Session 14: The Vault of Pallon the Pirate

Pallons Vault FullFin

(This adventure was run in July 2017.  In terms of campaign time, the adventure took place the day after Session 13: Lord Sketch of the Sewers of Cyr.  For a map of the campaign world and a list of characters see The World Map).

After Session 11: The Jackdaws, the Raven, and the Rat, Tanin inquired with the Jackdaws if any of the guild members had interest in the obsidian Orcus statue acquired back when some of the adventurers raided the barrow tomb in Session 4: The Barrow Tomb of the Karpath Brothers.  His inquiries initially fell on deaf ears–none of the members seemed interested in starting a cult of Orcus.  But eventually, the potboy of the Weary Traveler delivered a message to Tanin from a member of the Jackdaws showing some interest in learning more.  The note was signed by a guild member named Korvis.

Korvis sent another note to Tanin after the party returned from their recent excursion in the sewers of the city, asking for him and his companions to meet up at a dockside tavern the next day.  The wedding caravan of Master Makryannis was due to depart that day and the Heroes of Edgewood had already agreed to serve as guards.  Fortunately, Okkar Ironeyes stopped by the Golden Tankard (where the adventurers were staying more often now since they owned a stake in the establishment), relaying news that the wedding caravan was delayed another day since Makryannis’s daughter had gotten cold feet.  Okkar believed that she would be comforted enough to depart on the morrow.  This gave the party a day to pursue any mission the Jackdaws put before them.

Tanin, Kulo, Pabelle, Belladore, and Bao gathered at the dockside tavern as requested.  There, they met an agent of the Jackdaws, an assistant of Korvis, but not Korvis himself.  A man named Merik.  His closely cropped hair and well-maintained beard gave him an almost regal bearing, yet his pronunciation of certain words gave away his likely upbringing in the slums.  It appeared that his affiliation with the Jackdaws increased his station in life.  He told the party the story of Pallon the Pirate, a figure of some ill repute with the merchant vessels that plied the waters of the Endless Sea to bring trade goods to and fro from Cyr.  The story goes that Pallon and his crew discovered a ghost ship floating in the waters of Blue Crab Bay.  Fog had filled the bay, and the ship was not spied until it was right next to Pallon’s cog.  Seeing no crew, Pallon’s men boarded the vessel.  As soon as their feet touched the deck, skeleton warriors seemingly bubbled from the planking.  Pallon’s men soon found themselves overwhelmed.  As soon as they felled one skeleton or knocked one overboard, two new ones materialized before their eyes.  Pallon, himself, seemed enthralled by some strong greed emanating from the vessel.  Despite being outnumbered by the skeleton hoard, Pallon barked orders to his men to fight their way to the ship’s hold.  He seemed to believe some important treasure lie within the ship.

Merik paused and drank from his leathern jack.  He continued with the story of Pallon and the ghost ship.  Pallon and what remained of his crew managed to fight their way to the hold.  There, Pallon discovered some important artifact, almost as if it had called to him to find it.  He and his crew fought their way back off the ghost ship and back to their vessel.  Once they had separated from the ghost ship it quickly disappeared in the fog.  The rest of the lore holds that the artifact drove Pallon mad.  He returned to the vault he had built in a cove in Blue Crab Bay, slaughtered what was left of his men, and was never seen or heard from again.

Merik explained to the adventurers that the Jackdaws knew where the vault was located.  They wanted the adventurers to gain entry to Pallon’s Vault and discover what lie within, to discover the artifact Pallon had found on the ghost ship.

The adventurers found a seaman and crew willing to bring them to Pallon’s Vault.  The lore about Pallon was actually well-known among the sailors of Blue Crab Bay.  The captain of the ship, Ralf, even knew of the cove reported to hold Pallon’s Vault.  But he tried to dissuade the party from undertaking this mission.  He had heard of some foolhardy sailors who tried to break into the vault to steal Pallon’s riches.  Those sailors were never seen again.  Nonetheless, the captain’s reservations were set aside at the sight of gold.  Tanin haggled a little, but the captain’s price was still high and he wanted payment up-front.  He clearly didn’t believe he would be returning with any of adventurers back to Cyr.

They reached the cove by mid-day.  Anchoring away from the rocks of the bay, Ralf told the adventurers he would wait six hours before considering them lost.  Escorting them in a rowboat to the cove, Ralf suggested that should they need him to come sooner, they could light a bonfire to signal the ship.

The cove was an irregularly shaped half-circle about 35′ × 55′.  Near the far wall, sand gave way to stone and a door was set in the wall.  The adventurers searched the cove finding a partially buried and dilapidated rowboat, as well as a chest and crate.  The crate crumbled into splinters as the party attempted to reveal its contents.  Nothing of value was found within–the remains of rotten foodstuffs.  The chest was in better condition but was found to be empty once the rusted locks were forced open.  The barrels on the other side of the cove were likewise in disrepair and where reasonably sound, only seemed to contain foul-smelling water.

As the party approached the door, noticing for the first time something inscribed on its surface, a pile of bones suddenly cohered and rose into the form of three skeleton sailors.  Wielding rusty swords and scimitars, they attacked!  The skeletons were easy enough for the party to handle, but as soon as they returned one to a pile of bones, another two would reform in its place.  The adventurers soon realized that they needed to get through the door–otherwise, the skeletons would continue to materialize.

Pabelle read the inscription on the door: “Give to receive.”  She noticed a metal cup in the center of the door.  Pabelle conveyed what the inscription said to her companions who were busy fighting off the skeletons.  She took her water flask and poured a little water in the cup.  Nothing happened.  She yelled, “I think it needs blood!”

Bao replied as his quarterstaff smashed into the skull of one of the skeletons, “Don’t skimp.  Make it a good cut!”

Pabelle hesitated, but on seeing another skeleton vanquished only to be replaced by three more emerging from the sand, grabbed her dagger and made a deep cut in her hand.  Squeezing the blood into the cup, she heard the grating of stone against stone and the door began to open.  She turned to her companions, hoping they could disengage from their battle to duck into the doorway.  To her relief, the skeleton pirates had crumbled back into piles of bone the moment the door began to open.

Pallon's Vault EntranceFIN

The party entered a long hallway that ran 40′ before opening into a larger chamber.  Kulo lit a torch, noticing a body lying on the ground about 30′ ahead.  The party moved cautiously down the hallway, their senses on edge after battling skeletons that sprang from piles of bones.  They paused at the body–a human who had been dead for some time, his skin desiccated into a leathery shell, his face contorted into a rictus of pain.  Was he an adventurer who tried and failed at securing the treasure said to lie within?  Or was he one of Pallon’s sailors who met his end at the madness Pallon discovered on the ghost ship?  Investigating the body revealed little of worth, but a clue to the labyrinth within was revealed–Kulo’s torch flickered as he stooped to search the body.  A current of air seemed to pass through the wall on the right.  Kulo nodded to the flickering torch, and Belladore replied, “Secret door?”

Just then, seemingly out of nowhere, yet all around them just the same, a wave of terror-filled energy spread throughout the dungeon.  Some of the party members withstood this invisible force with no effect.  Yet others, Belladore and Bao, suddenly felt themselves succumbed to an uncanny level of exhaustion.

Movement in the chamber ahead caught the party members’ attention.  Kulo took a few steps forward and as his torch illuminated the room, he could see the forms of several monstrous rats moving along the walls, sticking to the shadows.  The stink of rot permeated the room, although the labyrinth had a strong musty smell from the moment they entered.  A monstrous rat to Kulo’s left revealed the source of the rot–flesh and fur hung torn from open, festering wounds.  The rat turned its head revealing much of its skull beneath before lunging forward and attacking!

Pallon's Vault Zombie RatsFIN

Kulo had enough time to yell to his companions before unsheathing his rapier.  The party rushed forward to assist.  Three more monstrous zombie rats bared vicious teeth made all the more menacing through gaping holes of necrotic flesh.

Steel met decaying flesh.  Teeth pierced through armor to open bleeding wounds in the heroes’ bodies.  The din of a quick battle filled the small chamber, but soon the adventurers returned the zombie rats to the death from which they rose.  The companions shared a brief smile of relief over their victory, catching their breath in the interlude.  But suddenly, another wave of horrid-energy swept through the dungeon!  Once again, Belladore succumbed to the effect, feeling doubly exhausted as a result.

The adventurers returned to the body in the hall from whence the air current was detected.  Kulo inspected the wall, finding a loose stone.  Pushing the stone inward triggered a mechanism!  The sound of stone grating on stone filled the hallway.  The secret door opened to reveal a long winding hallway that curved to the left before curving back the right.  What lie beyond was not discernible.

The adventurers moved along single-file, following the hallway left and then right where it opened onto a larger chamber with four bodies lying on the floor.  Again, a wave of foul-energy struck the adventurers and yet again, Belladore found herself the victim of a deep energy drain.  Her level of exhaustion now approached alarm and she cried out to her companions that she was going to flee Pallon’s Vault!

But before she could finish uttering her despair, the four bodies on the floor sprung-up in a corrupt mimicry of human movement.  The jerky, spasmodic bodies with arms outstretched and eyes vacant of life shuffled towards the party.  Blades whirred through the air cutting the walking corpses asunder, but not before their skeletal hands had ravaged the living flesh of the companions.

Pallons Vault Feral ZombiesFIN

Wiping their blades clean of the vile ichor of the zombies, the party members searched the room.  An altar and throne filled one niche.  Broken pottery littered the opposite wall, although one jug remained intact.  Tanin searched the altar and throne.  The altar appeared to be solid rock, stained a deep rust color from countless sacrifices.  The throne next to it was no less disturbing, made from the bones of men–a skull capped the back, resting right above where a man would sit.  Tanin inspected the throne carefully, sure that it must have riches hidden within.  Eventually his greedy curiosity was rewarded.  In a compartment under the seat, a small, polished agate was secreted.

Bao and Belladore inspected the intact jug.  It contained a pleasant-smelling liquid, strangely untainted by the ghastly surroundings.  Bao sipped from the jug, finding his energy restored by a small degree.  He drank deeply and found his exhaustion relieved.  He passed the jug over to Belladore who also quaffed deeply.  To her absolute delight, her exhaustion disappeared!  With her vitality restored, she turned to her companions and said, “Let’s go rouse this pirate!”

The party retraced their steps back into the chamber where they had fought the monstrous zombie rats.  A narrow hallway snaked off from a far corner curving to the right before curving back to the left and ending at a doorway.  The stone door with a sculpted skull above the entryway looked much like the one in the cove except there was no metal cup in the door.  Bao tried the door.  With a little pressure, the stone opened inward easily.  Bao agreed to inspect the room before anyone else entered.  Lighting his own torch, he entered the room cautiously.  Unlike the rough-hewn rock of the rest of the labyrinth, this circular room was well-made of polished tiles and stonework.  In the center of the room, as well as all four quadrants, metal levers were affixed.  Bao noticed an identical door like the one he entered directly opposite.  This one did not budge when pressure was applied.

Pallon Bao LeversFIN

Bao relayed back what he had learned to the party members waiting in the hallway.  As they discussed what to do, the wave of terror-energy reverberated through the hallway.  This time the energy washed over them, leaving each and everyone unaffected.  The adventurers concocted a plan to pull all the levers at once since there were five party members and five levers.  They filed into the room, took their positions, looked nervously at each other before implementing their plan, and then on a count of three, pulled all the levers at the same time.

There was a blinding flash!  In the brief moment while the circular room was brightly illuminated by the radiant energy unleashed by the pulling of the levers, the party members saw through squinting eyes, the appearance of shadowy humanoid forms standing next to each of the levers.  The glimpse was fleeting, for as the light subsided, so did the shadowy forms.

The door opposite slid open with the sound of stone passing across stone.  But so did the door they had entered, sliding closed, and locking them into whatever fate had in store for them.  Kulo convinced the party members to wait in the circular room for him to return.  He would stealth ahead to see what they faced.  A hallway branched to the left from the open doorway.  Kulo crept quietly up ahead until he spied a larger chamber.  The light of his torch revealed some alien form in the shadows of an alcove.  Kulo dropped his torch and shot at the shape with his crossbow before turning to return back to the circular stone room.

As Kulo fled, he felt the very essence of death emanating from the creature as he reached the doorway.  His body suffered the effects of this necrosis, but there was a part of his mind that reeled in absolute horror at the alien shape that followed on his heels.  Kulo entered the room.  His companions barely held back their missile fire as he warned them of what approached.  But what he said was incomprehensible.  Yet Kulo’s stammering nonsense told of some eldritch abomination approaching from the hall!

Bao leaped into action, hesitating momentarily near the center lever as if asking do I pull it?  But before he could get confirmation from his companions, he threw the switch, hoping it might close the door on the vile desecration about to enter the room.  A flash of radiant energy filled the room.  Next to each lever stood a shadowy form!

Pallon LeversFIN

The adventurers’ circumstances went from bad to worse in an instant!  The door to the corruption remained open, while the shadows attacked and drained the very strength from the companions.  The party members moved to each of the levers once again.  Holding their actions until all were set, the companions pulled the levers in unison once again.  The radiant burst of energy filled the room like before, and when the adventurers opened their eyes, they saw the shadows no more.

But the door to the horrid thing remained open!  In the blink of an eye, the tainted form of the creature, a bodak, the revered of Orcus, crossed the threshold into the room!

Pallon BodakFIN

As the bodak entered the room, the annihilating aura of necrotic corruption that emanated from its essence struck all of the companions.  Each party member felt as if their body moved a step closer to the grave.  They in turn, hammered and slashed the abomination, the very question of their souls’ eternal damnation at stake.  The necrosis again wreaked havoc on their bodies, but the numbers were on their side, and despite the reduced effect for those without magical weapons, the bodak was ultimately felled before one of the companions succumbed to the necrotic drain of their life-force.  They all sighed a breath of relief after the battle, exclamations of victory seemingly unfit for their current state of near-death.

Searching the final room, Pallon’s Vault, revealed the secret that Pallon discovered on the ghost ship–a chest in an alcove at the back of the room contained a humanoid vertebra like the one discovered in Session 10: Caverns of Calamity Part III.  Tanin held it up against the vertebra he carried.  Immediately, they locked together in a magical coupling. Tanin soon discovered the magical property of the combined vertebra changed its effect: once per day he could now cast Magic Circle.

The door that had previously locked them in the circular room opened.  The party returned to the cove and started a bonfire to alert Ralf of their return.  The bards of Cyr would soon have a new song to sing of the Heroes of Edgewood!

Kulo advanced to 5th-level.  Pabelle and Bao advanced to 3rd-level.


(Full Disclosure: Some of the following links will take you to DriveThruRPG.com where I participate in the affiliate program. Any purchases through these links provides me with a credit at One Book Shelf sites (DriveThruRPG, RPGNow, DMsGuild, etc.). Your support is appreciated.)

Adventure based on The Vault of Pallon the Pious by Jon Sawatsky: Prepared! One Shot Adventures for 5th Edition by Kobold Press

Terrain/Map Tiles: Smuggler’s Cavern, Circular Rooms and Tower Levels, Hinged Dungeon Doors, and Simple Caverns Cut-Up Sheets by Inked Adventures

Row Boat: Smuggler’s Rowboat by Dave Graffam Models

Skeleton Pirates Paper Minis: Kev’s Lounge Skeleton Skallywags

Monstrous Zombie Rats Paper Minis: Printable Heroes

Zombie Paper Minis: Brave Adventures Undead Warband

Shadows Plastic Minis: Custom Order from Litko Game Accessories

Plastic Levers: Litko Game Accessories

Bodak 3-D Paper Mini: Eddnic’s Paper Models

Crafted Torch: DM’s Craft

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Session 13: Lord Sketch of the Sewers of Cyr

Sewers of Cyrfin

(This adventure was run in May 2017.  In terms of campaign time, this adventure took place the next day after Session 11: The Jackdaws, the Raven, and the Rat and Session 12: What Lurks Beneath the Golden Tankard).

Back when the adventuring party returned from the goblin caves (Session 10: Caverns of Calamity Part III) in the foothills of the HammerFall Mountains, they had received a somewhat cryptic message from their former boss, Demetrios Kellergis, delivered by a nondescript patron at the Weary Traveler Inn.

Demetrios Note to Heroes of Edgewoodv2

As the last couple of days have transpired in Cyr with the Heroes of Edgewood (and some new friends) involved in a couple of exciting escapades, a rumor was spread throughout the city of a vigilante laying waste to various high-powered criminals, even some guild members, their bodies found with a piece of cloth pinned to their tunics with the image of the same bat crest as Demetrios’s letter was emblazoned.

The city, abuzz with this news, has been on edge.  The guild masters were likely on the hunt for this crime-fighter the common-folk have taken to calling “The Bat.”  Jorg, Captain of the City Watch, has proclaimed that vigilantism will not be tolerated within the city walls and has charged, Yannis, the Head Constable of Cyr, with finding this crusader and bringing him to justice.  Nonetheless, this shadowy figure has become something of a folk-hero to the peasants of the city.

    *     *     *

Kulo and Velnius brought their new companion, Lykopsis, with them to the Weary Traveler to introduce them to Tanin, Belladore, Sareph and Xrax as well as relay the news about their new investment in the Golden Tankard Tavern.  After the adventure in Martyn’s haphazard tunnels, Mara bid farewell to the group and disappeared into the streets of Cyr.

As Velnius regaled the group with their recent exploits, with occasional contributions from Kulo and Lykopsis, a hooded figure joined their table.  Pulling back the shroud of his cloak enough so the group could see his face, Demetrios smiled at his former deputies.

“Demetrios?” exclaimed Tanin before the hooded figure could hold his hand up to signify a more tranquil greeting.  He looked around to see if anyone noticed, but the Weary Traveler was bustling and among the laughs and din of the place, no one appeared to notice.  Demetrios told his former deputies he was happy to see them and introduced himself to their companions he had never met.

Demetrios revealed that the current chief constable, Yannis, had double-crossed him feeding him information about the bandits and then implicating him in the raids on merchant caravans.  Demetrios suggested that a member of Cyr’s Lesser House of Lords was behind the plot, although he didn’t know the identity of the member yet.  Demetrios went into hiding as soon as he saw a phalanx of guards accompanying Yannis to the constabulary.  The assassination attempt by Mag Blackscar during Session 2: Bandit Hideout at the Weary Traveler was also likely the hand of this member of the Lesser House.

Although Demetrios didn’t know the identity of the member of the Lesser House of Lords who was implicated in their problems in Cyr, he did have a lead on the were-rat infestation of the city (the were-rats were initially discovered during Session 1: Help Wanted): a dockside warehouse associated with a gang of ruffians who helped to fence the goods stolen by the were-rats.  Demetrios knew that the adventurers were hired as caravan guards for Makryannis’s wedding caravan which was soon to depart, but he believed they could root out and exterminate Cyr’s lycanthropy problem before leaving for Valerius.

The party decided to bring a wagon provided by Demetrios to the warehouse and offer supposed stolen goods to the gang of ruffians as an entry into the group.  Under cover of nightfall, the party approached the warehouse.  Surveying the building, the group noticed two entryways.  Kulo approached the building stealthily and looked in the windows.  He could tell there were about a dozen men throughout the building.  Demetrios suggested he do the talking to the thugs.  Knocking on the dockside entrance, the party was greeted with a sullen lout who seemed suspicious at the group, but relented after Demetrios made a strong persuasive appeal and seeing the goods under the canvas cover in the wagon.  The party was invited inside.

The room they first entered was a small warehouse with a few crates stacked along the walls.  A ruffian sat on a crate in one corner of the room and eyeballed the group as they made their way into the room, picking his fingernails with his dagger.  The thug who invited them in suggested the rest of the party relax in the back room while he and Demetrios haggled.

The room, much larger than the warehouse, had been converted into a bar, essentially a private clubhouse for the ruffians.  The party entered the room warily, taking stock of the nearly dozen thugs lounging about the room who glared back at them with glassy eyes, their strange demeanor suggesting a strong intoxication.  The ruffians were drinking from small metal goblets, taking small sips intermittently.

Dockside Warehousefin

A ruffian brought out a number of metal goblets equal to the seven party members and poured a green liquid from a glass decanter into each.  One of the thugs, seemingly the leader of this bunch, passed the goblets around to the adventurers.

“Here.  Green Faerie, we call it,” he said as he passed the last goblet to Sareph and stared at the tall barbarian as if demanding to drink.  Sareph gave the goblet a sniff.  An aroma distinctly of anise filled his nostrils, and he stared back at the thug in challenge as he knocked back the drink in one quick draught.  A number of the ruffians gasped at the display of bravado.  But Sareph’s eyes, which just moments before held a commanding expression, now returned to the world swimming in the Green Faerie’s delights.  He felt both strong and exhausted in the same breath, his arms like battering rams, yet like wilted branches all the same.

The ruffians attention turned to the rest of the party.  Seeing Sareph’s reaction the rest of the party appeared hesitant to drink from their goblets.  The ruffians insisted.  Tanin attempted to mock-drink from his goblet, throwing the liquid over his shoulder, but his attempt was a poor pantomime.  All saw the liquid fly over his shoulder and splash on the ground.  The leader snapped his finger to one of his cohorts at the bar for another goblet and as he made his way from the bar back to Tanin, Sareph grabbed the goblet from his hand and downed its contents in one quick gulp.  Again, the rest of the room gasped.  On returning the goblet back to the leader, Sareph appeared unsteady on his feet.  He now felt as if his body was weighted down with heavy stones, his movements sluggish like being submerged underwater.  A snap of the fingers and a the goblet was refilled.  Meanwhile, the ruffians looked at the rest of the party members in anticipation.  The adventurers shared uncertain glances with each other, but did not drink from the goblets.  Kulo moved towards the bar and made himself appear as if he tripped and spilled the contents of his goblet on the floor.  The leader scowled.

Sareph grabbed the refilled goblet from the leader once again and approached Tanin.  Once he got close to him he made it appear as if he was angry with Tanin and threw the contents of the goblet in his face, barking a curse.  The ruffians were in on the ruse, however, and instead of buying the deceit, unsheathed swords or reached for clubs leaning against the bar.

An intense melee broke out.  The nearly dozen ruffians seemed stronger than usual, their vigor enhanced by the Green Faerie.  The battle was fought in close quarters given the number of combatants.  Sareph, his own body surging with the strong drink, fought on one side of the bar.  Bashing in a thug’s skull, he vaulted the bar and started in on the ruffians on the other side, knocking two unconscious.  Despite the enhanced fighting abilities of the ruffians, the dauntless companions emerged victorious, yet bloodied and winded from the fight.  Tanin checked on Demetrios in the other room, clearly realizing that the sounds of battle had to have carried over to the small warehouse.  Opening the door, he saw Demetrios cleaning his axe over the dead bodies of the two thugs in the room.  He also noticed that Demetrios had doffed his cloak, and over a suit of chainmail, bore a curious crest reminiscent of the seal he had emblazoned on the earlier note: a bat displayed prominently on his chest.

DemetriosFIN

Tanin asked Demetrios, “Alright, batman, where do we go from here?”

Demetrios led the party down into the cellar of the building and suggested they search for some passageway that would lead into the sewers of Cyr.  The cellar was a mess of crates and refuse.  Moving some of the detritus out of the way, the party discovered a trapdoor that led to subterranean depths.  Lighting a torch, Demetrios examined the darkness below.  A ladder led down from the trapdoor to Cyr’s old sewer system underlying the city.  The air was moist and the odor was pungent yet not overwhelmingly strong as the sewers of Cyr cycled water from the Hyperborean River through its channels out to Blue Crab Bay of the Endless Sea in an ingenious feat of engineering.  The city’s aqueduct was also fed by the river but the two systems were separate although somehow connected since the were-rats moved between the two.

The party traversed the sewer, making a hard right turn before coming to a circular landing of stone in the middle of the murky water.  The landing was covered in bones.  As the party approached a giant centipede-like creature descended from the ceiling.

Carrion CrawlerFIN

A short battle ensued.  This monstrosity appeared to by lying in wait along the ceiling for some luckless creature to pass below.  The mound of bones showed clearly the results of its regular hunts and meals.  As the party inflicted damage to the creature, it managed to paralyze Velnius’s mastiff, Xerbo, with its tentacles and dragged the dog into the nasty waters of the sewer.  The adventurers continued to hack into the monster’s tough carapace.  Sareph leaped into the sewer water to rescue the drowning dog as the mortal wound was delivered to the crawling death that had dropped from the ceiling above.

Xerbo was resuscitated and brought back from the brink.  But once restored to consciousness, his sluggishness seemed to suggest ingesting the sewer water had some long-term ill effect.

After catching their breath after an intense, albeit brief fight, the adventurers searched through the bone pile of the carrion crawler for any treasure.  Not finding anything but old bones, the party followed the sewer around a bend, noticing a small amount of light coming from around the wall.  Kulo moved up stealthily to spy the source of the light, seeing a number of candles burning in a small alcove and a disheveled figure kneeling in front of a small shrine.  Kulo motioned for the party to come see.  As the party gathered in the chamber, the disheveled man finally became aware of their presence.

He turned and seemed to be unperturbed at the presence of the party.  In fact, his eyes showed a mad gleam and he smiled at the adventurers, announcing, “Welcome friends.  You come to praise Him?”

Tanin moved forward and asked, “Who are you?  What are you doing down in the sewers?”

“Who I am is unimportant.  What matters is our worship of Him,” said the man as he rose to his feet and pointed to the small shrine.

Demetrios moved the light of the torch closer to the shrine to better see what was there.  Attached to the wall of the alcove was a charcoal drawing of a horrific, demonic giant rat standing on two legs.  Scattered on the floor below and attached here and there around the shrine were numerous smaller versions of the larger charcoal drawing.  The gaunt appearance of the man suggested he had been eating little for some time and seemed to spend most of his time drawing this same figure repeatedly.  In the corner of the chamber, the party of adventurers could see additional sheets of parchment some with the early outline of the same demonic, giant rat.

Tanin asked, “What is that?”

The man replied, “He is Chitrr’k’k.  He is coming soon.  He is our master.  He will give you the gift like he has given me.”  As he said this last statement, Tanin swore the man moved his head and hands in a near perfect imitation of a how a rat rears up and inspects his environment. Tanin couldn’t be sure, maybe it was just an illusion from the flickering torch and candle light, but the man’s eyes seemed to constrict into beady round circles.  The man, his voice changing to a hoarse rasp, said, “I can give you the gift right now.  Come closer.”

The party, unwilling to let this unhinged man get any closer, unleashed bolt and arrow into his chest.  He crumpled to the ground dead.  A quick search through the man’s things revealed little else besides the makeshift shrine and drawings.  Demetrios set the parchment drawings on fire, muttering something about exterminating vermin.

The party continued on rounding one bend and then another encountering little else but rats of the normal variety.  Eventually the sewer came to a dead end, the sewer water continuing through a drain in the far wall.  The party spied a rusty door on the left.  Kulo listened through the door and heard gruff voices in discussion.  A nod and a look to his companions and the party of adventurers grasped their weapons a little tighter ready for the fight against the were-rats.

Kulo tried the door and found it unlocked.  Belladore quickly sprinted through the open door, assessing the danger lying in wait.  Kulo followed after her, moving stealthily through the threshold, he heard a click as he stepped on the second panel of the floor directly in front of the door.  Three darts flew from the wall, piercing his skin.  A moment of fear gripped Kulo as he realized that those darts likely were covered in poison, but thankfully, it appeared as if the poison had dried out and was no longer virulent.

Lord SketchFIN

The rest of the party charged into the room.  They were on a landing with stairs leading to a lower level.  In the far corner of the room, vermin gathered: eight giant rats and two monstrous rats surrounded three rat-like humans, each of whom brandished a sword.  One of the rat-like humans stood taller than the other two, clearly marking him as the leader of the pack.

Lord Sketch and Giant Rats

From the ledge, the party unleashed ranged attacks with their bows and crossbows and spells until the swarm of rats closed the distance.  Tanin cast sleep, sending five of the giant rats into a deep slumber.  Sareph moved up and put himself in harm’s way when he was surrounded by the lesser were-rats and monstrous rats.  Kulo dropped his crossbow and joined the melee to assist Sareph, who was now bleeding from several wounds.  With the numbers in their favor, it was only a matter of time before the party of adventurers emerged victorious, but not without the possibility of at least one loss on their side.  Kulo felt a piercing pain as the boss were-rat sank his teeth into Kulo’s arm.  All were aware of the lore.  Would Kulo contract lycanthropy from the bite?

Another few moments and the rats of all shapes were vanquished.  The subordinate were-rats turned back into giant rats upon their death.  The boss were-rat turned back into a man, instead.  Inspecting his body, Kulo noticed the boss were-rat’s clothes were finely made, as if he lived above his station in life.  Despite his fine garments, his boots were ragged and old.  Kulo found a pair of ivory dice, a silk embroidered handkerchief, and a letter in the boss were-rat’s pockets:

Lord Sketch's LetterFIN

Upon examining the letter, Demetrios frowned but there was a gleam in his eye as he said to Kulo, “Fighting crime never ends!”

The party found two chests in the back corner of the room.  The first chest contained 876 copper pieces, 766 silver pieces, and 85 gold pieces.  The second chest contained a large, well-made tapestry depicting Blue Crab Bay of Cyr, a silk robe with gold embroidery, an onyx locket holding a curl of hair, a soapstone pitcher, a feather mask with silver thread,  a potion in a glass bottle (the liquid included brown, silver, and gray layers that won’t mix even when the bottle is shaken), and a black and gray stone pyramid.  The stone pyramid appeared to be attracted to the metal armor of the party as if pulled by some invisible force.

On returning to the warehouse, Demetrios summarily executed the two unconscious thugs, slitting their throats and muttering something about exterminating vermin.  He also gave the party a wand of improved minor illusion.  He told them that if the party ever needed him again, they could expend a charge of the wand and it will create a glowing bat insignia, like the one he pins to the criminals he has killed, in the nighttime sky.  “I will see the bat signal and come,” he said.

Lykopsis and Sareph advanced to 3rd-level.  Tanin advanced to 5th-level.  Kulo successfully avoided the curse of were-rat lycanthropy!


(Full Disclosure: Some of the following links will take you to DriveThruRPG.com where I participate in the affiliate program. Any purchases through these links provides me with a credit at One Book Shelf sites (DriveThruRPG, RPGNow, DMsGuild, etc.). Your support is appreciated.)

Warehouse Tiles: Wizards of the Coast City Tiles

Sewer Map Tiles/Terrain: Black Scrolls Games Sewer Map Tiles

Adventure Ideas about Lord Sketch and the worship of Chitrr’k’k: Kobold Press Book of Lairs

Riddle in Chirurgeon’s letter: 3 in 1 Puzzles, Traps, and Magic Items Pack by Patrick E. Pullen

Bandit Paper Miniatures: One Monk/Mayhem in Paper Bandit Warband

Carrion Crawler Paper Miniatures: One Monk/Mayhem in Paper Dungeon Monsters

Parchment Paper Stock Art: Inked Adventures Stock Art Parchment Pages

Monstrous Rats Paper Miniatures: Printable Heroes

Dark (Age) Knight Paper Miniature by cowboyleland on the Cardboard Warriors Forum: Cardboard Warriors January 2017 Forum Hoard “Out of Time”

Original Art of Were-Rat and Giant Rats: Jody Monochrome

Were-rats and Giant Rat Metal Miniatures: Ral Partha/Iron Wind Metals

Session 12: What Lurks Beneath the Golden Tankard

The Golden Tankard Cellar2

(Note: This adventure was run in April 2017.  In terms of campaign time, this adventure took place contemporaneously with Session 11: The Jackdaws, the Raven, and the Rat).

While Tanin and Bao took on the mission of the Jackdaws in discovering the identity of the Raven, Kulo and Velnius were seeking to make new purchases to aid their adventuring life.  Velnius left Xerbo in the care of the potboy at the Weary Traveler.  As they walked past a rather derelict tavern near the edge of the wall that separated this poorer quarter from a merchant-lord quarter, the sign dangling outside by one remaining chain identified it as the Golden Tankard, they heard a woman crying for help.  She was sitting in the doorway of the tavern, cradling a small boy.  Kulo and Velnius moved over to the woman to investigate the commotion.  Three others–a female hill dwarf, a human woman, and a female half-orc trying to keep her identity shrouded by the hood of her cloak–also came closer from the busy street to offer assistance.  The boy appeared ashen and was delirious.  Kulo and Velnius could tell that the boy had a number of scrapes and bruises but were at a loss for what pained him so much.  A female hill dwarf who also answered the pleas for help, inspected the boy closer, noticing a puncture wound in his neck.  She believed he was poisoned from some bite.

As this was going on, a surly mountain dwarf emerged in the doorway, muttering “If I told them once, I told them a thousand times.  Stay out of the cellar!”  On seeing the state of the boy, his demeanor quickly changed and he looked about sheepishly.  The human woman from the street asked the mountain dwarf what was in the cellar.  He equivocated in his answer muttering something about a rat infestation.  The woman could tell he was hiding something.  A growing crowd was gathering at the doorway, which seemed to agitate the mountain dwarf.  The woman pressed him further about the cellar.

The dwarf grew angry, but quickly stifled his temper, and proclaimed to the gathering, “I, Martyn Fenns, proprietor of the Golden Tankard will pay . . .” he paused momentarily grimacing at the thought of having to spend money, “20 gold pieces to the stalwart ban of brave souls willing to kill the rats in my cellar that must have bitten this boy.  If any of you be brave enough!”  At this last statement, he directed his gaze on the original group that had come to assist.

Kulo and Velnius bristled at the insinuation that they lacked courage.  The original group exchanged looks of agreement and introduced themselves to each other.  Pabelle, the female hill dwarf, Mara, the human woman, and Lykopsis, the female half-orc, joined Kulo and Velnius in reassuring the woman cradling the boy in the doorway that they would find out what happened to him in the cellar.  The woman, a barmaid named Danyella, thanked the intrepid adventurers for helping her son, Theo.  In that instant, Theo came-to from his delirium and said, “They took Mallic!  They have Mallic!” before collapsing in Danyella’s arms.  A look of dismay spread over Danyella’s face and she said, her lips quivering, “Mallic!”

Pabelle gave Danyella a look filled with sympathy and said, “We’ll find Mallic too.”  So, the adventurers helped Danyella carry Theo to one of the Inn’s rooms so he could rest.  Afterwards, they were led to the cellar to take on Martyn’s claimed rats.  Martyn gave the party a lantern to light their way.  The cellar was dark, dank, and a foul odor permeated the room, a mixture of rotten foodstuffs, spilled wine, mildew, and the unmistakable smell of vermin dander and droppings.  Three barrels sat in the southwest corner and in the middle of the wall sat a large stack of crates and barrels.

The sound of scratching could be heard emanating from the large stack of crates and barrels.  The party prepared themselves for some vermin control and approached the crates.  Two giant rats emerged from behind the crates and began attacking the party.  A third giant rat emerged quietly from behind the barrels in the corner and attacked Kulo.

Golden Tankard Cellar Rat2fin

After some minor injuries, the party put the giant rats to the sword.  Not convinced their job was done, the party began searching the room.  They examined the two doors in the cellar.  One led to the street–the delivery entrance for the inn.  The other was an inner door, of substantial iron construction and seemingly out-of-place in the cellar.  Pabelle immediately thought out loud, “What is Martyn hiding in there?”  Kulo tried picking the lock, but failed.

Bothered by the stacking of the crates and barrels in mostly one location of the cellar, Velnius noticed that there were many scuff marks on the stone floor near the crates, as if they had been moved back and forth over the area many times.  Moving some of the crates aside, Velnius shouted to his companions that he’d discovered a tunnel.

Moving more of the crates and barrels to the side, the party inspected what appeared to be a very rough hewn tunnel in the wall.  The air felt cool and moist, but also carried the smell of more vermin.  Velnius, with his dark vision, could tell the corridor turned to the left, but could see no more.  Mara looked into the darkness and asked the group, “Well, shall we see what Martyn’s been up to down here?”

The party edged forward in rank, cautiously eyeballing the recesses for the beady eyes of giant rats, the beams of light from Kulo’s lantern illuminating the sides of the tunnel.  Near an opening and depression of the tunnel, their expectations were met with the yellowed fangs of five giant rats that launched forward for the attack.  Kulo’s lantern highlighted the melee, but more telling were the sounds: blades slicing the air and meeting mangy hides, the thwump of quarterstaff against skull, and the cries of pain as one of the rodent’s teeth sank into flesh.  In a moment of that flickering light, the aftermath was telling–five dead giant rats littered the corridor.

The adventurers continued down the corridor as it snaked to the right.  Pabelle suddenly realized Martyn’s intent with the tunnels.  She announced to the group, “Martyn was trying to tunnel underneath the wall into the richer quarter!”  They continued cautiously forward coming to an opening that branched in three directions, one heading back towards the cellar.  Kulo taking notice of this said, “His stonecunning has much to be desired.”  The group decided to take the branch that led away from the cellar.  It curved to a dead-end, but before the group could backtrack, beady eyes emerged from the darkness as four giant rats attacked!

Tunnels Tankard

As the sounds of struggle diminished, the giant rats lay skewered upon the stone floor.  At a dead end, the party doubled-back to the branching corridor turning to the unexplored area of the tunnels.  This corridor also led to a larger opening that branched in either direction but before the adventurers could gather their bearings, four giant spiders descended on them from the recesses of the ceiling, their fangs dripping poison.

The fight this time was more dire.  More than once poison added to the pain of wounds inflicted by the arachnids, but in mere moments the fighting ceased.  All of the spiders were dead and the doughty adventurers were tending to wounds.  Kulo needed to light a torch.  In the midst of battle he dropped the lantern provided by Martyn in order to unsheathe his rapier and the lantern shattered.

Peering down the corridor leading away from the direction of the cellar, Velnius could see a chamber covered in spiderwebs.  The party approached cautiously, cutting through the webs in order to reach the main body of the chamber.  No spiders emerged to attack , but the group noticed three forms hanging in the webs.  Cutting the first down revealed the remains of a shabbily-dressed man, clearly one of Cyr’s destitute denizens.  On the ground near his body was a crudely constructed club, seemingly made from a table leg.  Searching his body, the party found a potion of healing, a vial of what appeared to be antivenom, and a glass bottle of oil for a lantern.  A further search of the room turned up a lantern, still in good working order.  The second cocoon contained a desiccated giant rat.  The third cocoon held a boy, still alive, who came-to momentarily as they were cutting him from the webs.

Tunnels Tankard2fin

“Theo?  Where’s Theo,” he asked nervously.

Pabelle responded, “Theo is upstairs being looked after.  Do you know how many spiders there are down here?”

Mallic shook his head, but said with a shudder, “No, I don’t know how many, but there is a really big one, bigger than all the rest.  It inspected me before feeding on the giant rat.”

Looking him over, it appeared that while bruised, Mallic was not poisoned.

The adventuring party moved down the corridor from whence they came in the direction back towards the cellar.  They noticed one last branching corridor they had yet to explore.  Velnius and Kulo moved up to explore this corridor, while Mara, Lykopsis, Pabelle, and Mallic waited within earshot.

As they rounded a bend, Kulo noticed a cave-in that led to a finished room.  “The room with the iron door,” Kulo thought.  Meanwhile, Velnius peered down the final tunnel and noticed spiderwebs covering the walls, floor, and ceiling.  Velnius joined Kulo in the room, accessible through the cave-in.  Shelves lined the walls holding glass bottles.  Kulo held one of the bottles up to the light of his torch.  Inside he could see an amber liquid and at the bottom of the bottle, a dead spider.  He stashed the bottle in his pack and the two of them returned to the group and told them of their find.  Mara recognized the contents of the bottle as spider-wine, a particularly potent alcohol considered illegal in most civilized lands including Cyr.  They returned to the room via the cave-in and opened the iron door from the inside ready to reunite Mallic with his mom and brother, heal Theo from the poison coursing through his veins with the antivenom, and to confront Martyn about his contraband.

The party first found Danyella and Theo in an upstairs room.  Danyella was overcome with joy at seeing Mallic alive and well.  Pabelle cradled Theo in her arms, rousing him from his stupor, and then giving him the antivenom to drink.  She looked at Danyella and said, “This should heal him.”  Danyella smiled with tears falling from her eyes.  They left the family alone, suggesting to Danyella and Mallic to let Theo rest to give the antivenom some time to work.

Finding Martyn behind the bar counter rubbing a dirty mug with a greasy rag in some half-hearted attempt at cleaning, the party confronted him about his exploits below the Golden Tankard.  He appeared surly and defiant at the claims the group was leveling at him, bristling at the accusation that he would try to tunnel into the nearby merchant-lord district.  Instead he suggested he had widened a rat tunnel that led to his cellar in order to put a stop to his rat infestation and then questioned whether the party had even done anything about the giant rats.  He asked aloud whether they even deserved the 20 gold pieces he had promised them.

Kulo became incensed, pulled out the bottle of spider-wine, and waved it in front of Martyn’s face.  “We know about this!” he said.  Martyn’s eyes grew wide and he stammered, finally regaining his composure and asking Kulo to keep his voice down as he surveyed the two drunks staring into their mugs in the common room of the Golden Tankard.  Martyn then became compliant, dropping his sullen demeanor.  He admitted to trying to tunnel to into the wealthier quarter, but was cursed by his stone-ignorance, part of what led him to leave his dwarven clan years ago to settle among the humans of Cyr.  When that failed he concocted a plan to sell the illicit spider-wine, receiving a shipment of spiders from smugglers who claimed they had been stolen from a drow lair.  But his poor tunneling collapsed the back wall of his room where he stored the spiders and the wine.  The spiders that were still alive, escaped their cage into his tunnels.  He figured the spiders could help end his rat infestation.  After a few months, he hired a local drunk who owed him an outstanding debt to go into the tunnels and kill the spiders.

Pabelle was incredulous, “And you didn’t care whether Danyella’s boys would be harmed by these spiders?”

Martyn shrugged, “I figured as long as I was stern with them about staying out of the cellar, keeping the iron door closed and locked, and blocking the main tunnel entrance everything would be fine.”

Kulo grew irritated again.  He told Martyn that besides the 20 gold pieces he offered them, he was now going to pay them an additional 2 gold pieces for every rat and every spider carcass they brought him.  Martyn frowned and said he didn’t have it even if he was willing to pay the extortion fee.

Kulo slammed his fist on the bar counter and said, “Fine, we’ll end your spider and rat problem–there is one big spider left.  But we want 50% stake in the Golden Tankard.”

Martyn grumbled and clenched his fists.  Kulo continued, “And you’re going to pay Danyella double what you’re paying her now.”

Martyn tried to dissuade them from this venture, pointing out that the Golden Tankard hadn’t operated as an inn for some time because it had a leaky roof.  Only two of the upstairs rooms were habitable and they were for him and Danyella and her boys.  Kulo said the party would get the roof repaired.  Martyn, realizing he had no way out, reluctantly agreed.

Kulo vaulted the bar counter, pulled a dagger from his belt and poked it into Martyn’s belly.  “And your days of wild schemes like the tunnels and spider-wine are over, you understand!”

Martyn gulped and nodded deferentially, a dagger in the gut a clear attitude adjustment.

The party prepared themselves for their final fight, healing themselves with goodberries and bolstering each other’s courage.  They returned to the tunnels and the final corridor,  Kulo’s lantern lighting the way.  As they approached the final chamber, they cautiously made their way through the webs to avoid being entrapped.  But their movements gave away their approach and a giant spider emerged along the ceiling of the chamber.

Spider Queen3

As the party hacked and fought the foul beast, a swarm of newly hatched spiders crawled along the floor before enveloping Lykopsis.  Lykopsis managed to crush the last of the spider swarm just as the rest of the party slayed the giant spider.  The party searched the lair in case anything of value had been hoarded, but all they found were the bones of  giant rats.  Lykopsis noticed something glinting from the giant spider’s abdomen.  Looking more closely, the giant spider queen had what appeared to be a gem growing in her abdomen.  Lykopsis pried it out and placed it in her backpack.

Returning to the Golden Tankard, the party relaxed and had a mug of poor-quality ale or some cheap wine.  Although it wasn’t much, the adventurers felt good about this being their place.  The Weary Traveler had been good to them, but they clearly had enemies in the city and a less conspicuous home base would be good.

Kulo spoke with Danyella about getting an estimate on the roof repairs, giving her 30 gold pieces for the undertaking and a down-payment.  He also suggested she see if she could get Mallic an apprenticeship with a local roofer.  Martyn overheard this and told Kulo that Mallic is needed for odd jobs around the Golden Tankard, like bringing in fire wood or washing dishes.  Kulo responded that it would be better for Mallic to have his own income so that he could help Danyella pay the rent on the room they occupy upstairs.  Besides, Theo was now old enough to take over many of these tasks.  Martyn, still not used to his co-ownership in the Golden Tankard, reluctantly deferred.

Pabelle, Lykopsis, and Mara advanced to 2nd level.


(Full Disclosure: Some of the following links will take you to DriveThruRPG.com where I participate in the affiliate program. Any purchases through these links provides me with a credit at One Book Shelf sites (DriveThruRPG, RPGNow, DMsGuild, etc.). Your support is appreciated.)

Adventure based on a module from Nord Games: Creaking in the Dark

Cavern and Cellar Tiles: Fat Dragon Copper Dragon Caverns 1 and Fat Dragon Copper Dragon Basic Dungeons 1

Barrels and Crates: Fat Dragon E-Z Dungeon Deluxe Edition

Spider Webs: Fat Dragon Depths of the Drow

Giant Rat Metal Minis: Ral Partha/Iron Wind Metals Giant Rat

Original Art of the Spider Queen: Jody Monochrome