Monday, October 8, 2012
[20 Tarsakh 1372]
On their first full day in Mirabar, members of the group try to avoid being seen together in order to keep a low profile. For the most part, they go their separate ways with a pre-designated meeting point to share what they've learned.
A somewhat hungover Fargrim tracks down his even-more hungover friend Bearos, and learns that one of Bearos' old contacts in the Mirabar thieves' guild has a potential lead on Grim's whereabouts: it seems that the contact returned to one of his hideouts in the hills southeast of Mirabar only to find it occupied by a
band of highwaymen. Soon thereafter, Fargrim spots his recent gnome acquaintance, Ellywick, and she tells him of another possible lead: she tracked a group of bandits to a wooded area two days southwest of Mirabar.
Mellia gets permission from the keeper of the Sign of the Forgehammer to advertise the scribing of mystical scrolls. He promises to spread the word for a share of the profits, but, at least on the first day, she has no customers. She investigates serving as a tutor for apprentice battle-wizards serving with Mirabar's standing army, The Axe, but they don't seem interested.
Cain spends most of the day working for a dwarven blacksmith. His work is minimally acceptable, and he earns a handful of silver pieces for his trouble.
Marcus buys a foppish hat with a feather sticking from the top, and is persuaded to buy a somewhat dodgy "healing potion" from a local hedge-sorceress.
Nakor tries to weasel a better price on some armor from a craftsman by claiming he plans to join The Axe, but the armorer sees through his deception and banishes him from the smithy. The Sembian has better luck tracking down a purveyor of magical potions, as he locates a back-alley gnome who seems to have one of everything. Nakor also learns of the reward for capturing or killing Grim: 5,000 gp, with another 1,500 gp for The Scourge of Blackford Road.
The group works so hard at being incognito that they begin to confuse themselves. Two planned meetings, one at the walled gardens in the center of Mirabar, and another outside the city, are not attended by everyone in the group and there is a lot of back-and-forth as messages are passed and sometimes
misinterpreted. Nakor ends up locked outside of the city after retrieving the military plans he had buried on the way in to Mirabar. He spends a wet, cold, and lonely night on his own. The others end up drinking, talking, and sleeping in comfortable beds in the Sign of the Forgehammer.
[21 Tarsakh 1372]
The group reunites south of the city, with Marcus bearing the brunt of Nakor's veiled frustration over the confusion. Members of the group split on the question of whether to pursue Fargrim's lead to the southeast bandit cave or Ellywick's lead to the southwest forested encampment. Finally, the deadlock is broken when the group realizes that they would have to reenter Mirabar and cross a bridge in order to go to the southwest. They decide on the southeast and begin marching along the Long Road.
[22 Tarsakh 1372]
A surprisingly heavy snowfall begins early in the morning, its effect heightened by a strong wind. Fargrim, however, manages to follow the directions he had been given and leads the group to the cave they suspect of sheltering Grim's band. The group decides to keep their distance, and Marcus sends his snake familiar to investigate. The snake sends back murky thoughts of multiple beings, one much larger than the others. The group decides to circle the hill and see if there might be a back way in. Nakor's keen eyesight comes in handy, as he discovers a concealed tunnel that angles sharply upwards into the hill. Further investigation reveals it was clearly meant as an escape tunnel, and Nakor is able to follow its dark, narrow confines to a sliding door carved out of rock. He returns, and the group decides to try to sneak through it and catch
the bandits by surprise.
All seems to be going well, until Marcus' coin-purse catches on a rock, loudly spilling its contents down the tunnel! A bandit on the other side of the secret exit slides the door open and is surprised to see Nakor there. Nonetheless, he has the presence of mind to stab Nakor twice before the group manages to start a
backwards retreat. Instead of trying to follow, the bandit decides on what seems like a can't miss shot with a shortbow--but a shout from further back in the cave distracts him, and his arrow richochets off a jutting rock and strikes a companion fatally in the throat!
Having failed in their otherwise-clever attempt at stealth, the group retreats into the lightly-forested area to regroup. Nakor hides between a tree just a few dozen yards from the secret exit, hoping to see what sort of response the bandits have planned.
Director's Commentary (July 22, 2013)
This was one of the sessions that helped give the group its reputation for being able to spend a lot of time in town doing somewhat mundane things: shopping, running errands, haphazardly gathering information, and discussing/arguing about what to do next. I find it hard as the director not to want to make more exciting things happen sometimes during their time in cities, but as the same time I don't want to always jump in and curtail their "down time." Plus, a city like Mirabar isn't really meant to be exciting--I've portrayed it in the campaign, based on my research, as a fairly dour, grim, unexciting city of tired miners, busy craftsmen, and very serious dwarves. In retrospect, though, I might have tried to come up with some city encounters.
Markus' floppy hat with a feather sticking out of it, purchased in this session, became a trademark of the character. As I write this, Markus just died in the last session (skull crushed by a flesh golem!), so here's hoping his friends can figure out how to get him raised. The scene with Nakor getting stranded outside the closed gates of the city and freezing while his friends, who forgot to meet him, enjoy the comforts of a nice warm inn was pretty funny at the time. Nakor would get his revenge, however. The one recurring NPC to come out of this was Protius the Potion Purveyor, one of those little things a director comes up with on the spot that turn out to be fun later on.
For the bandit's cave, I modified material from a short adventure called Dry Spell. I had the secret escape tunnel in the map because I thought it was a natural bandit trick, but I was really not expecting the PCs to find it from the outside! (A natural 20 on a Search check works wonders). The PCs plan to sneak through the tunnel to attack would likely have been enormously successful, as they would have caught the main bandit leader (a Grim impersonator) on his own with only a couple of mook bodyguards. Markus' natural 1 on his Move Silently check, however, put a stop to that plan! On the other hand, they benefited from a natural 1 rolled by one of the bandits who tried to fire a "can't miss" arrow down the shaft.
It was good to have this encounter, as a classic "mini-dungeon" is a good bonding experience for new PCs and, after the defeat at the slaver's hands and the long trip from Luskan, some old-fashioned adventuring was called for.