Bone, Stone, and Obsidian

Robert Adducci and Jesse Heinig talk about Dark Sun from every angle, Dungeon Mastering, Playing, Races, Classes, History, Sorcerer Kings, City States, you name it. It's about survival on the sands of Athas on this show so grab a d20 and get ready to enter the arena.

Episode 29: Merchant House of Amketch

In this episode Robert and Jesse talk about Dark Sun news and then get into the nitty gritty of the Merchant House of Amketch adventure.

Show Notes

Dark Sun News!

## General: * Thri-Kreen of Athas album. There’s a song for each TK sub-race. * Dungeon Crawler Audio has put out another ambient Dark Sun track. This one called Defiling Sorcery * News

* In support of Episode 28 Tony Diterlizzi released a couple of higher res versions of some of his Dark Sun art. One featuring a Braxat in an interesting pose and a couple of sketches and final work from Elves of Athas. .
* The Athasian Survey Project 17 - Altaruk Trade Fortress. The Athasian Survey Project visits the trade fortress of Altaruk.
* The Journal of Zong-Tossu, Entry 5 - Captives of the Spider-Folk. This is the journal of Zong-Tossu, a master halfling life-shaper from the Rhul-thaun capital of Thamasku. He was sent to investigate a mysterious ring of standing stones and the strange creatures said to occasionally appear within. 
* Opportunities in Chaos adventure, written by Peter Nutall aka Brax, is reposted. This adventure is set in the Warrens of Tyr, amidst the chaos immediately following Kalak's overthrow and demise
* Excursions: Lost Temple of Rahoon 5e adventure, Written by June Soler is available for free. A recent sandstorm of epic proportions has shifted the mountainous dunes of the Great Alluvial Sand Sea, revealing a temple of the ancients. Can you delve into the ancient ruins in search of riches before the next sandstorm buries them once again? 
* Facebook Group
* Speaking of June Soler, he will be running some 5E Dark Sun at GameholeCon in Madison, Wisconsin in October! General registration opened up on the 15th of July. So there might still be tickets when you’re hearing this.
* Izhar Ben Yosef posted a great image of a Fire Drake. It shows all the prior drawing and then his version which tries to bring them all together, which he does nicely! 
* Trevor Rogan of Oneiromancy Maps posted a 30x40 map of a Sand Skimmer. He’s got a couple on his Patreon: 
* There were a lot of Conan flavored posts recently and in honor of them Jack Meyer aka Neujack posted a hilarious 2e item, THE LOINCLOTH OF GRAVITY DEFYING +5.
	* This highly common garment is as protective as chain mail (granting armour class of 5 to the whole body), but weighs 1 lb and grants no penalties to any dexterity based actions.
	* The loincloth and its accompanying bra are completely indestructible, and not even a Wish can destroy them, make holes in them, or peek underneath.
	* It can only be taken off if the player is under partial or full cover.
	* So long as it is worn, the loincloth grants your campaign a PG rating.
	* * Actual Plays
* BlueBoxRPG’s  Sea of Dark Sun returns after the DMs vacation. There have been 2 episodes, The Tattered Flag and  Final Rest. In these episodes the group faces the bandits that killed the Jindra family which made them ghosts.
	* If you like the soundtrack the artist, Geoffrey Schumann, has released it on Youtube.
* Mysteries of Athas a 2e actual play continues with Balic: Against The Antloids
* Pigeon30Gaming is doing an actual play of Shattered Lands, the original Dark Sun computer game on Youtube.

Merchant House of Amketch

## First, the facts: * MHoA dates to 1993, making it midway through the Dark Sun release cycle. * It was written by Richard Baker: * He’s written a couple more Dark Sun product Dragon’s Crown and Valley of Dust and Fire for 2nd edition and was on the 4th edition team. * * If you want to read along you can get the Black Flames PDF on DriveThruRPG: * DMsGuild (PDF) * The adventure can be purchased as a watermarked PDF for $4.99 * It’s billed as an adventure for four to six players of levels 4 through 7. * It is part of its own module set, the DSM set, for “Dark Sun Missions.” As DSM2, it followed Black Flames, but is unconnected. * Physically, the adventure comes in the envelope-box and flip-book format, so it’s a slim box with two books and one pamphlet inside. * The flip-books are the usual player’s book and Dungeon Master’s book, while the pamphlet (the “story book”) has fiction by Simon Hawke and a few monster stat blocks for some of the encounters in the adventure proper. * Unlike most other adventure the fiction is not original, it’s an excerpt from Hawke’s Tribe of One series and focuses on the Elfling Sorak and his introduction to Tyr’s gambling scene with a game called Hawke’s Gambit that curiously uses all the same dice used in D&D so you can use it in a mini-game during your Dark Sun session. * According to Ben Riggs, author of Slaying the Dragon in 1993 Merchant House of Amketch sold, 11,291 copies vs 11,645 for Black Flames. However both of those adventures were eclipsed by another adventure that Richard Baker contributed to, Dragon’s Crown which sold 61,613 in 1993. * What’s the premise of the adventure? * Backcover Text: In the city of Balic, an insidious new threat to the Tyr region has arisen in the shape of a humble beetle. Magically altered to deliver a psionic malady via their bite, the beetles have been used by templars, slavers, raiders, and worse to neutralize the psionic abilities of their captives and render them docile. In desperation, the Veiled Alliance has called upon your characters to track down the source of the sinister beetles and put and end to them. There’s only one problem - the most powerful merchant house of the Tyr region is growing even wealthier from the parasitic trade! * Explore the trade routes and intrigues south of the Estuary of the Forked Tongue, in the heart of the Tyr region! Merchant House of Amketch can be played as a stand-alone adventure or as the sequel to Black Flames.

Adventure Details

### Adventure Overview Few things in the world of Athas are considered too dangerous to openly trade in. Even the most honest dune traders occasionally carry contraband, risking heavy fines or imprisonment for the high profits of illicit trade. Now, a new kind of contraband trade has arisen: the trade of shaqat beetles. Each beetle is worth five silver pieces,or even more,in the elven markets of the Tyr region.

At first glance, shaqat beetles are unremarkable little creatures. They are parasites, clinging to animal hosts with powerful claws while they live on their host’s blood. The beetles would be nothing more than a nuisance except for the strange effect they have on psionics. Any human or demihuman bitten by a shaqat beetle suffers from some strange disorder that makes the use of psionics extremely difficult. The beetles have been turning up in the hands of slavers, assassins, and templars all over the area,their unusual psionic-draining properties make them very use- ful for subduing and controlling people who rely on the Way.

The adventure begins as the player characters are contacted by the Veiled Alliance of the city of Balic. The Veiled Alliance desperately wants to find out where the beetles are coming from and how they can put an end to the illicit trade. The Veiled Alliance has observed the influx of beetles into the black markets, and managed to correlate the beetles’ appearances with the arrivals of caravans of the house of Amketch. The heroes can help solve the puzzle by infil- trating the Amketch caravans.

Merchant houses are always looking for capable guards and outriders, and the PCs will have little trouble in joining an Amketch caravan. A few discreet inquiries and a little exploration turn up a secret cache of smuggled beetles aboard the caravan wagon. The master of the cara- van, a human trader named Bezrak Sandfist, insists that he had no knowledge of the smuggled beetles. Unfortunately, he is the smuggler, and when the caravan arrives at the Red Obelisk oasis, Bezrak betrays the heroes and sells them into slavery. Bezrak is actually in the pay of the merchant house of Shom, a powerful and decadent house based in Nibenay. The heroes learn that he is one of the masterminds behind the smuggling operation, as well as a traitor to House Amketch. With a little luck, the heroes soon escape their incarceration, and set out in pursuit.

The trail leads back into Balic, there the PCs find that the beetles were loaded on to the car- avan by Shom agents working out of the Shom emporium in the city. The emporium is well- defended, and the Shom agents are after the heroes for interfering in the beetle trade. One more piece of the puzzle is hidden within the emporium: evidence that the beetles were shipped from the western outpost of Fort Melidor. There is no other supply source for the shaqat beetles. Again, the player characters journey across the desert. At Fort Melidor, they find that the bee- tles were somehow altered or changed with the aid of an ancient magic in the ruined city of Kalidnay. In their natural state, they are virtually harmless. The final answer of the mystery lies in the ruins of Kalidnay, south of the fort.

The armories of the vanished sorcerer-king of Kalidnay contain a biological weapon of Athas’s earlier days,cerebral parasites, creatures previously unknown in the DARK SUN® game world. In the ruins of Kalidnay, the creatures are bonded to the shaqat beetles. Of course, the secret operation in the ruins of the empty city is well-guarded by the warriors of House Shom. The player characters will need all of their courage and resourcefulness to put an end to the trade in parasites.


  1. Part 1 * Balican Veiled Alliance * Hiring On * The Caravan * Argosy Map * Personnel * Guard Duty * Camp Tales is where they can learn of the cache * Smugglers Cache
  2. Part 2 * Encounter Summary, each part has a summary * Each has a “Following the Script” section that talks about what to do if the players go off script. * Trade stop…can be run in Fort Glamis or South Ledopolus, but no information is given about those two locations. * To add some detail check out Dune Trader * Ambush * Gith Raid - Kugrisht * Sold Out * Red Obelisk, there is good information about this oasis * Captured! Drugged
  3. Part 3 * Prisoners of Shom * Parasites - against their will…again * Sold to Gith * Escape * Gith Camp * Desert Journey * Pursuit * Tembo * Attacking the Caravan * Questions & Answers, Aljara * Back to Balic
  4. Part 4 * The Beetle Trade * The Veiled Alliance Returns * Amketch Report * Shom Informant * Yarnak * Assassination attempt includes a gehreleth * A Visit to House Shom * Dungeon crawl * Learn about Fort Melidor * Assassins * Optional encounter * Templar Trouble * Also Optional * To Fort Melidor * Spider Cactus * Mothgar! Giant who carries a ballista * Fort Melidor * Learn about Kalidnay tie * “If the PCs follow the elves…” What elves? Earlier it says, “a patrol of Shom soldiers stationed in Kalidnay will appear. “ Seems to be a missed edit. * Elven Caravan * Tula-kai * Kalidnay * Map of Kaldinay * The Ziggurat * Tethrades
  5. Conclusion

How we’ve used it in our campaigns Robert: I ran it by the book years ago and ran bits of it as a 4e adventure. More recently I made it higher level and started in Tyr instead of Balic with Marius Amketch directly getting the characters involved. It was more of a sidequest, since the characters were on their way to the Deadlands.