An Evil Fleet of Sand Skimmers
Detailed adventure 001
Play date: September 25th
Players: Liam & Liam, Zar, Bryn, Zaine, and Grimgutt
Characters began level 1 (0 XP), end level 1 (475 XP)
Each for their own reasons, the PCs have decided to leave Tyr while it’s still possible. Zaine & Grimgutt signed on to an elven caravan from Tyr to Altaruk as passengers (while we waited for them to arrive; they planned to come late). The remaining PCs were hired as caravan guards at a rate of 50 each for a successful trip. Zar had already been hired and Keldras, the caravan master, knew Bryn as a competent drover and handy in a fight. The two half-elves sought jobs as well. Liam the Ranger shot a faro cactus at 30 yards dead on. Liam the Bard was rather less impressive in his audition, but was able to dodge and parry his sparring partner while infuriating him, so in a fight he’d at least draw attention from more valued members of the caravan and hopefully catch an arrow meant for a more important member of the caravan.
The trip would be difficult but not impossible. The first stage was planning. Bryn used his experience with how caravans usually traveled the Iron Road to prepare sufficiently. Liam Bard used his arcane skill to subtly work minor cantrips to strengthen frayed ropes and the like. Liam Ranger used his intimate understanding of nature to gauge the likely hazards and terrain. Zar frequently sniffed at the air, to catch the faint scent of carrion or worse that lay downwind. The first couple of days went well.
As the trip progressed past the point where planning would do good and merely prevent harm, the physical challenges grew stronger. Liam Ranger used his agility to leap to the top of any convenient higher point to scout the land. The rest were more cautious and merely grit their teeth, conserving rations and water as possible and trusting on their hard lives in the desert to keep them going, especially at the speed the elves moved. But then Liam Ranger saw the oncoming cloud that would bring with it whipping sand that could flense a human caught in it. Quickly a camp was pitched with tarps placed. It took only one day to pass, and tempers became somewhat frayed, but most serious was the time lost looking for the correct path.
The group became increasingly angry and resentful, especially as rations began to run low. Some elves were not too subtle about wanting to abandon the “deadweight” in a forgotten dune. Liam Ranger hoped his natural attentiveness would help him understand the social tiers better among these elves — figure who could be shut up quickly and who needed finesse. Liam Bard and Bryn both attempted to keep spirits high and tempers defused with their silver tongues. But perhaps Zar’s approach was most expedient: direct threats of violence backed by the will to deliver them.
A large group of scraggly wasteland raiders, led by three more experienced bandits, staged a poorly-executed ambush on the caravan. They were spotted by Liam Ranger, and the guards went forth to clear the scum. A fierce battle raged, all of the PCs spilt blood on the sands, but in the end they prevailed. The grim cheer this victory brought kept the group moving forward, though time was running out.
Fortunately, Altaruk came into view just as rations ran out. The group made its way to the elven market, a narrow warren of stalls, tents and platforms. Keldras went inside his tent to retrieve the guards’ pay for a job well done. The guards were so tired and exhausted from that journey, and so anxious to receive their generous pay, that none noticed what was happening around them. A number of elves had approached some of the weapons stalls in the shop, negotiating with the dealers over weapons out on display. Suddenly, chatkchas whistled around and into all the outsiders, both guard and passenger. Keldras apparently thought that the slave trade in Tyr would be quite profitable. Several junior kanks were loosed on the PCs, spraying acid. Keldras rushed out of his tent to face Zar in combat.
As the battle raged, the accidental companions revealed some impressive powers. The dwarf rushed into battle, swinging his axe and seemingly impervious to damage. The human had great powers of telekinesis to scatter enemies and bludgeon them with each other. Zar fell, having suffered the dual vice of Keldras’s sword and multiple chatkchas, just as Tellemon, head templar for Altaruk came on the scene. In spite of Zaine’s attempts to “help” the situation, Grimgutt revealed that he too was a templar of Balic and demonstrated that in some mysterious fashion to Tellemon. The group retired to a nearby inn to rest, eat and drink for a couple of hours while Tellemon assessed the situation.
He entered a couple of hours later, and gave the guards their promised pay. “The elves are demanding trial by combat,” he said, “and I was wondering if you knew anyone who might be interested in representing the Dictator’s Justice.” Upon learning that they would be granted a portion of the elves’ assets if they won, the group heartily volunteered.
To everyone’s surprise, the battle in the arena was not one with weapons, but with large stone coins. Each team had to race to the center, grab a large stone coin requiring two hands to carry, and bring it back to their chest. Whoever got at least four out of seven in the chest would win. Some underhanded tricks and smart tactical play on both sides made things interesting. Then, the lizards entered. Indiscriminately attacking both sides, the lizards added pain to shame as the lizards made the elves their primary targets (Zar however also got to experience their unrelenting jaws) while, through a combination of clever defense and a brutal offense, the group won handily 4-2 (the elves had not deposited their third coin).
Tellemon met the group later, giving them 600 GP (the extent of the defeated elves’ wealth, at least that which wasn’t squirreled away by the rest of the tribe) as well as Keldras’ obsidian longsword. Finely made, the group engaged an expert to assess it, and found it could burst into flame at a thought. Tellemon wished the group luck, but of course ordered them to behave while in Altaruk.