Ick-tk-chk-ka prepares a filling meal of erdlu meat for the group. The meat is rich and filling--and much, much tastier than the pasty gruel they were once forced to eat.
This meal will be enough to meet the food needs of 4 human-sized PCs, or 2 human-sized and 1 half-giant. There's also the raider meat Ick-tk-chk-ka took earlier.
Once the party has had a chance to rest and prepare themselves for the journey ahead, they press onward, into the black of night. The green light of Ral mixes with the golden moonlight of Guthay to cast the dunes before them in a strange, ethereal glow. Countless stars wink and blink in the night sky. The heat of the day gives way to the chill of the desert night, at once a relief and a hint of greater danger.
1d10 ⇒ 6
They trek long through the night, bearing southwest. Ick-tk-chk-ka takes point, guiding the party across the ever-shifting dunes of the Athasian wastelands. Sand shifts underneath the party's footsteps, sometimes providing enough stability to stand on and other times giving way beneath their feet.
Day 2, Year of Priest's Defiance, 170th King's Age
As the twin moons begin to sink from the sky, you look to the west and see something shimmering in the distance--something silvery. It seems to be surrounded by some manner of grass.
Those of you who haven't used the Water Find proficiency, mark off half a unit of water consumed travelling by night. If you used Heat Protection as well, mark off a quarter of a unit.
You'll be happy to hear that erdlus have absolutely no psionic ability whatsoever.
Save vs. Paralyze: 1d20 ⇒ 4
The first one's enough.
The mantis-warrior glares at the erdlu as it tries to flee, concentrating her iron-clad Will into a weapon of pure thought. She finds the erdlu's mind easy to contact--and even easier to utterly crush.
The bird squawks and spasms before falling face-first into the dunes, blood pouring out of its eyes and beak.
Ick-tk-chk-ka manages to rake her second claw across the erdlu's flank, but is unable to pierce the bird's hide with the rest of her claws and bite.
Player Initiative: 1d10 ⇒ 10
Morale: 2d10 - 4 ⇒ (5, 3) - 4 = 4
The erdlu tries to bite the kreen again!
Bite: 1d20 ⇒ 20 O_O
The bird's beak smashes right into the thri-kreen's chest, causing her thorax to crack.
It then squawks and tries to run away, trailing blood as it turns!
Ick-tk-chk-ka is up!
Chin up--if you win, you get solo XPs for bringing it down! XD
The erdlu lets out a squawk as the thri-kreen's claw scratches it and takes a stray scale off.
Ick-tk-chk-ka Initiative: 1d10 ⇒ 10
The bird tries to peck and claw at its assailant in a panic!
Beak: 1d20 ⇒ 10
Ick-tk-chk-ka fends off the erdlu's beak with ease, but gets kicked in the thorax by its long leg.
Ick-tk-chk-ka is up!
Ick-tk-chk-ka creeps across the dunes, and soon notices a series of talon tracks cresting over another dune nearby. She sees what looks like a stray erdlu pecking at a clump of weeds next to a ring of sun-bleached rocks.
She easily creeps up on it, completely taking it by surprise.
3d8 ⇒ (1, 1, 7) = 9
You've got a free surprise round to attack the erdlu!
Time for XP distribution!
Creative Ability Use
None of the gear collected by the party detects as magic.
The raiders who fell in battle are very much dead. Anyone lucky enough to flee the battlefield have done so by now.
The thri-kreen begins the grisly task of harvesting the dead, slitting open chests and working to dissect and extract the choicest pieces of meat and organs. She cleans off the femurs taken from Tavric's corpse--they'll make for decent bludgeoning weapons.
Ick-tk-chk-ka gains 3 units of food and two bone clubs.
The sand dunes gradually shrink and even out the further the party gets from the burnt argosy. As the hours wear on, the sun rises ever higher into the sky, and the heat presses down harder on them. The sand seems to stretch onward forever...
Mercifully, the sun gradually begins to set as the party reaches an outcropping of desert rocks. The sky turns violet and begins to darken, the sun giving way to the twin moons of Ral and Guthay. A slow breeze blows across the rocks, carrying a chill and desert grit.
I'll divvy up earned XP for this encounter when I get home. :)
Cale charges in and swings his paper-edged blade--and it whistles over the raider's head as he bends over to scramble for the thri-kreen's dropped waterskins.
Morale: 2d10 ⇒ (6, 8) = 14
After seeing so many of their friends get gutted or pounded into paste, the raiders start to run away in a disorganized, scattered rout. The one raider trying to snatch the waterskins looks up and sees the rest of his motley band fleeing into the wastes, looks back at the waterskins, then starts to slowly back away after dropping his short sword in the sand.
The raiders had the following items in total:
That, and I usually prefer not to advance games on weekends. Anyways, on with the show!
As soon as the scavengers make their move, several things happen at once. Khar springs from cover and bears down on Tavric, catching the leader by surprise and burying his short sword in his gut. The leader lets out a helpless gasp for air as the breath is driven from him before he falls backwards into the sand.
Not to be one-upped, Crow emerges from behind the ruined argosy, and several raiders pause at the sight of him charging in. His wild haymaker goes wide, but his hook and uppercut do not--his hook catches the freckled youth on the chin, breaking his neck with a disgusting *SNAP*.
The remaining raiders turn their ire on the mul and half-giant... for the most part. One of them keeps their eyes on the thri-kreen and sprints for her waterskins, swinging his short blade.
Neraad's Attack vs. Khar: 1d20 - 2 ⇒ (18) - 2 = 16 Hit!
Khar gets nicked twice--once on the brow from Neraad, once on the shoulder from another raider. He manages to fend off blows from the other two.
Raider Attack vs. Crow: 1d20 - 2 ⇒ (18) - 2 = 16 Hit!
The raider group attacking Crow is clearly suffering from dehydration, and it's affecting their ability to fight. Only one scavenger manages to land a good hit on Crow's shin--the other strike hits his callused knuckles and he evades all the other wild swings.
The last raider swings his short blade at the thri-kreen...
Raider Attack vs. Ick-tk-chk-ka: 1d20 - 2 ⇒ (4) - 2 = 2
...and nearly trips over his own feet trying to stab her.
Party Initiative: 1d10 ⇒ 4
The party is up!
When the thri-kreen shows the waterskins, a ripple goes through the crowd of half-dead scavengers.
"How are we supposed to divide that?!"
"Where's the rest of it?! Where's the rest of it?!"
Tavric starts to move forward to take the waterskins--only for Neraad to suddenly race in front of him. "That water's MINE!"
The rest of the scavenger band start to run towards the thri-kreen, their gait staggered, weak and utterly desperate.
Party Initiative: 1d10 ⇒ 7
The party is up!
Once the party has found places to hide, they lie in wait for the approaching scavengers...
1d5 ⇒ 5
As you crouch down behind a pile of burnt timbers near the sheets of glass, something pokes your foot.
It's a small key carved from dark stone, poking out of the sand.
The incoming scavengers arrive over the crest of a dune to the east, their pace coming to a staggered halt as they see the smoldering argosy. There's a moment of silence, and then an argument breaks out among them.
"YOU SAID THERE'D BE WATER HERE!" One man yells at the leader, drawing his obsidian short sword and pointing it at him. "YOU F@&*ING SAID THERE'D BE WATER HERE! There's NOTHING! LOOK! LOOK!"
The leader grimaces and unlimbers his gythka. "Relax. This one looks only recently burnt. There's probably some water stores left for us to take..." He trails off, looking at the scattered elf corpses around the argosy's husk.
"There f!@~ing isn't, Tavric, and you know it!" The dissenter continues. "You killed us! You killed all of us! You killed ME!"
"Neraad, that's enough out of you." The leader, Tavric, whirls on the enraged Neraad and points his weapon at him. "Who was the one responsible for losing our last water stores, again?"
Neraad grips his blade tighter and screws up his face in indignation. "I did no such thing! How DARE YOU--"
"Guys! Guys!" Another voice speaks up. This one belongs to a freckle-faced young-looking man with a club. "We're not alone here! There's a thri-kreen here!"
He points at the very visible Ick-tk-chk-ka--and their waterskins.
"Well. Looks like we've found our water, boys." Tavric turns on the kreen with a sinister grin.
As you cast your Sight in the direction of the approaching dust cloud, you see the cause of it quite clearly.
There are twelve humans, armed with a variety of mismatched obsidian weapons and clad in various pieces of leather armour--none of them alone are a full suit. The apparent leader of the band is wielding what looks like a staff with a pair of obsidian knives tied to either end of it. Their clothes are ragged, but still serviceable enough to keep the sun off of their skin.
Their eyes are wild and desperate. They move with the gait of thirsting men.
You have about one minute (one combat round) to find someplace to hide if you want to set up an ambush.
The return to the destroyed argosy reveals a barren battlefield. Several elves lie dead in the sand, wearing little more than the clothes on their backs--it appears the Jura-Dai made sure to loot their corpses of anything valuable while the party was busy.
Strewn around the burnt remains of the wagon-fortress are the mutilated, arrow-filled corpses of the guards. Most of their personal effects have been stolen, leaving behind only their burnt bones and whatever burnt cloth and leather the Jura-Dai thought to not be worth stealing.
Dozens upon dozens of obsidian shards are scattered in the sand--some of them even as long as four feet. Were one so inclined, they could be re-purposed to serve as spearheads. Several sheets of glass lie beneath the wagon-fortress, with lifeless grey ash piled around it. A charred black human skull sits on the glass.
There's enough cloth here to make a pair of makeshift human-sized desert cloaks, or one half-giant sized desert cloak.
There's enough burnt leather and straps left here to make two pieces of limb armour for a human-sized PC, or one piece of limb armour for a half-giant. There are also sufficient resources to turn Crow's piece of handrail into a makeshift longspear.
A dust cloud is approaching from the east. It appears that the party are not the only scavengers coming to plunder this wreck.
Ick-tk-chk-ka's Direction Sense:
Judging by your position relative to the burnt remains of the argosy and comparing it to where you last saw the elf tribe running, they appear to have gone in a south-southwesterly direction. The oasis on the map appears to be to the southwest of the last X on the map.
@Khar: You've spent at least seven days in the caravan, leaving Urik along the trade roads. The caravan resupplied at an oasis three days ago. However, it appears the caravan left the trade roads since the oasis.
As the group leaves the argosy, there's a roar of anger when Ick-tk-chk-ka emerges. They start hurling insults and obscene gestures at the mantis warrior, but don't move to attack. The warlord glares at the party (and the thri-kreen in particular) as they leave. "This is the last charity the Jura-Dai will ever show you."
Within minutes, the ruined argosy is engulfed in flames. The elven tribe turns and runs into the desert wastes, leaving a cloud of churning sand in their wake.
Now that you've had a chance to get away and take stock of your situation, you have a chance to look through the cloth bag and examine the human femur in more detail.
The bag is filled with strange knickknacks--bits of differently-coloured sand, pieces of etched leather, tiny bits of what appear to be giant hair, and other things of that nature. It's a spell component bag.
The top of the femur has a fracture in it. Popping it open reveals a piece of weathered parchment--and it has a crudely sketched map on it.
Reaction *Cale*: 2d10 ⇒ (3, 6) = 9
There's a pause as Cale replies to the warchief's command.
"Leave, then. And do so quickly."
Surrounding the warchief are several dozen elves in ragged desert leathers, some of whom are bearing lit torches and preparing to enter the wagon-fortress by the side entrances. The warchief's metal helmet looks like it's taken a couple of hits. His notched metal sword is coated in fresh blood--as is the rest of his leathers. His bare chest is heavily tattooed, bearing images of arrows flying through the desert wind.
After reading the descriptions for both Water Find and Survival, I've noticed that both proficiencies include finding water in miniscule amounts. Normally, using either proficiency would only allow you to find enough water to not lose any CON points to dehydration.
There wasn't a synergy between the two proficiencies at first, but I'm thinking of allowing a synergy between them. If you have both the Water Find proficiency and the appropriate Survival proficiency for your current environment (such as Survival: Sandy Wastes in a sandy waste environment), then you can find 1 unit of water for others per day.
How's that sound?
So, for the sake of easier bookkeeping, I've decided to track food and water in units instead of quarts, pounds, and whatnot.
PCs require 1 unit of water per day to avoid losing CON to dehydration. Half-giant PCs require 2 units of water per day, whereas thri-kreen PCs only need 1 unit of water per week to avoid dehydration.
Travelling by night will halve a PC's water requirements--so a PC will only need half a unit of water if they travel through the dark, one unit for half-giants, and a half-unit per week for thri-kreen.
Does that sound good to everyone?
The safe is a lock-and-key one, and it can be carried out.
@Ick-tk-chk-ka: A chunk of obsidian should suffice as a replacement holy symbol.
As the party is rummaging through the argosy, gathering the resources they need to survive in the desert, a sudden *crackling* fills the air, followed by a *BOOM!*
An entire section of the wagon-fortress' south wall comes crashing down, taking the driver deck with it. A large hole opens up in the wall, revealing the argosy's mekillots ambling away from the fight. The wagon-fortress lurches and dips forward, and a panicked cry goes up from the defenders. The sounds of fighting dwindle and stop.
"Those of you still within, leave now or be put to the torch! These are NO LONGER Hamanu's roads!" An elven voice bellows from the hole in the wall. The source of the voice is the warchief--and he has sparks of energy flying from his fingertips. A ring of dead grey ash surrounds him.
At this point, everyone has gathered at least 2 units of food & water per person.
You stop and enter the room next to the kitchen.
The interior of this room is decorated with elaborate bone carvings of strange monsters. The bed next to the far wall has a couple of pillows in white cloth bags, green-dyed sheets and a thick brown blanket. There's a large, square safe made of dark stone sitting next to the bed. Lying on a desk by the room's western wall is a well-made red and blue robe with a matching scarf. It looks like it's been recently worn. A small leather pouch sits underneath the pile of clothes--along with what looks like a hollowed-out femur with a fracture at one end. A piece of parchment is poking out of a crack in the bone.
So. That's where the captain took your spellbook. He'd better not have soiled it while you were imprisoned.
Your wandering through the argosy's corridors brings you around a corner to what looks like a crude kitchen. Several wooden stools are scattered about in disarray, with a few recently-abandoned plates of pasty grey-white gruel left behind. A couple of barrels against one wall contain more gruel, but there's also a large cask with a stone spigot sitting against the far wall. The end of the spigot is dripping.
Several waterskins are hung up on pegs mounted to the kitchen's wall.
You are in Room E.