I'm currently running a "pirate" type campaign. The PCs have joined the crew of a local pirate captain, who is off searching for a magical artifact (the PCs don't know this yet). This item is located in a buried city in the middle of a huge desert island (more like a small continent really). The really general plan is that the PCs arrive the port city, travel to the Lost City in the desert, retrieve the artifact from the dungeon, and then head back to the port and sail off. The PCs are currently level 2, but are pretty tough (using wound/vitality and armor as DR varients tends to help them out).
And now the questions. I've highlighted the main points in blue for easy answering.
- The port city is the largest city the PCs have been to so far. It's filled with exotic stuff including items, gear, and a race of desert people I'm working on stating out (basically humans with a neat regional feat). The PCs will have to aquire some kind of transportation across the desert--whether some animals, a sledge, or even a sand skiff/schooner (Sandstorm pg. 104). As pirates, they'll probably end up stealing it, which creates some encounters. They'll also run into a new NPC who will basically try to bribe them to betray their captain--this could create other encounters. But I'm still looking for maybe one more minor sub-plot, preferably completely unrelated to the rest of the adventure. Something the PCs could accidently get involved in that suggests other things are happening in the city. Any ideas?
- The PCs will be traveling across the desert--maybe for almost a week (it's probably 200-300 miles across the desert, haven't quite decided yet). So I would like to have some encounters during these travels. I was thinking the PCs could get attacked by a band of hyena/jackels/desert-wolves one night. Or maybe encounter some kind of desert worm (a la Dune, probably with the stats for the Dunewinder from Sandstorm). They might also possibly come across a group of merchants in a similar vehicle, and possible have some kind of encounter with them. But anyone else have any other ideas for desert encounters? I don't want a string of random encounters, but I want to make the desert seem dangerous and take some effort to get through (all the heat stuff should actually matter if the PCs get into a fight with someone).
- I like the idea that the Lost City is buried under the sand, so the PCs have to figure out how to get down there, and then explore it like a dungeon. I'm currently thinking of using the map for Harrax (in Sandstorm, map here) as the basis (though if anyone else owns Sandstorm and would like to explain to me which parts of the map are under and which are above the sand--the "2. This area provides and entrace to the buried portion" doesn't help a lot--that would be amazing). I also like the idea that this dungeon buried under the city is HUGE--much larger than the PCs can explore at the moment. So I'm thinking of adding a layer using the map for Undermountain (info here)--the PCs get themselves into a small part of the dungeon, but are kept from fully exploring it by monsters they don't want to fight or obstacles they cannot yet bypass. Any thoughts about using these maps? If I did use Undermountain, where abouts should I have the PCs be wandering?
- What are some encounter ideas for the dungeon in the Lost City? I'm thinking about some kind of undead (perhaps a modified mummy--using zombie/ghoul stats). I'm also thinking maybe some burrowing creatures (smaller versions of the sandworm), or just some hungry animals. I'm also looking for some puzzle/trap encounters (the PCs will probably be heading, possibly indirectly, into the vaults of the temple so it makes sense for some nasty traps to be down there).
- The artifact the captain is looking for is intended to provide Flight for ships--he wants to take to the skies. However, the story idea I have involves that just having the artifact isn't enough--he needs to also collect some item to activate it. This item is currently behind held in the treasure vaults of a certain kingdom, so he's going to try and take over the kingdom. I'm thinking the artifact is a large cut stone of some kind, like a crystal. It (or part of it perhaps) then needs to be "installed" in a ship. The activation item could either be a book, or something like a rod that controls movement using the crystal. I could also have the Lost City contain the activation device, and have the artifact itself (which is useless without the activator) in the kingdom. The plan is that after the PCs get the item from the Lost City, they go raid the kingdom, and then basically gain a flying ship which I can then use to run some aerial adventures. Any ideas for this artifact? It's appearance/abilities/function/use? Should I have the activator or the artifact be in the Lost City?
- After the PCs leave the Lost City, I'll probably want another encounter or two. I'm thinking a group of raiders have been watching them and try to take the recovered item from them. I really like if the PCs are on a sand skiff and the raiders are own horseback (or perhaps ashworms?) and there is this battle at high speed. Also, if something has gone wrong with their gear, the heat stuff could be fun (I like if they basically stumble half-dead into the port city at the end).
Any help is greatly appreciated! If you need anything specified, just ask and I'll be happy to fill you in. Thank you so much!