The Eye of the Serpent (adventure)

Okay, I am writing my first Hyborian adventure for a couple of friends. One just got out of the military and another hasn't played anything much more than AD&D 2nd Edition. On a positive note he bought Coming of Conan the Cimmerian and the Solomon Kane book this week. So I've got a potential Howard convert on my hands.

I know that one of them is going to be playing a Pirate (I'm starting them off at 3rd level). Not sure what the other will play.

I'm starting the game off in one of the coastal cities of Peleshtia, probably Asgalun. The Pirate once sailed with a well known freebooter from Zingara, but has since earned the emnity of that pirate and arrived in Asgalun on sinking dingy. (Think Pirates of the Caribbean...)

Once he is established in the city, a wealthy merchant is going to contact him about some work, promising a handsome reward. It will turn out that tihs merchant's daughter has been kidnapped by a Shemite warlord and is being held in his keep, on the far eastern borders of Shem, east of Shushan. The merchant wishes for the Pirate (who will most likely have a level or two of soldier or thief) to sneak into the warlord's keep and steal back his daughter.

The only problem is that the warlord isn't really the one in control. A priest of Set from Stygia has been acting as this warlord's advisor for months and has been secretly controlling him. (I got the ideas from the Thoth-Amon comics from Dark Horse) Another problem is that the daughter is not actually a prisoner. She too has fallen under the spell of the Stygian priest and is in love with him. She has begun to learn sorcery under his tutelage and has no intentions of returning to her father.

I've decided to make the warlord's army fairly tough and give the PCs a way to defeat it. Along their way to scout the keep, the PCs will meet a band of Turanians that are torturing a Zuagir. It turns out that this Zuagir is a highly respected member of the Zuagirs and if the PCs save him, they will gain a powerful ally.

If the PCs play their cards right, they can talk the Zuagirs into attacking the warlord's keep by paying them the gold that the merchant prince gave them to pay the warlord. (I'll be sending the personal bodyguard of the merchant along with the PCs to make sure they don't just run off with the gold).

So, during the Zuagir attack the PCs can sneak into the keep and free the girl... there are alot of variables as to what could happen here, but if they do kill the priest and the girl goes with them, she will later poison and betray them, heading south into Stygia to become a recurring villain for later in the game.

Anyway, thats the basic outline of the adventure. Did I capture the Howard Hyborian feel? Any ideas and/or input would be most welcome.

Interesting plotline...however I'm beginninig to get a bit of 'tissue rejection' about the priests of Set always being behind everything. There are many religions in Hyboria and other groups. Maybe your guy is controlled by the Black Circle of Yimsha, maybe he doesn't know it. The worship of Hanuman was decadent, maybe your kidnappee got drawn into the decadence and got converted that way. Maybe she just fell in love with the High Priest, who is a respectable member of society on the face of it. Or is the girl a knowing member of the Black Circle; seeking to sow distrust and dissension in the West; starting a war between Shem and Stygia. Meanwhile, Iranistan expands north to the Stygian border, threatening Zamboula [nb: Zamboula in my Hyboria is where REH put it!]
My point is: - don't always cast Stygia as the baddies.
Sorry, meant to say that the idea of rescuing the Zuagir, then leading him and his army to attack the fort is -reallly- in the spirit of REH and is exactly what Conan would do!
Thanks for the input. I'd like to keep the Stygian as the bad guy for this. My guys are very new to this, so it won't be old hat for them. Plus, I just got the Stygia sourcebook and want to make liberal use of it ;)
no "spoiler warning" at the start of this thread ? :lol:

personaly i find it a little strange that the merchant will let them go with a "chest full of gold". i can't think of a (intelligent) merchant that will hire some sword, give them a lot of gold and send a "bodyguard" with them. seems unlogical to me. why not paying them AFTER they brought the daughter back?

next point...what will you do if your players don't think about / don't want to "hire" the zuagirs ? :) old military plan will function after first enemy plan will function after introducing the first player :)
I had already thought about the issue with the gold. First off the bodyguard is very loyal to the merchant prince. I don't think its any stretch at all to have him with a few other guards along to safeguard the ransom. There would be few other ways to deliver it. The payment for the daughter is not the chest of gold, that is the ransom promised to the warlord. The merchant has other things he will be promising them in return. On another note, the merchant is desperate, he wants his daughter back. (like the king in Conan the Movie)

King Osric: "There comes a time, thief, when the jewels cease to sparkle, when the gold loses its luster, when the throne room becomes a prison, and all that is left is a father's love for his child."

Second, I had thought about the PCs not asking the Zuagirs for help, but knowing my players I am sure that they will. However, if they don't I have another contingency plan, a secret entrance into the warlord's keep, which was once a prison. The PCs will need to do some scouting out to find it, but it won't be too terribly difficult. I had always planned for a more stealthy approach to the situation if the players created stealthy characters. The idea with the Zuagirs was the one I really wanted opinions on.

I don't think a spoiler warning is needed for an adventure that I'm writing. My players don't visit these forums. You totally miss the point as to why people want spoiler warnings in other threads so I'm not going to try and explain them to you here again.

Just a few questions:

Does the Stygian Sorcerer plan on keeping the daughter as a student, or will he return her if her father pays a hefty sum? Has the merchant actually made contact with the warlord? Has a ransom been discussed?

If the merchant plans on paying a ransom, why does he need the PCs? He can just send his loyal servants to make the transaction. By involving the PCs he runs the risk of things going awry, and not getting his daughter back.

How much sorcery could she have possibly learned in a couple of months?

An idea to consider:

When the PCs get into the stronghold, the Sorcerer and the daughter are gone; either tipped off to the rescue attempt, or off searching for some forgotten sorcerous lore he needs for his studies. The Shemite warlord could either be dead, released from the grasp of the Sorcerer, or still under his control.
You can drag out this drama, and the whole time the daughter can be learning from the Sorcerer.
Good ideas, urdinaran. Thanks for the help!

I'd say that the girl has probably been missing for the better part of three or maybe four months. The warlord and the merchant have a long lasting rivalry dating back to when the warlord was a Zuagir. The merchant doesn't for a moment believe that the warlord will keep his word. He is sending the gold for the ransom so that the warlord's spies will see that he is doing so, and keeping his end of the bargain. Naturally such an amount of gold would need to be guarded by a contingent of warriors. There have been missives between the warlord, rather the priest and the daughter to the merchant. The daughter is probably the driving force behind the whole ransom, wanting to get at her father's money to help the Stygian sorcerer continue his dark research and further her own plans to attain power. I don't imagine she has learned much sorcery as of yet, probably only having one level of scholar.

He is involving the PCs because he needs thieves not warriors to get in and steal his daughter back, not something his normal caravan guards would be good for.

I want the PCs to at least meet the daughter for a moment and then have her turn on them to aid the Stygian. I will most assuredly have her and sorcery, or at least her escape..
Excellent work. You have all the angles covered pretty much. But don't forget the Warlord's place in this. He may be controlled to an extent by the Sorcerer, but the Sorcerer is also being distracted by a pretty girl. The Warlord may gain back some independence and seek to regain his hold over his destiny. Nothing as angry as a Warlord scorned!