4E Dark Sun

The Gith Ritual

The Gith Ritual 3 November 2009

OOC: The DM tried to explain how the world we are in is a stagnant society in a desert that never changes or evolves. So that when Unndua talks about the oceans and seasons, we as a group have absolutely no way to comprehend it. The world is the way it is now, has been, and always will be.

The story continues….

The party travels for a couple more days, arriving at a mountain pass. The weather has been constant, hot and a little wind. Some dust devils show up, worrying the group about whether it is an elemental or just wind. There are a few areas with some cultivated lands. The area itself is looking less desolate as the party arrives at a small fortification.

Arriving at the fortification, it is an Elvin market with a protective wall surrounding it. The group is immediately aware to keep an eye on their goods and money. The party finds that there are healing fruits available for 9 silver. The elf haggler convinces Hadren to purchase a healing fruit for one-gold (10 silver) as Hadren is convinced it is a much better fruit than normal.

The others don’t attempt to haggle with the shyster elves, but all buy some healing fruit. Some of the party notices that Nnn’Ckk has been talking to a vendor for quite some time. As people move up, it looks like obsidian and other carved objects, so the few that move up to look figure he is just trying to purchase some components. Hadren, having seen magical components before, was not certain that was what he was trying to get, but had no idea what else it could be for. The group stops at the inn during high sun for a little bit of a meal and rest up. Unfortunately, after the high quality food from the noble’s, this food just isn’t up to par. Afterwards, the group decides not to stay in the town, but travel while they still have the time, and decide to depart Fort Prosper.

For no apparent reason, the DM asks everyone for initiative. Everyone rolls, but nobody believes his “no apparent reason” description.

Goren see’s some familiar birds off in the distance. He groans, as he sees one swoop in. It hits Damoron, and Igne, but misses Nnn’Ckk. Another bird moves up and hits Destriani, Damoron and Harden. The birds have a wingspan of nearly ten feet as they hit. Destriani and Hadren are both hit again as a third flies in. Two more glide in and smack at the party again hitting Damoron and Nnn’Ckk as they pass. The birds never drop to the ground, just keep circling in the air swooping and clawing at the party.

Nnn’Ckk casts a flaming area of magic at two of the birds. He manages to hit both of them, engulfing them and setting some of their feathers on fire with the attack. Hadren swings his sword and catches a bird in the chest, swinging it’s body around and into flanking position with the hit.

Destriani moves up and gets into flanking position with Igne and attacks, striking her target. Damoron moves way out and away from the group attacking with a lance of faith, shooting out a mist of water that slms into his target. Goren rushes up, challenging two birds. They swoop and dodge, avoiding being hit by the half-giant, although he was able to mark them. They attack in response to his swinging, but only barely hit as they glide around him.

The one attacking Hadren swoops by, ripping him with it’s wings. Damoron is also attacked by the one he attacked, cutting a large gouge across his chest. Nnn’Ckk attacks with another magical spell, bloodying two of the birds with the grasping of magical energy that slows them as well. The area is still dangerous for any other member to walk through, so he warns the party to avoid it or risk injury.

Hadren moves next to the magical field, hopeful a bird attacking him will fall into it. He pulls out the stone with the rune on it, using it as a holy symbol, and attacks with lightning, bloodying a bird. Damoron again attacks, water lashing out and striking one of the birds flying away from him. Goren again swings at the birds around him. He is able to mark all three, but unable to strike them. Igne and Destriani kill the bird between them.

The birds then attack. The ones slowed can’t hurt Goren. The one attacking Hadren dives in and attacks, but when it hits the magical area created by Nnn’Ckk, it misses Hadren and takes magical damage.

Nnn’Ckk moves away from the bird that has closed the distance on him, and casts another scorching burst at two of the birds. He misses both but does manage to slow one with the magical attack.

Hadren moves up to the bird he has been attacking and takes a leading strike at it. The attack is solid and drops the bird from the sky, dead. Destriani rushes the bird that was going to attack Nnn’Ckk, hitting it. Damoron heals up Hadren, who was looking pretty bad. Goren attacks, critically hitting one of the birds and causing some lightning damage to one of the bloodied birds. Igne and Destriani gang up on a common bird, pounding on it and easily finish it off. The three circling Goren attack, but only one hits him. Nnn’Ckk casts an illusionary attack on one of the birds doing damage and disrupting its attacks while affected. Hadren rushes up to the confused bird and kills it.

Damoron puts some water into his hand and casts a gaze of defiance at one of the birds, but the spell disperses in the wind. Goren again marks the two birds around him and clubs one solidly in the head. More fire erupts from the ground as Nnn’Ckk casts magical energy at the last two birds around Goren. One of them falls to the ground in a flaming heap, while the other is singed Hadren moves up to the last bird, and again does a leading strike to help Goren hit the bird, but the blade cuts deeper than he could have hoped, and the bird drops.

The party takes a minor break and then head back out. They finally emerge from the cultivated lands into a much rockier and barren terrain. Eventually the party must take a break for the evening. It is determined that the party will reach the pass sometime during the next day. Watches are set up, with Nnn’Ckk taking a large portion of them.

While setting up camp, the party notices two cats like creatures passing by. They are some sort of Psionic cat. They sniff at the area but do not come any closer. It looks as though they are out hunting, but decide the party is too large to attack, especially with Nnn’Ckk showing signs that he can see them.

The party starts out the next day, heading towards the pass. Hadren is able to see off in the distance the sand cacti that had caused them problems before. It was almost a thousand yard detour to get around them. Supplies are going well at this point as the party enters some hilly area towards the end of the day. These are not small hills, as they are a couple hundred foot bluffs grouped together at the base of the mountains. As the party gets closer to the mountains, they can tell that there is an existing trail cutting through the mountains. The party gets to a point where they have to set up camp again for the evening as the day passes uneventful.

Before long, everyone in the party but Hadren hear some movement off in the distance. There is no light since there is no wood for a fire, and with the moons gone, it is totally dark out. But Igne and Nnn’Ckk did heat some of the ground around for the riding beasts and for the party to stay somewhat warm in the cool desert night.

The movement sounded like wood brushing against wood, but there are no trees in the area. Nnn’Ckk thinks the sound could have been a spear hitting a shield, but he wasn’t certain.

The maker of the sound moves close, coming up to the party “travelers… why do you travel up here?” Goren recognizes him as a Gith. They are intelligent but don’t interact with humans often. They are considered fairly hostile as they will attack fairly easily. We can tell that behind it are about three or four more creatures.

“We are traveling through the mountains, is there something we could help you with?” answers Hadren. “Yes, can any of you read? WE have ritual, need to perform. Very important. It is a call to ancestors. Displaced ancestors. Or we displaced and we call them.” “I may be able to help you. But I am not certain what you are saying. Do you have the ritual with you for me to look at?” questions Nnn’Ckk. “Yes?!? You can read! Khattik, I am called Khattik.”

“Ah, I am Nnn’Ckk.” The creature echoes his name back Nnn’Ckk and pronounces his name very well. “If you have the ritual here, I can look at it and see if I can help.”

Khattik turns and calls behind him to the creatures hidden in the darkness. The language is guttural and harsh, like German, but nobody can understand what he says. Another creature moves up and hands him something that he promptly turns and hands to Nnn’Ckk. The item is an actual scroll, covered in symbols and runes. Nnn’Ckk takes the scroll and examines it.

“Yes? You can do?” inquires Khattik. “Maybe, allow me the time to study it. IT could be beyond my abilities,” answers Nnn’Ckk.

Hadren can tell that Khattik is making hand signals to the people behind and can tell some of them are moving into flanking positions. Suddenly standing tall and summoning fire in one of his hands, Nnn’Ckk says “Move your people back or I will burn your ritual….” The people stop moving but do not go back. “We have the ingredients; it would take a couple of days. But we need someone to read the ritual.” Goren moves up between Khattik and his people when the Gith says “No, it cannot be you, cannot be same ones. Saw other half-giants, but not you.” “If you cannot read, then how do you know what ingredients to get?” inquires Nnn’Ckk, ingoring his statement to Goren. “Our dream catcher told us what we needed, he had vision, and he told us.” Says Khattik. “Have you seen some elves?” asks Hadren.

“Yes, but on other side of mountains. They not part of ritual. What care has I for elves or half giants? They long ways away…not important.” Then he stops and looks at the party, “you are not with the other person? He look like that one on fire,” he says pointing to Igne, “going by himself into mountains. Much happening on north side, we stay here, away from there. We did not talk to him, we sense the power he had, but too much, we stay away and not work with him…..you help now yes?” “Where is your dream catcher?” inquires Goren. “Back where the ritual must be held, you go now?” Answers Khattik.

Goren and Hadren can tell that half the group surrounding the party has resumed their flanking. Hadren calls out “Kattik, why are your people surrounding us, what is your plan?” “We need someone to perform the ritual. We hope to persuade you.” “Then many would die. Do not try to force us to help.” Hadren can tell that there are probably two dozen shadows out in the darkness. He turns to Goren”What do you think?” “Well, if there truly are ancestors involved…” begins Goren. “Oh, ancestors, of course. Why did I ask you? Nnn’Ckk, what do you think?” “What they have is an incomplete copy of the actual ritual. If they have the entire thing, it is back where the ingredients are.” “How far is it to where the ritual must be performed?” “Not far, three hills.”

“And you are seeking to reconnect with your ancestors? Well, my ancestors are with me, with us, I would advise you to not try to do anything against us…” as Goren goes into full form, with lightning and noise filling the area. He continues, “But we are willing to see this ritual more closely, and speak with your dream catcher.” The party packs up the small camp and prepares to travel. It takes about twenty to twenty five minutes, but there are even more people out there surrounding the party than before. Apparently they were nervous the party would leave.

Nnn’Ckk creates some light for the party to see. The first hill was close, the second a quarter mile, but the third hill was about a mile away. As the party gets close, a large light can be seen emanating from behind the hill. Coming around, the scene is such as to make the party think twice. The camp is huge, and it is obviously a war camp. There are several hundred creatures standing in the area. But, there are also women and children there too, taking care of the children and tending cooking fires. As the party looks, everything is Psionic, there is no actual fire being used, it is all mental energy directing the light and heat. The area is at least twenty degrees warmer, indicating that at least half the Gith there must be Psionic. “Um…mounts stay here?” asks Kattik. The party agrees and dismounts. Nnn’Ckk acts like he is creating a spell to protect the mounts, with lights and sounds as he clicks and moves around the horses, and draws patterns in the sand. The Giths watch in amazement, wondering what he is doing, not realizing it is all an act.

There is obviously a lot of commotion as the party enters. Goren and Hadren notice what looks like a human woman at one of the tents. She looks like she has been beaten. She has a black eye and is bloody. She sees the party and starts to say something, as a hand comes up and grabs her, pulling her back inside the tent she was at, pulling it shut. “Who was that?” asks Goren to Kattik. “Uh…” says a surprised Kattik,” that is Ketta!” “No, that was a human female, in the tent.” Kattik opens the tent flap and says “Who? Where?” Goren can see where the other end opened up and she was dragged out but can’t fit inside. Hadren goes right inside and tries to leave out the other side. Kattik rushes up and stops him “Please, she but slave. Slave not for sale. Dream catcher can help.” Then he leans up to Goren and whispers “it will go better for her if you not follow, dream catcher can help.” He sounds sincere, so Goren nods and they continue past the kings tent and go up to a different tent. “Skrisslit, the dream catcher,” says Kattik. Hadren can tell he is waiting for some form of formal acknowledgement.

Hadren moves up and bows to him “You must be the dream catcher; it is a pleasure to meet you.” “Yessss…” answers Skrisslit. He then talks to Kattik and then turns to Nnn’Ckk. “You can do rituals?” “Yes.” Answers Nnn’Ckk. “Good. Wait here; it would be rude to ask you inside when the giant cannot go in. I will bring things to you.” He comes back with a large tablet, a silver piece the size of a human fist, and some obsidian spheres. “You think you can do this?” “Is this the original ritual?” asks Nnn’Ckk. “Not the original, but it is there, in its entirety.” “Fine, I must study it first.” “Of course, you may use my tent. Your friends can wait outside or inside as they desire.” “The night air will help me concentrate better, if you would not mind be waiting here.” He motions to Kattik who rushes and brings out a stool “Is there anything else you desire?” “This will do for now, thank you.” And Nnn’Ckk sits on the stool and starts studying the ritual. The area is still alive. There are children running around, foods being prepared close by that smell wonderful. There are guards there, but they are not being overly angry or rude. Skrisslit turns to the party and says “I hope that Kattik was not overzealous in his request to get you here.” “No, we were wondering, but we came anyway.” Says Damoron. “We do have a question. We saw a human female…” says Goren. The dream catcher laughs. “You want an introduction? She will probably go for your eyes, try to scratch them right out. She has done that before.” Most of the party figures out that there is only one human slave or that there is something going on that he was able to pick up on who we were talking about. “You are looking for a private meeting?” asks Skrisslit. “Yes, as soon as it can be arranged.” Says Goren. Hadren rolls his eyes at the half giant. Eventually Nnn’Ckk can determine the ritual will only take about an hour to do and that it would be easy for him to cast. “May I ask, the ritual is less than clear; what is it’s ultimate purpose?” asks Nnn’Ckk. Skrisslit pauses, and then says “We seek our ancestors, for hints of our past.” “What do you expect will happen when I cast it?”

“I have no idea. We have been looking for this for many years. Many generations ago, we heard we could do these ourselves. This ability has since been lost to us. I can translate the words and figure out how to say it, but I cannot get it to work. Nothing happens. I will say that I am surprised that a thri-kreen could perform this. Wait, I have been rude, I have some arcane objects that I could offer to you in payment for this service.” Without hesitation, Nnn’Ckk says “That would be most acceptable.” Skrisslit brings out an obsidian orb with blue flakes. It is big, heavy, and solid, being nearly 16 inches in diameter weighing nearly sixteen pounds. After setting it down, he comes out with a spear and belt. The belt is made out of some sort of lizard hide. “Hopefully these items will do,” he says, setting the other two items next to the ball.

Goren can tell the spirits are not happy with the ball; it has to do with defiling, or can be used with defiling. The other two items are appreciated by the spirits since they like good hunting weapons. (Level 7 belt or maybe higher if it has to be – not defined yet.) With that, Skrisslit says “We have an area prepared if you are ready?” The party is taken around to the other side of the hill. The party is shocked at what they see. There is an area cut into the hill, revealing a clean rock surface. On this clean area is a perfect circle of silver maybe ten feet around. The area is better than anything Nnn’Ckk would have made and he is impressed with the detail put into it. There are also various runes and such cut into the ground surrounding the circle.

“The tent is ready for you…” says a Gith to Goren, who takes him to the tent. The tent is new, and inside it’s full of dishes and cups that are giant size. The woman lying on the bread is naked but covering herself. Her eyes looked glazed over, as if she has taken some drugs, and she slurs at Goren “hey big boy, what are you waiting for?”

Goren senses that something is amiss. He moves closer and sits on the edge of the bed. “What is your name?” he asks her. “That isn’t really important is it?” Goren decides to make a sceene. He takes her and throws her outside the tent, yelling for his cleric. Kattik is there, and says “Which one is that?” “The human.” Kattik motions to a Gith who runs and gets Damoron. Hadren and Damoron can tell that Nnn’Ckk isn’t delaying so much as he is not intrigued by the ritual area. Suddenly, a Gith runs up to Damoron and says “Are you the cleric? Your big friend is asking for you.” As they get close, Damoron can hear the giant bellowing for the cleric. The woman is trying to pull Goren back into the tent. He tries to pull him back inside, and when he pushes her he realizes she has him in a sensitive spot. “Ok, we can wait in the meantime, there is lots we can do…” Inside, she tries to offer him food and drink, but he doesn’t take any. So then she then tries to grab him again, but he doesn’t allow her to move him. She continues to try and seduce him, but he avoids it.

As Damoron enters the tent, Goren says “She is drugged, can you do something to help her?” Damoron does a healing check, and for a second the blond haired blue eyed woman had black hair. It was as if he was seeing something else. She has no wounds like she had before, but as Damoron examines more, he hears a buzzing, as if Psionic are being used. Again the hair shift seems to happen again, but the two have no idea what to do.

Back at the ritual, Nnn’Ckk has nothing left to stall. When he talks to Skrisslit about the area and how they knew what to do, he says “Ah, yes, we had another clay tablet that told us how to prepare for the ritual. I did not think you needed to see it since we had completed the work.” “It looks wonderful, but I need the others back. Hadren, could you fetch them?”

Back at the tent, the two boys still don’t know what to do with the naked woman. She is still gyrating and moving against Goren, asking when they are going to get started. (it’s creepy when Jon talks like a sexy woman). Finally they are about to leave when Hadren shows up. Damoron explains the hair thing and the Psionic thing about the woman.

Hadren, having seen tricks like this before, gazes at the woman. When he does, he sees not a human but a gith licking his finger. Hadren laughs and says “I should just leave you two, but try not to hurt him Goren.” Goren says “She’s a Gith, isn’t she?” and tries to grab her, as she vanishes with an audible pop. Spears and guards show up keeping the party in the tent as Skrisslit says “your friends will be along in a moment, you should get started.” Goren slams the ground, causing a loud “boom” as he slams the ground with an earth shattering attack.

Nnn’Ckk looks towards the sound, recognizing the sound as one made by Goren. He questions Skrisslit, who brushes it off.

Hadren tries to get out of the tent, and when one of the Giths push him, he teleports fifteen feet beyond them, and takes off at a dead run towards Nnn’Ckk.

Skrisslit realizes the jig is up, and all of them just quietly stare at each other waiting for what is going to happen next. Hadren arrives at the area, and sees Destriani and Igne just standing there. Nnn’Ckk has started the ritual. Skrisslit says “What are you doing? He has started the ritual. Please allow him to finish the ritual. He agreed to do it.”

“You are holding two of our friend’s hostage. You were holding me hostage until I escaped. You have lied and deceived us. Why would I believe you?” “They just tried to keep you from disrupting the ritual; they were not trying to hold you hostage. I am not here to make enemies, “as he holds up the magical items again. Unndua suddenly says “they have done nothing to harm us.”

“It could be dangerous to stop him once he has started. The bug seems to know what he is doing, I guess we let him finish,” says Hadren when Nnn’Ckk makes no attemp to stop casting even though he could easily have heard what Hadren had said.

The others agree, and the ritual continues. More and more Giths show up, changing and doing as Nnn’Ckk commands. The Giths added their voices and their energy adding to the ritual as it progresses. Hadren and Damoron can tell that Nnn’Ckk is really getting into this ritual. It looks as if he is enjoying himself. As the ritual continues, the lump of silver melts into a pool of silver, and eventually into a sword. As it cools, the sword keeps its shape. Then, a portal appears above the sword. Watching, it is as if someone grabbed either side of the tear and ripped reality. The sword that was on the ground comes up and hovers in front of the portal.

To Goren, all the spirits that were in the area left when the rift appeared. Not that they were pushed away, they ran away from the danger. Suddenly, creatures appear at the portal and step out. The first one walks out and caresses the sword as if it is familiar. It grasps the hilt, and walks out. “My brothers, we have found you. We have prepared a place…come home!” He steps out and waves to the Gith present while the other two stay to great the people entering.

Skrisslit says “Yes! Go through with them! Quickly!” And without warning, all the Gith begin rushing into the portal. Two Gith bring the unconscious form of a human woman and hand her to Goren before rushing into the portal themselves The leader turns back to the party, sword in hand, and nods to the group as he goes into the portal. There is a snapping sound and the portal is gone. The party is standing there in a former enclave of three hundred Gith, as they left everything behind when they all rushed into the portal.

The woman stirs, “Oh…you opened the portal for them? It is only a matter of time until the invasion then….”

DM Notes: The ritual was a level 24 ritual, but he read it properly. Anyone can do a ritual if they can read and do it correctly. The sword was what they needed to open the portal. XP: 175

GM Notes
  • I am not sure if I should correct things or not this time around. Usually when I correct things, it’s to make something clear that the players or characters should know or have seen correctly. But, some of the mistakes here are humorous and could have happened that way! For example, Hadren couldn’t tell that it was a gith female that was with Goren in the tent. I thought I said it properly but did correct it later when asked, as the GM, that it was a female gith. The player thought it was a male gith. It’s almost more funny if it was a male gith! So, why correct it?
  • It’s the same with the fort name. The map has it as Fort Melidor but the example map for an idea of what it looks like that I showed to the players is named Fort Prosper. It wasn’t specifically mentioned in play but I would go with Melidor. However, it doesn’t really matter as long as we know the correct location for it.
  • A player did wonder if this tangent with the gith was connected to the main story or a complete tangent. I have enough “wiggle room” that I could connect it to the main story as a diversion. * My original intent was to set up some things for later levels and adventures. I think I will leave it at that.
  • I actually meant to set up more but forgot about several things to do for that. Hopefully I can still work them into it.
  • When I was running FR recently, I wouldn’t have random encounters just to have an encounter. In fact, I got away from random encounters thinking everything that happens should be connected to the story. I am not doing that here and am rethinking that policy in general. I am having random encounters to show how dangerous Dark Sun is for travelers. Those razorwings are tough! * It would not be fun to die to a random encounter but it sure would fit the setting! The same goes for the psionic cats that Nnn’Ckk noticed. If he hadn’t noticed them, they would have attacked. But they didn’t want to do so after they were noticed. I didn’t mention that, though, to help show the difference between (my version of) FR and Dark Sun.
  • I have started pointing out little details like the psionic cats not attacking to show the differences. It’s not pride, I hope, but me showing the players how I am doing this world differently than I do other things, so they can see the differences.

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