Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Howl From the South: A Lucrative Interlude

Welcome back fans of Greyhawk, today is the thirteenth installment of my ongoing 5E Hold of Sea Princes reboot of the 2E modules Five Shall Be One and Howl From the North, set in the south seas. What sort of high adventure will the crew of the Envy get into this week? Note, don't worry about spoilers, we've gone so far off script from the original adventure that any resemblance to the module HFtN is fleeting.

Dramatis personae:

Sabriel Loreweaver (fleecing first mate, human bard)
Tyrrus Bandale (burrowing bosun, human fighter)
Ostyn (digging deckhand, human fighter)

and Lash Driftwood (quarrying quartermaster, sea elf ranger)

When last we saw the crew they had been spending a couple months in the city of Port Toli training at the swordsman school, the Sanctuary of the Sword Saint. Not all this time was spent in weapon-play and study however. For a handful of the Envy crew, one of those weeks turned out to be a quite lucrative venture...

Tyrrus was sparring with another student one morning, his great sword easily parrying and disarming his lanky foe. The session finished, he was met by a courier, a small kid, who presented the warrior with a letter and then ran off from sight. Tyrrus frowned, it was a ransom note:

"We have your half elf friend. Bring 500 gold admirals to Lion Street tonight or else."

Tyrrus brought the note to Sabriel's attention next, she had been sparring too and had a throng of admirers, not only since she bore the magical rapier Dreamsinger but also she was a rare female student. They then found Ostyn and Lash about the school. All agreed Mallon wasn't their friend per se and none wanted to or had the money to spare for a ransom which was evidently a common practice in this wild and turbulent city. Ostyn then reminded the rest that he had the same black spot as them and was at least bound to them by fate. Grumbling, they devised a plan and indeed showed up at Lion Street after dark.

Lion Street was in the most run-down part of Port Toli. Half the buildings were abandoned or lived in by beggars. The four had reason to worry about this ransom arrangement so Sabriel calmed Ogie the ogre into leaving the pinnace to provide them backup. Tyrrus carried a sack full of coins as they wandered down the dark lonely avenue while Lash the archer scouted ahead invisibly with the power of his long sword Stalker. A street urchin appeared from an alley and pointed at a three story row house whose windows were mostly boarded up yet the front entrance was ajar. The kid ran away and Lash and the rest went into the building carefully, leaving Ogie and Ostyn in the rear guard. The first floor of the building was an abandoned shop of some sort, empty shelves and tables lie covered in tarps and only Ostyn noted the several sets of footprints disturbing the dust here; one slight enough to be a half-elf perhaps...

Still unseen by even his own compatriots, Lash forged on toward the staircase and spotted a discarded smoking pipe, perhaps a clue to what the building once sold, but Lash did not see a trip wire connected a shelf nearby. His ankle pulled on the line causing a shelf to teeter over at him. Tyrrus did see the trap however and with a mighty palm darted up to stop the object from crashing. The rest followed on inside the room and they stealthily climbed the creaky stairs with Sabriel making more noise than the bulky ogre. At the second landing they saw dusty apartments but more noticeable, a freshly painted arrow on the wall pointing up to the third floor. Tyrrus then saw Mallon's distinctive robes hanging on the banister. Lash continued on unseen and nearly bumped into a man who then came around the corner to look down on the party standing in the confined stairwell. Two crossbowmen from the second floor came out of hiding to trap them. They all wore black leather and scarves over their face. The negotiator raised a hand for them to halt and asked two things of them, the money and to see their palms. 

Tyrrus dropped the laden bag of coins on the step then they all looked at one another troubled as to why he would want to see their black spots. They all obliged, raising their hands to show the cursed spot they shared with Mallon, even Ogie who didn't have one on his palm. Lash meanwhile slipped by the negotiator carefully behind him and started to take out his long bow. In the hallway with the man was a dwarf holding the tied and gagged mage and a third crossbowman. The man then barked at one of his comrades to get the money, nervously one edged around the ogre who was confused and mad. Ostyn approached the speaker and angrily started asking his own questions with Sabriel trying to assist in the intimidation. The man would have none of it though, he was a professional ransomer and why he needed to see their spots was his own business. Lash knocked an arrow and pointed it at the dwarf who was called Coldsteel and pushed Mallon ahead to make the exchange. The crossbowman kneeled by Tyrrus and looked in the sack and yelled, "IT'S COPPER!" That is when weapons came out and an arrow brushed by the dwarf's beard into view, striking a wall. 

Ostyn's hammer and blade swung out buffeting the negotiator back as he drew his weapon in defense. Sabriel gave Tyrrus a rousing cheer to inspire him and sent Dreamsinger stabbing the man holding the copper into a fetal position. Bolts fired out striking Ogie who growled and turned around. The dwarf didn't see the sniper he yelled out for, but did angrily go after Ostyn who carried a dwarven warhammer. The dual-wielding pirate easily parried his ax and the leader's blade, then stepped aside as Tyrrus surged up the stairs to hack and knock back the negotiator. Lash became visible then and flung two arrows into the back of Coldsteel (whose axe got lodged into the wall on his backswing), sending the dwarf tumbling down the stairs onto Mallon who tried to run away from the fight. Ogie was hammering on a crossbowman while Sabriel aided her friend and cut down the kidnapper. Seeing the fight lost the last man tried to run but Tyrrus chased him down and cleaved him from shoulder to hip. The messy business over, they helped up Mallon and searched the ransomers. Besides their meager loot, there was a few illicit items including a love letter to the Princess Consort of Port Toli, a little black book of ransom targets and Coldsteel's deed to a mine in Hokar.

Returning Mallon and Ogie back to the Envy, the quartet discussed the mine with extreme interest. They had nearly depleted their fortune from adventuring and even their profit from the Sea Hag's crabbing ventures wasn't helping. Hokar was a couple days ride inland from Toli, so it was decided they would take a break from training to look into this claim. Arriving in the crossroads mining town of Hokar at the foothills of the Kamph Mountains, the four first sought out the mine itself, it was abandoned and warning signs were up. Lash the ranger spoke with the birds in the area and found humans used them to go down in the mines long ago but none of their winged kin ever came out. Poisonous gas. Fortunately some of Drawmij's items from the sahuagin raid came in handy in investigating the mine. Collecting bits of ore left about in carts and on the ground near lost pick axes and on the bodies of ten skeletal miners, they quickly and excitedly discovered it was a gem mine. Furthermore, if their appraisal was correct, they learned it might be a rare ruby mine!

Leaving the mine, they headed down into Hokar to consult the mining guild and register the claim. To their surprise, the exact mine had been simultaneously sold to multiple owners. It was going to be hard to hold the claim against other deeds, and as Ostyn reminded them, the black spots forced them to continue with a quest not start a mining operation. The resourceful four put their heads and diplomatic minds together to begin a risky and possibly questionable business. They sold a wand in the city for money to discreetly hire a necromancer from the local gravedigger's union. Sabriel's sob story of losing her whole family in a mining accident plus a generous bit of hush money, roused the old forlorn man into helping them animate the bones of the miners into performing the same deeds they did in life: mine and load ore. Meanwhile the rest of their gold was used to hire a couple living foremen brave enough to oversee the operation while they returned to Port Toli. Upon returning to the port, they sought out their former crewmates from the Sea Hag, Wild Will and Big Bridget. Hiring them away from the crabbing operation they were sent to Hokar to be the guards for their new mine. With a month left to train, the diversified swordsmen/businessmen also had an invite to a birthday party for the Prince of Port Toli to worry about. Sabriel in particular seemed excited to attend for she had a certain love letter someone at that party would pay to nicely to have.

To be continued...

Campaign notes: With two players out, this was a crazy out of continuity session that fit in ahead of the previous one. I had intended for them to find a mine to use later in their career but was pleasantly surprised the players checked on it immediately. After an amazing run of good rolls and a whole lot of weaseling, the group's low morals have potentially paid off. It was one of those old school game nights where the randomness of "downtime" activity was more fun than the quest itself. I was also pleased because it was a return for my players to Hokar which we developed on our own before starting this current campaign. "The Mines of Hokar 2" might have to be my follow up quest after the Blades of Corusk. Now to research some mining rules...

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