The Djinn of Al-Qadim
Campaign Session Report #17
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 in the labyrinthine, puzzle-laden mausoleum of the Encarta family, wherein a group of sentient, talking crabs had been taking prisoners for dark experiments, turning them into human-crab hybrids. The party also find evidence that they may be attempting a summoning ritual to bring monsters to this area of the world, or worse.
A couple rooms open up, one with a gold-inlaid metal door, with 120 key slots in a triangular pattern, and 4 keys on either side, each pair with inscriptions above them, clues to where the keys should go. The party takes some time and solves…half the puzzle, then leaves the door and heads the other direction.
Eventually their riddle and puzzle solving opens a passage below into a cave, from which they hear sounds emanating. Sneaking in, they see several regular crabs, some enlarged and deformed, two former humans whose heads and limbs have been replaced with giant crab appendages, and two summoning circles, one about 15 feet in diameter and the other taking up the entirety of the back wall of the cave, which is nearly 40 feet high.
The Crab God’s Escape
The party simply confront the crabs, who aren’t too talkative and attack their former oppressors (harkening back to their first encounter with these crabs, when they were just normal talking crabs).
The fight initially seems as though it will be lopsided, but one of the diminutive crabs commands a hybrid to protect them until “the master” arrives. It turns to the smaller summoning circle and brings forth a Glabrezu, whose clacking, crab-like pincer arms are the size of entire humans.
It attacks and quickly almost kills Nezima, who gets locked in its grip and knocked unconscious, despite doing considerable magical damage to the creature with a massive Inflict Wounds spell. She nearly dies but is kept alive by a series of spells and fortunate rolls. As the battle rages, it’s actually Telchak who points out that the summoner returns their attention to the larger portal, and that heavy footsteps can be heard coming through it.
However, the battle in front of them with hybrids and glabrezu takes their entire attention, and as they’re battling, an enormous, 50-foot-tall bipedal crab creature steps through the larger portal and addresses the group. Telchak recognizes this as the “Crab God” he saw previously. It screeches in victory, having “escaped its prison” on the tropical island it previously lived on. It largely ignores the party and begins burrowing toward the surface, displacing dirt and stone in the cave as it does. It spares a few words for both its minions and the party, who it seems to realize actually played an inadvertent hand in its summoning, by previously displacing the crabs.
Nezima calls out to the enormous demigod to try to convince it to go after the djinn, but there’s no indication this suggestion had any effect.
The fighting dies down at this point, with the party realizing there’s no good way to get the crab deity back into the portal, and that they’re out of their league if they tried to fight him. They muck around with the summoning circle and summoners themselves, and the portals go dead.
Following this, there’s an inert hybrid still alive that Telchak stabs to death, despite some protests from his aunt. The group then heads back to the puzzle door they’d previously been unable to get past. Atar cracks the code and the door opens, revealing shelves of books, gold and items. The group does some looting in reward for their efforts.
They see signs of the crab god’s movements outside the mausoleum, but are unable to follow swiftly enough to keep up. They decide instead to head to Umara, their original destination before the crab-induced interruption. Before long, they find themselves an audience with the king, Shazam Botswani, whom they’d previously spoken with.
They feed him some half-truths about their – and Nisma’s – role in the overthrow of the Grandfather, and they present Shazam with his (now quite gory) head. The king looks it over soberly and speaks briefly to his brother’s mutilated head, then gives it to one of his guards and broaches other topics. The group warns him that Umara will be under siege within weeks, and that he has to retreat and regroup with any allies, which he’s been attempting to pool together. With the death of the Grandfather, this will be easier.
He presses them further about his niece and her role with the assassins (The Everlasting). The party is circumspect about responding. He seems suspicious but lets the matter drop, before declaring a feast to celebrate the death of his brother. Atar says they deserve a second feast because her brother (Telchak) previously died, and offers to kill him again to get a bigger feast. Sibling squabbling continues until I draw the curtain on the scene, along with Dalia asking discreetly about a spa or massage service to give her some time away from her kids, which the king’s court happily grants her.
Corsairs of the Northern Seas
The king convinces them that the Corsairs (i.e. pirates) in the northern seas are still a threat, as they have been raiding cities and capitalizing on the chaos caused by the djinn forces invading the northern Free Cities.
Shazam wants one of the Corsair leaders dead, which would create a power vacuum and give him and his allies time to muster more fully. The party remain unconvinced that this is the only or best course of action, but they agree to act as emissaries of Umara and seek audience with the Corsair Council, only some of whom might be in the Corsair capital city of Hawa (know as the City of Chaos).
They’re provided a ship and crew, along with a captain who will navigate them to Hawa. Through a series of earlier events, Dalia was able to cast a 2nd level spell with no components, and she uses it to summon a dolphin steed, riding alongside the ship as it departs the Umaran harbor, bearing north…
Dungeon Master’s Notes
I hadn’t originally planned on having the crab god in this campaign, but it’s actually canonical to the setting. Its name is Kar’r’rga and the Plane of Pandemonium is its usual plane of residence! Kar’r’rga was an Easter Egg that I inserted earlier, during a death-induced dreamlike sequence for Telchak. This whole sequence was just riffing off of various influences.
Not sure I’ll do anything else with it, but I have some as-yet-undiscovered plot hooks that lead to various other primordial and/or bestial forces in the world. Presenting them as a concurrent problem to the Djinn forces might be interesting. I’ll have to give it more thought, since it’s not too fleshed out yet.
- Giant Crab (stats modified)
- Glabrezu (CR9)
Continue Reading: Session #18