Sahara Hexcrawl?

Zardnaar

Legend
Just after some advice on how to set this up. Egyptian vcampaign digging into the ancient past.

IRL the Sahara used to be a Savannah type environment that dried out. This is over 5000 years ago but there's Rock drawings.

Now my idea is a location where the ruins are so ancients there's nothing left. There's an Outpost the PCs need to find and in the ancient times the city was leveled due to a slave revolt with the ruins pulled apart and dumped in a lake that had since dried up. Any remaining foundations, bricks etc are long buried. The slaves are also long gone their descendents either settling not Egypt or becoming desert nomads.

So the PCs need to locate the site of the ancient city with no map,no ruins and no lake. They're level 6 limiting divinations.

All obvious signs of the ancients were obliterated. However some ideas I have.

1. Lingering undead spirits. Perhaps in a nearby battlefield.
2. Cave paintings of the ancient past depicting the ancients being cruel to the slave races.
3. A hidden cave containing paintings near the site of the city.
4. A remnant of the lake either an oasis or salt flats.
5. Rival adventurers/society digging for salt or something and they find some foundation stones.
6. Ancient Oak tree or something like that growing in the desert a remnant of elven magic (elves were a slave race).
7. A wandering warforged or something that's spent the last 5000 years waiting for the return of their master.

So any other ideas for an exploration themed wild goose chase adventure? The PC do have a McGuffin can be used to locate an exact spot.
 
Last edited:

LordEntrails

Adventurer
Star charts? I.e. ancient charts locating the city based off of moon rise and star locations. Would require an astrolobe or such.

Maybe the ability to triangulate off of old maps that place things like distant mountains or such. Combine that with X days of travel due east, or west or north etc.

In short look up ancient navigation techniques. Before GPS ships travelled the oceans and caravans the deserts. It can be done.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Star charts? I.e. ancient charts locating the city based off of moon rise and star locations. Would require an astrolobe or such.

Maybe the ability to triangulate off of old maps that place things like distant mountains or such. Combine that with X days of travel due east, or west or north etc.

In short look up ancient navigation techniques. Before GPS ships travelled the oceans and caravans the deserts. It can be done.
Navigation isn't the problem, they did get an astrolobe type device on the moon they flew to. It can get them to the general area.

I want to make the site difficult to find without putting up a here be ruins type sign.
 

MonkeezOnFire

Adventurer
How about a natural disaster that augments the geography in such a way that evidence of the ancient city is revealed? A nasty storm shifts a sand dune. An earthquake reveals the tops of buried buildings. A meteor impact unearths some magically indestructible tools. If you have high enough magic in your setting you could ramp up the severity of these disasters as you see fit and maybe explain them away as the work of the gods.
 

NotAYakk

Adventurer
So I'd start with some populating of the area.

This is a desert. Are there resources here that can be gathered, or is it just for travel/avoiding? If there are resources, you could have nomads who live off said resources.

Sand Sharks are a must.

Plus some kind of mega monster (like a kracken) that people talk about how to avoid (maybe it has a predictable stomping ground, or migration route. Or maybe you can do something to avoid it eating you when you detect it nearby, like standing...very...still.) Sand worms are always a good choice. And you can hide on rocky outcroppings.

This being a fantasy desert, we could (a) make it huge, and (b) break it into two kinds of terrain, analogous to land and sea.

The "land" has caravans and camels. The "sea" has wind-powered sand-boats. The kind of sand can differ between the two.

Maybe the "sea" has the sand worm in it, and the rhythmic action of walking attracts it. So you need enchanted "sand-boats" to cross it. The sand boats don't work on the "land" (why? Sand wrong consistency? Or maybe because the boats use magic from the ancient empire, and it only works within that ancient empires bounds/radius? Players can find out.)

Herders who herd earth elemental creatures, and harvest gems from them. They eat sand, but only certain kinds of sand. The herders take their goods to the trade centers. The trade center is on the edge of the sea of sand, and the goods are loaded onto sand-boats. In the sea, there are sand-pirates; they make their victims walk, which gives them a high chance of being eaten by the sand-worm.

Beings living under the sand in tunnels/caverns.

Oasis. Creatures living there claiming a price.

Flying predators that only come out at night. You have to be in a fortified location to be safe. Nomads use some kind of magic or bargain.

Factions of gem-herders (different clans), seperated by terrain. Sand-pirates. Land caravans that carry the goods from the trade nodes. A region that isn't served by the sand-boats (no "water" nearby) where the caravan takes it to the nearby harbor.

Pyramids.

---

1. Exploring a pyramid -- insides contain information. Why?
2. Getting a sand-boat. How? Should be part way through adventure.
3. Befriending a faction. Players can pick? Would players want to join pirates?
4. Locals consider outsiders foolish (to make fun of colonialism). Maybe main economy is using gems to cast spells to fuel food/water creating items, selling gems is secondary?
5. Under-sand world exploration (tunnels).
6. At least one run-through-bazaar chase.
7. Mad wizard who thinks they can control sand-worms.
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
Navigation isn't the problem, they did get an astrolobe type device on the moon they flew to. It can get them to the general area.

I want to make the site difficult to find without putting up a here be ruins type sign.
What about...
Dowsing rod that they can use find a old well or cistern?
I like the ghost or golem idea that hangs around. Maybe ghost on the night of a new moon that marks the graveyard? Or a golem that guards where a mages academy was?

How about a magical barge or boat that still navigates the old river? And now it just goes through the sand. But it's all broken down etc.

Do you know of the glow/drift globes in the City of the Dead in Waterdeep? You could do something like that. The party might think they are will o wisps or dancing lights.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
So I'd start with some populating of the area.

This is a desert. Are there resources here that can be gathered, or is it just for travel/avoiding? If there are resources, you could have nomads who live off said resources.

Sand Sharks are a must.

Plus some kind of mega monster (like a kracken) that people talk about how to avoid (maybe it has a predictable stomping ground, or migration route. Or maybe you can do something to avoid it eating you when you detect it nearby, like standing...very...still.) Sand worms are always a good choice. And you can hide on rocky outcroppings.

This being a fantasy desert, we could (a) make it huge, and (b) break it into two kinds of terrain, analogous to land and sea.

The "land" has caravans and camels. The "sea" has wind-powered sand-boats. The kind of sand can differ between the two.

Maybe the "sea" has the sand worm in it, and the rhythmic action of walking attracts it. So you need enchanted "sand-boats" to cross it. The sand boats don't work on the "land" (why? Sand wrong consistency? Or maybe because the boats use magic from the ancient empire, and it only works within that ancient empires bounds/radius? Players can find out.)

Herders who herd earth elemental creatures, and harvest gems from them. They eat sand, but only certain kinds of sand. The herders take their goods to the trade centers. The trade center is on the edge of the sea of sand, and the goods are loaded onto sand-boats. In the sea, there are sand-pirates; they make their victims walk, which gives them a high chance of being eaten by the sand-worm.

Beings living under the sand in tunnels/caverns.

Oasis. Creatures living there claiming a price.

Flying predators that only come out at night. You have to be in a fortified location to be safe. Nomads use some kind of magic or bargain.

Factions of gem-herders (different clans), seperated by terrain. Sand-pirates. Land caravans that carry the goods from the trade nodes. A region that isn't served by the sand-boats (no "water" nearby) where the caravan takes it to the nearby harbor.

Pyramids.

---

1. Exploring a pyramid -- insides contain information. Why?
2. Getting a sand-boat. How? Should be part way through adventure.
3. Befriending a faction. Players can pick? Would players want to join pirates?
4. Locals consider outsiders foolish (to make fun of colonialism). Maybe main economy is using gems to cast spells to fuel food/water creating items, selling gems is secondary?
5. Under-sand world exploration (tunnels).
6. At least one run-through-bazaar chase.
7. Mad wizard who thinks they can control sand-worms.
Sand boats and desert nomads exist. It's the Midgard setting, I just added some ancient races predating the settings timeline.

One PC is a half orc monk with a desert nomads background so I might give him advantage on certain knowledge checks.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
What about...
Dowsing rod that they can use find a old well or cistern?
I like the ghost or golem idea that hangs around. Maybe ghost on the night of a new moon that marks the graveyard? Or a golem that guards where a mages academy was?

How about a magical barge or boat that still navigates the old river? And now it just goes through the sand. But it's all broken down etc.

Do you know of the glow/drift globes in the City of the Dead in Waterdeep? You could do something like that. The party might think they are will o wisps or dancing lights.
I'm familiar with Waterdeep,own the sourcebooks;).
The area.

IMG_20191210_105006.jpg


Khephani Salt Flats might be an obvious place.

IMG_20191210_105908.jpg


Sandships
 
Last edited:

Eltab

Adventurer
An oasis. Happens to be the ancient city's water cistern, long since broken down collapsed and leaky. There might be enough water in it that you would get your knees wet if you waded in.

Put a small fortification next to it (or built over the well) so the PCs can get local knowledge in exchange for something valuable - such as hay or undried fruits. Wise travellers know this and pack accordingly.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
An oasis. Happens to be the ancient city's water cistern, long since broken down collapsed and leaky. There might be enough water in it that you would get your knees wet if you waded in.

Put a small fortification next to it (or built over the well) so the PCs can get local knowledge in exchange for something valuable - such as hay or undried fruits. Wise travellers know this and pack accordingly.
The map has a salt flats with the remnants of a salt lake where slaves mine salt. The lake has Chuuls in it. Tome of Beasts has Salt golems and devil's in it and Gnolls plus flinds from Volos or Mordenkainens.

I've got the location sorted, does encounters, environment and navigation rules.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Only one combat tonight PCs spent more time RPing.

They want to ship not Egypt beer to desert oasis communities. Bull and Bird Breweries and Export (Minotaur and Ravenfolk).
 

Jd Smith1

Explorer
Complete sidebar to topic, but where is that map from?

Edit: never mind, you mentioned it is Midgard. Duh! Never heard of it. Now I'll end up buying it.
 

keynup

Explorer
Add a type of way stone to your important and hidden locations. Some hidden some know by locals.
The way stones don't do anything, but with an astrolobe you can triangulate to another location.
Have different kinds, like 3 "A" will lead to "B" but you need "C" to find "D", etc. Dont do a linear path, and have some useless ones as well.

A couple of side quests might have only 2 points, but the final location could be semi guess able rumors or other landmark.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
So I'd start with some populating of the area.

This is a desert. Are there resources here that can be gathered, or is it just for travel/avoiding? If there are resources, you could have nomads who live off said resources.

Sand Sharks are a must.

Plus some kind of mega monster (like a kracken) that people talk about how to avoid (maybe it has a predictable stomping ground, or migration route. Or maybe you can do something to avoid it eating you when you detect it nearby, like standing...very...still.) Sand worms are always a good choice. And you can hide on rocky outcroppings.

This being a fantasy desert, we could (a) make it huge, and (b) break it into two kinds of terrain, analogous to land and sea.

The "land" has caravans and camels. The "sea" has wind-powered sand-boats. The kind of sand can differ between the two.

Maybe the "sea" has the sand worm in it, and the rhythmic action of walking attracts it. So you need enchanted "sand-boats" to cross it. The sand boats don't work on the "land" (why? Sand wrong consistency? Or maybe because the boats use magic from the ancient empire, and it only works within that ancient empires bounds/radius? Players can find out.)

Herders who herd earth elemental creatures, and harvest gems from them. They eat sand, but only certain kinds of sand. The herders take their goods to the trade centers. The trade center is on the edge of the sea of sand, and the goods are loaded onto sand-boats. In the sea, there are sand-pirates; they make their victims walk, which gives them a high chance of being eaten by the sand-worm.

Beings living under the sand in tunnels/caverns.

Oasis. Creatures living there claiming a price.

Flying predators that only come out at night. You have to be in a fortified location to be safe. Nomads use some kind of magic or bargain.

Factions of gem-herders (different clans), seperated by terrain. Sand-pirates. Land caravans that carry the goods from the trade nodes. A region that isn't served by the sand-boats (no "water" nearby) where the caravan takes it to the nearby harbor.

Pyramids.

---

1. Exploring a pyramid -- insides contain information. Why?
2. Getting a sand-boat. How? Should be part way through adventure.
3. Befriending a faction. Players can pick? Would players want to join pirates?
4. Locals consider outsiders foolish (to make fun of colonialism). Maybe main economy is using gems to cast spells to fuel food/water creating items, selling gems is secondary?
5. Under-sand world exploration (tunnels).
6. At least one run-through-bazaar chase
7. Mad wizard who thinks they can control sand-worms.
There's around half a million nomads and desert dwellers. Biggest city is 15k or so.
 

NotAYakk

Adventurer
There's around half a million nomads and desert dwellers. Biggest city is 15k or so.
Call me a world buliding nerd, but ... where does the food come from? I didn't know you where using a pre-made setting, but I personally find sketching out the economy of an area is great inspiration for how players interact with it.

Not because the economy is usually important, but because thinking about it adds a structure to hang a story on, and it adds Verisimilitude to the plot (it feels less like the thing was added as an adventure hook, instead of it being a hook into something that was naturally there).

...

Another way to approach this is to make a flowchart "dungeon".

Start with a few spots/scenes.

Oasis
Oak Tree
Gateway City
Central City
Grand Bazaar
The Deep Desert
Caravan
On the Sandy Seas
Ancient Cave
Salt Flats


Toss down ideas of what could be in an encounter there

Oasis - Nomads, Sandstorm, Sand Shark, Oak Tree
Gateway City - Guide, Rival Searchers (Fantasy Fascists?), Join a Carvan, Market
Central City - Pirate Market, Scholar, Market, Freedom Fighters
Grand Bazaar - Thief, Rooftop Chase, Fortune Teller, Buying a Macguffin
The Deep Desert - Sand Sharks, Nomads, Sand Worm, Warforged
Caravan - Thief, Fantasy Fascists, Fortune Teller, Raiders
On the Sandy Seas - Sand Pirates, Sand Sharks, Walk the Plank, Breakdown, Privateers
Ancient Cave - Paintings, Warforged, Undersand (underdark equiv), secret word to open door, magic lamp
Salt Flats - Miners, Fantasy Fascists, Sand Boats, Salt-preserved Vampires, corrupted water elemental creatures

Build a graph connecting them, with just a sentence describing connections. That can spawn new events at each node.

Have reasons to leave nodes with disaster behind them (like, you steal a macguffin in city 1 and flee the watch). And have reasons to backtrack at least once, so you get to see the results of your past actions.

We need reasons to move around; mini-macguffins. The Pirates knowing something, as does the Scholar, the Salt Miners, the Warforged. The rival group (Fantasy Fascists) trying to do the same thing and getting in the way -- in Indiana Jones movies they tend to use Indiana as a way to get information. Invert that trope and have them leak like a sieve, so the players use them to get information about what to do next?
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Call me a world buliding nerd, but ... where does the food come from? I didn't know you where using a pre-made setting, but I personally find sketching out the economy of an area is great inspiration for how players interact with it.

Not because the economy is usually important, but because thinking about it adds a structure to hang a story on, and it adds Verisimilitude to the plot (it feels less like the thing was added as an adventure hook, instead of it being a hook into something that was naturally there).

...

Another way to approach this is to make a flowchart "dungeon".

Start with a few spots/scenes.

Oasis
Oak Tree
Gateway City
Central City
Grand Bazaar
The Deep Desert
Caravan
On the Sandy Seas
Ancient Cave
Salt Flats


Toss down ideas of what could be in an encounter there

Oasis - Nomads, Sandstorm, Sand Shark, Oak Tree
Gateway City - Guide, Rival Searchers (Fantasy Fascists?), Join a Carvan, Market
Central City - Pirate Market, Scholar, Market, Freedom Fighters
Grand Bazaar - Thief, Rooftop Chase, Fortune Teller, Buying a Macguffin
The Deep Desert - Sand Sharks, Nomads, Sand Worm, Warforged
Caravan - Thief, Fantasy Fascists, Fortune Teller, Raiders
On the Sandy Seas - Sand Pirates, Sand Sharks, Walk the Plank, Breakdown, Privateers
Ancient Cave - Paintings, Warforged, Undersand (underdark equiv), secret word to open door, magic lamp
Salt Flats - Miners, Fantasy Fascists, Sand Boats, Salt-preserved Vampires, corrupted water elemental creatures

Build a graph connecting them, with just a sentence describing connections. That can spawn new events at each node.

Have reasons to leave nodes with disaster behind them (like, you steal a macguffin in city 1 and flee the watch). And have reasons to backtrack at least once, so you get to see the results of your past actions.

We need reasons to move around; mini-macguffins. The Pirates knowing something, as does the Scholar, the Salt Miners, the Warforged. The rival group (Fantasy Fascists) trying to do the same thing and getting in the way -- in Indiana Jones movies they tend to use Indiana as a way to get information. Invert that trope and have them leak like a sieve, so the players use them to get information about what to do next?
It's a very large area and deserts aren't lifeless. It's roughly from the modern Nile though to Tunisia.

There's Jinnborn, several salt mines with slaves, a large oasis similar to Dies, coastal town'setc.
 

Advertisement

Top