Six Days on Kenshi

(Kenshi has become my gold standard for what a sandbox campaign should be like. I am constantly mining this game for ideas to set up a West Marches campaign.)

Severed from the Hive mind, nobody would speak with Klik anymore, and so he had no choice but to walk out into the desert. A single worker drone with nobody else and no supplied. Looking around him, he saw a pack of Beak Things to the south of the village, and so he headed north with no knowledge of what to expect.

After wandering through the sands for several hours, a gang of Hungry Bandits came running over a dune, charging at Klik swinging their sticks. Running for his life, he spotted what looked like the stone walls of a human hive on a hill nearby, since the human hives hated the Hungry Bandits and always chase them away from their gates. But as he came closer, there was not a single human soldier to be seen. Looking for a place to lose the pursuers or someone to save him, Klik headed for the largest building in the village, but as he reached its gate he spotted the symbol of the Holy Nation. While the soldiers of the Holy Nation hated the Hungry Bandits, they hated Hive drones even more, and Klik immediately headed out through the gate on the other side of the village. With the bandits were still in pursuit, Klik’s path crossed that of a group of human mercenaries, and a big fight broke out between the two groups immediately. Only a single hungry bandit was still chasing after Klik, and even though he didn’t have a stick of his own, he made a courageous attempt to take the stick from the bandit. But the bandit was much stronger than Klik and beat him up, badly injuring his knee. Klik had no food for the hungry bandit to steal. He didn’t even have any pockets or bags where he could have carried any, but the bandit must have been too hungry to think of that.

Once the bandit had left, Klik crawled back to where the bandits had fought with the mercenaries and discovered a pack of bone dogs feeding on the dead. As night fell, he hid in the broken frame of a ruined human hut while waiting for the bone dogs to move on. When it seemed that they had left the area, he crawled over to the bodies and managed to get a stick from one of the bandits and some human clothing from one of the mercenaries. The mercenaries also had bandages with them, with which Klik could finally treat his still bleeding wounds. He even got some raw meat from two bone dogs, as well as two pelts and some teeth that he knew human traders would trade for. Now that he had food and a stick, and his wounds were no longer bleeding, his chances to survive another day had greatly increased.

At the dawn of the second day, Klik continued his journey through the desert, though still with a badly injured leg. After some hours he spotted a few houses in the distance with some fenced in animals. No humans were to be seen, but the risk that they might be of the Holy Nation made Klik keep his distance and continue towards a mountain range in the distance.

As he reached the edge of the mountains, Klik spotted another large human hive nearby. But as soon as he could see the soldiers on the wall, they started shooting at him with arrows and he had to quickly run back towards the mountains. Were he was jumped again by a gang of hungry bandits who viciously beat him and took all his bone dog meat.

Slowly continuing to search for another way around the mountains with his bad leg, Klik spotted large swarms of birds circling in the sky. Coming around a corner, he arrived at a great lake of murky water, surrounded by rusted iron towers. The lake itself was filled with gigantic metal bones from ancient times, and at this moment he noticed that the birds were not birds at all but large metal bugs floating in the air without wings.

The lake with all the ancient metal shells was a scary place, and water often attracts many animals and other beasts who prey on them, so Klik kept his distance as he tried to find a way around the lake. Night had already fallen when the small path came to a dead end and the only two options were to swim or head back into the hills. Not taking any chances, Klik tried to find another fork in the path that might lead through the rocky hills when he found a small, seemingly abandoned hut. Inside there were crates with dried meat and bread, bandages, and old clothes. A note on one of the tables said that these things had been left for those who had fled from the Holy Nation to aid them on their journey. Finally having a place to sleep after two days in the desert, this was the first opportunity to get some rest and let his leg heal.

In the morning of the third day, Klik broke open a locked crate with great difficulty, and found two well made and very valuable swords. Finally having some proper gear, as much food as he could carry, and being able to walk normally again, things were looking better for Klik than they had ever been since he left the Hive.

In the light of the new day, Klik found a spot in the water that had blocked his day the previous night where he could walk across without getting too much wet. As he climbed a ridge on the other side, he unexpectedly found himself in a small forest. The first plants that he had seen in two days.

The forest seemed like a good place to make a new home, but while he could mine some stone and iron on his own, he didn’t have the machines to turn them into building materials to build a hut. He still needed to find a village to trade for these things with his bone dog pelts and teeth to get started.

Fortune smiled again on Klik as he came across a village in the forest. And as he approached cautiously, he noticed a shek among the guards at the gate. The Holy Nation hated the shek as much as the hivers, so maybe this could be the first place where he could approach without risk of getting killed on sight. The humans at the gate allowed him to come inside to trade, but he was also warned him that this forest was part of the territory of another group of humans who hunt and eat other humans. While Klik wasn’t sure if they would eat hive drones as well, he really didn’t want to find out and decided that this would not be a good place to build a hut.

So far, traveling during the dark had seemed safer than being out during the day, so he decided to not wait for morning and instead had back south the way he had come right away. This would mean he’d had to cross the land of the Holy Nation again, but out in the open desert it was much easier to see enemies from far away and avoid them. He traded the pelts and teeth for a basket that would allow him to easier carry his food and collect more valuable things he might come across on his way.

As he was trying to find his way back to the lake with the giant metal skeletons, Klik spotted the lights of campfires in the distance. Slowly sneaking towards them, he saw that the meat on the fires of the humans did not seem to be human meat, and it seemed safe to approach them. The humans said that they are hunting the humans who hunt other humans to eat. This forest seemed more dangerous at any moment and so Klik quickly continued on his way.

Avoiding huge metal spiders wading through the waters of the murky lake, Klik managed to make it back to the open desert by noon of the sixth day. A seemingly abandoned human fortress in the distance caught his eye, and outside the shattered gates he spotted a large battle taking place.

Slowly creeping closer and trying to not be seen, it appeared that a group of humans with large pack animals was fighting a gang of hungry bandits wearing nothing but rags and wielding sticks, but they both were also fighting a group of hive drones that looked just like Klik and his former Hive, except that their skin was an unnatural blue. He had heard of the Hive of the Fogmen, but knew nothing about them except that they were greatly feared.

With such a great battle, there surely would be many things left behind after the fighting was over, and like bone dogs feeding off much larger dead animals killed by Beak Things, this looked like a great opportunity for Klik. When the fighting seemed to finally die down and the victorious humans were picking what they could from the fallen to load up on their animals, another gang of hungry bandits charged over a nearby hill and the fighting resumed until well into the evening when the sun was very low in the sky. When Klik was finally able to get close enough to search the bodies, there was nothing of any value or usefulness left, if there even had been any at all.

So Klik decided to take a look inside the ruined fortress and discovered that among the crumbled buildings there were many old swords scattered around. It was already getting dark and the ruin did not seem like a safe place to sleep, but some of the old swords looked like they were very valuable. As he was scavenging through one of the collapsed building, a lone hive prince of the Fogmen who seemed to have made his home in the ruins appeared out of nowhere, wildly swinging with his sword at Klik. Taking several cuts from the blade, Klik dashed out of the house and through the fortress gate, and the Fogman prince’s steps behind him disappeared as suddenly as he had arrived. Outside the castle walls, packs of bone dogs were already crawling over the battlefield, but seemingly having more than enough to feed on already, they thankfully ignored him.

After wandering the desert night for another hour or so, four bone dogs suddenly jumped Klik from behind, mauling him badly. Already having passed out from blood loss, there was nobody to bandage his wounds and Klik died in the sand as the sun rose on the seventh day.

(I could have reloaded a save from leaving the ruined fortress, but I mostly started this character to get familiar again with the controls and mechanics of the game after more than a year to continue with my old party of Stick’s Mine. And this is actually the first time I ever had a character die in this game.)

2 thoughts on “Six Days on Kenshi”

    1. I actually do think that of all the published D&D settings, Dark Sun is by far the best suited for a sandbox campaign. :D

      Lack of water forces you out of the wilderness into settlements, the constant presence of templars forces you back out of settlements into the wilderness. Even when the goal of the campaign is just to survive, with no villains to defeat, innocent villagers to protect, and great hoards of treasures to search for, the players are constantly getting pushed to keep moving and expose themselves to monster attacks by the very nature of the setting.

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