Session 17: The Child Who Wasn’t a Child

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(This session was run in October of 2017.  In terms of campaign time, this session took place the next day after the kobold ambush in Session 16: On the Road to Valerius.  A description of the campaign world, and a list of the player characters can be found at The World Map).

Having survived a rather harrowing ambush from kobolds and with knowledge that some fell wizard had initiated the attack, the wedding caravan spent a restless night on edge.  Fortunately, their rest was undisturbed.  As the caravan started rolling on towards Valerius the next day, the party members kept a careful eye on their surroundings.

Late in the morning as the caravan passed isolated farmsteads, the adventurers spotted something amiss in the field off to their left.  Scorch marks in a circular pattern seemed to suggest something sinister had transpired here relatively recently.  In fact, the air held the taint of sulfur.  And it looked like something was chained to the middle of the circle.  The caravan was halted.  Tanin and Velnius dismounted from their horses and moved closer to investigate.

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As the party moved closer to investigate, they could now make out a charred skeleton chained in the center of the burned circle in the field.  The trees and land of the isolated farmstead appeared to be dead, with little growth on either side of the road.  A lonely looking barn and farm house to the south showed no signs of life.

Belladore moved beyond the rock wall separating the road from the field, getting close enough to the skeleton to cast mage hand.  She lifted part of the skeleton until the slack of the chains was pulled tight and the spectral, magical hand dropped the skeleton back to the burned earth.  Immediately, nearly a dozen animated skeletons bubbled from the ground.  The mismatched human and animal bones that made up their construction and the green aura emanating from their eyes signified their corruption beyond mere necromancy.

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The skeletons lumbered forward, death the certain fate awaiting those who get caught in their clutches.  Kulo, Velnius, and Okkar unleashed bolts from their crossbows at the skeletons, while Tanin engaged the nearest skeleton with his scimitar.  Within a few short moments of melee, Tanin discovered the skeletons exhibited an additional sign of corruption.  On destroying the animacy that held the bones of the skeleton together, the skeleton would explode in a burst of green miasma that spread necrosis to nearby living flesh.  The party tried to keep their distance, but Tanin maintained his direct engagement as a buffer for the rest of the party.  Xerbo, Velnius’s mastiff, also held off the skeletons from the rest of the caravan.

Kulo noticed a figure peering at the caravan from a copse of dead trees to the northeast.  But before he could react, the fight grew more intense as a dead tree right next to the wagon came to life, attacking Pabelle.  Several scarecrows from the blighted farm to the south also attacked the caravan as the party’s attention was focused on the skeletons.

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The party had no choice but to fight along two fronts to protect the wagon and the Makriyannis family.  Kulo and Pabelle fought the tree blight and scarecrows to the south, while Tanin, Velnius, and Xerbo fought the skeletons to the north.  Belladore maintained her distance between both sets of enemies, casting Faerie Fire to help aid in the skeletons destruction.  Okkar continued to unleash crossbow bolts into the nearest enemies to the wagon to keep the Makriyannis family safe.  Xrax stayed next to the wagon with his maul ready to defend the wedding party against any attackers.

The fight against the skeletons turned into a tough slog as Tanin and Velnius’s edged weapons cut flesh better than bones.  Xerbo’s bite proved to be the better weapon against the skeletons.  Kulo and Pabelle, with the aid of Okkar’s crossbow, quickly took down the blight that had come close to attacking the horses pulling the wagon.  The horses had reared and snorted at the corrupt vegetation but Leandros kept the them under control.  Kulo and Pabelle moved up to engage the animated scarecrows before they too could attack the wedding wagon.  To aid their defense, Belladore threw a dagger at the nearest scarecrow with deadly aim.

The battle shifted once the skeletons were destroyed.  The exploding necrosis spreading death as the skeletons fell took its toll on Velnius, Xerbo, and Tanin.  But the tide had turned.  The scarecrows would fall shortly as the party was able to focus their attacks on them.

With the battle won, Kulo investigated the copse of dead trees where he saw the figure peering at the party.  Kulo did not find anyone but noticed a set of tracks that led further to the northeast.  He relayed this to the party as they planned their next moves.

The party decided to investigate the farmhouse to the south first before exploring the trail leading from the field.  The farmhouse appeared to be abandoned–there was no sign of life, not even farm animals.  The adventurers decided on a plan.  The wedding party would wait in the farmhouse with Okkar and Xrax as guards, while the rest of the party examined the trail leading from the field.  Master Makriyannis agreed to the plan as his wife and daughters could use some rest after having witnessed such horrors on the road.

Kulo, Pabelle, Velnius with Xerbo, Tanin, and Belladore made their way cautiously along the footpath leading from the field.  The path snaked for a few miles before opening up to the overgrown ruins of a village.

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The adventurers examined the remains of a church or temple to their immediate left from the footpath.  Other than an unsettled feeling at examining the decaying ruins of a people long forgotten, the building held nothing of interest.

Moving along to the next building, as Tanin crossed what remained of the threshold of the ruin he seemed to pass through a magical barrier as a flash of light pulsed as he crossed the threshold.  Immediately, Tanin heard a roar that ended in a blood-curdling hoot as an emaciated owlbear charged from the back of the ruined building.

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The owlbear looked as if it had been trapped in this ruin for some time.  It attacked with a ferociousness driven by its hunger.  Tanin defended himself and the party came to his aid, but all were reluctant to fell the beast.  Nonetheless, even with blood running from numerous wounds, the owlbear was crazed to attack.  The adventurers were forced to put the owlbear down.

The adventurers continued to inspect the ruins systematically moving on to the next building which was empty save a tree growing in the center of the back room.  Continuing to the next building, a flash of light punctuated the stillness of the afternoon as Kulo crossed the threshold.

This time a gaunt Ettin stood up to confront the adventurers, his countenances flat of emotion like a prisoner who has had to endure the torment of a long, solitary confinement that even a second head could not assuage.  He picked up a large stone from the ruins ready to smash bones, an end in violence all he could hope for.

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Again, the party reluctantly attacked the trapped creature despite, in this case, its chaotic nature, the long torment of its isolation, punishment enough for its certain lifetime of cruelty.  As with the owlbear, the party inflicted numerous wounds, the advantage of many against one-ish.  The ettin fought to the grisly end.  Death its final respite.

The building immediately behind the trapped ettin contained nothing but the ghosts of past memories from a people long forgotten.  While examining this building, movement at the last, unexplored building caught the attention of Belladore.

While the rest of the party was kicking over rocks and wondering about the people who had once inhabited the space between these walls, Belladore crossed the expanse to investigate.  Belladore spied a child, a young girl, skipping among the fallen stones clutching two toys, a stuffed bear and a doll.  She sang a haunting song:

One, two, he’s coming for you.

Three, four, better lock the door.

Five, Six, grab your . . . (mumbled).

Seven, Eight, await your fate.

Nine, Ten, never . . . (mumbled) . . . again.

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Belladore asked the girl who she was and why she was here.  The girl responded with her name, Emma.  She then said, cryptically, “the well” and motioned to the overgrown well near the building she was playing in.

Emma continued to skip and play among the ruins.  Belladore watched as Emma played with her toys on the crumbled stones of a wall.  Emma motioned with the doll to the bear, “you better be good!  Daddy’s gonna be mad!”  Belladore took note that the toy doll had two heads.  By this point Kulo and Pabelle noticed that Belladore had wandered off and checked to see what she found.  But by the time they reached the ruined building where Belladore discovered Emma, the girl had disappeared.  Belladore told the rest of the party what she had seen and learned from Emma.

The adventurers examined the well, peering down into the murky depths.  A shallow pool of water was visible immediately below the well, the light of the afternoon sun shining on the surface of the water.

Belladore volunteered to be lowered into the well.  A rope was tied around her waist and she was given a torch to light her way.  The adventurers lowered her down slowly.  When she cleared the walls of the well, the space opened up to small chamber, with water immediately below the well and the rest of the cavern a sort of ghastly altar.  Several burning candles flickered light from the top of the altar, illuminating the empty sockets of a number of skulls resting besides them.  Other bones, clearly of human origin, littered the table. Next to the altar, eyes penetrating the gloom, stood a shriveled husk of a woman.

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The old woman spoke, “I see you’ve bested my pets.  You are strong enough . . . maybe.  Bring the rest of your group down here and we’ll talk.”

Belladore asked, “What is it you want?”

The old woman replied, “We’ll talk when the rest are down here.”

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Various bones, some human, hung from the belt of the old woman and she wore a charm of smaller bones around her wrist, but what caught Belladore’s eye was the bone she wore around her neck–a vertebra, similar to the ones found by the adventurers before.  The old woman clutched the vertebra intermittently as she spoke.

Belladore described her interaction with the old woman to the rest of the party.  They decided they would hear her out.  The party climbed down the well to find out what the woman would bargain.

Tanin introduced himself and the rest of the group.  The woman did not reveal her name.  Instead, she explained that she was bound to this place by the evil magic of Lord DeLacrane.  She explained further that this ruined villa was the home of Lord DeLacrane years ago.  She wished for the adventurers to assault his tomb and destroy him.

Tanin asked what the benefit would be for the party.  The old woman revealed that the crypt held a number of magic items, including Lord DeLacrane’s magic sword.  Any plunder the group survives with would be theirs to keep.  Tanin asked where the crypt was located.  The old woman said that she could provide a portal that would transport them to the crypt, the only way the tomb could be accessed.  Belladore interjected, asking the old woman if she knew Emma.  A flash of anger mixed with sadness crossed her face before she merely shook her head, “no.”

Kulo asked the old woman if she could tell them more about Lord DeLacrane.  She said the crypt was likely to hold a number of dangers–undead that would seek to spill their life’s blood.  Lord DeLacrane, too, was an undead knight.

The adventurers huddled discussing their options and their impressions of the old woman.  Tanin had taken note of the vertebra hanging from her neck.  The group decided their was little to lose in destroying Lord DeLacrane–they would obtain magic items, if what the old woman said was correct.  Then, if she intended to double-cross them, which they all suspected, they could destroy her too and take the vertebra.

In agreement, Tanin turned back to the old woman and said the party would seek and destroy Lord DeLacrane . . .


Full Disclosure: Some of the following links will take you to DriveThruRPG.com or DMsGuild.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.

Farm Field Map Tiles: Heroic Maps Hecse Fyre Field

Ruined Village Map Tiles: Heroic Maps Nightingdell Village

Wagon: Fat Dragon Games Halfling Dwellings Set

Horses Paper Miniatures: Horses by Xtea

Corrupted Skeleton Paper Miniatures: Distrigillator’s Roads of Apocalypse (4th ed.) – Set 19: Armies of Undead: Carcasses

Scarecrow Paper Miniatures: One Monk/Mayhem in Paper Scarecrows and Jack-O-Lanterns

Tree Blight Paper Miniature: Okumarts Games Darkfast Classic Fantasy Set Nine: Tree Folk

Owlbear Paper Miniature: One Monk/Mayhem in Paper Dungeon Monsters

Ettin Paper Miniature: Sanity Studios Giants

Emma Paper Miniature: Dryws Imperfect Children

Witch Paper Miniature: One Monk/Mayhem in Paper Witches and Bats

Flying Stand for Belladore: Litko Flying Figure Stands 25mm Round

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Session 16: On the Road to Valerius

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(This session was run in September of 2017.  In terms of campaign time, the start of the adventurers’ trip to Valerius began the day after Session 15: The Necropolis of Cyr.  A description of the campaign world and list of characters can be found at The World Map.)

With Master Makriyannis’s daughter finally getting over her cold feet, Okkar Ironeyes collected the Heroes of Edgewood for the wedding caravan to Valerius.  A little over a month had transpired since the adventurers first came together answering a help wanted sign and clearing out some were-rats in Makriyannis’s cellar in Session 1: Help Wanted.  After that first job, the adventurers agreed to serve as guards for the betrothed, Makriyannis’s daugher, Daphne.

The wedding caravan gathered at Makriyannis’s manor.  Kulo, Belladore, Xrax, Velnius with Xerbo, Pabelle, and Okkar would form the guard.  Besides Master Makriyannis, the wagon also held his daughters, Daphne and Kassandra, his wife, Eudora, and the driver, Leandros.  Lykopsis and Seraph would stay back in Cyr and look after the Golden Tankard.  Bao, in his mysterious monk ways, disappeared the very morning that Okkar came round to collect the group.  The party suspected that Bao might turn up somewhere later in their travels.

The wedding caravan wended its way from the merchant-noble quarter through the central market to the eastern gates of the city.  People thronged the central market and eastern gatehouse.  The summer festival season was in full swing, bringing in merchants and travelers from afar, many coming by boat, some from Valerius and Themis, and the occasional travelers from the various hamlets and homesteads lining the roads east and south.

A desperate beggar tugged at Kulo’s leather cuirass, hand outstretched for alms.  Kulo gave the disheveled man a couple of silver pieces.  The man held onto Kulo briefly as he appeared to go into a trance.  He intoned a prophecy: “Danger awaits you outside the gates of Cyr.”  Kulo brushed off the man’s dirty hand from his side and rolled his eyes at the pronouncement.

As the caravan continued to make its way to the city gate, they were forced to move aside as a contingent of guards escorted an orc in chains towards the prison of Cyr.  People from all sides cursed the orc–some going so far as to spit on him or throw rotten vegetables at him.  Tanin asked one of the guards what the orc had done.  The guard barked back at him, “Out of the way!”

Tanin turned his attention to the orc and asked him what he’d done.  The orc said he was an outcast from his tribe.  He was starving so he took food from one of the surrounding farms outside Cyr’s walls.  He didn’t hurt anyone.  There was a brief discussion among the heroes of whether to do anything about the orc being led away.  But Master Makriyannis poked his head out the wagon and asked what was holding up the caravan.  The party members shrugged and carried on towards the gate.

Just before the caravan reached the city gate, a small group of people congregated around an old man with a long beard dressed in ragged clothes.  A red cloak torn to shreds hung around his neck.  He held a banner, fraying at the end, but still readable: Our Sins Have Doomed Us.  His voice carried to the wedding caravan, “. . . and the sky will turn as black as tar, and blood shall rain from the stars above!  The dead shall rise and the demons shall enter this world!”

Tanin and the rest of the adventurers seemed unimpressed by the zealot of doom.  The wedding caravan continued on, passing through the city gate on the road to Valerius.

The first half of the day’s journey was tranquil, passing farmsteads along the outskirts of Cyr.  The heroes settled in to a relaxing trip through the countryside.  They found it a good change of pace from the bustle of the city, which had filled their days of late.

Near mid-day, the tranquility of the uninhabited landscape was pierced by the sounds of battle nearby.  A low hillock blocked their view, but clearly someone or something engaged in battle.  The caravan halted and the heroes advanced upon the hill to see what transpired.  Roughly 100 feet away a small figure fought bravely against a creature at least three times its size.  Emerging from the ground with a deadly pounce, what looked to be a land shark had the advantage on the single halfling warrior defending himself.

Seeing the scene before her, Belladore, with her knowledge of these creature’s taste for halfling flesh, exclaimed, “bulette!”

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The bulette leaped on to the gallant halfling knight smashing him into the ground and knocking him prone.  Xrax charged forward to take the attention away from the halfling.  But before he could get there, the halfling scrambled to his feet and attempted to pierce through the tough natural armor of the bulette’s hide with his short sword.  The attack was in vain.  Thankfully for the halfling, so was the bulette’s attempt to bite the halfling in twain.

Velnius and Kulo hit the bulette with ranged attacks.  Tanin moved forward and spoke a healing word for the halfling.  As the heroes continued to inflict more wounds on the bulette, Belladore noticed what looked like a fin emerge from the earth and travel in their direction!  Within a brief few moments, the earth erupted with a second bulette entering the fray!

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The battle between the heroes and the bulettes raged fiercely.  Shortly after slaying one of the two that emerged, the battle became more dire again.  Significantly larger and more ferocious than the previous two, an ancient looking bulette, the scales of its hide deeply darkened due to age, erupted from the surface of the ground.

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While the odds seemed to shift away from the adventurers, they redoubled their efforts and due to their resourcefulness slayed the final ancient bulette.  More surprising, the heroes managed to save the halfling warrior.  He was seriously injured, but alive.  Surely he would have perished had not the heroes intervened.

Belladore, always curious about her fellow halfings, inquired about the warrior’s audacious, if not absurd quest.  He introduced himself as Sir Roscoe.  He explained that these bulettes regularly hunted members of his village to the east of here.  He tried to muster a hunting party to rouse the bulettes, but they all believed he was daft in suggesting such a plan.  So, fed up with his fellow villagers lack of courage, he took to flushing out the bulettes himself.  He knew where there typical hunting grounds were–they never attacked the village directly because it was settled on ancient bedrock too dense for the bulettes to burrow through.  He thanked the adventurers for their help in slaying the beasts, which elicited a chuckle out of more than one of the party members.  He also welcomed them to his village, Nestled Valley, and gave the general directions for how to find it, since it was all but invisible to those who don’t know its location.

The wedding caravan continued on its way to Valerius after the diversion with Sir Roscoe and the marauding bulettes.  In the late afternoon, the wedding caravan came upon a copse of trees next to the road and a stream branching from the Hyperborean River.  Something seemed wrong to Kulo.  He felt like someone or something was watching the group.

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Xrax and Tanin moved forward cautiously, the hairs on the backs of their necks standing up as they suspected an ambush was about to occur.  Kulo noticed movement in the large tree to their right and unleashed an arrow right where the branches stirred slightly.  The “thwap” of the arrow as it hit the leaves of the tree suggested the shot hit home.  Just moments later, a dead kobold fell to the ground.  Materializing from the trees and bushes to their right a swarm of kobolds joined the fray!

Xrax and Tanin immediately engaged the kobolds in melee, while Kulo and Velnius provided support with ranged missile weapons.  Pabelle and Belladore stayed with Okkar near the wagon to keep the wedding caravan safe as well as ready spells to assist in the battle.

Xrax and Tanin soon realized that these kobolds seemed a lot tougher than lore led them to believe.  Five surrounded Tanin while Xrax held off three more.  Additional missile fire rained down from the tree that had held the kobold killed at the outset by Kulo.  Velnius and Kulo focused their efforts on taking out the snipers in the tree.

But the battle soon became more intense.  Behind a boulder to their left, across from the tributary of the Hyperborean River, eight winged kobolds took flight and joined the combat.  They appeared to be targeting Tanin, dropping rocks on him before descending and surrounding him.  Likewise, the snipers in the tree appeared to be focusing their shots on Tanin.

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As the battle raged and several kobolds had been slain, a new menace appeared on the party’s right.  From a slight hill, four new kobolds emerged.  Given the robes and quarterstaff held by one, the party surmised this kobold had magic-casting abilities.  The other three kobolds that appeared with him also looked different.  They wore harnesses around their waists that connected over their shoulders and held a number of small clay pots, the perfect size for a kobold to hurl at an enemy.  But if that wasn’t enough, a giant red serpent appeared around some brush and engaged Xrax.

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The fight intensified.  Xrax seemed to have no difficulty handling the kobolds he was engaged with, but Tanin being completely surrounded and continuing to take missile fire was suffering.  The kobold sorcerer appeared around some brush and targeted Xrax with Magic Missile.  One of the kobolds bearing the small clay pots along a bandolier, chucked one at Xrax.  The pot burst on his chest plate.  Xrax felt the burning sensation of acid dripping onto his skin through the chinks in his armor.  Worse, some of the acid got in his eyes and he found himself temporarily blinded as his eyes teared up trying to flush the acid.  The large serpent bit at Xrax, but his plate mail held off the giant snake for now.

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Kulo and Velnius ended the sniper fire from the trees, watching two kobolds fall to their death after their crossbow bolts found their mark.  Okkar, his defense of the wagon unwavering, targeted one of the winged kobolds with his crossbow.  The bolt hit the flying kobold in the neck, dropping it into the river to be swept downstream.  Belladore muttered some incantations, gesturing to the kobolds with the clay pots held on bandoliers across their chests, rose petals dropping from her hand as she spoke the spell.  The rose petals disappeared as the weave of magic coursed across the brush.  All three of the kobolds fell soundly asleep.  Meanwhile, Tanin slayed a kobold surrounding him as did Xrax, blinking the final remnants of the acid from his eyes.

More of the winged kobolds dropped rocks on Tanin.  And two of the kobolds that surrounded him added to his wounds with dagger strikes.  Xrax’s plate mail held of the kobolds that surrounded him, but three more magic missiles erupted from the kobold sorcerer’s hand to embed in Xrax’s chest!  The giant serpent struck also, this time tearing a rent into Xrax’s rerebrace and couter, the large teeth gouging along Xrax’s upper arm, elbow, and forearm.

Kulo launched a missile at the sorcerer, his bolt hitting the kobold square in the chest.  Velnius took down one of the winged kobolds with his crossbow.  Belladore cast faerie fire on the sorcerer, the serpent, and one of the kobold’s fighting Xrax.  Pabelle moved up and threw an axe at the giant serpent, the axeblade lodging firmly in the neck of the beast.  Okkar, again took out one of the winged kobolds getting dangerously close to the wagon.

The sorcerer launched magic missile once more into Xrax, who otherwise was well defended against the kobolds, their weak attacks glancing off his plate mail armor.  Tanin felt the bite of a couple of blades and the bruise of another rock dropping on his shoulder, forcing him to forgo attacking in favor of healing himself to stay in the fight.  Kulo’s crossbow bolt ended the threat of the sorcerer–a significant turning point in the battle.  Velnius sunk a bolt into the eye of the giant serpent, its body spasming into death throes.  Xrax’s maul bashed in the heads of two of the kobolds who were engaged in melee combat with him.  Okkar and Pabelle killed two more winged kobolds who were moving closer to the wagon.

The tide had turned.  In just a matter of moments the rest of the kobolds were slayed, including the remaining winged kobolds who tried to escape back across the river, crossbow bolts bringing them crashing to the ground.  One kobold was left alive for questioning.

Tanin, in particular, was interested in the interrogation since the kobolds seemed to be targeting him.  Speaking in Themish, Tanin asked why they attacked the caravan.  The kobold told him that his master sent them on this mission.  They were to target Tanin because he possessed an artifact his master wanted.  Tanin expressed alarm at someone seemingly knowing that he held the magical vertebrae.  Tanin asked the kobold who his master was.  The kobold simply called him the master.  But he did reveal that the master was some type of spell-caster.  Tanin pressed the kobold for information about where his master was located.  The kobold, intimidated by Tanin’s anger, described the general direction of the master’s stronghold–underneath ruins in the King’s Wood near the Great Wyrm Mountains.  Tanin thanked the kobold for his compliance and then cut off his head with his scimitar, The Blade of Dark Deeds!


Full Disclosure: Some of the following links will take you to DriveThruRPG.com or DMsGuild.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.

City Encounters (beggar, orc in chains, and prophet of doom): Random Urban Encounters by Assassin Games

Add greater challenge to your kobold encounters with Ten Clever Kobolds by Jeff Ibach.

Forest Battle Mat: Paizo’s Pathfinder Basic Terrain Multi-Pack Flip-Mat

Wagon: Fat Dragon Games Halfling Dwellings Set

Donkey Cart: Mayhem in Paper/One Monk Grave Robbers

Large Tree and Bushes: Fat Dragon Games Woodland Adventures Set

Boulders: Fat Dragon Games Highland Adventures Set

River Tiles: Fat Dragon Games E-Z Tiles: Rivers & Streams

Road Tiles: Dave Graffam Medieval Ground Tiles

Horses Paper Miniatures: Horses by Xtea

Bulettes Paper Miniatures: Printable Heroes

Sir Roscoe the Halfling Paper Miniature by Jeff George: 2nd Place Single Figure Designer Category for 2017 Papercuts

Dark Red Kobold Paper Miniatures: Mayhem in Paper/One Monk Kobold Warband

Kobold Spearmen and Winged Kobold Miniatures: Paper Forge Paper Miniatures

Giant Serpent (Dragon Snake) Paper Miniature: Mayhem in Paper/One Monk Dungeon Monsters

Session 13: Lord Sketch of the Sewers of Cyr

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(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.

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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