During last week’s session Ravengard declared marshal law in Baldur’s Gate and the PCs learned that the Guild was smuggling weapons from Wyrm’s Rock and arming people in Outer City for “something big” that was going to happen in the next 24 hours. As the PCs were finishing their confrontation with their Guild contact they heard an explosion emanate from somewhere in Lower City.
We had a very full house at Harry Tarantula North in Toronto this week. I ran a table of six while the other two DMs each ran tables of seven. My table had the same six players I’ve had for the past few sessions. The party consisted of a Human Monk, Elf Mage, Human Cleric, Dwarf Fighter, Warforged Fighter, and Half-elf Paladin (Carl the would-be candidate for Duke).
The Exploding Coffin
The heroes made their way towards the source of the explosion. They could see a plume of dark smoke rising from the origin point so it didn’t take them long to find it. When they arrived, the scene was already crowded with bystanders. Rumour had it that a magic spell misfired randomly hitting a delivery wagon.
Flaming Fist soldiers were already on the scene when the PCs arrived. They’d cordoned off the area and were investigating. The Cleric made a great Charisma check (natural 20) and managed to get the party access to the crime scene. The wagon was transporting six coffins. The merchants driving the wagon were flung from it when the explosion went off. They suffered only minor injuries.
The Cleric, Mage, and Dwarf Fighter looked around the wagon for any signs of what caused the magical misfire. Both the Cleric and Mage tried to detect magic or look for any signs of magical energy. They both rolled amazing and were confident that magic was not responsible for this accident. When they shared this information with the lead investigator he took the criticism harshly and demanded the PCs leave the scene.
Before they left the Cleric found an interesting clue. Although the coffins were badly damaged in the explosion, two of them had an unusual lining inside. The normal coffins had white silk interior, but two had dark material that seemed to be specially treated. The Cleric managed to take a sample before the party was removed from the scene.
While the rest of the PCs took it easy for the remainder of the day the Cleric and Monk went to the docks to find someone knowledgeable in naval warfare. They found a cooperative captain with experience firing cannons. He looked at their unusual cloth and confirmed it had residue of smokepowder. The PCs deduced that there smokepowder was being transported inside of the specially treated coffins. One must have exploded during transport.
Nominating a Duke
The next day Carl the Half-elf Paladin was to speak before the Parliament of Peers and formally request he be considered for the vacant Duke position. The Monk, Dwarf Fighter, and Warforged Fighter accompanied him.
It was an exceptionally busy day at High Hall. People who were unhappy about the poor job parliament was doing came to protest. People we wanted Carl to be Duke came to support him. People who did not want Carl to be Duke came to boo him. There were hundreds of people in the square around parliament, and the peanut gallery inside was packed with observers. As the PCs went inside they realized that one of the secret entrances they’d used to gain access to Underceller was only a block away.
The PCs were shown to a waiting area and told Carl would be called to speak before parliament in about an hour. With only 15 minutes to go, two very tired looking Flaming Fist soldiers arrived to deliver a message from the other two PCs. They’d sprinted all the way from Wyrm’s Rock to get Carl. Ravengard had ordered public executions in Baldur’s Gate. At least 30 people were already beheaded outside of Wyrm’s Rock and 50 more hung at the Basilisk’s Gate. However, the real event was going to happen at the docks in front of the Seatower of Balduran where over 300 people were to be executed.
The messengers had already informed the Cleric and Mage who were en route to the Seatower. If the PCs left parliament now they could reach the Seatower using the Underceller passages before the executions began. After a brief debate the PCs decided it was more important to save 300 people now than get Carl nominated for Duke. They left out a back exit without telling anyone they were leaving and made their way to Underceller.
The Smokepowder Plot
As they ran down the main passage they spotted two coffins near a small side passage. They also heard the sounds of coughing coming from down the side passage. A quick look inside the coffin revealed it was empty, but lined with the treated fabric designed for transporting smokepowder. Carl didn’t want to stop to investigate so he kept going towards the Seatower; the rest of the PCs ran down the side passage and found a small room where ten alchemists were working to create vast quantities of smokepowder.
Using intimidation, the Fighters managed to get the alchemists to stop working, douse their current batch of smokepowder, and reveal that they’d already made enough to fill 50 coffins. When the Monk searched the room he discovered paperwork that included a structural blueprint of the High Hall. The heroes realized that the smokepowder could be used to blow up parliament. The Monk chased after the Paladin. They’d need him to warn the Parliament of Peers that they were in danger and only Carl could get their attention.
The Paladin and Monk returned to parliament while the two Fighters made their way to the Seatower. When the two PCs arrived back at High Hall, Carl was escorted on stage as it was his scheduled time for Carl to address parliament. The Monk took off for the basement with hopes of stopping the destruction of the building.
Carl wasted no time and announced that everyone must evacuate quickly and in an orderly manner because High Hall could explode at any moment. Despite the ensuing chaos the Paladin made three excellent Charisma checks to keep people as calm as possible to assist in the evacuation.
In the basement the Monk found three men placing the coffins full of smokepowder around the building’s support columns. He engaged them in combat, easily taking out the first opponent before he knew what was happening. While the Monk engaged the second man, the villain told his companion to light the fuses. In order to quickly deal with the second man and get to the third faster, the Monk used his new Fire Riposte power to drop the second man. It worked; unfortunately the flames ignited the powder.
The first blast sent the Monk flying across the room. He was badly wounded but still conscious. He tried crawling towards the stairs but was too slow. The rest of the smokepowder blew up and the building started falling around him. He was crushed to death.
Most of the people were evacuated from High Hall before the explosions began, but some people did take damage from debris, including Carl who refused to leave until everyone was out safely. The chain reaction of the explosions going off and the collapse of High Hall could be seen and heard from all over the city.
Execution at Seatower of Balduran
When the two Fighters emerged from Underceller near the Seatower they met up with the Cleric and Mage who were waiting for them near the exit. A few second later they heard the explosions and turned to see the High Hall explode and then collapse.
They used the distraction to move closer to the huge execution platform erected on the docks. The 300 prisoners were bound together and lined up for all to see. The PCs recognized many of the condemned as innocent people who couldn’t have done anything that warranted execution. They decided to try and free the prisoners.
The first 30 prisoners were clearly hardened criminals and were shackled together with chains. The rest of the condemned were tied together with ropes. The PCs managed to get close enough to cut the bonds and free the prisoners. As they did so many of those freed helped them cut others loose. By the time the guards realized what was happening the heroes had freed about 200 of the prisoners. They managed to run interference and block the guards long enough for the rest of the prisoners bound with rope to be freed.
In light of the explosion at High Hall and the unexpected emancipation of so many scheduled for execution, the Flaming Fist guards in charge decided not to go ahead with the executions today. The marched the people in chains back to the Seatower where they were put back into prison cells.
The Mage and Warforged Fighter decided to stick around to confront Ravengard when he finally arrived. The Cleric and Dwarf Fighter made their way to High Hall to help the wounded and find their friends.
Ravengard never showed up at the Seatower so the PCs returned to Wyrm’s Rock. The other PCs found Carl and spent the remainder of the day helping the wounded. They never found the Monk and assumed he died heroically trying to save people from the explosions.
We had a lot going on this week and it was nice to finally see some of the loose ends tying together. I was very happy that the party was conformable splitting up, something they were reluctant to do when we started the season. They’ve realized that the way the adventure is structured there will always be something for them to do so they don’t all have to agree on the same course of action.
Even though we only ran two of the three storylines this week (as the adventure instructs the DMs to do) it still ran very long for us clocking in at more than 2.5 hours. We did get a lot done and the players seemed to really enjoy the session. I think they’re happy they can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel; I know I am.
This is the first time we lost a PC since the season began. I don’t like to kill PCs, but there was no conceivable way for me to save him. I did roll the damage listed in the adventure so there was an outside chance he could have survived if I’d rolled really poorly (I rolled almost the max damage).
Next week is the grand finale. I don’t expect it to take as long as most session since it’s basically just the final confrontation. What will be interesting is to see what happens with different group, as the ending isn’t the same for everyone. The party’s actions throughout the season will dictate how their storyline ends.
Which two storylines were played out at your table this week? How did the party handle them? Did anyone else loose a PC or two this week? Did anyone manage to stop High Hall from blowing up?
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Recounting Encounters is a weekly podcast I record with fellow Toronto DM, Craig Sutherland, and Marc Talbot (Alton) from 20ft Radius in which we recount that week’s experiences with D&D Encounters. We share the highlights from our respective FLGS and we talk about what worked, what didn’t and what we might have done differently. Find all episodes of Recounting Encounters on iTunes.
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