Note from Kent. Starting next Tuesday, we will be updating on a weekly basis. We will try some alliteration and call it Tales From The Plunderbund Consortium Tuesday. It rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?
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Tales from the Plunderbund Consortium
Dark Sun Campaign – Chapter 1
The sound of the roaring crowd could be heard as the six men and women were ushered into Urik’s gladiatorial area, the infamous Pit of Black Death. All six were there for different reasons and were from different backgrounds, slaves, freemen, merchants, and tribesmen. As they entered the arena they could see peering down at them Urik’s feared Sorcerer King Hamanu.
As the “gladiators” took their positions around the area, the Master of Games spoke, never taking his gaze off Hamanu. “Great Hamanu, for blessing us with your divine presence this day, I have arranged for you a truly special event. Please allow me to introduce the famed gladiator Ella!”
From the center of the area arose a hulking female half-giant wielding her famous psionic maul the Ellakrad. Ella, a famed gladiator who was also the mentor of cute but deadly Halfling Alexa, had disappeared from the fighting area years ago and was said to have taken up with a group of adventurers. Some of the rag-tag gladiators attacked from afar, some dared approach the hulking half-giant to fight, and Alexa, after getting over the shock of seeking her former mentor after two years, threw all she had into the fight she had been dreaming of for so long. While the gladiators put up a noble effort, with Alexa even striking with a hand axe attack that bit deep into Ella, the famed gladiator quickly incapacitated them all.
Upon striking down Alexa, whom Ella has specifically left for last, Hamanu arose from his throne and said, “Ella, did you really believe that I would not know your so called return to the area was simply a distraction while your other adventuring companions attempted to infiltrate my castle? By now your friends should have already been captured and are likely dead. Prepare to join them.”
With that Hamanu began to cast a mighty spell, drawing life from not only the surrounding vegetation but also the humans and demihumans in attendance at the games. Unleashing a torrential beam of necrotic energy, Ella attempted to protect herself with her legendary weapon. Upon Hamanu’s powerful magic clashing with the equally powerful psionic enchantment of the hammer, there was a great flash of light and white mists began rising from the area floor. When the mists receded, both Ella and Hamanu were gone. As the gladiators began to pass out from their injuries, they heard the sounds of panic all around and cries of, “the Sorcerer King has disappeared!”
A month passed and the former gladiators, soon to be an adventuring party, started this day the way they started every day for the past month, in a state of psionic paralysis for 23 hours a day with only one hour to eat and drink in the cramped cabin of the mekillot caravan while continuously tied to the wall (not chained to the wall as chains are metal and would be worth a radiculous amount of money).
Over the past 30 days the adventurers learned as follows. After passing out in the area slavers took advantage of the confusion to collect the adventurers and sell them to a very low level merchant house. They were now on their way to be sold in the City State of Nibenay.
On this day the adventurers decided they were going to do something. During the one hour of freedom from the psionic paralysis, Coraanu decided to use his ability to create minor illusions to make it look like he was puking uncontrollably. While it made for an interesting site gag, it did not result in their freedom.
While considering what other wacky hijinks they might employ, a great blasting sound rang out, and the caravan came under attack by a group of 300 elves the adventurers would later learn were from the Jura Dai elf tribe. As the attack commenced, a magically (or psionically) enhanced voice stated, “The Jura Dai are not slaves. Your king must release our people, or all his caravans will perish in the desert.” The elves then went on to slaughter nearly everyone who was not a slave.
At the conclusion of the battle the elves were indifferent to the freed slaves, even the elves Coraanu and Ilana. They did agree to allow the adventurers to take with them two waterskins and two obsidian weapons. Despite being greatly outnumbered by the elves, Uk’Chataa decided to take this opportunity to antagonize the elves by attempting to take three water skins. During the ensuing arguments and threats of bodily harm, elf Ilana and thri-kreen Pane-Pan peaced out into the desert.
During the next few days Ilana and Pane traveled together. An odd pairing as thri-kreen find elves particularly delicious and elves are always suspicious because of this. During their aimless wanderings they observed giant flying insects traversing the desert and carrying wax globes. Apparently, these “Wezers” would go into the desert and collect balls of water to return to the hive. As the two companions were able enough to fell a Wezer, they were able to get by well enough on insect wax water for a few days.
Meanwhile, after Uk’Chataa agreed to give up the third water skin, Uk, Alexa, Coraanu, and crazy not crazy dwarf “Dimebag” Dandrel Darksmith decided to brave the desert together by heading south in the hopes they would reach the road to Nibenay.
During their nighttime travels they encountered a very thorny bush covered in sharp thorns. Within this thicket could be seen a pool of water. Dimebag entered the thicket and was immediately stabbed with over 40 thorns. Even worse, upon reaching the pool of “water,” he learned that it was merely a thin layer of sap covered by an oily residue.
As Dimebag exited the thicket and began pulling thorns from his skin, Uk’Chataa, Alexa, and Coraanu noticed a contingent of 12 individuals heading their way. The 12 individuals were dressed the same as the guards from the slave caravan they had just escaped. Thinking quick, Coraanu used his ability to create minor illusions to mimic the sound of a nearby desert beast. As such beasts often hunt individuals carrying food, water, and supplies, six of the guards broke off to investigate, with one of the guards warning “Ted” not to screw them out of their share of water as they left.
Ted then led the remaining six guards to confront the four adventurers. Ted demanded their water and promised not to sell them back into slavery if they acquiesced. Uk, Alexa, Coraanu, and Dimebag proceeded to kill them all. Upon searching their bodies the four found a map of the area and learned that they were a few days journey from an oasis, and that the oasis was near the trading outpost of Cromlin. Upon learning this information, they decided to walk to the oasis to the east instead of continuing south towards Nibenay which was still many days away.
Continuing on, the four eventually, came upon a cactus field in a section of stony barrens. Dimebag immediately consumed a purple ball cactus which turned out to be poisoned as hell. Luckily, his dwarven resiliency protected him from too much harm. During this time, Uk’Chatta and Coraanu went on ahead and continued discussing things with one another, caring not for Dimebag’s antics. Next, Dimebag approached a “writhing mass” cactus and chopped into it. Upon chopping into the cactus a giant worm flew out and began encasing Dimebag. With Uk and Cor not carring about their fellow party members, it was up to Alexa to cut Dimebag free.
Together, Alexa and Dimebag began examining the 180 foot long worm and realized that it could be used as a study rope. The two decided that the best course of action was keep the rope at 180 feet long and for Alexa to carry it. At this point Coraanu walked over and said, “hey, where did you get that rope.” Upon learning of Dimebag’s plight and the decision to keep it whole, Coraanu told them that they would be cutting the rope into two 90 foot ropes and that he would have one and Alexa would have the other. With all the assertiveness of Sprinkles the Low Self Confidence Elf, Alexa and Coraanu agreed.
Upon setting up camp the next morning, Uk’Chataa began his hunt for food and water for the party. During his travels he ran into the powerhouse team of Ilana and Pane. Even though they recognized each other as former captives of the same slave caravan, Ilana immediately began insulting Uk’Chataa and demanding to know who the hell he was. Uk’Chataa, for the most part, ignored Ilana and tried to have a conversation with Pane. After some vigorous back and forth and up and down, Ilana and Pane decided to rejoin the other four so as to increase their chances of surviving in the desert.
As Uk, Ilana, and Pane headed back to camp, Coraanu was sitting around doing some lame elf shit while on watch. While engaged in such activity, he began to hear the sound of trickling water. Looking down, he saw that a 20 foot long Silk Wyrm had attached itself to his water skin and was vigorously sucking the contents down. Upon screaming/waking everyone else in camp, battle ensued, and the Silk Wyrm was slain. Upon cutting the dead Wyrm open, it was discovered that it had six undigested magical fruits within it. Each of the six adventurers took a fruit, which all appeared to have the same properties. To date, Ilana (or any of the other adventures) has not sat down with one of the fruits for an hour to investigate its properties.
At the next dawn the adventurers were able to see the oasis off in the distance. Coraanu stealthed ahead and found the oasis being guarded by one of the Mekillots that had been pulling the merchant caravan. Along with that Mekillot was the dead body of its mate. As the rest of the adventurers approached, investigation revealed that the living Mekillot appeared to be guarding the oasis but also appeared to be severely dehydrated. This led the adventurers to surmise that the oasis was “poisoned as hell.”
There is an old Athesian saying, “the only thing a Mekillot can outrun is another Mekillot.” Knowing this, Pane-Pan offered to act as bait to lure the Mekillot away and run it in a wide circle around the oasis while the others investigated. The dead birds, dead mud crabs, and Dimebag’s bard expertise revealed that the oasis was indeed “poisoned as hell.” While the adventurers did find an alter with offerings to the local druid, the offerings were uneaten, and presumably the druid was missing or dead. Further, they were able to identify copious amounts of the herb methelinoc, which is deathly poisonous to all living things except for elves and kanks. Coraanu and Ilana both knew that some evil elven tribes are known to poison water supplies with methelinoc to prevent others from being able to use their water source.
As the adventurers were completing their investigation, they saw in the distance that a party of about 20 elves and their kanks were heading for the oasis. The elves appeared similar to the Jura Dai elves who had attacked their caravan days earlier. Assuming that these were the elves poisoning the oasis, the adventurers immediately headed out. Further, Pane did one final loop and sent the Mekillot straight for the elves in the oasis. Their screams could be heard for miles.
Knowing they were only six hours from Cromlin, the adventurers pressed on. Two hours into their journey, they came across a group of 20 children of mixed races. They had come from Cromlin and were heading to the oasis to fill their water skins. While they had hears about the poisoning, they were sure their offer of sugar coated ants would be sufficient to get the druid to purify the water. After much cajoling, the adventurers were able to convince the children that the druid was gone. The children asked the adventurers to return with them so that they could help the village. The adventurers agreed, but had the children act as human shields for the remainder of the journey to Cromlin.
Upon reaching Cromlin, the adventurers headed straight for the House Shom trading post headquarters where they received a small reward of Nibnenese ceramic pieces from the front desk secretary. Soon after they were greated by Master Trader Hurdll Crost of House Shom. Upon seeing Dimebag she said, “Dandrel Darksmith you old son of a gun, House Inika told us all you were dead. I have to admit, while I was sad to hear you died, I think I’m sadder still to see you’re actually alive.”
Crost then informed Dimebag that upon his wandering into the desert it was assumed he died of thirst or was eaten by some monster. As such, all of his assets had been liquidated, with most of it being used to pay his debts, and the remainder being put into Gulg’s war funds to fund their upcoming war with either Tyr or Urik. The good news was that his three wives were currently receiving government stipends so they didn’t starve.
After discussing Dimebag’s current monetary situation, Crost thanked the PCs for rescuing the children and discussed the poisoning of the oasis. While Cromlin has its own well, they still rely on the oasis for supplemental water to provide for everyone. Apparently, the Jura Dai elves were punishing Cromlin for allowing soldiers from Nibenay to water there, as Nibenay had recently been taking a significant number of Jura Dai elves as slaves. In order to keep the oasis poisoned, they kidnapped the druid of the oasis, a thri-kreen named T’klick’chik.
Crost offered to hire the adventurers to infiltrate the Jura Dai camp and rescue the druid.
[DM’s Note: The next part I’m just going to gloss over. House Shom is the largest merchant house in Nibenay and is extremely powerful. During their interactions with Crost the adventurers said, did, and thought things that would pretty much ensure they would be murdered by assassins hired by House Shom upon stepping foot in Nibenay, if not earlier.]
After everything became copasetic between the adventurers and Crost, they agreed to the following deal. Crost provided the adventures with his magical bone short sword, the Bone Saber, which can turn into a portable chain saw once per day, as a down payment, and upon returning the druid to the oasis they would be paid 2 silver pieces each. Further, the adventurers would be able to hire on as guards to the next caravan heading to Nibenay. Upon leaving the trading village they were provided with three day’s worth of food and water. Despite the fact everyone in the party could use the Bone Saber, Coraanu laid claim to it with very little resistance.
The adventurers set out by night into the mountains where the Jura Dai fortress sits. As Coraanu stealthed ahead, he saw two elven lovers, dressed in the colors of the Jura Dai, having their amorous rendezvous interrupted by 12 hungry Giths. Coraanu warned the others, and as the adventurers engaged the Gith that had broken off and headed their way, the majority continued to assault the lovers. After an intense battle, some of the adventurers were wounded, 9 Gith were dead, the male elf lay dead, and the female elf was unconscious. The remaining Gith and the adventurers struck a deal. The three Gith took the male elf’s body to be eaten, and the unconscious female elf was left with the adventurers.
A little worse for wear, the adventurers decided to take a rest. Whether that rest will be long or short has not yet been determined. Further, they are debating whether to try to use the unconscious elf as a bargaining chip to rescue T’klick’chik. The magic fruits also remain unidentified. What will happen when the adventurers reach the Jura Dai compound? Find out in our next moderately exciting instalment.