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Tribal Troubles: Caravans and Quicksand

trouble in da sandsAs the party finishes the first third of the journey from the Hanging Village of the K’naghi to the forbidden temple, they see an exasperated, terrified child running towards them across the sands—if the PCs got to know the Ayaxan nomads, they recognize the youth.

Across the badlands there’s not a great amount to see, and the plume of smoke at the temple in the distance tends to dominate your eye. A boy—perhaps ten years of age—comes dashing toward you from the horizon, his eyes full of fright. Looking more clearly, you see wagons dipping into the sand a half mile away.

The boy isn’t certain as to what happened exactly (whatever hazard befell the caravan, it was too fast for his young mind to comprehend) but he knows that many of his fellow travelers are still alive—and in great danger. To the untrained eye of an explorer new to the Disputed Territories, it looks as though the gypsy wagons fell afoul of a series of sand blast traps and quicksand. Only a local—and an old one at that—would know the true dangers that these hazards can portend.

Sand Blast Trap     CR 3
Type magical; Perception DC 27; Disable Device DC 27
Trigger location; Reset none
Effect sand blast (1d6 damage and be knocked prone and blinded for 1 round, sliding 5 ft. to 20 ft. down sand dune, DC 19 Reflex Save negates); multiple targets (all targets in 20-ft. cone)

Quicksand: Patches of quicksand present a deceptively solid appearance (appearing as undergrowth or open land) that might trap careless characters. A character approaching a patch of quicksand at a normal pace is entitled to a DC 8 Survival check to spot the danger before stepping in, but charging or running characters don’t have a chance to detect a hidden patch before blundering into it. A typical patch of quicksand is 20 feet in diameter; the momentum of a charging or running character carries him 1d2 × 5 feet into the quicksand.

Effects of Quicksand: Characters in quicksand must make a DC 10 Swim check every round to simply tread water in place, or a DC 15 Swim check to move 5 feet in whatever direction is desired. If a trapped character fails this check by 5 or more, he sinks below the surface and begins to drown whenever he can no longer hold his breath.
Characters below the surface of quicksand may swim back to the surface with a successful Swim check (DC 15, +1 per consecutive round of being under the surface).

Rescue: Pulling out a character trapped in quicksand can be difficult. A rescuer needs a branch, spear haft, rope, or similar tool that enables him to reach the victim with one end of it. Then he must make a DC 15 Strength check to successfully pull the victim, and the victim must make a DC 10 Strength check to hold onto the branch, pole, or rope. If both checks succeed, the victim is pulled 5 feet closer to safety. If the victim fails to hold on, he must make a DC 15 Swim check immediately to stay above the surface.

There are a total of 6 wagons, each with 1d4+1 gypsies on board. By the time the PCs arrive, all six are sinking. The wagons are 15%, 30%, 45%, 60%, 75%, and 90% submerged. At least one gypsy is in the sand waist-deep, nearby a rope they were trying to haul the wagons out with. Pulling out a gypsy in the quicksand is a DC 15 Strength check (as well as a DC 10 Strength check for the gypsies, who have a +2 bonus) but getting a wagon out is much harder, requiring a DC 17 Strength check.

ayaxan gypsy traderOnce rescued, the gypsies are enormously thankful, promising a gift to the party. If it hasn’t been 15 rounds yet (see below), the remaining time is spent rifling through the bags and sacks the gypsies on the wagons managed to salvage. On the 15th round, the Ayaxans find a gypsy bag [see the upcoming Magic Item Monday! -MM] and offer it to the adventurers in thanks—though the PCs are interrupted before they can collect the reward!

It has been many, many years since enormous beasts regularly roamed the Disputed Territories; the gyeongsa warp storms only began to appear recently, and the strange, teleporting tempests tend to spend very little time in the badlands. The recent troubles between the tribes, however, have woken a true horror beneath the sands, one that burrows underground with ease. Released from its slumber and sensing the impacts of the Piseogach Clan’s attack on the distant forbidden temple, the creature has risen from deep beneath the earth—using the caravan as bait in hopes of trapping more prey. Once its full meal has arrived (15 rounds after the PCs reach the scene) it springs forth from the ground and attacks! [Check out the monster in tomorrow’s Statblock Sunday! -MM]





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