[Adventure] The Road to Isshum

Rebuilding the world in the wake of the Great Rain of Fire.

Moderators: Seer of Yhog, Havard

Post Reply
User avatar
Chimpman
Hadozee
Posts: 7917
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 6:52 pm
Gender: male
Location: USA, California

[Adventure] The Road to Isshum

Post by Chimpman » Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:34 pm

This is a topic that I've been thinking about for quite some time now, and I think it has a lot of adventure potential... I'm just not clear exactly how I would go about setting up such an adventure or even what it would consist of. So I thought I'd open this thread up as a kind of brainstorming session.

[As posited in other threads] The Road to Isshum is a reference to the commonly traveled path that slaves would take (presumably from The Shimmering Lands) to the slave markets of Isshum. I've cut a section of the BC 2300 map out below for reference:

Road To Isshum

My first assumption would be that the "Road" starts at Gromhyeld, then goes to Kantagh, Salathat, and finally ends at Isshum.

The real estate between Gromhyeld and Kantagh is prime Estate territory for dwarven elders, and I doubt that they would appreciate caravans of slaves being driven through it, so I'm speculating that the initial leg of the "Road" is actually by barge. Dwarves wouldn't use anything fancy (or even anything that could travel far from shore).

After docking at Kantagh, the rest of the journey is probably on foot (at least for the slaves). The roads in Mogreth are paved, so terrain-wise there probably aren't a lot of obstacles in the way until the reach the swamp - and even then the road should be fairly well kept.

Anyway, I suppose the long winded question that I'm asking is, does this route make for a good journey to Isshum? And if so what kind of obstacles/encounters/adventure potential, do you see along this "Road"?
Last edited by Chimpman on Wed Jul 21, 2010 4:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
THRESHOLD Magazine - The Mystara Fanzine
Visit the Exiles Campaign Setting (a Mystara / Spelljammer crossover)
Visit Mystara 2300 BC

Moderator of The Tabard Inn and Blackmoor. My moderator voice is purple.

User avatar
Dave L
Storm Giant
Posts: 1591
Joined: Wed Nov 26, 2008 10:58 pm
Gender: male
Location: Plymouth, England

Re: [Mystara 2300 BC] The Road to Isshum

Post by Dave L » Thu Apr 29, 2010 10:07 pm

Two things I notice from the map.

After Salathat, you have some mountains.
Is there potential for dwarven irregulars to mount a rescue attempt, or is the distance to safety too long?
How extensive are cave systems in that mountain range - and how do the lizards cope with the cold of higher altitudes?

The second thing I noticed is - Gromhyeld has a naval battle icon to the SE.
Was this a battle between two navies, or do pirates or privateers operate in the area?
Barges would be easy prey, and if the pirates also had a tradition of using slaves they would be considered rich pickings.

Any good?

User avatar
Chimpman
Hadozee
Posts: 7917
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 6:52 pm
Gender: male
Location: USA, California

Re: [Mystara 2300 BC] The Road to Isshum

Post by Chimpman » Thu Apr 29, 2010 10:57 pm

Thanks Dave! These are great observations - exactly what I was hoping for - so keep them coming folks!
Dave L wrote:After Salathat, you have some mountains.
Is there potential for dwarven irregulars to mount a rescue attempt, or is the distance to safety too long?
How extensive are cave systems in that mountain range - and how do the lizards cope with the cold of higher altitudes?
The dwarves themselves would be the slavers in this case - these are the predecessors of the mordrigswerg after all ;) and the majority of slaves would be human, giant, and elf... but nonetheless, this idea has a lot of potential. The mountains would make a great place for the slave caravan to be ambushed, but who would want to free slaves going into Isshum? I can think of a few possibilities:

1) Dwarven radicals (possibly adherents to the Way of Stone under Kagyar's teachings) might be able to find some reason to disrupt the slave trade. Slavery (either owning slaves or selling them) might be seen as directly opposed to the philosophy of the Way (which would emphasize self reliance as one of its tenants).

2) Giant and elven skirmishers (themselves possibly also freed slaves) could have good reason to disrupt the trade. They would probably hate the dwarves more than the lizardfolk, as the dwarves would be the ones actually encroaching on their territory to capture more slaves. These particular mountains are a bit out of the way for such a group, but I could still see them mounting some kind of punitive expeditions - possibly backed by giants from Grondheim.

3) Human dissidents from western Mogreth might also want to mount rescue expeditions against the slavers. These folks would probably harbor more hatred for the dreaded slave masters than for the slavers themselves. Again the mountains are a bit far from their normal territory, but I could see them making the effort every once in a while - especially if they have advanced warning of a particularly large caravan or an especially important prisoner.
Dave L wrote:The second thing I noticed is - Gromhyeld has a naval battle icon to the SE.
Was this a battle between two navies, or do pirates or privateers operate in the area?
Barges would be easy prey, and if the pirates also had a tradition of using slaves they would be considered rich pickings.
The Shimmering Lands wouldn't have much of a navy to speak of - that's not to say they couldn't defend themselves against a sea based attack, but they wouldn't be known for their maritime traditions. I like the idea of pirates though (we have a pirate culture located just to the south of Mogreth) so they might fit in nicely here. I'm not sure yet what intentions they might have - whether to free the slaves or merely "acquire" them for themselves, but regardless I think that pirate attacks in this neck of the woods are entirely appropriate.
THRESHOLD Magazine - The Mystara Fanzine
Visit the Exiles Campaign Setting (a Mystara / Spelljammer crossover)
Visit Mystara 2300 BC

Moderator of The Tabard Inn and Blackmoor. My moderator voice is purple.

User avatar
Dave L
Storm Giant
Posts: 1591
Joined: Wed Nov 26, 2008 10:58 pm
Gender: male
Location: Plymouth, England

Re: [Mystara 2300 BC] The Road to Isshum

Post by Dave L » Fri Apr 30, 2010 12:10 am

If you have elven irregulars, then the woods might make a better ambush site.

In fact, having more than one group trying to rescue slaves would really keep the guards on their toes; or you could play a scenario that ends up with the rescuers ambushing each other! :)

User avatar
Seer of Yhog
Outer Being
Posts: 3226
Joined: Fri May 23, 2008 1:29 am
Gender: male
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Re: [Mystara 2300 BC] The Road to Isshum

Post by Seer of Yhog » Fri Apr 30, 2010 1:42 am

I'd agree with everything suggested so far. Pirates from the south might stage an attack here, if there were well-known prisoners to be freed (like a well-known pirate captain, with a price on his head). A good number of the southern pirates are escaped slaves, so they would try to disrupt the trade anytime they could.

Some of the forested regions of northern Mogreth might be home to Immortal-worshipping factions (much like their allies in the Shimmering Lands).

In addition, there is a chance some adherents of the Way of Irrub might ambush small slave caravans once the road enters the swamp, but being rescued by them might not turn out to be a blessing in the end...
Moderator for Mystara. My moderator voice is heliotrope.

My Blog is here!

User avatar
Dave L
Storm Giant
Posts: 1591
Joined: Wed Nov 26, 2008 10:58 pm
Gender: male
Location: Plymouth, England

Re: [Mystara 2300 BC] The Road to Isshum

Post by Dave L » Fri Apr 30, 2010 8:28 am

Seer of Yhog wrote: In addition, there is a chance some adherents of the Way of Irrub might ambush small slave caravans once the road enters the swamp, but being rescued by them might not turn out to be a blessing in the end...
Yikes, I never thought of that. That's a nasty way of thinking you have there! :)

User avatar
Chimpman
Hadozee
Posts: 7917
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 6:52 pm
Gender: male
Location: USA, California

Re: [Mystara 2300 BC] The Road to Isshum

Post by Chimpman » Fri Apr 30, 2010 6:29 pm

Dave L wrote:
Seer of Yhog wrote: In addition, there is a chance some adherents of the Way of Irrub might ambush small slave caravans once the road enters the swamp, but being rescued by them might not turn out to be a blessing in the end...
Yikes, I never thought of that. That's a nasty way of thinking you have there! :)
:twisted: Hehe... I like this one a lot. It looks like we have all manner of possible encounters for PCs to face during their journey along the Road. Now I have two different questions for folks to ponder:

1) We've done pretty well detailing encounter possibilities along the way, but what about the stopping points? Is there any adventure potential at one of the 4 cities/fortresses along the path?

Gromhyeld - this is a large city (one of the largest in the Shimmering Lands) and it's probably here that PCs start out and get mixed up in this adventure in the first place. I envision at least one thieves guild, and possibly several slaving rings to be based from this city.

Kantagh - ? This is the Shimmering Lands border fortress, but I'm not sure what should be found here.

Salathat - ? This is Kantagh's counterpart in Mogreth. Slaves are probably processed in some way (possibly marking them magically even?) before being shipped out to Isshum and the rest of Mogreth. Other than that, I'm not sure what might go on here.

Isshum - Of course I think the finale should involve the Isshum Arena is some shape or form, but not sure how that plays out yet.

2) What kind of PCs would be run through this set of adventures? There are 3 possible scenarios that jump to mind:

PCs as Righteous Opposition - Here the PCs are intent on stopping the slavers for some reason or other (many of which could be related to above posts). In my mind this ends up playing out a lot like the A-series, and I'm not sure I want to rehash that. I'd rather come up with a more unique angle.

PCs as Slaves - Here the PCs would be captured (presumably early on), made into slaves, and then experience the adventure from that perspective. It seems like pretty heavy handed railroading to go down this route though, which I would prefer to avoid.

PCs as Slavers - I'm not sure how I feel about this option, as I think I'd still like for my PCs to be basically good rather than evil.

3) Ok, I was able to think of one more question before I finished writing all of this. What is the end goal of the adventure? It really can't be to end the slave trade since we are dealing with two entire nations that rely on it! What is the big payout that PCs would get for completing the adventure successfully?
THRESHOLD Magazine - The Mystara Fanzine
Visit the Exiles Campaign Setting (a Mystara / Spelljammer crossover)
Visit Mystara 2300 BC

Moderator of The Tabard Inn and Blackmoor. My moderator voice is purple.

User avatar
Seer of Yhog
Outer Being
Posts: 3226
Joined: Fri May 23, 2008 1:29 am
Gender: male
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Re: [Mystara 2300 BC] The Road to Isshum

Post by Seer of Yhog » Fri Apr 30, 2010 7:05 pm

Chimpman wrote:Salathat - ? This is Kantagh's counterpart in Mogreth. Slaves are probably processed in some way (possibly marking them magically even?) before being shipped out to Isshum and the rest of Mogreth. Other than that, I'm not sure what might go on here.
That depends. If a buyer's agent has already made the purchase in the Shimmering Lands, then the slaves in question would be taken aside to be processed (little fingers chopped off, branding - which denotes the owner and province). Otherwise, they might be given a marking to indicate that they are destined for Isshum. The magical marking is an interesting idea, but I'm not sure the lizards would bother - as long as the slave isn't maimed, a small brand is fine.
Chimpman wrote:Isshum - Of course I think the finale should involve the Isshum Arena is some shape or form, but not sure how that plays out yet.
There are a couple of sub-locations:

1. Aressh - This village is a glorified stockyard, where some early purchases are made. Overcrowding is common, and the guards are suitably inhumane.

2. The Slave Gate - So many people come to Isshum that a special gate has been set aside just for slave traffic. There are two massive gates, followed by a wide trench about 10' below street level. Passers-by can look at the slaves as they are herded to the market, and some purchases are made on the spot (agents are always on hand). Trog troopers are never far away, and there are some guards at street level, too.

3. The Great Market - After about a mile or so, the trench becomes a ramp up to street level again, but a great iron fence blocks escape. The market is a huge, Carnifex-era plaza filled with guards, officials, and purchasing agents. Slaves are inspected the moment they enter, and are separated by race, then sex, then apparent age. Anyone obviously ill, or deemed physically unfit, is killed immediately. The separated groups are then marched to fenced pens, where purchasers can browse. Anyone not purchased within three days is usually shipped to the mines, but interesting slaves may be sent to the Arena.

Once a slave is purchased, they are stripped of possessions, chopped, branded, and led to a transit house.

4. Transit House - Every major purchaser of slaves owns a transit house in Isshum. Some are huge stables, others glorified pits in the ground. Slaves are assembled here prior to shipment, and are heavily guarded.
Moderator for Mystara. My moderator voice is heliotrope.

My Blog is here!

User avatar
Dave L
Storm Giant
Posts: 1591
Joined: Wed Nov 26, 2008 10:58 pm
Gender: male
Location: Plymouth, England

Re: [Mystara 2300 BC] The Road to Isshum

Post by Dave L » Fri Apr 30, 2010 11:32 pm

End goal of the adventure?

A couple spring to mind.

The first - rescue a specific individual from a slaver caravan.
Someone special who for whatever reason has not yet been recognised.

The second - escort a high profile individual undercover.

The end goal is to get the principal to Isshum safely, they just signed on as caravan guards as an attempt to fade out of view. The whole trip could revolve around not blowing their cover as guards, while maintaining an adequate guard for the individual. Of course, if they manage the mission it could link to further adventures - a discreet AND successful group of adventurers could be in high demand.

User avatar
Seer of Yhog
Outer Being
Posts: 3226
Joined: Fri May 23, 2008 1:29 am
Gender: male
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Re: [Mystara 2300 BC] The Road to Isshum

Post by Seer of Yhog » Mon May 03, 2010 5:49 pm

Chimpman wrote:2) What kind of PCs would be run through this set of adventures? There are 3 possible scenarios that jump to mind:

PCs as Righteous Opposition - Here the PCs are intent on stopping the slavers for some reason or other (many of which could be related to above posts). In my mind this ends up playing out a lot like the A-series, and I'm not sure I want to rehash that. I'd rather come up with a more unique angle.
Agreed - needs a new angle to freshen it up. I may have ideas later.
Chimpman wrote:PCs as Slaves - Here the PCs would be captured (presumably early on), made into slaves, and then experience the adventure from that perspective. It seems like pretty heavy handed railroading to go down this route though, which I would prefer to avoid.
I think a better option would be to have a mixed group - some PCs would be new slaves, but others could be agents of some sort inserted into the caravan to do an extraction. An all-slave AP is doable, but the odds would be heavily stacked against the PCs.
Chimpman wrote:PCs as Slavers - I'm not sure how I feel about this option, as I think I'd still like for my PCs to be basically good rather than evil.
I agree - the only way I would go down this path is have the PCs be new recruits in a slaving party. They would be confronted with a lot of tough situations, and would have to make major decisions. Scenarios would be presented neutrally by the DM. For example, the PCs could have just crossed over into Mogreth, and they're attacked by a band of rebels. They can fight the rebels, or side with them if the fight starts to go in favour of the slavers. Perhaps one rebel might be taken down, and butchered by a slaver. Thus, the PCs are forced to decide which side they're really on. If the PCs side with the rebels, and any slavers survive, they will find themselves wanted men and women.
Moderator for Mystara. My moderator voice is heliotrope.

My Blog is here!

User avatar
Seer of Yhog
Outer Being
Posts: 3226
Joined: Fri May 23, 2008 1:29 am
Gender: male
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Re: [Mystara 2300 BC] The Road to Isshum

Post by Seer of Yhog » Mon May 03, 2010 5:53 pm

Dave L wrote:The end goal is to get the principal to Isshum safely, they just signed on as caravan guards as an attempt to fade out of view. The whole trip could revolve around not blowing their cover as guards, while maintaining an adequate guard for the individual. Of course, if they manage the mission it could link to further adventures - a discreet AND successful group of adventurers could be in high demand.
I think these are all good ideas.

I would add a slightly different angle to the above. The important person the PCs are escorting is a key rebel figure, or a spy from Taymora whose orders are to set up a network. The longer-term consequences of this would be up to the DM.
Moderator for Mystara. My moderator voice is heliotrope.

My Blog is here!

User avatar
Chimpman
Hadozee
Posts: 7917
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 6:52 pm
Gender: male
Location: USA, California

Re: [Mystara 2300 BC] The Road to Isshum

Post by Chimpman » Mon May 03, 2010 6:13 pm

Hmmm... things may be starting to fall together.

I wonder if we could come up with an adventure where the role of the PCs actually changes throughout. For example, they start out as slavers (low ranking), are forced to make some tough decisions (hopefully the right ones) and end up making powerful enemies. Then of course those enemies turn the tables on the PCs and they end up slaves themselves. They would have to free themselves (perhaps by allying with one of the above mentioned groups or with an internal spy). Finally, once freed, they must choose whose side they are on and at this point actively work against the slavers.
Seer of Yhog wrote:
Dave L wrote:The end goal is to get the principal to Isshum safely, they just signed on as caravan guards as an attempt to fade out of view. The whole trip could revolve around not blowing their cover as guards, while maintaining an adequate guard for the individual. Of course, if they manage the mission it could link to further adventures - a discreet AND successful group of adventurers could be in high demand.
I think these are all good ideas.
I agree, and I think they get us at least mid way through the adventure. I still think we need something that packs more punch for the end game though.
Seer of Yhog wrote:I would add a slightly different angle to the above. The important person the PCs are escorting is a key rebel figure, or a spy from Taymora whose orders are to set up a network. The longer-term consequences of this would be up to the DM.
Hmmm... Or perhaps someone sent to infiltrate Mogreth in order to get close enough to one of the Sorcerer Kings so that they might steal something from them... something that Taymora (or whoever) deems important or dangerous enough to risk all of this subterfuge. Now, not only has the adventure led us into the heart of Mogreth, but it pits PCs against the Sorcerer Kings themselves. That's something epic! The trick would be in getting the PCs to care enough about this (during earlier adventures) in order to commit themselves to the cause.
THRESHOLD Magazine - The Mystara Fanzine
Visit the Exiles Campaign Setting (a Mystara / Spelljammer crossover)
Visit Mystara 2300 BC

Moderator of The Tabard Inn and Blackmoor. My moderator voice is purple.

User avatar
Seer of Yhog
Outer Being
Posts: 3226
Joined: Fri May 23, 2008 1:29 am
Gender: male
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Re: [Mystara 2300 BC] The Road to Isshum

Post by Seer of Yhog » Mon May 03, 2010 6:32 pm

Chimpman wrote:I wonder if we could come up with an adventure where the role of the PCs actually changes throughout. For example, they start out as slavers (low ranking), are forced to make some tough decisions (hopefully the right ones) and end up making powerful enemies. Then of course those enemies turn the tables on the PCs and they end up slaves themselves. They would have to free themselves (perhaps by allying with one of the above mentioned groups or with an internal spy). Finally, once freed, they must choose whose side they are on and at this point actively work against the slavers.
I think the best option would be to have them fall into the hands of the followers of the Way or Irrub. At first, they look like frogfolk freedom-fighters, but once the slavers have been defeated, out pop the chains and the PCs are dragged to a half-sunken ruin in the Rumog Swamp - a holdover from the time of Yth'lil that the frogfolk have discovered. Using their partly accurate knowledge, they invoke a few OBs, and summon a servitor to devour the sacrifices in exchange for some gifts. Perhaps the allies might be other slaves "liberated" from the slavers, or some other former slavers themselves (better the enemy I know versus the one I don't).
Chimpman wrote:Now, not only has the adventure led us into the heart of Mogreth, but it pits PCs against the Sorcerer Kings themselves. That's something epic! The trick would be in getting the PCs to care enough about this (during earlier adventures) in order to commit themselves to the cause.
They would probably be totally ignorant of the sorcerer kings' machinations, but would likely be dragged into the conflict as pawns. Tuurash, as Anointed of Isshum, and someone with a lot of agendas, would probably be the one to ensnare them. He might even be the one to send agents to pluck the PCs out of a sticky situation, and whisk them to his palace. After making it perfectly clear that he's done them a favour, he might send them on a job of his own.

The job might involve stealing an artefact from another sorcerer king before the Taymorans do, or he might want them to deliver it to them. If the PCs get caught, there's plausible deniability ("No, o' great First, I had nothing to do with it"), and if the PCs succeed the theft gets pinned on the Taymorans, anyway.

What would the item be?
Moderator for Mystara. My moderator voice is heliotrope.

My Blog is here!

User avatar
Chimpman
Hadozee
Posts: 7917
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 6:52 pm
Gender: male
Location: USA, California

Re: [Mystara 2300 BC] The Road to Isshum

Post by Chimpman » Fri May 07, 2010 11:36 pm

Seer of Yhog wrote:I think the best option would be to have them fall into the hands of the followers of the Way or Irrub. At first, they look like frogfolk freedom-fighters, but once the slavers have been defeated, out pop the chains and the PCs are dragged to a half-sunken ruin in the Rumog Swamp - a holdover from the time of Yth'lil that the frogfolk have discovered. Using their partly accurate knowledge, they invoke a few OBs, and summon a servitor to devour the sacrifices in exchange for some gifts. Perhaps the allies might be other slaves "liberated" from the slavers, or some other former slavers themselves (better the enemy I know versus the one I don't).
I think this idea is definitely a keeper. I'm thinking we can maybe pull 3 different adventures out of this idea. Maybe something along the lines of:

1) Gromhyeld Slavers - The PCs fall into the wrong crowd as they try to save someone they know. The end of this adventure sees them either being captured as slaves unintentionally or on purpose in order to escort some important individual on a secret mission into Mogreth.

2) Freed by the Swamp - The PCs are 'rescued' by followers of the Way of Irrub and tossed into a sacrificial pit. There they face unspeakable horrors as they try to find their way out of the dungeon and back to slavers bound for Isshum.

3) Endgame - Here the PCs face their final challenge within the confines of Isshum... whatever that may be.
Seer of Yhog wrote:The job might involve stealing an artefact from another sorcerer king before the Taymorans do, or he might want them to deliver it to them. If the PCs get caught, there's plausible deniability ("No, o' great First, I had nothing to do with it"), and if the PCs succeed the theft gets pinned on the Taymorans, anyway.

What would the item be?
Now you're asking the hard questions ;). I'm not sure as of yet, but it could very possibly have something to do with the Carnifex. Hmmm... bringing yet some of our other work into play... maybe they have figured out how to open a portal to the Hollow Moon (something that I know should not be possible) are are going to bring in Ur-Carnifex shock troops for their armies. The PCs goal would be to destroy whatever artifact makes that possible. Just a random thought.
THRESHOLD Magazine - The Mystara Fanzine
Visit the Exiles Campaign Setting (a Mystara / Spelljammer crossover)
Visit Mystara 2300 BC

Moderator of The Tabard Inn and Blackmoor. My moderator voice is purple.

User avatar
RobJN
Dire Flumph
Posts: 4253
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 10:33 pm
Gender: male
Location: Texas, USA
Contact:

Re: [Mystara 2300 BC] The Road to Isshum

Post by RobJN » Tue May 11, 2010 5:00 am

Chimpman wrote:I'm not sure as of yet, but it could very possibly have something to do with the Carnifex. Hmmm... bringing yet some of our other work into play... maybe they have figured out how to open a portal to the Hollow Moon (something that I know should not be possible) are are going to bring in Ur-Carnifex shock troops for their armies. The PCs goal would be to destroy whatever artifact makes that possible. Just a random thought.
If not the troops themselves, perhaps an egg, or clutch of eggs? Or maybe even a single, young queen.

Hmm, have the PCs do a 'rescue the damsel in distress' only to find out that she is soon to be the source of an even bigger mess...?
Rob
Thorn's Chronicle: The Thread Index|Thorn's Chronicle Blog
My articles at the Vaults of Pandius; My W.O.I.N. adventure in ENWorld's EONS Patreon #56.
Follow Thorn's Chronicle on Facebook |twitter

Post Reply

Return to “2300 BC”