Continued from Temple of Elemental Evil Part II…
Having left one of their own back in the world of Greyhawk (via selling him into slavery) and replacing him with an inhabitant of that world, the mole-rat mad scientist was furious at the party! So furious, in fact, she forcefully sends them back to reclaim their former comrade at the expense of their new friend. Our party consists of Caerwyn Tyr (Gabe’s Drow Rogue 5), Ser Nicholas (Nick’s Human Crusader 7), Steve (Steve’s Human Swordsage 7) and Mornrandir (GM PC Human Wizard 7).
Our heroes return to the world of Greyhawk, materializing in the village of Hommlett. Hommlett is the good counterpart to Nulb, the wicked village the PCs made their base in for Temple of Elemental Evil. If we had played the past module straight (starting as level 3 characters), we’d have begun that adventure here. In hindsight, we should started here because the players really enjoyed their time in Hommlett. They spent the winter season here, establishing characterization and relationships with the townfolk. Ser Nicholas helped out in the inn with his cooking while Steve established a reputation as the most fearsome barfighter in the land (or, at least, along that particular highway of traffic). Caerwyn uses his newly acquired Hat of Alter Self to blend in with the various humanoids, posing as different travelers.
The party’s routine is interrupted with the arrival of a messenger representing the interests of Dame Gold. The note she gives each PC reads…
“To Those Brave and Worthy,
May it never be said that the courageous undertake valor for the hope of reward nor the righteous seek purity, and thus may aspersions of evil never fall upon thy name. But, as ye know too well, the rewards of virtue are painful and cold.
Our advisers, through wisdom and sagacity, have proclaimed thy actions good and virtuous, done for the wealth of the people of Hommlett. Those so noble as yourselves will grace and ornament the presence of any gathering. We beseech you to kindly honor us with your presence during the Feasts of Edoria at Windy Crag in the town of Safeton.
Caerwyn is suspicious of the invitation, although he soon gathers that Dame Gold is a benevolent soul with a genuine invitation. If she has an ulterior motive, it won’t be nefarious. The player’s invitation to Dame Gold’s festival is soon the talk of the town and the only thing stopping the party is the connection they’ve built with Hommlett over the past season. The innkeeper is sad to see the best cook he’s ever had the pleasure of tasting food from leave and while he’s pretty happy property repairs will be down when Steve leaves, he knows a good business attraction when he sees one. Caerwyn is more than ready to leave the village, though, as is Mornrandir but he is glad for other reasons…
As the party prepares the logistics of the journey to Windy Crag/Safeton, they are approached by a halfling who introduces himself as Revv Aair. He is a tinker on the way to Safeton, his family once being in the employ of Dame Gold herself. Revv only wishes for some company on the road ahead and suggests traveling with the PCs, since they’re heading the same way. The entire party agrees to the suggestion, although Ser Nicholas suggests a grand cook-off between the halfling and himself (as the Iron Chef, who will be doing his cooking while wearing dragonbone plate armor made from the young adult red dragon the party anti-climatically slew in the Elemental Node of Fire).
The party’s last day in Hommlett was that cookoff, with Ser Nicholas winning pretty decisively. Who knew the Iron Chef makes such great entrees, mouth-watering third courses and excellent dessert? I only wish I had written down what all Nicholas cooked and that the hobbit had a better imagination (I’m a DM who cooks mainly from the microwave and orders out). All I remember is that Nicholas essentially made Mountain Dew and got Steve addicted to it.
The trip to Safeton was the longest 5 days of Mornrandir’s life. Notable events include Caerwyn attempting to cure Steve’s addiction to Mountain Dew by slipping him an alchemical cure, failing to do so, being spotted by Steve in the attempt and then being comet thrown for his troubles. The road took the party through the Kron Hills, home to a sizeable population of gnomes. Caerwyn Tyr is a result of Gabe really liking the plot hook to Kingdoms of Amalur, where the main character is brought back from the dead with no recollection of their past life by a gnome mad scientist. As a result, gnomes are a morality pet of sorts to Caerwyn. He inquires about his master here, although none of the gnomes have heard of him and Mornrandir reminds the drow that he’s technically from another plane of dimension…Gabe was so immersed in Greyhawk he forgot about that.
The party also caught a pair of thugs who had swindled an entire gnome village and delivered them to the proper authorities. The decision was mainly made by Caerwyn (who likes gnomes) and Mornrandir (who knows about other worlds where gnomes can be just as evil as other playable humanoids).
Eventually, the players reach Safeton. “USE NO MAGIC HERE!” reads the sign upon entry to the town, much to Mornrandir’s chagrin. The party makes their way to Dame Gold’s without delay, who welcomes them as guests…and they are not the only guests. Caerwyn is able to dig up information on each guest, although only a few encounter the party during the week of the festival. They include “Burly” Katrina (a noble-born fighter who quickly loses a drinking contest between Steve and a dwarf…who is then taken home by Mornrandir and befriended by him), Jack Knob (the dwarf who manages to drink Steve under the table), Randallson the Neat (a wizard prone to sweet confectioneries and constantly runs afoul of Ser Nicholas and Steve), Black Kerr (an alchemist Caerwyn would have conversed with if Kerr hadn’t been so anti-social) and Arianrhod de Turiss (an elegant lady who is bemused, but nothing more, by Ser Nicholas’ incredibly forward pick-up lines that involve his dragonbone hilt).
A few days pass and Dame Gold approaches the players late in the evening. She tells them to meet her in her private chambers just before dawn of the next day. The party all agrees to attend. Before Dame Gold relates her business, she makes the party swear a solemn vow of secrecy on behalf of their god. Ser Nicholas is the only one to take the oath seriously. Mornrandir swears but crosses his fingers behind his back. Caerwyn is posing as a human, so he does not take the vow on behalf of Lolth. Steve teleports out of sight upon being asked to swear (he actually sticks to the ceiling but no one sees him).
With all present agreeing to not tell another soul what she is about to say, Dame Gold relates her story: Her adventurous elder brother, once thought dead after venturing to a distant land, has been found to be alive. He wishes to return home but has contacted a disease similar to lycanthropy. The brother is slowly losing his mind and turning into a ravenous beast but fortunately, Black Kerr has developed a potential cure. Unfortunately, it is only potent for 40 days and it loses its potency if disrupted by magical means (teleporting the cure to the Brother Gold is not going to be an option…not that the party could teleport at this level anyway except for short distances). Dame Gold agrees to pay the party 5,000 gold each for the delivery of this cure, a task she only trusts to brave and noble heroes such as they. While she has no sailing ship to provide, she agrees to reimburse the party if they bring her the deed to the ship (or contract they sign). Caerwyn agrees to hold on the cure, fearing Mornrandir’s magical energies will disrupt the cure’s potency.
Upon acquiring the cure, the party makes plans to charter a vessel to the distant jungles of Hepmonaland…the known location of the Brother Gold. Before they leave, the manor of Dame Gold is attacked by a ship flying purple colors. The party returns to the manor on the basis that if Dame Gold is dead, there’s no reward and thus no point in delivering the cure. Among the ruins of the manor, the players find a journal on one of the people who sacked the place. The journal is a diary of a raider working on behalf of an entity known as the “Slave Lords” and the man has listed the nearby areas where the ship he was on makes port. The party decides to head for the port of Elredd, the closest area where the pirates will dock and hope to beat them there! Ser Nicholas is able to convince a ship captain to take the party on as crew members for a voyage to reclaim those taken from the manor, for great justice and all that.
The trek to Elredd is uneventful, save for the captain trying to have a joke at the party’s expense (basically, making them acquire their sea legs by intentionally sailing into rough waters). Steve responds by grabbing the captain and teleporting him to the top of the crow’s nest and back, which endears him to the captain and crew (who proclaim that “this guy gets it”).
The party reaches Elredd, which can be described as Mos Eisley as a sea port instead of a space port. As the party leaves the ship looking for leads, one of the “sailors” approaches them and relates his story. He too is after a ship flying purple sails that nabbed some of his folks from his home village. He directs them to the innkeeper of the Broken Rudder, saying that guy would be a good source of information. However, his speech is punctuated by a lot of “see” (“I gots the name o’ folks who don’t like the slavers, see. The place’s writ on this paper here, see, this paper here”) so Mornrandir follows him under the guise of Alter Self while Caerwyn explores the town. Steve and Nick head to various bars to rough things up.
All goes fairly well except for Steve, who ends up being knocked out while at the Broken Rudder. Luckily, Nick’s diplomacy allows him to gain favor with the innkeeper to keep “his friend” safe. Meanwhile, the rest of the party interrogates the “sailor” and finds out the Broken Rudder is a front for the slave lords. Hilarious reaction from Caerwyn upon realizing Mornrandir had tortured the sailor: “Oh Lolth, how many fingers does he have left?” The encounter at the Broken Rudder goes well, save for one of the employees teleporting away. The party finds a new lead among the inn’s bouncer’s room…the town of Highport.
The party reaches Highport but not on the vessel of their choosing. The first night out of Elredd, Caerwyn notices the ship anchoring on a spit of land in the midst of the ocean fog. Caerwyn spots a boarding party but before he can awaken the rest of the ship, he’s shot with one of his own drow poison arrows! He succumbs to the paralyzing poison and finds himself, along with the rest of the players, on a slave galley! All are shackled and separated while Mornrandir is gagged…leaving the party having to plan their own escape individuality. This is further complicated by the slavers dumping the party’s goods overboard (although Steve and Mornrandir are able to use their respective knowledge skills to remember the location according to the alignment of the stars). Those goods include magic items and tens of thousands of unspent gold from The Temple of Elemental Evil.
Caerwyn and Steve manage a way to work themselves free of their shackles, although they hold off the opportunity to do so for good until they reach a port. When the slave ship holding the PCs reaches Highport, the party enacts their escape attempt. Caerwyn and Steve slip loose of their shackles, with the drow pickpocketing a sword off a sleeping guard for Steve. While Caerwyn frees the rest of the party and slaves from their restraints, Steve uses his swordsage abilities to set fire to the slave ship…allowing the party to escape amidst the rioting chaos that ensues. Caerwyn acquires money by pickpocketing random citizens to procure room and board for a few nights and the party plans its next move…
All in all, 19 days have passed (5 to travel to Elredd, 1 day in the city, 1 night at sea before being shanghai’d into slavery, 6 nights as a slave on either a galley or The Ghoul, 6 days spent in Highport total thus far) since the players received the cure for Dame Gold’s brother…leaving them only 21 days to deliver the cure. Unfortunately, that quest looks as if it might be put on indefinite hold as the party holds the slave lords as a graver threat.
And the above was only the first chapter in a nine chapter module (of which seven are required, the last two being optional)!
Next Time: Covertly infiltrating the slave lord stronghold while establishing a resistance movement! An arsonist evades the local authorities and destroys slave ships, acquiring a massive bounty…will history repeat itself and have Mornrandir sell a party member into slavery? We only played a little bit into the second chapter (making preparations to storm the slave hold in Highport) so what happens next…as of this writing, I do not know.