Previously On: D&D Tomb of Annihilation Session Zero

November 14, 2017

Cast of Characters
Charlie as Emerson, the High Elf Rogue: Highborn, Lowdown
Shiloh as Jax, the Half-Orc Barbarian: Will Muscle for Coin
Tim as Carvey the Dwarven Cleric: Swing Hard, Heal Harder
Michael as Fingulfin the Wood Elf Monk: Strike and Sweep in a Blink
Nate as Hunter the Ranger and later Terrence the Half Elf Druid: Stranger in a Strange Land (of Dinosaurs)
And introducing Clink the Halfling Fighter


This write up contains notes from two introductory sessions on Nov 6 and 13, as our new group of adventurers settles in. Characters may change over the course of the first several sessions. Also, the following Previously Ons for this campaign will contain spoilers for Tomb of Annihilation. If I deem these substantial, then you will be notified in greater detail.

 

 

The Coast Way to Baldur's Gate is usually a straightforward expedition for a caravan, but not tonight. Camping along the way, Hunter the Ranger kept first watch, but the lonely maidens of the country side and the mead from Candlekeep wore out his keen eyes. Hunter, his companions, and the merchants awoke stripped of most of their gear and bound behind sheared tree trunks. The acrid smell of goblin breath and the the low guttural speech woke them from dozed stupor. Fuzzy vision suggests head wounds and the bindings were a simple hemp rope that dug into their wrists. Goblins dined on their horses around a campfire and the caravan's (and adventurers') gear stood just faintly visible opposite a simple orcish tent.

Hunter, parched of throat, hollered at the patrolling orc, the apparent commander of the brigands. Gruffly, Gransk the Orc approached and reprimanded Hunter, who asked for drink. Gransk smiled, hollered for grog from the goblins, who passed it up to him. Gransk held Hunter's chin and forced him to drink to the point of choking from the wine skin, giving the goblins no small measure of pleasure.

The distraction gave his companions a slim opportunity to escape. Emerson swung his booted foot around to Carvey, who fished out the small blade and began cutting at their bindings. Shiloh and Fingulfin took a more... elevated route by climbing up the denuded tree trunk to the cut off base some twelve feet overhead. Despite their fun, the goblins took note and gathered their weapons hastily!

Emerson, with signature alacrity, ran to the stash of gear on the far side of the orc's tent and lobbed the menacing great axe to Carvey, who was able to make short work of one of the goblins. Emerson took a brutal slash as he wrested from his own shortsword to parry! Shiloh and Fingulfin stood precariously atop their tree trunk as goblins, teeth clenched around jagged obsidian daggers, climbed up after them. A kick to the head, unfortunately, is not enough to discourage a goblin. With kicks Shiloh sent one to the ground with a satisfying crunch while Fingulfin, now somewhat free of his bindings, leapt down, pulling the rope over the throat of the persistent goblin! The goblin's fingers scrabbled into the wood, but gave and the two fell with a hard, stunning thud.

Hunter, with Jax's aid, broke free of their bonds as the Gransk moved toward Emerson. Hunter dove for Gransk's legs, knocking them both to the ground in a tumble. Gransk retorted with a kick to Hunter's face as Jax circled and landed a kick Gransk's side. With a back tumble, Gransk stood with a chipped longsword in hand. Hunter was able to pull a dagger off of Gransk in the scramble, giving him some chance against the brute.

Carvey, greataxe held in his calloused Dwarven hands, cleanly mowed down one of the goblins as Emerson landed his own killing blow. Fingulfin tended to the merchants and recognized the mercantile livery of House Sylvane amongst the captured. Gransk, near the fire at the center of camp, grinned and swung at his prisoners, still confident he could subdue them. Their gear, after all, was worth as much as them. And now fewer shares for the goblins... He slashed out at Emerson and Jax, landing brutal blows against both of them.

Carvey moved toward his unarmed comrades and knocked Gransk to the ground in a brutal blow. As the goblins fell to Fingulfin and Emerson, Gransk's situation worsened. He struck, then ran. Hunter, bow returned by Emerson, took aim and fell Gransk, who was quickly held by Jax and bound. Fingulfin looked out to the field as Gransk chuckled. Gransk's band of orcs patrolled in the dark.

...

The orcs returned to a quiet camp. The merchants seemed bound and many of the goblins had fallen asleep near the fire, which had burned low. Gransk must be in the tent. Then, with uncanny speed, an arrow shot threw Bleekra's head, sending her braid spinning. Wergen's throat opened in a grim grin as a keen elvish blade moved along it. In a breath, one of the prisoners rose and swung his axe through Drogash's back, knocking him to the ground. Vrikka turned and ran, but a mound moved and tackled her to the ground and plunged a blade into her back. And a shadow, leaping from one of the binding trees fell on the last of them, Mliggrish, who having seen his allies fall around him, had no where to go as the staff struck him to the ground.

...

They traveled through the night, arriving at Baldur's Gate mid-morning. They towed by hand, the horse's becoming goblin feed, the goods they could manage. Aldrin, the half-elf page, spoke on their behalf to the armored guards who were happy to let them pass. The caravan, it appeared, was all under the banner of House Sylvane and Mistress Sylvane would be eager to welcome the adventurers to her home in the morrow. For now, there was proper rest to attend to, as well as a warm and uninterrupted meal.

...

[We return to a smaller group of our adventurers as they explore Baldur's Gate. They are briefly accompanied by Clink, the Halfling Fighter, wielding his sword-and-board combo, but of somewhat questionable moral standing. Hunter may return at a later date, but in the meantime Nate has switched to playing Terrence the Druid.]

Terrence, having traveled with the caravan, was eager to provide word of the brigands to the Emerald Enclave. A series of blue blossoms, that timidly grew even during Uktar in late Autumn, guided the way to one of the few copses of trees in the stone-clad city. Clink and Emerson followed alongside, seeing Baldur's Gate and working off their heavy meal after hard travel.

Terrence left a message in one of the old trees, a trimmed limb stump providing a warded cabinet for messages. Hunter was there, snoozing in the branches, while others of the Enclave spoke to Terrence of the Death Curse. For many druids, death is part of life, and the magic of revivification, well, perhaps it is part of a larger cycle. And now those that had been resurrected were wasting away. A novice of the Enclave, Cerise Strongbow, who had fallen in the hard country of Icewind Dale, was not able to be raised by the Temple of Lathander cleric at Bryn Shander. Most troubling, most troubling...

Emerson, having helped save the caravan but not yet reimbursed, was feeling a little light of purse. Scanning around, a noble in bloated, ceremonial armor caught his eye. Well, particularly the glimmer of his braided gold and silver chain caught his eye. His page followed with the day's shopping. Emerson blended into the crowd deftly to get close, but that page was a little too attentive for his liking. Clink, seeing the awkward spot of Emerson, scurried ahead to a minstrel in the crossing ahead. With some hand clapping and glee, Clink got the crowd rather excited for the song at hand, one of the bawdy tales of a noblewoman being wooed by an urchin with a heart of gold. With the page taken up by the tune, Emerson had his moment and liberated the chain from the noble, which was finely made indeed!

And now, for a drink.

The Hanging Knocker, with its loosely held ring doorknocker, was off the main road. A massive cookpot simmered low while they were served pewter mugs of ale, though Emerson insisted on mead. With news to discuss, coin (or near to it) in pocket, and wine in hand, they sat. With the second round, a blue-scaled Dragonborn approached, a long cloak wrapped around his banded armor.

A job. He had a job, if they were interested.

The Ocean's Rose was unloading crates the docks and could use some spare hands. With a writ of work, which this gentleman Thunderhead had, the guards would show them the way and the captain, a Dwarf named Nars Featherweight, would put them to work. Simply make an escape with the crate, they'll know it when they find it, and they'll make 50 gold a piece. Seemed fair to Clink and the others, and what harm would claiming a crate be?

Finish your drinks, there's coin to be made.

Three others were already working on the offloading, and with it being the early afternoon they'd missed some of the work as it was. A section of a dock warehouse had been set aside for their use. Captain Featherweight was eager to have them. After the first half hour, Emerson may have "inspected" one of the crates to find an array of potions within, but it was then that they spotted the crate embossed with a blue dragon's head, rather similar to Thunderhead himself. Inside was a set of scale mail, hardy and clean, if slightly worn. It too was ornamented with blue accents and dragon's scale. It was, for sure, worth a goodly sum more than 150 gold.

They attempted to conceal it in the back of the warehouse under a tarp, though Terrence claimed the belt, its buckle adorned with the stylized blue dragon's face.

Featherweight hemmed and hawed about the pay, providing only two gold a piece for the half-day of work. Of course, the three had another pay day in the works. But who was paying for what in this transaction?

---


At the Stormbreaker Tavern near the docks Emerson went asking about the blue dragon sigil. Terrence checked in with the Emerald Enclave, and Clink hit the streets. Turns out, according to the Stormbreaker barkeep, that a warrior named Uther Steelborne was known for wearing the sigil. A brave adventurer - and human - lived with his wife Annabelle, not far. With the belt in hand, they went to check in with Annabelle.

While at first hesitant to open the door to strangers, Annabelle was calmed by the belt in hand. The house, obviously having been in mourning, was dark with dust cloths over various bits of furniture. Several items had been pulled from drawers and shelves, leaving circles of dust. Uther, it seemed had fallen in combat in the north some four months ago. Uther had been known as a slayer of evil dragons, often seeking them in their lairs along the Northern Sword Coast. His sigil referred to the first he had claimed: Shinirilash, a great blue dragon that had violently accosted the Northlands for a decade. Annabelle had received word of it from Craggish, one of Uther's adventuring colleagues. A gift was en route, Annabelle had heard from Craggish, but had not yet arrived. Craggish hoped to bring it himself.

At that moment, a small scritching and scratching came to the door. Terrence rose and while the window showed no human outside, he opened the door. A doormouse came in, opened its mouth, and spoke in the familiar voice of a man, "Clerics at the Temple of Torm has taken in a gravely wounded cleric baring the symbol you've mentioned. You owe me a pitcher of mead for this favor, Terrence." The Enclave had come through after all!

The Temple of Torm was guarded, but they opened the doors with a hastily scribbled letter from Annabelle. Uther's belt still in hand, Craggish - a sturdy if beaten dwarf still mostly in armor - nearly leapt from the bed in which he was receiving care. The priests at hand steadied him as he spoke his tale, "I was coming off of the Ocean's Rose and sought a temple for meditation and a pint of ale. Happy to be on solid ground I moved too quickly. A half-dozen scamps jumped me at the mouth of an alleyway! They dragged me in and lifted my purse before I could raise my mace! It took no small amount of time, but they beat me hard. I hollered and prayed for aid, but the Scaleskin in the back had a scroll of Silence, so my prayers went unheard before I passed out. A blue scaleskin it was."

Thunderhead.

There was no time to waste! They ran back to the docks, Craggish trying against his healers to join the party despite his injuries, but Emerson, Terrence, and Clink moved quickly. At the docks, guards had already stepped aside to Thunderhead and his half dozen fellows. They had the paperwork, lifted from Craggish's purse, and thus had claim on the armor. Armor that Thunderhead planned to ransom back to Annabelle or destroy to spite the mission of her late husband. They came out, clustered together, crate in hand.

Terrence cast Entangle, wrapping most of their ankles in gnarled vines sprouted from the cobblestones of the dock and erupting from the worked wood of the warehouse, wrapping four of them - and Thunderhead - in place. "Get them, it must be the three from before!" Thunderhead shouted, but the adventurers were concealed in the shadows.

Emerson struck, a pair of arrows felling one of the thieves in the night. Clink leapt from the shadows in a whir of scimitar in the moonlight. His rival retorted, but Clink's shield provided ample protection. One of the thugs freed himself and dashed toward Clink, surrounding him. Clink held his ground, taking wounds as good as he got them, as Emerson and Terence attacked the bound targets from a distance. The writhing vines could not keep all of them, though Thunderhead's drive for the crate divided his attention and, thus, his efforts. As his swords for hire fell, one of the ran out into the night only to be stopped by the guards for questioning. He blasted Emerson and Clink with lightning breath before fleeing, drained.

But who was in the right? The Dragonborn had the paperwork but his assistants were more than a little suspicious? They held off, calling on a constable to resolve the issue. Thunderhead fled into the night, but no one outruns Emerson's arrows. Thunderhead fell and Clink was atop him in a moment.

In outrage Thunderhead spat out that Uther, the scoundrel, had ended Shinirilash, the matron of Thunderhead's line. Coin and shame to his widow and fellows was more than deserved! Uther fought cruelly and unfair, how else could he have defeated the powerful matron of his line?!

And the guards came after Clink ended Thunderhead. His fierce screams mixed with draconic curses echoing in the night.

Annabelle and Craggish were soon behind them. Strained but relieved, and after the long questioning of the constable, they guided the adventurers to the Steelborne home. There were rooms enough, once uncovered, and Annabelle was more than pleased to welcome them into her home. They had her Love's armor, which had kept him safe for so, so long. And, in a way, Annabelle felt like he was still out there, defending the lowly from the fierce and wretched, raising his shield against those who would do harm, because there were others out there, for whom he'd led the way.

 

Image Credit: Port Nyanzaru, Wizards of the Coast

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