Monday, June 23, 2014

"The Spider's Bite" Chapter 20 of the Xanthus River Campaign

This week, the party escapes the sewers of the rat-men, Valerius is killed, Valerius gets better, there's some leveling and maintenance, and Absalom befriends a princess!

Our party consists of:

Player Characters
  • Ser Valerius, Protector of Justica (Level 3 Human Paladin)
  • Absolom, Priest of Justica (Level 3 Human Cleric)
  • Jalani, Priestess of Amun-Tor (Level 3 Human Cleric)
  • Gwen, Warrior (Level 2 Elf Fighter)
  • Biscuit, Rogue/Prestidigitator (Level 1 Gnome Thief/Illusionist)
  • Thaddeus, Runner (Level 1 Human Ranger)
  • Babu the Evoker (Level 2 Human Magic User)
  • Knott the Warrior (Level 2 Human Fighter)
  • Brown Tom the Veteran (Level 1 Human Fighter, Squire of Valerius)

  • Clench (Human Mercenary Heavy Infantryman)
  • Squat (Human Mercenary Heavy Infantryman)
  • Push (Human Mercenary Heavy Infantryman)
  • "War Dog" (Valerius' War Dog)

Left back in town
  • Favreau (Human Cook, Paula's spouse)
  • Paula (Human Cook, Favreau's spouse)
  • Donkey and Cart for Favreau and Paula's supplies
When we left our party, they had just defeated the rat-king and his cohort of rat-men deep in the ancient sewers beneath the town of Swallow.

As the party makes their way back to the surface, they come across a large fleshy creature settling in to a pool at an intersection of drainage canals. The creature had two long tentacles ending in flattened pads and a large bulbous eye at the end of a long flexible eye stalk. It had not yet noticed the party, so they used the element of surprise to quickly run past it before it could react. Their flight past the creature caught it off-guard and they made it safely past.

The Spider's Bite
Later, they found a bend in the tunnel blocked by massive cobwebs. Absolom prepared a flask of burning oil and tossed it into the webs. The fire destroyed the webs around the passage and angered two large spiders and one huge spider. The spiders were quickly dispatched, but not before one of them delivered a deadly bite to Ser Valerius! Valerius staggered and fell, dead!

The party carried Valerius' comatose body back to the basement of the Path of Fear and Thunder and rushed past Black Tom Riddel, leader of that organization, paying him no heed in order to take Valerius directly to Magistrate Orthat, the high priest of Justica. Thaddeus and Babu stayed behind to settle accounts with the treasurer over the bounty paid for the rat-men.

Valerius was brought before Magistrate Orthat, though Zhamach attempted to delay them citing ritual and propriety. Zhamach was overridden by Master Coquille, head of the order of the Executors of Justica. Coquille is a handsome knight with a strong chin, long flowing hair, and immaculate smile. He is also Valerius' mentor. Coquille brought Valerius before Magistrate Orthat. Orthat said that there was nothing he could do today, but he would keep Valerius' body in the temple where it would lie in state overnight. He also informed the party that they must offer a sacrifice worth at least 6,500 gold coins to the goddess Justica. Coquille immediately volunteered to stand watch over the body, followed quickly by Brown Tom, Valerius' squire. That night, Orthat prayed to Justica for mercy and offered the sacrifice provided by the rest of the party. On the next morning, Valerius miraculously returned to life!

Down Time
The party spent the next two weeks in Swallow either recovering from their injuries, training, or performing research. 
Babu and Jilani
Babu spent the first week researching and identifying the various magical items they had found, including:
  • "The Gong of the Sewer", a gong that could summon rats.
  • "Flambeaux", an ancient magical sword that can burst into flame. 
  • "Giant-Killer", an ancient dwarfish dagger used to fight large creatures.
  • "Stalwart", a pair of magical bracers used to deflect attacks.
  • and "The Scrying Stone of the Vanishing Star", a magical orb that Valerius had acquired way back in the first session.
Afterwards, Babu traveled to the Wandering Gortheflexion to train under Urso's former, and now his, mentor the wizard Marrubio.

Knott spent the first week recuperating from his near-death experience and the second week training under his mentor Sergeant Gleen of the Swallow Watch.

Absolom spent the first week recuperating from his near-death experience and the second week studying under his mentor Magistrate Orthat. 

Valerius spent a few days recuperating from his brush with death, then a week training with his mentor Master Coquille. After training, Valerius received word that a wealthy patrician in the town of Swallow wished to wed one of his daughters to the young knight. In exchange, Valerius would be provided a dowry of 27,700 gold coins to be spent on building a manor home on his property near Wince. Valerius accepted the offer and a wedding date was set for eleven weeks.

Jilani spent the first week training under her mentor, Rahasya, the high priest of Amun-Tor in Swallow. Jilani spent the second week resting.

Gwen spent the first week recuperating from her ordeal and the second week practicing her sword-fighting under Sergent Gleen with Knott.

Thaddeus spent his first week living in the forests outside of town, living off the land, learning the ways of nature from the animals and the druids of the woods. When he had returned from town, he learned that he, too, was offered a proposal in marriage from a wealthy patrician family with a significant dowry. He politely turned the offer down.

An Offer from Black Tom
During the first week, the party received a note from Black Tom Riddel. Black Tom was impressed by the actions of the party and offered them another job, which he did not specify in his note. Thaddeus asked around of some of his associates in the Path and learned that Black Tom's son, Blue Tom, had recently joined the cult of Adhinata, God of Penance and Suffering, which had arrived in town several weeks ago and had taken residence re-building the ruins of the ancient monastery on the Bald Knob of Leggach west of town. Black Tom would like to hire The party considered the offer but turned it down. Brown Tom beseeched the group to reconsider but Valerius advised his squire that there were greater threats elsewhere.
The Ruins of Leggach

Greater Threats Elsewhere
The party considered their options. They had learned that the town of Flinch had recently fallen to a tribe of Red-Orcs from Mount Zinnober and that the townspeople had been captured and enslaved. The orcs now held the town and blocked all access to the Defile of Castagon.

In addition, the defile itself had recently come under attack from ogres, stopping all merchant traffic through the mountain pass.

A Princess in Peril
The party spent the better part of a day weighing these events with their other options (tackling the river pirates, slavers along the coast, the dwarfish city of Duirnhold, etc.). That night, returning to the tavern from the temple of Justica, Absolom came across a woman being attacked by three masked men, foreigners by their garb. Absolom preyed for Justica for assistance and the assailants were all miraculously held as if by paralysis. Absolom escorted the woman to safety in the tavern.

The woman was also a foreigner from the east. She wore a stolen cloak over old and dirty silk pants and midriff-baring top. He recognized her as the slave whose escape he witnessed in Thither several weeks ago. 

She introduced herself as Princess Murti of Kalmath, a realm far to the east, beyond the Wastelands. A few months ago, her mother, the Queen of Kalmath, was assassinated by forces loyal to her chief advisor, the Mantri. The Mantri had all of the royal guard imprisoned in the remote outpost of Horek. The Princess was arrested and taken to Thither where she would be sold as a slave to a foreign trader. She managed to escape and is trying to make her way to the city of Horek, where she hopes to free the Royal Guard, travel across the Wasteland, and overthrow the treacherous Mantri. 
Princess Murti of Kalmath

She asked for the party's help in returning to Horek. She is unable to pay them now but she has many friends in Horek and would reward them handsomely if she were returned there.

The party agreed to help the princess. Along the way, they will need to free the village of Flinch and defeat the ogres menacing the Defile of Castagon, and all the while avoiding or defeating the sinister assassins and cutthroats of the Mantri.