Let’s catchup on what’s happening in the D&D 5e game shall we…
Our adventurers were despatched by the Senator responsible for supplying water to Tilverton (Scott’s PC as it happens) to find out why it had stopped feeding Tilverton’s water supply. They travelled northwards to the very edge of civilisation itself. Or, at least, the edge of land that was farmed.
And what did they find there, I hear you ask… Dungeons? Yes. Dragons? Yes. Dungeons AND Dragons?!?? What is this craziness!
Well they also found Kobolds, and Goblins and Druids, oh my! We’re now five sessions into the campaign, and the PCs have hit third level. We’ve been running through a version of the Sunless Citadel from the Tales of the Yawning Portal, though the latter part of the adventure was pretty heavily customised to fit in with the emerging story and the players’ desire for more investigation over combat. The group finished the published adventure a couple of sessions ago and this post will take us through the first game session of the campaign.
As such there will be spoilers to the adventure in this sequence of posts.
I’ll be posting further updates though I quite like a bit of lag between the play sessions and the write-up in case I inadvertently mention something I shouldn’t have…
Let’s start with the tale itself
For most of the adventure, the party is made up of four Player Characters, played by three players. I’ve got a separate post lined up on the Dramatis Personae, so I’ll keep this very brief:
- Luthe Katurniun, Human Noble Magic-User played by Scott. At second-level he went Illusionist which tells us all we need to know… He’s the member of the Senate with the problem and the rest of his party are essentially his clients that come to him for patronage. Scott being “boss” hasn’t unbalanced the game in or out of character.
- Sarhorn, Wood Elf Rogue play by Matt. Elven Assassin. He provides bow and rapier damage support to the whole operation, along with some “Sherlock Holmes”-style investigation. Of course, he’s channeling his inner Ezio throughout.
- Hygge, Dwarven Fighter played by Paul. Gone Champion for his archetype as his basic principle is: “If it moves hit it until it stops moving. Then try to drink it.”
- Colin, Halfling Cleric of Knowledge also played by Paul. Spells and tanking are Colin’s speciality and his little dagger has punctured its fair share of lungs. More in the Indiana Jones school of knowledge discovery than the closeted scholar.
Setting the Scene
Back in the town of Tilverton it is a lazy day for everyone except the boss. Sarhorn is resting on the rooftop (hi Ezio!), Hygge is recovering in a ditch somewhere before he hits up the happy hour at the Old Cow Bell (the local unscrupulous tavern), Colin’s not even a glimmer in Paul’s eye, and Phil’s character is still with the party.
Luthe, ah Luthe, is down at the chief bathhouse meeting up with The Most Loyal Secretary of the Loyal Guild of Watermen and Watercarriers (so loyal they had to explicitly state it twice). This rather obsequious character was letting Luthe into a couple of key truths about his position as Senator responsible for providing water to the masses: water is vital to the lifeblood of Tilverton, and that it is running out.
“Now of course,” said this most faithful of servants, “My gracious Lord, whilst one might say that the Guild is wholly responsible for the provision of the aforementioned water to the aforementioned population of Tilverton, the Senate in its almighty and glorious wisdom, did choose to enact legislation that, well, and my Lord I do dislike using this word, but alas it is the wording of the Senatorial decree, restrict the Guild’s responsibilities to the boundaries of the City, such boundaries said to include the Great Reservoir that the aquaducts empty into. My Lord.
“So whilst, as Most Loyal Secretary,” the toady continued, “I feel the concern, nay my Lord, I state it in more unequivocal terms: the anguish, of the situation of the town having but a few weeks of, well, palatable water, I also feel the concern, nay my Lord, I state it more plainly: the heart-rending fear that the House of Katurniun may not be able to lay on the annual celebration of Cleansing and Bathing that is the mark of a successful, flourishing and prestigious noble House. My Lord.
“I should, also, My Most Gracious Lord, tell you that rather than divert your illustrious attention from the lofty matters that a Lord of your position must attend to, that the Guild Council voted – nay my Lord, I abstained as is required for the Guild Master in such a delicate master – to ask the great and wonderful House Hulcrele whether they could find it within themselves to resolve this matter on the Guild’s behalf. But alas, despite despatching Sir Braford – a noble warrior I must say – and some companions, the matter still remains unresolved and well, time is now truly against us, and of course my Lord, by us, I do, of course, respectfully, mean you.”
(Yes, he did talk in that manner. Yes, it’s hard to have such a lack of punctuation and continue breathing).
So three problems confront Luthe:
- His family won’t be able to put on the great festival that generates so much fame and prestige for the house,
- The House Hulcrele know of the lapse of governance that caused the issue and have already tried to resolve the matter
- Oh yeah, some of the common folk may die
What a palaver. Made worse by a very clear statement from Luthe’s Father, the Patrician of House Katurniun, that a disruption to the festival would be a waste of all the gold spent on bribes getting Luthe to his Senatorial position in the first place. Daddio sympathised with his son’s predicament, but focused his mind on the one job he needed to do: get that water running. In his immortal words: “Oh and Luthe, do not fuck it up.”
Motivated by that lesson in leadership, Luthe despatches servants to go and round up the old crowd. One servant has the almost-unenviable job of walking out onto the rickety rooftops to get Sarhorn down. That’s a lot harder for a slightly portly footman than it is for a lithe wood elf from the great forest of Cormanthor.
The only servant envying that particular job is the one sent to get Hygge. Who is deeply entangled (well grappled really, no Druids were in the bar at the time) in a brawl in a tavern, in the first session of a D&D campaign no less! No campaign start stereotypes here! After being rescued by Hygge from the fight and keeping sufficient downwind of the Dwarven mucker, the whole servant gets hum back to the noble household and the group is assembled (with Phil’s Paladin).
They gather up gear, meet up the Guild-provided engineering team (“Us? Fight? Yer havin’ a laff. My Lord.”) and follow the route of the aqueduct. It’s known that there isn’t a blockage within Tilverton’s claimed area, so off they all rode to the north.
The Journey North
It’s a journey that takes three days, with the Desertsmouth Mountains ranging out in front of them the whole time.
The road is mostly uneventful; merchants and other travellers going tither and hither about their business. Arable lands start to give way to the more broken foothills where shepherds tend their flocks by night.
At each Inn that they stop at Luthe gets the best rooms and the most gracious attention. He is a travelling dignitary afterall! At one of the tavern stops, Sarhorn sees some shady dealing and his natural instincts kick in; what is beneath that tarpaulin? What is this trading coster exactly? What a strange sigil for it…
Unfortunately, the guards are just too bad ass for Sarhorn to deal with and the mystery remains mysterious.
Finally they arrive at the village of Oakhurst and are greeted by the mayor.
The Village of Oakhurst
The village sits astride the Old Road that skirts the bottom of the Desertsmouth Mountains and heads off into the Stonelands. A lot less well travelled now then it presumably used to be, mostly on account of it now heading off into the Plaguelands.
Oakhurst is a small farming community eking out a living on the very edges of Tilverton’s patrolled territory. Beyond be Dragons! And evil humanoids! And, to balance all that out, treasures beyond compare!
Though not for the people of Oakhurst that is, who are beset by something that is killing some of the remote farmers… Puncture wounds have been found on the necks of the dead, said the Mayor. Now I don’t know why but I think the PCs took a suspicious view of the Mayor pretty early on… Even though he was nothing less than gracious a host.
The Mayor, a gent who goes by the name of Vurnor Leng, is clearly trying to pump Luthe for information about Tilverton and in particular how he might be able to advance his daughter in one of the noble families. Surely there’s a place for a maid-in-waiting at one of these houses?
In between trying to advance his family’s interests, he confirms that Sir Braford and three companions headed off into the north following the aquaduct about three weeks ago. They’ve not returned but he does know that they headed into the ravine that is the source of the aquaduct’s water supply. Whilst he can’t commit people to help out, he can arrange some of the scouts to show them up there.
Whilst Luthe hob-nobs with the local signori, the other characters get talking to some of the grass-roots. The Mayor it turns out is in cahoots with Goblins! Every so often they bring him some apples and he sells them on… Well everyone knows Goblins are just small Orcs, and Orcs are just small Orgres, and Ogres are just small giants, and well… Giants are bad news aren’t they?
Exactly. And what is the Mayor doing talking to them anyway? Falosial, the half-elf leader of the village’s scouts and milita is particularly suspicious, concerned that the Mayor’s actions are putting her town at risk.
Hmmmm… Food for thought indeed.
To be continued…
Strictly speaking the session did continue for a bit past there, but that’s probably better contained in the next article as they made their way to the dungeon!