The land rises here, forming a barren high plateau. The torrential rains of earlier epochs have washed away most of the soil, so the vegetation consists mainly of thistles, low bushes and yellow grass that grow in the occasional fertile spot, clinging to gravel and stones for shelter against the merciless evening breeze that seeks to sweep away what little earth is left.
Earlier installments in this series are The Rocky Desert and The Tall Grass Steppe
Flat. Travel speed is three hexagons per day.
Chance encounters, 1d10
1 Among the withered remains of a ruined settlement, a troupe of traveling artists led by Ditallu the merry have set up camp. They have been there for a few days, collecting food and mending equipment and are happy to share their campfire with fellow travelers (+3 on reaction rolls). They tell that this place is safe for them, and they thank the protective spirits residing in an ancient statue of a flower-crowned and woman with noble features and birds’ feet still standing among the ruined buildings, glancing south. The troupe’s two camels are loaded with artifacts of clumsy design but a strange, saddening beauty that they have traded out of pity for more elegant things with Chugal the Deviser (see rocky desert 7).
Traveling artists (15): pwr 2, save 8, end 12. Assorted weaponry (dmg 1d6).
2 A large natural cave with the ceiling black from soot and the walls covered in crude drawings. Each night, there is a 1-in-6 chance that a tribe of pygmy cave dwellers living here returns. Hidden in the cave is their jade idol, worth 420 shekels.
Cave dwellers (2d6): pwr 2 (+Senses -Might), save 7, end 9. Fighting with wooden spears (dmg 1d6; thrown).
3 A pale trunk of a huge tree, uprooted in an antediluvian storm. Among its ossified branches lies decomposing bodies in leaf thin armor, flaking with patina and age. Next to one of the corpses and hidden by debris lies a curved sword, made from pale pink orichalc. The tree is home to Xuluk—a ravenous worm of giant proportions.
Xuluk: pwr 5/5 (+Might –Lore), save 7, end 54. Carapace (armor 2). Many-toothed maw (dmg 1d10); acid spray (2d6; no crit; reach 1; area attack).
Orichalc sword (dmg 1d4; wt 5; 320 s; oddly balanced: for each 6 rolled during the skill test, the orichalc sword deals an additional d6 damage. This means that a character rolling 1, 5, 5 on her to-hit roll would deal 2d4 whereas a character rolling 1, 5, 6 on the same roll would deal 2d4+1d6)
4 In the distance a golden tower can be seen, flaming like a beacon in the evening sun. When approached, it becomes gradually more and more mundane until it is nothing but a pale brown sandstone rock. If spied on from afar, a woman can be seen exiting the tower just before nightfall and returning again at the first light of day.
Samadra the Enchantress: pwr 3 (+Lore +Guile), save 12, end 29. Bronze spear (dmg 1d8). Knows 1d6 spells and carries an equal amount of Lotus powder.
5 Circling vultures reveal the campsite of a band of ten badly wounded mercenaries, survivors of a recent war. They will offer 600 shekels in return for a bone crown (see Karkal Barrens 7, p 66 in the rules booklet) that was lost during the battle. The crown, they claim, will allow them to restore to life their warrior queen Drava.
Mercenaries (10): pwr 2, save 6, end 6. Equipped with heavy leather war gear (armor 4), cracked shields (def 1) and dented bronze spears (dmg 1d8-1).
Warrior queen Drava, the undead: pwr 4 (+Vigor –Guile), save 4, end 18. Scale war-skirt (armor 5), and tall bronze axe (dmg 1d10; wt 3, guard breaking).
6 A small settlement of goat herders. The villagers live in constant fear of a family of saber-toothed cats (see 7) that decimate their flocks and kill their children. They have little to offer in return for aid, but the girl Nala has a cousin in Ashur who—she asserts—will greet them and grant them access to the city should they ever travel there.
Villagers (2d20): pwr 2, save 4, end 6. Assorted tools (dmg 1d6; no crit).
7 A sabre-toothed tiger hunts these lands with her three cubs.
Sabre-toothed tiger: pwr 4/2, save 5, end 42. Thick fur and hardened skin (armor 2), bite or claws (dmg 1d12).
Cubs (3): pwr 2/2, save 5, end 12. Bite or claws (dmg 1d10).
8 By a small brook with clear water, a trade caravan under the supervision of Barius Sabalo has made halt. They travel with pottery and copper items from Ashur to Mari in the land of the Amorites, to make trade with the vizier Yor Khalbim. They have recently met a group of Akkadian soldiers, traveling in gleaming chariots (9) to chase down an army that has taken their prince captive.
Caravan drivers (14): pwr 2, save 5, end 14. Short spears and knives (dmg 1d6).
Barius Sabalo, their leader: pwr 4, save 10, end 22. Dressed in fine silk and wielding a tall sickle-sword with ivory handle (dmg 1d8, versatile 1d10; wt 3).
9 Through a field of dry orchard-grass, 12 Akkadian war chariots come rushing. They carry plunder from several raids, and are in pursuit of a captive prince Uddut (see Karkal 3, Rules booklet p 66). If the PCs aid them in rescuing their prince, they will be rewarded with 900 shekels.
Akkadian charioteers (36): pwr 3, save 8, end 24. Fighting with bronze spears (dmg 1d8; throw; 6 each) and bows (dmg 1d6; reach 2).
Mules: Vigor 4, save 2, end 18.
Fast. The charioteers move two zones each round.
Momentum. For each previous round of movement, a charioteer adds 1d4 damage die to attacks in melee and by thrown weapons. If the charioteer must halt the charge, all momentum is lost.
Spinning blades. When a character attacks a moving charioteer in melee, her player must check Vigor: on a hit she can evade in time; on a miss she is cut by the chariot’s spinning blades for 1d6 damage (no crit).
10 The wind brings a cacophony of cries mingling with coarse singing and the rumble of earth moving. Upwind, a band of ragged men led by Eno the One-Eyed are lowering prisoners into a pit as a sacrifice to their god. If attacked, they will indiscriminately shove the remaining prisoners in and flee, waiting for the monster to surface.
Gurgath-Lak, the burrowing demon: pwr 3/3/3, save 7, end 50. Stingers (dmg 1d6; dissolving poison: 1d6 dmg per round until a 1 is rolled, recovers on a 6+). Fast metabolism. The poison aids Gurgath-Lak in digesting its victims. Having stung a character, Gurgath-Lak can use its proboscis to suck the life out of her. As long as the character is still poisoned, she suffers 1d12 points of damage (Might saves for half) whereas Gurgath-Lak gains an equal amount of endurance.
Eno, the One-Eyed: pwr 3, save 4, end 20. Wearing animal pelts and fighting with a meteorite axe (dmg 1d8; iron).
Ragged men (2d4): pwr 2, save 5, end 12. Misc. weaponry (dmg 1d6).
Prisoners (1d8 remaining alive): pwr 2, save 3, end 3. Unarmed (dmg 1d4; no crit).