Wednesday, 19 May 2021

[OSR] Real places in RPG [8]: Majlis al-Jinn cave

 Majlis al-Jinn

Staying in the "desert mood", I want to present you the second largest cave on earth, the Majlis al-Jinn.

It means the "gathering place of the Djinns". How could we leave out this place 😊?


This gigantic cave under the plateaus of the Oman desert is a single chamber measuring about 310 metres by 225 metres (over 6 soccer fields of base surface!)

From above


It actually looks like 3 black holes in the ground, nowhere anybody sane would like to get it (unless a loved one was falling down)

The smallest hole is about 2 meters wide, while the biggest (on the middle of the image) could easily swallow 3 cars at the same time...

From the top, it's difficult to make anything out in the cave, 120 m further down

Inside

Once inside, it's another matter completely: The sun comes through the 3 holes, in fierce rays of light...

Photo by Yousef Tuqan: DSC_17
Photo by Yousef Tuqan: DSC_17

There the ambient light is in the yellow tones, because of the reflection on the walls and floor.
All sort of animal bones litter the ground under the holes, these having not survived the 120 m drop.
You can see on the photo how small humans are in comparison, one is under the left ray of light.

Lake?

After a heavy storm, some water can be found in the cave... If the climate outside was more temperate (or at least rainy), this cave could be an extremely big water reservoir or underground lake. No hole leads out, but one might exist, caved in under tons of rubble, allowing excess water to seep through.

Djinns?

In most Arabic legends, free Djinns live in this kind of gigantic caverns.
It is easy to imagine that a magic force has created these caves, because of their majesty, eerie size, and awe-inspiring proportions.

Typically, Djinns grant wishes, but for a price, and often interpret the wish in the worst way possible. Only the craziest and most desperate persons would seek their help.

1D12 reasons to seek a Djinn

Desperate times call for desperate measures. If you want your player characters to meet a Djinn, you need to prepare them for the encounter:

  • have an NPC tell them where to find a Djinn and how dangerous they are
  • Put the characters in a very bad situation (see table)
  • Apply pressure until they have no other choice left ("there are times where all choices are bad choices"). Have their allies arrested, or obligated to lay low. Attack their finances (you don't have  to take their finances away, just make them temporarily worthless, like coins from an enemy kingdom). Have the authorities and the sultan's men track them. Don't let them sleep or heal their wounds. Let them go to daddy-Djinn...

D12Reasons to seek a Djinn
1A character in the group died, and no clergy will or can perform a resurrection
2The love of your life has been kidnapped and no one else can find out their location
3A curse has been bestowed on a party member and its state is worsening by the hour
4A ransom for someone important to the party has been issued, but how should they find that much money?
5An important object was lost in Aether by the destruction of a bag of holding. Who else could locate it?
6A character caught the Sandplague. Their heart will soon start to turn into sand, if not cured...
7A dangerous cult think you are the perfect sacrifice to their dark deity. You need a new identity
8A party member killed the beloved Sultan's son by mistake. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide 
9A caught spy gave your names as its accomplices'. And you thought he was just a resourceful guide
10The captain of the ship that brought to the city is accused of piracy. You arrrrr now hunted as pirates
11Someone paid a big bounty to have the best assassin in the known world chasing your party
12You need passage to the City of Brass, where many Djinns & Efreets live

What could the Djinn want from you

A Djinn will not give you three wishes, only in Disney does that kind of thing happen...
Not only will the Djinn try to corrupt your wish with a technicality, he will want from you something in return. Something you'd prefer never to lose.

D12Compensation for a Djinn's service
1The fiery part of your soul. You can't be resurrected without it
2Your ability to love 
3Your reputation. You will always get defamed ever after
4Your firstborn. Beware of the Djinn's wrath if you made a vow of chastity
5All your good memories of your parents. You keep the bad ones, though
6Kill someone very near to you in the future, when asked for it
7A quest to set free an innocent spirit. But, can an Efreet really be innocent ?
8Kill a minor god of a small pantheon and bring back their divine essence 
9Bring them back the heart of the Emir's young daughter, literally
10Give away some of your life experience (yeah, you'll loose levels)
11Give away 33 years of your life expectancy (or considerably more for longer living races)
12Your ability to read and to ever be able to learn it again (not proposed to barbarians)

What else could the cave be?

If you're not into Djinns & Efreets, the cave could also be:
  1. The mating ground of sandworms / sand dragons
  2. The pit in which all the dead are thrown - a necromancer's wet dream
  3. The entrance to the tomb of Pharao-King Psamtik 66th
  4. The Hall of grievances of the Wraith-King of the desert (only appears when the full moon shines vertically over the main hole)
  5. A refuge for the sand giants, before they disappeared
  6. The antechamber to a circle of teleportation, hidden under the rubble
  7. the brooding ground of a serpentkin race
  8. A ruined stonelift to the underworld
  9. The place of worship nearest to the body of a slumbering non-euclidean chtonian entity
  10. An abandoned Mythril mine. Maybe there's ore left?
  11. The nearly depleted quarry for the bood-stone pyramid
  12. The temple where all the known true names of demons where engraved in the walls

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