On the Road

Elturel
The PCs met with Leosin and Ontharr at the latter’s headquarters, the tavern known as A Pair of Black Antlers. They told the tale of what they’d found in the dragon hatchery, and Ontharr was suitably impressed. They also passed over the notes and map they’d found in Mondath’s chamber. [Although, come to think of it, Mondath probably should have taken her things back when the PCs were captured.]

Ontharr then challenged them to an arm-wrestling match. He beat Mara once, followed by Flint. Then Mara said she wanted a rematch and beat him, so he suggested a best two out of three, which he ended up winning. They may have even gone to best three out of five. By that time Ontharr had had enough and said it was time to go and inspect his troops. He invited them to come along and partake of some sparring or archery practice or whatever. I don’t think any of them actually did, though.

Erevan mentioned his head injury to Ontharr, who said he could get someone to look into it. When the elf inquired what exactly that would entail, and Ontharr indicated that it would involve quite a bit of prayer, Erevan turned him down. As an native of Evermeet, he wasn’t keen on being beholden to mere human gods. He decided to seek out an elven healer instead.

That evening, the PCs were summoned back to the tavern, where Ontharr gave them lots of alcohol to drink. He and Leosin laid out what they knew and what they wanted the PCs to do. The PCs all readily agreed, since they each had their own bone to pick with the cult. Erevan and Flint both seemed intrigued by Leosin’s description of the Harpers, as well, though they declined to join then and there. Mara, meanwhile, didn’t seem keen on either faction.

[Keo’s player wasn’t present, but in a brief one-on-one later, I had him meet with an Emerald Enclave rep who offered him the same mission and opportunity to join her faction. He agreed to join the Enclave and go on the mission.]

Ontharr furnished the PCs with new equipment and suggested they change their appearance, though I’m not sure any of them really did. Flint, for instance, wasn’t keen on shaving his beard or anything like that. I think Erevan acquired some secondhand clothes in order to appear less conspicuous.

Baldur’s Gate
The next morning, they hopped on another boat (with Flint gaining enough courage through drink to board on his own so Erevan wouldn’t have to put him to sleep again) and headed downriver to Baldur’s Gate. The trip was uneventful, and upon disembarking, they headed for Mara’s family’s mansion in the Upper City.

Over dinner, Mara’s older brother told her of some research their late father (who had been killed in the bombing of the city’s parliament in the lead-up to Bhaal’s bloodsoaked return during the Sundering) had been doing into the origins of the heirloom greataxe Mara carries around. Her father had concluded that the axe might only be a replica of a magical axe wielded by their family’s founding ancestor, Skie Sigursdottir, also known as the Storm Maiden of Ruathym. Her brother’s own research had led him to conclude that Skie was entombed in the necropolis under the cemetery in Tumbledown.

The next day, after the PCs went out to Blackgate and met with Ontharr’s contact, Ackyn Selebon, and discussed options for keeping an eye out for the cultists (Selebon suggested employing some of the city’s many urchins to keep watch and/or taking a stroll through the caravan assembly point once a day), they headed out to Tumbledown. Along the way, Erevan found some urchins and paid them to keep him informed of the goings-on around the caravan yard in Blackgate.


SIDE QUEST:
DUES FOR THE DEAD

In Tumbledown, the PCs discovered that the catacombs were closed to the public due to an undead infestation. Several of the Kelemvorites who tend to the cemetery had been killed by the undead in recent days. Since the cemetery was located in the Outer City, the priests could expect no help from the city’s authorities, so for now they had just sealed the catacombs. The PCs agreed to help them with their problem so that Mara could find her ancestor’s crypt.

The lead Kelemvorite offered to send one of his assistants, a young half-elf woman named Cassyt, as a guide.

After rolling away the stone blocking the entrance to the catacombs, the party headed down into the dark, with Cassyt carrying a lantern to light their way. They prowled through the catacombs, encountering some ghouls hiding amongst some ritually smoked bodies and some zombies in a room that had once been used to kill vampires. They also found some Guild thieves who’d been trapped in a room by the aforementioned zombies. After Mara intimidated them into handing over their ill-gotten gains, they then escorted them back to the surface and handed them over to Cassyt’s boss, Doomguide Glandon.

It was their intention to go back into the city to find Keo before pressing any further into the catacombs.

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Episodes 2-4

Note: I fell off the recap wagon for a while, and then we had a long break between sessions, so it’s been a while since we actually played through Episodes 2 and 3, hence why the following recaps are so brief.

EPISODE 2
The Cultist Camp

The PCs accepted Governor Nighthill’s request to track the raiders and find out what the story was. They met up with the stragglers, whereupon Flint turned Erevan invisible so the elf rogue could sneak up on the kobolds and, doing his best kobold impression, incite them towards violence against the cultists. This worked a treat and the PCs hardly needed to do any fighting themselves. They managed to talk to one of the cultists before he expired, learning of the rearguard waiting in the rocks. This enabled them to avoid the rearguard encounter entirely.

They scouted around the camp from the top of the ridge. In the end, they decided to just have Erevan sneak into the camp under cover of darkness to rescue Leosin. Believe it or not, the players came up with the idea of replacing Leosin with a straw dummy completely on their own! As a result, they were able to get Leosin far enough away from the camp before the alarm was raised that no harm came to anyone on the way back to Greenest.

EPISODE 3
The Dragon Hatchery

The PCs accepted Leosin’s request to return to the camp and find out more. Of course, they found the camp all but empty when they returned. They were able to wheedle a few details from the recalcitrant hunters before heading into the cave. Erevan used his cultist outfit to scout ahead, chatting with the guards in the cave entrance before heading back out again to inform the others of what he’d found. They opted for the frontal assault (of course). They fought their way through to Mondath’s chamber, but the priestess slipped down the escape hatch hidden beneath her rug. Instead of following her, they dragged some of her heavy furniture on top of the hole and then went and explored the rest of the cave complex.

The PCs bested the violet fungi and a patrol of kobolds and made their way through the bat cave without disturbing its inhabitants. They took a short rest on the ledge above the trash heap before pressing on. Erevan scouted ahead alone, discovering the meat locker. They all went north together to the drake training room, where I had added a kobold “wyrmpriest”. He proved to be a bit of a glass cannon – he blasted Erevan with an acid orb and then got knocked down into the pit, where the juvenile drakes hungrily tore him to shreds. The PCs later made mincemeat of the kobolds and urds in their barracks, but then fumbled their initial foray into the shrine room (despite me giving them a free short rest that I described as an “adrenaline rush”). Erevan managed to invisibly sneak past Cyanwrath to get into position behind Mondath before the others charged in, but they were soon defeated by the half-dragon and his berserkers, while Mondath’s spirit guardians did Erevan in. (That being said, Cyanwrath only had like 3 hp left at the end of the fight, so they’d almost gotten him!)

Rather than have it be a TPK, I decided that Cyanwrath wanted to interrogate them (and possibly try to recruit them), so he had Mondath cast spare the dying on them all. They woke up in the pit at the far end of the dragon hatchery, in which I had also added a few of the prisoners from the camp (who were being saved as food for the wyrmlings once they hatched) and a scaffolding for the kobolds to use.

Unfortunately for me, I kind of fumbled this scene and allowed the PCs to escape and recover their stuff before Cyanwrath had the chance to talk to them. I’d allowed them to gain the benefits of a long rest while huddled up in the pit, so Keo changed his spell selection, which made a huge difference during their rematch against Cyanwrath et al (IIRC he used hold person on either Cyanwrath or the berserker). I believe I also made it so one of the berserkers had been repositioned in the cave entrance since the PCs had wiped out all the other guards and the kobolds.

The PCs summarily dealt to Cyanwrath and the berserkers, but Mondath managed to escape, taking one of the hunter’s horses with her. They thought about trying to chase after her but ended up letting her go. They went back into the cave and destroyed the dragon eggs with ranged attacks – not wanting to risk going near the mysterious tentacled thing that kept telepathically asking them for food. They then went back to the trash heap and Keo went in to retrieve the chest they’d noticed before. He was ambushed by troglodytes, and he came very close to dying, except that I ruled that the last remaining troglodyte couldn’t fit his body through the narrow fissure and so left him behind, and then Erevan managed to get to him with a healing potion just in the nick of time!

EPISODE 4
On the Road

Back in Greenest, the PCs were warmly welcomed by Governor Nighthill, who informed them that Leosin had left already but there were some horses waiting for them should they wish to follow the half-elf. The governor pulled out a map of the region and pointed out the various routes they could take to get to Elturel. The PCs opted to ride to Berdusk and then take a boat down the Chionthar to Elturel. Flint wasn’t too sure he liked the sound of that but went along with it anyway. It’s about 125 miles from Greenest to Berdusk, so at a normal pace, the PCs were looking at 5 days on the road. [FYI: The 200 miles from Greenest to Elturel mentioned in the adventure is for the most direct route across the Greenfields. Going by the overland travel rules in the PHB, that journey should actually take eight days, not six.]

About a day or so out from Greenest along the Uldoon Trail, the PCs sought shelter from the heat in a copse of trees surrounding a small spring. Just as they were getting nice and relaxed, they heard some piercing cries from above. A group of three griffons had spotted/smelled their horses and were diving to attack! Luckily the PCs had had the foresight to tether their mounts to a tree or else the frightened animals might have bolted. As it was, the PCs had a hard fight on their hands. While they managed to fend off the lead griffon, the other two held their attack and managed to slay two horses. Only one managed to break the tether and make off with the corpse, while the other struggled long enough that the PCs were able to do it in.

When they were only a day away from Greenest, they encountered a patrol out of Berdusk (one of the city’s roving “gauntlets”, made up of soldiers, militiamen, convicts, and mercenaries). They filled in the patrol’s leader on what had happened in Greenest, and the patrol continued on its way, determined to do what it could to help the people of the Greenfields recover from the cultists’ attacks. [FYI: At the beginning of Episode 2, Leosin’s disciple, Nesim Waladra, mentions that one of his brothers had gone to Berdusk to seek help but that it would be many days before any help arrived. I decided that this patrol was that help.]

Not having any current info to go on for the next part of the journey, I referred to the 2e Forgotten Realms Adventures and Volo’s Guide to the Sword Coast for info on Berdusk and Scornubel. The PCs had a bit of fun in Berdusk. Erevan went to the temple of Deneir (aka. the old Harper base known as “Twilight Hall”) to buy some healing potions. He also bought a bottle of the famed Berduskan Dark wine, and the PCs all sampled some of the local delicacy known as goldenstars (which, based on the description of them in Volo’s, one of my players identified as samosas). [Incidentally, one of my players is German, and when I showed the group the black and white images of the city in the Volo’s book, she said it reminded her of some of the places back home!]

On the River
Despite Flint’s objections about going on the water, the group soon found a barge captain willing to take them downriver for free in exchange for them acting as guards, as the gnolls in the Reaching Wood had grown restlessly bold of late [a hint I took from the 4e FRCG’s entry on Elturgard]. Erevan put Flint to sleep to get him on board. Before the dwarf woke up, he had another of his apocalyptic dreams, this time featuring the city of Berdusk being reduced to rubble.

Due to the risk of gnoll attacks, the barge captain said he would sail through the night, using Erevan’s darkvision to help guide him rather than lanterns (which would make them more of a target). Sure enough, some gnolls attacked them on a stretch of the river that drew close to the edge of the Reaching Wood. The gnolls fired flaming arrows at the barge from the safety of the trees. One of the deckhands went down, but Keo was able to revive him. The big druid also used spike growth to great effect after Erevan and Flint, who were able to attack the gnolls back thanks to their darkvision (and Erevan’s new Sharpshooter feat), had whittled them down quite a bit. Poor Mara was left with little to do besides dodge the gnolls’ flaming arrows and put out the small fires they caused amongst the barge’s cargo.

Needless to say, the barge captain and his crew were most grateful when they reached Scornubel with all hands. I gave them a quick rundown of the city, including the relatively recent addition of the paladin citadel, which had been built when Elturgard annexed Scornubel after the Spellplague almost destroyed the city due to severe lack of trade. The PCs decided not to spend much time here, each seeking a place to bed down for the night according to their needs (Keo, for instance, opted to sleep in a paddock, while Mara chose the most expensive inn she could find). The next morning, Erevan had to put Flint to sleep again in order to get the stubborn dwarf back on the barge.

The trip to Elturel was uneventful, though I made sure to describe the city’s magical second sun growing bigger and brighter as they drew closer. I also mentioned that, as they went into the city, they noticed that many of the homes and buildings had heavy black-out curtains. Unfortunately, we had to stop there, but we’re planning on doing a longer session next time, so hopefully we’ll get through the meetings with Leosin and Ontharr and then be on our way to Baldur’s Gate, where I have a few fun little extras in mind for the PCs while they wait for the cultists to show up.

Greenest in Flames

Our Story Begins
Our four would-be heroes found themselves arriving in Greenest just as the sun was setting. They all conveniently gathered at the Lonely Demon Inn, a quiet but cozy place on the northwest edge of town. The proprietor, a grizzled old fellow with an eyepatch, introduced himself as Darvin “Folks round here call me ‘Patchy'” Nighthill. He proceeded to ply them with food, drink, and lots of questions.

When the elf, Erevan, explained that he was something of an entertainer, Patchy asked him to sing “one of those sad elvish ballads.” Erevan happily obliged, the result bringing a tear to the old man’s one remaining eye. Sniffing, he explained that he’d spent some time with the elves of the Misty Forest when he was younger, and that song had brought back memories.

Next Patchy turned to the human woman, Mara, taking in her fine clothes and noble bearing. She had little to say other than that she cherished her greataxe, a family heirloom. Patchy nodded, pointing to the beaten up old shield and mace hanging from the wall behind the bar. They looked like they’d seen a lot of use. “There’s nothing like having a trusty weapon by your side,” he remarked.

The dwarf, Flint, proved to be as taciturn as Mara, if not even more so, but Patchy just shrugged and said he could respect that, acknowledging that many dwarves don’t have much to say to strangers before moving on to Keo. He recognized the tall druid as a goliath, saying he’d met some in the mountains once. Keo apologized for his lack of manners, for not knowing how to use the utensils Patchy had given him, and asked if it would be all right if he just ate with his hands. Patchy replied that he’d eaten with his hands while living it rough in the wilds plenty of times.

As the four adventurers tucked into their meals, Patchy began regaling them with tales from his youth. At one point, he asked if any of them had ever fought a dragon. They shook their heads. “Well, I have!” he exclaimed, before launching into yet another tale. As he was describing the dragon’s approach, the inn suddenly shook as something heavy flew overhead. A moment later, there was a loud crack of lightning, followed by an explosion from somewhere else in the village. “Just like that,” deadpanned Patchy.

The four turned to look at him quizzically. “Folks, I do believe the town is being attacked by a dragon,” Patchy replied flatly, over the screams coming from outside. The old man grabbed his mace and shield from off the wall and announced that he was going to draw the dragon away from the town. “Who’s with me?” he shouted.

Before the adventurers could respond, a commotion from outside the front of the inn caught their attention. Turning to look out the inn’s windows, they could see an injured man shepherding three young children across the street. They were followed by a young woman clutching a shield and a broken spear. Stopping in the middle of the road, she turned to face the group of kobolds chasing her family.

The adventurers figured they’d better aid the family rather than go with the crazy old man with a deathwish. Patchy just shrugged. “Suit yourselves!,” he exclaimed. Reaching behind the bar, he tossed an old leather bag at Keo, adding, “You’re going to need what’s in there!”

As Keo snatched the bag out of the air, Patchy struck his mace on his shield and the weapon lit up with a bright, magical glow. With that, the old adventurer turned and raced out the back door, yelling a war cry at the top of his lungs.

The goliath had a quick look inside the bag. Unable to make sense of its jumbled contents, he handed it to Flint. A slight thrill rushed through the dwarf as he realized what it was: a magic bag of holding, with an internal space much larger than its outside would suggest. Shouldering the bag, he followed the others through the inn’s front door to help the villagers.

With the arrival of the adventurers, the kobolds didn’t stand a chance. The young woman, Linan Swift, was most grateful for their assistance. She called her husband and their children back and suggested they all make for the keep in the center of town as quickly as possible. As they wound their way through the village streets, they could see that the town was under attack by more than just a dragon. Groups of kobolds and human raiders were everywhere, lighting things on fire, looting buildings, and chasing after screaming townsfolk.

It took the group some effort to avoid the raiders, but they eventually managed it, picking up another family and some more adults along the way. By the time they reached the path leading up the hill to the keep, they had thirteen villagers in tow. Just then a group of kobolds came into view with a man-sized scaly beast slinking along beside them. Sending the villagers up the path to the keep, the group turned to fight a rearguard. Flint identified the beast as an ambush drake. The drake managed to get one good bite in against Erevan before it and most of its kobold handlers fell to the adventurers’ attacks. The survivors fled south into the darkness.

Seeing more raiders closing in on their location, the group beat a hasty retreat up to the keep. As a few more stragglers followed them in, the keep’s dwarven castellan ordered the gates to be closed and barred.

EDIT: Here is a brief summary of what happened during the rest of Episode 1 …

The PCs met with Governor Nighthill and Castellan Escobert. They agreed to help, and so Escobert showed them the secret tunnel. They made it down past the rats with little trouble and managed to get the gate open without making any noise, so they were able to get the drop on the kobolds and cultists coming up the stream.

They then headed over to the sanctuary and assaulted the cultists trying to set fire to the back door. They went in and Mara managed to convince everyone to listen up and start running out the back, just as some cultists broke through the front door. The players handled this encounter well and actually managed to rescue everyone!

Later they went and captured a dragonclaw cultist for Nighthill to interrogate.

Then the dragon attacked. I had put a ballista up on the roof of the tower, so they went up there and operated it as a group. They managed to get one hit in, I think, before the dragon blasted them with its lightning breath, reducing the ballista to splinters. [DM note: Erevan would’ve died from the damage, except that his player opted to take up my house rule allowing him to survive but with a lasting injury. I did some research after the session and decided that damage from electricity would be primarily neurological, so I took the confusion-based madness effect from the DMG and made it permanent. It’s gotten him into trouble enough times now that he tries to avoid getting into melee.]

After that, they went and did the Save the Mill mission. They spotted the trap ahead of time, though, and reported back to the governor. Nighthill insisted that they “save” the mill anyway, and so the PCs persuaded him to give them three of his guardsmen to back them up. It was lucky they did, too, because the would-be assassins had just about all of the PCs on the floor, but they had heaps of trouble killing the lowly guards. In fact, the guards saved the day (and the PCs). I joked that if the PCs had all died, the players would have had to start playing the guards instead.

At some point they had a short rest, and then Langdedrosa showed up with his challenge. Mara agreed to fight him and was soundly walloped. And that was that.