Perception check (20)
The party is awakened by the sounds of soft clanking outside the shed you’ve been hold up within. The Kanks you’ve brought with you give off a snort and a short stamp of the feet. It’s quite obvious to you that something or someone is out there and digging through your hard earned stash.
As you look / go outside you spot 3 humanoid figures digging through your cart, paying no attention to you. (Perception 25 reveals a 4th individual untying one of the Kanks from the post you tied it to.) When noticed, the 3 humanoids surrounding the cart stand at attention, hands going to hips where presumably a weapon is sheathed. Before you stand 2 what could be elves and a thri-kreen (insight 20+ reveals their hostility is probably driven because you have caught them off guard)
A raspy voice to your left speaks to you “Settle down boys I don’t believe these are with them, are you?” The 4th creature is familiar to some of you, red leathery skin, golden eyes, long pointed fingers, and horns growing from the side of his head in a upward direction. Across his face lies an unusual marking, perhaps not inked on but a differentiation in skin tone. (perception / history 15 reveals this mark is the same as Au-Rokan, the 6 fingered hand and is in fact a birth mark).
“Ishmale, Dravik, Chu – relax your weapons. These men only mean to secure what is theirs”. “I apologize, we did think it odd that they would leave such things behind and that anything survived after that atrocity”. I saw you, I saw you while you were being watched, I saw you when you came up the mountain pass. Alone you came, yes?” “Yes, alone I think. If you were with them, you would have left with them. So who are you?”
“Ah me? I am Mokari. Born and raised here in the Salt Meres, Elder of the Alter Sulkers. We would normally not allow outsiders to know of us but since you are here…” “Why are you here?”
Mokari is polite and does invite the group to join them for salt and bread.
If the party joins the sulkers, they will be led through miles of cavernous lava tubs to a rather large opening, mimicing a large hall. While the hall is majoraly natural, it is still filled with stalagmites and stalactites, it has been carved to make the space more hospitable. The space is dimly lit with dung fires and carries with it a pungent aroma. Makshift shelters dot the landscape as a swell of feeble peoples swarm about their daily tasks. Most are pale and appear to be malnourished. Races and genders vary greatly.
Josh History 30: Mark of the Six-Fingered Sign
The mark that commoners scrawl into the walls of their enemies’ homes is a pale echo of the potent and rare glyph that it imitates.
Long ago, when the sorcerer-kings were still solidifying control of their city-states, a powerful preserver from Balic named Balodoro stood against the defiling tyrants. So great was the threat posed by the preserver that the sorcerer-kings set their squabbles aside and briefly united to destroy him. Upon his death, the preserver uttered a powerful curse upon his enemies, saying that his hand would reach forward through time, and that everything
it touched would be purged from the world by his vengeance.
Balodoro’s words are long forgotten, and the magic he used to cast his curse has dwindled or so some would say.
Tribe called alter saulkers makes its home in the system of ancient lava tubes surrounding the Dragon’s Altar. The “whispers of the dead” that people hear as they march toward the Altar are members of the slave tribe trying to lure potential sacrifices away from the Altar and into the safety of the caves before the Dragon arrives. They can save only a few at a time, both because they fear drawing the attention of the templars and because the tribe lacks the resources to absorb more than a few new members at once.
Other than those being sacrificed, templars are the only people of Athas who can openly claim to have visited the Dragon’s Altar and survived. Even when the Dragon is not there and no sacrifice is waiting, templars (in well-guarded entourages) sometimes visit the Dragon’s Altar on missions for the inscrutable sorcerer-kings. Mercenaries hired to accompany these templars tell stories of the visits, but all are different; sometimes the templars claim to be looking for slaves that escaped the Dragon’s wrath, while other times they offer no explanation but spend hours or days per- forming frightening, arcane experiments on the stone surrounding the Dragon’s Altar. Though explorers, dune traders, and raiders have almost certainly journeyed or wandered up the winding path to the Altar, they were either captured and killed by the Altar Skulkers or are too afraid of the stigma attached with standing so close to the shadow of the Dragon to tell anyone about it.
Streetwise DC30: The escaped slaves of the Altar Skulkers tribe live in caves surrounding the Dragon’s Altar. The first Altar Skulkers were slaves who chose to risk their lives in the dark caves lining the path to the Dragon’s Altar rather than face the Dragon itself. The caves led them to a network of lava tubes where they could live without fear of discovery. The Altar Skulkers are a paranoid tribe who want their secret protected at all costs. On occasion, they rescue a few sacrificial victims by drawing them off the path to the Altar. When necessary, the Altar Skulkers send representatives to meet with dune traders at neutral locations and bring back supplies for the entire tribe. They use the spoils of attacks against visitors to the Dragon’s Altar to pay for their goods but live a meager existence nonetheless.
The Altar Skulkers are a slave tribe that has lived in the caves surrounding the Dragon’s Altar for decades, if not centuries. They use the area’s reputation to their advantage; since most right-minded people fear visiting a place so tainted by the Dragon, there are few visitors that the Altar Skulkers need to hide from or kill to preserve their secret. In essence, the superstition about the Dragon’s Altar, no matter how valid, serves as the tribe’s greatest defense against discovery.
Despite the rarity with which the Dragon’s Altar gets visitors, the Altar Skulkers have developed a relatively sophisticated system for warning against the approach of visitors. Lookouts wearing animal skins stained with red clay lurk in the peaks surrounding the rim of the caldera. They relay warnings to one another with a series of hand gestures. These scouts have learned to remain so still while on watch duty that (with the help of their cloaks) they appear to be stones rather than men. When templars or other visitors approach, the tribe moves deeper into the supposedly haunted caves and waits out the visit. If the intruders are few in number, the Altar Skulkers may decide to ambush and slay them, then claim the travelers’ belongings for their own. In the rare event that the Dragon comes to the Altar, the Skulkers have plenty of warning. They can retreat through their caves to a place so deep underground that the Dragon’s defiling does not touch them.
Through Mokari the Alter Sulkers have become a movement known only to few. A movement to bring back a once great power to end the age of oppression. He does not know this great power other than it is a quest of his people to do this great thing. He hopes that by disrupting this annual attack, he may be able to stop it. If asked, he can read the scroll. He describes it as an arcane scroll made with the intent to transcribe a conversation as one would use in a contract negotiation.
Mokari can tell the party about the slave traders stationed at salt view. He notes that a large portion of the inhabitants will have left within the next few days to again start gathering and herding their victims to the alter for the next event.They will take care to avoid the decay directly to the south.
Mokari can tell the pcs that he was brought here while looking for a tree of life if they ask. The continuous storms surrounding the mountains are unnatural, appearing in the same locations, throwing off lighting and thunder and always in the same location.
An even greater ruin lies dead south. A great abandoned city crawling with the remnants of lives past.
Salt View Village
History: An escaped gladiator from the City-State of Raam lead other former slaves to the Mekilott Mountains. They built (in order) a Village, a Wall, Pathways up the mountains, and a Fort.
People: Xaynon (ZAY-non) is a half-elf ex-gladiator, who still bears his slave tattoos. He and his partner, Korsk (a dwarf), escaped 30 years ago. Xaynon is still the Village Leader, although he bears no title. Korsk trains and leads the warriors of the village. Ava, (ay-VAH) a human ex-slave from Nibenay, leads the performers (theatre and dance).
Goods and Services:
Salt: The denziens of the village mine salt, and do so well after so many years. Its hard work, but Salt View is the only place which regularly puts out salt, and brings the village valuable goods in trade.
Raiders: Xaynon and Korsk originally lead raiders in the Ivory Triangle region after their freedom. Xaynon never leaves the village anymore, but Korsk leads raiding parties when the village is in need of supplies, or when hired by other parties.
Traveling Troupes: A few years ago, Ava, a former dervish from Nibenay, escaped and joined the tribe. She free a group of performer slaves, and brought them to the village. She started sending them out as performing caravans, taking some of the warriors with them as protection.
Information: The Traveling Troupes have proven very adept at gathering information, particularly rumors, gossip and a solid grasp on cultural trends.
Mokari will try to convince the pcs to help him disrupt the Forts activities. A large portion of the militant force will be heading out in the next few days to await instructions and reported payoffs or go home for a bit until the next year, hiding in the neighboring city-states. The fort should be short staffed, less mercenaries, leaving behind some core community, the salt miners and leaders of the fort.
If the pcs go back to Nibenay to report on their sites, 2000xp bonus for following orders as prescribed. VA will send the pcs back to salt view with help (rouge, ranger, and _____)
If pcs go to salt view first, will be escorted to other side of mts and to the base of the fort. Will also get help if ask.
Getting to base must pass patrol can stealth, 15+, intimidate 25, bluff 18
PCs must get through the front gate. Can use bluff, diplomacy of 25+ or fight through. If fight, second patrol comes up on pcs immediately following fight.
Once inside PCs can easily find Xaynon. Fight or persuade, RP.