The Gods must be Crazy
Act 1: The Wrath of Ak-Shobar
The campaign actually should pick up after the PC’s perform some seemingly innocuous task, such as fending off a bandit attack or clearing a Kobold cave, in the city of Amalek. Any quest that could give the villain the impression that the PC’s could accomplish his tasks and then disappear into obscurity.
The players are initially hired by an enigmatic ‘mage’ (said villain) identifying himself as Tawny in the local bar, The Dusty Wench. He convinces the PC’s that he’s having them take out the trash for the Mage’s Guild, the only prominent feature of Amalek.
Afterward, he meets them back at the bar and gives them a reward, some coinage and a mace he stole from the Mage Guildmaster. He tells them the rest of their award awaits them in the Mage’s Guild proper. If the PC’s don’t detect the deception, or pick their words carefully, they will essentially turn themselves in for committing the crime, otherwise, they glean that Tawny does not in fact work for the Mage’s Guild.
Tawny contacts the party again, knowing he had been discovered and they did not accidentally turn themselves in. He attempts to use the lives of one of the PC’s family members as leverage to pressure them into another assassination, this time of a savory individual, Terrance, the toy-maker/mage. They will be tailed by some thugs they can track/follow to an isolated cabin in order to rescue the family of the PC. Hopefully they follow this course, though it is not necessary.
After the failed attempt to force the players to assassinate Terrance, Tawny hires an assassin to take out Terrance (succeeds) and the players (hopefully doesn’t succeed). The assassin will stalk the players for a while and attempt to off them several times.
The players eventually learn that Tawny is in fact a member of the Mage’s Guild, actually named Malcolm. He is a disciple of an ancient and forgotten demigod Ak-Shobar. Ak-shobar was a scourge of this land 10,000 years ago until his armies were defeated by two allied kingdoms and he was (semi)permanently bound in stone. Malcolm seeks to free Ak-Shobar.
The players investigate and follow Malcolm until a climactic battle against him in Castle Ak-Shobar, during which Malcolm manages to free Ak-Shobar. Ak-Shobar (Mindflayer Vampire etc) consumes Malcolm’s brain, gives him the order to take care of the players, and teleports away.
Ak-Shobar decimates (in the Colloquial sense, not in the Latin sense) the warring Orc tribes living in the plains and hills outside of Castle Ak-Shobar, and casts a ritual that raises a veritable undead Orc army. 10,000’s of shambling undead begin their slow but inevitable trek across the plains under the orders of Ak-Shobar, while he disappears to setup Act 2.
The PC’s rise to command the feeble troops that the realm has to offer, and utilizes a series of portals and a couple campaign-specific rituals in order to, as safely as possible, save as many citizens as possible.
The players, meanwhile, will have to gather the items necessary to take down Ak-Shobar, the Sword of Deathbringing and the Ritual of Binding.
When I ran the final encounter with Ak-Shobar, one of the PC’s was killed. When they try to raise him after the battle, and find that the spirits of the dead are no longer being funneled to where they are supposed to, this leads directly to Act 2.