Town Adventuring - sometimes drudgery, sometimes exciting. This one was exciting. The party had some plans, followed them through, reacted well, and got the job done. Then they were into uncharted territory as they have now a strong dislike/suspicion of the goblin who has been sending them on missions. There are roughly 2 more encounters planned that rely on the facilitator and then the party moves off the goblin city and onto the rest of the adventure - but now they have a problem with the "quest giver" (someone joked that he had an exclamation point over his head ala EQ2 or WOW).
It's things like this that I like as a DM - when the party takes my loosely guided rail cart and nudges it onto a side track and spur that I didn't expect. If I wanted a static linear game I would go back to MMORPGs - I WANT the party to mix it up, take different roads, and not follow every crumb I hand out.
On another note - I have made the long dormant and wanted to decision to go back to 2nd edition thieving skills. It's been bugging me for over a year - having them under the umbrella of skills/crafts as 3.5 and I never liked it. Pick Pockets, Open Locks, Find/Remove traps, Hide in Shadows, Move Silently, Climb Walls, Read Languages - it's all there. It comes at a good time since Zoltan is coming back and one of the new Mike's I'm grabbing to play wants to try something thiefy as well.
Write up follows:
It was decided not to climb the Ironbeard Stalagmite and we talked long and hard about what we wanted and what was our course of action. End all be all, we wanted the goblins to play us straight and tell us which way to go, guiding us to the right caves and eventual road out of here. And that meant being Grix’s messenger-boys and doing what he wanted – not to go site seeing and poke around. So we opted to go back to the Rocking Table and get some watery beer and shut-eye.
We awoke the next day and after some time were summoned to the goblin Burghermeister Grix once again. The repulsive goblin had a singular mission for us – transport the offering crate from his office across Byfortevile to the bridge and give it to an Ogre guard there named Malador. The crate was filled with silver and gold, tribute from King Yikzarch to be given to Thane Kashtir.
Grix was rather blasé about the fact that once the party left his office, they were fair game and should take pains now to avoid notice and theft of the box and its contents. Our job was to deliver it and get it done, returning to him and informing the goblin functionary of anything Malador had to say.
We weighed the box, had to mass 80 lbs. One of us could carry it but it would weigh and slow them down. The chest was sizeable, but could be carried by 2 as there was a handle on each end. More plans were tossed about and we settled on Coruth’tae making the chest look like a bedraggled gnoll. Arnog and Damien picked up the chest and the grey elf altered the illusion so that it appeared they were grabbing the gnoll under the armpits. It was then given some touches such as a muzzled snout, bound hands behind its back, and its feet shackled together as well.
We were going to have Gwyn walk first with his crossbow at the ready, Arnog and Damien following behind with the illusioned chest between them, then Coruth’tae walking slow to maintain concentration on the image and adjust it if need be, then Detheron and his new tiger following afterwards, Heimdall’s Bulwark out and ready.
We nodded to Grix and informed him we’d be back soon and Gwyn opened the office door.
The party was noticed immediately by the wandering goblins but once it was observed that we had a gnoll with us, the greenskins went back to whatever they were doing. We made it outside the Manorhouse and stopped in the street just off to the side, debating on what we were to do next.
The group had to go to the bridge and we could take Goblin Row to the Statue of Odin and then veer south, staying on the crowded main path. There was much discussion about this as it was potentially very dangerous and could attract too much attention. We went over many different plans until we were zeroing in on taking the longer way around vie the Aquifier and Ironbeard Stalagmite, a much further walk but less issues for us to concern ourselves about.
However our presence in the streets of Goblin Row were not ignored and in time a group of goblinoid mercenaries came up and started to berate the party. The observing goblins were watching and getting a bit egged on by the mercenaries continuous bashing against the group, wanting them to drop the gnoll and they’ll bring it to Kashtir for questioning (the excuse we gave). It was getting to a head and we were worrying that we would have to resort to weapon play (which was a big no no against goblins according to Grix) when Coruth’tae changed his illusion slightly. Over the head of the gnoll captive, he made the disembodied head of King Yikzarch’s head of security/main throat slitter, “Gangrene” appear and give the goblins bothering us a stern warning to get the fuck out of here or face his anger.
It was not the most subtle illusion, nor was it entirely “accurate”, but it did diffuse the situation and the goblin mercenaries wandered away with some trash talking and face saving comments. Not wanting to attract anymore attention we opted to go to the right and take the long way around as it had been discussed.
At the end of Goblin Row was the hissing, steaming, clanking goliath of the gnomish Aquifier, a number of goblins and the like outside awaiting the chance to trade/barter/purchase any of the salt there. We made it past the queue without making a row although the ogre, Ann, from the Raging Horn, recognized us and wanted to know if we were coming back as we said we were going to. Detheron spoke with the simple Ogre for a bit and we made it on our way without further incident.
We circled Ironbeard Stalagmite and stayed close to the spire of rock, not daring to walk past the alleyways behind Goblin Row. From here it was a toss up, go through the main thoroughfare and a short trip down the main road to the bridge, or go by the Vermin Farm and the Boatbuilders and come up to the bridge from the west.
The party didn’t want to wander that close to the wharf and not knowing the area well enough, opted to cut through the intersection and head south down the main road past Punishment Wall to the Bridge. Most of the roadway was fairly empty, a smattering of goblins wandering about, doing whatever it is they did. It was when we entered the actual intersection that a single figure stepped out from the roadway ahead.
A male drow, perhaps 6’ tall, clad in tight fitting elven chain of some heavily carbonized metal, a pair of curved sickle-like daggers in a pair of hip sheaths, and very calm with both of his hands in his pockets stepped from the corner ahead of us and just stood there – blocking our way. We slowed and came to a stop, Gwyn at the closest maybe a dozen strides shy. We asked him to move, he said nothing at first and then told us to drop the “gnoll” and back away. He’ll take care of it. The party tried to convince him otherwise but he was not going for it.
Coruth’tae told the two fighters to “put down the gnoll” and whispered that we should only pretend to put it down, to actually stand up and try to act casual – as he was going to hopefully mask the drop with an illusion of the gnoll on the ground. It was not working out and the drow told us that we were testing his patience. Damien squinted and felt outward, detecting the distinctive “evil” taste of the drow talking to us as well 3 others nearby – two more “drowish level” evils on the roof’s of the flanking building above us, and one more generic on at the opposite corner near the drow male.
Quickly whispering to us his feelings, the party steeled themselves for the attack which came suddenly and swiftly. Two drow females emerged from the roves some 25’ feet up, each one of them pointing a hand crossbow at the party. One of them, the one on the right, clad in red leather and sneering, pointed at Coruth’tae engulfing him in a sudden globe of darkness while she shot at the fighters, her bolt hitting but the poison failing to take affect. Meanwhile the other drop female shot at Detheron, hitting the druid and dropping him to sudden venom induced sleep.
From around the corner came a snaggle toothed goblin sporting a crossbow who ran out from his hiding spot so fast that he tripped and smashed himself in the head on the building’s corner, stunning himself briefly. The last drow, the male pulled his hands out of his pockets and with a single arching overhanded motion let both of his dagger flail across the intervening space and smack into Arnog – the vemoned blades dropping him to sleep.
Coruth’tae backed out of the globe. The drow sorceress on the roof pointed at the chest and levitated it out of Damien’s grasp until it was level with the roof line. The red clad drowess slid a whip off her belt to snag the chest. Gwyn poisoned one of his bolts with wyvern venom. The grey elf let fly a bolt of lightning so that it would streak across the two roofs and hit both drows. The sorceress was lightly affected as she skipped out of the way, maintaining her levitation. The bolt skewed through the chest, the stone box crackling apart and exploding, sending flaming bags of gold and silver to rain out of the sky, pelting the unconscious Arnog. The lightning ended at the other drow female but her innate magic resistance kicked in and the lightning faded away.
Damien charged the lone drow male, throwing his armor class to the wind and trying to smite the warrior, dismayed to find the knives he had thrown shimmer and reappear back in his sheaths. The two exchanged blows, the paladin unable to strike a solid blow. The red clad drowess shot Coruth’tae, the bolt slapping against his shield spell and fading. Gwyn took aim and fired at the sorceress, scoring her deep in the leg. She slipped back, stumbled, and fell off the building, hitting the ground with a thud and succumbing to the venom that was pushed into her arteries.
The other drowess on the roof gave a command to her “brother” to “go, cut our losses” as she ran away overhead and was gone from sight. The drow fighter stayed long enough to knife Damien twice, a new dosage of poison hitting him and sending him into a slumber, before melting into the shadows and running away.
Gwyn went and got the groaning goblin, trussing him up quickly and smacking him with the scimitar until he passed out (making sure NOT to kill him as the battle had attracted some 30-40 goblin onlookers who would report if we broke taboo and knifed a goblin). Coruth’tae snagged a ring of the drow sorceress’ finger but hesitated to put it on as it was barbed along the inside. We waited for our companions to wake up from their slumber and then took stock of what we had. The drow had not stolen the money, but they did destroy the box. Damian and Detheron took off their cloaks and split the money between the two fabrics, tying it into a pair of crude sacks.
From there we opted to crowd close together and not waste any time getting to the bridge. We walked the main road, Gwyn carrying the unconscious goblin, the party looking huddled and worried. About halfway down the main crowded street we noticed the two drow just standing on the side of the road, watching us. We gave them a birth as we passed, unnerving smiles following us.
At the foot of the bridge we had only a short time to wait before one of the ogre guards came over. He demanded the payment even though we told him we wanted Malador. There was some yelling and the ogre went to hit Coruth’tae, the mage’s armor holding. So the ogre used his club, and although rippling around the mage’s enchantment, did not strike him. Thinking something was wrong with his weapon, the ogre smacked himself in the head and knocked himself clean out.
Another Ogre came to investigate, stripped the fallen one of his money pouch, and upon hearing from us on what to do, went off to go get Malador for us. The ogre in question came up and asked for the chest. We didn’t have the chest, but we DO have the money. Malador was adamant that he was SUPPOSED to get a chest and a chest was SUPPOSED to go Kashtir who would eventually give it back to him and he would bring it back here for Yikarch’s people to get it. No chest means that Malador could NOT do his job!
The party was looking around when Detheron used a number of stone shape spells and made a crude stone box out of the floor which the group then dumped the money into it and slapped a simple cover on it. Malador looked it over and took it with him, trudging across the huge bridge to the distant city of the Outsiders.
From there we went back to Grix’s office, unconscious goblin in tow, and were shocked to find the red leather wearing drow female sitting there! Damien tried to draw his sword but was restrained by Detheron. She was there complaining that bunch of surfacers had attacked her in the street unprovoked, i.e. – us. We got into some heated words and eventually Coruth’tae was speaking to her in her own language (after a quick trip in the hall to cast an ESP spell) trying to get her to slip up (mentally) on where her and the male drow were staying. He couldn’t find it, but he did stumble upon the fact that she had come to Grix BEFORE the robbery and was going to cut the goblin Burghermeister in for 10% if he would tip the drow off on the day that “box” was going to be delivered to Malador.
He verified this by reading Grix’s mind. The drow had no malice other than sowing chaos and have been playing the Duergar and the goblins off one another for years. Grix occasionally takes advantage of his position but honestly figured the group could take care of themselves and the defeat would snub the drow who have treated him like he was stupid over the years.
Some final threats were slung, we left the unconscious goblin in Grix’s hands, and then the group left the office and went back into public. We were not going to stay in the Rocking Table anymore, feeling that the drow would pay a visit on us during the night. There was also much talk about NOT working for Grix anymore – but the discussions ran hot about it. We needed Yikzarch’s blessing and help to get out of Byfortevile and the goblin king had assigned us to Grix. But Grix played us sort of false.
We settled on a few tentative measures – we would not go back to Grix now, instead go to Jarul of the Split Skulls and see if we can use our notoriety with the goblin filchers to get them to help us out. If/When we do go back to Grix, we would be tough and let the goblin know that we caught onto his bull, and by doing so no let him think he can get away with it again. And finally, if the opportunity comes for us to get out of here, don’t dicker about it – just get it done.
We went off to the Split Skulls area, the warehouse near the eastern docks and spoke with Jarul who was happy to hear from us. We told him what happened and he commiserated with us, but did say that he was not surprised. Grix is a fairly influential goblin and stealing is something goblins do well – even if it is against each other. Having a different take on it, the fact that we beat the drow and even killed one, speaks better volumes to Grix that having a party of powerful adventurers on his side is a damned good thing.
He will keep his eyes and ears opened for us and will let us know what we can do and how we can get off Byfortevile. He did tell us a few things we did not know. There are OTHER colonies of humanoid cities on the other side of the Underground Sea: Gnomes, Duergar, Drow, even a sort of cosmopolitan one with surfacers and other types all together. But since the Duergar run the boats and crossing the bridge is most likely suicide, we would need someone or something on the inside to get us out of here. As for the drow female, her name is Yasmina and she’s been around here for a few years, there are 4 in her cabal: her, a female sorceress, a quiet drow female with a penchant for grays and blacks, and a male.
From there we went to the Raging Horn and got a room from Ann where we tried to explain to him if anyone comes looking for us and they are drow, we are not here. We bedded down in a room that was used apparently for drying fish maybe a half hour before we rented it, relaxed as much as we could, and called it a day.