Of Sand & Dreams

I love our version of Christmas. My husband and I stay home and relax. We do pretty much one thing that’s special–we set aside all chores and just enjoy ourselves. Whether we want to watch movies or TV, play Warcraft, work on a project, read, or roleplay, that’s what we do–all day. It’s so incredibly relaxing. This morning we hung out with a friend of ours in Warcraft for a while, and then I played solo for a while while my husband works on his campaign. Now I think I’m going to do a little work on my campaign. Because of how I work, it’s often easiest for me to just talk about the plotline and such in a very conversational manner, so blogging about it seems perfect. (Husband of mine, once again, this is your cue to go read something else now. 😉

A long time ago I posted some world-material I’d generated to the rpg section of the site, called Sand & Dreams. I’m going to co-opt some of that material into this campaign eventually (in the very-long-term plot arc).

The first post in this series was Of Illness and Undeath. Here’s a little summary of the basic plotline spawned in that post, with a little refinement settled on in the meantime:

  • The party leader is a ranger on a mission to recreate an ancient and powerful amulet that will help to defeat a growing threat from the undead. The amulet was an artifact of Aurifar, a solar deity, and had been broken and scattered by a necromancer/thief who lacked the power to destroy it. The necromancer wasn’t all that high-level, and wasn’t evil–although the party knows neither of these details.
  • Aurifar has given this undertaking his blessing, and at least two of the party members follow him. He has his own reasons for supporting this, however, that only partially have to do with defeating the undead menace.
  • This continent was settled within the last 100 years, at least by the party’s people. All but the edges of the continent are desert, and so far the newcomers have largely stayed out of the desert. They settled in an empty city built into some cliffs, but they have no idea what happened to the inhabitants of that city.
  • The necromancer died or vanished shortly after spending the night in a small underground hideaway. He left a few things there assuming he’d be back to get them–one was a map of the continent with various things marked on it. This is not a map of the artifact piece locations, but rather a map of notable locations, many of which he tended to visit–which means it will help to lead the party to the amulet pieces. Some may be in or near marked locations, while other locations may lead them to pieces through strange and roundabout means. This hideaway was the first location explored by the party. It was not protected as well as the necromancer’s other locations since he had expected to return shortly.

Much of the material from the “Sandstorm” supplement–including new races and such–will find its way into this campaign over time. Since the party’s people have yet to explore the desert (it’s rightly believed to be quite dangerous), they haven’t yet encountered these mysteries. One night while the party camped outside the necromancer’s waystation they did see movement and a red glow beneath the sands, but they weren’t able to determine what it was. This was an Asherati checking out the party and attempting to determine why they were skirting the edge of the desert, coming closer to Asherati territory than most humans do.

Level-appropriateness

Because Aurifar’s power is greater in the blasted sands of the desert, the necromancer, Corria, poured more of his power into protecting those amulet pieces that lie within the desert’s boundaries. Similarly, since the party has reason to believe the desert to be dangerous (they serve a solar deity, after all, and a solar deity within the realm of the desert is a fearsome thing indeed), they’ll start with the map locations along the edges of the continent. This provides a handy means to steer them toward level-appropriate challenges.

History

Humans did occupy this continent once before–and still do, although those that remain are barbarian tribes that occupy the wastes. Those that occupied the city and other structures served the local deities, Aurifar among them. Aurifar does not care greatly for humans, however. They are useful tools, but he has other concerns. His favored children include several races from the Elemental Plane of Fire. Long ago he helped his favored children trick his human followers into opening up portals to the Elemental Plane of Fire so that his children could invade. The servants of one or two other gods did their best to oppose him, including those who worship Tem-Et-Nu, the goddess of rivers, and Afflux, the Unsatisfied Questioner. (From “Sandstorm” and “Libris Mortis,” respectively).

Those followers, one of whom was Corria, were able to stop the invasion by stealing and then breaking apart the amulet; in the process, however, the war between the gods’ factions (as well as the extraplanar entities) killed off most of the humans on the continent and left their cities unoccupied or in ruins. When humans from another continent came to this one to settle, Aurifar seized upon them before the other gods could (he is yet one of the most powerful deities in this land despite the defeat of his followers). He took them as his followers by aiding them in finding the city as well as fertile land and water. They also found that on this continent they could not establish contact with their own old deities–clerics’ powers fell silent. Those few people who still have any truck with the old lands (where the ranger received her training, and where the undead threat looms) find that they can still contact their own deities from those lands, but to those deities the new continent is as a void.

A few thoughts on the party

The mage is somehow associated with Afflux’s followers and has come to keep an eye on the efforts to retrieve the amulet. His mother is a priestess of Afflux, one of a few remaining members of the order that opposed Aurifar and seized the amulet. This order believes that the undead threat that looms is large enough that the amulet is needed, so his job is to help the party retrieve it with what few tidbits of knowledge the order possesses regarding the location of the pieces. However, he’s also there to make sure that it gets used for no other purpose, and is neutralized again (preferably returned to the order) when its use is done.

The priestess of Aurifar has only the best of intentions and has a personal loyalty to the ranger (who once saved her life), but will get swept up in Aurifar’s schemes as the plot progresses. I haven’t yet decided where that will take her.

As for the rogue, I don’t yet know what I’m going to do with him, and probably won’t decide for a while yet. I have a feeling a purpose will reveal itself when the time is right, and that deciding too soon would merely restrict my options.

For the moment the ranger is exactly what she seems–a young woman with a noble purpose. Where she’ll become interesting is when the greater machinations reveal themselves and she’s forced to start making choices. She isn’t a religious person per se, but she respects gods and religion.

The monk… ahh the monk. My player gave me a wonderful plot hook–one of the details of the order he belongs to is that children are given over to the monastery when they are very young, and their names are even changed so they will not know who their families are. The point is to keep them neutral in their purpose of protecting members of the nobility. The only thing he has of his family is a ring that was given to him; he just knows it’s a family heirloom of some sort, but it’s also a ring of mind shielding (while he wears it no one can detect his thoughts, discern whether he’s lying, or discern his alignment). Over time he’s going to find that the desert has some surprises waiting for him. The original “Sand & Dreams” material involved men and women who were half-breeds–half-human and half-Jinn–and I believe this is what he’ll eventually discover himself to be. I look forward to the little ways in which this will reveal itself.

Adventure #2

In the last post I already mentioned a little about the next adventure. It’s going to be one of the few fairly straightforward searches the party will have for an amulet piece. This was one of the last pieces hidden and Corria was running out of resources to devote to protecting them, which is why they’ll be able to tackle it at level 2. They’re going to explore a moss-covered temple marked on his map that isn’t too far from the city (which, by the way, is called Tsaipia). This temple is guarded by a few handfuls of low-level undead and a handful of traps. While they’re there they might catch sight of a homunculus watching them; it’s going to be the servant of someone who’s taking an interest in their doings. I haven’t yet decided who or what that someone is; I’ll save that for next time.

Subsequent searches will become far more interesting and less straightforward!

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2 comments on “Of Sand & Dreams
  1. Scott M says:

    Very cool Christmas tradition– I know that after traveling for two Christmases, I’m all for a nice collapse and do nothing time.

    Do you think the Barakah will make an appearance later in the campaign?

  2. Yeah, Christmases were VERY hectic when I was a child, and my husband and I both value the chance to just enjoy the day. My birthday is the same week, so when he asked what I wanted I told him I wanted to roleplay. He had an adventure ready to go. 🙂

    The Barakah will in fact make an appearance… I believe the monk will turn out to be one, although he may not be the only one who appears. He’s just given me the perfect tie-in, actually. He wants to develop a prestige class within the order of monks he belongs to, particularly dedicated to trying to learn the will of Aurifar through intense study of their charges; the idea is that since he’s partially a god of judgment, studying how this one person is judged, and lives or dies, will somehow give them insight into the workings of the god’s mind. It’s a bit of a heretical take on the religion, so only members of this sub-order understand what it is they’re up to.

    He was also trying to come up with something interesting about how members are chosen, and I think part of the key is that each person chosen exhibits some sign of being “touched” by Aurifar–i.e., they are Barakah or have Barakah blood.

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