Skull Quest 2

The Fate of the Second Master - Tharillion, Half Elven Mage

The second Conclave Master was Tharillion, a very powerful and good hearted half elven mage. He was an explorer, ever curious and always traveling to distant lands. He was also the joker and prankster of the group.

After the War of Demons, Tharillion travelled to the southwest to investigate the curious karthasians. While in Myria, he cast many spells, healed many of the sick and generally won the primitives over. The Chieftain of the Amaputu made him an honorary member of the tribe. After leaving the myrians, Tharillion ventured deep into Karth, ever the explorer. While navigating the harsh terrain, he stumbled upon a nest of horrax and died from numerous horrax stings. Many years later, his bones were found by a karthasian scholar collecting medicinal herbs.

The Current Whereabouts of the Skull

The bones are now lost but the skull has been traded back and forth for years. Currently, the skull adorns the top of a staff carried by a karthasian named Sosk. Sosk serves as an ambassador between one of the karthasian hive queens and the various myrian tribes. In such a role, he tends to travel a great deal between the hives and tribes.

Dasjani, the Floating Mineral

There exists a strange mineral which can be found in large quantities throughout the Shattered Mountains. This rock has a unique property. When exposed to drellisian radiation (sunlight of the blue star), it generates a repulsion field between two or more pieces. In other words, pieces of this rock physically repel each other. Since this mineral is found underground throughout the mountains, rocks containing this mineral seem abnormally light. Whole boulders of this mineral have been known to float mere feet above valley floors. Sightings of hundreds, even thousands of small dasjani stones hovering above their quarrys are not uncommon. The intensity of the repulsion field varies with the concentration of the mineral and the amount of sunlight that strikes the mineral. Usually, this mineral is not found in floating boulders, but is buried in the ground. Pieces of stone that contain this mineral will either feel light, float or fly away. The myrians have known about this stone for generations and it is the basis of a part of their religion and a few myrian legends.

The Kalimuran Incursion

Following the myrian legends, one Kalimuran explorer recently discovered the nature of this mineral (through exhaustive experimentation). He arranged for some of the mineral to be taken back to Orrojek, tested and judged non-magical (i.e. a product of the natural world and eligible for Kalimuran exploitation). Kalimura has in turn dispatched a large expedition to the Shattered Mountains to study it.

The expedition's mission objectives are

  1. Test the weight limits of the mineral.
  2. Build a prototype skyship - that is a constructed wooden vessel capability of flight using the mineral.
  3. Measure the concentrations of the crystal in different areas. Find geographic boundaries, if any.
  4. Negotiate mining rights with as many myrian tribes as possible.

The Kalimuran Camp

The Kalimurans have formed a treaty with the Amaputu tribe and the tribe has allowed them to build a temporary settlement deep in the jungle in Amaputu territory. The Amaputu are also helping them in other ways. (serving as scouts, foraging food, identifying poisonous plants, etc.)  However, the Kalimurans have met with resistance from other tribes in the area. (primarily the Gethyan, who feel it is blasphemy to mine the crystal).

The Kalimurans are preparing to "set sail" in the prototype skyship for the Karthasian hives to ask permission of the Karthasian queens to study that geographic region.

The Sky Ship

The Kalimuran expedition has completed their first two objectives. They have studied the mass-thrust properties of the mineral  thoroughly and constructed a large wooden "ship" that uses the mineral to fly. This vessel does not look like a seagoing ship. Rather, it resembles a giant bird. The hull is fashioned from lumber harvested from native trees. Two great wings (actually large retractable sails that extend out from the sides) catch the wind and provide propulsion. These wings can be extended and retracted using a complicated rigging system of ropes and pulleys. Two smaller wings at the rear of the craft serve as a rudder.

The mineral is mounted in six positions on the ship - two front, two sides, two rear. Each position consists of a large chunk of mineral mounted in iron brackets. Each mineral chunk has a metal box mounted on a rack which slides back and forth, covering and uncovering various amounts of the mineral. By varying the amount of sunlight exposure on each mineral, the lift/thrust can be controlled. 

The ship has been taken on several test flights already. By test flying and measuring the amount of lift over different regions,  the Kalimuran engineers are able to determine the relative concentrations of the mineral in the land. It is not known how far the mineral deposits extend and the flight capability of the craft only works over land where the mineral is abundant. So far, they have found dasjani throughout the Shattered Mountains. It is likely that the Kalimuran skyship will be limited to the Shattered Mountains, but the expedition is detemined to find the geographic limits of the mineral. They have high hopes that the mineral extends through the entire Karth peninsula and north into Talis and Bathynia. 

The Map Coordinates and the Kalimuran Camp

The coordinates indicated on the enchanted map mark the exact same spot as the Kalimuran camp, near the Karth/Myria border. At some point during the adventure, the characters will learn of the existence of the camp and it will be obvious that the map is leading them to it.

The Players' Mission

The characters must follow the map to the coordinates indicated in the Karthasian peninsula. Because Sosk travels a lot, the players may notice that the coordinates indicated on the map change from time to time. (i.e. each time they look at the map, Sosk has moved and the coordinates are slightly different). One way or another, the characters have to find Sosk and convince him to trade/sell/give the skull to them.

Along the way, the characters will :

bulletmeet up with the Kalimurans who are mining the mineral and building a flying ship.
bulletride on the flying ship
bullettravel through the hostile jungle of the Karth Peninsula
bulletsee a bit of the inter-tribal warfare that is common in Myria.
bulletmeet the Karthasians and see that fascinating culture

The Sequence of Events

Characters travel from Skull Quest 1 to Skull Quest 2
The player characters travel, most likely by sail, from Mercia (the location of Skull Quest 1) to the area in the Shattered Mountains where Karth and Myria meet. It would be wise to suggest to them that they stop off for rest, supplies etc at a civilized port. Orrojek is an excellent choice as this will give you a chance to show them the city of Orrojek and Kalimuran culture. Also, Orrojek is a large city and will have just about everything that they need (except magic). However, fine inns, good food, fresh horses, shops, guilds and non-magical healing are all available.

Orrojek - Characters join caravan heading south
If the characters do go to Orrojek, they will hear about a caravan which is being equipped and will soon depart heading for the Shattered Mountains. A large supply and restock run for the aforementioned Kalimuran camp in Myria. The caravan is now hiring caravan guards. The characters might take the opportunity to travel with this caravan into Myria. There are safety in numbers.

The Rhotha tribe attacks in the Iron Hills
If the players travel south through the Iron Hills, either by themselves or as a part of the caravan, then they are be attacked by a raiding party of the Rhotha tribe of myrians. The Iron Hills is a disputed territory, lying just south of the Kalimuran border. The Rhotha particularly hate the Kalimurans for their frequent incursions into their homeland and will attack their caravans on sight.

Krallinar Hunt 
The caravan through the Iron Hills and Myria is an excellent chance for you to throw in an encounter with a Krallinar, a fierce cat-like beast native to that region and known to terrorize Kalimuran caravans and myrian tribesmen alike. The myrians of the nearby Rhotha tribe have lost many talented young hunters to these deadly creatures. After the fight with the Rhotha tribe, if your players start getting overconfident for any reason, a Krallinar ambush may be just the thing to remind them who's in charge. Optional, but fun. 

The River
The caravan proceeds to a river where it meets up with a number of Kalimurans and Amaputu warriors in river kayaks. The supplies are transferred to river kayaks. Most of the guards return with the caravan. The players, wanting to follow the cross-hairs on the map,  should be able to talk their way into staying with the Kalimurans and proceeding on to the main Kalimuran camp. If the characters didn’t go to Orrojek and instead opted to head smack into the myrian jungle, have them run into the Kalimuran river kayaks as they journey toward the map's cross-hairs. They'll see that the kayaks are heading in the direction they want to go.

The Camp
The river kayaks, loaded with supplies, Kalimuran personnel, Amaputu myrians and (hopefully) the player characters, proceed down river until they reach the Kalimuran camp. At the camp, there is a celebration of sorts going on. A mix of primitive myrian culture and refined Kalimuran culture. They are celebrating the launch of the skyship on its longest voyage tomorrow. Lots of possibilities for roleplaying exist here. Perhaps the chieftain’s daughter is sick and the right herb from the party healer will do the trick (or perhaps a curative spell). Although they don’t like magic, the Kalimurans will be respectful of the party, especially if they served well as guards, and politely tolerate them.

The Skull
The characters are searching for the second enchanted skull and they will likely ask about it. Does someone here at the camp have it? The map is only precise enough to tell them that they are very close. Within 40 kilometers or so. But beyond that, it does not help. The skull is on the staff of Sosk, the karthasian ambassador. Sosk is not in the camp when the player characters arrive. Sosk has just left several hours earlier. (Sosk travels by air using a giant dragonfly). If they ask, the Kalimurans at the camp will tell them about Sosk and his skull tipped staff. The characters can't catch up with Sosk. However, there is a solution. Sosk is heading back to his karthasian hive in Karth. The sky ship is being prepared for a journey to Karth where the Kalimurans will meet with Sosk's queen.

The Flight
Since the characters are after Sosk's staff (and skull) and the Kalimuran skyship is heading to where Sosk is, it makes sense that they hitch a ride on the sky ship. Imagine flying gracefully over a rainforest canopy and over some of the most breathtaking cliffs, waterfalls and rivers in the world. Excellent opportunity for some role playing and describing the flight in vivid detail. The journey to the Karthasian hive will take three days and the ship can only fly during the day (since the mineral is only activated when exposed to sunlight). Therefore, each night, the ship must find a safe place and land to spend the night. Maybe toss a few wild apes at them one night to keep them on their toes.

The Aerial Attack
Halfway through the journey, the ship must pass over Gethyan territory. The Gethyan tribe worship dasjani as a holy stone and are greatly offended at the Kalimuran's plundering this rare and valuable mineral. The Gethyan live in caves and ride a giant species of bats as steeds. On the fourth or fifth day, while over Gethyan territory, the aerial ship is attacked. The assault consists of 20 Gethyan warriors on the backs of four giant bats.  The Gethyan warriors will leap from the bats onto the ship and engage the Kalimurans (and the characters) in combat. The Gethyans will concentrate their attacks on the mineral loads. They will strike the six mineral "engines",  and attempt to break the iron clamps and shatter the mineral, thus "freeing" their holy stone. If a chunk of mineral is shattered when exposed to sunlight, the broken pieces will fly up and away out of the sky. Each mineral that is destroyed in this way will cut lift on that side of the ship. This will result in a fantastic battle. The characters must battle the myrians on a ship that is lurching to and fro some 100 feet above the rainforest canopy. Several of the myrians will try to light the ship on fire. Others will attempt to cut cables, jam gears and destroy the rigging of the sails.

The Crash
If you really want to have fun at the players expense, then have the myrian assault team successfully destroy three mineral engines and send the entire sky ship crashing into the ground. Make the crash a memorable experience. People, flaming debris, barrels, crates and more will rain down into the jungle. Feel free to kill off any annoying NPC's and plenty of the Kalimuran engineers.

The Jungle and the Shattered Mountains
If the ship crashes, then the characters are facing a long hike through the roughest terrain in the world. 8-10 more days at least. The characters will be lucky to make 15 kilometers in a day.  The Shattered Mountains are extremely rugged terrain and the jungle of this region is a very dangerous place. Wild animals, aggressive insects such as the Horrax, poisonous nests, treacherous terrain and lots of Gethyan warriors who are actively looking for the party. If the ship doesn't crash, it lands safely at the Karthasian Hive.

The Karthasian Hive
Once the characters and the remaining Kalimurans (if any) reach the Karthasian hive, they can meet with the Queen. The Kalimurans have lots of negotiating to do with the Karthasians, but this doesn't concern the players. All they should care about is talking to Sosk and getting the staff. In Karthasian culture, all possessions belong to the queen. So, in actuality, the players will have to negotiate with her in order to trade/barter for the staff. The Karthasian have little use for money or magic. Instead, the queen would most likely ask the characters to stay a few days and tell them news of the outside world. It is the party's negotiating ability, rather than combat skills, that will best serve them in this section. If they are tactful enough and don't cause any trouble, they will find the hive members and their queen to be most intelligent and willing to cooperate with the party.

Concluding The Second Skull Quest

Once the players have the second skull, the map coordinates will change to indicate the location of the third skull. The crosshairs of the map converge in the middle of the Captured Sea. 

Apparently, the third skull lies beneath the waves... And it's a long journey from Karth to the Captured Sea. On the way to the Captured Sea is the independent city of Ithell - an excellent place to rest, do research at libraries, look things up, learn a little magic, sell, buy, whatever.

If the players have not learned of the Anchor Glyphs by now, this is an excellent time for them to figure that information out. Between Skull Quest 2 and 3. 

FAQ The Anchor Glyphs Prelude Skull

This page last updated Wednesday, December 24, 2008. Copyright 1990-2009 David M. Roomes.

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