Rhotan’s caravan consists of three sand skiffs Rhotan’s group consists of himself, two sand skiff pilots, and six deckhands (two per sand skiff). Rhotan pilots one of the skiffs himself.
Rhotan and his crew are not warriors; they expect the characters to do all the fighting. In fact, for the first leg of the adventure, the trek to Silver Spring, Rhotan expects the characters to scout a full day ahead and deal with whatever danger the desert presents before the caravan can run afoul of it. In addition, the caravan does not enter the Canyon of Gothay until the characters have found the vault of Darom Madar and given the all clear.
In the third act of the adventure, things change a bit. Laden with treasure, Rhotan keeps the heroes close to the caravan on the journey to Tyr. The characters must not only defend themselves from the dangers of the Athasian wilderness, they must ensure that Rhotan and his crew survive.
Fleeing the fort
While getting aquainted with Rhotan, you can hear the rumble of a large host moving throughout the fort, seemingly toward you. A dust cloud confirms the host’s presence. Balazar looks over and asks “coming for you?” and laughs, the brief note of fear that can be seen from the corner of your eye confirms his suspicions. “We best get going then, Hi’Ya!!” he begins to direct the other drivers forward as he directs his whip at the Crodlus. The wagons spring into action, lurching forward.
As you break through the gates, a herd of wagons can be seen turning the corning, bringing forth a swarm of town guards. You can hear the bloodlust in their voice as they call for your head. “Stop the slaves, stop the slaves. Defiler” They are quickly gaining speed, what will you do?
Level: 1 (XP 100)
Complexity: 1 (requires 4 successes before 3 failures)
Primary Skills: Endurance, Perception, Stealth
Special: Success in the skill challenge requires 4 successful primary skill checks. Each of the three pri- mary skills must be used at least once, in any order, before any of them can be attempted a second time. After that, they can be used in any mix and order the players choose.
Endurance (DC 10, group check; 1 success): Your group is tough enough to survive even the relentless heat of the Athasian sun.
Perception (DC 10, group check; 1 success): Keen eyes and direction sense keep you headed in the right direction.
Stealth (DC 10, group check; 1 success): Dangers abound in the Athasian wilderness, but they can be avoided if your group is quick and quiet.
Secondary Skills: Bluff, Heal, Nature
Special: If a primary skill check earns a failure for the group, then one character can use one of these secondary skills in an attempt to convert that failure into a success.
Bluff (DC 13; 0 successes, 1 attempt per primary skill group check): By creating a diversion that keeps hostile humanoids and monsters from noticing your group, you convert a single character’s failed Stealth check into a success as part of the Stealth primary group skill check.
Heal (DC 10; 0 successes, 1 attempt per primary skill group check): By treating the emerging symp- toms of heat exhaustion and sun sickness before they become debilitating, you convert a single character’s failed Endurance check into a success as part of the Endurance primary group skill check.
Nature (DC 13; 0 successes, 1 attempt per primary skill group check): By carefully navigating the harsh Athasian wilderness and avoiding its worst flora and fauna, you convert a single character’s failed Percep- tion check into a success as part of the Perception primary group skill check.
Success: The characters reach the next encounter unharmed and intact. They have had ample time to rest and have maximum hit points and all powers available to them.
Failure: Group failure (not individual failure) at a primary skill check has the following results.
Endurance: Each time the group as a whole fails at this skill check, every character who failed the Endur- ance check individually is exposed to sun sickness (Dark Sun Campaign Setting page 199).
Perception: Each time the group as a whole fails at this skill check, every character who failed the Perception check individually gains a cumulative -1 penalty to all subsequent Perception checks made as part of this skill challenge.
Stealth: If the group as a whole fails at this skill check, they have a combat encounter with one of the desert’s many dangerous inhabitants. Choose and run one of the following optional encounters.
Halfway between Bremil pass and Silver Spring lies a small, nameless oasis that is little more than a muddy pool in a shallow, sandy depression. This humble oasis has long served as an important way station for travelers making the dangerous trip across the Tablelands. Recently, bandits calling themselves the Crimson Vipers have taken up residence at the oasis and have been mercilessly killing and robbing desert travelers who stop there.
The Crimson Vipers are led by Drokan, a dwarven priest, and his longtime companion in villainy, a half- ling wilder named Yassi. The rest of the gang consists of three human warriors, all of whom are considered expendable by Drokan and Yassi.
Knowing how vital the oasis is to desert travelers, the Crimson Vipers typically let their victims come to them. When an approaching dust cloud is spotted, Yassi ranges out to scout the approaching travelers and gauge their strength. Large, well-armed caravans are left unmolested, and the bandits make themselves scarce while such unattainable prey uses the oasis. Smaller groups are ambushed, murdered, stripped of valuables, and then buried in the desert.
The approaching characters fall into the latter group.
The characters can avoid walking into an ambush if they spot Yassi before they reach the oasis. The characters can spot the halfling wilder while he observes them from a nearby hiding spot place. Yassi remains at least 20 squares away from the approach- ing characters while observing them and uses natural cover for concealment. His passive Stealth check is 19; at a range of 20 squares, however, the characters need a Perception check of 23 to spot the hidden halfling. If the characters see Yassi, he immediately springs up and sprints back to the oasis to warn Drokan. If the heroes fail to spot him, he lets them pass by, then sneaks back to the oasis to join in the ambush.
If the characters spot Yassi, read:
Sudden movement among the rolling dunes ahead catches your eye. A small, lithe form springs up from behind a low dune and races off to the north, away from your group.
Once the characters reach the oasis, the Crimson Vipers are ready for them, hiding in the sparse scrub around the muddy pool. The bandits have a passive Stealth check of 11. If the characters spotted Yassi before reaching the oasis, give them a +2 bonus to all Perception checks made to spot the hiding bandits.
Approaching the oasis
Calling this muddy hole in the ground surrounded by desert scrub an oasis is an overstatement. However, even muddy, foul-tasting water is welcome relief from the desert. Before you can contemplate your first sip, the oasis erupts into violent action as three armed men burst from cover and charge toward you.
SilVer Spring oaSiS
Silver Spring oasis has long stood as a vital stop on the trade route between Urik and Tyr. Its longevity in a desert filled with dangerous monsters and brutal ban- dits is a testament to the skill of the Silver Hand elves who have guarded the fortified oasis for generations. Silver Spring oasis consists of a walled caravanserai within which stands the “Silver Spring,” the source
of the oasis’s water and name. Doors along the inner walls lead to sleeping chambers, a common room, food stores, stables, and vaults where traders can safely store their merchandise.
The characters’ goal here is to meet with the elven chieftain Toramund. The elves are known to have quite a bit of desert lore, and Rhotan Vor believes Toramund can tell them much about the dangers that infest the Canyon of Gothay. In addition to any information they may gain, Silver Spring is an ideal place to rest and resupply before heading back out into the desert.
The elves are not fond of traders beyond what they come to sell and buy, and Toramund only meets with those he considers important enough to warrant his attention. If the characters agreed to deliver Iseel’s message to the elven leader, they have an excellent way to gain Toramund’s attention. All they need to do is mention Iseel’s name and that they bear a message from her, and they are whisked through a bewilder- ing array of passages beneath Silver Spring and into Toramund’s presence. Getting the elven chieftain to tell them anything is another matter entirely.
Audience with Torramund
The characters’ attempt to bargain for information from the elven chieftain Toramund can be handled as a pure roleplaying encounter or as a roleplaying skill challenge.
Elves are notoriously tough negotiators; getting them to part with anything, be it information or mer- chandise, is a long, grueling experience not wisely undertaken by the faint of heart. In addition, Tora- mund has risen to his current position by being one of the shrewdest negotiators on the Tablelands.
In other words, the characters have their work cut out for them.
If the characters have Iseel’s message for Toramund and have decrypted its elven cypher, they can gain an edge in the negotiations with Toramund. If the characters decided not to deliver Iseel’s message, they must bribe their way into Toramund’s presence. A bribe of five survival days’ worth of food and water (or the equivalent) is enough to earn them an audi- ence with Toramund. This amount can be reduced to three survival days with a successful Diplomacy check (DC 17) on the elf in charge of who does and doesn’t gain access to Toramund. (Presumably, he will keep most of the bribe for himself.) Let players come up with this idea on their own or hint at it only broadly in their encounter with the guard.
Regardless of how the characters get to Toramund, when they are brought to his secret meeting chamber beneath Silver Spring, read the following aloud:
Your elven guide leads you through a bewildering array of narrow passages that seem to slope ever downward. You were promised an audience with the chieftain Toramund, and as you wind deeper into the labyrinth, you realize you would never had reached him on your own. You may not be able to find your way out again without guide. Finally, you stop before a curtained aperture in a narrow tunnel from which the soft glow of firelight emanates. Your guide pushes the curtain aside and motions for you to enter.
Beyond the curtain, a small, square room holds a single elven man sitting cross-legged on the earthen floor on a woven matt. Like all elves he is long-limbed and rangy, but this elf has a physical presence that most elves lack. An unsheathed obsidian longsword lies casually on the floor just inches from his hand. The elven man fixes you with steel-blue eyes and says, “Here I am. Now what do you fools want?”
Negotiating with Toramund
Level 2 (XP 500) Complexity: 4 (requires 10 successes before 3
failures) Primary Skills: Bluff, Diplomacy Bluff (DC 13; standard action; 1 success, no maxi-
mum): You use your quick mind and silver tongue to exaggerate your group’s abilities in an attempt to impress the elven chieftain.
Diplomacy (DC 13; standard action; 1 success, no maximum): You are a skilled negotiator, and you match your skills well against the shrewd elven chieftain.
Secondary Skills: Endurance, Insight, Intimidate, Nature
Endurance (DC 12; standard action; 1 success max- imum): The elves admire physical endurance. You relate a tale of a grueling physical obstacle your group has overcome recently.
Insight (DC 15; standard action; 0 successes): Reading Toramund’s body language is no easy task, but if you pay close attention, the elven chieftain has a few tells that, once identified, can aid your negotia- tions. You grant a +2 bonus to one ally’s next Buff or Diplomacy check made as part of this skill challenge.
Intimidate (standard action; 1 failure): Any attempt to intimidate Toramund automatically fails and earns the characters a failure and a
1 penalty to all further skill checks made in the skill challenge. Toramund simply does not view the characters as a threat. Nature (DC 12; standard action; 1 success, 1 maximum): Elves respect those who understand the wilds of Athas. You relate some of your knowledge of the natural world in an attempt to impress Toramund. tion grants them a +2 bonus to all skill checks in the “Exploring the Canyon” skill challenge in Part 2 and allows them to turn one failure into a success. Fur- thermore, Toramund is so impressed with their drive that he charges them only two survival days of food and water for the information.
Success: Toramund tells the characters what he knows about the dangers of the Canyon of Gothay. This knowledge gains them the following benefits, depending on how many failures they earned before completing the skill challenge.
0 Failures: So skilled were the characters in their negotiations that they managed to impress Toramund, and he tells them all he knows about the Canyon of Gothay. The elven chieftain’s detailed informa
1 Failure: The characters did not embarrass them- selves in the negotiation. They gain a +1 bonus on skill checks in the “Exploring the Canyon” skill challenge in Part 2. The characters are charged three survival days of food and water (or the equivalent) for this information.
2 Failures: The characters emerge from negotiat- ing with Toramund looking diminished and foolish, but they got some of what they wanted from the wily chieftain. They gain no bonus or penalty on skill checks in the “Exploring the Canyon” skill challenge in Part 2. The characters are charged five survival days of food and water (or the equivalent) for the scraps that Toramund revealed.
Failure: If the characters fail this skill challenge, they only confirm Toramund’s original assessment of them as weak, foolish outsiders. He gives them only the scantest details about the Canyon of Gothay, which they probably could have gotten from anyone at the oasis. This enables them to find the canyon without incident. If, however, the characters tried to Intimidate Toramund at any point, then he fed them false information along with the rest, and it will lead them directly into danger. In this case, the first time the characters earn a failure in the “Exploring the Canyon” skill challenge and blunder into a combat encounter, they are automatically surprised.