When we last left our heroes, they had just triumphed over the trials of jaurkevna. During their adventure, they have managed to meet a cadre of new friends and level up to a higher skill level.
Note to self: wait until they've leveled up, also make it clear that we may not get through all of this in this session. That's okay, we have next week :)
Upon walking forward out of the cave, the first thing you notice is the heat. It is sweltering up here. You will need to be sure to drink a lot more water so that the sands do not claim their next victim. Wearing thick armor will make you dehydrate faster. The sun punishes down from above. There appears to be a city in the distance, but it looks like it will be a fairly long walk on the path to the right. The dunes all around you look like they could be disguising something, and may let you get a better view. The sand lizards in your party feel like they are at home in the same way that the goblins do not. What do you do?
Path to Cihan[1/4]
One of the goblins notes that we're in prime conditions for a sandstorm.
Path to Cihan[2/4]
A merchant's wagon has fallen over on its side and the Chee merchant is looking worried.
The wagon fell over because a wheel broke. The horse pulling the wagon ran away in confusion, leaving Murth out of luck and desperate for help. Murth is an older male Chee that runs a meat delivery operation. The goal here is that the artificier and shapeshifter should work together to make a new wheel out of the scraps and provide a new horse for helping Murth get to his destination.
On success, you get 300 gold and Murth joins your party for a short time.
Path to Cihan[3/4]
There is a golden statue of Nalam, another important figure in the scroll of Chee history. She helped lead the expedition from the overpopulated flatlands to the desert, later helping to name it Miau after a misprounciation of her name.
The left arm of the statue looks like it is holding a golden necklace of some kind. It looks like you could grab it if you were careful and/or lucky. There is a golden inscription on the base of the statue in Chee. If a player rolls for intelligence they find out it says:
In honor of Nalam, the greatest hero we could ever ask for. Taken from us too soon. Her shimmering, sparkling and pure headress adorns this monument.
If a player succeeds a dexterity check, they manage to swipe the necklace and makes the statue's and then the player's eyes glow bright blue for a moment. If the player puts it on, they shapeshift into Nalam in that flowing white dress and get a +1 charisma bonus with other Chees and are able to tolerate the heat better. Failing this too many times will make the necklace cursed (player needs a Chee to take that necklace off of them) and then poof away into nothing.
Path to Cihan[4/4]
The sandstorm is starting! Hurry! Get to safety!
Lollygagging will incur a 50% chance of 1 sandstorm damage whenever the narrator feels like applying it.
A guard snipes one of the goblins on sight. The others are taking aim at the other goblins and lizards. They look like they are not in the mood for games or mind tricks from outsiders. What do you do?
The town's roads are paved in all colors of sandstone. There are palm trees adorning a path down the middle to an important looking building. There is a tavern to the right called The Iridescent Jewel of the Sands. There is a blacksmith to the left and an open-air food market to the bottom-left. One of the merchants in the town square appears to be offering some kind of clothing out of a tent.
The Iridescent Jewel of the Sands
A very orderly tavern, most of the patrons seem to be Chees or Sneps. A smaller Elf in a long flowing dress seems to be playing a harp. You can't quite recognize the tune, but it is soothing.
Other patrons will not be interested in the players.
This blacksmith's shop looks cozy, as cozy as running an iron smelting furnace in the middle of a desert can be that is. It is very hot in this shop. The muscular as heck Chee running this shop is wearing nothing but shorts. He will greet the players as they come in and apologize for the heat.
If the players buy a Molarian Sunrise, the proprietor of the shop will ask them to get him one of the boomerang rat's boomerangs so he can study and learn from them (+400g and 40 ice/fire arrows).
Okay so I can't really think of anything that would go well here. It's an open-air food market like you see in town centers. What kind of things would go well here?
Improvise based on what players tell you.
The tent off the side of the town square is surprisingly cool. There are a number of local clothing items for sale by Riala, the owner of the shop. She has heat-resistant clothing as well as a few potions. Riala is kind, old and comes across as eccentric.
Palace of Aetna
This palace is very spartan. There is a river flowing through the middle of it, feeding out into the other parts of the town. There is a water source above the palace, but it's not clear where the water actually comes from. There is a young female Chee (Aetna) sitting on the throne, looking overly important for someone sitting around doing nothing. There is a guard tirelessly fanning her with a palm leaf.
If one of the players is polymorphed into Nalam, Aetna will instantly spring to attention and take them very seriously. If not, she will be passive and dismissive. Aetna will give the players a quest to find what is causing the sandstorms and stop them. Mention how trade has been cut off, etc. Reward is "this weird heart-shaped diamond I just found".
I don't know what this is, but if you want it you can have it for stopping the sandstorms.
After talking with Aetna, another guard will come in the room and tell everyone that the sandstorm has stopped. This allows the players to leave the city.
Path to Desert's Center
The path is very calm ever since the sandstorms gave out. There is a well off to the side, but it looks like it will be difficult to get over there.
The other goblin will follow you to the well. The goblin will try to take a drink from the well, but will fall in. Trying to help the goblin makes players roll a dexterity save. If they fail, they fall in too. The well is 15 feet deep and easy to get out of if you have a rope on the other side. The goblin will leave the well last. If the goblin fails a few dexterity saves, the rope will snap and the well will get very quiet.
Path to Desert's Center
The wind whistles as you walk, cooling you down a little. You see the Chee statue from before to the left.
Path to Desert's Center
You see bandits around the large steel monument in the distance. They don't see you yet, but you probably shouldn't yell to them either. There are some ruins to the right.
This metal monument has been battered by the sands over the years. There is a sizable amount of wear on the outer layers of the metal, creating these beautiful color banding patterns as the layers of metal get exposed. It looks like there could be something inside it, but it is hard to get in there. The bandits are very interested in it for some reason. You will need to be careful otherwise you will be spotted by them.
If the players clear out the bandits, they find a note telling them about the bandit's hideout in the south of the desert and that the sandstorms are their doing, signed Tol'kath the Destroyer.
Walking up the dunes, you see something in the distance. Previously you thought it was a mountain, but it actually turns out to be a giant steel monument. Its design doesn't match anything else you've seen before. It looks enticing, but there are monsters in the way.
The sand clears up and you can walk ahead normally. Just when you feel safe, boomerang rats attack from all sides!
On defeat, a boomerang is dropped.
Ruins of Ci
There is most of an arch ahead. There is a ruined city past it, the sands and years having been progressively less and less kind to it as they go on. See Ci map.
Cihan is the second Chee city in the desert. Ci was the first. The Chee had worked together with the Sneps in order to construct the massive coastal city of Ci. Over time there was a disagreement over how the city should be run and it ended with the Sneps being exiled to the mountains. Nalam was too old and sickly to stop it.