Dune Trader

Session Two: The Road to Tyr

The heroes go through Nerub Chad’s notes and discover that Chad was planning to start his own merchant house with his ill-gotten gains. The PCs decide to pursue his plans for their own benefit.

In order to avoid questions from any established merchants they meet along the way, the heroes decide to travel off the path. They go through the stony badlands surrounding Tyr rather than taking the road. This proves difficult and after two days their mekillots become thirsty and refuse to go any further.

Fortunately, the heroes are able to find water. They form a sort of “fireman’s brigade” with the freed slaves to transport water from the shallow river they found deep in a gully to the mekillots. The giant lizards prove capable of drinking an extraordinary amount. The heroes also take this opportunity to drink and refresh the caravan’s dwindling water supplies.

However, the river is not entirely safe. Two of the freed slaves vanish mysteriously. The heroes track them to a stony outcropping near the river, where they encounter a tembo – a wrinkled, hairless canine creature with very powerful jaws and even more powerful psionic abilities. The tembo proves a formidable foe, with its sharp claws and its life-draining powers, but they defeat it.

In Tyr, the heroes gather information and learn that Chad traded the Heartwood Box – the sacred artifact of Nambok’s people – for the Ansible which was used to keep the slaves in line. The trade happened in Balic, which is where Nambok will need to go if he is to find the artifact. The four dwarves who have accompanied the heroes thus far come from South Ledopolis, which is on the way to Balic, but they refuse to return without Ladner, the architect whom they were traveling to Tyr to rescue. Sylas bribes a band of elves to rescue Ladner and bring him to them at a location outside the city. The dwarves assure him that he will be richly rewarded.

While in Tyr, Tserick studies the Tyran style of psionics. He learns to shape his mindscape with artistry and skill, drawing inspiration from the natural world, but ordering it into a graceful garden. Meanwhile, Sylas receives an unexpected visit from a Templar of the Sorceror-King of Tyr, the Tyrant Kalak. The templar explains that Kalak has been behaving in an erratic fashion recently, ordering the construction of an immense and elaborate ziggaraut for no apparent reason. Kalak has ordered his templars to retrieve the Heartwood Box at any cost. However, a certain faction within the templars fears that Kalak’s goals may run counter to the interests of the city-state, and do not wish him to obtain the Box. The templar warns Sylas to leave the city quickly and secretly.

Sylas takes this advice seriously. As he exits the inn, he spots a suspicious beggar who seems to be watching him a little too intently. Suspecting the “beggar” to be a spy, Sylas slits his throat. He and Tserick follow a winding path through the city, alert for pursuit, and end in the elven market. There Sylas purchases forged documents to allow his new caravan (outfitted with kank wagons instead of the large clumsy mekillot wagons) to leave the city without attracting the attention of the Templars.

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Session One: Freedom!

Session One: Escape!

A handful of the prisoners began to conspire, hoping that by working together they might escape the slavers. These included:

Sylas (Bill), a young human from Gulg whose merchant background provided insight into how the caravan worked, and whose charm allowed him to gather useful information;

Tserick Icemind (Ryan), a member of the mysterious Pterran race, whose mastery of the Way allowed the group to communicate telepathically, and who was able to understand the workings of the explosive collars;

Nalin (Danielle), his sister, who used the Way to enhance her formidable fighting skills;

Nambok (Mark), a halfling priest of Air whose healing powers and skill with animals allowed him unusual freedom of the camp;

Albicades (NPC), an elderly human scholar from Balic, a skilled healer, kind but strong-willed;

Guna (NPC), a female Mul, strong and tough but shy;

Rephet (NPC), a half-elven ranger from Urik, who had experience as a caravan scout;

Morgan, Lars, Karl and Seamus (NPC), four dwarven cousins from South Ledopolis, skilled craftsmen who had been heading to Tyr on a mission of their own.

Tserick used his understanding of the Way to figure out that the exploding necklaces were controlled by a psionic artifact in the very top chamber of the tower atop the mekillot wagon. Nambok provided a distraction by causing the mekillots to become unruly, which required most of the slavers to join the attempt to control the large and dangerous beasts. Sylas, who counted smooth lying among his skills, convinced those who remained within the wagon that they too were needed outside, thus clearing all the guards out of the way. The group then entered the soldiers’ barracks on the lowest level of the wagon and armed themselves. Leaving Albicades, Guna, and Rephet to guard the door against the return of the soldiers, they headed for the stairs. The door to the stairs was locked, but Sylas proved a skilled lockpick.

On the stairs they met Pyra, the elven pyrokineticist. The staircase was too narrow for more than one person at a time. Nalin engaged Pyra, using her skill in the Way to enhance the effectiveness of her claws. However, Pyra was a much more experienced psion than Nalin. Pyra grew claws as well, and hers were surrounded by an aura of flame which burned Nalin severely. Nambok used his priestly powers to shield Nalin with an aura of superchilled air, eliminating Pyra’s main advantage. The fight became equal then, and the two clawed females bloodied each other badly. The fight was finally decided when Sylas, using a long flexible Mekillot goad, struck Pyra by surprise, knocking her unconscious. The group moved upstairs, looking for the psionic artifact. Nambok lingered long enough to crush Pyra’s head with a Draji warclub, ensuring that the elf would never burn anyone else again.

As they reached the top of the wagon, the heroes had a good view of the surrounding area. The revolt had become general. Everywhere slaves had taken up whatever makeshift weapons they could and were fighting back. But they were outmatched. The slavers were better armed and organized, and no one could stand against Nereb Chad or Egghead. Furthermore, slavers manning the ballistae atop the wagon were firing with devastating effect into the crowd. The heroes acted quickly to adjust the balance. They killed the slavers on the top of the wagon and threw the ballista bolts down so that the rebels could use them as makeshift spears. Nambok used his priestly magics against Egghead (or was it Tserick?), who proved as weak in mind as he was strong in body. The rebels swarmed the paralyzed half-giant, stabbing and hacking his helpless body.

Some of the slavers saw the disturbance on top of the wagon and ran to its doors, only to find them barred and guarded by Albicades, Guna and Rephet. As the two groups faced off, Rephet abruptly switched sides and joined the slavers! The elderly human and the timid Mul proved unable to resist the guards. They fell and the guards began beating them. Guna shielded the old man with her body. Sylas, seeing this, hurled a ballista bolt at their attackers. The bolt transfixed the treacherous Rephet. Nambok hurled a rock that cracked the head of one of the slavers who had been beating Guna. Guna, encouraged by the assistance, shot a look of glowing gratitude at Sylas. She then took up a club and bashed in the head of another slaver. The rest fled towards their leader. Guna and Albicades followed them and joined the battle.

The lock on the door of the tower-top was very difficult, but Sylas’ skill, aided by Tserick’s telekinetic skills, proved equal to the task. The group entered the tower-top and finally saw the device which held their lives forfeit. It was an obsidian obelisk some four feet high, covered with glowing gems, wires of various metals, and flasks of strange bubbling fluids. Tserick moved forward, eager to learn all about this strange device. But the obelisk had its own guardian. A thri-kreen dropped down from its hiding place in the ceiling and attacked. Once again Nalin found herself in lethal claw-to-claw combat. With aid from the others, she dispatched the insect.

Tserick laid his claws on the obelisk and mentally interfaced with it. He was able to recognize that Nereb Chad was controlling it through a crystal mounted on a bracer. However, he also sensed that Chad’s bond with the obelisk was imperfect. Tserick was able to establish a stronger bond and take control of the obelisk’s operation. He then commanded the crystal mounted on Chad’s wrist to explode.

Nereb Chad was in the midst of a bloody battle, single-handedly holding off a dozen ragged rebels, when a sudden explosion blew off his left hand. As he stared down in shock at his spurting stump, the rebels rushed him and tore him to pieces.

The heroes were victorious. Not only had they regained their freedom, they were also in command of a caravan carrying a small fortune in trade goods, some potentially incriminating documents, and a rare psionic artifact. They sat down to discuss their next move.

Sylas, black sheep of a merchant family, saw this as his opportunity to start his own merchant house. Tserick wanted to study the artifact as well as learn the Way from the human masters of various cities. Nambok was on a quest to recover the Heartwood Box, a sacred artifact stolen from his people. The dwarves were also on a quest, to rescue a kidnapped architect who had been hired by their village. Everyone agreed to travel as independent merchants to the city of Tyr, where each of them could advance his agenda.

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Campaign Introduction

Dark Sun Campaign Background

    That night you awoke to screams.  Shaking your head to clear it, you struggled out of your sleep sack and stumbled across the gritty floor of your tent.  You threw open the flap to see flames, dark silhouettes struggling and fleeing, the smell of smoke strong in the thin desert air, and then a crashing pain in your head.  A moment of blackness and then you were lying on your face in the sand, breathing smoke.  You forced a bleary eye open.  The tents were on fire, sending columns of dark smoke up to obscure the stars.  In the distance you still heard fighting – shouts, screams, dull whacking butcher sounds.  You rolled your eye over as far as it could go.  At the edge of the village the strong men of your tribe were making a stand, holding the raiders back while the infirm, the pregnant, and the children fled.   You knew that you should join them, you belonged with them, but the fact seemed strangely abstract.  You could not move.     You were worried by your own lack of worry.  You heard a long, agonized scream that could only have been a death-cry, probably a friend of yours, maybe even your father or brother.  With an effort of pure will, you forced one arm to move.  It flailed bonelessly, robbed of all strength.  You swung it as hard as you could and rolled over onto your back.     A face filled your vision, mouth twisted in a hostile sneer.  The man who stood over you has coppery skin, red in the firelight, protruding brow ridges, and a perfectly hairless head covered in tattoos.  You knew that he had to be a Mul, a hybrid of human and dwarf, bred to the life of a gladiator.  You reached for him, thinking that his presence here was important, but not quite able to reason out why.  He cocked a speculative eye at you and hefted a heavy club in his callused hand.  The club came down and it all went black.

    You awaken parched with thirst, head throbbing, face down in the sand.  The sand coats your tongue and burns your eyes.  You sit up, spitting.  You move your hand towards your mouth and you’re surprised when your hand jerks to a stop.  Your hands are restricted by a thick rope of giant’s hair.  You look around you.  You’re part of a crowd of perhaps a hundred beings, all roped together in the middle of a rippled sandy plain.  Surrounding you are a number of surly guards armed with spears and clubs.  To the east, the swollen red sun of Athas has begun to rise.  The sky shades from the red of sunrise through the muddy olive-green of daytime to nearly night-black overhead.    Leaning forward to put your head in your hands, you feel a tightness in your throat.  You move your hand to your neck and discover that you are wearing a collar of some hard material.  You look at your neighbors.  Each of them wears a collar as well.  They seem to be made of plates of shell or horn, but each has a gem or faceted crystal set in front.  The plates of the collar seem fitted far too tightly for you to attempt to pry them apart.     A man steps forward from the circle of guards around you.  You recognize him as the mul who clubbed you last night.  He cocks his head and eyes you arrogantly.  “My name is Nereb Chad,” he tells you, “and you belong to me.”     An ugly mutter runs through the crowd, but Nereb’s feelings appear unhurt.  “I’m a slaver,” he explains, “and you’re my slaves.  Some of you will fetch me a nice profit in the flesh markets.  The rest of you will die in this desert.  Those are the only two possible futures for you now, so you’d better start thinking about which one you prefer.     ”Now, some of you are thinking that there’s a third option.  You’re thinking that maybe you can escape.  Well, you can’t, so don’t try.”  He holds up four thick fingers.  ”There are four things keeping you from getting away from me.  First, you’re tied up.  That’s some tough giant’s-hair rope binding you, and I bet it’s a lot tougher than the tender skin it’s tied to.  Second, we’re thirty miles from the nearest settlement, and we’re going to go much deeper into the desert before we reach a city.  So even if you did manage to get away, you’d die of thirst before you had much of a chance to enjoy your freedom.      ”Third,” the Mul hooks a thumb towards his barrel chest, “there’s us.  We’ve been doing this a long time, and we know what to look out for.  We’re watching you all the time.  If you get out of line, one of my lads here,” he waves a calloused hand at the motley crew  of slavers, with their spears and knotted whips and heavy clubs, “will be glad to beat you down.  And if you give him too much trouble, he may just call for me or one of my lieutenants.  I used to be a gladiator, and I specialized in killing people in memorable ways.  So if a guard calls for me, your neighbors are in for a free show.”  Two more figures step up next to him.  To his left stands a burly, pinheaded half-giant, towering to nearly twice the Mul’s formidable height.  On his right is a rangy female elf, her flesh mottled with old burn scars, her eyes glowing orange.  “If they call Egghead, he’ll probably just break you in half.”  The half-giant grins vacantly and flexes a bicep thicker than your waist.  His head does somewhat resemble an egg balancing precariously on its bottom.  “That would be pretty merciful compared to what Pyra would do.”  The elf gestures, and from her right hand streams a tongue of fire.  It flows out into a ribbon of flame some ten or twelve feet long, dancing in the desert air.  At a slight gesture from her, the whip of flame lashes back and forth, almost too quickly for the eye to follow.     The mul tucks his thumbs into his belt.  “And reason number four?  I think we have someone in the crowd who’s about to show us.”  He stares into the crowd, somewhere to your left.  You crane your neck to see where he’s looking.  So do the rest of the prisoners.  A winged Aarakokra, seeing the eyes on him, defiantly throws down the shreds of the rope which he had held in his clawed hands.     ”Your thugs will have to catch me first, fools!” he caws defiantly, and leaps straight up into the air.  His wide wings labor , stirring the sand around you, and bear him aloft.  You raise your arm to shield your face from the flying grit.  From the ranks of the slavers rise two other Aarakocra, brandishing spears.  Pyra raises her hand, flames licking around it, but Nereb shakes his head.  The winged slavers move to intercept, but the escaping Aarakocra pumps his powerful wings and shoots out ahead of them.     Nereb watches the winged figure fly away.  It heads northeast, just left of the edge of the red sun.  Nerub’s lips move.  “Almost…” he says softly.  “Almost …”  The fleeing Aarakocra is a winged silhouette against the dawn sky.     Abruptly, the figure loses all grace.  Its wings thrash wildly, randomly, and it falls, tumbling in the air.  It strikes the sand with a thump clearly audible from two hundred yards away.     A murmur starts in the crowd.  “What happened?”  “He just fell!”  “No, I saw blood!”  “I didn’t see anything!”  “Yes, blood shot out of his head!”  ”His fall was too abrupt!  He should have had forward momentum!  Something must have exerted a downward force!”  ”Shut up!  What do you know?”  ”I’m telling you, I saw an explosion!”  Nereb seems content to let the prisoners speculate, until the two slaver Aarakocra land heavily beside him.  Between him they carry the body of the one who had fled.  Its entire head is gone.  Its neck is a bloody stump above its jeweled collar.  Nereb leans over the body.  For a moment his body blocks your view of what he is doing, and then he holds the bloody collar aloft.     “Reason Number Four is your collar!” he shouts.  “If you go more than two hundred yards from me, you will die!  If anyone but me removes your collar, you will die!  If I die, you all die with me!”  He waves the collar at the assembled prisoners.  ”You are mine!”

    The next week passes in a blur of pain, thirst, grief and despair.  All day you trudge across the desert, dust in your mouth and sand in your shoes.  The broad red sun beats down on you like a hammer.  Your vision grows blurry from the constant glare of the sun on the desert floor.  You’re given just enough water to keep you alive, although it seems like far less.  You’re weary as you never have been before, so tired you long to sink down in the sand and never move again.  But every time you stumble or falter, the lash across your back drives you on.  Your back grows scarred, your face red and peeling, your limbs shockingly gaunt.  Every night, when the caravan stops, you drop down as if dead and sleep until morning.     But greater than your physical torment is your mental anguish.  You’ve seen a couple of people from your tribe here, but so few.  Are all the rest dead?  Did Pyra burn them alive in their tents, did Egghead crush them with his huge maul, did Nereb use his infamous creativity?  Or did some escape?  Do you have any chance of escape?  it seems so unlikely.  It seems that you are destined for the short and miserable life of a slave in some harsh city.  Still, every morning you get up and struggle on.  Eventually you realize that despite everything, you want to live.     Not everyone does live.  Your fellow slaves respond to their plights in different ways.  Many stagger along mindlessly, using so much of their stamina for brute survival that they no longer speak or react even when whipped.  Some rage against the guards, cursing them, fighting them, attacking whenever one comes within reach.  The regular beatings they receive only seem to stoke the fury which may be the only thing keeping them alive.  Some manage to keep their senses of humor, and mock the slavers behind their backs.  A few still find a core of kindness in themselves, helping those who stumble, sharing their meager rations with those who weaken, spending priceless water crying over those they cannot save.  Others are scornful of the weak, mocking those who falter and selling information to the guards in exchange for extra water.  And some don’t make it at all.  Some fall and cannot rise again.     When a slave falls, the guards try to rouse him with increasingly savage beatings.  If this fails, the slave is loaded onto one of the expedition’s three cargo wagons.  One or two of those, those with unusually valuable skills, rejoin the walkers the next day.  Most vanish.  On the nights after a slave vanishes, there is meat in your stew.  When the cruel ones discover this, they begin tripping the weak ones, hoping that they will be unable to rise and that you will have a better supper that night.  The guards lash those who fall, those who trip them, and those who try to defend them all impartially.

    One night, when the caravan halts in the olive dusk, you stop and stand, looking about you, rather than collapsing onto the sand.  You feel as though a fever has broken.  You are fatigued, yes – tired to the bone – but no longer utterly exhausted.  Slowly, you look around you.  Most of your fellow slaves have already passed out and lie motionless.  But not all.  A few remain upright.  Forcing your leaden legs to move again, you walk over to them.  Some of your fellows have not yet broken.  They retain the strength to stand… to speak… to plan…. 

              

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Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.

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