D&D Encounters: Murder in Baldur’s Gate (Week 8.)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on October 10, 2013

murder-in-baldurs-gate-coverThe latest law in Baldur’s Gate allowed dueling in the streets. In response, Ravengard enacted a law empowering the Flaming Fist soldiers to hold tribunals on the spot to better uphold the law, enact justice, and keep the city safe. Add to the mess a fire deliberately set in the warehouse district near the docks in Lower City and you get a pretty good idea of how things are spiraling out of control in Baldur’s Gate.

This week at Harry Tarantula North in Toronto we had 19 players and three DMs. I ran a table of six, all of whom had played with me during this season. However, one of the players decided to scrap his pre-gen and create his own character. The party ended up with the following PCs: Half-Elf Paladin (Carl McClure, candidate for Duke), Dwarf Fighter, Human Cleric, Elf Wizard, Human Monk, and Warforged Fighter.

Baldur’s Mouth

Ravengard called the PCs together and asked them to take on a special mission. Reliable sources informed Ravengard that the Guild was planning some kind of big demonstration of power. Apparently the Guild leaders were using the newspaper, a one-sheet called Baldur’s Mouth, to send secret messages to other members of the Guild.

Ravengard felt the best course of action was to shut the paper down. This would cripple the Guild’s communication network and force their leaders to speak directly to their members. Ravengard intended to catch the leaders when they came out of hiding to give orders, and arrest them.

There was no evidence that anyone at the paper had any knowledge of these messages, and therefore Ravengard had no legal reason to shut them down. He enlisted the PCs to do it on his behalf citing “the greater good.” The PCs reluctantly accepted the assignment.

The PCs had no trouble finding the building where the papers were printed. They met with the editor-in-chief but he couldn’t tell them anything useful. The Dwarf Fighter inferred that the coded messages might be in the advertisements so they talked to the person in charge of ads. He didn’t have anything useful to share either, but he did explain how anyone could book ad space. The PCs decided to run a campaign ad for Carl. They were told to come back the following day at sunrise to provide final copy and pay. Apparently all advertisers had to do this if they wanted to run an ad.

Assuming that some Guild members may stop by the paper, Carl the Paladin and the Dwarf Fighter stayed nearby and watched the building. After a full day of observation they saw nothing suspicious and returned to Wyrm’s Rock.

Kidnappings

The next morning the Paladin and Dwarf Fighter got up early to go back to the paper. Before they left Wyrm’s Rock they saw an urgent notice. There had been two kidnappings in Baldur’s Gate. Descriptions of the two missing people were provided and all Flaming Fist members were instructed to keep their eyes open for signs of them.

When they got to the paper five other people were ahead of them in line. They chatted with them and decided that none of them were affiliated with the Guild. The heroes paid for Carl’s ads (“Hi, I’m Carl and I want to be Duke. You might remember me form such heroic encounters as…” hence the last name McClure) and deemed this avenue of investigation a bust.

On their way back they saw a Flaming Fist unit cording off a crime scene. When they asked what was going on an officer explained that they’d found a body. It was one of the kidnapping victims. He’d been brutally killed. The PCs were asked to deliver this news to Ravengard as quickly as possible and to be discrete.

Normally the PCs had no trouble getting an audience with Ravengard, but today they were told he was unavailable. When they said it was related to the kidnappings they were admitted. Ravengard was alone with a middle-aged couple; clearly both had been crying. He stepped away from the couple and asked the PCs for their report. They relayed what they knew and Ravengard looked noticeably distraught. He requested that they get the rest of the party together and return immediately.

Once the party gathered Ravengard explained that there was a third kidnapping in Baldur’s Gate yesterday, a teenager named Omdarsh Nyach. These were his parents. Ravengard was a close personal friend and has known them all for more than 10 years. The parents got a ransom demand of 800 gp which they decided to pay. Ravengard asked the PCs to deliver the ransom.

The boy’s safe return was the most important task, but capturing the kidnappers alive and securing the ransom were a close second and third. They were to bring the money to Blind Darcaryn’s corner and drop two platinum pieces in the blind beggar’s cup.

Some of the PCs were suspicious of the parents and wanted to grill them. Other PCs wanted to get Ravengard to divulged more about his relationship to the family and possible motives for the kidnapping. After some very inappropriate and poorly timed questions Mrs. Nyach began screaming at the party to find her son. Ravengard made it clear that they should go now or there would be consequences.

Paying the Ransom

Before the PCs got to the beggar there was some discussion of keeping the money, but Carl quashed that talk immediately. When they got to the blind man they decided not to waste two pp and instead dropped 2 cp into his cup. When he didn’t react the PCs began accosting him and accusing him of being in league with the kidnappers. It was obvious the blind man knew nothing.

When they finally paid the two pp the beggar produced a note. “You’re the pigeons now. Let’s see who’s faster, the real pigeon or the volunteer pigeons. Bring the ransom to the roost. Don’t be late.” As the PC read the note the beggar released a pigeon from a nearby basket. It circled overhead a few times and then flew away towards Upper City.

The heroes realized that they needed to follow the bird (despite the Wizard’s strong desire to shoot it down). The two Fighters and the Paladin climbed up to nearby rooftops to see where the bird was going. They shouted down directions and the rest of the party ran towards the gates to Upper City.

The Watch guards at the gate refused to let the PCs cut the line and storm through without paying the toll. They tried to explain what they were doing and why they needed to pass through quickly. However, very poor Charisma checks (none above 5) didn’t help.

A few rounds later the PCs from the roof joined the PC at the gate. The Warforged didn’t stop. He charged through the guards, knocking one over and kept on going through the checkpoint. The rest of the party decided to push their way through. The chase was on.

The PCs needed to make checks to keep up their speed on the unfamiliar streets, avoiding obstacles and pedestrians, all while keeping their eye on the pigeon and avoiding the Watch patrol now in hot pursuit. At first the PCs made great checks, but as the chase continued they needed to make additional check, each time getting more difficult.

As some PCs failed their checks I randomly picked one of those PCs to be tackled and caught by the Watch, thereby giving the other PCs a chance to gain some ground. After two PCs, the Monk and Wizard, were both caught, the rest of the PCs finally lost the Watch and found the location where the pigeon was flying.

They needed to head down a flight of stairs and then bypass the locked door. The charging Warforged Fighter barreled full speed down the stairs and into the door. He rolled a natural 20 on his Strength check. The wood shattered.

The party quickly entered the room where they saw four Halflings, a Human in a Flaming Fist guard uniform, and in the centre of the room a teenage boy tied to a chair. The Fist guard quickly grabbed one of the Halflings. “I’ve captured one of the kidnappers!” he cried out. “Round them up before they get away.”

The PCs didn’t buy it for a second. They knew he was in on it. The Warforged Fighter kept running right at the Fist soldier. With a second natural 20 in a row, he wrapped his arms around the Human holding the Halfling and crushed both into the far wall knocking them unconscious. (We described the Warforged like Juggernaut in third X-men movie.)

Carl the Paladin used Lay on Hands to heal the wounded boy while the Cleric and Dwarf Fighter tried to stop the fleeing Halflings. The Fighter hit one with his throwing hammer, but the others got away.

In order to keep things moving since we still had more to do this session I waved my DM magic wand and said that the PCs returned the boy and the captives to Wyrm’s Rock. The parents were so happy that their son was safe they gave the four PCs half of the ransom as a reward (100 gp each). They agreed to use their political pull to get the other two captured PCs out of jail and the charges dropped.

Ravengard thanked the PCs for their help and asked that if they shared the story of what happened that they omit the part about a Flaming Fist guard being involved. They agreed. The PCs then escorted the family home and before heading to Upper City to retrieve their imprisoned comrades.

Massacre at the Gates

After freeing their allies the PCs headed back towards Lower City. They began hearing the sounds of a huge gathering. As they approached the gates they noticed that hundreds of men were on the wall, all armed with crossbows and pointed into Lower City. Based on the noise, there had to be hundreds, if not thousands gathered on the other side.

They heard chanting and people calling out. It seemed as if everyone in Outer and Lower City had united. They wanted to be heard. They wanted to meet with the Council of Four and the Parliament. They wanted recognition for Outer City. They wanted a greater voice in city politics.

The PCs used their influence to get closer. They were given the option of going through the gate into Lower City or going on top of the wall. They opted for the wall. When they reached the top they saw over 2,000 people assembled.

Ravengard and 300 Flaming Fist soldiers were all that stood between the crowd and the gate. Ravengard addressed the crowd. He told them to disperse and that their gathering was unlawful. They didn’t listen. He continued to try and reason with the crowd but it was having no effect.

The heroes noticed on the far side of the wall, Imbralym Skoond, Duke Silvershield’s right hand man, having a heated discussion with some of the militia leaders. Unfortunately they were so far away they couldn’t hear anything or intervene.

As Ravengard kept trying to use diplomacy to disperse the crowd some of the archers opened fire. At least a dozen innocent protesters were killed in the volley. The PCs were sure that the archers who fired first were the same ones arguing with Skoond.

The events played out in front of the PCs while they were helpless to stop it. The crowd panicked and began to flee in all directions. People pushed and trampled one another. The Flaming Fist soldiers defended themselves.

Meanwhile the archers lost all cohesion and most dropped their weapons and tried to get off the wall as fast as possible. The PCs were unable to keep track of the instigators in the chaos.

Within five minutes it was over. The final count had 183 dead in front of the gate and another 36 found in the streets nearby. Many more were likely injured. The PCs did their part to heal the wounded and try to help in the aftermath. They did notice that some of the fallen had signs of being hit with clubs or flats of blades, standard treatment in these circumstances for Flaming Fist soldiers. However, many bodies had additional stab wounds. It was as if the Fist subdued the people and then someone else finished them off.

The only causality to the archers was the man the PCs identified as the one who fired the first shot and ordered those under his command to do the same. Based on the angle of the arrow it was obvious that he was not killed by a protester shooting from below but from close range and behind.

Thoughts

Most weeks there are one or two pages of content for the DM. This week there was over four pages. It was a lot. And it took a long time to get through it. I thought my players would figure out the newspaper story and they could stop the kidnappings. But once they gave up on that avenue I had to proceed with it, thereby drawing things out. It was fun, but it took a long time.

By the time we got to the events at the gate (called “Massacre” in the adventure) the players were tired. They felt frustrated as they watch, unable to really have any meaningful impact on the events playing out in front of them. Unfortunately that’s how it’s written. The PCs are supposed to witness the horror and feel helpless. It’s important to the story and the character development. Yet I can completely understand why some of the players were angry that they couldn’t do more in game.

The massacre was a brutal and dark event for any D&D campaign. I thought it was borderline inappropriate for a public-play session. After all, you never know who could be playing and how this kind of scene affects them personally. For example I had two very young players at my table and I don’t know if they simply accepted this as part of the make believe game or if they genuinely felt sympathy for the downtrodden masses.

I suspect that for some this week’s scenario that has protesters gunned down because of shady political maneuvering and masses being attacked by police as chaos insures, hit a little too close to home and mirror reality a bit too closely for a fantasy game. As one of my players recently said, he plays fantasy role-playing games to embrace the fantasy. This season there’s been plenty of role-playing but very little fantasy.

I’ll be writing more about this in a separate blog post next week as I think there is a great discussion to be had on this topic.

How did your table handle things this week? Did they rescue the kidnapped teenager? How did they interact with the Massacre at the gates? Were they able to calm the situation at all or stop the chaos and killing? Did any other DMs feel that this scenario was inappropriate for a public-play game?

Recounting Encounters Podcast

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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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Joe Lastowski October 10, 2013 at 9:14 am

We ran another of the rewritten 4e-focused sessions at Modern Myths in Northampton, MA (& Mamaronack, NY). At the Northampton store, we had 2 tables of 6-7.

In this week’s session, reports had come in that a rival faction leader had been dealing with Drow and getting shipments of “something” delivered to a warehouse near an orphanage in the outer city. The party investigated and found someone entering & leaving with large carts of meat. After following the delivery man, they found out it was just a butcher who’d been well-paid to provide meat to the warehouse.

After some general skulduggery, the party got into the warehouse, where they saw a drow putting meat into the top of a large crate. The party startled the drow, who slipped and was devoured… and then the crates burst open to reveal a large Kruthik (a young hive lord) and several smaller kruthiks. Taking a cue from a particularly awesome 13th Age monster I ran into a couple weeks ago, I altered the hive lord’s attacks so that its bite inserted larvae into the target, weakening (save ends). However, when the save was made, a minion young kruthik burst from character’s body, which had the perfect effect of completely grossing out all the players (and making them afraid to make saving throws).

The fight went on for a while, with folks hiding behind crates and running around the dark warehouse fighting these awful bug things, but eventually they were victorious, saving the city from what was surely to have been a chaos-causing plot. After last night,’s game, they’ll get an extended rest and be Level 3 for next week’s session.
Joe Lastowski´s last blog post ..What The Average Joe Thinks: Star Wars-Age of Rebellion BETA

2 Mike October 10, 2013 at 9:41 am

Our group was back to the usual changeling old lady druid (me), rabbit/rogue, assassin/warlock pixie, wizard pixie, and drow assassin/wolf shifter. We started off meeting Rilsa again. She told us that the Flaming Fist was shipping in some strange crates from the underdark and she was worried that they were going to release something terrible on the city. She recommended that we march in and slaughter everyone just to be sure. Our two assassins thought that was a great plan, but the rest of us thought we should at least attempt not to kill anyone if possible. She also mentioned that Gilden Marsh’s funeral was being held today, and so we should avoid the cemetery as the Marsh’s really hated us for killing him. Rilsa looked haggard and was not behaving at all like herself. Probably a combination of her new duties as Duke and the excess Bhaal energy floating around.
We decided to split up to accomplish as much as we could. The drow and the pixie assassin would investigate the underdark connection and see what they could find before we went in. The druid and rogue would try to poison the guards at the warehouse with the poison we had intended for the minataurs but never used. And the pixie wizard would stake out Gilden Marsh’s funeral since if Rilsa didn’t want us there, we definitely wanted to be there.
The two assassins found a contact who knew that there were drow entering the warehouse and with a little bit of a bribe that they were animal handlers and they were entering through the upper underdark. He also gave a location for an entrance to the undedark. The druid shapechanged to look like one of the Marsh’s retainers and bought some cold cuts and wine to give to the guards in memory of Gilden Marsh and the rogue applied the poison. The pixie wizard sneaked into the funeral undetected. She saw the usual complement of family and Flaming Fists and Ravensgard, but also noted that there was powerful necromantic energy radiating from Marsh’s coffin. Not good. There wasn’t much she could do in the middle of the crowd so she left to meet the rest of us.
We decided the best plan was to split up again. The two assasins would try to enter from the underdark, while the rest of the group would poison the guards and attack from above. The assassins left and took the druid’s raven familiar so they could communicate between groups. They found their way to the underdark, but the path led to an underground river and the duergar guide demanded an outrageous fee of 500 gp to ferry the assassins downstream. They considered swimming, but it just looked too dangerous. Instead they surprised him knocked him out and stole the boat. They rowed down the river and came to some docks with empty crates with ripped apart corpses of small animals and copious guano. Without training in dungeoneering they were unable to identify the creatures from that. The tunnels led to a 100 ft high shaft. The pixie flew and climbed up it until she was stopped by a barrier. She took out a sunrod to find out what stopped her and blinded the drow 100 ft below. (Sunrods are REALLY powerful) She flubbed her strength check and seemed to wake something up above, something that had large claws. When he recovered the other assassin successfully made the arduous climb up the tunnel to join the pixe.
Meanwhile, the other group delivered the food and wine to the warehouse “in memory of good old Gilden Marsh” Meanwhile the pixie spied on the warehouse and noted a drow and heard very soothing harp music. The lieutenant there was touched and sent a guard to escort the kind old Marsh retainer home as it was very late at night. We led him into an ambush and the last thing he saw was a giant bear paw as the druid’s animal companion knocked him into oblivion. We revived an interrogated him. He didn’t know what the creatures were or what the plan was, but confirmed that there were only four guards outside and two people inside the warehouse. The group tried to check in with our assassin companions, but could not hear anything, which we figured was because they were still in the underdark, so we waited another hour to return to the warehouse. Once there we found the guards gone and the building quiet and dark. Just inside, the lieutenant and drow were unconscious and covered in vomit. Clearly the poison had worked. At that time the assassins group finally made it through the trap door in the far end of the warehouse, and were immediately confronted by four snake/crab monsters. The rogue ran to where the harp had been playing and found a smashed harp, bits and pieces of a drow and a sleeping snake/crab monster, likely poisoned from eating the harpist. The party had slain one of the monsters when another larger one broke out of its cage. They squared off against it while the druid tried to tame the rest of the monsters. A good die Roll and an assist from the rogue playing his lute led to success. (Not a bard, just has a profession of minstrel) We quickly rounded the monsters up and back into their cages. Several of the players wanted to keep one as a pet, but in the end we decided it was just too dangerous and sold them to the circus that we had learned about last week for a cool 2,000 gp. We reported to Rilsa and the assassins did indeed return their boat, although they left a caged crab/snake in it as “payment” for borrowing the boat. Next week we are going to try to organize a day of fasting and prayer to try to directly fight the Bhaal energy that is invading the city. I also suggested that our wizards try to create a ritual to channel the Bhaal energy into animating the statue of Minsc and Boo as an inspiration to the populace and to directly fight Bhaalspawn if necessary. (Hey it worked in Ghosbusters 2). The DM seemed very excited about that, which made me a little nervous, but hey it would be awesome if it worked. DM: “Really you want two level 2 PC’s to try to channel Bhaal’s energy into a statue. Go right ahead!”
This week we had almost no fighting. Still I think we all had a good time with the roll playing and investigations.

I also have to say that that I agree the regular adventure is turning very dark and intense. For all its difficulties in public play mechanics, you have to give WoTC credit for going all out on the plot. It looks like it would make a fantastic home campaign, if not an easy public play one.

3 Vobekhan October 10, 2013 at 10:14 am

I ended up running both our usual groups in one 9 “man” table this week with us all scrunched up due to the store being very crowded.

Again it was virtually combat free (aside from knocking a former pirate out) but the players still appeared to be enjoying themselves. They made the decision to split into 3 groups and I spent the session switching between each group regularly so as to ensure everyone got a fair “shake of the stick”.

I don’t know how much of it is the adventure as written or my own presentation of it, but our players seem to be buying in to the overall story and enjoying the events as they evolve. Luckily I do have a fair bit of “free time” to do sufficient prep for each session, but I think it would prove a lot harder to run this adventure in a “pick up and play” style and still be able to give the players (and the DM) an enjoyable gaming experience within the Encounters format.
Vobekhan´s last blog post ..D&D Enc Murder in Baldur’s Gate – Session 8

4 bisonic October 10, 2013 at 11:35 am

I could not make it to the store this week due to car troubles so the three players who showed up got nothing and I feel bad about it. The fact that we are down to three players is sad but I think more people will come out for next season.

@Mike
The credit should go the your DM. Ninety percent of things you mention are not part of the adventure book but are the interesting and exciting things your DM has been able to add to it. A good Dm who is willing to go off book and put together a good game makes a huge difference. Be sure to let them know that their effort is appreciated.

The Campaign setting book is great and the adventure is alright for the right kind of group but it is not meant for encounters. It’ s riddled with problems in tone and function. My group has not been able to enjoy the story, which I am partly responsible for. But I am not giving up on Encounters yet. I think we will be able to make it enjoyable for tthe people who do show up. I am always happy to hear about the groups that are able to make it work and have fun getting together.

5 Mike October 10, 2013 at 11:42 am

@ Bisonic. I was actually talking about Ameron’s description of the regular adventure, which looks great.
Full credit to our DM too. Whenever we try something that he doesn’t expect he just rolls with it and comes up with a way to do it. Also keeping five players with very different playing styles all involved, AND finishing the adventure in a strict 2 hour time limit, is a major challenge.

6 Justin Yanta October 10, 2013 at 12:04 pm

The party still claims the Blushing Mermaid as its home and is using it as the base of operations. Now Silvershield, Ravengard and Rael do not trust the party so now they work for Nezzle and trying to get her to become the Duke. The party was able to get a full rest while taking shifts guarding the doors. Also everyone now is level 3 and ready for the home stretch (or so they think). If you have not been to the Blushing Mermaid I suggest to bring them there, as it is a wonderful place. Here is an excerpt of the Blushing Mermaid:
The Blushing Mermaid is a noisy establishment whose clientele is known to break into brawls over a spilled mug, a funny look, or an ugly face. It is infamous as a place to do illicit business. It consists of a confusing maze of wings and oddly interconnected floors, perfect for a person to accidently stab you or relieve you of your purse. Its rooms are low-ceilinged, dingy, and furnished with mismatched secondhand items (most likely stolen). Signs hang in the Blushing Mermaid saying, “Management is not responsible for losses of any kind including life and limb.” The lobby has a life-sized statue of a mermaid covered in shriveled and blackened hands. According to the staff, “Folks who forget their coin purses donated ‘em”.
This is a perfect place for our band of “Heroes” as they continually steal, break laws, and cause general chaos in the city (even if it is with the best intentions).

The party this week consisted of:
• Half-Orc Cleric (Lucy)
• Wood Elf Paladin (Woodarrow)
• Tinker Gnome Rogue (Nezzle) – Took Thievery
• Half-Orc Rogue (Jackal) – Took Thievery
• Half-Orc Fighter (Torrak) – Took Path of the Weaponmaster
• Stout Halfling Barbarian (Kah-Kaww) – Took Path of the Totem Warrior
• Half-Elf (LG) Paladin (Jeff)

Blushing Mermaid (Everyone):
The party was able to get a good sleep, even with all the chaos in the city, and felt recharged by morning. The group heading out of the Blushing Mermaid and ran into a group of people forming a bucket line. They asked what was going on and the group said that some houses were on fire. Lucky the fire was mostly inside the houses but they needed to take care of them. Lucy, Woodarrow worked on the bucket line while Jeff investigated the burning house. Jeff was able to determine that it was arson and not a random fire. Jeff told the group about this and Jackal went looking for the culprits. He was able to find them and the chase started. Everyone started to chase after the cloaked figures and Woodarrow was quickest off the bat but just as she was reaching them some kids got in her way. She tried to push through them but the people escaped. Jackal, Nezzle and Torrak caught sight of them running down an alley a street away and 20ft down from where they currently are. Jackal was able to use his jumping prowess to jump down from the ledge and chase after the group. Nezzle tried to follow but landed hard and fell on her backside (took 4 damage… Lucky). Torrak also jumped down and ran after them.

Kah-Kaww also made the jump and was able to get a shot off but the bolt hit the wall just above the arsonist. Jeff seeing that they were trying to get away decided to take a different path and catch them before they escaped. Jackal and Torrak were stopped by more kids but this time was able to push pass them. Jackal found a way to get in front of the arsonist and they spit up going different directions. Jackal and Torrak took one while Nezzle and Kah-Kaww took the other. They were not going for the kill but between Jackal and Torrak they were able to take down and capture the arsonist. Nezzle hamstringed the other one but he was still able to escape. The escaping arsonist ran under an overpass that Jeff was at. Jeff leaped down from the overpass and rolled a crit and was able to tackle the last arsonist to the ground knocking him out.

The party tried to get the arsonist to talk but could not get anything from them. They were able to turn in the arsonist to the Flaming Fist and went searching the city for others. The group was able to stop two more groups of arsonists before the fires started to get under control and the city breathed a sigh of relief. The group met back up at the Blushing Mermaid started to relax. Nezzle, Torrak, Jeff, Lucy and Woodarrow went back to their room while Kah-Kaww and Jackal sat down for some drinks. After a little while a group of nicely dressed people appeared in the Blushing Mermaid demanding to see Nezzle. The person was wearing finely crafted armor that seemed to shimmer like the sea and carrying a rapier at his side. He had two others with him who both looked like they were related. The group made their way through the Inn and to Nezzle’s party’s door. Torrak and Jeff stopped them from entering and they demanded to see Nezzle because of the new law that went into effect. Torrak still denied them entry and Jeff demanded a duel from the leader, named Cuthbert Oberon, accepted the duel and fought Jeff. Cuthbert was clearly superior at dueling and was quickly gaining the upper hand. While this was going on Nezzle was able to hide so well in the room that it would be difficult to find her.

In the main room Jackal snuck up on Michael Oberon and tried to steal his weapon, he almost succeeded but was caught. Michael challenged Jackal to a duel and struck quickly taking Jackal down to 6hp with his first double strike. Jackal quickly surrender and paid a bribe of 10 gold for his slight against Michael. Kah-Kaww seeing this went to talk to Michael and found out more while they were hunting down Nezzle and that it was the Parliament of Peers that enacted the law and could remove it if needed. Kah-Kaww also learned that it was Cuthbert, his dad, that pushed the law though the Parliament for Peers so he could enact his revenge against Nezzle.

Meanwhile Cuthbert was able to defeat Jeff and demanded him to step aside, which he did. Cuthbert search high and low for Nezzle but could not find her. He was disgusted and heard that she might be staying someplace else. The group quickly left saying they would find her and she would pay. The party decided it was time to talk to the Parliament of Peers to get this overturned (thanks to me pushing them because they were not catching on that I kept mentioning the Parliament of Peers).

Streets of Baldur’s Gate and the Parliament of Peers (Everyone):
As the group moved through town they saw the destruction that the law was causing. Lamp lads were being cut down because of some odd slight and others were being murdered because of old grudges. It was chaos. The Flaming Fist took that one step further and started to become Judge Dread (90% of the table got that reference). The group saw Flaming Fist catching people and putting them on trial on the spot. Most people were considered guilty and had things done to them. Other were killed and some merchants were hung in their doorways because of things like selling spoiled food. The party was horrified with this and were able to make it to the Parliament of Peers without getting into any more fights.

At the Parliament of Peers the group met with Grand Duke Dillard Portyr and demanded him to stop the dueling laws. The Grand Duke denied the request but then the group intimidated him that if he did not pull the law they would duel him right now and take everything from him. With 3 people rolling Crits on the intimidate the Grand Duke folded and rescinded the dueling laws saving Nezzle from the Oberon family. They also told the Grand Duke about how the Flaming Fist were overstepping their bounds and taking the law into their own hands and not allow the Parliament of Peers to be the judge. This greatly upset the Grand Duke, especially with a crit by Nezzle on her persuasion check, and they quickly sent out people to stop this and wrote a new law that made it illegal to not have the Parliament of Peers judge trials. This raised Nezzle up higher in the hearts and minds of the people of Baldur’s Gate and more people started to look at Nezzle as the next Duke.

Heading back to the Blushing Mermaid (Everyone):
As the group started to head back to the Blushing Mermaid they started seeing groups of Flaming Fists taking things from people and ripping things off walls. The party was able to get their hands on one of the sheets of paper and learned it was the broadsheet called the Baldur’s Mouth. The group kept eyes on people that were giving out the Baldur’s Mouth and the Flaming Fist. What they learned was that certain people got one copy of the Baldur’s Mouth while a different group that used some thieves’ cant got a different copy. Nezzle and Jackal were successful at getting the special copy and they compared it to the other copy. They learned that they copies were different and so they studied the papers closely. Nezzle figured out that if she folded the paper in a certain way a new message would appear. That message read, “Gather at the last bell above the ankle of the Sow’s Foot”.

Jackal and Kah-Kaww knew that the Sow’s Foot is a district in the outer city and Jeff knew that Last Bell was midnight. Woodarrow and Lucy figured out that Hamhocks is a cut of meat above the pig’s ankle and that the Hamhocks Slaughterhouse is in that district. The party waited for midnight and headed to the meeting. When they first approached the meeting they were stopped and asked for identification. Lucy was smart and remember to keep the broadsheet and handed it over to the guard still folded correctly. The guard looked it over and then let them in. The outer room had a lot of guards milling around and a different bouncer stopped the group. It denied Woodarrow, Jeff and Torrak entrance to the meeting. Kah-Kaww said that he use to work with the Flaming Fist and so the guard decided that he should not enter either. That left Lucy, Jackal and Nezzle in the meeting. The group learned that the Guild was planning to kidnap Omdarsh Nyach, child of Darsh Nyach prominent merchant of sailcloth. The group learned when it was going to happen and how it was going to happen. After that they left the meeting and headed back to the Blushing Mermaid to rest and plan their next moves. While resting Jeff spent 1 hit die and Jackal spent all 3 of his.

GM Notes: Well the group did a lot this week and really cleaned up the streets. They are making Nezzle the front runner for the Duke position and it looks like things are looking up for the group. Since they no longer have support from any of the main antagonists in Baldur’s Gate things will be tougher for them but I think they will rise to the top. Also my custom enemy for the group, Cuthbert Oberon, is making things a lot harder. He will be the thorn in the side for the group it seems for a while.

One thing I did different this week was that I railroaded the group some. I really pushed them certain ways to just get though the material and learn more information. This was great that we completed a lot and the group as a whole was grateful that it was not a slog trying to figure out what they should do next. We lost Owl and Twil from our group and I am not sure if they are going to be coming back but I hope they do (things were just getting to political and not enough action). Next week I plan to make parts 2 and 3 of Stage 7 a BIG EVENT and I hope it will get people really excited.

7 Berling's Beard October 10, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Hey Ameron,

You’re about a week ahead of my store, so we just finished ‘Stage Six’ last night.

I can only but agree with you that many players are starting to feel very down-trodden that their efforts aren’t seeing more success.

I’ve even had players say to me, “My character just wants to leave Baldur’s Gate, this place sucks.”

For me, I hear their pain, however my response is ‘when the going gets tough…” Heroes need to be heroes. Step up, find a way to make it happen.

I’m surprised at how few players are trying to be political, i.e. ‘Hey let’s go to the Parliament of Peers and effect some change!’ I’ve tried to hint at that type of solution at my tables by having many rumors coming out about how Lord Coran is leading a group of Peers against the Laws about Dress Codes, Closing the Upper City, and now the dueling laws.

At any rate, congrats on so many players showing up! In Brooklyn we had four tables and about 22 players.
Berling’s Beard´s last blog post ..On the Scene: Escapist Expo 2013

8 dan October 10, 2013 at 6:10 pm

This session, we had 2 tables of Next. My table was made up of a human rogue, a halfling rogue, a half-elf druid, and a forest gnome barbarian (me). We began our day with good news: the dueling laws had been rescinded, as several nobles had met their matches and been slandered in the process (courtesy of last session’s human warpriest cleric). We were summoned to our most recent patron, Ravenguard, and asked to investigate a particular pamphlet circulating around Builder’s Gate, which he suspected was used to pass messages by the guild. As we observed the lamp lads handing them out, we noticed that some people received their pamphlets from a stack on the left, while most got them from the right. Each of us collected ours separately, and the two rogues each received theirs from the left, while the others got them from the right. We noticed some differences in layout, and one rogue found that when folded the right way, it gave a cryptic time and place for a meeting, which the other rogue (a native) deciphered easily. We went to investigate the shop where they were printed, but could gather no clues, as the owner was not in, nor were the printers. Only a grumpy, illiterate shopkeeper was there, and he was of absolutely no help.
Upon arriving at the meeting, only the human rogue was able to make out the rogues cant over the din, so she went and gathered information, while the rest of us observed. She learned about some kidnappings, and discovered that they had become more violent, with higher ransoms and less time given. She also learned the name of the most recent target, whom she mistook as being the next target, when in reality he had been missing since the day before.
Upon going to his home, we met again with Ravenguard and the city watch. We were shown the ransom note, and prepared to take the ransom to the drop. The human rogue disguised herself as the boy’s father, a wealthy sail maker. We were instructed to bring 800 gp and 2 electrum pieces (to drop in a blind beggars cup), which were given to us by the father. The beggar asked which pigeons would be faster, the real one or the fake ones, and we realized that the pigeon would lead us to the drop location. The gnome and halfling climbed onto the roof, and the druid turned into a hound to move more quickly. The gnome cast minor illusion over the streets for the others to follow, while he kept sight of the bird. He managed to notice it landing somewhere by the docks, and they decided to start their search. He spoke with some gulls, asking where the pigeon went, and they told him somewhere to the north, cutting their search area down quite a bit. Also, as an alchemist, he knew that sails were treated with a waterproofing agent that the boy would have been exposed to regularly, and he was able to describe this to the druid, who was then able to use this to track the scent to a warehouse. A rouge picked the lock, and the party entered. There were several thugs and a flaming fist soldier in the warehouse, around the boy, who was bound to a chair, and unconscious.
We began to talk to the flaming fist soldier, as he seemed displeased with the job. They had been promised rewards, but none of the ransoms had made it until now, and they had had to kill several people. When asked why he had done it, he said that the fists didn’t pay very well,’ and he had 3 sons to care for, to which the gnome replied that they would be hard to care for from the grave, at which point he used minor illusion so only the soldier could see an illusory badge of rank. We offered them one chance to leave, and he gladly took it, as did several others. One hesitated, but the native rogue recognized him and called him by name, asking what his mother would think, which scared him into leaving. Faced with only 2 more thugs who seemed set on getting something for their trouble, the party wanted to throw them 100 gp. I wanted to pay them with their lives, but we compromised on 25 gp for each, which they took, before leaving. We decided that we would keep the ransom for our trouble, since the kidnappers were not present and the boy had been unconscious for the ‘exchange.’ We returned him to his father, and reported the findings of the pamphlet to Raveguard, which he decided to leave alone, now that we could gather Intel from them. We were paid, and left, feeling like we had made a difference, and having gotten a hefty pay day as well.
The next morning, we awoke to shouting. We saw what appeared to be an angry (but unarmed and nonviolent) mob. We determined that they were heading to the main gate to the upper city. We ran to intercept, knowing that the odds were in favor of the patriars responding with violence. We managed to arrive at the same time as the mob. Then gate was shut, and Ravenguard had around 300 flaming fists guarding it, with 100 of the patriars’ personal guards at the top of the wall with crossbows. Ravenguard shouted at the crowd to disperse, as such a display was unlawful. The commoners responded by shouting that they wanted representation, and that their voices would be heard.
The gnome barbarian managed to climb atop the stage after flashing his badge of rank to the guards, and began to try to diffuse the situation. Ravenguard was obviously displeased by the presence of the crossbowmen, as he knew that the situation was a powder keg as long as they were involved. He agreed to give the heroes of the wide one chance, before he would order his men to break up the riot by force. The gnome agreed, and requested that Ravenguard have his men remove the crossbowmen in the meantime. He then used minor illusion to create a booming amplification of his voice, requesting that the mob calmly assign a single leader to address their concerns to the council so their voices could be heard. It almost succeeded, but someone in the crowd shouted that we couldn’t be trusted. When he tried to respond by claiming that the people’s best interests were their intention, he was cut off by a well-aimed rock. At this, Ravenguards men acted, subduing the mob.
Afterwords, We met again with Ravenguard. He complimented our attempt, and informed us that while we had failed to calm the mob, our actions had prevented it from breaking out into a massacre. As it was, there were no confirmed deaths on either side, or even serious injuries.
The party has decided that the guild is a problem. They are reckless and seem to care more about securing their own power than actually helping the poor. We are unlikely to work with them any more. Also, we have more or less shunned the patriars from the beginning, and I don’t for see that changing, unless Ravenguard messes up really badly.
I recently voiced my dislike that their is no combat. I would like to amend that statement: there needs to be at least one situation per week that gets a player’s heart pumping. This session, we got just that. A lot of that. Chasing the bird and tracking it was the first taste, especially since the DM kept reminding us to think quickly, or the boy would die. Then, when we got to him, we had 3 choices: pay, fight, or talk our way out. We didn’t consider paying as real option, and we didn’t want to risk the hostage by fighting. However, one wrong move or check in the conversation, and it could all break down. Then, the looming threat of a massacre at the gate, with hostility on multiple fronts, led to a heart-pounding interaction. These are the kind of things I want to get out of encounters.
Also, the group we had this week managed to stay focused, and worked together as a unit, allowing us to succeed, and finish all 3 possible hooks with time to spare.

9 dan October 10, 2013 at 6:26 pm

On the topic of being unable to affect change: last night (a week ahead of these posts, so next week’s comment will be the session to which I refer), the party felt very powerless. Very little that we did had any lasting effect, and it took some crazy and inspirational ideas to solve the problem, which we really only prevented from being worse…
Afterwords, I voiced my concern that our choices don’t seem to have much impact, and that it seems more like we are just riding the rapids, rather than actually getting anywhere. Through dialogue with several NPC’s, we determined that certain strategies I wanted to try would actually cause more trouble, which furthered this feeling. However, he told us that while our actions don’t seem to have as much impact, things would be much worse off otherwise. Unfortunately, it is hard for the DM to point that out in-game without NPCs saying so, which would be a bit much to hope for with the current mindset of the citizens.
I’ll repeat: I love the adventure…for a home campaign…

10 Justin Yanta October 12, 2013 at 9:34 am

Yea Berling’s Beard I had the same issue with all my players saying, “Let Baldur’s Gate fall. Lets head back to Neverwinter where it is nice and calm.” I do agree that the players are feeling that whatever they do things are getting worse, which is why I added the rats to the garbage situation to get them motivated. It worked and now there goal is to get Nezzle elected as Duke so she can stop all this craziness. I dont think they will be happy with what is happening next week and I think they might join in on the riots to try to take a pound of flesh from the nobles. We will see.

11 evermore October 16, 2013 at 7:13 am

i’ve had a few more inappropriate moments with this one
i had them witness the the fist do a public execution, they forced them to say they where guilty then stabbed them,
the 3 nobles was going so well till they visited Rael on the way back to the nobel kids home, thinking it had gone ok till rael exposed them to the mob, (very dark moment)

12 evermore October 16, 2013 at 7:16 am

i actually had a quite riot on day one where the outter city stole the body of the fallen duke during the scwabbles about where he should be burred , the PC did manage to return the body

13 David Argall October 24, 2013 at 3:15 am

We seem to be following behind some more and may end up taking twice as long to finish this adventure, which, given none of us are willing to pay for the next one, may work out.
What is not working out is that our DM has a soft voice, and what seems to be a limited understanding of the adventure. Or it may be the adventure’s fault we spent the whole session investigating, and getting just far enough to be frustrated. We found something was going on with the fireworks, but while we ended the session with a good idea of what, we didn’t really know who, when, where, or how, and all our trails had become dead ends. I think the adventure does not want us stopping the threat at this point, but it is quite frustrating to get this far and have no way to go further.

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