D&D Enc Murder in Baldur’s Gate – Launch Event
So yesterday saw us gathering at Tabletop Tyrants for the Murder in Baldur’s Gate launch event adventure, the introduction not only to the new Encounters season for Wednesday’s but also the opening event for the Sundering – a major world-shaking event that is set to reshape the Forgotten Realms (again, though hopefully for the last time). As with the previous season and games day we had agreed to play using the latest packet of the D&DNext playtest rules.
With some of the weekend events we’ve previously ran on the day attendance has taken a hit, sometimes only 2-3 players turning up, but I’m happy to say that the latest few (Vault of the Dracolich and this one) have seen us with crowded tables. This time we had 8 players – 2 of which were newcomers that knew one of our Encounters players. With the addition of a Magic the Gathering tournament happening in store at the same time, space was at a premium but we coped albeit with it being cozy and loud.
Although the pack suggested creating characters on the day most of the players had already created the pc’s they wanted and the rest chose from the pregens I had brought with me. The party we began with was:-
- Jodie – Elf Rogue
- Shane – Elf Fighter
- Richard – Halfling Rogue (pregen)
- Rhys – Half-Elf Paladin (pregen)
- TIlly – Elf Ranger (pregen)
- Hannah – Half-Orc Barbarian (pregen)
- Vipin – Halfling Cleric
- Matt – Dwarf Fighter
We began with the read-aloud text as the players looked over the map of the Wide laid out before them (apologies for no photo’s of the session as I was way too busy to take any) and almost covered in guards and civilian tokens. A few of the players chose to interact with the stalls, mainly the rogues trying their hands at pocketing unsecured items, while Matt and Rhys elbowed their way to the front to see the stage and others investigated the curious statue of Minsc and Boo.
Shane and Richard heard a noblewomen calling for someone to find her cat and spotted a feline cleaning itself under a nearby stall, eventually retrieving the animal and proudly returning it to the noblewoman. “That filthy beast isn’t mine!” she cried loudly, “my cat is a Waterdhavian Blue, not some scruffy street cat!” and walked away in a huff.
Meanwhile a portly gent started a bit of a ruckus, accusing one of the players of repeatedly standing on his fine Calishite silk cloak, Rhys noticed that with the uproar someone was trying to help themselves to the players coin purse and rather than call out simply harpooned the would-be thief with a well thrown javelin. Most of the players converged on the disturbance, as did a pair of Watchmen, and when the Watch told the thief to hold his hand on the nearby stall Matt’s dwarf “accidentally” stumbled into the one holding the criminal, allowing the miscreant to melt into the throng and escape having his finger taken off.
At this point the roar of the crowd was quieted from the stage as Duke Abdel Adrian addressed them, halfway through his speech he became distracted, looking into the crowd as if searching for something. As he did so crossbowmen were seen in nearby windows just as they loosed a volley of bolts into the assembled crowd. The honour guard of watchmen immediately ran to the buildings the assailants were in as the crowd burst into a panic, one knocking over a cooking pot and causing the stall to catch alight adding to the mayhem.
Vipin and Matt moved to the stage in an effort to defend Duke Adrian who still seemed oblivious to his surroundings, as a pair of revellers threw off their cloaks to reveal leather armour and readied weapons. These warriors grabbed nearby members of the crowd, drawing their blades across throats and dropping the bodies to the ground to bleed out as they moved on to a fresh target.
Tilly attempted to climb onto the top of a nearby stall so as to get better aim with her longbow, unfortunately rolling a 1 and pulling the canvas down on top of her in a tangled mess. Hannah took a bolt from a crossbow as she tried to lasso Duke Adrian to get him off the stage but her rope fell considerably short, and one of the bloodthirsty warriors attacked her – his blade striking deeply and dropping the half-orc to the floor.
Richard was busily trying to dodge around the various stalls that were rapidly becoming consumed by the spreading fire, noticing a small child stood by one and crying for her mother, but the halfling was more interested in self-preservation and left the child amidst the conflagration.
Rhys, Jodie and Shane engaged the pair of warriors, trading blows with their foes as Vipin asked Matt to throw him towards the fallen half-orc. Matt’s dwarf grabbed the halfling by the front of the tunic and with a mighty grunt brought him up in an overhand throw – but misjudged the weight of the halfling and only succeeded in face-planting him off the edge of the stage.
By now the sounds of combat and lack of bolts from the surrounding windows were evidence of the members of the watch tackling the bowmen, but a new threat appeared as another trio revealed themselves to be enemies. As Rhys and Shane’s opponent finally fell to the heroes blows one of the new threats moved to intercept them, pushing panicking townsfolk out of the way as he did so. The other warrior began grabbing members of the crowd and slitting their throats so Jodie and Richard (now he was far enough away from the burning stalls) peppered him with bowshot.
The final figure approached the stage and a flicker of recognition appeared on Duke Adrian’s face. The cloaked figure drew a weapon as he cried out “Now we finish this. There can be only one!” as he and Adrian clashed. Matt was able to shoulder barge the man off the stage even lending the Duke one of his light hammers as he was weaponless.
A friendly dwarven warrior began trying to calm the crowd, calling them to run to safety down a nearby alleyway (Hannah’s half-orc had failed three death saves so we gave her another pre-gen to keep playing), helping several flee the carnage before chasing after them out of harms way.
The flames had spread to cover half the market as the fight continued, Shane and Rhys dealt with their opponent, freeing Rhys to heal the stricken cleric, bringing him back into the fray. Unfortunately the other enemy warrior had succeeded in taking Richard out continued to slaughter nearby crowd members.
Despite Matt’s help the enemy leader was taking a toll on Duke Adrian and he summoned a cloud of darkness. This allowed him to strike a killing blow on the Duke as the darkness dissipated. The crowd fell silent as their beloved Duke fell lifeless to the ground, and were then further shocked as his killer suddenly transformed into a blood-covered monster before their eyes. Matt’s stoic dwarf charged in, weapon hammering into the unnatural beast before him which responded with fiendish claw strikes almost toppling the dwarven warrior, before leaping at a nearby member of the panicked crowd and rending him in two.
The last standing enemy warrior looked as shocked as everyone else and pausing only long enough to smash his foot into the head of Richard’s fallen halfling, fled into the running crowd.
The remaining heroes concentrated their attacks on the terrible slathering monster and brought it down without further losses. As the killing blow struck the creature seemed to burst, spraying blood in a concussive wave across the Wide with enough force to extinguish the burning stalls and knock most people off their feet. All that remained of it was a strange bloody symbol on floor where it had stood. Vipin and Shane recognised it as the symbol of Bhaal, former god of assassins that had himself been killed by a mortal well over a century ago.
As people began to calm down the party were approached by a well dressed gentleman that had managed to stay out of the trouble. He introduced himself as Imralyn Skoond, a representative of Duke Silvershield “the one that ran at the first sign of trouble” remarked Matt’s dwarf. “If you would discover who took Abdel’s life, if you wish to save Baldur’s Gate from the rot festering in it, meet me at the Three Old Kegs. Everyone there knows me. I will be there until eight bells.” he then moved off with more of the townsfolk as the returning watchmen began to cordon off the area.
A few more Watch members and citizens congratulate the party before they are approached by a powerfully built man who strides toward them with authority. The crowd parts as he approaches. Emblazoned boldly his tabard is a burning clenched
gauntlet – the symbol of the Flaming Fist mercenary company. “Greetings. I am Ulder Ravengard, commander of Wyrm’s
Rock and – as of now – the Flaming Fist mercenary company. Duke Adrian had been our marshal. The Watch was responsible
for his safety here and should have protected him from this attack. We are indebted to you for your heroic action on the duke’s behalf. Please meet me at Wyrm’s Rock, where we can have a proper introduction. I believe you could be of great service to our city. You’ll find that I can be a valuable friend.” He moves away to consult with the Watch, a group of burly men at his back.
As the heroes prepare to leave the marketplace a peasant they had taken for a stall holder approached them. The cloaked figure muttered breathily, “You are newcomers here, so you don’t know the situation. Don’t trust either of those men who spoke to you. If you want to know what is really happening in Baldur’s Gate, meet me at the gateway to Little Calimshan at dusk.” The figure then melts into the thinning crowd and disappears.
The party considers the three strange invitations they have received, realising that they couldn’t make it to all three due to time and distance and agree to only attend the later meeting with the mysterious figure in Little Calimshan.
And so we ended the session, with the players that will be continuing the adventure on Wednesdays having decided their next course of action (making it easier for the DM’s (myself and hopefully Liam) to prepare effectively rather than have to run totally on the fly. The pack had said that the adventure should take about 2 hours to run, with the larger group we had taken 3 hours and I hope everyone had enjoyed it. Players that took part that may be reading this will notice I have altered the narrative slightly as I made a mistake in-game (yes, as unbelievable as it may seem, I am only human) and had the dying Duke Adrian transform with his assailant fleeing in fear and horror.
Our new players seemed to enjoy themselves, despite being my only victims and having their first characters killed in-game, and are planning on joining our regular Wednesday sessions with another couple of friends too, and an observer in the store has also expressed interest. This could take our Encounters attendance up to 12 so after discussion Liam has offered to run a second table at the same time so that we have two parties adventuring within Baldur’s Gate each session.
Despite trying to use some of the crowd interaction items in the adventure the players were more focused upon the actual threats so most (such as the crying child, and the stumbling dwarf – who then got shredded by the beast) were little more than window dressing, this was probably because of the group size and the fact that the shop was very busy around us.
My only hope now is that my adventure pack arrives from Amazon in time for Wednesday, with this being the first of the commercially available Encounters packs it feels a little strange to have the release date only one day before the season is due to commence, though apparently several stores (mostly in the USA) received advance copies last week.