THE SEVEN GEMINI
A Numenera Adventure Inspired by
Kurosawa's "The Seven Samurai" and
Sturge's "The Magnificent Seven"
Andrew Logan Montgomery
Voice Over Narration;
"I AM DYING AN OLD MAN'S DEATH. Some might say a "coward's death." It is not clean or quick, it is without honor and empty of glory. I've lost control of my bladder and my bowels. My teeth are gone. And the cancer devouring my insides has already taken most of me. It is no warrior's death. But then I have never been a warrior.
Except, of course, that once.
All my recent memories are blurry and gray, but the long ago ones are clear, and more real to me than the faces of those passing in and out of my hut waiting for me to die. I see them vividly. I feel them. As I near the end I relive them.
And it's not the loss of my virginity, nervous and fumbling in the field behind the yol pens, it's not the feeling of my first child cradled in my arms, not even the last rattling breath of my wife on her deathbed that I remember. No, it is them; the Seven. I relieve the days them came to Sardaurar.
They were wanderers and killers, hands soaked with blood. They had left a trail of death and ruin behind them. They were adventurers who robbed ancient ruins for their bread. Were they good? Were they evil? Even now I cannot say. But they changed us, changed me. They were bold and they were brave, they were things a farmer never dreamed of being.
And now, in my dreams, they live again..."
SARDAURAR is a small village located in the Beyond. Where, exactly, is up to you, the game master. As written, it assumes some place rocky, dry, and desolate, but there is nothing stopping you from moving the setting to a fetid swamp, frozen tundra, or somewhere even stranger.
Gemini is written with four to seven players in mind; seven would be iconic, but unnecessary. The characters should be Tiers 2 or 3. Knowledge of either The Seven Samurai or The Magnificent Seven is useful for the game master, but not required for the players. Players who do know the story may enjoy the twists the scenario takes, however.
SCENE ONE: TWO-LEGGED LOCUSTS
The players start out as NPCs rather than their own characters. This is a technique I personally love and that my players really get excited about, but may not be for every group. I strongly recommend giving it a try.
Each player is given a farmer to play. Start at the top of the list and work your way down;
- Calen: Mid-thirties, the de facto "leader" of the village. Calen is a quiet man, and timid, but the recent depredations by the bandits has pushed him to the every edge. He wants blood, but knows he doesn't have the power to extract it. His powerlessness torments him.
- Gemdar: Mid-thirties. Gemdar is the closest thing Calen has to a rival. He questions nearly all of Calen's decisions, sometimes heatedly. It isn't hate that drives him, but jealousy. Calen--in his opinion--has always been luckier than him, with better land and better livestock. If Gemdar only had the same breaks, he'd be village headman.
- Sejon: Around thirty. Sejon is Calen's right hand man. While not a yes man per se, he agrees with almost everything Calen says and very seldom questions his friend. His favorite lines are "Calen is right," and "yes, I agree" (when Calen speaks).
- Vejris: Early seventies. Still vigorous, he is the oldest man in the village and people are always looking to him for wisdom. Calen never makes a decision without asking his zen-like bits of advice.
- Hebro: Early thirties. Rotund, jovial, and constantly cracking jokes, Hebro is nine times out of ten a bit tipsy on Huskerale. He generally goes along with Calen's decisions unless they require him to stick his neck out or put in extra effort. He then tries to brush these requests off with humor, and if forced to do them, sulks.
- Toryu: Fifteen. Toryu just passed the manhood rites in the spring and is eager to prove himself to the rest of the men. A clever young man, he is still naive and inexperienced, and mixed with a short temper this is a dangerous combination.
- Venn: Nine. Venn is Toryu's shadow, constantly following the older boy around, looking up to him, imitating him, trying to be more like him. He is also a very bright and curious boy, always looking around while working in the fields wondering things like; "where do the mountains come from?" "How hot is the sun?"
Most of these NPCs are level 2 (6) with 4 (12) in Farming and Area Knowledge. Little Venn is 1 (3). When players take on NPCs like these, assume they have a single Stat Pool equal to 10 + Target Number, with Edge = Level/2 and Effort = Level. Calen is Specialized in Farming and Area Knowldge; Vejris is Specialized in Area Knowledge and Zen Like Wisdom; the others are all Trained in Farming and Area Knowledge.
BAKING UNDER THE BALEFUL ORANGE EYE OF THE SUN, the men of Sardaurar are tilling the thankless dust, planting Huskweed. Huskweed is a hemp-like plant with all the medicinal and practical applications, as well as producing eggplant shaped seed pods that contain hundreds of kernels like corn. These are used to make liquor and tortilla-like flatbread. The village is extremely poor, eking out a living on Huskweed and a few flocks of Yols (Bestiary, p. 12). They live in cool, domed huts made of adobe, with no luxuries and only modest possessions. Trade with neighboring communities earns them a few extra shins used to purchase what they cannot make or grow.
And now their thankless lives have been made a hell. A band of mercenaries and bandits, led by the alluring Augur exile known as Kala Vera, has descended upon them. For weeks now they have camped in the jagged hills to the north, sweeping into the village to demand huskweed bread and ale, yol milk and meat. They have demanded even worse. To protect them after the first attack, and it's string of brutal rapes, the men have sent the women away. They are trying to endure the bandits as best they can, hoping they will move on. But so far, the bandits have stayed.
Kala Vera 5 (15)
Motive: Provide for her men, find Numenera for her clients, recover lost Augur artifacts for herself
Damage: 5 points.
Modifications: Defends at level 6 due to a psychic energy shield.
Combat: Fights with a psychic blade that ignores physical armor.
Interaction: Kala Vera is cool and aloof but not arrogant or overbearing. As a two-hundred-year old Augur she feels superior to humans, but knows they outnumber her people and acts accordingly. She is currently working for the Angulan Knights, searching for the lost Gemini chambers buried somewhere in these hills, and determined to get them to get paid and feed her men. She is loyal to them, and them to her.
Bandits 4 (12) (group of three)
Health: 18 (every six points lost, one bandit in the group dies)
Damage: 4 points
Combat: There are eight groups of bandits (24 men total). They can fight with both ranged weapons and melee.
Cyphers: 1d3 per group
In scene one, Kala Vera and her bandits return to Sardaurar to demand more supplies. The players assume the roles of the villagers. Nearly all their food is gone at this point and they desperate. After taking the food and drink they want, the bandits will demand some women. These of course have been sent away. When she hears this, Kala Vera says the young boys will have to do. And sends her men to collect 1d6 of them. The villagers may try to fight this. Either way, it should be
played to leave a bad taste in the players' mouths...
SCENE TWO: CHASED BY THE WIND
CROSSING THE WASTES the player character spy a cloud on the horizon. It is a reddish mass, swirling in weird geometric patterns. Rust red, it nevertheless catches the light of the sunset with thousands of metallic sparkles. The cloud is moving against the wind in their direction. The PCs might recognize it 3 (9). It's the Iron Wind.
The only sane choice is to run. Roll a 1d3+3. This is the number of rolls it will take to escape. These are Speed rolls, and to represent the erratic nature of the Iron Wind, each time the Level is random (roll a d6). After two failed rolls, the Iron Wind is upon them. A third failed roll results in hideous death. Play up the horrific effects of the wind as it mutates the landscape and plant life behind them.
The final Speed roll is a leap across a narrow chasm. The Iron Wind cannot (or will not) cross this. Once safely across they spy a small village ahead. This is Sardaurar.
SCENE THREE: A PEOPLE BESIEGED
The player characters now get to interact with the NPCs they played during the introduction. The villagers are understandably shy when these wanderers come in, and have little food and drink to offer. They are stand offish and sullen, and it is soon easy to notice that there are no women present. Winning Calen’s trust will get him to open up about the bandits.
To spice things up a bit, have the player characters make Level 3 Intellect rolls (Jacks step this down to Level 2). Success means they have heard of Kala Vera…she is not a bandit, but a well known Numenera hunter. If she is loitering in the area, it is likely she is after something big.
The villagers will pretend to not know what this is. They could be persuaded by a die roll (Level 5) but it would be much more satisfying to have the PCs win he trust of the villagers first.
SCENE FOUR: A HARD LIFE
This is a roleplay-heavy section. The PCs sleep and spend the next day in the village, seeing how the villagers live. If they haven’t noticed the absence of women, it should become obvious now. Also, the town has a small Order of Truth Sanctum, but it looks recently abandoned and has no Aeon Priest.
The PCs may also wish the scout the hills for bandits. This is a Level 4 task. With a success, they find Kala Vera’s camp and are able to survey it from the hills unnoticed. On a 19 or 20, the GM might have the character spy a pair of young girls gathering water at a stream as they return the the village. If they follow these girls, they enter a jagged ravine in the hills and vanish through a holographic door in the sheer wall of the cliff. See “Scene Five” for details.
OPTION: Teaching the Villagers to Fight.
It is entirely possible that the PCs, true to the spirit of the films that inspired this story, will want to train the villagers to fight back. This could be a fun roleplaying opportunity. Glaives are obviously the most qualified for the job, but Jacks might teach dirty tricks. The villagers only have hoes and farm tools, but ingenious players may want to design traps of various kinds. Take your time and enjoy playing this out.
SCENE FIVE: THE SEVEN GEMINI
Kala Vera is looking for an ancient cavern in the hills, a series of smooth round passages and dome shaped rooms bored into the living stone. In the largest chamber are seven crystal standing stones, each about three meters tall and one meter wide. These are the Seven Gemini.
The village’s Aeon Priestess, Kinara, is here, along with all the women and girls of the village. They are hiding out in the caves and also keeping guard over the Gemini. The Gemini possess a strange and terrible power, an ability that makes them attractive to army builders. They clone, instantly, anyone who stands facing one of them with their eyes closed and palms pressed against the smooth crystal surface.
Except these are not clones…the crystals actually abduct an alternate version of the summoner from a parallel universe. The abductee appears inside the crystal and soon emerges. There is no limit to the number of times this can be done. Thousands of alternate versions of people could be conjured from them.
Unfortunately, it is a one-way trip, and if the summoned “twin” attempts to use the crystals, he or she is instantly destroyed.
Be sure to have fun with this. The GM should prepare notes on alternate versions of the player characters, just in case one or more of them decides to try the device. These could be slightly different versions of the characters (A Jack who became a Nano in his alternate universe, a straight warrior whose alternate is gay, etc) or full on “evil twins” as in the Star Trek “Mirror” universe stories. It is key though that the GM run these characters…each is free willed with his or her own agenda, and probably not happy with having been ripped from their existence and stranded in this one.
SCENE SIX: CONFRONTATION
At some point, the players will want to storm Kala Vera’s camp, or more likely, repel her next attack against the village. If the villagers have been trained and fight alongside the PCs, lower the effective level of the Bandits one step.
Kala Vera will try to negotiate if things are going against her. It turns out she is being paid by a wealthy faction (the Knights Angula in my campaign, but the Convergence is another likely candidate) to recover the Gemini and is willing to split the profits. Failing this, she will try to escape with her life, especially if more than half her forces are killed.
AFTERMATH: If the villagers fight, at least a few of them should die to keep the drama up. One of the survivors--preferably one of the young boys--should be revealed to grow up to be the narrator of the tale, however.
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