Seeking out two establishments where a PRANKSTER’s coin is present, the PCs don’t turn up any leads, but on the third try their luck pays off—seeking out the aid of the locals in Ravine and succeeding on a DC 18 Diplomacy check reveals that a large group of the criminals were spotted heading north towards the Sea of Shards. Failure on this check means traveling back to the Parched Pilgrim and utilizing Kara the Sun Flea’s connections to the same effect.
A 3 day trek across the Scorched Lands gets the PCs to the borders of the Sea of Shards, where the first of many ashen stalagmites rise from up ahead in the rolling dunes. If the party hurried or rushed out to the desert (without stopping to get aid from the Sun Flea) they arrive early enough to make a DC 23 Perception check and spot a group of two dozen P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R. Hirelings gradually headed away from Ravine. Otherwise after a day of journeying into the wastelands they start to find bodies of the ne’er-do-wells (a DC 15 Perception check every few miles); though some have been visibly slain with claws or some kind of piercing weapon, most appear to have dropped dead for no reason.
After another 3 days of tracking the criminals adventurers hear the din of combat near an area of the Sea of Shards known as the Sandy Gate. When they rush over the nearby sand hill they find 7 hirelings facing off with a trio of gregaria sphinx [Tomorrow’s Statblock Sunday! —TS], two of which are unharmed (the last being at 46 hp). The creatures ignore the party until all of the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S. are dead or one of the PCs attack them.
When the monsters are dealt with any surviving criminals flee into the Scorched Lands, trying to escape from the party. The P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R. hirelings dash off into the Sea of Shards and if captured, may be coerced to reveal that the cabal is in league with some mutants from the fissures. The two groups were meant to meet and exchange a certain material with the transformed denizens of the wasteland, though what exactly they were to gather remains a mystery.
A DC 18 Wisdom (Perception) check spots the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R. Hirelings.
Use the “Bandit” statistics for the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R. Hirelings; there are a total of 18.
A DC 10 Wisdom (Perception) check notices the corpses in the sands.
[Submitted by Tim Snow!]