The Wailing Hills of Gána-Ga
These hills are generally safe to travel, busy with trade and teeming with life, for Nippur—the religious center and home to Enlil, the god of fertility and growth—lies here.
Criss-crossed by roads. As long as the adventurers follow one of the many roads crisscrossing the hills, no Vigor test is needed to cross the zone.
Mountainous. Travel speed is one hexagon per day, two with a guide.
Chance encounters: 2d8
2 A fair eyed traveler named Tarrash pursues the party, eager to travel with them as a guide. At the most opportune moment, he will try to murder one of the adventurers in a way that makes her death seem like an accident, in hope of taking her place.
Tarrash: pwr 4 (+Guile), save 12, end 20. Armed with a poisoned knife (dmg 1d6; poison: +1d6 dmg ongoing, recovers on a 5+; Might saves for half). Carries 1d6 additional doses poison.
3 A persistent thunderstorm creates flash floods of muddy water, cascading down the hillsides and nearly drowning the PCs. Each player must make a Vigor save: on a hit her character is fine, but on a miss she is swept away a league downstream by the flood and has a 3-in-6 risk of losing a piece of equipment in the mud. After the rain subsides, traversing the area will take twice as long.
4 A brisk and life-giving rain falls during the evening, making toad large as a man’s head come out of the ground. During night, the drone of their calls sounds like distant drums and humming wooden pipes.
5 A band of eight sick pilgrims, seeking aid and protection. The pilgrims aren’t aggressive, but will cling to the adventurers’ like their last hope of survival, pleading for help and catching up with them late at night if left behind during the day. For each day spent in the company of the pilgrims, there is a 1-in-6 chance that an adventurer gets infected and starts dying (1d4 dmg per day, no recovery during short rests, heals on a 7+; Might saves for half).
If the pilgrims are escorted safely to the Shrine of Ablution in Borsippa, they will offer one medicinal root each, allowing the reroll of all recovery dice when ingested.
Sickly pilgrims (8): pwr 2, save 9, end 4. Smelling of disease and despair, their humble clothes stained with pus and phlegm. Unarmed (dmg 1d4; no crit).
6 In a sparse forest of cypresses echoing with the sad cries of peacocks, a woman sits kneeling by the side of a pit trap shouting encouragements and orders to a fellow wanderer caught in it. The man in the trap is badly wounded from the fall and the spikes at the bottom, but reluctant to climb out as he is actually the woman’s prisoner.
Hudura, the captor: pwr 4, save 13 (+Guile – Lore) end 20; Wearing hardened leather armor (armor 5) and equipped with a meteorite khopesh (1d8; iron: may roll an additional damage die, but weapon breaks on 1; wt 2) and a flatbow (dmg 1d8; missile: reach 1; 6 arrows).
Ewan, the prisoner: pwr 3, save 9 (+Might – Senses) end 6 (max 18). Wearing thick flax clothes that are badly torn from the trap and fighting with a wooden spike retrieved from its bottom (dmg 1d6).
7 The hills level off in a large plateau, where a field of purple crocus grow. The women of a nearby settlement work the fields, while their men idly process the harvest and trade dye and resin with each other.
The people of the crocus (2d10+10): pwr 2, save 5, end 8. Hoes and pickaxes (1d6; no crit).
8 A retinue of ageing bureaucrats returning from Borsippa has set up camp by a deep gorge, roasting tarantulas over a sagewood fire and drinking away their despair with sparkling wine. The wooden bridge that spanned the gap has been destroyed in a mudslide, and without the skills to navigate the mountain or strength to climb across the gorge—but insistent on not returning back—they have remained here for six days. The old bureaucrats are all good-mannered, friendly and particular. If the adventurers aid them across the chasm and safely to Nippur, they offer their hospitality and leeway with taxation as reward.
Bureaucrats: pwr 2 (+Lore), save 7, end 12. Clad in exquisite—albeit old—robes and armed with ceremonial weaponry (dmg 1d4; unbalanced: while often ineffective, the weapon’s unorthodox design occasionally makes it surprisingly deadly—for critical damage, roll 1d12).
Guliam the long-bearded, their leader: pwr 3, save 12, end 10. Keeping his long beard rolled with golden threads and silk ribbons, his equally long hair in a bright blue turban rising like a minaret from his head. Armed with a ceremonial mace (dmg 1d6; unbalanced: while often ineffective, the weapon’s unorthodox design occasionally makes it surprisingly deadly—for critical damage, roll 1d12).
9 Two meeting caravans of donkey-carts block the road completely as their drivers shout insults and argue resentfully over who is to give way while struggling to navigate a tricky pass. The adventurers must either wait until the situation is resolved and slow their pace to match (adding 1d6 days to their journey) or leave the road, thus provoking a Vigor test as per traversing difficult terrain.
Mahram, leader of the home-bound caravan refusing to give way: pwr 4, save 10, end 18. Dressed in fine silk, dusty from long travel, and wielding an axe with long handle (dmg 1d8, versatile 1d10; wt 4).
His caravan drivers (4d6): pwr 2, save 5, end 14. Short spears and knives (dmg 1d6).
Milam, his brother and bitter rival in trade and love: pwr 4, save 10, end 18. Slightly better dressed than his rival and slightly better equipped, with a taller axe of expert craftsmanship (dmg 1d8, versatile 1d12; wt 5).
His caravan drivers (4d6): pwr 2, save 5, end 14. Short spears and knives (dmg 1d6).
10 The rough lands give way to a shallow vale, full of blooming camel thorns. Here, a small caravan bound for Kish has made an encampment. The caravan has just been deserted by the soldiers (see 11) who were paid to escort them, and Ishaban, their leader, is willing to pay the adventurers 20 shekels each to if they take on this role.
Ishaban, the merchant: pwr 2, end. 10, armed with a curved blade (1d6; versatile d8) and an oval shield (defense 3), and dressed in turquoise Bedouins clothes.
His caravan drivers (8): pwr 2, save 5, end 14. Short spears and knives (dmg 1d6).
11 A company of excisemen have set up camp next to a circle of pillars, interrogating 2d4 soldiers that were passing by in haste.
In the center of the circle of pillars stand a tall statue of a man. Raising his hands and head to the sky, his shadow moves over the pillars like the dial of a sun-clock.
Excisemen (10): pwr 2, save 6, end 12. Bronze spears (dmg 1d8).
Badar, their leader: pwr 3, save 9, end 10. Equipped with a towerin shield (def 4) and a less-spectacular bronze mace (dmg 1d6).
12 A young woman of noble birth, fleeing from her older sisters—two criminals convicted of poisoning their mother, now seeking to end her life as well (see 13). Carries a small pouch of heirlooms, worth 310 shekels and is willing to part with half in return for safe passage to Borsippa where she intends to get on a boat and start a new life somewhere else.
Illiara: pwr 3 (+Craft), save 5, end 14. Armed with a long knife (dmg 1d6). Knows how to craft a multitude of potions.
13 Two female warriors of noble birth in pursuit of their younger sister, who poisoned their mother and laid blame on them (see 12). Now shunned by their kin in Nippur, the warriors have no hope for retribution but only for revenge. One of them is carrying a dark brass horn (worth 450 s). If sounded, its booming tone forces all who hear it to forfeit their actions to instead writher in agony and terror until the noise subsides (Might saves).
Galia and Hasara: pwr 3 (+Might), save 6, end 18. Clad in bronze harnesses (armor 5) and wielding tall spears (dmg 1d8).
14 A procession of delegates from Kish, carrying stone idols and gleaming official emblems, passes by on another ridge.
15 Bandits (2d6): pwr 2, save 8, end 8. Clad in sturdy clothes, and fighting with curved knives (dmg 1d6) and horn-bows (dmg 1d8; reach 3; 4 arrows).
16 Remnants of a royal road from a past eon. By its eastern side, the unhinged doors of eighty-eight ransacked mausoleums stare like empty eye sockets. Four specters live in the shadows, guarding the remaining treasures by sucking life from those who step out of the sunlight.
Specters (4): pwr 3, save 10, end 6. Soul drain (special dmg: for each success, target permanently loses 1 point of a randomly determined ability score). Cannot be harmed by normal weapons, suffer 1d10 dmg per round in sunlight.