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Old 01-20-2014, 05:55 AM   #1
Icelander
 
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Default Treasure from the Sheikh of the Grinning Skull Oasis

The PCs in my long-standing fantasy campaign have recently succeeded in defeating the feared Sheikh Jarir Ar-Rabi, Lord of the Grinning Skull, a legendary raider chief who terrorised travellers for hundreds of miles around his lair in the most inhospitable part of the Plains of Purple Dust and the desert of Raurin, the spell-scarred ruinlands where the Empire of Imaskar once stood.

The Sheikh was lord over several hundred hard-bitten bandits and had accumulated considerable loot over 30+ years of unquestioned mastery of this part of the world. The oasis has been built up and provides several defensible stone keeps, as well as airy and comfortable housing for the elite of his men. There are also treasure chambers overflowing with loot.

His men own at least one horse each personally, with the richer owning from 2-6 horses and generally a racing camel or two. There is a 'common' herd of almost a thousand camels which is used for the raiding operations of the band, more than half of them working beasts, but a full 400 being racing camels suited for warfare.

Armament was similarly liberal, in that personal preferences (and tolerance for heat) rather than economy dictated whether a light mail shirt was worn and some of the bandits were armoured as fairly heavy cavalry. Swords, spears, jarids and bows were easily affordable even by the least of the Sheik's band, since he only accepted into his service proven warriors and raiders able to elude the justice of the governments of Murghom and Mulhorand, not to mention the tribes of the desert.

The campaign is set in a magical world and among the retinue of the Sheikh there was a wizard with Magery 4 and a priest of a very questionable cult with Power Investiture 5. Apart from that, commanders of Mulhorandi and Murghomi cavalry sent to exact retribution on the bandits for particularly daring raids would be armed with magical weaponry and carry all sorts of magical trinkets. And the Raurin is studded with ruins where magical treasures can be found and the bandits probably spent almost as much time seeking out and looting old tombs as they did robbing passerby.

All in all, the Sheikh is a significant enough character and powerful enough so that he was rocking an arsenal of awesome magical gear. During the battle where the PCs slew the Sheikh and his retinue, I statted out the effects of some of that gear, but often, I just assumed that the Sheikh and his closest cronies had between +2 and +10 to all sorts of stats or rolls 'because of magic', allowing the precise origin and shape of the magical trinkets that granted the bonuses to be determined when I had the leisure to do so.

I've determined that the Sheikh wore magical mail and his lance, spear and sword were all magical. He also carried a combination bow case / quiver which had enough extradimensional space to carry his war bow, hunting bow, lance and several spears and a fairly extensive collection of jarids of various lengths. His lance glowed a bright green when he was using it and his war bow shot arrows crackling with electricity.

His pet wizard, the skinny and greasy-haired half-elf Al-Warrakh had, among other things, a wand which could conjure giant scorpions.

The jackal-and-bustard themed death priest Abu Jafar no doubt had an extensive collection of magical items, but the manner of his death was such that their effects, if short of 'complete immunity to damage', were irrelevant in the combat. As such, I'm open to suggestions. Abu Jafar was powerful enough to construct* magical items for himself and for others in the band, so don't stint.

There were also several lieutenants, some of them powerful enough to justify having interesting magical items.

I'm looking for any and all ideas on what would be cool treasures to include among the rest of the bandit leaders and what powers to give the Sheikh's gear.

What does a green glow around a lance-tip signify in terms of magical powers?

What sort of magic gear did Abu Jafar carry?

What magical items would they have found in Imaskari or Rauric survivor state ruins that they did not carry as part of their combat gear and would therefore be found in the treasure chambers?

*With the rules I'm using for magical item construction, he'd be able to make anything with 150 energy or less with Quick-and-Dirty rules and would be able to count every day spent on enchanting with Slow and Sure as 10-100 days, depending on his willingness to make a penalised roll and whether he wanted to make the items at his full skill or accept skill 15.
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Old 01-21-2014, 04:55 AM   #2
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Default Salif Kwal's Fighting Gear

As an example, the heroic aggagier Salif Kwal was honour-bound to repay Sheikh Jarir after the Lord of the Grinning Skull saved his life in the desert. Salif swore that he would serve the tall, majestic warlord who came to his aid against a mated pair of dracosphinxes until his life-debt to the rescuer was paid.

Salif Kwal became the commander of the Sheikh's bodyguard and his trusted right hand because the ebony warrior was loyal in a way that none of the bandits could be. In the years since he swore service, he has come to realise that behind the chivalrous facade of Sheikh Jarir, there lurks rapacious greed, cruelty and insanity, but by then Salif was trapped by his vow.

Salif is a superlative horseman and deadly with spear and the broadsword all aggagiers of his tribe carry. He is also a champion kickboxer and stand-up grappler*. It is because of this that when the bandits tangled with a band of Anhurite crusaders on a religious quest, Salif Kwan was awarded the belt and limb wrappings of one of them, who fought without weapons but whose unarmed strikes could kill a horse in one blow.

Monk's Belt: The belt is a wrestler's or pankrationist's thick champion's girdle which grants +2 to Judo and Karate skills, Enhanced Dodge +1, Enhanced Parry (bare hands) +2 and Striker (limbs, all).

Bracers and Bindings of Mighty Strikes: Stiff cloth bracers with bronze studs, as well as bindings that go up to the elbow and similar bindings for the ankles and lower leg. Make the unarmed strikes of the wearer into magical weapons that have Accuracy +3, Puissance +3 and Armour Divisor (3).

*In a style very remniscient of Dambe/KoKowa.
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Old 01-21-2014, 05:38 AM   #3
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Default Re: Treasure from the Sheikh of the Grinning Skull Oasis

(lime green text on this yellow background made this one nearly unreadable.)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
What does a green glow around a lance-tip signify in terms of magical powers?
As many of these terms look like they were taken from Toril/Forgotten Realms, I'll assume you're working in that setting.

For this glow around the lance tip, I'd look into some sort of poison/damage-over-time effect.

Green Dragonslayer's Lance: This +3 lance (Accuracy +3, Puissance +3) has been enchanted to grant the effects of Might on the wielder, and has the Rotting Death spell with Limit (Dragons) on it. It's powered by a piece of amber with a mosquito embedded in it and enchanted to be a 9-point dedicated powerstone.
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Old 01-21-2014, 05:45 AM   #4
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Default Re: Treasure from the Sheikh of the Grinning Skull Oasis

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Originally Posted by tbrock1031 View Post
(lime green text on this yellow background made this one nearly unreadable.)
Yes, but it neatly evokes the unearthly magical glow. :)

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Originally Posted by tbrock1031 View Post
As many of these terms look like they were taken from Toril/Forgotten Realms, I'll assume you're working in that setting.
I am indeed.

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Originally Posted by tbrock1031 View Post
For this glow around the lance tip, I'd look into some sort of poison/damage-over-time effect.
That was my first thought, but I'm also looking for clever twists that feel appropriate without being poison.

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Originally Posted by tbrock1031 View Post
Green Dragonslayer's Lance: This +3 lance (Accuracy +3, Puissance +3) has been enchanted to grant the effects of Might on the wielder, and has the Rotting Death spell with Limit (Dragons) on it. It's powered by a piece of amber with a mosquito embedded in it and enchanted to be a 9-point dedicated powerstone.
Very good!

I want to avoid having the lance be for dragonslaying, though, mostly because so many of the items the PCs have run across have been.* Now, giantslaying, that sounds interesting, especially as there is a kingdom of them fairly close by that could have given rise to the sort of tensions that would lead to the enchantment of a lance like that.

*They've been fighting alternatively alongside and against the Cult of the Dragon, Tiamat-cultists and various factions connected with the Rage of Dragons.
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Old 01-21-2014, 09:31 AM   #5
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Default Re: Treasure from the Sheikh of the Grinning Skull Oasis

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
I'm looking for any and all ideas on what would be cool treasures to include among the rest of the bandit leaders and what powers to give the Sheikh's gear.
What you absolutely need:

a) A tarnished bronze lamp.

b) An iron bottle, covered in runes, with a stopper bound in gold wire.

Putting a djinn inside might be a tad obvious, but tempting abilities with drawbacks, or just plain weird, spooky or dark powers might be appropriate.

The bottle might contain a sandstorm, which can be released and then banished again by putting the stopper back. It might contain the hot desert wind which dries up any water, causing watering holes and wells to dry up. It might hold swarms of locusts. It might even contain the black miasma which brings plague, though that should be pretty obvious from the runes, or else it would be a bit mean on the PCs.

The lamp could bring light, in that it causes the sun to stay up (with little control over how long this effect works - not too pleasant in the desert). Its light could cast shadows which foretell the future, or which show past or present things. It might be that by its light, you can see buried bodies, or maybe the souls of the dead, or into the Beyond. The lamp, when lighted, could attract demonic desert-beings, intent on taking the lamp to their master/home plane/office building.

Indeed, the setup looks like a perfect excuse to go all baroque on your players!
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Old 01-21-2014, 10:53 AM   #6
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Default Re: Treasure from the Sheikh of the Grinning Skull Oasis

I don't know much about Forgotten Realms, but I'll do my best to come up with some desert/bandit/camel-themed items.

Abdul's Basket: A wide, shallow wicker basket, with a matching lid attached with toggles. Abdul himself was a merchant of no particular distinction, and his name is lent to this basket only because he made his mark on the inside lip. The basket desiccates any food left within it over the course of a few days, but magically refills itself when left closed for 24 hours. It's perfect for sweet fruit, which is dried without spoiling and magically preserved, but it has the unique property of working on all manner of potions (so long as they are edible and do not require secondary containment). When the PCs discover it it is filled with chewy red treats that look like fruit leather, but are actually dried-out healing potions. They work just fine, but they take 10x the usual time to administer, since they must be chewed first - they're quite tacky.

Stoppered Spring: At first glance this may appear to be an endless water flagon typical in many desert settings, but it is both better and worse than typical examples of the type. The goat-skin flask is relatively bulky (it ought to be tied to a pack horse, rather than worn by a person). It never runs dry, true, but it does not create water out of nothing. Instead, it magically draws water from the nearest free-flowing source, as well as purifying and filtering it. Overuse of the skin, (such as watering a herd of camels or an army of men), can cause wells to run dry or oases to vanish into the deserts - if the source of the skin's water runs dry due to the flask, it will never flow again.

Sandblade: This pitted dagger looks ancient and useless when lying on the ground, but when wielded by an intelligent being the blade begins to flow and writhe. It's made of magically-cohered sand, and when used in combat it commands all the destructive force of a sandstorm. It does Thr+2 Corr damage, has -2 to Parry (it's made of sand), and can shapeshift from Reach C up to 2 with a Ready action - though it can never be used with more than one hand.

Scarab Broach: Abu Jafar has a whole basket of these charms, each made from the flawless carapace of a large desert beetle. With a whispered incantation they can be animated and used as scouts of spies - can follow simple instructions and will magically relay what they see and hear to their controller when they return (although the information will all be from a beetle's-eye perspective). This is useful, of course, but not the true purpose of the charm. Once animated, these carapaces carry the scent of death with them wherever they go and will attract vultures and hungry jackals, slowly but surely, all eager for a scavenged snack. Direct one into the pack of a pursuer and he will soon have pursuers of his own - hide a dozen in a city and it will be besieged by disease-ridden desert dogs.

Resinous Incense: One of several baskets of resinous incense (like myrrh or frankincense) in the sheikh's storehouse, this stuff is enchanted to bring its resinous nature into the air when it is burned. The sweet, piney smoke produced by this incense rises freely from the coals, but resists movement through it as though it were a taffy-like solid. Hexes with any smoke at all in them reduce movement by [some appropriate penalty], and hexes that are completely smokey act like Binding [of some appropriate level/ST] on characters that attempt to move into them. Can be quite surprising if you're sitting still while the smoke wafts around you!

Djini's Choker: This beaded choker (in a zig-zag pattern of blue and white) grants the wearer Does Not Drink - really quite handy in the desert. When worn continuously, though, the bearer's skin will seem to turn to cracked sandstone, and he will gradually lose the desire to drink, bathe, or come into contact with water in any way. After a month without water the bearer will gain Dread (Water). In another month, he will gain Weakness (Water). Both these disadvantages remain after the choker is removed for as long as it was worn - but Does Not Drink is lost immediately.

Prism Arrow: These arrows has a faceted glass head which sparkles and refracts light quite alluringly. When fired at the sun, the sparkling rays reveal secrets and dispel illusions within a radius of several hundred yards (depending on the strength of the sun's light - 500 yds at noon in the desert, no more than 50 on an average day in England). For a few seconds the invisible is made visible, the hidden is revealed, and illusions are shown as flat and flickering shapes. The arrow is burned up by the sun during this process, and is unrecoverable.

Abu Jafar's Golden Bracers: These golden bracers were carefully hidden by the long sleeves of the priest's vestments. They are covered by winding, intricate etchings of evil verses. When used properly (arms raised upwards to the sun, intoning the verses) they grant the following: Innate Attack 1 dmg (AoE, line of sight; Fatigue damage; Symptoms, dehydration/heat stroke; Takes Extra Time 3, 10 sec; Malediction; Based on HT; Requires somatic actions: chanting and posture; Accessibility, direct sunshine). In a minute the wielder can render peaceable an entire army - the one downside is that it affects everyone within LoS, including allies, even if the user isn't looking directly at them (i.e. no standing behind him, although the back side of the dune is safe). Hmn. Too powerful? Maybe tone down the rate at which they work. Swapping Takes Extra Time for Imm. Prep. Req. 1 Min per casting would make it way less OP.

How do you like these? In genre, or am I missing the mark?
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Old 01-21-2014, 11:20 AM   #7
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Default Re: Treasure from the Sheikh of the Grinning Skull Oasis

Some of the Rolemaster books had pretty bizarre magical treasures.
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Old 01-21-2014, 11:59 AM   #8
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Default Re: Treasure from the Sheikh of the Grinning Skull Oasis

Cloak of the Sands: In appearance, a typical cloak of the local tribal cultures, ornamented with light bead work. In fact, the cloak grants a skill bonus to Stealth, Temperature Tolerance, and Reduced Consumption.
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Old 01-21-2014, 12:23 PM   #9
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Default Re: Treasure from the Sheikh of the Grinning Skull Oasis

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How do you like these? In genre, or am I missing the mark?
They are awesome!

I'll certainly use some or even all of them, with perhaps a slight change here and there.
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Old 01-21-2014, 12:40 PM   #10
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Default Re: Treasure from the Sheikh of the Grinning Skull Oasis

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Cloak of the Sands: In appearance, a typical cloak of the local tribal cultures, ornamented with light bead work. In fact, the cloak grants a skill bonus to Stealth, Temperature Tolerance, and Reduced Consumption.
Sounds tailor-made for Mabad al-Mākir ('the sly'), the spymaster and assassin of the bandits.
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