Several mercenaries and opportunists were at loose ends in the wake of the big wedding that ended the taxation dispute on the coach road between Seaview and Crosscurrent. The elves in particular felt a certain unease, a resonant disruption in the natural order of the woods.
In the walled coastal city of Seaview, several scoundrels were sheltering in a tavern as rain poured down outside. Captain Rowull of the City Watch led in some of his guards. One stood on a table and announced danger for pay, and interested parties gathered in the back corner. Of the various riff raff, five were tough enough to get hired for the job.
- Craig (the Wick). Human fire wizard, a tough criminal.
- Braddus Wraithbelt. Dwarven skirmisher, topsider, and alchemist with a talent for harvesting monster bits, a sky dwarf infected with gold fever.
- Leftwin. Elven scout and oracle, haunted by a spirit guide.
- Isildea Thelen. Elven spellwitch flesh shaper.
- Elfas. Elven warrior, skilled in woodscraft.
Mild-mannered Craig became The Wick, a wanted bandit who profited from opportunistic violence during the recent unpleasantness, when he donned his darkened goggles. Fortunately, the wanted posters don’t get his nose right, and if he isn’t wearing his goggles he is difficult to recognize. Craig’s home was Seaview.
Braddus and Leftwin formed an unlikely partnership of grudging respect, as they were both skilled woodland skirmishers during the conflict. They fought on the side of Seaview together. Braddus was not forthcoming about his history, Leftwin came up in the Elkglades elven enclave for exiles and malcontents.
Isildea partnered with Elfas, her bodyguard. Both hailed from the haunted and barbaric Elkglades.
No time like the present! The scoundrels hefted their packs and bindles and followed the captain to the Dockside Barracks, cranking open a metal trapdoor leading down some rough steps to a former seatunnel that was blocked off from the tides. Braddus was weighed down with 90 feet of rope and a “climbing harness” just in case.
The mission was to go through a few tunnels to the Doorchime Shrine. The Doorchime was a massive enchanted battering ram, a siege weapon kept in an underground shrine when not needed. The roof of the shrine had a giant trapdoor that could be cranked open, and the chains could haul the battering ram up for retrieval. The trapdoor was barred from below, and the captain did not want to damage the door and its mechanism by trying to cut through it from above. The last two groups sent down to shoot the bolt didn’t come back.
Captain Rowull offered 50 gp each to go into the tunnels, and 500 gp for any survivors to split. The scoundrels agreed, and got 50 gp each, then they followed the captain and some guards down a long and rough tunnel to a more open cavern.
Grim guards were bandaged and battered, working on some mantlets that could quickly barricade the tunnel deeper in. A cave entry opposite that tunnel was mostly blocked with stones, and the other side smelled of the sea. There were racks of polearms, and a rack with some shoddy firebombs.
Craig sidled over to the firebombs, considering filching some of them, but he was too closely watched. He bought one for 10 gp.
Isildea spotted a mysterious gray robed figure unobtrusively settled off to the side, and approached him, sensing he was a wizard. The one-eyed spellcaster introduced himself as Davish and said something cryptic about keeping an eye on them. He had a staff with an octopoid headpiece.
The captain gave them directions, telling them to stay to the left. They would pass the pool, and cross a channel, then they would reach the shrine.
The scoundrels formed up as the guards scraped the mantlets out of the way, and they headed down the dark tunnel as Craig brandished a torch in the middle of the marching order.
Darkness and Water
The scoundrels reached the Flickweather Sump, rainwater draining through vents high above to fall into the pool where locals came to fish sometimes. Damselflies zipped around in the shadows over the pool that faintly glowed with anemones. To cross from one walkway to the other, they had to put down a rickety and narrow footbridge leaning up against the wall; they had to hold their breaths to cross, and didn’t want to attempt it in a hurry.
They came to a dented metal door, and Braddus shoved it open; the hall beyond was redolent with troll stink. Grimly resolved, they found a narrower 5 foot corridor that a troll had squeezed through several times, smearing the walls. They followed to the left, and found a last stand for a group of guards; shattered mantlets and bits of the guards were smeared around the armory watch station, but the bodies had been dragged away.
Leaving that dead end, they followed the corridor the other way, somewhat relieved when it opened up to a wider hall. That relief faded as they came to a bridge, about three feet over a channel of still, dark water. Gathering their nerve, they crossed the bridge one at a time, intensely aware of the ripples in the still water, watchful for trollsign.
The Doorchime Shrine
The high-ceilinged shrine was clearly better craftsmanship than any area they had yet seen, columns rising into the darkness, and chains hanging from a mechanism in the columns to support the long battering ram. A statue of the god of war was braced by the head of the Doorchime ram.
Elfas watched their back trail, and Leftwin drifted over to keep an eye on the only other exit to the room. Braddus examined the mechanism and determined the controls and works were hidden behind the walls nearby. Craig started looking around for the secret access, but Isildea opened her uncanny elven senses and spotted the triggers. The secret door was worked into a shield in the shieldwall, poking the carving’s eyes opened the shield. Braddus and Isildea entered the musty works room, figuring out the mechanism to unbolt the ceiling trapdoor.
Ambush in the Dark
The troll burst out of the darkness in a wickedly stealthy ambush! Elfas had sharp elven senses, and he spotted the troll at once, snapping into action with his deadly elven blade as he called out to the others.
As the troll raced towards Elfas, arrows arced into the monster, and Elfas fought with cunning bladework to batter and baffle the creature, then leaped back out of the way with uncanny grace as Craig hurled his firebomb at the troll. Craig used his fire magic to guide the errant bomb back on course, and it burst to slather flame all over the screaming horror.
The elves rained arrows on the creature, and Craig used his fire magic to bolster the flames that ate into its regenerative powers. Elfas emptied a lantern’s oil onto the flailing troll torch. As strain took its toll on Craig, Isildea touched him, breathing the vitality of the deep woods into the flagging wizard. He rallied, and provoked an inferno from the troll fire, finishing it off decisively.
Victory and Spoils
Both Leftwin and Braddus had designs on the various troll bits they could sell or use. While the fire was dying down to manageable levels, Braddus cranked the secret mechanism to unlock the trapdoor above so it could be opened from the outside. The scoundrels gathered up some hot magical troll soot, and some of the knobbier bones, wrapping them in coats to make the heat tolerable to carry.
They followed their trail back to the entry cavern. Braddus sold his still-hot troll bones to Davish the wizard for 100 gp, and the wizard hastened off to do something with them while they were redolent with the troll’s life and the magic of its death. Captain Rowull was good for his word, and as soon as the City Watch tested the winches from above and opened the trapdoor, he paid them 500 gp that they split for 100 gp each.
- Craig got 3 experience.
- Braddus got 250 gp, so his gold fever granted him 2 Ledger.
- Isildea formed an odd connection to the one-eyed wizard Davish, gaining 1 experience.
- The other elves drifted through the episode, intrigued and contributing but not connecting.
Some reflections: the players made characters together, so I had no idea what they would play ahead of time. The mix of races and abilities worked out really well! The fire wizard was spotlighted for using magic to defeat the troll that otherwise would have been a much scarier challenge. The elves used their Uncanny ability to locate the secret mechanism easily, and to stay out of the way of the troll’s massively dangerous attack, and their archery carried the day for dealing out the needed damage to stop the troll. The dwarf was a great support, doling out additional attacks with his combat ability and looking over the mechanism, as well as carrying heavy gear and taking point. The players did a fine job of pooling their characters’ racial and chosen distinctives in a successful and entertaining collaboration. I planned a shorter adventure, since we were making characters together too; we started on time and ended on time.