Elemental Evil

06-01-15 - INTERLUDE: campaign hook

==GM==
After three solid days of feasting and merrymaking, things in Fairhill are returning to normal. Citizens still smile and wave at you in the street, and you can’t remember the last time you bought yourselves a drink, but the townsfolk are back to their regular daily routines. After a few nights in the Noble’s House, you feel more refreshed than you have in weeks. You could probably get used to a life of luxury.

On the eve of the third day, Galdar joins you at the Drunken Cockatrice as you are sitting down to a delicious supper of roasted pheasant stuffed with apples and onions. Before you can even flag down the serving girl, Maewen, she arrives with a round of ales for everyone, “On the house, gentlemen,” she says, offering a quick wink to Leoric before heading back to the bar.

Galdar raises his flagon in toast, “Helm’s blessings be upon us.” You all take deep gulps of the refreshing ale and prepare to dig in to the mouthwatering meal in front of you. Corian is absent, but that has been typical the last couple of days. He has spent most of his waking hours at the keep, studying Eralion’s books and doing research in his laboratory.

“My friends,” the priest begins, “these past few days have been a delightful distraction, but Helm’s work is never done, and I must move on. On the morrow, I take my leave of this fine town. I received word today that there is a darkness growing in the Dessarin Valley, north of Waterdeep. The Order of the Gauntlet requests that agents travel there to investigate. I can think of no one more suited to the task than you. Come west with me to Waterdeep, friends. Meet with the Order and hear what they have to say. Despite your unusual circumstances, I believe it is your destiny to cleanse evil from this world. What say you?”

Comments

=Leo=

In character- Leo remains silent. Unusually so. He sees a bunch of rich folks asking him to do some dirty work for them for free. Dead nobles don’t set his heart afire with the need to be their salvation.

He’s also not in the habit of taking on “sizable, well-armed and organized forces” as a charitable endevour.

In short, he is silently skeptical.

=Seeker=

ooc: Seeker kind of sees Leo as a bit snobbish/upper classy (in the sense that middle is upper to him), so depending on what he can discern from Leo’s manner he may or may not be fascinated.

Seeker remains silent for a while, lost in thought. Then: “At first thought, this seems like it may be a bit much for a small band such as our own, but fourth thought is that may work to our advantage. I am not against such an endeavor. Evil is evil wherever it may be, and although I am unfamiliar with that portion of the realm, I suspect there are folks out there suffering wherever evil treads. What is evil in a vacuum? Does it need to oppress to be? Does it tumble off into amoral boredom or feast upon its festering self until full? Could evil sate itself? Does it…-” he trails off into mumbling for a moment, then seems to realize he’s wasting everyone’s time.

“I do love investigating.”

“Galdar, are you to be a part of this as well?”

=Leo=
Leo would sigh at this and give Seeker a sad world weary look.

“Yes, by all means let’s investigate. What could go wrong, oh yeah… The killing. The killing could go wrong. This is why I have to save you in bars.”

“Don’t mind him, a door opened in his head. Strangest thing.”

“Some of the lads here are, in general, up for a brawl most anytime on spec. I’m a professional. I want to be paid.”

==GM==

“Outstanding!” Galdar says slapping the table. “Pack up what you need. We should have plenty of money to buy horses and even a wagon if you think we need it. In a few days time we will be in Waterdeep, friends.” The priest then dives into his meal wholeheartedly, obviously pleased that you’ll be joining him.

 

=Seeker=

Seeker isn’t big on “stuff” at this point. But I guess I should buy some random things like caltrops? He doesn’t wear armor and has daggers and a light crossbow. He’s not sure about the necessity of carrying a crossbow at this point though (hello Eldritch Blast). He also has a set of carpenters tools, component pouch, shovel, iron pt, belt pouch…is there anything else I should get for him? Kind of in the dark as to how much of a role “generic gear” plays.

He would like to acquire some Gnomish spirits, should they be present in a small town such as this, otherwise he’ll wait patiently for Waterdeep, where it seems that they would have such things.

He wonders if we shouldn’t, since we are becoming an official adventuring party, create some kind of shared party fund/bank, say 15% of all funds get dumped into that and we use that for general use things like torches, ropes, etc. basic food rations – stuff that we can keep a constant stock of between adventures and so no one person is responsible for buying rope or something. Eventually it could be used for larger party necessity things…he’s used to traveling alone, but it seems like if we are going to officially be some kind of troupe we should consider what that means. Food for thought on the journey.

He is a little curious about the relationship that Galdar shares with Helm. Does he view him as an infallible lord or something again to a respected friend or confidant? Does he think the “god” has Galdar’s interests and survival in mind, or is solely motivated by its own, higher, purposes and goals. What would he do if Helm asked him to do something he disagreed with…that kind of thing.

He would broach this in casual conversation, most likely after a drink or two – probably the last of the gnomish stuff he brought with him – as the darkness encroaches the dwindling boundary of light cast by the tired flames of a hungry fire – the others may or may not hear, he doesn’t think he’s asking anything odd.

He’s curious about Leo’s situation as well, but as Leoric has shown an aversion to direct conversation about such, he wouldn’t necessarily be inclined to involve him.

=Leo=

Leo has changed since the arrival of the owl. It isn’t terribly obvious in town as he was largely confining himself to playing music, dining well and chasing the local ladies. But once you hit the road it is pretty clear. He’s not talking to himself anymore and seems more even tempered and relaxed. He talks to the owl a fair bit, not always politely, always referring to it as Billy. Which would seem just as crazy perhaps if it wasn’t for the fact that the owl clearly understands him. It does small favors, flying and getting things, etc.

Leo also would ride in the wagon (I picture them with a wagon, but feel free to contradict) for miles at a time while the owl scouted above. Leo is lost in thought during these times and, claims but do you believe him, to be seeing through the owl’s eyes.

So, it is a calmer and easier to bear Leo. But no more forthcoming about himself. He would avoid the theological discussion entirely. Any inquiry about his past would be met with a funny, and likely fanciful, story about life on the road or an anecdote about growing up on the street in a city utterly stripped of identifying details. He’s had some experience at deflection and is pretty good about it.

He also continues to disavow the term “warlock”. If it is at any point directed at him he firmly states he’s a “musician and budding scholar of the arcane arts. A mage if you must.”

He certainly looks the part with his spellbook and staff. Though through the quiet days on the road the musician seems to have the upper hand with many a song and few spells.

==GM==

One of the local loggers happens to be hauling several wagons full of fresh cut timber to Waterdeep the day you are leaving, and he enthusiastically invites you to join the caravan. In truth, he likely relishes the idea of having the heroes for extra protection on the road, but he also seems to like the idea of helping you with transportation. He loans you one of his wagons and a pair of draft horses to pull it.

Waterdeep is about three days west of Fairhill. On the second day, Seeker brings up the topic of Galdar’s faith, asking about his relationship with Helm. Galdar thinks on it awhile before responding. “Helm is known as The Vigilant One and The Watcher. His followers seek to protect and defend those in need. He has occasionally appeared to me in visions. Indeed I sought out Corian as a result of one of those visions. It doesn’t look as if Corian has a part to play in what’s coming though, so now I’m wondering if he was simply a means to find you and guide you to your destiny. I have never been asked by Helm or his followers to do something to which I object, but if I were, I would question the messenger before questioning Helm himself.”

=Doran=

Doran is noticeably less closed-off on the road to Waterdeep. His usual monosyllabic responses to conversation have expanded to an amiable-yet-gruff level of engagement. He even seems to have a sense of humor, though it manifests itself in unexpected fits of bellowing laughter at things that are merely amusing to others. He is becoming especially endeared to the youthful ambition of Roan, and it is clear that Doran feels particularly protective of the young man.

Part of Doran’s increased joviality is obviously due to the deepening level of trust and companionship that the party is experiencing, having now tasted real heroism together (as well as the lavish rewards from Fairhill). But there is also an inexplicable aura about him. It’s not that he seems peaceful or harmless, just more…focused. Perhaps the very promise of potential battle down the road actually has him in good spirits…?

He also snores. VERY loudly.

=Leo=

Leo begins carefully studying his new book for a “silence” spell.

=Roan=

As they travel, Roan trots along side the cart, firing arrows ahead. He mutters an incantation as the arrows fly and examines the ground were the arrows land. He takes up each arrows again, scowling. If anyone asks, he tells him that he’s practicing a technique passed down to the hunters among his people. Toward the end of the journey, he reaches for a spent arrow and pricks his finger on a thorn. He sucks the blood from his thumb, smiling.

Also. Roan asks Doran to spar with him and teach him what he knows of the martial arts. He admires the old dwarf.

=Seeker=

Seeker doesn’t seem much bothered by the snoring, one night he makes an offhand remark about how it reminds him of one of the barns he used to sleep in, but will avoid further inquiries as to that, should any arise.

“I’m not particularly fond of the term ‘warlock’ myself…too much negative – and demonic, note that the two are not inherently the same- baggage. You would think that ‘cleric’ and ‘priest’ would bear the same burden of fear – no offense meant to company, of course – given the nature and adherence to those alliances, but mortals seem more inclined to trust an outlander who’ve earned a godname than those who haven’t. Funny that.

“‘Mage’ is as good a word as any. I fancy myself a bit of a ‘mage’ as well.”

He grins at Roan, noting the emergence of natural magic in the young ranger. He’s more than willing to talk about such things – even though it’s not his magical arena, he still finds it fascinating – if Roan is so inclined.

 

=Leo=

It doesn’t really look like Leo is listening. His eyes are following Maewen and he seems lost in contemplation. But with a start he’d refocus and say:

“So tell us about this order, friend. I’m a bit /unconventional/ but two of our party make a more visual first impression. " with a vague gesture to the tiefling and dwarf.

“I’ve not been as far as Waterdeep and would like to go. But what of our welcome? Will our fiend touched companion and…Doran be in peril from the authorities?”

“I don’t suppose a simple mage such as myself and Roan as a swordsman will make much of an impression.”

=Doran=

“I pay no worry to the fears of the lily-minded. My axe has grown thirsty while I’ve grown fatter here. I am ready for travel…and trouble.”

=GM==

Galdar explains, "The Order of the Gauntlet is an organization made up of mostly paladins and priests like myself. We seek to thwart evil wherever it is found. Justice is its own reward. We live by three core beliefs:

Faith is the greatest weapon against evil—faith in one’s god, one’s friends, and one’s self. Battling evil is an extraordinary task that requires extraordinary strength and bravery. Punishing an evil act is just. Punishing an evil thought is not.

Doran and Seeker have hearts that are true, and therefore need not fear any member of my order. You would all be most welcome to join our cause."

=Seeker=

Seeker shrugs, and there’s a hint of a smile and a little sideye for Leo.
“Many thanks for considering our delicate sensibilities. I can’t speak for our stout companion, but I don’t know how I ever got by without you looking out for me.

“Thwarting evil? Rarely a bad thing. I suspect my own travels would have taken me that way eventually, much better to be in good company and with a purpose beyond curiosity – plenty on its own, but better tempered with purpose. I’m game if there’s room on the board; the rules seem simple enough.”

=Leo=

“Based on how we met I’ve been troubled by the mystery of your early survival myself.” Leo’s smile makes it clear he’s kidding.

“OK, as I like to eat, I’ll hope of tangible rewards from justice as well. Let’s do go to Waterdeep. Our options will be more varied there in any case. "

“Roan you’re oddly quiet. What say you?”

=Roan=

Roan sits hunched on his elbows, hands clasped over his wrists, absently fingering his scars. On the second night of revelry he had found his own girl with whom he shared an amorous “adventure”. But it’s clear to the party that he was far more interested in her than she was in him—maybe she would have preferred a different member of the heroic party, but settled for the awkward youth. In any case, he doesn’t talk about it, but he does appear a bit heart sick.

“I’ve never really had a home. Thought maybe this would be a good place to settle down. I don’t know… I think I still have a lot to learn. Yes, if you’ll have me, I’d hope to continue with this party.”

 

=GM====
After a good three days travel, you reach the city of Waterdeep. It is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. As you enter the city from the east, you see the coast to the south, and Mt. Waterdeep looming on the westward edge of the city. The City of Splendors sprawls northward nearly as far as the eye can see. Roan in particular seems visibly in awe of the bustling metropolis.

Galdar puts a hand on his shoulder, “It is said that 130,000 souls live here, just in the city. A million people live in the surrounding area. It is truly a remarkable place.” The priest then spots something ahead, and points, “You see that spire there rising into the sky? That is Helm’s Cathedral. It is where you will meet the members of the Order.”

=Leo=

Leo would have shared what he knows from growing up in the streets of Baldur’s Gate* with Roan in particular. How to keep his purse and how to avoid the more obvious cons and scams of a city.

Once there he’s clearly in his element. He’d dash ahead and down side roads to look at shops and vendor stalls, chatting amicably with the merchants and such. If they are approached by street children, as I expect they would be, he would give them food from the left over rations. You’ll not have any left it you don’t check him. He’ll not give them money though. “They fight over money. They can hide and eat the food before it can get beaten out of them by the larger ones. It’s best to give the money to the shelters directly.”

To Galdur, “where would you suggest we stay? Is there an inn near the cathedral? I’d like to find one where I can play, it’s a good way to get to know a place and get the word off the streets. And, of course, to meet new friends.” The last with a grin at Roan “maybe I can help the lad here find one too!”

=Doran=

“I forgot how much I hate cities,” says Doran as they enter the bustle of Waterdeep. “The sooner we can see what this Order has to say and be on our way, the less likely I will be to smash something what don’t need smashing.” He proceeds with what can only be described as some dwarven mix of grumpiness and pouting.

 

==GM==
“The Chapel Arms is the closest inn to the cathedral. It seems to be the favorite of the locals in the neighborhood. I’m sure you could find work there. The rest of you are free to stay where you like while you’re in town, but the Order of the Gauntlet will gladly put you up in their dormitories.”

=Roan=

Roan is visibly uncomfortable with the sea of humanity. But he’s fascinated as well.

=Seeker=

Seeker is both visibly uncomfortable and a little enthralled. He finds the masses equal parts fascinating and revolting.

“I’m happy enough in a dormitory as anywhere, provided they have no issue with my nature or my inclination.” He snaps at the word ‘inclination’ and an arc of frost passes from one finger to another. “I’m familiar with your brotherhood, but not intimately so – what’s their stance on non divine magic…Obviously you seem well with it….”

His voice trails off as he slips into a thought or two, then: “However, it occurs to me that we should probably stick together, and I suspect our vagabond troubadour would be even more uncomfortable without the company than I will be with, so I yield to the will of the …collective on this issue.”

=Roan=

“I vote for the inn. Could use a drink.”

=Leo=

Leo would find the idea of him shacking up in a dorm of priests to be quite entertaining…and unlikely. But he’s happy enough to drop some of his things there as being probably safer than the inn.

He’s going to lark off and play at the inn though. It matters little to him if he has a room there or not. His new friend (yet to be met) is staying someplace already after all. He’s planning to stay with her, though if the landlord gives him a room along with board for playing then he’ll happily use that. Bottom line, he’s thrilled to be in a city and to be anonymous. He really likes that nobody here knows him yet.

To Doran. " we should likely stay here for a few weeks at least. If there’s trouble up in the wastelands north of town then this is where we will learn all about it. We should hole up here, meet the locals and see what we can learn."

Later, after seeing the inn: “you know, it might be best if we keep some eyes and ears in town. I could keep aware of what’s going on and send word regarding developments.”

Translated: this is the first I’ve seen of civilized folks in months. Why is all the 9 hells would I leave?

=Seeker=

“Priests don’t bother me if I don’t bother them. You might be surprised how many clergies lack the prejudices ascribed to them and their followers but the unfamiliar.”

Seeker shivers at the word “weeks”.

“I was under the impression that our departure would be more… immediate. I look forward to meeting with Galdar’s order and departing for this “Dessarin Valley”, but I understand that you may wish to spend more time here. There’s bound to be a… library or seven somewhere I can hole up and pass away the days," he says, a little wistfully.

 

==GM==

“I wouldn’t count on staying in Waterdeep very long, friends,” cautions Galdar, “It was my impression that whatever business the Order has requires rather immediate attention. You’ll have a couple of days to gather supplies and perhaps see the sights, but this is just a stop along the way to your final destination. As to how members of my order might perceive those of the magical persuasion, I wouldn’t fret over it. What matters most to us is the hearts of men who wield the magic, not the kind of magic they wield.”

=Leo=

“Oh, of course. Haste, haste in all things. "

“It is /amazing/ however the time details can take. Supplies, it’s always the supplies. And such supplies. Horses we must have, camels if we can get them. And spell components, it’s dizzying the spell components for an expedition of this sort. Hundreds of gold in spell components, and many quite rare.
There is the question of seige weapons. We could easily need seige weapons. We best set the dwarf to looking into that right away.”

“Seeker needs to get to the library. Can’t be overstated the importance of that. You’re going to have to figure out what that amulet does, for when we get to the keep. Or did we do that bit already?”

“Don’t recall. Anyhow, the library is the thing. You best be off to that without delay. Bird in the hand is worth a stitch of nine, as my grand dam used to say.”

“In any case, I should waste no time in getting to the inn. Valuable contacts to be made there. We need to start cultivating them right away, can’t be hurried if we want to do it right. You with me lad? I could use the backup in case a fight breaks out. Strangest thing fights always seem to break out, don’t they?”

Bottom line – Leo’s going to take to prying to get him out of the dens of vice. Or, if things go for more than the couple of days he and Roan might need to be sprung from jail. All a misunderstanding of course.

=Roan=

Yeah, Roan has confidence in Leo’s ability… to get him laid. He’s feeling a tug to go along with him. “What was that girls name again? Can’t remember.”

=Seeker=

Seeker suspects that, given enough time, one or both of our young heartbreakers might have need of some special “healing”, maybe the Order could help out with that…

 

==GM==
After about fifteen minutes of more walking, you come to Helm’s Cathedral.

Two guards, still as statues and clad in full plate armor stand on either side of the entrance, halberds at the ready. Galdar gives them a subtle nod as you approach, opens the door and waves you through. The inside of the cathedral is stark and angular, more like a fortress than a church. On the far wall you see Helm’s holy symbol, a gauntlet with an eye in its center.
File:Helm symbol.jpg
Beneath it, there is a simple stone altar lined with burning candles. A young man clad in gray woolen robes kneels at the altar. Galdar leads you to the altar as the young man rises and turns around, hearing you approach. A smile spreads on his face, and he walks to meet Galdar, arms outstretched.

“Welcome home, uncle,” offers the young man, as the two embrace.

“My friends, this is my nephew Simeon, an acolyte of Helm and a fledgling member of our order.”

Simeon offers a warm smile and interjects, “It is very good to meet you all, but I’m afraid there is little time for pleasantries. The council is assembled and eager to speak with you. Please, follow me.”

Simeon leads you to a stone door at the back of the main room and ushers you into a hallway lined with lit sconces. At the end of the hall, there is an open door, and you can hear the voices of a handful of men talking. Inside the room is a long, rectangular stone table at which four men are seated. They stop talking and rise when you enter. All four men wear breastplates, each with a different holy symbol. There is one for Tyr, one for Helm, one for Torm, and one for Hoar.

The man wearing Helm’s symbol is first to speak, “Galdar, at least you’ve arrived. I assume these are the men you propose sending as our agents to the Dessarin Valley?” All four men look you over with a careful eye.

“I am Baird,” continues the man, “I represent Helm on the Senior Council of the Order of the Gauntlet. I know you have traveled far to get here and you must be tired, but the situation in the Dessarin Valley is getting desperate, and if you are indeed as resourceful as Galdar claims, we will need to you begin you investigations immediately. Please sit.”

As Galdar and the council members take their seats, Baird looks to Simeon, “Bring a pitcher of wine and some bread and cheese.” Simeon nods and makes to leave, but Baird stops him as he eyes Doran thoughtfully. “Lad, fetch a small cask of ale as well. These men look thirsty.”

After everyone is seated, Baird starts again, “Friends, evil is growing in the Dessarin Valley. The area is remote and unpredictable, but there has been a marked increase in violent confrontations, kidnappings, and banditry. Rumors of strange changes in the weather abound. Up until now we’ve simply watched, but we believe it is now time for us to get involved. A little over a tenday ago, a delegation from Mirabar disappeared in the Sumber Hills. We don’t know all the details of who was in the delegation, but they were transporting the body of Sir Roderick Jayne, a knight of Tyr, and a member of our order. He was to be interred with honor at Summit Hall east of the Sumber Hills, but the delegation never arrived. That delegation should have been well-armed. It could only have been taken by an organized, sizable force. We need to know who or what that force is.”

Baird pauses and looks to the heroes, “Most of our agents are currently occupied on other critical missions, but this cannot wait. Galdar says that he sees great potential in you. Will you investigate the disappearance of the Mirabar delegation on the Order’s behalf?”

=Leo=

“25 a ten day – three tendays in advance- expenses and we will need healing potions and supplies. We keep any…profits…from the journey minus, of course, anything related to your missing friends.

We need at least a couple of days to prepare and research the area. Maps, news. My inquisitive friend has demanded to see a library."

=Seeker=

[OOC: I’m still not really into the groove/sure how to RP high charisma on a character that I don’t see as being super charming. Michael seems to have the charming angle down, so I guess I’m going down the “force of personality” route (?). So I guess what he says is more convincing than it looks at face value or something.]

Seeker looks thoughtfully up at Leo, then from Doran to Roan. If possible he pulls them aside so as not to air their business publicly.

“Is it money then, is that the force that will drive and bind us? Seems a weak adhesive.

“Now… I don’t fancy myself as much of a hero, but it’s hard not to be cognizant of the fact that I – and we – are capable individually and as a unit, of things far beyond the common man. I’ve met few that can sling an axe like Doran, bend magic like myself and Leoric or …whatever it is you do, Roan. Something with swords, I think? Or was it bows? The point is: pokey poke poke kill!

He grins, maybe to himself.

“If we’re to be a mercenary company then, I suppose it is what it is…

Mentally he sends Is that what it is? to Roan and Dorn. Knowing Leo isn’t a fan, he only gets a raised eyebrow.

“But I’d like to think we can do better. Better in the sense of well uh…you know, I’m not a fan of evil. Evil in general is bad for people, especially common people – coarse and ignorant though they may be….”

He drifts off for a moment and hint of anger crawl across his face.

“..they don’t deserve to be preyed upon. Well, on average they don’t…you see what I mean? Some do certainly but…nevermind. I’ve done what I can, when I can. But alone that was rarely much. Together, I feel that we can do more.

“I’m happy to take coin for our efforts – food and lodging don’t come cheap (especially to some of us), but I am curious if that’s to be the sole motivator – especially as it may preclude us from helping those who may need it more than others.”

=Roan=

Roan feels chided and a bit embarrassed. “I’m with you, Seeker. It’s not the money… Not for me, anyway… it’s just… we don’t know these guys, and without Galdar… I don’t know. Who’s to say? I mean, I want to help people too. Let’s just be careful.”

=Leo=

Assuming we can step aside:

“I’m trying to figure out how serious they are. If they can’t spring for a bag of gold and some healing potions then do we really trust them? We don’t want to wander out there on a fools errand.”

“And if it’s evil your after there is plenty within a 10 minute walk of here if it’s like any city I’ve ever been at. We could go kill that and save ourselves a walk.”

Pause

“I will go, but I need to be paid. If I live I’ll have expenses. I’m willing to agree, I think we should hold out for a minimum of 2 gold a day. I can make that much playing and with that there is hardly ever anybody trying to kill me.”

“Well. Not very often.”

/OOC: if we don’t get healing potions we are dead. We are heading into a sandbox with some very bad fights if it is anything like the other 5e adventure paths. We will have to have significant healing resources. Beyond that the gold is just fluff. There’s not much for us to buy, really, so it is role playing purposes.

So long as they toss down a bag of gold and healing Leo will, somewhat reluctantly, buy into the idea.

==GM==
Baird nods at Leo, “The Order is willing to compensate you, of course. We’ll pay you each 15 gp per tenday, plus expenses. We can also help you with any supplies you might need before leaving.” Turning to Seeker, he continues, “I’m afraid that Galdar is needed elsewhere. That’s really the trouble, you see. The Order has sizable resources, but they aren’t limitless. If need be, we could reallocate more men to combat the evil rising in the Dessarin Valley, but we really don’t know yet what we’re dealing with. That’s what we’d like you to determine.”

penn onefinemess

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