Adventures in Stygia



Hi everyone...I run a game on Friday nights for a group of 7 players. We have been playing Conan since March. We started out in the Westmark, had adventures in the Pictish wilderness, moved on for a few weeks to Corinthia, adventured in Koth and spent the last month in Shem. Our heroes decided to burn down an entire Shemite village because some of its citizens and animals were infected with some kind of demon spawn. They now have to live with the fact that several northern shemitish clans want them skinned alive and so they are fleeing southward with the ultimate goal of making a rendezvous with an npc/pc on the coast of Kush. They are presently in South East Shem and will need to cross Stygia first. The players have decided to go straight South, trying to avoid trouble in Stygia (2 of the PCs are followers of Ibis), and then head west through Keshan, Darfar, and finally through Kush. I have plans to run my own version of "Red Nails" while they are in Darfar, this story is just to cool not to use. I also have lots of good ideas for the Black Kingdoms thanks to RoK and Nyambi.

The problem is that i'm drawing blanks for a nice side adventure in Stygia. It seems very sad to pass through this great kingdom of mystery and sorcery and not run something. The ideas in RoK are ok but don't really inspire me. I was hoping some of you might have some ideas from your own game or from other stories or future adventure you plan to run. I would very much appreciate some input and I'm sure others would benefit also.

Burnt down a village, eh? Some pretty ruthless PCs you have there. Sounds like a good game of Conan to me! :D Any adventure in Stygia has to include a sorcerer who is a worshipper of Set (naturally); some human sacrifices (maybe one or more of the PCs); and a beautiful girl who needs to be rescued. Perhaps they run across a caravan heading towards Keshan and they join up with them. What they don't know is the caravan master has double-crossed a Stygian sorcerer and is trying to flee the country ASAP. Of course, the sorcerer catches up with him after the PCs have joined the caravan. :twisted:
Stygia huh?

Well, if your players are tough enough to burn down a whole village (reminds me of my old D&D group) why not turn the tables on them? Sure, Stygians are bad, Stygians are evil, Stygians beat up old ladies and steal candy from babies. But what happens if, while your players are travelling through Stygia, they come across something that makes the local Noble / Priest of Set quake in his boots? Some old, unspeakable evil that is now stirring and gives Mr. Badass Cleric of Set nights full of sweaty nightmares? Wouldn't that give your players the creeps? And how is the Cleric of Set going to deal with this menace (demon, abomination, or even gateway to summon and Old One itself)? Is he gonna go face it himself? Heck no. He'll find a stalwart group of adventurers, throw them in the prison, torture them and then give them the choice of helping him or feeding the crows. I've been planning to write up an adventure like that, but haven't had the chance yet. It will make for an interesting reversal of roles and scare the life off the players.

How about a good-old temple raid? Give 'em a chance to load up on some booty before they hit Kush, and make enemies with some powerful Priest of Set!!! Oooooo, Ahhhhh !!!
Don't forget to throw in mebbe a patrol of Stygian Chariots to defeat.
Necropolis (sword & sorcery by Gygax) works pretty well. Before you run it however, hack about 1/2 of the material and you'll have a lot of stuff to work with.

I thought Stygia was off-limits to foreigners and all trespassers were put to death, enslaved or sacrificed if caught. The only "open" part of Stygia is an island in the harbor of the port city of Khemi. This island, and Khemi proper, are fully detailed in John Madox Roberts' Conan And The Treasure Of Python (a great book which also desribes Asgalun, ship travel and hazards, the Zarkheba River and inland jungles, several tribes and more).
Iron chef has a good point concerning Stygia; foreigners are forbidden. A minor transgression against some merchant, gaurdsman, whatever could lead to a wide scale manhunt for invading northerners. A harrowing flight from persecution would be a good adventure, and it will definetely happen in my campaign when the characters make their way south (still a while before that happens tough).

And snakes. Gotta have big snakes.
Yes, Stygia is a closed society, but that is part of the adventure. Remember, Stygia is probably alot like ancient Egypt for the most part: lost of open desert with the occasional village near a water source, oases, etc. They can avoid being noticed if they play it smart.
The PCs will have to avoid Stygian patrols on their way to the southlands. Maybe on their way they come across some Settite temple/monastery deep in the wilds to rob and pillage (good place for the big snakes). Maybe the head of said temple is a powerful NPC that the PCs will make enemies with for the long term. Throw in some Stygian Chariot patrols chasing them into Keshan or Kush and your set (no pun intended).
Thanks for the ideas's what I did.

The heroes came to the Styxe and found it impassable. the traveled west along its borders till they came across a caraven camp. The Caravan had its own barges and stayed away from the Stygian shore. The heroes got themselves hired by a merchant of Argos who was moving goods to Keshan and who had recently lost some of his guard (mysteriously). The caravan travels down the styxe till it reaches Keshan, and then goes cross land while the barges head back to pick up another caravan, its an enterprising system that will eventually get shut down.

The days are long, hot and humid, and the mercenaries and rogue guards of the various merchants are bored and drunk most of the time. The merchant whom the heroes are hired on to has an attractive young daughter who likes to tease when her father isn't watching. One day her teasing goes to far and the ensueing scuffle between some ruffians and our stalwart heroes is the match that sets off the whole barge. Brawls break out all over the boat, and when weapons are drwn it gets bloody messy. A shipment of ale is set on fire and within minutes the barge is ablaze. Some folk who dive overboard are quickly eaten in the croc infested waters, the rest of the people work hard to get the boat ashore before it goes up completely. but now they are on the Stygian shore, and there is very little room on the second barge.

During the night, the camp is attacked by snakemen, and all the women in the camp, save the 3 female heroes who faught off their assailants are carried off, including one of our heroes slave girls. After a day of rest to recuperate from wounds the heroes set off to rescue the women. Tracking the snakemen along the swamps along Stygia's southern border, the heroes endure the heat, mesquitoes, and blood leeches of this horrible swamp. It is a good place to stock up on some rare herbs though and our heroes do take this opportunity. They finally come to the snakemens lair deep in the purple swamps, on an island marked by 2 poles full of human skulls. The heroes must descend into a dark and damp cavern with very tight quarters. The snakemen are at home here and use ambushes to destroy our heroes, but they are few and have lost may of their strongest warriors in the raid on the caravan. In a larger cavern the heroes will find the daughter of the merchant, naked but sitting on a throne. She is wearing a pendant, that she took from her fathers goods in the chaos of the burning boats. The pendant is an ancient thing worn by the priests of the serpent men in past days. This artifact was found by pirates and given to the merchant who is actually a fencer for the pirates. The snakemen were nearby on a hunting expedition when the daughter put it on and it called them to her.

The daughter is young and foolish and now drunk with power, she is worshipped as a god by these creatures. The other women of the expedition have suffered fates to horrible for words to discribe, all except for our heroes slave who was chosen as the daughter hand maiden. Unfortunately the experiences of the last day or 2 have broken her and she is nothing more than a zombie. The heroes must decide what to do from here, but knowing them it will entail bloody vengence where they will destroy the snakement utterly or die trying.
That sounds like a great adventure, Ridick. I hope you don't mind if I steal for whenever my players get to Stygia :D .