The session started on the road a day outside of Waterdeep. Our seven heroes, Angelica the dragonborn, Avery Rockwell a gnome, Fogo the Firbolg, Fwoosh a kenku under disguise as “Pick”, ISAC hiding his warforged looks and nature, Sky Zephyr an air Genasi, and Vladimir Miller a human set out under the auspices of being under contract from Otis Samael.
Some of the group had been contacted by different factions, all of which gave pretty much the same request. Investigate the odd things happening around Red Larch, find out what is causing the unnatural weather in the Dessarin Hills and make it go away.
Angelica being a starting initiate of the Order of the Gauntlet, was also requested to meet up with the Knights of Samular in the Sumber Hills at Summit Hall. The Order would like to improve relations with the Knights. Avery on the other hand had a very loose association with the Harpers and was sent forth with only basic instructions, while Vladimir was a staunch mercenary for the Lord’s Alliance was given much more strict directions. “Pick” while escaping his captivity had managed to contact the Zhentarim. He was given a small ring with their symbol and told that hiding up north was the best for him, and while there he should investigate the oddities happening, someone would contact him there.
Those with factions and those without, were all hired at the Mercenary Hall by Otis without much negotiation. The pay was very good, and most if not, all had some reason to head that direction.
The trip started with Otis in the lead wagon and his two sons George and William in the second wagon. The wagons were not overly large but were clearly heavily laden with large barrels. Everything in the wagons were set in very solidly and none of the barrels had any movement in the wagons and were obviously filled to the brim with something and made no noise when Avery listened to them closely.
George appeared to be about 20 years old and gave off a serious but somber mood and attitude. He did not speak much unless asked a question, but just did his job quietly. Whereas his younger brother William at 15 years old continued to play around as much as possible. He would frequently jump off the second wagon and run around the characters while swinging is wooden sword around claiming he was practicing. William started pestering the group about who was a swordsman, but there were none in the party disappointing William, not that he remained unhappy long.
About halfway to the camping area, a very loud sound started off in the distance from the group coming from the road. Dust could be seen coming closer with the sound. Something was coming fast down the road. The wagons took to the side as two very large box wagons came by with the Ammakyl family crest on the sides. Avery was able to identify the family and that these were most likely produce wagons going to Waterdeep.
Further down the road the group ran across a patrol of 20 Waterdeep Soldiers and Timmer Longschal, the sergeant who was leading them. Timmer was a grim older man that did not seem to have much time to chat, nor the inclination to waste any time with the guards of a merchant group.
At the first campsite the party started chatting with each other and began sharing a little about themselves. Avery seemed the most interested in everyone’s past and profession. In fact, Avery had a nagging suspicion that there was something wrong with Otis and his cargo. All of this without any facts or details, just his hind lizard brain making things up. The rest of the group were more non-committal about Otis and his cargo.
A lot of the discussion occurred with William due to his openness and willing to talk about anything, and George about what things were like up north, and why did Otis need so many guards. Finding out that this was the largest contingent of guards hired so far, made the group a bit more worried. Banditry was an all-time high, especially north of Amphail. The guards were needed to help protect the cargo of Dwarven Ale that Otis was bringing north.
The guards were always hired for a one-way trip to the north, and occasionally some might come back with Otis. Usually there were only two or three guards, but the last trip saw some casualties and Otis decided to increase the number a fair amount to ensure that he and his cargo would be able to arrive safely.
With everyone getting along, George cooked the food at the campsite. The food left a lot to be desired since the taste was at best bland and at worse seemed like George was using sand as an ingredient. While it was not poisonous, it needed a lot of assistance. Fogo jumped in and gathered a bunch of herbs and field onions to help make it taste a bit better than it would normally. No one was happy with the end results except maybe Otis who ate whatever George gave him without changing his expression.
It was very evident that George took care of most things related to the camp and settling down the horses for the evening. William was more interested in swinging his wooden sword around carelessly claiming he was practicing being a swordman.
“Pick” continued to hide in his disguise of a plague doctor’s mask and goggles to hide his Kenku nature. This only interfered with his ability to eat and later he had to sneak around after everyone else was asleep to grab that food.
The rest of the trip was uneventful until the group reached the town of Rassalantar. A small town of about 650 in town and another 200 in the surrounding farms. A heavily fortified camp was situated just behind the Sleeping Dragon where 60 Waterdeep soldiers and their commanders ran patrols both North and South of Rassalantar searching for bandits and protecting the Long Road.
The Sleeping Dragon Inn is a fine establishment run by Yondral Horn, a middle-aged dwarf. It has an extensive menu, great food, much better than anything George has ever cooked, and an excellent selection of different drinks.
Arriving around lunchtime, everyone had to stay at the only Inn in town the Sleeping Dragon. Given the earliness of the arrival, several members decided to wander around a bit before dinner time.
Fogo, ISAC, and Avery all visited the sole store in town the ‘Tween Keep and Stump. A small establishment run by Lily Phen, and thin old lady with sharp eyes. Picking up a few small supplies but nothing very excited given that this was more of a farm store than a normal general store. She seemed a bit suspicious of the group, especially Avery since he kept pestering her with questions. She gave them a bunch of local gossip, but no information of importance.
The rest of the group sat around the open room in the Sleeping Dragon. There always seemed to be a set of Waterdeep soldiers in the room. Their normal schedule seemed to coincide with watch duty, then an amount of time in the tavern, and then back to the barracks.
The party was able to overhear all the grumbling about the bandits and the fact that the bandits seem to be able to avoid the patrols completely. The guards were speculating that there was a bandit outpost close by, perhaps in the Stump Bog that was just south of town. Squads had investigated the edge of the bog, but the overly poisonous nature of the bog and the dangerous creatures there prevented them from going in very deep.
The same group that visited Lily’s store decided that the Church of Torm would be another good location to scope things out. At the church was Imar Feldar who was the garrison priest as well as managing anything religious needed for the village. A gregarious and engaging young man, Imar was quick to relay any of the local gossip as well as mentioning the issue with the bandits and most likely bandit spies nearby. He also mentioned the unnatural and horrific weather that has been hitting the north. It in fact was also impact the farms of Amphail to a certain degree.
Once everyone was back at the Sleeping Dragon, everyone had a wonderful meal. In fact, the meal was one of the best any of them had ever had. The group all finally went to bed breaking up into two rooms. Vladimir, Avery, and “Pick” were in one, while Angelica, ISAC, Fogo, and Sky were all in the remaining room.
At about two in the morning, ISAC decided to go outside and stare at the stars from the back of the Sleeping Dragon. After a few hours, the constant flow of guards between the fortified barracks and the Inn diverted to where ISAC was standing. Given the paranoid nature of the guards and concerns about bandit spies, ISAC was instructed to go back into the Inn and rest there.
Within another hour, Sky also decided to go outside and wander around more. He was seeking a way on the roof to give his natural state a more comfortable place to rest. The guards were much quicker to approach him and guide him back to the Inn. At this point the guards had decided to station a group in the Inn to stop the outflux of people leaving the Inn at night to prevent any misunderstandings.
“Pick”, not having eaten all day, had taken off his disguise and hidden it in his room that he was sharing with Avery and Vladimir. Upon coming down the stairs and expressing his hunger the soldiers gave him some rations as well as a ration of questioning. The basic issue was that Fwoosh without his disguise was not one of the recognized people that had arrived in Rassalantar.
At this point the situation quickly went bad for Fwoosh. When questioned about how he had arrived at the village, he claimed that he had stowed away in a cart. With the concern about the bandit spies and an unknown person, the soldiers told Fwoosh that he needed to come with them to talk to the captain.
Uttering an ear breaking shrill screech of a child being tortured and murdered, Fwoosh expressed his worry about the situation. This awakened the rest of the Inn, especially the party. The soldiers were quick to draw weapons and summoning additional guards. Tossing a set of manacles to Fwoosh, they ordered him to lock up and come with them.
Just in time, the rest of the party arrived. While being ordered to remain in place, Sky ran forward to place himself between Fwoosh and the action. His assumption that a child was being threatened, a feather small child. While moving quickly and putting himself into a defensive mode to dodge anything incoming the scene then exploded.
Another half dozen soldiers joined the six already there and all of them had their weapons out at the two. More manacles were thrown to the floor for Sky and a lot of harsh vulgar words were uttered by the soldier in charge ordering compliance to put on those manacles or else. Additional orders were given to those that were gawking to return to their rooms while the soldiers began dragging the two to their captain in the garrison.
Fogo reacted quickly and ran to bring Otis to assist what was going on, while Avery and Vladimir realized that “Pick” was missing. Spending time to search their room they found the disguise the Fwoosh had been using. They finally put together the idea that the person captured was their “Pick”. Taking the disguise down to the soldiers, Avery was brought to the garrison as well.
Fwoosh and Sky were brought to garrison’s main room where Captain Gheldram Tassor and his sergeant Blaskus Ulraven were waiting with an additional dozen or so troops. It seems that the trouble was only giving the captain a larger headache than he had. When he started asking clarifying questions, Fwoosh continued his story about being a stowaway.
While summoning the merchants to see if a stowaway would have been possible, Otis and Fogo arrived. To Fogo, this strange little bird person was clearly not one of theirs, and to Otis, well he did not say much. The rest of the merchants arrived and gave additional information on their cargo. At that time, Avery and the accompanying soldier arrived with the disguise. This seemed to be a breaking point for several of those there as they were finally able to connect the dots between “Pick” and Fwoosh.
With a lot of forehead slapping and groans, the captain levied a 100gp fine on Otis since this was one of his guards and sent everyone on their way. While everyone was departing, the captain told the party that they were prohibited from ever returning or there would be severe consequences. Otis made sure the party knew that this was coming out of their pay once they arrived at Red Larch.
Starting early the next day, barely into dawn, the entire group left along the Long Road toward Amphail. No one seemed to be in the mood for any conversation and they reached their campsite without an issue. Otis just quietly sat by his tent and waited for George’s cooked dinner.
Dinner was as wonderful as normal, not, in fact it tasted worse than the previous time. Maybe having had that wonderful meal at the Sleeping Dragon skewed everyone’s taste. While dinner was quietly being eaten Fogo was observing Otis. His concern about how angry Otis might be led to some confusion on his part as all he could determine was that Otis was simply indifferent to everything happening around him. He ate without an expression as always, almost mechanically.
The party started querying William a lot more on what should be expected on the trip, especially what would be in Amphail. He described all the unnatural weather north of Amphail including tremors and tornados. He did say that they might consider avoiding Gouland Sester’s since a lot of nobles seem to hang out there. He also gave them a warning about the local lord.
Sometime during the night while Fwoosh and Fogo were on watch, they heard two horses with lots of jingly sounds ride by very rapidly on the Long Road going south to the North. They were not able to identify the source or even who it might be.
Morning came, and the wagons hit the road. It did not take long to reach Amphail. Arrival happened before noon again. The smell of horse dung was the most abrupt greeting the party had experienced so fart, except maybe being manacled. The first stop was at Wescott’s Saddlers, a large storage facility for merchants to leave their wagons and horses, and to even get repairs if needed. A small dragonborn with reddish scales named Nesbis Westcott ran the place. Otis left the group somewhat quickly while George took case of settling the wagons and horses.
Looking around, Fogo, Sky, and Vladimir noticed an unusual wagon in the corner of the building. It looked like a heavy-duty smaller box wagon, but the box was not at all normal. It was a box made of steel with extensive burn marks on all the sides of the box. In fact, when looking closer and seeing that a lot of the wood of the wagon has a bit burnt, it seems that the entire wagon was made of metal.
Looking to Nesbis for some answers, she relayed what happened as far as she knew. The wagon belonged to Nathan Axedrudge, someone claiming to be a merchant. She did not know that the wagon had been made of metal but a day ago it had somehow caught fire and burned all the wood off the box part. Nathan had tried to contract with the local carpenters, but they had recently gotten a huge order which would occupy them for at least five-day.
What she finds interesting, is that the wagon always seemed to have guards with it, and they were missing when the fire occurred. She said that Nathan’s gigantic half-orc bodyguard was so pissed she thought he was going to rip the guards in half. She told the party that Nathan and his bodyguard were sulking in the Stag n’ Flag.
Nesbis was surprised by the whole thing since she had never seen an entire wagon made of metal before. She now understands why they needed four horses to pull it. The only other point she mentioned was the increase of large rats at the Middens and how irritating they were.
Discussing with George on what was in town and what they might do, he suggested that the check-in at the Stone Stallion soon, get food at the Stag-Horned Flagon, also known as the Stag N’ Flag, and avoid Mother Gothal’s. he explained that it was an establishment for drink, dancing, and companionship. A lot of nobles were known to have rendezvous at Gouland Sester’s, and nobles are known to cause trouble for commoners.
Once he finished settling the wagons and horses, George dragged William away to their accommodations at the Stone Stallion. At this point the party split up into three groups. Vladimir to the Stone Stallion to check-in, Fwoosh, Fogo to a sundries store, and Avery, Isac, and Angelica to the Stag N’ Flag for some food and drink.
It turned out that the Stone Stallion was a huge Inn. It was four stories with what appeared to be several rooms per floor. After ringing the bell on the desk several times and waiting a fair amount of time, the proprietor Thorn Tlassalune. With a small amount of chit-chat and Vladimir having identified himself as one of Otis’s guards, Thorn gave Vladimir a single key for a room and told him that he and the rest were all put on the troublesome fourth floor.
Going up the narrow staircases to get to the floor, Vladimir was able to get a glimpse of each of the floors. As he passed each one, he could see that the décor became rougher the higher he went. All of it was opulent, but more worn the higher he went. Once on the fourth floor, he could see that there were 20 rooms on this floor. The walls, floors and even the doors contained scars, burn marks, and what appeared to be dried blood in a few locations.
Vladimir could hear screaming from one room, what seemed to be an ongoing sword fight in another, and just odd sounds in general. Even with all the heavy damage, none of the walls, nor doors had holes, or were scarred through their material. Whatever everything was made from, it was tougher than a regular inn. Opening the door to their room, it was much larger than expected. With three double beds and a private area for a bath, it was surprising, nice. Tapestries covered the walls, and plush rugs the floors.
Given some time before meeting the others, Vladimir settled in for a nice hot bath. Wash away his worries and the events from the last couple of days.
Fwoosh, Fogo, and Angelica asked for directions to a sundry store from Nesbis. She directed them to Sammy’s Sundries. There Saul Blockgnasher a gnome was manning the store. Fwoosh was desperately trying to find a replacement for his mask that had been left in Rassalantar. No matter what was offered, nothing seemed to work. Saul did suggest going to Shrunedalar’s Secrets and get some makeup to minimize Fwoosh’s beak.
The last group of Sky, ISAC, and Avery all headed to the Stag N’ Flag to see what is happening in town. Upon entry they were seated at a table in the middle. There were what was clearly several groups of nobles in the room, and in the corner was a young man with a very large half-orc standing behind him. These two were most likely Nathan and his half-orc guard.
Getting some food and drink from the unusually dressed waitress, the group settled down. They could see a waitress going over to one of the tables containing some nobles. The nobles seem to be negotiating something with the waitress. They finally hand her a platinum piece. She places on one of the heavily pock-marked columns in the room. Stepping back 20 feet, and she quickly tossed the daggers on her waist trapping in the platinum piece tightly. All the patrons give a soft applause, and she claimed the coin.
The occurrences in Rassalantar proved to be a surprise to everyone, including the DM that rolled harshly with the flow. We will have to see if the characters try to come back another day, or just avoid the village moving forward. A lot of the time was spent with the players and the characters learning more about each other, and the sudden arresting event made a lot of things clear about each other on how each person and character responded.
I wanted to limit the races that were available for a variety of reasons and wanted a way of documenting any variation from the rules as written, any home brew as an example, as well as add clarification anywhere I thought was needed, so I created a Players Books and Table rules for everyone and update it as needed.