Rendezvous in the Jungle

August 10, 2011

The Rendezvous is sometimes likened to a circus in the middle of the jungle wilderness.  There you have Jungle Men gathering to celebrate another year of survival in the harshest of conditions.  They are living life to the fullest, knowing they may not survive the next rainy season.  Throw into the mix women and drink from the east and jungle natives partaking in the excesses of a rich, foreign culture for the first time.  It’s a carnival in the green hell.

(I’m reminded of the scene in Apocalypse Now where the Playboy playmates are choppered into the jungle to put on a surreal show of bright lights and hip wiggling.  Maybe somewhere Bob Hope burns his golf club on stage while Jimi Hendrix wah-wahs “Silent Night” and Ho Chi Minh weeps.)

But the Rendezvous is not a dream.  It’s business.  It’s the critical link between the dragon skin harvesters in the jungle and the eager market of wizard-senators and their privileged wives.  The Jungle Men pack in their skins from all across the Dark Jungle, and the kingdom’s traders cart in all manner of supplies and entertainment from the eastern cities.

Some Jungle Men are Free Hunters, unaffiliated with any merchant company and selling to the highest bidder.  Most Jungle Men are under contract with a company to produce a quota of dragon skins for a fixed price and the next season’s supplies.  All these company men long to earn enough to become free hunters, but the seductive raucous of the Rendezvous often drains all profits, leaving them again in need of the company contract.

Only the most hardy and crazy of Jungle Men (such as Lung-Eatin’ Hayes) go it alone.  Most team up with others to form reliable units called bands for the season long hunts into the Dark Jungle.  Safety in numbers.  Hirelings are almost always present, if only to cook and guard base camp.  An important element of the Rendezvous is the formation of the bands and agreements with other bands regarding hunting territory.  There are often rivalries and disagreements, of course.

The events and business of the Rendezvous can be fun roleplaying.  But some DMs and players may want to speed through it and get back to the business of exploring the jungle and hunting dragons.  For them, I present the following table:

(d20) What happened at the Rendezvous?

  1. “That’s some high quality dragon skins you have there.”  20% extra profit
  2. “Why, these here skins are damaged.”  20% loss of profit
  3. “Could find no tracks to a woman’s heart.” You fell in love but were jilted.
  4. “Traded her for a Hawken.”  You traded for a wife.  If you already had a wife, you traded her away.
  5. “He’s got tough bark.”  You’ve won a contest: 1) Lying 2) Tree climbing 3) Howling 4) Dancing 5) Spitting 6) Coconut Tossing.  Gain a reputation and (another) nickname.
  6. “On his own hook.”  You’ve become a Free Hunter if not already one.
  7. “Paint yer face against em.” For some reason or another, you’ve declared war against a certain native tribe.
  8. “Get yer bristles up.”  A rivalry has formed with another band of Jungle Men.  They plan to encroach on your hunting grounds this upcoming season.
  9. “The whole shiteree.”  You lost everything in a bad gamble or investment.
  10. “Spirit fingers”  You’ve become an alcoholic and experience severe withdrawal symptoms when not drinking.
  11. “Snortin with funk, itchin with junk”  You’ve caught a disease. 1-3) Respiratory 4-6) Venereal
  12. “Bois de vache”  You’ve become convinced of a conspiracy theory.
  13. “Try un scalp me now!”  For some reason, you decided to shave your head bald.
  14. “I’d like to leave something behind, even if it’s just to be remembered on some chief’s trophy wall”  Your beard and scalp grew considerably during the Rendezvous.
  15. “Foofarraw”  You acquired some fancy clothing.  Perhaps you are embarrassed about them now.  Maybe you can trade them to a chief.
  16. “Are you really surprised to learn that the crying three month old child there is yours?”  Congrats.  The youngun has your 1) Eyes 2) Nose 3) Ears 4) Hair 5) Smell 6) Scars
  17. “Chaffed the Curly Wolf”  You got into a brawl with someone your equal and both of you got beat up right good.  Scars or other permanent injuries result.
  18. “Just where is it I could find dragon, basilisk, and other critters worth cash money when skinned?” You’ve befriended a rookie Jungle Man who insists on tagging along with you.
  19. “Shinin’ times with Big Medicine”  You partied with a famous jungle man or native chief.  Roll on NPC chart.
  20. “Waugh!?” The whole rendezvous was destroyed by… 1) Fire 2) Dragons 3) Flood 4) Fungus 5) Whiskey shortage 6) Whiskey surplus

(Tip of the hat to Jeff’s Carousing Mishaps table.)

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