(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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
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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