Session #21

The main team (Aeoth, Valian and Fradd) were still in time dilation from last week's excursion into the outer planes.

One of the regular players (Fradd) didn't want to roll-up a backup, and told me that he would be taking a break until his main character was available to play again.  Another regular player (Valian) was delayed eating out with co-workers  So this week, we started off the session with just two PCs--Aeoth's backup (Forwyn, elvish fighter), and a new player.  The new player, who plays the Barbarian Broll in BDubs' campaign, was playing Vanilla Gold, a human rogue.

Like most sessions in the campaign, we started off in Barrelriders--a tavern owned by some of the PCs.  I let Vanilla Gold introduce his character very briefly.  And then a knight burst into the tavern.

A few weeks ago, I determined there was a chance Lord Neverember (who originally hid the 500,000 gp treasure--and used the Stone of Golor as his "treasure map") would reach out to the players and try to get their help recovering it.  I decided this would be a 1 in 12 chance--since I thought it was possible but fairly improbable.  But despite the improbability, I rolled a 1 on that check.  So Lord Neverember dispatched a messenger to ask for the party's help, and offer them information that would lead them to the treasure (the information contained on the Stone of Golor).  Lord Neverember also sent a reward of 500 GP, since the party rescued his son in the third session of the campaign.  Neverember's offer was simple:  if you agree to find and recover my hidden treasure for me, I'll give you the information you need to find it, and a 25% cut of whatever you recover.  In order to obtain this information however, I told the players that Lord Neverember required them to come and meet him in Neverwinter--which is two weeks north of Waterdeep on foot.

The party discussed briefly--it is their belief that they're hopelessly behind some, or all, of the other major factions in the hunt for Lord Neverember's stash of 500,000 gold.  They've been trying to find the "Stone of Golor" for some time now--but during downtime this week, one of their contacts--Smelock the paranoid mage--told them that it was no longer on the prime material plane, but has recently been moved to the astral plane. However, Smelock's divinations can't pin down a location any more specific than that.  On the other hand, the party doesn't have much information about how close the other factions are to recovering Neverember's hidden treasure.

Per the module I'm adapting this hook from, there are 4 pieces of information the stone of golor provides: the location of the vault, and three "keys" needed to open the vault.  Only one faction has all four pieces of information currently.  This faction is trying to obtain the keys, and figure out a way to DISCRETELY access the vault without tipping off all of the other factions that are currently looking for this horde of 500,000 gold.  We're pretty far outside the module at this point, because the module basically requires the DM to railroad the players into finding the stone of golor before any of the faction leaders does.  The module also assumes (idk why), that someone who took the effort to stash a vault of 500,000 gp, will just sit back in another city and allow some criminal gang (or worse adventurers), to swoop in and claim his hidden horde.

Anyways, the two players agreed to Neverember's terms, and the knight left.  The players then started discussing whether they wanted to set off at once on the overland trek, or follow up on one of their leads in town first.  Since Vanilla Gold's player just joined the campaign, this discussion consisted of Forwyn running down the list of current hooks--which I'll briefly summarize here:

(1) hunt pirates for a mysterious patron (DAP, as the players learned later this session)
(2) kill the aboleth (for a reward from the Baron of Blood)
(3) capture/kill DAP (a quest from Padre Brendon, who is worried DAP's Nietzschean ideology will lead young men in his congregation away from the True Faith of St. Cuthbert, and also that DAP might destroy an equestrian statue of St. Cuthbert in the Field Ward)

Statue of St. Cuthbert

(4) find the "Black Viper," a notorious cat burglar/beautiful noblewoman someone in the party wanted to date after she kissed him to distract him from blowing her cover on a heist (in session 4)
(5) recover Lord Neverember's hidden treasure
(6) hunt down a mind flayer who narrowly escaped the party a few weeks ago
(7) kill the Baron of Blood and his entourage (the party keeps talking about this one, but it sounds like a "long-term" goal--since they want to get him to pay them for killing the aboleth first)
(8) delve into Undermountain for treasure/XP

Anyways, as the party was discussing what they should do this week, another NPC stopped by to ask for their help and provide some additional information about one of the newer threats in Waterdeep.  Melannor Galanodel, leader of the Emerald Enclave--basically the Knights of Columbus for the local TSR (traditional sylvan rite) parish--stopped by Barrelriders to meet with Forwyn, his son-in-law.  Fairly early in the campaign, Forwyn married Alethiea, a cute elvish apothecary who runs a potion shop on the same street as Barrelriders.
(tfw no cute trad elvish wife)

Anyways, Mellanor wanted his son-in-law (and companions) to help him deal with an extremely powerful zombie plague currently spreading in the Waterdeep sewers.  He told them he had spent some time researching these powerful worm infested zombies, and he learned two pieces of information.  First, these creatures are called "Spawn of Kyuss" or "Sons of Kyuss"--and he suspects Kyuss is, or was, a very powerful evil archmage who originally created this plague.  Second, he told the party that the Spawn of Kyuss are vulnerable to holy damage from holy salt.  He provided Forwyn 5 flasks of holy salt; told him to stay safe: "I don't want his future grandchildren to grow up without their dad;" and asked the party to keep an ear out for anything else they could discover about "Kyuss," since Melannor thinks this information could be a key to ending the plague in one fell swoop.

After adding "find more information about Kyuss, and deal with the plague of "sons of Kyuss" to their list.  The players decided to go and meet with DAP.  They made the trip without incident.  As soon as they entered the Field Ward, they noticed a dramatic contrast between a dirty, smelling slum to their left, and a well-kept, vibrant coastal tropical city on their right.

The party wandered through this neighborhood for a while before they came upon a beach--strangely enough, a beach which seems to be on the side of Waterdeep which faces away from the ocean.

Anyways, on the beach, they found several guys lifting weights outdoors, and they told the weightlifters that they wanted to meet with DAP.  The biggest one of the weightlifters sized them up, told them they needed to start lifting weights, and then decided to take them to meet with DAP.  They were ushered through the lobby of a beautiful building, and taken into an office/den, where a handsome muscular shirtless guy was sitting with a broad smile on his face and his feet up on a coffee table.  They briefly introduced themselves, and DAP asked if they were coming to accept the quest he offered them last week--to go off and hunt pirates who are plaguing the southern sea-route into Waterdeep.  The party was a little surprised to learn that this quest had come from DAP, and they informed him that they weren't currently equipped to handle this mission (but they were hoping to look into it eventually).  DAP then asked them why they had come, and they told him they wanted to meet with him, and see if there was a possibility of working together.  DAP told them that he was interested in the possibility of working together, and asked them for their help dealing with a different problem.

After railing for a while about how an foul abomination had infiltrated a group of strong, honorable, powerful men who once held great power in the neighborhoods of Waterdeep, and looked after their own people and way of life--and how this disgusting unnatural creature had turned this mannerbund into a bunch of leashed paranoid bugmen running around earning money for it.  DAP informed the party that the Xanathar had tried to kill one of his guys--Joey Falcone--and that he was anticipating further attempted retaliation from one of Xanathar's top enforcers--a mind flayer.  DAP told the party that he had tried to track down and kill the mind flayer earlier this week, but the foul thing had managed to planeshift away before he could kill it.

DAP told the party they should go after the mind flayer for him--before it could recruit more minions/mindslaves.  And promised if they did this for him, he would hold a great DAP-style feast/party for them, and would introduce them to some of the girls in his movement--if they were interested.  The players agreed to look into it, and asked DAP if he knew where the mind flayer was currently located.  DAP said he didn't know the mindflayer's current location--but he knew a guy who could help them find the mindflayer: Vincent Trench, a private detective in Waterdeep, who had helped him track the mindflayer to it's last location in Undermountain.

The players took their leave of DAP, and set off to hire Vince Trench to track down the mindflayer.  After a brief meeting, the PI agreed to find the mindflayer for them for a fee of 500 gp.  The party handed him the bag of gold they had received at the beginning of the session from Lord Neverember's messenger.  And instead of waiting around for Vince's report, the party decided to head down into the sewers.  I'm not 100% sure what their goal was in going into the sewers--I think they were just doing a quick delve into the sewers in the hope of finding some quick and easy XP.

Well anyways, they wandered for a while before I rolled a random encounter--three sea hags.  I checked for surprise, and it turned out that the sea hags got the drop on them.  But the hags didn't feel like they were in any danger from only two adventurers wandering somewhat aimlessly through the dungeon.  So instead of just attacking, the hags came up, and started trying to bargain with the players.  The hags told the players they had two choices--(1) we take you back to the "Lord of the Deeps"; or (2) you bargain with us for something valuable.  The hags first asked Vanilla Gold if he would be willing to exchange his freedom for his beautiful head of hair.

Vanilla Gold and his hair

After the rogue declined this deal, the hags then asked him for his first-born child (the rogue informed them that he didn't have any children, and wasn't planning on having any anytime soon).  So the hags then asked him if he would be willing to give up his private parts.  Again the rogue declined.  Finally, the hag offered to let the players go--instead of taking them to the Lord of the Deeps--if the rogue would agree to father a changeling with her.  Vanilla Gold informed her that he was flattered, but not really interested in that offer either.  So the hags said, "Ok. That's a pity, but it's time for us to take you to the Lord of the Deeps now."

Forwyn then tricked the hags into turning around for a second by yelling "What in the WORLD is that Thing?" while pointing behind the hags.  The hags were fooled by this bit of trickery, and the players managed to get in a surprise round on them.  The party then won initiative--and very fortunately--managed to kill one of the hags before the hags took their turn.  I don't know how it works in earlier editions, but in 5e a group of three hags forms a coven.  While the coven is alive, the hags each have access to a shared pool of spellcasting slots--and pretty powerful spells.  If the party hadn't killed one of the hags before the hags were able to act, there's a decent chance that the hags would have successfully captured the players and taken them down to the "Lord of the Deep."  But with one hag down, the encounter became much more survivable.

The rogue was rolling poorly--because he was frightened by the hags hideous appearance. Fortunately for the party, the remaining hags were also rolling poorly.  And Forwyn the fighter was rolling very well--landing several critical hits, and securing a win for the party.  A quick search of the hags corpses didn't turn up any treasure.  So the players successfully picked up the hags' trail, and followed it back to their lair in the sewers.  I didn't tell the players this, but I checked to see if the hags had any minions guarding their lair--fortunately for the players, the answer was negative. 

The players found a treasure chest, a strange black box, a leathery preserved dwarf's head, and an eye floating in a vial of viscous liquid.  The rogue was able to see that the chest was trapped--but unfortunately, his attempt to disarm the trap failed, and he got stuck by a poisoned needle which put him down.  Fortunately for him, this wasn't Forwyn's first session, so he had a healing potion stashed, and used it to quickly revive Vanilla.  But Vanilla was left with a festering wound where the needle had stung him--a wound that would slowly reduce his hitpoint total until he was able to obtain magical healing, or died.

After getting the rogue back on his feet, the players found that the chest contained mostly copper and silver pieces, a few gold, and 8 jewels worth 50 gp each.  The chest also held four potions, three spell scolls, and a driftglobe (a floating lantern, basically).  The party then examined the other items.  They learned that touching the head caused the person who touched it to see through its eyes.  They opened the black box, which caused the rogue to become overwhelmed for several minutes by strange visions of a primeval forest, and an ancient elvish city.

After Vanilla snapped out of his strange reverie, the players decided to get out of the sewers, find someone to heal Vanilla Gold's festering wound, and get the magic items, the potions and the scrolls appraised.  On their way out of the sewers, they encountered a group of 7 spawn of kyuss.  However unlike the party's last encounter with these zombies, this time, they didn't stumble into the encounter, and were able to hide while the sons of kyuss shambled past.

After returning to the city, Forwyn was able to get the TSR priest to heal Vanilla's festering wound for a donation of 75 gold.  Forwyn also asked his wife Aletheia, the apothecary, if she could identify the potions for him.  She told him that they had found a potion of climbing, two potions of healing and a potion of greater healing.  The party then headed off to Smelock the mage to see if they could get some information from him about the scrolls, the dwarf's head, and the black box.  Once again, Smelock was a little paranoid, handing each of the players a tinfoil hat, and telling them to put it on before coming in.  He questioned them for a little bit--worried that perhaps they were agents of the Mage's College trying to steal his spellbook.  Apparently, he was satisfied with their protestations of innocence.  He offered to identify the scrolls for 50 gold, and said he would look at the other items.  He told them that they had a scroll of beast bond, a scroll of entangle, and a scroll of absorb elements.  By this point, the third player had managed to join the party--running a level 2 druid with a level 1 wizard retainer/sidekick.

They then showed Smelock the dwarf's head, and asked him to look at it for them.  He spent several minutes looking at it on the table with a magnifying glass.  The party then asked Smelock "what is it?"  "A dwarf's head," he told them.  They then asked him to touch it.  A few seconds later, Smelock informed them that this item was probably created by a pact that the dwarf had made with the hags for his eyesight--this item is a dwarf's eyesight.  The party haggled for a bit to see if Smelock would buy it from them.  Eventually they decided to keep it however, thinking that a dwarf's darkvision and dwarven stonecunning could come in handy at some point.  The party then showed Smelock the black box, and told him about how Vanilla had been overcome with strange visions when they opened the box.  Smelock told them that this was likely another haggish item, but instead of a dwarf's vision, this item contained the memories of an elf.  The party decided to keep this box of elven memories--thinking that it also might come in handy at some point.  Finally, the party showed Smelock the vial with an eyeball in it.  He told them it was the eye of a powerful spellcaster, and purchased it from them for 75 gold.  He said it would help him scry better.

After concluding their dealings with Smelock, the party decided to gear up for a trek to meet with Lord Neverember in the city of Neverwinter.  They decided to purchase riding horses.  I had to check the overland travel rules to determine how much time it would take for them to travel by horse to Neverwinter.  I had previously determined that it was a 14 day trip on foot.  The riding horses would get them there more than twice as quickly--a trip of 6.25 days.  At this point, it was getting late, and the players wanted to avoid having two parties stuck in time dilation.  So they decided they would use their remaining 5 days of time before Mirtul 17, and end the session just a day and a quarters' ride from Neverwinter.

There was only one encounter on the road north--a band of 7 orcs.  The orcs demanded the party fork over 10 gp each as a "toll."  Surprisingly, Forwyn paid up, and the orcs just smirked as they let the party pass by.  After the orcs were a safe distance behind, some of the other players expressed their astonishment, and asked me the DM to add an honor score to the game so that I could deduct honor from Forwyn "for being an orc's bitch."

On the fifth day, the players arrived at "Helm's Hold" a small town on the road between Waterdeep and Neverwinter.  They paid for lodgings at a comfortable looking inn called "Venturer's Rest," and we called it a night there.

Forwyn and Vanilla each earned ~800 XP from the hags, and Vanilla levelled up to level 2.


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