Punjar: Den of Iniquity

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While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

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Smoke (Part 1 of 3)

Smoke is never fun. There are many shadows to be had, which makes things easier. I swear that the walls themselves have eyes and ears there, and it is unwise to assume one isn’t being watched. 

The old Master of Smoke, Nisjal, has been driven out, at least for now, and replaced by a different representative of the Guild, Enreb Cire. After the beggars revolted, led by their so-called king, the more profitable but lighter-handed Nisjal lost his position. Cire was creative in his brutality. That was the entire point of him being there, to show the inhabitants of Smoke that they would absolutely have to give to the Guild, that there was no escaping, no new deal, nothing at all but submission or death. (If the Guild knew what I do, they would realize that there is even submission beyond death.) He probably had a third of the population killed, some said by dragonne out of uniform. Nobody that mattered in the city cared and it was only a matter of time before Smoke filled up again with the refuse of Punjar. So what difference did it make? 

Nobody knows exactly what happened to the Beggar King. Someone killed him, he killed himself, he ran away to the countryside, he got sucked into another realm. It’s not certain. The best story I heard was that four mercenaries finished him off. Two were said to be gladiators, one a foul-mouthed lecherous knife-wielding child(!?!?). And the fourth sounded like Mako(!?!?!). Well tales are often taller than their telling, so who knows. 

But I needed to go visit Mother Zeb’oltha, though, and that meant a trip into the very heart of Smoke.   I knew it best to speak with Cire first, so I stopped at the tavern that had previously been occupied by Nisjal. (And who knows, maybe he’ll be back after being suitably penitent?) Nisjal’s thugs were all gone, replaced by Cire’s men. A few of them lounged around outside. I could see the hints of a spirit in the fetid fog that filled the place. There were, doubtless, many new ghosts and this was one. 

I could see the thugs a long way off, of course, before them. I’d moved through the shadows on my way there, but approached the night crew openly. One, a dwarf with a maul, stood by the door. I knew his name was Cortabo. He’d been in a different quarter of the city before and used to be the muscle at a game I made some money at in the past. The other clearly had some orcish blood to him, though it didn’t make him bulky. He had a crossbow and kept a careful eye out. I’d never seen him before. 

“Hello, gentlemen. I wish to speak to Master Cire, to pay my respects to him as the new Master of Smoke. I’m Lily of Blackwood Crossing, called The Nightlily” 

The dwarf looked me up and down. “Eh, yeah, we know who you are. He ain’t got time to talk right now.” In a surprisingly high voice the half orc said “Yeah, he’s got business with one of them Bugger King’s old boys.” He sniggered. “But you should come back before you leave Smoke.”

“Sure.” I said, and ventured off. I could hear them muttering behind me, but they shut up quickly and went back to guarding. Cire’s boys were obviously competent. They would need to be if they hope to survive Smoke. 

The streets were emptier than usual, even for Smoke. I could smell a fire off in the distance, over which some dubious meat was roasting. I lost some followers in the shadows and waited for them to pass in the shadows. Eventually I came upon Mother Zeb’oltha’s tower. The area was burned out but her tower was intact. I approached it. She’d always been good to me, but it was best to deal with someone like her in a… circumspect manner. I was already entangled enough. I had business, transactions to undertake, and Mother Zeb’oltha had things to sell. I walked up to the door. 

Smoke (Part 2 of 3)

I concluded haggling with Mother Zeb’oltha. 

Her tower was a riot of dried herbs, a skeleton of some unknown humanoid, a collection of creatures in jars, a pentagram on the floor with snuffed out candle wax, the mounted head of a harpy. An imp floated in one of the jars and a raven perched on the back of her chair. The imp occasionally moved, possibly being pushed by the liquid, but possibly not. A bottle of wine—-a fine vintage I’d gotten from Ardwen or one of her friends the night before—-sat on the table, with a chipped, but functional clay cup in front of each of us. 

Mother Z stared at me, her old and haggard face tense for a moment as she squinted. I do not think she could see well. “You haggle well, dearie,” she said and smiled. “I only took you for a little, you’re getting better. It must be associating with that Kassantian princess has improved you.” 

“I still have much to learn,” I replied, somewhat guardedly, not quite sure what she wanted and none too sure about whether Ardwen could truly be said toimprove anyone. She’d always dealt fairly with me, but I knew about the entities she dealt with. Of course, perhaps that’s precisely why she always dealt fairly with me? I didn’t know. 

She seemed to have an odd look in her eye as she shuffled back to her laboratory bench, leaning awkwardly on her cane. “I have something for you.” she looked at me. 

The small imp twitched. I wasn’t sure what to make of that. Mother Z doesn’t give things away. She put an old brass bottle on the table. The brass was so old it had almost become black with patina. I studied it. 

“This item… is very old.” I looked it over, without touching it.  The runes on its surface were nearly worn down but I could make out a few. I didn’t know what they were, but they’d looked familiar…. 

“It bears a prisoner.” She saw my hesitation. “You can pick it up, it cannot escape and will not harm you.”  

I picked it up examined it more closely. I could almost make out the runes, and staring at them too long made my head swim, and I knew it best to stop. Some things are better left unread.  

“It is the Prison of Salzacas,” she said. 

My hand moved back as if away a flame. “Is… Salzacas inside?” I got control of myself quickly. 

She laughed a long and hearty laugh, “No, child. Truly I do not know who Salzacas is, or was, or why this item bears the name. So perhaps that is the name of the entity within. And I do not know why the entity is imprisoned.” 

“What is it then?” 

She replied, “It has some small uses, the entity within can be commanded to perform menial tasks, for instance, and for those of strong mind, other things.” 

I still didn’t know what to make of this thing and wasn’t entirely sure. “Why are you giving it to me?” 

She looked at me. “It is a mystery…” she paused, thinking “it is… fitting that one who is young have it, to explore its possibilities.” The imp stirred again and I would swear it peered at me. 

“Where did it come from?” I asked her. I casually refilled the glass in front of her. 

“I was gifted it in the Oblivion Bog, where I… ah….” She smiled a toothy grin at me. “I do not give my tale for free, girl, but well played.” She drank the glass. “To answer the question you need to know, it has become for me what it will and it has no more. Perhaps for you it can be something else, or perhaps you will simply bear it to its next tale and pass it on.” 

She laughed again, “You are the teller of tales, not me.” 

I picked it up. “I’ll be going now, thank you.” 

“Come back and see me when you have interesting things for old Mother Zeb’oltha, dearie.” 

I walked out into the night…. 

Smoke (Part 3 of 3)

I was being followed. 

I’d picked up a tail not long after Leaving Mother Z’s tower. I decided to visit Cire some other time. I didn’t think whoever was following was one his boys. I’m sure he was still busy and wasn’t too eager to see what he was up to. I’m sure he’d want something. I was patient, though, and kept to the shadows. Lord Nail’s gifts have their uses. Whoever it was was highly tenacious, though, and hard to shake. Smoke still stank, oddly enough, of its own namesake as a good bit of it had recently burned when the Beggar King was slain.  

I finally saw who was following: Imur. Imur wore tight pants and an open shirt, with the twin daggers of a Vistani prince in his sash. He was a Vistani of Clan Magno, nephew of their prince, and a few years younger than me. Had Clan Magno been more important he was the sort of Vistani I would have been given to by my father. His sister had been with us that fateful night, given to one of ours, because Clan Fekete was more important than Clan Magdo. Like all else, she did not live. 

I allowed him to see me. 

“Darkling Lily of Fekete’s Clan, Darkling outcast of the People of the Wagons I, Imur of Magno, Curse thee!” 

He stared defiantly into my eyes. 

His Curse meant nothing to me and he knew it. I had no good answer for him, none whatsoever, for he spoke the truth and deserved it from me in turn. “Imur, none of us are alive anymore save me, and I am not what I was. What do you want? I have nothing for you. Nothing I can do will bring Ameera back.” He stood and stared, his daggers hanging loose in his hand. 

“You! You are all that is left of your clan and must pay!” 

“Imur…” I locked eyes with him. I could kill him, but there was no point. No more of my people needed to die. Enough of us do not survive the Night Roads already. He stared, and stared, and if his looks could kill I would be dead. His eyes wavered but he wouldn’t give. 

We were too near a Crossing, or too many had died here, ground into the misery and dust and grime of Smoke. His rage and my own nature called up the dead. I could hear them, see them. One screamed its thirst and rage and came out of the mists. “Run! Run!” I screamed to him. “They are coming for you, not me.” 

The wraiths strode through Smoke by the light of the moon. I am already cursed by the Deck, and by Lord Nail. The wraiths fear the likes of me. And I taste poorly to them anyhow. I hoped that was true. 

I stood my ground and interposed myself between the wraith and Imur. “You have no claim over his blood and breath.” I stared at it, and invoked The Curse. That wraith was rent asunder by it but others took its place. 

At this Imur ran. I did not think his foolish Vistani prince’s pride would let him, but in the end run he did. He ran for his life, for the joy of the girls in the next town he would charm with his smile, and his skill with the bandoneon and his voice, for the lives of the bastard children he would father on those girls, and for the children of Clan Magno who would eat because of it. 

I found him some time later. He’d found his way to the Drowned Rat on the edge of Smoke. I saw Cortabo and the half-orc there. Cortabo had a massive stein of beer, foam on his mustache. The half-orc was drawing and resheathing his dagger repeatedly. 

“Darkling… I do not understand… I thank you”—-I could see the words pained him—-“but this changes nothing between us.” He drained his glass and strode off into the night. 

I did not tell him of what the wraiths took from me in his stead, or what they doubtless did to others less able to defend themselves. 

The half-orc giggled. I looked at him, “If you played with your prick any more than you already do I’d swear you kept your dagger in a sheath between your legs.” He glared at me, but something told him that it would be unwise. I was in no mood for him. I looked to Cortabo, bowed a bit, and said. “I would not keep Master Cire waiting.” 

Shadow Assassins Attack Lord Toldara

As we walked to Lord Toldara’s ship, a group of assassins attacked us. Their clear target was Lord Toldara. I managed to see them, although they still attacked. I showed the miscreants their fate and they recoiled from it, although I did not fully perceive that Lord Toldara was their main target. Eventually the others—-Ardwen, Crixus, Mako, and Goodman—-recovered from their surprise and we finished the rest off, although one was left alive. 

Once we could examine the battlefield some interesting facts emerged. These fellows were shadar kai, although some were clearly local Punjari refuse who altered themselves to appear as shadar kai. I suspect some were former inhabitants of Smoke, and would not be surprised if this new guild has taken up residence in that benighted district, or in one of the defunct snake god towers… just another snake cult, indeed. They bore markings not of the Raven Queen but of Zehir, the poisoner god of serpents. We captured one and Lord Toldara’s Drowned Man put him to the question, but he did not survive to tells us much of use. Clearly something is afoot, and a new Guild of assassins has emerged in Punjar. 


On the Pursuit of the Zehir Cultists

The Cult of Zehir used to be just another snake cult. Now they are part of the up and coming guild of assassins making use of renegade shadar kai. I of course have nothing good to say of shadar kai, but these renegades are worse than the run of the mill shadar kai for they have betrayed the Raven Queen for Zehir.

We left Lord Toldara and went to the shop in the Devils Thumb where we had reason to believe they might be. Crixus and Goodman went into the shop to see if the proprietor was there. He was not and after bullying the shopkeeper, Crixus pushed past him to go downstairs, though not before alerting Mako and I. He went into the cellar and there were found many shadar kai led by a witch, who proceeded to attack. I followed them, while Mako and Goodman delayed, though they eventually moved in with Goodman’s menagerie in tow. Seeing the additional reinforcements, the shadar kai chose to retreat. 

The fight spread to the sewers when Crixus tore the sewer grate out of the floor and followed them down, pressing the attack as his Northern rage froze his heart and the hearts of his enemies. 

A lone shadar kai occupied the ladder. First Mako jumped down onto him, but he managed to deflect Mako into the sewer. Mako ended up on his back with his legs and arms in the air like a turtle, while the shadar kai stayed on the ladder. I decided that the ladder needed to be cleared and leapt onto the shadar kai still occupying it, knocking him to his death. Goodman, of course, elegantly teleported past. 

Meanwhile, Crixus ran into the sewer’s janitorial staff when he was enveloped by a gelatinous cube, as the remaining shadar kai ran for it. 

…To be continued. 


What Is It About Punjar's Sewers?

I don’t know how I keep ending up in the sewers of Punjar. I really don’t. I’m not made for it. I’m not a dwarf or some kind of aquatic thing. Sure I can see in the dark but who would want to see what’s down there? So why do I keep ending up there? It must be the spirit of this city. 

We continued our fight with the gelatinous cube interloper, the shadar kai witch and her minions. I got sucked into the cube. While Crixus can stand such a place, I can’t! Fortunately I’m squirmy and got free. Meanwhile Goodman and Mako kept up the pressure on the shadar kai, who were joined by a crazy old man. The witch fell to Goodman’s attacks, but the crazy old man breathed on all of us, and we started to fall asleep. We shook that off when I shot him in the chest with an arrow, and eventually we saw that he was an oni, one of the legendary magical ogres, who must be an ally of the shadar kai. He tried to escape by turning into a cloud and passing through a grating further into the sewers, but we finished him off before he could leave. Fortunately we could rest. 

Crixus and I, “guided” by Mako’s shouting exhortations, managed to pry open the sewer grating while Goodman changed his wardrobe. I clambered down the pipe and did some listening and watching from the shadows before the rest made their way down. It is clear there’s something big in the pool in the middle of the room, and I can hear talking from further down the pipe to the south…. 


What Is It About Punjar's Sewers? They Stink!

Naga, dragonborn swordsmaster, and shadar kai assassin. I didn’t know it, but it turns out that nagas—holy critters of Zehir—like living in sewer pools. Who knew? 

Truth be told, I cannot say that it liked liiving there but it was. It did vomit on Crixus but he survived. Well we killed it and the two Zehir cult leaders anyway. It was a near-run thing.

But we have heard of a Temple of Zehir outside of the city…. 

I need a bath first. 



We traveled to the Pyramid of Zehir using Goodman’s conjured bird steeds, which could travel over the wretched jungle terrain. It was very, very old, dating to the time before the founding of the city. The folk who built it fought with the founders of Punjar and lost. But the jungle they dwelled in remains, with the ruins. 

We examined it and discovered a number of patrols. Rather than ambushing them, we decided to enter the pyramid. Inside we encountered some yuan ti, who were tough fighters. They had two archer yuan ti with them who were armed with poison arrows that also bore divine radiance. Most unusual. Crixus was beat up fairly badly by them, as is his wont. But we gave better than we got and they fell, though one of the archers escaped. 

In the next chamber there was an archer and a dragonborn gladiator who knew Crixus. Also there was an altar of Zehir and font of radiant fire. Goodman summoned a succubus servant during the fight. The altar dominated many of the party, particularly Goodman and Crixus, although control bounced back and forth between the altar and Goodman’s succubus. Despite the pleas of the succubus, we chose to free the souls bound there after destroying the physical wall with Mako’s lightning.

Eventually we ascended to the top level of the pyramid, where we found a gatetway to an astral realm. Inside was a couatl, a feathered astral serpent, which styled itself the Glorious Vengeance of Dawn. Such creatures are legendary servants of the the gods and usually believed to be servants of Good, but this one appeared to have become a rogue of some sort in its search for power. It had been trapping individuals in the realm for its own purposes. It had several dragonborn servants, many of them rogue gladiators known to Crixus. It was a hard fought battle all the way. The couatl attempted to revive its downed servants during the fight but we put them down again, and eventually destroyed it. I used the Death card on it and discovered another card from the Deck, the Void. 

We looted the place, quite lucratively, and freed the several individuals trapped in the couatl’s astral realm. Among them were several bandits from the local area, a group of individuals from a city known as Sigil, and the mysterious Scarlet Wizard. He and I traveled back to Punjar, where I took him to visit the Devil’s Thumb. Goodman returned to his ranch, Crixus to the estate of the Dragonne Captain Vultan, and Mako to his temple….


The Den of Thieves

I went to Smoke again. I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for… something.

So I found my way to Cire’s tavern. Cortabo the dwarf was there, out front, with a giant tarred leather mug of ale. He took a big swig, and blew the foam from his rather grandiose beard.

“Where’s your friend?” I asked, thinking of the half orc.

“He gpt buggered off,” grunted Cortabo. “Too much fooling around, not enough results. The master don’t like that.” He took another swig of ale. “This stuff is foul, but I like it anyway. Er, where was I? Oh, yeah, the master had him disappeared, permanent-like. I think some fishies is shitting him out now, hehehe. Never did like his kind, anyway.”

“Is Master Cire home? I would pay my respects,” I said.

“Yeah, he is. I was wondering when you’d be back. Heard you went out of the city for a while. No accounting for some people… go on in.”

I entered the tavern. Guttering oil lamps lit the place, lending it an air appropriate to its district. Cire himself was sitting at a table watching several of his crew. They were watching two large mantises fight, fervently betting on the outcome of the match. Cire himself was a dapper man with thinning hair, a neatly trimmed beard and a carefully waxed mustache, not really the sort you’d think would be Master of Smoke. He was drinking a blood-red wine from a fine crystal glass.

He looked at me, “Ah, the Nightlily returns to Smoke. Tell me, what brings you to my fine district?”

“I have business from time to time with Mother Zeb’oltha, as you doubtless know,” I replied. “She is often interested in the things I come across in my travels.”

“Ah, yes, of course,” he nodded. “Tell me, Lily, what is it that you do? I hear things, but in your wake there is death. I don’t like trouble here, not after what happened during the rule of my predecessor.”

“I assure you, Master, I am not seeking trouble here.”

“Yet it has its own way of finding you, leaving ruin in your wake, and you depart….” He eyed me.

Half of the crew started cheering. Obviously the bout between the mantises was over. I could see that one was headless on the ground, with the winner greedily masticating the loser’s head.

I shrugged, “I’m not sure what to say, truly.”

“Then don’t say anything. But I’ve got my eye on you.” He sipped the wine, “Before you go on about your business, tell that barbarian I’ve got some matches for him to fight.”



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