It only seems fitting that our first new post be about D&D public play. There’ve been a lot of changes to the D&D Adventurers League since our last blog post and we won’t get into all of that just yet. However, with the discontinuation of the D&D Encounters program our weekly public play write ups will need to undergo a few changes as well starting with our title. From this point forward our weekly recaps will carry the D&D AL title since we can’t call it D&D Encounters any more.
With the passing of D&D Encounters we had to decide what we were going to do at our FLGS on Wednesday nights. Over the past few seasons we’ve run the hardcover adventure, or at least the part that was provided as a free PDF download. Although the new Curse of Strahd hardcover is outstanding, we’ve decided that we’re going to save it for home play. Instead we’re going to run the adventures formerly called D&D Expeditions week to week.
This season the shorter adventures form one linear, continuous story over the span of 14 modules. Each new adventure builds upon the one that came before it. At my FLGS we decided that running these was better than running the hardcover which we knew we’d never finish in the allotted time of the Curse of Strahd season. So this season my weekly recaps will cover the modules in order as we play them starting with DDAL04-01 Suits of the Mist.
Before I get into the details of what my group did in the adventure so far, I feel I should take this opportunity to make an announcement on behalf of the D&D Adventurers League. If you play D&D AL at a store in your neighbourhood please let them know they can get the adventures and magic item certs by email, for free, from their D&D AL Local Coordinator or D&D AL Regional Coordinator (see Adventures & Certificates for Stores & Conventions). If you don’t know who your LC or RC happens to be, you can find out by visiting the D&D AL Wiki page and finding them. If there isn’t an LC for your area, you can volunteer to become one. Just reach out to the Regional Coordinator whose jurisdiction you’d fall under. You can also contact me and I can help if you’re still unsure.
With the housekeeping out of the way, let’s start the journey to Ravenloft as we being the Curse of Strahd adventure path.
Welcome Back to Phlan – A Brief History
I’ve run Suits of the Mist for a few different groups so far, including a few at a con last weekend. As with any new season of D&D Adventures League we get a lot of new players who are new to D&D and new to public play. This season the lure of Ravenloft brought many new players into the fold.
Although most of the players know that their characters will eventually end up in Ravenloft, many are unaware of the circumstances that set up this season. So I’ve composed a short, high-level summary of the details you need to know before you get to the Crossing Inn. For some this will seem like an over-simplistic recap of Tyranny of Dragons, but for others it will fill in an important piece of the background. So bear with me if you’re a D&D AL veteran.
About a year or two before the adventure begins a group of mysterious Dragon Cultist were trying to bring their goddess Tiamat, the five-headed chromatic Dragon (yes, the one from the 80s cartoon), back to the realm of men where she would reign supreme. The Dragon Cult was especially active in Phlan, a town on the Moonsea.
As the cult’s activities became more evident, adventurers arrived in Phlan to try and stop them. The Dragon Cultist managed to get the attention of a powerful Green Dragon called Vorgansharax and eventually the Dragon attacked Phlan. Heroes helped defend the town and managed to get many people out before the Green Dragon was victorious. To secure his new town, Vorgansharax used his magic to enact a barrier around the town trapping everyone still in Phlan, and keeping out those pesky adventurers.
We pick things up a year or so after the Dragon has claimed Phlan. The Faction leaders have been plotting to overthrow Vorgansharax and reclaim Phlan. To do this they need to enlist powerful allies. Adventurers in the area have been tasked with finding and recruiting such allies. And in the season 4 Epic adventure “Reclamation of Phlan” you do just that before facing off against the Dragon, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
The PCs for this adventure are newbies. They’re level 1 adventurers who want to help, but lack experience. So they’ve been giving a task more befitting their abilities. They are to travel to the Crossing Inn, a stop-over that travellers all around Phlan visit as they pass through. Our inexperienced heroes were told to watch, listen, and await further instruction once they reached the inn. And that’s where Suits of the Mist begins.
The Crossing Inn
When the character arrive at the inn, most of the current patrons are crowded around a table at the far end of the common room shouting and arguing. The PCs manage to pick out three distinct phrases: “filthy Gur,” cursed nomads,” and “larcenous and murderous.”
Quick sidebar – the Gur are a group of nomadic peoples in the Forgotten Realms. The idea is that they’re generally not welcomed because some have earned a reputation for being dishonest. As with any stereotype there will be some people who live up to the preconception and some who don’t. But in the case of the Gur, people often assume the worst and treat the visitors to their lands with distain and mistrust. A relatively easy History check reveals this information to the party.
The heroes have the opportunity to interact with the locals and find out what the commotion is all about. Their first interaction is with the owner and proprietor, a fat human names Romsan Kal. He tries to be pleasant and welcome the PCs to his establishment, but it’s obvious that his smile is incredibly forced.
During interactions with Rom, or the group of people gathered around the far table, the PCs quickly learn that a small family of Gur were here recently and it seems that they did harm to these people. Those wronged are fuming and are trying to figure out the best way to resolve their personal calamity.
Here’s what the PCs are told. A couple of weeks ago a family of five Gur showed up at the Crossing Inn. The locals were hesitant to trust or welcome the travellers, but Rom gave them the benefit of the doubt and accepted their coin. After a few days the locals warmed up to the Gur. The family was talented and shared songs and performances for a few coins. The great-grandfather, Papa, was a skilled cook and easily made friends of the kitchen staff as he shared secrets for traditional Gur family dishes. The only female of the group, a woman in her mid-twenties names Sybil, was a talented Seer and performed Taokka readings for anyone who was interested. Hre readings were accurate and helpful. The whole family was welcomed by this community.
Last night things changed. The family betrayed the trust of these people. All four of the Gur men stole from the community and fled during the night. The female Gur, Sybill, has not been seen for a few days.
- STARS: Hricu (aged 12) befriended an Elvin Wizard staying at the in, but last night drugged her ale and stole her magic wand. He was last seen fleeing towards the Vanishing Hills.
- COINS: Rilynin (aged 30) befriended two mercenaries hired to guard a travelling merchant’s wagon. He plied the guards with strong ale and when they passed out he stole a lock-box full of emeralds. He did not take anything else, despite many other valuables being readily available. He was last seen heading towards the Glumpen Swamp.
- SWORDS: Kehkim (aged 50) managed to sneak into the community’s emergency bunker from which he stole two dozen long swords. He also stole a wagon from a nearby farmhouse so he could flee with the goods. He was last seen heading into the Thar hills towards the abandoned Orc stronghold Xul-Jarak.
- GLYPHS: Papa (aged 80) befriended the kitchen staff at the inn, but after dinner last night he attacked the cook’s assistant, ransacked the kitchen, stole some rare herbs & spices, before fleeing towards the Quivering Forest. The unconscious cook’s wounds were healed but he has not yet awoken. It’s believed that Papa gave him the evil eye and cursed him.
Each of those wronged pleaded with the PCs to help them recover what was taken. All have strong arguments for the recovery of their property, but it’s up to the PCs to make the call since none of these folks seem willing to travel into the darkness to find the missing Gur. In addition to this excitement with the Gur, the people at the inn all seem to have an underlying fear of the darkness. Recently it’s become unseasonably cold and a perpetual fog has shrouded the land. The sounds of normal wildlife have disappeared and the only creatures seen about are vermin and scavengers. It’s frightened the locals and the PCs easily pick up on it.
I’ve run this adventure for two groups now.
- The first party undertook the missions in the following order: COINS, SWORDS, STARS, GLYPHS.
- The second party undertook the missions in the following order: SWORDS, STARS, GLYPHS, COINS.
Although all the wronged parties were adamant about getting their property back, the merchant was the only one who was able to promise a monetary reward for doing so. This was the deciding factor for the money-loving party I first took through this adventure.
The Merchant described the lock-box and its contents, 20 small emeralds. He offered the party 125 gp for the return of all gems. If there were fewer gems, then there’d be a smaller reward. To make the party’s task easier, the Merchant told them he’d paid the Wizard who’s wand was stolen to perform a locate object on the lock-box. The Wizard confirmed the box was still headed towards the Glumpen Swamp.
As the party was about to leave the Crossing Inn, the Wizard took them aside and offered them some words of wisdom. During the past week he’d been staying at the Crossing Inn he had a chance to get to know the Gur family. He believes that they’re genuinely good people and that whatever their motives, there’s more going on. He does not believe that this was just a family of con artists looking to rob the locals. The Wizard suggested that the Gur be captured and not killed as they may know more about the events to come and that knowledge may be vitally important.
With the Wizard’s words still echoing in their ears, the PCs left the inn and headed towards the Glumpen Swamp. The journey was uneventful and the party had little trouble finding and following the tacks Rilynin left behind. After a few hours of marching through the half-frozen swamp they spotted a clearing ahead and heard voices.
A female voice speaking common said, “I was promised more than this. I don’t think I can part with the merchandise for this paltry amount.” A male voice with an accent replied, “The gems are worth more than we agreed to. You assured us that we had a deal.”
The party all hid in the underbrush and moved closer as quietly as they could. They saw a Human male matching the Gur’s description holding the missing box low before him. A Gnome female dressed in furs was inspecting the gems. Behind them was a wagon and around it stood four Human guards watching the area for trouble, but not spotting the PCs.
The PCs didn’t wait or make any attempt to talk. They bolted into action. They fired weapons and magic at the Gur and the Gnome. A direct hit dropped Rilynin while the Gnome dove under the wagon for cover. The four guards moved into a protective formation in front of the Gnome and her wagon.
The party’s Druid realized they were not here to kill the Gur so he used healing magic to revive him. The rest of the party focused their attacks on the guards. The Warlock used Mage Hand to retrieve the lock-box with the gems. With the battle in full effect, the trees began to move. Strange Blights made their presence knows and attacked indiscriminately.
The PCs and guards worked together to fight the common enemy, but the PCs made no attempt to ensure that the guards were out of area of affect spells and by the time the combat ended all four guards were dead. Unfortunately two of the PCs, the Cleric and Druid, were both unconscious as well.
The Gnome merchant managed to lock herself in the back of her wagon during the combat and refused to come out once the fighting stopped. The party found a case of potions left at the foot of the wagon. Apparently that’s what Rilynin was trying to purchase with the gems. The Gnome offered to honor the deal if the party left the gems. The PCs weren’t interested. Instead they felt they deserved half of the potions for their losses so they took them before gathering their comrades, and the Gur, and leaving.
When Rilynin awoke he apologised for his theft and thanked the party for helping him. He explained that his sister is a powerful Seer and using her cards she foresaw a terrible and powerful evil that will befall this area soon. The Gur cannot escape so they took steps to ensure their safety. The potions are Holy Water and the Gnome agree to trade them for these gems. The party later discovered that only two of the potions were actually Holy Water.
When they got back to the Crossing Inn the merchant was ecstatic that his gem had been found. True to his word he paid the party their reward. Rilynin apologized but the merchant demanded justice. Rom said he’d have the magister deal with it when the rest of the Gur were captured or killed.
To be continued.
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