The Djinn of Al-Qadim
Campaign Session Report #14
By MARK WILSON
Setting: Al-Qadim (aka the continent of Zakhara)
System: D&D 5e
Level: 6 currently
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.
Previously, the party was heading into the city of Umara, to speak with its leader about the Free Cities of the North aiding in combating the Djinn armies and navy originating from the city of Qudra.
The party sees Umara shining in the distance well before they arrive. Bright white-painted stone dominates the landscape. And as they enter the city, they see bright murals painted on many buildings, tacit advertisements for the dyes that the city is well-known for. These dyes are used in paints and as coloring for clothing, rugs and other artwork.
They stay the night in an inn, complete with lavish artwork painted on the ceiling, depicting the arrival of a prince in the city. Genies sing his praises and he rides an elephant. Dalia jokes that she found Atar a new boyfriend, despite it just being a painting.
The next day, they seek an audience with the king of the city, Shazam Botswani. The letter provided to them by Jarallah, with his seal on it, affords them somewhat quick passage to the king, albeit stripped of their weapons and surrounded by a full contingent of guards and royal mages.
Shazam is amenable to Jarallah’s cause, but laments his own situation. The Everlasting, an ancient guild of assassins, has been making attempts on his life. As a result, he’s captive in his own court. Furthermore, the Corsairs (pirates) in the northern seas do not perceive the djinn to be a threat and only see opportunity. As the djinn have closed in (conquering the city immediately to Umara’s west), their raids have picked up. Shazam sees trouble for them down the road, but has been unable to broker any peace with them. His city, far from a military stronghold even in better circumstances, is being stretched apart.
Shazam promises aid to Jarallah and reward for the party if they can solve one or both of these problems. The extent to which he can offer aid will be dependent on his situation.
He also introduces the party to his niece, Nisma, who has remained silent through their discussions. She has skills and information that could aid them if they choose to help the city in either of these areas, including a lead on the whereabouts of the hidden fortress of the Everlasting, Krak al-Niraan, Citadel of Flames. The party agrees to discuss and do what they can. Until then, they are honored guests of King Botswani.
The party finds Nisma and attempts to talk with her about her role in all this, and what information she can provide that might assist them. They’re a bit skeptical of the King, and want to know what he did to incur the wrath of The Everlasting. He only alluded to a grudge between the “Grandfather” of the Everlasting and himself, but refused to say more.
After some prodding, Nisma reveals that she has more than a lead on the fortress of the Everlasting. She knows its exact location. After additional questioning, it’s revealed that the Grandfather of the Everlasting, its leader for decades, is her father, and brother to the King. The nature of the grudge becomes more apparent at this point, and she says that much of it centers around her. She reveals a series of scars given to her during assassin training, and claims that she wishes to see her father dead.
The party agrees to help, but even with some possible contacts on the inside of the assassin fortress and someone who knows its inner workings, it is not a stronghold that will be breached easily.
Entering Krak al-Niraan
A journey of several days ensues, taking them through mountains to the south. In an obscure path wending its way through these mountains, Nisma leads them to Krak al-Niraan, which sits in a valley between several mountainous peaks. They are able to overlook it and plan their approach.
The citadel is many hundreds of feet wide and long, well-fortified, and according to Nisma, has no secret entrances, merely the two visible entrances on either side. The walls are a few dozen feet tall, and sentries are posted throughout.
Seeing this, they disguise themselves to be a bit less conspicuous and concoct a “Chewbacca” plan, wherein they are delivering Nisma to the assassins in exchange for reward and/or work. Prior to this, Nisma approaches the castle and alerts a few of her allies via silent hand signals of the plan. She has friends on the inside, and this may help them once they’re in.
The assassins are immediately skeptical of the party, but Nisma’s presence allows them entry. She’s taken away to an unknown location, and the party are escorted to rooms that are little more than glorified dungeon cells. Some time later, they’re called to meet with an underboss of the compound, and are led into a room, his sneering face staring them down as they prepare to make their case to justify their presence here in Krak al-Niraan.
We didn’t get a lot done this session, owing to a lot of out-of-character discussion and banter, only some of it related to the game. While I don’t mind this – game nights are meant to be fun, regardless of what that means – I’ll need to keep an eye on it. I don’t want to lose momentum in the campaign because we get off-topic too often.
The assassin hideout is too well-guarded to be a “smash & grab” (or in this case, “smash & kill”). I don’t think their plan is without flaws, but they’re also going to benefit next session from some chaos caused by Nisma and her allies, as well as some unexpected guests.
Krak al-Niraan is an established location in the setting, and was formerly a hideout of the Brotherhood of the True Flame, a group the party has butted heads with on multiple occasions.
Continue Reading: Session #15