Dragons of Blackminster

City Watch 06 - Brothels and Basements

Mulan was on the roof of the brothel, with her familiar (a tiny dragon called Mooshoo) listening at the windows.

Brother Abraham was waiting outside – as a man of the cloth he didn’t want to be seen entering such a place.

Inside, Gaston and Richard were still pretending to be drunken revellers. This was made a bit harder as they had not agreed a plan before they entered and Gaston was already known to the Madame of the house – and it was known he was now a member of the Watch.

Rather than simply ask to see Misty, they booked some time for Richard with TWO girls. Gaston mistakenly demanded one called “Sapphire” so one of them had to pretend that was her name, but at least the other one was actually Misty – the girlfriend of the dead half-orc Jarvo Gann.

To get some time alone with Misty, Gaston had to send “Sapphire” to fetch some elaborate piece of equipment!

Soon Misty’s bedroom was getting crowded as Mulan climbed in through the window and hid by the wardrobe. Gaston wandered in (with no trousers on) and Richard …. Well, he got Gaston’s money’s worth before starting the questioning!

Misty was distraught to learn that Jarvo had been killed but knew very little about where he had gone or who with. She thought he was having an affair with a woman with the initial “B” as Jarvo had received a note that prompted him going out the previous night. They found the note in the bin and it had some smudges of blue ink. Due to a phenomenal bit of investigation, they learned the ink was a distinctive blue used at the Library.

Misty told them that Jarvo had left no possessions with her and they all left apart from Mulan who watched the girl retrieve a rucksack from under the bed and look inside, then put it back and climb back into bed, sniffing and gently sobbing about her ex. Mulan cast Sleep on the girl and stole (confiscated) the rucksack – which contained some recently-stolen jewellery and lots of coins.

Mulan handed over the jewels (but kept the money) and then the squad received some reward money for the stolen jewels.

Gaston refused to pay his bill when they tried to leave the brothel and there was a lot of shouting and threats from the Madame (mainly that she would pass the word around to all the others members of her profession to withdraw their services from ALL members of the Watch – this would lead to a lot of trouble for Gaston).

Eventually they negotiated a truce that involved him grudgingly paying all his bill. Because he is known to be a noble, they charge him a lot of money but also in order to make his “plan” work, he had bought additional drinks and services and was paying a premium for “unsocial hours” as they were there during the daylight hours.

To the Library…

They eventually made it to the Library and Gaston revealed that “Reflections on the ~Nature of Magic” had been stolen from the wizardess Sapphire. Mulan was annoyed as the beautiful half-elf wizardess was a member of her little circle of friends from the parties of Lady Clupea.

They pieced together some more clues to work out that the “B” was a half-elf scribe called Lissa Barrymore, who had been working at the Library/Scriptorium for the last few months. She had tried to get access to the book and been told that it was out on loan.
Earlier today she had gone into the limited-access basement to do some research and had not yet returned. She had been given a full set of the Archivist’s keys.

Our heroes followed her down into the darkness and were very surprised to find a couple of giant spiders. These were particularly nasty creatures with strong venom – not usually found out of the deep realms of the Underdark. They managed to kill the creatures whose bodies vanished (so they must have been magically summoned).

Mooshoo was sent forward to investigate (being the only one in the party with Darkvision). The little familiar peered into a room whose door was slightly ajar and all of a sudden a second Mooshoo appeared and the two creatures fought. Mulan dismissed the “real” Mooshoo and the duplicate begged her to bring the other one back – it seemed desperate. Convinced that this was an evil duplicate, they killed it and moved on to investigate further.

Abraham and Gaston spotted the symbol on the door, a Lantern with a cross through it, but thought it only meant “no naked flames”. As they were using Abraham’s magical light, they pushed open the door to reveal the Mirror of Opposition!

Instantly there were two Abrahams and two Gastons and they were all fighting. Richard and Mulan managed to keep out of line-of-sight with the mirror but the anti-Gaston quickly struck down the real Gaston and seemed hell-bent on finishing him off. In the room, the two Abrahams tried lots of spells against each other with little effect and have now started bashing each other with their maces.

Our heroes don’t know which one is which.

The stories they had been told about the Hall of Mirrors included this Mirror of Opposition as well as another mirror that is a Portal linked to Shar Gazoth (Citadel of the Orcs). The ancient wizard Agraven had been duplicated and had brought various treasures back with him via the Portal Mirror.

It seems likely that Lissa Barrymore has taken possession of the Portal Mirror and may be in the disused sub-basement even now, trying to attune herself to it so she can activate it and start pulling Orcs through from Shar Gazoth (takes about an hour to attune)!

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City Watch 05 - Case of the Stolen Books

There was much debate on Beacon Isle after the fighting had finished.
Would they try to keep some of the treasure?
Would they reveal the hidden shrine of Torkas Dark God of Storms?
Would they reveal that the Dock Watch squad had murdered Tristan?

After concocting a dozen plots, they finally agreed to come clean about almost all the treasure but to say that Tristan and the Dock Watch guys had all been killed by the undead and that the angry Sea Spirit had been in love with Tristan but had been appeased when our heroes killed the undead.

This may well have been a good idea as we later discovered that neither Richard nor Gaston could manage to stick to a convincing lie.

Richard paid Capt. Barnacle (the smuggler) 5,000 silver coins for his help and as a down-payment for future assistance. Bill has a small, fast merchant ship and seemed willing to give them tip-offs about rival smugglers and had lots of contacts in the underworld.

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Richard kept the Horn hidden wanting to try and find out what it does before they decided what to do with it. He also kept an ornate carpet showing embroidered ships.

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Abraham spent ten minutes casting a ritual spell to detect magic. The Horn was very, very magical – beyond anything they had seen before. The scimitar of the undead pirate captain was magical and there were two potion flasks – one a small vial (one drop of golden honey – very magical) and the other a larger pot with 4 doses of a thick, red paste.

Bill’s skiff took them back to the mainland where they delivered all the bodies to the Necropolis. Tristan was taken to the Justinian Family Vault (a mid-rank noble family who own Beacon Isle and whose ancestors may have been pirates). Abraham told the Father-Captain of the Inquisitors that the undead threat was over and there was no reason for the Inquisition to investigate the Isle. They accepted his word on this and seemed pleased with his handling of the situation.

Capt. Julius met them as they left the Necropolis and wanted the whole story. If they hadn’t given the story that Tristan and the Dock Watch guys were all victims, he might have suggested they hide any bad press about the Watch and pin the whole blame on Tristan, but as it was he seemed to accept their version. The widows of the guards would get their pensions and the Justinian family would continue to get their 2,000gp annual rent for the use of Beacon Isle. The under-isle would probably be closed-off.

*. *. *.

The next day, Richard tried to attune himself to the Horn – he learned that it was very powerful with three main functions. The first was to summon a Fog Cloud. The other functions needed something to unlock them. It was an artefact of evil and chaos (mostly chaos).

He also got the carpet valued by a fence suggested by Capt B. The man examined it through a jeweller’s eye-glass and seemed a bit shocked. There were tiny hidden figures stitched into the storm that identified it as belonging to the cult of Torkas the Dark God of Storms. He offered to buy it for 500gp as it would be a valuable piece if they could find the right buyer – but very dangerous to handle as the owner could be executed for heresy.

Instead Richard put on a disguise and delivered both the Horn and the carpet to the Inquisition as an anonymous donation, stressing that the Horn was dangerous. The next day a wanted poster is part of the Watch briefing. It describes the disguised man and offers a small reward.

The next day the sound of a horn echoes across the city and a fog cloud 200 yards across billows out from the Necropolis. The fog is so thick it effectively blinds everyone. Richard gropes his way to the Necropolis (without his disguise) and screams at the priest on the gate for being irresponsible. The priest asks him to come inside and explain where he got the Horn, but Richard vanishes back into the fog. Mulan had followed him and overheard the exchange.

Abraham and Gaston also make there way to the Necropolis after the fog fades after a couple of hours and the panic and looting in the streets dies down. The Inquisitors let Abraham in and discuss the Horn with him but leave Gaston shut outside!

According to Belisarius Groan – Inquisitor Captain, the Horn is one of three Horns of Torkas. They had to blow it to be absolutely sure – the fog cloud was the least of the powers. If enough people are slaughtered in the fog, this would unlock the next power – summoning Valkyries – winged warrior women. If they kill enough people this would unlock the third power – an expanded version of Spirit Guardians. If all three Horns are blown at once, they have a final secret power (which Abraham now knows).

Mulan has developed magical powers and summons a familiar called Mushu, a tiny wingless flying dragon.

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Gaston’s experiences in combat have unlocked abilities as a battle-master, gaining a series of special combat abilities

Abraham has gained access to additional spells and also to a Domain Ritual “Skeletal Messenger” which has the same effects as “Animal Messenger” but requires the skeleton of a raven and it can deliver a verbal message.

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*. *. *.

A week later the morning briefing includes the theft of a magical book from the half-elf Wizardess Sapphire O’Toole. Sapphire teaches at the College of Art but lives just inside the jurisdiction of G-Watch. The book was magically guarded and one of the thieves has been killed by the trap.

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At Sapphire’s house they find she is a beautiful woman (despite being a couple of hundred years old). Mulan knows her from the weekly “Ladies Night” parties she attends at the house of Lady Clupea.

She has a small monkey as a familiar who instantly takes a dislike to Gaston. The monkey is called Mr Flannigan and is very haughty and sarcastic. The dead thief is one of Herb the Half-Orc’s henchmen – Jarvo Gann. He has been throttled by a Black Tentacles spell that was guarding the room. Nothing else was stolen other than the book Reflections of the Nature of Magic by the Wizard Agraven. this is a book about magical mirrors. Sapphire is a specialist in magic items and has been studying the book for a few years – it is on loan from the Library of the College of Art.

They determine there must have been a silence spell to cover the intrusion. They find tracks outside of a smaller lighter person (probably a woman).

Perhaps flustered by the clever monkey and the beauty of the wizardess, Gaston blurts out some information about the Horn of Torkas. Because she is a specialist in magic items, Sapphire is interested and probes for more – she has a book with a picture and Gaston says that they found that horn and handed it to the Inquisition,

They also found a couple of silver spoons on the dead half-orc with a coat of arms. Gaston (the noble) recognises the crest as the family Agravenus (descendants of the wizard Agraven).

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Gaston and Mulan visited Sir Mantol Agravenus, last of his line. Sir Mantol is a retired paladin. His butler, Riginal, was very haughty. Gaston had been a visitor there years ago but wasn’t much liked. He returns the spoons and they find that Mantol had had a robbery in the middle of the night and a book had been stolen. “Shar Gazoth Vol 3” by the wizard Agravenus. This was the last volume of Agravenus’ journal about his expedition to the Orcish Citadel – Shar Gazoth. The key part of the story was about the Hall of Mirrors where the Orcs had a magic mirror of Teleportation and another for Scrying and another for creating evil duplicates. Agravenus had become duplicated and his party didn’t know which was the real one. Sir Mantol was very proud that he had said “Kill us both!”. His companions realised that the other one must be the evil one. They managed to re-set the Portal Mirror to point to a mirror in Agravenus House in Eastport and escape through there with some orcish treasure. The wizard locked the Orc’s mirror to his mirror and when they emerged, they locked-up his mirror somewhere safe.

Meanwhile, Abraham and Richard visited their underworld contact Capt. Barnacle, to ask about Jarvo Gann. Bill told them that Gann and Herb had recently been falling out as Gann was doing little jobs for himself.

Then they went for a chat with Herb the Half-orc.

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He was sitting inside a candy/coffee shop, selling drugs out of a bag hidden under the table. Abraham intimidated him a bit and he revealed that Jarvo Gann and he had split up. Jarvo has been doing jobs for a mysterious woman and had been going to “Half-Orc Meetings”. Herb claimed to like all races equally – as long as they have money – but these weekly half-orc meetings were mostly to whinge about how the other races (especially humans) look down oh half-orcs. He told them that Jarvo was living with a woman called Misty in a brothel in the Docks called Seamans’ Rest.

Our heroes all met up at the brothel which was closed (it was only about 10pm). Mulan climbed to the roof to watch the back and front entrances, hidden against the chimney. The others persuaded the elderly cleaning woman to let them into the bar for a drink.

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City Watch 04 - Beneath Beacon Isle

The hole that had been cut into the granite of the Isle was only 50 yards from the eastern cliff edge.

A sturdy wooden ladder had been recently fastened into place. Abraham cast light onto a stick and they dangled it down on a rope. The chamber below had recently been flooded with water to the depth of a couple of feet but now just had puddles left on the uneven floor. There were two heavy wooden doors and a tunnel that must lead to an opening to the sea, because the crashing of waves could be heard from there.

Richard tied off his own rope to a tree and climbed down, quickly followed by the others. Although they made a lot of noise, the booming of the waves must have covered them and nothing attacked them for a while.

Richard and Gaston shoulder-charged a warped door and forced it open. Even that noise failed to get them noticed, although they could hear some creatures clattering about down the sea tunnel.
Inside the dust and cobweb-strewn room, apparently sealed for 300 years, there were some fancy rugs and furniture and Richard carefully smashed the lock off a chest to discover about 2000gp-worth of treasure. The lock had a poison needle trap in it that he cleverly avoided.

He clambered back up to the surface and hid the chest under some branches nearby.

Despite all the noise, and the light from their Torches, they still managed to creep up on two (large) giant crabs. They managed a decent ambush, trapping the large creatures in a choke point in the tunnel and taking them down with Abe’s bless and sacred flame, Gaston’s greataxe, Mulan’s crossbow (with sneak damage) and Richard’s two blades. Where the crabs had been scuttling, there was a lot of broken driftwood and twisted rusty chains – it looked like a huge cage had recently been smashed open on the shore of this underwater cavern by the fury of the storm. Wet footprints led out of the sea cave.

Pressing on, they found a crude statue of a pirate ship (just the prow jutting from a carved wave). And a couple of other chambers with old warped doors. Richard forced his way into one up a small flight of steps and found the chambers of a pirate captain – rich tapestries and rugs and furniture and bigger chest.

He tried the same “smash off the lock” mechanism but was horrified to discover this one was magically trapped and dozens of black tentacles erupted from the floor trying to grapple him. He managed to leap back onto a dusty four-poster bed but Mulan, watching from the doorway wasn’t so lucky and was grabbed and throttled by the black tendrils.
She screamed as the thrashing tentacles engulfed her and this finally alerted the other denizens of the place.

A couple of Skeletal Pirates wielding cutlasses (probably the same curved blades that had killed the butler and housekeeper on the surface) began to approach from the pitch blackness at the unexplored end of the chamber.

Abe and Gaston were too far away to help her and Richard was trapped on the far side of the tentacles, but somehow Mulan managed to pull herself free, having been gravely wounded just in the initial attack.

There was a tough combat with two more skeletons and a tougher “Pirate Captain Skeleton” wielding a gleaming cutlass (magical) and a tarnished silver dagger. Abe had to use his last two spell slots on healing Mulan and Gaston, but they managed to defeat the skeletons. They could then see that the sea spirit/woman was now kneeling by the dead body of the young bard, Tristan.

Before they had time to rest, Abe spotted a group of men in the tabards of the City Watch, duck out of a room behind them and run for the ladders back to the surface. They appeared to be carrying some bags of treasure and didn’t want to stop for a chat. They were already injured and had clearly been barricaded into one of the rooms waiting for their chance to get away.

From the conversation with the Sea Spirit, by the beacon on the surface, Abe believed the guardsmen had murdered Tristan so he took a huge gamble and attacked the fleeing men, calling on them to stop and submit to his arrest. When they fought back, Mulan asked Abe “What are we doing?” based on his panicked answer “F*** them Up!”, she shot one through the head, killing him stone dead. From that point there was no way to de-escalate the situation, even if they had wanted to.

Corporal Claudius Winkleman and his men knew the game was up and from their shouts and cries, it seemed clear they HAD committed the murder in order to make off with the treasure. Coming on top of the fight with the crabs and then the fight with the skeletons, this went right down to the wire. Gaston almost killed the Winkle, but was hacked down himself and rapidly bleeding out. Mulan and Richard managed to finish off the Corporal and killed the last of the fleeing guardsmen. Abe just managed to stop Gaston from dying – only just, because he had run out of spells!

The Sea Spirit seemed to be happy that the murdering guardsmen were dead and she faded away and the sounds of the storm died down almost immediately.

Inside the Captain’s room they found more fancy furniture, gold, jewels, two potion flasks – these look like much more powerful items than mere healing potions!

They have to deal properly with the bodies of Tristan and the Dock Watch guards and the butler and house-keeper.

In JADE, any un-tended body of a human, half-orc, half-elf, dwarf, dragonborn or tiefling that is not “properly buried” will rise as undead usually at the first sunset after death. In the Kingdom of Gard (where this campaign is set) “proper burial” means being handed over to the Church of Mortus to be buried in hallowed ground – in Eastport, this means in the Necropolis.

Villages that don’t have their own church, have to have lockable sarcophaguses and then rush the bodies to the nearest churchyard.

Religion in the Kingdom of Gard is very powerful. Like Medieval Europe, people who don’t go to church would be shunned by their neighbours and could expect to get a visit from the Inquisition and be tortured and executed as heretics. Every decent person worships the Three Gods (at least pretends to) and hates the Dark Gods. Every decent person will try to get a proper burial for the dead – the spirits of those who are not properly buried get re-incarnated as evil alignment, because their spirits have not learned any lessons from their previous life. Even if a person becomes undead, if they can be properly buried within 3 days, then their spirit will at least be reincarnated as neutral alignment instead of evil.

All the deaths on the Isle must have occurred after sunset and it is only dawn by the time they emerge from the under-isle. So they have another 12 hours or so to get the bodies back to the Necropolis.

After the fighting, there was a lot of discussion about what to do with the treasure!

The total value in coins is about 6,000gp (half of it is silver so that is a lot of coins (3,000 gold coins and 30,000 silver ones).

The total in jewellery looks to be worth about 4,000gp and consists of about 50 items – ear-rings, necklaces, bracelets and brooches. Nobody has cast detect magic on any of this yet.
The tapestries and carpets and chairs and cupboards might fetch another 3,000gp at an auction.

The manor house also contains a lot of valuables, 10 paintings worth 50gp each, 20 pieces of Silver cutlery (worth 20gp each and stamped with the Justinian family crest), Tristan’s Lute (very fine craftsmanship – very distinctive, monogrammed with TJ, probably worth 200gp)

The LAW states they hand it all over to the City and will then expect maybe a 10% finder’s fee split between them and their Sergeant. That is still a lot of money in this campaign setting. Low-level magic items would probably be handed back too.

Richard is keen to take a lot more than the 10%. His suggestion is to handover about 1/4 of the treasure and give 1/4 to Captain William Barnacle (the guy who ferried them across). Bill is a well-known smuggler and Richard is arguing that he would be a useful criminal contact and also you will need his boat to get you and the treasure back to the City and also he might be able to sell the stuff for you.

They also have to decide what to do with the HORN, discovered inside the Altar of Torkas. This looks like a powerful magic item, linked to the Church of Torkas (Dark God of Storms – worshipped particularly by pirates & vikings). Torkas is usually depicted as a Storm Giant/Pirate/Whaler on a flying ship. It is rumoured that he escaped from physical imprisonment in the world of Jade a couple of years ago and his flying ship sailed beyond the sky.

They also have to decide whether to tell people that the Dock Watch guys murdered Tristan.
If they do, the Watchmen’s families won’t get their pensions and the City will probably have to pay compensation to the ship owners for the damages and lost cargo.
If they lay the blame on poor young Tristan for angering the Storm God, the City will probably confiscate the Isle from the Justinian family and stop paying his Family 2,000gp annual rent.

If they twist the story a bit, saying that Tristan was a worshipper of Torkas, this might bring the Justinian family down altogether as they would all go to the Inquisition and would at least be fined for the damages caused by the storm. It does seem likely that their ancestors who owned the Isle 300 years ago, were pirates and probably did worship Torkas. However, the entrance to the under-isle must have been lost and it had not been used for 300 years.
There is even the option to blackmail the Justinian family!

If they mention that the Sea Spirit was actually a Fae creature (apparently not linked to the secret Altar of Torkas) then there might be questions about why she became angry enough to raise a storm.

Any dodgy story will need cooperation from ALL characters - including Mulan (even though her Player wasn’t present). They will all become bound together by the lies and mutually-assured-destruction if the stories unravel. They will also become tied to anyone else who they let in on the lies (eg. Captain William Barnacle).

If the lies are discovered, the campaign will take a nasty turn as the criminals will be hunted down and (at the least) sent to prison or conscripted into the army and shipped across the river to fight the Orcs in Ustergard. If there is even a hint of necromancy or woship of Torkas, they will be tortured and executed by the Inquisition.

I much prefer to play campaigns with heroic, good-aligned characters. Sometimes it is interesting to play darker games with criminal characters and some players can walk the fine line between being criminal and being evil. If you decide to go the criminal route, the campaign can still continue but any slip ups in your story and you are risking everything.

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City Watch 03
The Case of the Light that didn't Shine

A few weeks later, G-Watch gains a new recruit an ex-military ranger called “Richard” and (while drunk) Ulysses reveals his first name is really Gaston.

The ancient gnomish alchemist, Ebeneezer Sprackleroot keeps pestering Gaston to sell him more of the magic mushrooms – it seems only a few mushrooms have the right spores to reproduce. At first he wants to go into business with Gaston (hoping to gain immunity to prosecution through his ties to the Watch, as well as protection from “Herb” the half-orc, the local well-known drug peddlar). Gaston doesn’t want to become a full-time drug dealer but is still happy to make a one-off sale and he pushes up the price until Sprackleroot is paying over 1,000 gp for the rest of the mushrooms.

Gaston brings the money back to the Watch Station in a pair of big rucksacks and stashes it in his locker. Abraham and Mulan know about the deal, but refused to get involved, the only other people who know are the Alchemist and his young human assistant “Becky” (also known as “I’m a different girl!” as Gaston had made himself pretty unpopular with her on his first visit to the Lab and demanded she be sacked).

  • * * * * * * * * * * *

One night, soon after the Ranger joins the squad, they are all woken at about midnight by a howling storm and messengers from the Watch calling them to help out at the Harbour.

Reluctantly, they turn up to find the terrible storm has cracked open a few of the cargo ships and the locals are risking life and limb to fish out the bumper harvest of crates from the heaving seas.

More importantly, the Doc Watch captain tells them that the magical beacon on Beacon Isle has gone out and they must commandeer a boat and get out there to fix it!

  • * * * * * * * * * * *

Everyone in the City knows a bit about Beacon Isle. It is about half a mile out in the estuary, a small island with a copse of trees and a couple of ancient buildings – a ruined watchtower and a sort of small manor house on whose roof is the magical Beacon. The beacon sends a pillar of greenflame into the air when all is well and the flame turns red when danger is approaching – typically if Orcs are crossing the estuary or pirates are approaching the harbour. It hasn’t gone out for more than a few minutes in living memory and currently the beacon is off.

Gaston (as a noble of the city) knows that the Isle is the property of the Justinian family who get an annual rent from the City. In exchange they keep one of the family on the Isle to tend the flame, with a couple of servants and guarded by a small squad of the Dock Watch. The current family member on the Isle was “Tristan Justinian” considered a black sheep of the family, a handsome young bard, always getting in trouble with husbands and fathers of local beauties.

Abraham and Mulan have spoken with some of the longer-serving watchmen from Dock Watch and have heard more recent news. Being stationed on the Isle is very boring and used to be considered a sort of punishment detail for six months at a time. However, a couple of months ago, Corporal Claudius Winkleman volunteered to do a second term on the Isle! Apparently he had taken up fishing and reading and liked the peace and quiet. His 3 squad-members had gone along with him for a second six-month term.

  • * * * * * * * * * * *

At the docks, none of G-Watch had any familiarity with boats so they needed to find a skilled sailor to get them out to the Isle. Luckily William Barnacle was one of the people illegally scooping crates from the raging sea and passing them to a bunch of thugs on the pier.
With the help of their new Ranger, they persuaded the thugs to back off and commandeered the boat (and the reluctant Barnacle Bill) without the need for violence.

Despite their lack of experience, they managed to help row the boat across to the Isle and Bill dropped them off and took his ship further out to sea to await their signal. The Isle itself seemed to be the focus of the worst of the storm. The little boat belonging to the watchmen had already be shattered to splinters and the storm raged on, clouds obscured the moon and the Isle was only lit by occasional flashes of lightning.

Mulan and Richard crept up to the manor house. Its gates stood open and one of the barn doors was flapping open in the wind. Goats bleated and chickens were squawking from the barn. They crept in to find the butler dead in the kitchen, gutted by a big curved blade. Further in they found the housekeeper, similarly slashed by a curved blade. There were wet barefoot footprints on some of the floors.

In the rooms used by the Watch they found evidence of long-term digging – heavy boots, ropes, spades etc. Their beds had not been slept in that night and it looked like they had all left, expecting to return.

In the rooms of young Tristan, they found his Lute, some valuables and a journal covering the last several months.

9 months earlier, Tristan was moaning about his exile to the Isle. Then he started to glimpse things out of the corner of his eye. The shape of a slender young woman, outlined in the spray from the ocean or in rain. She seemed to be drawn to listen to him when he played music.
Somehow she seemed to guide him to some sea caves at the Isles eastern edge. Unfortunately, there had been a rockfall there and he couldn’t get in. He had come to believe the sea spirit was trying to lead him to the fabled pirate treasure supposed to be under the Isle.
The sea caves were only exposed for an hour or so each day so he enlisted the help of Corporal Winkelman and his troops to try and dig down from above instead. He was pleased when Winkelman agreed to only take a third of the treasure for himself and his men.
It took them longer than expected as the Isle is mostly granite so they have been digging and cutting their way into the caverns below for months.
The last entry in the Journal was from the previous afternoon, they have finally broken through and are about to explore the caverns. He hopes to prove to his family that he isn’t a wastrel after all.

First things first, they decide to try and re-light the Beacon – apparently lighting a lantern under the magical lens is all it takes, however, when Richard climbs up to the roof, and tries to light the storm lantern, it is suddenly doused with salt water and Mulan glimpses the form of an invisible girl on the roof, outlined in the rain.

They decide to use a magical light instead and Abraham casts light onto a torch. When the torch can’t be lit and the green pillar of flame rises, the invisible girl leaps from the roof to attack Abraham.

There is a fight between our heroes and the invisible sea spirit during which they hear her faint voice, little more than a whisper, calling them Murderers.

Mulan tries to reason with the creature who is clearly distraught and angry. It seems she thinks they are murderers because they are wearing the same tabards as the other watchmen and Mulan and the others guess that she means that the Watchmen killed Tristan (her beloved) and the storm is a product of her grief and rage.

When they ask her to show them what happened, she says they must go below and she vanishes into the storm.

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City Watch 02
Rodents of Unusual Size

The Captain thanked them for their out-of-hours work in the Necropolis – killing the murderer and his imp. However, he was less than pleased to learn they had forgotten to deal with the dire-rat problems down by the river/sewer gate and ordered them to lok into that first thing tomorrow.

The day before a guard dog belonging to one of the barge-folk had been killed but last night a homeless guy sleeping alongside the river had been killed and mostly eaten by the huge rats.

The Barge-folk were pleased to see the Watch (until Sir Ulysses of Adunhowe opened his big mouth!). Referring to the barge-folk’s exemption from City Tax because their boats remain a few feet out in the river, he snarled “Tax-dodging scum” at them (and a lot of racist abuse as many of them were Tieflings – including their matriarchal leader “Fiendish Flora”).

Despite Mulan’s diplomatic efforts the polite applause turned into mutterings of discontent.
Before the unrest grew to throwing rotten fruit, they unlocked the huge iron gate and entered the sewer. Large storm drains run along at this level with the steeper, narrower pipes angling down from the steep city streets above.

Inside, they used Abraham’s light spell (a pink glow cast on Ulysses’ axe) and trudged inside. There hadn’t been any heavy rain, so there was just a trickle of sludge and they mostly managed to stay to the sides.

After a few minutes they heard a disturbance – rustling and squeaking and then a pack of rats (some showing recent wounds) came scrambling out of the darkness. A swarm of normal-sized rats engulfed Ulysses and a couple of dog-sized rats attacked Abraham and Mulan.

The priest managed to sacred flame the rats a few times and he and Mulan finished off the big ones – Mulan fended them off with a Torch. Meanwhile the rat swarm nibbled painfully at Ulysses.

Suddenly they noticed what the rats had been fleeing from as a “bush” of startlingly bright green foliage dragged itself around a corner and crawled slowly towards them.
Mulan fended it off with a torch but then threw it and it guttered and went out when it fell into the slimy, wet mass of tendrils. The thing lashed out and seemed to do serious amounts of damage to the wall – it could have easily killed Mulan if it had hit!

Ulysses eventually finished playing with little rats and charged bravely (if a little foolishly) into the plant creature. It took his best hit and kept on coming, smashing him unconscious in a single blow. It kept a grip on him with its tendrils and began to squeeze the life out of him. Mulan leapt in to save him, dragged him out but then was knocked senseless as she tried to back out herself.

Abraham rescued them both by using a torch to drive it off and then using both his healing spells to bring them round.

They all lit torches and forced the creature back around the corner into a dead-end where one of the narrow pipes came down. There was a pool of bright green slime at the base of the pipe and some clusters of strange mushrooms. They burned the creature and Ulysses charged in to finish it off.

They emerged triumphant and Mulan managed to smooth things over with Flora and her barge-folk (although Ulysses is very unpopular). They tracked the source of the green slime to an Alchemist – the ancient gnome Ebenezer Sprackleroot. The gnome had been trying to improve crop yields, experimenting with potions of plant growth and tipping his failed experiments down the drain.

They eventually decided to let him off with a caution (easier than actually proving it was his fault) and they were given a few gifts of herbal soap and candles. Then things took a darker turn as Ulysses showed him some of the mushrooms. He identified them as massive versions of tiny psychedelic mushrooms. He admitted to sometimes using the tiny psychedelic ones for his own personal use. “Personal Use” is generally accepted in the city – but* selling drugs is strictly illegal.*

Ulysses then sold him one of the mushrooms!

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City Watch 01

[GM: We have started a new campaign based in the world of JADE in which the party are all members of the City Watch in Eastport.]

Some campaign background can be found on another Obsidian Portal site https://jadecitywatch.obsidianportal.com/wikis/main-page

The previous watch patrol was wiped out by aquatic ghouls (while protecting the barge-folk on the Kings River). Clearly the usual application requirements have been lifted and the new recruits are sure to be a great trial for their commanding officer – Captain Julius (only a few months from retirement!)

Carl – playing Abraham – a Mortus Priest who joined the watch to get some experience as an investigator as he hopes to one day join the Inquisition.

Frank – playing Ulysses (Gaston) of Adunohowe – an arrogant human warrior of noble birth. He has some good qualities and thinks that a year in the Watch (helping out the wretched lower classes) will look good on his CV when he goes into politics in later life.

Matt – playing Mulan – a female half-elf rogue, press-ganged into the Watch as an alternative to a jail sentence for burglary.

That first morning, Captain Julius gives them two simple jobs…

“There have been some reports of big rats, down by the river barges. These things usually stay in the sewers but they came out and ate a guard dog yesterday afternoon. Here’s the key to the sewer gate in case you need to go in there. Sort it out before anyone gets hurt.”

“The other job is a report of a break-in at the Pottery Barn two nights ago. The intruder broke a cheap statue and stole the owner’s shop ledger. We don’t usually bother with this sort of minor thing, but the owner is distantly related to my boss – so…”

They decided to stay out of the sewers and went for the “investigation” instead.

Clues led them all over town, chasing broken statues, upsetting a few citizens.

Eventually the harmless robbery got upgraded to a murder inquiry and led them to a showdown in the Necropolis at midnight.

Not a bad first day’s work, but they forgot all about the rat problem and tomorrow’s news is that a drunk old man has been killed and partly eaten by the rats while they were “messing about in the boneyard”.

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CoS 07 & 08
Half-Orcs in Barovia

In the “domain of dread”

[GM: As these were only meant to be one-shots I wasn’t intending to write them up, but we will have at least one or two more sessions in Barovia, I thought I’d recap briefly]

They arrived at the village of Orasnou and were greeted by Gregori Wurlbach, owner of the General Store and Barbershop “The Hare and Hair”. The village is cut off from the rest of Barovia for the winter (passes should open in 3-4 weeks). The land of Barovia has no magical healing, has only one god and the peasants (everyone except worldy-wise Gregori and Glovia the village healer) are utterly superstitious and fearful of strangers, non-humans, spell-casters.

So, when the half-orcs arrive, “faceless” Mandingo and “eyeless” Revan, Gregori offers to give them free board and lodgings until the passes open. [GM: they were temporarily joined by a couple of other adventurers – “Wiv” the Viking and Thorin the dwarf]

In exchange for his help, he asks them to go and look for his two friends/employees – the Hunters Laslo and Alina. Laslo came here from the Forgotten Realms about 20 years ago (which is why Gregori and Glovia know about other worlds). Laslo’s wife Alina is a barbarian from the Vaduva clan (who live on the far side of the forest). They are the only people in the village who dare to enter the Svalich Woods.

They went out three days ago to fetch a shipment of skins/furs from their hunting base (only half a day along the north-west trail). Gregori and Glovia warned Alina not to go as she was so heavily pregnant, but the woman is unreasonable and stubborn, and flies into a rage quite often. Hopefully having a child will calm her down as she is very soppy with children.

Our heroes went in search of the two hunters (they don’t know enough about the Svalich Woods as the locals so weren’t too terrified to go in).
After a couple of encounters with angry vegetables and poisonous spores, they found the camp site. It appeared that Laslo had been killed by a huge wolf and his pregnant wife had been carried off.

They buried Laslo and tracked the wolf to its lair – a ruined tower, once owned by the Vaduva clan. They were attacked by a huge wolf that they found, licking blood from a roughly-carved baby’s rattle.

During the battle with the wolf, they realised it was a were-wolf and was actually Alina. It was in a terrible rage but they were able to calm it down a bit with the rattle and eventually beat the creature unconscious and it transformed back into a woman. They carried her back to the village but revealed that she was a were-wolf so she was locked-up and was probably going to be executed as son as the Burgomeister got back from his travels.

She was able to tell them how the child birth had gone wrong and Laslo had to cut the baby out of her. Mad with the pain of it, she transformed and killed her husband, and since then she had apparently wandered in a grief-stricken daze. When she learned that a wolf-cub had been found at the edge of the village a couple of nights before, tied to Glovia’s gate, she became desperate to find it, as it might be her son. Unfortunately the cub had escaped and wandered off into the woods. They helped Alina to escape in to the woods to look for it.

  • * * * * * * *

A couple of weeks pass in the village. The fearful peasants start to get used to the hideous half-orcs [GM: and the other two players weren’t available]. They take over doing some of the hunting.

The only thing of note that happens is that a stranger arrives out of the mists. A merchant wearing a turban and claiming to be from Calimshan (in the Forgotten Realms). He somehow made it into the valley from the town of Barovia and is searching for relics belonging to the family of Von Zarovich (ancestors of the current Count Strahd Von Zarovich – ruler of Barovia) or of Tatyana Federovich (historical girlfriend of the first Von Zarovich who died tragically just before the wedding).

Glovia (as Laslo’s closest friend) lets the merchant, Arik, stay in Laslo’s House.

Arik does not drink and so doesn’t come into the tavern, and so doesn’t come into contact with the half-orcs for the first few days. He visits most of the other houses, especially the Trinket Shop (pawnbroker/repair/cobblers) “Eyes of Midnight” asking to see relics. Arik is generally regarded as a bit creepy and smelly.

Mandingo gets interested in him and spots that despite appearing to wear curly-toed arabian slippers, he leaves tracks as if wearing heavy boots. The two half-orcs pay him a visit and he tries to turn them away. His Calimshan accent is clearly a fake and he sounds more like a Barovian. The clincher is that they notice his breath is not coming out as steam – he must be undead.

Realising the game is up, Arik invites them in and then he and three zombies hidden in the closet, leap to attack. In a bloody and horrible fight, Arik loses his magical turban of disguise and is revealed as the re-animated corpse of Laslo! He kills Mandingo, but in a fit of brotherly rage, Revan manages to finish him and the zombies off.

Mandingo comes back to life, even more damaged than before and now has the nocturnal ability to become insubstantial and walk through walls!

They visit the trinket shop (because Arik spent a lot of time there) and intimidate the shop keeper into telling them what Arik wanted. Fillar, the nervous shop keeper, knows that the Burgomeister has a relic of Tatyana Federovich in his cellar, but it is locked and guarded. Arik had offered him a considerable sum (100gp) for the trinket but Fillar could not manage to steal it. He grudgingly revealed he had the power to transform into a Raven and there was a ventilation grille leading down to the cellar, but the ancient powder box (cosmetics) was too big to get out through the grille.

They threatened to burn down his shop and extorted his magic Raven Ring (even though it did not work for them) – they promised to give it back once they had stolen the Powder box. They didn’t tell him that they had killed Arik so there wasn’t going to be any 100gp.
Revan distracted the guards at the Burgomeister’s house while Mandingo walked through the walls to steal the Powder box.

The wall-walking proved to not be as easy as they hoped because when Mandingo became insubstantial, his clothes didn’t, so he walked thru naked and could not carry anything (except for magic items like the Raven Ring!). He had to finish the robbery by picking the lock on the cellar door and escaping through a window. Later he found that by wrapping things in a magical cloak, he could carry them through walls.

They went back to Laslo’s house to examine their stolen property and were surprised when Laslo burst in and snatched the box. Horrified by his reappearance they were unable to stop him from transforming into a cloud of ravens and flying away.

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CoS 06 - Jenny Greenteeth
Die Bambi Die!

They stayed in the inn for that night, resting. Aya (the elf wizardess) did not look at La Ruina in the same way. The others were maimed and cursed but she shied away from the handsome elf just as much.

gypsy_witch.jpg

In the morning a Gur woman, with a tattered, brightly coloured shawl and big gold ear rings, staggered into the Inn. Her eyes had no pupils, just white and featureless. Her flesh had been torn by claws and thorns.
“The mist is here. It will take us away to the place where it lives… My father knew it. He’s gone to seek help from the most powerful witch in the area but it’s too late. Jenny Greenteeth can’t stop this now. He’s in the Quivering Forest, a few miles south of the Elkhorn treetop town of the elves. We tried to stop the mists, gather powerful defences, allies and bring them here to the Crossing Inn”

The frightened boy ran to her “Mother!” and she collapsed unconscious, her frantic husband catching her. Through tears, he told them “She is never wrong – it makes it hell to live with her, but she is never wrong. My father-in-law, Ozzcar the old sod, he probably thinks he can charm Jenny Greenteeth, sweet talk her into helping but she’s a hag”.

Our “heroes” set out to find the old man – once again the mists carried them swiftly within an hour, to the Quivering Forest 2 days normal travel away. The mists were thicker here, half-glimpsed shadowy figures moved just out of sight.

wood_elves.png

The road was blocked by four bedraggled elves. At first they asked La Ruina and Maklum for help, but then saw the faces of Revan and Mandingo and they tried to keep them from passing along the road. They said that they were lost and hadn’t been able to find their town – even though it should only be a couple of miles further on. They had been lost for days.
Revan stalked towards them and they broke and ran.

A little way further on they came upon an old woman with a rotten smile, stirring a small pot above a camp fire. She cackled and invited them to join her for a warm drink. The elf stayed hidden while the other approached.

jenny_greenteeth.jpg

When she saw Revan and Mandingo, she became quite excited “You two look like pretty fellows – you’ve been there haven’t you? And come back – interesting!” She had an old Gur (the grandfather) on a leash. She looked frail but when she yanked the leash it cut into his neck and he seemed to have been badly beaten.

She cast a detection spell and looked at Maklum with interest too – “There’s sommat funny about you too, I reckons – ha ha”.

Revan started bargaining with her, asking if she could give him his eyes back. She said she couldn’t just make eyes, he would have to bring her some (from a living donor) then she might be able to bond them to him. Revan joked about taking them from the boy at the Inn, and when the old man tried to rise in protest, the hag yanked him back down.

“You could take one from this old fool” she said and then reached out with a long clawed thumbnail. “Tell me what you found in the other world and I’ll give you one of his eyes!.
Revan agreed and they described their trip to Barovia. The hag ripped a bloody eye from the old man and enchanted it to bond with one of Revan’s empty sockets.

ozzcar.png

For the old man’s second eye, they told how they had returned – how they met Von Strahd and were sent back as his heralds. She ripped the other eye from old Ozzcar and left him to bleed to death on the ground. Revan just put the second eye into his pocket as a spare – he liked the power to intimidate people too much.

Next they bargained for a face for Mandingo. This was trickier magic but she agreed to do it if they brought her the heart and tongue of a Golden Elk who lived in the forest. La Ruina came out of hiding and said he was an expert hunter and would do it. She insisted that Mandingo remain with her until his brother returned [DM: Player was absent – too busy playing Fifa to come to D&D!]

Golden_Elk.jpg

After an hour or two, La Ruina crept out of the dense forest to where the Giant Elk, a magnificent golden furred, magical fey creature, was stooping to drink from a pool.
The archer shot, wounding the startled beast which fled away to the north. Mists swirled, blocking the way and a ghoul ran from the mists clawing at the elk, turning it back towards the hunters. [DM: another player turned up so I let him play the part of the ghoul – this turned out to be a much more significant role than I expected!]

ninja_ghoul.jpg

Revan and Maklum ran to cut off its escape and La Ruina shot it again, this time with a magical spell that cause his arrow to sprout thorns and vines and hold the terrified creature. The ghoul and the hunters closed on it. All was not lost for the mighty elk, as they realised it was regenerating (not a lot, but enough to make a fight of it). It was clear this creature was no ordinary elk, but some patron spirit of the forest, perhaps the legendary beast – patron saint of Elkhorn town.

It shrugged off the bindings and leapt away. In the battle that followed they got split up. Maklum and the ghoul fought on a small hilltop. The ghoul was slowly regenerating too and needed radiant damage to prevent the regeneration, but kept dodging Maklum’s sacred flame. When it first recovered after having been clearly killed, Maklum failed a fear check, then was easier for the ghoul to paralyse.

Meanwhile Revan and La Ruina pursued the elk back and forth, almost killing it, then eventually knocking it down, but it regenerated and leapt back up, charged La Ruina and took him down.[DM: It needed a silver weapon to prevent its regeneration – La Ruina had attacked it a couple of times but only hit with his normal sword and the creature pulled away so he had gone back to using arrows].

Revan, the barbarian was raging [DM: the player was chanting “Die Bambi Die” at one point] and he failed to stop his friend from bleeding out. La Ruina died the final death – his spirit pulled into the Mists.

Then the ghoul got lucky, paralysing Maklum and managing to rip him apart. While Revan was busy hacking at the elk, Maklum too died the final death. The elk broke away but Revan was then attacked by the ghoul. The elk stood by and watched and regenerated then charged back in with horns and trampling hooves. Revan fled into the water to get out of reach of the enraged animal but the ghoul caught up with him, dragged him below the water, paralysed and helpless and then the forest glade was peaceful once again.

When his brother failed to return, Mandingo’s life was forfeit too and his last few terrifying days will be spent as the plaything of a hideous hag.

I’ve never had a TPK before – never in 33 years of DMing. But never has a party of “heroes” so deserved killing. Despite the horror of it, it was a strangely fun session. I don’t like evil characters so, for once I didn’t feel any remorse for the pc deaths.

Next time we’re going to return to the Tyranny of Dragons storyline, and pick up where we left off after the Hoard of the Dragon Queen, playing the Rise of Tiamat. In this story, the PCs are heroes of the realm who are entrusted with saving the Forgotten Realms from the return from hell of the goddess of evil dragons – Tiamat. [The Realms are F***ed!]

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CoS 05 Thorns and Orcs

The elf wizardess, Aya, had told them that the Gur (the “gypsies”) were somehow aware of the magical dangers of the Mists. They are tied to it in some way – especially the boy they had brought back. His fear seems to be summoning the mists so it is reckless of them to goad the poor boy as they have been doing.
Seeing his uncaring behaviour towards the boy, Aya has no further romantic interest in La Ruina.

The party set off in pursuit of the boy’s uncle – in possession of a small box of gems. Once again the mists speed them on their way and despite the Gur’s 1-day head start, they catch him in a couple of hours near the edge of Gumpen Marsh. On a causeway across part of the marsh they find him in heated discussion with a gnome Merchant. The hand-cart (with “Relics R Us” written on the side) is on the causeway and the gnome, with four guards (an elf a dwarf and two humans) is shaking his head at the Gur – Rilynin.

gnome_merchant_chucky.jpg

“Oh no – only 10 flasks of holy water for the 12 gems, and that’s cutting my own throat!”
Rilynin protests but then our “heroes” arrive and Maklum intervenes in the transaction. “The gems are stolen and this man is a thief”.

The gnome, whose name seems to be Chucky, wants to know if there is a reward for the capture of the fugitive and whether a few of the gems could still be traded. His lead guard is not so keen to get involved – especially with such a dangerous-looking group (pointing at the two disfigured half-orcs).

Rilynin makes a break for it, sliding down into the marsh and trying to duck behind a big gorse bush. La Ruina skewers him with an arrow and Mandingo leaps after him and hacks him in half. The box of gems is scattered. Before they can stoop to pick up the gems, the gorse bush reaches out thorny vines and drags the body into itself, ripping and tearing at the flesh.

vine_blight.png

Other bushes animate with smaller figures that shoot long thorns like darts.

needle_blight.png

In the battle that follows, our heroes are victorious, but both half-orcs and the priest are badly wounded and the elf is almost lost in the quicksand. They had fought side-by side with the guards and when they stagger out, Chucky wants to finish them off and take the gems, but his head guard – Alistair, talks him out of it “We didn’t sign up to become brigands and bandits”.
Reluctantly the gnome relents and sells Maklum two flasks of holy water and bids them fare well.

The mists take them back to the Inn in a couple of hours and they decide to rest for the night. They amuse themselves by terrifying the boy and describing the horrific death of his uncle. The rest of the inn’s occupants are becoming pretty scared of these adventurers – especially when Maklum becomes a skeleton again that night.

Aya sends them out again in the morning – this time to track down the cartload of weapons taken by “Papa” – the boy’s father. Through intimidating the boy and by promising not to kill his father, they learn that Papa has gone to recruit some of the Orcs of Thar in a nearby fort.
The Mists thicken and soon they are on the road leading to the Fort. In the daylight most of the Orcs will be asleep but they run into an ambush from two scouts guarding the road.

orcs.png

A snare whips Revan up dangling under a tree while the orc guards shoot crossbows at the others. [DM:two criticals for lots of damage and Mandingo wasting a couple of rounds trying to climb the tree to get his brother down – make this a much tougher fight than it should have been.]
Eventually they kill the two guards and revive Maklum. They take a short rest to recover and then continue to sneak up on the Fort.

They manage to make very little noise as they creep into the courtyard and there they find Papa, in a cage and the cartload of weapons. The orcs are all sleeping in two large barns – there are about 30 of them [DM: and our heroes were nearly slaughtered by just two!]. They release Papa and convince him to give up on hiring orcs and to take the weapons back to the Inn.

They lock the doors or block them with rubble, they drop the portcullis to slow pursuit and then burn the bridge for good measure. Papa tells them that his wife, Sybil had some cloudy vision of terrible happenings. The Mists are coming into the world, full of zombies and a chunk of the world of Faerun (their world) is going to be swallowed up by the mists and dragged to the Domain of Dread.

They make it back to the Inn but by now the mists are getting very scary.

The only remaining Gur on the loose is Grandar. He is a wise man – herbalist who tried to help the Cook. But surges of wild magic must have made the potion too strong and now the cook is in a deep slumber. Grandar went to seek help from the Wise Woman of the Quivering Forest – Jenny Greenteeth – although there is usually a terrible price to pay for her help, they need it if they are to have any chance against the evils of the Mists.

[DM: we finished early as I didn’t want the next section with only half an hour to go. Hopefully next time there will be a bit more heroic behaviour from the adventurers and a bit less intimidation of the helpless!].

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CoS 04 The Mists
Heralds of Barovia

When they emerged, panting, from the Death House, into the mist-filled streets of Barovia, the dark, imposing figure of Von Strahd was waiting for them.

strahd.jpg

“I see you have survived the House… good, very good. Three of you at least bear the mark of Barovia. I believe I shall send you back to the Forgotten Realms where you can be my heralds!”.

Maclum – the only one not from the Forgotten Realms, believed he had been on a Vision Quest and was now already dead and in some strange afterlife. “Are you my spirit guide?”.
Strahd chuckled and said “I might as well be and my advice is to stay with these others and explore the world my mists take you to.”

Then the mists rushed at them, the village streets vanished and they were in a wintery forest of pines with freezing winds and snow. The Elf Ranger and the half-orcs recognised this as a forest a few days from the city of Phlan in the forgotten realms. Although it had been early spring when they left, it was clearly now the depths of winter.

La Ruina spotted the Crossing Inn a mile or so further down the valley on the main road to Phlan. It had twinkling lights, smoke rising from its chimney and the distant promise of somewhere warm and dry to get out of the foul weather.
They pulled cloaks and scarves around the worst of their disfigurements and went into the Inn.

Revan has blackened empty eye sockets (with a badly painted glass eye in one of them).
Mandingo has a bloody face with most of the skin missing and ragged holes where his nose used to be.
Perhaps most shocking is Maclum, who is a skeleton by night!

As they enter, they overhear some discussion about “Filthy Gur”, “Thieves and vagabonds”. It seems that the current residents have had some very recent trouble with a family of “gypsies”. The Gur are a nomadic people, usually travelling in brightly-painted caravans, often involved with circus/carnivals and freak shows. They tend to be entertainers, musicians, acrobats and story-tellers. As nomads, they are often viewed with suspicion whether it is deserved or not.

An elf wizardess was staying at the Inn, she seemed very perceptive and spotted the unusual nature of the new arrivals. She invited them to join her at a table upstairs and filled them in on and quizzed them about their recent adventures.

aya_glenmyre.jpg

Aya Glenmyre was a beautiful elven woman, flirtatious (with La Ruina) but clearly very knowledgeable about the mists and about magic. "I’m here because of the Mists – I heard they had started appearing around Phlan and this is as close to the City as I dare to go as long as the Dragon – “The Maimed Virulence” – is still around, spreading its rule of terror. Hopefully in a few weeks the rebels will have re-taken the city. I can tell you have been into the Mists – to the world on the other side?"

Slowly she extracts their story, using all her feminine wiles on La Ruina to get him to brag and disclose everything. She is very interested in their tale as it seems to tally with her own studies.

She asks them to go hunting for the stolen items. In exchange she offers to direct them to a “Wise Woman” in the nearby area called Jenny Greenteeth who may be able to help them with their curses. Aya performs some kind of spell to locate the stolen items and they agree to go after them. She explains that the family of four gypsies came to the inn and were friendly entertainers – she is a good judge of character and does not think they had evil intentions.

When other travellers arrived and started talking about the Mists – they became agitated and the next morning they had vanished along with …
Aya’s magic wand (a wand of fireballs) – carried off by a young boy.
The Inn-keep’s cart load of weapons (waiting to be collected by the freedom-fighters) carried off by the boy’s father.
A Merchant’s bag of gems carried off by his uncle.
Also the oldest of the Gur (the grandfather) had provided the Inn’s cook with a potion to kindle his … well to strengthen his.. well anyway, they had found him asleep and could not waken him at all.

  • * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    The Wand of Fire
    They set off in pursuit of “the boy”, guided by Aya’s divination. He had a day and a night start but the Mists came down and time and space seemed fluid for a while. They soon found themselves on a frozen hillside, dotted with impossibly bright thistles – the thistle’s burrs were glowing bright red. The floor of the steep slope before them was slick with ice and a patch in the middle, devoid of thistles, was even slicker as if newly glazed.

Maclum (no longer a skeleton – by day he seems normal enough), tried to climb the clear area to avoid the strange flowers, but slid back down again and then slowly picked his way to the top, carefully avoiding the burrs. At the top of the slope he ran into a bunch of Ice Cats – cats (about the size of leopards) but made of transparent ice, with glittering crystalline eyes. He quickly slid back down the slope as the cats attacked.

ice_cat.jpg

La Ruina tried to run up the slope between the flowers but ended up with three of the bright burrs stuck to his cloak. They started to smoulder and looked ready to explode [DM: At the START of his next turn so he would need a friend to help him get rid of them!].

Revan and Mandingo were soon hacking away at cats. La Ruina’s flame thistles exploded. They managed to stick a flame thistle on one of the cats and it exploded. Eventually they defeated the cats and stood smouldering on the slope. Only a few flame thistles remained.
The cats had been hiding in a cave and they went in to explore. From deeper in they could see a pulsing red glow and caught sudden glimpses of a flock of fire bats, circling the inner cave.

A young gypsy boy was huddled in the corner with his knees pulled up. He was gripping Aya’s broken wand and concentrating hard. A red glow seemed to emanate and the firebats swooped in but seemed to be repelled. The boy’s face was white and he looked terrified and exhausted.

fire_bat.gif

As they entered the firebats swarmed at them and clung to them, draining heat from their bodies. They fought and, when the boy tried to run past them, they hung onto him. Eventually they killed all the bats and then interrogated the boy roughly. With the faceless Mandingo and the eyeless Revan, he grew even more afraid than before. Maclum noticed that as he became more fearful, the Mists grew thicker and swirled nearer.

gypsy_boy.jpg

The boy’s story came out between wide-eyed sobs.
“When we ‘eard about the Mists, we waz proper scared. Me mum az done prophesies and stuff and Grandad said this waz it – the big one! Any how ’e tol me ta snatch the elf woman’s magic wand and take it to …. well to a place I know where we cud of used it to hold back the Mists. But the mists come down and I got lost. Ended up here in the ’ills. An ice cat jumped me and the wand broke and all this magic streamed out making fiery flowers and that. I grabbed the broken bits and some of the power wrapped around me an I got into the cave. Then some bats came and they seemed to be drawn to the power and set alight. I ’ad to concentrate all night and half of today to keep the red glow going and it waz fadin fast. I fort I waz a gonna.”

They took him back to the inn and left him with Aya (and to face his punishment for his crimes). Aya sent them back out looking for the stolen gems – taken by the boy’s uncle. It seems that the Mists warp time and space and seem to be helping them catch up to the fugitives.

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