[3 Mirtul 1372]
On the way to Mirabar, Markus and Nakor put some distance between themselves and the others in order to discuss what should be done about the Scourge. They agree that it may be best to follow her proposed plan and then double-cross her for the reward. There is also some discussion of connecting Grim to the stolen Luskan defence plans in a bid to increase the reward for his capture.
Deciding to work together, the pair enter Mirabar and look for Tazi. They find the boy, but he has terrible news: Fargrim's old friend Bearos has seemingly been kidnapped, with a finger and a bloody number "1" written on the wall of his workshop! Markus and Nakor send the boy to find the rest of the group, but with strict instructions not to tell Fargrim about Bearos' kidnapping.
The two then head to the Goblet and Gem tavern, but are surprised to see it more crowded than ever before. Some quick questioning of a patron and the bartender reveals that a prospector claims to have found a huge lodestone up north and has offered to buy everyone in the tavern a drink. The prospector, a man named Vertoro, indicates upon questioning that he needs escorts to accompany him to actually retrieve the lodestone.
Markus and Nakor decide that speaking to a more sober Vertoro might be worthwhile in the morning, but in the meantime quick visits are made to talk to Thorgrim, an officer in The Axe, who is unwilling to release any information about a possible connection between Grim and Lord Feldspar. Further, a surreptitious search of the wrecked shop where Bearos worked fails to turn up any clues. With the gates to Mirabar having been locked at dusk, the two decide to take rooms for the night at an inn.
Meanwhile, on the road outside of Mirabar, the others receive the message delivered by Tazi and decide to wait. A note from Mellia is discovered indicating that she plans to absent herself from the group for the time being as she is frustrated with the group's handling of the Scourge business.
[4 Mirtul 1372]
Everyone rendezvouses outside the West Gate. Nakor and Markus have become aware that word has already spread along the Blackford Road and within Mirabar that the Scourge has been captured, so they suggest there's no way her plan to infiltrate Feldspar House will work. She claims it would still be possible if they simply snuck her inside, but the group disagrees. Nakor pummels the bound woman into unconscious and then the group turns her over to The Axe for a sizable reward. Still hoping to find a clue leading to Grim, the group searches Bearos' house and returns to his wrecked shop, but even a search in the daylight this time reveals little of use.
During their travels in Mirabar, the group comes across a disturbing sight: a man is strapped down to the bed of a horse-drawn cart, and he seems to be moaning and writhing in pain; his flesh has taken on a sickening greenish hue and pus drips from open sores on his flesh. A woman leading the wagon, who claims to be the man's wife, tells the group that a mere nick from an orc's blade during an attack on the Long Road led to the strange condition. The woman takes her husband to the Shrine of Tymora for healing. Later, Cain spends some time there helping to heal the wounded survivors of a troll attack on the same road.
Ellywick happens upon the group and asks to be filled in on what has transpired since last she travelled with them, having spent much of the past few days with Protius.
Various errands are attended to before the entire group reunites at the Sign of the Forgehammer to discuss their next step. Options raised including trying to infiltrate Feldspar House (Nakor has obtained a rough map through a contact), heading straight for Startop Mountain in the Evermoors, journeying north with the prospector Vertoro (a plan disliked by Trigonnis as it involves dangerous travel in rough, freezing terrain for little reward) or heading in the direction indicated by the mysterious nightmares suffered by Nakor, Cain, and Fargrim (southeast). The group decides the second option is best, as it follows up on a potential lead to the whereabouts of Grim while also taking the group generally southeast.
[5 Mirtul 1372]
Everyone buys horses in preparation for the journey.
Director's Commentary (Sep. 29, 2013)
Another session of pure role-playing. There were a lot of these at this point in the campaign, which I was fine with but not expecting. In the Clone Wars campaign, there was maybe only one or two of the 50+ that had no combat. The sessions like this one start a trend that persists intermittently through the campaign of the bulk of the PCs' XP coming from the bonus XP I give for role-playing (5-10% of the total XP it takes to move from one level to another). This was intended to encourage good role-playing and make it clear to the players that they didn't have to always pick fights in order to obtain a positive reward from a session, but it was never intended to be a major substitute for traditional combat/encounter XP. In retrospect, I may have set the bonus for RP too high. On the other hand, as The Wife often points out, the party has also levelled up perhaps a little slowly because of their paucity of combat XP (about one level every six sessions), so perhaps it all balances out in the end. I'll have to think this over for future D&D campaigns.
Here we have the introduction of a major adventure hook: the kidnapping of Bearos by Grim in response to Fargrim's capture of the Scourge. Bearos' disappearance ignites Fargrim's drive to hunt down Grim in order to rescue his friend, and it was intended by me to both tie in Fargrim's background even better to the campaign and provide a rationale for deeper explorations of Startop Mountain. The first part of this worked, the second didn't, as we'll see in future sessions.
Mellia is absent from this session. Around this point, The Wife and Boomer headed back to Canada for a couple of months. The Wife starts to play whenever possible via Skype (with the computer monitor sitting at the table in her place), which seemed really weird at first, but actually worked out reasonably well. The hardest part was that the time difference meant it was 6 or 7 a.m. when she played in Canada, so sometimes she struggled.
The appearance of the diseased man starts hinting at the idea of blight blades and some of the problems that are developing in the Evermoors. The source of the blight blades are hinted at further in subsequent sessions, but as of this writing (Session # 56), the party hasn't investigated further.