My daughters demanded that we play D&D last night, so I grabbed my homebrew quick-start character sheets and a copy of Desert Angel Fiasco, and we had a fantastic 2-hour game!
- Wreckya the mind-reading Fighter
- Violet the weather-weaving Beast Master
- Elise the astral Assassin
The team was hired by Captain Ava to provide security on the maiden flight of the Desert Angel, a prototype flying ship about to cross the Great Sand Sea for the first time. In addition to the crew, there were two merchants and a pilgrim on board.
Violet succeeded on the first Sailing Check and guided the captain around a dangerous patch of Sand Fleas hiding in the dunes.
A few hours later, they spotted an oasis and asked the captain to stop so they could investigate. Elise found two human skeletons by the water and took their silver rings. Violet noticed a dangerous beast in the water and bravely ran away as the Oasis Scorpion lunged up at them!
Late in the afternoon, Wreckya saw a tall rock spire ahead with a fire flickering in a cave and a metallic shine on top. Violet sent her tiny flying narwhal Natalie to retrieve the silver mirror from the top, which Elise promptly took for herself. The cook Naveed did not want to risk getting close to the rocks.
Wreckya had the captain come close, and then she fired the ship’s ballista up into the rocks near the cave so they could climb a rope to investigate. Elise floated up in her astral form and discovered two dangerous people with some strange contraptions. Using Natalie as a distraction, Elise and Violet attacked the bandits (in dismayingly brutal fashion). They learned that the strange devices were hang gliders and these two planned to rob the Desert Angel after nightfall! Who hired them? The cook Naveed! The girls took the gliders and the ship set sail again.
That night… nothing happened, because the thieves had been dealt with.
The captain sighted the Dead Sun Massif and Violet used Natalie to scout around and find the best canyons to fly through. They grazed a stone arch, damaging the mast. Then they sped past a giant hornet nest unharmed. And finally Violet helped the captain to navigate through a tunnel of deadly kyraptors, emerging with 50 GP worth of precious guano!
The Desert Angel flew out of the massif over a huge blue impact crater. Below them stretched a dark city around a golden pyramid. The city teemed with zombies!
Wreckya asked the pilgrim Lev Meyer if he knew about this place, and he revealed that these were solar zombies. So they convinced the captain to drop anchor until nightfall, and then snuck into the city. They dashed by the solar zombies, now lying harmless on the ground. Inside the golden pyramid, the solar traps were disarmed and they met the mummy queen Varrani Hagar. Elise helped the queen write a poem about rain, and won a golden cat statue. They convinced the queen to join them, and returned to the ship just as the captain was about to raise anchor and leave.
That night, a deadly sandstorm rose in the south. But Violet used her storm-weaver powers to hold the danger at bay.
As the ship flew toward its final destination, a dark shape fell flaming out of the sky. A dying phoenix! It crashed into the sails and appeared to die. But as the sailors were sweeping the ashes overboard, Violet rescued the newborn baby phoenix and became its mommy. Soon after, they arrived in the western town of Khervik, successfully completing the maiden voyage of the Desert Angel!
This is a great one-shot adventure to run with any group of players to fit into any time-frame. You can pick and choose what encounters to use or leave out, depending on your needs. For instance, I left out the stranded cultist, the mutiny by the quartermaster, the sabotage by the spice merchant, the horror monster in the cargo, and the attack by the silk merchant, to name a few. Everyone had a great time!
FYI – The homebrew tools I used are a modified version of World of Dungeons, which I call World of Dungeon Age. It uses the PbtA 2d6 system, four stats, no classes or levels, and a bunch of homebrewed abilities that you can pick and choose to create a unique hero. It only takes 5 minutes to make a character and get started, which seems perfect for my family games with the kids.