The Widow Harun

The Calimite (Solo Adventure)

Overview

The Calimite is a brief solo adventure designed for one or two PC’s of first level. This adventure is a short introduction to The Tuigan Empire, a Mongol-themed area of my own invention located inside the Forgotten Realms, and a way for the DM and players to test out some things (particularly the Horse Racing system) without the burden of a long story arc. The story is brief, intended for a single one-day session. It contains some travel, some investigation, one combat encounter, and some racing where the character(s) can earn a little money. In this adventure, the party arrives at Ormpur, metropolis of The Tuigan Empire, where they take up with a group of Tuigan nomads on the way to Shaarmid for the annual horse fair. But events in Shaarmid will cause the characters to be swept up into Tuigan power struggles and force them to defend themselves against quite unexpected foes.

Starting Character(s)

It is suggested that you play The Calimite with two characters run by the same player. Create two Forgotten Realms characters at 1st level with Waterdeep as their home region (you may pick a different region, but bear in mind that your characters must not be native to The Tuigan Empire, and that the action begins in Waterdeep). Humans are suggested, but any race is acceptable; however, playing a Small character (such as a halfling) will make you unable to ride a full size horse, limiting your enjoyment of the adventure. One of your characters should be a fighter, but the other may be anything you wish. Alignment, religion, skills and feats may be anything you wish, but at least one character should have at least one rank in Ride. Your characters may begin with maximum possible starting hit points and maximum possible starting gold pieces according to their class. You may purchase any equipment you like, including items exclusive to the Forgotten Realms, but you should not begin with a mount. If one or both characters are magic users, your starting spells may be anything you wish, including spells specific to the Forgotten Realms.

The story begins in the year 1427 Dale-Reckoning with both your characters in Waterdeep. You may create a backstory for them if you so desire. This may be useful if you intend to keep them around as NPC’s in the campaign (where their past lives may become useful hooks if you or the DM should revisit them), but it is not required.

What Your Character Might Know

If your character(s) have any ranks in an appropriate Knowledge skill (such as History, Geography, or Nobility/Royalty), or if you intend to do some reading during your travel time in-game, then feel free to follow the links around the campaign wiki (beginning with those on this page!) to reflect the odds and ends your character picks up. There is a lot, so don’t go crazy with it. Also bear in mind that the campaign area is still in development, so some links do not yet work and some information may be incomplete.

As mentioned elsewhere, the campaign area was creating using extensive published material for the Forgotten Realms. For information on the campaign area circa 1373 DR and earlier (the cutoff year), the most helpful of these are the two core books for the 3rd edition Forgotten Realms, the Player’s Guide to Faerun and the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting. Other supplements which have been used extensively for material are The Shining South, The Unapproachable East, Lost Empires, Serpent Kingdoms, and Underdark, plus the 2nd edition campaign setting The Horde. In addition to these, several other Forgotten Realms products such as Races of Faerun, Magic of Faerun, Power of Faerun, Lords of Darkness, Faiths and Pantheons, Champions of Ruin and Champions of Valor contain material which touches on the campaign area in a way specific to the particular topic of each volume. Any or all of these works are available in PDF form from your DM, free for the asking, but none are required.

Now you are ready to play The Calimite!

The Curtain Rises

As we begin, your characters have grown bored hanging around Waterdeep. Fortunately, the metropolis of the Sword Coast is a hub for everywhere. One day, craving a change of scenery, you wandered down to the docks, where ships of all nations crowd each other in their slips, and essentially just stuck out a thumb.

Hours later you were rewarded when a wandering musician took an interest in you. Adjusting the lute strapped across his back and absentmindedly scratching his goatee, the dark and roguish young man mentioned that he was about to embark on a ship, the Righteous Catamount, bound for a port called Ormpur. You’ve never heard of Ormpur, but what the hell?

As you follow the bard up the gangplank, he introduces himself as Llewellyn. He seems to have some relationship to the captain, or at least the old sea dog doesn’t swat at him like he does everyone else on the boat. Llewellyn has a pretty comfortable cabin, and there’s an adjoining one for you, free of charge as long as you work for your keep during the voyage. Don’t worry, the bard will help you learn the ropes (literally, in this case). By the time the vessel reaches Ormpur, you can add one rank in Profession (Sailor) to both your characters.

Llewellyn has mentioned a few times that he has cousins in the hinterland, east of Ormpur at a place called Shaarmid. This will be his first time visiting them. Apparently the whole region is some kind of backward nation filled with nomads who hunt wild animals on the plains. He doesn’t really know much about it, but it sounds exciting.

The action begins as you step off the Righteous Catamount, down a gangplank into a closely packed city ringing with the snorting of horses, bustling with dark-skinned, slant-eyed people, and smelling strongly of…saffron?

The Calimite DM Notes

The first time I will run The Calimite, my party will be a pair of Raptorans from Races of the Wild, played by a friend of mine named Gary. They are siblings, a male ranger and female druid, both 1st level. Their home region is the Western Heartlands, which makes them native speakers of Chondathan and users of the Thorass alphabet. Both are orphans of a burned village south of Waterdeep, since adopted into a human family and raised as humans (to the extent possible). Since adulthood they have come to the city, in part to live in an accepting and cosmopolitan atmosphere, but also as the first step in a journey to locate the true home of their people.

They will be accompanied by a DM character, just for insurance. Llewellyn, who presents himself as a traveling companion, is a 2nd level bard of Waterdeep, which makes him also a native speaker of Chondathan and user of the Thorass alphabet. Crucially, Llewellyn is more than he seems. He is both a spellfire wielder and a Harper. Unknown to his companions, the apparently carefree bard is embarking on a multiyear mission that could change the face of Faerun. Namely, Llewellyn has been selected as the first Harper to investigate The Tuigan Empire, which has become known in The Western Realms as ‘The Empire of Night’.

The few westerners who know anything about the empire at all are fixated on the rumors of large numbers of Werewolves there, hunting travelers for their sport, hence the nickname. This misunderstanding is due to the fact that since the days of Jebe Khan the empire has employed clans of Werewolves as border guards. Therefore, the Werewolves (who are numerous in the border areas) are often the first thing that visitors see. Since few men will continue traveling after they’ve been scoped by Werewolves, the clans are also the only thing many visitors see before they turn back forever. The rumors of hunting humans for sport are also inaccurate but based on a grain of truth, since in days past the werewolf clans were used to track and destroy the numerous bands of slavers that crisscrossed The Shaar at that time. Some of the harrowing tales brought back to Thay and Chessenta by the surviving slave-traders have since spread into the west, eventually reaching the ears of the Harpers. Therefore, Llewellyn was chosen to investigate, being a nobody who could travel easily without drawing attention and also, sadly, an expendable person in case things go wrong.

Llewellyn approached the Raptorans on the docks in Waterdeep, identifying them as potentially interesting traveling companions. Hearing their story of seeking the homeland of their people, the Harper earned their trust with a little white lie, saying that he knew a tale of birdmen living far to the south, in The Shaar. As it so happened, he himself had cousins there, at a place called Shaarmid in the middle of the plains. He was about to travel there, embarking aboard the Righteous Catamount for the city of Ormpur on The Shining Sea.

The captain of the vessel, a globe-trotting Illuskan sea trader of Waterdeep named Taman Broes, is a Harper sympathizer, which is why the Raptorans are able to notice his preferential treatment of Llewellyn during the voyage. All three characters are able to pick up a little sailing expertise during the trip, gaining 1 free rank in Profession (Sailor) by the time they make landfall.

The Party Arrives At Ormpur

Chronology. The Righteous Catamount makes the port of Ormpur on a Dragonrest, the end of the first Tenday in the month of Tarsakh. The horse fair at Shaarmid happens during the last Tenday of Tarsakh, with the last big races occurring at the end of the month, the day before Greengrass. The characters will need to travel 14 days to reach Shaarmid from Ormpur, so if they leave on Firstday, the day after they arrive, they can make Shaarmid on a Fifthday, the midpoint of the fair. This leaves the characters four days to conduct their investigation before the Calimite runs in the big race on that Dragonrest.

When Llewellyn and the Raptorans step off the gangplank and into the city of Ormpur, the scene should be overwhelming. There are several details you can use to make this feel exotic.

First, there is the heat, so unlike Waterdeep in Tarsakh. The sun beats down on the waterfront, even this early in the year. Fortunately, there is a stiff breeze coming off the water. Other travelers, noticing the characters turning their faces into the wind in pleasure, remark that the town is called the ‘City of the Seabreeze’. Along with the breeze comes the strong smell of saffron.

The city itself looks odd and unplanned, but after a few moments it becomes apparent that this is because it has recently doubled in size. The low stone and stucco construction of the city proper, with its narrow lanes, tight alleys, and cramped markets, is surrounded by concentric circles of shantytowns, where families have built huts from mud and scrap wood, carefully fenced with dry brush to divide one plot from another. Townspeople will tell the characters that the shantytowns date from recent years, after the destruction of Sheirtalar, when many of the people there relocated to Ormpur for safety from the nomads.

The people here are Tashalans, and in fact Ormpur is the only majority Tashalan area outside Chult. The Tashalans are short, darkly olive-skinned, with tightly coiled black hair, which both men and women wear either short or bushy, but never long or braided. A few men have scant, wispy facial hair. Many of the people are displaying some sort of snake-themed jewelry. The characters will also notice many Shaaran people, who are taller, long-faced and yellow-skinned. Some are nomads, dressed in their traditional nomadic garb of leathers and fringe, but in addition most of those in the shantytowns are Shaarans from Sheirtalar, who dress in urban fashions. Shaarans are pictured in Shining South pages 6-7. They favor feathers over jewelry, speak Shaaran and also write in Dethek runes. The nomadic Shaarans in the city are always encountered in pairs; this is a superstitious reaction to the urban environment. Finally, there are large numbers of Tuigan in evidence, who are very distinctive in their traditional garb, pictured in The Horde page 9. They speak Tuigan and write in the familiar human Thorass alphabet. The Tuigan in the city are either individuals, often mounted or leading a horse, or large groups on foot, often rowdy with one or more members drunk. In either case, they move through crowds with barely-concealed authority, regarding themselves as masters of all they survey. They are likely, for example, to swat or strike an annoying street urchin, whereas a Shaaran or a Tashalan would just shoo him away. It is easy to see, however, that they are always very well equipped and they spend a lot of money, which the townspeople are happy to get. Both Shaaran and Tuigan nomads have their campsites on the plain outside the city, where a number of yurts can be seen, with herds milling around.

The language of the people is also Tashalan, though everyone can also use Common. Most noticeably, the writing on everything, including signage, is strange. The Tashalan language uses the Dethek alphabet of the Dwarves, with its blocky and runic look. Everyone pronounces the name of their city ‘orm-PAR’ and the characters will get funny looks for saying ‘orm-PUR’.

In the market, silver and gold coins are called dirhams and dinars. There is also much trade done in the currency called Shaar rings. These thin, polished ivory rings are strung in long ropes like beads and used all over The Shaar, favored by nomads in particular because they can be worn like jewelry. In fact, many people have strings of them as wrist or ankle bangles, necklaces and especially hair ornaments for both human beings and livestock. Shaar rings are worth 3 GP per piece. There are large piles of saffron being bought and sold by brokers all over the markets, and the characters will be told that the plains near the bay are the only place in Faerun where the saffron crocus grows in sufficient abundance for a profitable trade in this spice. However, the saffron trade is dominated by established wholesalers and the characters will find no way to make money here.

On the corners, the characters can witness small groups of thin, wiry people dressed in white cotton pants with rope belts, practicing a strange, fluid martial art filled with low feints, leg sweeps, handstands and bizarre locks and throws, looking as much like dancing as fighting. If they question the leader, called Mestre by the group, they are told this is a Tashalan fighting style called Capoeira.

The Characters Try To Get Started

Having arrived at Ormpur, the characters now need to make it to Shaarmid. The distance as the crow flies is over 300 miles, and they probably do not have enough money for mounts (even if they do, they can still encounter the ordu on the road: see below). If they investigate the possibility of signing on with a Road Caravan, they will find that their timing is unfortunate. Ordinarily the caravanners on this route have a use for additional guards, who can make 1d20 GP per level per day in such an arrangement. However, this is the time of the big horse fair at Shaarmid, which is only a Tenday away. There are so many people on the plains now that predators, humanoids and bandits alike are all keeping a low profile. In fact, travel across The Shaar is never safer than it is in Tarsakh and Mirtul. During these two months, the typical Road Caravan not only has no need for extra security, but actually charges passengers a fee of 1d20 GP per day to travel with the group. The characters probably cannot afford this, either. They are, apparently, screwed.

But then they have a fortunate meeting, which can occur with one person at the market (if they have not bought mounts, and are therefore just hanging around) or with the whole ordu on the road (if they have scraped up enough cash for horses and they are on the way out of town). The characters meet Badr, a Tuigan woman who is the khatun of an ordu camped just outside the town. She has come to Ormpur driving her herd of cattle, which she has just sold to the traders here, from whence the animals are bound for the markets of Lapaliiya. She now intends to buy a large amount of local wine to sell for a profit at the horse fair, where they are headed next. She says the ordu can make Shaarmid on a Fifthday, the midpoint of the fair. She will be happy to allow the characters to travel with them free of charge, in exchange for some interesting stories and their help with the animals.

Not only this, but Badr will cut them in on the deal she intends to make. If the characters have any cash, they can ‘invest’ it with her, and she will buy more wine to sell at the fair. If the characters take this option, they can surrender a certain amount of their GP now, and get double that amount back when they reach Shaarmid.

Badr and her people are ready to leave that very day, so the characters can depart from Ormpur with her on Firstday.

The Road To Shaarmid

When the characters follow Badr out of town to join up with her ordu on the nearby plain, this will be their first experience of Tuigan life. There are several details you can use to make this exotic for them.

The ordu consists of two yurts, one in which Badr and her two grown sons Amun and Aki live, and another where there is a young family (Tarik, the husband, and Malika, his wife) with three teenage daughters (Bel, Bala and Bhangla), for a total of eight people, or eleven including the party. All the men in camp are shaved bald but wildly mustached, while women are plain, but both sexes dress alike and everyone wears jewelry in the form of Shaar rings. Badr and the three girls carry only a bow and a knife, but all the men are belted with scimitars as well, and Tarik is also a lancer.

There is a large herd of sheep, a few goats and a mob of shaggy, wild looking horses nearby. If the characters are counting, there are 39 horses, 200 sheep and 40 goats. Her companions’ personal horses are saddled near each tent. A few dogs are milling around. The men are taking down the first yurt and stowing it for travel as the characters arrive. Badr immediately invites them into her yurt for tea, saying “no tea, no pride!” The furnishings consist of rugs and cushions, and the tea is strong, flavored with butter. There are joints of meat hanging in the rafters, drying and smoking. When everyone is refreshed, the characters are put to work gathering up the animals and taking down the remaining yurt, which takes two hours. Each of the yurts is loaded onto four of the available horses, and another half-dozen of them carry the boxes of wine. In addition to these each person in camp saddles up two separate mounts, and the characters are each given two mounts of their own and shown how to saddle both, keeping one for an emergency remount in case of attack. With everyone’s possessions stowed for the road, the group takes up weapons and swings into the saddle.

The trip to Shaarmid will take 14 days, during which the characters will help out with everything in camp and on the road. At the end of this time, they can all add 1 free rank in Profession (Herdsman) to their skills, and anyone without Ride will have earned 1 rank in this as well. There is no road or track to Shaarmid; the trip is all across country, though the route is well known and traveled by many other groups.

Life is simple but satisfying with the nomads. They travel at a slow pace, since they must drive the herds as they go. In the morning they collect water, bathe and drink, and care for the horses. Breakfast is a handful of dried fruit and a cup of salty butter tea, with some tsampa mixed in. All day is spent in the saddle, sometimes watching the herds, sometimes scouting ahead or hunting, away from the group. The riders stave off hunger in the daytime by sucking on rock-hard cubes of dried cheese, or raiding a nearby fruit tree or berry patch. If any game has been found, there will be fresh meat for the evening meal. Otherwise, each person contents himself with dried jerky and sausages, maybe with a few herbs or wild onions if any are available at the campsite. When commenting on the lack of vegetables, someone is sure to say, “grass is for animals, and meat is for man!” At every camp, all the mounts must be taken care of before anyone can relax. Around a late evening fire, a flask of kumiss is usually passed while the nomads share stories, toasting each other by saying “our friendship has been raised!” Each night, everyone helps to erect a single yurt, in which they all sleep fully clothed (it is snug with eleven people). If the characters ever grumble about the work, someone will laugh and say, “our people have a saying – if you said yes, you can’t say it hurts!”

The ordu leaves Ormpur on a Firstday. For a week the weather is windy, rainy and increasingly hot. This is the wet season in The Shaar, so there are numerous ponds and streams available. Everyone comments that this is the best time of year to travel on these plains, normally so dry. That Thirdday they encounter a herd of bison, which consists of 19 individuals. Today, and any other time they encounter wild animals, they can attempt to capture and tame them, for personal use or sale. Provided they can get close enough (by first capturing the beast or else either luring it close while hidden or sneaking up to it), the characters can use Wild Empathy or the spells Calm Animals, Charm Animal, or Speak With Animals for this. Any wild animal is initially unfriendly. It must be made indifferent if it is not to flee or attack. It must be made friendly if it to be herded, or helpful if it is to be domesticated. If any of the bison are captured, the characters can sell them at the fair for 15 GP each.

On Fifthday they encounter their first people. This is an ordu of Shaaran nomads of the Eagle tribe, smaller than theirs and much poorer. There are only six people in the ordu, the khan and khatun (Kanem and Wata) plus his brother Tuek and two young daughters Nafs and Mala. The latter three are 1st level fighters, but the khan is a ranger and his wife a druid, both of 4th level. They have no horse herd, only goats. In addition to their poverty, the Shaaran nomads also look and speak differently from the Tuigan. Their dress and ornaments are very different (they favor eagle feathers, for one thing), and their weapons are inferior. They carry spears instead of scimitars, and leather armor instead of the chain shirts that the Tuigan wear under their dels. Their horses are most notably different, being the spotted Shaaran ponies instead of the shaggy Steppe horses of the Tuigan. They are more than happy to share a camp that evening, at which everyone has a grand time. Like the Tuigan they are worshippers of Teylas, so that evening Badr burns a piece of silk as an offering, in honor of the guests. Wata performs divinations to determine that the rest of the journey will be auspicious for both groups. Both the khan and khatun have huge Shaaran falcons for their companions, and the characters can each gain a permanent +1 to Handle Animal checks involving birds by spending some time learning their falconry.

The characters may be interested in their fellow wilderness experts, but Badr has noticed something else. The Shaarans have been to The Dun Hills and harvested a great number of olives, which are brining in leather sacks carried by their own mounts. She believes she can get a good profit on these if she sells them to hungry spectators at the horse fair, so she spends some time with Kanem bartering some of the wine for them. She will cut the characters in on this too. If they wish, they can make a return on these equal to what they were already expecting on the wine (in other words, their initial investment on the wine will now triple, not double, upon reaching Shaarmid).

On Seventhday the ordu passes a pair of elephants. From this point on, the wind dies down and the weather cools off, though it still rains every few days, usually at night. On Ninthday they sight a herd of wild horses in the distance. These are 13 Steppe horses. On the next Secondday it is a pair of cheetahs, which are worth 150 GP apiece if captured, or 300 if the characters can also train them (six weeks). On Thirdday the ordu passes a column of smoke rising form the southern horizon. Shortly thereafter they are hailed by a pair of Ogres.

These are the legendary Ogres of the Valley, about whom the ordu has heard much they will share with the characters. The Ogres are dressed in shining magical breastplates and carry huge, thick magical lances. They are riding elephants with razor sharp tusk caps and using magical reins that can cause the animals to fly. The two ogres, who introduce themselves as Vaprak and Krusk, share a camp with the ordu that night, entertaining them with Tent-Pegging and other games, and telling lots of stories. If the characters participate and impress them, they will each be given a Potion of True Strike as a gift. They purchase several sheep from Badr and roast them for a grand feast, which they share with the characters. The ogres are valuable mainly for what they know of the political situation. It should be obvious to the party that this is a military unit and can be questioned about anything they feel they need to know about the area.

Two days after parting with the Ogres, the ordu arrives in Shaarmid on Fifthday.

The Horse Fair at Shaarmid

Shaarmid is a large city of almost 25,000 people. The characters will be immediately impressed by its high, strong walls, with multicolored banners flapping in the stiff wind. All the city’s gates are thrown open for the fair, which has been going on for five days now. in fact, the plain nearby is thick with tents of all shapes and sizes. The round tents of the nomads, with their herds grazing nearby, are interspersed with the sqared-off pavilion tents tents of the settled people like the Mulhorandi, Durpari and the Gezerites. Inside the city, there are people of every description, though a majority are Shaaran or Tashalan. The signposts are printed in the blocky, runic Dethek alphabet.

The characters will be overwhelmed by the variety of people in the city’s markets and squares. In addition to the Shaarans, Tashalans, and Tuigans, there are Mulan from Mulhorand, Durpari from The Golden Water, Gezerites, Raumvira, Shou, Semphari and Ulgarthans. The party can find and speak to a person from pretty much anywhere. Everyone they interact with, even briefly, should be described exotically. For their part, these NPC’s will be very bemused by the birdmen as well.

Badr and her sons leave Tarik and his family on the plain to find a campsite, while she enters the town to unload her wine and olives. When this is done, she pays off the three characters and cuts them loose. They can continue to stay with the ordu or find their own accommodations. In fact, any innkeeper they approach will let them stay free for the remaining days of the fair, in the hope that the exotic new tenants will attract other customers to his taproom in the evenings.

And what about Llewellyn and the cousins he supposedly has? Well, his inquiries in town quickly turn up the fact that they are both dead. Nonetheless, the Harper dutifully sends off the Bird Token to notify his superiors that he has arrived.

Each day, the characters will have a chance to participate in any number of contests at the fair. They can bet on the Horse Racing or even ride in one personally. They can meet the jockeys and learn about the Breeds of Horses. They will get to see or participate in Wrestling Contests and Archery Contests plus more Tent-Pegging. Llewellyn will perform every day.

One strange episode that happens in the market will be important later. The characters notice, as they are walking around, that there is a large leopard wandering around in the market. It seems to go wherever it wants to, approaching people without any alarm. For their part the townspeople seem to leave it alone. The butchers give it a little bit of meat when it approaches their stall, while others set out a saucer of milk or a sweet. No one will answer any questions about the leopard, seeming to regard it as a joke if the characters ask. The characters will get a chance to interact with it on one occasion when it wanders up to sniff and lick their feathers.

It is that first evening, when the characters are sitting together in a tavern, perhaps after hearing Llewellyn play a tune or two, that they are approached by an extremely wealthy, turbaned Durpari man, with rings on all ten fingers and robes trimmed with gold. After buying them drinks of expensive Rashemi firewine, the man introduces himself as Sabi. He is one of the wealthy horse breeders that Shaarmid is famous for; in fact, Sabi owns the largest, most prominent stable in town. It is in this capacity that he has approached the characters. He hints that he has a job that only they can perform, and entreats them to come to his stable later that night.

At the abandoned stable, the merchant meets the three characters alone, with only a pair of bodyguards in the shadows. Apologizing for his secretive manner, he says that the details of his problem are too sensitive for a public place. Sabi has a magnificent horse, a Calimite, scheduled to run in the big race on the upcoming Dragonrest, last day of the fair. The field will be incredibly prestigious. Two horses owned by The Golden Family will also be racing. Sabi spent a lot of money to buy the Calimite, and as part of his investment he performed a divination, in order to get some sense of whether he would have good luck in the race. But when he asked whether his horse would be fortunate, he was told by the spirits that the results had been thrown in doubt, because one of the owners was fixing the race with magic.

Now Sabi needs someone to investigate the rest of the field and find the guilty party. There is a lot of money riding on it. Not only is the winner’s purse a hefty 3000 GP, but Sabi himself has placed bets with many other breeders, including some in The Golden Family. These are people, he suggests, that it would be better not to lose money to. If the characters locate and expose the cheater, he will pay them 500 GP each.

The Investigation

If the characters ask about race-fixing, Sabi refuses to discuss it. But he does suggest the characters speak to the Marshall of Horses for the town, who is a sort of one-man governing body for the races at the fair. The Marshall of Horses has extensive power, traditionally backed by all the racing concerns of the town. He can hear evidence of match-fixing, and he has the authority to order property to be searched and horses to be examined if there is suspicion.

This year’s Marshall of Horses is a retired jockey by the name of Toki. He can be found in the citadel at the center of town, going over last-minute arrangements. He is extremely busy fielding requests and complaints from all manner of people, but he makes a few minutes for the characters. He can give them a tutorial on the ways a race could be fixed, and he will also introduce them to the field.

The field for the big race, he explains, is already set. Each horse’s owner earned a spot by winning one of several previous races and also placed a large deposit with the town. In addition to Sabi’s Calimite, Spirit of Fire, there are two other horses widely regarded as strong chances to win, owned by two feuding members of The Golden Family.

West Wind is a Lhesperan owned by Anawat, the khatun of the northwestern Ankheg tribe. She is the wife of Arigh Boke, khan of the Cheetah tribe in the northern central Shaar. The Ankheg are currently rivals of the Lion tribe in the southern central Shaar, whose khatun is Artusas, wife of Mongke.

In addition to being khan of the northeastern Hyena tribe, Mongke is one of the most ambitious and violent of all Jebe Khan‘s descendants, the true inheritor of his grandfather’s savagery and ambition. Thanks to his second wife Shatila, his young son Drasna is now the underage King of Ulgarth for whom Mongke is regent. With control of the vast lands of Ulgarth, plus his own conquests in The Golden Water, Mongke is greatly wealthy. The childless Artusas jealously hates Anawat for bearing a son to Arigh Boke, putting the Khan of All Shaarans in his family line instead of her own.

On top of this, Mongke and Arigh Boke are rivals to each other as well. Their fathers Jochi and Batu are in a strugle to claim the loyalty of Subedei Khatun’s remaining Noyan in The Tuigan March region. If Batu eventually becomes khan of the March, it would be a virtual certainty that either Mongke or Drasna would be the next Great Khan.

Therefore Artusas, once she learned that Anawat would be racing West Wind, immediately entered her own Dambraai, Drow’s Bane. The rivals have wagered a huge amount of cash, but crucially they have also bet some of their indentured craftsmen currently living in colonies in the Demonblood Dam region. The winner therefore becomes better positioned in the power struggle for The Tuigan March. Both women are riding their horses personally.

The other three horses are less prominent. There are two Sempharis in the field. Cross of Dede is owned by a Gezerite noble, and Death to Witches was entered by a rich retired adventurer down from Chessenta. The final horse is a Chionthar named Liberation, owned by Sabi’s archrival breeder, a wealthy Shaaran stable-owner named Tambo.

The investigation of these horses and owners will give the characters a chance to meet some strange new people. They will quickly learn that, despite their reputations, Artusas and Anawat are both above reproach. No one in The Golden Family would dream of fixing a race. Just mentioning the possibility is enough to nearly start fights wherever the characters go. They should get the strong impression that even if they thought the two women were suspects, they would not be able to interrogate them and live.

They can also scratch another name off their list. Georgios the Brawler, the retired adventurer from Chessenta, is a Forsaker, as the characters can learn as soon as they ask about him. He has a fanatical hatred of magic and anyone who uses it. This only leaves Tambo and the Gezerite.

These two owners could not be more different. Adam of Gezer has come to town with a large retinue including several clerics of Dede. These strange folk have pitched their huge, ornate tents on the plain outside the city, where their racehorses are kept under guard of a number of very tall, very dangerous Gezerite men, in shining breastplates and square cowhide tower shields, each man carrying a longspear and a wicked-looking sickle-like blade called a shotel. But Adam of Gezer is completely open and welcoming to the characters, to the extent of sharing a meal with them and serving them coffee himself in his own tent. He invites them to participate in that evening’s vigil, since the Ge’ez offer prayers to Dede every night. If the characters do so, they can have the benefit of a Bless spell for the following day.

In contrast, Tambo offers them nothing but hostility. When the characters present themselves at his stable, he is just wrapping up a conversation with one of his workers, and very suspiciously drops his voice to a whisper as soon as he sees them approaching. He is very curt and will not allow them access to his horse or his buildings. Even worse, the characters can later see several obvious magic users being ushered out of the stables by Tambo himself. The characters will be completely blocked from gathering any further information about Tambo. His stable will be under heavy security, and few people will be willing to talk about him.

After these investigations, it should be easy for the character to guess who is fixing the race. Unfortunately, they will be completely wrong.

The Shocking Twist Ending

If the characters report Tambo to the Marshall of Horses, his stable will be raided publicly, and the news will be all over town. The characters will have to be present personally (with the number of vendettas in the town, the Marshall of Horses has no time for anonymous accusations) and Tambo will be furious with them. But he will be vindicated. There is no physical evidence in his stable. The suspicious magic users will be located and found to be friends of the family who were merely placing bets. As it turns out, Tambo always has such heavy security around his stable at festival time, and people don’t like mentioning him in conversations because he has an abrasive personality and rubs people the wrong way. Most damning of all, when the local wizards examine Liberation closely they will all concur that he has not been magically enhanced. The party has now made enemies of both Tambo and Toki, whose authority has suffered a blow because of the false accusation.

By this time it should be Ninthday, the last day before the race, and the characters will have to return to Sabi and admit defeat. When they can finally meet him at the end of the day, the breeder is morose, but tries to convince himself it is just the will of The Adama that the chips should fall where they may. He serves the characters hot tea from Shou Lung and invites them for a walk around his stable. It should now be late evening, after dark. They are walking by the stable where Spirit of Fire is kept when someone hears a noise (call for Listen checks).

When Sabi flings open the stable door, the characters surprise a group of three men who are in the process of stealing Spirit of Fire. One of them already has one foot in the stirrup. Call for initiative at this point.

The thief with one foot in the stirrup will swing into the saddle and ride straight out the open barn door into the night, trampling over Sabi to do so. As he departs, he tosses a tiny object to one of the characters, saying with a laugh, “We found your ring, Sabi! You should have saved one for yourself!” The other two men square off against the characters, intending to fight them with fisticuffs. Llewellyn strums a chord, using Inspire Courage. He will not participate unless things get very bad.

All three bad guys are werewolves. Their overconfidence leads them to believe they can defeat the characters with fists alone, but if they are threatened they will change to hybrid form.

Neither man has any treasure or equipment with him, but their features identify them as Half-Tuigan and they have scarification on their faces that indicates they are Hyena tribesmen, some of Mongke’s people. If the characters let anyone else see the bodies or get a description, they can confirm this. The object they threw is a ring inset with three dull, smoky gems. Llewellyn can conclude, with Bardic Knowledge, that this is a burned-out Ring of Three Wishes.

The most likely explanation is that Sabi used the Wishes to enhance the Calimite’s statistics and thereby cheat on the race. The divination was therefore pointing the finger at himself, though he didn’t realize it. However, Sabi is now dead, and the characters have to decide whether to pursue the Calimite. There is a possibility that the party will not want to do so; if so, Llewellyn produces a pair of silver daggers and offers encouragement. At this point, they should be wondering just who the hell he is. But that’s for later. For now, they have to follow the thief.

If they do, they can track the horse through the alleys of the city, out one of the gates, and a few miles outside the town to a quiet spot between some hills. There they see the Calimite and the rustler, apparently unaware of any pursuit; but when the characters approach, that’s when several dozen armed nomads rise up from cover to surround them. All are Shaaran Hyena tribesmen much like the rustler. They appear to have no leader until the leopard from the marketplace steps out from behind one man and sits down on its haunches. After washing its paws for a minute or two, there is a moment where the creature fountains upward into the air, changing shape and gaining in size, until it becomes a man, an elderly, bald Tuigan in sweeping robes and gold jewelry.

“I am sorry you got mixed up in this!” he says, then thanks them if they treated him well earlier, or scolds them if they did not.

The old man is Batu, second son of Jebe Khan, who learned to become a shapechanger during his childhood in The Shaar. The men with him are his own tribal entourage, and the theft of the Calimite was his idea. He had been warned by a crazy old hermit in Unther that an unscrupulous horse-breeder would cause problems for his daughter-in-law. His men discovered that Sabi had used the ring, and the old man chose to deal with the matter himself. Why, he says, should the son of Jebe Khan go hat in hand to the Marshall of Horses like some common bookie? Besides, this way the Calimite gets to live. If it was exposed as a magically-enhanced horse, the law would require it destroyed. Not even a member of The Golden Family would publicly defy the rules of the race!

Batu does understand the characters’ disappointment, however. He will make good on Sabi’s debt to them. In addition, if they treated the leopard well earlier, they can now count Batu as an NPC ally. More importantly, with Sabi dead and the Calimite gone, there is an open spot in the race. Batu, who has a mischievous streak, wants to see one of the birdmen race. He will insist that the Marshall of Horses accept a late entry, and also contribute his own favorite racehorse, a Raurin named Sheik of Sheiks.

Putting a Bow On It

The next day dawns clear and cold, perfect weather for the race. Resolve this according to the rules in the Horse Racing section. Artusas and Anawat both have no ranks in Profession (Jockey) (their untrained modifier should be 4) and plenty of ranks in Ride (their spur checks should be auto-hits). Of the remaining horses, Tambo’s stable can afford the best jockey, with modifiers of 13 in both skills. The two Sempharis are ridden by off-the-shelf jockeys with modifiers of 12 in both skills. Roll hit points for each horse at the table, then draft a quicksheet with everything else you need.

Sheik of Sheiks is a ten-to-one underdog, if they care to bet, but the odds are only two-to-one that he can make it into the top three. The winner’s purse is 3000 GP, payable in Shaar rings, plus a trio of fine Lhesperans, masterwork rhino-hide armor and shields for all three characters, a pair of hunting leopards, and an elephant-load of raw ivory, worth another 900 GP anywhere outside The Shaar. Then, of course, there are several steppe horses laden with various local foodstuffs, plus the proceeds from whatever the characters bet on themselves. There is also the rivalry between Artusas and Anawat to resolve, based on how the race turns out.

Badr and her sons will be at the race, as will the Ogres the party met earlier and virtually everyone they’ve spoken with since. If they do well, they will have many friends, which is good because they’ll have to decide what to do with themselves now. Badr will thank the characters for making things interesting, and make a gift to each person of their two mounts and all their tack.

Dragonrest is the end of the horse fair, but the day after is still Greengrass, when all the NPC’s we’ve seen so far will be saying their goodbyes and packing up amid the celebratory sharing of flowers, stealing of kisses and singing of songs. At this time the characters can decide what they want to do with themselves, and you can keep them around in that capacity as NPC’s until they are needed again!

The End

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The Calimite (Results)

The Raptoran siblings Kerri and Stedd made contact with Llewellyn in Waterdeep and sailed to Ormpur with him aboard the Righteous Catamount, where they met its captain, Taman Broes. The plan was to make Ormpur and travel from there to Shaarmid where Llewellyn had cousins he intended to visit.

All three characters were able to pick up a little sailing expertise during the trip, gaining 1 free rank in Profession (Sailor) by the time they made landfall.

The characters arrived at Ormpur on a Dragonrest, the end of the first Tenday in the month of Tarsakh, and spent several hours immersed in the exotic atmosphere, picking up information about the city, its people and languages, and their ways of life and history. They are now familiar with Tashalans, Shaarans and Tuigans. The Raptorans also made the acquaintance of Mestre, the leader of a Tashalan Capoeira jogo, who gave them a Monk’s Belt and promised to train them if they ever returned to Ormpur.

The party then met Badr in town and joined her ordu (Amun, Aki, Tarik, Malika, Bel, Bala, and Bhangla) for the trip to Shaarmid. They learned from the Tuigan about the coming horse fair at Shaarmid during the last Tenday of Tarsakh, with the last big races occurring at the end of the month, the day before Greengrass. Llewellyn invested a great deal of gold in the wine she purchased in Ormpur for resale at the fair, making a handsome profit for himself and the two Raptorans.

During the trip, the characters become familiar with the nomadic lifestyle of a typical Tuigan ordu. They earn 1 free rank in Profession (Herdsman) and Ride.

They encountered numerous wild animals on the trip, including a bison herd, a pair of elephants, a herd of steppe horses and a pair of cheetahs, all of which the Tuigan attempted to capture. Though the Raptorans attempted to help each time, they were useful only with the elephants. Badr shared the profit from the beasts with all three characters.

The ordu also met and camped with an ordu of Shaarans (Kanem, Wata, Tuek, Nafs, and Mala), with whom they traded olives from The Dun Hills, making another handsome profit for all three characters. The characters are now familiar with the characteristics of a typical Shaaran ordu. Both Raptorans have earned a +1 bonus to Handle Animal checks with birds.

Finally the ordu met and camped with a pair of patrolling Ogres of the Valley (Vaprak and Krusk), from whom they learned much about The Tuigan Empire.

Fourteen days after leaving Ormpur the party arrived in Shaarmid on a Fifthday, the midpoint of the fair. The characters spend some time experiencing the exotic crowds at the fair. They are now familiar with Mulan, Durpari, and Gezerites.

Though Llewellyn quickly learned that his cousins had been dead almost a year, the Raptorans were such a big hit with the festival crowd that an innkeeper allowed them free lodging in exchange for the extra cash he could make from gawkers in the taproom. Llewellyn performed in the markets every day, earning a little coin, but the Raptorans declined to participate in the Horse Racing, Wrestling Contests, Archery Contests or Tent-Pegging.

The Raptorans encountered Batu in the market, in his leopard form, and though they failed to recognize him, they did make a good impression.

Later they were approached by Sabi at the taproom and hired to investigate his rival racehorse owners. The breeder gave each character a moonstone as a token of good faith. The Raptorans spoke with Toki, the Marshall of Horses, and then attempted to gather information on each horse. Adam of Gezer was very accomodating, even permitting them to speak with Cross of Dede. They are now familiar with Gezerites, and Adam of Gezer considers himself their ally. Georgios the Brawler became enraged and threw them out when they revealed that Kerri was a Druid. Artusas and Anawat were both above reproach, though they soon learned about the political stakes of their wager. Meanwhile, Tambo refused to cooperate in any way and acted very suspiciously. The Raptorans were able to converse briefly with Liberation, but this only increased their suspicions.

After much equivocation, the party finally chose to report Tambo to the Marshall of Horses, waiting until the very last moment to do so. As a result, the race was postponed a day for the investigation, which cleared Tambo, embarrassed Toki, and blackened the Raptorans’ names in the town. Tambo and Toki are now their enemies.

That night, Batu sent men of his Hyena tribe to steal the Calimite. The characters interrupted the theft. In the ensuing battle, Sabi was killed, but the characters killed two of Batu’s werewolves and tracked the third to the desolate location where the Calimite had been taken. There they were surrounded by Hyena tribesmen and met Batu face to face in his human form, to their great surprise. They learned that the Tuigan had long suspected foul play and recently proved that Sabi was the one fixing the race. Instead of reporting the crime, which would require the Calimite to be killed, Batu chose to steal it, which would still knock Sabi out of the race but also save the horse.

Batu then compensated the characters for the money Sabi owed them, and arranged for Kerri to race his own Raurin, Shiek of Sheiks, in the empty slot. Batu was impressed by the Raptorans and their behavior and now considers himself their ally.

In the fight, the Raptorans were surprised by Llewellyn and his mysterious powers of silver fire. The bard further surprised them by giving each Raptoran a silver dagger before they departed in pursuit of the third werewolf. The Raptorans now have certain suspicions about the bard.

Finally, the treasure they looted from Sabi after the battle consisted of nine gold rings, two of which turned out to be a Ring of Protection +1 and a Ring of Resistance +1, the others being worth 400 GP in total. There was also a bag of gems of 1200 GP value, consisting of 1 50 GP fluorspar, 1 black pearl of 500 GP value, one alexandrite of 500 GP value, one piece of amber worth 100 GP, and one 50 GP piece of turquoise.

The big race occurred the following day, on Greengrass. Cross of Dede won the purse, but Kerri rode Shiek of Shieks to second place, allowing the Raptorans to cash in on a large bet. Anawat defeated Artusas, dealing a blow to Mongke and Batu in the power struggle with their relatives, but strengthening Arigh Boke and Jochi.

The characters were invited to travel with Adam of Gezer on his journey home and they have accepted the offer. Badr has given them their own four horses and tack as a parting gift.

Throughout their adventure, the Raptorans repeatedly tried to learn information about the possible whereabouts of other Raptorans, with no success. They have ruled out The North Wall of Halruaa, The Wyrmbones and The Dun Hills.

Both Kerri and Stedd have now leveled to 2nd level. Llewellyn is now 3rd.

The action will resume next time on the day the party leaves Shaarmid with Adam of Gezer. The characters can use Adam of Gezer’s entourage as the equivalent of a merchant if they wish to cash out their treasure and/or buy gear before then, including magic items.

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Surprise at Addis (Solo Adventure)

Overview

Surprise at Addis is a brief solo adventure designed for one or two PC’s of levels 2-4. In this adventure, the party takes a journey across The Shaar from Shaarmid to the nation of Gezer, meeting many strange people and creatures along the way with whom they can talk, deal, gamble, fight, and (of course) race horses. But their happy time comes to an end when they discover a gruesome surprise at the end of the road, and a small group of volunteers must put their lives on the line for their Gezerite friends.

This adventure can be run as a sequel to The Calimite, or you can use it as a stand-alone. If you have run The Calimite and are now going to run Surprise at Addis as a sequel, then you are ready to play. Skip to the DM notes.

If this is your first adventure, it will be a short introduction to The Tuigan Empire, a Mongol-themed area of my own invention located inside the Forgotten Realms, and a way for the DM and players to test out some things (particularly the Horse Racing system) without the burden of a long story arc. The story is short, intended for a single one-day session. It contains some travel, some combat encounters, and some racing and other contests where the character(s) can earn a little money. It is suggested that you and your DM should use The New Party Member Intro to get your character(s) to the starting point. You will have to omit references to previous events, and you may want to adjust the encounter toughness because the DM character Balud should not be present unless one of your characters is a lycanthrope.

Starting Character(s)

It is suggested that you play Surprise at Addis with two characters run by the same player. Create two Forgotten Realms characters at level 2-4 with any home region (but bear in mind that your characters must not be native to The Tuigan Empire). Humans are suggested, but any race is acceptable; however, playing a Small character (such as a halfling) will make you unable to ride a full size horse, limiting your enjoyment of the adventure. One of your characters should be a fighter, but the other may be anything you wish. Alignment, religion, skills and feats may be anything you wish, but at least one character should have at least one rank in Ride. Your characters may begin with maximum possible starting hit points and maximum possible starting gold pieces according to their class. You may purchase any equipment you like, including items exclusive to the Forgotten Realms, but you should not begin with a mount. If one or both characters are magic users, your starting spells may be anything you wish, including spells specific to the Forgotten Realms. Magic items may be anything you wish.

The story begins in the year 1427 Dale-Reckoning with both your characters emerging in the town of Shaarmid. You may create a backstory for them if you so desire. This may be useful if you intend to keep them around as NPC’s in the campaign (where their past lives may become useful hooks if you or the DM should revisit them), but it is not required.

What Your Character(s) Might Know

If your character(s) have any ranks in an appropriate Knowledge skill (such as History, Geography, or Nobility/Royalty), or if you intend to do some research during your travel time in-game, then feel free to follow the links around the campaign wiki (beginning with those on this page!) to reflect the odds and ends your character picks up. There is a lot, so don’t go crazy with it. Also bear in mind that the campaign area is still in development, so some links do not yet work and some information may be incomplete.

As mentioned elsewhere, the campaign area was creating using extensive published material for the Forgotten Realms. For information on the campaign area circa 1384 DR and earlier (the cutoff year), the most helpful of these are the two core books for the 3rd edition Forgotten Realms, the Player’s Guide to Faerun and the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting. Other supplements which have been used extensively for material are The Shining South, The Unapproachable East, Lost Empires, Serpent Kingdoms, and Underdark, plus the 2nd edition campaign setting The Horde (though please note that The Horde is set in 1360 DR). In addition to these, several other Forgotten Realms products such as Races of Faerun, Magic of Faerun, Power of Faerun, Lords of Darkness, Faiths and Pantheons, Champions of Ruin and Champions of Valor contain material which touches on the campaign area in a way specific to the particular topic of each volume. Any or all of these works are available in PDF form from your DM, free for the asking, but none are required.

Now you are ready to play Surprise at Addis!

The Curtain Rises

As we begin, your characters have just been paid off and decommissioned from mercenary service for the Dwarves of The Great Rift. You left your homes a long time ago (at least, it seems that long) to enlist with the local branch of the Great Rift Department of Reclamation, Office of Contractor Relations, which stamped your paperwork, gave you your tags, and sent you through a portal to your bustling muster inside the Dwarven metropolis of The Great Rift. For months now, you’ve been tramping around the Underdark with your unit, pursuing Drow and other creepy crawlies best left unmentioned. You consider yourself a hardened veteran. Now they’ve given you your papers, your back wages, and a handshake, and you walk up a long ramp into very bright sunlight, heat and dust.

They tell you this town is called Shaarmid, in the middle of a giant baking grassland called The Shaar. Apparently this place is some kind of trade-meet, and it seems like they’ve just had a fair. Surrounded by a low, squat wall from which hundreds of pennants are flying, the mud-brick buildings of the city are nonetheless festively painted. There are colorful, strange people everywhere, buying and selling and packing up to go back wherever they came from. It’s pretty clear that you had better find some transportation soon if you intend to get out of here, since it looks like Shaarmid will be a ghost town within a day or two.

Fortunately, a particularly exotic person takes an interest in you as you wander the tents pitched on the plain outside town. This individual, who introduces himself as Menes, is some sort of a cleric, though of a god you’ve never heard of. As a cynical warrior with the dust of battle still clinging to your boots, you don’t pay much attention to his stories of a strange man called Tariq Dede who was executed and rose from the dead thousands of years ago in far-off Mulhorand. You are more interested in the flask of honey wine he gladly shares, which is excellent, and the helpful way he offers to carry your pack for you. The strange little man is brown as coffee, with fine, chiseled features and a fuzzy halo of woolly hair. His priestly robes are trimmed in green, black, and yellow and his holy symbol is a four-pointed cross with a hole pierced through the middle. His manner is soft and kind, but his eyes are sharp. His strangely accented Common sounds like what you think heiroglyphs carved on a temple would sound like if they made a noise, and he smells of dust and spices.

You and Menes make your way through the bustle of traders breaking camp until you reach the ornate pavilion tents of a very wealthy man and his large entourage. Whoever this is, he has had very good luck here. His men are the same color as Menes, but taller and thicker. They are taking down their large, brightly colored tents, removing the gold and silver decorations, the silk hangings and the expensive carpets, strapping on bright steel breastplates and preparing their beasts for departure. Their horses, which are numerous, are handsome Calimites, and they also have hounds, war elephants, even tame cheetahs! A few more robed clerics, who look quite a bit more senior than your new friend, are supervising everything from the edges of the chaos, when out of the center of the bustle walks the man Menes has brought you to see. Adam of Gezer is tall, dark, handsome and well-built, with a shaven skull and a noble face. You are taking a professional interest in the enormous greatsword strapped across his back while Menes introduces him as Knight of Dede (Peace Be Upon Him), Lord of Nazret and Axum, Protector of Addis, and so forth.

The gist of it is that this man is a wealthy noble and merchant lord of a far-off nation, who has come to Shaarmid to participate in the world-famous horse races held here each year. This year, he has actually won the purse, and now prepares to return to his homeland by a long journey east across The Shaar. When Menes has satisfied Adam of Gezer of your bona fides, both men warmly invite you to accompany them with genuine interest.

What the hell. It sounds like a relaxing trip, and you’ve got nowhere to be. Besides, you can smell coffee brewing in the camp, and your mouth is watering. You’d better get your stuff packed on one of the horses and then go find a good cuppa.

Surprise at Addis DM Notes

The first time I run this adventure my party will be a pair of Raptorans, (one druid 2 and one ranger 2), both of whom are afflicted werewolves, making them 4 HD creatures of ECL 6. They’ll be accompanied by a pair of DM characters. Balud is a werewolf as the Monster Manual (ECL 5, HD 3) and Menes is a first level cleric.

Chronology. The party departs Shaarmid on Dragonrest, 10 Mirtul 1427. On 14 Mirtul they are at The Shaarwood. They cross The Landrise on 16 Mirtul, reach the old road on 19 Mirtul and enter Dambrath the night of 23 Mirtul. By 24 Mirtul they are traveling in the shadow of The Toadsquat Mountains and they arrive at Shabab on 28 Mirtul. On 5 Kythorn they are at Azulduth, and it is Dragonrest, 10 Kythorn 1427, when they reach Addis. Their recuperation at Axum lasts until 13 Kythorn when Adam of Gezer reappears to bestow gifts and end the adventure.

Leaving Town

The action begins in Shaarmid on 10 Mirtul 1427, the first Dragonrest after Greengrass, which makes it summer in The Shaar. On Greengrass, Kerri rode Batu’s Raurin, Sheik of Sheiks, to second place in the big race on the last day of the horse fair. The Raptorans cashed in on a large bet and made some new allies, including Batu and Adam of Gezer. They have accepted an offer to travel with the Gezerite’s entourage when he leaves for his homeland, and they have spent the last Tenday helping him make preparations.

Adam of Gezer and his people are Gezerite. They are the color of coffee, with fine features and lean, conditioned physiques. Though Adam of Gezer has a shaved head, most of his fighting men and servants are in cornrows or dreadlocks, while his clerics sport fuzzy halos of bushy hair. All the jewelry worn is gold, never silver, which is associated with women. Their strangely accented Common sounds like what you think heiroglyphs carved on a temple would sound like if they made a noise, and they smell of dust and spices.

The weather in Shaarmid has been getting hotter, but at least it hasn’t rained. Most of the visitors in town for the fair have been departing, leaving the town much less bustling. It now has the look of a dry, dusty walled village. The brightly colored pennants have been coming down, and the townspeople are no longer invariably smiling and happy. Prices have been coming down, as merchants who shamelessly gouged foreigners are now charging local prices again. The innkeeper who allowed them to stay for free during the fair has been making suggestions about a bill, especially after several Shaaran ne’er-do-wells try to pick a fight with the Raptorans in his taproom, so the characters should think about disappearing soon. This impression is strengthened when they notice several muscular Mulan men in the greaves, bracers and togas characteristic of Chessenta loitering around the edges of the camp and occasionally following them when they enter town. This should remind them that they have three enemies still in town.

The Raptorans are able to make all their sales and purchases and help Adam of Gezer gather supplies for their journey. The Gezerite also spends a lot of time in town apart from them. When they question him, he explains that he is tending to certain business arrangements. They have no good reason to pry into it, so they should let it lie.

Llewellyn left the characters a few days after Greengrass. He says he is proud of them and enjoyed their time traveling together, but he’s not interested in going to Gezer. Instead, he thinks he’ll be heading north, where he has heard a little about Demonblood Dam and thinks it might be a good place to earn a little money and fame. Before he goes, he gives each of the Raptorans a Bird Token and instructions how to use it. He tells the Raptorans that if they meet again he will help them in any way he can. It is only after he has left that they realize that the two tokens must have cost most of the profit he made on this trip. Also, he never tried to claim any of the treasure they took. He is far too generous to be just an ordinary traveling musician.

Badr departed with her ordu almost immediately, much richer thanks to selling the animals they helped capture, and the wine and olives they helped trade for. She tells them she’ll be going east to Azulduth next, and if they ever see each other again she will remember them fondly and give them whatever aid they might need. As they say their goodbyes, the Raptorans are embarrassed to realize that their time with the Tuigan has had an effect on the unmarried young men and women in Badr’s ordu. Aki and Amun seem to be competing with each other to help Kerri saddle the horses properly, while the three teenagers Bel, Bala, and Bhangla are fussing around Stedd. This could be awkward in the future.

The two Ogres, Vaprak and Krusk, also say their goodbyes. They will be patrolling the northern plains near The Tuigan March for most of the year, they explain, but they regard the Raptorans as friends and will give them whatever help they can if they meet again. They give each character a masterwork lance as a parting gift, saying they won them by wagering on Tent-Pegging with some Tuigan, and explain to them how to take tail hairs from their stallions to make a Spirit Banner for themselves.

Finally, Batu appears at their camp one day. Adam of Gezer knows who he is and seems genuinely honored by the visit. The two men treat each other very courteously, drink Gezerite coffee and exchange gifts as tradition requires. But Batu has come for Stedd. The Tuigan explains to the ranger about his new life as a werewolf, telling him of the traditions and pride of his new form. Batu has come to offer the Raptorans a guide and mentor, as tradition requires, so that they will learn to control their transformations and use their powers wisely. This person, they are surprised to see, is the third rustler they cornered in Sabi’s barn, the one who got away aboard the Calimite. He introduces himself as Balud and says that he will accompany the characters as far as they need him. He is one of Batu’s men and regards the task as an honorable one, having no bitterness over the fight that killed his two companions. A Tuigan, he explains, respects a good fighter even if they are on different sides, because today’s enemy may be tomorrow’s friend. Before departing, Batu gives each of the Raptorans a princely gift, 100 Shaar rings for each of their four horses (200 per character), showing them how to knot them around the beasts’ necks.

Life On The Road

By the time Dragonrest, 10 Mirtul rolls around, all of their business has been transacted and everyone is ready to go. The large entourage swings into the saddle and strikes out onto the plain heading east. Adam of Gezer rides a Calimite with the vanguard, while his clerics ride in the howdahs on the elephants. His footmen and others ride in the middle of the group. Balud and the Raptorans come behind with the rearguard.

The entourage is composed of numerous fighting men, clerics, and the servants of Adam of Gezer. The troops are of two varieties. Those on horseback seem to be aristocratic individuals or nobles, mounted on fine horses, which they say are Calimites raised on ranches outside Gondar, the capitol. They wear polished steel breastplates with the Cross of Dede on front and back, and typically carry lances and longswords. They are fond of brightly colored pennants for their lances and decorations for their horses, favoring the colors red, green, black, and yellow.

The fighting men who ride the elephants are foot troops, who seem to be farmers and freemen loyal to Adam of Gezer. They wear padded armor made of quilted cotton in a checkerboard pattern of black and white squares. They carry a tower shield called an Ishilunga, which is a cowhide stretched over a large square wooden frame. The pattern of spots on the hide is how each regiment is distinguished from the others. These troops carry a weapon called a Shotel, which is a sickle-shaped blade the size of a longsword, used for striking around an enemy’s shield, and slings.

The clerics traveling with the group seem to be of many different grades. The most senior wear rich robes trimmed with gold and silk, brightly colored in green, purple and yellow, with tall headdresses. Their younger companions may wear only a white robe decorated with embroidered crosses.

The journey is long, almost 1200 miles. Adam of Gezer has told them it will take thirty days to complete. The entourage travels during the daylight hours and makes camp only when the sun begins to set. They are also early risers, breaking camp each day in the dark before sunrise. Adam of Gezer explains that it is a superstition of his that good luck will always be with him as long as he is in the saddle by sunrise every morning. Even with the elephants, the entourage travels faster than the ordus did because there are no herds to drive along. This means the party occasionally gets bored on the trail, but there are so many exotic people to converse with, and the riders make their own diversions so well, that this is less of a problem than it might be.

Each day is much the same on the plains. The Gezerites rise in the dark and tend to their horses and elephants before themselves. The senior clerics lead prayers in which everyone participates on bended knee, each man rising to kiss the cross before going about his business. They eat nothing but bread and drink nothing but a little water at the beginning of the day, but while they are in the saddle they are constantly breaking into their saddlebags to share cakes made with spices, or take a drink of rich honey wine, or nibble on a piece of fruit, some cheese or a handful of olives. They take much more enjoyment from their food and drink than the nomads do. Every few days, one of the riders prepares a bag for the characters, so the Raptorans can snack in the saddle like their escorts do. The bags might have nuts dusted with sweet spices, or flatbread rolled up around fresh herbs, or some curds of farmer’s cheese mixed with tiny, lethal chili peppers. The riders do not stop at midday unless they have a reason, though small groups are always drifting away to hunt, to scout, look for monsters, or find fresh water. This activity sometimes appears random until the Raptorans realize that Adam of Gezer invariably knows where every man is at any given moment.

It is when the entourage stops for each night camp that the Gezerites truly feel free to be themselves. Adam of Gezer begins to keep an eye out for possible campsites each day as soon as the sun begins to dip, and by the time it has touched the horizon he has found one. All the Gezerites tend to the beasts, and then a few men get a roaring fire going while others break out the provisions. There is sometimes fresh meat, since the warriors of the entourage have invariably found something during the day, often a deer, antelope, or wild pig, but sometimes only rabbit or prairie chicken; but more often, it is a fast day. On these occasions, which the Ge’ez enforce rigorously, the evening meal is completely vegetarian. While the food is cooking and several of the men are making coffee, Adam of Gezer gathers the characters and a few of his senior clerics to discuss the next day’s travel.

After a short time, the meal is prepared, and everyone sits down to a vast amount of food, eaten from large round wicker platters set on the ground. There are tangy, pancake-like flatbreads laid out on the platter and then covered with five or six different dishes, each in its own heap. There will usually be greens, fresh cheese, lentils, carrots, stir-fried peppers, or many other things, surrounded by piles of rolled-up breads which are torn into pieces to scoop up the food. Everything is rich with butter, loaded with exotic spices and most of it also laced with chili peppers, which the Gezerites gobble with relish, washing everything down with large pots of honey wine. At the end of the meal there is always coffee, served in an elaborate ritual according to the rank and deeds of each man. The coffee is thick and intense, and after drinking, someone is always inspired to bring out an instrument and play. Songs float around the group, and some of the warriors rise to perform intricate dances while Adam of Gezer leads the rest in clapping the beat.

No one falls asleep until it is late, but when they do they simply curl up beneath their blankets. Despite the ornate pavilion tent he erected at Shaarmid, even Adam of Gezer sleeps under the stars when he is on the road with his men.

The language spoken in camp is Gezerite, an odd tongue that the Raptorans don’t recognize, but their scriptures are written in the human alphabet, Thorass, which they can read. The Ge’ez are pleased to realize this and make a point of educating the Raptorans, throwing in a few tales and proverbs about Tariq Dede at the same time. By the end of their journey both characters can speak and write Gezerite.

The clerics also do not intend to miss an opportunity to gain converts. Balud shows no interest in their faith, but they continually approach the Raptorans with stories of Tariq Dede and tales of their beliefs. If the characters wish to convert, they will be given gifts by everyone in camp, as tradition requires. Also, once the party reaches Gezer, only believers will be allowed to visit the capital. If the Raptorans wish to see Gondar or meet Emperor Tewodros, they will need to become followers of Dedeism. If they convert, each character gets one free rank in Knowledge (Religion).

The First Leg

For three days the group travels across the plains in a northeasterly direction. The weather is very hot but clear, with strong breezes that rustle the grass hypnotically. They encounter nothing during this time; most travelers have already passed, and they have driven off most of the monsters and large animals. On Fourthday, 14 Mirtul, there is a rainstorm and a break in the temperature just as the party arrives at The Shaarwood. This dry, open woodland is filled with stands of cactus and razor-grass, and the party enters only as far as they need to shelter under its eaves. The rain soon stops, which is when they notice that there is a Shaaran ordu already camped here. To their surprise, the Raptorans recognize that it is Kanem and his people, whom they previously met in The Dun Hills. Adam of Gezer asks to be introduced, and if the characters are friendly then the Shaaran nomads will share a camp with the Gezerite entourage that night. Kanem and Wata, whose ordu is all Eagle tribe, inform them that since leaving Shaarmid they have been traveling in Ankheg tribal territory. The Ankheg are the people of Anawat, Arigh Boke’s wife, and are not usually hostile to travelers.

They exchange tales and news, but there is also a little business to be conducted. These dry woods are well known to Shaaran and Gezerite travelers alike, since they are the only place in The Shaar where Tashalan pepper grows in abundance. This plant is an exceptionally hot breed of chili pepper native to Tashalar, which has become established in The Shaarwood over the centuries since nomads have been camping here and discarding the seeds in their refuse heaps. For some reason, the Tashalan pepper that grows in these woods is the most flavorful of all its varieties. For many years the nomads have done a good business gathering the peppers and selling them for their seeds, which are planted in many far-off lands. Kanem and his ordu have harvested a great number of seeds, and Adam of Gezer immediately begins negotiating with him. He will cut in the characters if they so desire. Whatever they invest in the pepper seeds will be doubled once they reach the region of Dambrath.

The Shaaran riders will spend some time with the Gezerite group at various contests, including Tent-Pegging and Wrestling Contests, in which Balud will also participate.

The Second Leg

For the rest of that Tenday and the beginning of the next the weather is again clear, and though the rains caused a cooling, the temperature is rising gradually as the party travels along The River Shaar. This stream, Balud explains, is the only waterway in The Shaar that flows year-round. It is favored by the nomads for this reason, and the fishing is always good. One day the werewolf hauls in a gigantic sturgeon, which provokes gales of laughter among the Gezerite riders until they taste it that evening, when they heartily congratulate the Tuigan. The waters become cooler as the party moves along; by the time they have reached The Landrise, the river is crystal clear and ice cold.

The entourage will be ascending a gap in the cliffs within a few miles of the ruins of Pelevaran. Balud tells the characters that this was a human kingdom, centered on The Landrise, that was destroyed 400 years ago by dracoliches. Very little is known about the area or even which group lived there. The ruins are thought to be cursed by the Shaaran tribes because of the evil creatures that occasionally wander out of the area. The ancient kingdom covered most of what is now Ankheg territory.

The Landrise becomes visible from miles away as a black line on the horizon, and by the time the four hundred foot cliffs have come into view the Raptorans are likely stunned. Adam of Gezer allows them to ride ahead with the scouts and return with the rearguard, so that they can enjoy gliding from the cliffs while the entourage wends its way up a grassy gap toward the top. While frolicking in this way the Raptorans catch sight of the tombs built out from the cliffs. Balud explains that these are platforms where Shaaran leaders are taken for burial by exposure. It is Sixthday, 16 Mirtul, when the party crosses The Landrise.

The Old Road

After that the riders turn east, hoping eventually to strike the old road that once led between Hardcastle and Delzimmer. This track, though long defunct, is still slightly better traveled and a little safer than the surrounding plains. Balud will tell the characters a little about the history of the two ruined towns and the abandoned road, if they seem curious. He will mention that since crossing The Landrise they have been in the territory of the Rhinoceros tribe, the least assimilated of all the Shaaran tribes. The Rhinoceros are traditional enemies of his own Hyena tribe, and if he were alone he would probably be challenged, but the nomads will not bother with such a large group. A few times on the track, Balud points quickly to a hilltop on the horizon, where the characters can just see a few horsemen melting away as soon as they turn in their direction.

On Seventhday, 17 Mirtul, they encounter two hunting cheetahs, which are worth 150 GP apiece if captured, or 300 if the characters can also train them, which takes six weeks. The next day they find a herd of Steppe horses grazing. The herd is fifteen individuals, including two stallions. Any time they encounter wild animals, they can attempt to capture and tame them, for personal use or sale. Provided they can get close enough (by first capturing the beast or else either luring it close while hidden or sneaking up to it), the characters can use Wild Empathy or the spells Calm Animals, Charm Animal, or Speak With Animals for this. Any wild animal is initially unfriendly. It must be made indifferent if it is not to flee or attack. It must be made friendly if it to be herded, or helpful if it is to be domesticated.

The day after that, Ninthday 19 Mirtul, the riders reach the old road, now little more than a flat stony median in the grasslands, and turn southeast, heading for the northern border march of Dambrath. Adam of Gezer will explain his reasoning for this route during camp the previous evening. Though the nomads occasionally have trouble with Drow in this area, he does not anticipate any such problems since he is clearly a foreigner and will be seen as a merchant. Plus, the entourage is large enough to intimidate most raiders. He also anticipates being able to find a trader from Dambrath in the area with whom they can do some business.

The old road, according to Balud, marks the beginning of Cheetah tribe territory. The Cheetah are becoming dangerous, he says, because this is the tribe of Arigh Boke, who is Mongke’s cousin, and Jochi, who is Batu’s brother. They will not attack because Adam of Gezer’s group is so large, but they will be watching. As the rivalry between these two branches of The Golden Family heats up over power in The Tuigan March to the north, Balud fears the Cheetah might one day fight his own tribe openly.

This is the day they enter the region of The Great Rift. They will encounter three wild boars today and two leopards tomorrow. The boars aren’t worth much in cash, but they make excellent eating. The Gezerite warriors will reward them with jewelry if the Raptorans bag one or both boars. The leopards, meanwhile, are worth the same as cheetahs. Balud will tell them a little of The Great Rift while they travel here.

On Thirdday, 23 Mirtul, there is a rainstorm, after which the weather turns humid and miserable. The party has now entered the border march between Dambrath and The Shaar, in the region of ruined Delzimmer. That evening, there is a whispered conference between the riders and Adam of Gezer, who then calls the halt early for once. He advises the characters to get a few hours sleep, because they will be continuing toward the border only after dark.

When night has fallen, Adam of Gezer and several of his riders rouse the characters. They travel south a few miles in the moonlight until they come to a post driven into the ground. Painted in red and white stripes like a barber’s pole, it stands alone on the plain. Slowly, Adam of Gezer leads the group past the post. “The border,” he explains.

Having crossed, the party soon sights a group of wagons pulled together in a semicircle, and mounted figures out front. The other group approaches, and the Raptorans can see it is led by a Drow. After ritual introductions – clearly there is an established protocol for these meetings – the Raptorans learn that the man is named Nazruddin, and he is the master of a caravan that brings goods to the isolated horse ranches on these northern plains. Nazruddin and Adam of Gezer consent to trade, and soon torches have been lit and a fire is blazing in Nazruddin’s camp. The riders approach and settle in.

The hospitality of the Drow is courteous but not warm. The caravanners share food and drink, but they are boastful and challenging, tending to sneer or chuckle at the Gezerite group. Balud, who is the target of much of this, explains to the characters about the Drow and the situation in Dambrath. The Drow will spend some time at various contests with the Gezerite group, including Tent-Pegging and Wrestling Contests, in which Balud will participate. The characters can also note the presence of tall, blond slaves in the camp, whom Balud explains are the Arkauins of Dambrath.

Adam of Gezer, meanwhile, is bartering with Nazruddin. The characters can sell all the pepper seeds they bought for twice what they paid. In addition, Nazruddin is carrying a large amount of Dambrathan pearls, which are used as currency by the northern ranchers. He’ll be glad to sell them to the characters, who can get double profit on them once they reach Gezer.

With business completed, Adam of Gezer brings out an ornate carved wooden chessboard whose pieces are King Azoun IV of Cormyr, the members of the Crusade, and Yamun Khahan and the Horde on the other side. He explains its provenance to the characters as he engages Nazruddin in a game, which the Drow seems to enjoy very much. If the characters wish to play chess, they can do so with four opposed rolls: Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma, and an unmodified d20. Nazruddin will only play for money or magic.

But meanwhile, in the camp some of the Gezerite riders have made some unwise remarks about Cross of Dede, Adam of Gezer’s Semphari. The Drow replied that their own Dambraai mounts were the greatest racehorses on Faerun, and soon boastful words couldn’t be taken back and the camp had divided in two, which is how things stand when the noise alerts Adam of Gezer and Nazruddin. Both men soon agreed that honor should be satisfied, and so it was resolved that Cross of Dede would race Nazruddin’s best mount, True Black, in the hour before dawn. Nazruddin will race True Black himself. Adam of Gezer, meanwhile, boasts that he is traveling with the second-place jockey from the great race at Shaarmid, who will ride Cross of Dede. Of course, he is talking about Kerri.

Resolve this contest according to the Horse Racing system. Adam of Gezer will wager one of his elephants loaded with ivory from the purse at Shaarmid, but Nazruddin wagers magic: a bottle of Great Elixir with five swigs inside. Whatever the outcome of this race, the Drow will have their honor satisfied and the two groups will part amiably at dawn, when Adam of Gezer will lead the characters back to the camp, now preparing for another day’s travel.

The Mountains

That dawn begins Fourthday, 24 Mirtul, and the party heads north, rounding the tip of The Toadsquat Mountains before turning east to travel in the shadow of their foothills. The mountains are old and worn, and for three days they pass through empty country under a haze of humidity. Despite the lonely scenery and oppressive weather, a change has come over Balud. The werewolf is much more relaxed, even playful, with the characters, leading them on hunts and chases and challenging them to wrestle more frequently. Since sighting The Toadsquat Mountains, he says, they have entered the territory of his own tribe, the Hyena. The Raptorans realize that for the first time since they met in Shaarmid, Balud can truly let his guard down without fearing attack. This should impress them with how tribal and dangerous Shaaran society must have been before the coming of the Tuigan.

The first river they cross is The Rift River, which they must ford. There is a stone bridge, but it is long ruined, having been cast down during the fall of the demon-ruled empire of Eltabranar over a thousand years ago, as Adam of Gezer will explain. It is Eighthday, 28 Mirtul, when they sight The Toadsquat River. There is a rope bridge here, above which is a dilapidated gate at the mouth of a tall, narrow, canyon. As the characters ascend the rocks to the gate after crossing the river, they are astounded to see Gezerite crosses carved into the boulders at every switchback. Another rainstorm begins to pound the hills just as they draw within sight of the gate, and Adam of Gezer hurries them through before they are soaked. The gate leads deep inside a twisting canyon to a monastery whose buildings are facades carved back into the rock face. The characters are met there by a gleeful Gezerite, who introduces himself as Isaac of Gezer, the Abbot of this monastery, which is called Shabab.

Isaac of Gezer summons monks to care for the beasts and help the characters get comfortable, and they are soon ensconced in a rock-hewn chamber, bare but cozy, where the smell of coffee brewing drifts in from a corridor. Unprompted, he assures the party that flash floods are not a problem, since the monks have constructed gutters and sluices that funnel the rain into deep cisterns. As the coffee is served, he explains that this is one of the few remaining ancient monasteries established in foreign lands by Gezerite hermits centuries ago. There used to be more, but they have fallen one by one to the neighboring realms. Here, these virtually abandoned mountains provide a good place for the monks to live quiet lives and avoid entanglements. They have irrigated gardens inside the canyons and scrubland above where they keep sheep and goats. The party is welcome to sit out the rainstorm here and stay the night.

There is also business that can be transacted here. The characters learn from the monks that a family living here are actually serfs of Adam of Gezer. Zenawi, the man in question, was a brewer in Gezer until Adam realized that Gezerite Tej could be profitably sold to the Halflings of Luiren and the Drow of Dambrath. The noble simply relocated Zenawi and his entire family to this remote monastery, where he was directed to restart his operation and sell the produce south. Adam of Gezer returns periodically to collect the profits of the brewery, which are considerable. According to the feudal system of Gezer, this is quite an acceptable arrangement. Zenawi and his family are legally Adam’s property, and the Gezerite actually exceeds his obligation to them by allowing the brewer to take his own share before Adam’s profits are calculated. Of course, the monks explain with no trace of shame, all taxes to the Ge’ez are taken off the top first. Adam of Gezer is so pleased with his profits that he will give each of the Raptorans a princely gift, 500 Durpari dinars each.

In addition, the characters themselves can make a great deal of money here. Isaac of Gezer has noticed the Monk’s Belt which Stedd wears and offers to buy it from him at the full listed price. This is much more than the half price he could get for it later, but in order to sell it Stedd has to first decide whether or not he intends to revisit Ormpur, where Mestre gave it to him as a gift. If the Raptorans are sincere about learning Capoeira eventually, they will probably decline to sell out of loyalty to Mestre. But they may be willing to sell if they have decided in the meantime not to return.

The Last Leg

The next day is Ninthday, 29 Mirtul, and the characters resume their journey, turning northeast to make for Azulduth and Gezer. Later that day they sight a herd of 27 bison, which are worth 30 GP each in Gezer if they can be captured. The humidity continues for two more days until Secondday, 2 Kythorn, when the weather finally breaks. The Gezerite riders, instigated by Balud, have decided to celebrate the cool snap and refreshing breezes with a wyvern hunt.

Resolve this fight using the Monster Manual. Balud proposes to use himself as bait, waiting in hybrid form with a readied lance, so that the Raptorans can fall on the beast as soon as it dives on him. The beast’s poison gland can yield 1d6 doses of its venom, which are a prize for the Raptorans.

The party travels another day through superb weather, until Fourthday, 4 Kythorn, when the scouts announce they have found a party of three hunting lions. Balud, who is bounding with energy, feels like pursuing. The Raptorans can go, but this will be a tough fight for them.

The day after that, Fifthday 5 Kythorn, the party arrives at Azulduth. This salt lake, which announces itself with a shimmering haze on the horizon for miles away, is surrounded by a crusty white salt pan. The characters spy numerous lizards and reptiles on the flats and vast flocks of flamingos, spoonbills, herons and other wading birds in the shallow, shining waters. Incongruously, there is an ordu camped here, on the edge of the salt pan, and when they approach the Raptorans learn it is their old friend Badr and her followers.

Badr has been camped here for a few days to scrape salt, which she can sell profitably anywhere in The Shaar or to the north. She has made so much money since Ormpur that she will gladly sell right to the party. Whatever they invest in salt here can be sold for double that amount when they reach Gezer. In addition, the unmarried members of the ordu are still acting interested in the Raptorans. If either character reciprocates, then they will be challenged to an Archery Contest where they will be given a masterwork composite shortbow, for their strength rating, no matter what the outcome. Badr can also be used as a merchant if the Raptorans wish to buy or sell anything before their arrival in Gezer. Adam of Gezer explains that this may be a good idea, since they now enter the most dangerous part of their trip. For the next five days the party will make a broad detour around southern Rurikan, passing far to the east through the border marches of Veldorn, in order to avoid any encounters with undead. If the Raptorans wonder why this is necessary, Adam of Gezer now explains the situation that exists between Rurikan and Gezer. Moreover, Veldorn itself is not exactly safe either. Many of the monstrous populations that formerly ruled its great cities now exist as wandering bands, either uncontrolled or else only nominally loyal to Mongke and his Hyena. The travelers will move at night from now on and avoid all contact with anyone.

After leaving Azulduth the party proceeds through the plains according to Adam’s plan, and the five days thankfully pass without incident. Let the players see you rolling some encounter dice to ratchet up the suspense.

Finally, on Dragonrest, 10 Kythorn, after more than 1200 miles, the party comes in sight of Gezer. Unfortunately, their first sight is not what they wanted to see.

The Surprise at Addis

Ahead lie the steep peaks of The Dragonsword Mountains with the plateau of Gezer laid out before them like a rucked carpet, its canyons and hilltops shining in the fading light of evening. Golden fields of grain cover the slopes and goats can be seen grazing the hilltops. A glint of sunlight from a nearby promontory betrays the Church of Addis behind the hill, but a column of smoke is rising there. Adam of Gezer is instantly alarmed. He impatiently sends riders forward, including the Raptorans.

On the hilltop, behind the crest of the rise, sits the pilgrim Church of Addis, a squat, geometric pile in the shape of a cross, which seems to have been carved from the hill itself. Bodies are strewn around the grounds and thickly clustered in the gates of the church. As the Raptorans approach they can see to their horror that the bodies are in all states of decay, some little more than skeletons. Furthermore they appear, from their features and their dress, to be of many races, Tuigan, Shaaran, and Mulan. There are no Gezerite bodies out here, but inside the church they are all there: the clerics and pilgrims who died where they fell, locked in battle with undead hordes. They are grimly slashed and mutilated, their rich robes now dripping with gore.

Back at the camp, Adam of Gezer lays out the problem. It will be dark within hours. He must continue north with all speed to be sure his other towns are still there, gather his forces to sweep away any undead still in the area, and alert the Emperor at Gondar. However, it is repugnant to him to leave the dead here without any respect. Moreover, it seems likely the undead may return, to feed or to loot the building. Someone must stay at the church to lay out the bodies and defend the grounds until help can arrive. But whoever stays will face a long night of terror without any hope of rescue before dawn. Knowing it may be suicide, Adam will not ask any man to do such a thing.

After a pregnant pause, a small man the characters had previously ignored steps forward from the group of Ge’ez. His priestly robes are trimmed in green, black, and yellow, his manner is soft and kind, but his eyes are sharp. This is Menes, a lowly initiate, but he speaks bravely when he says that he was a priest here at Addis before the journey and it is now his duty to bury his friends sand keep the vigil over them. He will do so even if no one else will stay.

His bravery clearly moves Balud, who pledges that the spirit of the Tuigan will fight alongside that of Gezer this night. The Raptorans should now be willing to volunteer, and if they don’t, Balud will slyly suggest that this is the sort of thing that brings people to the notice of Emperors. It couldn’t hurt them to have a few friends in high places if they intend to continue searching the mountains for their people.

With Menes, Balud, and the Raptorans now committed to staying, all the riders of the party prepare to depart, each man clasping hands with the four volunteers as if wishing them goodbye. Finally, Adam of Gezer bids goodbye to the volunteers, giving them the Gezerite Cross that he has been traveling with, to keep them safe in the night. Then the party quickly saddles up and moves off north while the sky begins to darken.

The Battle

The characters should spend the time between now and nightfall seeing to the bodies and preparing their defenses, if any. Menes will plant the Gezerite Cross at the alter and intends to stand by it all night. The undead and Ge’ez corpses currently in the church and grounds have the following gear: one dozen each of scimitars, leather armor, and small wooden shields; one dozen each of falchions and chain shirts; half a dozen each of golden holy symbols; 200 Shaar rings; 300 Durpari dinars, 200 Mulhorandi dinars and 500 Gezerite dinars, or ‘Emperors’, with the face of Tewodros on one side and the Cross of Dede on the other.

That night, the four of them will be attacked by a large mob of human commoner zombies, followed by ghouls. The zombies will enter from all three directions, in groups of five or six at a time. The ghouls will follow singly after a time, and at some point a single ghast will crawl over the ceiling and drop on Menes, who will be turning undead each round.

If the party is still alive by morning, they are rewarded with the sight of a large number of Gezerite cavalry galloping up the hill toward the church, pennants snapping in the dawn light.

Putting A Bow On It

Assign random gear to the zombies and ghouls according to the number of each, and roll magic items as for a 6th level treasure. The ghast should have the 7th level treasure from the pre-generated lists in DMG II, replacing the platinum pieces with Shaar rings. The coinage is Mulhorandi dinars and dirhams, and the picture in the locket is of a Mulan woman.

The Gezerite riders will secure the area and offer the Raptorans the hospitality of Adam of Gezer at his nearby village of Axum. Adam himself will appear a few days later, after the characters have enjoyed the life of heroes for a while, being waited on hand and foot and brought silver ewers of ice-cold drinks by beautiful Gezerite women. When the prince arrives, he will have news. The riders of his fief pursued the packs of undead for dozens of miles south, across the border into Rurikan, where they slaughtered them and erected a cross deep inside the realm, as a warning to Rurik. Adam of Gezer has spoken with the Emperor about this directly, and Tewodros was not displeased with the gesture. Moreover Adam of Gezer has been told to express the Emperor’s personal gratitude for the bravery of their service to Gezer.

The prince has also brought with him all the characters’ profit from their various trade goods, plus a pair of fine Calimite stallions (his own gift) and a dozen Gezerite trade bars for each character, which is the reward the Emperor Tewodros has authorized. The trade bars are Gezerite gold from The Dragonsword Mountains, the size of the palm of a man’s hand and stamped in the shape of a Cross of Dede. Each one is worth 100 GP.

Finally, the Emperor has instructed him to give the Raptorans his personal Gezerite Cross, an inconceivable honor. Those present fall to their knees at the sight of it.

If the characters have converted before or if they do so now, they can get additional benefits. For one thing, as believers they will be entitled to own shares in Gezerite farms and businesses. Adam of Gezer will allow them to buy into his brewery, his coffee plantation, or both. Each of these will turn a profit of 100 Gezerite dinars per month, which will continue to accrue until the character in question turns up at Shabab or Axum to claim the money.

As foreigners, the characters are not allowed to visit Gondar, so they will have to spend their recuperation in Axum. They can buy and sell as needed here, and they should now spend a little time planning where to go next.

The End

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Surprise at Addis (Results)

Kerri is now a Druid 3. Stedd is now a Ranger 3. Both characters are now werewolves, making them level 7 characters of 5 hit die.

The two Raptorans began the adventure in Shaarmid on 10 Mirtul 1427 as they waited for their traveling companion, Adam of Gezer, to finalize his arrangements for departure. They were uninterested in his business dealings but were persuaded to change lodgings after the inn where they stayed was discovered by thugs working for Georgios the Brawler, Toki and Tambo, three of their enemies in town. They began to stay with Adam of Gezer’s entourage on the plain outside the walls where they were camped. There they were visited by various friends making goodbyes.

First, Llewellyn came by to say he would not be traveling with them anymore. He has told the Raptorans he’ll be heading north to the Demonblood Dam region, and gave each character a Bird Token with which to contact him.

Next, Badr arrived to thank the Raptorans and bid them goodbye, saying she and her ordu would be heading to the Azulduth region to scrape salt for trade. Before she left, the Raptorans realized that the unmarried Tuigan in her ordu were acting romantically interested in them. They should learn more about Tuigan marriage customs to see if there could be any advantage in this.

Third, Vaprak and Krusk, the ogre lawmen, stopped by to say goodbye. They notified the Raptorans that they can be found in The Tuigan March region for the next year or so. The Ogres gave each character a masterwork lance and explained to them how they can use it to make a Spirit Banner once they are rich and powerful enough to do so.

Last, Batu arrived to visit with the Raptorans. He did not tell them where he could be found, but he did give each character a gift of 100 Shaar rings. Knowing that both Raptorans would shortly be werewolves, he also instructed one of his Half-Tuigan Hyena warriors, named Balud, to travel with them as mentor and protector. Balud then became their friend and companion for the duration of the adventure.

The party departed Shaarmid on 10 Mirtul, after lingering for about a Tenday since the fair. During the long trip, the Raptorans learned much about Gezerite social order and customs, though they refused numerous offers to convert to the religion of Dedeism. Both characters can now speak and write Gezerite. From Balud they also learned much more about the Shaaran tribes as they passed through each territory, and they were taught the history and geography of many landmarks of The Shaar. They again had the opportunity to capture many wild animals for sale. For the first time, they attempted to train some of them to increase their value, which failed.

On 14 Mirtul the party arrived at The Shaarwood where their friend Kanem and his ordu of Shaaran nomads was camped, gathering peppers for trade. The characters enjoyed his hospitality and invested some of their cash in the peppers. Kerri attempted to participate in Tent-Pegging but was shown up by the more experienced riders of both camps. They taught her the Ride-By Attack feat.

The party then traveled along The River Shaar as far as The Landrise near the ancient ruined city of Pelevaran. They crossed The Landrise on 16 Mirtul, discovering the Shaaran cliff burials along the way.

They then traveled east toward the old road between Hardcastle and Delzimmer, which they reached on 19 Mirtul. They traveled southeast along the abandoned road toward Dambrath, crossing the border after dark on 23 Mirtul. Here they met a Dambrathan Drow caravan master named Nazruddin, who hosted them for the night. The Raptorans sold their peppers for double their investment and then obtained Dambrathan pearls to sell in Gezer. They declined to play Chess or participate in contests with the Drow and their Arkaiun slaves, but they were forced to have a horse race after tempers flared between the two camps. Kerri again acted as jockey for Cross of Dede, Adam of Gezer’s Semphari, while Nazruddin rode a Dambraai named True Black, wagering a vial of Great Elixir on the race. Kerri won handily, and drank from the elixir with no beneficial result, leaving four more drinks. She also gained one free rank in Profession (Jockey).

After parting from the Drow the party traveled along the north side of The Toadsquat Mountains, crossing The Rift River at a ford near a ruined stone bridge that dates from the ancient kingdom of Eltabranar. On 28 Mirtul they arrived at The Toadsquat River, which they crossed by a rope bridge and continued up into the hills to the Gezerite monastery of Shabab. Here they were hosted by the abbot, Isaac of Gezer, and his monks and tenants, who include one of Adam of Gezer’s serfs, a brewer named Zenawi. The Raptorans learned about the brewing business but were unable to invest because they had not converted. They were able to sell their Monk’s Belt and obtain cash and equipment in return, including a Wand of Cure Light Wounds.

After leaving on 29 Mirtul the party traveled northeast until 2 Kythorn, when the Raptorans and Balud hunted a wyvern for its valuable poison, which the characters sold later.

On 5 Kythorn they arrived at Azulduth, where their friend Badr and her ordu of Tuigan nomads were already encamped, scraping salt for trade. The Raptorans invested in this as well.

After departing from the Tuigan, the party made a wide detour around southern Rurikan, passing through the border marches of Veldorn uneventfully, before reaching Gezer on 10 Kythorn.

The party sighted the church of Addis but quickly realized that it had been sacked by undead and all the Ge’ez and pilgrims there were now dead. Adam of Gezer immediately resolved to proceed north to his other towns to summon help and alert the Emperor Tewodros in the capital, Gondar. The Raptorans, Balud and a young Ge’ez cleric named Menes volunteered to remain behind to take care of the bodies and guard the church through the night, with the help of a powerful relic kept there, a Gezerite Cross.

That night the four volunteers were attacked by great numbers of undead, who included the corpses of Tuigan and Shaaran nomads and also Mulhorandi soldiers in both ancient and modern gear. The great variety of these undead suggested to the Raptorans that whoever raised them was doing so by using battlefields, not tombs. Most such battlefields nearby are in Rurikan, not Mulhorand. This makes it less likely that (as Rurik claims) they are simply wandering undead from Mishtan, the necropolis of Mulhorand, and more likely that (as the Emperor Tewodros argues) they are sent from Rurikan. The horde was led by a wight, a dead Mulhorandi who carried a locket with a woman’s picture. Adam of Gezer has agreed to look into this matter.

The party defeated the undead, interred them with their equipment according to Gezerite rituals, but gathered a great amount of coin from their corpses, all of which they gave to Menes. The young Ge’ez cleric will now be able to rise in standing within the church and considers the characters his friends.

At dawn the four were rescued by Adam of Gezer’s flying column, which detached some riders to guide them to the nearby town of Axum while the rest pursued the horde far south into Rurikan, where they destroyed them and erected a cairn as a warning to Rurik. The characters then rested and recuperated in the tiny church of Axum, a hamlet surrounded by coffee plantations, until 13 Kythorn when Adam of Gezer reappeared to give them the latest news.

The Emperor Tewodros has been told of their exploit and now considers them friends, though as unbelievers they will not be allowed to meet him or even visit the capital. Nor can they invest directly in Adam of Gezer’s plantations, though they will be able to purchase coffee beans in caravan quantities to bring with them on their travels. The characters were each given 1200 GP in Gezerite trade bars and a Calimite stallion each, bringing the number of stallions they own to three each. Finally, Adam of Gezer brought their profit from the salt, the pearls, and the animals.

The two Raptorans and Balud are now spending a few days recovering in the town of Axum, buying and selling with the many merchants who travel there for the coffee trade, and being visited by a steady stream of rich and poor Gezerite pilgrims who want to see the heroes. They have decided that their next campaign will involve a horse raid on the Drow ranchers in the border region of Dambrath.

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Raid on Dambrath (Solo Adventure)

Overview

Raid on Dambrath is a brief solo adventure designed for one or two PC’s of levels 5-7. In this adventure, the party has decided to steal valuable horses from an isolated ranch in the border marches of Dambrath. To do so they take a brief journey across The Shaar to the Gezerite monastery of Shabab, in The Toadsquat Mountains, where they are shown hidden paths through the mountains into The Luirwood. There they meet an ally who helps them strike at the unsuspecting ranchers with surprise, and escape again with rich treasure and some intriguing opportunities.

This adventure can be run as a continuation of the story from The Calimite and Surprise at Addis; as a direct sequel to The Calimite; or you can use it as a stand-alone. If you have run both previous adventures in The Tuigan Empire and are now going to run Raid on Dambrath as a sequel, then you are ready to play. Skip to the DM notes.

If this is your first adventure, it will be a short introduction to The Tuigan Empire, a Mongol-themed area of my own invention located inside the Forgotten Realms, and a way for the DM and players to test out some things (particularly the Horse Racing system) without the burden of a long story arc. The story is short, intended for a single one-day session. It contains some travel, lots of combat, and some racing and other contests where the character(s) can earn a little money. It is suggested that you and your DM should use The New Party Member Intro to get your character(s) to the starting point. You will have to omit references to previous events, and you may want to adjust the encounter toughness because the DM character Balud should not be present unless one of your characters is a lycanthrope.

Starting Character(s)

It is suggested that you play Raid on Dambrath with two characters run by the same player. Create two Forgotten Realms characters at level 5-7 with any home region (but bear in mind that your characters must not be native to The Tuigan Empire). Humans are suggested, but any race is acceptable; however, playing a Small character (such as a halfling) will make you unable to ride a full size horse, limiting your enjoyment of the adventure. One of your characters should be a fighter, but the other may be anything you wish. Alignment, religion, skills and feats may be anything you wish, but at least one character should have at least one rank in Ride. Your characters may begin with maximum possible starting hit points and maximum possible starting gold pieces according to their class. You may purchase any equipment you like, including items exclusive to the Forgotten Realms, but you should not begin with a mount. If one or both characters are magic users, your starting spells may be anything you wish, including spells specific to the Forgotten Realms. Magic items may be anything you wish.

The story begins in the year 1427 Dale-Reckoning with both your characters emerging in the town of Shaarmid. You may create a backstory for them if you so desire. This may be useful if you intend to keep them around as NPC’s in the campaign (where their past lives may become useful hooks if you or the DM should revisit them), but it is not required.

What Your Character(s) Might Know

If your character(s) have any ranks in an appropriate Knowledge skill (such as History, Geography, or Nobility/Royalty), or if you intend to do some research during your travel time in-game, then feel free to follow the links around the campaign wiki (beginning with those on this page!) to reflect the odds and ends your character picks up. There is a lot, so don’t go crazy with it. Also bear in mind that the campaign area is still in development, so some links do not yet work and some information may be incomplete.

As mentioned elsewhere, the campaign area was creating using extensive published material for the Forgotten Realms. For information on the campaign area circa 1384 DR and earlier (the cutoff year), the most helpful of these are the two core books for the 3rd edition Forgotten Realms, the Player’s Guide to Faerun and the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting. Other supplements which have been used extensively for material are The Shining South, The Unapproachable East, Lost Empires, Serpent Kingdoms, and Underdark, plus the 2nd edition campaign setting The Horde (though please note that The Horde is set in 1360 DR). In addition to these, several other Forgotten Realms products such as Races of Faerun, Magic of Faerun, Power of Faerun, Lords of Darkness, Faiths and Pantheons, Champions of Ruin and Champions of Valor contain material which touches on the campaign area in a way specific to the particular topic of each volume. Any or all of these works are available in PDF form from your DM, free for the asking, but none are required.

Now you are ready to play Raid on Dambrath!

The Curtain Rises

As we begin, your characters have just been paid off and decommissioned from mercenary service for the Dwarves of The Great Rift. You left your homes a long time ago (at least, it seems that long) to enlist with the local branch of the Great Rift Department of Reclamation, Office of Contractor Relations, which stamped your paperwork, gave you your tags, and sent you through a portal to your bustling muster inside the Dwarven metropolis of The Great Rift. For months now, you’ve been tramping around the Underdark with your unit, pursuing Drow and other creepy crawlies best left unmentioned. You consider yourself a hardened veteran. Now they’ve given you your papers, your back wages, and a handshake, and you walk up a long ramp into very bright sunlight, heat and dust.

They tell you this town is called Shaarmid, in the middle of a giant baking grassland called The Shaar. Apparently this place is some kind of trade-meet, and it seems like they’ve just had a fair. Surrounded by a low, squat wall from which hundreds of pennants are flying, the mud-brick buildings of the city are nonetheless festively painted. There are colorful, strange people everywhere, buying and selling and packing up to go back wherever they came from. It’s pretty clear that you had better find some transportation soon if you intend to get out of here, since it looks like Shaarmid will be a ghost town within a day or two.

Fortunately, a particularly exotic person takes an interest in you as you wander the tents pitched on the plain outside town. This individual, who introduces himself as Menes, is some sort of a cleric, though of a god you’ve never heard of. As a cynical warrior with the dust of battle still clinging to your boots, you don’t pay much attention to his stories of a strange man called Tariq Dede who was executed and rose from the dead thousands of years ago in far-off Mulhorand. You are more interested in the flask of honey wine he gladly shares, which is excellent, and the helpful way he offers to carry your pack for you. The strange little man is brown as coffee, with fine, chiseled features and a fuzzy halo of woolly hair. His priestly robes are trimmed in green, black, and yellow and his holy symbol is a four-pointed cross with a hole pierced through the middle. His manner is soft and kind, but his eyes are sharp. His strangely accented Common sounds like what you think heiroglyphs carved on a temple would sound like if they made a noise, and he smells of dust and spices.

You and Menes make your way through the bustle of traders breaking camp until you reach the ornate pavilion tents of a very wealthy man and his large entourage. Whoever this is, he has had very good luck here. His men are the same color as Menes, but taller and thicker. They are taking down their large, brightly colored tents, removing the gold and silver decorations, the silk hangings and the expensive carpets, strapping on bright steel breastplates and preparing their beasts for departure. Their horses, which are numerous, are handsome Calimites, and they also have hounds, war elephants, even tame cheetahs! A few more robed clerics, who look quite a bit more senior than your new friend, are supervising everything from the edges of the chaos, when out of the center of the bustle walks the man Menes has brought you to see. Adam of Gezer is tall, dark, handsome and well-built, with a shaven skull and a noble face. You are taking a professional interest in the enormous greatsword strapped across his back while Menes introduces him as Knight of Dede (Peace Be Upon Him), Lord of Nazret and Axum, Protector of Addis, and so forth.

The gist of it is that this man is a wealthy noble and merchant lord of a far-off nation, who has come to Shaarmid to participate in the world-famous horse races held here each year. This year, he has actually won the purse, and now prepares to return to his homeland by a long journey east across The Shaar. When Menes has satisfied Adam of Gezer of your bona fides, both men warmly invite you to accompany them with genuine interest.

What the hell. It sounds like a relaxing trip, and you’ve got nowhere to be. Besides, you can smell coffee brewing in the camp, and your mouth is watering. You’d better get your stuff packed on one of the horses and then go find a good cuppa.

Getting to the Starting Line (For the DM)

At this point your party will be accompanying the Gezerite travelers as far as the monastery of Shabab, in The Toadsquat Mountains, where an appropriate NPC or DM character will suggest the idea of parting ways with them in order to launch a raid on Dambrath to rustle some of the valuable Dambraai racehorses raised on the isolated ranches in that region.

The DM notes for Surprise at Addis contain a detailed journey from Shaarmid to Shabab, which you can use with appropriate changes (such as removing NPC’s your party hasn’t met, like Batu and the Ogres). You can also have your party travel there with a group of Tuigan instead of a Gezerite group. The DM notes for The Calimite contain a long journey with a Tuigan ordu; simply lift the sections that describe their culture and camp life and use these instead of the Gezerite information from Surprise at Addis. I do not suggest having your party travel anywhere alone, because you miss the chance to have a guide introduce them to a new culture and unfamiliar landmarks.

Once the party has arrived at Shabab, you are ready to pick up with the DM notes for Raid on Dambrath.

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Lavinia's Diary: Where Next?

Dear Diary, you and i are going to be good friends. So I’ll start with my past. I lived in a coastal city in the East Wai Provence of Shou Lung. I was high up in the small lonely mountain range just west of town. I had decided to do a cleansing of my spirit and talk with the ancient spirits of my family. During a short break (a girl has to eat) I watched as the Tsunami waves come in from the sea and destroy everything! Killing everyone. Following this nightmare i spent weeks up in the mountain fasting (wasn’t really hungry anyway) crying myself to sleep at night. I was tired. I had lost everything and everyone! My clan was the largest and most powerful family in the Provence. I was ready to die when i had a vision. A Great Grandfather from long ago appeared to me and told me to take a ship and go south. Get off where you want to when it feels right and find my destiny.

This at first scarred the crap out of me. LEAVE HOME!?? To the south are the Tuigan BARBARIANS! What could barbarians possibly teach me? My destiny is to live with and become a barbarian? This can’t be right! I stayed in the mountain for 2 more weeks, thinking through what Great Grandfather had said. Maybe it is not that I’m to become a barbarian but to teach the barbarians to be civilized? Show them the true way to live. Great Grandfather would not lead me astray. His Wisdom is not to be tossed aside like some used blanket so easily. Still ….. ?

I decided to go north to the Capital city of the Provence to find a ship for transport to the south. None of the ship captains i talked with would go anywhere near the barbarians. They told me i was mad to think such things. Then i came across a barbarian trader who was being forced to leave port. He had come to trade but had stayed too long for the Government to put up with. A BARBARIAN ship! Filled with BARBARIANS! Oh god!

Ship life was a mix of amazing sights and a living hell! I saw things i had not seen before except in drawings. The ship stopped at many ports and i got off at each one to look around. All were filled with nasty, foul BARBARIANS? Today is a major city called Beluir. It is filled with Halflings like myself! Amazing! Just Barbarian hallflings. In town there was talk everywhere of horse rustlers. They had stolen hundreds, no, thousands of horses and had fled to the barbarian lands to the north. Something that had not happened in a very, very long time. There seemed to be conflicts about this single action. Some said they were horse thieves and should be hung. Most talked about it being a bold action reminiscent of the early Khans (in ages past? and what is a Khan?). With this many halflings it seemed right to get off the ship in Beluir. Finding these thieves also felt right (with the wind whipping through the city i could almost hear Great Grandfather talking to me, urging me on). To get out of the city to find these “thieves?” I bought a horse (and a fine Pony he is too) and headed north. I was 2 1/2 days outside of the city when i ran into trouble. Some heavily armored human on a big horse (i learned later it was called a Dambraai). I cast Haste on myself and my new Pony. Then a couple of Summon Monster 3 to slow him down while we ran away. We fled north into the woods (called Luiren). Here we came across a Halfling Druid Marchwarden of Nola Treesong. After 2 days of rest and conversation with the Druid it was suggested that we seek out the New Khan of the area, Stedd. A WINGED HUMAN?? How could this be? Not the typical BARBARIAN I had been told about all my life. Again, what is a Khan?

There are 2 WINGED HUMAN BARBARIANS!! Brother and sister. Looking for their long lost clan. We spent the day and well into the night talking. The next morning while staring at the Toadsquat Mountains, there was this little wisp of cloud, all alone, rise up into the mountain. And just for a brief moment i could swear i saw the face of Great Grandfather in the cloud smiling down on me.

This was the place. HOME!

Within the Ordu:

There is now a great debate. The benefits of Teriq Dede, Sheela Peryroyl, Teylas (or Etugen), and Chung Tao.

Each day i preach the benefits of Chung Tao (The Way). So far i don’t seem to be making any headway with the Monk (he is steadfastly Teriq Dede), but he is listening at least (though i think he is just being polite). The Druids (Sheela Peryroyl), are also being kind in listening but they can’t seem to see. The Tuigan and Arkaiun are also listening. Being more nomadic then the others they are listening a little more then the others. I think I’m converting them, little by little. This may take some time but i may yet succeed.

As for the Khans sister, she also is listening (interesting lady), yet i don’t see myself converting her anytime soon. But, i have time.

As for the Khan, he is listening more then the others and is even asking questions (a Barbarian with questions!). I spends most of my time with him. Perhaps in time he will come around to see the benefits of Chung Tao. I cannot give up. He could be my first BARBARIAN convert to being civilized! I will prove to my ancestors (and myself) that this is the right path. This is “The Way”.

Life here is harder then it was back home. So much work to do! My family clan had servants to do all this work. This is hard work, but i will prove to the others that i can do it. And my skills in Magic and Alchemy are unrivaled here in this “Clan”. There is a feeling of being wanted and needed (even if they are not listening to the teachings of Chung Tao, … Yet!)

Some day in the future i will go high up into the Toadsquat Mountains and talk with the ancient spirits of my old family. I will make them proud of me.

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Lavinia's Diary: Work, Work and Still More Work

Work, work and still more work:

My new Khan is going to have us all go east into the woods of Lluirwood. Trigaki and Ursa have said it is infested with “monsters”. They make these “monsters” sound worse then Barbarians, we will see. He wants us to split up into groups, squads he calls them, and hunt one down using this new “battle language” he and the barbarian Balud are working on. He says we need the practice. It is a strange thing this “battle language”. It is full of hand gestures and bird calls. Each one means a different thing and seems dependent on where you are and where you want you or others to go. Balud teaches us the hand gestures while Trigaki and Ursa teach us these bird calls. Trigaki and Ursa say I’m a natural, whatever that is. While Balud tells me i have 10 thumbs (stupid barbarian, what does he know). The entire experience has me on tippy toes waiting for something to jump out and bite me. I can hear my own heart beating. I must be the loudest thing out here!

I hear a bird call. This tells me someone about 150 feet at about 10 o’clock (clock?) has found something. Our squad moves up to assist. It’s just a spider, BUT IT’S THE SIZE OF A YURT!! Of course being I’m only 3 feet tall it sure looks like the size of a Yurt. I quickly move to where my spell will affect the most of us, and cast HASTE. Let’s see that stupid spider handle that! Then i blast it with my Magic Missles. Just when i think it will never, ever die, Tennai and his squad show up and Tennai leaps up onto it’s back and pounds the crap out of it, literally. Tennai is our HERO! He killed the stupid spider! We are all whooping it up, making lots of noise, when party pooper Barbarian Balud shows up and tells us to quite down. There may be more of them. MORE OF THEM? We all quickly head back to camp where there will be a “BBQ Party”? tonight to celebrate. Tennai is our Hero. I could learn to like these “BBQ Parties”! Please God, tell me I’m not turning into a Barbarian!?

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Lavinia's Diary: A Test

It was decided it was time to go out hunting. Nothing big should be taken. They don’t want to thin out the woods of all the good game, so these hunts are done sparingly. I volunteer to help, maybe my magic may be beneficial. They don’t seem impressed, they say they have done this for years without such help, but still i can come. Maybe “I” will learn something!? I’ll show them something!

Once again we are to use this new “battle language”. I hear the bird call that tells me where to go. When i get there, there are 3 large “dogs” and this poor little pig, squealing and grunting. We did not leave with any dogs, so i shot one of the dogs with my magic missile. You would have thought the sky was falling. I was yelled at and scolded not to do that again. The “dogs” were with us. They were after the hairy little pig with the big teeth.

Dear God, the “dogs” turned into people right in front of my eyes! It’s explained that they are Werewolves! MONSTERS!? Not only that but close to half the camp are these Monsters. Not just Barbarians, but Monster Barbarians. Worse, my new clan leader (they call him Khan here) is also a Barbarian Monster. And so is his Sister!

Dear God, what do i do now. I returned back to camp with the others in silence. I didn’t listen or talk with anyone the whole time.

Dear God, what do i do now???

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Lavinia's Diary: The Bad Time

I’ve kept to myself for what seems like weeks now. The others have not bothered me. I’ve not been asked or called to do anything. Perhaps they are hoping i will leave?

I overheard them talking. About how outsiders don’t understand them. That being a werewolf is an honored existence dating back hundreds of years. That they had overcome the mad days of when they would turn into rampaging mindless monsters. Now they see the “affliction” as a blessing. It gives them a strength that others can’t understand. That there are hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of them in the land of the Barbarians.

I dared not approach the Khan about his being a Monster, let alone a barbarian. His sister might be a good choice, but decided against this also. So i went to Tennai to talk about “werewolves”. He explained a lot. Most of which I’m sure is not the total truth. The truth is a 3 edged sword. There is my truth, your truth and the truth. I took what Tennai told me (his truth) and went to Trigaki and Ursa to get their truth.

It’s been decided! I’m going to convert all of them (werewolves) to see the benefits of Chung Tao. I’m going to double my efforts with the Khan. I’m going to save his sole, and that of the others, or die trying. Failure at this is no longer an option. I must succeed, i will succeed!

May Chung Tao and my belief that Great Grandfather knew about this already, and give me strength. I will make them both proud of me!!

Time to get started.

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Lavinia's Diary: Shopping

I’m told the Khan, his sister and the barbarian Balud are going to Semphar to do some trading. I leap at the chance to go along (i practically invited myself). I’d give my left leg for some silk! The stuff these barbarians wear ITCHES! It’s giving me a rash and driving me MAD! I know from home that Semphar is one of the few locations where trade between us and the barbarians is allowed to take place. I may even find some REAL SHOES! I’m told it is far away and will take weeks to get there and back, and may be dangerous. I’m not listening! All i see is SILK and some trinkets from home. GOD, this is going to be Sooooo Good! Besides, my handsome, beautiful Pony will save me from these dangers. I’m one lucky girl to have found him. (thank you Grandfather) I need to give him a name. Will have to work on that.

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