Continuing my thoughts regarding this still mostly theoretical Banestorm run.
Before I continue, I had an interesting thought with regards to my “if I can figure out a way to transport all of the new PCs” without them having to traverse the desert. In the previous run, we ended with the Arn character being sort of killed, all the while we kept joking that he was the actual mysterious hooded bad guy from the first run who was thrown back in time and went mad. So it occurs to me: what if Arn shows up and transports Haruki & Company to the Lost City, even though to all of the other characters, Arn is dead? That might be interesting … though now that I type that out, I’m questioning whether that’ll actually work. Most of the characters have a SoD (the team), so they’d likely want to seek him out and potentially rescue him. Perhaps instead, I could just hint toward this? Like the PCs who are far from the others get caught in some sort of sandstorm, and when it clears up, they’re really close to the Lost City (like, within a day’s walk) because it was almost a localized Banestorm? Hmm… interesting follow-up: what if it Aramis who speaks with Arn (same player, after all) and the former thinks that the latter is part of the Defiant expedition? That could work but will need to continue giving that thought.
Anyway, we’re up to Chapter 4 of this run, wherein the PCs reach the Citadel of Ten Thousand Pearls. Now, ideally, they’re going to reach the domain of this djinn – Zat al’Dawahi, a name I ripped off from “Declare” by Tim Powers – at the end of a session so I can conclude that evening’s run with “And then, everything vanishes in a brilliant flash.” We’d then begin the next session with the PCs being transported into Zat al’Dawahi’s throne room where they are surrounded by armed guards who are cat people, just like Zyanra (a NPC the PCs picked up in the previous run who has sort of mated with one of the PCs after he kicked her ass in a fight.)
I want to play with Zat al’Dawahi and make her bottled awesome – I’m heavily influenced by Soulcatcher in the Black Company books by Glenn Cook wherein her voice changes in mid-sentence, first a woman, then a man, then a different man, then a little girl, and so on. I’m intentionally not going to stat her; if she wants to do something, she does it. Regardless, she (if that is the proper gender to use for Zat al’Dawhi) will use something that will allow her to scry where Finn is, then end up sending Ammerah (his nominal betrothed) there while she gives three tasks to the other PCs – that’s right. The djinn has three wishes.
The first task will be to carry a missive to a nearby half-djinn that the PCs vaguely interacted with in the previous run. This will ultimately culminate in a fight as she’s basically using the PCs as an anchor so she can port her forces into her rival’s territory. During this fight, I want each PC to have a rival foe to face-off against – Haruki vs a giant, Brum vs another dwarf, etc.
En route to the above, I’m also thinking of injecting a Shadar Logoth (see Wheel of Time) kind of location in here for a set piece fight, but I’m not wholly sure if that’s actually going to happen. This city will have been Iram dhāt al-ʿimād or Iram of the Pillars, a semi-historical city in the Koran that was consumed by a seven-day sandstorm. This fight could theoretically lead to some PC(s) gaining Cursed Items if they’re not careful…
After the half-djinn is destroyed – Zat al’Dawahi will flat out consume him so his voice enters her rotation of voices – PCs will observe the city being sacked, then return to al’Dawahi’s Citadel where they’ll have some time to wander around and see the sights. Eventually, Zat al’Dawahi will send them on another task which will likely involve them entering Iram dhāt al-ʿimād if they’ve not already done so. They should obtain the MacGuffin and return wherein the djinn they’re working for at the moment creates a temporary Gate that will take them to Finn and “his Fa’iel bride.” She cannot maintain this Gate for long and will provide a quarterstaff-sized rod of metal to Haruki that is 60 lbs or so, but when he crosses through the Gate, it adds 200 to 300 lbs immediately.
And on the Otherside, things get hairy …