DM note: This is the first session of the adventure. One of the players was ill and missed the start.
Evil seems to be seeping out of the gutters more this year. Gang wars between the Zhentarim (snakes) and Xanathar (spires) guilds spilling into the Waterdeep streets. Magistrate Nevrember voted out of office for embezzlement of over 500,000 dragons. Government corruption pulsing to the beat of the faction wars. But life within the peasant city normal, such as the music and ale flowing inside the ‘Yawning Portal’ tavern. Itself sitting on the edge, no dare I say gaping entrance, of the Undermountain. One of the few entrances, at a cost to those entering (and hopefully exiting), to the evil life beneath THIS world.
Adrik- Bill (dwarf merchant fighter)
Izzy-Carl (elf warlock)
Khul-Angela (half-orc brute)
Nacho- Denny (Tabaxi cleric)
The four adventurers having formed a team just earlier in the week. The dark mysterious elf Izzy seeking shadows, always with her back to the wall. One of those walls being the hulk Khul; a half-orc brute less with words as action speaks louder. Then there is the purr of Nacho the Tabaxi cleric who makes it a point to announce his presence with a flare…not only colorful clothing but also the sparkling energy dancing on his fingertips. And least not forget the blacksmith merchant dwarf Adrik, camped at the bar to minimize the time between refills. Ale dripping from his beard as he shares guild woes with Durnan, the human proprietor of the ‘Portal’.
A team with grand ideas of adventure, but no wealth to pay their entrance to the Undermountain rumored to be lit by the reflection of gold in every corner. That is, IF you can survive to collect it and keep it long enough for the bucket-ride back to this world. Thus the 4 of them settled into a life of waiting for the right opportunity. Khul always spending “my last coppers” for another flagon of ale before challenging the other half-orc bouncer Yagra Stonefist to arm wrestle. Nacho flicking his ears as he converses with Bonnie the bar-wench; she hanging on his words of daring rescue of some kittens, soon to learn he was one of those kittens. Izzy priming the cleric Obaya Uday for more details of the treasures beneath us.
And that’s when the bar-fight began. A human with 3 accomplices sucker-punches the bouncer Yagra, “Pig! Ya likes killing my mates does ya?! You and your damn Zhentarim scum.” 4 against one (a fair fight considering the bouncers size and skills) till Khul joins in to crack 2 human heads together before holding one between his massive hands for questioning. Was that the cause of the other 2 running for the front door? Maybe, but I’m thinking it was the sight of the troll climbing out of the portal maw.
A half dozen stirges clung to its skin (like lamprey to a shark), while another 3 fly out and attack the nearest blood source. The dwarf Adrik swatting (miss) at the one latched to his chest. Durnan reaching under his bar-counter to grab his famous nasty (vorpal) blade, “I’ll deal with the troll; you can swat the bugs.”
Nacho, knowing the regenerative nature of a troll, casts Chilling Touch (misses) hoping to delay its regeneration. Izzy casts Eldritch Blast, splatting the stirge on Adrik’s chest. Khul drops the human to then 2-handed clap another stirge buzzing the area. All turn to see Durnan lopping off the troll head torching it to cauterize the skin to prevent regrowth. “Well fought mates. Pour them a pint each.”
The crowd’s cheering soon dwindling till a lone clap is heard from the corner. “Come, come. Drinks for your stories and an offer. I am Volothamp Geddarm, chronicler and book writer. Maybe you’ve seen my prior print Guide to Beasts. I’m writing a new one Guide to the Spirits. But I tarry. To the point…I’ve misplaced a friend. I offer 10 gold each to find him. 100 gold each if you can bring him back alive.”
Finally, the break they needed. Seed money to pay their entrance into the depths. Floon Blagmoor (merchant son) gone 2 nights ago. 30 year old human, red-blonde hair. Last seen in his princely attire at the Skewered Dragon inn down at the docks. “Why in such seedy place; I blame his friend…what was his name? Something like Raeneer. He too missing.” Fortune that Nacho had a street map. But their steps back into the streets quickly reminded them of city troubles. Guards holding back the crowd, “Move along. Nothing to see here.” Other than the 7 bodies; others being led away cuffed. 15 year olds wrapped up in the gang wars. Faction tattoos still red on their arms.
Soon out of the clean part of town and into the filth of the dock area. Except for the colorful store with the stuffed purple beholder displayed in its window (Old Xolob’s Shop). Busted street lights deepen the shadowy alleys. Down a few more streets till the sign announces Skewered Dragon. Khul stepping forward to order cheap ale. “That’ll be 8 copper.” Khul drawing out 15 copper, “All I have.” As if he can’t count, which draws him into side games of 3-Dragon Ante with more “last coppers.” Meanwhile Nacho takes the direct approach mentioning the names Floon and Raineer. “You mean that pompous rich noble?! Yeah, last I’d seen Raeneer he was propping up his drunk friend as they left. Yeah, others followed them out. Haven’t seen any of them since. Not even the mugs that followed. Those guys? Work at the Candle Lane warehouse.”
Adrik keeps an eye open as they leave; such direct questions and answers surely drew attention. More streets with busted lights, till they arrive at the warehouse. A Continual Flame torch eliminates shadows around the door. As the others hide around the side, Adrik tries the locked door before announcing, “Open the damn door. I’ve come for the iron ingots you were supposed to deliver to my smith shop.” His bluff greeted with the sounds of scuffling. With Izzy unlocking the door, Adrik enters to continue his bluff only to see 12 bodies scattered about the stacked crates. And that’s when the birdmen step from behind some crates and caw in human, “Xanathar sends regards.”
Khul rushing forward into the fight. Blades and spells dispatch 2 birds before the last drop their scimitars and raise their featherless arms, “Give up, give up.” Izzy approaching to cuff his prisoner who dies (from previous wounds?) in her arms. Which gets the last prisoner cawing now in orcish, “Tie up pretty boy. Follow yellow signs in sewer.” Clouds of flies around the bloated human bodies suggest they died days ago. A mixture of faction tattoos. A search of the warehouse. Adrik finds someone hiding under tarps in a closet, “Don’t hurt me. I can pay any ransom you demand.” After explaining we work for Volo searching for Floon, we soon learn he is the Raeneer friend. “We were jumped after leaving the pub. 5 thugs drug us here but then another half-dozen other thugs and those Kenku birds busted in and began a fight. I hide. When the fighting ended, I heard them grab Floon. Kept asking about the Stone of Galloor, where was it?”
And that’s when the doors busted open with city guards pouring in, “Stop right there! You’re under arrest. Lord Raeneer? We did not see you. Are you alright?” The lord explaining us the rescuers, “Let them go. Unlike you, THEY knew how to follow leads and found me.”
“We’re really going down the sewers?” Which got Khul lathering himself with olive-oil found in a crate, ”Keeps shit off.” A rusting metal ladder descending into the stinking depths. Marching order as we follow the freshly painted yellow snake signs. Till singing echoes from ahead. Literally a head.
A green ball with eyes floats before us at distance, singing as it patrols on guard duty. We stealthfully approach till Izzy slips in the sewer filth. Nacho casting…Command/Flee. “No!” Too late. As commanded, the Gazer flees in loud volume sounding an alarm. Adrik takes careful aim (disadvantage) with his xbow firing at the sound as darkness envelopes the creature long distant, “Thwang.” A hit? Izzy rushing forward to silence the alarm only to get close enough to see it rising up a shaft, out of reach.
Miradis - Tony (half-elf bard)
Scuffling sounds draw Izzy’s vision to the arrows protruding from murder-holes ringing the shaft. No way to really get at the guards holding the bows. So Khul blocks one hole with the flat of his Warhammer while Adrik blocks the other with his shield. Allowing their allies to enter the shaft only to glimpse another form descending from above, holding the eye-stalk of the dead gazer, “Volo sent me in case you need help. I am Miradis.” The stringed instrument looped over the half-elf’s back suggesting he a bard.
We exit the shaft into a side chamber ledge with a door. Exploring to find the goblin guard who threatened from the murder-hole now aiming within the interior corridor. Khul and Izzy silence his protests. We continue, soon hearing a human voice, “Not gonna hold. I’m telling ya, we need something thicker.” Miradis sneaks forward to see the threat, spotting a human and duergar on their knees stuffing rags under a door. Nacho sneaks forward to coach, “I think if you try turning…” They rise into battle. The human soon panicking and running for another door. The duergar growing, doubling in size and threat. More than a match for the 4 of us, especially considering the enraged dwarf Adrik spotting his sworn enemy.
Soon the threat silenced which allows Khul to smash open the door the others were so concerned about. The privy stench and the decay of orc bodies within. But realization their concerns where for the ooze bubbling out of the hole. “Run!” No door left to enclose the monster. Us too going for the other door the human had pointed out. And that’s where we find another princely dressed human crumbled on the floor in a fetal position screaming as the orc again and again touches him with a flaming fist.
On a throne behind, sits a Mindflayer calmly petting an Intellect-Devourer in his lap. Little reaction to our entrance other than to stand and calmly walk out, directing, “Take care of them.”
Adrik rushes in to stand over to defend the human while the others attack the orc. Nacho casts theatrics (Earth-shake) that does nothing to distract the orc. Who points Burning-Hands at the dwarf. Maradis casts pyrotechnics (Dancing Lights) to blind the orc with no effect. Which leaves it to Khul, Adrik, and Nacho to fell the orc.
“Floon I assume? Lord Raeneer told us about the abduction.” Mistaken identities as they really wanted Raeneer for info about the missing stone. Miradis interrupting, “I’d love to sit and chat but we have an overflowing toilet problem…the ooze.” A quick search of the room reveals a trap-door behind the Mindflayer’s throne. Corridors and eventually stairs up to another door. That opens into a wine cellar. “Eek.” The barmaid startled at our presence, “What are you doing in Peabodies Pub cellar?” Nacho the spokesperson calming her as we accompany her topside to the bar area and out the door to deliver our prize (Adrik and Khul stopping to guzzle a pint before departing).
Volo surprised and happy upon seeing Floon, “About that promised reward. My book sales haven’t prospered as quickly as hoped. Might I interest you in a tavern instead? Seems prior owners never returned from their adventuring to start up business. Taxes overdue; I got it at a bargain. Yours free and clear. Just need to pay the title.” And that’s when Lord Raeneer enters to find his friend Floon, “Title? The least I can do to repay you for rescuing us.”
Ah yes, a happy ending. Except for Izzy spotting the male drow spying from the shadows.