A Mercenary Gamble chapter 2 - another throw of the dice

Ogre-bashing

On our way to the Mountains to free the Dragonborn tribe from the Dragon of Oppression (+2) – and maybe discover if it had been suborned by an evil cult – we were attacked by Ogres!

We stood around in their open-ground ambush zone long enough to ascertain that they had numerical advantage as well as having chosen open terrain befitting their ugly yet fleet-footed forces. We ran like hell, narrowly saving Mond.

We return at dead of night to the Ogre cave and brutally slay a weak ogre on watch before sneaking in, extinguishing a torch and killing another ogre in the dark. When the ogres retreat to alert ‘the Boss’ we flee again an plot to block their chimney.

this didn’t work, but we found another pair of ogres and were nearly able to kill both before the alarm was raised. A rather tense battle occurred with us narrowly avoiding losing Mond and Azabelle again, since they’re the ones who stand next to angry ogres.

Sylvo’s scouting within the cave reveals a woman, in rusty chains, apparently guarded by a large ogre. It’s unclear whether the woman, or the other large ogre is the boss.

We’ve killed 2 weak ogres, and 2 strong ogres.

Still remaining are: 2 weak ogres, 2 strong ogres, an additional strong ogre, and the woman.

Myrae thinks we should rescue the woman, because no-one should be kept in chains.

(( Simon won’t be here next D+D due to being in Wales on holiday! ))

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Wipeout!

Well, not quite totally. We did manage to subdue a lot of the Temple guardians that scrambled to our entry. Except for the Hydra that was on about 25% health when we disengaged.

The corpses of John, Mond and Myrae lie in the store room near the base of the main stairs with all their gear.

Having lured the Hydra outside the temple, Krusk, Zorah and Sylvo may be able to get in relatively unmolested. Lit torches seem to protect from the elemental guardians, and reinforcements for the temple guards might take a while to get organized.

Raising dead costs ~5000gp per body but only requires some body part to work with.. (needs checking)
Party kitty (on John, I think) has about 7000gp left in it after the sale of goods at Djered Thymar.
There’s a bounty of 10,000gp on Myrae at Eldredd – If the logistics of delivery and collection can be handled.

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Lizard Wizard!
OK, she's really a Dragonborn Artificer but that doesn't rhyme

Djered Thymar is architecturally impressive. By night, the Lance Defenders patrol the surrounding area on giant bats. The city is designed and garrisoned to repel attacks by flights of dragons. So says the guard commander, anyway.

Their quartermastering and culture are well developed, being able to supply and trade in magic items. And they sing and dance a bit, as well. More usefully, they’re a slave race, only recently having slipped the chains of their dragon masters. They understandably fear a return to subjugation, and devote their lives to military and community service, as well as studies of the surrounding area. They have no gods, and have not yet embraced those customs local to Toril.

Their libraries are impressive, yielding information about nearby locations of potential draconic significance.

1. The Reliquary of Tchazzar – Rumoured to contain the rites to allow the Red Dragon to return.
2. The Ash Gates in the Smoking mountains – Resting place of a volcano dragon?
3. The Sunken City of Messemprar – Underwater and plagued by Sahuagin. A wizard’s tower and academy that sunk rapidly. Likely loot and lore potential.
4. … Whatever the other one was.

We’ve met, or been assigned, a local guide. Zorah, a scribe and tinkerer. It’s hard to say what she might think or not, since she’s scaly and not a mammal. Her demeanor is usually positive and obviously interested in puzzles, language, culture and other scholarly stuff. She may be interested in securing such items as bolster the defense of her city, or reduce potential threats.

Consideration of necessary logistics required to operate under water means that we need a lot more money, or a sponsor for the expedition to Messemprar. If we find worthy lore in the Reliquary, we may be able to demonstrate our worth to the rulers of Djered Thymar.

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There's No Justice

Certainly not in Hammerfast where we’re persona non grata despite removing the threat of nearby dragons from them. Meeting up with Justice and Lincoln on the way out was pleasant. We gather gear and free Sylvo from the evils of yet another breakfast chez halflings.

We arrange for the proprietor of the Arcane Star to accept delivery of John’s ritual chest.
We retrieve Mond’s armour, unmodified from the armoursmith.

Sgt Trass is a bit mean at the gates, attempting to delay us until reinforcements arrive, but we’re too smart to drink the poisoned offerings and too nice to start killing him and his relatively blameless men. We are the embodiment of charm and patience and after a while, he lets us go on our way.

We divert to reclaim our cache of gold and buried loot, then find a location with good visibility from which to resurrect John. Justice starts the ritual and the rest of us rest or take watch as appropriate. The ritual finishes early with John waking, feeling refreshed and wiser after his departure.

Lincoln’s sharp senses spot an approaching woman, who looks like Myrae. A brief discussion on the nature of doppelgangers ensues in which people suggest killing a suspect as a way to determine their true nature. Myrae disagrees. Eventually a plan is hatched by which Sylvo goes to ask a question of the 2nd Myrae that he’s unaware of the answer to. As he returns with this vital information, Myrae2 runs back towards the 6 githyanki who’re her escort.

We suspect they’re agents from Eldredd pursuing justice (small j) and attempting to bring Myrae in. They don’t bother to speak to us, though and a fight ensues in the copse we chose for its visibility.

After a bloody fight, Krusk and Sylvo are a bit the worse for wear, and Justice is dead again. We start to pick over the bodies, hoping they hold some clue as to motive or identity. Failing that, some loot is always nice.

The next question is – Do we raise Justice?

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Our Work Here is Done!

Hammerfast reels from its recent troubles. The survivors will mourn those many lost. Two dragons lie slain but at great cost. Mond, Krusk and Myrae are variously battered and weary.

Myrae’s most weary of ungrateful bloody dwarves, so we ought to move on anyway before we have to fight our way out of town. But we need to get John raised soonest and inconveniently he’s the only one who knows ritual magic.

If the Dwarves to try and take us, I think we shouldn’t let ourselves get arrested. If we have to use lethal force to resist arrest – is there anyone else we ought to be killing once we’re murderers again?

Things to do as preparations to leave.

  1. Do NOT Split up!
  2. No, really – I mean it – do NOT split up. If the Dwarves try to take us, we want to be together.
  3. Leave a sum of money with Xerax to commission the play(s) regarding the Heroes of Hammerfast.
  4. Pick up Mond’s armor unmodified or arrange for it to be sent onwards?
  5. Send word to Elder Kendred to see if he’ll raise John. If so, maybe we can arrange a meeting outside of town.
  6. Does Thoraya have enough levels to cast Raise Dead (L8) if he learned it from John’s book?
  7. Handover any and all investigation matters outstanding back to the halflings. Hopefully the Circle of Stone will have lost people in the defence, but I doubt we’d be that lucky.

Things to do as actually leaving

  1. Gather gear.
  2. Leave word at the Arcane Star that other things for us are to be put in John’s chest for later summoning? Will this work?
  3. Dig up the money cache
  4. Head to nearest source of a Raise Dead ritualist, and then Northwards.
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Ebony and Ivory

We bimbled around for a day in Hammerfast.
We checked the investigation (No official progress)
We heard that the Three Brothers had been arrested (possible cover up)
We met Xerax, the proprietor of the Oakhall theatre, who seems inspired by our many glorious antics and dragon-slaying.
We sent scouts south to Glimmerpeak to confirm rumours of dragons (we owe 230gp to surviving guards).

Oh, and the Dragons arrived. One large black, and a smaller Icy-fog-wreathed blue-white dragon.
City guard has been roused. Defences raised.

  • John and Mond have run to alert the orcs in Uptown.
  • Krusk, Sylvo and Myrae are on a wall near a tower in Lowtown.

Tactics?

  • Get the party together again. Easiest for everyone to go to John.
  • John and Mond to keep their heads down a little until we can get there. It’ll serve no-one if the dragons slaughter us piecemeal.
  • Get through or over the gates/walls and join battle.

Possible Plans?

  • A ‘prone’ flying critter probably falls 10 squares or so. Jinx Shot, Whirlwind and another of Myrae’s powers can set Prone. We’re going to miss Lincoln, for this fight.
  • Focus fire, if at all possible. A dragon on 1hp will still dish out loads of damage.
  • Use cover and buildings to minimize our casualties.
  • Myrae’s dagger of Elemental Twist has a daily power that can strip a single immunity/resistance from a target for the encounter. She’d happily loan this out since it’s not her main thing.
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Stop - Hammertime!

A guard officer tells us that two black dragons are rumoured to be coming to Hammerfast in search of the party.
A guard officer lies and wriggles when Elder Kendred’s vision of 3 dwarves moving the box has few distinguishing marks.
Something is definitely going on, and we have little idea who’s responsible.

Maybe we need a different tack.

Are the dragons real? If so, how do we fight them, knowing that they come? The tower was invaluable cover last time against one dragon. Now there may be two dragons coming and we are missing Lincoln and Justice.

Can we salvage our investigations in Hammerfast? If not, can we stabilise the town any other way? Is the Mayor in on it, or not? Either way, can we persuade the Mayor into cleaning up her town?

Possible leverage
We have 70,000gp from the Tower find. That’s a lot of potential assassins. Clean up the town. Purge the hardliners, somehow. Build a better city. Or else…

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Hammerfast Heist Planning
Be vewwy quiet, we're hunting... dwarves

1. Write a Letter to Mr Whitman requesting a Very Valuable Cargo™
2. Arrange the overnight stopover and publicise it by arranging through official channels
3. Get Elder Kendred, Chief Orc whoever and maybe 1 more unimpeachable witness set up in the hide
4. Observe Robbery (hopefully)
5. Demonstrate that Persons Unknown have moved the VVC to the Trade Bank vaults in a suspicious fashion.

Anything else? Edit as required, JJ and Dan from notes.

Heist Planning – Part 2.

Okay, now we have proof that the consignment has been mysteriously tampered with, on to the next stage of the plan.

1. John retreats to the Hidden Coin casino, where the Anti Magic zone protects him from scrying.
2. We get someone to perform the Magic Map Ritual, using Johns Holy Symbol as the link item. This should point towards the location of Roy, hidden in the box they have stolen.
3. If the box is still in the city (as we believe it should be in the bank) this will be shown on the Map, and we can then meet up to remove the box from the area it is held in.
4. With our friendly senior Tax man, we recover the box, showing it to him as proof that it is the same box he inspected.
5. We can then perform “Object Reading” upon the box to see the face of the person who brought it into the storage location.
6. John uses the image he saw to create a “picture” of the person who stored it, using Prestidigitation, to see if anyone recognizes them.

That’s about where My planning ends. What are we missing?

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Wrapping up.

Excellent final battle, well done all. We were fortunate not to lose anyone.

Random bullet-points for consideration, edit and comment
-———————————————————————————-

* Loot the Tower.

Fixtures, fittings, shinies, everything worth lifting. If we can make a future passer by think that some especially avaricious locusts swarmed it, so much the better.

Pay especial attention to:
- Documents, plans, maps of the Cult
- Arcane-vision for shinies
- Secret compartments in desks, walls, floors
- Robes, Jewellery, gems etc.
- Keep an eye out in case a suspicious Raven shows up (and destroy it)

* Secure the bodies.

I think we want to make it difficult for anyone to raise Darvin or… the other guy. What’s appropriate for corpse burning and destruction.

  • John will be taking Darvins corpse. I was thinking of ensuring a complete and utter return to the soil for his remains… via some rose-enhancing manure functions (converting him into tiger dung, and digging him into the soil of the flowerbeds near the arcane star.)

* Caravan robbery

- Leave a big sign in Common at the Bandit Camp saying. (might want to raze the camp to the ground first, so they have no supplies or equipment to return to)
“If you’re alive enough to read this, sod off and get an honest job.
If we find you doing robbery again we’ll not be so merciful.”
- Check on the bandit status and the caravan guards. Help mop up stragglers if applicable, deal with wounded guards as necessary.
- Question survivors (and documents from tower) to see if Teras is implicated
- Report in to Elder Kendred and the Hall of Justice.

* Shinies!

What are we going to do with this Orb? It’s probably quite valuable, just not here in Hammerfast. We may need it as ‘evidence’ to back up our tales that this is what the Cult of Grazzt is up to

  • John is fine with keeping it with the … oh yeah, you don’t know about that one. Erm, John will look after it. He can intimidate Dragons, you know…

* The Future

What are we going to do now? We’ve gone from being itinerant mercenaries to quite respectable badasses. We’re probably reasonably wealthy, if we just wanted a small house and a life. Why’re we going to keep on risking life and limb doing this crazy stuff?

Myrae would like to investigate the situation back home (but maybe this can be done by agents in the first instance to see if a coup is viable). Also, hiding in the Underdark is the ideal foil to being hunted by demon-worshippers.

John is getting wanderlust. Settling in one place for long seems… dangerous. As Justice said, they will be after us to return the orb to their control. Keeping mobile seems a good way to keep them at arms length.

Plan B – Pre-emptive. How do we hunt the other Grazzt cells and take their orbs too (or go after unsecured orbs). Or maybe even get Paid to go after unsecured orbs by the Harpers etc. ?

* Anything else?

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Making Plans

The Compact says that the dead are citizens as long as they don’t attack the living. The laws say that sealed tombs mustn’t be disturbed – I guess since often that rouses the dead to anger.

So – If we ask the authorities for license to disturb a tomb and they say yes – we’re good. If they say no, though, and then it’s discovered that the tomb we were asking about has been disturbed – Well. It’ll be a Big Arrow pointing right at us.

OK then, how do we get access to the tomb secretly. Johnathan’s familiar says it’s a single storey above ground. Likely to burrow deeper though, like the rest of the dwarven architecture. It’s likely to have traps and wards on it, so we’ll need to check and open the front door and the immediate interior without raising a fuss, or drawing attention to us.

Do it by night and sneak away? Maybe. But Lincoln’s nose for traps isn’t inconspicuous, even with an elf cloak and boots on. Maybe we need to do it in daylight, using the cover of a crowd. Some sort of performance or gig to put lots of people in the area to divert suspicion away from us. Then we do something that’ll keep attention focussed away from the tomb. A show, maybe. Perhaps one of John’s stirring renditions of the stoies of his clan will appeal to the orcs? Maybe even dwarves, too.

Meanwhile, Lincoln sniffs for traps, and if he finds them, Sylvo disables them. If they can get in quietly, they search and disarm inside one room as well. Then they sit tight for us to come in quietly. If anyone notices Sylvo – he’s just another halfling. If anyone notices Lincoln… How doggy is his wolf form? Will it pass as a hound? Maybe the hat of disguise – then he can look like an Orc.

mm. Maybe it’ll work.

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