Dark Sun Campaign Opening

I kicked off my new Dark Sun campaign last weekend, and in honor of that event, I thought I’d post my session notes, in case anyone wants to run the game, use it for inspiration, or just wants insight into the maddening carnival of my mind. I’ve tried to include references when possible. If anyone knows the code for linking to the compendium, I’d be much obliged if you could share it. Then I could include the stat blocks directly in the adventure. Until then, a page reference and source will have to suffice. Some of this material has appeared in the last few weeks, and other material is new. I’ve included my customized rules for psionic combat. The system closely mimics combat using The Way from the original Dark Sun books. Let me know what you think!

P.S. If you’re one of the players in my game, no peaking!

To Kill the Kings

To Kill the Kings is an adventure set in the world of Athas in the Dark Sun campaign setting. The adventure uses pre-generated backgrounds to integrate the player characters into the plot.

Adventure Requirements

Players and Dungeon Masters require different products to participate in this adventure. This section describes what game participants will need to participate in the campaign.

Players: A player should come to the game with a set of dice, a copy of the Rules Compendium™, and a copy of Heroes of the Fallen Lands™ or Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms™, depending on which class he or she plans to play. It is also recommended that a player have a copy of the Dark Sun Campaign Setting and have a subscription to D&D Insider.

Dungeon Master: A Dungeon Master should come to the game with a healthy supply of dice, a copy of the Rules Compendium, and a copy of the Dark Sun™ Campaign Setting. The Dungeon Master should be familiar with the rules for 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. It’s also a good idea for the Dungeon Master to have a subscription to D&D Insider and to be acquainted with the classes the characters will be using in the game.

Not Recommended: This adventure assumes a fairly closed system for its game, because it uses several house rules that can drastically alter play. To that effect, it’s recommended that players use material from only from Heroes of the Fallen Lands and subsequent releases.

House Rules

This section describes rules specific to this campaign that represent deviations from the 4th Edition D&D ruleset.

Action Points: A character does not receive action points for hitting milestones.

Damage: Monster damage is roughly halved, to account for fewer healing surges.

Experience: There are a variety of ways to earn experience, both with encounters and story rewards. Characters will earn XP at different rates and can, potentially, be at different levels.

Fewer Healing Surges: Each character has only one or two healing surges. If a character is a defender, or if he or she has a class feature that requires extra use of healing surges, such as the druid from Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms, then a character has two healing surges. Otherwise, each character has only one.

Fun Points: Every player can collect fun points. Fun points are awarded as follows.

  • Write up a character background (one time award, 3 points).
  • Read Rules Compendium (one time award, 3 points).
  • Arrive on time and prepared (1 point).
  • Take notes and type them up for group (2 points).
  • Bring food for group (2 points).
  • Wear a costume or bring a prop appropriate for you character (1 point).
  • Each player can also give out up to 2 points per session. These can be given out for good role-playing, problem solving, tactics, creativity, and for humor and fun.

At the start of each session, a character can cash in fun points from the previous session for the following rewards.

1 Point: The player draws a common Fortune Card that he or she can use at any point during the session.

2 Points: The player draws an uncommon Fortune Card that he or she can use at any point during the session.

3 Points: The player draws a rare Fortune Card that he or she can use at any point during the session.

The character can choose to re-draw one card each session.

Magic Items: The party receives fewer magic items, and when they do, they cannot automatically identify the item. The party receives one to two magic items per level.

Reckless Breakage: Dark Sun Campaign Setting, page 122.

Second Wind: A character can use his or her second wind only once per day.

Inherent Bonuses: Character receive inherent bonuses, rather than relying on the enhancement bonuses of neck slot items, weapons, and armor.

Races

Athas has a variety of humanoid races that players can play. However, to capitalize best on the details of the setting, it is recommended that players choose one of the following races. The following racial write-ups come from the Dark Sun Campaign Setting.

Dwarf: Dark Sun Campaign Setting, page 25.

Elf: Dark Sun Campaign Setting, page 26.

Half-GiantDark Sun Campaign Setting, page 27.

Half-ElfDark Sun Campaign Setting, page 28.

HalflingDark Sun Campaign Setting, page 28.

HumansDark Sun Campaign Setting, page 29.

MulDark Sun Campaign Setting, page 20.

Thri-KreenDark Sun Campaign Setting, page 22.

Backgrounds

Sorcerer-king Kalak is dead, but his dark legacy remains, as do the rest of the sorcerer-kings of Athas’s Tyr Region. In the power vacuum created by Kalak’s death, Tyr’s high templar, Tithian, has risen to the top and claimed the crown. Under King Tithian’s rule, an uneasy peace exists between the factions.

The circumstances of Kalak’s fall remain confused. Most believe that he was slain by the gladiator Rikus, who heaved a javelin at him during a climactic encounter in the Stadium of Tyr, in which Kalak had decided to battle Rikus. What the audience saw, that day, was far from reality, though, for the figure slain in the arena was not the real Kalak.

Sorcerer-king Kalak had modified the arena to be a receptacle for the life force of Tyr’s citizen’s. During the climactic fight, he had intended to funnel the energy from the arena into the Golden Tower, initiating his fell transformation into a dragon.

Unfortunately for Kalak, Tithian had learned of Kalak’s plan to become a dragon using the Golden Tower. As Kalak completed the ritual, two very important things happened. Kalak discovered that the ritual component (the rod of the White Well)  had been stolen and swapped for a replica. Without it, the ritual was doomed to fail. At the same time, an assassin stole up to him. Exhausted by the ritual, Kalak was left vulnerable to the assassin’s attack. The assassin struck him down, ending the reign of sorcerer-king Kalak.

In the days since Kalak’s fall, the Ziggurat has been sealed off, and the Golden Tower has remained impenetrable. Tithian has started to secretly search through the Ziggurat, learning Kalak’s arcane secrets. The assassin has maintained a low profile, preferring to allow the story of Rikus’s defeat of Kalak to circulate. The location of the rod of the White Well is unknown, though the Veiled Alliance and King Tithian have spies watching all the exits of Tyr, searching for it. With power temporarily secured, King Tithian has begun searching the uppermost chambers of the Ziggurat of Kalak. Exposed to dark magic and solitude, he has become increasingly paranoid and power hungry. Now, Tithian has begun to dream of securing his power by becoming a sorcerer-king. First, though, he needs to rid himself of the two who know the secret of the Kalak’s ritual and his demise.

Characters

The following section details characters with backgrounds connected to the setting and the plot of the adventure.

Shadrach

Race: Human

Class: Warlock (Fey Hexblade)

Theme: Templar

Twenty-four years ago, Shadrach was born into the world. His parents gifted him with his original name (though it’s unlikely that many remember what it was) and raised him well until the Templars tested him and the other children of his generation. Some became potters, some became farmers or other tradesman. After Shadrach’s test, they pulled him aside and had him join a smaller group of quiet children, and once the testing was over, they were led away to the Templar Distract. That was the last he saw of his family.

Shadrach grew up being trained by the templars. Rigorous physical and mental training prepared him for the role he would one day take as a templer to Hamanu. He excelled at more of the covert activities and was specialized as a spy and assassin. Once he was of age, he started serving as a Templar first by infiltrating the different castes and quarters to weed out dissenters against Urik, either exposing them or secretly executing them if necessary. Once he had proven himself at that for a few years he was sent out on greater tasks – spying on neighboring city states, putting down individuals who were political or military threats to Urik, and “acquiring” useful items and information.

Shadrach was gathering information in Tyr, attempting to learn what Kalak was up to, when he received word from Hamanu via an elf named Kryiss. Although you had never met the elf, he provided credentials verifying himself as an agent of the sorcerer-king. Kryiss told you that Hamanu had instructed you to sneak into the Golden Tower just prior to the upcoming gladitorial contest, in which Kalak was to face off with the champion, Rikus. There, you were to find a black suede bag and replace it with one he provided you with. You did as you were told, and as you stole away from the tower, word reached you that Kalak had been killed in the arena. Chaos reigned for several days, and the city was shut tight. Now that things have settled down, you’re waiting, wondering if you dare stay in Tyr any longer. Kryiss has not appeared again, and you’re not sure you want him to. Since stealing the object, you’ve been having strange dreams—visions of a green world, Athas you think. The dreams always end as nightmares, though, with a dark shadow spreading across the land, leaving it desolate.

Background Benefit: You possess a suede bag with a mysterious object in it.

Behind the Screen

The suede bag is a bag of holding with just enough space to contain a rod. The rod is made of heartwood, wood taken from what the halflings call fiir-arbori, a stark white tree that grows from the White Well in the Forest Ridge. The rod was once in possession of Rajaat. It was through the rod that he wielded his power. When the halflings learned of his desire to cleanse Athas, some of them took him to the White Well, their most sacred place. There, he was visited by a fey creature of terrible power. She was the first creature to inhabit Athas. She told Rajaat that the new creatures were not a blight on the land, and that he would devastate the world trying to wipe them away. He was already mad by then. He lashed out, binding the fey away and taking a branch fiir-arbori to use to augment his already substantial power. The halflings who were killed in the fight were cursed and became the Shadow People, which served him.

When Rajaat was defeated, the rod was among his possessions, but none of the sorcerer-kings could agree on who should possess the powerful object, so it was cast into the Wastes and enchanted so that none—not even Borys could approach it, for it would always grow more distant. Years passed, and Kalak never forgot about the object. He eventually devised a special bag to hold it, and he sent out his high templar, Tithian, in search of the object. Tithian found it and brought it back, not realizing that Kalak would use the object to fuel his ritual. After Tithian realized what Kalak intended to do, he contacted Hamanu, and together, they conspired to stop it, hiring the Shadow Cabal to execute the plan. Kryiss was an agent of the Shadow Cabal who has since been captured and imprisoned by Tithian.

Valerian Fairmonger of House Wavir

Race: Human

Class: Assassin (Executioner)

Theme: Dune Trader

You killed Kalak. Most believe that he was slain by the gladiator Rikus, who heaved a spear at him during a climactic encounter in the Stadium of Tyr, in which Kalak had decided to battle Rikus. What the audience saw, that day, was far from reality, though, for the figure slain in the arena was not the real Kalak. In the weeks prior to the fight, the Master of Shadows, Xilotzin, leader of the Shadow Cabal, gave you a rune‐covered bronze dagger, which you were ordered to use to slay the sorcerer‐king of Tyr. He told you to go to Tyr, insinuate yourself among the nobles, and then, when the time was right, he would send further instruction. On the day of the battle, you were told that the real Kalak was in his ziggurat, and would be vulnerable to attack. As Kalak performed some fell ritual, you stole up on him and plunged the dagger into his back. The runes flared crimson when the dagger pierced his ancient heart, and you felt a surge of power, like a well filling with flowing water. Ever since, the dagger’s secrets have not been revealed, but you suspect some of the sorcerer‐king’s essence was trapped inside it, and there must be a way to free its power. The only people who know the truth are Xilotzin and whoever employed the Shadow Cabal’s services to have the sorcerer-king slain.

Background Benefit: You possess Nemesis, the rune-covered bone dagger.

Behind the Screen

The Shadow Cabal was hired by Hamanu after Hamanu was informed by Tithian about Kalak’s plan to become a dragon. The dagger is an ancient artifact, crafted in the time of Rajaat. Xilotzin possessed it, because he is inhabited by one of the Shadow People. The Shadow Cabal is, by all appearances, a guild of assassins and spies. Xilotzin and his inner circle have other plans, though. Long ago, a few of the Shadow People figured out how to escape the black and inhabit the bodies of mortals. One of them began a guild to work toward the release of Rajaat. Xilotzin, therefore, is just the name of the most recent vessel of the shadow Morvidin. He hopes to use Valerian as a vehicle for killing other sorcerer-kings, collecting their power, and eventually using it to slay Borys.

Bolo Borasco

Race: Mul

Class: Monk

Theme: Primal Guardian

Your family belongs to one of the scholar clans of Draj—sometimes called the calmec clans. Your mother was a dwarf, and your father unknown, though you have suspicions that he was a member of the nobility. You have studied writing, history, astrology, and theology. Few calmec scribes wander far from Draj, but you discovered warnings of a dire catastrophe to come in the horoscopes you cast. The event is said to be hearkened by the death of a sorcerer-king. You have heard of King Kalak’s death, and you believe that the time of the catastrophe is upon you. The members of your clan did not believe the portent, so you departed on a journey to find the truth. The tablet you found is vague about the nature of the catastrophe, or whether it can be averted. You tried to go to the moon priests of Draj, but they denied you as well, and threatened you with death. Your journey was long, and during it, you found unity with the primal powers of Athas. In solitude, you also discovered your own latent psionic talents, which you now hope to use to protect what beauty remains on Athas. You’ve come to Tyr, hoping that the freedom spreading there might allow you to find someone literature to help you decipher the rest of the tablet.

Background Benefit: You possess the tablet of the two moons.

Behind the Screen

The tablet of the two moons is essentially like the book of Kemalok Kings, only it goes back even farther and reveals deeper truths. It was crafted in Draj hundreds of years ago, when the city was still a small settlement inhabited by the early races. The tablet records how, when halflings first created the Pristine Tower, seven races emerged: elves, dwarves, humans, giants, goblins, ssurran, and gith. From these races emerged many of the half-races: mul, half-elves, half-giants. These original races were called the Seven. The halflings taught these races their language, which has now been lost, because the halflings have become savage and illiterate.

Rajaat most wanted to eradicate these seven races, for they were the most populace. The tablet predicts how when the first falls (goblins), the doom of Athas will be imminent. This refers to the rise of the Dragon and his first hundred years of madness, in which most of the beauty of Athas was annihilated.

Harena cannot translate the tablet, which is written in the First Language, but she does recognize it and knows that Common and Elven share roots with the language on the tablet. Her grandmother taught her the language, so naturally, they need to speak to the grandmother to trace the root of the language. Her grandmother can tell them that she learned it from a spirit named Kara, and can recount her story. Unfortunately, she cannot translate the whole tablet.

The tablet was bound by the power of all the sorcerer-kings, which is why anyone who translates it faces a dire curse. The sorcerer-kings set up an alarm on the tablet (because they could not destroy it), which would alert all of them when someone who knew the First Language attempted to translate it. They could then work to eliminate the translator.

Ahmad ibn Majid

Race: Human

Class: Fighter (Knight)

Theme: Noble Adept

You were a student in the Monastery of the Exalted Path back in your home city-state of Nibenay. The monasteries of the Exalted Path teach their students to accept authority and endure its excesses, for to do otherwise places too much emphasis on the self. One should deny the individual and embrace one’s place as part of a larger whole. You subscribed fully to this doctrine until you discovered something in the depths of the monastery. There, an entity spoke to you from the darkness. When you approached the source of the sound, you fell unconscious, and the next thing you knew, you awoke with a second voice in your head, and knowledge of events stretching back to the Red Age. The entity inside you calls itself Kalid-ma. Under its tutelage, you began to throw off the oppressive doctrine of the monks, until eventually they attempted to kill you for your defiance. You fled. Kalid-ma told you to go to the city state of Tyr. It believed you could find answers there. Strangely, it suggested you go there even before Kalak’s death. Now that the sorcerer-king is dead, the creature is increasingly quiescent about the topic of Tyr. You have come seeking answers, both the questions that Kalid-ma has, and to your own questions about the entity inside you.

Background Benefit: Your body is inhabited by a psionic entity named Kalid-ma. You gain two extra wild talents.

Behind the Screen

The entity, Kalid-ma, is in fact the vestige of the sorcerer-king that ruled the city of Kalidnay. Kalid-ma was killed by Nibenay, Kalak, and Hamanu, along with his queen-to-be Thanok-An. The truth of the story is that Thanok-an was a clever templar bride of Nibenay who was insinuated into Kalidnay with the goal of seducing Kalid-ma. The other sorcerer-kings feared his growing influence with Rajaat, so they conspired to eliminate him and steal his power. On the night of the union between Kalid-ma and Thanok-an, she used a ritual in the bedroom chamber to tear him apart into three pieces—the orb of the mind (Nibenay), the orb of the body (Hamanu), and the orb of the spirit (Kalak). In the process of the ritual, he tried to fight it, and in doing so, defiled everyone in his city in ash. A fragment of him remained and followed Thanok-an back to Nibenay, where it bided its time, waiting for someone with sufficient power and who was sufficiently pliable.

Kalid-ma preaches the evils of the sorcerer-kings to mislead Ahmid into doing his work. His goal is to recollect three orbs, which were taken by his killers. If he can do that, he can manifest himself again. Once that’s accomplished, he will take his revenge on the sorcerer-kings who betrayed him (if they are still living) and eventually endeavor to free Rajaat.

Ahmad is the son of the powerful House Majid in Nibenay—one of the few houses not rife with decadence. He is the cousin of Harena. His father, Ahmik, is brother to her mother, Arythia. Both are still alive, though neither knows of the others existence. His grandfather is on his deathbed. The house secretly reviles Nibenay (a result of Nibenay attempting to steal Vyra as a bride years ago). And, unbeknownst to Ahmah, his sister has been chosen as a bride for the son of Nibenay, a fell creature named Dhojakt, who can hardly be called human. The family has managed to delay the sorcerer-kings son temporarily, keeping his attention on Nibenay’s borders with fake raids. How long that will last, though, is unkown.

Harena

Race: Human

Class: Ranger (Hunter)

Theme: Wasteland Nomad

You grew up in the western section of the Southern Wastes, surviving off the desolate land. When you were in your early teens, your father was slain by gith and your mother carried off, never to be seen again. From then on, you were raised by your grandmother, who was the matriarch of your tribe. Under her tutelage, you learned to read and write Common and Elven. Your grandmother had a vast knowledge of Athasian lore, though she never explained where she had learned all the stories. She would tell you tales of the Green Age, before the land was devastated and left it barren. Inspired by these stories, you began seeking answers to why the Green Age ended. Some people say it was the coming of the Dragon; others claim it was the rise of the sorcerer-kings; some believe it was a change in Athas’s sun. No one knows for sure. When your turned twenty-five, your grandmother imparted you with a map. This map, carved on the inside of an inix shell, is said to lead to the greatest treasure on Athas. Your grandmother said she recovered the map when she was a youth in the city of Balic.  She urged you to leave the tribe and recover the other pieces of the map.

Background Benefit: You have one of eight pieces of the map to the greatest treasure on Athas.

Behind the Screen

Harena is familiar with Elven and Giant language, because her grandmother taught it to her. Most races in Athas are illiterate. They speak but cannot their languages. Harena doesn’t realize this, having lived in the desert. Her grandmother, Vyra passed along another language as well—the First Language. Harena remembers only fragments of it, though. She never knew the significance of the language taught to her by her grandmother.

Elven and Giant are important, because unlike Common, it shares direct roots with the First Language language, the language of the halflings. Her grandmother learned the First Language years ago, shortly after she fled from Nibenay. She was a dancer who practiced the militant, weapon-wielding wriquo-ih dance to honor warriors and their battles. She fell in love with a young noble of House Majid named Ahmel (Ahmad’s grandfather). Vyra and Aheml were married, and she gave birth to a boy, which they named Ahmik (Ahmad’s father). She became pregnant against, but by then, sorcerer-king Nibenay caught notice of her and demanded that she become one of his templar brides. She fled, pregnant with Arythia, Harena’s mother. Thus, Harena and Ahmad are actually cousins.

She wandered the Forest Ridge for weeks, barely surviving. There, she met a primal spirit calling herself Kara. This spirit is the same from spirit that Pethani met in the woods, and she is the Lady of the White Well, with whom Shadrach character has made a pact. Although just a vestige, she has power in the glade of fiir-arbori. Kara taught Vyra the First Language, the language of the halflings. She fostered Vyra for a time and told her that Athas’s rebirth was almost upon them. When the time was right, she should send her daughter’s daughter into the world to see it, and then see her.

The map fragment, which Vyra told Harena was stolen from Nibenay, is in fact a fragment of a map that Vyra and Kara created. The map leads to all the city-states, allowing Harena to witness them before eventually the map leads her to Kara—the hope being that her travels will prepare Harena and her friends for what is to come.

Harena’s mother is still alive. The gith, rather than eating her, sold her into slavery. She is now a slave in Balic.

The Golden Inix

The following section provides motivations for each of the characters coming to the Golden Inix. Provide each player with his or her character’s respective motivation.

Bolo: You have come to Tyr searching for someone to translate the Tablet of the Two Moons. You found a translator human named Mathiah several months ago, but he proved treacherous. He agreed to translate it, but when you returned for a status report, you discovered him preparing to turn it over a templar of sorcerer-king Kalak. You figured if Kalak was interested in the tablet, Tyr would be a good place (albeit a risky one) to find someone who hated Kalak and would be willing to translate it. Your search has led you to the Golden Inix. You have heard about a woman staying in the Golden Inix who is from the Wastelands who has been doing translating. The question is, do you trust her to translate the tablet after the last one? At least Kalak is dead, so that’s one less worry.

Harena: With the death of sorcerer-king Kalak, the city of Tyr is now free. You’ve been earning your way doing translations and transcribing, using your literacy to survive. Since arriving in Tyr a few weeks ago, you’ve met with frustration in your quest, though. The piece of the map given to you by your grandmother, Vyra, led first to the city of Tyr, where you were to find the next piece. You hope that the city-state’s new king, a man named Tithian, can give you access to the King’s Garden in the Golden City. It’s there where you’re to find the next fragment of your map. So far, you’ve been rebuked, though. You’ve come to the Golden Inix, after hearing that the place is frequented by a noble named Agis of Asticles. You’ve heard he is a good man, who helps those in need. He’s also a friend of Tithian. You’re hoping he can help you gain access to the garden.

Shadrach: You’re staying at the Golden Inix, waiting for transport out of Tyr. Part of your agreement for stealing the suede bag was to be provided with a kank (enchanted to be untrackable) and 30 survival days worth of gear to get you out of the city. Unfortunately, your contact, the elf Kryiss, has not shown up and honored his side of the deal. You’re beginning to get worried. Still, with the heavy monitoring of Tyr’s Gates, you don’t think it safe to leave. At least not without help.

Valerian: Since the assassination, the Master of Shadows has asked you to remain in the confidence of Tyr’s leaders—he has not said to what end.  You’ve come to the Golden Inix with the noble Agis of Asticles, who you’ve befriended in the weeks since the assassination. King Tithian has asked Agis and you to speak with an Urikite who is seeking safe passage out of town. Tithian claims that the Urikite might be a spy of Hamanu, and he is relying on Agis’s mastery of the Way to ascertain the truth. You’re there for backup—and your own self-interest.

Ahmad: Kalid-ma believes it is important that you gain access to the Ziggurat of Kalak and learn if Kalak is really dead. You haven’t been able to get a meeting with the current king, King Tithian, so you’ve been trying to make contact with some nobles who might respect your family enough to set up a meeting with the king. You’ve heard that Agis of Asticles frequents the Golden Inix, so you’re waiting for him to show up so you can make your appeal. You’ve heard he’s a good man, who helps those in need.

When the characters are ready to begin the campaign, read:

Different goals have carried you to Tyr. Now, most of you sit in the Golden Inix. The inn sits along Caravan Way, one of the Free City’s busiest streets. This wide building has an outward-facing façade of brick, with a pair of signs—one depicting a bottle and the other depicting the form of an inix—a long, lizardlike creature with a beak.

Inside, a half-giant doorman stands surveying the inn, a stone morningstar at his side. The room is filled with the smell of frying inix and broy—a drink made from fermented kank nectar and flavored with herbs. Patrons sit around the tables and in booths. The din of their conversation fills the inn.

Put out the map (Wicked Wench from the Village of Hommlet adventure).  Some of the characters are already present in the inn. Allow the players playing Shadrach, Harena, and Ahmad to place their miniatures. Place miniatures for the NPCs as well. Have the characters describe themselves.

NPCs in the Inn

The tavern is filled with patrons. Most are are merchants and nobles. They wear colorful robes woven from spidersilk and wyrm silk. A few wear elven scarves, broad-brimmed hats, and jewelry fashioned from bone, horn, metal, and gems.

Mila: The half-elf proprietor of the Golden Inix. She and her husband started the tavern a couple decades ago. He was killed during the uprising following Kalak’s death. She is mournful of his death, but she also recognizes that the Golden Inix is now hers, and she can’t be meek if she wants to run the business. She has been rebuffing Rowan’s attempts to buy the tavern. She is assertive and respectful, and she has enmity toward templars.

Reward: For learning her back-story, a character gains 25 XP. They also gain her as an ally.

Rika: Rika is a human Nibenese dancer who wears veils, scarves, and ribbons. She dances the comedic priytu-ih, wearing bells all over her body. The dance is typically used to celebrate events. She is performing a dance to recount the fall of Kalak. She is a spy for the Veiled Alliance.

Skill Reward: DC 19 Insight; 25 XP.

Jossi the Juggle: Jossi is an elf street performer who is performing outside the Golden Inix. She demonstrates her impressive juggling skills for coin. See also the Dark Sun Campaign Guide, page 137.

Story Reward: A character interacting with Jossi gains 25 XP.

Skill Reward: DC 19 Insight or Acrobatics; 25 XP each.

Rowan: I borrowed this NPC from someone’s Obsidian Portal site. I don’t want to infringe on his/her creation, so you can find it here.

Story Reward: A character interacting with Rowan gains 25 XP.

Skill Reward: DC 19 Intimidate; 25 XP. A character that succeeds on the check gains Rowan as an enemy.

Xalos: See also the Dark Sun Campaign Guide, page 138.

Story Reward: A character interacting with Xalos gains 25 XP.

Haneth Tsalaxa: See also the Dark Sun Campaign Guide, page 139.

Story Reward: A character interacting with Haneth gains 25 XP.

Skill Reward: DC 19 Insight or Perception; 25 XP.

Golden Inix Menu

Skewered Baazrag      4 CP

Fried Inix                     3 CP

Crodlu Steak                5 CP

Cloud Ray Steak         5 SP

Cha’thrang Steak       8 SP

Bread                             2 CP

Grall Fruit                    2 CP (The bulbous fruit of the grall cactus has a strong, bitter taste)

Bulis Berries                1 CP (Thick, hairy, brown skin that makes them very difficult to peel.)

Broy                               2 CP

Water-Broy                  1 CP

Fresh Water                1 GP

Asticles Wine             8 SP (Dry wine)

Tyrian Ale                  3 CP

Events

The following events occur as the campaign opens, while the characters get to know one another.

• Mila visits each of the characters and asks them if they want anything.

• Bolo arrives and can sit down and interact with the NPCs.

• Rowan drunkenly tries to persuade Mila to sell her place. He gets violent and the half-giant doorman (and any characters that want to) can help escort him out. Mila will thank any character offering help and explains that she has been having trouble keeping ahead of the bills. Someone has been breaking in at night and stealing from her.

• Xalos arrives and pulls up a chair with one of the characters—particularly any group that is talking or acting out of the ordinary.

• Agis of Asticles and Valerian arrive. Agis spots Shadrach and lets Valerian know telepathically. They go up to him. The other characters can approach as they choose. If Valerian tries to run, it engages the pair in psionic combat (see below), using a kank soldier as his avatar.

• A few NPCs (Haneth and Jossi) leave inconspicuously (DC 19 passive Perception). Any character succeeding on the check is not surprised when the templars come bursting in.

Psionic Combat

This psionic combat system hearkens to the method it was originally conceived in the Dark Sun novels. Using The Way, characters do battle in each others’ minds using animal avatars. Typically, the defeated character comes out of such battles exhausted (weakened and slowed) until he or she takes a short rest. The combats can be more severe if a combatant tries to force the engagement, potentially resulting in even death or brain damage. When engaging in one of these contests, a creature chooses an avatar of its level or lower. These creatures come from the Dark Sun Creature Catalog. A table running the game needs to copies in order that both a DM and a player can use one.

Silt Runner Darter                  1 Artillery

Silt Runner Rager                   1 Brute

Baazrag Gnawer                     1 Skirmisher

Jhakar Tracker                       1 Skirmisher

Hejkin Sparker                       1 Soldier

Salt Zombie                             1 Soldier

Kank Spitter                            2 Artillery

Kestrekel Blood Flock          2 Controller

Silt Runner Inciter                2 Controller

Crodlu                                      3 Brute

Ssurran Shaman                  3 Controller

Baazrag Swarm                    3 Soldier

Jhakar Trapjaw                   3 Soldier

Tarek Raider                         3 Soldier

Tarek Earth Shaman          4 Controller

Crystal Spider                       4 Lurker

Inix Juvenile                        4 Skirmisher

Kank Soldier                        4 Soldier

Baazrag Breeder                  5 Brute

War Crodlu                           5 Brute

Anakore Hunter                  5 Lurker

Black Reaver Zombie         5 Lurker

Cilops Creeper                     5 Skirmisher

Ssurran Dune Mystic        6 Controller

Aarakocra Diver                 6 Skirmisher

Anakore Render                 7 Brute

Belgoi Stalker                      7 Lurker

Thri-Kreen Mauler            8 Brute

Aarakocra Windcaller     8 Controller

Belgoi Hunter                     8 Soldier

Chathrang                           9 Artillery

Inix Adult                            9 Brute

Anakore Dune King         9 Skirmisher

Braxat Juvenile                 9 Soldier

Raaig Tomb Spirit            9 Soldier

Brohg Hurler                    10 Artillery

Silt Shark                          10 Brute

Mekillot                            10 Soldier

While engaged in a combat using The Way, a creature is stunned.  A creature takes its turn as its avatar in an 8-square by 8-square area (using a large Dungeon Tile). The creature initiating the combat gets to choose the terrain and take the first action. The avatars deal double damage while in combat. An avatar can take the following actions.

Attack: A creature can take its turn as the monster, attacking. The creature gets the normal move, minor, and standard.

Retreat (Full Round Action): The creature can spend its turn moving off the terrain. If so, the creature engaged in combat gets a saving throw against the use of The Way. The creature must get a 15 or higher but gets +1 for each round it has been engaged in combat.

Upgrade (Standard Action): The creature can advance its avatar to a creature one level higher than the current one. However, all damage and conditions remain. It can only do this up to three times.

Rejuvenate (Minor Action): A creature that has healing surges (such as a player character) can spend one of those healing surges to allow his or her avatar to regain his points equal to one quarter that avatar’s total hit points.

Change the Landscape (Standard Action): The creature engaged in the combat can choose a different terrain on which to continue the battle.

Encounter 1: Rumble in the Golden Inix

The templars burst in from all sides. Any character succeeding on the Perception check to notice Hanesth and Jossi leave is not surprised.

Setup

2 jhakar trapjaws (J) (Dark Sun Creature Catalog, page 70)

2 human templars of Tyr (T) (De-leveled to 1; Dark Sun Creature Catalog, page 66)

5 human thugs (H) (De-leveled to 1; Monster Vault, page 182)

Agis of Asticles (A)

When the templars enter the tavern, read:

The doors to the inn burst open, revealing five templars wearing the stark white robes of office. Behind them appear to be some men and women bearing clubs, obviously intended as back-up.

The lead templar, a blond human woman with green eyes and a scar across her nose casts her gaze about the inn. Then, gesturing toward your side of the inn, says “There’s Agis and his accomplices. Arrest them.” As she says this, she steps back out into the street, allowing two jhakar’s to shoot past her toward you.


Agis of Asticles (A)                                               Level 4 Controller

Medium natural humanoid

HP 50; Bloodied 25                                              Initiative 13

AC 18, Fortitude 15, Reflex 16, Will 17       Perception +4

Speed 6

Saving Throws +5 against charm effects

Tactics

Agis fights alongside the characters, either facing defeat with them bravely or retreating if they decide to.

Standard Actions

m Psychic Grasp (psychic) • At-Will

Attack: Melee 1 (one creature); +7 vs. Will

Hit: 1d8 + 2 psychic damage.

C Mind-Crushing Blast (psychic) • At-Will

Attack: Close blast 3 (enemies in blast); +7 vs. Will

Hit: The target is immobilized until the end of the adept’s next turn.

R Will of House Asticles (charm, psychic) • Recharge if the power misses

Attack: Ranged 5 (one creature); +7 vs. Will

Hit: The target is dominated until the end of Agis’s next turn.

M Cure Light Wounds (healing) • 5/day [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ]

Effect: Melee 1 (one creature). The target regains 2d8 + 4 hit points.

Background

Streetwise DC 8: Agis is a noble and was one of the deposers of Kalak.

Streetwise DC 12: Agis is a noble of House Astricles and is one of three deposers of Kalak. His companions were Sadira, a half-elf ex-slave sorceress and Rikus, a mul ex-gladiator.

Streetwise DC 19: Agis is a noble of House Astricles and is one of three deposers of Kalak. His companions were Sadira, a half-elf ex-slave sorceress and Rikus, a mul ex-gladiator. He is a practioner of the Way and a long time “friend” of King Tithian.

Skills Arcana +11, Insight +9

Str 13 (+3)              Dex 16 (+5)              Wis 14 (+4)

Con 17 (+5)              Int 18 (+6)              Cha 18 (+6)

Alignment good                  Languages Common, telepathy 5

Features of the Area

Illumination: The room is filled with bright light from the windows and several skylights.

Ceilings: The ceiling is 10 feet above the ground.

Furniture: The furniture is difficult terrain.

Skylights: These seven feet above the tables and are open. A character can jump up, grab onto a ledge, and pull him or herself up with a DC 12 Athletics check.

Windows: The windows are narrow. Moving through them requires 3 squares of movement. The windows can be shuttered with a minor action. The shutters are made from the wood of an acacia tree.

Development

During the battle, ask the characters whether they are killing or subduing the templars. If a character kills a templar, take note of which character did the slaying; it will have an effect later on in the adventure.

The green-eyed woman waits in the street, supervising. She does not get involved until the characters wipe out all the rest of the templars. If they linger more than a round in the inn, she enters the tavern to confront them. If they try to escape out the front, she tries to prevent their escape.

Valandra, High Templar              Level 6 Elite Controller

Medium natural humanoid                                                XP 800

HP 144; Bloodied 72                                              Initiative 20

AC 20, Fortitude 16, Reflex 18, Will 20                  Perception +6

Speed 6

Tactics

Valandra attempts to subdue the party single-handedly, starting with Agis if he is still conscious. Faced with defeat, she flees.

Traits

O Domineering Presence (fear) F Aura 1

Any enemy that ends its turn within the aura is slowed until the start of its next turn.

Standard Actions

m Iron Longsword (weapon) • At-Will

Attack: Melee 1 (one creature); +11 vs. AC

Hit: 1d8 + 3 damage.

m Arena TacticsAt-Will

Effect: Valandra uses iron longsword against one target, shifts up to 2 squares, and uses it again against a different target.

C Do My Bidding (charm) • Encounter when first bloodied

Attack: Close burst 2 (one slowed creature in burst); +9 vs. Will

Hit: The target is dominated until the end of Valandra’s next turn.

Minor Actions

Get Back Here (weapon) • At-Will

Attack: Melee 5 (one creature); +11 vs. AC

Hit: 5 damage, and Valandra pulls the target up to 3 squares.

Dialogue

•  “Agis, you and your conspirators will not escape. You should have known your attempts at tyrannize us would fail.”

•  “I am a veteran of the arena. Your tactics won’t work against me.”

•  “You think magic will save you? Tithian has helped teach me the Way. You can’t stop me.”

•  “You are criminals of the state. You’ll never escape the city.”

Background

She is an ardent follower of Tithian and believes that he knows best for the city. She knows nothing of his conspiracy to become a sorcerer-king. He fed her a lie (using magic to reinforce it; DC 19 Arcana check to detect) that Agis has been conspiring to overthrow the lawful authority of the city and set up a council of nobles to rule it.

Streetwise DC 19: Valandra is confident and is a veteran of the arena. She was defeated only once during her matches. Rikus and Neeva defeated her and her partner, Karn, in the fight just prior to his confrontation with Tithian. Karn was killed outright, but she was spared by Tithian, who recommended to Kalak that she be trained as a templar. Tithian took her under his wing, and after his ascension to king, he promoted her to high templar so he had someone he could trust as his right hand.

Skills Bluff +13, Diplomacy +13, Insight +11, Intimidate +13

Str 13 (+4)              Dex 10 (+3)              Wis 16 (+6)

Con 16 (+6)              Int 15 (+5)              Cha 20 (+8)

Alignment evil                  Languages Common

Equipment leather armor, iron longsword, whip

Conclusion

The encounter with the templars is likely to end one of three ways: the characters are captured, the characters flee to the Warrens to hide, or they take Agis’s offer to seek refuge in his estate. Depending on what happens, go to Scene 2.a. Into the Noble District, Scene 2.b. Into the Warrens, or Scene 2.c. Captured.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Dark Sun Campaign Opening

  1. Great system. I like that both combatants are stunned during mental combat. How do you adjudicate effects if one or the other dies in mental combat? What is the purpose of mental combat? In the old system the purpose was to “open” your opponent up so your powers could be used on them. I’d suggest giving them Vulnerable Psychic 5 or 10 until they spend a certain amt of time recovering, or maybe till they save so many times, whatever. Or giving them -5 to Will saves or perhaps allowing others who attack their will a +5 or so…sort of like Mental Combat Advantage.

    I think it could use some refining, but this is a great step in differentiating mental combat in 4e. Great job Greg!

  2. Shadowrun (matrix combat) and pre-4E psionics struggled with the idea of how to handle a parallel combat system. You don’t want to stop play to have one or two players resolve something. Having it occur in real-time is better, but then we struggle with equality. I’ve both enjoyed and cringed at AD&D psionics (where super-fast parallel psionic combat took 30 minutes to resolve, all resulting in one PC or monster basically starting the combat dead). I’ve also hated watching the party’s decker in Shadowrun do things for 40 minutes, then decide to jack out. Lots of time, fun for one player, no effect. Ugh.

    When I look at what you presented, stun is pretty big. If I were to metagame, a PC with a huge con, surges, and defenses should engage the most critical foe in psionic combat so as to stun them. Party focuses fire on stunned foe, kills it. Repeat, win. Even if your players are less evil and don’t do that, stun is a big factor that makes psionics really dangerous to those engaged. So, then you have to make it worthwhile. Having two avatars fight is cool, but does it resolve quickly enough to matter? Does the effect merit this?

    I find myself comparing. Let’s say I had a power that stunned me, stunned the opponent, and in 2-3 rounds it caused my opponent to suffer some effect. That effect better be superior to weakened and slowed, or it would be a crappy power. It will be hard to match the end effect to the process and stun risk.

    Also, can a non-psi be engaged in psionic combat? If it can, that could be a big edge for the psion. If they can’t, then it limits a psion PC that invests in any choices (feats, class, etc.) to be better at psionics.

    I would be curious how this plays and I expect you will be tweaking it significantly.

    I haven’t done anything in this area, but I would probably try to create a system that used minor actions with opposed rolls to try to create effects. I could see adding new wild talents that are attacks. Pre-req you must have x other wild talents, so you end up with a wild talent tree effect to limit taking the strongest powers first. Minor to use, and you can do different effects that would make combat interesting. Most would be control in nature. They might be at-will or encounter or daily in nature. They could still have avatar for RP purposes.

    Another idea would be to take the avatars and run them as a parallel combat. Every psion or wild talent can participate as an additional action in a round. Each round you determine a winning side, and they get a random benefit (or maybe benefit based on power) so that the results are dynamic and include all players. The goal would be to make psionics more inclusive and real-time. I struggle here with thinking of how to do it right and not detract from overall combat.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s