The level 8 Rusted Silvers for this session
Dakeyras, wood elf rogue/Assassin;
Richlen, high elf paladin/Oath of Glory;
Garth, mountain dwarf fighter/Battle Master;
Vernon, human wizard/Conjurer
Randomly assisted by (in order of level): Taba, half-sea-elf ranger, Murcomb, half-orc barbarian, and Privates Jessup and Moxley
The Rusted Silvers begin 180xp below level 9 and end on 155
The story so far
Rega Swarn! The wily renegade, currently in the service of Ularan Mortus, is gone to West Harbor, seeking allies for her revenge mission. The Rusted Silvers have too few mounts to push on for the night. Instead, they decide to overnight at the Weeping Willow Inn despite not trusting the only two men there an inch. in Privates Jessup and Moxley share the sleeping-quarters loft with the adventurers. Guide Taba Norley, who is uncomfortable around too many people at once, stays down with the horses in the drafty stone undercroft.
Rich is finished his meditation and thinking of making himself as comfortable as the choice of under-stuffed pallet or bedroll on wooden boards allows. Beans, his horse, alerts him:
“Someone is watching us.”
Rich uses his mental connection to seek clarification. It seems that Taba has somehow told Beans that some third party is watching them from afar.
Rich has shed very little of his armor, what with their host and Thom being just downstairs, and now arms himself. Dak checks his equipment. The two elves sit patiently. Their two comrades waken in the pre-dawn quiet and seeing that something is up, arm themselves as well. The two Privates snore on.
“We are attacked!”
Rich rushes for the stair, which leads down past the long first-floor veranda to the ground. Peering about as best he can, he spots a dirty greenish cloud oozing from the undercroft, and a smallish prone humanoid near its outer edge. He finishes his run down there and hauls Taba clear. Taba’s pony Morlok escapes.
Rich wears Gauntlets that boost his STR to 19, so dragging smallish half-elves is pretty routine! An Athletics check just shows it was done quickly.
Dak does much the same, moving to the main stable stalls and niftily freeing the three mounts there. His mount, Nameless, is down. Beans guides Dornar free. Dak cuts around the smog and moves to peer out of a useful-size gap in the rotten stonework. Tracks of three humanoids: two webbed: to and fro, so no saying which side of the inn they are.
To quickly free the horses, Dak makes his second Sleight of Hand check in a small number of sessions!
Behind the scenes
Taba has cast Pass Without Trace to ensure the party aren’t easy to find. But the Talos cult has more than just a loose-beaked Kristoffen to all on! Koalinth druid Sian Azure uses Scry to search for the Silvers (their descriptions are out there since the Leilon raid) then Water Walking as she and her sergeant lead their drow assassin across the marsh. A Locate Object spell figures out where Taba is likely to be, then Stinking Cloud blankets the stables. Taba and Nameless miss their CON SV, and the assassin fires a paralyzing poison bolt into Taba as well. On the other hand, Taba made his Scry save so was able to use Speak with Animals to alert Beans, thus allowing the party to be well armored and still complete their Long Rest!
You came a long way to die
Dak’s ambush tactic pays off. While Garth and Rich try to work out where magical attacks and crossbow bolts are coming from (Vern goes down, paralyzed) the assassin crosses Dak’s hide. Sneak attack slams a longbow shaft into the cloaked drow – who returns the favor but misses – and Rich closes with him. As the drow’s short-sword attacks and poison don’t seem to be troubling the heavy-armored paladin much, he runs, nipping easily across the wetlands. Rich bulldozes across after him, sending a Guiding Bolt then successive Fire Bolts. Vern meanwhile is back on his feet and sends in a Magic Missile then finally a last Fire Bolt!
Meanwhile at the other corner of the inn, Garth confronts a vaguely hobgoblin-looking web-foot, wielding a hook net and trident. Rescuing Vern from the predicament (yes, Vern is very exposed during this whole battle!) Garth novas up, smashing the sergeant down easily:
“Pick on someone ya own size!” – Garth
Then he confronts the druid! She too is a hobgoblin-looking web-foot. She regrets spending so many seconds tossing spells as Dak supports Garth and the two easily slay her!
By this time Taba has used his power to save Nameless, and so Dak still has a mount.
“The web-footed creatures are Koalinth: sea-goblins, if you will. They are great enemies of my mother’s people. Now things are beginning to make sense – why this alliance Kethen’kosa spoke of is news to me. I think we need – or I need – to let my mother’s people know about all this.”
Dak studies the drow corpse. The face means nothing to he or Garth.
It is Taegen Fellmir, the weird cloaked elf from last winter at Phandalin, but he made much less impression than did masked Dyrk Mallory!DM
Loot: 150 gold worth in coin, mainly in gold. One vial of paralyzing poison, DC15, 24 damage; two fine quality short swords; one fine-quality light crossbow and bolt-case. Curiosity-value trident and somewhat useful hooked net.
XP: lvl9-174, and a bonus of 6 more is available for bringing this to a Sea Elf colony
So… West Harbor?
Everyone feels a lot better when Rich hauls out a shiny new healing power, chanting a Prayer of Healing to Ilmater. Taba attempts to work out where the attackers started from based on the very small amount he knows about Scry. Vern doesn’t help.
“Well, the radius is so wide, I’m not coming up with anything useful. I do know koalinth light false beacons to wreck ships. One favorite place is Thunder Cliffs, north; but another is below the old dwarf fortress, near West Harbor.”
“Old dwarf fortress?” Garth scratches his head. Trouble is, those are so thick on the ground it’s not one he can call to mind. “But hey, sounds interesting.”
“And we are going to West Harbor first, right?” Private Jessup checks. “You were talking about healing potions before we fought those folk off.”
“What do you mean, we,” Rich asks coldly.
“Ha-hmmh, anyway, West Harbor… kind of lawless, out of our writ anyway.”
The whole party confronts Thom. Rich stands over the terrified trader and asks again about West Harbor, this time with Koalinth. Thom admits that “they” do know and do business with the koalinth. Creepy innkeeper Silas comes to Thom’s rescue, asking Rich not to hold him too much to blame. “We are safest not asking too many questions about where goods come from… we trade them mostly to West Harbor.”
After a quick breakfast the sun has yet to rise, so it’s an early start on the road. At the pace of the slowest, allowing for some stirrup-sharing, they make West Harbor in about three hours.
Stoneshaft Hold – we’re not going there
“It’s some kind of legal dispute… the town sends goods and the like up there but they don’t welcome travelers at the moment.”
Garth is suspicious. Taba reminds him that as far as he knows, the koalinth only use the area of cliffs below the stronghold to light a false beacon.
“So, a false lead eh? Well what else can we find here?”
“There are a lot of taverns…”
“Great! My kind of town!”
“…but only two inns, if you are looking for leads on the Talos cult or Rega Swarn. One is the Biglads Inn, which is mostly well, big lads. The other is the Kraken.”
Taba excuses himself in advance, saying that while some of the West Harborites are good folk, others are not, and he is fine minding horses.
Anyone for goat herding? At the Kraken Inn
West Harbor’s shabby little town square is rife with goats. Large goats. Haplessly mis-herded by a very small goat-girl.
Vern likes the sound of the Kraken, so they try that inn first. A virile, friendly-faced dark elf barkeep greets them and waves them on to a seat. The soldiers lean spears and stack packs and follow. The Silvers sit themselves down, and attract curious stares. Before their first drinks are finished, a well-fed, well-dressed type approaches and greets them in the style of a professional politician.
Mayor Tavon Shield is keen to find someone to guard and ride herd on the goats, for there is a buyer in Phandalin, but the High Road is anything but safe.
The Silvers turn him down politely, and get Shield’s recommendation for this or that place to spend money whilst here.
I call for two characters to make Persuasion checks and warn Garth he will have to try the next one! Both Vern and Rich do fine, so I can summarize:
Over the next hour or so the Silvers develop a good rapport with patrons, and learn relatively little, except to confirm what they have guessed about smuggling into West Harbor. Most goods are sold south, to Waterdeep traders more interested in a good margin than where the goods came from.
By this time the news that the Rusted Silvers are in town is widespread.
“Rusted Silvers! Now look ya done round ears! I liked the name Silvers grumble grumble” – Garth
No, I have better things to do
Next would seem to be the Big Lads Inn. “They are all big” was what Taba said of the place. Vern makes a crack about height minima.
“Vern you could pose as the scribe documenting my feats of strength” – Garth
“How about as my page?”
“Your parole officer?”
“No-one would believe that… maybe Dak’s parole officer?”
“I have a horse to buy, and to be honest I’ll just be glad to be away from your Sock* for a while”
“Vern needs a babysitter” – Garth
“Yep, I figured, and the Big Lads doesn’t sound like me, I’ll mind our wizard” – Dak
*Sock of Trouble Free Browsing
At the Big Lads Inn
“Welcome! Welcome both, go on through… sorry our day-staff is off, I’ll be through soon to take yer orders.” So says a massive barkeep with impressive handlebar mustache.
There are relatively fewer men – yes all men – in the common room than were in the Kraken. Rich and Garth grab themselves a seat each easily and this time Garth makes the running.
Garth rolls a nat1 for Persuasion, which adjusts to zero Persuasion. Consequences!
In exchange for his bald-headed: “Hey! You know Rega Swarn?” Garth is asked to step up to a drinking bout. Now this is something he can handle!
“I’ll drink any of those bastards under the table!” – Garth
An excellent result on CON SV, he does not even need his Advantage.
While this goes on, a dark-skinned, big-jawed half-orc approaches Rich, nodding affably. This is Murcomb, kind of looking for a job or news of Talos, or both. Murcomb’s story is that he was gulled by the Talos cult and ended up donating his life savings in the cause of Gorthok Thunder-Boar. Since then he’s rejected the cult and wants vengeance (and money).
Rich is reaching for his pouch but Murcomb riles up a mite: “I ain’t lookin’ fer no charity, but ah’m right good with animules, if’n yuh needs a groom ah reckon I c’n make shift.”
Meanwhile, triumphant over all, Garth learns that Rega is still in town. But just as importantly, Rich (with a nat20 on Perception) noticed a cloaked individual leaving when Garth blurted out the renegade’s name. Now all they need do is catch up with Dak and Vern and find that cloaked man.
Backlot encounter battle
It’s just one of those things: Walking towards the stables where Vern should be buying a horse, Rich and Garth spot Rega, accompanied by ghouls and that cloaked fellow. But from the other side of the back lot a broad-shouldered cloaked red-head sics some more smaller cloaked individuals on the Silvers! Wings sprout from under those cloaks and five elite kobolds take to the skies!
The battle is a disaster for Rega. Rich and Garth single her out, bulldozing through ghouls! Her pet death cultist, the vampire known as Argus Skreel, proves ineffectual. She’s reeling on her feet without getting much defense in when Garth shoulder-barges her back into a wall and she drops unconscious.
Then once Skreel dusts away the ghouls are free to randomly attack anyone, and one chows down on her.
Meanwhile strongly-built redhead and Talos cultist Velleen Firecrow watches her kobold guards barely annoy Rich. She’s hesitant to get personally involved – she knows how dangerous the Rusted Silvers are! Then a distraction – from a fourth direction Murcomb comes walking to wards the same stables. He carries a black cherrywood quarterstaff. Assuming he’s involved, two kobolds attack him: Murcomb rages and lays into them!
Finally Vern and Dak, hearing Garth’s battlecry, arrive from around the stables (Vern has paid 145 gold coin for a riding horse, saddle and tack) and the vampire is soon down, ghouls are fried (Vern gets his best ever result on Lightning Bolt) and Velleen surrenders when she flees into the arms of Privates Jessup and Moxley. The kobolds fly away with a wounded comrade.
XP: lvl9-155 including the final Rega Swarn bonus
Loot: one potion Comprehend Languages, Velleen’s gear of decent quality scimitar and dagger, Rega’s two fine short swords and two daggers, personal treasure of a rough map, a 500 gold coin diamond, a large enchanted black pearl, 16 small gems of around 50 gold coin each; plus coinage that covers inn charges so is not worth counting.
Identify: Pearl of the Deep. Wondrous Item, Rare. Swallow this pearl to gain the ability to breathe and speak underwater for 24 hours. Reclaim for re-use in the natural order of digestion.
Map: Garth to make a Proficiency (Cartographer) check to place within some geography. Notes on it show that Rega tracked Ularan Mortus to a place she expected to find he and his minions.
Fame: Showing mercy to Velleen (so far) has the potential to burnish that rep!