Session #22

Tonight's session featured the "A-Team," Aeoth the Paladin, Valian the Rogue, and Fradd the Rogue--who just returned to Waterdeep (in-game time) after a very successful planar excursion in Sigil, and the Outlands.  The session began with just Aeoth and Valian--Fradd's player joined a bit later in the session.

Before leaving Waterdeep in last week's session to go meet with Lord Neverember, Forwyn left a note asking the A-Team to go and hunt down the mind-flayer for DAP.  The players decided to follow up on this lead.  In the past session, the B-Team had hired a private investigator to track down the Mind Flayer's current location--and he told them the Mind Flayer had holed up in Skullport.  However, the A-Team didn't know much about Skullport or how to get there, aside from some general information which the B-team received from the private investigator they hired last week.

Rather than just charging blindly in, the players decided to first touch base with some of their criminal contacts in the Zhentarim.  So they met with their contact, and got more specific information about how to get into Skullport.  There are three ways in: through the sewers (too dangerous, the players decided), getting in from the third level of undermountain (probably too much work), and through a cave mouth on the coast somewhere outside of Waterdeep.  But as the players were gathering this information--and the location of the cave mouth, they also learned that Skullport had recently been conquered and was being run by DAP.  Previously, Skullport had been controlled by the Xanathar's Guild (which the mind flayer was affiliated with).

The players thought this probably meant DAP had jumped the gun on the quest he gave them last week, to track down the mind flayer) and that the mind flayer probably wasn't still in Skullport.  So they decided instead to go meet with DAP and see if he had any information about the situation.  They made their way into the Field Ward, where they know that DAP had his headquarters, and they were able to secure a meeting.

During the meeting, DAP told them that he had conquered Skullport because he was tired of waiting around for them to take care of his quests.  But unfortunately, when his crew went to go kill the mind flayer, the mind flayer was able to use teleportation magic to escape.

The players protested that they had been working on DAP's quest diligently--but since DAP had gone into Skullport the mind flayer had escaped again.  To which point DAP retorted that the party (Team B) who he asked to go kill the mind flayer didn't take care of the job last week.  And DAP asked them what Team B was up to now--as clearly none of them were present today.  Team A told DAP that Team B had left town on "important noble business with Lord Neverember."  Team A then asked DAP if he had any information about where the mind flayer was located now, and he told them he did not.  I think some of the players were still upset that DAP had jumped the gun on the lead they were hoping to follow up on this session, so they gave DAP a piece of their minds.

DAP was more amused than upset by this, and he bet the party that he would find and kill the mind flayer before they could.  The players don't know what DAP's financial situation looks like--but I do.  And based on that knowledge I decided that DAP would be willing to wager up to 250 gold.  Valian the Bard goaded DAP a little further, and told him that 250 gold is basically worthless, and he wanted to make a real bet with DAP instead.  Skullport (the thieves' town under Waterdeep that DAP now controls) against Barrelriders (the tavern that Team A owns).

I thought DAP would find this offer amusing, and since DAP's primary objective in taking Skullport wasn't acquiring more territory (that was more of a side effect), I determined that DAP would accept the players' offered wager.  So the players and DAP shook on it.

The party then immediately had several schemes for how they could find the Mind Flayer and kill it first--and thus claim ownership of Skullport from DAP.  At this point, Fradd's player joined the session, and learned that the players had decided to stake their ownership in the tavern against DAP's ownership of Skullport in a race to find and kill the mind flayer.  Fradd's player was a bit surprised to learn of the wager--but at this point, the party had already left DAPs territory--and so the race was on.  

The players seemed more motivated by their fear of losing the wager (and thus their current homebase), than by their desire to take over Skullport.  So their first scheme was "what if we just go meet with Xanathar directly, and offer to give him back Skullport, if he turns over the Mind Flayer to them.  At this point, I reminded them that the Xanathar's lair had been attacked and routed a few weeks ago, so they didn't know where the Xanathar was lurking.

So instead, the players decided that they would return to Smelock the paranoid mage, and pay him to scry on the Mind Flayer for them.  The players dutifully reminded me that in a recent session, they sold Smelock an arcane focus that "improved his scrying ability," and Valian drew a picture of the Mind Flayer to further help Smelock in his scrying efforts.  So Smelock cast the spell--and amazingly--the mind flayer failed its wisdom save against the scry.  However, unfortunately for the players, the Mind Flayer wasn't on the material plane any more--having decided after two near misses (one at the hand of the party several weeks ago, and one against DAP last week) to hole up in a safe and hidden location on the Astral Sea.

So the mage wasn't able to provide them with any further information on the mind flayer's location aside from "somewhere on the Astral Plane."  At this point, the players spent at least 20 minutes debating how they should/could go about getting to the Astral Plane.  They considered tracking down Rakid the planar merchant (/Rakshasha), and asking for his help plane shifting to the Astral Sea.  They also considered just looking for a gate to the Astral Plane somewhere in Sigil.  And Valian also suggested that the party could make a portal to the Astral Plane by putting their bag of holding into their handy haversack (which would destroy both items and open a portal to "a random location in the Astral Plane).  One of the major themes of this discussion was the party's fear/worry that DAP would get the jump on them again--and this time succeed in killing the mind flayer.  And as a result, the party would end up homeless.  However, some of the other players were more concerned that they would get stuck on the astral plane and that they needed a two-way ticket (and possibly more information about the mind flayer's location) before travelling there.

At this point, one of the players suggested that DAP seemed to be pretty busy with a lot of other stuff going on--like conquering secretive criminal undercities.  So instead of worrying about immediately tracking down the Mind Flayer this session, they should go attack the Baron of Blood instead.  So Team A set off to the City of the Dead (where the entrance to one of the Baron of Blood's crypts is located.  They found that the entrance to the tomb had been buried (over the course of several months since their last excursion) under a literal hill of dirt.  So instead of trying to excavate the tomb, they decided to use their helm of teleportation to just teleport into crypt-- which enabled them to bypass many of the wards the vampire had placed to protect his lair from incursions by the party.

The party successfully teleported into the dungeon, and spent some time searching around fruitlessly on multiple levels.  Unfortunately, I hadn't mapped out all of these areas fully.  So I used the random dungeon map generator from the DMG to map out levels 2 & 3 as the party explored.  As I was mapping this dungeon out, I was also checking to see what monsters (from the Baron's roster) were populating these areas of the dungeon.  The players were surprised--to say the least-- when they first ran into a relatively large group of half-ogres, ogres, and some sort of strange "demon ogre" in the Baron's crypt.  But apparently, while the players had been leaving him alone, the Baron had spent a lot of his time adding muscle and traps to his dungeon to hopefully keep the players away from him.

The party just turned tail and ran from the encounter with 12 assorted ogres/half ogres/trolls led by an ogre mage.  And instead, they took the stairs down to level 3 where they found a kennel (they left the kennel alone), and a prison with two bugbears who worked for the Xanathar's guild.  The bugbears assumed that the players were also working for Xanathar.  Meanwhile the players were curious as to how these bugbears had ended up in a prison in the Baron's lair.  During this conversation, they learned that a few weeks ago, the Baron of Blood had raided the Xanathar's lair (apparently in conjunction with the raid led by Lord Victorio Cassalanter), but the prisoners hadn't seen any vampires or vampire spawn for some time.  The players seemed to be getting a little frusterated because they had spent so much time in the Vampire's crypt without finding the baron or any of his minions.

However, they decided to check a few more doors before heading out, and stumbled on an elongated hexagonal room with numerous alchemical implements and 6 figures apparently engaged in some alchemical work (specifically, they were cooking skooma).  The party decided to talk and tell this group that they work for the Baron, and could they point them in his direction.  However, the leader then turned around and smiled at them--and they recognized this person as a familiar face--the necromancer who they handed over to the Baron about a month to a month and a half ago for a large cash reward.  But the necromancer seemed to have grey skin and red eyes--apparently having since been turned into a vampire.

A quick fight ensued--which the players won pretty handily (equipped as they are with a holy avenger and sun blade.  After killing the Vampire and his ghoul helpers, the party checked for treasure, located several magical items, seven lbs of skooma, and a chest with 2000 gold (probably illicit drug money).  The party took the magic items and the gold, but left behind the skooma (which equates to 3,318 teener bags, and was by far the most valuable thing in the room--worth roughly 23,226 gold in street-level prices, if they managed to sell it).

After divvying up XP for the Vampire, magic items and treasure, we decided to call it a night.


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