I'm a long time DM with my group and have the position to be the backup-dm of the group for a while. This means I have the opportunity to DM single sessions which have to be fun and a meaning. I started with the Against the Giants modules where the city of Hochoch played a mayor role. The party ended being level 14 and have looted and slain the Fire, Frost and Hill Giants, effectively liberating Geoff. A Gran March commander Sir Horice Amstide and the Duke of Geoff fighted by politics and ultimately cooperate to liberate entire Geoff now the mayor Giant outposts were slain by the PCs. Also the Drow treat by Eclavdra was dismissed as she was almost slain and fled. The PCs decided not to take part in it anymore but chase one of the PCs who left their group.
And he didn't leave for nothing though. The PCs freed a dwarven prisoner from the halls of King Snurre. Not knowing this was the infamous Obmi. Back in Hochoch this dwarf offered one the PCs (Roonwicket, a gnome necromancer with evil tendencies) great power if he would join him to leave by a teleport spell. This great power attracted Roonwicket so much he left with Obmi, not really knowing who he was.
In a remote place near the Rift Canyon Obmi, Eclavdra (!) and Roonwicket gathered and decided to hunt for one the Suss Theorparts, which is said to be found in the Forgotten City in the Sea of Dust.
As the brother of Roonwicket, Roondar is still a partymember the group has great interest to track the group. Divination learned them some of the goals of this new-found group of evil (N)PC's. They decided to track them and went through Slerotins passage to the Sea of Dust.
I'm fleshing out the SoD as long lost persian empire where very small tribes survive by looking for water. I made up special rules for divine casters (chance that their gods can't reach them causing spell failure) and arcane casters (risk of becoming defilers which I borrowed form Dark Sun setting).
Furthermore I introduced mayor arcane strange-beings as sand where you can swim in and dive for long lost ruins of Suel cities.
During the first session (last sunday) in the SoD) the group met two nomads who are leading them to the Null Obelisk (the adventure as found online). I have no clue what and how the enemy (Obmi, Eclavdra and Roonwicket) is doing except they are looking for the Suss Theorparts.
Besided messing up Greyhawk canon (oops) I want a little bit too much right now and need your help. Any ideas to throw in are very welcome.
And yes, flying ships who look for slaves for the unknow empires west of the Sea of Dust would be v-e-r-y neat. :)
...The PCs freed a dwarven prisoner from the halls of King Snurre. Not knowing this was the infamous Obmi. Back in Hochoch this dwarf offered one the PCs (Roonwicket, a gnome necromancer with evil tendencies) great power if he would join him to leave by a teleport spell. This great power attracted Roonwicket so much he left with Obmi, not really knowing who he was.
In a remote place near the Rift Canyon Obmi, Eclavdra (!) and Roonwicket gathered and decided to hunt for one the Suss Theorparts, which is said to be found in the Forgotten City in the Sea of Dust...
-Was Obmi in the original? Is that his canonical origin? I though he came from EGG's book (the 2nd one, whose title I forget...)
...As the brother of Roonwicket, Roondar is still a partymember the group has great interest to track the group. Divination learned them some of the goals of this new-found group of evil (N)PC's. They decided to track them and went through Slerotins passage to the Sea of Dust...
-How aware is Roondar of Roonwicket's alignment? He isn't suspicious of his motives?
...Furthermore I introduced mayor arcane strange-beings as sand where you can swim in and dive for long lost ruins of Suel cities...
-That's in line with the Sea of Dust write-up in Greyhawk Adventures, IIRC.
...Besided messing up Greyhawk canon (oops) ...
-I don't see very much that is out of canon, other than the Athas-style defilers, and they seem to be restricted to the Sea of Dust. You could make them more "official" if you wrote it as a prestige class.
Last edited by jamesdglick on Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:55 am; edited 1 time in total
-Was Obmi in the original? Is that his canonical origin? I though he came from EGG's book (the 2nd one, whose title I forget...)
Yes, Obmi was an advisor to the Fire Giants in the original G1-3, Against the Giants modules. EGG wrote him into the Gord stories as an agent of Iuz. I have no idea how he transitioned from the giants to Iuz, though.
Your ideas sound very interesting. Here are some suggestions.
If you can get your hands on a copy of B4, The Lost City, it has an extensive lost civilization briefly described mapped in its appendix. The adventure itself if for levels 1-4, but the lost civilization is left for each DM to develop as s/he wishes. This may offer a good base from which to begin to create such an adventure locale for your higher level players.
The Derro are supposed to have originated as an experiment by the Ancient Suloise empire. Dwarves were crossbred with humans in an attempt to create the perfect slave. Derro were the result and many survived the Rain of Colorless Fire, so they are likely to be found in surviving ruins and other locales beneath the Sea of Dust.
...Yes, Obmi was an advisor to the Fire Giants in the original G1-3, Against the Giants modules. EGG wrote him into the Gord stories as an agent of Iuz. I have no idea how he transitioned from the giants to Iuz, though...
-On another thread, someone (who?) pstulated that Iuz had a hand in the Giant's operations, and pointed out his connection to the Drow. That would confirm it.
Dun dun, dah!
...The Derro are supposed to have originated as an experiment by the Ancient Suloise empire. Dwarves were crossbred with humans in an attempt to create the perfect slave. Derro were the result and many survived the Rain of Colorless Fire, so they are likely to be found in surviving ruins and other locales beneath the Sea of Dust.
-One of the later, high-numbered (300+?) Dragon issues has an article (by Roger Moore?) purporting to be a letter from Elaine Mystica to Mordenkainen which includes some notes on how the Suel were responsible for the creation of the Derro, the Jermaline and Doppelgangers (and the Lerara).
Cool stuff sofar. I'll check out the Lost City module. I even reminder having reading it.
I thougth I messed up canon due to the fact I let Eclavdra and Obmi (indeed, an advisor of King Snurre acting as a prisoner who had to translate letters and books for King Snurre during 25 years, the poor boy Obmi.... haha) travel together, bot sure that would be canon at all. This was inpired by the EGG novel Sea of Dust. Athas / Dark sun was a great inspiration too, I think the defilers match really well with the Sea of Dust. The mere fact our arcane PCs are terrified about each spell they cast is great fun (and is even balancing the power of PCs in our 3.5 game a bit).
Thanks for the information about the Derro. Crossbred makes sense to me. I definately include them.
Regarding the PCs: Roondar knows Roonwicket is part of an evil plan to retrieve a very powerfull item. Roondar even knows Roonwicket will use it to increase his own powers dramatically. At this moment Roonwicket will not help Iuz or another evil god. He wants to become the evil (demi)god himself! More than enough motivation to stop him at this moment. Roonwicket being a wizard also means he was the strongest partymember. The others fear a battle with him and his new 'friends'.
A problem which occured too last setting was the lack of appropriate monsters. Of course the sea of dust is full of vermin and carnivouros plants. But nothing to match lvl 14 players imo. Any suggestions on monsters. I like using non-WotC stuff (e.g. Tome of Horrors) to surprise my group.
Furthermore I'm thinking of introducing an assassination group of Scarlet Brotherhood badasses. They would be the enemy of both the PCs and their enemy, Roonwicket and the gang. Makes it interesting for roleplaying.
Ow, and anyone who has ideas about flying ships please jump in.
...A problem which occured too last setting was the lack of appropriate monsters. Of course the sea of dust is full of vermin and carnivouros plants. But nothing to match lvl 14 players imo. Any suggestions on monsters. I like using non-WotC stuff (e.g. Tome of Horrors) to surprise my group...
...EDIT: That Fiend Folio [AD&D 2] had a lot of other stuff that was Sea of Dust useful, including a giant boring worm-crittter (it's listed in the WOG Glossography encounter tables for the Sea of Dust), plus humanoid-like reptile men (whose name also eludes me- fire something or other). I think they had a tiny breath attack...
...I don't know what EL the worms are, but they'd have to be over EL 5. Maybe the PCs could run into a colony.
...Furthermore I'm thinking of introducing an assassination group of Scarlet Brotherhood badasses. They would be the enemy of both the PCs and their enemy, Roonwicket and the gang. Makes it interesting for roleplaying...
-Who do they want to assassinate? You could just make them a rival looting expedition looking for artifacts.
I wrote a bit about the Lo Nakar, The Last (or Lost) City of the Suel, a while ago. There's an overview of it here on Canonfire (search for Lo Nakar). It might be something you could use to muddy the waters a little bit, or steal some pieces out of.
Regarding the Scarlet Bortherhood assassination: In my view the Brorhers and Sisters regard them as the living forthcoming of the Suel Empire. Other humanoid races are lesser in their opinion and do not deserve to delve into the old Suel treasure an magic. Why would they allow to let the PCs or the Roonwicket group find powerful magic items? It can only weaken the position of the Scarlet Brotherhood imo.
I have read the Gord books in which he delves into the Sea of Dust, seeking the artifact buried inside the ruins hidden within that inhospitable desert. Are you wishing to recapture the events for your PCs in that adventure?
I am not all that familiar with the Sea of Dust beyond that which is written down in the original ('83) boxed set and the entry in Living Greyhawk Gazeteer. Are you still interested in placing one of the Artifacts of Evil (Tharizdun) in the ruins of your campaign? Or do you want something different? Perhaps all of this is actually merely a rumor...and nothing more than a wild goose chase in the end! How about that?!
Some things about the Sea of Dust and desert ecologies first and foremost come to mind. This is the scientist in me speaking, and my total love for wilderness adventures. Make AVID use of the Wilderness Survival Guide at all costs, if you have it. Perhaps the BIGGEST challenge, and potential killer, for your characters should be the desert itself! This should test the mettle, resourcefulness, and abilities of even the highest lvl party. Here are some ideas to consider:
1) Temperatures bake you during the day, freeze you at night. Without humidity and cloud cover to help buffer the fluctuations, your party should face extremes. Anyone in armor, even studded, will perish in hours from soaring internal temperatures during the day unless protective magic (Resist Heat, etc) is used. Check out the table in the WSG mentioned above how this affects PCs. At night, all that daytime heat escapes, leaving your PCs shivering. Also bear in mind that there will be few to no combustibles for them to make fire from the surrounding environment.
2) Water water water...where is it?! A cleric's ability to create it (with appropriate Sphere access) will be paramount to survival. If they have mounts, those animals will require it too. The avg human can survive ONLY 3 days without water before dying. That oasis those characters see in the distance is likely to be a cruel mirage!
3) The sun is likely to blind them, even if they don't look skyward. Reflecting off the sand, the rays may dazzle their eyes, or have prolonged effects that hinders their sight. Furthermore, there's the distinctive likelihood that, without protection (clothing or magic), they will develop severe sunburn. OUCH!
4) Shelter. Depending on location, they might only have dunes of sand. In others, perhaps some rocks, or a gully, or, if you are nice, a small oasis.
5) Travel methods? Magic? Camel? Foot? Rates of movement are greatly diminished in a desert. Imagine walking for miles on end across a vast, seemingly endless expanse of sand...
6) Food. As with water, this will pose a great problem. Any rations they bring will dry out, unless already dried, in which case they will need more water to digest them! Good luck hunting. Large game is rare in a desert. I hope they either are willing to eat small critters, or have a cleric present who can Create Food and Water.
7) Weather conditions: besides the wild fluctuations in day/night temperatures, there is the possibility of potentially dangerous sand storms swallowing the party. Ever see live footage of some of these storms in the Middle East (or the rare ones in the SW USA)? Spectacular, huge, and awesome! They blanket vast expanses of area, threatening vision, equipment, and maybe choking the characters to death.
8) The denizens of the desert...I'll get to that in my next posting...
So, as you can see, Sander-Kaa, the desert itself should pose one of the greatest risks to the party, no matter the level. The drain on their magical resources will be hefty, merely to survive! Play up the lethality of the Sea of Dust and the very distinct possibility of death.
Denizens of the desert pose added risk to your adventuring party. Granted, due to the inhospitable conditions and low fertility of desert environs, random encounters with the native wildlife/monsters should be rather rare (except in areas like an oasis where water is present and meager plantlife). Furthermore, most critters, in order to avoid the merciless heat and baking sunlight, will likely turn to nocturnal hours to be on the prowl. During the day, they hide, if possible, whether in burrows or under the sand, or whatever shelter they can find. It's a good bet that if you party stumbles on one of these areas, they are bound to find something occupying it! And likely it won't wanna share.
Arthropods and reptiles are the most abundant type of (normal, or giant-sized) animals your adventurers are likely to encounter. Spiders, centipedes, scorpions, solifugids (what we call 'camel' or 'sun' spiders), insects (wasps, ants, grasshoppers), lizards, snakes, tortoises. However, small mammals (mainly rodents) and birds can also be found, though typically not to the extent of the others. Large game (camels, gazelles, oryx, wild asses) is rare and always on the move for what little water and forage can be located. Almost all desert critters are light-colored to blend in with the surroundings and to reflect as much sunlight as possible.
And then there are the 'monstrous' inhabitants. Excluding the giant-sized varieties of the mundane critters aside, you have the following: desert trolls, sphynxes, lamias, a handful of very rugged humanoids, maybe a desert giant, death dogs, a possible dragonne, griffons or hippogriffs, thunderherders (smaller versions of the purple worm that travel in burrowing groups!), hell hounds, various rare undead, and, yes, a dragon (blue, most likely). If your party is lucky, maybe they will encounter 'friendly' things like a shedu, lammasu, or androsphynx. Keep in mind you also have wandering nomads, like Bedouins (sp?).
Campaign plot idea for your 'ruins' next...
Hope this helps,
Last edited by Lanthorn on Sat Aug 04, 2012 8:54 pm; edited 1 time in total
I recall that the yellow dragon was a desert-dwelling dragon, but I don't remember the sourcebook it was in. Might have been a Dragon Magazine, even (the one with the Steel and Grey Dragons, maybe?).
Yellow drakes are found in the Monstrous Manual at the very least. Not sure about what other tomes, but surely notFiend Folio or Monster Manual 2. They are 'recent' additions, but I am not sure where they were first introduced. Brown dragons also prefer the desert environment as well.
Red dragons are another option, though less commonly found in deserts as blues. For a "Goodly" option one may encounter brass varieties.
-Lanthorn, Desert Ecologist
FYI: Sander_Kaa, both the 1983 boxed set and From the Ashes have encounter tables of the various creatures your party may face. Let me know if you need that information.
You don't need flying ships. Why not sand runners sort of a mad max in the Sea of Dust. I think Athas had such vessels propelled by wind which caught their sails. They could encounter a strange being with a large hump back that stores fat and water for him and maybe there are other people like him. Sand goblins or lizardmen can also be possible encounters.
Lanthorn covered the desert and its environment itself.
You might have them enter a window like opening in a tower which has slowly sunk into the sand itself. The tower leads downward and during the day the heat travels well though the lower one goes especially at night its walls and the tunnels it leads to can be frigid. Could be undead, lerara, or derro present there.
I'm not sure but one could check it out though most of its content was geared towards an FR campaign.
AAAAAHHHHH!!!!! The enemy....
Argon, you are likely correct about yellow dragons in the Draconomicon. Sounds accurate. Monstrous Manual has all manner of dragons in it beyond the 'traditional' chromatics and metallic variations. Honestly, I don't use them (or haven't) beyond the Greyhawk dragon (known as the steel dragon in the aforementioned book), but wouldn't mind tossing out a shadow dragon for fun (first revealed in MM 2).
Though I believe the first appearance of crystal dragons was in dragon magazine. I remember the brown dragon as well Sir Xaris. Though I to forget wheter or not it was mountains and deserts or one of the two.
Hhhhmmmm...in reading my various descriptions of the Sea of Dust, I am now under the impression that it is less a desert of sand and more a desert (wasteland, really) of ash (and dust).
This adds a whole new set of environmental complexities and dangers to an adventuring group stupid, brave, reckless, or prepared (?!) enough to venture into this place.
Descriptions also mention choking clouds of noxious gases and falling ash from the (not-so, depending on your location) distant volcanoes found in the Hellfurnaces.
Sand is bad enough, Sander_Kaa (remember Anakin Skywalker complaining about how sand gets everywhere?), but fine dust and ash is perhaps worse. I have seen the devastation wrought by Mt St Helens (I live an hour south of it) DECADES after the fact! I was not here when 'she' blew her top, but I have seen the footage of it. Absolutely catastrophic, Nature truly unleashed, and the St Helens eruption wasn't nearly as bad as some other cataclysmic eruptions.
My point is that you will have more 'fun' to toss at your players beyond the traditional desert, if you follow the description of the Sea of Dust as it is written (similar in at least three books). Characters may now need to contest with ashfall clouds and foul (potentially damaging) vapors, both of which can wreck havoc on the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. The damage to their equipment could be a nuisance at best, a total loss at worst. Any wind or movement could exacerbate the problem by stirring up loose debris, causing visual impairment as well as making breathing (without something acting as a filter) difficult or even dangerous (most ash has tiny bits of silica...glass, basically...in it).
Finally, this almost surely will alter/remove some of the creatures on my previous list that the party will encounter, and might further diminish the chance of an encounter in the first place! I know that the Sea of Dust tables also mentions dune stalkers and fire newts as well as a smaller, half-sized version of the bulette, in addition to other critters.
I feel sorry for your PCs, and I don't even know them...
If the Sea of Dust environment doesn't challenge your party, high lvl or not, then nothing will. Don't diminish the difficulty. Make them endure it, if they can. It sounds more like a place of the Lower Planes (like Gehenna) than the Prime Material, in fact! Part of me keeps picturing that scene in "Return of the King" when Frodo and Samwise are entering through Mordor (too much rock, so perhaps that is more like the Hellfurnaces, but I think you get the gist).
Lanthorn has just given your party a name. The dust busters!
Many good points smoke is likely long gone but who knows what type of lingering magical effects let alone the long term affects of breathing in the dust and ash from the area. Some new afflictions like dust lung affects one breathing and they need to take more breaks in between travel (in effect causes them to fatigue at twice the normal rate). Skin rust causes ones skin to be chaffed and ashen affecting ones charisma and constitution scores negatively. Gray sight prolonged exposure affects the way one vision dictates light and this affects how one sees colors. Afflicted individuals see in a greyscale only unable to differentiate colors at all. Even infravison is effected in stead of heat signatures different shades of gray from lighter to darker are revealed, in some cases its akin to being blinded at times.
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