The Djinn of Al-Qadim

Campaign Session Report #13

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 #13

Previously, the party had been ambushed at a villa owned by one of their allies, outside the city of Hiyal. A dark-robed priest of The Brotherhood of the True Flame appeared at the gates with four elementals, one of each elemental type, and also some aarakocra agents who flew in from the sides of the villa. His instructions were for them to “bring the boy, dead or alive,” presumably referring to Jarallah, the heir to the throne of Huzuz and Grand Caliphate of the entire continent.

They were mid-fight, trying to distract and destroy the elementals while they made for Jarallah.

Rocks & Fire

The elementals crash around the place, with the earth elemental literally crashing through the front doors, at which point it disappears into the estate and begins searching for its prey.

Meanwhile, Telchak needs his mother’s assistance to be removed from inside the water elemental, which had restrained him in its form. The air elemental, unaccounted for, is somewhere in the estate.

They dispatch the water one and book for the house, where the aarakocra have entered through windows as well. A cramped battle ensues, with their father (Zarin) protecting Jarallah against the earth elemental. A powerful final round in which they collectively did over 100 points of damage to the elemental allowed them to kill it before it had a chance to swing at Jarallah.

They quickly regroup, find Lady Qadira (the estate’s owner) dead, and after Jarallah briefly mourns her, they realize they may still be in danger and are on the road shortly thereafter with the captain of the estate’s guard, their father and Jarallah.

Meeting With the Academics

A group of wizards from a prominent school in Huzuz had previously agreed to act as a personal guard for Jarallah as he gathers allies, and are on their way north from Huzuz. The party accompanies him to meet up with the caravan, in a mostly uneventful couple-day journey. They keep an eye out for anyone who may be following them, but only some distant aarakocra (not necessarily spies; this is a normal sight) are seen.

The caravan is inconspicuous enough, but not to the party, who know what to look for. They meet with the leader, a former Headmaster at the academy, Abdul al-Saraya, an impeccably groomed man who greets them in flowing, rainbow robes. He has his group set up a camp, which they do with a lot of magical assistance. The camp is then hidden with illusion magic, and the party realize they’re in the presence of some considerable magical prowess.

They unpack their journey, and Jarallah states that this group will contact the party magically in sporadic intervals as they’re able.

There’s a brief but heartfelt goodbye with their father, who believes he’s not cut out for adventuring. He’ll stay behind to advise Jarallah and act as a liaison.

Journey to the North

They head north, then, having previously decided to seek to stem the tide of djinn forces by rallying allies under Jarallah’s banner. The militaristic city of Qudra is being controlled by Dhuza the Rock, a Dao (Earth Djinn). His forces had recently conquered Liham, the first of the so-called Free Cities of the north that were friendly with the Caliphate previously but not officially under its purview.

Jarallah sends them with letters bearing his seal, asking for the cooperation of Free City leaders in his cause of overthrowing the djinn. The party decides to make for Umara, the first unconquered city along the northern line that extends eastward.

Early in their journey, Abdul, the wizard they’d recently met along the road, magically teleports to them to have a conversation away from Jarallah. He states that for political reasons, Jarallah wouldn’t be able to consider a pact with the Corsairs of the north sea (pirates), but that they need to be looking for allies anywhere they can find them. Some of the Corsairs will have reason to hate the djinn as well.

Abdul doesn’t give them any specific instruction, but asks them to consider his words.

The Crab Race War

We then fast-travel to the northern coast, where the party find themselves between a mountain range in the distance to their right and the ocean to their left, with occasional streams and rivers flowing down from the mountains and providing water for plant growth.

Nezima spots a strange site, a large group of red crabs atop a dune, and another group of whtie crabs a couple hundred feet off. A red crab approaches them and speaks, asking for their aid in defeating the evil, war-loving white crabs. They query the white crabs, who say the same of the red crabs.

Not wanting to get too involved, but also feeling compelled to help, Atar and Telchak talk to each group respectively about choosing a Champion to fight on their behalf, and that they’ll relocate the losing side. They do quite well in their pleas, and both sides agree. Red produces a hulking crab and White produces a tiny crab that seems quite dextrous. Atar draws a large circle in the sand and all gather around to watch the ensuing struggle.

Telchak and Atar seem to enjoy rallying both sides, and bet on the outcome. Atar stipulates that the winner is whoever pins the other for three counts or knocks them out of the ring.

This instruction goes unheeded and a battle to the death ensues, with the diminutive white crab winning a brutal encounter after a series of dice rolls, flipping and stabbing the larger red crab until the red one collapses. It deals the death blow by cutting off its eye stalks. Telchak celebrates his gambling win, and begins unceremoniously hucking red crabs toward their new location not far off.

The leader of the white crabs thanks them, and the red ones seem to accept their fate. In reward, the white leader shows them to a pile of washed-up junk covered by some seaweed. The party investigates it and finds some small trinkets and potentially magical items that were of no use to the crabs.

With that, they continue their trek toward Umara…

DM Notes

The mood picked up considerably at the crab stuff. For all of my attempts to create a serious, multi-layered campaign, it’s the goofy stuff that still works best much of the time. It has me thinking of how I can either capture that mood more often, and/or craft a continuation of this crab war.

There seemed to be times when Nezima had less to do in a roleplaying sense, due to how forceful the dynamic is between Dalia, Atar and Telchak. I need to find more ways for her player to get involved.

Creatures Used:

  • Fire Elemental (CR5)
  • Earth Elemental (CR5)
  • Air Elemental (CR5)
  • Water Elemental (CR5)
  • Swashbuckler (CR3)
  • Aarakocra (CR 1/4)
  • Guards (CR 1/8)

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