When I read the earliest Sherlock Holmes stories, it was clear from Conan Doyle's language that he was trying to be sensational in the way articles in tabloid newspapers are sensational. The openings to some of the tales at least seem to begin in the vein, "Of all the most peculiar cases with which Sherlock Holmes dealt, the most most peculiar was the Case of the Sausage Grease and Beer Stains."
I've just finished Chapter 3 of The Temple Between, which got to be so long that I've ended up splitting it into five shorter sub-parts.
I started by sending the party off to Stone Anvil, which is the main temple of Moradin in Overlook. It was mainly to give them something to do because the ambush in the alley pointed them in a more useful direction. Although they know General Zithiruun is giving Durkik his orders, the fake Durkik is a weak lead because he still has to pretend to be the High Ancestor, which would leave the adventurers cluttering up the pavement outside Stone Anvil for several hours.
Having been ejected from Stone Anvil, the company decided to see what was going on in the old temple of Moradin in Nine Bells, but they were ambushed on the way. The ambush is quite important because if the PCs can get any information out of their attackers, they'll find that Captain Aerun is part of the conspiracy and that he's to be found in the Pig and Bucket in Blister. That was much more useful than Durkik, who might just happen to lead the party to the warehouse.
This is also where the first paragraph comes in. The text says
The parchment is stained with something which (with a DC 16 Perception check) appears to be beer and sausage grease.
though how anyone would know it was specifically sausage grease (because sausages aren't made of any one kind of meat), I don't know. It then says
A DC 17 Streetwise check suggests that the source for the stain is the Pig and Bucket tavern.
which really does sound like Holmesian levels of silliness. I can imagine Holmes telling Watson that he's made an exhaustive survey of stains from local hostelries.
Also in this scene, I had Gunpowder get rather annoyed at the Lost Ones. Gunpowder began life as a vicar-ish character, rather nice, inoffensive, and really quite bland; but after reading about Helm, I've allowed for a change in his personality. He's fed up with saving Overlook and yet still being attacked by the local thugs, and he's told the Lost Ones that if they keep coming after him and his companions, he'll post them back to themselves in pieces.
I also had Gunpowder muse about the oddities of D&D. For example, after some street fight, who tidies up the bodies? Why doesn't the city watch really make an effort to deal with the Lost Ones? How was it not possible for the people of Brindol to mount a military expedition against Sinruth? Could Tusk have effectively besieged Overlook given the size of the city?
In addition to this, I filled in a little of their backgrounds, and how they all met, which is not something I'd ever considered before.
The party found the dwarves in the temple of Moradin in Nine Bells to be rather nationalistic. I didn't bother trying to work Bram Ironfell into the picture, and the more I thought about it, the more ridiculous The Lost Mines of Karak became. At the time I assumed that Shephatiah's unknown client was probably Sharshan. I largely forgot about the connection between Ironfell and Sharshan, but it struck me that if Sharshan was already getting ore from the Karak Lode, then it would be a little strange if he'd kept such knowledge from Ironfell.
This is another of those novel-like features of these adventures. Even if there was no intention of mentioning General Zithiruun so early, it should've been explicitly stated that the mystery client was not Sharshan.
Ancestor Karros confirmed that Durkik hasn't been himself, but again, such knowledge does nothing to further the story.
And thus the company had the afternoon off. Glory made Gunpowder have sex in the bath with her; Kingdom went off on a tryst (which will become important once the Paragon tier arrives); Treason and Plot went to explore the city a little more; and Power went to see his girlfriend (and probably have sex with her in her office again).
They went to the Pig and Bucket that evening and followed Aerun to the warehouse. Unfortunately, Aerun vanishes at that point. He's supposed to be in the office, but the initial set-up has a possessed citizen on the balcony outside, and I made him Aerun. The fight was difficult because the party got split up. Power fought Aerun; Plot leapt down the stairs to fight the ruffian below; and overall there was little space and a lot of manoeuvring on the walkway. There's meant to be a second encounter, but the first one was quite enough.
The PCs found the trapdoor and discovered the real Durkik. Since disabling the spike shooters would take some time, I had the party tell Durkik how they found him, and he told them what he knew about Zithiruun's plans and about Mountainroot Temple. Although Durkik has turned over a new leaf (well, his piety is less of a performance), he still wants the Incunabulum Primeval from the temple.
In the interests of accuracy, it'd be nice if the boys of the WotC could be sent off to do a course in Latin so that they wouldn't make gross howlers like "Libris Mortis" for Liber Mortis (Book of the Dead). The book in Mountainroot Temple should be the Incunabula Prisca, which means something like "Ancient Beginnings", but it seems to be meant to mean "Primordial Source".
I had thought The Temple Between was the last of the Heroic tier adventures, but there's still Fist of Mourning, which, like The Lost Mines of Karak, looks to be a completely and utterly pointless side quest. I've been thinking about having Plot, in her early thirties, telling the story to her nieces and nephews to keep it as short as possible; but at the moment, that's a wee way off because Mountainroot Temple and General Zithiruun are waiting in the wings.