Al-Qadim: Heroes of the Four Provinces

Intro Adventure, Part 1

In-Game Date: 5th day of Dar, in the 28th year of Khalil (Enlightened Year 592)

Four different adventurers in Huzuz, the City of Delights, got invitations to meet with the merchants of the Al-Kamari trading house, a successful family of silk merchants. Mu’izzi al-Kamar, the head of the house, told the heroes that of the last 7 ships they sent out, 5 failed to make it to their destination in Jumlat.

The heroes investigated around Huzuz, and found out several facts:

  • The ships took a coastal route. A ship that wasn’t flagged as an al-Kamari ship got through fine.
  • The sailors at the Huzuz docks have no idea who the pirates might be.
  • About 20 years ago, Mu’izzi al-Kamar was lost in the deserts of the Haunted Lands; when he returned, he took the family business much more seriously and has greatly increased the prestige of the Al-Kamari trading family.
  • Jazmine managed to locate a tailor (and his twin brother, a better tailor) who had some knowledge of the missing al-Kamari silk.
  • That man led the heroes to the Inn of the Polished Lamp, seeking his contact, a woman named Suha.
  • Suha was not at the Inn of the Polished Lamp, but the sha’ir did meet and consult with a disguised genie who informed them that Suha is also a genie (of earth, i.e. a dao).

The heroes left the Polished Lamp and were attacked in the street by five ruffians, who were easily dispatched, and turned over to the Huzuz city watch. From the ruffians they learned:

  • The ruffians were hired by a woman matching Suha’s description, and were told to attack the heroes.
  • The ruffians were paid in precious metals which turned out to be worthless rocks.
  • Suha is down at the docks checking out Balastar, the heroes’ sailing ship.
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Session 1 Treasure & Quests

I’m going to make blog posts listing what treasure was found in each session, to make it easier to keep track of and reference.

Treasure

For this first post, there wasn’t much found!

  • A bunch of worthless rocks from the hooligans.
  • 1,000 gold pieces paid in advance for investigating the missing Al-Kamari ships.

Quests

Find the Missing Ships

Five ships flagged to the al-Kamari merchant house have gone missing in the last 3 months. Find out what happened to them, and if possible, return them to Huzuz.

Rewards: 1,000 gp in advance, 1,000 gp upon successful completion of the quest. Bonus 1,500 if the villain(s) responsible are brought back for trial, 1,000 if they are returned dead and with proof of their guilt. Each ship recovered is an additional 1,000; if a ship is destroyed, 500 gp for returning with its location. All who participate in completing the quest will receive the boons Gratitude of the Al-Kamari and Mystery of the Missing Ships.

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Next Game: Friday 8/12, 6:15

The next game is going to be this Friday, August 12, at my house at 6:15 p.m. Let me know if you can or can’t make it.

Also, I have updated the Al-Qadim Themes document — the major changes are that it now includes Ghul Lords (and I’ve opened up most Heroes of Shadow classes to play), and I changed the starting feature for the Faris theme to an Essentials-style stance.

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Intro Adventure, Part 2

In-Game Date: 6th day of Dar, in the 28th year of Khalil (Enlightened Year 592)

An additional group of adventurers was hired by Mu’izzi al-Kamar, not only to investigate the missing ships but also a recent rash of elemental vermin plaguing the al-Kamari warehouses. They believe the two misfortunes may be related because some of the silk despoiled by the vermin was supposed to be on the five lost ships but was found in the warehouse instead.

The new group met captain Samarah, who said she and her companions had been attacked by ruffians and that the woman named Suha was down near the docks. The adventurers headed to the docks post-haste, and while trying to approach Suha, they were caught up in a melee with unknown criminals who were attacking Suha as well.

After our heroes knocked out most of the assailants, it was eventually revealed that Suha works for (or claims to work for) the al-Kamari trading family as well — although she indicated that she was bound to not reveal who her master is. The guards arrested all but three of Suha’s attacks, and the conscious attacker — a halfling slinger named Kifah who had been posing as a fisherwoman — revealed she worked for someone named the Rat Lord.

The Rat Lord’s gang makes its money by kidnapping wealthy people and ransoming them back from their families, and this group was sent to kidnap Suha, not knowing she was a dao (earth genie). Kifah was sent out to arrange a meeting with the Rat Lord and set it up for tomorrow (7 Dar) night. Apparently the Rat Lord lives in the sewers and has the magical ability to see through the eyes of rats; some claim he is a rat (or were-rat) himself.

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In The Service of the Rat Lord

In-Game Date: 7th & 8th day of Dar, in the 28th year of Khalil (Enlightened Year 592)

Representatives of the party met with the Rat Lord, a creepy individual with hollow eyes and perhaps rats in his skull. The heroes wanted to know who hired him to kidnap Suha, the dao earth genie apparently working for House Al-Kamari. The Rat Lord agreed to reveal this information if they would do him a favor: Determine what was killing his rat agents who were sent into one part of the sewers of Huzuz.

The party agreed and took out the necessary permits with the city’s sewer department, then met Akik Festir, the leader of the Exterminators — an apparently rather foolish man who leads a ragtag assortment of veterans who had fallen on hard luck and naive neophytes into battle against two-foot-tall elemental vermin.

Festir was heading into the sewers under Huzuz that day, but had no room in his group for anyone else; he advised the party to return the next day. When they did, they found he was heading to a distant part of the sewer system to root out vermin, not to the area beneath the Clothiers’ district where the Rat Lord had tasked the players to go, so they struck out on their own.

Investigating an entrance into the contested sewer system, they encountered strange creatures called pasari-nimal — bizarre six-inch-long ants with rage-contorted human faces. Dispatching the “mants,” the players then found a secret passage guarded by two al-Kamari watchmen. The guards said a “shipment” was arriving soon; the shipment was a pair of crates which arrived on a smuggling raft and were carried down a long tunnel under Huzuz and ultimately were handed over to a waiting earth genie.

Returning to the sewers, the players investigated four crypts across the waterway, and found one occupied by a crypt servant — an undead mamluk who was made to guard his master in death as he had in life. Eventually the mamluk was convinced that he should not continue in this duty, and attacked the party — who slew him to give him release from his eternal vigil.

Continuing back across the waterway, a crazed sewer shark lunged at Ashyr and tried to eat his face, even flopping up onto the land in an attempt to bite him. Eventually the shark was killed.

Across the water, the party discovered more pasari-niml tunnels, and crawled through them — which almost proved to be a deadly mistake when the mants swarmed out in numbers. Through luck and force of arms, the party defeated the pasari-nimal, and crawled further into the tunnels, eventually finding the mant queen, a bunch of eggs, and dessicated rat corpses.

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Boons
What they are and how they work

Also, as you know, this is a low-magic game intentionally; instead, I am using the alternate reward system of “boons” that was first introduced in DMG2. Here’s how it works in my games.

You get a number of “boon slots” equal to 1 + half your level. At level 6, this means you have 4 open slots for boons. (One-shot boons — those with the “consumable” keyword — don’t count against the slot limits.)

Boons are awarded based on what you accomplish in the game, and are usually rewarded one game session after they’re earned. I print them up on cards and make them available to you so you can decide if you want to take them.

When you get a new boon, you decide whether to keep it and, if your slots are already full, discard a previously taken boon. You (usually) can’t go back to a previous boon once you discard it. Of course, since nobody has any yet, you won’t be filling up any time soon.

Because we have had a random assortment of players and not a consistent party due to our hectic schedules, I’m going to say that when a boon becomes available based on the party’s actions, everyone — whether they were there or not — is eligible to choose it. This won’t apply to individual rewards, just boons based on party actions.

Here’s an example boon:

Crypt Servant’s Dying Breath
Freed from his centuries-long servitude, the undead mamluk’s final word was a raspy, thankful whisper.
Property: You gain a +2 item bonus on death saves.

Since the party as a group participated in freeing (killing) the crypt servant last game session, everyone in the campaign can choose to take this boon.

Shark Attack Survivor
They can smell your blood in the water. Better get out of the water, and fast.
Property: While you are bloodied, you gain a +5 item bonus on Athletics checks to swim.

Chris had a berserk sewer shark flipping itself out of the sewers trying to bite his head off last game session. He can take this boon individually, but the rest of the party can’t. (Even though everyone else assisted in killing the shark, the shark only went after Chris’s character.)

And here’s an example of a consumable boon:

Rat Lord’s Favor
He has eyes everywhere.
Encounter (Consumable): No action. Trigger: You are surprised while in the city of Huzuz. Effect: You are no longer surprised, and you gain a +2 power bonus on all defenses until the start of your next turn.
Rat Lord's Favor

Everyone in the party gets one use of this boon, because you (collectively) helped the Rat Lord figure out what was killing his rodent spies in one particular part of the sewers. (He’s also going to give up the information on who hired him, as well.) I’ve attached a copy of the card for this boon just for you to take a look at; I’m going to print the cards out and have them for you on Friday.

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Eye of the Maelstrom

In-Game Date: 9th to 13th day of Dar, in the 28th year of Khalil (Enlightened Year 592)

The heroes investigate further and learn from The Rat Lord that Prince Jeygar, a gnome prince from Sikak, had pointed him toward kidnapping Suha. They speak with Mu’izzi al-Kamar, meet his assistant/slave Dakim, and the tasked genie artisan Jaheira. With the help of the latter, they crafted an enchanted silk containing a magic circle against elementals, and investigated a missing tunnel that arrived in an al-Kamari mansion. While there, Ashyr Sandweaver shared some dates with Suha.

Departing the next day on the Balastar, the heroes followed an al-Kamari trading ship under cloak of mage curtain. About three days later, they witnessed a maelstrom forming, and a giant hand dragged the trading vessel down under the sea. Shards of elemental ice attacked the Balastar, and the maelstrom — a gateway to the Elemental Chaos — closed. Before leaving the area, the ship was attacked by several amir rasol — undead sailors who could charm and drain energy.

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Storm of Sands

In-Game Date: 19th day of Dar, in the 28th year of Khalil (Enlightened Year 592)

The heroes made their way to Sikak, city of coins (so named for the scales of Sikak’s fish, which are the size of silver coins), asking about Prince Jeygar. They found that Sultan Magar al-Azim, Jeygar’s father, is a beloved ruler of a small city of happy fishermen, and Jeygar is well-regarded. At least, until he most recently returned from Huzuz a few days ago, and was in a terrible mood.

The party learned through their investigation that Jeygar had made his way to one of his family’s small manor outside of town, among the fruit trees, and so followed him out there. Jeygar’s ogre bodyguards attacked the party (on the prince’s orders) and a fight began just as a haboob (sandstorm) rolled over the manse and the town itself.

After a fight in the haboob, the heroes had defeated the ogre guards and almost had defeated Jeygar himself, when he stabbed both his own rapiers into his gut and slumped over, dying. A spectral image of a yak man rose from his body and then disappeared. Shihab saved Jeygar from dying and the gnome prince told of his captivity among the yak men, their toying with his affections by teasing him with Suha’s capture, and his knowledge of who else the yak men had possessed.

Jeygar revealed that He Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken, a yak man leader known as the Unspeakable, has been in possession of Mu’izzi al-Kamar’s body for the last 20 years, and furthermore that Makin al-Mutrattab, favorite cousin of the Grand Caliph, was also possessed (by He Who Watches and Waits).

The heroes returned to Sikak with this news and told Sultan al-Azim along with the sultan’s sister, Imam Reya al-Affif, a priestess who has been investigating the assassination attempt on al-Azim’s life by the Grey Fire holy slayer fellowship. The sultan is still considering what to do with the information from the heroes, and he has rewarded them with treasures from Sikak’s vaults.

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