WHAT HAPPENED BETWEEN 2nd LEVEL AND NOW:
Summer turned into fall (year 1358) and you went back to the ruins of Dragonspear Castle to help Baragan, the mage-turned gargoyle and the strange talking water-being trapped in the fountain, using some magic items Aldath, the archmage in Waterdeep, provided. Baragan was saved, returned to his human form. He returned to his homelands north of Waterdeep, in the city of Luskan.
The creature in the fountain – Aldath called it a “water weird” – was freed by being sent back to the elemental plane of water with a purple fluid Aldath gave you. As a reward, the water weird provided each of you with a part of himself, which was mixed with magical properties in the fountain. When drank, this concoction will grant you a +1 to each of you statistics for a 12-hour period. (ADD THIS TO YOUR SHEETS: “Weird Water”)
An influx of traders entered Waterdeep in Fall, and some stayed to spend winter in the city. One of them brought along an assortment of dangerous creatures which got loose. You had to track down and capture those creatures. The trader was arrested and jailed, leaving you all to find safe homes for those creatures. In some cases, you had to travel great distances to return them to their native homes. This took about 2 months. (You reached 3rd level at this point.)
Winter was hard on Waterdeep, freezing over part of the harbor, trapping ships for several weeks. Tempers flared as sailors stranded in the city clashed in ship vs. ship fights throughout most of he bars in the Dock district of the city. Since you did so well with the dangerous creatures, the city tasked you with helping keep the peace. It was a rough month, but you saved some lives and prevented significant property damage. You all also got to be pretty well-known by the people who make the Dock district their home. (In game terms, anyone interacting with people from the Dock District of Waterdeep, guard/watch members stationed in the docks, and certain sailors and ships’ captains – I will let you know which ones if/when the time comes – gets a +3 bonus to any Charisma-based checks.)
During that hectic winter in the dock area of Waterdeep, you befriended a poor family whose father was a warrior of some renown, He died three years ago during an adventure near Baldur’s Gate. Thieves robbed them of all of his hard-fought treasure, and now the family lives at poverty-level. The oldest daughter of the family, a red-haired girl named Emily, exhibits the ability to control flames and she can not be burned. Obviously one of the special children you have encountered, you brokered a deal with Aldath in which he pays the family a comfortable stipend, bought them a modest home in a safe part of the city, and Emily went to stay with the mage for study.
Winter passed and as spring thaws spread across The North, you went out in search of more of the mysterious gates and portals like those you have encountered. Rumors and misinformation led you to several locales, but these were all wild goose chases that led to battles with orcs, ogres, and a necromancer. Returning to Aldath and your mentors, you lick your wounds and train. (Your PCs are now 4th level and 6 months passed. You can select three places on the Sword Coast area map and say the group went there and now knows something about those areas.)
During training with the church of Sune, Orin witnessed a kidnapping that ended up going terribly wrong. The victim was the 7 year-old son of a Calishite wine and spice vendor. The boy was putting on a magic show to attract customers, levitating small objects, juggling them with amazing ease, and even levitating his burly father at the climax of the show. Pale-skinned men and women dressed in purple and grey abducted the boy as his family paid attention to the many customers who now surrounded their stall.
Orin was serving the gathered merchants and their families in the honor of Sune when the magic act and sudden kidnapping occurred. Before he realized what was happening, Orin could not get to the pale-skinned kidnappers fast enough, and they escaped with the boy, disappearing into the crowded streets of the marketplace. A frantic search was held, and several hours later he boy’s body was discovered, his throat slashed by a dagger’s blade. In a testimony to a gathering of witnesses and magistrates, the father mentioned that they boy’s “magical abilities" were the result of a ring of levitation he wore on his big toe, hidden from view.
Orin was allowed to examine the boy’s body under the supervision of a magistrate, and he discovered tiny runes and arcane marking etched into the child’s chest and around his temples. It looked like a needle was used to etch these strange, unrecognized symbols. Orin sketched them, and took the sketches, along with the tale of the death of the boy, to his friends and Aldath. Aldath and his aide Carsan will study the marks, and all agree that this sounds like the work of the people who tried to kidnap Aldath’s young son, Brin, the same people that Thud and Zona fought in the sewers under the marketplace in Waterdeep.
A government-sponsored bounty is placed on the pale-skinned people – deemed to be cultists by more than one elder cleric of the city. This results in vigilante mobs capturing and beating up Innocent people, so the matter is soon dropped. The merchant from Calimshan demands justice, and offers his own bounty of 5,000 gold pieces for the body of the one who killed his son. Again, innocent victims are captured, and in two cases, slain in eager attempts to earn fast money. The merchant is “asked” to leave the city, but he swears justice will be done in his son’s name as he returns home.
The group splits up for about 7 weeks, visiting with their mentors and friends and going on short adventures. (I will have notes for you about this at the start of next session, OR you can create little scenarios of where your character went, what he/she did, etc. A free white, blue and red chip to all who do!).
Returning to the city at the end of Marpenoth (“October” to us), 1359, the party meets up at their old haunt, “Handsome Pete’s”. Pete is nowhere to be found, and the service, once great, has really gone downhill. It turns out ol’ Pete had a wife (his third or fourth – stories vary) and she came back to the city after a years-long visit to her mother’s in Neverwinter, claimed the tavern as her own (she had the deed in her name and took it with her) and forced him out. Now called "Dora’s Place”, the tavern is still free for the party’s use, but it is just not the same without ol’ Pete. No one is sure where Pete went, but Loki hears a rumor that he went off to Neverwinter to see about something to do with his wife’s deed – a deed Pete claims is a fake.
Areas of wild and dead magic have been found and mapped in and around Waterdeep with the help of Zona, Simon, Brother Isiah, and Orin. A few are in some disturbing places (a wild magic area was found under Castle Waterdeep, and a larger area of dead magic was found inside the grand castle, Dead magic and wild magic areas are thought to be in Undermountain and Skullport, and the entire party is tasked by the city to search them out.
(Skullport is known to you all as a sin-filled city beneath the city of Waterdeep. It is not always the case that what happens in Skullport stays in Skullport, but the authorities of Waterdeep do their best to see that as little harm rises to the surface from this sunless city.)
(Undermountain, part 1:) The first level of the vast dungeon known as Underemountain – which is literally under Mount Waterdeep, near Waterdeep Castle – proved little challenge to our heroes. Roving bands of goblins and troglodytes were the biggest threats faced. Thud and Loki managed to scare off a band of the smelly lizard-beings without drawing a drop of blood. Nymha was almost sliced in two by a well-hidden trap at the start of a stairway leading down into the next level of Undermountain, but the ranger was quick enough to escape with only a torn sleeve and a wounded arm.
(Undermountain, part 2:) On the second level of the dark dungeon, things got a little hairy – literally. Stepping through a chilly section of a hallway, Simon grows thick fur all over his body. He starts to bark and growl like a dog and itches fleas in ways no gnome should be able to, at one point dropping to the ground and even trying to lick his own … well …. Loki has a good laugh at this, and Thud starts petting Simon, calling him “puppy”.
Thud and Brother Isiah keep watch over “puppy” Simon as the group ventures through part of Undermountain’s second level. As the group winds its way through the level, something large lurks yards behind them. Attempts at detecting and tracking it prove fruitless. However the group’s new "puppy"manages to catch its scent and leaps out of Thud’s arms, chasing the creature into a large cavern filled with cold water. Whatever the thing was, it submerged and could not be found.
Moving off in the opposite direction of the large cavern, the party travels through halls carved out of the stone. Sounds of laughter and conversation can be heard coming from a lit-up room in front of the group. Sneaking ahead, the group is surprised to see a tavern in the dungeon. Three orcs, a band of derro, and a strange man made out of what looks like the stone of the hallway are sitting at the long stone bar. Behind it is an 8-foot tall cyclops with a well-scarred face. Her name is Freekara and she nods toward one long table. “Watch dat damn mutt o’ yers. Any pee or poop, and youse clean it up.” She tosses you a dirty rag and calls out for a pair of kobolds to scuttle over to your table and take your orders.
The menu has fare you’ve never heard of, but with the help of Freekara, you manage to order surprisingly good food and passable drink. The price, however, is more than you’d pay for a gourmet meal in a fine inn above in Waterdeep. When you start whispering over the high price, Freekara squints and she nods at you, indicating for the derro and orcs to get their weapons ready. Paying the bill (and grumbling about it), you calm things down and start talking with the strange inhabitants of this tavern, named “One-Eye’s”.
A huge maul hangs over the bar, and Zona recognizes a rune for “lightning” etched into its head. Freekara proudly tells you the tale of how she fought off a hill giantess for the right to own the maul, and shows you some of the scars she got in that battle.
The orcs laugh and oink enthusiastically at hearing the tale and let slip that they saw a magical swirling pool of light that shot lighting from it on the third level of the vast dungeon.
The orcs agree to lead you to where they saw the lightning pool – - for a price. Detecting no real evil intent, Orin agrees to follow the orcs into the third level of Undermountain, the rest of the party following.
As you enter a set of stairs that will take you to the third level of Undermountain, the orcs point out a nasty tripwire trap, indicating to you that since you paid them, they’re going to lead you safely where you want to go.
The trap avoided, you open a stout iron door at the bottom of the stairs. A blast of chilly air blows from the hinges of the door and a whispered chuckle fills your ears. Suddenly Simon’s tail falls off, his fur recedes, and he is back to his gnomish form again. (though he still smells like a wet dog).
(Undermountain, part 3:) The orcs lead you through twisting tunnels, and Nymha, at the rear of the group, becomes lost for a time. He slides down a slope and encounters something slimy with tentacles and an eyestalk with three eyes atop it. The stench is terrible in the pit the elven ranger finds himself in, and it is all he can do to keep his lunch in his stomach. The creature lets out a deafening roar, and Nymha is left to fight it all alone. Meanwhile, his friends have no idea he is missing until they come to a large chamber and realize Nymha is missing.
Re-tracing their steps, the group hears sounds of fierce battle and Brother Isiah and Thud slide down the slope to aid Nymha. With the help of the near-giant and the cleric of Lathander, Nymha manages to slay the foul beast Loki and Orin help the three out of the stinking pit, and the group heads off to the large chamber where a pool of fresh water can be found. (The party members reach 4th level at this point.)
Resting and washing up, the group has time to share tales and get to know the three orcs – who are not all that bad, given half a chance. They burp a lot, and laugh at inappropriate times, but they seem friendly enough and mean you no harm. One even offers Nymha what passes as soap to them, – a tarry-smelling black bar that does the trick, but leaves darkish streaks on his skin. (The three orcs are named Lurry, Korley, and Mao.)
After your rest, the orcs lead the group through narrow, winding tunnels to a crumbling opening that leads to a low-ceilinged chamber. Sliver light emanates from this chamber and the orcs tell you this is where the “lighting pool” is located. Peering into the opening, Klyson and Zona see a woman’s body suspended in the middle of a beam of light. Motes of brighter light shoot up from the floor, crackling like lightning, ricocheting off the walls and ceiling. A web of what looks to be dangerous magical force fills the chamber. There is no way to enter it without being touched by the light.
Poking her head in a bit more to see the entire chamber, Zona’s ears start ringing and she gets a dull pain in her temples. Letting out a gasp, she comes fully out of the the entrance and looks to see the other users-of-magic in her group are also in discomfort, complaining of he same symptoms. That’s a sure sign that this is the area of wild magic the group was tasked by Aldath to find. Loki looks carefully at the woman’s body suspended in the magical energy, and he can tell that the body is riddled with small wounds and burns. It is clear that the woman is dead, her form being tossed around like a rag doll. A ring on her right hand is glowing and throwing off golden sparks. Zona feels that it is filled with magical energy different than the silvery magical beams that seem to have killed her.
(DM INTERRUPTION:) I will leave this chamber/encounter for you to solve one day should you want to return to it.
Returning to the chamber where you rested and washed-up, you consider where the area of dead magic might be – Undermountain IS a big place, after all. Not looking forward to the repeated headaches and ringing in the ears spell-casters can expect when you encounter the dead magic area, you decide to return to Freekara’s bar and enjoy a warm meal and some drinks first.
Freekara overhears your talk of finding the area of dead magic and tells you that a small band of explorers passed through here also looking for the pool. She knows them from their many forays into Undermountain and tells you they can be trusted to help in times of need. They are Mars Skorpianis (a drow who claims NOT to be a drow), Tauris (a dwarf who only Mars seems to be able to stand) and Harry (a halfling with a fast tongue and light fingers). They said they were heading to the chamber filled with water on this level. Remembering that there was some unknown large monster in that pool, you rush off to offer your help.
Hurrying to the water-filled chamber, you come across a scene of battle. the drow, dwarf, and halfling are fighting what looks like a half man-half frog creature that stands at least 10 feet tall. The halfling is being held beneath the water, the drow female is riding atop the thing’s neck, plunging daggers fiercely into its rubbery hide, and the dwarf is taking mighty swings at it’s mid-section. You enter the chamber and let loose with your spells and attacks, helping to bring the beast down. Within minutes the battle is done, the creature vanquished, and the chamber is made safe.
The three veterans of Undermountain thank you, then try to shoo you out of the water-filled chamber. Explaining you were sent by a powerful patron to look for an area of dead magic, Tauris gruffly says “Well, ye found it – not git lost!”. Before things come to a head, Mars calms things down with tones that sooth the grumpy dwarf. She explains that they were also sent to find the area, catalog it, and return to Waterdeep with word of its location. (Zona thinks she detects a magical circlet around Mars’s neck that helps in the detection of magical energies – or the lack of them in his case). The three of them return to the City of Splendors with you, and you get the feeling you’ll meet them again.
The group returns to Aldath’s tower near Castle Waterdeep to report what happened in Undermountain, only to find the arch wizard gone. His aide and student Carsan explains that Aldath was summoned away on important business, and that the group was instructed to venture north to frigid Mirabar, mines still active and held by powerful dwarven clans and a small, but well-established human community. A trusted source informed Aldath that a gate leading to the elemental plane of earth has been fluctuating and acting like one of the magical pools of energy you’ve encountered. You are to go to Mirabar and investigate. The trip and mission will take at least 3 months, more if weather turns harsh.
(DM interruption: The group had a hard time of it getting to Mirabar. I will have a map on-hand to show you the route taken. I will let YOU decide what occurs on the trip to and from Mirabar. Long story short, you have to fight bandits and monsters on the way to Mirabar, then the government of Mirabar – who do not let you have access to the mines – and then the harsh winter weather on the way home to Waterdeep. You stop off in pleasant Neverwinter for a time, but once the bad weather stops, you make back for The City of Splendors and report your failure to get into the mines to Aldath, who has returned.)
PCs are now at their current levels, as per the end of last session. All these fill-in posts lead up
to the current state of the campaign and I will print them off for you to have, if you want them.
It is now early Alturiak (“February” to us), 1360 ( “The Year of the Turret”), almost two years after the Time of Troubles when the gods walked Faerun.