Thursday, September 17, 2020

Session Forty-Six: House Klethira

Note: For those unfamiliar with Dark Sun, psionics are called the Will for wild talents and the Way for trained psionicists.

As the group continued walking, it was noticeable that the wind had picked up. Sand and dust were blowing heavily and the group had to cover their faces. The wind did not seem to be stopping anytime soon, but did did not seem to be getting worse either, so the group pressed on.
Soon, the group saw a huge armored wagon in the distance. They decided to move off the road and hide among the rocks and boulders, so the armored wagon would not see them. They soon could see that the wagon was flying a flag with two crossed scimitars on it. It seemed the wagon that had their mekillots eaten, and defiler killed, had received replacement mekillots. Once the wagon had passed, the group emerged from hiding and continued on the road toward Urik.
The wind calmed somewhat, as the sun touched the horizon. The group was pleased that they didn't run into any more problems. They set up camp in a defensible, off-road, location. Julius took the first watch.

Day 15, Week 1, Fortuary, Friend's Vengeance, 190th King's Age, Sun Descending

The group awoke to the pleasant smell of Kalino cooking breakfast. Vashti preached her sermon and magically created some water. Shade found some water and, despite the mild, but constant sand blowing in the air, the group was in high spirits.
The morning passed, with only the wind and blowing sand to make the group's walk unpleasant. They took a break behind some large boulders during high sun and drank some water. When the temperature cooled slightly, they continued their march to Urik.
A few minutes later, Shade caught sight of some wagons up ahead. As they drew closer, he could see it was a six wagon caravan. He informed the group and they decided to move to the side of the road to let it pass. The group tried to look as non-combative as possible.
As the caravan drew closer, the group saw it was flying flags; they depicted a gold crodlu on a green field. They did not recognize the house, except Kiara and Abilkisu, but no one asked them. The group could also see that the wagons carried slaves. Vashti wanted to attack them right away, but the copious amount of guards made her second guess her strategy.
Vashti hailed them instead and the lead wagon slowed. A large, muscular, bald Urikite man signaled for the wagons to slow, so he could speak to Vashti. She inquired about purchasing some of his slaves, so he told her to follow them. The caravan couldn't stop until sundown, because they were on a schedule. Vashti agreed to follow a hundred yards back, to prove that she did not mean the caravan any ill will. She then asked what house the caravan belonged to. The caravan master answered, "House Klethira."
The group followed the slave caravan for the rest of the day. Once the caravan found a suitable spot, they circled their wagons and made camp inside of them. Each wagon had one archer atop it, with a couple of spearmen as well.
The group approached and talked to the caravan master, Mohamed. Vashti took the lead and inquired about the slaves, their skills, and their prices. She noticed a half-elf boy look at her with disdain, before quickly becoming submissive when Mohamed approached. Vashti wanted to free him immediately.
Mohamed claimed that all of his stock was born into slavery, or were punished with slavery because they were criminals. Vashti did not like the large bald slaver, but she believed that he was being honest with her. He was, no doubt, an evil man, but he certainly didn't think of himself as such.
After their discussion, Vahti purchased four slaves. She tried to bargain with Mohamed, but he was a seasoned merchant and Vashti paid his asking price. She purchased a forty-one year old human man named Murad, a 33 year old human woman named Marina, a 13 year old dwarf boy named Yonas, and the 12 year old half-elf boy named Aden.
Mohamed told her that he would appreciate them camping at least 100 yards away. Vashti agreed and lead the group and her new slaves away. Shade found them a camping spot with good look out areas, but they did not sleep.
Vashti told her newly purchased slaves that they were free and they could stay, or go, as they pleased. She then told the group that she planned on attacking the slavers. Kalino, Shade, Alaxander, and Julius nodded in agreement.
"What?" Kiara protested. "You're going to attack the caravan?"
"Yes." Vashti answered.
"Why would you do such a thing?" Kiara asked.
Vashti was perplexed, but answered, "They're slavers. They enslaved children."
"So? Slavery is not against the law." Kiara rebutted. "They haven't broken any laws."
"There's a difference," Vashti explained, " between legal and moral."
"No," Kiara argued, "there's not. They have done nothing wrong."
Vashti sighed and asked, "Will you stop us?"
Kiara shook her head, "No. Urik offers no protection to those so far from the city."
"Good." Vashti stated. "You don't have to help us, if you don't want to."
Kiara looked at Shade, "I will fight, but my king's magic cannot be used for a personal grudge."
Vashti smiled. "Understood."
None of the slaves were experienced at combat, but Aden did have a great deal of rage inside of him. Kalino handed him a dagger and then started insulting him. The boy attacked Kalino clumsily, but viciously and actually managed to cut Kalno on his arm. Kalino easily disarmed the boy and congratulated him on his strike. Kalino then gave the boy a few pointers. 
Murad said he would do his best to fight, but he didn't really know that much. Marina said she would just get in the way and Yonas said nothing. Yonas didn't indicate if he wanted to fight, or not.

Day 16, Week 1, Fortuary, Friend's Vengeance, 190th King's Age, Sun Descending
 
The group had waited three hours, then Shade began the assault. He snuck through the darkness, giving the slaver's camp a width berth. He approached from the south, as opposed to the west, where the group's camp was. Shade touched a large boulder and some smaller rocks and dust fell from the top. The caravan guards looked in his direction. Shade ducked low and hid. 
Two guards took a torch, pulled their weapons, and went to investigate. They walked forward, looking behind large rocks and boulders. Shade stayed silent and did not move.
In the meantime, Alaxander climbed onto a rock to watch over the slaver's camp. Julius openly walked toward the slaver's circled wagons and stopped sixty yards from it. He sat on a rock and waited. Although he was noticed by the sentries, he was not acting hostile, so they did not engage him.
Shade silently stalked his unsuspecting prey. As the men looked at where Shade had been, Shade quietly unsheathed the magic obsidian broadsword. As one of the men crouched to look at some depressions in the ground, Shade swung the sword and beheaded him. The other guard was shocked at his companions sudden death and before he could scream, Shade decapitated him as well. He kicked dirt over the torch that the guards had brought with them.
Two of the guards back at the slaver's camp saw the torch light snuffed out. They nocked arrows in their bows are stared hard into the darkness. One of the guards saw Shade approaching and turned his head to call out to the other guards. He opened his mouth, but no noise escaped his lips. Alaxander, who was watching, had used the way to silence him.
The guard started waving and pointing, but the only guard that was watching him had no idea what he was trying to say. Suddenly, Shade burst from the darkness and sliced the silenced guard with his sword. The guard almost fell from his perch on one of the wagons. The other guard saw Shade attack and finally understood what the silenced guard was trying to say.
"Oh." The guard exclaimed.
Shade slashed the guard again and the guard jumped from his wagon and fled. The other guard started yelling and all eyes turned to Shade. From sixty yards away, Julius saw the guards stirring and knew that Shade had been discovered. Julius used the way to cause a huge explosion in the middle of the slaver's camp, narrowly avoiding the slave wagons.
During the panic, Shade finished off the fleeing guard and Alaxander used the way to punch the other slave guard. The sleeping guards were scrambling to get up and grab their weapons, when Julius caused the ground to explode again. Many of the guards fell, not to rise again.
The explosions were the signal for Vashti, Kalino, and the others to start a mad dash toward the slaver's camp. Two of the surviving guards mounted crodlu and started charging the dashing group. Mohamed rose from the center of the explosion, brushing off rocks, dust, and his dead guards. He was furious, but two priests among the guards healed him. He picked up his bone hand axe and copper kukri. He then began walking west, toward Julius.
The archers fired at Julius, but the arrows just bounced off of him. Mohamed gave his guards instructions and departed, to go fight Shade. Guards had surrounded Shade and were dealing him a great deal of damage, but he was giving back as good as he was getting. When the guards were harmed greatly, they would retreat and let a fresh guard take their place.
Julius used the way to throw rocks at the archers, who were no longer shooting at him. The priests walked slowing toward Julius, as he walked slowly toward them. The archers rained arrows down upon Vashti's group, as they charged forward. 
Alaxander teleported from his place on the rock to assist Shade. Mohamed ran up to Shade and slashed him with his kukri. Alaxander attacked Mohamed. Mohamed let Shade flee and began attacking Alaxander, along with numerous other guards.
Two of the guards gave chase to Shade, who was saved by Kiara. She killed one of the guards with her bone wrist razor and gave Shade a small orange pear of healing. Shade ate the pear and felt a little better. They both attacked the other guard and killed him.
Protected by Abilkisu, Vashti dodged the charging crodlu and ran up to the slave wagon. The other crodlu clashed with Kalino, who was nearly knocked from his feet. Kalino engaged the rider with his bone khopesh.
The priests attempted to charm Julius, but Julius shook off the clumsy attempt. He unsheathed his bone longsword and brought it down upon the priest's shoulder. In that moment, Julius channeled his stored up kinetic energy and multiple arrow-like wounds appeared in the priest's chest. The priest convulsed and fell to the ground, covered in his own blood.

Join us in two weeks for another exciting episode of Adventures Under the Dark Sun.

2nd edition AD&D Dark Sun Cast of Player Characters and other Major Characters
Julius: Human male psychokinetic. 22 years old. Played by Dave. Speaks Balican, Tyrian, and Giant.
Alaxander: Human male psychokinetic. 18 years old. Played by Ben. Speaks Balican, Tyrian, and Elf.
Vashti: Human female clairsentient/water cleric. 20 years old. Played by my wife. Speaks Nibnese, Gith, Tyrian, and Balican.
Shade: Half-Elf male ranger/thief, 18 years old. Played by Chad. Speaks Balican, Elf and Tyrian.
Kalino: Human male fighter/preserver. 20 years old. Party NPC. Speaks Rammin, Tyrian, and Balican.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Surviving Under the Dark Dun - Temperature


I was looking at my old copy of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Wilderness Survival Guide, by Kim Mohan, and I thought some of the information could be adapted to my Dark Sun game. Instead of writing a crazy long article that few would read, I decided to break it up into different sections. Bite-sized articles seem to be my forte.
This article is all about temperature, which I know some will laugh at. I can hear you now, "It's hot!" This, however, is not always the case. In the Wanderer's Journal, it is mentioned that nights on Athas get bitterly cold, even near freezing. Also, the Ringing Mountains have snow caps, which indicates freezing cold.
The rules presented below will be for AD&D second edition and will be for the sole purpose of making your Dark Sun a little more challenging for your players. I view Dark Sun as the "hard" setting for AD&D, so I do not hesitate to make my player characters a little more uncomfortable.
The coldest part of the athasian night will be right before sunrise and the hottest part of the day will be around mid-afternoon. These are simple generalities, the Dungeon Master will be the final arbiter of the in-game situation. These swings can be upwards of eighty to one-hundred degree difference in only a few hours.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Non-Dark Sun Creatures in Dark Sun - Dog

There are many creatures from the various monstrous manuals that have been officially added to Dark Sun. I added some unofficially for my game and I'm sure a lot of other DMs do the same.
There is no inherent problem with this, although the flavor text often doesn't fit with the Dark Sun setting. My goal is to list the various monsters that "don't fit" and rewrite their flavor text to make them fit.
I often add a new Athasian variant as well.



Dog


Dog War Dog Psionic Dog Death Dog
Climate/Terrain Any Any Scrub Plains Rocky Badlands,
Stony Barrens
Frequency Common Uncommon Very Rare Very Rare
Organization Pack Solitary Pack Pack
Activity Cycle Any Any Any Night
Diet Omnivore Omnivore Omnivore Carnivore
Intelligence Semi- (2-4) Semi- (2-4) Average (8-10) Semi- (2-4)
Treasure Nil Nil (C) Nil
Alignment Neutral Neutral Any Lawful Neutral Evil
No. Appearing 4-16 Variable 4-16 5-50
Armor Class 7 6 5 7
Movement 15 12 12 12
Hit Dice 1+1 2+2 4 2+1
THAC0 19 19 17 19
No. of Attacks 1     1 1 2
Damage/Attack 1-4 2-8 1-6 1-10/1-10
Special Attacks Nil Nil Psionics Disease
Special Defenses Nil Nil Psionics Nil
Magic Resistance Nil Nil Nil Nil
Size S (3' long) M (4' - 6' long) M (4' long) M (6' long)
Morale Unsteady (5-7) Average (8-10) Steady (11-12) Steady (11-12)
XP Value 35 65
120

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Session Forty-Five: Departing Yaramuke

Note: For those unfamiliar with Dark Sun, psionics are called the Will for wild talents and the Way for trained psionicists.

Vashti used the last of her healing magic to get everyone on their feet. They staggered, but were happy to be alive. Kiara told the group that she needed rest. Everyone agreed.
As they traveled back to the ground level of the palace, Vashti asked Kalino if he were some sort of templar. Kalino decided to come clean. He explained that he was a preserver, a wizard that used magic without killing plants. The group listened as he explained the process.
Vashti asked why he kept his abilities secret. Kiara answered that it's because preservers can still defile, but Kalino quickly added that a true preserver would not. The group seemed to understand.
They rested on the ground level of the palace, after a merciless day. They kept watch, with Julius taking the first watch.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

The Zhackal that Flew. A Dark Sun Fable.

One day, a young zhackal was contemplating his life. He saw the flying creatures swoop through the sky. The young zhackal became sad and discontented. He wanted to see the world, but he was bound to the earth, unlike the nimble creatures who ruled the sky.
One day he met a pair of razorwings and told them that he envied their ability to fly. He explained that he wanted to see the world, but he was bound to the earth.
"We can help you to see the world," said the razorwings. "Grab this stick with your teeth and we will carry you. If we go high enough, you will be able to see the world around us. But keep quiet or you will be sorry."
The zhackal was very happy with his new friends and their plan. He bit the stick firmly with his teeth and the two razorwings grabbed hold of it, one at each end, and away they flew. They carried the zhackal above the city-states and mountains.
Just then a Kes'trekel flew by. He was astonished at the strange sight and cried out: "A flying zhackal! Well, this must be the king of all zhackals!"
"Why certainly—" began the zhackal.
But as he opened his mouth to say the foolish words, he lost his hold on the stick. He fell down to the rocks below. The razorwings then had a great feast of the zhackal's broken corpse.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Non-Dark Sun Creatures in Dark Sun - Cildabrin

There are many creatures from the various monstrous manuals that have been officially added to Dark Sun. I added some unofficially for my game and I'm sure a lot of other DMs do the same.
There is no inherent problem with this, although the flavor text often doesn't fit with the Dark Sun setting. My goal is to list the various monsters that "don't fit" and rewrite their flavor text to make them fit.
I often add a new Athasian variant as well.

Cildabrin


Cildabrin Cildabrin, Savage
Climate/Terrain Subterranean Ruins of Kalidnay
Frequency Very rare Very rare
Organization Solitary Solitary
Activity Cycle Any Any
Diet Carnivore Carnivore
Intelligence Low (5-7) Animal (1)
Treasure C or D Nil
Alignment Neutral Evil Chaotic Evil
No. Appearing 1-2 1
Armor Class 5 2
Movement 15 15
Hit Dice 11 16
THAC0 9 4
No. of Attacks 3 3
Damage/Attack 1-12/1-12/1-6 2-16/2-16/1-12
Special Attacks See Below See Below
Special Defenses Nil See Below
Magic Resistance 20% 50%
Size H (13' across, 6'-10' high) H (16' across, 10'-14' high)
Morale Elite (13-14) Fearless (19-20)
XP Value 7,000 12,000

Thursday, August 20, 2020

The Trapper and the Little Z'tal. A Dark Sun Fable.

A poor Nibnese trapper, who lived on the game he caught, had bad luck one day and was only able to catch a very small z'tal. The trapper was about to put it in his basket when the little z'tal said:
"Please spare me, Mr. Trapper! I am so small it is not worth the trouble of carrying me home. When I grow bigger, I will make you a much better meal."
But the trapper quickly put the z'tal into his basket.
"I would be a fool," he said, "to let you go. It doesn't matter how small you are, you are better than nothing."