[PbP play thread] Gamesu-Ashru: DandD 5e in the Mysterious Crystal Kingdom!

Welcome to The Crystal Kingdom!

Not to be confused with the Kingdom of the Crystal skull…

What follows will be the play-by-post tales of adventure of our intrepid players:

@Captbnut as Salazar ‘Lucky’ Wainwright (he/him)
@Cokho as Moran (he/him)
@Gungeon as Shoo/What To Do With You
@IssiNoho77 as Poot ‘Oddsocks’ Threetotter (he/him)
@RossM as De (she/her)

As they seek to discover the secrets of these mysterious lands

Discussion can be found here:

Ruled by the mysterious Etellu, the Crystal Kingdom is an ancient society on the brink of collapse. Reduced in size to a few states and island colonies, and surrounded by hungry and opportunistic feudal lords, the days when the known world was under their feet is long gone. The Etellu are waning in numbers, and their old mastery of Crystal Power is being challenged by new scientific discoveries among elven and dwarven scholars. On top of all this, the Great City Shamasu-Tashiltu was suddenly obliterated by an unimaginable catastrophe in which nearly a million people perished in an instant. The main population is now spread among a ring of provinces around the great wasteland that resulted from that disaster.

You can think of the Crystal Kingdom as having a blend of ancient and medieval culture. The regular people are living much closer to the medieval standard of life especially as the cultural influence of their rulers has greatly diminished, and the Kingdom became extremely cosmopolitan. The ruling ‘class’ which is made up of members of a nearly extinct race of elf-like beings are culturally similar to an ancient monarchy. The normal people speak ‘common’ which for our purposes is english, and all of the long place names that I’ve been using will have common-language equivalents - you don’t have to remember all the long names, but it will increase your immersion if you use them! The Royals speak a long extinct language, which your characters can choose as a bonus language in character creation, if you like.

You live in the northernmost province, Bet-Suripi which abuts the barbaric societies of the cold lands. The population is mostly human and dwarven, though all races are relatively widespread in the Kingdom. Bet-Suripi is one of the least important provinces by numbers and wealth in the larger Kingdom, and is ruled by the least important Royal, named Shikka-Rubutu. She is called the youngest of the Etellu, though she is several thousand years old at least.

You all have lived in Bet-Suripi’s capital Hurshanu for at least since your pre-teen years, when you were selected to become one of Shikka-Rubutu’s companions. You have been raised in the palace together, have received the best in education, and are a combo of personal friend/servant/project of Shikka herself (with a lot of boundaries, though a reasonable amount of freedom). This is a practice that the Etellu have been doing since time immemorial, so there are about 50 companions in Shikka’s retinue. You have shown a different kind of aptitude than the others, and Shikka has directed your education towards a set of skills that will be useful in more than just courtly conversations, as she sets her sights in the direction of the wastelands…


The painted columns and elegant statues of the High Courtyard are tinted pink and gold as a crisp spring day dawns. The palace here in Hurshanu is said to be the least of all the Etellu’s dwellings, but the view from this plaza (second in height only to Shikka’s private tower) is truly breathtaking. Rising 300 feet over the crown of Hurshanu’s wide hill, from here the entire lay of the province can be seen. To the north, leagues of wild plains, mighty forests, and turbulent rivers abut the mountains that line the frigid coast - many barbarian tribes dwell here. To the east and the west, the farmlands and vineyards that extend beyond sight run along the Ring Highway through the adjacent provinces. To the south the land becomes sparser, though much wheat and many horses are raised here, until it reaches the beginning of the devastation where nothing grows.

Shikka is looking out towards the south, the long horn that sprouts from her forehead glittering in the light. She is here most mornings in the last year, though she hasn’t been straightforward with any of you about her thoughts.

She’s tall today. She appears as she does on her throne, glorious, beautiful and regal, rather than the more relatable size she normally assumes. The usual crowd of followers are absent, save for the five of you. Whatever you may have thought when the messenger woke you, you are sure now that this is no ordinary summons.

You’ve suspected that you’d been getting special treatment - like Shikka has been directing your development towards some unseen goal - that is all but confirmed now.

Shikka turns towards the group with a gentle smile. Her eyes are bright indigo this morning, and subtly pulse with energy, their gaze exudes a palpable pressure when it rests on you. “Good morning my friends.” She gestures to a table laid out with a lavish breakfast. “Did you sleep well?”

Tell us how your character’s morning went, what are their thoughts about the summons, and how they react to the current situation!

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Once summoned, De shouldered her bow, and picked up her pre packed grab bag. Idly flicking it open, she checks it contains a spare set of clothes. It is only 3 minutes later she makes her way to the meeting spot.

In response to the question, De returns the favour. “How did you sleep, Shikka?”

As she waits for the others to arrive, De starts demolishing a plate of pancakes.


It was a rude awakening for Salazar to receive the summons, a quick recall of the last few days didn’t bring up anything obvious that would require his presence with Shikka - there have been a few mornings when that wouldn’t have been true.

Salazar has felt a burning love for Shikka since he was called to her court after that tournament 17 years ago. Even now, at 30 he finds it hard to hold her gaze and he can feel his voice wobble.

His kit is ready, everyone’s kit is always ready.

As seems to happen every time he is in Shikka’s company, Salazar drops his sword and then bangs his head on the wall when picking it up. What a start.

“I, er, slept wonderfully” (wonderfully? who the hell sleeps wonderfully?). This is going brilliantly already.

To cover his embarrassment Salazar grabs a plate of food, experience has taught him to eat well when he can. It’s only then he sees De, that better not be a smirk on her face.

Salazar nods, mutters a good morning and tucks in.


De raises a fork in recognition.


Nyx waited outside, she never likes to come into rooms like this. Salazar grabs her a plate of meat and a bone to chew on. He’s glad today that the panther has decided to stay with him.


Moran comes in, shuffling his feet when entering. He cannot believe he was not awake when they came to wake him up. Every other day, he is up at dawn, doing martial exercise and everything. But today, the one day he decided to sleep in, they come in. That is so embarrassing. Hopefully they did not tell Shikka.

He put on a smile and says hi to everyone already here. He grabs a glass full of some kind of citrus-y drink; and goes next to De and Shikka.
“It was a decent night, better than most. You are looking mighty today Shikka.”


(Question for @Captbnut : could I pet Nyx on entering, or are we forbidden/discourage from doing it?)

Not when she’s eating.

Salazar was still with her when you passed, so it would be safe for Moran to do so.

Nyx is friendly to friends. I’ve not seen her really angry for a while.


With what must be the tenth banging on the door, Shoo finally rouses from the pillow.
“Gnfffrr…I’m up! I’m up! Yes, I’ll be there shortly!” he shouts, rubbing his head through matted hair.
“Gah! Wine! Devils’ drink, I love thee so. Shame you don’t love me.”
The sudden flash of faces during an in-depth discussion. “Nay, acting is reserved for the finer arts! Thus, the best performance for poetry is acting through the simultaneous medium of dance!”
Another memory, this time of colourful wording, far from poetry, scratched into the dining table.
“Well, Julius is a jerk.”
Then wincing with the dawning realisation of the inevitable fine coming his way.

Some minutes later, an almost respectable looking Shoo arrives to greet Shikka and the others. Exhaling, he notices he isn’t the last to arrive and visibly relaxes. Bending the knee to Shikka, head lowered as he still finds it hard to look directly at her, he approaches normality. “My sincere apologies for the tardiness. I am here, at your service.”


After spending probably too much time with Nyx, Salazar returns to the room with the others.

He notices that Shikka has left so quickly whispers, ’ do any of you know what this is about? I hope it’s not another drill, my last one was haaard’.

Checking that Shikka is still absent, he adds, ‘outside I heard the guard were still looking for Poot (@IssiNoho77). Last time I saw him was just after midnight, some people had bet him that he couldn’t clear the well with a jump…they were right. Again. I assumed he knew his way out by now, but if he’s not here soon we ought to take a rope and check.’

(sorry folks, I didn’t even see a notification for this thread!)

Poot wanders into the room with his usual slightly confused expression, as if he’s seen the room somewhere before, he just can’t remember where. Despite washing himself three times after the evening’s antics (and oversleeping because he was up all night washing), there’s still a bit of something vaguely pondweedy in his hair.

“Hey everyone, crazy night huh? Strangest thing, when I got out of that well last night, everyone had gone, those jokers!”

He grabs an apple, a small cake and a big tankard of milk and starts to eat. “I’m famished” he half-says, half-sprays through a mouthful of breakfast. “What’s going on? Where is everyone? It’s quiet here this morning”.

Poot slowly realises that he’s the last one to surface, hasn’t said hello to Shikka, and is the scruffiest in the room while stuffing a hastily-crafted meat roll into his bag.

“Oh, Shikka, hello. Sorry, your majesty… Your highness… You know, royal person. I got your message. Sorry I’m late, I had an accident while I was fetching some water late last night. Good morning all, what’s going on?”


Shikka greets the group as they enter -

“Briefly, but well enough.” She nods at De. It’s not quite clear how much the Etellu actually sleep.

She keeps her composure at Salazar’s fumbling, if she wasn’t considering something so serious, she would mildly tease him.

She smiles at Moran’s compliment. “As are you, Moran.”

“Rise, Shoo, and break your fast. You will need the energy.”

Poot is late, though it’s not a big emergency - as long as he isn’t on fire somewhere or melting in some acid he accidentally brewed, he’ll get here eventually. She steps away for a moment to send another messenger for him, but she needn’t have bothered, and she returns to his (unnecessary) apology.

“It is enough that you are here.” She looks pleased as she surveys the company. They aren’t her most powerful servants (by a long shot), but each one has potential for greatness. She has been working to cultivate that potential, but life at and near the castle is too comfortable. There is only so much that can be taught by instructors - real experience is necessary.

“You have all been taught the basics of local history - do not be worried, this is not a surprise test - and you are at least aware of the tales of our great capital. Shamasu-Tashiltu… Ye who shamed the gods…”

(you believe that she is quoting a historical passage - roll a history check if you’d like try to remember the whole passage)

“Every 100 years, for time immemorial, all the Etellu would meet in the capital for the Kasiduti-Nibitu - to appoint a new ruler, and to deal with any disputes. That day would have been today, if the capital still stood. I would have brought you all as part of my retinue - and taken you to mingle among the companions of the other Royals, participate in the games, have your future told by the oracle…” She sighs, and the energy in her eyes diminishes. “That is gone now, and I can sense the unrest among my people. There has been no King or Queen among the Etellu, and no Court of Resolution, for three hundred years now. There is a thought, which has entered my mind, and I know has entered my kindred’s mind as well: the one who re-establishes Shamasu-Tashiltu will gain the title of Kinu-Sarru - the True and Permanent Ruler.”

She turns back towards the wastelands to the south, they are shrouded in a haze, and she squints as she tries to focus on some distant object far beyond mortal sight.

“I have no desire to rule more than Bet-Suripi. Yet I cannot ignore the rising aggression I sense in my ‘rivals’ to the east and west. Agents from Musto-Rubutu and Namara-Sit-Rubutu already spy out my city, and sneak among the pioneers who are working to reclaim the south. They know that the safest way to the remains of the capital from this side of the empire is the great highway, which runs from Hurshanu.”

“I have few opinions about who should rule, but I do oppose Musto and Namara-Sit. They are vain, overbearing lords, and would bring further ruin to the Empire. I do much to reduce their influence in the north. The south is a different matter. The haze of the capital’s demise uniquely frustrates my sight, and dulls my senses. I know their agents are out there, but I need someone on the ground that I can trust, to be my eyes and ears.”

She sits down at the table, and is suddenly much smaller, about six feet tall, not counting her horn. This is the Shikka that you are more familiar with. She begins to eat, in her particular way (she likes to cut everything into triangles before eating them), and her tone becomes playful rather than regal and commanding.

“This may surprise you, but I have chosen you five for this task. You leave tonight!”

Some notes for characters who speak the royal tongue

Etellu - Royal/Noble Ones
Shikka means Mongoose - it makes her seem like the lighthearted feisty Etellu
Rubutu - “The Ruler”
Shamasu-Tashiltu - Great City
Kasiduti-Nibitu - Naming of The Conqueror
Kinu-Sarru - True King
Musto - The Tired One/The One Who Sits - female name, implies a bit of a lazy person
Namara-Sit - Shining-Face - female name, implies a singularly beautiful appearance (even among the always beautiful Etellu)


“Why depart at night? What will be our mode of travel?”

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“Thank you for selecting us for this task, we will not let you down. How long do you expect this mission to last?”

Salazar begins to make mental notes of his belongings and what he expects he and Nyx will need.

“Do we have the day off?I’d like to at least tell my family I’m leaving Bet-Suripi”

“You’ll be leaving with Hansel and Yisun. Since they both can’t stand daylight, they’ll be travelling by night (as is their custom). They’re leading a caravan to support the settlements southward - you’ll have no need for provision while you travel with them, and you can trust them implicitly to support you. I expect about two weeks of travel until your reach Sand Hill, the southernmost town - accounting for a few stops along the way. You’ll have until Hansel and Yisun conclude their business - three or four days - to find Musto and Namara-Sit’s agents.”
She nods at Moran. “As soon as we’re done here I expect all of you to use the day to prepare. Be at the south gate by sunset.”

Hansel and Yisun are known to the group, though only by reputation. They seem to be entrusted with a lot of responsibility by Shikka, but strange rumours surround them.


“Do you have more information about the lands to the South than I do your Highness? Are we to expect our presence to be unwelcome, or do we travel in peace for the moment?”

Salazar looks around at his companions. They’ve been through tasks together and he knows that they’ve not always been at the top of the class. The instinct that has been with him since childhood is tingling, but is it excitement at leaving the city again?

Salazar hopes that Nyx will accompany him. She is no obedient pet, but they enjoy each other’s company and she so far she has stayed by his side when asked.


“I would like you to discover the lay of the land yourselves. This is, after all, as much an exercise for your benefits as it is for mine, but I will give this much guidance: the main road is mostly safe from beasts, due to the magic in it, and the pioneers are my people. Tribes of nomads have sprung up, migrating down from the north - allegedly they seek to worship their lost gods. I suspect they actually desire the lost riches of the capital. They may be hostile, if you encounter them, or they may simply want to trade for food. It would be best to leave such encounters to Hansel and Yisun, while you travel with them.”

“Sand Hill is the crux. It is a tiny settlement. Twenty souls, re-digging an abandoned mine. The pioneers will of course be loyal to me, and will aid you in discovering the spies. I do not expect the spies to be violent, I would only like them identified, and any evidence of their plans brought back to me. Hansel and Yisun will connect you with the leader of the Sand Hill pioneers.”

She rises from her seat and opens a small gilded box that was sitting near her seat. “These amulets will allow me to sense you, no matter how far south from me you are. I ask that you take them during this journey. If you touch the spy while wearing the amulet next to your skin, and think in your mind ‘this is the spy’, I will know it and see.”

She squints a little as if remembering something unpleasant. “Please keep in mind that while you wear them, I will be able to see your thoughts, and especially strong or clear ones will catch my attention. It is an excellent tool to see through the Haze, and I may be able to help you in certain circumstances, but it is to be used in emergency only, and to identify the agents. I… Would prefer not to know your intimate musings, nor add to the many dreams that I must sift through at night. When you don’t need it, pocket or pouch, bag or box, please don’t leave it around your neck!”