I took off the kid gloves on the group at this point. They screwed up in town (now their 2nd one), and I banished two of their members.
When the party thinks that a singular random NPC is the bad guy and then accosts him - they have to pay the piper. Espeecially since their assumption was entirely wrong. They focused on a red herring and it burned them.
So I threw them a short dungeon crawl to redeem themselves - if they wanted it. Left it up to them - or it's time to move on again.
Let's see what happens.
Write up follows:
Detheron and Zoltan followed the Baronet up to the throne room where they listened to Gedaides talk and explain in detail what happened. A few questions were asked but it was pretty obvious that the hedge wizard was convinced he had escaped with his life and the party was accosting him for some unknown reason.
The group was admitted (without Coruth’tae, who was still at Gedaides house looking for the poor man’s spell book after shadow-blasting the squirrel) and eventually their story was told as best as possible – with Gedaides swearing his innocence and admitting he recognized Norris – but the grey elf was not here. A watch-man was also present and asserting some of the story as he had seen it (smoke from the shop, the sound and flash of fire within, two men outside with bows, a dwarf further away a bit confused, and then Norris and Coruth’tae coming out with weapon drawn and a staff brandished).
Coruth’tae showed up and more of tale was told – with the grey elf admitting that there was a wizard’s eye scrying on them and since he was the only mage in town – he must be it. Gedaides said he wasn’t the only mage in town, and he wasn’t that powerful, he sells lice repellant, love charms, and copies the odd scroll now and again for coin. He didn’t do it – and the group accosted him in his home and only through blind luck and a few well placed spells he was able to escape through the sewers and come here. He does pay protection to Rigil Blackshadow and he has never welched on his taxes to Baronet Wodenlach.
Wodenlach let the man go back to his home to account for anything missing or damaged and that left the furious Baronet with the party. He told Coruth’tae and Norris they were banished from Eider and told to never return. Five guards walked the two to the Sunken Boardwalk where they got their equipment and then were brought to the gates where they were let out and told to never enter the city again. Lovely.
As for the rest of the group, they were allowed to stay and Wodenlach was torn about the situation. Some conversation followed and we had asked if there was anyway to fix this. He sighed and said sure, “the lizardmen have grown brave as of late – between their own raids and egging on the gnolls. Bring me 25 of their tails as bounty and I’ll drop the banishment on those two.” He was smirking while he said it, but we took him at his word – how hard was it to take out 25 lizard men?
Zoltan went with Olthar to Blackshadow to return the staff of passwalls and explain our duplicitousness in taking it and what it was for. To make it up, we gave the thief master a 25% take of our haul and the venerable ex-adventurer chuckled at our efforts and accepted our apology and payment. The rest of the coin was split amongst everyone and we were all feeling flush with coin.
We equipped up, grabbed food and water, and then met Coruth’tae and Norris outside, filling them in on what we were doing next. We then travelled northward for 5 hours until night fell, going back towards where the gnoll encounter was - knowing that lizardmen were near there (instead of stomping around the swamp randomly). Some locals came out at night and kept us a bit of company (barbarians) but left without any issues or problems. The group awoke the next day well rested and we got close to the collapsed manor house where the gnolls were. Detheron transformed into a falcon and began scouting – returning about an hour later with news of a clearing about a mile and a half in the swamp, east north east of here, some sort of temple structure very overgrown but numerous lizardmen around it.
We trekked off and had to avoid assassin vines, snakes, and even some boggy/swamp mud – but nothing more dangerous until we arrived near the lizardman area. The temple complex was sizable and was 3 or four main building inside a walled area. The main entrance was well guarded (a dozen SEEN lizard men) and had a pair of portcullis warding the front door. Soren and Detheron walked around the place, checking it carefully and avoiding what lizardmen were around.
In the back they found a weed choked break in the rear of the walled stone and a corridor beyond. No one seemed to be watching it much. They returned to the group and the consensus was to NOT risk the front gates but to go and use the rear entrance. The party went the long way around and we approached the area. It was decided that Gwyn and Arnog would lead to watch the most for any lizardmen with the rest of the group following behind.
The crack was wide enough for us to get through and it ended at a door in bad repair with many spots and spaces. On the other side it would be flush with the wall, but here it was no a concealed doorway. There was thoughts that it was trapped and Zoltan was voted to check it out. The gypsy assured us that it was – a tension bar was on the other side and it was held back and spiked – anyone opening the door would risk getting whacked by it. It would need to be removed – but who? Gwyn said to tie a rope to the door and open it but he was outvoted saying the door would make lots of noise.
Zoltan opted to remove the trap but he slipped up on cutting the trigger rope and the heavy bar smashed into the door, spikes penetrating and impacting the poor man. He nursed his side and bandaged his arm, commenting the trap was removed. We chuckled and entered. Corridor was narrow – 5’ wide, maybe 9’ tall, running left and right for 20’ for so. We opted right.
Lantern was lit and Detheron held it up as we followed Gwyn. Corridor turned left and went a dozen paces to a door. We listened – quiet. Checking it there were no heat sources so the light was brought up. It was some 15’x20’ and showed some sort of collapse and ruin from above. Garbage and old wet plaster and sodden planks on the floor. The far wall showed recent repairs both in structure and plastering. The group came in and we looked about. Gwyn used his augur and drilled through the wall, the dwarf then lowering his eye to the hole and peering through. It was dim in there, some light filtering in from the poor ceiling above. Some sort of courtyard sort of thing, a few statues of some skill positioned about the place. Maybe something heavy moving but nothing else. We waited and there was nothing else there, or any other noises.
There was talk of bashing through the wall but it was decided that it would be dangerous and we should go back to the entrance and opt to go left instead. Back tracking we travelled along some dozen paces and turned right – going a short distance to a door. Norris listened – coast was clear. We cracked the door and it was another corridor some 20 plus paces that turned right. We went forward, on guard for whatever was ahead.
Turning right it was 3 paces to a burned and badly damaged door. Gwyn hit the portal three times with his warhammer, breaking a hole large enough for us to enter. Door on the far end, ceiling had collapsed in some fire revealing ruins of a room above, a lip maybe 5’ around circled the room overhead. Broken beams and trash littered the chamber. We began to cross – Gwyn, Arnog, and Norris when the shit hit the fan.
Ten bodies dropped from above, surprising the party. Half were human, half were lizardmen – all were dead, emaciated, starving, slavering – ghouls and ghasts. They fell on the dwarf, the fighter, and the thief and within the first frantic seconds their diseased and disgusting claws paralyzed the two main fighters and the bard. Damn it!
Detheron and Coruth’tae shot out spells, Soren’s bow sang and the paralysis was dropped on Gwyn. A four count were stunned and then Arnog was released and between Gwyn and the fighter the ghouls were quickly dispatched. Ok, that was not a good first encounter. We prevailed but the bad guys literally got the drop on us and took out 3 party members instantly. Healing was dispensed and we checked out the area, Coruth’tae snarfing an Efreetipotion and a decent diamond from the ghoul’s crud on the broken floor above. Ready once again for whatever was ahead we squared our shoulders and pressed on.