The expedition to the ancient ruins in the Highlands will take the team through Puno where they will disembark from their motorized transport and begin their long trek into the mountains. The campaign book provides suggestions for interactions in Puno, which center around Jackson introducing them to Nayra, a wise-local woman. She can provide the Investigators with directions to the ancient ruins, as well as further reveal the nature of the kharisiri and their master, the Father of Maggots. Depending on the circumstances, your players may not need or choose to meet with her. In essence, Keepers may simply want to consider exploration of Puno a sidetrack to the chapter’s main event. By acknowledging it as such, we can offer some potential to expand upon the location and folkloric tidbits provided by Nayra.
Despite Jackson’s introduction, Nayra may remain suspicious of these huaqeros. While she trusts the author’s intentions, she may require a good deed or favor before granting the location of the temple or revealing any additional secrets. We can draw inspiration for this potential side quest from the folklore knowledge contained in the campaign book.
Perhaps Nayra needs some able-bodied fools to recover a remnant of Mamacota’s blue-green stone idol from a nearby mountain cave. She may or may not reveal that the reason this artifact has not been recovered relates to the fact that the cave provides refuge to the Suq’a, haunted creatures made from bones that will attempt to kill and eat humans. As the campaign book suggests, you may elect to make these larval-driven skeletons or separate monsters altogether. You can easily repurpose the stats for the animated temple skeleton to use in this encounter.
Instead of requiring the return of an object, Nayra may sense the presence of the Golden Ward amongst the Investigators. She can reveal that she can appreciate a benevolent power imbued into the object, but she worries that its full effects have been compromised during its removal. If the players bite, she can suggest that they can undertake a journey to the top of a nearby mountain to complete a ritual that may restore the full protective power of the ward. This ritual may involve the invocation of the Incan thunder gods, Illapa or Catequl, who can deliver a bolt of lightning to restore the complete power of the ward. Jackson and other players may speculate that the ward simply functioned as some sort of lightning rod and the ritual was mere nonsense, but it’s better to have luck on the team’s side. The climb to the nearby mountain top can either open the door to kharisiri interference or provide an opportunity for them to attack Nayra while the Investigators travel outside the city.
A third option can address the kharisiri threat mentioned in the campaign book. If the players fail to recognize the kharisiri lurking at the edge of Lake Titicaca, they may not be able to intervene to save her life; however, should they identify the danger, a prolonged, suspenseful evacuation under the cover of darkness followed by a chase scene could add some excitement to the Puno interlude. Some exciting elements might include the shocking discovery of one of Nayra’s floating island protectors lifeless and drained upon arrival that night, or a kharisiri forcefully grasping a paddle from beneath the dark water or arriving at the intended escape vehicle/mule to find it missing or unable to start/dead. Finally, Nayra may be able to provide information about the Golden Mirror and warn Investigators of its dark power.
The inclusion of more interactive and developed activities in and around Puno expands upon the rich Peruvian setting while allowing PCs more Prologue time to bond with Jackson. Furthermore, if your Investigators successfully ditched Larkin and de Mendoza in Lima, this may provide ample, enticing distraction to allow their antagonists to narrow the travel gap, thus increasing suspense near the chapter’s end.
Did you expand upon the content in Puno? How did your Investigators spend their time in this chapter location?