Dark Sun - Pathfinder

Session 5 Recap

After wrapping up gear purchases and the introduction of two new members—Clain and Mercutio—the PCs departed from Tyr to find Orthagrus at Boiler’s Foot. After fairly easy traveling through Tyr’s Verdant Belt, the party then traveled south through boulder fields, which were slower going. Not long after entering the boulder fields, Tibalt and Ta’riik heard a very faint explosion in the far off distance. Shortly thereafter, the ground began to move and shake, and Athas rumbled violently. After about 1 minute of shaking, the ground stopped and all grew silent. Very, very far off in the distance–farther than the PCs could discern – they saw a huge and steady plume of black-gray smoke billowing into the air in the southeastern sky. The plume continued for a couple minutes before fading into the olive sky. Whatever that was was staggeringly enormous…

After catching their senses again, the PCs set up camp. In the middle of the night, the party succeeded in fending off a large gith raiding party. The PCs departed again in the morning, and about midday, a roc began circling high overhead, following the party through the course of the day. Toward the end of the day, the party came across a small oasis with hardy shrubbery and short, stocky trees that created a ring around a very small hot spring. Water bubbled up from the ground, before seeping back in and leaving a small pool of cooling water.

Upon arrival at the oasis—Boiler’s Foot—the roc landed near the PCs and in a human voiced asked what their business was. Soon thereafter, the roc polymorphed into who the party would later find out is Orthagrus, the druid watching over Boiler’s Foot. Initially uninterested in helping, the PCs managed to elicit Orthagrus’ aid in destroying the disks in exchange for a favor. The old druid explained that he had a disciple, Iumis, who disappeared about 6 months ago, and his best information gathering suggests the disciple was captured by the slavers of Kra’Hunr while Iumis was intervening on behalf of one of the nomadic villages at the south end of the Empty Ring—a large, oddly unpopulated swatch of scrub plains, south of and presumably fed by Boiler’s Foot. Orthagrus explained that, if his information is correct, Iumis was either killed or more likely turned into a thrall by the slavers of Kra’Hnur. The village—comprised entirely of former half-giant slaves—has made a name for itself as a very aggressive and successful slaving tribe. Their strikes are overwhelming and aggressive, and once they capture their victims, they use suspected psionic means to turn their captives into thralls—essentially living zombies. Some thralls are kept to tend to the village’s flocks of kanks and erdlu but many are sold to merchants traveling the western road of the Tablelands.

He further explained that Kra-Hnur is located in the crumbled remnants of an ancient fort where the Ringing Mountains give way to the Forest Ridge via a natural valley in the mountain chain. The village isn’t large but most of the raiders are former gladiators or trained soldiers and are quite dangerous. As half-giants they do not have the most elaborate of tactics, but they are practiced raiders and will not completely be unprepared to respond to raids of the village itself. Orthagrus explains that the only way he will help the PCs and Tyr is to help find out what happened to Iumis. If possible, he would like Iumis returned, and if not, he would like Iumis’ life to come to a peaceful end. Iumis is a human in his mid-30s with dark brown hair and mostly typical features—save that one of his eyes is blue and the other green.

After spending the night near Boiler’s foot, the PCs departed the following morning and came across a herd of wild driks in the rocky badlands, who the PCs deftly circumvented. After a couple more days of travel, the PCs found the trail that presumably leads to Kra’Hnur. The party decided to find a good location to camp in order to watch the trail and scout the trail, as well as the village, with Tibalt’s eagle, C’ktul. Through scouting the party discovered the following:

  • There is a huge valley between the party’s current location and the village, and a very long bridge traverses the valley.
  • The village has more people in it than does the party and most are bigger.
  • There is something with a very deep voice under the bridge.

After a few days of waiting, C’ktul alerted the PCs of a westward-bound group heading presumably toward Kra-Hnur. The eagle reported that there are significantly more people in that group the size of the PCs, but that there is also a number of larger humanoids about equal in number to the PCs. They are roughly 8 miles away.

Recent History Preceding Adventure
(This provides the historical backdrop for the adventure in case anyone needs a refresher.)

Background: The Freeing of Tyr

For generations unto generations, every city of Athas has been dominated by powerful sorcerer-kings – fierce tyrants who rule unchallenged the scattered great oases. Unchallenged, that is, until now, for at last, one city has overthrown its oppressive lord and freed itself from the shackles of blind tradition. Tyr, once known as a decadent sprawl of slavery and vice, has roused itself with terrifying energy.

It was a storm long brewing. For two decades, the slaves, citizens, and nobles of Tyr suffered under the increasing madness of King Kalak, struggling at his command to build a massive ziggurat in the heart of the city. Its purpose cloaked in mystery, the people only knew that it was destroying them.

First, there were extra taxes to pay for materials, then more and more slaves were pressed into its construction. Output from Tyr’s greatest resource, its fabulous iron mines, slowly dwindled as Kalak concentrated all the city’s efforts on his ziggurat. The citizens, then the nobles, began to suffer as trade with other city states languished. Although they were worried, the fear of Kalak’s ire was sufficient to keep the nobility cowed.

It was only in the last few months that the oppression grew too great. With the ziggurat nearly complete, Kalak’s obsession reached new extremes. The host of High Templar Tithian, Master of Games and Public Works, formed press gangs to scour the streets, enslaving the poor and indigent. The templars commandeered almost every slave in the city, from the meanest bricklayer’s apprentice to the wealthiest nobles’ last few field-hands. With the plantation workers depleted, nobles’ fortunes teetered on the brink of ruin and the city faced eventual starvation. Yet to this all, Kalak turned a deaf ear. The little concern he once had for his people seemed to vanish like smoke.

The situation could not last. Kalak had pushed his people too far. A small group of rebels –—a strange mix of nobles, templars, gladiators, and slaves – realized they had to strike. After many mishaps and near discoveries (which would have certainly resulted in terrible deaths through Kalak’s psionic and sorcerous powers), the desperate group felt ready. The date was set – the day of Kalak’s great games.

Ostensibly, the games were meant to celebrate the completion of Kalak’s rainbow-colored ziggurat and they were to be the greatest spectacle ever staged in Tyr. Everyone, even the lowest slaves, was expected to attend. Most came by choice, for the contest was free and promised to be at least a small spark of relief from Kalak’s strangling reign. Stragglers and slaves were herded to the great arena by the sorcerer-king’s templars. With the stone tiers filled to near overflowing, the stadium thundered as the crowds screamed for their favorite warriors on the sands below. So it went for near all the day, until the final spectacle – the grand melee – was begun.

Just what happened next, and why, is unclear. It is generally agreed that the gladiator Rikus threw his Swd at King Kalak at the same instant that a huge explosion burst over the king’s balcony. Some say Kalak died instantly; others maintain he escaped to his palace. Whatever the result, the people tried to flee, but they discovered that the stadium gates had been sealed. The people, panicked and acting on some instinctual urge, turned on the templars, symbols of Kalak’s oppression. Suddenly, hundreds of people, then thousands, died where they stood. Golden streams of powerful magic flowed from the dying toward Kalak’s ziggurat. From there, sinister greasy smoke rose over the city.

In hindsight, some survivors claim the dragon had come, its terrible magic bringing death to all. Others blamed the rebels who had angered King Kalak. In truth, Kalak, still alive, was absorbing the life force of thousands as he tried to transform himself into a dragon. While the citizens rioted in blind panic, Kalak’s slaves (some of you included) seized the opportunity to break to freedom. At the same time, unknown to everyone, the small group of rebels hunted down and slew the wounded, but still powerful, King Kalak. With the sorcerer-king’s death, his deadly magic ended.

Only after the gates to the stadium were forced open did the panic begin to subside. High Templar Tithian’s appearance in the King’s Balcony finally caught the crowd’s attention. Holding aloft Kalak’s crown, Tithian proclaimed himself King of Tyr and in a single stroke freed all of Kalak’s slaves.

Now Tyr is something new on the face of Athas: a free city-state. The transition has not been easy. Following Kalak’s assassination, riots flared throughout the city. The templars, suddenly lacking their spells, were the targets of much revenge. Mobs of newly freed slaves attacked the townhouses of their former masters, only to be driven back by squads of half-giant soldiers. Roving gangs of homeless were quickly and sometimes brutally suppressed. But the new king of Tyr was not about to let the city fall into chaos.

In the months following, the new ruler of Tyr has struggled to solidify his control over the city. Democracy and freedom are strange and foreign concepts to people so long oppressed. Slowly end with trial and error, the free state of Tyr has edged its way forward.

Hamanu’s Demands

Recently, new complications arise for Tyr – a potent end dangerous threat from the outside. King Hamanu, King of the World, King of the Mountains and the Plains, King of Urik, has demanded that Tyr once again supply him with precious iron from its mines. Rebuffed by King Tithian and the Council, the lord of Urik decides to solve the matter by direct action: marching his army on Tyr.

Hamanu’s actions will be a test for Tyr – of both the city’s newfound democracy, as well as the strength of its leaders. Tyr assembled an army – of both traditional troops and newly freed gladiators – with Rikus, the arena champion who was critical to the overthrow of Kalak, leading the charge. Agis of Asticles, an infamous and popular nobleman and senator (and Amun’s cousin) who was the mastermind behind the plan to overthrow Kalak, is serving as Rikus’s advisor. The army left 8 days ago, heading east on the road out of Tyr. Shortly after passing Fort Iron, the Crimson Legion is to depart from the road and head east-northeast in a straight line to Urik through the Great Alluvial Sand Wastes. Your understanding is that Tyr mobilized faster than did Urik and should be able to head off Urik’s army before it has reached the road will be in a prone position.

Session 4 Recap

_The PCs began session 4 with the Dwarven Urikite inquisitor, Ganarok, in custody. The party moved Ganarok to another location, specifically Amun’s new living quarters. The PCs deftly convinced the apartment manager that Ganarok was in need of care, so he allowed the party in. Amun cast charm person on Ganarok, which seemed to succeed, at least initially, before the conversation went south due to continued telling of unbelievable lies to Ganarok and Andalas’ presence and extremely aggressive and confrontational posture. Andalas was sent out of the room per Ganarok’s request, and eventually Amun left the room to consult with the PCs. Ganarok cast what you now know was invisibility upon himself, and once Ta’riik noticed that the room appeared to be empty, he manifested energy wall in the entire room. Shortly thereafter, the window to Amun’s second-story apartment opened, and Ganarok assumedly left. The party was alerted and once outside, no sign of Ganarok existed. Amun cast footsteps of the quarry which showed Ganarok climbing down from the window into an alley and walking about 10 feet—before the tracks mysteriously stopped. The party surveyed the immediate area to no avail, and once Amun noticed a sleeping homeless human sleeping on the ground in front of an adjacent building, he cast detect magic, which showed numerous spells of the illusory type. The party confronted the homeless person, who then took off running. Tibalt stopped the human who was thought to be Ganarok in disguise with a painful javelin to the back. After re-recovering Ganarok, the party took him to Agis’s residence.

Upon arriving to Agis’s residence, the PCs are escorted to Agis’s private quarters, where he appears exhausted, depleted, and about ten years older. With him is a human woman named Sycia Strimmen, Headmistress of Tyr’s School of Thought, and a half-elven man named Fyrian Winder, who assists Sycia in administering the school. She explained that the School of Thought was monitoring Agis because they thought he may be a target. When whatever attack occurred through the blood obsidian disk against Agis, Sycia’s psionicists were surprised by an attack coming from outside of Tyr and were helpless to stop it since the attack was magical in nature—and exceptionally powerful. After that spell was cast, the psionicists detected a psionic attack coming and managed to arrest it before it hit Agis, though one of the psionicists died in the process of blocking it. Sycia explained that King Kalak and his templars—along with help from the School of Thought and others—had set up various magic and psionic barriers around Tyr to keep Hamanu and the other sorcerer-kings from breaching the city’s walls via magic and psionics. Even though Kalak is gone, the barriers still hold. The blood obsidian disk, however, allowed attacks to come from the outside. She explained that the disk acts like a pinhole through the magic and psionic barriers.

Neither Sycia nor Fyrian would examine the disk, and they likewise kept it from Agis. Fyrian did, however, psionically interrogate Ganarok, which seemed incredibly painful to the PCs, and Ganarok committed suicide psionically, according to Fyrian. Agis is depleted and aged and can only now communicate telepathically and they are working with others to see if his condition is irreversible. Agis did confirm telepathically with Fyrian that the disk in not psionic in nature—though it does allow psionics to pass through it—so the School of Thought is at a loss for what to do next. Without a way to dispose of the disk or sequester it, the School’s psionicists are searching for traces of other pinholes to see where the other disks are—because they have detected the traces but couldn’t pinpoint a location. That every creature in Tyr has some latent psionic talent makes tracking difficult, as there’s a lot of psionic noise, but occasionally a very, very powerful trace comes through—the School suspects Hamanu but it could be another very strong psionicist, of which Urik has many. To make matters worse, Aeron’il fled Tyr without a trace and took with him many important tomes and scrolls from the Templars’ Library, as well as two jade golems. Tyr’s templary is surveying the remaining inventory in the library to try and determine what’s missing; however, Aeron’il was so trusted by Kalak that Kalak allowed him to keep other templars out for fear of others’ motives. Bottom line, no one’s really sure what was in the library and what Aeron’il stole.

Near the end of the meeting, Agis telepathically whispered to Amun and to Fyrian that “Orthagrus can help” and go to go Boiler’s Foot, which is a natural hot spring about 50 miles south of Tyr, just between a fairly desolute area of boulder fields known as the Empty Ring and a out-of-place scrub plain that lies between the Empty Ring and mysterious Mount Narran. As the PCs were preparing to leave the city, a crowd that was gathering was discussing the political situation in Tyr was interrupted by a shower of multi-colored lights in the sky and screams of “defiler!” In the ensuing chaos, a nondescript human stopped Amun, handed him a nondescript sack, said “Put the disks in there—they can follow you,” and made a hand gesture over his mouth. He blurred into the crowd after, and Amun found it odd that he couldn’t muster any recollection of the face of the man. With the crowd going nuts, the PCs left in a rush, but didn’t noticed any ashen circle on the ground where the magic was centered….

The PCs have an overwhelming feeling of unease and a lack of surety in who and what to trust. They feel isolated and on their own—and they very much are.

Bard song: Silver Pockets

And the liars and thieves and men of ill repute
When needing help cleaning the soot
Go to the hunter with but one eye
With stalkers and arrows and powers to scry
Whe’er the Silver Pockets go
They reap riches from the death they sow

Rumors heard (session 3)

· Hamanu is controlling Tithian.
· Urik has occupied the dwarven village of Kled [between Tyr and Urik) and is re mobilizing his army to strike again soon.
· The Veiled Alliance is preparing a coup to depose the Tithian and the templary and to make Tyr the first city to allow magic.
· There is dissension in the ranks of the Crimson Legion. People don’t like Rikus and he will be challenged. The legion may be disbanded.

Graffiti in Tyr (session 3)

· Ziggurat with figure rising from it
· Kalak’s crown
· Tithian murdered or burning
· Agis murdered or burning
· Crescent moon painted gunmetal silver

Session 3 Recap

The PCs finally get an invite to meet Agis and head into Tyr. Agis, a powerful psionicist, examines the disk but cannot discern its purpose or what it’s doing. After 20 minutes of examination, the disk begins glowing and appears to suck life energy from Agis, leaving him nearly dead and visibly aged. In this state, he send a telepathic message to his assistant and to Amun to seek out Aeron’il, a high templar of Urik who is the Chief Curator and Keeper of the Tomes (i.e., a badass librarian). With his magical powers gone after Kalak’s death (templars receive their spell power directly from sorcerer-kings), Aeron’il analyzed the disk via scrolls and said that he thought it was very powerful but too flawed to be of King Hamanu of Urik’s work. With his powers limited, Aeron’il advises the PCs to seek out Odusi, an elven fence who specializes in rare magic items who has “ways” to understand the magic properties of items and whom Tyrian templars have used before to perform such tasks.

The PCs head to the Warrens (i.e., slums) of Tyr to a taven of ill repute called “The Rat’s Nest,” where they seek an appointment with Odusi through the bartender. A nondescript half-elven male leads the PCs through the back of the tavern through a maze of empty alleys (odd, because the Warrens are currently over-crowded after all the slaves of Tyr were freed) until arriving at a nondescript building being guarded by a lone dwarf, former gladiator looking type. A woman eventually leads the PCs through a hidden door in the floor down a very old and brick-lined staircase, through a fairly long natural hallway lit with torches into an open cavern room with a single heavy wooden door. Inside the door was a clearly well-kept and made made room with little in it but a table, desk, and door ajar. No one comes and eventually a gas trap goes off from the closet, and the PCs find out the door is barred. The PCs mitigate the spread of the gas and eventually break down the door. In the large open cavern room, the PCs are attacked by 3 Tyrian slimes, which are eventually defeated. After careful exploration the PCs find a small hole at the top of the north wall of the large open cavern room, which is all rubble. In it you found remnants of a personal campsite located within some type of warding circle and, among other things, two more blood obsidian disks.

The PCs then proceed to leave the underground area, but after turning a corner, right near the stairway leading up to the ground level house is the gladiator-looking dwarf who was guarding the door, wielding a flaming sword and muttering shit about the power of great King Hamanu. Between him and the PCs stand two giant scorpions and a giant beetle. Battle ensues, PCs win, and the dwarf is taken, alive but knocking on death’s door. Now, what to do next?

Session 2 Recap

The PCs met a kreen, Ta’riik, (Colin) who had been tracking the outriders, and Ta’riik offered to assist the PCs in returning to Tyr. After getting by 3 hungry b’rohgs (dumb, 4-armed giants), slaughtering a group of what should’ve been fairly tough rogue gladiators from Tyr who murdered a group of pilgrims, and finding an injured baby, the PCs navigated back to Tyr, where they were holing up on Amun’s family’s estate until Agis and the Tyrian army could return back to Tyr. The PCs hid the disk and kept at bay a group of very curious jozhals who could sense the disks magical signature until word came back via psionics that the Tyrian army was victorious and returning. Then, right as the army returned, Gigus (Jean) accidentally blurted to Amun’s family that he is a sorcerer…

Session 1 Recap

News came to the newly free city of Tyr that the city-state of Urik was marching an army toward Tyr. An army was compiled and dispatched to head off the Urikite forces, and the army was comprised of the personal forces of many nobles, the city’s guard, as well as the “Crimson Legion,” a force of former gladiators led by Rikus, one of the main architects of the assassination of Kalak, the former sorcerer-king of Tyr. The PCs were not part of the army that was dispatched; however, Amun of Akhal (Jesse) was contacted by his cousin, Agis of Asticles (a noble, a high senator, and the main architect of Kalak’s overthrow) that intelligence from Urik has identified a number of small outrider groups that departed from Urik and were heading to Tyr via a direct route and not following the Urikite army’s route. The reason for the various outrider groups was unknown. Agis contacting a handful of people left in Tyr to assemble groups to hopefully infiltrate these various outrider groups, hence why Amun was contacted. The PCs departed on an abandoned trail between Tyr and Urik (one of the only passable routes through the Sandy Wastes) and were ambushed in the night by one of the Urikite outrider groups. After a fairly lengthy battle, the PCs prevailed and found, among other things, a polished disk of blood obsidian that was emanating overwhelming magic and was tainted with great evil, as well as a bone scrollbox that was fairly powerful and also evil.

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