Letter from Dr Marhaba to Tom Ovenbird, &al.

Greetings Mr Ovenbird, Greetings!

Please convey my regards to Misters Turner and Glizzard, and thank you for the story of their recent adventures. I’m sorry to hear they have suffered wounds, but am greatly gratified they are in recovery with good prospects for full recovery.

Dangerous as the our worlds are, they are made safer and better by our mutual support of each other becoming our better selves. Do let me know if there’s something I can help with using my resources to aid their progress; but I have arranged for a case of supplies to be sent as soon as possible with items that may be useful in that regard.

I read your notes about the music Turner and Glizzard discovered to a colleague who suggested something interesting. Apparently, my colleague was reminded of some ancient materials recovered from research on the long lost Serpent Kingdoms. There were recovered several examples of musical notation from those ancient days, which have been reconstructed as best as we are able. I’m of course not suggesting that the music you found was from that ancient period, but we were reminded of these reconstructions. I have included a sample being sent by my colleague, which you may enjoy and consider.

Who knows what layers of ancient past might be hiding under the surface of the estuary, just waiting to be discovered. We know that the ancient Serpent Kingdoms covered much of our world, and maybe farther, so finds both of direct artifacts and also lingering influence on subsequent eras are to be found everywhere.

When you mention the broken urn, I wanted to share two practices I’ve used to repair similar artifacts to some success. The first practice has proven useful for preserving the original appearance while displaying the historical damage, but in a way that conserves the efficacy of any effect of magic within, often allowing me to not only preserve the item but to engage in a process of repairing the magical function of those artifacts as well. In this technique, use pure gold to fill and repair crack and defects in the object, which is highly malleable and also allows magic to function. Another property of pure gold is to mellow ill effects from any maleficent magics in the original, possibly creating a much more useful artifact than the original even.

The second, as is true of so many broken things, contemplates that breaks are never fully healed, even in hearts as in urns, but that we can grow larger than our breaks. One can sometimes create surprising new artifacts using the materials from older objects by embedding the older material in new, when the older artifacts are not repairable or to be preserved as examples as they are for research.

I will send some material we’ve used successfully at the University to do this. You’ll be interested to know that this material is actually derived from mud! You may be able to create new supplies from the mud in your own estuary, so I’ll also include instructions on the preparation of more.

News of your Ms Frembas will be welcome when there is some to share.

I have recently received a crate, which I have not had a chance to investigate, from another new correspondent, Take, a small fellow who appears to have recently taken up with a newly unified tribal cohort of Goblins and is seeking out ancient forgotten places with the help of their rather amazingly well preserved oral histories, that stretch far beyond what history even those at this University know. I understand there is, as I write this, a remarkable Goblin Market being built to traffic in the arts, crafts and artifacts from those adventures and more. Sounds like a place of wondrous surprises.

Truly, much amazing news and discoveries are being made by all in many quarters, and I am honored and delighted to be able to play a part in those, applying what resources I have available to me, even if only remotely, whilst I make my own progress here.

Signed & sealed,
Hujambo Marhaba

OOC

(This is an in-character letter sent, with an OOC post-script, back in 2017, to someone playing a solitaire game using the Index Card RPG (ICRPG) rules, as a kind of meta-game correspondence play. Unfortunately, there was only one previous letter exchanged and no others, though I did come up with a draft idea of ICRPG Field Research activity, and so this didn’t develop much further, but there’s a lot about this kind of meta-game play, especially for solitaire, that appeals to me. Adding a series of correspondence to an existing game, that links different tables and players across time and space seems pretty awesome, and potentially wildly interesting.)

I know the work of Bach is not the same, and separated by much time, but as I listened to the music you linked, I was reminded of and ended up listening again to several reconstructions of ancient music, including the Hurrian Hymn to Nikkal and Ensemble De Organographia, who I got to hear in person a few years ago, playing at Marylhurst in PDX.

Thinking of that in ICRPG terms, I thought there might be threads of musical magic patterns that survive in subsequent compositions that are preserved from even more ancient works from the Serpent Kingdoms.

Consider what a reasonable but not awkwardly extravagant care package from Marhaba, a well funded adventurer at a magical University might include, and that might be send to Turner and Glizzard; perhaps roll a few times on the ICRPG loot tables, or just grab a few ideas; but something no doubt useful to them will arrive shortly or along with this letter. Something like this care package might be similar to one of many supply crates Marhaba would have on hand, prepared to take on an extended dig, for example, with health and wellness supplies, but perhaps with one or two additional gifts added to it, that may prove useful.

When talking about using gold to fill cracks, I’m of course thinking of Kintsugi, an exemplar from Japan of Wabi Sabi.

Also, when talking about creating something bigger than the original, I’m reminded of the Japanese art Dorodango, of making “shiny dumpling” mud balls, a kind of magical process!

That last, shiny mud balls, I can really imagine being a high art in Grung (from D&D) or Torton (ICRPG) / Tortle (D&D) cultures, and may be something of interest for filling out the culture of some non human settlements in the estuary area. Like finding glass balls from old fishing nets on the beach …

I’ve been on a kick thinking about Myconids, Grung, Torton/Tortle as fun “bioforms” for a swampy/wetlands area of play. I can’t shake ideas of Frog and Toad and Wind in the Willows when I think of adventures in a estuary. And, I’ve gone way off on a tangent now. But, I’ve always been very interested in non-human, even non-humanoid, characters, for a game. Lately, I’ve been dreaming of something set in a place similar to the D&D Chult, in the Snout of Omgar, with Tortle, Grung, and idek Kobolds, Myconids and Vegepygmies?!

Welp. I finally managed to record a bit of a new series for the forthcoming ICRPG Ghost Mountain setting, in Runehammer’s ICRPG Worlds, or rather, inspired by what I imagine that setting will be like. The first moments of that posted just now on youtube!

I spent way more time pulling together preparations for that than I thought I would need, but I think it turned out okay. I wanted to do something leading up to an actual Ghost Mountain adventure, as soon as the ICRPG Worlds book is out, whenever it is finished.

It has been getting darker and drearier here as the cold creeps in and the rain begins lasting weeks at a time, and I’ve not been keeping up with regular game streaming lately. I’ve been struggling a bit with that, but I do what I can.

This weekend is PAX Unplugged in Philly, so I’ve been watching streams from there. Last night was Dice Camera Action, a fun series, and tonight is Acquisitions Incorporated. Then tomorrow is The C Team. Those are all D&D live shows. Don’t know if you’ve ever watched any of that kind of thing, but I watch a few of them. Some day, I think it would be fun to be part of a live stream roleplaying game like those!

Anyhow, hope all is well with you and yours!

Thanks!

A reply from Doctor Hujambo Marhaba to Mr Turner’s letter

Greetings Mr Turner, Greetings!

Of course I do recall meeting you at various gallery openings and soever. I’m flattered you’d remember me from our brief acquaintance at those events, but I am soever glad for the letter from you whilst you are on your adventures!

I myself am off on my own for a working sabbatical at the moment, but after I return in the coming month I would be glad to arrange a visit to hear more about these structures you have been exploring, and to help identify the mysterious substance you have found.

With more details, I may be able to help find some references to these creatures whose remains you have found in the academic library, and learn more about them and the history of those structures in which you found them.

As to this substance, I would likely need some time to safely determine the nature of it, so believe I would need to have some of the sample left in my care for longer than your visit. I could send word to you after your return to the estuary area with my results when those studies have completed.

Do let me know your plans and I will have one of my assistants make hospitable arrangements for you and your friend Glizzard at the University so we can discuss these matters of interest. Letters are forwarded to me with only minor delay as needed if they cannot be responded to on my behalf, so feel at liberty to discuss any specifics even if I am currently traveling.

Have you been at your art whilst traveling or, I hope, at least gathering inspiration for the same? The real treasures of travel are rarely only mementos one can carry, are they?

I am curious about this game you’ve mentioned learning from your local friend. Perhaps when you visit we can all find a way to play a round here, and perhaps introduce something new to entertain the faculty and students between their studies.

By the by, I have a colleague who has an interest in fungus, and I wonder about what grows where you are currently exploring. I understand that this is exactly the season my colleague would have staged a trip to gather scientific samples, during a traditionally abundant harvesting period, but was unable to do so. Perhaps you would be willing and able help?

You should look to find a variety of the unique local fungus growths from your area. However, I must convey a warning that some growths may be, as one says, aware of you if you approach them. There are in some locales living species who also are able to communicate your presence to others of their own kind and allies, and some locales have even more rare species which may also pose a danger to you. So I find I must caution you to be wary of complex fungus structures that appear to have been designed to a purpose, which may indicate the presence of these more rare and dangerous species.

Do consider gathering what unique samples you are safely able, placing them individually in glass jars for transport. Any other details you observe will be of interest, to be sure. I have included under separate cover some brief discussion of proper sampling techniques and methods of recording observations usefully which you may find helpful. I know that my colleague will be quite excited to receive those to assuage the disappointment of not being able themselves to engage in gathering this season.

I look forward to arranging for your visit and to help apply my resources here toward resolving your current mysteries.

Signed & sealed,
Hujambo Marhaba

OOC

(This is an in-character letter sent, with an OOC post-script, back in 2017, to someone playing a solitaire game using the Index Card RPG (ICRPG) rules, as a kind of meta-game correspondence play. Unfortunately, there was only one more letter exchanged, and a draft idea of ICRPG Field Research activity, and so this didn’t develop much further, but there’s a lot about this kind of meta-game play, especially for solitaire, that appeals to me. Adding a series of correspondence to an existing game, that links different tables and players across time and space seems pretty awesome, and potentially wildly interesting.)

Doctor Hujambo Marhaba is a dark skinned, improbably tall, and wolfishly strong and lean ICRPG Hill Folk who is a visiting independent research-fellow and many-skilled scholar at the University. Dr Marhaba is rumoured to be generously supported by a controversial but ultimately secret endowment that is not popular within certain factions of the administration, perhaps unpopular particularly because they have been chagrined to find they are impotent to defund or influence the endowment, or Dr Marhaba, in any way. Ultimately even those in the opposition faction are loathe to pass on the research money and fully funded department, to be honest, which has begun to enhance the University’s reputation in many quarters of society.

Dr Marhaba often travels on elaborate and adventurous research expeditions, between much in-demand and irregular lectures about that research, often involving improbably wild stories that prove to be all too real when supported by the evidence of respectfully recovered artifacts and wondrous loot.

The increasingly infamous Dr Marhaba is often consulted by strange and unfamiliar visitors about such mysterious questions, and is glad to help with study and research leveraging University resources, including the use of several student assistants who are available for such assignments as are needed. Dr Marhaba thus also has an increasingly extensive network of contacts outside the University on which to rely when needed. These assistants and other contacts may respond to letters during the doctor’s periods of unavailability, when they are suitable to the task.

As a quirk, the doctor often uses repeated greetings, as in the salutation of this letter.

Dr Marhaba is active in the city arts and creative community, though not central to it, is an inside outsider to the art, university, and city communities. It is at several of these arts community events that Mr Turner and Dr Marhaba became acquainted.

In my thinking, if you are amenable, this could become a series of correspondence to advance the plot of your adventures. I am somewhat inspired by the De Profundis and Quill systems for my thinking around this idea, a way to roleplay via letters. I would hope if we continue that I could have permissions to post these to the Odd Order blog, and you might take a gander at a rather stalled out site for De Profundis that I’d made a while back for inspiration as well.

I’m excited by the way you’ve described your adventures and the golf game since they appear to be largely more about exploration than combat, which I’ve found to be ICRPG’s particular primary focus. My adventures with Take ran into at least one point in one of the sample trials where the main way forward, and way to get the subsequent reward, was clearly intended to be combat, which to which he was ill-suited against the challenge. I’ve been finding that I’ve focused a lot on combat in my videos, and have been thinking about how to include more … other stuff through Effort based tasks and storytelling instead of simply combats.

Anyhow, no pressure if the above correspondence isn’t of interest or doesn’t fit your particular adventures, but it occurred to me as perhaps being an added asynchronous dimension of play to enhance the rest of your own sessions. In any case, I thought Dr Marhaba might be a useful resource and plot device.

Feel free, of course, to include any OOC details, questions, suggestions, or hints to help craft replies as you like with in-character correspondence, thus.

Thanks!