Actual Play IV: The Trial of Athena (Part One)

A Ship to the Underworld
The heroes were now equipped with the Stone of Ares and the Lyre of Apollo. A decision was made
An example of an Achaean Warship
that they would need a ship to get themselves to the Underworld. The wise goddes Athena had previously sent a vision to her chosen champion, the Wizard Saphildur of a golden ship that could safely sail down the rivers of the underworld. Getting to the ship required finding Thrinacia, the secret island of the Cyclops, off the coast of Sicily. There, the players would find Polyphemus, a ferocious and cannibalistic cyclops. Most people were afraid of the beast, and many great heroes had died trying to slay it. The Golden Ship is currently in his clutches, left at the harbor after he killed the previous owner. This quest was Wise Saphildur's and he had the idea to find another demigod hero to discuss the situation with the cyclops. This was a good plan and it did not go well.

They met a son of Poseidon named Argurios who ran a seaside tavern on an island near the lair of Cyclops. The name of his establishment was the Salty Mermaid. (This may not be a particularly historically correct establishment. The Mycenaeans were a pre-money society, so it is completely unlikely that they would have restaurants. However, I needed to think quickly. Improvisation is key to good Dungeon Mastering. Saphildur and the heroes decided to take a detour and there is no way I can say no. So I had to think quickly, seaside port was the best I could come up with.)

Argurios was a retired hero, he had fought monsters and lived a life of adventure, but let it all go to live a simple life here in his tavern. Since it was during the day, the tavern was empty. He was not impressed by the heroes and treated them disrespectfully. This sort of rudeness did not sit well with Mighty Lycaneous, son of Ares. He challenged Argurios, Lycaneous did not believe he even was a son of Poseidon. As they stood, nose to nose, Argurios shoved Lycaneous out of his way. Lycaneous raged and smashed Argurios in the head with the Stone of Ares, killing him.

Argurios, son of Poseidon fell from a single blow. As a lion takes down a lamb in a single crunch of its massive jaws, so did Lychaneous draw the ire of the Earthshaker Poseidon. The party was shocked. Argurios lay in a heap, instead of blood pouring from his head wound, it was sea water. Elena, the healer daughter of Apollo tried to resuscitate him but failed. What followed next was chaos. Echo and Creos looted the tavern of its best wine and gold coins. Meanwhile Pious Elena and Wise Saphildur chose to wait outside, refusing to take part in the crime.

The party fled the scene. They had no information about the cyclops and had greatly angered Poseidon by butchering his son. Saphildur brought the expedition to a halt. Sailing from the village to the island of the cyclops was a foolhardy endevor. Before they could enter the wine dark sea, they must first offer a sacrifice to its master. The heroes traveled to the nearest city by land, seeking out the greatest bull they could find and purchasing it. Echo and Creos donated their ill gotten coins to a needy cause. The bull was taken back to the port, where it was walked to the shallow waters and sacrificed in the name of Poseidon. Each hero offered prayers of supplication to the god of the sea. When the bull was slain, it’s body dissolved in a flurry of bubbles, it was a sign that the offering was accepted.

It was safe for the heroes to travel to the island of the cyclops.

It should be noted, that it was around this time that the student playing Kalikilla left school. So I had her character just leave the heroes to their own devices. She will return again later.


Sacrifices to the gods were a major part of Greek mythology. If your gift was pious enough, the gods would offer you aid, if it was poor the gods sent punishment. Angering one of the Gods was always hazardous to your health.

To make a sacrifice to the gods requires a DC 15 religion test. Failure usually results in angering the god, or at best merely not pleasing them. The depths of the anger of the god relies on how badly the players failed the religion test.

Sacrifices often include sacrificing a cow or other animal (which costs about 100-250 gold) at a temple or other holy site dedicated to the god or goddess. Sacrificing a magnificent quality bull (250+ gold) grants advantage to this roll.

Another common offering were the libations to the gods. These are the simplest and most common forms of religious practice among the Achaeans. The celebrant would pour wine mixed with water, honey, oil, milk from a jug onto the ground or into a special shallow bowl. Offering a libation is cheap (only requiring wine costing 1-10 gold) and allows the hero to apply a +1 bonus to their religion test to their sacrifice. 

Heroes can do both, sacrificing a quality bull and making a libation in the hopes of achieving as many bonuses as possible when beseeching the gods for their favor. 


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