Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Terrinoth #11 - Blood & Gold

Campaign Diary

Our story began in The Black Bear, a pub in the working district of Tamalir, where Tom Kellosson, Whisper Blackmane, and Risvir Teliir have been invited to lunch by a man who called himself Lazar.

(Click here for PC profiles)

Without revealing too much (or anything at all) about himself, Lazar explained that our adventurers have been invited based on their reputation, and that he had a job to offer them, with a pay of 20 gold pieces upfront, with another 20 afterwards.

He produced a small glass vial containing a small amount of red powder from his cloak. The substance, he explained, was an addictive drug called Red Mist. Its use had become widespread over the past few months, and he wanted our adventurers to find out who was producing it, and where it was being produced.

Having seen the effects of the drug on the addicts that had been taken into the care of the shelter set up a few months ago by the Order of Kellos, Tom questioned Lazar's intentions, but the payment of an additional 10 gold pieces persuaded him that they were entirely honourable.

Once the party had accepted the job offer, Lazar gave them three leads, and left them to finish their lunch and plan their first move.

It still being early, our adventurers decided to visit one Starker, known to be supplier of the distinctive glass vials that the drug was sold in. Arriving at Starker's shop, they found it closed. The view through the shop window showed the interior to be in disarray. After a brief interview with the baker across the street from the glassware shop, Whisper learned that Starker had become increasingly unhinged over the past few weeks, and that the opening hours of his shop had become more erratic, until it had altogether stopped operating for the past two weeks.

The party checked out the rear of the shop, and found that the backdoor had been left unlocked. Entering the kitchen, they were greeted by the sight and stench of rotten half-eaten food. Risvir moved to the front of the building to search the shop, while Tom and Whisper decided to explore the living quarters on the second floor.

Risviir found the floor of the shop to be strewn with broken glassware, among which were a few glass vials identical to the one shown to them by Lazar. Flipping through the ledger left on a table, he learned that consignments of 500 vials had been sold to one Kiemen every week for the past few months, until three weeks ago. While he pondered on the significance of his finding, he heard a commotion coming from the kitchen. Rushing back, he found Tom and Whisper on the stairs leading to the second floor, in a scuffle with a disheveled-looking man.

It took all three of our adventurers to subdue the gaunt man, who had the strength of a few men. When he was finally knocked unconscious, Risviir drew arcane patterns in the air with his hands, and the shadows of the banister on the walls warped and then peeled off the wall, took form, and then wrapped themselves around Starker, binding him.

A search of the bedroom upstairs revealed several more glass vials, this time with traces of red dust in them. It became clear that Starker had himself become an addict, and had succumbed to the long-term effects of drug use. The party roused Starker and interrogated him, but managed to learn nothing more than the confirmation that Kieman was the buyer of the glass vials. But Kieman was a common name in Terrinoth, so with little more to be gained at the shop, the adventurers arranged for Starker to be brought to the shelter, and proceeded to their next lead - a high-end brothel called The Pasha, where the drug was rumoured to be sold.

It was early evening when our adventurers arrived outside The Pasha, a grand building in the Terrinoth style, with an incongruous faux Al-Kalim style domed roof. Two bouncers, dressed in Al-Kalim style costume stood by the main door. Our party passed through the door to find a large, marble-clad hall decorated and furnished in the Al-Kalim style. Scantily-clad women and their clients lounged on large cushions placed on the marble floor, drinking wine from ostentatious goblets.

The presence of two elves and a monk of Kellos gained the attention of the Madam of the place, who approached them and inquired what services they sought. When our adventurers asked about Red Mist, they were told that The Pasha no longer dealt in it, and when it became clear that they were not interested in other forms of entertainment on offer, they were left politely alone with a pitcher of wine. The party refused to leave, and their obstinance eventually paid off, and they were led to the office to meet with Silas Hess, owner of The Pasha.

Tom used his position as a priest of Kellos to convince Hess that the party was working to end the widespread Red Mist trade. Seeing a possible ally, Hess revealed that he had previously sold Red Mist to the clients at The Pasha at a gold piece per dose, but a few months ago a new seller had moved into Tamalir, selling the same drug at half the price, making it no longer a viable business for him. Hess revealed that his men have found out that the new seller went by the name of Weiss, but not much else. He offered the party his hospitality for the evening, and wished them success, noting wryly that the vices of the rich are not always suited to the poor.

Tom returned to the ground floor for some wine, and tried to glean some information from a serving girl, while Whisper and Risviir took a working girl into one of the private rooms and questioned her. As it turned out Hess' staff knew more than he did: some of the working girls gained a taste for Red Mist from their clients, and after The Pasha stopped dealing in it they have found a supplier by the docks. Having learned the location of the dealer, our party headed to the river.

It was late when our trio arrived at the dock district, where they found a dealer on the street corner. Across the street, by the river, was a building with the sign 'Kieman Trading'. They were getting close to their target. Approaching the rear of the building, Whisper climbed to the rooftop and lowered a rope to Tom, and together they climbed in through the second floor window, while Risviir kept watch below. Whisper and Tom found themselves in an empty office with several ledger books, each detailing transactions that included purchase of glass vials from Starker, several alchemical components, as well as payment and delivery of food and other items to Weiss. While they debated whether this information was sufficient for Lazar's needs, the door to the office opened and a man entered to find the intruders. Whisper leapt out of the window and proceeded to climb up to the rooftop. Tom likewise jumped out of the window, but missed the rope, falling to the ground below. Things might have ended badly for the priest, had not Risviir rushed forward and broken his fall. While our heroes picked themselves up from the ground, bruised but still alive, the alarm was raised and soon a few thugs were running after them.

Whisper leapt from rooftop to rooftop, throwing darts at the pursuers to dissuade them but with little success. Tom managed to knock out one of the pursuers and outpace the others, leaving Risviir behind. Desperate, Risviir conjured up a shadowy version of himself, which proceeded to run into a side alley, while he himself jumped into the river. Under the cover of darkness, the trio evaded their pursuers.

The next day our heroes were back at The Black Bear, where they presented the ledgers to Lazar. Pleased with what they have brought him, Lazar paid each of them another 30 gold pieces, and left them to finish their lunch as before. As he exited the inn Whisper, filled with curiosity, decided to follow him, but only caught sight of him entering a carriage outside the pub, which quickly drew away. Who was Lazar really? And who was Weiss? For now, these questions must remain unanswered...

Prepping and Running the Game

This session was based on Blood & Gold, an excellent module by Adventurer's Inn. I will not reveal too much of the plot as there are still elements from the module which have not been revealed to my players, and which I am hoping to incorporate into future sessions.

I ran the module pretty much 'as is', changing names and place names, and some locations to suit. It was primarily an investigation scenario, with some potential for combat. Investigation scenarios can sometimes be difficult to pull off, being either too straightforward and railroady and thus unchallenging, or too dependent on the discovery of a single clue to proceed and thus stalling when it is not found. In this module the author provided three leads, each of which gave enough information to lead the players to their quarry.

I took the premise of the story and the idea of there being three leads/locations, got my story straight, and worked backwards and placed enough information in each to get the party a step closer to the quarry, but not enough that they can get to the end after visiting just one location; in this case, I decided to give them enough information after visiting two sites in the interest of time and also to reward their role-playing.

The module itself is quite open-ended, and gave a lot of latitude in what Lazar would consider as a 'success'. In our game the party did not actually find Weiss, or what Lazar's interest in the trade was (although they did suspect he was the original dealer of the drug). This allows me to use the two characters in future scenarios.

If you are looking for an urban adventure for a low-level party, with some interesting NPCs which can become recurrent quest-giver/antagonist, I recommend you check this module out. I shall certainly be keeping an eye out for future offerings from this publisher.

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