GUNS TO A FISTFIGHT
Having arrived in Waterdeep, The City Of Wonders, late on a rainy afternoon our heroes secured rooms at the Inn at the Yawning Portal and then proceeded directly to the Tavern.
The Yawning Portal, Rainrun St., Castle Ward, Waterdeep
The tavern, The Yawning Portal, is a vast stone construct, round and built around the remains of a sunken ancient tower built long ago by the wizard, Halaster Blackcloak. In 1306 DR A three (ish) story edifice was built over the sunken ruins and the tavern is now host to adventurers from throughout the realms as well as notable local luminaries and underworld figures. We cater to all”, says Durnan the retired adventurer of some renown and the current proprietor.
Three floors of art, fireplaces, meeting rooms, bards, beverages and the organized chaos familiar to any grate watering hole of renown in any world. Not to be overlooked of course, is the Yawning Portal itself. A deep, dark pit forty feet across and 140 feet deep that dominates the center of the tavern, visible to all of the open floors above it. This is the sole (known, public) access to The Undermountain, a vast network under the city of old dungeons, warrens and mines that is said to extend a thousand feet deep. Rumored to be full of treasure, monsters, and magic, it is the source of many adventures and the doom of many.
A Spring evening on the 1st day of Tarshak
Our session began with the party outside the Taverns front doors, wide open and 20 feet tall with the bustling taverns sounds and smells pouring out to the street. Hobo Jane made a dash (as she does) inside to secure an open table, right next to the pit. For the most part, with some wandering and gawking at the scope of the over 100’ round tavern, the party joins her. Vax and Ketos disappear upstairs, investigating.
The Lay of the Land
The cleric, Haalbru Stoutson and the Dragonborn , Shermdog, secured the party drink and vittles as the barkeep gave them the low down on the basics of the portal as he served up a small keg of local Shadowdark ale. Ketos found an off-duty jester and plied him for information on notable families. A it standoffish, as he values his status as a confidential confidant (and his head), he eventually is forthcoming with a description of the power structure in the city. There is the Open Lord, the leader and figurehead, Laeral Silverhand, as well as a half dozen Masked Lords, who share power in a form of checks and balances whilst remaining anonymous.
By way of warning the enterprising young rogue, he tells Ketos his opinion of the most dangerous or evil noble families whom to avoid, The Cassalanters and the Gralhlhund’s. Neither are recommended to cross.
Meanwhile, downstairs, Scot idly tosses a magic pebble down the well. What could possibly go wrong…
Odettis headed over to the massive oak bar at the back of the tavern, manned by Durnan himself, and Otis, his half orc bar back. She orders a water for Scot and Durnan strikes up a conversation with her, in his thick eastern mountain accent he declares his intrigue at meeting a Blue Tiefling, indeed not a common sight. Asking about the wondrous tall walking statues he lets her know that there is a fine view of The Honorable Knight from the taverns third floor and directs her there.
Upon finding the third-floor great bay window in his office she becomes distracted by a gregarious, round human with great red mustachios. Compared to her 6’3” the man seems almost dwarfish at his 4’10”. The jovial and distracted individual turns out to be Volothamp Geddarm, the noted Waterdavean author, adventurer, man of science and uncle of the ill-fated adventurer the party found in the sunken citadel. The very man whom the party was going to try and contact once in Waterdeep.
Un able to stop herself, in a rush of emotion, Odettis poured forth the story of finding Volo’s nephew and his compatriots in the sunken citadel, of the note they found and the return of his body to Anoroc. Amidst her compassion for the likable man’s pain, she held back the whole story, keeping mention of Calcryx out of the story. Volo described that the young man, not the most adept adventurer, though intelligent, had been on a research mission for him. The young man had been looking into the story of a white dragon egg, stolen from the dragons at the Greypeak Mountains and possibly having passed thru the area of the village, Anoroc.
Odettis, recognizes the pain in his eyes and enveloped him in an compassionate, sisterly hug. Instantly taking a liking to one another, Volo offered her a position as research assistant. There may have been some encouragement to this idea from Odettis… Volothamp sealed the deal with the time-honored tradition of spitting in his palm and sealing the deal with a handshake.
Guns to a Fistfight
When Odettis ventured back downstairs to the group, a tavern brawl broke out on the West grand staircase, several Xanathar bandits were pummeling a half orc female who was grappled with a bald man, seemingly their leader. More bandits converged from the first floor.
Odettis yelled, “ They are kicking a girl!”. And that is all that it took for Shermdog, Jane, JeffroD and the rest to leap to action. Vax and Ketos swung in from the railing of the second level. Never has a tavern fist fight ended so abruptly and one inequitably matched as that particular evening when the group brought bows, swords, Hail of Thorns, and Guiding Bolt to a fist fight. No sooner had they efficiently vanquished the Xanathar thugs and rescued Yagra Stonefist, when there was a sudden silence as the portals alarm of silence was tripped, and Durnan shouted “ Trolls”!
Two Trolls appeared, crawling out of the pit and a swarm of vile Stirges flew up and out past them, several still attached to the trolls, sucking out their blood. With Durnan leaping over the bar in a single bound, brandishing a glowing and no doubt magical two-handed sword, Shermdog took one step and blasted the Stirges from existence with a cone of his Dragonborn acid breath. Spells, swords and axes followed in the mayhem.
Dr Scot, as Odettis calls him, pulled a book seemingly out of his wrist bracer, and pointed at the Yawning Portal and uttered a few words and a layer of water five feet thick sealed the rim of the portal. With a flourish he waved his other hand and a giant tentacle reached out of the water and snared one troll, pulling it down into the water. Haalbru cast a spell, arrows flew and suddenly Jane was leaping by Durnan onto the troll’s shoulders and driving his thumb into the troll eye! Durnan yelled to the group to douse it with oil, anything flammable. Mokon shot a flaming arrow as Odettis tossed a Molotov cocktail of the Sword Coasts finest vodka, shouting “Duck”!
Durnan yanked Jane free, kicking the troll. Mokon's arrow and the cocktail hit the troll together and it burst into the flames just as Scot cancelled his spell and the trolls plummeted to the pit together.
Welcome to Waterdeep
Just like that, it was over. Looking at Durnan - covered in Troll blood, holding his magical sword in one hand and grasping Joan in the other, a troll eye dangling from her fist, - from the second level railing, Mokon said over the silence, “Well, somebody get that man a drink!”.
Shortly the general hub bub returned to the tavern and Durnan turned to the group, “Welcome to Waterdeep, City of Wonders”. In thanks for their efforts, he offered them a round on the house, indeed for the whole tavern. As well as help with whatever they need this evening and ushered them to a private room on the third floor to decompress, unwind and feast. Promising to handle both the constables then were no doubt on their way, and the hogtied Xanathar agent on the stairs.
Ketos, in the chaos of the fights searched the dead Xanathar bandits and found some coin and a partial map of the city’s sewers. Relaxing in the quiet, the group pondered their next move as Odettis relayed her meeting with Volo.
See you next week.
Hills of The Lost Campaign
Into The Sewers
In the aftermath of the troll battle, our adventurers are in a private meeting room on the third level of the Tavern at the Yawning Portal. The room provided by Durnan to keep them out of the way when the city guard come to investigate reports of the recent fracas.
Questions are raised about Dr Scots (Odettis’s new moniker for him) use of arcane powers and he submits to friendly questioning, 3 questions that he would answer honestly. He answers most, and their sub questions, but not all, he admits he has only just met the group and does not fully trust them with his secrets. Understandably.
He reveals that his powers are given to him, not learned. Also, that he is not a threat to the group. Asked about the spell book that he pulled out of thin air, “I have a tiny pocket dimension in my wrist band”, he replies with no fanfare. More importantly he reveals that he indeed not a human. He is a creature called a changeling, that can take form of anyone he has seen. He demonstrates and transforms briefly into the leader of the Xanathar thugs they bested earlier.
He is searching for someone named Peregost.
The Honorable Knight
Odettis fills the group in on her findings prior to the battle, and her interest in the wondrous walking statues of Waterdeep. She wants to climb the Honorable Knight, whom you can see from the windows of the Yawning Portal. Otis, the bartender, comments that
1. Not a good idea in Daylight and,
2. The speed record for climbing the Knight stands at 16 and ½ seconds, set over 8 years ago!
Hobo Joan declares a race and she would like to try as well. This is to be taken up at the first available evening, not tonight as all are knackered from traveling and troll fighting.
Volo Makes An Appearance
They ask Otis to see if Volo is still about and he heads downstairs, also to get tea for Vax. Sherm had words with Calcryx and learned that there is warding against dragons entering the city, not for wyrmling’s apparently, and he agrees that the group should remain mum on his presence for now. Sometime later, Volothamp Geddarm arrives and makes his acquaintance with the group. He hears the story of the harrowing adventure in and out of the citadel including the finding of his nephew. He declares it a capital adventure and thinks that in the future he may record it down for one of his books. Looking at the Dwarven scroll tube and its associated notes he is intrigued. Very Ancient stuff indeed. Authentic.
The notes inside bear even more intrigue. Unsealing the tube, he and Scot interpret the contents, in most ancient dwarfish. Dr Scots eyes glow and he understands the writing more than reading it. The dwarven scroll inside has five ancient runes on it, their meanings:
Between the Plea from Elminster and the intriguing runes on the scroll Volo is most fascinated.
“This will bear more intense research! He declares.
He thanks the crew for bringing all of this and the news of his nephew. He offers that he would like to reward the crew and if they can also help with the disappearance of a friend. A case of mistaken identity. It seems that an underworld group kidnapped a friend, Floon Blagmar and a local noble’s son, Renaer Neverember. Neverember is the son of the former Open Lord of Waterdeep.
It seems that some detectives hired by Volo found a warehouse where the two had been held. It had been raided by a rival gang a, Xanathar’s, and the abductees were again abducted and taken away. The Xanathar’s from the recent fight, Volo suspects had followed the detectives to the tavern.
Offering 100 gold per team member for the rescue and 100 gold in advance, he seems eager for the group to help. The adventurers however have other plans. Vax and Shermdog negotiate strongly for 200 gold dragons each and a contract. In the end he acquiesces, perhaps having lost a touch of his love for them.
Ketos had found a map on the Xanatharian leader, guiding to a hideout in the sewer system, Volo confirmed that they have hideouts throughout the city in undesirable places. The Xanathar’s are ruled by a mystical being, Xanathar, who is a Beholder. Enormously powerful and dangerous, beholders have immense magic and abilities, their heads have many eyestalks that shoot psychic and magical rays. This thought does deter some in the group.
Volo reassures the group that as a crime lord in a city, and region as big as this, Xanathar would not be personally involved and the chances of meeting him would be negligible…
Jeffro and Dr Scot head out to find an item for Scot and Odettis spends the night comforting Calcryx.
The next morning the group set forth to the location marked on the map. Some of the party remained at the inn, errands to run.
The Xanathar’s Hideout
Entering the sewers is a stinky affair. Ketos checks for traps and takes the lead, following chalk sigils of Xanathar’s eye. After some time and little of interest, they come to a marked junction and find the entrance to the Xanathar hideout locked and seemingly empty they cautiously enter the tight space, Sherm and Vax heading down the hall with Ketos and Odettis investigating a storeroom. Ketos reports a sleeping goblin ahead. While the group discussed what to do Dr Scot summons his magical tentacle and skewers the goblin, who surprised – screams.
So much for stealth. The goblin is dispatched with haste, Ketos searches him, Sherm and Odettis, using only dark vision, head deeper into the hideout’s halls. Rounding a corner, the encounter a shimmering wall that repels Sherm, pushing him back. As he prepares to charge Odettis fires off a javelin which strikes the wall! And it does not fall but remains floating in the shimmering air. And then the mass begins to move up the hall towards them!
The rest of the group catches up firing arrows and striking at it as it continues to ominously towards them. Sherm charges and is repelled again, taking heavy damage, lessened by his natural resistance to acid. Up close it can be seen to have seemingly floating contents, grisly bits of bone and skulls, bits of armor and some weapons and other detritus. A terrifying sight indeed to have an orc skull stare at you floating in midair!
The cramped halls make it difficult to maneuver, the action occurring at a bend in the hall at the bottom of a stairwell. Mokon getting in some arrow shots as well as did Vax. Just as Sherm is about to be engulfed by the gelatinous mass, Vax fires off a final, deadly shot. The mass loses cohesion and spills across the floor, its contents lying on the floor.
As Vax leans around the corner to see if he can discern the source of the clatter heard down the hall, an arrow shot grazes his shoulder and before he darts to safety, he sees a Dwarf and a Human in dim lamp light, ready for battle.
Tune on Saturday for what is next.
Hills of the Lost Campaign
An arrow grazes Vax's shoulder and shatters against the wall by Odettis and Sherm. Having thought the battle was over against the gelatinous cube, the crestfallen Sherm suddenly smiled.
Farther down the hall, a tall human and a dark dwarf lay in wait for the group, having hoped that the cube would finish them off, ready for battle nonetheless.
A GOOD DAY TO DIE
Odettis searched the remains of the cube, finding an orc skull which she gave to Sherm, who hastily mounted it on his shoulder pauldron. She also found some coins, and some small vials of liquid which she pocketed. Leaving the shield and assorted bones and rust weapons. Ketos picks up the shield.
As the adventurers charged Vax tuck and rolled up to the dwarf and in three stooges’ style, slapped the small creature repeatedly. Haalbru cast a toll the dead and the human bandit was visibly hurt. One by one the team members careened into the small room dealing damage to both villains. Suddenly the Duergar dwarf grew magically to twice his size to make it more of a fair fight, in vain.
Shermdog with a mighty blow cleaves the skull of the human bandit. Ketos’s shout rings out to the Duergar,” I will give you this shield and you can walk away! He leers at her saying quietly,” today is a good day to die!” She lashes out, slashing his throat, yet he does not fall.
DEATH BY BALLS
Haalbru with a roar invokes Haanseth, the dwarven god of war, and the curse directed at the duergar’s midsection, strikes it in the crotch and he falls returning to his former size.
“Death by balls”, Haalbru quietly states.
Ketos throat punches him on his way down for good measure.
“He chose poorly”. Says Vax.
Haalbru pulls an arrow from Vax and heals both Shermdog and Vax. Odettis searches split skull and pockets a pouch. Ketos searched the dwarf and found some goggles. These turned out to be magical and scot discovered they were for night vision, which he needed. Also found were some mysterious vials, perhaps dwarven blood.
“Praise Sylvania, Dr Scot can see in the dark now!” says Odettis.
After a bit of lingering they decided NOT to open the creepy door in the corner with odd smells emanating from it...and sent a scout ahead and down the next hallway.
Dr Scot changed his appearance to that of split skull and headed down the hall to a larger room with bright lights. Peeking in he saw a man tied up on a table with a half orc in roes next to it. On a higher platform was a strange humanoid, tall with tentacles hanging from where his mouth should be. Next to him tied in a chair was another human. Also, a strange brain with legs creature was stalking the platform.
DARING RESCUE AND NUT BOXING
Dr Scot entered the room and messaged the group what he saw. As if he was out of breath, he ran into the half orc and shouted “Intruders” and stabbed the half orc with a curse.
Abandoning stealth, the group rushed in. Vax leaping in and kicking the half orc, killing it! Leaping to the quadrupedal brain, Vax gets attacked by it and is grappled by it.
Halibru casts guiding bolt and then spiritual weapon, in the form of a giant tankard of ale, smashing down on the brain. As he does this Hobo Joan is grappled by a goliath from behind a curtain. Shermdog comes to her aid as she boxes it about the ears and nuts!
Dr Scot casts a spell at the brain and destroys it. Ketos leaps over the table and stabs the goliath in the head.
RISK GETS REWARD
The party has rescued Floon Blagmar and Raener Neverember!
Ketos attempts to pick their pockets and is reminded that they are rescuing them and unhappily she stops. A wizard's spell book, locked, is found on the half orc and 20 gold. A brief search of the complex reveals some more treasure. Halibru takes a cool belt from the goliath, and a chest is found with 500 gold.
The grateful humans are glad to hear that Volo sent the rescue party and prepare to tell their tale…
Tune in Saturday Afternoon for what happens next….
Hills of the Lost
Putting Down Roots
In the aftermath of the last battle, Shermdog mounts the goliath head on his shoulder.
After sea searching the hideout for treasure , and retracing their steps out of the Xanathar’s hideout and back through the dank and stinking sewars, the party emerges into afternoon daylight in Waterdeep’s Dock ward to more than a few odd looks and oaths at their odor. An unwieldy, dirty , smelly gore covered group of 8 adventurers and the two rescued kidnap victims, they drew attention all the way back to the Tavern at the Yawning Portal.
On arriving at the intersection of Rainrun and Cook Streets, the group encountered a crowd in front of the tavern. Durnan, Volo and a perturbed Captain of the City guard stood on the steps in front of the tavern, a contingent of City Guard and 25 or so bystanders observing their meeting.
Ketos sneaks in for a closer listen. Odettis pays a street urchin to quietly let Volo know they have returned.
The Captain was gesticulating animatedly and near shouting, “ The Law MUST be upheld! The flouted it and indeed, flouted it as visitors to our fine city! The violence they created last night will not go unpunished !”
Durnan responded in a reassuring tone and the discussion went on. It was clear there was some trouble that arose from the parties battle with the Xanathar thugs the night before in the Tavern. It did not sound good. Suddenly, Ketos discovered sneaking and the boy outs the group and all heads turn to them. As the captain was about to shout for their arrest Volothamp Geddarm spoke up with a clearing of his throat.
He suggested a way out of the situation for both the party and the Captain ( who clearly hated the idea of the paperwork involved with arresting 8 suspects).
Volo produced a title deed for a building in the north ward. Suggesting that the party had
purchased the building from him prior to the fight. This would have made them landholders in Waterdeep and thus at no large criminal fault for brandishing their weapons the previous
evening. Of course, he was making all of this up , however the Captain bought into the idea and the group narrowly avoided Waterdeep’s Jail. Almost.
Ketos managed to attempt to pick a fight with the Captain, and failed. Only due to Volos silver tongue and The Captains hatred of paperwork did this situation not escalate beyond some harsh words.
The guards left and Volo and Durnan agreed to meet the group back in the Tavern after
everyone had a chance to clean up. Volo was beside himself with their successful rescue and wanted to hear the whole tale.
Arriving at their suite in the Inn, they discover a warning note , too late, from Volo telling them of their imminent arrest.
Later on, in the Taverns meeting room, they recounted the tale and all the gory details. The group agreed to accept the deed to the manor / tavern at Trullskul alley in lieu of payment in coin. This would give the group more rights and freedom of movement in the city , and keep them out of jail.
Heading out to the North Ward the group starts planning what else they would like to do next.
The only two definitive items being that Ketos would like to get an undead Tarantula and Odettis and Hobo are still ready to challenge for the fastest time to scale the Honorable Knight Statue.
Arriving at the Trullskul Manor they find it to be a massive wood and stone structure , with turrets! For many years the lower level served as a well renowned tavern until an explosion under mysterious circumstances killed the barkeep and some patrons. For three years it has lain vacant. Complete with a beer and wine cellar and a hidden storage room , many rooms and balconies, the manor could easily house the troupe and their needs. There is even a stable and yard in the back for Beora!
The manor also boasts of a spirit, of the dead bartender , that demands that they uphold the true spirit of his love, the Tavern.
When we last left our heroes, they were wandering the halls of the manor and the tavern,
Till Next Time.
Episode Fourteen and Fifteen
Under Trullskul and into The Blue Alley
Shermdog and Dr Scot discover a secret, secret room under TrullSkull and invite the group to investigate. They discover a sewer access and foray into it. Three monsters later, they have had enough and return to the secret hideout.
After returning to the Manor, Vax discovers that a letter has been left for him. Declaring himself the most popular in the house, on the basis of mail, Vax opens his letter. Haalbru starts an impromptu scoreboard on the unused menu chalk board behind the bar, Vax leading with a single notch.
The letter was from Hogarths Armaments, thanking him for his visit and sharing prices and availability of items Vax is searching for . Hogarth also expressed his willingness to examine and or purchase any items the group may find in the future.
Haalbru announces that he is going for a few days to the dwarven embassy, they have reached out to him. Before leaving, he takes Ketos aside and entrusts her with the Night Caller whistle, hoping it aids in her quest for an undead spider companion.
Suddenly there was a knock at the door….
A gnome stands at the door, Shermdog answers. Phillip announces himself as a premier Contractor and behind him is Joey Joey , a sizeable dwarf, a premier purveyor of fine furnishings and interior designer. Shermdog is elected liaison for the team and they move to a corner of the tavern to talk turkey. The group has enough funds to renovate both the tavern and the upstairs.
Odettis slides behind the bar and places a hash mark next to her name…she turns, leaps on the bar and takes a bow, no one is watching.
The party heads out to the Yawning Portal to eat and drink.
Arriving at the Yawning portal Vax begins to look for suspicious characters. While dancing along the edge of the portal, Odettis finds some dead tarantulas at the mouth of the portal for Ketos. Ketos attempts to use the Night Caller to animate the dead Tarantula to have as a companion and nothing happens. Odettis then remembers that it must be used under moon light. They go outside to a dark alley and Ketos is able to animate the tarantula using the whistle. Now, at last, she has a companion.
Dr Scot joined a gambling session on the third floor and made some modest winnings, earning 73 gold on the night.
Shermdog joined the group after dealing with contractors. He spotted some dark robed men and proceeded to ask around the tavern about them. Vax also asked around. He also inquired about Yagra, whom they “saved “a few days earlier. She usually comes by later in the evening.
Jeffro and Vax go up each of the grand stairs, trying to follow a suspicious character. Sherm Joins them and sees another Human in robes watching from the second level. Sherm confronts him and tells him to leave. The man blows him off and claims not to know Sherm. As he tries to walk away Shermdog swings a fist.
At the same time Jeffro and Vax corner the other robed man in the second-floor bar. Sherm continues to render his man unconscious. The second man snaps at Vax, “ We are on your side, we are looking out for you!”
Odettis, drinking with Ketos, sees the hubbub and sprints upstairs to find the situation in hand, and returns to drinking.
The watchers and our party come to an impasse and the men leave, revealing that they are members of Force Grey, Jalester had sent them.
At the bar, Otis introduces the party to Mirt, who tells them of the Blue Alley, a magical location/dungeon in the Sea Ward where adventure and treasure can be found. There are also open rewards for some specific items. One such is a Unicorn statuette with a 500$ bounty.
They head to The Blue Alley with nothing better to do but adventure and cleave…
This magical alley is paved in glowing blue seemingly magical stone. Rumored to have been created many years ago by an unknown sorcerer, the alley is full of puzzles, dangerous monsters and treasure. The side walls rise up 20 feet to open sky with sandstone walls. The doors they encounter are mostly of iron banded red oak.
They meet their first challenge, a guest book thirty feet down the alley on a pedestal. Beyond it is an invisible force field that Odettis discovers if you sign the book, you may pass freely thru the field. Fifty feet further down, the alley tees off to the east and west,
At the tee, There was a tapestry with a clue and a depiction of the party members getting stuck in traps. The group heads west.
Rounding the corner, they see that it turns west again sixty feet down the alley, before a short staircase going up to a door. Preceding that, 30 feet from the first turn is an Ivory door on the east side.
After checking for traps the group proceeded to the first door. Odettis continued on to scout the stairs and hall beyond.
At the first door Ketos successfully picked the lock on the ivory door after determining there were no traps. Opening the door, they found an ordinary room with a chest in the south end. Hobo Joan bounded into the room, approaching the chest. As she did so the ceiling revealed itself to be hiding a giant mimic, which dropped onto Joan! After a swift combat with nearly everyone getting in a few swings, Odettis dashed into the room and seeing that everything was in disarray, she jumped onto the chest and fired off a crossbow bolt into the toothy maw of the mimic right before it bit down on Joan again, killing it. Dead.
At this she raised her fist and shouted, “this is worth another mark on the chalkboard!”.
Havocs for Hire
Shermdog - Dragonborne Barbarian
Ketos - Half Elf Rogue
Haalbru- Dwarf Cleric
Mokon- Elf Cleric
JeffroD- Eldrin Monk
Vax- Half Elf Monk
Dr Scot- Wizard
Odettis- Tiefling Ranger
Artwork Credit: Wizard's of the Coast, Hero Forge and Dungeons and Dragons 5E