The Djinn of Al-Qadim

Campaign Session Report #23

By MARK WILSON

GM: Me
Setting: Al-Qadim (aka the continent of Zakhara)
System: D&D 5e
Level: 7

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

Notable NPCs:

  • Jayani Al-Jasir: Human council member of Corsair leaders, based in Hawa. Formerly used Torrigar as a “ship,” who willingly allowed her and her crew to board it.
  • Leela al-Hiyali: Elf Corsair leader; working with the djinn
  • First Brother Ebonflame: leader of the Brotherhood of the True Flame, minions of the efreet Bakada
  • Torrigar: Ancient Dragon Turtle
  • Malecada: Ancient Kraken, foe of Torrigar
  • Kar’rr’ga: 50-foot-tall crab demigod

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

Session #23

Previously, the party had raced out to sea on their Umaran ship, flanked by ships of their ally Jayani al-Jasir, one of rulers of the Corsair region, and her dragon turtle “ship” as an incoming fleet with the combined forces of Leela al-Hiyali (Corsair leader) and the Brotherhood of the True Flame, led by First Brother Ebonflame, closed in on them.

The Battle of Hawa, Part I: The Alliance

A telepathic message comes through to Dalia, and she recognizes the voice as that of Ebonflame, whose Order’s banners dot many of the ships in the approaching fleet. “Leela tells me you’re causing trouble up here,” he says. “We can’t have that, now can we? I told you I’d be keeping a closer eye on you.”

The fleet approaches, but several hundred yards out, all but two seem to stop in the water. The water itself seems to roil, and the group realizes they’re seeing stirring in the water itself around the ships. A third breaks off from the roiling waters and nears the two warships in the lead. But as it nears, a giant tentacle reaches up and slams into it, pulling the ship slowly into the waters.

The groups realizes they’re now facing the Kraken, Malecada, and her minions, who seem to be harassing the rear ships. Malecada slips into the water again and disappears from sight.

Sending a message via morse code between ships (by reflecting the sun off of mirrors…I gave them liberal leeway to coordinate by this and similar means), they reach out to Ebonflame to propose a truce until the kraken is dealt with. He agrees telepathically, but says that once it’s dealt with, their truce is off.

Shifting the ships into a “kill box,” they await Malecada. Unfortunately, she approaches from the other direction and attacks Torrigar (dragon turtle), engaging with him while the ships maneuver to fire on the kraken. It’s a gargantuan, formidable beast, but they slowly begin chipping away it it.

Part II: Arrival of the Crabs

Aboard the ships, giant octopi climb aboard, while sharks and other creatures nip at the ships themselves, hundreds of them slowly but surely degrading the woodwork dangerously.

While fighting an octopus, Dalia spots a crab and asks it what it’s going to do. It replies that its Master is watching and waiting. She encourages it to tell Kar’rr’ga to aid them in vanquishing the kraken. The crab says it will consider this, and scuttles into the water.

The others help out against the octopi. Dalia takes some damage but most of the others are unharmed, though a few crew die before the octopi are killed on their particular ship.

Eventually the battle seems to be turning, and Malecada releases its hold on Torrigar. Squirting a giant cloud of black ink, she disappears into deeper waters.

Almost concurrently, giant crabs are seen in the waters and begin fighting the minions of Malecada. A few hop onto each ship, and Kar’rr’ga itself emerges from the waters and declares its intent to destroy and rule.

Part III: The Inevitable Betrayal

Several things happen in the following moments. The party attempts to flee on their ship and indicates for the others (Jayani’s ships and Torrigar) to do the same. At this, Leela’s ship sidles up to theirs and harpoons it, as if to board them. They begin to drop the ship’s anchor to reinforce their immobility. But instead of boarding, they take their boarding planks to the other side of the ship, where the Brotherhood’s warship is approaching.

Realizing that Ebonflame’s plan is to leave them to the whims of the crab god, one of Jayani’s ships rams Ebonflame’s ship, throwing it off course.

Meanwhile, as this unfolds, Telchak reaches out telepathically to Kar’rr’ga, and there’s a spark of recognition in the crab god from recent events. Telchak makes a surprisingly strong case for working together against their “mutual foes,” indicating the ship that just got rammed. Kar’rr’ga accepts the unexpected alliance and begins tearing into the Brotherhood’s ship, which is now unable to save Leela’s crew.

Part IV: Desperate Measures

Atar goes looking for Leela herself by flying over the ship. She’s met in the air by Ebonflame himself, who says that his fleet is doomed, but he can escape (they’ve seen his teleportation trick before), and that he’ll be happy to see to it that they die here in the North before he leaves.

He clips Atar with a lightning bolt, but is targeted and hit by one of Jayani’s ship’s ballistas. Atar flies back to the crow’s nest of the Umaran ship, alongside Telchak.

On the ship itself, two water elementals, which they’d previously seen accompanying Ebonflame on his ship, manifest in front of them. They’re not overly worrisome, though Dalia takes some more damage and is doing quite poorly, near to death.

To make matters worse, Malecada chooses this moment to return, slamming into the ships and Torrigar again. With Torrigar similarly near death, they focus all fire (including their own spells and attacks) on Malecada, hoping to kill her or scare her off before their dragon turtle ally perishes. And about 150 feet away, a monstrous crab demigod tears into Ebonflame’s ship and its terrified crew…

Dungeon Master Notes

The entirety of this session was five rounds of combat (minus some buildup at the beginning before initiative rolls. But I was ready:

  • I had players controlling all allies, including the ships (whose stat blocks I provided them with), so that everyone had 2-3 turns per combat round.
  • I pre-rolled all initiatives for enemies, and had a couple reference pads handy to track hit points and what round we were on.
  • Our table had two maps: one of the ship they were on, the other of the sea itself, which was a higher-level tactical map, with squares representing about 25 feet each. This allowed them to plan and visualize better.

It worked surprisingly well and didn’t seem to drag. I was nervous going in, because I’d never run something so sprawling and epic before.

And of course, we’re not done, and this might take us the entirety of NEXT session too. But I also think we’re nearer to the end of the battle than the beginning. Regardless, it was fun. I don’t want to have to prep something like this too often, but as an end cap on a large portion of the campaign, it feels appropriately intense.

Creatures Used:

  • Kraken (stats slightly modified; CR22-ish)
  • Dragon Turtle (CR17)
  • Kar’rr’ga (homebrewed with the Demon Lord Baphomet as the reference) (CR22-ish)
  • Giant Octopus (CR1)
  • Giant Crab (CR 1/8)
  • Water Elemental (CR5)
  • Archmage (CR12)
  • Swashbuckler (CR3)
  • Warship (N/A)
  • Sailing Ship (N/A)

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