Portals of Anauroch
By Robert Wiese
The Parched Portal
The Plain of Standing Stones is home to a scant few Bedine tribes and some other creatures, but it is generally too hot and devoid of plant life to support humanoid settlement. This arid place is the home of a large tribe of asabis, which are desert-dwelling reptilian humanoids similar to lizardfolk. Some fifty years ago, an asabi mercenary named Ra'kisssh chose to forge his own domain away from the usual enslavement that is the fate of asabis everywhere. He gathered a group of asabis to follow him and led them deep into the Plain of Standing Stones. Along the way they raided some Bedine for cattle, horses, and camels. Deep in the Plain, at the base of a small mountain range, they found an oasis that Ra'kisssh claimed as his own, and the tribe settled. Styling himself after the Bedine, he took the title Sheik Ra'kisssh, appointed his close ally Killashil as tribal shaman, began trying to live a peaceful life.
The tribe was not bothered by Bedine, but a number of monsters that used the oasis had to be fought off in the early years. The tribe prospered, but as their prosperity grew, the oasis water supply began to dwindle. The asabis did not understand how to live with the land in the same way that the Bedine do, and so they recklessly used up most of their water before realizing the danger.
At this time, Killashil, a great wizard by asabi standards, conceived the idea of creating a portal to the Plane of Water and replenishing the oasis from the source of all waters. It took many years and the death of many in the tribe to gather the needed wealth to construct the portal, but it was completed at the end of the Year of the Wyvern (1363 DR). During this time, Killashil trained an apprentice wizard, Fijiss, to take his place as shaman and began teaching him the secrets of portals. Fijiss, far less powerful than Killashil, has not yet mastered these secrets.
Killashil, very old for an asabi, died after completing the return portal but before seeing it put to the use it was built for. Ra'kisssh's son, also called Ra'kisssh, had assumed leadership of the tribe some three years previously and expected Fijiss to open the portal and bring the waters, which were desperately needed by this time. Killashil, however, had made an incorrect assumption about portals, and Fijiss found that the portal would not teleport water to the tribal home. Dangers from creatures native to the Plane of Water, and a lack of real understanding of portals, have kept Fijiss from solving this problem. Meanwhile, the tribe's water supply is steadily used up, and the asabi raid others for water as well as goods.
Fijiss: Male asabi** Wiz 8; CR 9; Medium-size humanoid (reptilian); HD 3d8 plus 8d4; hp 33; Init +2; Spd 50 ft., burrow 20 ft.; AC 17, touch 12, flat-footed 15; Atk +6/+1 melee (1d6-1/18-20, masterwork scimitar) and +0 melee (1d4-1, bite), or +8 ranged (1d8/19-20, light crossbow); AL LN; SV Fort +4, Ref +7, Will +9; Str 8, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 17, Wis 15, Cha 13. Height 6 ft. 9 in.
Skills and Feats: Alchemy +8, Concentration +5, Craft (stoneworking) +8, Hide +7, Jump +4, Knowledge (arcana) +8, Knowledge (nature) +5, Knowledge (the planes) +8, Move Silently +7, Spellcraft +8, Wilderness Lore +8; Combat Reflexes, Craft Wondrous Item, Dodge, Scribe Scroll, Survivor.
Wizard Spells Prepared (4/5/4/4/2; save DC 13 + spell level): 0 -- detect magic (2), mending, read magic; 1st -- endure elements (2), magic missile, unseen servant (2); 2nd -- blindness/deafness, endurance, levitate, shadow spray*; 3rd -- analyze portal*, flashburst*, hold person, lightning bolt; 4th -- confusion, summon monster IV.
Spellbook: 0 -- arcane mark, dancing lights, daze, detect magic, detect poison, disrupt undead, flare, ghost sound, light, mage hand, mending, open/close, prestidigitation, ray of frost, read magic, resistance; 1st -- cause fear, endure elements, enlarge, mage armor, magic missile, shield, shocking grasp, summon monster I, unseen servant; 2nd -- blindness/deafness, cat's grace, darkvision, endurance, levitate, protection from arrows, shadow spray*, shatter; 3rd -- analyze portal*, dispel magic, flashburst*, fly, greater magic weapon, hold person, lightning bolt, protection from elements, summon monster III, tongues; 4th -- arcane eye, confusion, dimension door, enervation, fear, improved invisibility, minor globe of invulnerability, rainbow pattern, scrying, summon monster IV, thunderlance*.
* Spell from Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting.
**The asabi's ability scores are not typical of the creature.
Possessions: Masterwork scimitar, light crossbow, 30 bolts, bracers of armor +3, robes, 50 gp.
How to Incorporate the Parched Portal Into Your Campaign:
- The PCs find themselves in the region of the asabi tribe for one cause or another. There Fijiss asks them for help in figuring out how to get the portal to send water through to the asabi. The PCs battle water creatures that have set up shop on the other side of the portal, and they have to teach the asabi that portals transfer only objects that are accompanied.
- The asabis pick a fight with Jolarr and his Bedine tribe, and the asabis are driven back. The PCs are somehow caught in the middle, preferably on the side of the Bedine (perhaps the PCs are tracking the asabis because the lizardlike creatures raided a caravan the PCs were guarding). During the fight, Fijiss and some other asabi use the portal to escape. The PCs have to go after them to recover some valuable magic trinket that was part of the caravan goods. Meanwhile, they have to deal with the hostile and magic-hating Bedine as well.
- The portal, never really stable in the first place, malfunctions on the Plane of Water side. The malfunction causes creatures using the portal on the Plane of Water to emerge in some inconvenient location, such as wherever the PCs are. In tracking the source of the creatures, the PCs have to go to the Plane of Water and eventually to the asabi oasis. There, they must convince the asabis to abandon their portal and move to a new source of water.