Sunday, August 9, 2020

1d10 Random Strange Caravans & Weird Merchants From Beyond Table For Your Old School Campaigns

 In a lost land, that only dreams have known,

Where flaming suns walk naked and alone;
Among horizons bright as molten brass,
And glowing heavens like furnaces of glass,
It rears with dome and tower manifold,
Rich as a dawn of amarant and gold,
Or gorgeous as the Phoenix, born of fire,
And soaring from an opalescent pyre
Sheer to the zenith. Like some anademe
Of Titan jewels turned to flame and dream
The city crowns the far horizon-light
Over the flowered meads of damassin ....
A desert isle of madreperl ! wherein
The thurifer and opal-fruited palm
And heaven-thronging minarets becalm
The seas of azure wind....
(Note: These lines were remembered out of a dream, and are given verbatim.)
The City in the Desert  (1922)
by Clark Ashton Smith

They come from out of the wasteland sands on alien creatures changing & metamorphosing to fit the local time & space. There are so many names but they all have come to sell their wares. The merchant princes, the queens of the road, the travelers, & many others. They come from all walks of life & places unknown. The folk are an amalgam of many of the exotic, the alien, the unwanted, & the list goes on. But they are also the dreamers & the dream. There are powerful half blooded Elven princes among their ranks & dreamers of the first order. Assassins of 2nd level guarding the wiles of  alien escorts of the most dangerous & erotic aspect.
When these caravans come to call the merchant princes will come to call on the rulers & authorities of the local cities. Ancient contracts promising horrid curses are sited & pacts made every two hundred years are shook over a small pile of gold pieces.

He is not what he appears to be

Ilusionists are some of the most valuable members of these mysterious caravans providing cover, creating distractions, & providing shows that attract people by the hundreds. This in turn provides the caravan marketplace with lots of customers. Wares are traded, soul pacts are made, & hundreds of pieces of dreams flow into the golden vessels of the caravans. The ancient powers of the Elves continue to ply their trade as they do in the modern day.
Going to a caravan market place may provide a party with a key book, occult treatise or other rare supernatural item forty percent of the time. There are certain forbidden tents where the erotic & exotic arts perform. But there are one or two 'special tents' that have late night or early morning performances at 'the hour of the soul.' These performances will drain one point of wisdom per customer & are by invitation only.
The merchant princes use these pieces of the human soul to perform black miracles back in their own lands far beyond the realms of dream.

There are often opportunities for adventurers to hire on to such caravans are paramount with them offering one  gold piece a day for grunt work &  six pieces for guard, military, & cargo duties. But there often powerful spirits & other supernatural predators among the 'acts' of these merchant princes. Those who hire on can be seen as potential fuel as well & should regard their tenure among these caravans as temporary at best. But there are valuable 'fairy gold' to be had & many an adventurer has been tempted by rumors of it. There is only death waiting for them however unless they are very careful. There will be a 20,000 to 2,000 gold piece treasury used by the caravan but there will be a efreet or genie guarding it of the most vile aspect. These 'treasures' will often turn to leaves or other debris when the characters exit the holding wagons. Changelings are often exchanged for strong human children who are considered a valuable treasure in their own right.
The various princes are often huldra ("hidden being") Elven blooded beings able to exist in the human world while powerful Elven wizards equip their caravans from Fairyland. These are seen as investments by their masters for the power of pure human souls is a value among the supernatural powers of incredible occult potential.
These caravans move across time, space, & dreams taking the relics from a million worlds but they are seldom what they appear to be.

1d20 Random Strange Caravans & Weird Merchants From Beyond Table 
  1. Prince Albrus & his cohorts are a merchant train of incredible potential that is looking for a heir to a throne in Fairyland. His ties to the court of Hell allow him to sell medical miracles & occult secrets from across the planes. He is sardonic & very vein however & this can be used to the advantage of adventurers but his wraith is very dangerous. 
  2. The Princess Truse & Prince Rous The Justice are two of the most devious & dangerous of the merchant princes. Their caravan is the cover for a Fey thieves & assassins guild of the most vile kind. Every two hundred years they follow a route that allows them to snatch & grab human babies for  changelings. Assassinate heads of state & then for good measure steal candy from children. These two however sell a wide array of occult components & artifacts to royalty from Fairyland. 
  3. The Caravan of Wonders - This traveling troupe of magicians & performers is actually the cover for a lawfully aligned group of Fey & Elves who are hunting down the pawns of Hell & Chaos. They have many among their ranks who act as illusionists & wizards while their knights & paladins move across the land. There are twelve ranks of thieves who spy & steal from the wealthy patrons of cults & temples of depravity. 
  4. Deacons of Depravity & Malice this caravan offers many different medical cures & a wide array of pleasures of the flesh. But in fact they have among their ranks some of the most dangerous necromancers ever to walk out of Fairyland. They seek the souls of the unwary and trade them for magick and illusionary treasures.
  5. Trades of Nature is a group of traveling druidic priests & priestesses who help farmers & the like with crop issues & problems all the while being a cover for Fey. These spirits of the Earth actually are looking for an ancient temple of theirs across the planes but help farmers. Occasionally they trade for the soul of a child to help restore a particularly bad area.  They use the miracle of the Wicker man to restore the land.
  6. Those Who Restore The Balance - This large caravan trades minor occult miracles, shows, & odd relics as they repair farm implements, address crowds with minor farming information, sell seeds, & are greatly regarded. These merchants are looking for a minor chaos cult whose sins have caused a disruption in the fabric of time. They have made a deal with an Elven wizard to sell his wares for the right of murder when they find them. That was two hundred years ago & they continue to travel. 
  7. The Seekers of Lom - A troupe of traveling druids & seekers of wisdom who often come to predict the coming harvests & crop rotations. These traders are actually monster hunters and seek the abominations of Chaos to root out & destroy. They trade in information & seeds for their services while providing cover to seek out the destroyers of their master Lom. Occasionally they will take on an apprentice & use a changeling his or her place. 
  8. The Caravan of Ull - This troupe of Elves is one of the most prolific in Europe & uses a wide variety of circus & faires to cover their activities. They serve the ancient Greek Muses & are often used to seek out aspiring artists to take with them back to Fairyland & the Underworld. 
  9. The Tattered Ones - A Fall troupe of traders & acrobats whose performances hide the activities of one of the most dangerous occult witch hunters seen from Fairyland. Their hatred of covens & other pagan cults is widely known but their agenda is not. They leave a tattered doll after a hunt & murder of a coven at the site of a grove. There are rumors of twelve assassins guilds offering them up a child or two for apprenticeship every seven years. 
  10. The Dark Ones in Shelter - This Spring group of Dark Elves comes to trade with human settlements in the most remotest corners of the world. They offer wisdom, food, farming advice, medical help, & worship. They are actually dark Elven paladins & knights who travel among humanity searching for the Devil's cults to murder & after centuries have gotten very good at it.

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