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White gold, long tusks: looking for ivory in Davania jungles

by Khuzd

This is an adventure I DMed some weeks ago (July 2008), for 2nd-5th level characters.

It is about a Long-Tusked Elephants' Burial Place, full of ivory, in the Hinterland jungles of Davania. But you can put it in Pearl Islands, the Hollow World or even adapt it to cold climates: mammoths instead of elephants (or even walruses).

Heroes can be approached in Raven's Scarp, the Thyatian capital of the Hinterlands, or in any coastal city of the Known World, Alphatian Sea, etc... [I started the adventure in Taconopolis, a new growing Karameikan colony in Thanegioth in my campaign, in a tavern called "The Drunken Kopru"].

A patron hires the PCs. He has the map, the story and most of the money needed for an expedition. They have the strength, the bravery and also are asked some money to invest.

"About 50 years ago, Minrothaddan pirates arrived to Davanian coast, before the arrival of Thyatian conquerors. The sailed up through river Torion about 150 miles in riverships. In a swamp country, native barbarians told them about a magical place: the Valley Where Spear-Tusked Elephants go to die. There lie -they were told- infinite numbers of tusks and ivory, much longer than the short, usual Sind elephant tusks.

A native barbarian took them from the swamp to a south-eastern river, called Lizard River, for about 70 miles, up to a great rock next to the river, called The Ship of Stone. There they disembarked and went walking for 4 days though the jungle. I've got the map from the Ship of Stone to the Valley of Spear-Tusked Elephants.

Something happened, may be they killed most of each other. A few returned to the coast with some ivory. But while crossing the Sea of Dread other pirates killed them, except for one, who became an old man, and gave me the map before dying. He asked me to recover the treasure and give a tenth to Oloron, Lord of Winds (Odin's name in Thanegioth, Sea of Dread). "
The first part of the adventure is go to Raven's Scarp. You can fill the sea journey with sea serpents, termites, merrow, undead, Minrothaddan traders, Thyatian military galleys...

PREPARING an EXPEDITION: prices at Raven's Scarp

Try to create a "King Kong" (or Tarzan) expeditionary sense. They are in a Thyatian colony and they want to enter in jungle to take lots of ivory. [I used Pandius articles and descriptions of Raven's Scarp: the great white square, the military parades... coming from newly settled Thanegioth, PCs where quite impressed. "These Thyatians look dangerous...", said.]

Well, the expedition needs riverboats and sailors and rowers.

Riverboat: 4.000 gp. Capacity: 40.000 cn (just like a small galley); needs 8 rowers and 2 mariners. AC 8; 36 miles/day; 20-40 PH.

[In my campaign] Each rower costs 1 gp/day; hinterlanders are cheaper, half that cost. Mariners do cost 3 oro/día; this way, to man the riverboat costs 56+42=98 gp/week.

Hiring a native guide to the Thyatian border: 200 gp now, and 300 more in the Thyatian fort of the swamp frontier.
Food for 10 people (8 rowers and 2 mariners): 50 gp first week (standard food), 150 gp each week after (iron rations). [If they don't buy food in Raven's Scarp, they will find that in villages or Thyatian posts the costs are 20% more expensive]

THYATIAN TAXES (players always get angry and try to do stupid things):
-for leaving RavenScarp: 1 gp for each adult in working age
-for sleeping and using Thyatian fort in the south border: 1 gp each adult

FIGHTING STRENGHT

Hinterlander rowers: 6 are 1st level fighters; 2 are 2nd level; they can use spears, axes, daggers and long swords.
Non hinterlander rowers: 4 are 0th level (normal men) and 4 are 1st level, which can use longbow, shortsword, dagger and axe. The 2 mariners are also 1st level (same stats).

All 1st level NPC have a dagger. Other weapons and armour must be supplied by the heroes. But they will understand that this journey can be dangerous, so when arriving to the frontier, they will want their fees doubled... or will leave the expedition. (Classic diplomacy opportunity: Magallanes, Elcano, Pizarro, Legazpi and white bwanas in Tarzan novels had to face it often).

Dangers in the Davanian jungles

In my campaign, Davania is full of giant mammals, such as our real world in Cainozoic ages (the Age of Mammals). Try these events and encounters (random or not). [Stats for BECMI D&D]

1 - Giant hippopotamus : AC 4; HD 10; At 1 bite, Dmg 5d4 (4d4 females); tombs canoes, rafts and small ships with surprise (1-4 in 1d6) and checking against strength (Streght17, a -1 penalty for each human on board). It can also hit the boat (1d6 Hull damage). May be (1-2 in 1d6) it has cubs and gets angry.

2 - Scimitar toothed wolves: AC 7; HD 3, At 1 bite; 1d4+1; appear 2d10. Good at smelling.

3- Anficyon (bear-dog); a carnivore that looks like a bear with head and tail of wolf. AC 6; DG 4+1 (very young one; they could be 7+1 HD or bigger); Dmg: 2d4 /2d4 / 1d8 (2 claws and 1 bite) [-1 to damage, no hug].

4- Giant Double Toothed Boar: AC 6; HD 5; At 2; 2d4/2d4; appear 1d10: . May be (1-2 in 1d6) they have cubs and get angry.

5-Harpies (1d6). Charming, as ever, and hungry, as ever but... do they speak Thyatian, only Hinterlander, only Harpy?

6- Su-Monsters (take stats from AD&D, and adapt them to your campaign or system; they fall from the trees; unknown in Brun, they plague Davanian jungles.

7- Jungle Goblins (2d4, with poisoned arrows if you want)

8- Hinterlanders (2d10; may be hostile warriors -50%- or may be pacific non combatants -50%-)

9 - Hinterlander Druid (9th level) with a giant boar, his friend. Won't show the way to the Elephant Graveyard (unless charmed, os similar).

10 - Green (50%) o black (50%) dragon; Size: roll 1d12; 1-2-3 (a young dragon, subtract your roll to standard HDs); 4-12 (normal sized dragon).

11 - Wise centaur (Lawful, Shaman 3, Centaur 7HD; will show the way to the Graveyard by magic weapons or 2.500 gp)

12- Anancus (Spear-Tusked Elephant); appear 2d10; AC6; HD 10; At 1 tusk (2d6) o 2 hooves (3d6/3d6); Tusks are 3 metres long (oh, feet, I don't know, 10' I suppose); each one can be sell by 200-800 gp. [Roll 1d6: 1-2: pacific groups; 3-4: angry group; 5-6: old elephant; goes to the Elephant Graveyard]

The ElephantValley - Graveyard

A depressed, 4 miles radius valley, heavily forested, there are the corpses of 204 elephants, that is, 408 tusks with are valued, each one 2d4x100 gp.

But there is a curse on the valley. The DM has to take track of "curse points". Every 20 "curse points" an Elephant-Spirit appears and attacks the trespassers.

CURSE POINTS:
-1 for each time a human or humanoid enters in the valley (do not count faeries, elves nor druids)
-1 for each time somebody shouts ("ey, look, another magnificent corpse here!!!")
-2 for each elephant corpse or skeleton which is touched
- 1 for each tusk brought out of the valley

When 20 points are inflicted to the patience of the Valley, it generates an Elephant Spirit near the trespassers. The Spirit will attack them and pursue them even out of the Valley, through the jungle, never tiring.

Long-Tusked Elephant Spirit: AC2; HD 10; At 1 tusk (2d6 death negative energy) or 1 hoof (2d6 negative energy); 10' (3 metres) tusks, non affected by normal weapons, immunities such as undead; a cleric can not turn him while in Valley; out of the Valley, treat him as a Druj for Turn Undead. Non corporeal, floats near ground, but can fly slowly over water. Intelligence 5.Detects trespassers to 100 metres (10'), except if invisible. Can spend 1 round in raising a corpse as a Zombie Elephant (slow, rotting smell, AC8; DG11; At 1 tusk 2d6, always loses initiative). [You can make him a never tiring tracker...]

For low level characters is very difficult to kill an Elephant Spirit, and the Valley can generate quite a lot. What they can do is steal as much ivory as possible and flee very quickly, may be while entertaining the Spirit. [In my campaign, the heroes managed to entertain and killed one Spirit, while rowers and mariners took 2-3 tusks each one and ran away. After this, they thought that was treasure enough: 30 tusks x 200-800gp = 12.000 gp.]

As a DM you can also have fun by killing rowers and mariners, like in Tarzan movies or R.L.S. "Treasure Island" (poisoned arrows, wild animals, people falling to water devoured by giant serpents...). And having the heroes to return tired and hungry in rafts or primitive canoes to Raven Scarp (or Thyatian fort in frontier) but with lots of ivory.

Have fun! (if anybody adapts an plays it in cold climate setting -Littonia, Kaarjala, Frosthaven, even Walrus Island- let me know!!)