The Djinn of Al-Qadim

Campaign Session Report #33

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.

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

Session #33

Previously, the party had allied with the leader of Medina al-Afyal, Zumurrud al-Afyal, and went underground with her and one of her personal guard, to hopefully rid the island of the Elder Brain plaguing the citizens and elephants. Atar had just fired off a spell against a snake creature, hoping to persuade it to attack the brain and act as a distraction for their approach.

Fight Against the Elder Brain

The persuasion spell works, but the task to attack the brain isn’t reasonable enough for the snake-human hybrid to comply, given the spell’s strength. However, it allows them passage without issue as a compromise.

Moving as close as they dare without being seen by others that they now realize are yuan-ti, snakelike humanoids, they cast a series of spells to get all but Zumurrud’s guard quickly onto the raised stone plateau, upon which the brain rests. Through a mixture of teleportation and flying, they quickly close the distance. The brain sends a telepathic alarm up, and snake creatures begin to converge on their position. Since fights take no more than about a minute, three of them are within striking distance as the fight begins.

The brain is exceedingly easy to hit, but is armed with telepathic attacks that quickly incapacitate the majority of the group. A second attack of this same psychic wave takes the entire group dangerously low on health. Zumurrud breaks free and leaps atop the brain, stabbing at it with her fine lance. But she’s then tossed off the plateau, landing with a thud, unconscious.

With only 1-2 of the party active at any given time, but with the brain unable to easily avoid their attacks or summon yuan-ti onto the platform (two managed to climb up during the fight, harassing the party outside the main fight). With scant few resources left, Nezima breaks free of her stunned state and with a furious smite, sends the creature both to its death and its home plane of existence.

The remaining yuan-ti, who unfortunately managed to kill Zumurrud’s guard, disperse at this.

Resting and Conversing With the Elephant God

The ensorcelled people in the cavern break free of the brain’s telepathic hold, and at Zumurrud’s bidding (she was healed by Nezima), they begin chanting the name of their god, who hangs precariously some 100 feet up from the cavern’s ceiling. The brain had been siphoning its life, and it looks emaciated, despite still being massive in size.

“OGTAR! OGTAR!” the crowd chants over and over, and the elephant breaks free of its chains and hurtles toward the ground. This actually causes some collateral damage. Telchak and Atar both fall unconscious, but are quickly brought back up again.

The elephant titan thanks them, and says the brain was consuming its essence. Vestiges of the brain may still be around the island, and it will take Ogtar time to purge it from its influence over the island’s denizens. Ogtar then bids the group and Zumurrud to see the citizens safely to the surface, before disappearing.

Atar also gives an insincere apology at stealing elephant bones far earlier in the campaign. Ogtar grumbles but does not answer.

Back to Medina and the Suicide Mission

When they reach the surface, elephant mounts are waiting for each of them, emblazoned with arcane symbols, a gift from Ogtar. Except for Atar, who gets an ornery donkey who bites her, makes a bunch of noise, and eventually ends up running off into the jungle. She rides Telchak’s elephant with him and decides that she doesn’t like this island anymore.

Fast forward to the journey back, and the city is in the first stages of being under siege. The back portions of the city are still traversable, and they enter through the semi-secret door they previously exited from in the city’s rear. Zumurrud sets to appraising the situation. The walls haven’t been fully breached, but various elemental forces aren’t stopped easily by traditional means, so there’s some fighting inside the city as well. Meanwhile, the Afyal fleet has left from a neighboring city, to attack the djinn fleet from the rear as they’re storming the city.

Sensing that it’s time to fulfill a vision from many months ago, Nezima concocts a plan to get on an enemy ship and open a previously unopenable bottle that she received following a vision, which she believes will release a hurricane. The plan involves Atar.

Dahlia is upset at what seems like a suicide mission directly into an invading army, and implores the group to at least alter the plan to ensure Atar can get out of harm’s way before the bottle is opened.

Dungeon Master Notes

This was the closest we’ve come to a TPK. I was one “recharge the brain’s massive psychic attack” away from at least 3/4 of them going down, plus Zumurrud. As it is, several death saves still happened, but no deaths.

There were also ways they could have made the encounter easier, but they also circumvented some complications by essentially flying right up to the brain unannounced.

Creatures Used:

  • Elder Brain (CR14)
  • Yuan-ti Abomination (CR7)
  • Yuan-ti Pureblood (CR1)

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