A vast stretch of sun-burnt grass, bending and rising under the hissing desert wind like the swell of a sea. Only seldom is the monotonous line of the horizon broken by desiccated bushes or low trees outlining wide wadis, or by sudden stones placed here by the giants of old. Without such landmarks, travel would seem hopeless and
Terrain is flat. Travel speed is two hexagons per day; three by chariot or mount.
Chance encounters: 2d6
2 Innumerable termite mounds are scattered over the area, like tombstones of a subhuman civilization. Anyone threading the ground will be swarmed and slowly eaten by the termites (+1d4 damage, ongoing; shields and armor effectless). Several wanderers have met their death here, and their bleached remains lay scattered between the mounds. One of the corpses is carrying the horn of the locusts. Every round an adventurer spends searching the bodies, her player rolls a ten-sided die. She finds as many shekels as the die indicates; on a 9 she successfully finds the horn.
The horn of locusts. When blowing the horn of the locusts, test Lore. For each 5+, 1d100 locusts burst forth from the horn to swarm and propagate (860 shekels).
3 A withered statue of a majestic woman glances west; probably a queen of old, signaling her claim of the land. The statue’s thick features and braided hair are colored jet by ancient paint. Its left arm is missing without trace, but her right hand forms a circle with thumb and index finger like a magnifying glass missing a lens. In its shadow, six speckled lions are dozing.
Speckled lions (6): pwr 2 (+Vigor), save 5, end 14. Teeth and claws (dmg 1d6+1).
4 A band of slavers, rolling their wagons towards Borsippa to sell their human cargo to the reed-folk merchants there. In one of the wagons, trapped behind bars of sturdy wood and bound by sinew-rope sits a young woman. She will plead the adventurers to free her from her misery, and reunite her with her elderly mother.
Slavers (2d6+3): pwr 2, save 6, end. 9. Protected by bricolage armor and narrow shields (armor 4; def 2), fighting with tall stone-hammers (dmg 1d8; first strike: may attack first at the beginning of combat, regardless of initiative; wt 5).
5 Four wounded travelers, toiling to repair their broken cart and capturing stray donkeys noticeable unwilling to heed their masters. Surrounding the cart are signs of ambush and strife, together with half-a-dozen corpses. The living men are in fact the ambushers, now masquerading as the merchants they killed. They are anxious to leave the scene, and will offer food and drinks in exchange for help with mending their cart. If presented with an opportune moment, the travelers will drug the adventurers with a potent sleeping drug, steal their valuables and abandon them.
Sleeping potion. Drinker must check Might: on a miss she falls unconscious for 1d12 hours; on a hit, she stays awake but suffers a negative reroll to all actions for the same amount of time. Any strong shock or damage suffered allows the drinker a new Might check. Rogues may roll checks twice and choose best.
Reavers, disguised as travelers (4): pwr 2, save 8, end 8. Clad in blood-stained merchants’ clothes, and fighting with curved knives (dmg 1d6) and short bows (dmg 1d6; reach 1; 4 arrows).
6 A new irrigation canal is currently under construction by eleven slaves, under the supervision of two engineers and their leader Olumad Hana. A twelfth slave is tied to a pole, bleeding from lash-marks and terribly swollen from innumerable stings and bites. He attempted escape and was nearly eaten alive by terrible ants when he sought to hide among the pylons they construe (see 2).
Workers (11): pwr 2, save 5, end 8. Equipped with shovels and pickaxes (dmg 1d6; no crit)
Engineer (2): pwr 2 (+Craft), save 6, end 12. Equipped with sextants, measurement sticks and long daggers (dmg 1d6).
Olumad Hana: pwr 3 (+Senses +Guile), save 9, end 12. Clad in a many-layered tunic and wide trousers, armed with a mace of office (dmg 1d8; wt 2).
7 A sumerian war band, a hundred and twenty strong, drawing north and west, led by the ambitious deputy Lamar. They are seeking to conquer a golden statue from an ancient monastery in the foothills of Sardun and bring it before their ruler as a token of power over the sun.
Sumerian warriors (120): pwr 2, save 7, end 14. Carrying gleaming bronze harnesses (armor 6), sky-blue wicker shields (defense 2) and duck-billed axes (dmg 1d8).
Lamar: pwr 3, save 9, end 27. Wearing an electrum harness (armor 3, defense 5 (10 against fire); worth 450 shekels) and fighting with a two-handed shotel made from blackened bronze (dmg 1d8; impact: roll twice and choose best; shield breaking; wt 6; 220 shekels).
8 By a dried out creek, a large field of wilted yellow bromegrass sways to an unfelt breeze. The dry grass is home to lizard-headed ostriches, hunting in 1d6 packs of 2d4 individuals each.
Lizard-Birds: pwr 2 (+Vigor), save 4, end 14. Dagger-like claws and toothed beak (dmg 1d8).
9 A burned down hamlet. The single survivor is the old man Tarban, cursing the gods and screaming for vengeance. If the adventurers bring him the heads of the four soldiers (see 7) who killed his family and plundered their home he will repay them by revealing the location of a secret door in the Ziggurat of the Apes (10), leading straight to the jewel hidden at its center.
Old man Tarban: pwr 1, save 7, end 5. Clad in dirty clothes, and his body smeared with blood and soot.
10 An ancient ziggurat, housing a host of very territorial apes and their queen, priestess Xila, worshipping a giant aquamarine (worth 2000 shekels; withers in sunlight: -100 shekel’s worth per day outside the ziggurat).
Apes (12): pwr 3, save 4, end 30. Fighting with their bare fists (dmg 1d10; bludgeon 1d6) or tearing blocks of baked clay from their ziggurat and hurling them as enormous projectiles (dmg 1d8; thrown; always as called shots).
Xila: pwr 3, save 15, end 24. Clad in silk and adorned with necklaces and rings or gold and lapis lazuli (worth 425 shekel), wielding a tall bronze axe (dmg 1d10; wt 4) and whispering enchantments between vermillion lips. 3 doses lotus powder.
Enthrall (lotus spell). Target must check Lore; on a miss she suffers a negative reroll to all actions disproved by the caster; on a hit it recoils. The effect lasts until 1d6 weeks have passed, but can be broken prematurely by performing an act of love and compassion benefitting the caster.
11 In a wide pit, precious gems have been mined. The activities of the miners have stirred an old and wicked toad-dragon, hibernating underground in wait for the next flood.
Dragon Toad: pwr 4, save 8, end 62. Bite (dmg 2d6). Free action, once per turn: sticky tongue (reach 2). Target must check Senses or become caught by the creature’s tongue, giving it an automatic success on its bite attack the following round. Over the years spent underground, the monster has swallowed 56 precious gems which can be retrieved from its stomach (total worth 2d20 x gems retrieved).
12 Roll twice and combine, or place an event or adventure locale of your own design.