The Djinn of Al-Qadim

Campaign Session Report #31

By MARK WILSON

GM: Me
Setting: Al-Qadim (aka the continent of Zakhara)
System: D&D 5e
Level: 9

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

Notable NPCs:

  • Zumurrud al-Afyal, “Daughter of the Island” – Empress of the island of Afyal, capital city of Medina.
  • ??? (name unknown) – elephant god of Afyal.
  • Jaarallah al-Samad al-Zahir – heir to the Caliphate of Huzzuz
  • Tahni al-Beyim – Loregiver of Zhakara, a reincarnated being and conduit to the gods who has ruled alongside the Grand Caliph for centuries

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

Session #31

Previously, the party had reconvened with Jaarallah in the desert to determine next steps, and took a teleportation circle to the jungle island of Afyal, to try to gain allies and warn against an approaching djinn army. They’d touched down inside an abandoned temple to an elephant god, fought some ghost elephants, and found a secret passage underneath, whereupon they were attacked by glowing tentacles.

Fight Against the Brain-Dome and Investigating Its Origins

They engage in a fight with the tentacles and glowing dome creature under the elephant temple that they teleported to. Dahlia and Nezima make there way down while the kids fend off the tentacles. There’s a psychic attack that incapacitates Dahlia and Nezima, but the creature is clearly a bit unprepared for their sudden appearance. The tentacles are slimy and as the dome dies, it splatters at the bottom of a large, circular crater.

Investigating, the crater goes down several hundred feet. They dive into the crater (or rather, climb down, except for Atar, who just falls badly after trying to time a magical spell and failing at it) and find a series of winding tunnels in a cavern underneath. Down some of the larger tunnels are periodic torches. Walking down one of these, they hear footfalls approaching.

Telchak hides, having raced ahead to take point. He sees some humanoids, but they’re zombie-like (but clearly alive). They shamble past, eventually making their way to the rest of the group, who also try to hide. One clearly notices Nezima, but this does not trigger an immediate response, and it keeps walking past them.

The “zombies” (term used loosely, not in the undead sense) are also carrying boxes of…something. There’s a pungent, medicinal aroma to it. The party doesn’t get a great look at this.

They investigate the tunnel network for some time. At one point they find their way back to the surface, along the island’s rocky coast. They see more of the zombie-like humanoids and some elephants that are in distress from…something. Following a zombie group, they travel back underground. It’s a long journey, but the main pathways thankfully branch infrequently enough that they can track their path back to the surface. This journey takes them into a gigantic cavern, dimly lit throughout and with various groups of humanoids pathing through it, into and out of various smaller caves. The medicinal aroma permeates the area.

In the center, there’s a massive glowing brain, with tree-trunk sized tentacles sticking into an equally massive elephant above it, pulsing periodically. Additional tentacles stretch out into the stonework around the cavern, which is roughly 1,000 feet in diameter. Its hulking mass provides the dim light that bounces off the walls.

They feel as though they’re being watched, though some spells and abilities fail to locate the means or source of the watching. So they leave out the way they came and camp out under the sky. Lots of ambient noise, both bugs and larger animals, a far cry from the desert landscape they’re used to.

The City of Medina & Approaching Djinn Army

The next day, they travel into the city of Medina al-Afyal, which they identified in the distance at one point, when they were on the coast. At the city gates, skepticism from the city’s guards. They’re aware of the encroaching djinn force and suspect them to be spies. The area outside the city is without activity, and the city seems to be locked down.

Behind them, in the distance, they begin to see the beginnings of the djinn fleet. Eventually they realize that the ships number in the hundreds, and potentially thousands.

They camp outside the city, and the kids investigate the wall around the city. Telchak finds a likely way to sneak in but Atar is seen from a guard tower along the wall, shot with arrows, and they attempt her arrest. She becomes scared and Dimension Doors into the city. More guards and alarmed townsfolk are inside where she teleports to, followed by her burning more spells to hide from pursuit. She ends up disguising her form magically after blinking into a house momentarily. But around her, suspicion and chaos.

Meanwhile, outside the harbor about a half mile from the city proper, a massive war force – the djinn army, 100s of warships strong – amasses while Dahlia (mother) and Nezima (aunt) watch on. The naval force is amassing but not yet debarking, but is within easy striking distance of the city.

Dungeon Master Notes

Elder Brain coopting an elephant god’s power. Sure, why not? They can deal with that in addition to a massive war force. Probably. Nezima has a potential deus ex machina from one of her previous visions to deal with a large portion of the naval force. But it’s not a “get out of jail free” card.

This whole arc was something of a surprise. I hadn’t anticipated the teleportation circle spell, and thought it doubtful that they’d come to this portion of the world in the campaign. It was ok, as I’d had the skeleton of the plot hooks here since the beginning of the campaign. But I had to flesh out a lot of things in a hurry the week or two prior.

Creatures Used

  • Elder Brain (stats heavily modified; no exact CR)

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