Week 3 - Field Report

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Week 3 of Murder in Baldur's Gate saw my D&D Next table having eight players whilst Paul's 4E table had five players. I would have much preferred to have fewer players, but I wasn't willing to turn people away. Thankfully, I'm not unused to running such large tables - the last year of my AD&D campaign has made me quite familiar with those numbers - and D&D Next runs similarly to AD&D in combat speed.

This session was challenging to run, mainly because the main events of the adventure (Stage 2) are primarily background events. In particular, the Parliament had issued orders to the Watch to forbid the wearing of "clothes above one's station" in the Upper City, and vandalism was on the rise in the Outer City as discontent rose against the repressive policies.

So, I attempted to run a system where the group got more familiar with the city. This was not entirely successful, as quite a number of players weren't really sure what to do. Lee and Tim knew what they wanted to do: they wanted to increase the discontent in the city, so upon finding out about the sumptuary laws, Tim spent a lot of times in the Lower City causing trouble, in particular using the ventriloquism spell (well, it's part of the prestidigitation cantrip) to cause trouble whilst not being seen to cause trouble. Lee used his spy background to more keep in the background and observe what was going on.

A lot of the action centered around Lachie and Tait. The group had learnt from their contacts in the Flaming Fist that the new laws would be announced in the Wide, and so had gone there for the announcement. There, Lachie decided to buy some silk pants in a flamboyant shade of purple, which he immediately donned - a scant few moments later, the sumptuary laws were announced. This, of course, caused trouble with the Watch, although Lachie was swift to remove the pants (and his loincloth) when challenged.

It was Tait that got into trouble; his cleric started causing small tremors (which knocked over one of the market stalls) in order to distract the Watch from Lachie. One or two castings would have been unremarkable, but his constant use of the spell caused him to get arrested. Harry - whose monk is turning into a real pacifist - went to get him bailed out. I'm very glad to see this role-playing from Harry; he's really uncomfortable with what's going on in the city and his friends' reactions to it, and it makes for some good role-playing. Tait was eventually released with a warning.

The group also visited the House of Wonders, where I got to describe some of the inventions of Gond's worshippers and have impressed on them how important the worship of Gond is to the city.

I also brought up the important issue of where they were all staying, as Rilsa wasn't going to be able to put them up in the long-term. The group split up, with a number of them remaining in little Calimshan. As no inns were immediately apparent from the text (the one tavern having been shut down in the last session!) I invented a rooming house known as the Sultan's Turban, run by a halfling in a turban. Grant, seeing this, bought his own turban - though not of finest silk, being mindful of the sumptuary laws. The phrase, "turbans are cool" may have turned up a few times in the session.

Other players chose to stay in the Lower City, with one character ending up in the Upper City - despite paying a premium for his accommodation. Those in the Lower City began to notice an increase in vandalism - with anti-patriar slogans beginning to appear on the walls.

The trouble with all the preceding, of course, is it didn't really allow the group to work together (and was rather short of combat). Thus, I judged it a good time to introduce the rogue noble (or is that noble rogue?) Coran, who came across Lachie and hired him and his friends to deal with a problem in the Undercellar - crocodiles coming up from the underground passages and causing a great deal of disruption, especially at the balls that Coran was trying to frequent.

So the group went into the Undercellar and slew some crocodiles - using a variation of the Giant Lizard stats from the D&D Next documents. This was a tough combat - intentionally so - with the group coming up against 10 of the critters. A couple of the characters were unconscious by the time the combat was over, and many were badly hurt.

Of particular note was that a kobold was controlling the crocodiles; he was killed early in the fight, but had a coded letter in a language no-one could read - a couple of the players correctly guessed it might be in Thieves' Cant, but we're without a thief in the party so no-one could read it!

With that, we ended the session. Unrest is rising in Baldur's Gate, and I've introduced the immensely useful (from the point of view of the DM) Coran to the party. A kobold made a reappearance, and there's the idea now that the kobolds are more significant than immediately apparent - yes, they don't appear in the module-as-written, but that's the joy of this adventure, it's really easy to add additional material to give it even more interest. I'm very pleased with how it's going so far.

As for next week? I'll let you know how it goes!

And this week was the last for my group.  The group that I play with on Wednesday loves 4th Edition, and I convinced them to try Murder based on the fact it had 4E stats for things.  Well, yes, it does, but nothing resembling a traditional 4E encounter.  Yes, I can add something, but I shouldn't have to.  Murder plays strictly towards the weaknesses of 4E and away from its strengths.  So they have decided to just have me run a 4e module from here out.

The saga continues this week with the Party planning their next heist against the Watch (planning to vandalize the watch while wearing Flaming Fist uniforms).  This week the showing was a little less (again school kept quite a few people away), so we still had 2 tables:

Guild Table:

  • Half-Elf Wizard (Twil)
  • Human Ranger (Owl)
  • Half-Orc Cleric (Lucy)
  • Wood Elf Paladin (Woodarrow)
  • Tinker Gnome Rogue (Nezzle)

 

Flaming Fist Table:

  • Human Monk (Showed up at 7:05)
  • Halfling Rogue
  • Half-Elf Cleric
  • Half-Orc Fighter
  • Half-Elf Paladin (Showed up at 7:00)
  • Stout Halfling Barbarian (Kah-Kaww)

 

Since we had all 6 of the players at my table and only 3 for the other table Kah-Kaww joined them so that he could try and get some of the Flaming Fist uniforms for the Guild party.  Since I ran the Guild table I will mostly say what happened at that table and give highlights of the other table.

 

Night before Stage 3:

(Guild Party)

The party searched the Low Lantern for what happened and found out that the fire that burned down the Low Lantern was caused by the Flaming Fist.  They checked though the rubble for any bodies and anything to salvage but it was all destroyed.  The Guild was unsuccessful with getting the Flaming Fist Uniforms but would be able to get them the next day.  The party then went back to Little Calimshan and found some room to sleep for the night.  This gave time to Woodarrow to be contacted by her God (Rillifan Rallathil) and filled with divine purpose gaining the use of Cure Wounds and Bless.  Lucy also communed with her God and gained the ability to channel her God's Divinity.  Rael took Nezzel aside and taught her the Thieves' Cant so she could talk to others and so she would be able to read the Guild's symbols around town to find places to get help.  The party finally lays down to sleep till the next morning.

 

Stage 3 Day 1:

(Guild Party Morning)

The party awakes to noise coming from parts of Little Calimshan as the Flaming Fist is searching the area.  The party finds out that hands of several statues were cut off and the Upper and Lower city residents are furious.  Owl and Nezzle both crit on reading Rael's expressions and emotions and figured out that the Guild most likely committed these crimes.

 

The party did not want to be seen by the Flaming Fist so they left quietly and headed to the harbor where 3 of the statues that lost hands were.  The party inspected the statues and saw that they were professionally done.  That the hands were removed with care and could easily be resorted if found.  This was done by a master of stonework.  As they inspected the statues they were stopped by Skoond.  He had noticed them and told them about the Horrors and Rot in the city.  He asked them to come with him to meet with Silvershield so they could hear his take on what is happening in the city.  Twil accepted this invitation quickly just so he could learn more about Silvershield and what he might be up too.  The others also agreed and heading to the Silvershield estate.

 

(Flaming Fist Party Morning to Night)

They were searching the Undercity most of the night for Guild activity and spent the night in the Upper City.  So when day broke and they heard the news they headed to the statues in the upper city and saw the hands removed.  The also noticed that Minsc and Boo's statue was unharmed.  Ravenshield requested the party to inspect the know guild hideouts for the hands and to see if they could find any trail.  They spent most of the day searching for the hands but with no luck.

 

(Guild Party Afternoon)

The Party was greeted by Silvershield and given a large assortment of food and drink (VERY high end) as Silvershield spun his tale of corruption and rot for people not of Baldur's Gate.  He told them of the crimes of the Guild and that even the Flaming Fists were looking above their station and trying to take on more authority then allowed.  He painted the picture of how they partisans only wanted what was best for the city and they needed a way to protect themselves.  They felt they can only trust each other so they had the rule past to help people know the leaders of the city that they could trust and to push all these impersonators.  He felt it was the Guild that removed the hands and wanted the Party to investigate.  They told him that the Flaming Fist could of done it since the hands were removed so expertly (and a nice crit from Twil to talk to Silvershield).  Silvershield said that might be but he would need proof.  "Bring me the proof" he says as he offers the group 10 gp each a day and room and board to help find the people involved.  He also gives the group a Writ that says he authorizes them to perform this investigation and bring the people to justice.  The group took the job and decided to frame the Flaming Fist in the taking of the hands (tick on the evil meter for the group).  So Skoond and the group headed to the harbor again and the party showed Skoond how the statues' hands were removed and that they would of taken a long time.  This means the Flaming Fist had to be involved in the crime in some way otherwise this could not of happened.  Skoond said he would take that information to Silvershield and told them to find some more proof.  The party spent the rest of the time investigating and finally hit on a lead or so they though.

 

Nezzle found a guild marking on the Counting House and a receiving house on the waterfront.  The Party checked out the Counting House and rolled some great spot checks to see some items going under the table and some bribes.  They moved down to the receiving house.  Here they got their first glimpse of Afery Sonshal.  He was picking up some packages at the docks.  Also they saw Skoond pick up some things for Silvershield and they followed him for a bit.  Finally the group decided they should go talk to Rael and get the hands from her or find where she had them hidden (and tell her of their plans).  So they started by questioning Rael about the hands and finally they started rolling bad.  Everything they tried they failed and Rael would not give up the hands.  She did offer them some tools that could be used to remove the stone hands.  I was laughing inside when they almost took the offer (because if they were caught with the tools they would be going to Prison).  The party decided to do some more searching in the morning and went to bed.

 

Stage 3 Day 2:

(Guild Party Morning)

The party awoke and quickly moved out to start their search.  They heard people complaining about the stone hands and brushed them off at first.  It was Rael that informed them that the hands of Minsc and Boo were stolen that got the party in motion.  Rael told them to bring her the culprits and she would take care of them.  The group headed up to the Wide and inspected the statue.  They could see that these hands were roughly chipped off and not cut nicely.  Nezzle found a wooden mallet with a symbol impressed on it from striking something with the symbol on it.  Twil's eagle eyes (rolled 19+great int) found some dragging footprints and an impression of a broach with a family seal imbedded in the ground.  Twil took out his book on the Noble Families of Baldur's Gate that he found in the first week and located who the symbols belonged to.  The party headed off to Ravenshade first…

 

(Flaming Fist Party Morning to Early Afternoon)

Since they were still in the upper city they were on the scene first and found the dagger and broach.  As they were trying to learn about the dagger and broach they were approached by Esgurl Nurthammas.  He was so upset about the crimes and wanted the criminals to pay.  They were able to get him to agree to pay 150GP for the criminals.  After that the Party headed to Oberon Estate to talk to them about the broach they found.  When they got there they learned that their Oberon's son, Saul, had not come home at night and they want him found.  The Party intimidated the family (or tried too) in order to get them to pay for their son back.  Instead the Oberon family call the watch on the Party and they left.  They did find out that the son was last seen heading to Heap Gate so they headed to Heap Gate to track him down.

 

When they got to the gate they used their Flaming Fist Badges to get the guards to tell them that 6 kids went thought the gate early in the morning and they talked to the Lamp Lad Jethro.  The group used their Flaming Fist Badges again to be allowed though the gate and went to talk to the Lamp Lad.  During this time Kah-Kaww (Going by Kaw the Lawful) bribed the guards at the gate to allow them to pass though again when they come back.  Kaw also bribed the Lamp Lad to tell them where the kids went and they slowly walked through town heading to the harbor.  As they walked through town they talked to different people trying to see if anyone saw the kids but noone had.  Kaw also bribed multiple people to help them back though town if they do capture the criminals.

 

Once at the harbor it took them a while to find the boatman that took them up the river.  It seems that he just got back from a trip there.  He said he would take all of them for 1 gp each and they accepted and headed upriver to the Twin Songs.

 

(Guild Party Late Morning to Afternoon)

They worked their way to the Ravenshade residence and noticed it was in an uproar.  Their son was missing and looked like he might have been kidnapped.  The Party talked to the Ravenshade family and worked out that the son, Hans, was going out for some drinks with his friends, Saul Oberon and Kyle Durinbold.  They would know where he might of gone.  The party headed to the Oberon's family home and they seemed a lot calmer.  They said their son was known to stay out late and drink.  He should be back soon as people were looking for him.  They did say they saw their Son head to Heap Gate last night.  The Party moved off to Heap Gate but was stopped by Skoond.  He told them that Ravenshield thinks the kids might be involved in the removal of the hands.  He did not want them to face mob justice or the Flaming Fist brand of justice.  He would like them to be brought home so tensions would calm down since the kids were just being kids.  He offered them to stay on his stipend and would give them 60 more gold to bring them to him.

 

The Party reached Heap Gate and were trying to talk to the Guards that would not listen or give them the time of day.  Owl, being a sheepherder's daughter near Baldur's Gate, started to be signaled by one of the Lamp Lads.  The Party used the Writ to get through the gate and went to talk to the Lamp Lad.  Jethro was smitten by Owl and gladly gave up information to her (thanks to a great CHA roll and having the Commoner Background).  He even offered to take her to the harbor to show the party which ferry he took.  They party moved with haste to the ferry and was able to get the ferry to tell them where he took them (for 1 gp) and then transported the Group (1 gp each).  Once they made it to the Twin Songs they found out that the kids were heading toward the Wyrm's Crossing and so the group headed that way.  The group did not find any signs of the kids and spent a lot of time search for them.  Finally someone from the carpenter's guild came up to Love, who is a member of the carpenter's guild, and told her that Horgold Hadru had not been seen today and they were worried about him.  The Party headed to Horgold Hadru's pottery shop and his home (used the map from The Elder Elemental Eye Encounter (Outbreak Map)).  The Party first when though Hadru's house and found that more than 1 person had been there lately and an impression seemed to make it look like something heavy was there recently.  Nezzle took out her fire starter and a noise maker and set traps in the house to let the Party know if someone tries to get in there.

 

The Party headed over to the shop (I had some plexiglass that was set on top so I could draw on the maps.  I drew a counter and some shelves for the room that connects to the road and left the rest as is for storage).  The Party tried the door and it was locked.  This was easy for Nezzle to pick and she quickly opened the door.  Hadru was there behind the counter putting things away.  He was very nervous and asked the Party to leave as he was closed today.  The Party refused and Lucy tried to intimidate him.  She rolled another 20 and scared him to death.  He started yelling out that thieves were robbing his store and ran into a corner to curl up in a ball.

 

(Flaming Fist Party Afternoon)

They finally made it to the Twin Songs and started searching.  They got a lead on one the kids that they were stashed someplace in the Twin Songs but they were not sure where.  The Party worked their way through the stores searching for the kids.  They were lost and had no leads when they heard some yelling and something about thieves.  They went to check it out and saw a group of people forcing their way into a building while the other building was left untouched.

 

(Both Parties now together on the same map)

So we had everyone roll initiative.  The Rogue of the Flaming Fist party went first.  From there it was all the Guild Party that went then the rest of the Flaming Fist party.  The rogue moved closer and hid in the shadows.  The Guild Party all moved into the shop and headed for the back room (having to climb/jump over the counter, STR Check, or go through the low counter (Hadru could climb over easily), which was just difficult terrain).  Once everyone was in Nezzle closed the door and locked/jammed the lock with a nice 21 on the check.  The Flaming Fist took a turn to move up to toward the shop all double moving.

 

2nd turn the rogue headed for a back entrance while the others started to search the back room.  Lucy tossed another crit and found the youths hiding in the stacks of goods.  Twil went and blocked one of the back doors while Love blocked the other.  Nezzle rigged her last noise maker to the front door and ran for the back room.  The Flaming Fist group started to see some smoke and then fire coming from the house nearby and so the Paladin and Kaw headed there to help out the people inside.  The rest made it to the front door and tried to break it down with no success.  At the end of the Initiative the youths ran for the back doors splitting up into 2 groups of 3.  One of the youths bull rushed Twil and smashed him into the back door with a low crack.  Twil shouted out a warning to stop what they were doing.  The ones that charged Love could not hit her but surrounded her.

 

3rd turn saw the rogue moving toward the back while the Guild Party talked to the youths.  With 3 people rolling 18+ on their CHA checks and showing them the Writ that they were to be taken back to Slivershield the youths gave up.  They told everyone they just wanted to go home.  They did not mean to cause such a ruckus as they only wanted to go home now.  They handed the hands over to Twil and allowed themselves to be tied up.  The Flaming Fist broke down the front door and a loud scream echoed as everyone grabbed their ears.  Law opened up the other house to an ear piercing scream and called out for anyone in the house.  With no answer he headed back to the shop with the rest of the Flaming Fist.

 

4th Turn saw the Monk of the Flaming Fist and Nezzle get into a shouting match about who should get the youths.  Nezzle showed the Monk the Writ and with the monks 2 on his check for a forgery decided this was real and that the Guild Group had the authority to bring them in.  This stopped the hostilities and allowed everyone to talk and make some agreements.  It was decided that Hans Ravenshade, Saul Oberon and Kyle Durinbold would go back with the Guild group while the other 3 youths went back with the Flaming Fist group.  The parties split up and headed back to their respected locations.

 

(Flaming Fist Group)

Gave the 3 youths over to Ravenshield of the Flaming Fist and decided not to give any to the mob.  They felt that a trial was better than mob justice.  The Flaming Fist was very happy and set up a trial at a later date.  They youths were then taken to the Seatower till their trial.

 

(Guild Group)

Nezzle sent some secret messages to the guild as they were taking the 3 back and told them to follow her.  She then hatched a plan so that they split into 3 groups with each taking one of the youths back to Silvershield.  Nezzle took Saul Oberon and took her route in such a way so that the Guild could trap her and take the youth.  They beat up Nezzle just to make it look real.  So 2 Youths made it back to Silvershield and 1 went to the Guild that was then sent to the mob with stone hands tied around him.  The Guild was not pleased with this and though the heroes might not be helping them anymore.  They will see if the heroes will help more or not.  Silvershield was happy to get back 2 of the youths, but was dismayed that one was killed by the mob and 3 were captured by the Flaming Fist.  He paid the heroes for their work and let them leave.  Later on he learned of the deal with the Flaming Fist and decided the heroes would have to be watched more and manipulated.

 

Overview:

OK I LOVED THIS.  We had so much fun and including both tables together in the story made it a lot of fun for everyone.  We went past the 2 hour limit to 3.5 hours because we just lost track of time.  The other GM and I agreed to work together in the future for some of the upcoming events.  The funny thing was there was really no fighting yet everyone was really involved.  Also using the backgrounds and character in-game knowledge really helped to keep people engaged at the table and in the game (matter of fact no cell phones came out this week since they had to listen and work together).  Next week we decided that the Guild Party will get to do the plan they set in motion in Week 2 while the Flaming Fist party will be inspecting Undercity for the Guild.  This was a great time for all (and a HUGE writeup).