever used it?”
Swallowing a bite of buttered scone, Taji replied, “Only once. My father and brothers herded the cattle while it was my job to herd the goats. One day, a lion attacked my flock and in trying to drive him off, he batted my spear out of my hand, so I had to use my sword.”
“Really? That sword is little more than a dagger” Omai questioned.
“Well, it wasn’t easy, and the lion shredded my shield and gave me a few scars in remembrance, but I managed to kill him” Taji answered. She noticed the bouncer had returned with two members of the Senghor city guard in their black and scarlet uniforms. They stood at the bar.
“Hmm, well, I have nothing for you today, but I do have a job for you tomorrow evening” said Omai.
Just as they finished their tea, almost as if on cue, Goncalo Machado returned with the wizard and woman from the previous night with two additional men. Omai nodded and Chosani, the bouncer, and the two city guardsmen moved to the table standing behind Omai. Goncalo started to step forward, but one of the men Taji had never seen before placed his hand on Goncalo’s shoulder, Goncalo immediately halted.
“What is the meaning of this?” Omai asked in their version of “Common” as she stood.
A shriveled older man in a big hat stepped forward pointing a boney finger at Taji announced, “Don Rodrigo has business with that woman,” he paused and looked at Florinda Carreira who said “Taji Mbutzi” – “Taji Mbutzi” repeated the man.
Omai translated what the shriveled man had said. Taji’s reply was animated. Omai smiled and said to the man “I’ll try to be as polite as possible, but Taji Mbutzi asks, ‘who in the nine hells is Don Rodrigo?'”
Flabbergasted, the shriveled man answered “Don Rodrigo? Don Rodrigo is Don Rodrigo, Don Rodrigo de Barboza -“
The man who had stopped Goncalo Machado from stepping forward raised his hand interrupting the shriveled man, “I am Don Rodrigo de Barboza and I must confess my friends and I are unfamiliar with a society where nobility is not respected by commoners. Last night, that woman suggested a map passed through the noble houses of Cheliax may not be authentic. I challenge her to authenticate the map and then to apologize. I further realize in a city of merchants, I must pay for her services and will pay a day’s wages.”
Omai translated Don Rodrigo’s words to Taji and the two women exchanged a few words. Omai replied “Taji Mbutzi says she would not work for you for twice that amount.”
Don Rodrigo smiled, “Then I will pay three days wages.”
Omai presented Don Rodrigo’s offer and the two women had another animated conversation, finally Omai said “Taji Mbutzi agrees if she is paid as a skilled laborer of five silver pieces a day.”
“Agreed” said Don Rodrigo.
What the F@$k Happened?
If this were any other game, Taji would have been approached by the band of heroes offering her a place in the group and they would have gone merrily on their way exploring dungeons, slaying bad guys, and making the world a better place. But that’s not going to happen. Thanks to the Two Hour Wargames WHAT mechanics, Taji finds herself working for a real jerk. If you are following along, a plain vanilla Job Offer was preceded by a Confrontation Encounter.
How did this happen? Well, long story short, I did it to myself. In researching the Mwangi Expanse, a lot of the colonization of the area was done by the nation of Cheliax. So, I made the group wanting to hire Taji, Chelaxian. I later found out these people were a bit more than pro-slavery white supremist jerks. The current nobility of Cheliax is also bound to demons to increase their power. So Chelaxians are demonic empowered authoritarian fascists.
Experience & Money
One of things I’m wrestling with is reconciling the Increasing/Decreasing d6 mechanics of WHAT (Warrior Heroes Adventures in Talomir from Two Hour Wargames) with the traditional Experience Points, XP, mechanics of traditional RPGs such as Pathfinder. But that’s not all, WHAT’s Increasing/Decreasing d6 mechanics also take the place of money, the traditional gold piece, GP, economy of RPGs.
So far I find myself playing WHAT and only using Pathfinder as a setting. The Pathfinder rules are proving to be more detailed than I anticipated.
If you missed previous episodes of Lost Temple of the Nagaji, here’s the links:
As always, your comments, thoughts, and suggestions are welcome.
Lost Temple of the Nagaji – Episode 2
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- Nagaji – Pathfinder 2nd Edition Lost Omens Impossible Lands, page 46.
- Omai, owner of the Gnarly Hyena – Pathfinder 2nd Edition Lost Omens The Mwangi Expanse, page 263.
- The Gnarly Hyena – Ibid, page 263.
- Senghor – Ibid, pages 254-265.
- City guard clad in black and scarlet – Ibid, page 258.
- Tea as a breakfast staple in Senghor – Ibid, page 257.
One thought on “An Unwanted Job”
Really liking this ‘fusion’ of WHAT and Pathfinder, makes things even more unpretictable (and that’s saying something!)