Dark Sun: Conspiracy in the City of Sails

Welcome to Balic
Wherein our intrepid group of characters arrives in the city of Balic

Half-elf ardent Fealdon and the dwarf warlock Jataar arrived in the city of Balic. They met with Lord Reza Mollari, head of the merchant house House Mollari. Reza agreed to serve as their patron in exchange for various services. They also met Reza’s right-hand man, Lon Cotto.

Fealdon and Jataar met up with Taamas, an associate of Jataar who had arrived several weeks earlier to investigate possibilities in the gladiator arena, the Criterion. They met with Bal’their, a human assassin, and Ward, a human rogue – both men are from the city of Balic and have ties to House Mollari.

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The Case of the Missing Transport
Poison dart to the face!

A House Mollari caravan had gone missing. This was different than the other raids – in those cases, the caravans were plundered, but the crew always made it back alive. Reza Mollari dispatched the group to investigate and recover the wagon, cargo, and (if not too inconvinient) the crew. The caravan leader, Lenier Mollari, was especially important to rescue, since he was Reza’s second cousin’s son on his mother’s side.

The group discovered the remains of the wagon near the outskirts of Balic. It turns out that a gang of Silt Runners, commanded by a devious Ssurran Poisonscale Collector, had kidnapped the crew and cargo. There was a vicious battle near the wagon with a silt runner scout party, and Fealdon got shot in the face with poison darts a lot. Afterward, the party fought their way past a small pack of kruthiks and discovered the rest of the silt runner gang in an abandoned ruin. There was a quick battle and the crew and cargo were saved.

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Level 1 and 2 adventure possibilities
So many possibilities, so little time...

Fresh off their triumphant performance in The Case of the Missing Transport, the party returned to Balic to seek their next series of taskings.

The following things were learned:

  • Reza informed them that several of his caravans have been hijacked lately. The same make and model of the goods that have gone missing (in this case, ceramic jugs and pots) seem to be showing up in certain stalls in the Elven Market shortly after each hijacking. He can’t prove anything yet, but Reza is taking a big hit on this, as the goods in the Elven Market are priced so low that Reza can’t compete even with the goods that he DOES still have. He would like the party to investigate and solve the problem.
  • There is a gladiator League of Champions currently running in Balic. Gladiators who fight well and progress through the various levels can earn both fame and fortune. Gladiators who fight poorly, of course, can earn themselves a quick death. Interested parties can apply to enter the Bronze Level league at the Criterion
  • Local merchants in the Northern Market district have been complaining that a new gang has been shaking them down as part of a protection racket. Both the local praetors and the merchants would be grateful to anyone who could investigate and neuter the Red Hand Gang.
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To the arena!
Rar!!!

After some debate, the party decided that the best way to serve House Mollari (and their own pocketbooks) would be to earn a reputation around town as a group of fighters worth their salt. To that end, they have decided to enter the Bronze Level of the Champions League.

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Rounds 1-4
4 down, 1 to go

Round 1 – Open Combat

The players handily defeated a motley group of gladiators in open combat. Aside from one rather tough gladiator, this was a fairly easy encounter. The only thing worth noting is that Taamas the thri-kreen magically transformed into Honsou the half-giant, and Jataar grew a foot and was no longer undead. Also, Bal’thier disappeared while Durgar the mul stepped in.

Round 2 – Powerball!

This round was also fairly easy for the party to defeat. They keyed in early on a strategy to get the most valuable red balls (worth 6pts a piece) first, while the other team foolishly tried to go for the more conveniently placed blue (3pts) and black (2pts) balls. This might have been more of a contest if the Lion guarded the goal weren’t so stupid and awful.

Round 3 – Beast Battle

The party wasn’t pleased to encounter Kruthiks again so soon after their last adventure. They were also upset to find out that the walls slowly moved inward each round, putting everyone in tighter quarters than they’d like. However, several well placed hits to the Kruthik hatchlings dispatched that threat from the board rather quickly. Jataar managed to end the encounter just in time, as poor Fealdon was about to be crushed up against a pillar.

Round 4 – Watch Your Step

The Criterion is famed for its shifting floor, which came into play in this round. A rather tenacious group of halflings, elves and humans initially gave the party some trouble, with Jataar and Durgar getting bloodied rather early. However, the group rebounded, with Ward taking the ranged halfing slinger out of the equation with his stranglehold attack and Honsou stubbornly whacking away at the remaining enemies. Fealdon continued to prove his worth with some well timed Ardent Surges.

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Round 5
AHMAHGAWD it hurrrrts!

Round 5 featured a knock-down drag out fight with the Trio: Alyshex the Flesh-ripper, Krayd the Butcher and Orog the Scarred Champion.

The fight started well for the party, with Ward locking down Alyshex, preventing her from using her ranged attacks. Honsou quickly engaged with Orog and Krayd, using his half-giant heritage to invoke a well-timed resistance to damage.

Unfortunately, Jataar started the encounter 0 for 6 with his attacks and Ward made a critical mistake giving up one of his 1d6 damage rolls, giving the Trio time to recover and turn the tide on the party. Krayd unleashed Gratuitous Violence, stunning Honsou, before moving on with a mighty assault on Jataar and Fealdon. Orog rushed to Alyshex’s defense and crushed Ward using his Champion’s Scorn. Within a round, 3 of the 4 players were down.

Suddenly, just when it looked dire, the party felt a surge of healing energy wash over them from a mysterious source. Their wounds miraculously healed, they sprung up and attacked the surprised trio with new vigor. They quickly finished off the Trio, winning the Bronze Level.

The party was rewarded with bronze colored medals signifying their status as Bronze level champions, along with a purse of 100gp per person.

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Delenn is introduced
A Mysterious Benefactor Reveals Herself

After the fight, the party was met by a beautiful and mysterious woman who introduced herself as Delenn. Delenn indicated that she was responsible (whether directly or indirectly it remains to be seen) for the healing surge that the party received when things were most dire in the arena. She offered friendship and hoped that they could some day return the favor. She seemed particularly interested in Jataar, though she graciously gave each party member a gift of two healing fruits.

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Mystery of the Stolen Merchandise
What's a "gleeman"?

The party turned their attention to solving the mystery of the stolen Mollari merchandise. Initial investigation in the Elven Market indicated that the likely suspects were either the Sun Spear Tribe or the Swiftwing Tribe, both large and dangerous elven tribes.

Fealdon used his charismatic personality to haggle with the Sun Spear merchant. The merchant helpfully suggested that Fealdon purchase an Urikite vase for the high cost of 15gp. Fealdon recognizes a bribe request when he sees one, so he reluctantly paid the price.

The party learned that the Swiftwings did in fact sell the brand of vase the party was looking for. One of the tribe members, Koram, was involved in the theft somehow. The party cleverly decided to pose as potential buyers interested in purchasing a very large order of stolen vases. Koram greedily agreed to meet them later that night to arrange a deal.

Later that night the party arrived with a Mollari house member, Sherrar, in tow. Sherrar posed as the interested buyer. The party briefly flirted with kidnapping Koram and simply beating the information out of him, but realized that they were in hostile territory and would not have the upper hand. They ended up agreeing to purchase a large order later that week. While there, Honsou used his excellent sense of hearing to pick up on a whispered conversation between Koram and one of his tribesmen. The name “Barca” was heard.

The party checked in at The Dancing Kank, where they met with a friendly and streetwise waitress named Tara. Tara mentioned that she had heard the name Barca before and guessed that they were speaking of Barca Klethira, who had often patronized the bar before, meeting up with a lady companion. The party quickly realized that Barca was the same noble that their friend Durgar/Bal’thier had gone home with the week before!

After checking back in with House Mollari, the party decided to take advantage of their improved relationship with Lon Cotto (and the +7 to history checks he provides) to inquire about Barca. Lon informed the party that House Klethira was one of House Mollari’s bitter rivals in the city, and Barca was a particularly clever and dangerous man to deal with.

The group decided to infiltrate Barca’s residence in the city to try and collect clues that would link him to the Swiftwing raids and the theft of the Mollari goods. They posed as a group of entertainers, calling themselves the Traveling Gleemen. Jataar and Ward performed a series of songs while Fealdon used his wild talent to create a light show that played in time to the music. Honsou dazzled the crowd with feats of strength as he crushed a series of stone slabs with his fists. Of course, Honsou was secretly aided by his friends, who slipped a wedge in between the stone when no one was looking, allowing him to more easily break them. The party’s ruse paid off – they were able to freely observe the gathering in Barca’s house that night, and spotted a familiar face shadily dealing with Barca – Lenier Mollari, the caravan driver they had rescued before. Dun dun dun!

After confronting Lenier back at the Mollari complex, he tearfully confessed that he had been passing the secret trade route information to Barca, who was in turn bribing the Swiftwings to raid the Mollari caravans. Lenier begged the group to spare him, offering them a bribe if they would give him a day’s head start fleeing the city before they informed Reza Mollari. The party refused to take pity on the poor fool, though, dragging him before Reza.

Reza dealt privately with Lenier. He agreed with Fealdon’s logic that House Mollari should buy back the vases from the Swiftwings this last time to recoup some of the losses. He ordered the party to complete the purchase and return with the merchandise. They did so, and after a time he asked them to take the entire shipment and leave it on Barca’s doorstep. The party did as he asked, but curiosity led them to take a look inside the boxes. Inside each of the 100 vases they found a dark red liquid, with chunks of Lenier floating inside.

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Drink Drink Drink!
Jus' one morrrre

The PCs were idle after their recent success, but as luck would have it adventure was on the horizon. The group received a tip that there was a man in town who had information on the fabled lost Tomb of Darom Madar.

They located the man at The Dancing Kank, but he was reluctant to just give up the information. However, Ward used his wits and charm and tricked him into a drinking contest.

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The Vault of Darom Madar

The party finally worked their way to the Canyon of Golthay where they were almost eaten alive by giant ants and fire beetles when they took their extended rest. Deciding that a good night’s sleep wasn’t worth getting nibbled to death by critters, they pressed on and luckily located the entrance to the Vault of Darom Madar.

Inside, the party battled skeletons and zombies (remains of the guard of the Madar family and the Klethira agents who had pursued them here). After clearing the first room, the PCs entered the tomb that held Darom Madar’s wife and two sons. Dynara Madar gave the party a good challenge, but they finally defeated her and then brought down the obsidian obelisk in the room that was infused with the restless spirits of the Madar clan.

In the final chamber the party was delighted to find a room full of treasure. Unfortunately, the treasure was guarded by the spirit of Darom Madar himself. The party quickly left into battle, and after a heated fight, they defeated him.

However, as the old saying goes, “Don’t count your treasure before you purge the room.” The group had foolishly spread out to rifle through the treasure when Darom Madar resurrected and they again found themselves in a battle to the death.

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