The Djinn of Al-Qadim
Campaign Session Report #15
By MARK WILSON
Setting: Al-Qadim (aka the continent of Zakhara)
System: D&D 5e
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 found themselves incarcerated in the fortress hideout of an assassin’s guild, somewhere between its guests and its prisoners, having just delivered the daughter of its leader to the fortress, who is planning to murder her father.
Discussions with the Everlasting
They’re led into a chamber where a tall, nasally man seems to be in charge, and he’s referred to as Grima, a lieutenant of the Grandfather. He asks the party of their intentions, and they weave a lie about wanting to join the order. This seems highly irregular, but they did deliver a known enemy of the Grandfather, so further discussions will need to take place.
The discussion is interrupted by a robed man flanked by two Galeb Duhr, hulking rock creatures and lumber around menacingly. He seems to be known to Grima, but introduces himself as First Brother Ebonflame, of the Brotherhood of the True Flame (recurring baddies in this campaign). Dalia realizes that this is the same figure who was outside Villa Qadira when it was attacked by elementals. She’s magically disguised, but knows he may recognize the party, so the disguised adults stand between him and the children, who are undisguised.
Ebonflame claims – correctly – that the castle was originally built by the Brotherhood, and is therefore rightly theirs. He says the djinn know of its location and are demanding its return as a stronghold for the Brotherhood.
Cries of protest ring out (from Nisma’s allies here, they later learn), wondering openly why the Everlasting would simply give up their fortress, and claiming that the Grandfather had gone soft. Ebonflame assures them that this is in their best interests, and that he’s spoken with the Grandfather, who approves of their peaceful takeover of Krak al-Niraan.
While this occurs, one of those in league with Nisma bids Telchak to follow her, and they leave the chamber discreetly. After Ebonflame leaves, Dalia eggs on the protesters a bit with her own words. The party is escorted out, given these new happenings.
As they’re walking back to their cell, Nezima’s vision becomes progressively darker with each step. In moments, she sees the pyramids they visited, one collapsed (by the party) and the other now completed. Sounds of battle ring out.
Her vision slides inside the pyramid, where she sees Bakada fighting a nebulous force. A line of fiery arcane energy is tethered to his back from a point in the center of the pyramid, and he seems to be growing in size.
The pyramid collapses and her vision fades to black, but it’s replaced with a dull glow, then a bright glow, as the pyramid reappears as rubble, but slowly morphing to soupy magma. A figure bursts from the magma, all rage and fire, and it’s the figure of Bakada, but transformed, having merged with aspects of the pyramid itself. Jagged spikes stick from his body and his eyes glow impossibly hot.
He looks past Nezima and growls “I know your plan, witch. I will not be bound.” With that, the vision fades and Nezima’s consciousness returns to the hallway.
Busting Nisma Out
With their primary guard on their side, they try to figure out what they can do to get back in touch with Nisma, who they surmise has been sent for torture or worse. The guard leads them through a series of stairwells until they are in the sub-basement, where a number of cells line the walls.
With Telchak gone temporarily, Atar is made invisible and attempts to sneak up to Nisma’s cell. Taking the magical hand-sized box they received earlier, which can suck a creature into it and hold it in suspended animation, she used the box on an unsuspecting Nisma. It worked, but Nisma cries out, alerting the guards outside her cell. A frantic dash ensues, with Atar still invisible but the guards on high alert. She escapes, though only barely, which some nifty acrobatics to avoid an attempted tackle and attack.
Meanwhile, Telchak is being shown around the compound, and his mere presence – a young boy with no ties to the organization – is used to gain support for the idea that the Grandfather has lost his way, allowing outsiders into their compound instead of merely killing them. After a time, he returns to the party’s cell, shortly after the others arrive, having rescued Nisma.
The Attention of Ebonflame
Despite the fact that Nisma hasn’t claimed she wants anything other than her father’s death, the party correctly surmise that she’s looking to wrest control of the organization herself. She relents, and lets them in on the full plan, which involves the deaths of other key leaders within the organization who are loyal to her father. While those loyal to her aren’t a majority, if the right people are killed, the rest will fall in line, she claims.
The party are amenable to this, and don’t want to waste time, as it will bring them closer to being discovered and killed. They sneak out and make their way toward the central tower of the compound, using some magical disguises to make it seem like they’re being escorted by guards.
Concurrent with this, Nisma gives the order to begin operations on a larger scale, and as the party travels through the large compound, they begin to hear the sounds of battle.
On a wide, open-air walkway headed toward the tower, they notice Ebonflame with his Galeb Duhr heading their way. They try to appear inconspicuous, but Ebonflame sees through the magical disguises and recognizes Dalia. He sets his rock creatures on them and teleports away, but not before an ominous line saying that he won’t underestimate them again, and that clearly they required more of the djinn’s attention.
Launching the Coup
A fight ensues against the rock creatures. The party is successful, but they’ve lost time, and head up the tower. Inside it, they have to dupe a series of guards, but manage to get to the highest level, overlooking the entire compound. It’s from here that the larger battle is being coordinated. The Grandfather immediately suspects what is happening, and Nisma is ejected from the magical box (where she was willingly hiding), and a battle begins against the Grandfather and a contingent of his allies.
And below, the sounds of battle ring out.
Dungeon Master Notes
Telchak was absent, so his side quest was a deliberate attempt to remove him from the action for a time.
Nezima’s vision is my way of imparting some of what’s happening elsewhere in the world. It’s not static, and they’ll be dealing with the consequences of not returning to the pyramids, which they knew had the purpose of channeling the power of a god into Bakada.
- Galeb Duhr (CR6)
- Archmage (CR12)
- Assassin (CR8)
Continue Reading: Session #16