D&D Enc Murder in Baldur’s Gate – Session 1

Murder-Baldurs-coverWell both my own and my fellow DM’s packs arrived during the morning, giving each of us about 6 hours to read through them (less for Liam who was at work) and although the players at the end of Saturday’s Launch Event had chosen to only attend the one meeting with Rilsa, we both decided to let them change their minds and attend up to 2 meetings of their choice. Arriving at our FLGS (Tabletop Tyrants) we had 10 players so split into 2 tables of 5 each and will try and keep to these groups throughout the season to avoid confusion.

My group consist of :-

  •  Shane – Human Fighter
  • Vipin – Halfling Cleric
  • Adam – Half-Orc Barbarian
  • Hannah – Half-Orc Fighter
  • Richard – Halfling Rogue

After a quick recap of the Launch Event for any that missed it (only Adam in my group but 3 players in Liam’s group) each group made their choices and we began…

The party decided that while they still wanted to meet the shadowy figure at dusk in Little Claimsham they would also like to go and talk to Ulder Ravengard at the Flaming FIst’s bastion on Wyrm’s Crossing and so headed off through the city.  They realised they had to pass through a city gate en route but the press of people passing through was slow and crowded. Asking someone in the queue they were told that “some shield of something has gone missing from the harbour, so the watch are searching for it. Don’t worry though, if you got nothing to hide.” As they approached the front of the queue they could see half a dozen watchmen with a gaunt, wide-eyed dwarf apparantly in charge, searching peoples bags and charging a toll to pass the gate. They were recognised as “Heroes of the WIde” but the dwarf took a dislike to the pair of Half-orcs and demanded a toll of 5gp for the party to pass through the gate. Not wanting to tackle a watch squad in public the party paid up but as the dwarf put the coins in the collecting chest the Halfling rogue realised he only heard 4 out of the 5 coins go in. Once past the gate he informed his companions that the strange looking dwarf was skimming the tax.

Reaching Wyrm’s Crossing they announced their arrival to the guards and were shortly escorted to a meeting room with Ulder Ravengard. He told them that while the watch police the Upper city, his Flaming Fist keep order in the Lower city. “Originally we were hired to help defend the city from attackers but now we provide an internal peace keeping force. Just as well with the rapidly growing hive of lawless scum outside our gates. The Outer city slums and ghettoes are a breeding ground of criminals, collecively known as the Guild. Duke Adrian was trying to forge alliances between the social classes but then those Guild assassin’s cut him down in broad daylight. I need dependable people such as yourselves to help quell this, I can offer money, or even a position within the Fist’s and all that comes with it.”

The halfling cleric was happy to offer to help but didnt want to join up on the spot and Ulder revealed that he needed the party to close down a pair of illicit gambling dens as every time his Fists had tried they seemed to disappear before they got close. Ulder offered them lodgings for the night within Wyrm’s Rock and one of his underlings showed them the way.

The heroes made use of the facilities for an hour while they cleaned up their injuries from the Wide before setting off for their other meeting. As they were heading back Hannah noticed a pair of Fist soldiers shadowing them, and so she and Richard hung back while the others continued on. As the soldiers approached they called out to them to ask why they were following them. The soldiers were flustered but stammered a reply that they were going into the Lower city to visit one their mothers who was ill. “Oh, we’re heading that way, we’ll walk with you” the heroes cheerily said and fell into step with the soldiers.

The remaining heroes headed to Little Calimsham and waited at a street cafe that seemd to be open all hours. Shortly a cloaked figure approached and muttered “If your here for the meeting, follow me” before walking off without waiting for a response. With only a slight pause the trio of heroes followed at a short distance, being led through the rabbit warren of streets and up onto the walkway of the walls that divide the enclave into smaller compounds. After a few minutes the figure dropped into a shadowy walled garden and produced a key. It unlocked a door and motioned the heroes inside where they could see a warm welcoming light. Inside the heroes found a large man sat on a cushioned floor with a brightly coloured turban and bushy beard who motioned for them sit with him. As they sat the smaller figure joined them, removing its cloak and a false beard to reveal the woman that had spoke to them in the Wide.

She introduced herself as Rilsa Rael, and representative of the Guild. “No doubt you’ve been told we’re a bunch of cut-throats and killers but thats not true. We might occasionally resort to a little thievery but thats so we can recover the exhorbitant taxes the nobles put in place that are keeping the honest hard-working people from making a living. Event members of the watch are corrupt, taking bribes and over-taking those that can ill-afford to pay. We were working with Duke Adrian to find an equality but now he’s dead we have no allies on the ruling council”. The cleric stated that the Fist’s believed it was Guild assassins that killed the Duke but Rael assured him that it most certainly wasnt.

The heroes appeared sympathetic to her cause and so she asked them to help. Telling them that a despicable worm of a tax collector would be passing through a specific part of the Lower city at a certain time with a chest of over-charged taxes, if the heroes would help “liberate” it she would make sure the people that needed it would get it. The only thing would be to try not to kill any of the watch or Fists as this would definitely not aid their cause, only reinforce the misconception that the Guild were lawless killers. The heroes agreed (the cleric reluctantly) and Rael gave them the route the tax collector would be travelling.

Meanwhile Hannah and Richard had reached the soldiers destination and they wished their sick mother was feeling better. The soldiers entered the building and the heroes heard a womans voice inside yelling “Who the hell are you? what are you doing in my house?” the heroes called out, asking if everything was all right and heard the sound of furniture being knocked over and pottery breaking. The heroes pushed the door open to see the soldiers exiting the back door as the woman who lived here threw a cup at them, when she realised the heroes were there she threw pieces of broken plate at them and grabbed a broom, shooing them out of her house.

The heroes all met back up at the gates of Little Calimsham and caught each other up on events before heading to intercept the tax collector. As they travelled the narrow dark streets of the Outer city they noticed a furtive trio laying in ambush. As the heroes got closer the figures drew wicked looking daggers.

Adam launched one of his javelins, striking one of the thugs squarely, before the target could react he charged up the alley to stand menacingly before him. Hannah and Shane also chose to attack with their ranged weapons, remembering the viscious injuries similar thugs had caused in the Wide earlier that day. Richard tried to climb onto a nearby roof but failed to get a decent grip, deciding to hang back in safety for now. Vipin’s cleric called upon Yondalla and sent a sacred flame at one of the attackers, who seemed to bend almost double as he avoided it (crit’d the dex save).

Wanting to find out who these attackers were and why they had attacked, Adam knocked his opponent out and dragged him back towards his allies. Realising their foes werent of the same calibre as earlier the heroes closed for combat and quickly despatched the remaining two thugs. As they searched the bodies a small coin rolled towards a drain cover, Richard dove along the dirty wet floor and managed to catch it. As they looked at it they realised it was a small bronze medallion bearing the symbol of Bhaal. The thugs daggers also bore the symbol on thier hilts.

Vipin cast spare the dying on the unconscious thug so that they could question him, but all he revealed was that he was a follower of Bhaal and the Lord of Murder shall return, despite the heroes “persuasion” tactics. The heroes planned to let him go and follow him, but as they untied him he lunged for a weapon on Vipin’s belt and before anyone else could react Adam’s half-orc swept his legs out from under him with enough force to smash his face into the floor with a sickening crunch. Rolling the motionless body over they realised the impact had driven his nose cartilidge back and into his brain, killing him.

Gathering their weapons back up the heroes continued on to their appointment with the corrupt tax collector.

Photos from the session.

We closed the session there and thanked everyone for playing. Everyone said they had had fun and were looking forward to more next week. Thankfully I’ll have more prep time and so I plan on trying to bring the city to life around them during the game.

The adventure packs are nice, would be better with thicker covers, but the all colour interiors are of good quality. The DM screen is great, with lots of useful information for the DM to use. There has been a lot of discussion on the forums about the lack of included maps but thanks to the great community of DM’s on there, there are some excellent suggestions of which maps from previous Encounters and other products to substitute.

All in all an excellent start to the season which bodes well for the coming weeks.

{Liam’s write up}

This session was the first time I would be DMing encounters and while a relatively new DM myself (I’ve only been running sessions once a week since May), I was looking forward to it. Given that the adventure arrived in my hands at 10.20 on the day of the session and I was at work, my prep for the session was minimal, but I think I managed to pull it off.

 My group consisted of:-

  • Tilly – Elf Ranger
  • Jodie – Elf Rogue
  • Glenn – Human Wizard
  • Sunyi – Human Cleric
  • Tan – Half-Elf Paladin

 I had run the launch event for a couple of players previously who wouldn’t be making the Saturday event, with only one of those who will be joining us for Encounters in a couple of weeks, so had a good idea of the goings on but I had run it in 4e and sadly due to unforeseen circumstances, was unable to attend the launch event myself, so I had the players in my group that had attended summarize the events for both my benefit and the groups.

 Prior to the session, both Mik and I had agreed that we would give the two groups the option to change the meeting they had decided on and due to the new players in the group I opted to run through the last part of the launch day event with them again so that everybody got to hear the meeting offers and the group could make a more informed decision. On top of this, we had concluded that the groups would have time for up to two meetings too…

 The party decided that they would meet with the Marshal of the Flaming Fists, UlderRavengard at Wyrm’s Rock and the shadowy figure that had approached them in the Wide, claiming that the two gentlemen that had spoken to them were liars and that the party shouldn’t believe anything they say in Little Calimshan.

As luck would have it, both of these locations were located through the same gate, into the Outer City, commonly referred to as the “Basilisk Gate”, however, the crowd of people at the gate waiting to go through slowed their progress somewhat. Whilst trying to garner what the hold-up was, the group overheard members of the crowd say that The Watch were looking for “a stolen shield or something from the harbour, they want to search everyone.” The group managed to make their way through the crowd to see a bearded dwarf with wide eyes sitting at a table surrounded a handful of armoured men of The Watch. After observing for a moment whilst in the queue, it became apparent that the dwarf was searching through people’s belongings by emptying them out onto the table before him and then charging them a toll to make their way through the gate.

The dwarf summoned the party over without looking up from the table, telling them in a blunt and disinterested manner that they were to “submit to a search and then pay the fee to make their way into the Outer City through the gate.” The party started to be patted down by the guards surrounding the dwarf and their bags searched before the dwarf at the table, clearly an authority figure among the collection of soldiers looked up and recognized them as the “Heroes of the Wide” resulting in him quickly ordering his men to hand back any belongings and making an apology to them, “I’m sorry, I didn’t recognize you at first. I thought you were another one of these petty thieving scum,” referring to the crowd trying to enter the Outer City. He also referred to them as “the great unwashed” and suggested that they were “a class lower than dirt”. The party became riled up but took the opportunity following some fast talking by the Paladin to enter through the gate free of charge.

They reached Wyrm’s Crossing and were met by two men of the Flaming Fists who guided them through to the fortress and up to the tallest tower in the Keep where they saw the man they had met earlier in the wide, UlderRavengard, gazing out into the city’s harbour. Motioning them to come over to him and look out of the window too, he began to explain that the Flaming Fist were originally hired to help defend the city from external forces but quickly realized they were needed within too and were “the cure to the disease of Baldur’s Gate,” explaining that the slums and ghettos were full of crime, all led by an organization known as “The Guild”. He explained that Duke Abdel Adrian had tried so hard for years to bridge the gap between the classes of Baldur’s Gate, only to be killed by one of the Guild’s assassins. His offer was simple, help rid the city of “the plague that is The Guild” and in return, the party would receive gold and positions of merit within the Flaming Fists which he added would “be beneficial in a number of ways around the city.”

The Paladin and Cleric were more than happy to work with the Flaming Fists, but after a brief discussion amongst themselves, they decided that they would see what the shadowy figure had to offer first. Taking their leave of Ulder, they made their way to Little Calimshan.

It took a few moments once having entered the area for the groups Rogue to spot a similar shadowy figure motioning subtly to them to follow, but not too close. The group obeyed and were led up onto the walls of the enclave, criss-crossing a number of streets before finally dropping down into some form of courtyard where the shadowy figure drew a key and unlocked a door to the building at the end of the courtyard, spilling a warm light out into the yard. The figure motioned the party inside.

Upon stepping over the threshold they immediately saw a number of cushions on the floor and many fabrics adorning the walls, draped from the centre of the ceiling given the impression that they were inside a tent. On one of the cushions was a man wearing a brightly coloured turban. The shadowy figured took a seat next to him as the man poured tea for everyone and motioned for them all to take a seat too. The figure pulled back his hood and removed his beard to reveal that he was in fact, a woman.

The woman introduced herself as RilsaRael, a member of the group known as The Guild. The party remained silent, though given the description they had heard of the organization earlier, the Paladin and the Cleric seemed a little on edge. Rilsa then proceeded to tell the group about the Guild, emphasising that really, they’re the only group “fighting for the poor” now that Abdel Adrian was dead and suggested that he had in fact been cooperating with The Guild to help the poor and bring their standard of living up. It was their goal to take the wealth that had been “wrongly taken” from the poor and give it back to them. She suggested that this was as a result of the “unjust and corrupt bunch of thieves that are the Flaming Fists, one in particular springs to mind. Basilisk. The dwarf you no doubt ran into on your way here as you passed through the city gate. If you were paying close enough attention you may have seen him pocketing small valuables and even charging extortionate tolls to take his own cut.” Rilsa was clearly disgusted by this hideous abuse of power.

Something stirred within the party as they almost immediately offered to help out with the dwarf, thus making their decision for them – they were going to be working with The Guild.

Realizing this, Rilsa suggested that the best thing to do would be to rob Basilisk, so that the stolen gold could be redistributed amongst the people. Though she stressed that she didn’t want him killed as that would only serve to fuel the “war” going on between The Guild and the Flaming Fists and more bad press is the last thing they need.

Rilsa also added that in an effort to protect the identities of the group, they should wear masks and dark hooded cloaks, lest they get captured or recognized.

As proof of the party’s commitment to their cause however, Rilsa asked them a favour. “In the Founder’s Day massacre, a citizen of the Outer City, was killed leaving behind his two daughters. As it would happen, his sister-in-law, the Lady Nidris and her son Zan are visiting from Neverwinter to get away from the aftermath of the storms they endured recently and because of her brother-in-laws death, she has had to stay a while longer but is now ready to leave. We have tried to give the daughters aid towards any funeral arrangements and to pay for anything they need for their house but Lady Nidris has made them refuse every offer. However, she is leaving today and I want to ensure that she gets out of the city safely. I don’t trust the guards. I am charging you with the responsibility of making sure she gets out with all of her belongings and her son with as little trouble as possible. You’ll find her at Mahoud’shouse a few streets from here.”

The group left and made their way there, seeing Lady Nidris and her son readying crates to leave the city as a guard patrol arrived just before the party got there. The leader began arguing with Nidris, demanding she submit to a search while one of the soldiers pulled her son off of the crate he was sitting on and threw him to the ground. The boy retaliated by picking himself up and trying to hit the soldier, but was pushed to the ground again and the soldier raised his hand to punish the boy. At this point, one of Nidris’ companions punched one of the soldiers in the face, causing the soldiers to draw arms and take up positions surrounding Nidris’ small company.

The party arrived to intervene, drawing the attention of the soldiers with one of them charging straight for the Rogue who led the party into the compound while the others rallied around the Sergeant, bows at the ready. The soldier that charged with Rogue drew his sword and struck her in the midriff whilst the soldiers with their bows drawn let loose a shower of arrows upon the remainder of the party. The groups on Ranger meanwhile mounted one of the surrounding walls to get a better view of the Sergeant and let an arrow go towards the man in question, hitting the spot just beneath his collar bone. In reaction to this, he grabbed LadyNidris to use her as a shield.

The Wizard in the group made his way around the side of the ranks of “archers” and unleashed a wave of thunder at them sending them flying and dispatchinga couple of them.

The Rogue was struck once again, this time knocking her unconscious and were it not for the quick thinking of the Cleric, the Rogue may have lost her life. Seeing the Rogue down on the ground, the Sergeant grew over confident, throwing the make-shift cover that was Lady Nidris away before making his way forwards towards the party but was quickly stopped in his stride by another well placed arrow from the Ranger. This finally drew the attention of the soldiers armed with bows, as they released a flurry of arrows towards her, each one missing the nimble elf.

Once the number soldiers had fallen below half, the remainder yielded to the group, scurrying off and swearing that they would make sure that Lady Nidris and her party were left alone to exit the city.

This is where we ended our session. It took a good hour and a bit before the party found themselves in any form of combat and there had been some great interaction between the players – two of which were new to D&D Next, the others veterans from other seasons. I think the players certainly enjoyed themselves and it is already apparent to them that there are a lot of things in play here in Baldur’s Gate.

 The Lady Nidris encounter was actually an extra encounter suggestion from the WotC forums and it worked quite well and I felt comfortable enough to drop it in to enhance the session, which ran the full 2 hour slot we play in.

 On the whole, I think I managed to pull it off with only minor pauses to read thanks to the minimal amount of prep I could do, though hopefully, this is something Wizards of the Coast should have the foresight to rectify with future seasons.

 It’s certainly interesting to see that both tables picked the same meetings and the same side to work for. We’ll see how that plays out going forwards as there are some great ideas knocking about to enhance our players experience of the season in addition to the already free-flowing nature of this adventure.

4 Responses to “D&D Enc Murder in Baldur’s Gate – Session 1”

  1. I really like the cutaway design of the building illustrations.

    My group only met with Silvershield, then got a bit confused (in character) with the lack of any solid information they could find when following the leads he gave. We didn’t have any combat – I basically narrated a bar brawl they ended up on the periphery of – but the players had fun, I think, despite the change of pace from previous encounters seasons.

  2. Other than mis-spelling Broom, very good so far. We enjoyed “persuading” the thug.

  3. Richard Says:

    Very nice write up, it gives a very good idea of exactly what happened, warts and all. I look forward to the next encounter :D

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