D&D Encounters – Storm Kings Thunder – Arrival in Nightstone

14064236_10209789776363134_3461628604885620888_nFinally escaping the mists of Barovia I find myself not only transported back the Forgotten Realms but also back into the DM’s chair as we start the new story arc “Storm King’s Thunder” this week.

Down at Tabletop Tyrants we were planning on having 3 tables (2 for SKT while Jon’s table continued their adventures in Barovia), however after running a DM session 0 last week and a couple of players having to drop out due to work and other commitments we just have the 2 tables of SKT.

My table consists of:-

  • Jon – “dragonborn” warlock (his race is in question as he’s a master of disguise).
  • Liam – dragonborn paladin
  • Daniel – human fighter/cleric
  • Sarah – tiefling rogue
  • Jack – tiefling warlock
  • Lee – goliath fighter

Jon, Liam and Daniel all had DM rewards that meant their pc’s began higher than 1st level, while Jack brought an Adventurers League pc that was already level 2, the rest were level 1’s so a reasonable mix.

The heroes began a journey south from Waterdeep to Nightstone where they were looking to find work as guides/guards for the noble hunting parties that frequented the town. Travelling down the high road they reached the junction that would lead off to Nightstone they found the signpost damaged, even though they attempted to repair it they didn’t stop to investigate how it had been done and continued on to Nightstone.

Shortly after turning inland from the coast road they spotted a lone figure loping along on what seemed to be on a path that would intercept their own. Eventually they meet the individual who looks like some sort of woodsman, he introduces himself as Dendar, a ranger, and asks a favour of the party. He has an urgent meeting to get too but needs a package delivering to his friend Darthag who ran the Lionshield Trading Coster in Nightstone. The party is willing dependant upon what the package is so he opens it to show its a simple loaf of elven bread, so they agree and they each go on their way once more.

As they approach the town the church bell is ringing and the town appears abandoned. Entering over the drawbridge they find a pair of worgs in the town square and quickly despatch them. Daniel is eager to see why the bell is ringing but the majority want to deliver the package and hopefully get some answers at the Trading Coster. The place has been ransacked but they find a goblin within ramming things into a sack. Startled he attacks but stands little chance. With no sign of Darthag they head to the church with the fighter/cleric.

Most of the party simply relax on the wooden pews while the cleric, paladin and rogue advance into the rear of the church finding a pair of goblins playing on the bell rope. The first dies quickly but the second cowers in fear. When questioned he reveals that the goblins came to town to find it empty so were just helping themselves, when asked how many of them there were he said lots. The paladin thought they wouldn’t get anything more from the goblin so ran him through – but it didn’t kill the little beast and it gave out a wail, thankfully silenced by a blow by the cleric.

The party decide to head through the town to the keep in search of answers but as they walk down they divert to the windmill, curious as to why it’s still in apparent operation. As the cleric enters he sees the mill stone is still working, powered by  the vanes, but suddenly an arrow strikes from the darkened rafters above. Jon’s warlock makes himself look like the goblin from the church and convinces the pair of goblins within that the heroes will let them go if they just leave now (and since only their first lucky shot actually hit they are eager to agree). Once the goblins have descended to ground level they also convince them to go and tell the rest of their band to leave also, which they seem happy to do.

With the goblins trotting off the heroes turn once more toward the keep but the rogue spots something amiss in the pumpkin field. They investigate and find a pair of goblins wearing pumpkins on their heads (without cutting vision holes) playing hide and seek. However they both seem to have decided to hide with no-one seeking. The heroes again manage to convince them that it’s in their best interest to leave after gaining a little more information about where the goblins were from (caves to the north).

Reaching the bridge that leads to the keep they find it broken, a gap their reluctant to try leaping, but they recall seeing a couple of grappling hooks in the Trading Coster so head back there. As they come back out of the Coster all the remaining goblins seem to have found a little back bone and are waiting outside for them. However, Jon creates an illusion of a third dragonborn warrior rippling with muscles, which seems to tip the balance and the goblins scurry off. The heroes decide that it’s probably best to close the drawbridge once they’ve gone, just in case.

Returning to the bridge they use their ropes and grappling hooks to make a crude crossing and despite the tiefling warlock falling into the water below eventually all make it in to the keep. More signs of boulder damage await them as well as a quartet of town guards protecting the mortal remains of Lady Nandar. After talking to the guards they discover the town was attacked by giants in a floating castle that bombarded the town with the boulders before some of them descended and tore the Nightstone from the town square, taking back to their cloud castle and then going back to the east. The guards tell them that many of the villagers fled, probably to a series  of caves to the north, and that Lady Nandar was killed during the bombardment. The heroes agree to help the guards lay her remains to rest in the family crypt near the church.

While the guards try and mount some semblance of a watch the heroes retire to whats left of the inn, finding it damaged and a goblin with a bolt in its back. Investigating the rest of the inn they find a human woman named Kella that claims she was knocked out during the giant attack and woke to see the goblin so shot it then hid. The party seems to believe her.

Their rest is short-lived though as a guard rushes in to tell them a group of riders had approached the drawbridge. As the party investigate they see 7 riders, and their leader seems to have a winged snake on his shoulder. Many of the heroes recognise this as a symbol of the Zhentarim. They ask to be let in as they have come to offer the town their services in its defence and rebuilding. The paladin and cleric seem set against it but then decide to let them in (telling their companions they intend to lead them to the keep bridge if Jon’s warlock will use illusion to make it appear solid).

The Zhents come in and stable their horses, then head south with the party. But before they get to the bridge their leader calls a halt, tipped off by some sixth sense perhaps. The cleric in the meantime has stayed behind and has taken their horses from the stable and tried to hide them behind the small graveyard. the Zhent leader receives another of the flying snakes, which appears to have a note attached to it, telling him of the horse theft. And they begin heading back north.

The cleric meanwhile is struck by a crossbow bolt from the direction of the inn but can’t see who fired it. As the Zhents and the rest of the party arrive, he spots Kella running along the side of the inn and tries to rugby tackle her only to find as he dives at her that she was a mere illusion as the real Kella nimbly leaps down from the damaged upper floor of the inn.

The Zhents calmly agree that if the party don’t want them here then they’ll leave without further incident and are escorted back out of town and ride into the dark night.

The guards resume their watch and the heroes return to the inn.

Next morning the heroes awake. As they begin to move around they realise they can’t see any of the guards and begin to search for them in earnest. They finally find one laying on the north palisade, a broken arrow shaft sticking out of their neck. First thoughts are the Zhents but they remember that they were armed with crossbows, not bows, though the goblins did have bows…..

They don’t have the opportunity to ponder further as they notice 2 groups of figures approaching from the north at a running pace. Both groups appear to be almost a dozen orcs, while one is heading straight at the towns northern wall (where the heroes currently stand), the other is veering off and heading down the side of the town, perhaps towards the drawbridge area.

And that was where we left it for this week. Some excellent roleplaying from all involved and innovative ways to avoid combat situations so far. Though I wonder how effective those will remain to be once facing less weak-minded foes.

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