D&D Enc Murder in Baldur’s Gate – Session 2
Once again this week at Tabletop Tyrants we had 2 full tables of 5 players and both Liam and myself DMing using the D&DNext playtest rules and had agreed to try running without the aid of battlemaps this week.
We decided to keep to the same tables so as to avoid any confusions, so my players were
- Adam – Half-orc Barbarian
- Hannah – Half-orc Fighter
- Richard – Halfling Rogue
- Vipin – Halfling Cleric
- Shane – Human fighter
After a quick recap of the last session we pick up the tale as the heroes head to ambush the corrupt tax collector, Nant Thangol.
Having made sure no more of the would be attackers were in the vicinity, the party made their way back through the darkened streets of the Outer City towards the Basilisk Gate. As they arrive they see that the gate is closed, Adam throws his grappling hook and rope up onto the city wall and Vipin proceeds to climb up, as his head clears the parapet he meets a loaded crossbow as a trio of Fists stand over him. They quickly convince him to retreat and once down, toss the hook back over the wall with a laugh. Knowing they need to get inside the Lower City to intercept the tax collector they look for any nearby sewer entrance, finally noticing a nearby tannery whose sluice emptied into a large grate. The half-orcs try to pull the grate free but it holds fast, then Richard notices a small padlock under all the grime and easily unlocks it before lifting the grate with a cheeky smile at his larger companions.
Descending into the sewer pipe, Vipin lights a torch and passes it to Shane, the level of “fluid” reaching high onto Vipin and Adam’s chests (though only upper legs of the others). Getting their bearings they follow the tunnel to lead under the wall to where it joins more pipes which should eventually empty out into the harbour. With Shane and Vipin leading the way they suddenly call a halt as something can be seen swimming upstream towards them. Taking no chances Vipin casts a Sacred Flame at it. The magical fire narrowly misses, causing a hiss as it strikes the surface of the fluid in front of the creature, which gives a loud squeak before turning and swimming swiftly the other way.
Coming to a junction the party decide to take the right hand tunnel with a lower water level, rather than the steeper sloping left hand tunnel. As they advance along Shane fails to notice a hidden trip wire and a hidden little catapult hurls a handful of shards of bone, crockery and glass at himself and Vipin. The nimble cleric dives aside but the fighter takes several gashes, running the risk of infection in the soiled effluent. Moving ahead the tunnel opens into chamber where it meets with several others. In the centre is a deeper pool of liquid with a mound of refuse piled in the middle, lie an island. Adam notices a small, reptilian figure duck beneath the surface and instinctively throws a javelin. Neatly skewering his target it floats lifeless to the surface as several more appear from the other entrances, dressed in rags and wielding impromptu weapons. The heroes recognise them as kobolds, and realise they must have set the earlier trap. The ensuing fight is brutally one-sided, and as the heroes recover their ammunition Richard notices something glinting amid the refuse in the centre. On investigation he finds a dagger with silver blade and hilt, as if made of a single piece, shiny and untarnished by the surrounding filth. While the wily rogue rejoins the group they notice a set of rungs in the wall of the tunnels. Investigating reveals a grate at street level and the party climb up and out.
They make their way through the dark and misty streets of the Lower City to the narrow street which Rael suggested as the best ambush point on Thangol’s route and took up positions, with Vipin laying in the street having scattered a few coins on the floor beside him. Shortly a group approaches, Thangol accompanied by a pair of Fists, a Flame and a lamplad leading the way. Hannah javelins the first Fist as he investigates Vipin’s prone form, almost dropping the soldier in one. Richard, safely concealed on a rooftop, shoots the lamp out of the lad’s hand, plunging the street into darkness – not a problem for the Half-orcs who close on the group. Shane uses his sling to target Thangol as he clung tightly to the chest containing the collected taxes. Vipin meanwhile has climbed back to his feet and tries to convince the soldiers to arrest the dwarf for fraud, only to find the Flame trying to take his head off with his blade.
With the advantage of the darkness the party is able to overcome the soldiers enough to allow Adam to grab the chest and run down the street, swiftly followed by Shane and Hannah. Richard having taken a last shot at Thangol drops the dwarf to the floor, but as they don’t want to kill them Vipin uses a Spare the Dying prayer to ensure the dwarf will survive. Unfortunately this leaves him open and the Flame brings the flat of his blade down hard on the halfling, knocking him unconscious.
The remaining heroes flee into the darkened streets as FIst reinforcements arrive and Vipin is taken away. They make their way to the dockside area and Richard spots a small drinking house that appears to have a subtle thieves sigil for “safe place” and they enter. The small and dirty room goes quiet as they enter and they approach the barman, the rogue makes subtle references to the task they have done and who for. The barman recognises the chest and Richard’s inferences and invites them to the private room in the back. As they enter they see a trio of burly thugs wielding clubs but the barman quickly calms things saying “these are the ones Rael said to look out for” and offers the party the room for the night so that they can take the chest to Rael in the morning, evening arranging to “borrow” a nightsoil cart to hide the chest in to aid the party.
Next morning the party hide the chest under the nightsoil and proceed to head back out the Basilisk Gate, paying the 2 copper pieces each toll without incident and taking the cart back to Rael’s Calim Jewel Emporium as instructed. As they enter she motions for them to join her and instructs Musayed to bring rosewater so that the party can “clean up”. She takes the tax chest and assures the party that it will be given “to those that need it” and rewards them with a purse of 200 silver pieces. She thanks them for their help and assures them that she or her agents will be in touch with more work shortly. Taking their cue the party leave and retire to one of the many street cafe’s for a hearty breakfast.
Meanwhile Vipin awakens to find himself hanging from manacles in a cell. A small barred window lets in the sea breeze and sounds of waves outside. He calls for the guards and demands to speak to Blaze Ravengard, one of the guards yells back that Ravengard will be coming to see him soon. A few hours later, as the first rays of sunlight seep into the cell a pair of Fist’s enter. One unlocks the restraint and although still manacled, Vipin drops to the cell floor, before being led to a chamber with a table and pair of chairs. Moments later Ulder Ravengard storms in, planting his helm on the table and looming over the seated halfling. He demands to know what involvement he had in the ambush of his men and Thangol. Vipin explains that he was trying to get Thangol arrested for fraud as he’d found the dwarf was over taxing and skimming the coins. Ulder calms a little as he explains that due to Vipin’s claims his men investigated Thangol’s home finding more evidence to substantiate the claims. Incensed he explains that although his men guard and patrol the Lower City, the tax collectors are civil employees, answerable to the Parliament of Peers and the four Dukes, with this information Ulder intended to confront the Parliament and demand the collection of taxes be tasked to his men alone.
He thanks Vipin for bringing this to his attention, and returns his equipment to him, once again offering Fist membership to assist in the duties he has asked the heroes perform. Vipin accepts and pins his new Flaming Fist brooch on the inside of his cloak. Taking his leave he realises he had been held in the Seatower of Balduran and makes his way towards Little Calimsham – as he passed through Basilisk Gate he produces his brooch and the Fist’s manning the gate let him through.
Rejoining his comrades they catch each other up on what had happened so far. With the task Ravengard had given them they decided that as one of the gambling dens was nearby they would tackle it first. As they approached the Oasis they were surprised to see that rather than a traditional building it was a large, brightly coloured tent. A guard stood at the entrance, his muscled torso glistening with from the oils it had been coated with. With a beaming smile he held the entrance open for them and they caught the flash of several gold teeth as he did so. Inside the central area was heavy with smoke, scented with dubious contents, several areas around the edge were separated by hanging curtains for privacy and most were occupied by one or more person smoking hookah’s and adding to the haze within.
“Aha, welcome my new friends!” called a jolly high-pitched voice as a figure approached. The man was short and almost as round as he was tall, his ruddy cheeks caked in white makeup, though his profuse sweating was causing this to streak giving him a bizarre striped face. “I am Ibin, welcome to the Oasis, my humble establishment. Please take a seat and let us take the cares of the day away” he said as he led the party to one of the few empty alcoves.
The party enquired as to what services were available and he told them quite openly that he was able to supply relaxing pipeweed, fine wines and foods and entertainment for his clientelle. Vipin asked about gambling and Ibin casually passed it off “a few gentlemanly wagers for fun”, the halfling cleric offered a simple coin toss wager putting his hand axe up against Ibin’s 2 copper pieces. Ibin happily tosses a coin as Vipin calls “heads” and indeed it comes up heads and hands over his coins with a smile asking “double or nothing?”. The halfling announces he’s sorry but we’re here to shut you down, to which Ibin responds “ah, I’m sorry I’ve obviously been remiss in my tenday fees. Please, take this to your superiors” as he emptied a purse onto the table, a collection of coins and small gems tumbling out. Richard tries to make a grab for them but Adam’s meaty half-orc paw gets there first. Even as the last coin is pocketed Vipin leans forward and flashes his brooch, telling Ibin that he is mistaken and produces one of the seizure notices Ravengard gave them. Looking crestfallen Ibin asks if he may be given a moment to collect his things before they put him out on the street. The party agree as long as they can watch to make sure nothing untoward is taken.
Moments later, his door guard laden with boxes of clothing and personal belongings, and his former patrons leading the way, Ibin stands in the street as Vipin nails the seizure and closure notice what was once the central support of the now taken down tent. The crowd of bystanders that has gathered glares angrily but as Ibin and his workers melt into the crowd they disperse and go about their business.
The party begin heading back towards the Lower City and their next appointment at the Low Lantern, though many of them feel a touch of regret and shame at their actions.
This was another great session and took a little over the 2 hours we planned but it was worth it. To have the players actually say at the end that the felt horrible at doing that to Ibin made me feel I had portrayed him correctly. A simple man trying to make a living making others lives a little better.
The encounter with the gate and sewers came about from reading the campaign guide as it mentions the gates closing at dusk (but doesn’t say if it’s all gates or just Upper City) I decided with the incident in the Wide security had been tightened. I chose to put kobolds in the sewer as most of the upcoming encounters will be with more human opposition.
I was amazed when the rest of the party left Vipin for dead in the ambush but it played out quite nicely. I can see working for both the Fist and the Guild is going to cause issues for party members both internally as well as externally.
The way the adventure flows and isn’t limited to “this must happen on week 1, this on week 2” is good and allows us as DM’s to create a more “traditional” adventure feel – definitely a step in the right direction for Encounters. Even if it means more preparation on behalf of the DM, I think it makes for a better gaming experience for all involved.
This week saw a full complement of players at Table 2 once again with our party consisting of:
Tilly – Elf Ranger
Jodie – Elf Rogue
Glenn – Human Wizard
Sunyi – Human Cleric
Tan – Half-Elf Paladin
Having decided it would be a good idea to allow the party a brief respite to put them in at a time of day that made sense for what Mik and I had planned for the tables this week, I allowed the party a full rest in the company of Rilsa Rael following the defense and escort of Lady Nidris out of the city, where we pick up the tale of our heroes.
Rael entered the room once again carrying a bundle of dark cloaks and a pile of masks the party required to conceal their identity for the deed they were about to carry out. Dusk had arrived, and the skies outside were getting darker by the second. Rael thanked the party for all they had done so far but not without some bad news first. She informed the group that the gates to the inner city were closed at dusk for the security and safety of Baldur’s Gate. Security has also been stepped up since the assassination of Duke Abdel Adrian.
“The good news, however, is that I know of a few ways into the city. The nearest and most direct route is not far from the Basilisk’s gate and should bring you out not far from his home, or at least certainly on his way there,” she paused for a moment, looking at the faces of the party whom she was about to ask another favour, “but unfortunately, it’s not so easy. This particular route is one we use a lot but lately, we’ve had to stop using it after a number of our people were injured and some killed by something that’s taken up residence there. If you could take care of that, I would be eternally grateful and allow you use of this route to get you in and out of the city whenever you may need as repayment.”
The party agreed and donning their cloaks and masks in preparation, they followed Rael to what looked to be a cave entrance. As they stood, looking into the dark hole that seemed to slope down into further darkness, rain began to fall, dampening their already heavy cloaks. Rael pointed out that she must leave them now to take care of Guild business and that they should report back to her once they had completed their task with Nant Thangol.
The party made their way down the slope, made slippery by the rain which in turn caused the Paladin and the Cleric to slip and tumble the 30 feet down to the level, sludge covered ground below in almost complete darkness. The rest of the party made their way down without error, to find the two tangled up in one another. Once they were back on the feet, the Cleric cast light on the Paladin’s shield, instantly lighting up the cave. The oddly humid air of the cave was filled with a thick stench that smelt like rotting flesh mixed with a musty, earth smell. The smell was that thick they could taste it.
They pressed forward for quite a way, finding the sludge-thick ground hard to move through, slowing their progress considerably before arriving at a crossroads within the cave. To the right, they could see a faint blue-green glow but nothing but further darkness to the left and dead ahead. They opted to investigate the glow only to find a room filled with large mushrooms that were giving off this glow. A decaying body, with a sword thrust through its chest lay on the ground in the centre of the room, its own hands clasped around the hilt of the weapon. The Paladin and Rogue saw it look up at them as they investigated and a number of hands reach out of the ground around them and start grabbing at them, their screams of terror rattling around the cavern they were in. The rest of the party looked bemused. All they could see was the body lying there in the same position it was in. No hands coming out of the ground, nothing.
The Rogue and the Paladin’s eyes widened as the mushrooms around them seemed to open mouths of razor sharp teeth. The Mage correctly identified that the mushrooms themselves were giving off some kind of spore that must have been hallucinogenic and that their party members had fallen victim to this.
Without disturbing the mushrooms further, the Ranger gathered the two and dragged them and their screams back out to the crossroads before they caused themselves serious damage and to ensure they didn’t cause the party any serious damage, bound their hands with rope, which to the Rogue and Paladin looked like deadly, venomous snakes.
With their party together, the Cleric led the way to the left tunnel, dragging the two hallucinating party members with him quite a way down before feeling himself trip on something, sending arrows laced with the spores at the party with all but the unfortunate Paladin getting hit by them, making his hallucinations worse – his ropes now appearing as a pygmy Hydra.
They pressed on, finally seeing what appeared to be part of the city’s sewer system which would lead them to where they needed to go, but an obstacle stood in their way. Six reptilian looking creatures, which to a majority of the party looked like were Kobold’s but to those under the influence of the mushrooms, the twin-horned monstrosities that are Tarrasques.
The group immediately set to work on the Kobolds as they started to move in on the party, quickly dispatching a number of them but one that held its ground at the back that kept throwing vials of liquid at the floor around him and one that he threw at the party which exploded into flames, it wasn’t easy. Eventually, during the fight, the Paladin and Rogue overcame their hallucinations and broke free of their bindings to join the fight, tipping the tide of the battle in their favour, but not before the Rogue missed the Kobold throwing the potions and hit the Cleric between the shoulder blades with a crossbow bolt taking him down to the ground and knocking him unconscious.
Once the fight was over, they helped the Cleric back up, with the Rogue apologizing profusely. Finding a ladder on the other side of the sewage filled canal passing through the middle of the cavern, they made their way back up and out into the dark night-time streets of Baldur’s Gate’s inner city, lying in wait for the Basilisk.