An Evil Fleet of Sand Skimmers

001. The Elven Caravan

Play date: September 25th
Players: Liam & Liam, Zar, Bryn, Zaine, and Grimgutt
Characters began level 1 (0 XP), end level 1 (475 XP)

The PCs join an elf caravan to get out of Tyr before it gets worse. After surviving the desert and an ambush, wacky hijinx ensure. Things get deadly as the elves try to capture them for slavery. After the PCs put them down, it looks like they’re to be clapped in irons (well, giant-hair manacles, iron isn’t cheap on Athas), when Grimgutt gives Tellemon the secret Templar handshake. Offered the chance to go 2-0, the PCs defeat the elves in a game of Arenaball.

For the full story, go here: The Gory Details

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From the journal of Bynn Jerdun:

I was not sold into slavery, or put into a forced labor camp as a result of losing a trial by combat. On Athas, this is considered a good day.

Perhaps I’m not being fair. In truth, the day ended better than that, despite the pitfalls. I seem to have made at least temporary allies amongst the other caravan guards and passengers. They are…interesting. Where to begin?

A dwarf named Grimgutt turned out to be a Templar of some sort, assigned to guard and protect a young noblewoman named Zayne. He seemed to have a talent for imposing his will on the battlefield, though he was far less successful in imposing his will on Zayne. I sense he was selected for his patience as much as his martial ability. At any rate, his Templar connections have already proven handy.

Zayne is trained in The Way. It’s not as common as people would like you to think. Of the people who claim to be able to kill you with their brain, perhaps one in ten can actually do a few parlor tricks, like lifting a small stone. Of that group, perhaps one in ten can truly harness impressive power. She qualifies. Not as accurate as she will become, perhaps, but anyone who can fling beasts of burden around a market square like they were out of fashion shoes is a force to be reckoned with. She’s been vague about her family business concerns, but I would expect such discretion. If she’s truly allowed to represent her family at such a young age, there are two possibilities: she’s either quite the prodigy, or she’s being sent to run useless errands to get her out of the way. Time will tell, I suppose.

Then there’s Liam and Liam, two minstrels seeking fame and fortune with their singing. In truth, they’re not bad – their performance prior to the trial had some nice harmonies, which isn’t easy with the martial music that passes for anthems in most of the city states. Liam is an actual bard, not just a minstrel. This probably makes him the closest thing we have to an arcane expert, which could come in handy now and could be essential down the road. His…half brother? Cousin? Friend? Liam has shown some skill with a bow, and his quickness was vital in the trial challenge.

While they may not conduct themselves as seriously as I’d like – Liam seemed to treat the caravan interview as a game – I have to say that there’s something about them that I find rather refreshing. Smiles, laughter, and singing. Each rarer than forged steel these days. If nothing else, they should be good for morale.

That brings us to Zar. He says he won his freedom in the gladiatorial arena. (Though he looks familiar to me, I can’t say that I’ve ever seen him fight before.) It’s certainly plausible – he’s tough and fierce. He needs to work on his technique a bit – wild swinging can be effective in the arena, but can only get you so far on the battlefield. Still, he shows promise. And he’s Dray. Travelling with a Dray that doesn’t want me dead is bringing back memories.

On the whole, I could – and have – done much worse. I would like a little more muscle in the group. The dwarf will have his hands full guarding Zayne, and we could use someone else to help watch the rest of our backs. Zar’s claims have given me the idea to see if we can’t recruit some additional talent from the arena. The free ones might be out of our price range, and the slaves who are decent fighters might have owners reluctant to part with them. Still, it’s worth a try.

001. The Elven Caravan
 

What a great day and adventure it was! We travaled in the desert and killed things! And I found new fighting companions. I was going to kill them but they do not wish to fight me. So far I have killed many things. I have my necklace made of the teeth of my fallen enemies. I take one tooth from every enemy that falls to my axe. I don’t know how many it is but it has more than 3 on it. The person writing this for me says it is 7. I think he is right. Yes 7 is a good number.

I am confused about some of the people in the group. There is Liam and Liam. That sounds like the same name to me but they say it is not. I tried to listen to them say their names but it made my head hurt so I stopped. I will just call them singning Liam and Liam who doesn’t sing. They are very close……In the gladiator pit we had a *’don’t talk about having sex with members of the same sex because that makes us who do not, feel very uneasy and want to kill you’ * policy. I hope they are not that close. But they make funny sounds that make me smile and laugh. I don’t understand what they mean when they make their funny sounds. They use smart people words.

Zayne is a woman. She talks funny, sometimes uses big words that I don’t understand. She’s pretty smart too. I’m confused again. Human women are frail. They are no good in a battle. They are only good for the male humans to mate with. But she can make things move by looking at them. I tried to do that too but my head started to hurt so I stopped.

Grimgutt is smart for a dwarf. The only dwarves I have know have been in the pit. They were fighters not thinkers. Come to think of it all dwarves are pretty smart. So are elves…and humans…….and some Dray…..there are a lot of people who are smart. What was I saying? Oh yeah. Grimgutt is Zaynes’ slave. He should not be a slave. He should get his freedom from Zayne. Best way to gain freedom is to cut off Zaynes’ head. That is what I would do. That is how slaves gain freedom. I know.

(It just occured to me right now, Zar doesn’t know how to read. If you are reading this please help. Zar is keeping me locked in a cage and dictates to me what he wants me to write. He lets me out once a day to stretch my legs and eat. But he keeps the cage in a small room with no windows. I know the suns on this gods-forsaken planet are horribly hot but I would give anything to see them again. I think I have been here 3 months. Please help me. Oh my god! What if he get killed while he is away! I’ll starve to death in this little cage! PLEASE! PLEASE! Help me!)

Finally there is Bynn. He is Dray too. He’s clean. He keeps telling me to hit things. He makes me laugh. What else what I do? He’s smart too. Lots of people are smart.

I’ve thought about things enough now. My head hurts again. I’m going to go lay down new and rest.

001. The Elven Caravan
 

Father –
I write to you today from the safety of Altaruk, on our journey back from Tyr. Sadly, I do not have all (or even many) of the answers you sent me to seek; however, there is news of happenings to report. I look forward to our reunion so I may regale you with tales.

You will be happy to know my traveling companion has performed his duties well, and while I was originally reluctant to have him along, he has proven himself of value. I can see why the Templars assigned him this most prestigous of duties. While he is gruff and not much of a conversationalist, I have witnessed his bravery in battle and I cant see he is genuinely concerned for my well being. We must speak with the praetors about having him reassigned permentaly to our house when we return.

I have met others on the caravan to Altaruk who could also prove useful to our house. I know it is not usually in our nature to fraternize with Dray but I have met 2 very different Dragonborn. Zar is your sterotypical “gladiator”-type. He is strong, big, and as intellegent as.. well do you remember my juvenile inix, Pepe, the one I had before I attended the Cerebron… yeah, that Zar is just about as smart as Pepe. Bynn; however, seems to be as smart as I am cute. He has a natural way with the people of Athas, he can relate to the slaves and commoners. I find it fascinating; I will have to study him more closely. A duo of half-elves named Liam also travel with us. Liam, seems trust worthy; Liam, I am not so sure about. I must say together they performed a rendition of the anthem of Balic that would have brought even the wonderous and reverent Dictoator Andropinis to sing with civic pride. They could fill the halls of the west branch of the Villa with song; it has been so quiet for many years. We would just have to keep an eye on that “shifty” Liam.

There are so many things I miss about home; an over abundance of wine and olives, a daily shower, and my closet full of Manolo wedges and mules… but mostly it is you. Please know that I am well and hoping to be home soon.
Your faithful daughter,
Zaine

001. The Elven Caravan
 

From a hastily-written note found in a small leather sack by the trail between Tyr and Alturak, apparently written in blood on a scraped piece of leather, grasped in the hand of a dessicated skeleton revealed by the shifting sands:

Dearest,

I hope this hastily-written message reaches you. Somehow, though I fell in battle, I’ve recovered consciousness. With my wounds and no supplies, I doubt I’ll ever reach the safety of a town or oasis, but perhaps someone will find this message I now scribe for you, and if there is such a thing as fate, it will find you.

The mission to Tyr was a disaster. We had the healing herbs for the orphanage. Brigands took us on the road, slew the guards, and told us that we would lead their attacks from now on. None of us were fighting men, but a choice between a fast death in battle (as well as a chance to survive another day) and a session with the gutting daggers — well, who on this plane is a hero? But I’d make sure that at least one of the brigands would fall at my hand.

Lined up in ambush, I knew that if I stepped out from behind the rock or gave a signal, I’d be dead immediately. But I realized if I tilted my spear, the edge would stick out, and anyone who could survive a trip through the Wasteland would spot it. Fortunately, an elfling archer and a dray berserker both did, and they weren’t surprised. Furious that somehow the ambush didn’t work, the brigands drove us forth. I charged at the lightly-armored guard off to the side. I knew that if someone with real determination attacked him he’d likely be killed. I made sure I missed him every time.

Fortunately, I think the archer realized what I was doing, because every arrow he shot at me missed. The berserker too seemed to be slightly missing his attacks — not enough to be obvious, it certainly looked like he was trying to hit us, but I can’t believe that he could miss so many times in a row. It was their keen eyes who spotted us, that must be why they suspected we weren’t the real enemies.

I waited for the brigands to be fully engaged. If I turned my back on the fight, I’d be killed by the caravan guards or the brigands. Fortunately, the leader came out to fight, though it was against the poor elfling I was “fighting” — making sure that I was in the way of my comrades, though when it’s three others against one there’s little I can do but delay the death blow. The leader hooked the elfling with his spear and made ready his bone dagger. Words caught in my mouth, no chance to shout a warning, I fell across his spear, ripping the barbs from the skin and clothing of the elfling — though a much better fate that then to be torn open. I stumbled, and the last thing I remember was the elfling’s sword coming down across the back of my head — some repayment!

Knowing the wasteland, those caravan guards will probably be the first to turn on their employers and kill them just to steal their wares and the promised pay. I wish those elves a better fate than met our caravan.

With Love,
Jorrid

001. The Elven Caravan
 

In all seriousness — remember the saving throw I had one of you (I think Mark) make before the arena battle last session? That was a saving throw to determine whether Keldras had survived and be able to participate (if not, he’d be replaced with a choad, probably making it go even faster). With the luck you guys had, you should have made Bill roll it with Cabrera’s dice.

001. The Elven Caravan
goldenankh

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