Return to the Sand! - Session 24

Session 24 - Return to the Sand!
Date: 1/10/2018

Catching up with The Five and the White Palm Oasis​

=Catching up with The Five=
​First we catch up on what the The Five have been doing since the return of Sinbad

  • Ahmed sought out the great desert party and camel races
  • Araceli sought information on Sinrilli
  • Menivis returned to the Mameluks and raided a troublesome tribe
  • Salim bathed in sand for week
  • And Tabari wrote up the history of the Lizardmen and submitted it. He also learned of the death of his daughter in childbirth

=Return Home=
Amhed desired to return to his tribe to understand the visions provided by Jabal the Black. Upon return to his old oasis, he finds it much reduced in population. Those that remain are quiet and deferential to Amhed. Amhed seeks out Old Lady Anza, a bitter women that has never been kind to him. Surprisingly, she is respectful and deferential as well.

They learn that the water in the oasis is much diminished, and that the core of the tribe has moved to what is now known as the Oasis of the White Palm, about a six hour trek. This is location that long ago Kalem and Amhed were exploring and where Kalem received his permanent injury.​

Heading to the Oasis of the White Palm, Amhed finds a thriving community. He also finds that his brother Kalem is in charge. In fact, he is a steward awaiting the return of Ahmed! Since Amhed left, the tribe had reluctantly moved here under Shiek Khalid dar Zahran, also known as the Patient. Things went well, but the Shiek unexpected died. Then, the Eldars surprised everyone by not appointing his son Nasir dar Zahran but instead selected Abbad the Unclean, a rather swarmy tanner.

A foulness permeated the the tribe under Abbad. Corruption and oppression reigned. Then Ahmed miraculously rushed in, wounded Abbad and forced him to flee, but just as quickly vanished! The Elders, cleared headed now, appointed Kalem steward in hopes of Ahmed’s return.

The Elders were about to proclaim Kalem Shiek but Ahmed has now returned. While everyone was treated as honored guests (although a few less honored than others), Ahmed cannot simple abdicate now – it would open things for the Elders.​

=The Desecration=
Word has come that the old Oasis is under attack by the Desert Orcs. In a show of unity, Kalem sends off Ahmed, the rest of The Five, and 20 warriors. During the rousing speeches and boosts, Tabari uses the opportunity to get a look at the sole obilisk in the oasis. What perplexes after looking at the obolisk is that it is off limits to poeple, yet its dedicated to Martek, the grand Vizer to the Great Suleiman!

What they find at the old oasis is disaster.

The Five find themselves standing amidst the ruins of Ahmed’s old village. Most buildings are gutted by unforgiving fire. No item large than a cup is intact. The air is heaving with the smell of death and smoke.

But that is not all.

The worst is are the Impaled. Sharpened poles have been driven into the group around the central well.​ Some still moan, most are out from shock. Some are dead, likely from other abuse piled upon them.

One impaled, Old Lady Anza, moans in pain and delerium. ​

They do what they can (which is not much). They learn the following from Old Lady Anza before she dies.

  • Attacked by Orcs – markings of a Crown of Fire – Menivis recognizes the description from his recent work
  • They road in on black horses – they did not look right
  • The lead Orc flew in on the back of a large winged beast
  • The lead Orc was referred to as Akhmet the Impaler.
  • There was another orc that slaughtered their best warrior and beheaded them.
  • He demanded Jinn Blooded and Jinn Mages. After brutalizing a few people, they are identified. The Winged creature grabbed the mage, stabbed him with a stinger, and then dropped him from a great height. The one Jinn Blooded was trussed and thrown on back of a horse.
  • The orcs then destroyed the villiage after rape, pilliage, and impaling.

The horror continued. Some of the impaled pulled themselves off their poles and shambled towards the group. Skeleteons alight with fire stumbled out of the burned out caravanasari. The warriors, already sicked by the sights, fleed in terror – leaving The Five to battle the horrors.

Finally over, the group gathered up the bodies for proper disposal. ​

Return of Sinbad! - Session 23

After a long, arduous journey the Five return to the pirate haven of Al-Korsar. After a bit of rest and getting cleaned up, they realize to their horror that they have left Naji to his own devices for three months! They quickly find out that he is slated for execution – he is to be hanged, shot, then chained down to thrown into the harbor for the sharks. Additionally, some of the crew were caught up in Naji’s wake and the ship has been impounded. One does not cross the Dread Pirate of Al-Korsar.

The Five pull off a great rescue! Areceli cuts the rope of four “criminals” with one shot as the ropes go taunt. Salim creates chaos by summoning his new Sand Demon. Ahmed is whirling dervish that clears the way (without killing anyone) for Menivis to grab Naji. He even manages to recover a precious dagger of our lovable rogue. Tabari rounds up the remainder of the crew in hiding and secures the ship.

It is a running battle through the streets. Areceli takes to the rooftops and brings down awnings and creates other obstacles, all whilst running across the occasional clothesline to stay one step ahead of the others. Salim and Ahmed continue to create chaos to give the others time.

Once on the sea, there is pursuit. The Dread Pirate and his fleet closed, but it the Spirit of Suleiman is not an easy mark! Areceli shoots fire arrows and one stuck something volatile on a small ship, causing it to burst into flame!

When the The Retribution, the Dread Pirate’s capital ship, pulls aside, the Five go into action. Ahmed swings across and hamstrings the ship by cutting the rudder rigging. Ahmed also boards and creates havoc. He winds up with both the Dread Pirate’s hat and his daughter, who swoons at Naji. Salim deflects incoming fire and Tabari repels boarders with the Quills of Qedeshet. Eventually, they escape the pirates.


Travelling back to the unnamed isle with the Mathemagician, the group discovers the running about collecting the discs was not in vain – they are needed to open the Gateway to recover Sinbad. They are led to a large cavern in the island that contains a massive arch. Scaffolding has been set up to where the four discs must be placed during the ritual. Tabari assists the Mathemagician in the ritual, with the rest of the group up on the scaffold to place the discs.

The ritual is successful! The arch glows with golden runes on the black rock as a portal opens. Out comes…Naji! A spiritual version of him. The physical and spiritual versions run together and merge! Then howls of the Damned emanate from the portal.

Its a desperate fight. The mathemagician is in shock, only providing minor help as Tabari tries to reverse the ritual and close the portal. A horde of smaller demons tore into the Five. A viscous Rage Demon comes through the portal and en epic battle between the monster and Ahmed and Menivis.

The Rage demon goes down as the Ritual ends. But before the portal closes, and 15’ tower of muscle and hate steps through the portal.

The Glabrezu snatches a very bloody Salim out of the air. Salim smiles and throws the four discs into the portal and says “Back to the Abyss!” The demons roar and are sucked back into the portal. But they are immortal and 300 years to wait for it to open again is not so long…

Island of Al-Korsar - Session 22
Ssslak's Hunger

All was quiet except for the moan of pain of the lizardman shaman and the tremors of something large approaching. Several trees split apart as a huge, two-legged Thunderlizard stepped onto the broken cobbles of the temple plaza. It sniffed around, and gobbled up several of the dead lizardmen that were lying about.

Ahmed positioned himself for action. When the beast came over to the impaled shaman, it sniffed, pondered as if recalling something from days of old, and turned to eat a different body. Ahmed struck like lighting, racing across the plaza and striking the beast on its him. The group struck, infuriating the Thunderlizard. Its roar and massive head were a fearful sight. So much so, Salim now has fear of such powerful beasts.

After the battle, the group gave succor to the shaman. He bade the group to save the lizardmen from themselves. He placed his hand upon Tabari and bid him to remember. Tabari felt something pass from the shaman to him. The shaman them passed out from the pain.

Tabari naturally knew how to enter the temple. They arrived at chamber with four large statues. In front of the statues were stone biers with mummified lizardmen. Over each mummy’s chest was a small glowing sphere, each light different. In the center of the statues was a dias 15’ square. Along the edge was a thin grove in the stone.

The struggles of the Gatormen and Lizardmen is carved into the very walls of the chamber. Tabari’s granted his ability to read and speak languages to the group such that they could fully understand the story.

Qutelxztl, the Trying Times

Quetzal, the Feathered Serpent, is the Father of all the reptilians. One of his aspects is wind so that he can fly about to keep tabs on his children. He also sired the gods to look over his creation. He kept the aspect of knowledge and wisdom, to help guide all his people over time.

Early on, it was the Gatormen that showed ambition and a desire to live beyond just being an animal. The gods nurtured them, giving them culture and civilization. The children of the gods, Quetzal’s grandchildren, took a liking to the Lizardmen. Since the lizardmen did not have the driving desire that the Gatormen did, they did little more than acknowledge the gods. As such, neither they nor the Children (as they came to be called) grew much beyond their long-time existence.

As the Gatormen grew in power, they and their gods treated all others as children. Soon, there was not much distinction between treating other races as children and other races as slaves. Quetzal was saddened to see some his mortal children treated as such. But he nurtured where he could, for he foresaw a time when the Gatormen would fall and the Lizardmen would have their chance to rise.

Then came the Qutelxztl, the Trying Times. The Gatorman empire, which supposedly spanned Rassilon and Al-Shirkuh was under terrible duress. Sarkeb, the god of war and vengeance, rose in prominence as the Gatormen sought to save all they had built. As the empire slipped into decline, Sarkeb blamed the weakness of the gatormen on the other gods. Cursing their names, he devoured them one by one. As he grew in power, Quetzal hid the Children away from Sarkeb. As the flesh of the Gatormen gods was torn and ripped by Sarkeb’s colossal teeth, so the knowledge they imparted to the Gatormen was wiped from existence, lost forever. Today, the gatormen remember no god except Sarkeb, not even Quetzal. Sarkeb, flush with the power of the souls of the gods, demanded that his mortal followers follow suit. As the Empire weakened more and more were sacrificed upon his alters. In hindsight, it was much like a reed boat with too large of a hole – no amount of souls would fill it.

As their knowledge was lost, the Gatormen relied more and more upon the Lizardmen. While they were no where near as advanced as the Gatormen had been, they still kept to their hidden gods and Quetzal still smiled up them. They kept the day to day aspects of the Empire running. But both the Children and the Lizardmen were still weak. They needed a god that could challenge Sarkeb.

Amongst the Children Ssslak stepped forward to take on the mantle. This did not surprise Quetzal. But all knew he could not fight Ssslak alone. The Children dare not reveal themselves least Sarkeb devour them all. They needed a strong god to directly war against Sarkeb. After much debate about worship options to strengthen him, reluctantly Quetzal imparted the ways that Sarkeb strengthened himself through absorbing the other gods. He tempered this with methods that Ssslak could not fully devour other Children’s souls, but for them to join his. But as the gods sacrifice to strengthen Ssslak, mortal followers must sacrifice to keep the absorbed gods aspects strong, least Ssslak follow the same path as Sarkeb.

Huitzilo sacrificed to lend his strength and tactics of war to Ssslak. Xipe provided her influence over the Thunderlizards. Chalchi sacrificed himself to give the power of the waterways. Unexpectantly, Tezcatli, the god of darkness and vengeance sacrificed himself. At first the other gods were glad to be rid of him as he was a constant thorn in their sides. But Quetzal worried at the implications of this. Ssslak would have hard decisions to make in his battles to free the Lizardmen, and having Tezcaltli’s dark influence could prove disastrous.

Flush with power, the Lizardmen made their move. The Gatorman empire was a rotted hut and they brutally kicked the door in. As Ssslak grew stronger in the Purge, the remainder of the Children grew dissatisfied with the traditional offerings and sacrifices of animals and wealth. All the Children saw the power that fueled Ssslak and his aspects obtained through the sacrifice of souls. All the Lizardmen gods grew strong on the blood of the Gatormen.

But over time, there were only so many people to go around. Inevitably, the strongest god got the most attention. However, this weakening of the other gods had its problems. Huehuet, the god of fire seems to have withheld his fiery hand from the bonfires. Tonati, the goddess of the sun, can barely push the sun through the sky these days."

Help from the Gods

Tabari cast Insight was was able to divine how interact with the statues that would then activate a lift of some kinda on the dais. As they prepared to descended into the depths of world, the globes of light flashed. The gods understood the intent of the heroes and let them a bit of their strength a their reward. Gifts from the gods can be double-edged at times. The heroes will need to make a choice – take a lesser gift free and clear, or take a stronger gift and become more aligned to the god.

  • Quetzal (father of all reptilian kind)- No Maintained Penalty on Speak Languages (but it can still be disrupted on damage); +1 Die to Knowledge Folklore in exchange for Quirk (minor) – a bit too into Reptilian Lore and wants to share. Tabari
  • Huitzilo (strength) – Boost Trait (strength only) – Spirit to Cast – Get Raise effect in exchange for Quirk (always shows off strength in social situations – arm wrestle, lift things, challenge to wrestle) – Menivis
  • Xipe (animals) – Summon Monster Power – all are Thunderlizards (Spirit to cast. Get Raise effect you must always have a Thunderlizard summoned, which will be odd in social situations – Areceli
  • Chalchi (water) – Healing Power (if no AB, use Spirit – Faith ). Water Trapping. Get Raise effect Quirk (Minor) – cleanliness (must use some water every day to stay clean – this is can be very negative to desert people – wasteful) – Amhed
  • Tezcatli (darkness) – Gain a power on your Spell List. Darkness Trappings. Can have your own trapping in exchange for Vengeful Minor (or upgrade to Major) – Salim-Sphere of Might

The Battle

The lift ended in a secret chamber with multiple levels. The two-headed cleric of Ssslak was about to perform the ritual. Of course, the golden plate of mathematical symbols was up by the ritual. The Fury of Ssslak, the massive multiheaded behemoth, stood guard.

Once again, Ahmed called upon his dervish powers. He initially struck the Fury, then used his speed to rush to the top of the chamber. The group then noticed that the various platforms were in motion. The battle was fierce but short, with Ahmed decapitating both heads of the priest of Ssslak. The Children were saved and the heroes now had the last piece needed to free Sinbad!

Amhed’s Telling of the Tale – Of the Reptile Gods

It has been many leagues and weeks since I wrote in this journal. We have seen many wondrous and terrible things, seen victory and death. I feel we are learning what the life of Sinbad and the other legendary heroes of our lands was like.

I sit, recovering from yet another battle. Deep in the heart of an island we found jungles and lizard people. Through Tabari’s magics, we were able to read their writings and understand their speech. Tales of the struggle of their gods was fascinating but it was being played out before us. Factions of these lizard people fought each other, the victorious seeking to perform a dark ritual to destroy some of their elder gods. We have seen what great power does to a person and the thought of a god (or spirit who thought itself a god) taking more and more power to itself was not going to bring good to the world.

I faced down a lizard so large and terrible that it was like walking thunder! I felt my blades sing as I charged the monster, slicing through armored skin, steel tendons and stone-like bones until it fell to the earth with a earth-shuddering crash! Oh, the rest of the Five were there too.

We entered the temple still seeking the mysterious clue to the riddle of Sinbad’s final journey only to encounter a many-headed child of one of their gods as well as countless lizard people all seeking to bleed us and pitch our bodies down bottomless pits. After landing a few blows on the gargantuan god-child, I spied a dark shaman hurrying to finish a foul ritual. I ran from the god-child, leaping up stairs and between ferocious lizard people guardians. Again, my blades did their terrible work until the shaman expired and fell to the ground, his ritual failed.

The Five rallied to slay the god-child and put an end to this lizard god plot. I believe we sided with the right people in this fight and were rewarded with a golden disc of symbols sure to be our clues to Sinbad.

Perhaps our days sailing the seas will soon be over as we discover what truly happened to the legendary hero.

Island of Al-Korsar - Session 21
Caverns of the Vampires and The Journey

Reaching accessible cliffs was just the start of the trials of our heroes. The next stage was to get to the interior valley. Unfortunately, that meant traversing the Caverns of the Vampires. Early on, the group came to a sizable cavern. There, they were beset upon by Vampire Birds – foul creatures about the size of a crow with bat-like wings and proboscis to suck out one’s blood. The whole complex was infested with the foul creatures.

Arad did an admirable job of herding the mobile buffet through the caverns. Through deep sinks, thick fungi, rocky crags, and wondrous crystal grottoes the group wound through the caverns. All battled, and Sahl al-Azam (known has Happy) nearly died from the nasty creatures.

Once the heroes exited the caverns, the way was more pleasant. There were on the inner lip of the mountains overlooking a primordial valley. They need to get to the bottom and find the rumored lost temple. The crude path led to a stone bridge with a large hut across the Falls of Karanga. As the group started to cross, a giant came out of the hut. “I am Karanga,” the giant boomed, “guardian of this bridge. If you wish to cross, you must best me in single melee combat. If you lose, I am sworn to kill you. Otherwise, its best you go back the way you came. Please make your choice quickly—my dinner is cooking.”

This gave hour heroes pause. Could anyone beat such an opponent in armed combat? The group discovers that Karanga is in no hurry to fight and is very happy to engage in conversation. She indicates she was cursed by a Jinn for slaying its pet Peryton. Like most Jinn curses, the cursed one is not allowed to reveal what breaks the curse. Food and stories are exchanges. Tabari does touch the bridge to see what stories it might hold. Many have lost their lives to Karanga’s axe. One challenger nearly defeated her, oddly to what seemed to be Karanga’s relief, but in the end she did prevail.

Making a tough decision, the group decided to go half rations and go the long way. (note Dramatic Task at -3 due to the fatigue. The group had 5 rounds to earn 10 success – each success represented getting 10% of the remaining 8 porters to the destination alive. Drawing a black card represented combat (used Quick Combat), red was survival). The trip was arduous. It was if the jungle was alive and trying to kill everyone. Giant snakes, Perytons, and thunderlizards all harangued the group. All looked bleak when half the porters were captured and drug off by Cannibal Apes. But the group was able to locate them and Tabari’s brillant tactic let them astray whilst the group rescued the porters. Miraculously, all 8 porters made it to the ruined temple complex.

The PCs come upon a battle scene. It’s a large battle with lizardmen vs. some huge mult-headed monstrosity.
Its clear after a moment that is not just the reptilian humaniods against the monster. Some of the lizardmen are holding back and watching while the monstrosity rips the others apart. A Raise on a Notice reveals that the two sets of Lizardmen have different patterning. One set has some of their scales colored black and gold into various patterns (these are Ssslak’s followers) and the other have multi-color/ rainbow patterns (Quetzal followers).

At the end, a two-headed lizardman steps forward. He is adored as if he is a holyman of some sort. He somehow manages to call off the monster. He steps forward to another lizardman that might also be a shaman or priest that has lost his leg in the battle. Says something in an unknown language (Tabari’s granted power of languages hears it as “Soon Ssslak will be complete!”), and brutally pins the creature to the ground by running his spear through him. Somehow, the downed shaman manages to live, but doubtful that will last long.

The victorious shaman calls upon the power of the jungle as his entourage enters the step pyramid. The jungle shakes and trees bend under the power of something large coming this way.

Island of Al-Korsar - Session 20

The jungle between the den of scum and villainy that Al-Korar and the mountains are hot, humid and sheltered from the refreshing ocean breeze. Taking a break before the arduous climb, our heroes talked about what they might do when finally get back to the mainland. Ahmed talked of seeking out his tribe to find out of the visions created by Jabal the Black held any substance. Salim similarly seemed to feel the effects of his vision, but not with quite the concern or passion that Ahmed displayed. Areceli and Menivis were grim, knowing that they cannot truly outrun this Curse. Tabari was deep in thought. He had many options but in reality less and less time.

The expertise of both Arad the Pathfinder and Areceli combined with the climbing gear resulted in a difficult but manageable climb. Remnants of other expeditions were visible along the route, including bones of past explorers on the main landing of the climb. Then a screech was heard and huge flying humaniods closed in on the group. As they closed, their bizarre features were revealed – the head, and antlers of a stag blending into the body of a huge eagle. Most perplexing was the shadows cast were that of a man or other wingless/antler-less humanoid.

Tabari identified them as Perytons, which is thought to be humans from a cursed city long ago that denied the existence of Iblis and evil because they were so good. They seek the hearts of people so they may break the curse, yet they are then damned for the sin of murder. Ahmed danced his way through, killing most of them. However, two of the porters were slain by the Perytons, with one having his heart ripped out and eaten by his killer.

During the rest, Tabari gave the full lore of the creatures as he knows it:

Long ago in a city called Peryton the citizenry was so good and righteous that they would not even acknowledge the existence of evil. While certainly it was an affront to Iblis, the other gods agreed that to deny the existence of a god was a slippery slope that should not be tolerated. They let Iblis impose a curse on the people of Peryton so long as there was some way to break it. Iblis reshaped the people into a horrid mix of eagle and deer. The deer represented their false love of good and peace, and the eagle imparted on them a desire to return to their own form. In day to day living, they are themselves as shown by their humanoid shadows. They are vegetarians as they would never harm a living thing. That is, until they encounter a humanoid of their former self. They then attack with the intent to rip their target’s heart out and devour it. It will then free them from the curse. However, Iblis is a crooked one. Committing the act taught the Perytons the meaning of evil. But it also resulted in a mortal sin. While their body return to human, their now true nature is reflected in their shadow – that of a horrid deer/eagle mix. Upon their death, their souls are now marked for Iblis.

Island of Al-Korsar - Session 19
Painting the town Naji

Naji points out a number of things about the last location. The first is that its on Al Korsar, the only charted island on this adventure. Further, the lens fills in the terrain – the location is in the nearly impossible to reach interior. The good news is the port is a great place for the crew to blow off some steam,

Al-Korsar is the name of both the city and the island on which it stands. A high plateau surrounded by rugged, almost sheer-faced mountains whose peaks rise over 6,000 feet above the coastal plains dominates the interior. A montane cloud forest covers the mountain slopes, with evergreen trees at lower altitudes and large shrubs at higher elevations. The plateau’s summit is constantly swathed in dense clouds.

In port, the PCs see the rough and tumble town. Naji points out the Admiral’s Palace on the way to where the heroes will stay. By the standards of the emirs, the palace of Al-Korsar’s ruler is a peasant’s shack. A ram­shackle affair, it is actually an entire row of three-story apartments knocked into a single structure. The inside is far grander, though arguably any pasha would boast of similar furnishings and displays of wealth. The ground floor holds the city’s sole legal court, the council meeting chamber, servants’ quarters, kitchens, and storerooms. The second floor is devoted to bureau­cratic offices, along with staterooms for senior ministers and the barracks of the admirals’ bodyguards. The entire top floor is the admiral’s personal apartments.

Naji takes the group to the The Broken Compass. Naji explains that while the corsairs owe the Brotherhood of Sinbad no special favors, they rarely trouble their ships unless they are clearly laden with riches. Similarly, while few Brothers engage in piracy for a living, it behooves them to maintain friendly relations with the corsairs—Al-Korsar makes an ideal stag­ing post for expeditions into the deep Southern Ocean. The Broken Compass is a lively inn serving good quality meals, the audience is frequently entertained by tales of mystery, close escapes, and fearsome beasts by visiting Brothers. Tabari takes the opportunity to tell of their tale on the
Island of Beasts, and their harrowing escape from the cylcops (earned Glory)

Naji offers to show the group the town. Need a bit of seed money to set things up. Promises the Empty Shell (“best seafood in Al-Shirkuh!”) and the House of Fortune (“you cannot lose!”). Those in the Compass know of Naji’s legendary “nights” and encourage the PCs to enjoy the night. The group agrees and gives Naji some seed money.
The Empty Shell: A favorite restaurant for those with a taste for fine food and deep pockets (only expensive meals are available), the Empty Shell specializes in shell­fish. All the produce is caught that morning and cooked at the customer’s table. Naji basically sticks the group with the bill and uses the money for the rest of the night. It’s a big bill. The group pays up and is off to find Naji.

They track him down to the House of Fortune. While many taverns and inns offer gambling opportunities, the House of Fortune specializes in high-stakes games. The group cannot afford to get in. Salim is able to fade into sand and appear inside. He catches up to Naji, who welcomes him warmly, then ditches him with a bad hand. Naji exits out of the side door.
The group then tracks him to Houris’ Haven. Operated by the cult of Tamarni and located in the Captains’ Quarter, the Houris’ Haven is a popular tavern. Services include alcohol, prostitutes, gambling games, and legal hashish. Ahmed questions if he really should go in (he is sorting out the complex relationship between his Devoted beliefs and Faithful). This is Naji’s element. The group catches up with the Naji, but he is “protected” by the crowd, of which he is leading in sea chanties with several ladies on his arm, including a priestess of Tamarni. The priestess know Naji is a swindle, but he is such a crowd favorite that they net make money. They also “take care of” close associates of Naji on the house. Each of the group faces temptation, with Salim (hashish) and Menevis (alcohol) falling for temptation. Eventually, Araceli flushes Naji from several courtesans. He escapes out the balcony and the chase is on.

Naji leads the group in Rat Alley. People near the area stop and watch as a number of our heroes duck down the Alley in chase of Naji. Race means little if a citizen is prepared to work for a living, but sand goblins are loathe to perform hard labor or honest work. Many dwell in a narrow, filthy alley that runs through the West Docks. The group is luck to exit the other side with all the valuables intact.
Next up is the The Den. Shunned by even hardened corsairs, the Den is a tavern with an almost exclusively hyaenidae clientele. The group meets up and sees Naji drug into the place. Tabari enters and finds that the drink is cheap and strong, and meat served raw. Shows of superiority (achieved through the barring of teeth, throaty snarls, and taunting laughs) are common. The obligatory major brawl a night breaks out. Menevis, still drunk and not liking hyaenidae, plows into the scrum. Ahmed holds his own and Salim get buffeted around. Araceli brings down a huge wrought iron chandelier, allowing Tabari to escape the melee unharmed. The fight eventually spills into the streets, drawing the Watch. Our heroes wisely withdrawal.

Finally, The Rusty Gibbet. The Rusty Gibbet is a cramped, smoky tavern in the East Docks. Many of the corpses that hang outside are not convicts, but patrons who caused trouble. Only the lowliest corsairs and citizens frequent it, for the quality of the food and drink matches the extremely low prices. Our group finally catch Naji – its really late and he is enjoying a simple smoke (from a hooka) and drink with a glassy-eyed woman. “I hope you enjoyed seeing the town!” The group is both amused and pissed at Naji.

In this run down bar this is where Araceli and Menevis run into Arad, the Pathfinder. He is down on his luck and on the run. The curse dreams have been strong. They also notice Beni. Menevis and Araceli are very concerned that the known survivors of the Curse are all in the same place. Upon confrontation, he drops something from his hand – it flashes with a bang (he escapes, of course) and a Giant Scorpion appears and attacks! After a brutal fight, the creature disappears in the swirl of sand. All the remains is a small item with the same Cartouche that is on the cursed Canopic jars. It is becoming clear that one cannot run from the reach of this curse.

Island of Mourning - Session 18
A Brutal Beatdown

The spirits attacked, fully coalesced forms of Lady Menesta’s Grief. The strong Spirit of the heroes quickly dispersed the threat. The remaining spirits then moved on down the road, out of town. Tabari went side and encountered the spirit of the distraught priest. He gathered up the now corporeal holy symbal of Tammuz. The group decided to investigate the palace. They met Gramel, a rather grumpy steward that gave them little information. They then followed the path of the spirits. It led to a small valley with stonework blended into the hill – an old style Hekata tomb. Investigation indicated no easy way in. The group goes back to town to ponder.

In talking with Seth the Innkeeper, they learned the Omar the Stonemason was the builder of the tomb. They find him and he is very boastful about how well built it is. They also learn more of Lady Menesta’s grief at the death of Lord Damotrix. They do investigate if it might have been foul play – a political move of some sort, but that is a dead end.

The group decides to attack the door in two ways. One is just back-breaking labor. Menevis starts in with heavy tools on the door. The other is through magic. Salim’s obsession with sand has led him to discover that for a very short period of time he can be a grain of sand in the wind (Teleport). He might be able to work his way through the nooks and crannies of the door and the wall. He is successful! The decides to break open the stone door as a precaution.

After poking around, they come upon the final resting place of Lord Damotrix and the grieving form of Lady Menesta. Tabari correctly surmised that Lord Damotrix had to be touched by the holy symbol of Tammuz. A punishing fight broke out. With only Lord Damotrix being truly vulnerable, the heroes had great difficulty in this fight. Menevis, Tabari, and Araceli all were eventually cut down by the pair. Finally, Ahmed maneuvered Lord Damotrix into position that Salim, having swooped around the room on Sirocco to get the symbol and avoid Lady Menesta, to finish him off.

Lord Damotrix’s earthly form crumples to the floor. In its place stands a spectral version of the long-dead lord. As his shade materializes, the same thing happens to Lady Menesta. The couple rush to each other and embrace, the love they share for each other clearly evident.

They then turn to the heroes. As all this takes place, a beam of light strikes the floor of the tomb, illuminating a circle two yards across. Hand-in-hand, the couple walk into the light.

“In my grief I forgot that death is just the beginning of a new life,” says Menesta. “The rage I felt toward you for harming my husband has broken the chains, and we are free to depart, along with those we once ruled over and I so cruelly bound
I pray Tammuz is merciful.” She then cocks her head, as if listening to a voice.

“You have done the powers that rule the universe a great service today. Go with their blessing and continue your lives. You will be called when the time comes again to journey beyond.”

With that, the beam suddenly vanishes, along with the spectral figures. As the light vanishes, so the heroes find themselves on Spirit out as sea, all back alive. In their hand is a lens that was on Lord Damotrix’s shield.

Island of Mourning - Session 17
Perhaps I should not have tried to blind Adad's Son

Storm clouds gather after the Spirit of Suleiman escapes from the gargantuan Cyclops. The Cylcops is Bariq, the Son of Storms, and some believe to be the Avatar of Adad. The storms are very rough and heroes and crew alike fight seasickness…then a living storm itself!

The storm gets particularly fierce when Ahmed climbs up the center mast, girds himself in the rigging, and defies the existence of a “storm god” (he is Devoted). When eyes clear and focus after a massive flash of lightning, our heroes see living lightning surging towards them. Naji and the crew focuses on the herculean task of keeping the ship under control in the storm. The lightning jinn seem to focus on Ahmed and the crew.

As things seem to turn the heroes way, another blinding flash of lightning – Ahmed finds himself staring in the the huge eye of Bariq, the Son of Storms! Tabari overhears Naji mutter “Perhaps I should not have tried to blind Adad’s Son.” But there was no time to consider its meaning. Bariq proceeded so pummel the heroes. Ahmed takes two brutal blows to that destroys the main mast in the process. He leapt forward to try to stick the eye of Bariq, but is ineffectual. Bariq grabs Ahmed, throws him across the ship when he crashes into the captain’s quarters.

Bariq hammered Salim so hard it drove him through the deck into the hold. Tabari and Ariceli were similarly crushed under Bariq’s might. As Bariq turned on Menivis, there was a load crack – the keel had broken under the power of the storm and the weight of Bariq. Menivis sees the other half of the ship rushing to him as all goes black.

Tabari is the first to awake. He finds the ship intact and everyone asleep on the ship. The Spirit appears unharmed and they are in a strange port – the buildings and the people resemble descriptions Tabari had read of Hekata. After all are wake, Tabari orders Naji to stay with the crew and have the ship ready to depart.

But before leaving, Tabari asks Naji about his comment during the storm. Naji then tells what happened to the crew back on the island with the cyclops. They had not told their tale as the terrible weather had been non-stop. The crew had been overrun by the beastmen. They were forced to sail to another small cover and were then taken to a huge cave. There they found Bariq. There were other mariners there and they were being eaten for dinner. Clearly, the crew would be up for the next meal. Thinking quickly, Naji convinced Bariq that one could not just eat people, but one had to properly cook them. If he allowed them to build a fire, he could demonstrate.

Bariq, skeptical, allowed this. Naji then noted its always best to cook to music. One of the crew quickly took up a lullaby from her homeland. The combination of the warm fire, the recent food, and the song put Bariq to sleep. Naji and the crew then heated up a large log and attempted to blind the Cyclops. They were successful enough to escape, but Bariq managed to bumble along behind them only partially blind. Naji sent the crew to prep the ship whilst he led Bariq down another trail. Bariq must have heard, seen, or otherwise sensed something that took him on down the path the led to the stone cyclops fort.

Naji returned to his crew to rescue the heroes just in time, as Bariq somehow had stumbled onto them in all the excitement.

Back to the port of Ankhura, as the heroes learn of the locale’s name. The heroes disembark to explore. The people speak Hekata but do not seem all that interested in the new arrivals. Ahmed notices there are no signs of the Devoted. Tabari notes there is a large but run down temple of Tammuz, the god of dead and the afterlife. He eventually locates a shrine to Qedeshet and speaks with the lay attendant. Tabari becomes convinced they are trapped in the ancient past.

Meanwhile Salim meditates while Ahmed keeps an eye on him. They eventually see Naji nosing around, trying to communicate with the local women. A couple of teen girls seems interested, but at the same time distant.

The group discusses what to do next. Based on some local maps, this appears to be the island revealed by the lens recovered from the Island of Lightning. But something is not right here. As it nears sunset, the group decides to try to leave. But they cannot board the ship!

As the sun sets, they see a glow up on a nearby hill. It forms a processional of spirits that marches to the temple of Tammuz. The doors are open and, perhaps as a trick of the lighting, the temple looks more robust and kept up than it did during the day. A priest of Tammuz comes out to greet the gathered masses. The masses supplicate the priest to let them in, to let them pass. The priest mournfully shakes his head and closes the doors. The crowd wails, and dark tendrils form and weave their way through the crowd. They start to coalesce into dark shapes, and those shapes sense the heroes…

Island of Lighting - Session 15 and 16

Session 15


A big celebration – all the prominent members of Home. “Sounds as of Jabal got his comeuppance – that his fate is much that that of the foul Sultan Malik, the former ruler of the Jinn. Here, you shall always be ‘As favored as Martek’." says the Pasha.

The Pasha bestowes the following gifts on the group:

  • A coffee serving set – +2 to any Persuasion/Reaction for Al-Shirkuh natives/those entrenched in culture due to its fine craftsmanship and obvious favor the PCs
  • Blood of the Marid – A Bloodstone (see Gemstones) necklace for Areceli – the gem contains a single Bennie that can be used to re-roll a healing check once per session.
  • Marqod’s Blessings – A 2-Wound Healing Potion for each member of the group
  • Each PCs may obtain an Alchemical item of their choice (Novice or Seasoned Power) for free from the townsfolk.

After a night of festivities, the group sets sail for the new island revealed by the Blue Lens. As the Spirit of Suleiman pulls out of port, the group sees a crowd form. Capitan Rafiq shakes his scimitar at the departing ship. There are a number of women, some angry, some looking forlorn. A number of angry men are in the crowd as well. The group turns to Naji, who smiles sheepishly.

Island of Beasts.

Naji informs the group the island indicated on the map is one sailors all avoid – it is an island of foul humanoid beasts. As they approach, the island does not look inhabited. There is a ridge of hills running along the spine of the island. Upon circling the island, they do spot a lagoon with crude outrigger boats.

The group approaches the island at dusk with most using their Necklaces of the Sea. As they near the beach, an emaciated man breaks from the jungle cover and rushes to the surf. His is quickly shot by figures lurking in the foliage. A quick fight reveals them to be Orcs. They have unusually finely crafted weapons and all bear a symbol of an eye with a lightening bolt for an iris.

The group makes it look like the dead man killed the orcs and move to set up camp a distance away. They set double watch, but that does not seem to help them when Tabari and Salim were paired together. As they sat facing outward, someone darts between them and back into the jungle! Then the pursing orcs show up. A fierce hand to hand fight occurs with the heroes being victorious.

The next day, they follow the trail into the jungle. They come upon a small fort with a wooden palisade. After some scouting, they see a two prisoners lashed to posts in the center of the fort. Occasionally, a foul orc would wander over and whip one of the men.

The orcs are not all that observant and they pay for that lapse in judgement. After some plotting, the group decides they plan of assault. Tabari and Salim enter using Sirocco after Araceli takes out the guard in the tower with her bow. Menivis and Ahmed scale the wooden wall. Araceli then climbs the wall herself.

In general, things go to plan. Ahmed nearly bit off more than he could chew when burst into the barracks area, but the group was able to rally. The group then discovers the prisoners in the pit, about 20 in all. They learn of the mines and where the ore is taken, but they do not know the masters of the stone castle deeper in the island.

Here is the view of events from Ahmed’s point of view:

“Fine weaponry for their kind,” growled Menevis, kicking a sword from the grip of a dead beast man.

Ahmed was letting the dervish flows calm around after the heat of battle. He looked around the primitive fortification at the carnage. There were prisoners that needed attention but he took a moment to reflect.

The old map had led them here, following yet another X. This small island was nearly uncharted and the X had been fairly indiscriminate, giving them no guidance to their goal: the last page of the old man’s book, the way to open the door and discover the fate of the famous Sinbad.

“Why are creatures such as these in the middle of the ocean in a fortification against no one keeping prisoners alive? Were the escaped prisoners we saw let go for sport or did they actually escape? Where did they think they could go? We’ve seen no boats or ships. And where it that last page hidden. We’ll have to search here but this would be a strange place for it to be hidden.”

Ahmed wiped his swords on the cloak of a fallen defender and slung them over his back.

Their path was full of twists, turns and tests. He began to feel as if their search was like one of Sinbad’s journeys, full of challenge and death. That realization made him smile. He and his friends had become talked about in ports, their deeds retold. Was it hubris to think they could walk in the footsteps of Sinbad and solve the mystery to find the legend’s tomb? What if in Suleiman’s wisdom they could find Sinbad alive? Trapped by some enchantment they could break? The possibilities…

As they started to work on the chains securing the prison pits, his mind drifted unbidden to the dream of his tribe. The usurper and the thought of returning home to lead them had played on his mind ever since that night in Jabal’s Tower. What if it was not some fantasy woven by that foul necromancer? What if his brother and the tribe suffered that way even now? It had been long since he’d had word of his people and he felt the draw to home.

It just was not strong enough to overcome his need for adventure…

Session 16


(note, I was using a smaller scale map of the famous Moathouse from ToEE for this scene).

After a rough and sweaty trip, the heroes find the keep. They see a bit of smoke from one tower and hear the occasional ringing of a metal hammer on metal. The group decides to work they way to a secluded place, come down into the ravine protecting the keep, and work their way in to the rear of the keep. By late afternoon, they arrive to their desired point. Araceli easily scales the rocky crag and the wall of the keep. The rest are reluctantly ferried by Sirocco.

Once up to the roof of the keep, they come forward and see a pair of orcs across the courtyard. They are gathering up ore and taking it into the tower to a smelter. Araceli manages to pick off two orcs and two cyclops* before the alarm is raised!

  • funny silly moment – when the first cyclops appears, Ahmed’s Notice was rather poor – so the player jokingly called out “centaur!” So we redubbed this the Ilse of misfit Centaurs – a centaur with One Leg Hindrance (presuming it cuts the number of legs in half) and One Eye Hindrance would look like a cyclops.

What happened next is best described by Menivis:

It had sounded like a good idea at the time. Ariceli had already taken down two orcs and a pair of cyclops at the gate house. Now the doors to the main keep stood open but no one ventured out of the darkness within. Stalemate.

Menivis and Ahmed grabbed a rope, looped it over a vent pipe in the roof and together trotted to the edge above the doors. With deep breaths and a count of three they swung over the edge, letting the rope ends catch the roof line and swing them thru the open doors to land amid their foes, hoping to gain surprise.

And the world seemed to end in a blur of motion, the sharp twang of bowstrings, the clash of steel and the roaring crackle and flash of sorcerous lightning. In but a heartbeat both Menivis and Ahmed were wounded but three of their foes were down. More lightning, more clashing of steel, more blood on the stone floor. The indignant cry of a dark priest of Adad, the shattering of furniture. Then the rest of the party arrived in their own hail of spell craft and arrows. A few more moments and it was done. The keep was theirs.

[In game terms, the orcs and Cyclops in the keep were on hold. Both PCs, the orcs, and the cyclops all rolled 5s for Agility – a massive simultaneous fight!]


In clearing out the keep, the group found yet another Lens, three of the Lightning Javelins, and one Orc survivor. The orc noted the Cyclops worshipped Adid, the Father of Storms. The orc tribe was known as the Eye of Adid. He knows that there is a monstrously large cyclops on the island, purported to be a offspring of Adid on the island. That is who the cyclops of this keep provided their labor.

It was then that an unearthly howl of rage and pain was heard across the island. The orc fainted in fright. The very walls of the keep rumbled. The group decided to flee, especially when they saw what was bellowing The Orc was right, it was a gargantuan cyclops. It seemed to be searching for something…or someone. But its eyesight seemed even more poor than the other cyclopes they had encountered.

It was a harrowing flight back to the ship. The Spirit of Suleiman was quickly turning the bend into the lagoon and barely made it out of there under the onslaught of the thrown rocks of the behemoth. With Tabari’s languages spell still running, he heard the beast call upon his father for vengeance. As the Spirit escaped to sea, a storm began to brew…

Tower of Jabal - Session 14
Menivis recovered enough to make the trudge to the tower. He found the door open and…welcoming. Cautiously entering, he found a room empty of life. Only bones on the floor welcomed the Mameluk. Advancing cautiously, a spectre of death arose, threatening his life. Menivis shrugged, the Cakali did not fear death. But then others rose from the bones …

The group was able to get Tabari back on his feet with some healing, but the situation was challenging. The threads of magic from the lessor Lantern of Asha * were elusive to Ahmed and Salim. Then, the sound of rattling bones approaching …

[*Side note – this is the Devoted name for the moon – in Sandspeech Al-Hemenat (The Cold One). The Faithful refer to the sun and moon as the Eyes of Shamash, with Iblis having partially blinded one of the eyes )]

Both groups battled the bony dead, with Menivis fairing poorly in his fight alone. It is then when the demons and foul spirits that infest the tower at Jabal’s bidding took notice of our heroes.

The spirits sought to torment with past sins and negotiate with desires:

  • Menivis – The demon took interest in the remnants of the spirit of Bayram alim-Kasaba that resides in Menivis’ Kopesh and Corselet. The demons brought forth the memories of the destruction of the Cakali homelands and the tough decisions the Bayram had to make to save a fraction of the survivors. The toughest call was his sister, who fell ill to the strange sickness that infected many of those that were near the cities during their destruction. Menivis was profoundly impacted by this – living through the events that so changed the Cakali view of life.
  • Ahmed returned to his tribe to find many things were not well. His brother Kalem’s health has worsened, deeping Ahmed’s guilt over the original injury that brought Kalem low so many years ago. He also discovered the Shiek had passed on. Somehow Abbad the Unclean had ascended to lead. Further, Abbad used the money that Ahmed had sent back to the tribe for his own vulgar pleasures. Ahmed boldly entered the Shiek’s tent and confronted his bodyguards. He got them to back down and Ahmed stepped behind the curtains to a retched scene of debauchery. He confronted Abbad and accused him of crimes against the tribe. While Abbad would not relent, he also had no support. Ahmed forced him down and maimed Abbad (cut off several fingers), and exiled him from the tribe, then taking control. As he exited this vision the haunting thought nags at him – was any of that vision true?
  • Tabari finds himself alone in the Tower of Jabal. Searching for his friends leads him to the library of the tower, where sat Jabal enjoying a coffee. Uncomfortable pleasantries are exchanged, at least from Tabari’s point of view. Jabal engages him about the nature of the Cakali and their lack of fear of death. He claims the Cakali do fear one thing – to live! They abandoned their culture, their endeavors, and their knowledge. They are no more than animals that wander the desert. Tabari counters with the tight bonds that the Cakali form – their strength is stronger than before, stronger than the false life and companionship that Jabal seems to be trying to create in his tower. Jabal finally counters with an offer of knowledge – knowledge to contact and perhaps even bring back Tabari’s beloved wife. Tabari meditates for a moment. It is not so much about his wife – he knows that would only bring torture and pain to her. But the knowledge itself. In thinking of what offends Qedeshet the most is the destruction of knowledge. He resolves to resist Jabal but if possible, to recover the dark knowledge here to send back to the university.
  • Salim finds himself trapped back in the same cave all those many year ago. He is that same boy and the same fears and rejections of his peers. While as a boy Salim really never knew what hid in the darkness and the stories were just that – stories. But Salim has traveled and knows what lurks in the dark. He finds it harder to center himself and meditate. The way out is elusive for him. Nazif, Salim’s chief tormentor, returns and taunts “what will you give to get out of there?” Salim finds his center, and then notices a lever point that might open the rockfall that blocked the opening of the cave. Using leverage, he bursts out of the cave! The rockfall pins Nazif, severely hurting his leg. Salim turns to the boy “What will you give….”
  • Araceli is back with her friends from the north. It is a surprise when one just looks around as it seems barren. But their is life here in the sands! That is, until they reached the Line. Everything is different across the Line. The sun is both more unforgiving yet the lands somehow appears darker. There is no sound. There is no life. The drain on one’s soul is palpable. Those of the group from the North are uneasy. Those from the South are on the verge of panic. Reaching the pyramid brings only more horror and no relief. Sinrilli Sunray, the priest of Sigel, is almost mad with power. The sun has driven him here. Here, he will find his god. The workers will not work now as they are terrified of these lands and the pyramid. They will not enter the pyramid. Sinrilli threatens to bring down the wrath of his god on them. Araceli goes to Raji, the leader of the workers. She convinces them to help. A bit at first, them more, then fully engaged. Most of them die horribly in the trap infested pyramid…but also to other horrors. And it was Araceli that sent them there…

After surviving the torments of the demons, the group finds itself back in the tower and in the moment. Unfortunately, that moment is near the critical hour for Shana, the daughter of the Pasha of the Island of Outcasts. The group surges up the multiple flights of stairs. Skeletal warriors stand in their way as they hear the chanting in the Black Tongue. Fighting their way to the the pentagram, they find a faint blue spirit bound. It is getting more substantial and cries for help. Jabal is nearing the completion of the ritual. Menivis charges forward and sweeps away all the arcane paraphernalia in hopes that weakens the ritual. But it is the Arecili’s Bow of Ammon that ends it.

The demons are enraged at Jabal’s failure – a black cloud in the shape of claws reaches up out of the floor and starts drag him into the stone. The Tower shudders violently. Not in the best shape to begin with, the heroes sense the tower is not long for this world. As the group begins to flee, Arecili notices the spirit is still trapped. She also notices the large hourglass near the pentagram. She quickly shatters the hourglass with a well aimed arrow then deftly climbs over the edge of the tower. Salim calls on Sirocco the Flying Carpet to get him out of the tower, and Ahmed clings on for dear life. Menivis gathers up the near immobile Tabari and races him down the stairs, although he nearly takes Tabari’s head of going through a doorway. All escape the doomed tower, which crumbles into the dark sea.

The group gathers at the dock and returns to the Spirit of Suleiman. There is a great celebration back at the Pasha’s compound. The group asks for only the blue lens and replenished healing supplies.

The lens reveals another isle…


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