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The Tigers of Kuramanby Giampaolo Agosta from Threshold Magazine issue 20
Tigers of Kuraman is an adventure and mini-setting for the continent of Skothar. The adventure is written for BECMI Player Characters of early Companion levels. Pregenerated characters are provided, tying the party to the setting and introducing the key NPCs. The adventure can be used to set the background for a more complex campaign, either using the provided PCs, or using different characters, and turning the pregenerated PCs into NPCs for the rest of the campaign.
The adventure is set in the Gulf of Tangor, but the setting covers also part of Tangor Bay.
The Tigers of Kuraman is inspired by “Pirates of Malaysia” by Emilio Salgari, and the related “Indo-malay” cycle of novels.
The Lay of the Land
Most of the population of the Gulf of Tangor is composed of rakasta, either Harimau-Belang (sherkasta), Rimau-Dahan (cloud pardasta), Rimau-Gunung (pardasta), or Kucing (domestic rakasta).
Other native sentients of the area include lizard men (Biawak), dragons (jade, onyx, and black dragons), naga, and Tangor and Jennite humans (called Orang-Hitam and Orang-Datar by the native rakasta; Alphatians are called Orang-Langit, literally meaning both humans from the sky and sky-coloured humans, referring to the bluish tint of pure Alphatians' complexion).
Biawak lizard men are similar to the shazak of the Savage Coast, but their skins are covered in a natural mail of bone extrusions, giving them a natural AC 5, and have poison glands that allow them to inject a powerful and deadly venom. Furthermore, their blood naturally contains a strong antibacterial compound, which gives them a +2 bonus to saving throws to resist diseases.
[Image: Map of Tangor Bay area]
The Pirate Island of Kuraman
Kuraman is a disappearing island, impossible to locate. It is considered as a legend by the mariners of the Gulf of Tangor. However, it does exist in the Gulf of Tangor and, at the same time, in the Dreamlands. The island originally moved erratically between the Dreamlands and the real world. Since two years, the consciousness of Lady Mylerila, and Alphatian elf maiden, has merged with the land itself, and exerts a degree of control over it, mostly at the behest of her former husband, the sherkasta pirate lord Bahadur the Brave. Bahadur’s “cubs”, fierce sherkasta pirates, make up most of the island’s population, from which they sail out in prahos (use longship statistics) to raid Alphatian shippings.
There are few other threats on the island, although some sleepy treants are found in the woods on the slopes that lead to the keep where Bahadur holds his court.
The Kingdom of Warangan
This semi-independent dominion is located along the coast of the Gulf of Tangor. It is controlled by Quisoth Tredissur, an enterprising Alphatian cleric of Brissard and former military officer of the Imperial Navy, who is known as “The Pirates’ Bane” and “The Human Rajah”. Warangan is rich in mineral resources, and the Human Rajah is increasingly attracting dwarven miners from the Kingdom of Stoutfellow to improve the efficiency of the mines. This causes conflict with the local sherkasta clergy and hunters and the domestic rakasta farmers. Quisoth is currently attempting to get his claim as King of Warangan recognized by the Imperial throne.
Inland, the jungles of Warangan are inhabited by dangerous creatures, including giant snakes and lizards, as well as plants such as archer bushes, mantraps, and choke creepers. The jade dragon Tuan-Ular controls much of this territory. She is friendly towards the natives, but hostile towards the Alphatians.
Kerajaan Berlian-Wajik (Rajahstan of Berlian-Wajik)
The nearest neighbour to the north and east of Warangan, Berlian-Wajik is a large but underdeveloped kingdom, ruled by a caste of sherkasta warriors and clerics lording over cloud pardasta hunters and domestic rakasta farmers. Pardasta also live in the northern borderlands. The Rajah of Berlian-Wajik, Delima-Batu (sherkasta cleric 12, N), is an ineffective, prejudiced, traditionalist ruler who has been unable to resist the Alphatian requests, leaving the island of Lawang under Alphatian control. The island is used by the Alphatians as a stopover for flights and sea travels to the Alphatian Raj.
The fauna of Berlian-Wajik is similar to that of Warangan, but decapi, surtaki1 and hill giants are also found in the the more remote areas.
The Alphatian Raj
This large dominion in the south of the Bay of Tangor is controlled by a group of high-level Alphatian adventurers, the Company of Mage Adventurers, who have invested large amount of money and magical resources in carving out their own dominion in Skothar, subjugating local sherkasta Rajahs and Maharajahs. The Alphatians are supported by a small amount of magically armed Alphatian troops, as well as domestic rakasta and sherkasta sepoys, native mercenary troops. Viceroy Qanetar (male human magic user 30, C) is the leader of the Alphatians. He claims the title of Viceroy, although in Alphatian terms he is a full-fledged King. The Raj territory is divided into many smaller principalities, mostly held by local vassals, or by Alphatian administrators.
Besides Alphatians, Jennite and Tangor humans are also found in the area.
This giant mangrove forest at the delta of a the Devanadi river in Tangor Bay borders the Alphatian Raj. Sherkasta hunt-lords control swaths of the jungle, maintaining retinues of sherkasta and pardasta hunters, and cloud pardasta and domestic rakasta servants. The Alphatian Raj maintains military outposts along the borders, mostly manned by sepoys. The murderous cult of the demon goddess Andhakari (Demogorgon) hides in the depths of the forests, emerging to abduct victims to sacrifice in her pagoda temples. Sanshodhara, the high priest of Andhakari, leads this evil cult.
The Andhakarban is a hotbed of monsters. Hydrae are particularly common, as are hangman trees, and multiple black and onyx dragons claim territories in the region, all under the command of a huge onyx dragon, Kelam-Akik.
[Image: A beach in the Gulf of Tangor]
Kingdom of Emas
This multi-ethnic kingdom east of the Andhakarban is composed of sherkasta and other rakasta, but also Tangor humans and ogre-kin, who have stratified in a long sequence of migrations and invasions. The current rulers are a displaced Tangor human people, called Taranya in the rakasta language. They form circa 15% of the population, with ogre-kin immigrants from the east composing another 20%, and the rest divided among the pardasta, cloud pardasta, sherkasta and domestic breeds of rakasta, and a few Jennite immigrants. The current chief of state is the dowager Queen Zamrud (female human cleric 9 of Ixion).
The Alphatians operate in the Gulf of Tangor and Tangor Bay regions in a semi-official way. Most of them are independent or semi-independent adventurers, hoping to establish dominions in this remote but resource-rich region. A relative amount of organisation is provided by the Company of Mage Adventurers, an organisation sponsored by rich Alphatian magic users as well as by the Cult of Supremacy, a cult of Brissard originating in Frisland. The Company has sufficient clout to be able to get limited support from the Imperial fleet, and sufficient funds to hire Alphatian and native mercenaries. Viceroy Qanetar is the leader of the Company of Mage Adventurers.
The Tigers of Kuraman are directly opposed to the Alphatians, since their leader, Bahadur, lost his family and petty kingdom to the human Rajah, Quisoth Tredissur. They mostly strike at Alphatian ships, but occasionally attack ports. While Bahadur is a noble leader and does not condone slavery or the killing of prisoners, his followers are not as lenient when Bahadur himself is not present.
These ferocious rakasta of various breeds are cultists of Demogorgon, in her aspect as Andhakari. They practice ritual sacrifices of sentient beings as well as engaging in kidnapping, murder, and slave trade. Their upper ranks include weretigers and randara2, beside high level sherkasta clerics of Demogorgon. They originate from the Andhakarban, but are found in Emas and the Alphatian Raj as well, usually under cover. The high priest Sanshodhara is the leader of the cult.
Bahadur the Brave
Pirate Lord, sherkasta fighter 20, C
Bahadur was born the heir to a petty kingdom in what is now Warangan. At that time, the territory was part of the Rajahstan of Berlian-Wajik. Bahadur’s parents and most of his relatives were killed or dispersed by the Human Rajah during his campaign to consolidate his power on Warangan, while Bahadur was away on a trading expedition to distant Zyxl. On his return, Bahadur vowed vengeance and assembled a pirate crew out of the remaining warriors of his household and others wronged by Quisoth. After a particularly violent battle at sea, Bahadur’s praho shipwrecked on Lawang, where he was not recognized. Lord Astreth and his protegé Mylerila nursed him to health. During that time, Bahadur met a mysterious and fascinating sherkasta woman, whom he wooed, only to be forced to flee by a sudden visit of the Human Rajah. After many adventures, Bahadur managed to reunite with his beloved, who turned out to be Mylerila, a weretigress! Unfortunately, Mylerila elven blood interfered with her lycanthropy, leading her to fall ill and, in time, die of her lycanthropy.
A majestic sherkasta with piercing black eyes, dressed in red cloth brocaded with gold, Bahadur often sports a turban kept in place by a ruby and dark red leather boots. A curved dagger and a scimitar complete his outfit.
Yonar to Sphendon
Minaean thief 17, N
Yonar is a roguish gentleman of Minaean origins. He was traveling on an Alphatian ship as a mercenary, when the ship was attacked by Bahadur’s pirates. Yonar was the last defender to surrender, and Bahadur admired his bravery and skill so much he decided not only to spare him, which he does with all prisoners, but to acknowledge him as his equal. From that time, Yonar became almost a brother to Bahadur, as well as his second in command. A master of disguises, Yonar is able to pass himself off as an Alphatian, as he speaks the language perfectly, and uses this ability to help Bahadur gather information and infiltrate the Alphatians’ ranks.
Yonar is tall and lanky, with a drooping moustache and a long nose. His greying hair is tied in a ponytail. He wears the colorful clothes of a swashbuckler, and wields rapier and main gauche in combat.
Andhakardan Hunter, sherkasta fighter 16, N
Shakta-Byadha is a noble sherkasta from the Andhakardan. A tall, handsome specimen with large stripes, Shakta-Byadha is a skilled snake hunter and outdoorsman, as well as a valiant fighter. He is a sworn enemy of Sanshodhara and the Thugs, and the lover of Lady Halarys Telanes.
High Priest of the Thug Cult, sherkasta cleric of Demogorgon 20, C
A wily sherkasta priest, Sanshodhara is known by the titles of High Priest of Andhakara, and Son of the Great Waters. His true identity is mostly unknown, even to the adepts of the cult, and only the inner circle of priests -- all devoted worshipers of Demogorgon -- know his face, which is hidden behind a golden mask during the rituals. Yet, he commands the absolute devotion of his followers.
Physically, Sanshodara is thin for a sherkasta, but has ropelike muscles. He is an expert wrestler and a master of disguises. As the high priest, he wears a golden mask and rich paraments of black silk decorated with golden thread.
Rajah Quisoth Tredissur
The Human Rajah, King of Wangaram, Alphatian cleric 18 of Brissard, C
Quisoth Tredissur is a former Imperial Navy officer turned explorer and adventurer. An imposing man in his mid-forties, Quisoth sports longish brown curly hair, a thin moustache, and the coppery complexion of a common Alphatian. He is originally from Ambur, and has retained a certain theatrical flair, relishing in unexpected appearances and sudden revelations. Quisoth is a competent military commander, although he tends to push his men too much, and is prone to sudden bursts of wrath. His success derives mostly from the superior magical power of the Alphatians, his good relations with the Company of Mage Adventurers, and his prized possession, the sky schooner Ybodnei.
Quisoth is a follower of the Cult of Supremacy, a Frislander religion centered around the cult of the Immortal patron of slavery, Brissard. He is loosely allied with the Alphatian Raj, and is developing an alliance with Sanshodhara. Quisoth is the mortal enemy of Bahadur.
Skycaptain, Governor of Lawang, Alphatian weretiger 12/magic user 15, N
Lord Astreth is an older Alphatian adventurer and skyship captain. He is the governor of Lawang, which he holds as a sub-dominion for the Human Rajah. He and his beautiful protegé, Mylerila, are both weretigers. Astreth is not as evil as Quisoth Tredissur, but hates Bahadur for carrying away Mylerila and blames him for her death.
Astreth looks like a pure Alphatian, dressed in the uniform of a navy officer, or in the flowing robes of the aristocracy. In tiger form, his black and white stripes have a bluish cast.
Mylerila, the Sapphire of Lawang
Nature Spirit, formerly Alphatian (half-)elf 9/weretiger 9, N
Mylerila was born of Feredyl Telanes’ sister and Lord Astreth’s older brother. Her mother died in childbirth, and her father died when the girl was very young following the Spike Assault in distant Thyatis. Mylerila was sent to live with her uncle, who moved to Lawang when the Human Rajah acquired the island. As the daughter of an elf and a weretiger, her dual nature stressed her physique immensely, leading to her premature death a couple of years after marrying Bahadur. When she died, her spirit did not leave Kuraman, but merged with the island itself becoming a nature spirit. She sometimes appears as an elf or a sherkasta maiden, or as a white tiger. She exerts a degree of control over Kuraman’s presence in the material world or in the Dreamlands, which she can use to help Bahadur.
Captain Feredyl Telanes
Shiye Mercenary, alphatian elf 10 (Attack Class D), L
This mercenary officer from Shiye-Lawr is the uncle of Mylerila, and the adoptive father of her half-sister Halarys. A stern, no-nonsense officer, Feredyl serves the Company of Mage Adventurers in the Alphatian Raj, commanding a border fort near the Andhakarban.
Alphatian cleric 13/weretiger 10, N
Halarys Telanes is Mylerila’s half-sister from her father’s side. The identity of her mother is a secret known only to Feredyl Telanes, who used to be a close friend and assistant of her father. Feredyl adopted the girl, who remains very close to her half-sister. Halarys was kidnapped by the thugs to be trained as a priestess of Demogorgon. However, Shakta-Byadha and Feredyl joined forces to rescue her.
Cloud pardasta fighter 14, L
Antek is a cloud pardasta servant of Shakta-Byadha. He is unceasingly loyal to his master, and a remarkable fighter on his own. He is often able to save his master by appearing at the last minute out of nowhere and saving the day, as well as to escape defeat by suddenly disappearing from a battle site.
Exiled Prince of Warangan, domestic rakasta cleric 10 of Bastet
The son of the former ruler of Warangan has been sent to the custody of the Viceroy of the Alphatian Raj. He is a popular figure in Warangan and Berlian-Wajik, and his disappearance has put a halt to insurgency in the area.
The adventure starts as Shakta-Byadha has been captured by the Human Rajah. Instigated by Sanshodhara, the Rajah is sending Shakta-Byadha to a prison colony in Esterhold by ship. Feredyl, Halarys, and Antek set sail on the “Young Tangor” to attempt a rescue, but shipwreck on Kuraman, where they are joined by Yonar, who helps them in their efforts.
The adventure is designed for the four characters mentioned above, but can the party can be expanded by adding one or two high-level Tigers of Kuraman (sherkasta F14, N). In this case, the DM will need to adjust the number of opponents. The adjusted TPL for the party, as stated above, is 120.
The adventure begins in medias res, with Feredyl, Halarys, and Antek on board the “Young Tangor”, a small sailing ship manned by captain Kelasi (male domestic rakasta F5, L) and his sailors. A violent storm sends the “Young Tangor” to shipwreck on the Tangor Gulf island of Kuraman.
Bahadur sends Yonar with a group of his pirates to attack the invaders. A furious melee ensues. The three PCs on the ship are attacked by 12 Tigers of Kuraman (sherkasta F3).
Yonar is instead faced by 3 sailors (domestic rakasta F2) and captain Kelasi.
The other sailors and Tigers are busy fighting each other, and can be considered as not contributing to the fight. If Yonar dispatches the sailors (or if the Tigers capture the other PCs), the Tigers of Kuraman dispatch the remaining sailors, and surround Feredyl, Halarys and Antek. If, on the other hand, the three PCs dispatch all the Tigers before Yonar wins his fight, or if Yonar is subdued by the sailors, Bahadur himself appears with a large group of Tigers, and forces the surrender of the shipwrecked crew.
In any case, Feredyl, Halarys and Antek are brought before Bahadur, who recognises the resemblance of Halarys to Mylerila. Soon, the truth is discovered, and the three can expound their plight to the pirate lord, who asks Yonar to help them. He sends them out with a praho, 20 Tigers, and Yonar.
Battles in the Sky
Bahadur’s plan is that the PCs take command of the “Star of Verdun”, the ship that will bring Shakta-Byadha to Esterhold. The PCs will then reach Warangan, retrieve Shakta-Byadha under the guise of Alphatian officers, and bring him back to Kuraman. For this reason, only the PCs can accomplish the mission -- Bahadur himself would be easily recognised, so he remains on Kuraman.
The Star of Verdun
The "Star of Verdun" is an Alphatian navy ship, equivalent to a large sailing ship. It is manned by 26 sailors (normal humans), captain Taloth Ur-Daryr (male human T14, N), first officer Lernan (male human T9, N), and 3 mates (each a T3). Protecting the ship is a company of 20 heavy marines (F3, armed with longswords and wearing plate mail and shield) led by commander Zumthan (male human F9, L).
Mylerila senses the proximity of the "Star of Verdun", allowing the PCs to reach it on a praho, in case they want to attack the ship, or on a lifeboat, if they want to pass themselves off as survivors of a shipwreck. They can then use persuasion, charm spells, bribes or any means they can come up with to replace the officers. However, if one of the officers manages to escape the PCs persuasion methods, he will be able to use a scroll of communication to alert an Alphatian base, from which the skyship "Starpoint Arrow" is dispatched.
[Image: A piratical praho]
The Starpoint Arrow
The "Starpoint Arrow" will intercept the "Star of Verdun" near Warangan's coast. It attacks from the sky with a belcher, aiming at disabling the sails. Then, the Arrow's captain sends a boarding party of 10 élite boltmen (E3 or MU3), commanded by Commander Tsalim (male human MU10, N) and 12 marines (F4), commanded by Lieutenant Zyndras (male human F12).
If the boarding fails, the captain will withdraw his forces and sink the "Star of Verdun" using his belcher, forcing the PCs to reach the coast swimming.
The Rajah’s Palace
Once in Warangan, the PCs may try to carry out the original plan, if they are still in possession of the "Star of Verdun". In this case, however, they will be betrayed by one of the officers or sailors, forcing a confrontation with the White Rajah's guards (use the same statistics as for the "Starpoint Arrow" boarding crew, but there is no aerial support in this encounter).
Otherwise, they need to come up with a different plan. This part of the adventure is less constrained, as the PCs may come up with different plans to free Shakta-Byadha. If they ask for a local contact, then a local sage and opium house owner, Pembag (domestic rakasta T9, C) will suggest to infiltrate the Human Rajah's palace, give Shakta-Byadha a finely tuned dose of Black Lotus, so he will appear dead, then exfiltrate him from the mortuary.
If the PCs do not exercise the utmost caution, the followers of Sanshodhara will discover their purpose by interrogating their informants (e.g., Pembag or any survivor of the "Star of Verdun" crew). In this case, the Son of the Great Waters will dispatch his representatives in Warangan to ambush the PCs, if possible by night. The team is led by Jahat (cloud pardasta cleric 10 of Demogorgon) and composed by six Thugs (HD 5 each). Furthermore, Jahat will have summoned a death leech. If Jahat falls, the Thugs will retreat, leaving the death leech to cover them.
The mortuary is haunted by a vision. The vision appears as 8 rakasta fighting monks, armed with wicked polearms (1d10 damage). The vision does not manifest by day, and the mortuary is otherwise empty by night -- the curators know of the haunting.
If the PCs have poisoned Shakta-Byadha, his body lies on a table in the center of the mortuary.
Finale: The Human Rajah
When the PCs have recovered Shakta-Byadha, the Human Rajah will suddenly appear, having got wind of the PCs' presence -- perhaps an NPC recognised them, or a surviving Thug informed him. The Human Rajah will be always accompanied by his six bodyguards (each a human F8).
Emilio Salgari, “I Pirati della Malesia”, 1896 (first published in English as “The Pirates of Malaysia” in 2007)
Bruce Heard, "Rakasta of Mystara", Dragon Magazine #247, TSR, May 1998
Simone Neri, History and Evolution of Rakastas, http://pandius.com/rakhevol.html, 2008
Giampaolo Agosta, History and Origins of the Rakasta, Threshold Magazine Issue 5, Oct 2014
Marco Dalmonte, "On the Fey of Frisland and the Eye of Huldra", in Community Interview: Marco Dalmonte, Threshold Magazine Issue 6, Jan 2015.
[Image: A beach in the Gulf of Tangor]
Louis Le Breton, Adolphe Jean Baptiste Bayot. Rade et ville de Singapour, vue prise de la maison du gouverneur. Atlas pittoresque, planche 134. 1846. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
[Image: A piratical praho]
A Piratical Proa in Full Chase as depicted in The Pirates Own Book by Charles Ellms. 1837. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
1A surtaki is an unusual monster from Creature Catalog, page 104. It is a predator large as a bull, with a reptilian head, poison quills, and a shaggy fur.
2A randara is the BECMI version of the AD&D rakshasa. It is found in Creature Catalog, page 89.