Sunday 5 March 2023

Hex Crawl 23 #64: The Orchards of Gheenatru

 Three hexes north, two northeast of Alakran.

Like many other districts in Dulsharna, Gheenatru was and is known for its lush orchards, irrigated from the Shi-Ar and its tributaries. Now the water is meager, the trees on the margins are dying or dead, and the ones that still bear fruit -- at least in this area, on the west bank of the river -- are cultivated by the new necromantic overlords of Gheenatru. These cultists of the death-demons Nergal and Ereshkigal are slowly replacing an enslaved human workforce with tireless undead fruit-pickers.

Each orchard hex is (d6) empty on 1-3, has a human slave worker barracks on 4-5, and an undead worker barracks on 6.

Human barracks, picking fruit by day (mostly pomegranates and olives in this sector):

  • 15+d10 human slaves (civilians), unarmed, 1/3 chance of someone from the Special Worker table
  • d6 guards with leather armor, swords, slings and whips, on a roll of 5 or 6 including someone from the Special Guards table

Undead barracks have d10 linen-wrapped perfumed zombies and d10 (veteran) skeletons, with a necromancer acolyte (cleric or warlock) in charge.

Slaves: Usually resigned to their fate but can be incited to revolt if they see a chance of success.

Gheenatru guards and soldiers: Have a disconcertingly normal attitude and present themselves as civilized people, unlike the gnolls and Khilan who roam the wasteland. They just want to get trade with Wahattu started again!

The fort is newly built about an abandoned village, Tutulta. Use this template for all forts of Gheenatru. The chariot beasts are white, curved-horned scimitar oryx, trained not to fear the stench of walking corpses overlaid in myrrh and balsam (as all Gheenatru undead are).

  • 2d4 x 5 splinted mail soldiers, sword and longbow
  • 3d6 collared plate soldiers, greatsword
  • Captain (collared plate), greatsword and longbow
  • 3d4 three-man chariots, with driver, lancer and archer, d6-1 of which are undead crews of a wight lancer and the other two zombies
  • 50% chance of someone from Special Guard table
  • 2d20 free human administrators and family members
  • d10+1 human slave followers

The fort is also in an irrigated field hex; such hexes grow and grind barley and emmer for the sustenance of the living, and have 5 human slave barracks as detailed above, plus a free barracks with 2d10 human administrators and their families. Undead are not allowed to touch the grain.

Encounters in and from this hex (d4 if at range 1, d8 if at range 0)

  1.  2-chariot patrol
  2.  2d4 chariots (range 1) or foot guards (range 0) chasing a runaway
  3.  d4 runaway slaves
  4.  d4 merchants and 2d6 guards trying to sell fruit to gnolls, Alakran, or Shasari in the north
  5.  Column of 2d8 wrapped skeletons with 1 necromancer acolyte
  6.  Column of 2d10 slaves and d6 guards heading to/from work site
  7.  Worker special
  8.  Guard special

Special workers (d6):

  1. Angry dwarf, berserker, chained and gagged in iron and used only to carry a basket.
  2. Clueless ex-aristocrat, OK with being enslaved but still thinks he deserves the best treatment, demands to speak to manager.
  3. Jolly armadillo-folk singer, keeps everyone cheered with funny and wistful songs, will snitch on any rebellious activity.
  4. Striver, convinced the only way to social mobility is to be brought back as undead, will try intentionally to be killed.
  5. Low-ranking priest of Mitra, consoles fellow captives  but secretly looks out for a chance at freedom.
  6. Agent of a clandestine network plotting a slave rebellion, on the lookout for allies.

Special guards (d6):

  1. Mid-level necromancer couple out looking for some fresh bodies for their undead household staff.
  2. Ghoul master with pair of chained ghouls to hunt escapees by scent.
  3. Mummy politician under parasol held by one of 4 zombie servants, trying to drum up citizen support for higher office.
  4. Group of three necromancer acolytes gaining field experience; one is resentful of the other two.
  5. Perfume vendor selling fresh myrrh for the ever-stinking undead, bone whiteners for your skeletons, etc.
  6. Cowled and robed but clearly nonhuman mystery merchant from the eastern hills, with two gnoll mercenary guards, haggling with citizens over d6 human chattel.

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