The Djinn of Al-Qadim
Campaign Session Report #40
By MARK WILSON
Setting: Al-Qadim (aka the continent of Zakhara)
System: D&D 5e
Dahlia, the Mother – Rune Knight Fighter
Nezima, the Aunt – Hexblade Warlock
Atareeza (Atar), the Daughter – Divine Soul Sorcerer
Telchak, the Son – Soulknife Rogue
Previously, the party had been trying to get to Hiyal, but were forced to head back to Afyal in order to survive a harrowing escape from Huzuz.
Circling a Solution
Atar studies in the water-logged and partially destroyed library of Medina al-Afyal, and while she learns a couple spells in her research, she only gets to an approximate teleportation circle design, intended for the elemental plane of fire and the City of Brass. It is too incomplete to attempt.
However, Nezima has some resources and allies in Hiyal, and sends a dream message (through her class abilities) to Atar, to give her the pattern for a circle that had been created there to help facilitate covert travel for some of their allies’ leaders.
Waking the next morning, the group confers and exits Afyal via this method. They appear in the ruins of Villa Qadira, the estate they’d stayed at previously.
War Camp & Ritual Binding
The camp is under constant protection from several wizards, whose illusions hide it from regular view. A makeshift war camp is set up on the grounds, and they’re introduced to several NPC leaders, many of whom they know from earlier in the campaign.
Among them are leaders from the north. Allies, though perhaps reluctantly at times, as they’ve been ousted from their homes by a crab uprising in that area of the world.
Additional allies from the desert and surrounding cities also emerge, sensing that the time to fight back is nigh. And though they don’t get all the details, they learn that a faction of air djinn are ostensibly helping them as well, and that their leader has broken from Bakada and is supporting his overthrow.
A discussion is had between Jaraalah, Tahni, the party, and Abdul, Jaraalah’s chief advisor and leader of the wizard contingent in the area. Abdul is the former headmaster of the mages’ academy in Huzuz. It concerns the ritual. After much deliberation, the choice is put to the party of whether to enact the ritual now, or to attempt to access the Plane of Fire to perform it there, thereby cutting djinn off from this plane of existence entirely.
Fearing a trip to the plane of fire and wanting to first restore the world to some order, they determine to cast the ritual here in Hiyal. This will reinstitute the original binding, but may risk abuse of power on the part of humanoids who have control over djinn summoning. This does not sit entirely well with them, so the decision is only made after some discussions with Jaraalah about new measures that will be taken if they win the war, which will help to create more equitable conditions for djinn and mortal partnerships. These conditions are agreed to.
The Air Djinn Plea
That night, while the ritual is being prepared, Dahlia is visited by an air genie, who says that since they’re now allies, the party should leave air out of the ritual. She posits that without a magical mote of air, the ritual will work on the other djinn types, but not air. And in return, they’ll have a powerful alliance of air genies and humanoids, making it easier to overthrow Bakada.
This is discussed and agreed to, though they suspect that the air djinn requested it more out of self-interest than altruism for their cause.
The ritual is prepared and takes place the next morning, a gigantic circle being created with magical elements of the three types (excluding air) at the edges. Atar and Tahni perform the ritual and an elemental maelstrom is created that explodes into light that shines into the sky and illuminates the entire region.
March to Huzuz
Knowing that, if successful, the following weeks will be the best time to strike, the combined forces in the area begin to move. A naval force moves down the bay toward Huzuz, led by Torrigar, their dragon turtle ally. And ground forces gradually emerge from other camps and cities as they travel, their numbers having been hidden previously by staying spread out. It will be a journey of a few weeks to Huzuz from their location, but they are confident that they have already dealt a strong blow to Bakada’s forces and perhaps Bakada himself.
Dungeon Master Notes
The ethical discussions regarding treatment of the djinn and how they should approach the ritual were of great interest to me. This is the type of moral quandary I’d hoped to create when I devised the idea of the binding ritual. There is some problematic history of subjugation in Zakhara (and this includes its portrayal in real-life books from earlier editions of the game). I wanted them to have to mull over the consequences of their actions in this regard.
As it is, in-game they took the most practical short-term approach. Perhaps not the most altruistic one. But it was also in the hopes of brokering additional stipulations later on that would facilitate a more free environment for the djinn and the denizens of Zakhara.
They avoided some scrying from Ebonflame that would have brought a fight to them. And also avoided combat with the air djinn, who would have tried to sabotage the ritual if the party had not agreed to omit them from the binding. The session as a whole was a bit lurching, but I was happy enough with the outcome.
Continue Reading: Session #41