The Djinn of Al-Qadim

Campaign Session Report #12

By MARK WILSON

GM: Me
Setting: Al-Qadim (aka the continent of Zakhara)
System: D&D 5e
Level: 6 currently

Players:
Dalia, the Mother – Rune Knight Fighter
Nezima, the Aunt – Hexblade Warlock
Atareeza (Atar), the Daughter – Divine Soul Sorcerer
Telchak, the Son – Soulknife Rogue

For full setting, campaign and character notes, please start from the beginning of the session report series.

Session #12

Previously, the party had imploded one of two pyramids in the deep desert to hinder the plans of the ruling djinn, who were sending enslaved prisoners into the desert to complete their construction. They made it out with their rescued father/husband in tow, but were unable to do the same for all the prisoners there, nor were they able to affect the second under-construction pyramid, which is being constructed in order to siphon the power of an elemental god into the leader of the djinn.

Upon escape, Telchak moons one of the pyramid guards from a safe distance.

Return Trip

Fatima, their guide of sorts and pilot of the flying carpet that took them into the desert, leads them back toward her traveling caravan, which will have moved since they left a few weeks earlier, but she’ll know how to find it. While heading in this direction, she inquires about their next steps.

The party decides to head back to Hiyal, to inform Jarallah of what they found in the desert. But they don’t name-drop Jarallah to Fatima.

Fatima wishes to be let into their conspiracy more fully, and asks for the full background of their purpose, which seems to hint at larger developments. The party decides that it’s not their place to reveal more, which Fatima respects even though she is disappointed.

Upon stopping to rest at one point, Dalia also befriends a mummified cat and feeds it, upon which it crumbles to dust. However, a blue spectral cat remains in its place, and it seems enamored with her, following her around. The party can no longer pet or feed it, as it is incorporeal. Dalia names it Blue.

After a mostly uneventful journey back to Fatima’s caravan, she sets them up with supplies for the final leg of the trip back to Hiyal, and they soon find themselves outside the city

Theaters of War

Unpacking their experience with Jarallah and Lady Qadira (owner of the villa outside the city, which is harboring Jarallah), they get updates on movements in the world:

  • Jarallah has made connections with the magical university in Huzuz, and a contingent of magic-users are en route to act as his personal strike force.
  • The conquest of the Free Cities to the north has begun, with incursions led by Dhuza the Rock, a Dao (Earth Genie) who controls and rules the militaristic city of Qudra.
  • Their Azer friend Zazzle has been sent to the far-off city of Ajayib, to gain intel on Nalah the Flawless, the Air Djinn who rules there. Being the most separated, they speculate that she may be the easiest to turn or undermine.
  • A war force is gathering in Gana, both a navy and ground forces, though to what end is still unknown. They suspect the force will be mustered and on the move soon.
  • The experience at the pyramids reveals that Bakada, the efreeti, may not see the other djinn lords in his long-term plans, and they speculate that he may arrive with forces from the City of Brass to aid him in further subjugating the land.

Lastly, Jarallah produces a Zone of Truth scroll for them to cast on him, wanting them to trust the legitimacy of his claim to the Caliphate of Huzuz and Zakhara. They do so, and confirm this to their satisfaction.

The party wishes to continue to help, and mutually agree to head north. Jarallah will send them with letters bearing his seal, to deliver to one or more leaders of the remaining Free Cities, in an effort to gain city-level allies in what they believe could eventually be an all-out war. Zarin, the kids’ father and Dalia’s husband, sustained injuries too debilitating to be able to join them full-time, despite having some skill with a sword and dagger. Jarallah agrees to keep him as a guard and advisor.

They do some light shopping on Qadira’s dime, and retire for the night after some baths at the villa.

Assault on the Villa

Dalia is awoken by her ghostly cat, mewing impatiently before running outside. She rouses the others and heads outside a bit before them.

A priest of the Brotherhood of the True Flame stands before the gates of the villa, with a single elemental of each of the four element types flanking him. As she stands along the roughly 12-foot wall surrounding the villa, Dalia also notes dark silhouettes in the middle distance moving to either side of the villa.

The priest demands Jarallah immediately, not believing the guards as they feign ignorance. He barks instructions to the elementals to capture or kill “the boy” and kill anyone else who gets in their way.

With that, four angry elementals assault the villa, entering quite easily before spreading out and either attacking the party, the guards along the wall, or largely ignoring them and making for the manor, where the party knows Jarallah to be.

They manage to kill the fire elemental, and wound some of the others, but Telcak gets trapped inside the water elemental, and midway through the fight, four aarakocra fly in from the sides and land on the roof of the villa, making for a skylight. Atar fireballs two of them dead, but two remain and the villa is set on fire.

As the session came to a close, the earth elemental had just reappeared in front of the manor’s main doors, and bashed them in, and the air elemental had entered through a shattered window…

DM Notes

Atar’s player has had to miss two sessions in a row, which is always difficult. The others manage well, but the dynamic is a bit different with only three players, and there are occasional silences as they struggle to come up with a plan of action.

I don’t mind this, since I want to allow space for discussion and planning, but this session seemed to drag a bit until the combat started, as opposed to prior sessions that seemed to have a steady pace and flow. I’m not entirely certain how I’d go about adapting to this, but will have to think on it, and will mostly hope that a return to all party members reinvigorates us.

The presence of Zarin was always going to be a bit odd, since I don’t want a DM-PC (where I’m playing a full-time character). Giving him systemic injuries due to his hard labor at the pyramids was my solution, allowing him to contribute in combat while also feeling limited. He also has NPC stats, not a player class. Still, in-character it’s a bit strange for them to just leave their dad/husband, but I tried to justify it as strongly as I could narratively.

Creatures Used:

  • Cult Fanatic (CR2)
  • Fire Elemental (CR5)
  • Earth Elemental (CR5)
  • Air Elemental (CR5)
  • Water Elemental (CR5)
  • Aarakocra (CR 1/4)
  • Guards (CR 1/8)

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