In one ancient world, the human empire of Khemet has thrived for thousands of years. Pharaoh Ramses II has been blessed by the gods, but the world beyond his rule teeters on the brink of a dark age. Can a band of orphans find their fate and become heroes?
“Talons of Tanis,” Player Characters for Gene D.’s “Vanished Lands: Journey From Khemet” heroic fantasy campaign, using Dungeons & Dragons 5th Ed., as of spring 2018:
- “Maketre Kenamon” [Beruk A.]: male D’mt Pesedjer Bahati (Ethiopian human Monk-Kensai), outsider and weapon master from Punt; LNg
- “Khafre Maa Keru” [Byron V.O.]: male Khemtian Pesedjer Ghaffir (Egyptian human Paladin) of Anubis, god of the dead; sage sworn to an oath of vengeance; LGn
- “Smrithi” [Brian W.]: male Pesedjer Hekai (Egyptian human Sorcerer), Djinn-touched wild mage and charlatan; CGn
- “Zyren Akahlay” [Bruce K.]: male Pehesset Shenu (Half-Elf Bard), sometime criminal and member of the College of the Sword; CGn
- “Farooq Fairbottom” [Rich C.G.]: male Ptahmenu Ghazi (Dwarf Cleric), acolyte of sun god Amun-Re; NGl
- “Zikak” [Drew S.]: male Aarakocra Khebenti (bird-man Rogue), inquisitor in the Medjai; LNg
- [Dexter V.H./ absent ]: male Nubian Eseteri Bequenu (Sudanese Elf Arcane Archer); LNg, Lvl. 1
Session: 43.1, Murder on the Nile
- Real-time: Monday, 5 February 2018
- Game dates: “1 to 3 February 1226 B.C.E.”
- Locations: Port of Tanis, northern Khemet (Egypt, Lower Nile)
- Flashback: Ten years ago, a group of laborers’ children and foreign dignitaries prepared to greet the pharaoh at the dedication of a new temple. They were horrified to witness huge hippos and crocodiles attack some of the barges, killing their parents. Ramses II charged local clergy with caring for the children.
Summary: The orphans and their allies learn that the attack was an assassination attempt on the pharaoh and begin investigating….
- Pharoah Ramses II: male Khemtian Pesedjer (Egyptian human), long-lived ruler of New Kingdom Egypt
Nefer-heb: male priest of Amun-re, aged mentor to orphans
Party patron deities:
- “Maketre Kenamon” [Beruk A.]: Ptah, god of lore
- “Khafre Maa Keru” [Byron V.O.]: Anubis, lord of the dead
- “Smrithi” [Brian W.]: Isis, queen of magic
- “Zyren Akahlay” [Bruce K.]: Bast, goddess of love
- “Farooq Fairbottom” [Rich C.G.]: Amun-Re, sun lord
“Zikak” [Drew S.]: Thoth, god of knowledge
Here are notes from our discussion of shared setting elements:
- One of Ramses’ sons wants to support the Player Characters; another wanted the temple land (Byron).
- There is a rival group of youngsters, including an attractive girl, but they’re entitled apprentices rather than orphans (Bruce).
- Spirits will appear as different animals and offer help or hindrance (Bruce).
- The Ptahmenu has worked with the temple architect (Rich).
- A follower of Sobek will be a recurring (midlevel) villain (Rich).
- The Ghazi is looking for a mentor in summoning Elementals and will learn about the phoenix (Rich).
- The Medjai, or secret police, will train the Khebenti/Inquisitor (Drew).
- The Khebenti will have a date, and the Ptahmenu will tag along (Drew).
- There is a military fort nearby, at the beginning of the Horus Road trade route alongside the Green (Mediterranean) Sea (Byron).
- The adventurers will visit the treasure stores at El Amarna (Byron).
- The city of Tanis has many facets, including a criminal element (Brian).
- There will be more action than in some other campaigns (Bruce).
- There is an undead bull hippo in the Nile River (Rich).
- There will be fewer random encounters but a mix of minor and major foes (Rich).
- A gleaming gray wingless bird is rumored to have been seen over the desert (the Zephyr; Drew).
- There will be some tomb exploration, and at higher levels, some domain management (Drew).
Session: 43.2, Into the Delta, or Aarakocra blocker
- Real-time: Monday, 19 February 2018
- Game dates: “4 to 6 February 1226 B.C.E.”
- Locations: Northeastern Nile Delta
- Summary: The would-be adventurers hired a boat and went out into the swampy Nile Delta to ask a Kama’at about who could have controlled the beasts that killed their parents in an assassination attempt upon Pharaoh Ramses II a decade ago.
The hermit brought them to a dryad, who indicated several groups that would have such powers. Since the new adventuring party wasn’t able to get back to the city of Tanis before dark, it stopped at an island with an abandoned fort. However, upon further exploration, the fort wasn’t empty, and a strange woman charmed Smrithi before leaving….
Non-Player Characters: (Zikak joined team)
- Kiya Takhat: female Khemtian Pesedjer (Egyptian human), mentor of Zyren in Tanis’ thieves’ guild
- Sons of pharaoh: 100 men; Zikak learns that some may be interested in usurping the throne
- Metjen: male human, boatman who agrees to take group into swamp
- snake with speckled band: killed in swamps
- Sebek-khu: male human Kama’at (Druid), hermit and animal handler mentioned by Smrithi as potential source on who summoned animals to attack barges; brought party to…
female Dryad: named the following as able to bend beasts to their will (Zyren gave her a necklace of Bast):
- Beast-kin/god spawn
- Cult of the Forgotten (chthonic?)
- Sages in Decadent Cities (doesn’t like urban folk)
- Witches of the Wastes
- Muyet: female spirit, enticed Smrithi in old watchtower (where they later retrieved copper rods)
Session: 43.3, Flock of Sorrows
- Real-time: Monday, 5 March 2018
- Game dates: “7 to 9 February 1226 B.C.E.”
- Locations: Port of Tanis, tower in swamps
- Flashback: Maketre gets a partial pectoral found at the astrologer’s tower. Khafre learns of a man who had a vision in the Western Wastes who has gone missing, Smrithi and Zyren hear about an unscheduled money drop involving the assistant nomarch (governor), and Zikak is warned of spies posing as merchants.
Summary: Beneath an old watchtower northeast of Tanis, the group finds tombs and defeats a nest of assassins.
Non-Player Characters: Kiya Takhat, Sulbandi, and
- Idebi: female Khemtian Pesedjer (Egyptian human), beggar in leper colony who gave Maketre partial pectoral
- Ahmose: Ghaffir (Paladin) of Anubis, superior of Khafre who explains about…
- Hopep: male human, pilgrim who had a vision of a green man (Osiris?) and a cow-headed woman (Hathor?) in the Western Wastes (Libya) and has since gone missing
- Wenro: male human, member of the local thieves’ guild at the “Cracked Conch” tavern, told Smrithi and Zyren of unscheduled money drop
- Ramose: male human, Medjai captain and superior of Zikak, warned him of spies posing as merchants
- Atet, Khemut, Sadeh: female human assassins, followers of scorpion goddess Selket, slain in battle at island tower
- Rai: female human assassin, captured
- giant scorpion: summoned by Atet, slain (Khafre harvested poison gland for Ahmose to turn into antivenom)
- Amasis: male human, priest of Set in Tanis, implicated by Rai as a client
Senusret: male human, priest of Horus in Tanis, used as bait by Khafre in talking with Rai about Amasis
- 4 vials of poison — 2 claimed by Zyren
- 150 silver pieces — 30 s.p. each, except for Farooq
- metal bars, worth 60 s.p.
- 3 scimitars
Session: 43.4, Lepers and Astrologer
- Real-time: Monday, 19 March 2018
- Game dates: “10 to 12 February 1226 B.C.E.”
- Locations: Tanis and nearby leper colony
- Summary: Zyren, Zikak, and Khafre interrogate assassin Ria. The Shenu offers to release her, and the Medjai hopes to turn her to be a double agent. The Ghaffir prefers contrition.
Meanwhile, Maketre returns to the leper colony to inquire about the pectoral fragment and has a brush with some corrupt Ghazis. Smrithi goes to the docks.
Non-Player Characters: Nefer-heb, Rai, Amasis, and
- Tamit: female Khemtian Pesedjer (Egyptian human), teenager at the leper colony just outside Tanis, asked for Maketre’s help against Ghazis
- Nekhti: male human, Ghaffir (Paladin) of Anubis, summoned reinforcements for Khafre against Ghazi (guards) harassing lepers
- Lady Baika: female human, wealthy divorcee who owns property throughout the city, paid guards to expel lepers
- Siunetheret: male human, astrologer who eventually explains how a noble client was snatched from his roof by a lamashtu (harpy), dropped Assyrian coin
Session: 43.5 — House on the hill
- Real-time: Monday, 2 April 2018
- Game dates: “13 to 14 February 1226 B.C.E./Year 53 in the reign of Ramses II”
- Locations: Port of Tanis
- Summary: The investigators speak with the crew of the Eye of the Storm, a Phoenician ship, and learn of a possible tomb to raid. Smirthi, Khafre, and Farooq make progress in identifying the man killed by a winged demon at the astrologer’s tower.
Zyren follows a lead on the house of Pentheru the Elder and sneaks in with Maketre, Rai, and Idebi. They encounter tomb robbers, Undead, and a winged demon. Idebi is slain defending Zyren, and Zikak helps them escape.
Non-Player Characters: Rai, Siunetheret, Sulbandi, Lady Baika, Kiya Takhat, Idebi, Nekhti, Sulbandi, and
- Osaze: male Phoenician human, claimed to be captain of the trade vessel the Eye of the Storm; trader in precious stones, beer, and art but gave tip on the “tomb” of Pentheru the Elder
- Haram bin Aqbaal: male Phoenician human, large guard and actual captain of the Eye of the Storm
- Pakhom: male Khemtian Pesedjer Medjai (Egyptian human member of the secret police), watching dock activity; spoke with Zikak
- Pentheru the Elder: male Egyptian human, former manor house said by Osaze to be the source of treasure and haunted [see Pathfinder: the Mummy’s Mask ]
- Sebti “the Crocodile:” Egyptian human, fence referred to Zyren by Kiya Takhat at the “Three Donkeys” bar
- Breta: female Ptahmenu (Dwarf) silversmith, assessed pectoral fragment that Maketre had gotten from leper Idebi near tower of astrologer Siunetheret; made a dinner date with Farooq
- Amenmet: female Eseteri (Elf) jeweler, identified by Breta as likely maker of pectoral from nobleman seized by a winged monster
- Kazim: male Phoenician human sailor, recognized Smrithi’s description of missing nobleman and identified Haram as captain
- Ka-menes [Byron V.O./N.P.C.], Photen [Brian W./N.P.C.], Iqbal the Lecherous [Rich C.G./N.P.C.]: male Egyptian human tomb robbers at the house of Pantheru; later joined by Rai
- Skeletons, 3: destroyed by tomb robbers
- Skulls, floated up from silver trays on a silver table
- Black pudding: leaped over by Zyren and Maketre
Imanish: first appeared to Zyren as a djinni but transformed into a Shadow Demon
Treasure [1 deben = 1 copper piece, 1 shenuti = 1 silver, 1 kite = 1 gold]:
- lamp, brass, in the form of an antelope — Smrithi received from Osaze in exchange for a keffiyeh (head scarf)
- trinkets, 10 kites’ worth — bought by Smrithi from Breta
- figurine, silver baboon — bought by Farooq from Breta
- coins, Assyrian — exchanged with Kazim
Session: 43.6 — Fishing and house party
- Real-time: Monday, 23 April 2018
- Game dates: “14 February 1226 B.C.E.”
- Locations: House of Pentheru in the port of Tanis
- Summary: The investigators return to Phoenician vessel the Eye of the Storm, where Smirthi trades with Osaze and meets the seductive Jendayi. The team also visits jeweler Amenmet, who identifies the nobleman snatched from the astrologer’s tower as one Hotophers. Zikak hunts for fugitive Rai.
Khafre leads an expedition to the haunted house of Pentheru, which Zyren and Maketre had already secretly visited. The explorers see ghosts and defeat hovering skulls, an ooze, skeletal warriors, and a two-headed dog. The group falls back to rest.
Non-Player Characters: Rai, Idebi, Breta, Osaze, Haram bin Aqbaal, Tamit, Nekhti, Sulbandi, Pakhom, and
- Sa-khons: female Khemtian Pesedjer (Egyptian human), orphan, Rogue, and sometime rival of Zyren, seen “fishing” at the docks
- Jendayi: attractive female human from the temple of Bastet; flirted with Smrithi at the Eye of the Storm
- Amenmet: female Eseteri (Elf) jeweler, identified pectoral fragment as one she made for Hotophers and offered a reward of 100 kites (g.p.) for finding whoever or whatever destroyed the necklace
- Hotophers: male human, nobleman and associate of Prince Mentuhotep, seized by a winged beast at the tower of astrologer Siunetheret
Kiya Takhat: female Egyptian human, mentor of Zyren in Tanis’ thieves’ guild; Zyren offered bounty of 22 kites for Rai alive (17 g.p. dead)
- pectoral (necklace) fragment — made by Amenment for Hotophers; was enchanted with charms against serpents (bounty of 100 kites)
- metal statuettes — traded by Smrithi to Osaze (with help from Sa-khons) for 15 kites (g.p.)
- lamp, brass — Smrithi traded with Osaze and later gave to Sa-khons with minor illusion of antelope rising
- trays, silver, worth a total of 30 g.p.
- ring, Protection +1 — claimed by Maketre
- coins: 5 kites (g.p.), 2 shenuti (s.p.), 12 deben (c.p.)
- earring, turquoise, 5 g.p.
Session: 43.7 — Cataclysm in the Catacombs
- Real-time: Monday, 11 June 2018
- Game dates: “15 to 16 February 1226 B.C.E.”
- Locations: House of Pentheru in Tanis
- Summary: After resting and re-equipping, the orphans and their allies return to the haunted house in Tanis’ necropolis. They fight shadows, a swarm of scarabs, and horrid Varguilles and Penanggalan.
The adventuring party also finds the headless corpses of the victims of the family curse. Upon descending into the crypt, it encounters a spike trap and an Adherer.
The group slays feline Ubashki and finds fugitive assassin Rai speaking with the djinni Imanish, who is actually a demon. After a quick battle, Imanish is slain, and Zikak takes Rai back into custody of the Medjai.
Non-Player Characters: Nekhti, Breta, Ramose, Rai, Imanish
Pharasma: goddess of judgment and chaos, tip on tomb raiding
Treasure: 6 ingots, and
- dress, silk, 150 g.p.
- Kohl of Discernment — claimed by Smrithi
- semiprecious stones, 50 g.p.
- statue, alabaster cat, 150 g.p.
Session: 43.8 — “Talons of Tanis”
- Real-time: Monday, 2 July 2018
- Game dates: “17 February to 1 March 1226 B.C.E.”
- Locations: leper colony, port of Tanis
- Summary: After solving the murder of nobleman Hotophers and cleaning out the haunted House of Pentheru, the “Talons of Tanis” rested. They then resumed their investigation into the decade-old murder of some of their parents in an assassination attempt on the Nile River.
The adventurers reviewed what a Dryad had told them of possible perpetrators, heard rumors about the pharaoh’s sons, and learned that surveyors were snooping around a leper colony at the edge of town.
Six men ambushed the group at the run-down district, but they yielded no information before being executed by the order of Prince Khanefru, who planned to build a temple to Sobek.
The team then descended through a well, where it found a buried shrine to Neith, as well as a stone elemental and a night hag….
- Nefer-heb: male Khemtian Pesedjer (Egyptian human) priest of Amun-re, aged mentor to orphans
- Tamit: young female Khemtian Pesedjer (Egyptian human) beggar in leper colony at Tanis’ outskirts; questioned by Maketre about Idebi, who died saving Zyren from demon Imanish
- Amenmet: female Eseteri (Elf) jeweler; contacted by Maketre
- Sa-khons: female human, orphan, Khebenti (Rogue), and sometime rival of Zyren; ran schemes with Smrithi
- Muyet: female spirit encountered at watchtower out in the Nile Delta; Smrithi searched for her in Tanis
- Jendayi: attractive female human Ghazi at the temple of Bastet, flirted with Zyren
- Breta: female Ptahmenu (Dwarf) silversmith, dated Farooq and repaired weapons for Maketre and Zyren
- Pakhom: male human member of the Medjai (secret police), compared notes on Phoenician, Assyrian traders with Zikak
- Ahmose: male human Ghaffir (Paladin) of Anubis; superior of Khafre, examined rumors of tomb to foreign gods
- Sulbandi: hound of Khafre
- Lady Baika: female human, wealthy divorcee who owns property throughout the city
- unnamed prince: male human, one of Pharaoh Ramses II’s 100 sons, interested in patronizing temple of Amun-Re in Tanis
- 6 thugs: male humans, well-armed, tried to ambush “Talons” in ruined neighborhood of Tanis; half slain by team, remainder executed by Khanefru
- Prince Khanefru: male human, younger son of Ramses II, wants to build temple to Sobek in present location of leper colony
- Sargash-Gatun: male Genasi (Elemental) of Ifrit (fire spirit) descent, counselor to Khanefru
- Akhat: stone Elemental, encountered in walls of underground shrine to Neith, mother of Sobek; destroyed by Talons, but no keystone found yet
Night Hag: met near well and shrine to Neith; slain by Talons
- Bows, long, 2
- Khopeshes, masterwork, 2
- Scimitars, masterwork, 2
- Tanglefoot bag — claimed by Zyren
- Net — claimed by Zikak
- Chalice, worth 30 kites (gold pieces)