Saturday, 14 July 2018

D&D - A Journey North - Session Two - Waterdeep (Part Two)

We've just started a new Dungeons and Dragons campaign with a new DM this time...this is session two, part two...
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 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 and this session we will also be joined by a Human Fighter.
*They're explained in the session one write-up which can be found HERE...
The Dungeon Master
Harry - All the People and Monsters...
The PC's
Our DM is using 'Milestone' Advancement rather than XP...we're all currently Level 4
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
Harry - 'Billy' - Human Fighter
More information on the characters stats can be found HERE. More background info will be added as soon as people send me some...
Lord Tresendar - Our Employer
Captain Orvam - A morally flexible ships captain.

Session One can be found HERE and the first part of this session can be read HERE.

Session Two, Part Two - Waterdeep
Act Four - The Docks
Constantly on alert now they'd been ambushed once and dispensing with the services of the traitorous local urchins the group continued onward where fortunately Saladin had regained his bearings and was guiding them as was his way to the nearest tavern or drinking den. The dockside bar he had selected was called The Lady Rose.

Once they'd found a table Sprig bought a round of drinks at the bar though the weather-beaten barman point-blank refused to serve the Sharkman Torrik stating quite firmly that his 'kind' would not be served here under any circumstances. Apparently the Carchari's somewhat deserved reputation as pirates and raiders had made them unpopular in any establishment frequented by sailors. Distancing himself from the unpopular sharkman Sprig began to ingratiate himself with the locals while making subtle enquiries about the captain called Orvam they'd come to find. Saladin meanwhile had ordered a vast quantity of shots of local liquor which he proceeded to share with Torrik after telling the barman that he definitely wasn't going to do so. The rest had found themselves a fairly quiet table while Sprig gathered information and Varis kept an eye on the door.

It didn't take Sprig long to discover that the man they sought out frequented a bar known as the Black Trident located in the worst part of the entire docks and with this new information available they left the Lady Rose and headed into the sleaziest part of Waterdeeps docklands. It was also quite noticeable that Torrik was a lot friendlier when drunk. The new establishment was considerably less busy than the previous tavern and somewhat surprisingly had a sharkman serving behind the bar. This obviously made purchasing drinks much simpler for Torrik and he and Saladin continued with their now epic drinking session.

While Sprig attempted to gain information from the sharkman bartender, Varis went outside to do a quick check of the surrounding area to see if they'd gained any followers but could discern no signs of pursuit. The sharkman who the halfling discovered was called 'Hammer' due to the enormous maul he kept by the bar revealed that the man they were looking for had a room upstairs. He further added however that the man was currently sleeping off a massive hangover and might react poorly to being disturbed. 

Wrenn as usual was making notes on pretty much everything in one of his notebooks while Torrik and Saladin's drinking contest moved from epic to legendary. The sharkman Torrik was taking advantage of the more relaxed attitude to his race in the Sharkman ran establishment while Saladin was single-handedly quadrupling it's profits for the week in spirits alone. Tresender seemed content to sit near the fire and recover from his injury during the fight in the alleyway which upon dressing Saladin had declared was barely a flesh wound. As Varis returned from his recon mission he decided to report back to Sprig who he noted had seemingly become the de facto leader of the group when it came to planning anything and when the halfling expressed his intention to go and see this captain immediately he accompanied him. Unfortunately Billy had taken an interest and decided to see where he was going as well.

Note - Whoever said 'honest is the best policy' had imo never played D+D.

Moving to the room indicated by the barman downstairs Sprig decided after listening at the door and hearing snoring to pick the lock and check this captains room before deciding whether he could be trusted or not. Unfortunately as he reached into his pocket for his tools their newest recruit marched upstairs and began to knock noisily on his room door. After resisting the urge to drive a dagger into Billy's back Sprig greeted the now awake and extremely irritated captain Orvam that hurled open the door.

They were soon to discover that despite being willing to take them along the coast he was unable to do so due to having lost almost his entire crew on the last expedition with the last few refusing to go to sea again but was extremely resistant to explaining just exactly what had happened on the trip other than vague hints about unusually hazardous conditions. 

With seemingly no other choice available to them the conversation turned to how difficult it would be to crew the vessel with a half a dozen untrained crewmen and Torrik who was an experienced sailor albeit as a pirate rather than a merchant...of course Sprig didn't actually use the term pirate. In spite of Billy's many interruptions to contradict Sprigs accounts of their ability and competence the captain eventually concluded that it was possible for the ship to be crewed by an able-bodied and inexperienced body of men as long as they had at least one competent person to undertake the more technical aspects of the trip and as long as they weren't in a particular hurry. With the terms decided Orvam told them to wake him early in the morning so he could instruct them on making his vessel the Swordfish ready and slammed the door behind him. After Billy had made his way downstairs to the bar Sprig put an idea to Varis that had occurred to him during the debate with the drunken captain...

Note - If you were looking for the point at which we accidentally de-railed our DM's campaign it's coming up in 3, 2, 1.....

It was clear that Orvam was hiding something and despite Billy thinking he was the greatest captain ever based on absolutely no evidence whatsoever Sprig didn't trust him at all. The part of the conversation that was of particular interest however was the captains assertion that one skilled sailor was all that was required to sail his vessel as long as he had sufficient labour to do the grunt work and Sprig had access to exactly that and additionally if he had no crew the vessel must be unguarded . All that remained was to convince Lord Tresender of the plan which might prove difficult so the cunning halfling decided to bypass that issue altogether.

Liberating clothing from a number of poorly locked rooms and with the help of his disguise kit Sprig transformed himself facially at least into a decent approximation of captain Orvam though obviously somewhat shorter and then proceeded downstairs. Varis made the initial introduction to Lord Tresender and then moved away to keep the pathologically honest Billy occupied as per Sprigs instructions. The noble registered his surprise that the captain was a halfling but Sprig not only managed to convince the lord that he was indeed Orvam but that it would be a good idea for them to board the ship straight away so as to make an early start and offered the noble 'his' own quarters which as it would later turn out was the only actual private room on the small vessel. His disguise, voice and demeanour were so convincing that he managed to con every-one present including his own allies and the ship as he expected was unguarded and empty. Wrenn covered for the absence of Sprig to Tresender saying he had business in town that would help with their journey later.

Note - Not one person passed their test to see through the even rolled for Varis to see how good he thought the disguise was and rolled a 2...and he bloody knew it was a disguise...

Act Five - The Swordfish
Sprig revealed his true identity to the members of the party that he needed to implement his plan and kept the rest in the dark. Wrenn who it turned out could assimilate information at an astonishing rate began to learn all he could from the books and charts on the ship to assist where he could and utilised his skills as a tinkerer to discern the use of the various instruments he found aboard.

Note - Wrenn has the Sage background which has the 'Researcher' feature so this wasn't unreasonable he also is very clever indeed...

Torrik began to check the vessel so as to be sure that it was adequately equipped and ready to sail and Billy searched the poorly equipped armoury while Varis checked the supply situation which was somewhat lacking. Sprig instructed him to acquire any supplies he could get his hands on but to prioritise food, water and some extra hammocks. Using a combination of stealth and sleight of hand supplemented by invisibility and as it became closer to night-time spells of darkness the warlock liberated significant quantities of food, water, several barrels of grog though could only acquire a single additional hammock. Under the instructions of the still drunk so therefore also unusually cheerful Torrik all the preparations that could be made were done and what was now the crew of the swordfish settled down aboard the vessel in order to get some sleep before a very early start. Or more specifically before the real captain Orvam awakened...

With Sprig with the addition of an impressive hat he'd acquired from somewhere acting the role of Captain, Torrik 'promoted' to first mate in order to manage what passed for a crew and Wrenn as navigator the stolen vessel raised it's sails early in the morning in order to both start it's journey and to be gone before any-one noticed that the swordfish had new ownership. Wrenns owl familiar was circling high above the ship keeping an eye out for any danger as he was less than confident that Saladin who had volunteered to man the crows nest would be particularly helpful. As expected the owl alerted the crew of the approaching storm long before Saladin himself noticed it.

Note - I decided not to include the five minute debate about who was most likely to be urinated upon when the monk decided to relieve himself over the side of the crows nest.

With some assistance from Varis, Torrik adjusted the sails to avoid damage from the storm while Wrenn attempted to calculate the best course to optimise their survival chances using originally entirely theoretical knowledge which was about to become very practical indeed. As he seemed to have been delegated the job of quartermaster Varis went to see if there was anything approaching water proof clothing in the hold and discovered several garments that had been coated in some protective substance. As Torrik required no such protection there were enough of these oilskins to go around. Saladin had also sensibly abandoned the crows-nest.

Torrik had little trouble dealing with the severe conditions and began to secure the ship for the approaching onslaught. After banging on the door for a considerable time, followed by some pleading Lord Tresender opened up the cabin door to allow Billy inside which turned out to be a terrible idea as he promptly vomited everywhere. Meanwhile Wrenn had completed his new calculations and was convinced they were veering off course towards some rocky shallows near the coast indicated on one of the maps and those able to assist struggled to help correct the problem. Varis had made his way below deck to secure the loose items there and was nearly crushed by a barrel for his efforts. On deck the monk Saladin managed to avoid being thrown overboard by grabbing at some rope and then under Torriks direction secured the supports preventing the mast from snapping in two. After several more tense hours they emerged from the worst part of the storm with a battered but intact vessel and a  number of very seasick crew members.

Having now become quite proficient at map reading and navigation Wrenn calculated their current location as being opposite the inspiringly named 'Mere of Dead Men' with the nearest town being Leilon. As the idea of turning up with a stolen ship didn't seem ideal it was decided to remove the name plaque from the side of the vessel and quickly carve an alternate name into it's side and therefore 'The Krakens Eye' was picked at random.

The nearby shore was a shallow mudflat and as they approached it became clear that the method used to transfer cargo from ships at sea to the land was very risky as it seemingly consisting of a series of magically reinforced barges that were poled out to meet the boats. From there cargo was being transferred via rickety cranes that even the casual observer could see would be impossible to use in even moderate winds. Reasonably sure that the locals would know that the real captain Orvam wasn't a halfling, Sprig let the few still fooled members of the party know who he really was and quickly created a new identity for himself.

Note - This was about the fourth different voice Tom had used this session...

When they arrived to find the ship was carrying no cargo at all the dock workers were less than happy. Being fairly sure that they wouldn't be returning to the vessel any time soon Wrenn salvaged what mechanical components he could from the various instruments broken during the storm. Saladin and Varis both made the leap from the vessel to the barge with little effort and began to help the others across. Billy insisted on making the jump himself unaided and managed to miss the barge by a significant distance a moment before plunging into the water as his heavy chainmail began to drag him downwards. In a surprisingly considerate move considering his normal attitude to people was to steal their belongings or eat them Torrik dived into the water and it being his natural environment easily reached the submerged fighter though he hurled rather than placed him onto the barge once he'd dragged him from the depths.

Sprig tried unsuccessfully to convince the barge operators that the ship was the cargo and that he was here to sell it in order to fund his retirement. They directed him to their superior who was the only person on the docks with the finances and the authority to make such a transaction. Unperturbed Sprig went to see the man in charge who turned out to be a very busy and very abrupt dwarf who was also resistant to the idea of purchasing the vessel having by this time received a fairly detailed report on the storm damaged condition of the exterior and an interior that mainly contained vomit and smashed furniture. Eventually they were forced to settle for less than a tenth of the ships actual value.

With the ship disposed of some explanation to Lord Tresender was required as he was now enquiring about Sprigs location and was less than happy to find he'd been deceived almost constantly for the last two days. This anger changed to fear when Sprig showed him the books carried by Varis which showed that the assassins who had winged him a few days earlier had been tracking him day and night for months previously. With this evidence in hand it was easy to convince the now terrified noble that all the subterfuge had been for his own protection. Sprig gave each of the party ten coins from the ship sale and kept the rest for what he called 'party funds'. Now it was time to see what this town had to offer.

Note - I said coins because not every-one got the same amount of treasure, lol. Though every-one did get ten coins, not all of them were gold ones. Also I'm not sure how many of the group this has occurred to but technically we all work for Sprig now as he paid us last...

Act Six - Leilon
The entrance to the town proper was protected by high walls, a gate with a portcullis as well as a number of guards and several lancers. As he had done with the other towns they'd arrived at Sprig approached the guards to give the approaching noble some kind of fanfare at his arrival but was surprised when the gate guards informed him that as far as they were aware Phandalin already had a lord ruling over it. Lord Orson Tresender had ruled the area for a decade and was highly regarded as a just leader of his people. Sprig shared this information with Wrenn but kept it from all the others until he could verify it's accuracy.

Saladin was as usual a mine of information about local bars and led them first to an establishment known as the Orcs Tusk. The bar was named for the large tusks on the establishments sign which were used to hang various trophies on obtained by drunken patrons, often acquired from other pubs and taverns. As it had a reputation for being particularly rough it was decided to find somewhere finer. The monks next choice was an exclusive place, finely decorated with a boar roasting on a spit by a roaring fire far more suited to a noble man and his entourage. While the rest settled themselves down for some much needed food and relaxation Varis first decided to have a look at the surrounding area. The tavern had only two rooms though these were more like suites than individual lodgings and both were booked for Tresender and his bodyguards though of course he claimed one for himself alone.

The patrolling warlock noted that the alleyways and side streets that headed towards the centre of town were all secured in some way. Barricades, brick walls, iron gates, locks and chains and combinations thereof had all been used to prevent access to the central section though the only structure he could see from the unsecured section was a large tower. Seeing little point in further reconnaissance Varis returned to the bar and informed the rest of the things he'd discovered before getting himself something to eat and drink. The barman was reluctant to speak of the tower but after some financial encouragement told them of hordes of undead that had attacked the town when the tower was last disturbed. Subsequently Lord Pelindar Filmarya had ordered the area secured and forbidden any access to the now quarantined zone. With a bit more 'encouragement' he revealed that the barracks were part of the lords manor which was located on the opposite side of town which made this side the least secure though the town guards regularly patrolled the exterior checking for any breaches. Deciding they needed to trust one another in light of this new threat Varis and Sprig decided to share much of what they'd learned from their own contacts with one another though both were careful to keep their own wider loyalties to themselves.

Curious about this forbidden tower Saladin left the bar claiming to be heading to the Orcs Tusk but instead detoured to climb the wall to see what was beyond. Though his first two attempts were less than successful he subsequently managed to reach the top and ducking to avoid being spotted by the patrolling guards dropped in to the interior section which as expected was primarily the sections of the city abandoned when the barriers were built.

Note - A grappling hook would have been quite useful which was ironic as Varis and Sprig actually had three between them...

The tower itself was a tall sturdy structure but seemingly deserted and was surrounded by raised beds of unusual flowers and the monk couldn't resist picking one only to find that the picked flower was instantly replaced by another no matter how many times he repeated the experiment. Realising he needed the knowledge of one who understood magic to see if this was simply an amusing cantrip or proof of stronger power within he took a handful of the plants he'd picked and returned to the bar to see what Wrenn had to say about the matter...

To Be Continued in Part Three

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