Thursday, May 28, 2020

Session Thirty-Eight: The Dead of Yaramuke

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

Suddenly, a seven foot long, six-limbed creature ran from the darkness and leapt to attack Shade. It stabbed him with its two middle limbs, that resembled short sword blades, and attempted to bite him. Vashti screamed. She knew they were undead.
Another one of the undead monsters rushed from the darkness and leapt to stab Vashti. It grabbed Vashti and tried to pull her down, but Vashti managed to shove the creature away. Vashti tried to force the undead away, by calling upon her patron element, but it seemed to have no effect. Shade was stabbed again by another of the monsters. Shade ran up the stairs and shot the creature attacking him with arrows fired from his short bow. Kalino crawled into the tower and ran to assist Shade, who now had two of the undead attacking him. One of the monsters fell into the sunlight and its flesh bubbled and burned. Julius peeked inside the window enough to throw a rock using the way.
Vashti yelled that they were undead and then she inwardly mumbled that she didn't know anything else about them. Julius thought about using detonate to collapse the tower, but didn't want to bury his companions, or alert Abu's digging team. So, he threw another rock. Vashti summoned a water hammer to attack on her behalf. Abilkisu climbed into the window and started shooting the undead attacking Vashti. The group noticed that the undead were making small screams before every attack. Shade was wounded badly by the undead and he fell from the stairs and was knocked unconscious. Kalino lept from the stairs and slashed wildly with his chitin khopesh.
Vashti moved further down the rickety staircase and Abilkisu followed her. They both attacked the undead monster who was attacking Vashti. One of the undead grabbed Shade and dragged him into the darkness. One of the undead turned away from Shade and began attacking Kalino. Kalino fought back and shouted that Shade had been dragged off. Kiara screamed. Julius used the way to detonate the wall around the window opening. The wall exploded, flooding the tower with sunlight. Two of the undead were caught in the light and their flesh burned and smoked
The undead fled into the darkness. Julius climbed into the tower and started down the stairs. Kiara followed him. Vashti fell, when she tried to jump over a broken section of the staircase and failed. Abilkisu jumped after her. Kalino gave chase and ran into the darkness. He quickly realized that being blind would not help his combat skills, so he used his fire building kit to light his straw hat on fire. The light revealed broken walls, debris, and a dead human.
Vashti ran to Kalino and used his burning hat to light several candles and hand them out to everyone. Kalino was the first to enter the darkness and he saw the three undead feeding off of Shade. Kalino wasted no time attacking them and screamed to the others that he had found Shade. Vashti and Abilkisu rushed forward shortly afterward. Abilkisu began shooting his crossbow at the monsters as Vashti tried to sneak around them to heal Shade. Julius appeared, but kept his distance and used the way to attack the undead.
Kalino yelled as he attacked and two of the undead backed away from Shade and engaged him instead. Vashti sneaked behind one of the monsters and was able to brush her finger tips on Shade and magically heal him. Shade woke up, but felt very weak. Julius continued to throw rocks with the way.
One of the undead was about to turn to attack Vashti, but attacked Kalino instead, once Kalino attacked it. Vashti helped Shade up. Kalino dealt the final blow to one of the monsters and it was finally too damaged to hold itself together. Julius continued to use the way to throw rocks. Kiara lead Shade away from the fight.
Vashti turned her attention on the monsters and used her club to hit them. Julius, Kalino, and Vashti were able to destroy the remaining undead monsters after a few more attacks. Kalino then beheaded the monsters and scattered their remains.
Kiara led Shade back to the group. Shade seemed to have recovered a little, which Vashti assumed was due to Kiara's knowledge of herbs. Vashti used the way and discovered the dead man was from Tyr and died recently. He had a stone headed mace, which the group took and gave to Abilkisu. He also had a few coins, which were distributed among the group, and bone dagger, which Vashti took.
Shade felt something strange on his back and noticed that he had somehow grown a small scaled tail. It was only two feet long, but Shade was at a loss how it got there. It had sensation and he could feel when things brushed against it.
Shade then noticed the area where the battle took place had a strange shimmer in the air. Once it was pointed out to the group, they could see it too. Kiara said that it was a warped area of reality caused by magic, likely defiling magic. The group saw it as a threat and made a plan on how to deal with it.
Everyone left the tower, except for Julius and Vashti. Julius then detonated the ceiling, right above the reality warp. The roof collapsed, raining debris down all around them. Luckily, Julius escaped the falling fragments of rock and sand. Unfortunately for Vashti, a rock hit her and opened a gash in her forehead.
Even though it wasn't yet high sun, the group retreated to the previously explored warehouse. They climbed inside. Shade searched the crate that previously held a hornet's nest. There, he found two gallons of pulque and a pound of kank honey. All of the goods were in one gallon ceramic jars.
Everyone set up their bedrolls and got ready to rest. Kiara used some of the crates to create a private area for Shade and herself. Julius used the time to crate a bone sword. He believed it was the best sword ever. Vashti healed Shade and Abilkisu a bit more. Kalino started crafting a sword as well, but Shade asked him to continue teaching him the spear, so he did that instead. Everyone used the crates and cloth to make some simple torches.
They rested for the remainder of the day and set up their normal watch cycle. Julius was first, followed by Shade and Kiara, then Vashti and Abilkisu, and finally Kalino.

Day 9, Week 1, Fortuary, Friend's Vengeance, 190th King's Age, Sun Descending

Alaxander had not returned, so Kalino kept watch alone. The group had no fire, as not to attract attention. Kalino watched through the windows. He saw some more of the screaming dead patrolling the area, listening for them, so Kalino made sure to keep as silent as possible.
In the morning, they group ate, drank, and Vashti preached her sermon. She healed the group to a greater degree, but most of them still had minor wounds. Shade still felt weak. The group decided that they were healed enough to continue their exploration.
They chose a building that was relatively close by. They building was mostly buried and it appeared that the doors were the only way in. The group started digging and uncovered the doors after a couple of hours.
The doors were once ornate, but time and sand had greatly worn the carvings on the agafari doors. Shade searched the door for traps, but found none. He then opened the doors wide, allowing as much sunlight as possible into the building.
The floor was covered in sand and debris and the group was shocked to see that it was marble. Chipped and cracked granite pillars held up the ceiling. The granite walls were cracked and buckling. They could see that things were once hung on the wall, but were removed long ago. There were three agafari doors carved with a stylized eye, a bird, and a pyramid. There were two doors on the left and one on the right. The building had collapsed further on.
Vashti asked what the building was and Julius said it looked like a museum. Vashti asked what a museum was and Kalino said it was a place rich people put things to look at them Vashti thought that sounded crazy.
They went to the first door on the left, after some argument. Shade checked for traps and, finding none, opened the door. Inside were shelves and smashed display cases. Covering the floor and shelves were ancient papyrus scrolls.
The lightest touch crumbled the scrolls, which Vashti and Kalino found unfortunate. Julius found a scroll that didn't crumble, but he couldn't read it. Vashti was happy to see that it contained a spell she could case, firelight.
Vashti used the way to see the last owner of a papyrus scroll. She saw into the past, a red-brown skinned older woman with black makeup around her eyes. She was holding the scroll, preparing to place it on the shelf. Vashti knew that she received it from a young beautiful woman of the same skin tone and wearing the same makeup. However, the young woman wore an elaborate golden and turquoise headdress. Vashti also knew that the scroll was written by a bald man with similar eye makeup as the women. She also knew that the older woman lost the scroll when she was killed.
The library-like room had another agafari door on the far wall. While Vashti was informing the group about what she saw, Shade checked the door for traps. He again found none. The group positioned themselves for an attack as Shade opened the door.
Inside the circular room were numerous full-length obsidian mirrors. The mirrors were embedded in the floor. Some where embedded at odd angles and some were curved. The group was stumped as to the purpose of such a room.
Vashti walked to the closest mirror and saw a reflection of herself dressed in strange, but fine clothes. Shade inspected the next closest and saw an image of himself as an old man. Shade continued viewing his reflection in the mirrors, one after another. One showed him young, one showed him with a big head, one showed him on fire. He laughed when one showed him what he would look like as a woman. Vashti laughed too and wanted to see if she would reflect as a man.
Vashti was on the opposite side of them room and walked quickly to cross it. When Vashti crossed the center of the room, all of the images changed to her reflection. Shade stepped back and Vashti froze. The images reached out of their mirrors and stepped free of their confinement.
Julius sighed, "I knew this was going to happen."

Thank you for reading and join us in two weeks for another exciting session 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.
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, May 26, 2020

The Screaming Dead

As my players were investigating the ruins of Yaramuke, I wanted an undead monster that was unknown to them and creepy. I created the screaming dead specifically to end a session with their inhuman shrills.
I found this image and thought they looked sufficiently creepy and violent and they'd fit well in the Dark Sun setting. This image is why I chose to make them blind, among other details.
If you have players that know all of the monsters in the manuals, throw some of these at them for some new thrills.

Screaming Dead

Screaming Dead
Climate/Terrain Ruins of Yaramuke
Frequency Very Rare
Organization Band
Activity Cycle Any
Diet Nil
Intelligence Animal (1)
Treasure Nil
Alignment Chaotic Neutral
No. Appearing 3-24
Armor Class 5
Movement 12
Hit Dice 3 + 2
THAC0 17
No. of Attacks 2 or 3
Damage/Attack 1-6/1-6/3-8
Special Attacks Leap Attack, Constitution Drain
Special Defenses Resistance to Piercing Attacks
Magic Resistance Nil
Size M (7' Long)
Morale Champion (15-16)
XP Value 975

The screaming dead are unique six-limbed undead monsters that reside in the ruins of Yaramuke. The magic that was used in the attack and defense of the city warped areas of Yaramuke and spontaneously gave rise these twisted undead monsters.
Screaming dead are blind, but have enhanced senses of hearing and smell. They despise sunlight and stay in dark areas of the ruins until nightfall. A lair may be discovered by finding skeletal husks near it.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

The Hungry Jhakar. A Dark Sun Fable.

One morning, a jhakar was hunting near the edge of the scrub lands, his mouth salivating at the thought of a tasty meal. He watched the mice run through the brush, drinking the meager dew from the grasses.
"Those mice are too small," he complained, "I need something fatter to fill my belly."
Then, a rat ran near him that he could have easily caught.
"No thanks," scoffed the jhakar, "I wouldn't even open my mouth for anything so filthy."
As the sun rose, the mice and rats returned to their cool burrows and the jhakar found nothing else to eat. He continued to hunt, but soon found himself too weak. As the sun reached its pinnacle, the jhakar collapsed from hunger and died.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Non-Dark Sun Creatures in Dark Sun - Cave Fisher

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.

Cave Fisher

Cave Fisher Cave Fisher, Psionic
Climate/Terrain Rocky Badlands, Underground Rocky Badlands, Underground
Frequency Rare Very Rare
Organization Group Group
Activity Cycle Night Night
Diet Carnivore Carnivore
Intelligence Semi- (2-4) Low (5-7)
Treasure J, K J, K, M
Alignment Neutral Neutral
No. Appearing 1-4 1-4
Armor Class 4 4
Movement 1 1
Hit Dice 3 4
THAC0 17 or 15 16 or 14
No. of Attacks 2 2
Damage/Attack 2-8/2-8 2-8/2-8
Special Attacks Adhesive trapline Adhesive trapline, Psionics
Special Defenses See below Psionics, See below
Magic Resistance Nil Nil
Size M (7' long) M (7' long)
Morale Steady (11-12) Elite (13-14)
XP Value 175 650

The cave fisher is a large insectoid that has adapted to life below ground.
The cave fisher has a hard, chitinous shell of overlapping plates and eight legs. The 6 rear legs are used for movement and traction on stony walls and corridors. Because of these limbs, the fisher has no difficulty in moving up and down vertical walls. The front pair of legs are equipped with powerful pincers, which are used for killing and dismembering prey. The most unusual feature of the cave fisher is its long snout, which can fire a strong, adhesive filament. The monster can also use its adhesive to anchor itself in place on walls and ledges.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Session Thirty-Seven: The Ruins of Yaramuke

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

As Shade was peeking over the short ridge, Jessel got a lost look in his eye. The other members of the group knew that look well. He apologized and said earth was summoning him. He opened a dimension door, with the will, and stepped through. Vashti lamented that water never summoned her. Kalino reassured Vashti that it was, perhaps, because Vashti didn't need as much guidance as Jessel.
Shade watched the zombies and slaves dig in the sand, uncovering the ancient ruins of Yaramuke. He used the will to improve his senses and could hear the overseers yelling at the slaves below them. Abu was asking one of the overseers about clues to the palaces location. Shade believed he heard all he needed to and took a quick look out over the horizon. He saw more ruins jutting up from the sand.
Once Shade returned to the group, he informed them of what he saw and heard. The group discussed the possibility of attacking Abu's group, but thought better of it. They decided instead to begin their own investigation of the ruins.
They chose to inspect a dome Shade saw in the center of the ruins that was a good distance from Abu's dig site. The group hiked a round about way to get to the dome, to avoid detection, and it took them hours to arrive. The dome looked like the back of a mekillot. While it was obviously badly weathered, it was still whole and no entrance could be found.
Vashti began using the way to decay the dome, to make a hole for them, but the dome was proving somewhat resistant to her power. Julius had some better luck softening the dome, but was moving less material that way. They worked together for half an hour, or so, but were finally able to create a hole big enough to squeeze through.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Combat Option Cheat Sheet

I made a simple combat option cheat sheet from the information provided in the Player's Option: Combat & Tactics book. In my experience, having a cheat sheet will remind the players of the possible maneuvers and make combat more interesting.

You can view the google doc here or here.

The manuvers include:
Called Shot
Trap & Break
Unarmed Attack

I hope that this is useful for your game. May you always find water and shade.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Non-Dark Sun Creatures in Dark Sun - Cat, Great

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.

Cat, Great

Caracal Cheetah Jaguar Leopard Lion
Climate/Terrain Hinterlands,
Scrub Plains,
Rocky Badlands,
Stony Barrens
Scrub Plains
Forest Forest Hinterlands,
Scrub Plains
Frequency Common Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon
Organization Solitary or Pair Coalition Solitary Solitary Pride
Activity Cycle Night Day Any Any Day
Diet Carnivore Carnivore Carnivore Carnivore Carnivore
Intelligence Animal (1) Animal (1) Semi- (2-4) Semi- (2-4) Semi- (2-4)
Treasure Nil Nil Nil Nil Nil
Alignment Neutral Neutral Neutral Neutral Neutral
No. Appearing 1-2 1-4 1-2 1-2 2-12
Armor Class 5 5 6 6 5/6
Movement 14 15, sprint 45 15 15 12
Hit Dice 3+3 3 4+1 3+2 5+2
Thac0 16 17 17 17 15
No. of Attacks 3 3 3 3 3
Damage/ Attack 1-2, 1-2, 1-6 1-2, 1-2, 1-8 1-3, 1-3, 1-8 1-3, 1-3, 1-6 1-4, 1-4, 1-10
Special Attack Rear claws Rear claws Rear claws Rear claws Rear claws
Special Defense Surprised only on a 1 Surprised only on a 1 Surprised only on a 1 Surprised only on a 1 Surprised only on a 1

Magic Resistance Nil Nil Nil Nil Nil
Size M (4½' long) M (4-4½' long) L (5-6' long) M (4-4½' long) M (4½-6½' long)
Morale Average (8-10) Average (8-10) Average (8-10) Average (8-10) Average (8-10)
XP Value 175 175 420 270 650

Mountain Lion Smilodon Spotted Lion Tiger Cactus Cat
Climate/Terrain Forest, Mountains,
Rocky Badlands
Forest Hinterlands,
Scrub Plains
Forest All, except Silt Sea
Frequency Uncommon Uncommon Rare Uncommon Very Rare
Organization Solitary Solitary Pride Solitary Solitary
Activity Cycle Night Night Night Night Night
Diet Carnivore Carnivore Carnivore Carnivore Carnivore
Intelligence Semi- (2-4) Animal (1) Semi- (2-4) Semi- (2-4) Semi- (2-4)
Treasure Nil Nil Nil Nil Nil
Alignment Neutral Neutral Neutral Neutral Neutral Evil
No. Appearing 1-2 1-2 2-8 1-4 1-4
Armor Class 6 6 5/6 6 3
Movement 12 12 12 12 12
Hit Dice 3+1 7+2 6+2 5+5 5+2
Thac0 17 11 (13) 15 15 15
No. of Attacks 3 3 3 3 4
Damage/ Attack 1-3, 1-3, 1-6 2-5, 2-5, 2-12 1-4, 1-4, 1-12 2-5, 2-5, 1-10 1-4. 1-4, 1-8, 1-6
Special Attack Rear claws Rear claws Rear claws Rear claws Rear claws
Special Defense Surprised only on a 1 Surprised only on a 1 Surprised only on a 1 Surprised only on a 1 Surprised only on a 1, Poison Immunity
Magic Resistance Nil Nil Nil Nil Nil
Size M (4-5' long) L (8-12' long) M (4½-6½' long L (6-9' long) M (4-5' long)
Morale Average (8-10) Steady (11-12) Average (8-10) Average (8-10) Elite (13-14)
XP Value 270 1,400 975 650 975

Great cats are very efficient predators and have adapted to many different environments.