The City of Splendors is a bustling city on the Sword Coast. A rider from Red Larch can reach Waterdeep in seven days, three if he or she changes horses often and dares to ride by night. Some merchants have termed Waterdeep “the best supply center in the world,” with the largest collection of superb craft workers, experts, useful contacts, and potential hirelings to be found anywhere. Others warn that it represents a huge army of potential enemies for those who aren’t careful-and everyone agrees that its busy streets are full of spies.
Waterhavian noble families and guilds hold tremendous political and economic sway up and down the Sword Coast, but within the city itself, true power lies with the Masked Lords of Waterdeep individuals who convene secretly and whose identities are largely unknown. The public face of this ruling body is the Open Lord of Waterdeep. The current Open Lord, Laeral Silverhand, has held the position for only a few months, and many of the city’s nobles and guild masters are vying for her attention and conspiring to wrest power away from her office, while taking advantage of the transition to dispose of unwanted rivals. This kind of political chaos is “business as usual” for most city residents.
Rassalantar was a hamlet and caravan stop on the Long Road, just north of Waterdeep in the Sword Coast North region. Many a traveler has come upon the quiet village of Rassalantar and taken comfort in the soft beds and rich ale of the Sleeping Dragon, a cozy roadside inn. Few pay much attention to the walled farms and grazing sheep around the town, and fewer still take notice of the ruined keep hidden among the stand of trees west of the village. Yet Waterdeep has long maintained a large contingent of its City Guard here, using a nearby barracks as the base for outriders who infrequently patrol the road north as far as Amphail and south to Waterdeep.
Dessarin Valley, a lightly settled region of caravan towns, isolated homesteads, and uninhabited wilderness just a week’s journey from Waterdeep.
Nothing of note to the wider world has happened here for hundreds of years.
The frontier long ago receded farther northward, leaving behind a quiet backwater littered with ruins. These days, the Dessarin Valley has little in common with the popular conception of the Savage Frontier. Winters are hard here, but the hordes of ores and other hungry monsters are a long way off from these parts.
If the Dessarin Valley isn’t quite as wild and lawless as it once was, it’s still lightly settled territory that serves as a route to distant lands. Residents in places such as Red Larch or Triboar boast that their humble settlements are “the Gateway to the North.” Through these lands pass hundreds of caravans and keelboats each year, linking the great ports of Waterdeep and Neverwinter with places such as Everlund, Mirabar, or Silverymoon. The steady caravan traffic breathes life into the towns of this area, supporting businesses in the settlements along the Long Road. Inns cater to travelers anxious to sleep safely within sturdy walls and enjoy good food by a warm fire instead of camping by the side of the road.
In addition to catering to caravans and travelers heading to or from the far North, the Dessarin Valley is a breadbasket for the hungry populations of Waterdeep and Neverwinter. The farms and pastures of the area produce grain, livestock, poultry, apples, and hops, then ship them downriver (or drive them down the Long Road) to the coast. Few people become rich from farming, but farmers in the region do well for themselves provided the weather cooperates.
The village of Amphail, famous for its horse breeders, lies on the Long Road, a good three-day ride north of Waterdeep through rolling farmlands. By night or in a snowstorm, a traveler can locate this quiet, beautiful village by the thick stands of dusk wood and spruce that cluster along the road nearby. In summer, the stench of horse manure gives outsiders ample evidence of the town’s presence.
This farming village is pleasant to the eyes of all. In hot summer weather, though, it is only pleasant to the noses of those who like horse manure. The folk of Amphail is famous for breeding and training horses. They have traditionally equipped the noble families and armies of Waterdeep and the armies of Neverwinter, as well as merchants and satraps of Amn and Calimshan.
Amphail’s horse farms have traditionally equipped the noble families and armies of Waterdeep and Neverwinter, as well as merchants and satraps from Amn and Calimshan. Amphail grays are famous across Faerûn as intelligent, loyal, and hardy personal mounts. Most soldiers, however, prefer the larger, more powerful, glossy black chargers that Amphail’s breeders produce.
Amphail is a small but prosperous place, the sort of town a hurried traveler can ride through without noticing much of interest, thereby missing a great deal.
Everything starts on the date of Mirtul 1st, 1492.
The Calendar of Harptos was the calendar used across most of Faerûn. It was created by the wizard Harptos of Kaalinth, although most people associate the word “Harptos” with the calendar. It was split into twelve months, each lasting three tendays (or thirty days). There were an additional five days that fell between months, bringing the total number of days in most years to 365.
The days making up a tenday did not have formal names. If precision was required, the number of the day and the number of the tenday were used, as in, “the fourth day of the first tenday of Flamerule”. Days of the month were typically written as the numerical date followed by the month name, for example, “15 Hammer” or “15th Hammer”. Informally or poetically, this could be spoken or written as “the 15th of Deepwinter”.
Months and Festivals
The names of the months and festivals used in Faerûn were as follows:
Harptos Month and Holiday Table
Claw of Winter
Claw of Sunsets
Spring Equinox on Ches 19
Claw of Storms
Time of Flowers
Summer Solstice on Kythorn 20
Midsummer and Shieldmeet occurs the day after Midsummer, once every four years
In any new campaign there will always be different specific rules that are important for all the players to know and understand. This document will cover any changes to standard rules, what optional rules will be used, and any homebrew content that has been created for this campaign.
This is a fluid and changing document and will change frequently in the beginning of the Campaign. As the players learn different details that are important, these too will be added here.
This Campaign is called “The Cataclysm of the Primordial Orders”. It is based off one specific Wizards of the Coast module, but heavily modified to address the much larger player pool as well as adding in individual hooks for each of the created characters.
Certain sections from the Player’s Handbook and Dungeon Master’s Guide have been reproduced here to ensure everyone is on the same page about a few of the basic rules and concepts.
How to Play
The play of the Dungeons and Dragon game unfolds according to this basic pattern.
 The DM describes the environment. The DM tells the players where their adventurers are and what’s around them, presenting the basic scope of options that present themselves (how many doors lead out of a roam, what’s on a table, who’s in the tavern, and so on).
 The players describe what they want to do. Sometimes one player speaks for the whole party, saying, “We’ll take the east door,” for example. Other times, different adventurers do different things: one adventurer might search a treasure chest while a second examines an esoteric symbol engraved on a wall and a third keeps watch for monsters. The players don’t need to take turns, but the DM listens to every player and decides how to resolve those actions.
Sometimes, resolving a task is easy. If an adventurer wants to walk across a roam and open a door, the DM might just say that the door opens and describe what lies beyond. But the door might be locked, the floor might hide a deadly trap, or some other circumstance might make it challenging for an adventurer to complete a task. In those cases, the DM decides what happens, often relying on the roll of a die to determine the results of an action.
In any of these cases, the Player will describe what their actions are, and the DM will determine what the roll will be if any. In some cases, it might be Passive Perception, it might be an Investigation roll, or anything else that the DM feels is applicable. Every situation depends on the environment as well as what specific action the Player takes. Both influence what the result might be. But in the end, the DM will determine if a roll occurs, what type of roll that will be, and will requires the Player to make that roll if appropriate.
 The DM narrates the results of the adventurers’ actions. Describing the results often leads to another decision point, which brings the flow of the game right back to step 1.
This pattern holds whether the adventurers are cautiously exploring a ruin, talking to a devious prince, or locked in mortal combat against a mighty dragon. In certain situations, particularly combat, the action is more structured, and the players (and DM) do take turns choosing and resolving actions. But most of the time, play is fluid and flexible, adapting to the circumstances of the adventure.
Often the action of an adventure takes place in the imagination of the players and DM, relying on the DM’s verbal descriptions to set the scene. Some DMs like to use music, art, are recorded sound effects to help set the mood, and many players and DMs alike adopt different voices for the various adventurers, monsters, and other characters they play in the game. Sometimes, a DM might lay out a map and use tokens or miniature figures to represent each creature involved in a scene to help the players keep track of where everyone is.
Does an adventurer’s sword swing hurt a dragon or just bounce off its iron-hard scales? Will the ogre believe an outrageous bluff? Can a character swim across a raging river? Can a character avoid the main blast of a fireball, or does he or she take full damage from the blaze? In cases where the outcome of an action is uncertain, the Dungeons and Dragons game relies on rolls of a 20-sided die, a d20, to determine success or failure.
Every character and monster in the game has capabilities defined by six ability scores. The abilities are Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma, and they typically range from 3 to 18 for most adventurers. (Monsters might have scores as low as 1 or as high as 30.) These ability scores, and the ability modifiers derived from them, are the basis for almost every d20 roll that a player makes on a character’s or monster’s behalf.
Ability checks, attack rolls, and saving throws are the three main kinds of d20 rolls, forming the core of the rules of the game. All three follow these simple steps.
Roll the die and add a modifier. Roll a d20 and add the relevant modifier. This is typically the modifier derived from one of the six ability scores, and it sometimes includes a proficiency bonus to reflect a character’s skill.
Apply circumstantial bonuses and penalties. A class feature, a spell, a particular circumstance, or some other effect might give a bonus or penalty to the check.
Compare the total to a target number. If the total equals or exceeds the target number, the ability check, attack roll, or saving throw is a success. Otherwise, it’s a failure. The DM is usually the one who determines target numbers and tells players whether their ability checks, attack rolls, and saving throws succeed or fail.
The target number for an ability check or a saving throw is called a Difficulty Class (DC). The target number for an attack roll is called an Armor Class (AC).
This simple rule governs the resolution of most tasks in Dungeons and Dragon play.
Advantage and Disadvantage
Sometimes an ability check, attack roll, or saving throw is modified by special situations called advantage and disadvantage. Advantage reflects the positive circumstances surrounding a d20 roll, while disadvantage reflects the opposite. When you have either advantage or disadvantage, you roll a second d20 when you make the roll. Use the higher of the two rolls if you have advantage and use the lower roll if you have disadvantage.
For example: If you have disadvantage and roll a 17 and a 5, you use the 5. If you instead have advantage and roll those numbers, you use the 17.
Specific Beats General
The Player’s Handbook contains rules, especially in parts 2 and 3, that govern how the game plays. That said, many racial traits, class features, spells, magic items, monster abilities, and other game elements break the general rules in some way, creating an exception to how the rest of the game works. Remember this: If a specific rule contradicts a general rule, the specific rule wins.
Exceptions to the rules are often minor. For instance, many adventurers don’t have proficiency with longbows, but every wood elf does because of a racial trait. That trait creates a minor exception in the game. Other examples of rule-breaking are more conspicuous. For instance, an adventurer can’t normally pass-through walls, but some spells make that possible. Magic accounts for most of the major exceptions to the rules.
There’s one more general rule you need to know at the outset. Whenever you divide a number in the game, round down if you end up with a fraction, even if the fraction is one-half or greater.
The Three Pillars of Adventure
Adventurers can try to do anything their players can imagine, but it can be helpful to talk about their activities in three broad categories: exploration, social interaction, and combat.
Exploration includes both the adventurers’ movement through the world and their interaction with objects and situations that require their attention. Exploration is the give-and-take of the players describing what they want their characters to do, and the Dungeon Master telling the players what happens as a result. On a large scale, that might involve the characters spending a day crossing a rolling plain or an hour making their way through caverns underground. On the smallest scale, it could mean one character pulling a lever in a dungeon room lo see what happens.
Social interaction features the adventurers talking to someone (or something) else. It might mean demanding that a captured scout reveal the secret entrance to the goblin lair, getting information from a rescued prisoner, pleading for mercy from an ore chieftain, or persuading a talkative magic mirror to show a distant location to the adventurers.
The rules in chapters 7 and 8 of the Player’s Handbook support exploration and social interaction, as do many class features in chapter 3 and personality traits in chapter 4 from the Player’s Handbook.
Combat, the focus of chapter 9 of the Player’s Handbook, involves characters and other creatures swinging weapons, casting spells, maneuvering for position, and so to defeat their opponents, whether that means killing every enemy, taking captives, or forcing a rout. Combat is the most structured element of a D&D session, with creatures taking turns to make sure that everyone gets a chance to act. Even in the context of a pitched battle, there’s still plenty of opportunity for adventurers to attempt wacky stunts like surfing down a flight of stairs on a shield, to examine the environment (perhaps by pulling a mysterious lever), and to interact with other creatures, including allies, enemies, and neutral parties.
After a long day and evening in the smelly middens and rat warrens, the party took a long-deserved rest, for they knew that the next few days would once again, not be very restful.
In the morning, as the party awoke, Vladimir was feeling very much under the weather and had a lot of body aches and pains. Fogo using his knowledge of medicine was able to determine that Vladimir had been infected with some sort of virus or other sickness. Probably from the numerous rat bites he had acquired while battled the many giant rats in the warrens the previous day.
One oddity was noticed by ISAC. The small golden statuette was missing from the able where he had set it last night. Checking around, he queried Fwoosh who had slept under the table that night, they were able to find it within one of Fwoosh’s pouches. Neither one seemed concerned, and nothing else was mentioned about it.
Wanting to seek some assistance in helping Vladimir, the party broke up into two groups. One group containing Fogo, Vladimir, and Avery went seeking medical help, while the other group of Angelica, Fwoosh, ISAC, and Sky went directly to Wescott’s Saddlers where their wagon train would be waiting.
The group that headed to the wagon locations arrived and witnessed Nathan and his group getting ready. The six guards were handling getting his wagon reason, and they did not seem to be very happy. As usual, George was preparing all of Otis’s wagons and gear while William was smirking while watching the other group.
It was clear that William was pestering and slowing the work of the guards. Fwoosh was quick to intercept William by giving him a short sword and to help “train” him while waiting for their group to be ready. William was very excited and enthusiastically joined Fwoosh.
Fogo and his group quickly realized that it being very early in the morning, none of the shops would be open for many hours, and far too late for them to acquire anything to help Vladimir. They would have to wait until getting to the next stop, which should be Red Larch.
Heading to the StagN’Flag for some breakfast, they noticed a set of Roaringhouse Knights and what they assumed to be Sorceresses. Always the inquisitive one, Avery approached to see if he could get any additional information. They were immediately suspicious of anyone that approached them, even if it was a small unarmored gnome.
With Avery relaying that they are traveling north through the region. While still somewhat guarded, they gave Avery answers to his questions. He was answered that bandit activity does not happen within 10-15 miles of here. An interesting answer that came out was that they were having difficulty in scrying in the Dessarin Valley, that something seemed to be either interfering with it, or blocking it.
“There’s something strange going on there. Magic’s all messed up, something is in the air, ground, water, everything. Something is interfering with our ability to see into the area. A problem we did not have a couple of years ago.”
Avery and that group then made their way to the Saddler’s and joined the rest of their party. After short bit of time, they were able to all head out. Otis and his wagon were in the lead followed by George and William in the second wagon, and lastly Nathan’s wagon and his guards. Nathan himself drove the wagon as they left with Bartholomeus managing the guards.
The day passed slowly as the party were feeling nervous about the possibility of an Ambush. Otis was as stoic as usual, not seeming to care about the near future, while Nathan had a curious smirk on his face the entire time. Like there was some joke that he knew and no one else did.
While on the way, Fwoosh relinquished his short sword to William again, and while dancing weirdly with the blade, he was stopped by Vladimir and warned that if anything were to happen, they he and George need to stay near the wagon and to not run off.
They eventually reached a break point and decided to camp for the night. Fogo with a detect magic started investigating everyone that was there. Each of the party members had some sort of magical item upon them, most of which were not a surprise, Bartholomeus had a couple of magic items, two of the guards had some sort of magical rocks in their possessions, but the surprise was Nathan’s wagon.
The large metal box that contained whatever Nathan was transporting glowed so brightly of magic, that it was difficult to see. It had almost every sort of magic in it. It had so much magic, it was like daylight while being observed with the detect magic.
Using speak with animals, Fogo tried to get more details about the area and any dangers, but the squirrel he communicated with did not know much except that there were occasionally large birds that would prey upon his kind.
During the first watch Fogo noticed that one of the guards went off into the woods. One of the guards that had the magic item in his bag. After a while he came back without anything else happening. While not completely odd, Nathan’s guards seemed more concerned about watching the party members on watch as well as Bartholomeus than anything else around them.
During the second watch with Fwoosh, he was able to overhear them whispering.
“Was the message sent? Yes, we will send another one in the morning.”
At the third watch, Sky wandered by the road and discovered that there was fresh horse dung on the road. But no one had heard horses so far. It had been dropped sometime after everyone had started camping. Finally, during the third watch, Avery was paying too much attention to Nathan’s wagon, while Angelica was able to see one of the guards wander off, again the other one with a magic item, and then come back into camp.
The next morning seemed slow until Nathan got up and spoke.
“It is almost time to get the show on the road.”
He then went behind his wagon. Some loud chanting and a sudden bright light show coming out from the metal box with large magic circles and sigils showing on the sides of the wagon. He opened some door in the rear and out stepped five black armored men.
They were all armored in chain and carried a long sword. The men were quiet and only seemed to communicate in a few grunts and low syllables. They gave out a very serious demeaner in their attitude and appearance. They quickly surrounded the wagon giving everyone a hostile stare. Their faces completely covered with a mask with only their eyes showing.
ISAC received a communication from his little friend.
“ISAC, try to get closer to those men in black. There is something about them that we should investigate. They seem broken somehow.”
While starting to move and get on the road, a couple of the party members overheard the guards muttering to each other.
“Oh fuck, Deathguards”
The old guards were clearly worried, and even a bit scared of the newcomers. They knew who and what they were. The wagon train slowly moved along the road through the hills and through a forest area when ISAC received another message.
“ITS A TRAP, ITS A TRAP, HIDE YOURSELF. THERE ARE AT LEAST 20 MEN COMING.”
And the party started. A large tree dropped across the road in front of them and to the rear.
Over 20 bandits leaped up from the bushes unleashing a swarm of crossbow bolts onto Nathan and his guards, just not any of the original guards. With everyone being surprised except Vladimir it did not look good with the number opponents that showed up.
There were also two leaders, one man carrying a great sword and the other magic mystical gestures.
All the men were wearing green and brown cloaks and clothing allowing them to hide in the wilderness and surprise their prey more easily. This time being the wagon train that the party was in. The group of men were primarily focused on Nathan and his wagon with a few that seemed to be there to intercept any of the party members that were going to interfere.
The six traitor guards were quick to assist the bandits and it quickly degenerated into a mass melee with the five Deathguard being the most proficient in killing, although the party helped a fair amount with it mostly ending once Fogo took down the bandit leader. Without a lead, the few remaining bandits were quickly killed. Total losses to the party’s group were only two of the Deathguard and a few injuries elsewhere.
In searching the bodies, a fair amount of gold was found as well as three very interesting things. The first being a crest.
And the second a message that seemed to be some sort of encoded or encrypted message. But blood covered a fair portion of it.
And third, was a small gold necklace with an image of a young blond-haired girl in it.
After a short internal dialogue, Fogo offered up both items to Nathan. Nathan told them that the crest was his brother’s. It was the crest of the heir apparent of the Axedredge family, meaning that all these men must have been from his brother Drake. The message, it gave Nathan another grin as he just quickly pocketed the message without much of a review.
The rest of the party helped loot the bodies of the bandits with Avery recovering a spell book from the bandit mage and ISAC discover that Otis was taking a nap under his wagon and George and William were hiding under theirs.
With everything being completed, the group cleared the trees they were able to move on. Deciding to camp early and hiding their trail off the road, the session ended here.
We took a couple of hours to finally get to the big ambush. This was the first time the group suffered through a very large melee combat. Even though they were mostly in their periphery, they still could see and experience the implications of a lot of units on the board and their impact on the tactics, or lack of. It was clear once the leaders had been killed the rest of the bandits were less effective, but also then had no one to give them the order to retreat. They received clues and lost them all in the span of ten minutes. What could they have learned? Well, it will be revealed eventually, but not for a long time.
The question for the party is now will there be more before reaching Red Larch?
Continuing the exploration of the rat tunnels, both Fogo and ISAC realized that the situation they were in was not normal. Fogo waxed on about how rats are normally communal and live in smaller burrows whereas these tunnels represented a more intelligent construction, such as goblins. ISAC add in about how the behavior of the rats have been odd, more like they were all being controlled and not operating like they would normally.
The party had a somewhat long discussion on what might be waiting for them further in. Some sort of super rat? Some other type of creature? It was unknown and the guesses were wild.
There was also some additional investigation on the dead body. It was an odd addition to the land fill above them. With Avery checking more closely about the features of the body, they discovered that the man had been somewhat well built, and calluses on his hands resembling a long life of holding pole like objects, could have been a how, shovel, or even spear. There was not enough evidence to determine which one it might have been. The level of the torture was somewhat severe, and they confirmed that he had died from the torture about five days ago.
The party was also able to determine that the body was not just dropped in the rat tunnels, but dragged here from outside, most likely by the rats or something else.
Continuing forward they finally met some of the Greater Giant Rats, or also known as Rodents of Unusual Size. Unlike their previous brethren, these were of medium size and were as large as a mastiff. These rats were fast, could take a lot of hits, and bit much harder than anything they had met so far.
At the same time as their encounter with the Greater Giant Rats, they met their first Rat Swarm. A nasty business of squirming crawling, and biting rats. Vladimir was quickly covered but with a lot of difficult shots from his party they were able to pick off the offending small rat members of the swarm. Vladimir did have a few new ear piercings though.
As they progressed further into the tunnels, they reached an area where the lichen had been removed and more freshly dug tunnels were discovered. The decrease of the lichen also reduced visibility for the party. They now only could see ten feet around themselves except for those with darkvision. The range that they could hear also increased to about 50 feet from the 20 it had been. This meant that they could hear rats or something else coming sooner, but then again, the rats could hear them much better as well.
They had already caused more than one encounter unexpectedly when Avery’s Dancing Lights went around a corner and illuminated areas that had rats and caused them to attack. Having it happen once was not sufficient, so they made the same mistake again. Eventually the wounds and tiredness caught up to them and they took a short rest. Not being as diligent with the bodies of the Greater Giant Rats, they were left where they had been killed last. Luckily, no other rats wandered by, and they were able to safely rest.
Trying to sneak into what would prove to be their last encounter, Avery made sure to alert the waiting Wererat with his Dancing Lights again. I am sure it was not on purpose, it being the third time after all. The Wererat was armored in “ratty” leather and dual armed with short swords. It leaped forward and was able to quickly take out Vladimir and started moving into the rest of the party quickly. Eventually it too was slain.
The last few rooms were rotting provisions, some gold, and three more dead bodies. Much like the other one that was found, these had been heavily tortured but with one primary difference. All their faces had been carefully carved off. One of the dead bodies had a small tattoo on his chest over his heart.
Among the treasure that were found was a map leading somewhere in the Dessarin Valley, as well as a small golden statue.
Using the long tunnel that led out, they finally were able to determine that they at the lowest point had gone underground over 80 feet. The winding tunnels and frequent changes of elevation confused them such they it was not clear how deep they really had gone until they had a clearer indicator such as the somewhat straight tunnel out.
The party was also able to see more clearly additional drag marks that were from the more newly found bodies have been dragged from the Middens somewhere.
They all then lingered around the cave entrance trying to decide what to do. There was discussion about bringing the dead Wererat body back, who had transformed back into his human form. After a lot of discussion, they decided that since there was not really an organized law enforcement agency in Amphail, they might just make more trouble for themselves by dragging dead bodies into town.
Figuring out that they all stunk of the Middens, rat shit, and exploded rat heads, courtesy of ISAC and his Mind Sliver spells, they decided to head to Hose Pond and wash off the most egregious noxious contents off themselves. Heading back to their room they took turns bathing and getting ready to rest in the soft beds.
There was a lot of heart-to-heart talk about some of their pasts and most of them opened. A short session to split up some cash, and then to bed for everyone.
And that is where the session ended.
Oddly enough everyone survived. This was a great milestone for everyone. Besides only being the third session, the group had managed to start working together and planning their actions better. The players began communication their actions to each other more and better. The rat warren served several purposes for the campaign, first of which was just this. Getting a new group of player to figure out how to work together and what combat looks like for everyone. I might have other reasons, but those are to be filled in sometime later.
With everyone haven gathered back at the Stag N’ Flag, the group rested for a bit, got some drinks and some of those delicious biscuits that the Stag N’ Flag is known for. The pot of melted garlic butter was the perfect topper for them. While enjoying the different sights, Fogo and Angelica overheard a conversation going on at a table near them.
The table had five men all in some sort of uniform with an emblem of cross pickaxes. They were sitting with a heavily cloaked person whose features were hidden with a hood and gloves. Their gender could not be determined, but they were fairly slender.
The table of people had situated themselves carefully in the room such that there were several pillars and obstacles blocking them from the direct sight of Nathan and his bodyguard.
This group were all leaning in on the table somewhat whispering to each other, but some of their conversation could be overheard by those two.
“At least we got him delayed for five days”
“Is everything going to be ready?”
“Should be, five days will be plenty of time”
A jingling bag was surreptitious slid across the table to one of the guards. He pocketed it quickly. A few more words were exchanged, and the cloaked person quickly moved out of the tavern. The guards split what was in the bag, drank a little more and chat a bit more.
“Finally, that asshole is going to get killed”
Then they too departed. As the action ended, Fwoosh waved down a waitress with which he wanted to play the dagger game with one of them. It was a quick game with Fwoosh’s errant dagger, while not hitting anyone, went nowhere near the target, whereas the waitress was able to accurate place three of her knives around the gold piece. Fwoosh had lost spectacularly, be he did not seem to mind.
From hearing the whispered words from the guards, Fogo brought Vladimir over to Nathan for a chat. The actual conversation was more around what had happened to his wagon, rather than anything heard. It seemed that Fogo was trying to figure out who was the bad guy in this situation. Nathan did not seem to be very impressed with the questioning, but he did respond “Incompetence and Conspiracy” was at fault for his burnt wagon. Fogo did reveal that they were traveling north with Otis. Nathan seemed to be somewhat familiar with Otis. With a little more conversation, the party found out that Nathan’s wagon was supposed to guarded yet was able to catch fire in the wagon yard without much other damage.
“Money can buy many things; loyalty is but one of those things.”
With that, Fogo and Vladimir went back to their table. They relayed the conversation and what happened with Nathan to the rest of the party. Fogo repeated what he had heard at the neighboring table as well. Vladimir advocated for informing Nathan of the overheard conversation, hoping for gold or contacts for the future. With agreement with the rest of the party, Fogo and Vladimir went back over Nathan’s table. With some additional conversation it was also revealed that all the carpenters in town had been engaged in large projects which was causing a five-day delay for Nathan to get his wagons repaired. Fogo was quick to share the information about the guards and the overheard conversation.
Giving it some thought, Nathan made a proposal. For 250gp he requested that the party guard his cart and keep him safe and he would talk to Otis about being allowed to go along. He would leave tomorrow morning with the Otis and the party. He requested that the group keep this to themselves to not warn the treacherous guards and let it be a surprise in the morning.
Fogo pushed for what the cargo was, and Nathan continued to avoid giving any specific answers. Checking with the rest of the party, they were quick to take the job seeing gold in their pocket for an easy job. In conversation, more information was requested of the wayward guards, hopefully for some clues or being able to gather more information. After this, Nathan was quick to rush off and contact Otis for tomorrow’s trip.
After strategizing with the rest of the group, they decided to depart into different directions. Avery went to room to take a bath, Fogo and Angelica decided to visit Mother Gothal’s to see if they can find the guards, with the remainder staying at the Stag N’ Flag.
On his way to the Stone Stallion, Avery decided to stop into a very odd building. A large poorly constructed building with 13 tall towers named Hagala’s Manyturrets. It proved to be one of the several Inn’s in town. An older chunky female elf was waiting at the counter greeting Avery as he entered. Sharing some chit-chat in Elven they talked about the odd architecture of the building and that Avery was in town working for Otis.
It was revealed that Otis was something of a player seeking companionship in different places since his wife had passed away. Hagala chatted about many topics including some interesting things to see in town as well about many of the people of the town.
Some of the things mentioned were that:
The stone statue of the horse has a gold replica inside of it.
That the Inn the Stone Stallion is haunted and has a portal in the basement.
There was a wizard battle at the Laughing Bandit Inn which caused it to be in ruins a decade ago. There is supposed to be treasure there.
That there is some wandering merchant that is the cause of everything that is happening, the unnatural weather, and everything else that is happening.
At that last statement, Avery’s head almost exploded and only due to already having tin foiled lined the inside of his hat, his head was saved. With that, Avery made his way to the Stone Stallion for his bath.
Fogo and Angelica walked over to Mother Gothal’s while Fogo casting some magic to disguise himself as an average looking human farmer. Entering the festhouse, it seemed that it was a bit early for people to be in the building, in fact besides an old drunk man dancing around to unheard music in the middle of the dance floor and a few women at the side of the room, there was not anyone else there. After waiting about an hour while nursing a mead and nothing to show for it, or at least not seeing the Axedredge guards, Fogo and Angelica went back to the Stag N’ Flag.
The rest stayed at the tavern drinking and waiting to see if the guards would show back up or waiting for the rest of the party to return. Fwoosh was frantically looking into this disguise kit to see if there was anything he could change into. Realizing there was little available considering he was a kenku, short, and young, and there were not many things he could disguise himself into. After the hour, every rejoined each other at the Stag N’ Flag. With some group discussion and planning, they all broke up into a few groups again to try and gather more information. Fogo headed to the team’s room, while Fwoosh, ISAC, and Sky headed to Shrunedalar’s Secrets, and the rest start their way to Ammakyl’s Flowers and Foods.
Being suspicious of the room and not believing that everything could fit into the space, Fogo used Detect Magic on the room to find that all the walls, floors and ceilings had some sort of protection magic upon them. In looking into the corridor, he was able to see that all building surfaces were protected including the doors. Only the furnishings were not protected.
After wandering down the Long Road to Shrunedalar’s Secrets and entering, that group realized this was more of a woman’s refuge. The perfume could easily be smelled from outside the door. These three were stared at hard but still greeted happily. It did not take much for Ulthresth to convince Sky to get the full treatment and while was ISAC staring around in confusion and Fwoosh looked at the latest fashions from Waterdeep. Within an hour, Sky had been washed, cleaned, scrubbed, and even makeup with glowing red nail polish on his hands and toes, with a nice bright red strawberry tasting lipstick applied to his lips. Sky had turned into quite the pretty boy.
After Sky’s spa treatment, they headed further down the street to Blodhlar’s Wares. They were quickly accosted by an older man with but a single leg. His looks and voice were salty in every way. It started off rough, but the group was able to quickly connect through the purchase of an old hammer from a wrecked ship. When asked why he still was not a sailor, he explained about his past on a military ship. He lost his leg against some pirates.
He passed on several tidbits of information:
Lord Ilzimmer tends to ride through town hot and heavy whipping his horse and anyone in the way.
Bandits are getting very aggressive further up north. They might be spying on travelers
One of the Ammakyl’s wagon trains is missing from the trip to Red Larch. Might be worth some coin.
The last group of Angelica, Avery, and Vladimir, walk down and when they started to pass by Imbryl’s Cloaks, the chatter of old women could be heard into the street.. It was clear that this was the women’s gossip circle. They were quickly accosted by the group and when the old women found out they had come with Otis, all the old ladies ran off in search of Otis and his loving care.
During the conversation, Imbryl kept scratching her legs and when asked about it mentioned that the rats at the Middens have gotten much worse in the last several years.
Some of the rumors that she imparted were:
The Ammakyl family is hoarding food to drive up the prices. The weather is nothing new and they just want to make more money.
That strange one-handed dwarf that is the baker. Yes, her stuff is okay, not as good as mine, but how does she back with only one hand? She must be a necromancer and has undead creatures in the basement of her store that do the work for her.
We are so surprised that the old Manyturrets building has not fallen. That old woman there never takes care of his building. I swear a piece of the roof almost fell on me as I walked past it last time.
The villagers say that Thorn has treasure buried under the Stone Stallion, accompanied by the bodies of several thieves who thought they could relieve him of it. He doesn’t make enough running the inn, they claim, to keep its doors open.
Old Pelost is quite the catch. I keep hoping he’ll ask me out. I need to go visit Shrunedalar’s to get more makeup and perfume.
You be careful at Mother Gothal’s. All those girls are diseased. You catch the crotch rot is you are not careful.
All those cute boys at Eagleshields like playing with each other more than the horses.
Moving on down the street, they stopped at the Ammakyl Food and Flower stand. They were able to learn that the unnatural weather further north has been impacting the farms here. If the weather continued to be so unusual, it will cause Waterdeep to have a shortage of food. Tina also mentioned about one of their wagons having gotten lost or stolen while it was heading north. She offered the group a reward if they can find it and rescue the members of the merchant group.
Everyone working at the store was also scratching at their legs as if they were itching severely. The group showed some concern and learned that the rats in the Middens were at fault.
About that time, all the members of the party managed to meet outside the statue of the horse, including Fogo, who had finished his rest. Most of the discussion was around whether to pursue the Amphail rat problem. Several members expressed some concern, and it was brought up since this was a bit unnatural, it might be related to the issues further up north.
Approaching the Middens, the smell could be felt on everyone’s skin and it was horrible enough to drive Avery and Fogo to their knees vomiting. Everyone else was able to hold their lunches in. The group could see many small trails that were clearly from a small creature, such as large rats. It did not take long for them to find the entrance to some sort of dug in area, an entry way to something. Looking it over, it was larger than they expected. At least five feet wide and tall while being well hidden behind garbage and debris. The assumption was that this was most likely the rat’s nest.
After some arguing, the group headed into the cave entrance. It turns out that this was something more than just a rat cave, it was something of a large rat warren. Slowly moving into the passageways, it was evident that nothing here was very normal. There was some sort of lichen on the walls that allowed dim visibility. The caves were hot, humid, and stinking of the trash from the Middens. Due to some sort of deadening between the lichen and dampness of the area, sound would not travel more than about 20 to 25 feet. This would make it difficult to communicate if the group got separated or were too far apart.
Avery headed in first, shortly followed by the rest. With everyone moving inside, it did not take long to encounter their first set of rats. Five young Giant rats sat in a cave area who were starving, somewhat wounded, and not happy with the intruders. Fogo attempted to talk to them and let them know that the group was not the enemies of the rats. It was for naught. The rats were not in a normal state and moved to attack. While they were being taken care of, a second group came in from another passageway and attacked as well. All of them were killed in not much time. At some point as the battle completed, Sky suddenly ran further into the caves without letting anyone know. Moving to a distance much further than sound would travel, all alone.
As he almost reached the end of the cave area, he was suddenly attacked by five adult Giant Rats. It did not look good. In fact, Sky was attacked and taken down very quickly. It was at this point that the party realized that they were missing a member. Rushing further in to find Sky, they came across a set of Giant Rats chewing on something on the ground. After closing in, they were able to take out the rats and save Sky. It was a close thing. Continuing to go through the caves, they kept encountering small groups of Giant Rats in different cave alcoves. The deeper they went into the caves, the larger and healthier the rats were. This continued until they got to a set that were making a meal of half a horse.
After killing those, they found a naked dead body of a person that had been tortured, and chewed upon. Features could not be determined, but it was a male and with a quick medicine check, they could determine that he had perished about five days ago from the torture.
And this is where the session ended.
The group found out a little more information about what happening up north. They got two new jobs, at least one of which they would be able to fulfill pretty quickly. A relatively quick jaunt into the rat warrens?