Champions of Old Korvosa

Starting a New Campaign!

Welcome to the new campagin site!

My last campaign, The Watcher of the Mists, ran for a little more than two years before winding down in July 2013. We finished four chapters of a planned seven. I rally enjoyed that game, but I felt a bit disappointed that it ended without getting to the planned conclusion. I also learned a whole lot about running a campaign— something that I hadn’t done for almost a decade!

For this new campaign, I decided to mix things up a bit. I have invited several players that I have never gamed with before, including a few that are new to Pathfinder! I am very much looking forward to our first get-together: a “Session 0” where we’ll work on character concepts, background stories, and I can answer questions about the setting. Hopefully, we’ll get to play a little on that first session, too!

If all goes according to plan, I’d like to run our first session sometime later this month!

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First session this week!

It looks like this campaign is really going to happen! We will have either five or six players. Our first session will be this Sunday. This will be a “Session Zero” game, where we meet to discuss character concepts, character build ideas, and back-stories. I can also answer questions about the game world, talk about how I handle things like alignment, and amy house rules.

If we do have time, I will run a brief encounter.

My prep for the first real session is almost done, although I do plan to tweak it once we have the final PC roster.

I am really looking forward to getting this off the ground!

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Rumble at the Stirge and Hammer
Session 0

Prologue: Welcome to Old Korvosa

Starday, 17 Gozran 4704

The raindrops of an evening shower pelted the cobblestones of Old Korvosa, washing away the day’s grime. Despite the warm spring day, the air took on a chill soon after sunset. On Garrison Hill, above the teetering shanties of Bridgefront, a bard’s merry song defied the last gasp of winter. Warmth beckoned from within the friendly inn. The sign read, “The Stirge and Hammer.”

About a dozen people socialized within the tavern, under the friendly yet watchful eyes of owner Vasaro Cazynsic. His comely daughter Basila tended bar while the former Sable Company marine took orders from the barroom. In the backroom, a down-on-his-luck half-elven kid named Don swept up. Sidled up to the bar, a recent graduate of the Academe who calls himself Extrarius chatted up Basila, but seemed to be getting nowhere. Huddled in one corner, a mysterious-looking Vudrani man named Darshan Oza nursed an ale. A burly, green-skinned man with a severe underbite sat at another table, surveying the scene. The half-orc went by Turgrox. And sitting close to a gnomish bard seranading the crowd was the well-dressed and enthusiastic young man called Zak Mumbles. It seemed to be a pleasant evening at the bar.

But not long thereafter, a group of young men of Varisian extraction came into the tavern— and they already seemed a bit inebriated. They bought some drinks and started playing cards with a group of Ulfen sailors. Within half an hour, the newcomers began to be abusive, and one hurled a particularly vile oath at an Ulfen man. It doesn’t take much to set off an Ulfen, and the two came to blows. Unfortunately, the friends of the Varisian started fighting the friends of the Ulfen, and the friendly atmosphere of the Stirge and Hammer quickly turned sour. Vasaro attempted to intervene, but the toughs ignored him. Basila ducked under the bar— presumably to grab the loaded heavy crossbow that the regulars know she keeps ready.

An innocent bystander got drawn into the fight, and one of the other toughs took a swing at Vasaro when he tried to break it up. That’s when several other patron jumped into action. Between the magic of Don (drawing a “nice spellcasting!” comment from Extra), the wrestling moves of Turgrox, and a well-aimed axe hurled by Zak, (“Um… Yeah… I MEANT to miss him!”), the Varisians were ejected and the bar restored to its friendly state. Vasaro bought the house a round, and the evening ended well.

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St. Caspieran's Salvation
Session 1

Moonday, 19 Gozran 4704

It was just two days after the barroom brawl at the Stirge and Hammer. In the late afternoon, while Darshan, Turgrox, Zak, Extrarius, and Don were all enjoying a beverage, an unlikely duo walked up to the bar, and asked Basila to speak with the owner. One of the pair was a short, wiry man of Varisian descent, wearing a somewhat shabby-looking formal business suit and a bowler hat. The other towered well over six feet in height, and appeared to be of Ulfen descent. He also wore a ill-fitting formal business suit, and leaned on a heavy oaken cudgel… which he did not appear to need as a walking stick. Basila got her father Vasaro.

The shorter man introduced himself as Mr. Gordo and his taller friend as Mr. Stubbs. ‘’While we ouselves are not officials of the Cerulean Society, it is my understanding that your annual premium is due later this week… Oathday, I do believe.’’ He paused and grinned. “Now, I don’t know your financial situation, but I’m sure you know what happens to honest businesses like yours if they fail to pay the Cerulean insurance fees. Now, I’m offering my own policy— a sort of insurance on the insurance, if you will. For the incredibly low price of just 5 ducats a week for the next year, we will guarantee payment of your insurance payment.”

Vasaro reacted poorly, and told Gordo precisely where he could put his insurance premium. Gordo smiled, and replied, “Well, I’m sorry that you feel that way. We’ll be in touch.” They two swindlers left.

Darshan spent an hour asking his Sczarni friends about these two. He learned that Gordo and Stubbs were members of a Sczzrni-affiliated gang called the Old Dock Boys, who mostly worked the Old Dock ward of Old Korvosa. The connections told him that the Old Dock Boys kept several hide-outs, but recent turf wars with Rat’s Teat Boys have greatly thinned their numbers, and they’ve mostly been keeping low. The Old Dock Boys are led by an ex-Sczarni known as the Splithog Pauper, a con-man who usually dresses like a beggar. He took his street name from the Old Dock Boy’s former headquarters on Splithog Alley.

Later, Darshan spoke with some of the rats that lived in the basement, asking them to let him know if those two guys ever showed up again—especially at night.

Wealday, 21 Gozran 4704

In the middle of the night, Darshan felt something furry brush against his nose. He woke to find a large rat sitting on his chest, staring at him. Darshan then followed the rat downstairs, and was surprised to find that the entrance doors to the Stirge and Hammer were ajar. Darshan called out a warning, and a few minutes later, Vasaro walked downstairs, wearing a dressing-gown. “What’s going on, Darshan?” asked the innkeeper, and Darshan pointed out the open doors. Vasaro then went into his office, and a moment later shouted, “We’ve been robbed!” He told Darshan that the inn’s strongbox had been stolen— and it contained the insurance premium he had planned to pay the Cerulean society on the day after tomorrow!

The following morning, Darshan and the other adventuring regulars were trying to figure out how to help their innkeeper friend, when Gordo and Stubbs had the gall to show up again. Gordo pitched his “insurance on the insurance” offer again, but now the premium had increased to 20 gp a week! Vasaro reacted even less charitably that the previous time, pulled a knife, and told the “Sczarni scum” to get out of his establishment. The two retreated, dropping smokestick in the bar on their way out. At that, Darshan, Turgrox, Don, Extra, and Zak all followed them.

A chase through the streets of Korvosa ensued: The swindlers dashed through traffic, slipped through a noble’s procession, darted through a crowded marketplace, and tried to lose their tails in the warrens of Old Dock. But the party managed to follow them down an alley that dead-ended at a run-down building. Squatting halfway down a muck-smeared alley, sandwiched between a derelict wainwright’s shop and a sad-looking bakery, stood the dilapidated mission house. A crooked belltower rose from the building’s rear, and a half-dozen grease-smeared, cracked, and boarded-over windows gazed out from walls that might have once been painted white. A small sign hung over the the building’s battered oaken doors: “St. Caspieran’s Mission. All Welcome.”

The place had heavy oaken front doors, flanked with two smaller doors at right angles to the main doors. The back of the building had a large stained-glass window depicting the goddess Sarenrae, although several individual panes were broken or missing. Wooden panels filled the gaps in the windows to keep out the rain. Behind the mission sat an overgrown, trash-strewed courtyard surrounded by a low stone wall. A lone, overgrown oak tree dominated the courtyard, its branches hanging over a second-floor balcony. A back door into the building appeared to be boarded over and nailed shut. Don volunteered to climb the tree and check out the balcony, while the rest of the group went around front.

In the front of the building, A sign on one of the side doors read, “Flophouse: Upstairs and take a left.” Someone had scratched out the word “left” and scrawled “hike” above it. The other side door read “Flophouse: Upstairs and take a right,” but a note had been tacked below the sign: “Flophouse full: No vacancies.”

Darshan spiked one of the side doors shut, and opened the other door. Wooden stairs led to the second floor, and Darshan ascended them. Turgrox followed him. Meanwhile, Zak and Extrarius opened the main doors.

Through the main doors, Zak and Extrarius beheld a sorry sight. About half a dozen unfortunates sat or wandered through a large room that smelled strongly of boiled cabbage, smoke, and urine. A carved marble font decorated with grease-stained Sarenite carvings held about a gallon of scummy water. One of the unfortunates was missing both legs below the knees: he sat on a wooden plank affixed with small wheels, and dragged himself across the floor with his hands. A young woman rocked herself on a pew in the sanctuary an mumbled incoherently. An elderly gentleman dressed in shabby clerical vestments sat next to her, seemingly trying to speak with her. From a side room, a hoarse female voice shouted, “Hey Jhonas! We’re out of cabbage! Get off your lazy ass and buy some more or we won’t have enough for dinner!” A man with an eyepatch and a scraggly gray beard looked up from a solitaire card game, and asked Zak if he could spare a few pence. Gordo and Stubbs were not, apparently, in the room.

As Darshan ascended the stairs, a gruff voice called out, “Hey! The flophouse is closed! Get your ass outta here!” The voice belonged to a Sczarni-looking guy who approaced Darshan menacingly. Darshan responded, “No rooms at all? I’m just looking for a place to crash…” as Turgrox slipped by him in the dim light, and clonked the guy in the back of the head with a blackjack. The guard crumpled to the flloor with a loud thud. That seemed to alert others in the flophouse, who came out of their rooms to check out the commotion, and seeing intruders, attacked! Darshan called out to Zak and Extra for some help.

Meanwhile, as Don climbed the tree he saw some motion from an open window. He then heard the thunk of an arrow embed itself in the tree a mere inch from his left ear! Looking back at the window, he saw the shadowy silhouette of an elven archer nock another arrow. Don scrambled to the balcony, where the archer wouldn’t be able to get a bead on him without leaning far out the window. He tried the door into the building, but it was locked. Peeing into the door’s window, he saw a grizzled man asleep on a pallet. A large square birdcage sat on the balcony next to the door, and three pigeons cooed from inside. Don knocked on the door, but the man didn’t awaken.

From downstairs, Zak and Extra heard the sound of a thump from upstairs, and also head Darshan calling for them. So they exited the mission and ran up to the flophouse, where they found Darshan and Turgrox fighting several men armed with daggers. One guy emerged from a room down a side corridor holding a wooden crate. He threw the contents of the crate at Zak— and out flew a scorpion the size of a housecat! The scorpion hit Zak square in the chest and then fell to his feet, where it attempted to sting him. Fortunately, the stinger wasn’t able to penetrate Zak’s leather boot— yet.

Don tried to break down the door to no avail, so he then took a running jump into the open window that the archer had been shooting from. The half-elf made it through the window, but landed awkwardly in the room, sprawling on the floor. This surprised the archer, who dropped his bow and drew a longsword as Don got to his feet. A flash of recognition passed between the two: they had known each other as boys back in the Mierani Forest, although there had been no love lost between them. The archer grinned, and said, “Well, half-breed, looks like this is the end for you,” and he slashed Don severely with his longsword. Gritting his teeth through the pain, Don cast a spell, and his hand crackled with necromantic energy. He touched his old enemy, and the elf recoiled in pain. Don then circled around the elf, toward the door out of the room.

Back in the hallway, the party was overcoming the den of thieves that had taken over the flophouse. By now, several lay unconscious on the floor, and two more of the giant scorpions menaced party members and thieves alike. Darshan opened the door to the room where Don and the elf squared off. With the aid of his friend, the two managed to knock out the archer. In the last room of the flophouse, the party discovered Gordo and Stubbs. Stubbs swung his cudgel at Zak, connecting, but Zak managed to shake off the blow. The former barber swung his own greatsword at the thug, slashing the Ulfen hard across the belly. Clutching his bowels, the Ulfen fell to the floor in a pool of blood. Seeing his muscle fall after a single strike, Gordo’s face went white, and he dropped his rapier and raised his hands in surrender.

With the fight over, Darshan tended the wounded enough to ensure that none of them would die. They tied up all of the Old Dock Boys and stashed them in one of the rooms. Turgrox then questioned Gordo and learned the story: Under orders from the Splithog Pauper, Gordo and Stubbs had been offering “insurance” on the protection money owed to the Cerulean Society. Yes, they did know that this gambit was risky— that targeting those protected by the Society could draw the wrath of the Society, but they said that the Pauper was planning to give the Society their regular cut of the proceeds. “It’s been tough for us since the Rat’s Teat Boys took over half our territory— and half our members. This seemed like a good con.” Gordo said that he had indeed broken into the Stirge and Hammer and stolen the inn’s strongbox, but he wasn’t able to open the lock. He gave the whole box to the Pauper. When asked where the money was now, Gordo replied, “I don’t know! You think we’re trusted with knowing where the Pauper keeps the gang’s tresaure?” At that, Zak punched him out, and they stashed the unconscious Gordo with the others.

Exploring the rest of the flophouse, the party found the Pauper’s bedroom, and looted it. While they did find some valuables and useful items, Vasaro’s strongbox wasn’t there. They did find the stash in the lower floor of the belltower: Vasaro’s strongbox (still locked) plus a bunch of other valuables. Climbing the ladder to the belfry, Turgrox found a grappling hook affixed to the inside of the window, and a hemp rope dropping down to the courtyard. While the party did recover Vasaro’s money (plus some extra for themselves), the Splithog Pauper got away.

Don and Extra found Father Padrick, the proprietor of the mission house, and explained that it appeared that the Old Dock Boys had effectively moved in to use the mission house as their lair. Padrick, a man well into his seventies, and blind, sighed deeply at the news. “I’ve been running this place for twenty years, but I’m getting too old to do it any more. Since I went blind back in ‘99, I’ve been relying on my caretaker, Jhonas, to handle the day-to-day affairs. Jhonas, did you know about this? Jhonas…? Hey, where’d he go?” Padrick said that he would petiton the main Temple of Sarenrae for more assistance to run the mission house, and that it was probably time to retire.

The party returned to the Stirge and Hammer with Vasaro’s strongbox. Opening it up, the innkeeper was relieved to find that all of his money was still inside. Vasaro opened up the bar for a couple of rounds in celebration.

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The Goblin Guild (Part 1)
Session 2

Fireday, 23 Gozran 4704

A few days after the party’s successful recovery of Vasaro’s stolen strongbox, a group of three wizards from Theumanexus College came into the Stirge and Hammer, looking for Extrarius. They brought with them a sealed letter from the college administration offering Extra a position as a lecturer. Extra was overjoyed to receive the job offer, and bought everyone a round before gathering his things to head off to his new job.

Toilday, 27 Gozran 4704

Late one evening a few days later, the party was enjoying the evening at the Stirge and Hammer. Darshan thought he heard the sound of breaking glass upstairs. Heading upstairs to investigate, Turgrox, Zak, and Don followed. Approaching the door to Darshan’s room, the party heard something clunking around inside. But just as they were about to open the door, the sounds stopped abruptly. Opening the door, the party found a single goblin wearing surprisingly well-kept leather armor climbing out through the window! The room had been completely tossed. The goblin threw a glass pellet at the floor, and the room filled with sickly yello smoke, obscuring vision.

Turgrox made it to the window, and saw the goblin’s feet swing up onto the roof of the inn! He followed, as did the rest of the party. The goblin led the party on a chase through the Shingles above Bridgefront. It bounded through narrow passageways, up rickety ladders, and at one point ran straight through somebody’s flat. (The owner required some fast-talking to allow the PCs to pass!) While running through a wooden archway, the goblin turned and tossed a flask of alchemist’s fire at the party. Turgrox and Zak ran through the flames and caught the fleeing goblin, while Darshan and Don stopped to put out the flames before a major fire engulfed Old Korvosa.

The captured goblin turned out to be a female named Ekkie. After a bit of persuasion, she told the party her story (both in first-person and through the skull-puppet of her brother “Plarg,” whom she seemed to think was actually still alive.) She told the party that she was from the Wind Whisper tribe of goblins that lived in the Mushfens, well to the west of Korvosa. She said that she had a falling-out with her tribe:

“Chief BigGuts not smart. I tell him his idea to hunt the bear-with-owl-head was stupid. Didn’t I Plarg?” She held a goblin skull in her left hand and jiggled it while saying, “Oh, yes! You told him it dumb to hunt monster that could eat him in one bite!” She looked up, “But he hit me, and say that I was calling him coward. And then what happen, Plarg?” The puppet responded, “He come back with arm almost chewed off, no sacred horsechopper, and ten less warriors. What you tell him then?” Ekkie continued, “I tell him, ‘See! I told you not to go fight monster like bear-with-owl-head!’ And he then hit me again and tell me to get out or he feed ME to bear-with-owl-head! So Plarg and me left the Wind Whisper Tribe.”

Darshan then asked why she had broken into his room. She replied, “Oh! We sent out to find shinies and take them from longshanks! We have to find ten shinies, and they have to be good enough for Versevosh, or he not let us join Night Marauders!” Upon asking about the Night Marauders, she looked around carefully, and whispered, “They powerful goblin guild! Live in the tunnels right under longshanks city. They rob the longshanks and get rich. They sell stuff to other goblin tribes.”

The PCs looked at each other, and realized that this was not good. Korvosan sewer goblins had a reputation for getting into places thought impregnible, but they were scattered and constantly fighting among themselves. An organized goblin thieves guild would be a very bad thing indeed. Turgrox asked why the party should do anything about it— isn’t that a job for the city guards? Darshan replied, “Think of all the loot they must have stockpiled so far!” That got Turgrox on board.

Ekkie agreed to lead the party to the place where she was supposed to meet up with other members of the Nightsoil Marauders in two more days. It was located near “the horse-killing place,” but Ekkie could not describe it well enough for the PCs to find it. Ekkie agreed to lead them there. Walking through Korvosa with a goblin in tow would attract the wrong kind of attention, so they hid the 25-pound, two-and-a-half-foot goblin in a sack, which Zak carried.

Ekkie led the team to a run-down butcher shop called Marik’s Knackery. Casing the grounds, the burt-out shell of an outbuilding (possibly a stable) led the party to conclude that the goblins may have extorted the use of the place. Ekkie led the team to a bulkhead door in the back of the butcher shop, through a seldom-used storeroom, and to a metal grating in the floor. “That go to sewer-tunnels, and I know how to get to Marauder camp!” Zak pried up the grating, and they descended into the Vaults.

Still tied up in the backpack, Ekkie led the party through the maze of tunnels in the Vaults to a large, vaulted opening into a side-passage. “They in there! Right, Plarg? Yep! Right!” Darshan doused the lantern. Turgrox, who can see in the dark, crept toward the opening. Inside, he saw three goblins playing some kind of game that involved a live rat and a board with nails stuck out the end. The goblins were so engrossed in the game that he was able to sneak behind one and cut its throat. The other two attacked him with dogslicers. Turgrox dropped back into the sewers, leading the goblins into an ambush. The rest of the party quickly disposed of the remaining two goblin guards before they were able to raise an alarm.

[To be continued… next week!]

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The Goblin Guild (Part 2)
Session 3

Toilday, 27 Gozran 4704, late night

After defeating the three goblin sentries, the party rifled their pockets for change and dumped the goblin corpses into the sewer channel. Turgrox scouted ahead… and managed to trip a concealed pit trap, falling ten feet into a pile of disgusting rotting garbage. Or, at least he thought it was garbage until it rippled and lashed out at him with a tendril of goo! The half-orc quickly scrambled up out of the pit. Meanwhile, Don found a hand crank sticking out of the wall, and discerened it was a means of closing and locking the pit. Zak turned the crank and set the safety once Turgrox was safely with them.

The hallway was made of worked stone with ceramic tiles. Darshan identified the passages as construction older than the main sewer tunnels. “There are parts of the Vaults that were here before the city of Korvosa was built. This seems to be one of those areas,” he commented. Exploring the passage, the party found an abandoned barracks that seemed to house about a dozen goblins. A passage from that room led away from the lair and back into the sewers. Heading deeper into the complex, the party next found a chamber that seemed to be a thieves practice room filled with locks, humanoid dummies festooned with bells, and an obstacle course. Finding nothing of value, the party pressed on. Darshan asked Ekkie what was ahead, but she replied, “Not go farther than here. Versevosh not let us in. Right, Plarg?”

Hearing the guttural voices of goblins ahead, Turgrox warned the rest of the party to be quiet. He crept ahead in the shadows and observed a room that appeared to be some kind of alchemy lab. Two goblin apprentices toiled at workbenches while a third seemed to watch them listlessly. That room had partially collapsed, effectivly forming a split-level. Torchlight flickered from the upper chamber, but the half-orc couldn’t see what was up there. Reporting back to the rest of the party, they decided that bursting with surprise would be the best course of action.

Zak led the charge, running for the goblin overseer, swinging his greatsword in an arc above his head. While charging, Zak noticed that the goblin didn’t look so good— its eyes were milky white, it shambled more than walked, and its flesh seemed to be rotting. It groaned at Zak as the barbarian’s sword connected solidly in its midsection… and then it exploded in a burst of black blood, rotting eviscera, and putrescent vapors! Its guts pelted Zak with great force, and he got some of it in his mouth. (“Ugh! Yuck!”) But Zak managed not to get sick from the foulness.

The fight was on! The goblin apprentices flung flasks of alchemist’s fire at the party, and something on the upper ledge threw other explosives. Yet, between the combined forces of Zak’s greatsword, Turgrox’ light blades, Darshan’s cudgel, and Don’s spells, they party made short work of the goblins. They captured the goblin alchemist, who was knocked out in the fight. While waiting for the alchemist to come around, the party searched the lab. Don realized that the equipment in the lab was actually high in quality. “I’d guess that the goblins must have stolen… or extorted… this equipment from a local alchemist. It’s much highter quality than goblins could make!” Turgrox found some other treasure, and Darshan emptied the alchemist’s pockets. They turned up some strange things, including an unholy symbol of Urgathoa (a goddess rarely worshiped by goblins), a human-sized plague doctor’s mask, and a strange empty vial. After the alchemist came around, Zak and Turgrox questioned him. He identified himself as Yarak, the alchemist and healer of the Nightsoil Marauders. Turgrox questioned the goblin, frightening him into compliance. About the human-sized items, he replied, “They come from longshanks who came in here days and days ago. She wear scary bird-mask. We kill her and take her stuff. She very tasty!” When asked how he made the goblin zombie, Yarak replied, “Hmm! Bird-mask-longshanks have potion. Versevosh tell me to take potion and tell him and Inoklar what it is. So I give to apprentice to tell me what it is. Apprentice open potion, and it turn to steam and he breathes it, then gets sick. Very sick. In week, he dead, but he not stay dead- he get up and try to eat other goblins. I not able to make more of potion. But I say, ‘Why waste good zombie? I use to guard lab!’ Until you kill him again!” Turgrox then asked who these Versevosh and Inoklar people were. “Versevosh was warchanter for Houndgutter tribe, but he make song about chief that cheif not like. He have powerful magic he throw at longshanks. You better not mess with him! Inoklar leader of Night Soil Marauders. She is scary bugbear. Not like her much, but she very strong in battle.” Satisfied that the alchemist didn’t have anything more to tell them, Turgrox punched him out and left him tied up in the lab.

Continuing to explore the complex, the party found another abandoned barracks, and then a room with the sounds of both machinery and goblins talking. Turgrox scouted that room, and found it to be a sewage pumping station. Sewage drained into the room, and machinery pumped it into other pipes. Across a stone bridge over the sewage channel that bisected the room were three goblins: one riding a disgusting creature that resembled a mangy ratlike dog. The goblins didn’t seem to notice Turgrox, so the party decided to try to lure them closer. Darshan cast a spell that allowed him to speak with animals, so he called out in goblin dog, “Hey! Look at all this meat! There’s so much! I won’t be able to eat it all!” The rider appeared to have to work to keep his mount from trotting over, but he told the other goblins to go see who let a goblin dogs out and to get it back to the corrals. When the two goblins turned the corner, the party ambushed them, dropping them quickly. Seeing his comrades fall, the rider cast a spell making the area around the bridge slippery, and started taunting the party members with satiric comments. Darshan, Zak, and Turgrox then ran at the rider, jumping over the sewage channel, while Don hung back and cast spells. After missing a few times, Zak connected with a mighty blow that sent the goblin’s head flying across the room, bouncing off Turgrox’s leather breastplate, and rolling into the sewage channel. Darshan slew the goblin dog.

After rifling through the pockets and saddlebags of the fallen goblins, the party returned to retrieve Ekkie, whom they had left behind. But Ekkie wasn’t there! All they found was the sack they’s stashed her in and the ropes they’d bound her with.

[To Be Continued… Next Week!]

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The Goblin Guild (Part 3)
Session 4

Toilday, 27 Gozran 4704, late night

Disappointed that their prisoner had escaped, Darshan followed Ekkie’s tracks trhough the complex. They seemed to head back out into the sewers. The party decided to let her go, and pressed onward. One passageway led to a heavy oak door that was barred from the party’s side. “That kind of bar is to keep someting out!” exclaimed Turgrox. Looking at the door, the party saw goblin scrawling in lurid red paint. Several goblins seemed to be running away from a big square, that seemed to have a goblin inside it. Darshan exclaimed, ‘That seems to depict a gelatinous cube! Let’s not go in there!’

Heading deeper into the complex, the group found a room that appeared to be a goblin dog kennel, but with none of the foul beasts. Poking around the room, Turgrox disturbed a pile of straw, and out of it exploded dozens, if not hundreds, of rats! The rats swarmed over him, biting him through his armor. Turgrox staggered back into the hall, and the rest of the party threw flasks of alchemist’s fire they’d recovered from the alchemy lab. The alchemical fire did the trick, and what rats that didn’t burn scurried away.

Another door opened into another kennel, this one with two goblin dogs. The goblin dogs immediately started making a lot of noise: an unsettling cross between a bark and a ratlike squeak. Zak and Darshan quickly put the creatures down before their noise could alert anyone.

Turgrox crept ahead of the rest of the party to explore further. After following the wide corridor through some twists and turns, he saw that the passage opened up into a very large chamber, about 40 feet wide and 80 feet deep, lined with ornatelly-carved pillars that suppored a vaulted ceiling. Torches burned brightly on four of the pillars, illuminating most of the room. At the far end of the room stood a dias. Upon a throne on the dias sat a bugbear, who was apparently counting coins. She didn’t seem to notice Turgrox hiding in the darkness. Turgrox returned to report to the party.

The party decided to creep as close as possible to the room while avoiding detection. Turgrox would attempt to slink along the shadows between the wall and the row of columns. If he encountered trouble, or when he got behind the bugbear, he’d shout a signal and Zak would charge in full-tilt, while Darshan and Don would enter and use their spells on any other resistance that showed up.

As Turgrox crept around the third column, he was surprised by another goblin that was itself hiding in shadows! He was quick enough to parry the goblin’s blade, and the goblin was unable to say the same, but it still stood. Turgrox shouted the signal, and Zak charged in. The bugbear, however, was alerted and managed to stand ready with an impressive-looking horsechopper. As Zak ran toward the throne, he broke through some false flagstones, setting off a trap that was meant to entangle any attackers. This made him angry, and he flew into a rage. However, the barbarian was nimble enough to catch his footing before stepping in the pool of tarry goo below, and charged the bugbear. She managed to strike him with her horsechopper as he closed, but he still slashed her hard across the right arm with the blade of his greatsword.

Meanwhile, the goblin danced out of the way of Turgrox’ strikes while managing to nick the half-orc a few times. Don attempted to ensorcell the goblin into a state of passivity, but the goblin shook off the effects of the spell. Darshan, out of magic, circled around behind the goblin, striking at him with his oaken cudgel. At that time, another goblin appeared out of the shadows, firing arrows at the party fighting his friend.

The bugbear stepped off the dias to get enough room to strike Zak, and connected again, ripping a terrible gash across the former barber’s chest. While still conscious, Zak’s vision was starting to tunnel, and he to concentrate hard to keep fighting— which was good enough, as he landed a solid blow on the bugbear’s chest. In response, the bugbear thrust her horsechopper at Zak, striking him in the face, and he went down.

Don managed to ensorcell the goblin on another try, allowing Turgrox and Darshan to rush to their friend’s defense. The bugbear herself retreated down a side passageway, but shouted out, “I killed your friend, and I’ll kill you too! Leave now or face my wrath!” Despite the threat, the goblins saw that their leader had retreated, and they did the same, scurrying back out the main entrance.

Darshan used his wand of cure light wounds to bring Zak back around, while Turgrox and Don chased the bugbear down the corridor. She had positioned herself about twenty feet down the five-foot wide corridor, menacing with her horsechopper. It would be difficult indeed to get around her! Don cast a black magical ray at her, draining away some of her strength. Afraid of getting too close, Turgrox threw a dagger at her, which managed to stick in her armor. With Darshan’s ministrations, Zak came around. He quaffed a potion of cure light wounds, and Darshan expended another charge of his wand. Feeling much better, Zak ran down the corridor to engage the bugbear in hand-to-hand combat.

The bugbear struck Zak with her polearm again as he closed, but he shrugged off the wound and slashed her across the chest with his greatsword. Turgrox threw another dagger at her, and manged to graze her cheek. Don attempted to cloud her mind, but she retained her focus. As she stepped back to strike Zak with her horsechopper again, Zak struck her first, and the bugbear collapsed to the ground. Turgrox jumped in and cut her throat, and the leader of the Nightsoil Marauders was no more.

After stripping the bugbear’s corpse for valuables, the party searched the southern passage. It led to a lavishly-furnished bedroom, although the occupant did not treat the furniture particularly well. At the foot of the bed was a locked chest. Turgrox successfully picked the lock, but felt the sting of a jab in his hand when he unlocked it. A fiery pain shot through his arm, and he felt suddenly sick— poison! The poison coursed through his system, seriously weakening him. Darshan attempted to apply medicinal herbs to the wound, but he didn’t have the appropriate antidiote to this particular poison. After a few painful minutes, Turgrox stabilized, although he remained weakened.

Inside the chest was the collected treasure of the Nightsoil Marauders. The party collected the various coins, gems, jewelry, and valuable objects. Don cast detect magic and found a false bottom in the chest, which contained several potions. He also found a magical javelin hidden under the bed.

After checking out the remainder of the complex and finding it empty, the group returned to the Stirge and Hammer with their loot, satisfied that they had rid the city of another menace.

[The story will continue… next week!]

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Mayhem at Midnight
Session 5

Chapter 1: Veil of the Scythe Mother

Toilday, 11 Desnus 4704, just before midnight

It was the rainy season in Korvosa. Steady rain had fallen since midafternoon on this brisk spring day. The weather produced a slow evening at the Stirge and Hammer, and the small crowd at the tavern thinned early. With few caravans or merchants braving the late spring muddy roads or stormy seas, few guests had booked rooms for the night either. Now just before midnight, only three regular customers sat in the taproom in the waning firelight; they were also the only overnight guests: the druid Darshan Oza, the barber-turned mercenary Zak Mumbles, and the half-orc wanderer Turgrox. In the inn’s stable-turned-brewery, the sorcerer and part-time alchemist Don toiled into the night completing a batch of alchemist’s fire in his makeshift alchemy lab. Vasaro the innkeeper was just about to lock up for the night, as the sounds of approaching travelers neared the door.

The look of hopeful expectation on Vasaro’s face at the prospect of a profitable night quickly turned to alarm as four people and a goblin burst through the door, all of them wearing the birdlike masks of a plague doctor ! All wore red-and-black robes that appeared fine at the shoulders, but tapered to rags at the bottom. Three of the men bore heavy scythes, while the other human and the goblin held sickles. One of the humans, obviously a woman even through the mask and robes, shouted, “For the glory of the Scythe Mother! Your deaths prove her might!” She then lobbed a glass vial into the middle of the barroom, which exploded in a burst of sickly yellow vapor that quickly filled the whole room. One of the men and the goblin advanced into the barroom, while the woman stood near the door, flanked by the two remaining men.

Surprised, Zak got to his feet, flicking out the blade of his war razor. Turgrox dove for cover behind the central fireplace, and got out his bow. Darshan prayed for the blessings of Abadar, and his allies felt the strength of the Keeper of the First Vault upon them, bolstering their courage. The innkeeper’s daughter Basila ducked behind the bar, and rose with a loaded heavy crossbow. And the inkeeper himself dropped a tray of tankards and pulled an orcish shield and scimiar off a nearby wall. “Get out of my bar!” he shouted.

The goblin giggled, and with a huge toothy grin cast a spell. A fan of flames shot from his fingertips, immolating Zak and Basila. Fortunately for Basila, she was mostly protected from the goblin’s magical flames by the bar. Zak slashed at the goblin, but the creature nimbly bounced out of the way. Turgrox fired an arrow at a cultist from behind the fireplace, and the arrow found its mark— a solid hit , as the cultist hadn’t noticed the half-orc’s position. The cultist shouted a warning to his fellows, and slashed a heavy scythe at Zak, who blocked the slash with his arms. Blood seeped from the slash. Hearing the commotion, Don burst into the room, standing next to Basila behind the bar. He cast a spell at the goblin, attempting to cloud its mind to distraction, but the goblin seemed to shake off the enchantment. She fired her crossbow at the cultists, but the bolt bounced harmlessly off the armor the cultists wore beneath their robes.

His cover blown, Turgrox dropped his bow and entered the fray, attempting to assist Darshan against the goblin. Darshan called the power of Abadar into his cudgel, which now glowed with a faint golden shimmer, and he stepped forward to strike at the goblin. Don cast a spell, and a crackling ray of black necromantic energy shot at the female cultist, draining away some of her strength. And Zak, realizing that this fight was more serious than a barroom brawl, dropped his razor and drew his greatsword, attempting to separate the cultist’s head from his shoulder. But the cultist parried the blow, as sparks lept from the clash of blades. The leader cast a spell, and a bolt of dark energy blasted Zak in the chest. He could feel some of his life-force ebb away, but he managed to resist most of the spell. The goblin cast another fan of flame, this time catching Darshan and Turgrox in the fire. Though singed, the two fought on. The goblin parried Turgrox’ dagger, but the half-orc’s shortsword broke through the goblin’s defenses. The goblin’s grin left its oblong face, and it shrieked in pain like a wounded animal. Vasaro stepped beside Zak and slashed the cultist across the face while the cultist’s blade was engaged. The cultist screamed in pain as blood flowed into his eyes. Parially blinded, he didn’t see Zak’s thrust, and felt his guts on fire as the former barber impaled the cultist through the belly. The cultist’s last act was to try to gather his spilling guts before falling to the floor.

The leader of the cultists sent her two guards into the battle to engage Vasaro, Darshan, and Zak. Seeing an opening, Turgrox somersaulted past the cultists’ blades, and positioned himself behind them. Finding himself suddently surrounded, another cultist fell to Darshan’s enchanted club followed by a stab in the back by Turgrox. The goblin lobbed a flask of alchemists fire at Don and Basila, but his aim was off, and the two defenders were spared the worst of the blast by the bar. Basila fired at the goblin, striking it in the chest. Don cast a spell causing necromantic energy to surround his hand. He leapt over the bar, and struck the goblin with his glowing hand, killing it. Seeing the tide of battle suddently turn against her, the cult leader held up her unholy symbol, shouting, “By the Scythe Mother, curse you all!” A barely perceptible shimmer of unholy energy radiated out of the cult leader’s unholy symbol, like ripples on a pond. Everyone in the room felt a sharp tug on their very souls, as their very life essence drained away— including her remaining guard. The guard then collapsed, leaving her alone against the heroes. Unfortunately for the heroes, Turgrox also fell to the spell.

Now heavily wounded and running on adrenaline alone, Zak pressed the attack, with Darshan and Vasaro both at his side. All three struck the cult leader, as Don closed and pressed his glowing hand against her shoulder. Still standing, although barely, the cultist called forth a malediction from the Scythe Mother again, and another wave of negative energy hit all who stood in the room. Barely able to stand, but still going, Darshan realized that Turgrox and Zak would die if she managed to call a third time, so he pressed the attack, striking her again with his glowing cudgel. As his vision tunneled to black, Zak summoned all of his remaining strength to make a final lunge at her— and his strike was true! His blade impaled the cult leader, and she stumbled backward through the doors of the inn onto the rain-soaked cobblestones outside. Zak collapsed forward, falling atop her.

The rain continued to fall, washing away the cultist’s blood as it poured onto the street.

[To be continued… next week!]

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Return to the Vaults
Session 6

Toilday, 11 Desnus 4704, after midnight

Darshan and Vasaro ran outside to check on Zak and the cult leader— Zak was still breathing, but the cultist was not. They dragged them back into the bar, and Vasaro locked the door, flipping the sign to “Closed.” Basila and Don helped Turgrox to his feet. Basila surveyed the damage to the barroom. “Well, aside from the blood, it doesn’t look that bad.” She paused, putting her hand to her head. “Ugh. I don’t feel so well. What was in that smoke bomb they threw?” Zak gave Vasaro a look of appreciation and said, “Wow! You know your way around a fight!” Wiping the blood off the scimitar, Vasaro replied, ‘Glad my old training from Sable Company came right back to me. You’re not bad in a fight yourself!’

Darshan and Turgrox searched the corpses of the dead cultists, turning up some useful gear and a few coins. One of the cultists has a very crude map, which Darshan recognized as possibly being of the Vaults. “Hmm. I can’t tell where it ends:only intersections are marked with no scaling. But it looks like it starts at a nearby alleyway. They must have used the sewers to travel undetected.” Turgrox found another troubling item: the cult leader had a second vial of the substance she’d thrown into the bar— and the vial exactly matched the one they’d recovered a few weeks earlier in the goblin lair. Don recalled that the goblin alchemist had told them that whatever had been in the vial turned one of its apprentices into a zombie! He shared that information quietly with Zak, Darshan, and Turgrox, so as not to alarm their hosts. Vasaro chimed in, “We really need to report this— disposing of four bodies and a dead goblin is going to raise a few questions.” Darshan left to find his “aunt” Portia Jeggare, captain of the Old Korvosa Regiment of the Korvosan Guard.

An hour later, Darshan found Captain Jeggare., looking worried. “The Stirge and Hammer, too? I have four other reports of similar attacks: The Sticky Mermaid, Jeggare’s Jug, the Travelling Man, and Exemplary Execrables. The attackers got away at the other sites. We’re treating this as a possible armed insurgency.” Darshan quietly explained the party’s fears about a possible plague being spread by these cultists, and Jeggare’s eyes widened in horror. “A plague?” she whispered, “Sarenrae save us! Look, if there’s going to be a plage outbreak, I’m going to need every one of my men on the streets to keep public order.” Darshan took that as permission to the party to launch its own investigation. Not long therafter, a body cart arrived to haul away the corpses. Guards took statements from everyone, and Vasaro sat down with one to fill out paperwork.

Wealday, 12 Desnus 4704

The next morning, everyone except Don woke up with a mild fever. Turgrox checked in with some friends in the underworld, but didn’t find any leads. Zak slept in. Darshan went out to buy more healing supplies— he suspected that antiplage would shortly become in short supply. After that, he went to the Bank of Abadar to speak with church officials there. Archbanker Tuttle was indisposed, but he was able to meet with the Ecclesiastical Librarian. Researching the name “The Scythe Mother” and the altered holy symbol of Urgathoa, Darshan made a disturbing discovery: a splinter cult that calls itself the Cult of the Scythe Mother. While the Church of Urgathoa does concern itself with spreading pestilence and supporting undeath, members generally have a great lust for life. In contrast to the main church, the Cult of the Scythe Mother has a unifying objective: to spread the “gift” of undeath to every living thing in the world!

Unwilling to open the vial of plague himself, Don decided to ask for some assistance from the Church of Sarenrae. He headed across town to The Heights to the main Temple of Sarenrae and asked for an audience with the High Priest. After answering a few questions, he was shown in to the office of Fahter Viorec Korvaski, High Priest of Sarenrae in Korvosa. Korvaski offered some tea, which Don accepted. Don noticed a faintly-glowing bejeweled scimitar hanging on the wall behind Korvaski’s desk— it was exquisitely decorated in Qadiran style, but was most certainly not purely decorative! Korvaski listened attentively to Don’s concerns. “If what you’re telling me is true— and I have no reason to doubt you— that a plague has been released in the city, the clergy who work out of the temple will be overwhelmed with treating the sick. Unfortunately, I don’t have anyone I can send with you to chase down a hunch. However, the Church of the Dawnflower may have a few things you may find useful…” The priest walked to a cabinet and brought out a few wooden boxes and coffers. He gave Don four potions of cure light wounds, four vials of holy water, four doses of antiplague, and a potion of lesser restoration. Don thanked Father Korvaski for his generosity and took his leave. On the way back to Old Korvosa, Don paused before a gated mansion in The Heights, fighting mixed emotions. He removed a blank scroll, a pen, and some ink from his satchel, and penned a letter to Lord Panev Thorval, warning of a possible plague outbreak in the city. Don sealed the letter and pressed his signet ring into the soft red wax: the signet ring of House Thorval. Calling over a guard, he asked that the letter be delivered to Lord Thorval, and the guard agreed.

Meeting back at the Stirge and Hammer that evening, everyone shared what they’d learned and done for the day. (Don, however, decided not to mention his trek to his estranged family’s estate.) They decided that they would rest for one more night, and follow the cultists’ map of the Vaults in the morning. As they climbed the stairs to their rooms, Darshan heard Basila cough loudly several times. He went back downstairs and administerd to her another dose of antiplague.

Oathday, 13 Desnus 4704, morning

After a quick and no-nonsense breakfast at the inn, the four adventurers found the manhole entrance to the Vaults in an alleyway less than a block from the Stirge and Hammer. A rusty cast-iron ladder led 25 feet down into the fetid sewer lines. “At least it’s been raining: the extra water helps flush away some of the stench,” remarked Darshan. The ladder led to a 10-foot wide secondary sewer line. Following the map, they quickly found themselves in 15-foot main tunnel. The group followed the map’s twists and turns for about three quartes of an hour, until they noticed that a blockage in the sewer channel ahead was backing sewage onto the walkway.

Darshan was surprised to see the source of the blockage: the bloated corpse of 12-foot-long crocodile was stuck on a pipe, and debris had started to pile up behind it. As Zak and Turgrox approached to free the blockage, the half-orc noticed something moving in the debris pile. Suddenly, out of the crocodile’s rotting abdomen burst a 10-foot long green and yellow multilegged worm! It surveyed the party with black multifaceted eyes the size of dinner plates, and menacingly waved six tentacles that ringed its pincer-like jaws. It lashed at Zak and Turgrox with its tentacles, missing Zak, but catching Turgrox across the face. The half-orc felt a wave of lethargy come over him, but he quickly shrugged it off, stabbing at the vile beast with his sword and dagger. Enraged at the intrusion of a disgusting giant worm, Zak drew his greatsword and swung mightly at the beast, cutting across five of its body segments. Having no spells at hand that would affect such a creature, Don dug a flask of alchemist’s fire from his pack and lobbed it at the creature, but is throw was long and the vial plunked into the sewage downstream from the blockage. ‘’A carrion crawler!,’’ shouted Darshan, “Be careful— they paralyze their prey before they eat them!” Darshan quaffed a potion of spider climb, and walked up the tunnel wall, positioning himself above the beast.


(art by Rob Torno )

The creature continued to fight, lashing at Turgrox, Zak, and Darshan. All three were hit by the thing’s slime-covered tentacles. Zak and Darshan managed to resist the creature’s paralytic poison, but Turgrox felt his muscles begin to freeze up, and found that he could not move! Darsan smacked the creature with his cudgel, and Zak landed a second mighty blow: this time, slicing off at least ten of its legs! Stinking green fluid gushed from the creature’s side, but it pressed its attack. Don then drew a dagger and hurled it at the beast— and his aim was true. The dagger embedded itself into one of the creature’s huge eyes, and it collapsed, sliding off the dam of debris and washing downstream. Darshan cast detect magic just to see if there was any magical reason for this dead crocodile to be there. He didn’t find that answer, but he did notice a magic wand that was mixed in the debris. He managed to fish it out from the debris pile before it was washed away. Examining the wand, Darshan determined it to be a functional wand of magic missile, and gave it to Don.

After clearing the dam of debris, the party continued to follow the crude map of the sewers. About ten minutes later, they heard squeaking and chittering behind them, and realized that they were being overtaken by a swarm of sewer rats! Don turned and threw a flask of alchemist’s fire at them, and many of the rats exploded in flame. The rest of the rats pressed on, swarming over Don and Turgrox. After being doused with a second flask of alchemist’s fire, the rat swarm broke up and scurried away.

After another half hour of negotiating the sewers, the party came to a large sewage cistern, where four primary tunnels intersected. A stone bridge spanned the foul central pool of sewage. Rotting against the wall in a corner of the platform across the bridge was a five-foot tall, ten-foot wide pile of putrescent flesh crawling with maggots. Spying a decaying tentacle in the mess, Darshan reckoned that it was the remains of an otyugh, one of the many filth-eating creatures the city uses to keep its sewers free of debris. A rat the size of a mastiff feasted on the flesh of the dead monster, but as soon as the party entered the room, it turned its head toward the party. The rodent squealed loudly— a challenge?

That’s how Zak took it, and he charged the beast, drawing his greatsword. Unfortunately, as Zak ran past one of the intersecting tunnels, another giant rat leaped from the shadows, biting at his legs! Zak ignored the second rat and threw all of his weight in a mighty swing at the first one… which scurried out of the barbarian’s way at the last second. Zak’s greatsword slammed into the dead otyugh, sending a spray of decayed flesh and living maggots through the room. He also disturbed a colony of rats that had infested the dead monster, which swarmed out and over the former barber.

Turgrox drew his bow and fired at the giant rat. With a very luckly strike, the arrow felled the oversized rodent. Don decided it was time to try out his new wand, and discharged two magic missiles at the remaining rodent, killing it as well. Darshan then threw a flask of alchemist’s fire at the rats, striking the swarm dead center. Many of the rats burst into flame. Zak maneuvered out of the swarm of rodents, and slammed the flat of his greatsword at the colony, crushing several dozen. Between his blow and the flames, the rats scurried away in different directions.

While clenaing himself up, Zak noticed the strap of a leather backpack under the corpse of the otyugh. He pulled it out, and while the pack itself was decayed beyound use, inside were several items wrapped inside an intact oilskin: several flasks of holy water and alchemist’s fire, some silk rope, a coin purse with some money, a leather map case, and a quiver of arrows. Some of the arrows were tipped with silver arrowheads. Darshan cast detect magic, and realized that a handful of the arrows were enchanted! Inside the map case were two divine spell scrolls as well.

The party gathered these treasures while Zak finished cleaning his wepon, and they continued their way through the Vaults.

[To be continued… next week!]

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From the Vaults to a Cellar
Session 7

Oathday, 13 Desnus 4704, late morning

After defeating the giant rats, the party continued to follow the cultists’ map through the Vaults beneath Old Korvosa. After following the mazelike complex of sewage-filled tunnels for another half hour, the party heard faint rumbling of machinery and swiftly-flowing water ahead. The primary sewer tunnel opened up into a large rectangular cistern, allowing the sewage to pool. A gigantic pumping apparatus rose like a column from floor to ceiling in the center of the pool. It was the apparent source of the mechanical sounds that reverberated through the chambers. Somewhat cleaner-looking water spilled into the cistern from a pipe in the ceiling fifteen feet above the surface of the pool of sewage. The sound of the waterfall plus the sounds of the pump filled the chamber with enough noise to make it hard to think.

Turgrox scouted into the room, looking for traps. While he didn’t find traps, he did notice two more giant rats hiding behind piles of refuse scattered over the walkway and maintenance platform— and they attacked! The half-orc landed a lucky blow on one, as the other leaped over the trash to attack him. Zak ran in to join the fight, followed cautiosly by [[:don-3|Don] and Darshan.While the four adventurers fought the rats, Zak heard the woosh and thunk of an arrow hitting its mark, immediately followed by the shock of impact and the pain of being shot. Spinning, the heroes saw a man holding a bow emerge from behind another trash pile— and that man had the head of a rat! Darshan shouted, “A wererat! Be careful— according to legend, only weapons made of polished silver can affect a wererat! Other weapons won’t affect them!”


(art by Andrew Hou)

Zak broke off the attack on the dog-sized rats and charged the wererat. It merely grinned, as it dropped its bow and drew a nasty-looking shortsword. Zak threw his whole weight behind the blow with his greatsword, and the wererat’s grin changed to a shocked expression of worry as its red blood spillled onto the stone platform. It returned the favor and stabbed Zak with its sword, then leaned in to bite him. Darshan shouted, “Don’t let it bite you! It can turn you into a wererat!” Fortunately, Zak was able to heed the advice. Don cast a spell at the wererat, and a ray of black energy shot across the chamber, striking the creature. It staggered back a moment, as if weakened. Meanwhile, Darshan turned his attention to the giant rats, striking one with his cudgel, knocking it to the ground.

The wererat hissed in frustration as Zak parried its blade and stepped out of the way of another bite. Don discharged two magic missiles from his wand, both of wich struck the wererat. Turgrox managed to circle behind the wererat and stab it in the back with his silver dagger. It cursed Turgrox in Varisian. Darshan cast a spell, and a blast of water shot at the wererat at hight pressure. Unfortunately for the party, the wererat managed to keep its footing, and didn’t end up in the pool of sewage.

Now seemingly desperate, the wererat attempted to fight defensively as it tried to put some distance between it and the adventurers. It managed to nick Turgrox, but the half-orc stabbed it again with his silver dagger, and the wererat squealed in pain, dropping to the floor. Zak swung his blade at the now-prone creature, and neatly severed its head from its shoulders.

Darshan determined that the wererat’s shortsword was magical. Turgrox claimed the weapon. The wererat also had a set of high-quality lockpicks, hinting at what the creature did for a living. The party then dumped the body of the wererat and the giant rats into the cistern while Darshan used his wand of cure light wounds to heal the wounds of those who were injured.

Pressing on, the party continued to follow the cultists’ map through the Vaults. Not far from the cistern, they noticed a three-foot-wide hole in the wall of the sewer channel— it appeared to be the entrance to a small cave that intersected the sewers. After a brief discussion, they decided to check it out. The tunnel was small enough that the adventurers had to crawl through a narrow, twisting stone tunnel. Turgrox led. After about twenty yards of crawling, the tunnel opened up into a kidney-shaped natural cavern, about fifteen feet long and ten feet wide, with a cieling bareley five feet high. The chamber was littered with odds and ends, refuse, and other junk… and then the party realized that the pile of fur at the far end of the chamber was alive: the largest rat anyone had ever seen! The rat was at least six feet long and probably weighted close to 300 pounds! It hissed a challenge, then approached the party. Fortunately for our heroes, the rat seemed to be extremely fat, and could barely move. Zak drew his greatsword and swung it in a horizontal arc, neatly bisecting the creature and killing it instantly! Searching through the refuse, Zak found an unlocked wooden chest, and Turgrox found an improbably matching pair of boots. Darshan cast detect magic, and relayed the information that the boots were magical, as were several objects in the chest. The chest contained some coins, a wand of snowball strike, and a few potions.

Pressing on, the party wound through the maze that is the Vaults for about another half-hour, when they came to the end of the map. A rusty iron ladder led up 25 feet to a manhole cover on the street. However, a recently-dug hole in the wall about eight feet up caught the party’s attention. Darshan thought that the map indicated that they should go down the tunnel.Turgrox investigated. The hole was roughly circular and about three feet wide, and looked like it had only been there for the past few months. Turgrox crawled down the rough-hewn passage, which went about 20 yards before opening up into a small room, about 10 feet in diameter, with a five foot ceiling supported by wooden beams. Another ladder was propped against the far wall, leading to another hole in the ceiling. Turgrox thought he saw a wooden trap door at the top of the passage. The rest of the party followed.

After climbing up the wooden ladder, Turgrox opened the door a crack and looked in: It appeared to be a dark storeroom filled with dusty and broken furniture. He gave the all-clear, and everyone else climbed up. The room was indeed a dusty storeroom, apparently in the basement of a building. The flloor was made of packed earth, two of the walls were the stone foundation of a building, and the other two walls were wooden. One door led south. The ceiling, barely six feet off the floor, was wooden, supported by what appeared to be floor joists. Turgrox made a quick search of the room and noticed that one desk drawer had a false bottom— in which was a dagger in a bejeweled sheath. The half-orc claimed that. Darshan cast detect magic, and told Turgrox that the blade was indeed magical.

Listening at the door, Turgrox thought he heard the sound of something moving around in the next room. Arranging themselves for battle, he threw open the door: and the party faced a ghastly sight! Four bare human skeletons stood in the room, each wearing rusty tatters of chainmail. Pinpoints of faint red light glowed in their fleshless eye sockets. The skulls turned on their spines as if to look at the party, and then they immediately attacked! Zak was ready for the attack, and slashed one with his greatsword. The pinpoints of light in its eyesockes blinked out, and the skeletion fell to the ground as a pile of bones. Don cast a spell, firing a ray of anti-necromantic energy at another. Several of its bones fell away, but it kept approaching. Turgrox stepped in and stabbed at one with his shortsword and new dagger. Unfortunately, his weapons seemd ineffective at a fleshless foe. Darshan activated his newly-acquired wand, and a hard-packed ball of ice and snow fired from the wand, knocking into the skeleton Don had damaged. It also fell to the ground in a pile of bones. The remaining skeletons clawed at Zak and Turgrox, ripping gashes in the flesh of both men. After another moment of fighting, however, the party destroyed the remaining skeletons.

This room was larger, and bare of furninsings. A singel door led east, and Zak opened it to take a look. The moment he opened the door, a necrotic fist slammed into the former barber’s face! A foot kicked the door open the rest of the way, and three decaying human corpses with milky-white eyes shambled into the room! They grunted and moaned incoherently as they approached the party. Fortunately for our heroes, the zombies were very slow-moving. Zak cleaved one in two, and Turgrox and Darshan cut down a second with their blades. Don summoned the power of the grave and hit one with his necromantic touch. The zombie’s face animated a bit as if it were alive— miming a look of fear! It stepped back from the party, as Zak cut that one down as well.

The next room was damp and humid. There was a well of apparently-fresh water in the northern corner, and several barrels of brown and stagnant water stood on the south wall. Zak noticed something behind one of the barrels, and he and Turgrox moved it aside to take a look. Behind a skewed stone in the wall was a dust- and cobweb-covered leather cloth— it had been an oilcloth, but was now brittle, and broke apart as Turgrox unwrapped it. Inside were six potion bottles— all labeled “Healing” in Common. Darshan cast detect magic, and verified that the labels were true.

With some sense of trepidation, the party eyed the door to the east.

[To be continued… next week!}

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