Waterdeep: Dragon Heist

24 October 2020

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Dirk
  • Gombert

The characters, none of whom know each other, are all present in The Yawning Portal. This inn is well known to be the place to be in Waterdeep if you're looking for work as an adventurer, which all our heroes are.

In the middle of the large common room is what looks like an enormous (and incredibly deep) well. This unusual feature is the inn's claim to fame: an open entrance into the great dungeon called Undermountain. Every couple of days or so, some adventurers decide to be lowered into the dungeon in the hopes of returning with fabulous treasure. Most are not successful, but the ones that are return with such riches that the dungeons keeps attracting new adventurers.

While our heroes are tending to their drinks (or pursuing other tavern-related endeavours), a sailor with a bald head full of eye-shaped tattoos shouts a vague accusation of murder to a tall female half-orc and throws a nasty punch. The half-orc easily outmatches him, but when four of the sailor's friends join in, she no longer stands a chance.

Teppö and Gopher start to even the odds when suddenly, a haggard looking troll climbs out of the well in the middle of the inn. Strange bat-like creatures are attached to its back and several more of the bat-creatures comes flying after it.

The troll starts rampaging through the inn, while some of the bat-like creatures attach to people and start sucking their blood. A great panic arises and people try to get out of the inn.

The heroes decide to fight the monsters. Together with the innkeeper (who is a former adventurer of some renown) they manage to kill the troll and drive off the bat-creatures (later identified as stirges). Teppö is especially effective, though the troll does knock him out.

After the fight, the heroes get thanked by the half-orc. The sailor and his friends have fled during the commotion. Gopher asks what the fight was about, but gets a vague answer.

While people are cleaning up and tending to the wounded, a flamboyant man called Volothamp Geddarm approaches the heroes. He lavishes them with praise, buys them some refreshments, and then asks them to help him. Two nights ago, he went carousing with a friend called Floon Blagmaar, whom he describes as having better looks than brains. After that night, Floon has gone missing. Volo last saw Floon when he left him at the Skewered Dragon inn, where they had been engaged in drinking and gambling. He has tried to involve the watch, but not enough time has passed for them to investigate the situation. He offers the heroes 10 gp each, and promises them an additional 100 gp each when Floon is safe.

The heroes decide to accept the mission and set off toward the Skewered Dragon. They take a dray (a large double-decker carriage that runs along the main thoroughfares) to the Dock Ward and continue on foot. On their way to the tavern, they pass a violent crime scene. Two groups of people appear to have gotten into a swordfight. Several dead bodies lie in the street, which has been cordoned off by the watch. Nine has a polite conversation with the officers present, but doesn't learn much. He does notice that one of the bodies has a tattoo shaped like a circle with spokes radiating outward (sort of like a sun).

Shortly before arriving at their destination, the group notices an odd shop called the Old Xoblob Shop, which appears to have a stuffed beholder in its window. They resolve to pay it a visit after their business has concluded.

7 November 2020

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Dirk
  • Gombert

The group arrives at the Skewered Dragon. The place looks like a ruin. Both windows are smashed and a ship's anchor is lodged in the roof.

After spending some hours drinking beer, eating snacks (the grilled fish is pretty good; the other food isn't), and cozying up to the barkeep and the local bookie (Goran), the group learns that after Volo left, Floon met up with one Renaer Neverember. Renaer is the son of Dagult Neverember, the previous Open Lord of Waterdeep, who was exiled from the city for corruption and other abuses of power. The regulars in the Skewered Dragon call Renaer a "chip of the old block", and "just another spoiled noble".

When Renaer and Floon left the tavern, they were followed by 5 shady men, and none of them have been seen since. The shady fellows are known to frequent a warehouse on Candle Lane that is marked with a snake symbol on the door. The party decides to check it out.

Candle Lane turns out to be a narrow, smelly, gloomy, odorous alley. As it usual for the Dock Ward, all street lamps are vandalized. One candle-like light still shines, though: a continual flame spell that some wizard must have cast on one of the streetlamps.

Fortunately, the warehouse the heroes are looking for turns out to be just opposite this light. The snake-like symbol turns out to depict a winged snake. Nine realizes that this is the symbol of the Zhentarim, a mercantile organization that has a reputation for dealing in various illicit goods and services.

The warehouse stands across a fenced off outer yard. It is two stories tall and rather ramshackle. Its windows are painted over. There is a large loading door and a regular door with a sliding peephole.

It doesn't take the party very long to find out that the gate in the fence isn't locked. The door is though. While the rest of the party deliberates, Nine masterfully picks the lock and slips inside.

Inside the warehouse is a big mess. Tables and chairs have been carelessly tossed across the floor. The corpses of a dozen humans lie along the walls. After a few moments, Nine is assaulted by 5 short, avian creatures with long beaks and black feathers. They have human postures and and wear hooded cloaks and wield short swords.

A vicious fight ensues. Strangely, the avian creatures (which are later realized to be Kenku) speak with voices that sound variously like big men, old women, children, and more. The party eventually subdues the creatures. Once again, Teppö is highly effective, but gets knocked out. After the fight, Gopher scolds Nine for going in without deliberating with the rest of the group. Nine says he's sorry.

Searching the place, the party discovers Renaer hiding in a closet beneath the stairs. He claims that Floon and he were kidnapped by Zhentarim. He thinks they may have mistaken Floon for him, as the man is of little consequence.

Five of the corpses have a black tattoo of a winged snake. One of the others has a tattoo of a circle with radiating spoken. Nine realizes that it is the same tattoo he saw at the crime scene.

Askenaz finds a hidden room that contains two wooden crates. (When the room is opened, tiny bells in the office on the second floor ring.) Each crate is marked as belonging to a merchant house. The first contains four painting wrapped in leather. The second contains 15 10-pound silver trade bars, black with corrosion, but still highly valuable.

At this point, a shout of "This is the Watch!" is heard near the entrance, followed by the stomping of many boots.

28 November 2020

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Dirk
  • Eve
  • Gombert
  • Martin

A large force of the Watch enters the warehouse. Nine goes over to greet them and let them know that there is already a member of the Watch present. The rest of the party quickly debates whether to hide the goods they found in the secret room, but decides to give them up and hope for a reward.

The Watch, who are led by a somewhat stuffy captain by the name of Staget, takes custody of the prisoners and secures the warehouse. Once he notices that a noble is involved, he clearly decides to be on his best behavior and do everything by the book. He thanks the party for their efforts, assuring them that he will overlook whatever small indiscretions they may have committed while coming to the aid of sir Neverember, but insists that they leave the scene and let the Watch take it from here.

The party, Laudes in particular, try to convince the captain to let them participate in the investigation, but he cannot be swayed. The captain can't prevent them from talking to Renaer though. When the party asks him about the situation, he explains that the Zhentarim believe that his father embezzled a large amount of gold while he was Open Lord. They believe that they need an artifact called the Stone of Golorr to retrieve this gold. This artifact was in the hands of the Xanathar guild, but it has apparently been stolen. The Zhentarim seem to believe that he knows more about the situation, but he hasn't talked to his father in years. In any case, the Zhentarim who kidnapped Floon and him were attacked by the Xanathar guild, who must have taken Floon, whom both groups mistook for Renaer. (He gets a lot of gifts from various ladies, and because of this dresses far above his means.)

Renaer, who feels very bad for what has happened to Floon, intercedes with the captain, and the party are allowed to talk to the captured kenku until the prisoner transport arrives.

Nine and Orlen interrogate the creatures, who communicate only in mimicked voices and sentences. They eventually manage to learn that Floon was taken to a Xanathar hideout via the sewers. A yellow sign will indicate the way.

The party sets off towards the nearest manhole. On the way there, they find several people who saw a bound man being forced into that direction, as well as tracks matching Floon's fashionable shoes.

Down in the pitch black sewers (which smell as awful as one might expect), the party finds a yellow sign shaped like a circle with 10 spikes radiating out of its circumference. This is the same sign that was tattooed on one of the dead Xanathar thugs in the warehouse. Going in the direction of this sign, the party navigates the labyrinthine network for over an hour, each time encountering a similar yellow sign when a choice in direction has to be made.

Below another manhole, a grapefruit-sized floating creature with a large central eye, razor sharp teeth, and 4 eyestalks attacks them. While mimicking the voices of the party in a somewhat high pitched mocking voice, the creature races at them, all the while shooting magical rays from its eyes. One ray strikes Askenaz and makes him feel strangely sympathetic towards the creature. Another strikes Nine and makes him recoil in fear.

Orlen blasts the creature with eldritch energy, and Nine pulls a gun from a compartment in his leg, blowing the creature into a million bits of blood and gore. Askenaz studies the remains and determines that it is likely a "gazer"; a small and fairly dim witted type of beholder which may have a psychic tie to the beholder that created it.

The party debates whether to retreat, but decides to press on.

The sign now directs them through a tunnel filled with a foot of putrid waste water. After several minutes of utterly disgusting travel, the party arrives (from an easterly direction) in a circular room with tunnels going off to the north and south. A ledge with a stone door is visible to the west. Alarmingly, so are arrow slits in the north western and south eastern walls.

12 December 2020

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Dirk
  • Gombert

Gopher eats some moss and mushrooms that he finds growing around. He doesn't like the taste of the moss, but the mushrooms are okay. The party spends much time sneaking around near the arrow slits. They do not find any Xanathar sign and eventually stop being sneaky.

After checking for traps and such, the stone door is opened, revealing a short corridor going north. At the end is another arrow slit and a door in the west wall. Teppö sneaks to the arrow slit and hears some high-pitched snoring. He takes a look and spots a goblin. When the party fails to stay sneaky, the goblin awakens, but he is quickly felled by an arrow from Teppö and some magical flames from Gopher.

Nine spots a trap on the door. It is a mouse trap. Presumably they are quite a problem here in the sewers.

On the other side of the door, the party finds a sort of supply room to the south, and a corridor going north. The supply room contains only rusted weapons and other junk. Some clothing here seems to be used for travelling through the sewers. The corridor north ends on a fight of stairs going down. To the east is an open room containing the recently killed goblin. The north-western arrow slit in the sewers also connects to this room.

The party goes down the stairs. After a little while, the corridor turns to the east and opens into a room containing six human-sized straw mattresses. The east wall has a wooden door. When the party listen at the door, they hear what sounds like furniture being moved, and two male voices arguing. One voice sounds like a dwarf. The other, who exclaims that "It's no use. Use the blankets!" sounds an awful lot like the sailor with the eye tattoo, who started the fight in The Yawning Portal.

The group quietly enters the room, totally unnoticed by arguing sailor and his duergar companion. The dwarf is busy barricading a door in the eastern wall. In the same wall, but a bit to the south is another wooden door. The room is otherwise similar to the previous one, containing six straw mattresses.

The party asks the two if they can be of assistance. The duo is very surprised. The sailor is unsure of what to do, but his dwarven companion charges the party. A nasty fight develops. The sailor appears to be an excellent shot with his bow, and the dwarf magically enlarges himself, after which he strikes a terrible blow with his war pick. The party kill the dwarf, after which the sailor flees through the southern door. Behind this door is a corridor going south, eventually ending in stairs going up. The party shoots the sailor dead before he can ascend the stairs.

Though they are now quite wounded, the group is in no immediate danger and quite curious why the two were barricading the northern door. Teppö gets down flat on the floor to look under the door. He spots a small room with a hole in the floor, some pitted weapons of goblinoid design, and bones that seem to float in the air. Before he has much of a chance to think about the situation he is struck by a semi-translucent pseudopod that slithers under the door. The appendage hits him with quite a lot of force, and even worse, is highly caustic! The unfortunate gnome is rendered unconscious, and may soon become engulfed by more of the slimy creature.

Pulling the gnome away from the ooze could be disastrous if the creature manages to hit him while he is unable to defend himself. The party instead try to kill the creature as quickly as possible. They manage to do so before it can make another attack. Askenaz gathers some of the ooze in some glass flasks.

Battered and worn out, the group wants to get out of the area to rest and recuperate. Askenaz decides to first listen at the bottom of the stairs that the sailor fled toward. When he arrives there, he sees the characteristic light of flames, and he hears a man cry out in pain. The group was about to leave, but with this news decide to risk taking a look at the top of the stairs.

Orlen and Nine, being less wounded than Teppö and Gopher, ascend the stairs. They see a robed half-orc with flames dancing around his fingers standing over a terribly wounded man matching Floon's desciption. Even more disconcerting is a horrendous being with purple tentacles coming from his face. The otherwise humanoid creature is dressed in black robes and seated on a sort of throne. It spots the party, calmly puts a creature resembling a brain with clawed feet on the ground, and glides through a set of double doors in the west of the room. The brain-creature runs towards to party with tremendous speed. It seems confused by Nine and decides to jump Orlen, attacking him with its claws and some sort of mind attack.

The party is absolutely terrified and withdraws. While doing so, Nine takes an incredibly lucky shot with his pistol on the brain-creature and blows it to bits. The casters exchange bolts of magic with the half-orc and take him down, enabling Floon to flee with the party.

The group leaves the sewers via the manhole where they previously encountered the gazer beholder. It opens into the cellar of The Spouting Fish tavern. Askenaz uses magic to clean the party. A flabbergasted waitress shows the party out.

Back at The Yawning Portal Inn, Volo is immensely releaved to see Floon again. (As is Renaer when he arrives after being notified by a messenger.) He pays a resident healer to perform magical first aid on the party, but afterward has to confess that his finances are not sufficient to pay the party the 100gp per person reward that he has promised them. He instead offers them something which he claims to be far more valuable: the deed to a manor in Waterdeep's exclusive North Ward!

The building, being situated in Trollskull Alley, is generally refered to as Trollskull Manor. Though it is dilapidated, it clearly was once quite a fancy manor. Volo acquired it for research purposes for his next book: Volo's Guide to Spirits and Specters. It may indeed be hunted. According to Volo, this shouldn't worry you too much, as it would make it a most entertaining attraction.

Volo takes the party to a magistrate to make the transfer of ownership official. The 25gp fee is customarily paid by the new owner. Fortunately, the party has sufficient finances to cover this. Trollskull Manor is officially theirs.

The party advances to level 2.

21 December 2020

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Dirk
  • Gombert

The party explores their mansion. Inside is a big mess of broken furniture, cobwebs, and spoiled supplies. The building certainly needs a lot of cleaning as well as overdue maintainance, but it is spacious and structurally sound. Teppö estimates that it will cost the party some 800 gp to get the manor back in shape.

Teppö and Gopher climb on the roof to fix some displaced tiles. Their labor attracts the attention of a passing neighbor, who stops to meet the new owners and give some advice. His name is Talisolvanar "Tally" Fellbranch, a half-elf carpenter and woodcarver, who runs a nearby shop called "The Bent Nail", where he sells ornate wooden furniture, sculptures, and all kinds of wooden weapons and armor. (Including a selection of bows and crossbows.)

Tally tells the party that the Manor has been empty for many years, passing through the hands of many owners. It was a tavern many years ago, and an orphanage before that. The orphanage shut down suddenly. (It was not run by two gentlemen who only came out at night.) Before that it had also been a tavern. It was owned by a group of dwarves and towards the end they seemed to have fallen on hard times. He occassionally sees one of them walking down a street, but they don't live in the neighborhood.

The party asks Tally to take a look in the building and give them his opinion on the quality of the woodwork. He doesn't see any problems that seriously threaten the structure. He offers to get the party in touch with the Carpenters', Roofers', and Plaisterers' Guild. It may also be helpful to get the Cellarers' and Plumbers' Guild involved. If they want the run the tavern again, they should probably also contact the Launderers' Guild; the Dungsweepers' Guild; the Loyal Order of Street Laborers; the Guild of Butchers; the Vintners', Distillers', and Brewers' Guild; the Bakers' Guild, ... Getting licensed and contracted with all the necessary guilds will probably cost at least 200 gp.

The party buys some (well made) beds from Tally and goes shopping for mattresses and sheets. They meet Fala Lefaliir, an androgenous elf who runs a herbalism shop called Corellon's Crown across the street, and Rishaal the Page-Turner, a dragon born with golden scales, who runs a bookstore (and spell copying service) called Book Wyrm's Treasure. They also see a sewer entrace and a nearby building where great amounts of smoke and steam billow from all windows. They spot two men inside the latter; one with burning eyes and hair that looks like flames; the other with hair that flows as though underwater.

The group returns to the Dock Ward to collect on the bet that they places with the bookie in The Skewered Dragon. The troll won the fight, and Askenaz collects his 1 gp winnings. On the way they stop at the Old Xoblob Shop. The story is filled to the brim with trinkets, each of a deep violet color. The proprietor is an eccentric Deep Gnome. He bought the store years ago. It was already called the Old Xoblob Shop and already had the stuffed beholder in the window. He tried renaming it, but everyone kept calling it the Old Xoblob Shop, so he eventually gave in. The party sees several interesting trinkets, but doesn't like the prices.

Nine visits Istrid Horn in a well-guarded warehouse in the Dock Ward to make one of his scheduled payments. Returning back to the Manor, he spots a building near the manor with a an unusual mark near the door. It is orange and black and seems to depict a pair of cat's eyes. Nine does not recognise it as a gang mark, and decides to let it be.

A representative of the Carpenters', Roofers', and Plaisterers' Guild arrives at the manor. After a lot of disapproving comments about the state of the building, he concludes a thorough inspection. He estimates that it will his guild and the Cellarers' and Plumbers' Guild about 2 weeks to restore the building to the kind of shape you'd want a repectable manor or tavern to be in. The cost would be around 1000 gp, which is considerably more than the party has available.

Orlen visits The Yawning Portal Inn in the hopes of landing a lucrative adventuring job. He finds two jobs, but both seem unsuitable. The first one involves fighting a true giant, which is probably suicide. The second one pays incredibly well: 1000 gp. It would require the party to get on a boat to Luskan at dawn the next morning. The goal is to rescue someone from barbarians in the Spine of the World mountains some 400 miles to the north. The party considers the offer. Nine admits that he is not currently allowed to leave the city because of an investigation that he is not allowed to discuss. It doesn't really matter, because some deliberation, the party suspects the job is a con job. Luskan is a known pirate haven and the job pays suspiciously well.

Nine asks a contact in the Watch if there are some "off the books" jobs that the party might do. His contact might have something, but he needs to confer first. He promises to get back to Nine tomorrow.

When the party decides to go to bed, they discover that Orlen's bedsheets have been stuck in one of the privies. It is hardly a fun joke, so they expect the mansion may indeed by haunted. Their suspicions are confirmed during the night. Furniture gets moved around, doors get slammed open and closed, and the message "closing time" gets written on the wall in what smells like stale beer. The party tries communicating with whatever being is haunting them, but to no avail. They decide that they probably need a priest to deal with the situation, and so the following morning, they pay a visit to the temple of Lathander: The Morninglord.

Lathander's temple is an impressive building in the Sea Ward, the fanciest part of town. It is a three-story cathedral of pink marble, capped by seven spires of copper, gold, and silver that beautifully capture the light of the rising sun. The building is known as the Spires of the Morning.

It does not take long to find a helpful priest. Lathander is a great enemy of the undead, so his priests are happy to provide advice. Although, since whatever is haunting the mansion does not seem to pose a risk to the general public, they will not risk their lives unless the party makes a generous donation.

The priest thinks the mansion is haunted by a ghost or poltergeist of some sort. Such a creature is tied to this world by some unfulfilled need or desire. The party can try to resolve this need, or attempt to destroy the being. The first will require them to discover what it is that the being desires, which may be difficult, as it is not very communicative. The second option may be dangerous, and, depending on the type of undead, may not be permanent.

9 January 2021

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Dirk

The party tries to find out more about the haunting. Gopher hypothesizes that the spirit most likely either wants the inn/tavern to be restored or destroyed. He talks to Tally in the hope of getting some more information. He learns that the mansion used to be a tavern, not an inn. The last time it was active, it was owned by a half-elf, though he was not very involved in the business. The place was run by the barkeep, who was another half-elf. Other than that, Tally doesn't really know anything about the situation. Nine commissions a ouija board.

Teppö goes looking for a budget priest to communicate with the poltergeist. He talks to a halfling priest at Holyhands House, a former mansion in North Ward that has been turned into a temple to all gods. The priest is willing to talk to the spirit, though he doesn't think he'll be able to do much more than the party has already attemped. His rate is 2 gp, which the gnome is unwilling to pay.

Nine visits the local Watch station to try and find if they have any records about Trollskull Mansion. He finds an old dwarven sergeant who used to frequent the tavern. According to him, the tavern used to have good dwarven beer when it was being run by dwarves, before it became an orphanage. He doesn't know why the orphanage shut down exactly, but it somehow involved Waterdeep's mages guild, the Watchful Order of Magists and Protectors, which is unusual. He doesn't know much about the half-elf run tavern, except that it seemed pretty successful until it suddenly shut down. He didn't like the beer as much though. He knows another regular from the old times who did like the half-elf run tavern. He'll check with him to see if he knows more.

Askenaz, who is a member of the Watchful Order, and Teppö go and visit the Order's headquarters in the Castle Ward. On the way there they pass an enormous statue that appears to be slumped on the ground. This one of Waterdeep's Walking Statues that are said to guard the city when it is in great need.

The Tower of the Order is an impressive building surrounded by a fence of green magical force. Askenaz and Teppö (wearing a "visitor's necklace" that will prevent him from entering unauthorized areas) make their way to the archives. The archivist on duty is not allowed to tell them the details of what went on between the Order and the orphanage, but promises to contact one of the mages involved in the situation on their behalf. It will be up to her to decide if and what the party is allowed to know about the situation.

The Watch sergeant pays a visit to the mansion. The half-elf-run tavern shut down not long after the barkeep suddenly died of a heart attack. Though he did not own the place, he had been the driving force behind the business. His name was Lif. He didn't live in the mansion (the owner did). He had tried to make the tavern a social hub of the community, but he died before that had really taken off. His death was ruled to be of natural causes.

Nine asks if the sergeant knows what the cat-eye symbol on one of the nearby houses means. The sergeant tells him that it is the office of a private investigator called Vincent. As far as the sergeant knows, he is a competent fellow.

Gopher tries to engage the spirit in the taproom, with some success, though also at the risk of bodily harm. (He gets a mug flung at his head, which he fortunately manages to dodge.) The spirit rings a bell when asked if he is Lif. It does not react well when asked if he wants the place to be turned into something other than a tavern. When Gopher declares that the party will make an effort to turn the place back into a nice tavern, this is met with unpleasant laughter. The party surmises that the spirit is likely Lif, that he probably wants to tavern restored, and that his death may not have been of natural causes.

Late in the afternoon, an old dwarven woman whose face is stuck in a perpetual scowl knocks at the door. Behind her stands a giant walking construct of some sort. She introduces herself als Ulkoria Stonemarrow and asks to see the owners of the mansion. After the party proves their ownership and express their intent to improve the place, she opens up. She used to own the mansion a great many years ago. She sold it to a group of dwarves who turned it into the first tavern, which was quite successful. They nevertheless ran into money problems and were forced to sell the place.

The next owner started an orphanage. Unfortunately, she turned out to be a hag who cooked and ate the children in her care. When this was discovered, Ulkoria personally led the Order's intervention. The hag was chased out of the city and killed. The remaining children were placed in legitimate orphanages. The mansion was sold to a half-elf who turned it into a tavern again. This was the tavern that employed Lif. After that tavern closed, ownership passed to people outside of Waterdeep, and Ulkoria lost track. She likes the idea of the place once again becoming a tavern, and promises to visit. When she departs, she does so by teleporting away.

The party sleeps in the mansion. This time without being bothered much by the ghost.

During Nine's watch, a winged serpent with a piece of parchment tied to its body comes flying toward him. He raises the alarm, but it turns out to be just a message. A person called Davil Starsong promises a beneficial opportunity. He can be contacted at The Yawning Portal Inn. The serpent flies away after the parchment has been removed.

The party checks it out the next day. They are greeted by the half-orc whom they helped in the bar fight a few days ago. She leads the party to a sun elf dressed in bright clothes who introduces himself as Davil Starsong. Davil informs the party that in the past days, three elves and half-elves have been found decapitated in the Dock Ward. As an elf, he is concerned about this situation, and thinks the Watch could use some help in this matter. If the party manage to stop whoever is doing this before there is a new victim, he will pay each of them 50 gold pieces. The party accepts the offer, and Askenaz draws up a simple contract, which both parties sign. Nine asks how Davil came to contact the party and is told that it was in fact his contact at the Watch who let Davil know that the party was looking for work. Davil declares that he greatly appreciates the enterprising nature of the party, and is sure that there will be many more mutually beneficial opportunities in the future.

16 January 2021

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Dirk
  • Gombert

Nine and Teppö will go to the Watch to find out what is already known about the murders. In preparation, they bake some excellent doughnuts to use as encouragement.

Because Nine is on a leave of absense, the Watch is not supposed to give him any details about an ongoing investigation. Nonetheless, they manage to persuade the sergeant in charge of the case to share some information. The Watch is taking the situation seriously, but so far they have no good leads. Things like a Speak with Dead spell could prove very helpful, but that is very powerful - and therefore expensive - magic, and so far the required funds have not been allotted.

The first body was found 7 days ago at night in Shrimp Street, near Snail Street, which is one of the main thoroughfares in the center of Dock Ward. The victim is an elven sailor whose last job was on a ship that has returned to Baldur's Gate a few weeks ago.

The second body was found early in the morning, 4 days ago, in Fishgut Alley in the southeastern end of the Dock Ward. The victim is a half-elf sailor who sailed on a rather shabby ship that is still docked in the northwestern part of the harbor.

The third body was 2 days ago at night in Fishgut Court, which confusingly is nowhere near Fishgut Alley, but all the way in the northwestern part, near Mount Waterdeep. The victim is an elven sailor from a rather nice elven ship that is also still docked in the northwestern part of the harbor.

The Watch has not found any connection between the victims, other than the fact that they all have elven blood, and have each been killed in the same rather gruesome fashion. In each case their decapitated heads were found near the body. The half-elf had some recent bruises, but other than that, none of the victims had any wounds other than the clean cut that removed their heads. The act may have been done with an axe or a very sharp sword.

The party checks out the two ships. The boatsman of the elven ship is distressed by the situation. He knows of no reason why the sailor might have run into trouble. He only spent a few days a year in Waterdeep. He probably went to Selune's Smile, which is a nice tavern close to where his body was found. After some persuasion, the boatsman would be willing to act as a lure for the murderer, as long as the party will do their utmost to protect him.

The boatsman of the other ship is completely disinterested in helping. The party eventually gives up on trying to get anything out of him.

The party checks out the locations where the bodies were found. They eventually find convenient hiding places that the murderer could have used near each of the locations. In one of these locations they find a small amount of smokepower and very faint tracks of boots that have surprisingly few distinguishing characteristics. In another location they find a singly blue thread. Smokepowder is quite rare and expensive. It is used in firearms, fireworks, and occassionally to cause large explosions. The substance is for the most part banned in Waterdeep, though some people (mostly related to the Watch and the church of Gond) have permits for its use.

The party decides to report back to Davil, and hopefully get some more information out of him. They are once again greeted by the half-orc and escorted to Davil. The elf is quite interested in what the party has found out so far, but claims to have no additional information. He seems sincere. Nine suspects that the half-orc, and by extension Davil, may be connected to the Zhentarim.

23 January 2021

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Gombert
  • Martijn

Orlen, Nine, and Nonagonn check out the area where the first elf was found, to look for the nearest tavern. They find a tavern called The Bloody Fist. The place seems okay at first, but Orlen notices that the furniture is noticeably barfight-resistant, and there are a lot of signs of recent repairs. With some persuasion, the bartender doesn't not remember that the elf was present at the night when his body was found. It was quite clear that he didn't have any money, and he didn't notice anyone following him outside. (Meanwhile, Nine is drinking poor whiskey, and Nonagonn is entertaining a harlot.)

The party gets back together. They don't have much to go on, but they have noticed that victims all seem to have been killed shortly after leaving a tavern. Those taverns are suspiciously spread out across the Dock Ward, so they decide to patrol an area where no victim has yet been found. They pick a route that takes them from Gut Alley to Blackstar Lane to Dust Alley, and then via Three Daggers Alley and Spiderway Alley back to where they started.

When they enter Three Daggers Alley, they are suddenly accosted by three spectral daggers with no obvious origin. The party quickly retreats and while the daggers pursue, they don't do so very far. When they ask a local about the situation, they hear that there is an ancient curse on the alley that occassionally causes three daggers to accost people (or animals) for no apparent reason. It is apparently a somewhat rare occurrence.

After regrouping, the party continues their patrol. In Spiderway Alley, they notice a tipsy half-elven sailor. As the sneakiest party member, Nine will tail him, and the rest will follow at some distance.

After a few hundred yards, Nine notices a figure in a dark blue cloak emerging from a side alley just behind the sailor. The figure is wielding a wickedly sharp looking scimitar. Nine calls out in alarm and dashes towards the figure, chaining his own arm to one of the figure's with a set of manacles. Before the rest of the party can arrive, the figure, who turns out to be a drow, creates a zone of magical darkness around himself.

A fight ensues in which the drow turns out to be a very slippery fellow. He manages to escape the manacles, and uses levitation magic to get on a roof while the party tries to subdue him. This is made all the harder due to the drow taking shots at them with a pistol that appears to be shooting poisoned bullets.

The party finally manages to take the drow down, just before he can make his escape via the rooftops. Unfortunately, they are forced to kill him.

Gopher casts Detect Magic on the drow's possessions and discovers that his boots are magical. They are clearly of drow manufacture. The drow also carried a pistol and 3 full packets of smokepowder and one that is now empty. The party does not find anything else of interest.

While the party is still discussing how to proceed, the thudding sound of approaching boots (likely the Watch) can be heard...

30 January 2021

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Dirk
  • Gombert
  • Martijn

The party decides to wait for the Watch to arrive, though they do abscond with the drow's boots and 3 packets of smokepowder. The Watch takes the situation quite seriously, but with Nine being one of their own (albeit a detective), they are predisposed to believe the party at their word. Nonetheless, they are escorted to a Watch station where their official statements get taken. The whole process takes a few hours, but the Watch is pretty sure that the party did the Dock Ward a great favor, so they don't dig too deeply, and are happy to let them go with the unofficial thanks of the Watch.

The next day, Nine pays a visit to the Watch sergeant who previously gave him some details about the investigation. He hands her a fully typed up report of the situation, with the author field left blank, which she is happy to accept. She doesn't expect the Lords of the city to retroactively put up a bounty for the drow, though she has a little hope that they may allocate some funds for a Speak with Dead spell so they can find out the killer's motives. She conspicuously leaves a set of guard manacles out for Nine to discreetly take, to replace his set which the drow damaged with a gunshot.

The party next visits The Yawning Portal Inn to collect their reward from Davil. Nonagonn recognises the half-orc as a mercenary called Yagra Stonefirst.

Davil is very happy with the party's results, though he would have liked to learn the killer's motives. He pays the party a total of 400 gp. (50 gp per current party member, as promised.) Nine suspects both Davil and Yagra of being members of the Zhentarim, and Gopher decides to just ask Davil.

The elf admits that he is indeed a member of that organization, but tells the party that the Zhentarim of today are quite different from what the organization was like in the past. Two centuries ago, the Zhentarim were determined to take control of much of Faerun, but changes in management have caused the organization to become much more mercantile and no longer interested in conquest and domination. As he describes it, the Zhentarim just wants its members to make a profit and help each other to do so.

Unfortunately, the Zhentarim have only recently become re-established in Waterdeep and there are currently two factions active in the city. Davil is aligned with what he calls the legitimate Zhents, who operate with the backing of Darkhold, the headquarters of the Dark Network. (Orlen notes that they could do with some rebranding.) The other faction seems to want to push the Zhentarim back to the way the organization was run in the distant past. According to Davil, they are the ones who are in conflict with the Xanathar guild.

Davil sees a lot of mutually profitable opportunities in the party's future, and the party would be happy to accept more jobs. Davil offers the group membership in the Zhents. They wouldn't even have to go to Darkhold for the normal training program! The party is rather hesitant and would like to be seen as independent contractors, at most. They leave with their status being somewhat uncertain.

The party uses most of the money they just received to pay for doing the most urgent repairs at Trollskull Manor. Teppö attempts to use the ouija board to communicate with the spirit, but to little effect. He does at one point feel something hitting the back of his head. It turns out to be a folded paper bird with a message written on it. The message states that Renaer speaks highly of the recipient, and that he should see Mirt tonight in his private box at the opera. There are sufficient tickets enclosed for the entire party, but they are warned to dress appropriately.

None of the party member are regulars at the opera, so they have to make some effort to get suitable clothing. Gopher decides to sit this one out, as his appearance is inherently unrespectable. Nine decides to go with his dress uniform. Teppö finds a tailor who makes him a pretty nice costume. (Not quite what high society would consider fine clothes, but pretty close.) Askenaz, Orlen, and Nonagonn each rent some very nice outfits.

The opera takes place in a theater in the Sea Ward, which is Waterdeep's fanciest ward. Both the building and the attendees are a sight to behold. The performance is a tragic piece about an evil dragon and a hero destined to defeat him, but to perish in the process.

The party visits Mirt during the intermission. Mirt turn out to be a large, boisterous man. He tells the characters that Renaer spoke highly of them, and that he is happy to hear that they seem to be opposed to evil. He asks each party member questions about how important they feel the fight against evil to be, and whether they would consider breaking the law if evil hid behind it. If a character indicates that the law or material concerns might be more important than the fight against evil, then he invites them to go to the lobby and order some refreshments on his tab. Eventually, only Teppö is left.

Mirt explains that he is a member of an organization called The Harpers. They are loosely organized, with most members knowing only a few others. All are dedicated to fighting evil, and will, if necessary, use covert and illegal means to fight it. Being a Harper is not, for most, a full time occupation. They cannot pay their members a salary. All they can do is assist each other in making the world a better place. He invites Teppö to join them, as he seems to share their ideals. Teppö accepts, though he stresses that he and the rest of the party are currently quite occupied with getting the tavern up and running. Mirt is fine with that. The Harpers will occassionally ask for assistance. If the party is unable to provide it, then so be it. He does offer to give them a loan. (He is a money lender, after all.) Teppö has to think about it.

Mirt has a task that Teppö can help with. One of the drays in the city is pulled by a talking mare called Maxeene. He would like Teppö to locate and talk to her to see if she has learned the identity of any Zhents operating in the city, and if so, to determine their whereabouts. Teppö accepts, and also tells Mirt all about the situation with Davil, which Mirt is very interested to learn.

13 February 2021

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Gombert

The party spends a relatively quiet night in Trollskull Manor. The next day they are woken by knocking on the door. A lady has come to thank them for recovering her uncle's paintings. (The party found them in the Zhentarim hideout.) She offers one of them as a reward. The party picks the one depicting Neverwinter Night, but asks her to hold on to it for now until the Tavern is renovated. She is fine with this and leaves her address.

After this has been settled, Orlen and Nine head go to The Yawning Portal Inn to look for work, while Gopher and Teppö go looking for Maxeene.

Gopher and Teppö have little trouble tracking down the horse in the Castle Ward, but they need to find an opportunity to take to her without blowing her cover. (Gopher's ability to telepathically talk to intelligent beings came in quite helpful in determining which of the horses pulling the dray is Maxeene.) They discover the time and location where the Dray will park for a bit to allow the horses to feed and rest before doing another round.

While searching the Sea Ward for the dray, they run into Ahghairon's tower just across from Piergeiron's Palace. (The residence of the Open Lord, named after Piergeiron Paladinson, who was Open Lord some two centuries ago.). A human skeleton with his hands raised stands just outside this tower. A small official looking signpost next to it warns that it is forbidden to disturb the skeleton. Teppö goes to investigate and is soon intercepted by a guard who explains that Ahghairon was once a mighty wizard and the first Open Lord. On his death his apprentices sealed his tower with very powerful wards. Centuries ago a wizard tried to break through these wards, but succeeded only in breaking through the first once. His was still working on the second one when the first ward came back and trapped him between the two. Over time his flesh and clothes rotted away and now only his skeleton remains. Local youths liked to disturb the bones by poking them with sticks. (Over time they always drift back together.) Open Lord Piergeiron thought this disrepectful and forbade it. Teppö is clearly fascinated but leaves it be for now.

Gopher and Teppö go to the resting place just before the dray is set to arrive. While Gopher distracts the driver, Teppö talks to the mare. Maxeene tells him that she discovered two Zhentarim. They match the description of Davil and Yagra and took the dray to The Yawning Portal a few days ago. They talked about hiring spies to infiltrate the Xanathar Guild so they could learn the locations of they hideouts. Maxeene has not learned anything else.

Gopher inquires if Maxeene is happy continuing with her current mission. She is okay with it, though she looks forward to stopping. She says that Mirt will arrange for her to get out in a few days. When asked how she is able to speak, she tells that a druid gave her the ability. Life has become more complicated since that time, though she doesn't want to go back to her old intelligence and inability to speak.

Teppö and Gopher take their leave and go to Mirt's mansion. The building is quite fancy, though a bit run down. At first it seems like noone is home, but eventually Mirt opens the door. He is quite interested to learn what Maxeene has discovered. He asks various questions about Gopher's beliefs and concludes that he might make a good Harper. Gopher accepts the offer, and both he and Teppö get a small silver pin in the shape of a harp. They can use it to identify themselves to other Harpers, who will be likely to offer them assistance. Mirt does warn that the Harpers have foes too, and they will likely react badly to the pin. The Harpers are not a rich organization (they are more a loose association than an organization anyway), but Mirt would be happy to give the party a loan with favorable terms if the party could use it. Teppö and Gopher decline the offer for now.

The party discovers that a human called Emmek Frewn means to open a tavern called Frewn's Brews in another building on Trollskull Alley. They don't really know what to make of it.

Teppö decides to do some research and heads to the temple of Deneir, the scribe of Oghma. After answering many questions about Teppö heritage and the things he has seen in his life, they confirm most of the things the party has been told about the Zhentarim (used to be very bad, now morally gray), the Harpers (generally a force for good), and the Xanathar Guild (criminals).

Orlen is approached by a cleric of Gond, the god of craft and invention. They will be testing a new device tomorrow in the street just outside Gond's great temple, the House of Inspired Hands. They would like the party to keep people at a safe distance. The job will pay 5 gp per person if everything goes smoothly and 10 gp per person if things go badly and the party has to do more than just simple crowd control. Orlen accepts the job.

20 February 2021

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie

The party again tries to communicate with the ghost haunting the tavern. Teppö readies the ouija board, Nine draws a summoning circle which he sort of remembers his erstwhile master using, and Gopher burns all kinds of herbs. The ritual doesn't summon the ghost, but does summon some members of Watchful Order of Magists and Protectors, who enter the building casting various water summoning spells.

The ritual did create quite a bit of smoke, but this response seems a bit exaggerated. The party notices a crowd outside and realizes that their competitor-to-be Frewn is among them. It is soon realized that he is the one who notified the Watchful Order. Gopher goes outside and manages to turn the crowd against Frewn, who quickly leaves.

After some cleanup, the party makes another attempt to communicate with the ghost, this time without the summoning circle (which according to the Watchful Order is meant to demons) and the herbs. Teppö is very convincing and gets the ghost to confirm that he is indeed the spirit of Lif. He doesn't think he's been murdered and would like the Inn to be restored. The party promises to make this happen.

The party finally gets to spend a quiet night in the manor. The next day they head to the temple of Gond. (Known to gnomes as a manifestation of Nebelun the Meddler; god of invention, construction, and luck.)

The House of Inspired Hands is a cross between a temple and a great workshop. As the party arrives a bit early, they get to spend some time exploring the Hall of Exemplary Inventions, where they meet with Valetta, a dragonborn cleric. Among other things, they see:

Eventually the experiment is about to start. The party heads outside to Gondwatch Alley, just outside the temple's entrance. A number of clerics of Gond erect wooden prop trees in which they hang real apples. They then bring a sort of gondola on wheels. They explain that this device will revolutionize the picking of fruit. Teppö, who had volunteered to pilot the device, climbs aboard while clerics of Gond hang heavy bags of sand on the device. Then four clerics, who have heavy bits of metal hanging on their outfits, arrive holding large balloons covered with sheets of cloth. The balloons are attached to the gondola, and after Teppö carefully drops some of the sand, the gondola starts to float!

After a little practice Teppö is able to get quite close to the fruit, and with a simple mechanical claw he can pick it quite easily. Getting to the next tree proves harder than anticipated by the Gondians, but after Teppö suggests giving him a pole to move the gondola forward, this problem is effectively solved and the gnomes takes the gondola on a small journey across the alley.

A complication arises when one of the sheets is displaced by a sudden gust of wind at just the wrong moment. The balloon underneath looks an awful lot like a beholder. It has a big central eye and a bunch of stalks on top. Teppö uses his mechanical claw to put the sheet back, but the crowd gets restless. Some people are clearly worried.

Gopher thinks the balloon may actually be some kind of mushroom. He can't put his finger on it exactly, but it seems very mushroomy to him, and he definitely has a feel for that sort of thing. He and Nine try to calm the crowd down and are fairly succesful. One person does arrive with a crossbow to shoot the beholder down, but he is talked out of it while the clerics quickly pull the gondola back to earth and wheel it back into the temple.

After things have calmed down, Gopher asks the clerics about the balloons. They admit that they are in fact mushrooms. They claim they are harmless, but are clearly quite worried. Gopher suspects they may actually be poisonous, and may have brought Teppö (and perhaps the crowd) in quite a bit of danger. He suggests the party's discretion would be well worth an additional 5 gp per person, and the clerics seem to agree. The party gets paid 15 gp per person.

27 February 2021

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Gombert

Work on the manor progresses. The roof is in pretty good shape now, and some of the weaker spots in the walls have been repaired. The party still needs some 500 gp to complete the repairs. They briefly discuss getting a loan, as both Mirt and Davil have offered to arrange for one. They decide that it isn't necessary right now, as they've been pretty successful at making money doing adventuring work.

The party heads to The Yawning Portal to enjoy some drinks and perhaps find some work. The succeed at the former, but not the latter. They spend an uneventful night at the manor.

The next morning workers from the Cellarers' and Plumbers' Guild arrive to renovate the sewer access. Teppö decides that people knocking on the door is unsatisfactory and he crafts a doorbell that plays a simpe gnomish tune on some small steam whistles.

A little while after Orlen has headed back to The Yawning Portal, Nine receives a mental message summoning him and his friends to Blackstaff Tower. Nine explains to the party that the Blackstaff is Waterdeep's archmage. They decide to head to the tower, with a detour to pick up Orlen.

The party heads to Castle Ward, where Blackstaff Tower is located. The tower seems to be about three stories tall, but it is hard to judge, as it is entirely made of a smooth black stone with no visible doors or windows. Nine seems to know where the entrance is though, and when he announces himself a magical doorway appears. He seems a little nervous to enter.

Inside the party is greeted by the Blackstaff's assistant, Atheron. They are lead up stairs, which, surprisingly given the exterior of the tower, has has quite a few windows. On closer inspection, some of these windows show vistas that are not directly outside of the tower, or in which the city is clearly in a different season. The tower also seems to be taller on the inside than on the outside.

The walls along the stairs contain many alcoves with all kinds of exotic and magical objects. Teppö actively refrains from touching any of them.

At the top of the stairs is a large hall full of floating doors. Atheron opens one of these and bids to party to enter. On the other side is what appears to be a study. A fairly young woman (perhaps early 30s?) holding a large black staff introduces herself as Vajra Safahr, the Blackstaff.

Vajra informs the party that she has heard good things about them from her friend Renaer. She has also heard that the party found a considerable number of silver trade bars that are now held in trust by the city, waiting for the rightful owner to claim them. The trade company that owns them is out of business, so in due time the bars will be divided by the city and and the finders. This will likely take several months. If the party is willing to help her with a delicate matter, she will make sure that the party gets all the bars (worth some 750 gp) on short notice.

Nine responds that this would certainly interest the party, assuming the bars will be transfered legally. Varja tells the party that she has in fact acquired the legal rights to the trade company that owns the bars, so it is entirely above board.

Vajra wants the party to discreetly explore a secret vault of the Ilvastarr noble family. She suspects that it contains a set of magic items called the Griffontack of Belabranta. If this is the case, the party is to retrieve these items for her.

House Belabranta is famous for breeding griffons and has produced many prominent griffon riders. Many centuries ago one of their members greatly distinguished himself in the Second Trollwar, which lead to the family being raised to the nobility. To commemorate this, he commisioned a set of magic items which were to be passed on as heirlooms. This set was lost about a century later in an attack on the city by the Black Claw orc horde. The head of the family and his steed were shot down by the orc archers, and their remains fell down among the orcs. After the battle, the Ilvastarrs found the body, but claimed the fleeing orcs had already taken the griffontack. The Belabrantas have always believed that the Ilvastarrs stole the items.

The Ilvastarrs are a slightly younger and somewhat less prominent house than the Belabrantas. They are famous monster hunters and also own culinary interests that specialize in exotic meats. They have long owned a small mausoleum on Mount Waterdeep, before the area was declared military grounds. Varja thinks the mausoleum may also function as a vault, and suspects it holds the Griffontack. She cannot be sure, however, as the place is heavily warded against divination magic, so she has been unable to learn much about its interior.

Varja believes the Belabrantas also suspect that the Griffontack is held in the mausoleum. There is no telling what the consequences will be if they manage to explore the place and find the items, but it is unlikely to be good for the city. Hence she would like the party to discreetly retrieve the items before the Belabrantas have a chance to act.

Citizens are not supposed to hang around on Mount Waterdeep, but Vajra will provide an excuse for the party to do so. The party is to visit a monk called Hlam, who lives in a cave not far from the mausoleum, and ask him on her behalf if he's learned of any threats to the city. If the City Guard stops them, they can say they are on assignment from the Blackstaff. Few would dare to falsely make such a claim, so the Guard will most likely accept this answer. Should the party get caught doing something illegal however, Vajra will disavow them.

The party should expect to encounter magical and mundane defenses in the mausoleum. At a minimum there will be locks, but it will likely go beyond that. It would also make sense for there to be some sort of alarm system, so they should be very careful.

The Griffontack consists of five pieces, all engraved with the Belabranta crest. They include a caparison, a bit and bridle for griffonriding, a ring, a lance, and a griffon lancesaddle. The latter has magical compartments suitable for cpnveniently storing a lance in.

The party accepts the job and starts preparing. They buy a large chest suitable for storing the Griffontack in, and fill it with the kind of supplies that a monk might need.

Nine explores the first part of the route to the mausoleum. The Cliffride road leads to a small number of building that are situated on the northern reaches of Mount Waterdeep. This is the wrong side of the mountain, but it is by far the easiest way to climb up the steep cliffs at its base. The party's presence on the road should not draw much attention, as the road leads to a popular festhall called Silavene's. While exploring, Nine encounters two of Waterdeep's Walking Statues: the ones called The Sahuagin Humbled, and The Lady Dreaming.

The party starts their ascent the next day. The climb is steep and very exhausting. It is especially hard on Teppö with his short limbs.

On the way to Hlam's cave, they go past the mausoleum and take a short rest there. It is an ancient structure, but it appears to have a well maintained lock.

The session ends when the party reaches Hlam's cave. Vajra has warned them to be polite and not overstay their welcome.

13 March 2021

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Gombert

The party calls for Hlam, who comes out of his cave. The monk is not super excited about having visitors over, but he is not unfriendly. When the party announce that they've been sent by the Blackstaff to hear if he's learned of any threats to Waterdeep he responds with: "Evil's twin hides its face for now. Expect that to change before winter's end."

Warned not to overstay their welcome, the party hand over the supplies they've brought (Hlam thanks them, but tells them that they can keep the vodka; Nine quickly takes possession of the stuff) and take their leave.

Back at the mausoleum, after checking for any guards that may be keeping tabs on them, the party starts the search for the Griffontack. Though the massive stone door has a high quality lock in good condition, Nine has little trouble bypassing it. Inside is a well-maintained room with walls full of alcoves filled with ancient urns. At the back of the room is a metal gate behind which stone stairs descend deeper into the mountain.

After an inspection of the room that doesn't uncover anything interesting, Nine unlocks the door in the gate and the party descends.

The stairs terminate at a solid wooden door. The lock here is apparently much more sophisticated, as Nine is unable to defeat it, even after several attempt, and with the help of Teppö. He still must have gotten it mostly unlocked though, as Orlen, despite being a novice at lockpicking, does manage to defeat the lock.

At the other side of the door is a room with a vaulted roof and a few large pillars. In the middle is a low octagonal platform on which a statue of a humanoid figure with draconic features stands. Gopher's Detect Magic spell indicates that the floor behind the door is enchanted with a divination effect and the statue with a conjuration effect.

The party tries to use their (limited) arcane knowledge to remove the effect on the floor, but are successful. The walls are too regular to climb, so they eventually just try to jump across. Sadly, one of the party members fails to clear the distance, though it has no visible effect.

The group splits with Gopher and Orlen going along the east wall and Teppö and Nine going along the west wall. The latter group activates a trap where a double door in the floor opens up, exposing a deep fall onto sharp stakes. Fortunately, both manage to jump to safety. After this incident the group is very careful in case of further traps. They tie themselves together with rope and use 10 foot poles to check the floor. In this way they uncover two more traps. One that is almost exactly the same as the first trap, and another one that is much smaller near the south-eastern opening.

When the party jumps across this latter trap, they get accosted by four watchspiders. These large and fairly intelligent (similar to a dog) spiders are originally from the island of Tharsult. Nobles along the Sword Coast buy trained specimens to guard cellars and vaults and such.

The four spiders are almost too much for the party. Several party members quickly get stuck in webs shot by the spiders, and the beasts have nasty bites with a potent poison. Gopher goes down, but is revivied by Teppö. Unfortunately, the spiders then manage to take Orlen and the gnome down. Nine is stuck in webbing and about to get knocked out, but he and the heavily wounded Gopher manage to take out the last of the spiders.

After some emergency healing, the party explores the southern room. It is mostly empty, but the floor is strewn with a great number of bones. Many of these are clearly of humanoid origin. Nine searches for secret doors. He doesn't find any, but he does find various coins among the bones (5 gp total).

Gopher has the inspired idea to check the untriggered trap for secrets. The party triggers it and finds that while it still has a deep pit, it doesn't have any spikes. Nine investigates and discovers a secret door in the wall near the bottom. Behind this door is a narrow corridor going east and then bending sharply north. At the end of this is a carving of a grotesque visage, illuminated by a flickering torch in the wall. The visage has an outstretched tongue on which lies a dark black tome. Though Gopher's Detect Magic spell has long since ended, there is clearly magic involved here, likely of a dark kind.

Teppö recognizes the visage as a depiction of Gormauth Souldrinker; an aspect of the dark deity Gargauth. This is a mysterious demigod of greed and betrayal who is rumoured to have once been an archdevil before ascending to godhood ages ago. The deity has fallen silent in recent decades for unknown reasons.

Gopher, Orlen, and Nine want nothing to do with the tome, but Teppö can't resist taking a look at the title. He doesn't get a chance to do so, however, for as soon as he rounds the corner, he is stuck by a terrible fear.

The party returns to the area near the statue. After investigating the platform, Teppö discovers that it can be rotated around an axis at the western end. It can rotate in both directions, but signs of wear indicate that it has mostly been rotated counterclockwise.

With great effort the party manages to rotate it ever so slightly counterclockwise. As soon as there is any movement, the statue on the platform starts to animate. The party immediately flees up the stairs, making some effort to jump over the area affected by magic. Shortly after the party has left the room, the statue returns to its original position.

20 March 2021

Present:

  • Arjan
  • Ben
  • Brinkie
  • Gombert

The group debates whether to take a long or short rest and whether this rest should be near the mausoleum. Nine advocates leaving someone behind inside the mausoleum. If the divination effect is some sort of alarm, then this person could psy on whoever comes to check the alarm. The rest of the party doesn't like this idea, judging it too risky. In the end, the group takes a short rest from a hidden position that allows them to spy on the approach up the mountain.

After their rest, having spied no people coming up the mountain, the group returns to the mausoleum. Teppö and Gopher jump (mostly) across the divination effect and they start pushing against the platform on which the statue stands. As soon as the statue starts moving, Orlen blasts it with eldritch energy, knocking it into the pit trap south of the platform.

The upper part of the trap slopes, and the statue manages to keep itself from falling deeper, though it doesn't have much success getting out of the trap. Teppö uses a (for him quite oversized) maul to loosen its grip. Eventually the statue drops down onto the spikes, and this demonstrates that the trap is even nastier than initially thought, as a horizontal door closes over the statue, preventing it (for now at least) from climbing out of the spikes.

With the statue off the platform, it now rotates easily. Underneath it is a flight of stairs leading to a lower level with a vaulted room full of frescoes depicting heroic figures capturing dangerous exotic creatures. In the north are short corridors leading east and west. After checking for traps, the part heads west. Behind the locked door, the party encounters a room with a stone bier on which rests a set of full plate armor. Behind it hands a shield depicting a heraldic crest clearly related to that of the Ilvastarr family. Nine recognizes it as the personal crest of Lord Haran Ilvastarr, a granduncle of the current lord. He was a noted paladin of Helm and a ward civilar (captain) of the Watch. During a violent guild conflict, he deliberately withdrew Watch forces from a neighborhood, enabling an allied merchant family to burn the villa of a rival to the ground. This act was eventually discovered, and Lord Haran was sentenced to death and hung. His body was turned over to his family, and it is not publicly known what they did with it.

The party suspects the armor holds the body of Lord Haran and doesn't want to disturb his tomb, so they close the door and head to the eastern room.

When they listen at the door, they hear some very faint noises. They open the door carefully and are greeted by a gravelly voice that strangely comes from above the doorway: "Uninvited guests, I presume? Please do not force me to destroy you."

The room beyond the doorway is vaulted and there are a dozen chests on the floor as well as on tables. Using a small mirror, the party discovers that the roof extends to the west over the corridor they are standing in. They conclude that whoever the voice belongs to must be hiding there.

Fortunately, though it claims to want to be left alone, the voice is easy to engage in dialogue. It states that its name is Qilnax and that it has guarded this place for some 86 years. It cannot be persuaded to allow the party to enter the room, or to take anything from it. The party tries to do so anyway, using lassos, but this results in the ropes being whithered away by rays coming from above the doorway.

Eventually Orlen comes up with a plan and he very defly throws a grappling hook into the area over the doorway by hooking the rope under the lintel. He snags Qilnax and pulls him down, revealing that the creature is some sort of beholder. Nine closes the party's chest (mostly) around the creature, which is now both outraged and much less able to defend itself. It shoots some rays at the party, but gets killed with little trouble.

The group inspects the chests in the room. Ten are mostly the same. They check one and it turns out to contain lots of papers, mostly related to business transactions. The two other chests are larger. One contains the Griffontack, and the other contains dozens of silver trade bars. Orlen suggests the party take a few of these, but the others feel they should only take the Griffontack, as that at least is wrongfully held by the Ilvastarrs.

With Gopher wildshaped into a pony, the party descends the mountain carrying the Griffontack and the body of Qilnax; both hidden as best as the party is able to. They safely make it to Blackstaff Tower, though they are very tired.

Vajra is happy to hear of their success, and to receive Qilnax' body. She is concerned by the news about the altar(?) to Gargauth, but worshipping infernal entities is sadly not illegal in Waterdeep. (Though certainly frowned upon.) She transfers ownership of the trade company with the rights to the silver bars to the party, and offers them membership in the Grey Hands. These are a sort of semi-official security force commanded by the Blackstaff in the defense of Waterdeep. The party accepts, though they make it clear that perhaps at some point they will want to leave the organization, which the Blackstaff is fine with.

After being teleported to Trollskull Manor to save the party a tiresome journey, they prepare for the night. Gopher tells Lif that they will soon have a lot of money which they will invest into the tavern, but they really need a good night's sleep. Lif seems to understand, as he tucks everyone in for the night.

The next day, the party claims and receives the silver bars. They are worth a total of 750 gp.