Zayta

Zayta is in a particularly dry and inhospitable part of the West Bank. It is several miles from any other settlements and 20 miles from the city. The village's existence is down to an ancient well which supplies enough water to support thirty or forty people and their crops.

Exploring the village and surrounds in daylight is perfectly safe.

Automatic
The village sits in a long, narrow, steep-sided valley of parched sand and bare rocks. The four homes are built from breeze blocks and corrugated metal sheets and each home has a garden containing dead and dying plants. A small orchard of olive trees is surrounded by a low dry stone wall. A well sits to one side of the village. Various buckets, troughs and piping form what is obviously a primitive human-powered irrigation system connected to the gardens and orchard.
Easy
The houses are abandoned, with dust and sand already accumulating inside. Large items of furniture and household fittings are present but the smaller day-to-day items needed for life are missing.
Moderate
In one of the houses a few empty food tins and a dirty plate sit on a table.
Hard
There is also an empty henna packet.

Ghosts

There are three scenes featuring ghosts and time echoes in the village which the characters can observe. These play themselves out each night between midnight and about 4am. Most of the scenes take place around the centre of the village though some parts happen in the old olive grove. The characters can experience all the scenes in a single night but they will probably need at least two nights to gather all the clues. Game Leaders should only reveal the clues which are appropriate for the characters' location. On subsequent nights the characters can anticipate events and position themselves or remote cameras at key points.

The ghosts do pose a physical threat to the characters. If the ghost of a villager passes through a characters there is a 2d6+2 cold attack. It feels to the character that they have been exposed, just for a microsecond, to the deep cold of outer space. The attack does physical damage and victims must discard Life advantages.

After Dark

After the sun sets in the valley around 6pm there is only the light of the stars and moon. The distant glow of a town is visible on the horizon but other than this there is no sign of human habitation. The characters have nothing to do except wait and it is a good opportunity for role playing. How will the characters with their various physical and psychological status effects handle the long nervous wait? Farouk Hosny will insist on filming a few establishing shots and pieces to camera. Every hour, one or more of the presenters will have a camera thrust in their face and be asked how they are feeling and what do they think will happen. Finally, as it nears midnight, eerie shapes start to form, faintly at first but growing stronger.

As the ghostly forms start to appear in the darkness, the characters are able to make a first, general assessment of the phenomenon.

Automatic
The entire landscape takes on a ghostly shimmer as a glowing translucent copy of the world is layered on top of reality. The glowing shapes of mud huts form a village and spectral figures move around.
Easy
The superimposed ghostly world is not an exact copy of the solid underlying reality. Glowing trees occupy different places from real ones and one hut appears to be half inside, half outside a modern, real house. There are a few ghost people moving around and ghost animals in ghost pens.
Moderate
The style of dress, the design of the huts and other clues suggest the ghostly scene is around 1500 to 2500 years old.
Hard
Even the hills and the physical geography forming the valley sides have a slightly different ghost version of the landscape superimposed on top.

Once the initial excitement has worn off, characters can take more time to explore the scope and scale of the ghost world.

Automatic
The glow of ghostly terrain can be seen extending up and down the valley from the village but it grows fainter with distance.
Easy
The phenomenon extends about a mile in each direction from the village.
Moderate
The village is clearly the epicentre of the shadow reality and the ghostly images are noticeably brighter and more distinct within the village.
Hard
The strongest images are around the village well. The ghost well is such a strong image it is hard to tell the ghost version from the underlying reality.

Anyone comparing the modern village and environment to the ghost village may discover useful clues.

Automatic
The valley shown in the ghost form is nearly identical to the present day valley. The village is sited in the same place though the individual houses are very different and do not occupy the same locations.
Easy
There is more vegetation in the ghost village and despite the more primitive homes, it looks more prosperous.
Moderate
The ghost village has a second olive orchard a few hundred metres further down the valley, and the orchard next to the village is larger.
Hard
The system of irrigation from the well to the village orchard is more comprehensive and a well is visible in the other orchard.

Characters may investigate the scientific nature of the ghosts though this may have a detrimental effect on the character.

Automatic
The colour of the ghosts is a pale, faded version of reality. They give off no heat and there is no sensation when touched (this only applies to non-human ghosts).
Easy
Images of ghosts can be caught on camera (and other sensors) which means the light they emit is real.
Moderate
The ghosts are slightly cooler than the surrounding air, suggesting the light must come from a process such as phosphorescence. This is where light or energy is absorbed and then later released, as in glow-in-the-dark toys.
Hard
The ghosts break all accepted theories of time, light and quantum mechanics. There is no rational way to explain this phenomenon.

Characters may wish to use outer dark symbols to investigate the ghosts. How this is done is left to the players but outer dark magic has no rules so anything which fits with the group's style of play will work.

Automatic
There is a sense of the outer dark to the ghosts.
Easy
The power or magic of the outer dark is stronger towards the centre of the village.
Moderate
The Star Stone symbol resonates very strongly in the ghosts.
Hard
The Time aspect of the The Outer Dark symbol is significant to what is happening.

During the characters' examinations of the ghosts, the team will need to record their documentary. Farouk Hosny will push the characters to examine and even touch the ghosts while giving a running commentary to camera.

Scene One: Equinox

The first scene is an echo of the Autumn equinox of 43CE, the night of the meteor.

Automatic
Around thirty or forty people of all ages are gathered in one of the orchards.
Easy
The ghost people appear to celebrating something together. They are sitting down and bowls of food can be seen.
Moderate
A small wooden effigy of a man with the wings and tailfeathers of an eagle is at the centre of the group.
Hard
The effigy is of Ahura Mazda. There is a small bowl containing liquid placed before the figurine, which suggests an offering or celebration.

As the characters examine this ghostly world the spectral form of the shooting star crosses the sky. The meteor is a single large glowing object which even in its ephemeral form lights up the valley as it passes directly overhead. It quickly disappears beyond the horizon in a southerly direction. The meteor looks like the footage of the recent shooting star and it matches the descriptions of the 43CE event.

The villagers are not seeing a ghostly image but a very real meteor in 43CE. This causes panic and they start running in all directions. It is very likely one or more ghostly villagers will run through the characters. This is a 2d6+2 cold attack though the Game Leader may award it bonuses as circumstances dictate. After the meteor the villagers hide and will not show themselves again.

Scene Two: Arrival

The second scene deals with Ahmed Yassin's arrival in 43CE via the well and takes place about a month after the equinox. As a key part of the scene takes place in the valley orchard by the second well, there is a good chance the characters will not see this activity on their first night.

Automatic
The slow life of a village is happening before your eyes. Children trail after their parents as chickens are fed, clothes washed, gardens weeded and all the other daily business is carried out at a casual pace. In the ghost orchard, several villagers are pulling a naked man out of the well before bringing him up to the houses. His arrival causes a commotion as blankets are brought out and the villagers talk excitedly.
Easy
The naked man is shivering, covered in tattoos and clutching something to his chest. Though he takes care to keep it hidden, the object in his hand is clearly a black stone. As the villagers talk it is obvious from the body language that the man cannot understand what is being said to him.
Moderate
The tattoos are hard to make out on the man's ghostly form but they look like outer dark symbols.
Hard
The symbols on his body are: Eye of the Storm, Death's Door, Scream, Soul Eater and Tongue.

After the excitement of the man's arrival, village life returns to normal with a couple of villagers tending to their guest who will eat a little food.

Scene Three: Romans

As the end of scene two transitions into the start of scene three the characters will barely notice the change. Village life continues though the scene takes place several weeks later, early in 44CE.

Automatic
As village life continues the tattooed man can be seen helping out in the gardens, until something further up the valley catches the villagers' attention. They stand and watch as a squad of twenty Roman legionaries march into the settlement. After some arguing the Romans attempt to grab two young men from the village but they resist. In moments, five villagers lie dead on the ground and the rest, including the tattooed man, are running or hiding (the characters are in danger of a villager running through them). The Romans ransack the village, killing two more men, before marching back the way they came. As the villagers return to tend to the dead, the tattooed man can be seen dipping his fingers in the blood and using it to draw symbols on himself. A ghostly cloud of dust or sand obscures and then obliterates the ghosts from view before everything disappears. Normality returns to the valley.
Easy
It is not clear if the obscuring dust cloud was actually happening in the village or was the breakdown of whatever effect allows the ghosts to be seen.
Moderate
The tattooed man is drawing the symbols for Mot, Romans and Eye of the Storm.
Hard
In the moments before the ghosts become totally obscured the tattooed man can be seen walking out of the village, in the same direction as the Romans.

Once the third scene has finished, reality returns to the village and the characters are once more alone in the dark valley. Within a few minutes the horizon will begin to lighten with the first signs of dawn.

Investigating The Well

As the characters explore the village and watch the ghosts they will realise the well is at the centre of the both the real and ghost villages. It is the one consistent element which links the present to the past and it allowed Ahmed Yassin to pass back in time. To understand the well the characters need to explore it.

Automatic
Around the top of the well is a low, crude, mud brick wall circling the 4' diameter shaft. A half-dozen or more lengths of thick cord hang down the well's shaft with plastic jugs or tins attached to their ends as makeshift buckets.
Easy
The well is deep, around 100'.
Moderate
The well's shaft cuts through solid rock and the distinctive marks of picks and chisels can be seen in the walls. The well was made by hand and is probably very old.
Hard
Four of the thicker ropes hanging down the well have been crudely plaited together.

Ahmed used the ropes to climb down the well and the characters may also use this technique. It is dangerous, but before climbing down Ahmed saw himself being rescued by the villagers in scene two. The characters do not have the luxury of this knowledge and may wish to acquire proper ropes, torches and other equipment before descending. These supplies are easily obtained by spending a couple of hours shopping in Hebron and they make the descent perfectly safe. To climb using Ahmed's crude rope requires an action beating a resistance of 3d6+3. Failure means the character falls but it is left to the Game Leader to decide the consequences.

Automatic
The shaft of the well descends 100' and then opens up into a chamber about 10' square. Water covers the floor of the chamber to the depth of three feet. A tunnel 5' high leads off the chamber.
Easy
The chamber is cut out of the bedrock and there is no sign of modern construction techniques.
Moderate
The well and tunnel are clearly ancient and would require a massive effort to construct it. This suggests it is part of a qanat.
Hard
The chamber is colder than the surface as would be expected, but it is significantly colder.

The well is the start of a qanat, an underground tunnel water system used in Arabia and Persia during ancient and medieval times. Essentially it is an underground aqueduct. In a qanat, shafts are sunk in the hills, descending below the water table, and gently sloping horizontal tunnels are cut to carry the water to distant locations. The longest qanat discovered about is 97 kilometres and was built entirely by hand.

The tunnel leads off the chamber, down the valley and in the direction of the second well seen in the ghost orchard.

Automatic
The tunnel is only 5' high and the water is 3' deep which makes it cramped and difficult to move through. It carries on for 50' to a point where the tunnel has collapsed and is completely blocked. The collapse is clearly an old event but it is impossible to date when it happened.
Easy
In the water there are some modern clothes and a bag. The clothes and bag are unremarkable but there is a wallet with a photo ID of Ahmed Yassin.
Moderate
Scraped on the ceiling are outer dark symbols which seem recently made.
Hard
In the water, slowly dissolving, is a photograph showing four men in front of a road sign to Petra. This is the same photo as can be found in the Touqan Family Bakery in Epsiode One but in much worse condition.

Investigating the tunnel's symbols reveals:

Automatic
Death's DoorGuardianThe Outer DarkStar Stone.
Easy
The symbol for The Outer Dark [Power] is driving The Guardian [Defences] to provide some form of protection.
Moderate
The Star Stone symbol uses its Fate / Destiny aspect to link the protection to a specific person.
Hard
The Death's Door symbol is using the concept of Escape.

Characters who venture into the well during the night when the ghosts are present will notice some key differences.

Automatic
As the character descends down the shaft all signs of the ghosts disappear as the ghost world and present-day world are identical. The chamber at the well's bottom is near freezing. Where the tunnel has collapsed the temperature is significantly below freezing and ice is forming on the water. A ghostly tunnel appears to carry on through the blockage.
Easy
Ice is forming very rapidly around the areas where the ghost tunnel and blockage co-exist.
Moderate
A hoar frost is spreading around the walls of the tunnel but not around the symbols scratched on the ceiling.
Hard
The temperature is plummeting to dangerously cold levels.

Characters standing before the blockage when scene two starts will see the ghost of Ahmed Yassin suddenly appear in the ghost tunnel as he enters the past. Shivering Ahmed staggers down the tunnel and out of sight.

The blockage / ghost tunnel is the transition between the present and the past, resulting in a leak of energy out of the current universe. Any attempt to touch the ghost tunnel results in an sudden energy loss. This is a 3d6+0 attack which does physical damage but additional dice may be added if the character attempts to walk into the ghost tunnel. Without the protection of Al-Nazeb's stone and outer dark magic, moving through the ghost tunnel will be fatal.

It will be obvious to the characters that the area around them is very cold and that they are standing in three feet of water. Less obvious is the real danger of hypothermia. The first noticeable effects of this are shivering and then poor muscle control as the body shuts down blood supplies to the extremities. The danger the characters face will only become apparent when they attempt an action needing good control of their muscles, such as climbing a rope out of the well.

Any character who ventures into the well during the time of the ghosts is attacked by 2d6+2 of cold when they try to leave. This increases by 1d6+1 for each significant action taken in the tunnel, e.g. examining the symbols or the ghost tunnel. It also increases by 1d6+1 if they spend time waiting for the start of scene two. A successful attack prevents the character from climbing out of the well or even tying a rope around themselves. They will then require help to escape their predicament.

Losing Grip On Reality

At dawn of each day the characters are attacked by the accumulative effects of the reality-warping nature of the outer dark. As the sun rises the characters will experience a very different reality where events take place out of sequence. The time distortion fades quickly but the effects may last a lot longer. The basic attack is 1d6+1 plus additional dice depending on the characters' actions.

1d6+1
Touching or close examination of ghostly objects.
2d6+2
Touching the ghost of a villager.
3d6+3
The ghost of a living creature walked through a character.
1d6+1
Being in the well during the day.
2d6+2
Being in the well during the night.
2d6+2
Requiring rescue from the well.

Characters who fail resistance actions gain one of the follow status effects: Detachment, Hallucination, Self-Harm, Shivers.

Ending Episode Two

Like episode one, episode two does not have a clearly-defined end point. The characters should be able to deduce that Ahmed Yassin passed back in time. There he unleashed the plague of Mot on the Romans and was the 'marked man' which Al-Nazeb defeated. The stone was then sealed in the cave with the hermit until its discovery in 1910 and subsequent theft by Ahmed Yassin.

Once the players have a good idea about the paradox, the Game Leader can use Farouk Hosny to push the adventure on to episode three. The team only have a limited amount of time remaining and they still have an episode to film.

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open/oneshots/petra/act2village.txt · Last modified: 2014/08/13 14:49 by darth_tigger
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