Saturday, 23 June 2018

D&D - A Journey North - Part One - A Job Offer

We are about to start a new Dungeons and Dragons campaign with a new DM this time...our initial brief is...well...brief...but you don't want to reveal too much of the plot early on...that would spoil the fun.
We're starting our characters at level three and our starting group is a somewhat eclectic mix of (in no particular order) a Halfling Swashbuckler, a Gnome Wizard and a Human Monk (collectively a group of thieves known as 'The Silvered Penny'), a Half-Elf Hexblade, a Human Fighter, a Dwarf Paladin and a Carchari* (Sharkman) Barbarian from an amphibious race currently inhabiting a village in the north but who are now integrating with the other races of Faerun...
*More about them later...

The Dungeon Master
Harry - All the People and Monsters...
The PC's
Tom - Sprig Shadowfoot - Halfling, Rogue Swashbuckler
Phil - Wrenn Rofferton - Gnome, Divination Wizard
Dan - Saladin - Human, Drunken Monk
Garreth - Varis Maacus - Half-Elf, Hexblade Warlock
Craig - Torrik - Carchari, Bear Totem Barbarian
Lord Tresendar - Our Employer
The Naughty List
A couple of players couldn't make session one...
Dave - Dwarf Paladin
Louis - Human Fighter

More information on the characters stats can be found HERE. Background info will be added soon...

Part One - A Job Offer
You have all answered advertisements for a employment opportunity: acting as escort for a noble on his journey North from Daggerford, for a handsome reward upon reaching your destination, the town of Phandalin. It states that you should meet at the Happy Cow Inn in Daggerford, and look for a man wearing red. Varis has been instructed to answer the advertisement by agents of his Warlocks patron for reasons yet undisclosed to him and the small group of thieves known as the Silvered Penny have made their way to the establishment looking for a potential way to get out of Daggerford relatively inconspicuously.

Act One - The Happy Cow Inn
Varis arrived at the Happy Cow Inn early in the morning and after a brief loop around the area to check for alternate exit and entrances entered the establishment. Having been a 'guest' of the Drow of Menzoberranzan for a significant portion of his life he had a habit of always making sure he had an escape route as had no intention of ever being any-ones prisoner ever again. Though fairly early in the day to be drinking he purchased a bottle of local wine from the Halfling barman and found a table in the corner from where he had a decent view of the door.

Note - Varis's patron is an Archfey known as the Mistress of Masques with a taste for power both within the Feywild and the mortal world and has created a cult of followers to further these ends.

The Halfling Sprig, a gnome wizard named Wrenn and a inebriated looking monk known as Saladin recently recruited to their group entered the bar a few hours later and after purchasing some drinks sat themselves down near to a well dressed individual sitting near the fire. Sprig had however taken the precaution of disguising his appearance as he and his compatriots were trying to avoid notice after some recent trouble they'd gotten themselves into. If Varis had been paying more attention he'd have noticed that the halfling had paid significantly less for his drinks than he himself had been charged. 

Note - I have no idea what they'd done...It will no doubt come up later and get us all into even more trouble...

While observing the group chatting from the corner the warlock noticed the gentlemen's red attire and figured that this was the mysterious noble whose advertisement he'd been directed to answer and after placing his still nearly full wine bottle in front of the apparently grateful drunken monk sat down to introduce himself. Lord Tresendar (as he later introduced himself as) expressed his disappointment that apparently only one person had answered his advert. Varis pointed out that the vagueness about destination and payment may have had something to do with the lacklustre response.

Note - That and two players not being able to make session one despite having a months notice, lol.

Seizing the opportunity the quick-thinking Halfling used this as a convenient way of enquiring about employment without seeming too keen. He also pointed out that 'North' covered a lot of territory and in reply the lord specified his destination as Phandalin where he intended to reclaim his family home that had been destroyed many years ago. Though Lady Daggerford had been more than generous in her patronage of him he felt that now was the time to reclaim his true heritage. 

As the conversation turned once again to payment the door to the Inn opened and what to all intents and purposes appeared to be a six and a half foot tall humanoid shark entered the room, walked to the table and dropped an impressive bag of coins onto it's centre. "This..." said the lord " my bodyguard Torrik, he's a Sharky but don't let that bother you" It was immediately obvious to everyone except the apparently naive noble that the Carchari deemed the term Sharky to be somewhat insulting but was apparently willing to endure the insult as long as he was getting paid. The Gnome Wrenns interest was visibly piqued by the appearance of the Sharkman and he began to immediately scribble in a small notebook. If Torrik was bothered by this attention he gave no sign.

Note - Craig likes sharks and given the amount of anthropomorphic races in D+D his desire to play a humanoid shark didn't seem particularly unreasonable to our DM. He and our DM used a homebrew race downloaded from the DM's Guild I believe. Basically he has pluses to Con and Str, Proficiency with Perception, is Amphibious and also has a few flavoursome abilities related to biting people. As we started at level three he took the Barbarian Bear Path of the Totem too as it's damage resistances seemed to fit the concept nicely. Amusingly this makes him a Shark Tank...

Taking the lead in the conversation once more Sprig explained that he and his colleagues were travelling entertainers. Saladin performed acrobatic feats, Wrenn entertained with various magical tricks and Sprig himself was a storyteller who relayed various tales and famous monologues but that due to their travelling between towns were more than capable of defending themselves and would make worthwhile additions to the nobles entourage. At this point Torrik demanded that Sprig perform one of these monologues which he promptly did with more than enough performance skill to validate his story. As talk turned to more practical concerns the noble advanced each of them ten gold pieces to cover expenses and Varis pointed out that he had no horse of his own, a fact that Lord Tresendar offered to rectify immediately. Both the noble and the sharkman had steeds of their own, the monk had a mule primarily used to transport his various pieces of brewing gear and both the gnome and the halfling had riding dogs so only a single mount was needed. Unbeknown to those outside 'the silvered penny' however this seemingly innocent trip could potentially cause the thieves some...complications...

Interlude One - A Fine Stable
Realising that the noble would no doubt wish to acquire the horse from one of the more reputable stables from one of the areas of town frequented by others of his rank and with these being the very areas Sprig and the other members of 'The Silvered Penny' were trying to avoid he was forced to improvise a plan.

Thinking on his feet he then persuaded the noble that he knew of a particularly fine establishment where a horse of suitable quality could be purchased and was pleasantly surprised when he agreed to the plan without reservation. He then slipped out of the Happy Cow Inn to the stable where his own crews mounts were kept with instructions to get the place cleaned up as quickly as possible in preparation for their arrival.

Wrenn delayed the party further by explaining in excruciating detail the history of any even vaguely interesting looking building which inexplicably Lord Tresendar seemed to find genuinely interesting and a journey of a few minutes ended up taking nearly an hour. By the time they arrived the stable had been given a considerable make-over and the attendants there were wearing their least tatty clothes. Combined with some fast talking from Sprig to smooth over any gaps in their hastily constructed con the Lord left with a horse for Varis and a bargain priced cart requested by Saladin none the wiser about being duped. The carts bargain price may have had something to do with it being used by the stable to transport manure up until about twenty minutes before it's purchase. Even with transport now available for every-one both Varis and Sprig pointed out that Phandalin was several weeks travel away and the halfling suggested that it might be quicker if they acquired passage on a ship in Waterdeep which was itself only a few days travel distant. Lord Tresendar then claimed that this was of course his plan all along...

Act Two - The Journey Begins
The warlock Varis had been given a working knowledge of the geography of the area and the towns within it by his sponsor in the cult of his patron and so plotting a route from Daggerford to Waterdeep wasn't particularly difficult there being a well used coastal road linking the two towns. After checking that his new comrades had provisions for the journey Varis took the lead and they left town immediately upon the arrival of the Lord and his bodyguards own mounts. The group had also gained a new member in the form of a pet owl named Geoffrey that apparently followed Wrenn everywhere.

As they approached the guards at the gate certain members of the party attempted to be as inconspicuous as possible as the warlock lead them past but the town guards seemed unconcerned about a noble and his entourage travelling North. The first leg of their journey was uneventful as they travelled through the farmlands on the outskirts of Daggerford. Sprig and Wrenn purchased some fruit from a local peasant as it became apparent that in their haste to get out of town they had somewhat exaggerated the amount of provisions they had available. Saladin also acquired some barley and other crops useful in the production of alcoholic beverages.

Note - Dan's Monk follows the way of the Drunken Master...the 'drunken' part of which he has embraced wholeheartedly...

As the daylight began to fade it was decided to make camp in a clearing at the roadside. Torrik went off into the forest to hunt for some fresh meat as the dry rations they carried were apparently inadequate to satisfy his appetite while Varis also did some basic foraging rather than utilise his own food supplies. A discussion was had about posting a guard but Wrenn assured them that he had knowledge of certain arcane rituals which would alert them to any danger during the night and Sprig supplemented this with some more mundane but no less effective traps. With the precautions in place every-one settled down for a nights rest after the mounts were fed and secured.

After an uneventful night protected by Wrenns arcane wards, Torrik and Varis once again went foraging for food. Torrik managed to catch himself a deer and as luck would have it scared two others into snares set by Varis. The sharkman somewhat messily ate his catch raw while Varis prepared his using the more traditional method of actually cooking it. After passing some to the others who were actually awake and giving Wrenn an extra piece for the still sleeping Sprig enough remained to spare them the task of foraging for the remaining two days of travel. After taking point for the previous day, Varis asked if any-one else felt like taking the lead as the pathway ahead was simple enough and Torrik volunteered with Varis this time bringing up the rear. A guard patrol returning to Daggerford passed them early in the day and after some brief enquiries it was discovered that the area nearby had been deemed safe but in the guards opinion the Waterdeep patrols were not pulling their weight so the latter part of the journey may be more perilous. As usual when guards were nearby Sprig, Wrenn and Saladin were either occupied, facing in the opposite direction or being very busy on the opposite side of something.

Note - Out of character I know they have no food, in character I was just being friendly as I had caught plenty and both me (Varis) and Craig (Torrik) had rolled well on our survival tests.

Interlude Two - The Bridge
From his position in the lead Torrik was the first to notice the bridge ahead and the commotion occurring upon it. Two human sized figures were engaged in some kind of altercation with a number of smaller creatures and it was evident to him even from this distance that they were losing as the scent of their blood was strong in the air.

Caught up in the heat of the moment he bought his horse to a gallop. Noticing the altercation a moment after the charging sharkman the rest of the group also moved forward to investigate arriving at the bridge a few moments after him.

Two humans in travelling clothes lay dead upon the bridge overlooked by several goblins while others lurked on the opposite side with a number of them armed with bows and arrows. Torrik had bypassed the bridge entirely instead crossing via the river and was just emerging from the water on the other side as Sprig and Saldin dismounted and engaged the closest of the ambushers. Sprig darted in, skewered a single goblin with a precise blow from his sword and just missed a second with an off-hand dagger throw. Moving with surprising speed for a man who looked permanently drunk Saladin leapt acrobatically into the fray, killing one of the goblins with his bare hands before maiming another with a flurry of blows. Arriving a moment later Varis noted that several goblins on the other side of the water were readying bows and reduced their number by one with a carefully aimed eldritch blast of concussive energy amplified considerably by a whispered curse.

As the Sharkman emerged from the water a pair of goblins took advantage of the situation striking out at him but his thick hide reduced the damage from both blows considerably. The noble had eventually caught up with the rest and was casually preparing a bow with all the airs and graces of some-one engaged in an archery contest rather than in the middle of a battle and it was a surprise to every-one when his first shot took a goblin neatly through the heart.

Sprig elegantly dispatched a foe as another inexplicably missed him due to some strange twist of fate as Wrenn looked on with a smile as if the event was something he'd been expecting. Torrik meanwhile pulverised a goblin with his mace and took a chunk out of a second with his teeth. Varis moved forward and decapitated yet another archer with an eldritch blast before moving further across the bridge towards the remaining enemies as others emerged from the woods. The largest of the creatures who was presumably their leader caught Torrik with two vicious slashes but once again his hide dampened the potentially fatal damage. An arrow from one of the newly arrived archers was plucked from the air by the monk but unfortunately he mistimed the grab and the tip of the projectile still entered his body causing a superficial wound.

A Firebolt launched from Wrenns outstretched hand struck an enemy but despite burning it severely failed to kill it. As their leader focused his attention upon the hulking shark in front of him Sprig slipped in behind and killed him with a vicious single blow to his back. The monks acrobatic hand to hand attacks finished off the wounded creature he'd failed to kill earlier and after finally closing to melee range the warlock slew a nearby goblin with his sword. The barbarians mace continued it's brutal work as the wizards magical firebolt claimed the life of the final creature.

A brief perusal of the bodies revealed nothing of note other than a few meagre coins though the search was somewhat hampered by Torrik tearing chunks out of any corpse left unattended. Sprig dragged the bodies of the human victims to the edge of the bridge so any-one searching for them would be able to find them and know their fate though he did liberate a pouch of coins from the one as he did so. He also slipped one of the groups calling cards on the body in the form of a silver coin. It was decided that in order to keep up their travel pace that they'd ride a little later into the evening today in order to make up the time the fight had cost them.

Act Three - The Travellers Rest
A days travel from Waterdeep they came across a small waystation consisting of an inn, stabling area, a guard post and several tents set up by those people who by either choice or circumstance wouldn't rent a room for the night. After a few less than subtle hints it became clear that if they wished a room they'd be paying for it from their expenses being that a perfectly serviceable camping area was available.

In between making notes in his ever-present note-book Wrenn had begun work on an a small clockwork version of the Sharkman Torrik using parts from various pouches on his person using a precise set of tinkers tools presumably designed for just such a purpose. Torrik was helping himself to other peoples drinks and relying on Intimidation and his own reputation to get away with the activity quite successfully. Lord Tresendar was apparently used to this behaviour as he made no attempt to admonish his bodyguard for doing so. Sprig meanwhile had been observing the other patrons of the bar looking for suitable marks and had noticed a table of inebriated travellers playing cards and asked to join in. He played the first few hands quite badly losing a little money in what was a quite low stakes game so when he suggested making the wagers a little more interesting the rest agreed enthusiastically. Seeing his friend engaged in a game of chance Wrenn moved nearby to watch. Oddly Sprigs luck seemed to improve whenever Wrenn was paying attention to the game.

Varis ordered several bottles of cheap local wine and distributed them amongst the rest of his party omitting Saladin who was consuming some spirit of his own concoction and Tarrik who was at that moment telling a bar patron in no uncertain terms that he was mistaken about the ownership of a particular tankard of ale. Seeing nothing of interest he handed a drink to Wrenn, placed a half-full bottle of wine on the table by Sprig and found himself a quiet corner from which to observe the comings and goings of the various bar patrons.

Note - Craig's character has the 'Bad Reputation' feature from the pirate version of the sailor background. Basically this means he gets away with minor criminal activity as it's less trouble to let it go than to have to deal with it.

Sprig had expertly lowered the expectations of his victims before elevating his game and had now recouped his losses and begun to make a profit before upping the stakes again. With his opponents pot now exhausted he graciously excepted the only remaining player at the tables room key for the night as a fair stake before winning that too. Though he could have easily have afforded a room himself it was more a matter of principle than anything to gain one through his own particular skills....the fact that breakfast was part of the deal was just a bonus. Tarrik had found himself a quiet corner near to the nobles room in which to sleep which Varis noted as he himself retired to his own room. Saladin was of course the last to leave the bar.

After a hearty breakfast served by a somewhat surprised waitress who apparently was expecting to see at least one weary traveller rather than the halfling who actually had his room key, the party prepared for the final leg of their journey to Waterdeep. Varis made a few brief enquiries with the small guard compliment about potential hazards on the road but was informed that it was about as safe a stretch of road as could be found. This time Sprig took the lead.

Act Four - Waterdeep
The entrance to Waterdeep from the direction they approached led to a broad bridge that was so large that buildings had sprung up on either side making it more like a town than an entryway. Sprig suggested that Torrik lead the horses ahead of them figuring primarily that most people would get out of his way and secondly he'd somewhat surprisingly shown that he actually had a decent level of affinity with animals which should stop them getting spooked along the crowded roadway. With a method of clearing their path sorted the halfling then began to use his knowledge of the secret language of the disreputable known as 'Thieves Cant' to inform the many pickpockets and bandits along the bridge that the group were with him and should be left alone. Though there was however a complication...

The guards at the entrance to the bridge were extremely dubious about Saladins ability to get his cart through the narrow gaps between the buildings and the dense crowds. The monk had moved from gentle persuasion, through bribery with drink and was now attempting to convince the dubious guards that he had an important delivery to make to a particularly famous and well regarded drinking establishment and that delaying him would offend several important people who must remain nameless. Fortunately his extensive knowledge of taverns, inns and bars allowed him to embellish the story enough for them to allow him access though they did warn him that he did so at his own peril due to the amount of thieves and pickpockets who worked the crowd. He then very nearly undid all his hard work by telling the guards he would chop the hands off any who attempted to steal from him but a swift retraction convinced them he was in fact joking. He was now however somewhat behind the rest of the group.

With the intimidating Sharkman leading the way the rest of the party were making good time despite the difficulties created by the stores, crowds and roaming thieves. Sprig had taken several opportunities to merge with the milling crowd to chat with others of his morally flexible nature with at least one of these side-trips being noticed by Torrik and another by Varis though neither had any real desire to enquire about the reasons these activities not being particularly suspicious in of themselves. Saladin was meanwhile in another debate with several guards as he had unhooked the cart from his horse with the intention of abandoning it where it was as it was slowing him down considerably and there was also the small matter of the smell. The guards after some persuasion allowed him to move the cart to one side of the road to collect later though they had no idea that he had no intention whatsoever of doing so. With his belongings now strapped somewhat haphazardly to his mule he began to make swifter progress.

Unsure whether any news of his groups activities had reached Waterdeep, Sprig came up with a bold plan to draw as much attention as possible towards the noble they were accompanying and hopefully away from any-one who might be nearby as well as giving the guards something with which to be occupied. Approaching the least attentive looking of the gate guards Sprig informed him that a noble of some importance was approaching and that an official proclamation of his arrival would be the protocol in such matters and sweetened the deal with several pieces of gold. Lord Tresendar was suitably impressed by the attention and Sprig was equally impressed by the guards complete inattention to anyone else passing through the gate though he did hang back long enough to ensure that Saladin also was granted passage into Waterdeep proper. The first stage of their journey was over...

Having ingratiated himself with the lord it was an easy matter to persuade him to stop at their suggestion of tavern which was called the 'House of Good Spirits' and was in fact the headquarters of the cities most important brewing guilds as well as being utilised by a certain other organisation familiar to Sprig and Wrenn. Using code phrases and rituals known to them they gained an audience with those in the know who informed them that travel by sea was difficult due to restrictions on ships but not impossible and they received information on certain individuals who might be able to help them. Meanwhile the warlock Varis had made contact with his own 'friends' and gained a similar selection of information...that however was a job for tomorrow...

To be continued in Part Two...

Back To Reality
I usually have a brief 'how it went' bit in these write-ups courtesy of the DM but he's off at a doubles tournament at Warhammer World this weekend and is therefore a tad busy...Should he find the time to do one I'll insert it here later...

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