Recap # 6
[6 Tarsakh 1372]
In the Northern city of Luskan, travellers from afar quickly become acquainted while staying in the city's only proper inn, The Seven Sails. Built to look like a ship, the massive building has rooms for dozens of travellers and provides elegance and comfort while simultaneously allowing Luskan's authorities to keep an eye on suspicious newcomers. Two such newcomers, a wizard from Shadowdale named Mellia Nightflower and an adventurer from Sembia named Markus Kassul III, are approached by a greasy haired man in dirty clothing. He offers the pair a substantial payment in gold if they agree to protect and "escort" couriers from Luskan to Mirabar the next day. Accompanied by a huge, burly figure in a cloak and hood, the potential employer seems suspicious even though both newcomers could use the gold. Mellia says she needs a night to think about it.
[7 Tarsakh 1732]
Come morning, Mellia has made up her mind; she and Markus accept a purse full of gold coins from the greasy haired man and split them up. Mellia notices that every single one of the coins has been minted in Mirabar, a somewhat unusual find. The pair makes their way to the city gates.
Meanwhile, Fargrim, Cain, and Nakor suffer terrible nightmares of undead armies, the enslavement of humanity, and the burning of their homelands. The words of the priest of Myrkul as he died echo in their minds "I curse you with the knowledge of where your doom shall originate, and the knowledge that you will be too weak to stop it!" As their fevered dreams finally begin to dissipate, they are filled with a dread certainty that everything will begin somewhere directly to the east.
Along with Rolen, they awake in the hold of The Woeful Tide, chained to a beam. They witness First Mate Gristle bragging about his role in "putting down the mutiny" to an impassive woman wearing a fur-lined ice-blue dress. She heals the imprisoned adventurers to improve their value as slaves in exchange for some of the magic items they carried. After she leaves, Gristle has his men lead the adventurers to the main deck and then down the gangplank where the ship is docked in Luskan. There, they undergo scrutiny from potential buyers. Rolen is snapped up by a wealthy looking man who claims he needs a guide to Calimshan, and that he'll set the monk free after the job is finished.
Potential purchasers for the others are put off by Gristle's misguided talk about how tough and stubborn they were in the mutiny, but eventually they are purchased by a greasy-haired man and a veritable giant in a cloak and hood. The three adventurers are pushed into the back of a wagon and covered with a tarp. Soon, they find themselves in the interior of what looks like a little-used warehouse. The greasy-haired fellow offers them a proposition: deliver parcels for him to Mirabar and receive their freedom, or be returned to Gristle. The three agree and each receives a suit of leather armor and tabard, a short sword, some rations, and small steel box with is attached by chain to their wrists. The greasy-haired man says a withering curse will take effect if they try to open the boxes, but Nakor thinks he's probably lying.
The trio are taken again by wagon to the city gates, where they meet their two "escorts": Mellia and Markus. Soon after the group passes out of the city gates, a hue-and-cry goes out: "The Third High Captain has been murdered!" Guards and merchants tussle as the former tries to close the gates and the latter try to hurry their caravans in, but the group continues. As they walk the road to Mirabar, they talk about the strange circumstances under which they were hired. It also becomes clear that only Fargrim knows the area well.
After four or five hours of walking, the group hears the approach of a rider cresting a bluff behind them. He's clearly a Luskanite soldier, and when he spots the group he shouts behind him, "I've found the murderers!" Nakor fires an arrow at the group but misses, and the scout and four other mounted soldiers charge the group, longswords drawn. Mellia instantly renders two of them helpless via a well-cast Sleep spell, but the others continue on. The fight is a brutal and bloody melee, which the adventurers barely survive thanks to a stock of healing potions carried by Markus. One of the soldiers escapes, promising to return with reinforcements, so the group decides to leave the road for the time being.
Heading north into a lightly-forested area, the group makes camp in a thick clump of trees that they hope will shield them from sight. All are badly hurt, and only time and Cain's healing spells will enable them to recover.
[8 Tarsakh 1372]
The group continues to rest and heal.
[9 Tarsakh 1372]
The group continues to rest and heal.
[10 Tarsakh 1372]
In the early hours of morning, before dawn has arisen, Nakor notices something during his watch.
Director's Commentary: June 3, 2013
Now we're cooking with gas! The introduction of Mellia in the campaign reflects The Wife's return from a lengthy visit to Canada. With Boomer sleeping in a room adjoining the dining room, we had to move from playing on a table to playing on some pushed-together coffee tables in the living room. More work to set up (as now I couldn't just leave everything there between sessions, as tiny hands can cause big trouble) but it seems to have worked out okay. And Boomer, bless him, has only once woken up in the night during a session (we're now on # 40).
Mellia is a very memorable character, and the other players may be surprised to hear that she's very much a departure from The Wife's other characters. Mellia is quite focused on her goal (more on that in a future session), takes things seriously, and brooks no horseplay. She's most famous for the glare she's often turned on Cain and Markus when they fail to follow the group's plan. As a wizard, she's proven quite useful to a party that is otherwise short on arcane magic. And with an 18 in Constitution, she's proven surprisingly durable in a fight.
Markus is a fun character who served as a replacement PC for the player who ran Rolen. Markus stayed in the campaign for quite some time, left for several sessions as the player tried his hand at yet a third PC, but has quite recently returned. He's portrayed as a somewhat naive, swashbuckling type, and his skill in disarming foes with his rapier is legendary. The downside is that, as his attacks don't do much damage, he's not nearly as useful in fights against monsters that wield natural weapons.
The plot of the session--with the captured PCs sold as slaves and sent on a mysterious quest with the two new PCs as their "escorts"--was something I came up with because I wanted to find a way to get the whole group together quickly, and give them some relative freedom to adventure. If it hadn't been for the new PCs, I might have gone with the more traditional "escape captivity" sort of plot; but being framed for murder seemed like an equally burdensome alternative. It also served as a bit of a nudge to get them headed in the right direction for where I finally decided was going to be one of the main sites of adventure in the campaign: Startop Mountain. More on that in a future post.