Need some help getting a Dark Sun game off the ground. (P.E.A.C.H.)

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I'm wanting to run a campaign set in the 'Dark Sun' setting from 4th Edition for my circle of D&D friends but am having some trouble getting my ideas off the ground and planned into an actual campaing arc. What I'm looking for is some help with pacing and breaking this rough idea down into actual encounters and skill challenges.

Here is the rough idea that will instigate the campaign: a half dead nomad wanders into the streets of Tyr ranting and raving. The man is clearly delirious and mad with fever. However as he collapses to the streets he countinuously repeats about an 'endless green'. These ravings would normally be attributed to the rantings of a mad man however on the wanderer's person is a damaged map that seems to point of Athas that no one has really mapped, and the writings on the wanderer's person seem to point this area (for those that can read that is).

The possibility of treasure, water and hope soon lights up the population of Tyr and quickly expiditions are thrown together with people signing up in search of this fabled 'endless green'. The PCs soon find themselves part of one of these expiditions on a seach for this supposed lost land of green.

Now I would like to ask my fellow forumites to critique and assist me in fleshing this out into the start of a campaign. The way I see this is that after the initial event of the wanderer collapsing the PCs will have to quickly ally themselves with a patron for the expidition or be left in the dust. However the merchant houses and nobles of Tyr wont just let anyone into their expiditions so the PCs will have to prove their worth in someway. Various quest suggestions here would be nice. 

The part is starting at level 8 and each character will be (in)famous to some degree in Tyr. So keep that in mind when providing feedback.

Thank you all in advance for your advice!

-Warzark
There are a couple of verdant places in the realm of Athas.  The Isle of Shault which lies in the Silt Sea is one of the last remaining (un)known places of lush wildlife.  It is protected by the Goliath Druid Mearedes, very well protected. People that wander into Shault are often regarded as hostile, and those that are ever allowed to leave undergo a ritual that erases their memories of the place.

The other lush landscapes are found in the moons of Athas, Ral and Guthay.  From Athas it can be seen that they are worlds with vegetation, however transportation to them is nearly impossible.  There used to be ancient way-gates that linked to the moons, but the locations of them are lost, or they are destroyed.

Thoughts on where the green might be in the quest.  If it's not a red herring.

With characters at level 8, it seems reasonable that they have achieved some level of notoriety around where they operate.  They shouldn't have to do a series of fetch quests or fill out checkboxes.  They're obviously strong enough to have survived the trials of Athas (in Dark Sun living to level 1 is quite a tremendous feat in and of itself.)

Each of the factions however might have some prepwork to get done before launching an expedition, because no expedition is ready to go immediately.  There could be a need to "sabotage" other factions going after the same goal.  They might also need to find patronage or other forms of subsidy (diplomatic negotiations with nobles, merchants, or templars.)

There could also be similar defensive plans for this, fighting off rival factions as they attack a warehouse of supplies, bandits on the trail, and sniffing out spies within their expedition who might be reporting their goings on to someone, maybe even a sorceror king of another city state.
With characters at level 8, it seems reasonable that they have achieved some level of notoriety around where they operate.  They shouldn't have to do a series of fetch quests or fill out checkboxes.  They're obviously strong enough to have survived the trials of Athas (in Dark Sun living to level 1 is quite a tremendous feat in and of itself.)

Each of the factions however might have some prepwork to get done before launching an expedition, because no expedition is ready to go immediately.  There could be a need to "sabotage" other factions going after the same goal.  They might also need to find patronage or other forms of subsidy (diplomatic negotiations with nobles, merchants, or templars.)

There could also be similar defensive plans for this, fighting off rival factions as they attack a warehouse of supplies, bandits on the trail, and sniffing out spies within their expedition who might be reporting their goings on to someone, maybe even a sorceror king of another city state.


Yeah, the idea of paragon is that the characters have a reputation already.  So if you were to start earlier, then you could do some more prep-type missions.  Stealing supplies from rivals.  Finding an artifact, or its key (or both) that enables you to travel.

I might suggest taking a cue from the Feywild source material.  Athasians aren't used to the greenery, so you some of the Feywild enhance/overload stuff for some fun effects the first few days in their travels in the green.

Then you've got your normal Dark Sun material for the road.  Desert raiders, mutated monsters, spies from rival expeditions, trouble with other cities, etc.

Have fun with it.  Your hook is solid.  Maybe keep us up to date with what you end up doing.
@ Randomvirus: Your correct. I am planning to have the PCs do more than simple fetch quests. What you suggested is more along the lines of what I was aiming for. They'll be proving themselves to the merchant houses in different ways depending on which house they choose to try and be their sponsor.

One might want the PCs to defend one its shipments of supplies for the expedition. Another might have the PCs target that same shipment. Another might yet have the PCs sabotage the caravans, spoiling food or poisioning the water they've stored.

@ Ibaum: Unfortunately, I do not own Heroes of the Feywild. However introducing some fey-ish overtones might help emphasize the greenery of the Endless Green a bit.