Grains of Sand 2



"We were somewhere past the Ruined City at the edge of the ragged desert mountains, when the sand began to take hold. Besides my insane dreaming at night I now started to experience hallucinations during the daytime. Ben scolded for hours, his curses blacker than the heart of Seth. I begged him to give me another pinch but he claimed to have already thrown away what was left of the cursed powder in the wind.

My dreams took a turn for the worse and I lost all sense of time and space. Coiling reptiles hunted me, vivid images of blood and gore filled my mind, and the foul stench of death clung to my nostrils.

I cannot tell for how long this lasted, Ben-al-Khali made camp in the shadows of the cliffs and cared for me. Brought me fresh water from Mitra knows where and it must have been a couple of days before I started to emerge back to reality. It was not the first time he had saved me… but I have saved him from dangers too a couple of times so we didn't keep count anymore.

How long? I asked as I tried to rise from my stinking sick bed in the sand. Three days, he said not looking at me, instead fixing his eyes on the sun-tortured horizon. We'll be late, he continued. Late? For what? I queried. The festival of water… he stood up from his squatted position and threw away the stick he had used to draw pictures in the sand. Mitra, I cursed. But I have gathered some information while you were gone, he said turning around to face me. The youngster you knocked down when we came this way last is alive. He has joined a tribe of nomads, presumably the ones who attacked us, and they are out for blood… ours. I digested this for a few seconds, a lot of questions needed answering but I started of with; How did you find this out? He smiled at me as if hiding a secret. I met with my own people, and they told me the latest news from the desert tribes, and they gave us supplies to last our prolonged visit here. I rose and quietly accepted the food he offered. After chewing the dried meat for a good while I said. So now the whelp wants my head on a pig pole? Let him try, and I'll colour the desert red from Zamboula to Ataku with the blood of his kin.

Ben readied our horses and we took off once more. I was still weak from my fever, but I got stronger by the hour. Two days later we came across the last oasis before Lemina, and a strange sight met us.

In the middle of the oasis, surrounded by what could only be dead bandits and perched upon a hoards of crates, chests and bundles of satin and other luxuries, sat an old man. He was short and husky, with long white moustaches that framed his chin. He wore rich, lavish clothing and brandished a Stygian bow. He looked Zamoran but I was not sure.

I counted at least ten corpses around him, all feathered with arrows and as we approached he nocked another. If you intend to steal my cargo like these other hooligans you have to think again, before I send you down the river Styx to meet your judgement. We halted, You sure don't look Stygian to me, old man. I greeted him, and after a shared meal he told us his story and how he might be interested to enlist our help."

To Be Continued

Second part of the story is underway...

Eh Wolfie, stop harassing pastiche lovers and canonical ranters, and please get back to telling this story. You have at least one reader that would love to hear how this ends up. :D


The Mission

Welcome to the second instalment in the Grains of Sand series. Depending on how the first episode developed this adventure will be very different from group to group. I will try to discuss some of the most obvious possibilities in each case, but mostly this will be left up to the DM to decide. If you have not run the first part of this series, don't worry about that, it is not requested. This adventure will stand on its own legs.

The PC's are on their way back to Lemina, their hometown in the western parts of the Shem desert, when they are contracted by a merchant to help him haul his cargo into town. Apparently his caravan was ambushed and his mounts and beasts of burden stolen. He will send the PC's off with a letter of recommendation to a wealthy noble in town, that you should be handsomely paid for your services and that the goods are from him. He himself will wait behind with the rest of the cargo to make sure the bandits won't return to steal it. The PC's are to return the next day and help him further if they want to; he has more crates that need hauling.

But all is not what it seems of course. Hidden inside the goods is bags filled with silver sand. Unknowingly the PC's help the old man to smuggle a rather large quantity of the drug into the city…

The Silver Sand

Silver sand is a drug that is widely used in Lemina, it looks and feels like fine ground silver that the user inhales preferably through a straw. It brings the user to a dreamlike state where he can experience everything from nightmares to prophetic visions. The drug is highly addictive in a psychological way so use Will Saves rather than Fort Save, to test resistance to this "poison". Certain authorised alchemists in the city produce the sand alchemically. Their recipes, highly guarded secrets and their wealth and influence immense in Lemina. One of them, called Tuubtiyamuta, even has a chair in council. Through this position of power he more or less controls all sand trade in Lemina. Tuubtiyamuta decides who should be granted a license and at what price. Trafficking out of and into the city is a privilege right now only owned by one man… that's right; Tuubtiyamuta, and he makes sure rivalling alchemists know their place and don't rise to high in power. In short, when it comes to sand trade, Tuubtiyamuta knows just about all there is to know in Lemina… but not outside it's limits…

The Sand Pits

The sand is not altogether illegal in Lemina, but the trafficking is highly regulated by the local authorities. It is legal to buy it from an authorised dealer, and if you are the proprietor of such an establishment it is legal to sell it. It is legal to take the drug inside the walls of the "sand pits" (as these bars are often referred to) but not out in the streets. Getting a liscence is mainly a matter of paying the fee… a license is always time bound and has to be renewed every month… some would call this procedure bribery rather than licensing… but who cares? Different sand pits get their sand from different alchemists suppliers and since they all have their own recipes, some good, some not so good, the quality varies from sand pit to sand pit. As a rule of thumb, the cheaper the sand the more likely the nightmare it will give you. The really expensive quality stuff produced by Tuubtiyamuta is more or less guarantied to give you pleasant dreams bordering on religious experience. Usually the really posh places that serve this drug have a money back guarantee in the unlikely event of a nightmare.

In this scenario, one of Tuubtiyamuta's rivals called Innana, have used an external lab to produce sand way above her allowed quota. She intends to smuggle this huge batch into the city to put some real preasure on Tuubtiyamuta, through the competition it entails. The PC are used as unknowing pawns in this game, and they are about to be thrown into a full scale drug-war.

To Be Continued

In the Slammer!

"It seemed like a good idea at the time. But now the iron bars obstructing my view through the tiny hole in the wall of the clear blue sky outside made me think again. May Set haunt that fat bastard! If I ever lay eyes on his oily moustache again, by Mitra I'll rip out his throat with my bare hands. Al-Khali muttered in the cell beside me, sitting on a low wooden bench he tried to accept the situation in a way that I could not. I paced back and forth, spewing out curses and oaths about what I would do to the old man who tricked us into this mess.

We got as far as the eastern gates of Lemina, and when the watch officer halted us to go through our packing. I can't blame him really; I mean what was he supposed to think? I have no idea how that got in there officer, I swear it isn't mine, some old geezer gave this to us and we were just supposed to… Yeah right. We were swarmed with guards even before I could try to bribe him. Maybe I could've hacked my way out of there, but for one thing I would not be able to set my foot in Lemina again after that, and that meant less sand for me, a thought that seemed like a worse punishment than anything else I could conjure up at the time, and secondly I was the one who'd been had, why should they pay with their lives for my stupidity? I settled my rage by flooring the horse, one stroke, straight in the forehead. Of course the beast didn't deserve it either, but that is rage for you… something had to give.

So the old fart had used us to smuggle obscene quantities of sand into Lemina… good call. I guess part of the insult was the fact that, had I known, I would have done like a nomad and taken to the hills. Keeping it all to myself. But I hadn't known. Maybe just as well…Any way; he told us he needed to get his goods into town, he even gave us a letter of recommendation to one of the wealthier merchants inside the walls. The watch officer gladly took that piece of paper into evidence. They sent out a squad of riders to the oasis as well… my guess is they found it empty. His job was done… mine wasn't. I was going to enjoy hunting this man down.

We had been in custody for three days eating nothing but stale bread and drinking foul water, when we had a surprise visit. The personal guard of some extremely rich merchant, or such stepped in and announced our guest: Tuubtiyamuta, the name told me nothing at the time, but it did ring a bell somewhere. This long lean figure in rich velvet robes stepped in through the door waving away the city watch personnel like they were annoying flies. He picked up a chair and sat down, making himself comfortable in the sweaty heat. He looked at us, slowly fanning his hook nosed face with a feathered fan.

I am Tuubtiyamuta, he started. No shit? Was the snappiest comeback I could think of. He looked at me unimpressed. When it comes to sand trade, this city is mine… That's when it hit me, of course, Tuubtiyamuta! He was the biggest sand vendor in Lemina! This guy was really powerful, a council member if my memory served, what on earth did he want from us? The answer came without me asking. I want you to tell me who sent you on this smuggling job, and I want you to work for me, helping me to find him or her and put an end to this unauthorised and highly illegal sand production. My next natural response was; What's in it for us? He raised a curious eyebrow, as if my dullness and stupidity amused him. All of a sudden I wanted to wring his neck. Well you are about to stand trial for illegal trafficking, he said, the punishment for that is death by fire. Considering the evidence against you I'd say you stand a more than fair chance to burn. If you help me, I might be able to help you…

I knew we had no choice by then. We were in it to the neck, Sand Lords playing us like pieces on a board. I didn't like it one bit."

To Be Continued

I like the premise, and it sounds like a good follow up to the previous episode. I really enjoyed the "In the Slammer" story, any chance that the characters in your story are actual player characters?


Yokiboy said:
I really enjoyed the "In the Slammer" story, any chance that the characters in your story are actual player characters?

Well, yes they are. :)

I have this played out and noted down in my DM's journal, but in this forum and the documents I link to I try to flesh it all out "for real". The earliest sessions of this campaign was played more than two years ago... and yes that was before Conan RPG. So this is also an adaption to that setting.

Supplement Four said:
Bump for Hyborian adventure.

We did play it through (quite the campaign in fact) but most of it never went "on file"... maybe it should? I won't promise anything but if I find the time I might take this up again.