The Characters are asked to go into the Great Sandy Desert to rescue the survivor of a previous treasure hunting expedition. This Adventure is recommended for PCs of 8th level or higher.
One Thousand Pieces of Gold
The PCs are at rest in a large city situated on the edge of a vast sandy desert when they are approached by one of the city nobles. The well dressed young man, named Hassan Kadar, dressed in white flowing robes, offers each Player Character 1000 gold pieces to journey into the desert to investigate the disappearance of his previous band of hired explorers.
If the PCs agree to the quest he tells the party that the lost group is led by an experienced warrior, apparently a great champion, who is impervious to the desert heat. According to a local seer, this warrior is lost somewhere in the vastness of the desert. The noble states that the champion may have recovered a golden sceptre, as he had been instructed to do, and if the PCs come into possession of this item they must ensure it is safely delivered to his person. The noble demands the PCs swear an oath, as a sign of good faith, to search diligently for his lost champion and see he is safely escorted back into the city, along with the sceptre if this is also in his possession.
Hassan Kadar (minor noble) 2nd level Fighter
AC: 10 HD: 2 hp: 18 THACO: 19 Attacks: 3/2 Damage: 1d4+1 Alignment: LN Xp: 100
Equipment: Curved Dagger of Disappearance (invisibility), Ring of Mind Shielding
If the PCs ask the young noble about the champion and his party he tells them that the previous group numbered 12. All were relatively inexperienced except for the champion who was hired to lead the party.
The noble avoids details about the heat impervious warrior that mentions his field plate armour being red in colour. He can tell the PCs that the original quest was to recover a Golden Sceptre hidden within a sand covered temple unearthed during a recent sandstorm. The sceptre, a symbol of rulership, had been hidden therein many years ago, by the ancient rulers of the land, after they were driven from their city by invading armies.
Areez and the Camels
If the PCs agree to search the desert the noble provides each Character with three (3) camels and a guide, Areez. The party is told their journey begins this very night! Note: PCs have one camel for riding while the other two carry 3 weeks worth of supplies.
Camels (3 per PC)
MV: 21 or 10 in sand AC: 7 HD: 3 hp: 22 THACO: 17 Attacks: 1 Damage: 1d4 or spit Xp: 65
*Spitting attack 50% chance of blinding for 1d3 rounds.
Each member of the party is responsible for looking after their camels.
Areez 3rd level Thief
AC: 8 (dex 16) HD: 3 hp: 15 THACO: 19 or 18 Attacks: 1 or 3/2 Damage: 1d8 (scimitar) or 1d6 (short bow) Alignment: NG
Equipment: Scimitar, Short Bow, 40 flight arrows in 2 quivers, red robes, astrolabe, 6cp/20sp/8pp.
Areez can navigate over the desert using the stars and an astrolabe. In combat he takes partial cover behind a camel (-2 AC bonus) and uses his short bow.
The Desert Conditions:
There are many challenges facing the party ...
No Water - The Great Sandy Desert has very few oases. Only camels can survive the long journeys across the vast sand dunes. PCs require 1-2 waterskins each day but this should not be a problem because of the 3 weeks worth of supplies.
Camels - In combat situations the camels will flee if they are threatened by monsters approaching within 20 feet. Only PCs with camel riding proficiency can steady their mounts. Camels fleeing danger can be found within 500 yards of the combat.
Sand - All movement due to the sand is 1/3 normal except for the camels which move at 10 rather than 21.
Frequent sandstorms - The sands are prone to periods where travel must be halted because the winds kick up minor storms. The DM should roll 1d4 twice every day and night. Results of 1 indicate a 4 hour storm period. There is a 30% chance that a storm lasts 24 hours.
Sun - Because of the unrelenting Sun the PCs must cover their skin including the head. Failure to cover up results in sunburn after 1d4 hours causing -1 penalty to situations involving dexterity bonuses and a -1 penalty to hit rolls. Two days of covering the effected area negates this penalty. The wearing of metal armour results in heatstroke after 1d3 hours or after 3 rounds of combat. Heatstroke results in lightheadedness and deliriousness resulting in the loss of 1/2 the PCs ability scores and continued activity resulting in the loss of 1 point of Constitution per hour. Only rest, shade and water can stabilize the individual restoring 1 point of Constitution per day. Other scores are fully recovered after 2 days.
Into The Desert Sands
There are very few encounters out in the desert. Nevertheless the DM should ask for a marching order and camping routine. Due to the excessive daytime heat, and the need to navigate by the stars, the guide Areez recommends only travelling at night. During the trip the DM should roll 1d4 twice each day and night to check for sandstorms.
After 4 days, exposed camel bones are seen in the night upon a nearby dune. Inspection reveals nothing else.
After 6 days, there is an night time encounter. Wraiths of condemned prisoners sent into the desert rise out of the sands and seek revenge upon the living. They do not venture far from the area where they are now buried.
MV: 12, Fl 24 (B)
HD: 5 + 3 hp: 44
Attacks: 1 Damage 1d6 + Energy Drain
Special Defence: Hit only by Silver or +1 Weapons.
*Energy drained levels (ver 2.6 rules) return at 1 level per month.
*Holy Water causes 2d6+2.
Tactics: These Wraiths rise up at some distance from the camel train, circle around the party and then race in from all points at their maximum flying speed. In the darkness, and at the speed they travel, the PCs have only one round to react before they are set upon.
The Stone Lions
After 10 days of travel the party arrives in the area where they find the sole survivor of the previous expedition. The party should make their daytime camp as usual. Read or paraphrase the following:
Around midday Areez (and anyone else on watch) notices a lone figure in tattered brown robes staggering down a nearby sand dune. As he gets closer you can see this person is fully armoured! Under his shredded cape this man is wearing a suit of red tinted Field Plate Armour. He holds a full faced helm in one hand and in his belt is a golden sceptre. The dark haired and black bearded man looks dishevelled. "Prepare yourselves" he gasps as he gestures over his shoulder. As you look two enormous Stone Lions round the top of the nearest dune.
Stone Lions (2) Golem variant
Mv: 9 AC: 5 HD: 14 hp: 80 THACO: 7 Attacks: 2 + Roar* Damage: 2d8/2d8 (claws)
Special Defence: Immune to Spells as per Stone Golems, +2 Weapons to hit.
*Once every 3 rounds these Stone Lions will roar stunning all within a 20 foot radius for 1d3 rounds unless a save vs spells is made.
Tactics: The Stone Lions take one round to reach the party and attack anyone that stands in their way before going after the holder of the sceptre. The armoured warrior takes cover and calls to PCs that only powerful magical weapons can harm these monsters. The armoured warrior is the The Red Slayer, the leader of the previous group, and his next action is to grab a waterskin. In his present state he cannot risk combat.
The Stone Lions are the guardians of the Temple in which the Golden Sceptre was hidden. These animations will kill any person or group that comes into possession of Temple Relics and have already killed the weaponless Red Slayer a number of times. The warrior has also died of thirst but has otherwise been protected from the desert heat by his magical ring.
The Red Slayer 9th level Fighter (currently)
AC: -6 or better (Red Field Plate +5, Dex 17, single wpn specialisation, or shield)
HD: 9 hp: 2 (110)
THACO: 8 (Strength + Specialisation)
Damage: Weapon + 5 (Strength)
Special Defence: Magical Armour (see below)
Str 18:94 Dex 17 Con 18 Wis 16 Int 14 Cha 17
Proficiencies: All Swords, Axes and Polearms. Specialised in selected weapons.
Equipment: Red Field Plate +5, Golden Sceptre, Ring of Protection +3, Ring of Protection from Heat, tattered robes.
The Red Slayer is a champion who fights as a soldier for evil armies throughout the lands. His magical armour is cursed. Although it protects him from death it cannot be fully removed. He may remove all but the helm or just the helm but not both. Any move further than 10 feet away from his discarded armour results in its conversion to gaseous form and reformation back on his body. Each time the Slayer is killed the Red Armour converts his body to gaseous form and deposits him 2 miles distant and heals him to 2 hp. The Slayer remains unconscious for 2d10 rounds until waking. Each "death" results in the loss of 2 experience levels.
The Slayer's Story
About a month ago his party was sent into the desert to find a Golden Sceptre buried within a sand covered temple. All went well until after locating the rod. Temple traps and guardians then came to life and massacred his companions. After his sword was lost he attempted to escape through the desert. Unfortunately the Stone Lions have pursed him ever since and he has had no means of dispatching them. He does not mention that he has been killed three times thus far during his ordeal. His only wish is to deliver the Golden Sceptre and be done with the quest.
After defeating the Lions Areez leads the party back the way they came. Once again it takes 10 days to complete the return journey plus any added time taken with Sand Storms.
The Serpent Warrior Ambush
During the third night of travel, around midnight, the party is ambushed by 8 Serpentine Warriors. Using magic these creatures have predicted the party's route and have buried themselves under the sand in expectation of their approach:
Suddenly, without warning, the sands around you erupt and huge green-scaled Serpent men with large vacant eyes, and long snake like bodies, engage the party. There are 6 of them among the Camel Train and 2 more 100 feet away. All wear ancient looking armour and carry swords, axes and shields.
Serpentine Warriors (8)
AC: 2 or 3 and AC 6 for exposed tail section
HD: 7 hp: 58
Attacks: 3 or 2 + 1 tail sweep (rear only)
Damage: 1d3/1d3 (claws)+ 1d4 (bite + poison 0/20) or weapon +5 (strength +3 and specialisation +2) plus 1d3 +1 (tail sweep, dexterity check or knocked prone).
Special Defence: Magic Resistance 25%
Size: L (7' tall, 14' long total)
Serpent A. 2 Handed Sword (1d10+1) (AC 3)
Serpent B. Bastard Sword, Shield (AC 2)
Serpent C. Battle Axe, Shield (AC 2)
Serpent D. Scimitar, Shield (AC 2)
Serpent E. 2 Handed Sword (AC 3)
Serpent F. Longspear (AC 3)
Serpent G. Fine Longbow (+3 to damage), (AC 3)
---------- 30 sheaf arrows, Bastard Swd
Serpent H. Fine Longbow (as above), (AC 3)
---------- Bastard Swd + Scroll
*Pass Without Trace
*Veil of Sand - creates a blinding sand storm of 200 foot radius within 1 round of gesturing.
*Immune to Poisons
*Read Magical Scrolls
Tactics: This attack causes the PCs to roll for surprise with a -3 penalty (Serpentine Warriors do not leave tracks). All the camels are surprised and they will attempt to run away from the monsters in the next available round unless a riding check is made by the PCs at a -4 penalty. Regardless, the six (6) Serpentine Warriors attack the centre of the column as the camels turn to flee. They rise up and attack the camel riders rather than the camels. The two (2) Serpentine Warriors who are not in the main group snipe at the PCs, and possibly Areez and the Slayer, from a position 100 feet in front of the camel train. One uses a huge long bow while the other, during the surprise round, reads from a burning scroll to summon forth a Fire Elemental. The Elemental attacks at the start of the third round of combat after advancing forwards.
If this fight goes badly for the Serpentine Warriors they use their Veil of Sand power to create a localised sand storm and escape. They will not risk being killed at the hands of the PCs.
Fire Elemental (1)
Mv: 12 AC: 2 HD: 8 hp: 60 THACO: 13 Attacks: 1 Damage: 3d8 (fist)
Special Defence: +2 weapons to hit. Xp: 2000
If the party returns with the Red Slayer and the Golden Sceptre they are greeted by Hassan who is very pleased with the outcome. He pays the 1000 gold pieces as promised and hands over an ornate dagger to the Slayer saying he is sorry to see that he was the only one who made it back. The Slayer goes his own way, acknowledging he owes the party his life and returns to his quarters in the city.
The dagger is a magical weapon of +3 enchantment. Its primary power is the ability to Locate Objects, as per the spell, 3 times per day.
PCs successfully completing this adventure gain a bonus 2000 experience points on top of that gained for defeating the monsters.
Ideas for an expanded campaign.
The DM can include more desert encounters if so desired.
In the city the PCs could also be approached by a bodyguard of Hassan's who is trying to prevent his assassination and/or the theft of the Golden Sceptre.