You are gathered around the fire with the others of your band at the end of a typical day. A drum starts to play, and some one stands and begins to tell a story. (you’ve heard this one before, and you’re excited because the most skilled dancer in the tribe is named (:Spider), and he’s sure to be dancing the lead part), Before the creation of the Earth, there were only the stars. (As he speaks many of the adults of the tribe rise and begin to dance around the fire.) More of them than can be counted, and they danced around each other as ever they pleased. Then came Spider. (Spider joins. He dances faster than the others, and his movements mimic those of a spider.) Spider moved through the sky from one star to the next, and one by one he tangled them in his web. (Spider dances up to one of the other dancers and lays hands on him. That dancer stops moving around and dances in place. Spider continues until all the other dancers are dancing in place.) By the time Spider was finished bringing all the stars into his web, he was old and weary. (Spider slows his movements). He went to his favorite star, and let himself down from it to the center of the sky so he could see his creation spin about him. (Spider now dances in place, while the others dance in an orderly circle around him.) And then he died (spider crouches on the ground and stops moving), and his body became the Earth. That is why the stars spin together around the sky, all save one, the guiding star, which sits still straight above us, for the Earth still hangs from it by spider’s thread. (The drum stops and all dancers return to their seats.)
When this is concluded the children are sent away to bed. Once the commotion dies down (:stone-face) Steps into the circle.
SF: [:wise-mother], a visitor stands outside our circle. He has waited throughout our story.
You notice the man in question. He one of the [spirit people]. (Describe [:guide])
WM: Since he has shown us such respect, let him come before me.
Guide: (enters circle) My chief seeks admittance into your circle. He has traveled a great distance to be here on this night.
WM: Your honorable chief is always welcome at my fire. Please send for him.
Guide takes a branch from the fire, walks outside the circle, and holds it above his head and sings out a phrase that sounds like gibberish to you. Suddenly two matching firelights appear in the distance, and begin moving toward you. Soon you can make out five figures approaching all dressed in white like the first. The order is Torch-bearer, [:guard], [:chief], [:shaman], Torch. Once all have taken their place in the circle, Chief looks at Shaman and nods. Shaman pulls a small bundle out of his pouch and approaches the fire.
Shaman: As you have blessed us with your hospitality, so we bring our blessings upon you with this offering. May the [Great Mother] of all Life look down on this fire and smile. May her smile bring happiness and plenty to all that are gathered here.
He throws the offering in the fire. It quickly grows brighter, and some strange colors begin to show.
Chief: My people have come from the darkness of the forest to take away those boys who are ready to seek their vision.
WM: A woman knows little of these things, but it is said the journey is perilous, and not all who undertake it will return to us.
Chief: It is so, but my brothers and I will help them, so far as a man can guide his brother.
SF: Wise Mother, you have always protected your children, but they can not be protected from this. It is the way of things.
WM nods in agreement.
Chief: Let all those who are now ready come forward!
Suddenly each player feels themselves roughly pushed up out of their seat to land on their hands and knees in the circle. Guard and Guide lift them to their feet and line them up, and the spirit men take them away. You walk some distance until the fire can no longer be seen.
Chief: Friends, you have been sent to seek a vision of yourselves and of your purpose. My brothers and I will each present a challenge to assist you in preparing for this quest. The ones who sent you need you. Who among you now is ready? Who will go upon this journey? If you are resolved to master every challenge faithfully, then firmly now take one step forward. Then I as Chieftain, charge you to spend your waking moments in constant labor, until it is time for your journey to begin.
Shaman: Long Ago, the Great and Mighty Chieftain looked with love upon his children, saw them striving, fighting, battling with the evil that abounded, and he spoke to them a message of guidance and power. I, Shaman, heard this message whispered on the western mountains where the sun from eve to morning never sets, while all beneath me as I climbed and then stood listening slept in darkness, slept in shadow. You need seek no rocky summit. These high places are within you. The directions for your journey are the whispers, and urgings deep within your hearts and spirits. Therefore, from this moment onward, til the ban be lifted, speak no word, but listen in silence.
Guard: It is I, Guard, who defends the clan from all threats. I keep vigil over the entrance to the fire, and let none pass save those who have earned the right. Nothing is earned in comfort, so I charge you, let no food pass your lips until the ban be lifted.
All leave except Guide.
Guide: I, Guide, will labor with you. With you I will Listen, eating little. This ordeal will not be easy. It will test your resolution often. All your strength will be required when you face the isolation which a man often faces. So tonight, I charge you, sleep alone upon the ground.
Guide leads them each to a sleeping place and the night passes. Ask each player how they feel.
In the morning, Guide awakens the PCs. He directs them to build a lodge. Which is an intensive task that takes half the day. Once it is complete, they spend the rest of the day gathering firewood and food. As the sun sets a fire is built outside the lodge, and each player spends the night crafting three spears with materials collected by Guide. When the sun rises Guide stands.
Guide: Awake, my friends. You are now starting on a long and toilsome journey. Now with courage on this first step, follow me, my brothers.
Guide sets off at a brisk pace. They travel all day in silence, never slowing. The players have not eaten or slept, and it takes all their willpower and fortitude to keep up. The sun sets and they continue in the dark. Just when they think they can go no farther, the see firelight ahead. Guide stops.
Guide: You have done well. Now we enter the sacred grove, where greater trials await you. Take this, and keep it safe. (gives each PC a seed of a kind they haven’t seen before.)
Approaching the fire they see Guard standing before them.
Guard: Brother Guide, who are these strangers who seek admission to the sacred grove?
Guide: They seek to become Men of the people.
Guard: Have they passed the ordeal without flinching?
Guide: They have, Brother Guard
Guard: Are they ready to shed their blood for the People?
Guide: It is up to you to test them.
Guard: You were born once as weak babes, clinging to your mother as she gathered food. When you were old enough, the men of your clan took you from her and gave you a knife, for as the bear has his claw, and the eagle his talon, so a man must have his knife. On that day you were born again as boys, but you still were weak. Contemplate your weakness (ask players to share their weakness after a moment to think). A man must stand firm in the face of weakness, never flinching.
Guard goes to Guide before making a long shallow cut across his chest with his knife. Guide does not react. Guard whispers something in his ear. Guide coats the seed in his blood. Guard repeats with each PC whispering “There is power in the blood. Keep it safe.”
Guard: Pass on, brothers! May you face all trials with courage.
Guide leads the PC’s on. The pace is as before, but now with the added pain of heir wounds it is even harder to continue. You begin to fear you will not make it, when arrive at a clearing with a tree taller the others in the center. Shaman is standing before a large fire.
Shaman: Brother Guide, who are these strangers with you?
Guide: They seek to become Men of the people.
Shaman: Do they know the secret?
Guide: They do not, but they are ready to pay the price of knowledge.
Shaman: You were born twice. First the birth of your body, when you came from your mother. Then the birth of your mind when you were given your knife. But all men must have a third birth, the birth of the spirit. Fear is the enemy of the Spirit. Contemplate now the fears that have held you back. (Ask Player’s share their fears) . A man must go forward in the face of fear.
Guide removes his gear and clothing, and then takes position in front of the fire. He pauses a moment, and then takes a running leap through the flames. The PC’s follow suit.
Shaman: You have shown your determination. Now hear the secret of our people. The spirits of all men, back to the beginning of time are watching over you now. They are the trees of this grove. This tree is the spirit of the Great and Mighty Chieftain who led the People into the world. It began its life on the day he became a man, and still it thrives here, though his body is long turned to dust. So it is with all men, though their bodies may die, still they live on to watch over the People. Take this secret and pass on. Be firm in your resolve.
Guide again leads the PC’s on at the same pace as before. It is getting darker, and you begin to stumble as you struggle to keep up. Your stomach gnaws, and your body aches by the time you stop again. This time you are faced with Chief who stands by five large bundles of wood.
Chief: Who are your strange companions, Brother?
Guide: They seek to become men of the People
Chief: Have they shed their blood for the People?
Guide: They have and will again.
Chief: Do they know the Secret?
Guide: They have heard it, but they do not understand.
Chief: Friends, You have traveled far, and suffered great hardship. Your effort is impressive, but you must suffer still more, for you must still face my challenge, the hardest yet. As a man bears the burdens of the People upon his shoulders, so each of you must bear a heavy burden. Take it and pass on to the center of this sacred grove.
Guide lifts one of the bundles on his shoulders and waits for the others to do so before setting off. The pace is slower now, due to the great weight you all carry, but you still struggle to keep up with Guide. Perhaps its the slow pace, but this seems like the longest leg since you arrived in the grove. You begin to wonder if maybe you aren’t prepared to be a man afterall, but these doubts are quieted when you arrive at the ceremonial circle. Guard, Shaman and Chief are all present, standing before a great fire. Several torch bearers surround them silently.
Guide: My brothers, those without names stand here, ready to seek their vision.
Chief: They are not men of the people, so let them make an offering to our fire.
Guide puts his bundle on the fire, and indicates the others should follow suit. Guide then leaves the party, and joins the other principles.
Chief: Brother Guide. You have traveled with them, Are you satisfied that they have faithfully executed the challenges?
Guide: They have labored dutifully, and neither food nor words have passed their lips. As token of my approval, I give firestone. (gives each pyrite)
Chief: Brother Guard, Are you satisfied that they have the strength to protect the people?
Guard: I have tested their flesh with my knife, and they did not waver. As token of my approval I give the weapon of a hunter. (gives each spear thrower)
Chief: Brother Shaman, Are you satisfied their spirits are prepared for the trials to come?
Shaman: I have tested them with fire, but one test yet remains. I give the potion of fate as token of my approval. (gives each potion)
Chief: Very well. My brothers, you are about to take a journey of great significance. It is an adventure of greater importance to you than you can now know. The next hours will bring you to a memory which will abide with you throughout life. Many moons ago you came as a mere boy, seeking to become a man of the People. That way brought you through a night of silence and meditation, through paths of arduous toil, through hunger, and weariness of body. Again you must go forth, but this time not to try your bodily endurance, but in the silence of your soul to test your power to search to their ultimate depths your heart and conscience.
Chief then nods, and a torch bearer moves to stand next to each PC.
Shaman: Tonight, when you sit in the quiet by the fire, you must plant the seed you have been given, which is your soul. It will grow with you into the spirit of a man. Then you must drink the potion I have given you. Do not fear the things you see, for they come from within you. Go now, and listen tonight for the voice of our ancestors. They will show you the way.
The torch bearers then lead the PC’s off separately. Each is taken to a small clearing. Where a small fire is built, but not lit.
TB: Light the fire, and keep it burning. Let not sleep overtake you, nor the fire burn out-lest opportunity go with it. When the sun rises. Extinguish your fire and return to the center of the grove. (exit after they light the fire).
The drink is thick and sticky, and it burns in your throat. Soon after drinking you begin to feel light headed, and the weariness of your body is overwhelming, but you fight the urge to stay awake. Suddenly the four of you are standing together. Four paths stretch out in front of you. You know instinctively that they are the paths of the guide, guard, shaman, and chief. Which will you choose? Give Visions and cards
In the morning it can be seen that the seed you planted has already sprouted. You return to the center of the grove to find dozens of Spirit People assembled there, and they welcome you joyfully. The chief asks each PC to tell their vision.
Shaman: These visions are powerful, and it is clear your destinies are linked. You will be a great asset to the People.
Chief: I welcome you, Brothers, to the ranks of men!
A celebration and feast ensues, after which the party returns to the ceremonial lodge they built where Stone Face and Grey Cloud are waiting. These two meet with each PC privately, to hear their visions. They say little, but in the end, they tell the party to wait in the lodge until they return. this may be a good time to have the party do a hunt. to demonstrate the mechanics. When they return, they bring Wise Mother.
Wise Mother asks the PC’s to explain their vision in their own words. Grey Cloud and Stone Face stand by and say nothing, though they don’t look happy. If necessary she will say
WM: I know the affairs of men are not for the ears of women. A Boy should always follow such rules, but a Man must decide for himself what is wisdom.
After she has heard the visions. She nods to Grey Cloud who reveals that because of the power of their visions it is too dangerous to let them rejoin the tribe without consulting the elders in the [sacred caves]. The Tribe is headed there for winter, but the Party must travel south for three days, and then make their way to the caves alone. They are given a 5 day supply of food, and a water skin each.