The brass sphere that the old man asked them to use turned out to be a planejamming device much like the Cosmo Hopper used by Acquisitions Incorporated. It allowed the party to transport themselves through space and time to an entirely different world called “Mawveth.” Here, the sphere landed, and the group disembarked to find themselves in an odd world.
They saw that the landscape and buildings here were vastly different from what they were used to in the Silver Marches. Even the ground was odd, hard, and black as if it had been scorched by dragon’s fire. (Asphalt.)
It stretched out for miles, and they could see that they were in an odd, foreign city. The buildings were tall and square, made of metal and glass, and stretched upward into the sky as if to scrape it. The structures were all in poor shape, damaged as if ravage by war and neglect. Vegetation grew throughout the city as if nature itself was devouring it. The sky was clear and the sun was high, indicating it might be midafternoon. It was hot, warmer than the Silver Marches, and the air seemed like ash though no smoke or fire could be seen.
“Look,” said Rain. “Over there.”
They looked and saw a nearby tavern. It resembled any tavern from Waterdeep or Silverymoon, with arched peaks and board-and-batten siding. The windows were crafted from fine smoked glass, and the sign read: “The Misfit Rambler.” There was a second sign on the door written in red lettering that said: “CLOSED!”
They approached the tavern slowly, and the door opened as they did. A slender woman wearing leather armor walked out. Her demeanor was serious, and although she was attractive, she had scars on the left side of her face, her right arm, and even her right hand. It seemed that the woman had been badly burned on the right side of her body.
“Short, brown hair,” whispered Eanrin.
The woman stopped about fifteen feet from the group, putting her hands on her hips seriously, and called out to them with an edged tone to her voice: “Is there something I can help you with?”
Behind her, at the doorway, stood two others: a hunched middle-aged Human male, wrapped in a green hooded cloak, with graying black hair and a beard, and a Tiefling female with white hair who leaned heavily on a slender staff. Both remained quiet, watching intently.
Rain waved at the woman in a friendly way. Luna and Fradelis watched as Eanrin stepped forward and spoke.
“I hope so,” he said. “We are supposed to make a delivery, but we don’t know who to. Only that it’s a woman with short brown hair.” He smiled again. “Are you expecting a delivery?”
The woman scowled and shook her head. “No, in fact, we are not expecting a delivery.” She inched her hand towards a dagger that hung from her belt. “Look, we don’t take kindly to strangers in these parts. Who supposedly asked you to make this delivery anyway?”
Rain stepped forward. “Some guy,” he said. “He was really nice though.” Then he looked away and started to look around: gazing into the sky, kneeling to touch the ground, and looking farther afield into the distance.
The woman looked at Rain, eyes widening a little, wondering if he might be some kind of buffoon or maybe suffered a head injury at some time in his life. She glanced back at Eanrin.
“He never gave his name,” explained Eanrin. “He just asked us to make the delivery.”
“Right,” said the woman. “So someone you don’t know asked you to make a delivery to someone without explaining who they might be.” She scowled deeper. “Makes total sense.”
Fradelis eyed the woman up and down cautiously sizing her up while Luna stood by silently.
“Look,” said the woman. “Why don’t you just leave whatever it is that you’re delivering right there on the ground and take your leave.” She put her hands on her hips comandingly. “Like I said, we don’t take to strangers around these parts.”
At this point, the man in the green cloak rushed from the door of the Inn, and shouted happily. “It’s them!” He ran towards the woman. It was obvious that he had suffered some kind of a wound to his back as he ran hunched over. “They came!” He shouted. “I knew it. It’s them. They finally came!”
“Bahamut be praised,” whispered the Tiefling woman aloud. “It’s the folk from Mouse’s drawings.”
In much the same way that Father Jared had succumbed to madness and become obsessed with painting the Misfit Ramblers, Mouse had done the same for the past few months. He had talked of only of The Four Elves from a far-off land. He was preoccupied with them, and constantly drew pictures of them. He claimed that their patron, Bahamut, would appear to the Elves and send them to assist the Misfit Ramblers in their time of need.
Friendrat had assumed that the madness that had slowly taken Father Jared was afflicting Mouse of the Brush Sage as well. However, the same glowing sphere that snatched them from the battlefield near Hatchet City was back, and it had delivered four Elves or at least Half-Elves. Friendrat made her way slowly towards Mouse and Arinthe using her staff as support. The wound that crippled her leg ached, but she pushed the pain to the back of her mind.
As the discussion continued, Og stirred. The entity had slept since the Elves delved too deep into their investigations of the Planes, unleashing a wave of pure “death energy” into the world. Og had come to this world riding upon that wave and had since slumbered. Now, Og sensed an Elf in his world. An Elf from another world had wandered into Mawveth. Interesting.
Og opened his single eye and peered at the Elf. Already, there were dozens of Seelie and Unseelie spirits congregating near the Elf. Og could also sense that a dozen or so Typhein were already rushing through the tunnels beneath the world to seek out and devour the Elf. Og felt this would be interesting to observe, so he watched.
Rain on the Night Wind suddenly felt ill as Og turned his gaze towards him. All around him he could suddenly hear whispering. It was in an ancient dialect of Elven, but he couldn’t make out what they were saying. He touched his holy symbol of Corellon Larethian, a silver crescent moon, and gazed into the sky as he reached out with his Primeval Awareness. Then he looked down at the ground, shivering.
Eanrin looked over at Rain. “What is it?”
“I feel sick,” he mumbled. “There are some things from beyond below, some undead in the city, and… nice fey!”
Eanrin withdrew his Doss Lute, and began to play a tune. He felt the magic from within him swell, transferring to mingle with the magic of the lute. And then he felt the Weave of magic twist and knot with the sound of the music, transforming into a spell that would neutralize any poison. The spell washed over Rain.
And yet Rain continued to feel sick. Another bout of nausea and sickness washed over him. The Ranger couldn’t know the history of this Plane of existence or how Og had cursed the Elves who summoned him here from the Far Realm. Rain would continue to feel sick until he would finally twist and mutate into one monstrous creature that devours flesh and drinks blood commonly known as a Typhein, the Elves of Mawveth.
Mouse of the Brush Sage ran over near Arin and dropped to his knees, scattering a few sketchbooks on the ground. He opened one and started flipping through it. He was mumbling quietly to himself and then he shouted “A-HAH!” and pointed to a drawing. It resembled the scene that was going on right now showing the two groups standing out on the paved road near the tavern.
Mouse explained that he had been having dreams and visions for several weeks now concerning Luna, Eanrin, Fradelis, and Rain who Mouse referred to as “The Travelers.” He claimed these were visions from Bahamut foretelling the coming of allies who would deliver a great and powerful gift.
“And it’s happening now,” cried Mouse. “Right now in front of our faces my visions are coming true!”
Arin glanced down at Mouse and over to the approaching Friendrat then back to the four strangers. She sighed louldy, shook her head, and threw her arms into the air. “Whatever,” she said angrily. “Ha;f the damned city is trying to kill us and we’re here talking to a bunch of strangers.” She turned and started walking back towards the tavern.
Friendrat and Arin exchanged nods silently as they passed.
As the party watched Mouse, they became aware of some kind of spectral form that was attached to the monk by tendrils that stretched out from its form. They glanced at each other, silently confirming they all were seeing the same things. However, none of the others seemed to be able to see. it.
Rain reached into his bag, and started to make a sandwich using his food and rations. Meanwhile, Fradelis looked at Mouse with a raised eyebrow before going to him and kneeling down to check out the drawings in the sketch book. Eanrin stood nearby with Luna.
The sketches were all the same picture drawn from different points of view, all depicting the four companions meeting with the Misfit Ramblers on the asphalt road near the tavern. Some drawings were in chalk, others pencil or pen, and even a few scrawled in crayon. But they were all the same, and accurately reflected the group right down to their postures. In every picture, the glowing sphere hung in the air nearby.
“Here,” said Rain as he offered the sandwich to the spirit attached to Mouse’s back. Rain recalled that offering food to Fey creatures, especially Aes Sidhe, was a customary part of an ancient agreement to ensure peace between the Fey and Humankind. “Greetings,” said Rain using the Sylvan tongue. “This is for you.” However, the spirit seemed to take no notice of the food, but Mouse smiled and happily took it from Rain.
“Thank you,” said Mouse as he took a large bite. “Thank you very much.”
As Mouse continued to flip through the book showing Fradelis the drawings, Friendrat nodded to Rain and Luna. “So this delivery,” said the Tiefling woman. “What is it?”
Rain smiled to Friendrat and kneeled down. Taking one of Mouses other sketchbooks, he asked permission to use it as he pulled out his newly purchased Artist’s Kit. “May I?” he asked Mouse who nodded in the affirmative. Mouse began to draw a picture of the book that they were intending to deliver.
Eanrin noticed that Rain was drawing a picture of the book. He reached into his pack and withdrew the Book of Legendary Lore. “This is the book we came to deliver,” he said holding it up. “We can’t open it.”
Meanwhile, the spirit, an Allip, gazed at the book. Sensing the tome’s power, it decided to act. It used its ability of Whispers of Madness on Luna, Eanrin, and Rain. An allip is a evil creature. When a mind uncovers a secret that a powerful being has protected with a mighty curse, the result is often the emergence of an allip. Secrets protected in this manner range in scope from a demon lord’s true name to the hidden truths of the cosmic order. The allip acquires the secret, but the curse annihilates its body and leaves behind a spectral creature composed of fragments from the victim’s psyche and overwhelming psychic agony.
Eanrin was the only one effects by the allip’s attack. He clutched his head as the psychic energy shot through his mind. As he recovered, he withdrew his lute and began to play a song, casting Protection from Evil and Good. As the spell took hold, Eanrin touched Mouse on the shoulder.
The allip made no sound but its mouth widened in a terrible scream. It rose up into the air above Mouse, the tendrils detaching like hooks from a fish. Mouse gasped and his eyes rolled back into his head. The monk fell forward, unconscious. Then it moved suddenly, rushing forward and diving into the book in Eanrin’s hand. Eanrin looked at the book, shocked and horrified.
Friendrat gasped when she saw Mouse collapse. She used her staff to struggle to a knee, rubbing his back and attempting to wake him up. Fradelis touched Mouse’s shoulder, attempting to wake him as well. Meanwhile, Eanrin and Luna stood by and watched. Rain said, “Um, that doesn’t look healthy…” Eanrin handed the book over to Luna, kneeling down to check on Mouse as well.
“I don’t understand what’s happening,” said Friendrat.
“Ah, that wispy Feything on the elder’s back left him and went into the book,” Mouse gestured towards Luna. “How can we help?”
Friendrat leaned heavily on her staff, pushing herself up to her feet again with some effort. “You can help by getting him inside,” she pointed towards the nearby tavern. “Get him off the asphalt and into shelter.”
Everyone stood up, moving away from Mouse. Eanrin gently picked up Mouse and followed Friendrat towards the Misfit Rambler tavern. The others followed. Within a few moments they were inside of the tavern and had placed Mouse on the floor so that he could recover.
Friendrat sat at the bar and glanced at Arin who was standing nearby drinking a glass of ale. A large bottle was open and sitting next to her. It was obvious that she had already had a couple of glasses to calm her frustrations.
The group decided to remain with the Misfit Ramblers for an hour or so. Mouse of the Brush Sage finally recovered and they discussed how his obsession with drawing resembled that of Father Jared’s. Maybe Jared wasn’t as mad as they thought but instead possessed by an allip. It was hard to guess at this point. The two parties exchanged stories while they rested. Fradelis studied the Shadowfell Sun Blade while Eanrin began to compose songs about the legends of Mawveth.
Friendrat studied the book during this hour of rest and was able to attune to its magic. She opened the book finding that its pages were completely blank. A hundred pages in all, she understood that writing a question on a blank page woould cause the book’s magic to reply with information.
“It works like a spell called “Legend Lore,” she explained. “Name or describe a person, place, or object. The spell brings to your mind a brief summary of the significant lore about the thing you named. The lore might consist of current tales, forgotten stories, or even secret lore that has never been widely known. If the thing you named isn’t of legendary importance, you gain no information. The more information you already have about the thing, the more precise and detailed the information you receive is.” She smiled happily.
Finally, the companions asked if they could use a page of the book to discover information about Kalman the Cruel. Friendrat, Arin, and Mouse agreed that this was a fine idea if it would help the companions on their quest.
Fradelis stepped forward. She took a Sharpie marker from Friendrat, looked at it curiously, and then looked to the others. “What do I ask?”
Eanrin wrinkled his nose when the cap came off the Sharpie.
Rain smiled and spoke up. “”How is this? ‘Where is Kalmine’s the cruel’s phylactery and what it is?”
Earnin rolled his eyes. “Kalman the Cruel.”
Rain nodded. “Yes, Kalmine the Cruel.”
Fradelis sighed and wrote on the page: “Phylactery of Kalman the Cruel.”
The page seemed to absorb the ink from the Sharpie as Fradelis wrote, and then information began to scribble all over the page. [Information here.] When the scribbling was done, it detected itself from the book and slipped to the floor. Fradelis picked it up, looking it over with interest.
During the discussion, Arin gave Luna a magical dagger, explaining that it was what had caused her spellscars. “I stabbed a creature and a wall of fire engulfed it and me. I got these scars and it was burned to death. Since then the dagger has lost its magic for me. Maybe it will work for you.” Also, Mouse gave Eanrin a scroll of Walneak’s songs explaining that Walneak had been missing since the Night of Terror and it would be nice for his music to live on in another world.
Later, the companions said their goodbyes to the Misfit Ramblers and made their way to the brass spehere. It was still floating in the same place that it had been when they arrived.
They loaded up into the planejamming device again, and Fradelis took the helm. They noticed that the clear liquid was gone, having been dripping like an hourglass since their arrival. They used the scrap of paper to discover replacement fueling pods under the helm inside of a green box. Having refueled the sphere, they activated the vehicle and were soon travelling through space and time to return to the planet of Toril, in Faerun, and the Underdark outpost of Mantol-Derith.
It’s been eight months since the civil war started. Eight long months. We should have left as soon as the fighting started, but I guess we had something to prove. We were invested. We had made friends. We found a place to call “home.” And we lost people. People we cared about; people we loved. But most of all we wanted revenge. Revenge on the Twins for everything they’ve put into motion, and everything they took from us.
We came to Steel City as strangers but we earned our way in through trust. After we finally met Abimelech, things moved quickly. We moved out of the Prison sector and into a beautifully converted apartment building. It was a kind gift from Abimelech, and have each of us our own space. We still had common rooms and spaces to gather as a tribe but it was so nice to have individual chambers to call our own. In a world like this one has become, it is priceless to finally have a “home.”
It took a little while to get used to living like that. We didn’t have to set guards because the sector police were there to protect us. We could finally get a good night’s sleep without the fear of someone raiding us in the dark of night. We were able to relax. For the first time in a long time, we were safe.
I admit that we got comfortable. But damn, it felt good. We had time to do things we wanted to do. Arin did jobs for the Swagger Society. Mouse read, illuminated, and copied books. Friendrat practiced her magic and took time to nurture plants and animals in the community. Tal opened his own little pawn shop, using his “special set of skills” to buy, sell, and trade. In his spare time, he studied the arcane arts. Kleth joined the city’s secret police, becoming Master At Arms. And Walneak played a different tavern each night, becoming a full time musician and bard.
Six months passed quickly. We stayed out of politics. We focused on our own happiness and tried to avoid the drama of inter-Faction drama. It was easier than it sounds, really. As soon as we didn’t offer a threat to any of the Powers-That-Be they just stopped paying attention to us and started watching other folk. And when you start enjoying life again, time files.
And then came the Night of Terror. That’s what we call it now. Somehow the barriers dealing off the Undercity from the city at large were breached. Sinkholes opened swallowing entire buildings like the maw of some ravenous beast. And when the dust settled, the monsters came. They resembled Trolls with rubbery flesh, shaggy makes of coarse black hair, gaping mouths full of rows of razor sharp teeth, and massive taloned paws able to crush an actor’s head effortlessly. They were so fast, moving as if propelled by magic. And the seemed impervious to damage, shrugging off even the mightiest spells without effect.
The monsters took the city. They overwhelmed us. The lucky ones died in the street. The others were dragged down into the underground. Our only respite was daylight. The monsters shunned the sun and the full moon’s light. So we prayed for cloudless days and waited for the moon to bloom full in the night sky.
Before we knew it the Twins were exposed as traitors, the terrorists who unleashed the horrors of the Undercity. The Cult splintered and a third of them chose to follow the Twins in their rebellion scheme against Abimelech and all of Steel City. And that’s when it so went to Hell.
And so here we are, struggling to survive again. We hunker down each night and wait for the dawn. We fight when we have to, and we scheme like Hell to find a way to finally win the city back from the monsters. And we bide our time, airing for the opportunity to strike at the Twins and their tribe.
Urban war is unforgiving and exhausting. We fight building to building, street to street, and block to block. Every victory costs something, and each day we have less and less to sacrifice.
We will win. We will find a way, or die trying. I promise you that.
We have been playing D&D 5e on Discord since March 2020 during the COVID-19 crisis. This scene is part of the fourth module in the series called “Midsummer Mayhem.” If you would like to read more about the Mawveth Chronicles series please visit the Campaign Page.
June 26, Steel City, The Greater Northlands.
Tal (4th level Human Wizard Enchanter stepped out of Building 865 in Zone C. The mid-morning sky was filled with clouds. A cool breeze was blowing gently from the East. It looked like rain but that fact did not deter Tal from his plans of visiting Sector 2.
He had been visiting the sector for the past five days, exploring the lay of the land and hanging out in a tavern called “The Kettle Black.” He had made a few allies within the Steel Society, Jank’s gang. It was clear that the gangers were unhappy with the current leadership of the city and it seemed they were biding their time until they could start a war with The Cult. Whispers were that they were already making tactical hits throughout the city: removing key people from th equation of their brewing rebellion.
Before Tal headed to the bridge gate, Mags reported to him that Mouse of the Brush Sage and Friendrat had gone into town last night and never returned. With that information shared, Tal suggested that Mags remain with the building, and she agreed. Three of the Ten Little Indianas were laying within their HQ in some kind of necromantic coma. They would need to be wary exploring Zone C without proper numbers or protection.
Tal walked along the highway leading from Zone C to to the Mechanics Bridge. Before the fall this area was a bustling suburb ripe with mills, breweries, and and tanneries. Now most of the buildings were in ruins for as far as the eye could see. Only the few blocks around 16th Street remained and only because they were been used to house abominations and monstrosities by the Factions of Steel City.
Fifteen minutes later, the wizard reached the Bridge Gate and spoke with the Gate Guardian, asking for permission to enter the city. As usual, the modron separated itself from the bridge and Tal had to identify himself by name and tribe. Another few minutes of walking brought him to the middle of the bridge where he asked the Bridge Guardian to transport him to Sector three by way of the teleportation circle. It was the quickest way to get from place to place in Steel City.
Steel City is oddly quiet for such a large city. But its belltower dos sound out the time through the day giving residents an idea of the passage of time. Tal heard the bells sound out that it was 11 bells (11am) right before he teleported into Sector 2.
Arriving, the Bridge Guardian reminded him that he could use this circle or any other to summon transport back to Mechanics Bridge. With that the modron blinked away leaving Tal in the small park at the center of the sector.
Tal knew that this time of the day was when the non-gang citizens of the zone were busy doing their jobs. Since each sector was self-supportive it was important that the citizens plant, harvest, and bake food to be sold, bartered, or traded.
Tal found a bench near a bakery called “Yun’s” and sat down. The smell of the freshly baking bread was pleasant. He spent some time watching the people watching him. He wanted to see who might be watching him as it might tell him something.
If Tal was being watched by anyone in the sector, he was unaware of it. Citizens (the non-gang denizens of the sector) moved from place to place doing their buisness. Some Steel City Gangers roved the streets in pairs acting as city guard. Everything seemed to be normal, nothing drawing his eye or out of place.
He noticed a man pass by who was wearing purple robes and a necklace that depicted three children holding hands. Tal recognized it right away as the holy symbol of Zaphiel, the saint of lost children. Heading the other way, he saw a courier in a green cloak jogging with a satchel slung on his shoulder.
Tal called out to the man in purple. “Excuse me, friend,” he said. “I seem to have lost someone. Is there a place in the city you would suggest I check?”
The man stops, glancing around, and turns to face Tal. He takes a few steps forward and smiles. “I’m sorry to hear that, stranger.” He glanced Tal over quickly. “If you have lost your way or a companion has lost their way, you may wish to check in at the nearest guard station a few blocks from here in THAT direction.” The man points to the West.
“Perhaps I will,” said Tal. “Thank you.”
The man tilted his head slightly. “Is there something can do for you otherwise?” His smile was kind. He seemed concerned about Tal.
“Perhaps … how well are the children treated here?” With The Cult here and the Council’s Factions.?”
Thinking this a very odd question, the man in purple made a questioning face. “Uh,” he said. “Better than previously, I suppose. Foundlings and orphans were sold into slavery in the past under Warlord Jank’s rule but since Burgomaster Abimelech has taken control of the city slavery has been abolished. Children still labor here, of course, as their families need the help. But they are treated like any other Citizen.” The man pauses, raising an eybrow. “You aren’t suggesting you’re here looking to buy a child slave, are you?” He ran his fingers through his hair somewhat nervously. “Slavery is legal within the Greater Northlands, of course, but not here. Not in Steel City. Not anymore.”
“Not here, anymore.” Tal repeated the words. “No, I’m not here for slaves. But I’m still getting used to the city, and you can tell things by how children are treated … and perhaps by who treats them on way or the other.”
The man shrugged at Tal. He assumed that Tal must be one of the many Southern refugees pouring into the city. Most of them were given housing and work within Zone A but a few with special talents were being offered citizenship in the different sectors.
“Alright then,” the man said. “If you really wish to know how the children are being treated in this sector then you might want to visit Rescue Mission on Hazy Street.” He pointed East. “Maybe, um, 4 or 5 blocks that way?” He glanced back at Tal. “It’s an orphanage Burgomaster Abimelech sponsors from children in this sector who are citizens but don’t have any family to call their own.”
Tal stands up and nods. “I may do that. Thank you.” With that, Tal started walking towards Kettle Black. He knew that the place would be near empty at this time of the day. It would be 6 or seven hours until gangers started pouring in thirsty and hungry. Kettle Black was what is called “a hive.” It’s a ganger bar and although citizens are welcome, they are smarter to find safer places to quench their thirst.
Tal glanced back confirming the assumption that the jogging courier was gone. He noted that the purple robed man hadn’t started on his way yet, and when Tal glanced at him the man smiled and raised a hand. “Good day, sir, and may Zaphiel guide your path.”
Tal walked a few block still watching for someone who might be watching him. Most of the ganger guards paid him very little notice. However as he got closer to Kettle Black a few of the gangers recognized him and gave him a passing “Hey” or “How’s it going?”
When he reached Kettle Black, he entered. He had been here enough times to be confortable with the tavern. The place used to be a brewery at one time and might still be. The heavy wooden double doors opened into a landing where later two thugs would be watching the door for trouble. But at this time of the day it was unmanned. He passed through the landing and descended a double-wide set of oak stairs that would lead him into the tavern itself, a good twenty feet under the surface of the sector.
The place was rather empty, as Tal expected. He and Walneak had been hanging out here a lot lately, rubbing elbows with the Steel Society soldiers. Walneak had even preformed some of his bagpipes tunes, and had been requested to preform for paid gigs whenever he might wish to do so.
Tal took a seat at one of the tables off to the side from the stairs. He noted that the bartender was a different middle-aged man with a thick ginger beard and a bald head. The only other person was a young lady sitting alone in the corner eating a plate of roasted potatoes and some kind of sliced meat.
Tal sat quietly, waiting for the evening crowd to start pouring in. With luck, he’d meet some new contacts. He might even learn something new that would give him an upper hand in the sector.
We have been playing D&D 5e on Discord since March 2020 during the COVID-19 crisis. We are on the fourth module “Midsummer Mayhem” in the Mawveth Chronicles series. To read more about the different stories within the modules please explore the Campaign Page.
Friendrat had received a message from someone inviting her to the Pryor Mansion at 7pm that night. The message was delivered by an owl similar to those used by Tribe Allegewi but it was not Erd’s owl as it had golden eyes. The message didn’t say who it was from, where the mansion was, or any other information. It just read: “You are cordially invited to the home of Master Maxwell Pryor of Tribe Allegewi in Sector 3 tonight at seven bells.”
Friendrat and Mouse decided to attend. They thought that the message was odd, but they were not concerned enough to look into it any further.
When it came time to leave, Mouse was occupied with another point of research and study, so Friendrat departed on her own agreeing to meet Mouse later tonight at the manor. She entered through the Zone C bridge gate, giving her name and tribe affliiation to the gate guardian as always. Instead of using the teleportation circle available with the bridge guardian, she decided to walk to Sector 3.
She crossed the bridge and then made her way through the maze of dilapidated and ill tended streets into Sector 3. The Allegewi are a small group of people who are not a gang. They have no Warlord but instead are lead by a grop of 3 elected Agas. The tribe has about 40 members but the sector has nearly a hundred to a hundred and fifty non-affiliated citizens living and working in cooperation with the tribe.
The Allegewi might be considered backward and primitive to some. They disdain magic, considering it evil and untrustworthy. In fact, the use of magic within the sector is illegal. The tribe keeps to what they call “the old ways” to grow their food, maintain their homes, complete their work, and heal their sick. They have many herbal and natural medicines uncommon to most places in the Greater Northlands.
Friendrat noticed that the Allegewi didn’t try to push nature away from their sector but instead embraced it. In other sectors the vegetation has taken over the streets causing them to crumble and infested the foundations of buildings turning them (in time) to rubble and ruins. But here, the Allegewi have managed to nuture nature in ways that make their structures stronger, decorate their streets, and provide them with nurishing plant-based food.
Much of what used to be the streets and sidewalks of the sector are now marshy thanks to irrigation and guided flow canals. The walkways are planked wood boardwalks and many of the newer structures are build on stilts to rise them up away from the ground level allowing nature to flourish.
It was evening so many of the citizens of Sector 3 were at home. She still saw a few stragglers out gathering fish, picking fruits or vegetables, or tending to their livestock. She considered how odd it was that each Sector was so different but that before The Fall it had been one large sprawling metropolis.
Before long she stopped at one of the local shops that was still open and asked for directions to Pryor Mansion. The shopkeeper, a red haired Gnome beauty named Thistle, gave her “okay” directions but suggested that she check with one of the roving patrols of Sector Guardsmen to get better directions.
Friendrat did exactly that and got directions from two of the officers out on patrol. And before long she was arriving at the manor. She knocked on the door and found it was already open. She smiled when she heard the belltower peal it’s first ring in the distance indicating it was now 7pm. She was right on time.
She looked inside and called out only to find that the room was in disarray and a man dressed like a butler was kneeling in the center of the room ahead of her. She could see blood was pouring from a wound at his neck. He was clutching at it desperaty trying to stop the flow of blood. But there was already so much on the floor around him.
Friendrat did was she does: tried to help the man. She rushed forward without a second thought. She put an arm around him and did her best to render first aid. (MEDICINE CHECK) But the man was already too far gone and the wound too extensive. She considered a healing potion but wondering if even that would not render proper aid at this point. She held the man with one arm against her body, withdrawing a knife. Maybe she would heat the knife and cauterize the wound. Deep down her intellect knew the man was beyond help but she was feeding on her emotional need to save the man.
She heard the door creak open behind her and looked back to see Mouse of the Brush Sage. He had arrived as promised. “Sorry! I am late,” he said and then his eyes widened. “Great Cuthbert’s Ghost!”
Friendrat was covered with blood from nape of neck to knee. She called Mouse over to help her. The monk took hold of the butler and supported his weight while Friendrat began chanting the arcane words of a spell to heat the blade of her dagger.. “Saint Cuthbert,” said Mouse calling on his own divine magic. “Please, spare the dying!”
Both spellcasters realized that their magic would not work in this place. They felt that whether divine or arcane that this was a spot called a “Magic Dead Zone.” The natural energy of this place was drained and contained nothing to form into magic. It was a dead battery without power to fuel their magic. A wise spot to build a residence if you are not a user of magic.
As Mouse continued to support the man, Friendrat broke the leg off of an overturned chair with the intention of making it into a torch to warm her dagger. She withdrew her tinderbox.
And as luck would have it, that’s when Allegewi guardsmen arrived on the scene to see two bloody people, one holding a victim and the other standing over him with a lit torch and knife.
“Stop!” shouted a voice from behind them. They looked to see the officers, all Human. Three of the guardsmen were already a few steps in the door. They were pointing heavy crossbows at Mouse and Friendrat. Two more officers were in the back still outside, accompanied by a gnome. “Drop your weapons! Do not move!”
Friendrat and mouse did not comply to the orders. “Time is of the essence,” said Mouse. “We need to stabalize this man or we will lose him.” Friendrat complained: “Can’t you see I’m trying to save somebody here?!”
The lead officer glanced at the man who was clearly already dead. Friendrat and Mouse hadn’t realized this yet because they were acting on emotion and adrenaline rather than logic at this point. It happens with first responders quite often. Many times someone will have to force the first responder from trying to render aid to someone who has already died.
“Last warning,” said the lead officer. He took another step, aiming his crossbow at Mouse’s neck. “Drop your weapons, move away from that man, and get on your knees!”
Friendrat paused. “If we don’t stop thiss man’s bleeding, he will die. If you are okay with his death being on your hands, then I will stop and let him die.” As she said this, she was still holding the lit torch and dagger.
Mouse did not comply either but instead said, “If we comply, this man we will fail to save him. Look and see. I am not okay with him dying.”
At this point, as the lead officer assessed this situation that was quickly turning sour, Friendrat looked the officer in the eye and keeping eye contact lowered the dagger and thenher whole body to the floor waiting for the guard to change his mind.
Mouse remained focused on trying to stabalize the dead man, not realizing yet that we was pale and unmoving. He tore at some of the butler’s clothing, using it like makeshift bandages to shove against the wound that was not really bleeding any longer. Mouse noticed movement from the lead officer and summoned up his KI. As the lead officer attempted to kick Mouse in the head to subdue him, the monk deftly parried the blow.
Laying on the gore covered floor, Friendrat muttered a prayer to Bahamut. “May justice be served upon them if this man dies.” She continued to heat the knife using the torchwith hopes to use it to cauterize the butler’s neck wound.
Seeing that Mouse is resisting their leader, the other two officers fired their crossbows at Mouse. “Not helping,” said Mouse as he snatched one of the bolts from the air before it hit him. The other bolt went wild, striking the floor next to Mouse.
At this point, Mouse realizes that the butler is already dead. In fact, he realizes, the man was likely already dead before he even tried to assist Friendrat.
“Oh for heaven’s sakes,” shouted Friendrat who stood and moved to intercept the guards. She puts her hands up, drops the dagger and her flint to the floor. “We were trying to save him. It was like this when we came in. Now can we please talk this over like civilized people?”
The two officers who fired their crossbows dropped them to the floor, drawing out short swords. The lead officer leveled his bow at Mouse again, ordering them to surrender for the third time. These officers were not willing to talk things out. That wasn’t their job. Their job was to stop criminals. At at this point, Friendrat and Mouse were found at the scene of a murder and refusing to surrender.
Mouse glanced at Friendrat. “It’s too late, my friend. We lost him. May the gods have mercy on his soul.” He gently places the dead man on the floor.
“That’s it,” shouted the lead officer.”Stop doing what now!” He knew that at this point he should just give the order for his men to attack. But something in the back of his mind was telling him that this was no ordinary situation.
Friendrat finally calmed down a little, and lowered herself to her knees. She still had a light crossbow and Qaurterstaff strapped to her back. Both were large enough not to be easily concealed. She made no move to remove them. She started to mutter curses, and the officers reacted to her words, becoming more alert and ready to defend themselves.
Mouse finally complied, getting on his knees and and putting his quarterstaff and greatsword in front of him. Friendrat followed suit, placing all her weapons on the floor in front of her. But her nature got the best of her, and she raised an eybrow. She also placed the medicine kit down in front of her. “Since saving someone’s life appears to be frowned upon, I suppose you want to see this too.”
The lead officer didn’t appreciate Friendrat and her attitude. He glanced back at the other two officers at the door, and waved them in saying: “Alright.” He glanced again at the two suspects. They were covered in blood, standing over the corpse when they arrived. No, holding the corpse, maybe even restraining the man as he died. The Tiefling woman had a knife in her hand. She might have been cleaning the blood off her blade with the flame. Either way, neither of them surrendered and it seems from her attitude that the Tiefling was an asshole. Unfortunately being an asshole wasn’t against the law. He gestured to the officers to start securing the suspects.
The two junior officers who were outside with the Gnome move and start patting Mouse and Friendrat down for weapons. They also explain that they will be handcuffing them for safety. As they are doing this the Gnome walks into the room. He is a Rock Gnome with slicked back black hair wearing a red shirt and brown pants.
The lead officer glanced over at one of the others who had stepped over to the nearest door to peer into the dining room. “Looks like these two have been busy, sir,” said the officer. “More dead in here. All with their throats cut.”
“My weapons have not seen battle tonight.” said Mouse. The lead officer glanced at the man. This was normal. Any fugitive caught red handed tries to explain their way out of it. I forgot to pay for that item I stole. That is my Brother-In_law why would I stab him in an argument about something so petty. That sword isn’t mine. I was asked to hold it. I have no idea how it ended up in that man’s spine.
The lead officer looks to Mouse. “If’n that’s true then you can follow orders like a good citizen and let us sort out this mess.”
Friendrat addresses the officer finsishing patting her down. “In my right pocket you will find a note telling me to arrive here at this time. It was delivered by an owl this afternoon.” She continues to describe the owl and the location that she asked for directions earlier. “I think you will find we did not have time to commit the crimes you accuse us of.”
The lead officer nodded to the other, and the note was taken out of her pocket. The junior officer glanced over the note and then handed it over to his senior. The lead officer huffed, looking over the note. This Tiefling woman just keeps running her mouth and it keeps digging her in deeper, he thought. He makes a disgusted look and holds out the note so Friendrat can see what it says.
She saw that the message was different now. It had been glamoured before but now in the dead magic zone it’s true message was revealed. “Maxwell Pryor is having a party tonight. All of them are traitors. Kill them all and leave no witnesses.”
Friendrat looked the lead officer in the eyes, maybe in a futile attempt to “prove” she was not lying. “That’s not what it said. And if it did, would I have told you where to find it? Or been stupid enough to bring it with me?”
The lead officer sighed. “My men have placed you in manacles and you’re going to be taken back to the station to arrange for transport to the Southren Barracks. This situation is a mess. Don’t resist. I have to take you in until this matter is resolved. And for the record, none of this looks good for you.” He pauses. “Understand?”
Mouse continued to try to make his case, not realizing it was neither the time or place for such conversations. Every time they tried to explain themselves they such sounded more guilty. Criminals trying to outwit the police.
“Please note that our weapons don’t have blood on them and the mud that we tracked in only goes here.”
The lead officer ignored Mouse, and looked to the Gnome. “Well, are these the two that you said you saw over by the Lennel asking questions about Maxwell Pryor?”
Over by the door that leads to the dining room, two officers are speaking in hushed tones. “Five more bodies. Damn shame.” The other replied. “Better call Lady Nid.”
“Yes,” said the Gnome. “Those are the two.” Friendrat perked up, seeing a hole in the story already. The Gnome continued: “I saw them with mine own eyes. She was asking all sorts of questions about Master Pryor and his estate. She is also the one who assaulted me and stole my pack. If you searchher things I’m sure you will find it. It has a blue and black cloak inside.”
Friendrat wasn’t able to restrain herself from explaining the situation again. In the end, she just sounded like a shoplifter trying to explain her way out of how all those items ended up in her purse.
“The pack you’re looking for is in my backpack,” she stated. “And I found it beside the path. I planned to look for the owner.”
The junior officers search her pack and find the one that the Gnome is describing with the cloak inside. The lead officer shakes his head and frowns. Somehow, he thinks, she figures that if she tells us about something ahead of time that it makes her less guilty. Just like a serial killer telling you the heads of his victims are just in the freezer until he has time to report them to the police. He found them, of course, along the path and he was just keeping them fresh for the investigators.
“Either way, you two need to come with us. You are suspects literally found standing over the body of a murder victim with five other ones in the next room. My jobs to take people like you in so that messy situations can be resolved. I’m not the judge or the jury so stop making excuses. I got no time for them.”
“Well then,” muttered Mouse still not willing to remain silent. “Maybe you need to remain vigilant for murderers on the loose.”
One of the officers walked from the dining room to the lead officer. “Seems like we got all the murders we need for now, ah sir?”
Mouse and Friendrat cooperated with the officers although they used many opportunities to try to continue to “prove” their innocence by making comments and suggesting how the men should do their job. At one point, the lead officer noticed that Mouse was attempting to cast a spell.
The lead officer looked at Mouse. “Please, sir, don’t use magic. I hear the words you’re saying and I know it ain’t just you praying to your god. You’re trying to cast a spell. You said that you’d be peaceful.”
Mouse replied: “Light is peaceful and helpful.”
The lead officer rolled his eyes, looking even more annoyed. “I’d prefer that you use no magic whatsoever, sir!”
“Very well,” said Mouse. “I am sorry to make you feel uncomfortable.”
The lead officer sighed again, louder this time. He glanced over at one of the other senior officers making a face like “The balls on this guys, right?” The lead officer looks at Mouse sternly. “Not uncomfortable, sir. The use of magic in this sector is forbidden. It’s illegal.”
Again, Mouse is unable to just let things rest in silence. He responds: “Well the, thank you for cautioning me against it.”
As she is being escorted to what the officers called “the station.” she wondered what the Rock Gnome stands to gain or lose from his part in this and tries to think of anything useful such as whether she recognizes the handwritting on the note. Of course, she doesn’t but she does notice that the Gnome is not coming along with them. She glanced around and noticed he was no where in sight.
Mouse and Friendrat are taken to a nearby guard station and then within an hour transferred to the jail facility called “The Southern Barracks.” They are seperated, given clean yellow jumpsuit prison uniforms to wear, and placed into different cells in different buildings away from each other.
They are told that the Agas will come to talk with them in the morning.
Click here to read more of the Midsummer Mayhem story.
We have been playing D&D 5e on Discord since March 29, 2020 due to the Covid-19 crisis in Pennsylvania. The first part took place in Hatchet City, which lead to the second part in the fields of Elysium. The third part was Steel City, and now we are on to the fourth “module” in the series called “Midsummer Mayhem.” If you would like to read about any of these stories, please visit the campaign page and select one of the links.
Friendrat (4th level Tiefling Sorcerer Draconic Bloodline) and Mouse of the Brush Sage (4th level Human Kensei Monk/ War Cleric) had just entered the first room in the Cellar Shrine when they saw a terrible monster. It was a disembodied skull wreathed in green flame. Its eyes were flickering red embers. It hovered just above the table in the small 10 x 10 room.
Friendrat looked around for the child that she heard calling for help from upstairs. She glanced around, not seeing the child. Meanwhile, Mouse unsheathed his Githyanki Silver Greatsword.
Friendrat extended her hands towards the Flameskull, touching her index fingers and thumbs to create a triangle. The arcane words slipped easily from her tongue as she summoned up the raw magical energy to cast BURNING HANDS.
The 15 foot cone poured forth and filled the 10 x 10 room quickly, washing back to fill the void close enough that both Misfit Ramblers (or Team Rodent) felt the heat from the flames. She used her sorcerous metamagic to carefully sculpt the magical flame using CAREFUL SPELL while also calling on her power of the Flames of Phlegethos.
The Flameskull continued to hover above the table. The cellar was made of damp red brick, however this room was finished with wooden planking added to the ceiling and floor. The walls were covered with drywall. So as the flames licked the flameable materials, the room began to burn, forming a thick black smoke.
Friendrat cursed mightily in Draconic seeing that her flames did not harm the Flameskull. It opened its skeletal maw, revealing the decaying teeth within, and spoke with the voice of a child again: “Help me!” The creature seemed to be using the voice to taunt them.
Mouse took a half step back from the flames brewing in the room. “Tom’s … I mean, Saura’s child?” He raised the silver greatsword. “Accuracy?” He moaned something that sounded like ‘Ahgh.’ “I’m going to hate losing those magazines.” He was referring to the stack of papers and magazines on the now burning table below the hovering Flameskull.
Mouse swung his Gith blade twice, taking two large chunks out of the Flameskull’s brainpan. The creature reeled back just a little with each hit, squealing in pain.
Friendrat noticed that the walls, floor, ceiling, and furniture in the room were all on fire and spreading rapidly. She started to chant again, summoning up raw elemental energy of water, forming it into an Ice Knife. As she was casting the spell, she saw the Flameskull cast MAGIC MISSILE at Mouse, striking him with three darts of magical force.
“Ahh!” Mouse winced in pain but did not relent. He lifted his silver sword again, ready to continue the battle.
Friendrat called on her powers of metamagic again, using CAREFUL SPELL as she cast ICE KNIFE at the Flameskull. The magical spear of ice flew out and struck the monster, but seemed to have no effect. She glanced around as the knife exploded with cold energy hoping that it might douse the fire in the room, but it did not.
Mouse called on the divine power of St. Cuthbert. “Let your divine waters rain down on us, Saint Cuthbert!” There was a shift in the humidity of the room and suddenly a downpour of mystical water rained down, dousing the fire in the room. Mouse looked at the Flameskull, hoping the wetness would effect the green flame surrounding the Flameskull, but it did not. The quenched flame sizzled, making thin gray smoke in the room.
“It looks like your sword has been the most effective thing to hit it with.” As Friendrat finished her observation, the Flameskull inched towards her slightly. It’s smoldering red eyes flared brightly. It looks towards Mouse, but the Monk was already using his KI to dodge deftly ouot of the way of the monster. It looked back to Friendrat and a red beam of energy poured from its eyes, striking the Tiefling just below her throat. Although it was painful, she resisted some of the damage due to her heritage.
Friendrat grimaced and pulled her quarterstaff from its place on her back. She stepped forward using the power of her hips to strike in a two-handed thrust with the staff at the creature. It hits solidly, knocking a small chunk of bone from the Flameskull. In response, the monster taunted again with the voice of the child.
“Help me!” it shouted. Then it bellowed a mocking laugh.
Mouse stepped forward, swinging twice more with his blade. The first missed, but the second was solid, carving another groove into the Flameskull’s cheekbone. It yelped in pain followed by a growling incantation of MAGIC MISSILES that sent five more glowing darts of force slamming into Mouse.
Friendrat and Mouse sized up their enemy. The blazing green flames blazed again filling the room with bright green illumination. Mad, echoing laughter poured from the creature’s maw.
Friendrat shouted at Mouse: “Let’s get out of here!” She turned, retreating towards the stairs that would lead her back up to the main room of father Jared’s residence.
The creature spoke again this time using Tanya’s voice: “Wait, come back!”
“Oh,” said Mouse thoughtfully. “It’s a mimic.” As Friendrat darted up the steps, Mouse put himself between the Flameskull and the stairs. He raised the silver sword again. The monster spoke again using Annie’s voice: “Save me!”
The Flameskull inches forward again, hovering closer to the monk. It spoke again using Carlos’s voice: “Oh God, help us!”
Mouse summoned up his inner KI is DISENGAGE from the monster, taking a last swipe with the Gith sword. The creature moved to the side, causing the blow to miss. Mouse turned and ran up the stairs, picking up Carlos on his way out of the cellar.
“Hm,” said Mouse as he turned, placing Carlos gently on the floor of the living room. “I wonder if their souls are trapped in that skull.” He closed the basement door, pulling out the chain that was used to hold the door on building 865 closed. He interlaced the links around the door to bind it closed, and then snapped the padlock shut. As the padlock snapped closed, the entire chain glowed for just a moment with magic, indicating that the warding was active. The monster would not be able to use the door to leave the basement.
Friendrat watched as Mouse took out a little paint and marked the door with an “X.” She responded to his question: “Yeah, I think so. That means that the child must be around here somewhere too. We should search for him.”
“The rest of our crew is dying,” said Mouse. “I won’t be able to keep all of them alive like this. I’m hoping that killing that creature will allow for them to wake up.”
“I think so too.” Friendrat nodded. “But we can’t do it alone. We need Walneak or Kleth.”
“Yeah, I might have to try out that cudgel next time. I still need training to use it properly.” He glanced again at the basement door. “Those vomit darts were brutal.”
“Perhaps,” she said as she glanced around the living room again. “We should try to locate the child in the meantime so that we can keep the victims together.” She nodded about the MAGIC MISSILES. “They looked it.”
Mouse nodded. “Yes, you are right. I’ve just been beating myself up for the last week not doing much besides sustaining them and now Carlos will amke things a bit more difficult and there is a child out there somewhere.”
Friendrat put a hand on Mouse’s shoulder. “They will be alright. I’m sure of it.” She smiled reassuringly. “I wonder why it came here. Do you think that whoever it used to be had a connection tot his place? At first I thought it was one of the children that Father Jared protected, but after hearing the voices of our friends that seems unlikely. I wonder if it has anything to do with those names on the wall.”
They both looked over at the far wall where a blackboard was hung with care. Several names were scrawled on the blackboard in chalk. Then handwriting was awkward as if a madman or a child had written them.
“Well it looks for life I suppose,” said Mouse thoughtfully. “And the dragonrat qualifies.”
Frowning, Friendrat turned her gaze to the basement door again. “Hopefull it is smart enough to make it out to the upper floors.”
“Yes, I hope so.” Mouse smiled. “At least escape the room while we were fighting.”
Friendrat sighed. “I’m sure he’s fine too. Those wards are for keeping in dark magic, not small animals. They can be pretty resourceful.”
Mouse clasped his hands together. “ok. Can we get Carlos back then get ready for the meeting at 7.”
She nodded. “Agreed. Maybe we should help with dinner too since Carlos can’t do it.”
Together the two carry Carlos back to Building 865.
We have been playing D&D 5e on Discord during the Covid-19 crisis since March 29, 2020. This is a recent session. I draw the dialogue directly from our Discord transcript. If you are interested in reading more sessions, please visit the Campaign Page.
June 25, Steel City, Northlands
Five days have passed since the Misfit Ramblers met with the Iron Council for the first time.Despite the danger of using Zone C has their headquarters, the tribe has decided to remain and use Saura’s previous prison as their base of operations. Mouse of the Brush Sage and Friendrat sit together on the roof of the building. The weather is producing moderate rain and strong winds for the East.
Mouse sighs deeply with clasped hands looking for a distraction. Friendrat smiled broadly enjoying the breeze and the smell of the rain. The Human Monk and Tiefling Sorceror did not seem to be bothered by the weather. They embraced the strength of nature. It is midafternoon, around 2pm according to the last ringing of Steel City’s bells.
Despite the weather, the two notice a messenger owl flying rapidly from the Steel City. Tribe Allegewi often uses owls to deliver messages. The bird was working hard to navigate the storm.
Mouse mused. “I should really get some snacks for that bird.” He checks his pockets for any bits of meat. “How smart is it?”
From somewhere inside the building, the peal of bagpipes sound playing an upbeat tune. Friendrat smiles. “I don’t know how smart it is, Mouse. But I’d think it would smart enough to learn simple commands.” Moments later the Owl lands deftly on Frienrat’s arm. This one isn’t the same Owl she has seen before because it’s eyes are aureate. The harness it wears has a small leather pouch dangling from it.
Friendrat stroked the Owl for a moment before checking the pouch. Inside she found a small roll of yellow lined paper with writing on it.
Mouse smiled at the Owl. “Hello there friend. How goes the night breeze? You must be pretty good to fly in the rain.” He looks the bird over, impressed.
As Friendrat unrolls and reads the message, the Owl looks Mouse over, its golden eyes flashing a little in the dim afternoon light, It cocks its head at Mouse.
“I wonder,” said Mouse to the bird. “If you prefer live food or something that humans prepare. Hm. Probably live food.” He finds a bite of dried meat in his pocket without taking it out. He’s allowing Friendrat and the Owl not to be distracted.
Friendrat finds that the paper is an invitation. “You have been cordially invited to the home of Master Maxwell Pryor of Tribe Allegewi in Sector 3 tonight at 7 bells.”
Mouse looks the Owl over for signs of anything that might indicate where it came from: dirt on its talons, beaks, or even damage to feathers. He notices that the bird seems to be very clean and very well cared for indeed. He knows that Tribe Allegewi often use Owls as messengers and delivery system for messages, parcels, and packages.
Friendrat explains to Mouse whe contents of the message is and he replies, “Ok. Do we know how to get there safely?” Friendrat looks the message over again noticing no mention of an address or directions.
“I don’t think we will have any trouble in the Allegewi’s area. There’s no address so we’ll have to ask at the gate.”
When Friendrat is finished interacting with the bird, Mouse tosses the dried meat past the Owl’s beak, and it snatches it from the air, gobbling it down. “Thanks for delivering the message,” he said to the bird. “Ok, let’s go.”
Friendrat raises her arm, and the Owl takes flight, flapping back the way it came towards Steel City. “Maybe we should have sent a message back,” said Mouse.
“I wonder what was so important that they sent an Owl out in this weather for,” commented Friendrat. She considers the time, remembering the last time she heard the bells from the city it was 2 bells, or 2pm.
Mouse makes sure that the silver from his great sword is covered up, prepares his cloak, and then climbs down from the roof. He mentions to Barbara who is prepping for the next meal that he and Friendrat are going to visit Sector 3 for a bit. After a short exchange with Barbara, the two of them leave the building and stand outside in the parking lot for a moment.
“I wonder if there are certain traditions the city folk are expecting? I haven’t spent much time among them. What do you think?”
“I don’t know.” Friendrat shrugs. “Hopefully we won’t insult anyone accidently.” She sighs. “Do you ant to go see if we can find that creature Wakneak saw in Jared’s basement? That … dragonrat?”
Mouse considers this, realizing suddenly that he had 5 hours to kill before going to the Pryor Manor. “I have no experience with training animals. Tracking them though, I’ve done.” He pauses. “Skinning, cooking and also turning them into brushes…”
“Don’t you dare!” shouts Friendrat.
Mouse grins mischeviously and in jest. “Does a dragonrat have hair? I never had a dragonrat brush before. Although I could just give it a trim rather than skinning it.” The man glances at Friendrat. “Oh. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable. Let’s see if we can get it to work with you.”
Friendrat looks sheepish. “No, I mean it’s scale could be useful. Wait! What am I talking about here?! We aren’t skinning it!”
“Maybe it sheds,” said Mouse. “Maybe it could be a nice companion rather than a source of resources.”
The two of them walk in the rain towards the nearby building where Father Jared used to live. Mouse touched the end of his quarterstaff, casting Light on it. “This way we can see clearly looking for nature’s signs of rats.”
Friendrat giggled as they walk together.
“We could use more Team Rodent members,” Mouse smiles.
Friendrat nods in agreement. “It would be a fitting addition.”
As the two cross the parking lot, Barbara steps out of Building #865 and shouts to them. “Hey if you two see Carlos on your walk, pleae ask him to come back and help us with preparing dinner, ok?” As usual she seems nervous. But she is an excellent cook and manages to prepare meals from the limited supplies the Misfit Ramblers have in stock.
Friendrat and Mouse nodded, both replying that they would pass on the information. They walk through the space between the buildings, remembering this is the spot where they asked the Ten Little Indians to hide while they first explored Building #865 and encountered Tom. They glanced over at the old white tractor trailer only about 50 feet away, remembering the sound of the thumping from whatever monsters are locked inside.
“Tonight is a good night to make friends,” said Mouse. Friendrat glances at the man, wondering why he’s referring to early afternoon as night. Mouse stops, holding his staff towards Jared’s building. The front door is obviously standing about 5 inches open. They both know that the front door had been repaired and all buildings in this Zone are supposed to be closed, not standing open.
Friendrat looks around, bad memories coming to the surface. Her forked tail swishing side to side.
“There seem to be no muddy tracks leading up to the building,” said Mouse. The pavement leading up to the building is wet, but no mud is present at all, tracks or otherwise.
“Hm,” said Friendrat. “I wonder who left the door open?” Still standing outside, she looks around for any signs of disturbance. The windows look intact. Nothing to suggest a break in, other than the door hanging open.
Mouse and Friendrat push the door open, and enter the building. This room was once a open reception area when it was being used as a company building. But Jared had converted it into a large living room with couches, chairs, and a lovely round glass table in the middle. But it was all in disarray now, and despite the mess it seemed that nothing had been youched since they came here last time with Erd. Friendrat thought that maybe she should ask someone to clean the place up and make it more presentable. They could use it as a meeting place for visitors or just somewhere to relax outside of the smallish confines of the other building.
“Walneak told us that he found the dragonrat downstairs in the basement,” mentioned Friendrat as she pointed to the basement door. It is cracked slightly open as well, and a glimmering green light is shining up from somewhere below.
“Was that green light there before,” questioned Mouse as he poked at the basement door with the end of his quarterstaff to open it a few more inches. “May Saint Cuthbert protect us.”
Friendrat creeped forwards, listening at the door. She weaved the magical energy around her into a Message spell between the Monk and herself. She glances at Mouse, and in his mind he hears her say: “I don’t hear anything.”
Mouse calls on his divine magic, casting Resistance on his tiefling companion by lightly touching her arm. “Thanks.” He could hear her thoughts through the Message spell. With that, Mouse pushes the door open the rest of the way with the tip of his staff.
Before they have the opportunity to set foot on even the first step, they notice a person laying face down on the steps, about half way down. It is a man, work boots, grey cargo shorts, blue vest over a tan t-shirt. They both realize who it is at the same time and through the Message spell they both say “Carlos!”
Mouse raises his staff slightly, calling forth more divine magic. “Saint Cuthbert, please spare the living and aid my dear friend!” His voice is hardly a whisper but he feels the magic settle on Carlos as he touches the fallen man with the glowing tip of his staff.
Friendrat stifled a gasp and moved forward down the steps to check what is wrong with Carlos. Using the Message spell, she said to Mouse: “There’s a darkened bite mark on his arm. But otherwise, he seems unharmed. He’s breathing, but unconscious.” And at the same time they said: “Like Annie and Tanya.”
Mouse of the Brush sage looked around for a threat. He saw nothing out of the ordinary. The stairs here go down about 12 feet and end at a brick wall. Turning right, you would walk into a room that is out of sight from this angle. That room is where the green shimmering light is coming from almost as if a torch was burning in the center of the room. He noticed that the light is not moving but it does flicker and shimmer like fire.
“Ah,” said Mouse. “Another of the oracle’s children. Necromantic Tomfoolery.” He paused. “I mean, I guess. I really need to get out more.”
Friendrat glanced at Mouse. Through the message she says: “Do you think that whatever our friends found got out?”
“I think that there were some already out which attacked Tanya and Annie. I am afraid this might have happened to Carlos, but I’m jumping to conclusions.” Mouse spoke out loud, but his voice was still quiet.
Friendrat sends through the spell: “They broke a window. Whatever was warded inside might have been able to escape.” She pauses, and then whispers aloud. “We have to move Carlos to get through here safely. Can you move him if I stand watch?”
Mouse nodded, adding: “Yes.” He moved down the steps carefully, moving Carlos to the side and positioning the man in a more comfortable position. “I will move his body parts so he is more comfortable and not twisted,” said Mouse. The Monk made sure not to touch the darkened bite mark.
Suddenly from somewhere below and off to the right in that room that is out of sight, they heard a child’s voice. “H-help me,” it called.
“Be suspiscious,” warned Mouse. “Do you think if we can remove the dark mark, the necromancy might not spread? Assuming it is necromancy.” The he realizes he’s not focused on the matter at hand. “Oh. Ok. Let’s sneak.”
“Maybe,” whispered Friendrat. She creeps down the steps, listening closely.
“Follow the light,” says Mouse.
Reaching the bottom of the steps, Friendrat places the palm of her hand against the brick wall, feeling the dampness that Walneak described. She glanced into the small room, roughly 10 x 10, and immeadiately saw the source of the green light. She sensed that Mouse was right behind her and heard the man gasp softly.
The room was small. It had a round table, more of a coffee table than a dining table with two wooden chairs. On the table lay a few magazines. There was a bare light bulb hanging by exposed wires, and right in front of that buld, hovering above the table was a monster.
The creature is a disembodied skull wreathed in flickering green flame. It’s eyes burn with a gleaming red light and its maw is wide open revealing its filthy yellow teeth.
We have been playing D&D 5e on Discord during the Covid-19 crisis since March 29, 2020. This is an accessory post to help jumpstart the new chapter of the campaign. If you are interested in reading more sessions, please visit the Campaign Page.
In Chapter One, the Misfit Ramblers were being pursued across the Northlands by a gang called Ambergrease. They fled to Hatchet City for refuge but after staying there for only one night they decided that they were better off on their own.
In Chapter Two, the Misfit Ramblers attacked Ambergrease in an effort to rescue their friend Michi. They were outmatched and most of them were knocked unconscious. They awoke to find themselves in a strange paradise.
In Chapter Three, the Misfit Ramblers chose to visit Steel City. They explored 16th Street and decided to use it as their headquarters. In time they visited Steel City and met the leaders of its Factions, the Iron Council.
Now, in Chapter Four, the Misfit Ramblers make 16th Street their home and try to adjust to the politics of Steel City.
We have been playing D&D 5e on Discord during the Covid-19 crisis since March 29 2020. This is a recent session. I draw the dialogue directly from our Discord transcript. If you are interested in reading more sessions, please visit the Campaign Page.
June 20, Steel City, Northlands
Arinthe Parolde walked through the Bazaar, enjoying the cool night air. It was just after dusk and the sky was clear and full of stars. She glanced around, noticing that the market was busy with customers. The hum of chattering voices filled the night air. The children were still working the crowd, pick-pocketing and cutting purses. She made her way through the maze of booths towards the buildings, namely the pub called “The Golden Flopper.”
The Flopper was busy tonight with maybe 25 people inside. Newhon was still over in the far right corner, mumbling to himself about colors. Benham was manning the bar, and the servers were busy hustling from table to table.
“Hey,” called Benham as he waved to Arin. “Welcome back!” She got the feeling that he wasn’t using her name of purpose.
Arin walked over to the bar. “Howdy, looks like business sure picked up since this morning.”
“Well, yeah.” said Benham. “The festival is bringing everyone out of the sectors along with the refugees from Zone A, and even some travellers from out of town.” He glances at the back of the bar towards a door marked PRIVATE. “He’s expecting you. He came in a few hours back. Talked with the Sheriff about the festival and such.” Arin assumed that what he meant was that the owner slid the Sheriff a little coin to look the other way during the festival.
“Of course,” she said with a crooked grin. “That’s why I came back.” She turns and starts walking towards the door.
Benham calls after her. “Want anything to eat or drink? I can send it in on the house.” He smiled.
“Another of your brews would be appreciated,” she said with a grin. She glanced at the back left corner of the room, noticing two men watching her closely. She surmised that they must be security. They didn’t move to stop her, so she pushed her way through the door.
The door opened into a large room. There was a bar on the left manned by two lovely ladies who were busy cleaning. She counted five guards in the room wearing armor and carrying melee weapons. In the center of the room was a large couch shaped like a “U” positioned to face a large overstuffed chair occupied by an overly obese man. All eyes are on Arin, and one of the guards stepped in her way to block her approach.
“Benham said you were expecting me,” she said calmly. “Didn’t realize I’d get such a warm welcome from you gentlemen.” She cocks a crooked grin and eyes the guards for any indication of the Syndicate symbol.
The fat man speaks up. “Ah, yes. The one Benham told me of earlier. Let her through, she’s one of us.”
The guards did not have the symbol on their armor or clothing, but she noticed that the symbol was prominently displayed in a large framed painting on the back wall. The guard steps away, allowing her access to the room.
The fat man leans forward in his chair. “I’m sorry for the rude welcome but times have been difficult for the Swagger lately. We cannot be too careful.” He interlaces his fingers. “I am Balabar Smenk. Join me.” He gestured to the couch close to him.
She walks towards the couch and keeps the crooked grin on her face. “Arinthe Parolde, but my friends call me Arin. Nice to make your acquaintance. Fine establishment you have here.”
Laughing, Balabar Smenk leans back in his chair. “We do what we can in this Zone. It does the job. I’m not sure “fine” is the proper word, but I’m flattered.” He takes a deep, almost labored breath. “I’m glad to meet another of the Syndicate. We don’t get many out of towners these days. Steel City isn’t a hot spot for business anymore.”
The five guards relax a little. They do their best to fade into the background.
“That seems to be the impression that I got since arriving that out of towners don’t come by often. Though it seems the Syndicate can still find enough underlings to keep things going. Saw enough of them running about while I wandered the Bazaar.”
Smenk chuckles. “Visitors come and go from Steel City daily either for trade or while passing through. But Syndicate members don’t have as many reasons to visit anymore. Abimelech has shut down much of the smuggling operations, and with the slave trade closed there’s not as much need for protection for the caravans.” He sighs. “We still have work but it’s bounties, debt collection, protection rackets. Small time stuff.” He smiles. “But we do keep the children busy. It makes us a little money and fills their pocket to keep them busy and their bellies full. Most of the children are leftovers from the slaves that Janks didn’t sell once Abimelech took over. Janks traded heavily in children and Half-Elves.” He shrugs.
“That would explain why there are so many of them,” she said with a nod. “The festival must be good for buisness, even if there isn’t much business elsewhere in the city.”
Smenk shrugs again. “We have to be careful with the little buggers. We pay the Sheriff and his men to look the other way from our little operation, but if Abimelech got wind of it who knows what would happen.” Smenk takes another labored breath. “So, what can I do you YOU?”
Arin nodded again. “I believe hat I am going to be staying in the city for awhile. I was wondering if I might not be of some use to you while I’m here. Might as well but my talents to good use.”
“We can always use an extra set of hands,” said Smenk nodding. He adjusts one of the rings on his index finger of his left hand. His fingers and thumbs are decorated with rings of all types. “Where are you staying?”
“For now I’m staying in Zone C, 16th street neutral zone.”
Smenk seems surprised and he leans forward, raising an eyebrow. “The prison sector?! W-why?”
“That’s just where I ended up,” she replied with a shrug. “I am guessing whatever is in those trailers there are the prisoners?” She raised an eybrow at Smenk’s stammering, now feeling not so good about leaving part of her group there.
Smenk leans forward. His tone is serious. “Anything and anyone who is too dangerous to keep in the confines of the city after being convicted of a crime is placed in Zone C. In fact, priests are selected to guard the area. My understanding is that they are looking for a new volunteer because the last priest was reported to have died.” He breathes heavily again. “Arin, it’s a dangerous place to be. Have you seen the different buildings there? The ones marked with X’s? Each contains something evil beyond measure.”
Arin shifted in her seat a little.”That’s good to know. Unfortunately, we had the unplesant experience of meeting one of those .. something evils…” trails off a bit thinking that she might not want to mention Tom.
Smenk and Arin continued to talk, and the fat man offer her a satchel full of scrolls, each with a job opportunity. As the discussion continued, Arin mentioned Gideon Mako and the Undercity. Smenk explained that Gideon and Mako were Half-Elf twins, and they often used their names as Gideon Mako or Mako Gideon to confuse people. Smenk explained that Gideon was the Cult’s Warlord while Mako was the captain.
“I have work concerning those twins too, if you wish. It would be dangerous.”
“I’m not sure which is Gideon and which is Mako but both names were used during our encounter with .. them … him.” Arin grinned. “What work do you have concerning them? There are others who travel with me, not Syndicate but a few of them might be willing to help.” She smiled again, thinking of Walneak in particular.
“Someone in the city is hunting us, Swagger Syndicate agents. And I believe that the Cult is behind it, led by Gideon and Mako. I’m not sure that Abimelech knows anything of it. We’re still a secret society here as far as I know, but I fear that someone within in the organization has leaked information to the Warlord and Captain. I’ve had to bury too many of our agents lately, Arin.” He pauses. “So be careful.”
Arin scowled. “Thanks for the warning. A shame that even in a den of thieves you can’t trust your own.”
“If you have trusted companions, then that is good.The job on Mako and Gideon is in this scroll.” He shifts around in his overstuffed chair and withdraws a scroll from somewhere beneath his bulk, handing it to her. “I want information, that is all. I believe that the twins are in league with Warlord Janks to overthrow Abimelech. I just need information to prove it.”
“I’m confused,” said Arin. “I thought Mako and Gideon helped Abimelech overthrow Janks in the first place. So why would they turn traitor and do it all over again? Almost makes no sense at all.”
Smenk breaths in another ragged breath. “They didn’t help Abimelech overthrow Janks. Janks had a policy called “Trial by Combat” that if someone challenged him and bested him in 1-on-1 combat that they would win control of the city. Janks had been challenged many times before but was never defeated. He always seemed to have the gods on his side. But when Abimelech arrived and saw his Half-Elf kin being treated so poorly, Abimelech challenged Janks and won.”
“And according to Steel Society laws, Abimelech shuld have killed Janks. But Abimelech refused and instead spared Janks. Janks still considers this an insult.” Smenk shook his head. “The core of Half Elves who swell the ranks of Cult are freed slaves from Janks prisons in your Zone. Janks always hated Half-Elves because he felt their blood was tainted with the ancestry of the True Elves who brought The Fall. Anyway, I think that Gideon and Mako want slavery to be reestablished because frankly it’s a lucrative business here in the Northlands.”
“I guess that does make sense,” said Arin. “Abimelech ending slavery but not replacing it with something just as profitable would make it easy for Janks to rebuild some kind of following to overthrow his rival. I am assuming that the trial by combat thing is not a thing either?”
Smenk nooded. “Might Makes Right” and “Trial By Combat” were disbanded by Abimelech. He doesn’t serve the gods. He outlaws both right after he freed the Half Elves.”
“That would definitely make a lot of people upset,” said Arin. “So tell me more about these jobs you have for me.”
Smenk went on to explain that the scrolls in the satchel each contained some kind of job for the different Factions in the city. Smenk makes himself available as a “fixer” to the Factions, collecting debts or doing other “dirty” work that needs done. Smenk is almost like a bail bondsman for the Factions. Smenk uses mercenaries to get the work done and the Factions stay out of it.
“Debt collection, information collecting, bounty hunting … whatever needs done in a … quiet fashion.” Smenk smiles. That way it makes sense to them that people like you come and go. They don’t have to know we’re the Syndicate.” He smiles. “They think I’m just employing mercenaries and bounty hunters.”
“What about the Undercity?” Arin put the strap of the satchel around her shoulders so it hung like a purse.
Smenk scowled a little. “We’ve been trying to find Janks ways in and out of the Undercity for awhile now. Not much luck.” He breathed another ragged breath.”The Undercity is sewers on top, with military bunkers in the middle, and then vast caves at the bottom. Rumors were that when Janks first took the city that monsters of all sorts would come up from the Undercity to terrorize folks. Beholders, Purple Worms, and all sorts of aberrations like that would turn up before Janks started sealing up all the entrances to the underground.”
And at that point there was a commotion outside. The door flew open, revealing Benham. The man’s face was white as a ghost. “Better get out here, boss,” he said grimly. “Sheriff Gallack’s been shot.”
We have been playing D&D 5th edition on Discord during the Covid-19 Crisis here in Pennsylvania since March 29, 2020. This is the most recent scene we played through recapped in a narrative form. Visit the Campaign Page for links to the different storylines.
While her companions were at the Iron Council, Arin decided to visit the Bazaar. She discovered that although it is usually only open during the evening, some vendors and customers were already active in the morning. It didn’t take long to discover that Abimelech had called for a festival to celebrate Midsummer. The Bazaar would be opening at nightfall, but right now the vendors were clamoring to decorate for the festival.
The Zone of the Bazaar is situated outside of of Steel City and so it it is a neutral zone for the gang factions. It might have been a large shopping mall and parking areas in the Old World, but now after The Fall, the Bazaar is a large sprawling open air market filled with stalls, booths, and carts that form a maze of goods and services.
Normally it would be deserted during the day and come to life after nightfall, but something was different today. There was a lot of activity, and it seemed that from the colorful decorations and banners that tonight a festival was going to begin.
Arin pulled the hood of her Cloak of Elvenkind up over her head as she walked through the market. The morning sky was dark and gloomy, and it looked like rain. She kept her head on a swivel for any signs of the Swagger Syndicate within the Zone.
The familiar sounds of a marketplace – creaking cargo ropes, flapping tarps on wooden stalls, hammering tools, grunting workers, barrels rolling across blacktop – mingle with chattering voices.
Arin estimated that there must be about 24 buildings and 250 stalls in the maze of shopping opportunities. In some places netting has been strung to create a make-shift ceiling, adding to the feeling of a maze.
She estimated that there were about 50 citizens browsing through the Bazaar at the moment. After dark that number would triple, at least. She eyed several youths working the crowd, picking pockets, cutting purses, and shoplifting. They were gifted, but her training made them easy to spot and track.
In addition to the vendors, workers, customers, and children, Arin noticed that deputies patrolled the area in groups of two and three. Since the Bazaar was a neutral zone, no specific faction controlled the enforcement of law. Instead, the Bazaar security was under the jurisdiction of Sheriff Gallack and his deputies. They keep a decent presence in the Bazaar, maintaning the peace and keeping order,
Arin made a mental note of the deputies and made sure to steer clear of them for now. She continued to walk casually, nodding to vendors and making a point to browse through their goods. Also, she was mindful to avoid the children. All the while she was looking for clues of the presence of the Syndicate.
Near the middle of the markey maze, she walked past several of the buildings, mainly guildhalls, taverns, shops, and low-rent inns. Right in the middle she noticed a ramshackle building called “The Golden Flopper.” It was obviously an alehouse. The building’s paint was peeling, one of the windows was boarded up, and the slate roof was in serious disrepair. However, the hanging sign in the shape of a large fish featured a motif that cleverly decorated the fish’s eye with the symbol of the Swagger Syndicate.
Arin didn’t change her pace but made her way towards the tavern. A glance let her know that the deputies weren’t paying any more attention to her than they were any of the other people in the market.
Walking inside the Golden Flopper she glanced around to see that it is nearly empty. She noticed several tables scattered around in no real order and a bar off to the left. A man who seemed to be the bartender smiled and nodded at Arin when she walked inside. There is also an elderly man sitting at a table in the far right corner. A few servers move in and out of a door in far center of the room, apparently moving between a storage area and a kitchen.
Arin nodded back to the man, walking over to the bar. “Good morning,” she said. “Can I grab a drink?” She could smell the delightful aroma of roasting meat, steaming vegetables, and the hint of seafood lingering in the air.
“Of course,” said the man with a broad smile. “Light or dark?”
“Dark will be fine, thanks.” She watched as the man took a few steps down the bar, grabbed a mug, and filled it from the tap with a dark, foaming ale. He returns, setting the mug in front of her.
“It’s a gold piece for the ale, and if you’re interested, we have some food starting in the back.”
Setting a gold coin on the counter, she replied: “I am good with this for now. Looks like they are setting up the bazaar. Is it only open at night?”
A young man exits the back room and walks over to the old man, setting a bowl of soup in front of him along with a plate that seems to be grilled meat patties and a pile of cooked mushrooms.
“The Bazaar is usually only open from nightfall to dawn,” explained the bartender. “But it’s Midsummer and Abimelech has called for a celebration of the summer solstice. Tonight begins the observation of the holy day for three nights.”
Arin took a sip of the ale, finding it to be good. Not too sweet and not too bitter with hints of honey and some kind of spice. She glanced over at the old man who was chattering to himself now, slowly picking at his food.
“I’m Benham, by the way.” The bartender smiled again.
“I’m Arinthe Parolde but you can just call me Arin. Nice to meet you, Benham.”
Benham smiles again. “Good to meet you too, Arin. So what brings you to the Zone? You don’t look like one of those Southern Refugees. Maybe just passing through? Looking to do some trading on your way up North?” He leans back against the wall, crossing his arms casually,
Arin grinned. “Something like that. Not sure how long I will be in the city though, just depends on if I find any trouble or not. Hoping to possibly do some trading maybe even locate some old contacts of mine. Not sure yet.” She gestured to the old man in the corner. “One of your regulars?”
Benham chuckled a bit. “Oh, that’s just Nehwon. He spends most of his time here. He’s a friend of the owner. He was an adventurer once, but that was years ago. He’s older now and frail.”
Just then six men entered the pub. They were motley looking. The one taking the lead is brawny with a cloudy right eye and a cruel sneer. He was chewing heavily on a toothpick. The others with him seemed just as unsavory, probably professional soldiers or gangers. They all wore armor and had melee weapons on their hips. They stand at the door for a moment like they own the place, and then start a slow walk towards the bar.
Arin sighed and took another drink. “So you’re not the owner of this fine establishment? Does the owner ever come in?”
Benham’s mannerisms change as soon as he spots the six men. He doesn’t seem to hear Arin’s questions at first.Clearly intimidated by these men, he addresses their leader in a nervous voice: “M-morning, Skate. You’re out early today. W-what can I do for you?”
The old man continues to mumble to himself. “Purple, not red.” He pokes at the mushrooms, shoveling a few into his mouth.
Skate, the brawny leader, grinds on his toothpick then says: “Looking to collect on a debt for Janks before anybody else does. Taban. Have you seen him around lately?” He scans the room as if expecting this Taban to suddenly appear out of the woodwork.
“Nope,” says Benham. “Nope. Haven’t seen him in days.”
A woman exits the back room carrying some clean mugs. She stops, seeing Skate and his men. She slowly back away and returns to the back room.
Arin clutched her mug tighter, listening to Skate talk and already finding him very dislikeable.
Skate slaps a gold coin on the bartop. “If you see him, tell him I’m looking for him. He best pay his debts before I find him.” He grinds on the toothpick again. “There’s 10% of the bounty on Taban’s whereabouts. I’ll be back after nightfall.” He stops and makes eye contact with Arin, giving her a flirtatious wink, and then gestures to the other men. “Let’s go boys.”
Arin notes the wink and makes a gagging sound before taking another sip of her ale. She waits for the men to leave before saying anything more.
In response to Arin’s reaction, Skate gives a laugh and the other five join in like a pack of hyenas. They depart, walking out into the marketplace.
Benham relaxes when they leave looking relieved. “I-i’m sorry. Did you say something about the owner?”
“I’m assuming this Taban is the owner and has a beef with Janks?”
“No, no,” chuckles Benham. “Taban is a gamler. He’s constantly in trouble. But he’s … an aquaintence of mine.” He makes a face as if to say he’s not sure of how to describe the relationship properly. “I don’t know. I know him, you know. He’s always in trouble.”
Arin took a final drink of her ale, noticing that a young red-haired woman peeked out of the backroom, maybe making sure that Benham was still okay.
“The owner is named Smenk,” explains Benham finally. “He will be here tonight around dusk when the festival starts. The Sheriff is going to make a speech just after nightfall. You could come back then if you want to see the boss.”
“That sounds like a good idea,” said Arin. “Taban might also be around if he dares to be seen what with the bounty on his head.” She finished her drink and nods to Benham before walking out again into the Bazaar.
Benham watches her go. “See you later, Arin. Thanks for stopping by.”
Benham glanced over at the old man. “How’s the mushrooms, Nehwon?”
We have been playing D&D 5th edition on Discord during the Covid-19 Crisis here in Pennsylvania. This a recap and/or summary of the most recent scene. Visit the Campaign Page for links to the different storylines.
The Misfit Ramblers spent the next week settling into Zone C also called “The Prison Zone” or simply 16th Street. Many of the buildings even a block away from Building 865 are crumbled and in ruins. Even so, there are still several buildings (A-F) which have not been thoroughly searched or secured. Each of them is marked with either a black or white “X” and have been padlocked shut and warded with magic to prevent entrance or exit. Trailers 1-6 have not been searched and they are each marked with a black “X” and padlocked shut. The “thumping trailer” is marked with a white “X” and remains unopened however it is not padlocked shut. Whenever anyone makes significant noise near the “thumping trailer” whatever is inside begins to made noise and shake the trailer. It sounds like multiple people slamming their fists on the sides of the trailer in response to loud noise, especially music like bagpipes.
Building D is where Friendrat saw a Giant Ant, and tracked it back to a cleverly disguised entrance to their tunnels between Buildings C and D. Friendrat placed some poison there and the ants have taken to it, moving the poison inside their colony. Fewer and fewer ants have been seen in the area
Building F is where Tal discovered a Giant Wasp nest with active inhabitants. The interior has been severely damaged and hollowed out to allow the wasps to build a very large hive in the center of the building. They seem to be less active at night although they constantly come and go.
Both D and F were marked with black “X” symbols.
Building G is marked with a white “X” and is where Annie and Tanya were found unconscious. Although the doors remain padlocked and warded, the two women had apparently shattered a window to enter. They were found just outside that window.
Mouse of the Brush Sage spent the week involved with three chief tasks: illuminating texts, altering an electric sewing machine to function with a clockwork mechanism, and researching the necromantic sickness affecting Tanya and Annie.
He was successful in altering the sewing machine and it works well with the clockwork device. He is also able to complete his texts with very fine illuminations that he is pleased with unconditionally. However, he is unsuccessful in discovering any new lore about the necromantic condition affecting the women. Both are in a coma that was caused by necromantic magic. Both are alive, but they cannot respond in the normal way to their environment.
Mouse discovered the following facts about the condition: (1) Neither reacts to external stimuli and they will not show normal reflex responses. (2) They do not have sleep-wake cycles. (3) Reason for the coma is necromantic magic. (4) Although they do not wake up, their body follows normal sleep patterns. Automatic functions, such as breathing and circulation, normally continue to function, but the person’s thinking ability is suppressed. (5) Attempts to contact through mind magic has been unsuccessful. (6) They sometimes grimace, laugh, or cry as a reflex. (7) They are slowly dying as their bodies consume nutrients and resources to continue functioning as normal as possible. Uses of healing magic to sustain them will need to be applied occasionally. (8) Use of “Detect Poison and Disease” resulted in detecting neither within Annie or Tanya.
Tal spent the week with three principal tasks: Looking for the Tower of Bones, hanging out in the Sector controlled by Steel Society, and brewing some Healing Potions.
Tal met three allied contacts while hanging out in Jank’s sector at a tavern called The Kettle Black. Tork, a cutpurse, is an interesting fellow that knows his way around the city due to his nature of being villianous scum. Skate, a bounty hunter, leads a fledgling subgang called The Hyenas. And Hensley, a former slaver, who claims that he knows secret passageways under the city that were once used for smuggling and slave transportation.
As for the Tower of Bones, the structure is located in Tenpug’s sector. It is a wizard’s school containing all the local artifacts gathered from the surrounding area. It is occupied by The Black Wizards who are rumored to study the very dark magics that lead to the Elves raining doom down on the entire world.
Walneak decided to hang out with Tal and Arin. He spent some time in the Bazaar and in Jank’s sector. He has discovered that The Kettle Black appreciates music and that he is welcome to preform to earn a few coins any time he would like.
Walneak made one allied contact: a bard named Wilkinson. He is an “information broker” who has spies throughout the city. You want to find out something? Ask Wilkinson, Wilk for short. Just make sure you have something of value to offer him. Information doesn’t come cheap.
Tal and Walneak also met a fortune teller (or witch) named Krownis the Hag who operates out of a small shack in Tenpug’s sector. She brews potions and sells them at a discount. She is willing to sell potions to the Misfit Ramblers if they agree to help as security when she transports her brews to nearby cities and towns.
Arin spent the week researching her contract jobs from the Swagger Syndicate. Along with offers to collect information on Mako and Gideon, the SS also has interests in collecting information about ways in and out of the Undercity.
Arin has many opportunities for work: Collect a debt from a man named Taban, Gather information about a woman named Brinnan, protect a caravan going to the South for a woman named Margda, Collect a debt from someone named Rothryn Foth, and collect protection money from the Steel Socity surgeon named Hanley Hornbeck.
Friendrat spread her time between improving security in Zone C and researching The Undercity.
Friendrat has befriended the librarian in Steel City. Books are rare in this world, most of them having been destroyed during the disasters that followed The Fall. Steel City has a good library, the best in the area, but it is still limited. Tzin, the librarian, is a middle-aged man. He pays well for new books that are recovered from the ruins of the old world.
As for the Under City, Friendrat has discovered that there are extensive tunnel matrixes under Steel City. The upper levels right under the surface are utility tunnels, sewers, and storm tunnels. Some are basements and bomb shelters connected to various buildings throughout the city. The sublevel, under the upper levels, are tunnels that were constructed by the military of the old world, and were used for smuggling and slave trade by Janks and his gang. The Lower Levels are the newest, carved out after The Fall, intended at first to be a new city under the existing one where Janks could hide and thrive from the dangers of the new world. They discovered a subterrainean world down there, a city under a city, inhabited by monsters. These three levels are referred to a The Undercity.
Kleth spent the week recuperating. It had not been that long since he was a prisoner of Ambergrease. He also walked the grounds of Zone C learning the environment.
Overall the Misfit Ramblers managed to settle into a place that they could call their own. They have been nomadic for a long time. This could be a really good change for the tribe.
We have been playing D&D 5th edition on Discord during the Covid-19 Crisis here in Pennsylvania. This is the most recent scene we played through recapped and summarized. Visit the Campaign Page to find links to additional posts in the storylines. Character interaction and dialogue is drawn directly from the transcript of our Discord game.
In our last session, the Misfit Ramblers used a Teleportation Circle to arrive in front of the Council Building in Sector One. They discover that the city is quiet and lonely, a ruin that once held over 300,000 residents and now only contains maybe 500.
In Sector One, the effects of The Fall are clear. Plants have taken over, turning manicured lawns into overgrown fields. Weeds grow in cracks in the roads, eventually forming a layer of nutrient-poor topsoil where clover fields take root. Plants and ivy have taken root in stone and masonry work, damaging the foundations of buildings.
Sparked by lightning storms, many wild fires went unchecked without people to fight them. These fires burnt down entire sections of the city. The charred rubble provides the nitrogen that plants need to grow and plant life consumes the ruins.
Nature is reclaiming what was stolen from her centuries ago.
Looking at the Council Building, they see that it is a five-story brick building that was likely a row house or apartment building at one time. Because of its location and solid structure, it remains intact. Some repairs have been done to it to fortify and maintain its integrity. Unlike most surrounding buildings, this one is devoid of plant life.
The front of the Council Building has three entrances. There are two sentries at each entrance armed with heavy crossbows. They wear oiled black leather armor. They are positioned on the landings at the top of the stairs. A child of maybe 11 or 12 is sitting on the steps of the center entrance.
He stands with a practiced smile and walks towards the Misfit Ramblers with a brief “Hullo!” When he is closer, he speaks, and it becomes clear he is a greeter for visitors to the complex.
“I am Lanthar,” says the child in a practiced cheerful tone. “Welcome to Steel City. I was told that I might see some new faces today.”
His left eye is cybernetic, and it constantly readjusts whirring in and out to look at all of them. He extends his right hand towards Mouse of the Brush Sage who happens to be in the front and closest to him. His hand is mechanical, and it’s plain to see that it extends at least to the elbow where it extends from his rolled-up sleeve.
“I will be your guide. If you would like to proceed to the Council Hall I would be happy to escort you.”
After a brief greeting, Lanthar leads the tribe through central entrance of the building. He does his best to answer questions along the way.
The Misfit Ramblers notice that the hallways are heavily patrolled by different soldiers and gangers representing the different major factions in the city. Usually in groups of three.
Finally, after a short walk through several hallways and doorways, Lanthar brings them up two flights of stairs to the third floor Council Chamber. He knocks on the door and after a few moments a man dressed in a white suit wearing a white mask with a red diamond over the left eye opens the door.
“Visitors,” says the child. “To speak with the Councilmen.”
Friendrat looks the man over and assumes he is one of the Queen of Hearts men, and makes a mental note to look through her book to refresh her memory of that gang.
The Tenpug ganger steps back, opening a view of the meeting area. It is nicely decorated opposed to the rest of the worn, drab building interior. Several framed maps, technical drawings, and art dot the walls. A long table large enough to comfortably fit 20 sits in the middle of the room. Leaders from Steel City’s major gangs and tribes are gathered, apparently sharing breakfast.
There is a buffet to the far side of the room opposite them, beyond the table. They recognize Erd and Mako, but there are others they do not know.
Armed guards lounge around the room, relaxed but prepared for the unlikely event of trouble. Lanthar stands by the door, gesturing them inside.
He says over the conversations in the room: “May I present the Misfit Ramblers.” He remains at the door with clear intention of not coming inside but obviously waiting to be dismissed.
“Thank you Lanthar.” Friendrat looks around the room, relieved that she can make some educated guesses about the identities of the warlords, but finding no unpleasant surprises that she recognizes.
“Thank you for the introduction.” said Mouse. He listens and watches for a moment to see what the council is doing, saying, asking, gauging their health, friendliness, and emotion. He leans on his quarterstaff.
Walneak snarked at the setting. “A buffet? I hope in all this desolation that it meets OSHA standards with that sneeze guard.”
Friendrat looked around, seeing so many warlords in one place, albeit in a non-threatening manor, suddenly reminds fher that marching in near the front may not be the wisest thing for her to do, and she finds herself unconsciously shifting slightly behind some of the others, allowing them to obscure her but not so much as to be suspicious.
The Misfit Ramblers see that at the moment they seem to be eating and engaging in casual conversation. The council members pause and look to the newly arrived tribe. Erd stands and wipes his mouth with a cloth napkin, but Mako speaks first: “Welcome, welcome!” He gestures to all of you. ” Join us. Help yourself to food and drink. We will begin after everyone has filled their bellies snd settled in.” The others acknowledge you but allow you the chance to settle in.
The buffet is a mixture of crystallized shards of honey, a mixture of white and brown rice, small roasted mealworms, strips of pemmican, and a chilled mixture of moss and mushrooms. For drinks there is chilled purified water and some kind of dark orange juice.
The Misfit Ramblers make their way inside, go to the buffet, and then take seats at the table. After some time passes, and everyone has eaten, Mako addresses the group.
“I would like to introduce the members of the Iron Council to our guests.” Mako glances at Erd, who seems to shrink away just a little. “But since our guests were invited by Aga Erd, I will allow him to do the introductions himself.”
Erd Tarbash, as you all know, is the one of the tribe leaders of The Allegewi who are responsible for Sector 3. He is an affable Rock Gnome with blue skin and hair who usually dresses in clothing that is drab and earth-colored. He usually wears no shoes. Erd takes the lead in introducing everyone else, starting with Mako. The Allegewi are a tribe, therefore having no Warlord or Captain. They are represented by Agha who are chosen by the tribe. Therefore, Erd’s official title is: Aga Erd Tarbash.
“Gideon Mako,” Erd says. “Captain of The Cult of Abimelech. Abimelech is the Burgomaster, or Master, of Steel City, and Mako represents him at meetings of the Iron Council. The Cult of Abimelech is responsible for sectors 1 and 4, as well as, policing all the territory of the city.”
Erd continues, gesturing briefly to a middle-aged man. “This is Warlord Janks Monson of Steel Society. His coterie, The Steel Society, is responsible for Sector 2.”
Janks is a middle-aged man with wild black hair (turning grey) wearing orange and red robes. His left hand is missing, ending in a stub. HIs forehead is marked with a red line between his eyes, perhaps a religious symbol of some kind.
Erd then gestures towards a woman who resembles the gray-skinned soldiers The Misfit Ramblers fought on 16th street when they met Amey. She appears to be more machine than human, even to the point that part of her face (which seems to be a mask of sorts) is detached to allow her cyborg face to be revealed. “This is Warlord Culvert of the Concordant Opposition. I believe that you have interacted with some of her drones today within the city. Her coterie is responsible for Sector 5.”
“And finally this is Warlord Queen Of Hearts of Tenpug. His coterie is responsible for Sector 6.” He is a large man with short cropped greying hair. His left arm ends at the elbow with a stump. He has a tattoo of a black heart that covers most of the right side of his face centered on his eye. He wears a blue shirt and brown pants.
Erd then introduces each of the Misfit Ramblers by name, giving only a little information about your tribe. He says that you are from the Northwest of the Great Northlands and you have come to Steel City not as refugees (as they are accustomed to apparently) but as explorers.
After some time to talk (but no more than 10 minutes) the meeting is called to order by Mako. He taps a gavel on the table, and some might notice for the first time that the table has an engraving of a symbol on it: A circle square with a triangle imposed on it.
“I call the 153th session of the Iron Council into order. We will begin with the honorable delegate from Sector 6.” With that, Mako settles back into his seat. From experience Mako was snide and snarky. However, his demeanor here is changed being one of seriousness and practiced tact.
The Queen of Hearts stands. “Thank you all. Also, welcome to the Misfit Ramblers. Do what thy will.” He pauses only for a moment. “I wish to take this moment to discuss security within my Sector. I feel that it is lacking and that perhaps either more of the Burgomaster’s forces could be placed there or I should be able to add to the security forces from my own number. The safety of my people and the citizens of the City are weighing heavily on my mind right now. Tenpug has spoken.” He then sits down, blowing out a long breath of air.
Security,” Mako says it as if its a boring subject. He seems to think he’s hidden the sentiment but he has not. He gestures to one of the soldiers in the room, this one wearing colors denoting membership in the Cult, who has a large black hard cover book and is scribbling down notes. “Make note of that please.” After a very slight pauses, Mako says. “And now we will hear from the honorable delegate from Sector 5.”
Warlord Culvert stands, her face readjusting to show only the full “human” portion. “I believe that boosting security in Sector 6 is important if only because Neutral Zone C has become troublesome in the last few days.” She glances for only a moment towards the Misfit Ramblers. “With the loss of Father Jared’s outpost and the escape of the notorious Necromancer Saura, our city is put at risk. I also suggest that we consider again that both Neutral Zones B and A need fortification in some matter than will satisfy this Council.”
She pauses and then speaks again. “And I would like to make apologies for my coterie to both Captain Mako and the Misfit Ramblers. It is my understanding that a rogue faction of my people decided to engage in unlawful combat in Neutral Zone C recently. The offenders have already been put down thanks to assistance from our visitors today. And for that I thank the Misfit Ramblers. The others involved in this addled situation have been arrested and await judgement. Again, my apologies for the actions of some of the younger ones within my coterie.” She nods, and returns to her seat.
Mako seems to wait for a moment, and then rises again. “In these dark times, sad things occur. I will allow for the Misfit Ramblers to speak on the subject later in the meeting if they wish. But I do thank them as well for ensuring the safety and well-being of my courier, Amey. She may not have completed her mission without their assistance.” He nods and then continues by saying, “And now, we shall hear from the delegate of Sector 3.”
Erd stands up, adjusts his shirt a little and speaks: “The concern of Allegewi today is that of sustaining the daily operations of our machinery and factories. We continue to need supplies and resources to maintain production rates. We have a plentiful amount of spellcasters, but magic is not the solution to all of our problems. We need materials to continue our work. I suggest discussing in future meetings how we will get such material components from outside the city. We have access to Whitehaven and Milford for trade. We should bolster both in the opinion of my tribe.”
He pauses. “And yes the loss of Father Jared in Zone C is a sad one, but we may be able to use the good fortune of the Misfit Ramblers to take over security of the Zone. Father Jared often prophesied, if you remember, of a group coming who would aid Steel City. I suggest that the dreams granted to him by Bahamut, who some here call Paladine, have been fulfilled.”
He pauses, looking a little nervous now. “Allow them to secure the Zone. They are neutral and have no ties to any of our Factions.” With that, he chews on his lip, nods, and sits down.
“Thank you, Erd, always interesting to hear the suggestions of your tribe.” Mako sighs a little, glancing at the solider taking notes. Then he stands again long enough to say: “And now for the honorable delegate from Sector 2.” And again, he sits, this time with a small smile on his face and his leg crossed.
Janks Monson stands, clears his throat and speaks. “Again, I speak for the Steel Society. We have continued to take steps to stop our previous business of taking and selling slaves at the order of the new Burgomaster. I suggest again that this is a serious step in the wrong direction.”
He stops momentarily, seeing that Mako is shooting daggers at him with his eyes. “We suggest again that we consider the refugees from the South who wish to enter our city for safety. We have denied them from nearly twenty days now, leaving them in Zone B without proper protection. Allow them the opportunity to swear allegiance to one of the factions, and bolster numbers in the city. Or consider allowing them the opportunity to add new, smaller factions to our citizens.” He gestures toward the Queen of Hearts. “Tenpug is only a group of 12 at best, and they join us at the table.”
The Queen of Hearts shifts uncomfortably in his seat at this point. And with that, Janks sits back down.
Mako sighs and stands up again. “Thank you, Janks. And before we take a short break we will open the floor to our honorable guests, The Misfit Ramblers, of whom we have already met two of their people: Michi and Michael.” He smiles a forced smile, and gestures to your group. “You have the floor if you wish to add anything.” With that, he sits again.
Friendrat stood up, taking the lead for the tribe. “We are sorry to have caused any unrest. As has been said, we do not swear allegiance to any faction, and we are happy to stay that way. We are a… family unto ourselves. We would be happy to secure Zone C, however, we were told there may be other work for us, and from what we have gleaned, that work is of benefit to everyone here, and in that case, we have come to accept that offer.”
Mako, along with the other delegates, nod, allowing any of the others to speak.
Walneak spoke next, looking at Mako. “So, is section C why we’re here? Doesn’t sound at all like why we were brought in front of your council. Everyone’s time here is important, right? Why don’t we skip to the point? What’s under the city?”
Mako stands, gesturing to the notetaker again. “Please note that Misfit Rambler Walneak wishes to forgo matters of today’s meeting to address his concern of my offer to hire his tribe to investigate the Undercity for the location of the Carnegie Doomsday Vault.”
He smiles and nods to Walneak. “Everyone’s time is precious here which is why we have these meetings, take the time to discuss matters at hand, and to do so with a measure of elegance and order. So do I assume that none of the rest of you wish to speak and you wish to move right into discussing employment?”
He glances around to see if they all wish to forgo any further involvement in the formalities of speaking to the Council. He glances around at the other delegates. “Perhaps we discuss their employment and excuse them, as tribesman Walneak seems not to be interested in remaining for the meeting.”
The other delegates seem unfazed but Erd is facepalming, hoping that the Misfit Ramblers might have been able to put on social graces.
Mako continues: “So be frank, we usually allow each group gathered here to voice their needs and opinions and then we usually move on to business. If the Misfit Ramblers wish to move along to business, so be it.”
He glances around at the other delegates. “My understanding is that there are at least three different suggestions of work for an independent tribe like the Misfit Ramblers that have been presented by the Council’s delegates.”
He pauses. “And to answer your question, tribesman Walneak, the Undercity has existed as it is since the Fall. It is the city under this one, comprised of networks of tunnels, mostly sewers. One of the first things that was done to secure this city was to seal off the Undercity do to its vastness and unpredictability. We know that monsters dwell there and if they are left to wander into our streets, it is a danger. However, we know there is a valuable resource available to use if it can be found.”
“My suggestion is, as I have stated several times to the Council during different meetings, to task part of our city watch to try to discover this vault. But it remains a point of contention, and so far only independent contactors such as yourselves have been hired to enter into the Undercity. None of the expeditions have been successful.”
“We also have suggestions from the factions present to aid Southerner Refugees coming to the city to be housed in Sector B. Another point of past business is that there is a rare artifact that must be delivered to nearby shrine but again, it is a point of contention on how it will be delivered.”
He pauses. “I believe that tribesman Friendrat is referring to my offer to hire them to find the Doomsday Vault. I move that we open negotiations for payment, safe lodging, and services so that they can begin their expedition.”
There was almost no time before Aga Erd moved against the Misfit Ramblers doing anything with the Undercity.
Aga Erd clears his throat. “I move against.” He glances at Friendrat and the others and then says: “The vault is simply a fairy tale. It does not exist. And even if it does exist it is at least, as Captain Mako claims, four levels down in the Undercity. Such a task is simply suicide. We would be giving the Misfit Ramblers vital resources,” he stutters for a second.
“Because I assume they will ask for valuable resources as payment along with monetary compensation to do this job. And they will simply enter the Undercity and never return, taking our resources and their usefulness to Steel City to an early grave.” He sighs. “I vote no to the Vault Expedition.”
Warlord Queen of Hearts speaks up almost immediately after Erd finishes. “I vote in support. As always, we have the benefit of an independent tribe and they want to undertake the mission that we all know none of us wish to commit our people to due to the danger.” He pauses, smiling to the Misfit Ramblers. “If they wish to go below and die for our well-being, let them try.”
He chuckles. “After all, you claim these are the heroes that Father Jared has preached about for several years. Let Bahamut protect them. They may well be successful if they are Chosen of the Gods.”
The other delegates waited, seemingly to see if the Misfit Ramblers have anything to add.
Again, Friendrat spoke up for the tribe.”Bahamut is wise, and it does seem that there is more to our being here than the random chance it initially seemed.” Friendrat thinks back to the paintings that Walneak had shown them, and glanced at him wondering if he will mention them, or if any on the council had seen them.
Walneak spoke next: “At the end of the day, that’s what we were brought in here to do. It’s just a simple act of figuring out what is necessary to do so. What supplies could be needed. If anyone could be spared to help…though everyone is stretched further than what we wish to be…one of the things I would like to happen before we go down is being the request someone comes with us.
He glances at Friendrat. “Someone were familiar with would be nice I’d think. Maybe Amey would be up for joining us in our jaunt to possibly make life better for everyone here.” He paused then continued. “Maybe there would be some better tools or weapons that would help us increase the odds in our favor, since those that are against it seem to just think it a suicide mission.”
Culvert speaks up addressing Walneak. “It sounds like you dont care what this council decides. You seem to have no respect for our ways. So why come here at all today?” She pauses. “Cult made the offer. I say Council stays out of it and Cult hires these mercenaries on their own. I move against and motion to close this vote.”
Again, Erd spoke up quickly. “I second the motion to close this vote.”
Walneak responded: “Simple, we were brought here to make a trip that can better things here. Not just for us or even them. No interest in the politics between the gangs, if my attempt to not waste the time of the council is seen as disrespect it is misinterpreted. If you want us to go, great we go. And if it is voted against, that’s fine and we go and see what the city has to offer.”
For some reason, a smile crosses Makos face but then quickly is replaced by his practiced calm. He says: “Both of you continue to say that you were “brought here” today however, you came here today. None of us summoned you, although the aga did apparently invite you. In either case, you came here willingly on your own.” Mako shrugs, and then continues.
“The last thing we want is to waste the time of our honored guests. Its clear they would rather deal with my coterie exclusively rather than waste time in the politics of the council. Therefore, with Aga Erd’s second i call the expedition be considered of no concern with the Council and a private matter with my coterie. In favor?”
Erd sees the trick but too late. All the delegates save him raises a hand to confirm. Erd gives a nervous look at the Misfit Ramblers and back to Mako.
Mako smiles. “Unanimously confirmed, as you , Aga Erd are an automatic confirmation in the matter.” Mako pauses. “Misfit Ramblers, you may take your leave and we will discuss the matter of the expedition once this meeting has concluded.”
Friendrat is bothered by Erd’s change of expression, and annoyed by the way Walneak always seems to rub people the wrong way, but internally sighs in relief that he hasn’t start playing his bagpipes…. yet… she really hopes he doesn’t…
Tal finally spoke up.
“Walneak does not speak for me. I came here to listen and learn of your ways. I would still stay and learn more as a neutral observer to your meeting.”
“Bahamut may have delivered us to you, but I have my own goals of the betterment of my tribe, not the improvement of your lot. No disrespect meant, I would see this world improve for everyone if I could. None who have been a slave would suffer it lightly, but there are other ways than chains and brands to control others and they are just as miserable.”
“But if this is what counts for a council, then I have learned much. Some factions speak of resisting new occupiers, but are already defeated where they stand. It is difficult to be swayed to this thought when even a move to close discussion with a new tribe is uncontested.”
“We may or may not choose to do what Mako asking of us. If so, understand that treating with the cult of Abimelech is not joining them and that we will go forward wary of treachery. I would welcome representatives to aid in exploration, but I don’t expect it, now.”
Listening to Tal, Friendrat nods in agreement.
Mako nods to Tal. “The decision has been made. It is not a matter for the Council to decide what will be done with your expedition It is now a concern for my coterie to discuss terms in private. As for your staying to observe, you may. But tribesmen Walneak makes it clear that he has not the time to waste. As fir chains and brands? I don’t follow. We have our ways here. We meet. We discuss. We make decisions together.”
“I would also like to stay and observe.” said Freindrat. “Walneak is free to leave if he wishes.”
“I would stay, and perhaps improve upon my first impressions.” said Tal. “When the true meaning of a meeting is hidden from us by all sides, it is difficult to prepare for. As I have said, I am learning much.” stares at Erd as he speaks.
Friendrat clears throat “We came here hoping that we could better understand the situation of the city,” glances at Walneak “at least some of us have. And as my friend has said, it is difficult to prepare for a meeting going in blind, so when the council takes its break we will discuss what we want as a tribe.”
Mako smiles at Tal. “Perhaps whomever invited you here should have prepared you for what is discussed at such a meeting.” His eyes slowly turn from Tal to Erd.
Erd shrinks again, looking nervous with the gazes from Tal and Mako.
Mako sighs. “Indeed. I was only made aware your tribe would be coming today an hour before your arrival. However, you did address the council tribesman Friendrat immediately with requests of employment. You did not say you were here to watch and learn.”
Mako gestures to the delegates. “I believe a break is in order. It seems we have somehow angered or offended our guests. I do apologize for that. But this Council is the way we make decisions here.” He glances at Janks. “Now.” A slight pause. “Please, everyone, a 15 minute break.”
The other delegates remain at their seats. Mako seems to be making himself available if anyone wants to speak with him. Erd has his head in his hands obviously frustrated or disturbed. Janks is speaking with Culvert in hushed tones.
The Queen of Hearts approaches and speaks to Walneak.
“Aga Erd said he had met some people who might he helpful and capable. Usually we would vote on inviting you here but Erd broke that protocol. ” He glances at Erd. “He means well but often sticks his feet in his mouth. You have joined us on a normal meeting day. We meet every ten days. Normally we would have conducted a special meeting just to focus on you but again … protocol was broken.” A slight pause. “So you are hellbent to go to the Undercity. Is it because the vault was constructed by Half-Elves? I didn’t connect the dots until now but the creators of that vault were Half Elven. And so is the Cult. So, is that the reason?”
Walneak seemed to ignore the Warlord, and did not respond at all to him. With a frustrated sigh, the Queen of Hearts returned to his seat.
After The break, Mako calls the meeting to order again. “I have a thought. Since The Misfit Ramblers joined us during a normal business meeting and protocol was broken due to Aga Erd inviting them to come without preparation, I move that we table our normal business and focus on our guests.”
“Had the Misfit Ramblers used suggested channels to contact my coterie,” referring to the magical coin given to Tal. “I would have met with them and called a special meeting of the Council. However, this didn’t happen and here we are trying to appease our guests while trying to carry out a meeting. We simply can’t do both.”
Most of the delegates seem unhappy with this suggestion. Grumbles and frustrated sighs all around.
“Please let me finish.” he says. We can meet again in 5 days instead of 10. But for now our guests believe – I think – that we are treating them poorly because we are not focused on them and their suspicions. I am guessing they arrived here with the belief that they were our main concern for today. And although we have many concerns before us, our guests are offering to do work for us and to continue with normal daily business may seem disrespectful to them.” He pauses and looks across the table to the delegates and then to The Misfit Ramblers. “Does this seem resonable to you? I think you came here thinking we wete meeting for you, yes?”
He glances at Erd and back to The Misfit Ramblers. “So we will suspend our meeting and instead hear your complaints and suggestions. You seem to be concerned with slavery and the Undercity. What can we do for you?” And he adds as a sudden after thought: “We could even fetch your other tribesmen, Michi and Michael, believe if you wish.”
Tal spoke up: “We would be most comforted to see our dear tribesmen… and a discussion of the Undercity would be illuminating. But your city has its own policy on slavery, and I don’t believe your entire meeting needs to be about us. If we are to be among you, would it not be best for us to understand your ways? After all, we’ve been commanded to follow the laws of the city, but I doubt we know all of them even now. Your example of behavior could help guide us.”
Friendrat nooded in agreement with Tal. “Although if our tribesmen are uncomfortable attending the council, we are happy to wait until the meeting is over. As Tal says, we do not wish to make it all about us. Better understanding how the city currently runs is one of the things we came for.” The Tiefling smiles.
The delegates listen to what Tal and Friendrat say, and there is a pause to see if anyone else from the tribe speaks up. When nobody does right away, Mako speaks: “We can bring the two of them to the meeting if that is your desire … but your answer is mixed and unclear …” He gestures to one of the guards. ” … so I guess we will ask them if they would like to attend or not seeing that you (gestures to Tal) want them brought forth but you (nods to Friendrat) seem to qualify it on their willingness to attend.” The guard walks to the door and exits.
Mako sits down and Warlord Culvert stands up. “So you want to know things about our city. You have mentioned learning of our ways, which is a broad phrase that you will need to specify.”
She pauses and most of the delegates nod in agreement.
“You say you were brought here, however I understood that you came here on your own free will without summons but merely by invitation of the Aga. I sense frustration in this point, and I am frustrated as well as I do not believe you were “brought here” by us as tribesman Walneak states. You speak of Bahamut but I care not for the meddling of the gods if they even exist. If Bahamut brought you here then Tiamat will surely level herself against you to balance the score. So your link to a god interests me little. I could go on but it seems you have formed many opinions about us and our city already.”
She pauses. “So how do we solve this problem? Do you look to ask questions? What is it that you expect from us? Because saying you want to learn our ways is far too general a topic for a single meeting”
And before Culvert even has time to sit, Janks cuts in. “They are a tribe from the outside who want to do a job and get paid. They don’t trust us, but they showed up here anyway.” He grins a little. “It’s a game of poker. Simple as that.”
Mako looks over at Janks. “Meaning?”
Janks smiles. “They think we are hiding something from them and they are just waiting for us to tip our hand.”
Friendrat took the lead again. “Perhaps it is best to start with the recent regime change. Our Intel before arriving was outdated. Trial by combat and an active slave trade being two things we expected. Both of those things have rightly been abolished, or at least are in the process of being removed. Are there any other major changes that we should be aware of?”
Before her questions could be answered, Tal interjected. “Believe what you wish. I am not a godly person, either, but Michi and Michael would tell you the same story. Those changes… and the laws would be important. Also, there seem to be rules in the neutral zone we are unaware of. And the power structure here… there is a council, yet it does not seem that all parties are on equal footing.”
And again, Freindrat quickly added: nods “Yes, when we first arrived, we were unaware that it even was a neutral zone. Knowing the rules that apply to the neutral zone, and how they differ from the other sectors, would be most helpful.”
Mako nods to Friendrat. “Yes, there has been a change since in rulership in the last four months. Abimelech challenged Janks for trial by combat for rulership of the city and won.”
At this point, Mouse of the Brush Sage added his thoughts: “I’m sorry our presence and misunderstanding of agreements and harmonies which you all take for everyday has not been so common for us. Thank you for being so accommodating. Knowing the rules that apply to the neutral zone and how you all would like to be interacted with would be helpful. After we deal with the oracle and do some trading perhaps the relationship with the Misfit Ramblers and yourself might improve, at the very least we can spread the knowledge of what you wish others to know in our travels. I am intrigued with the wonders here and learning how a settlement survives, maintains and even grows. I’m impressed with your talks so far.”
Mako smiled at Mouse, nodding. “Thank you, tribesman Mouse of the Brush Sage.” He then looked to Friendrat, directing an answer to the Tiefling woman. Trial by combat has been abolished. This council was formed to allow each major faction an opportunity to express their needs without using the former method which was essentially ‘Might Makes Right.’ We are working to reassign the sectors without major disruption to the factions themselves, creating a 7th sector.”
And then he looked to Tal, answering the wizard’s statements. “Our laws pertain to those who live within our city, so we would have no expectation of you following those laws when you came here. However, now that you are here you are faced with the choice of staying and following our laws or leaving. There can’t be anything in between. As simply as I can put it, the laws of the Neutral Zone is that non-citizens be treated with respect and that no faction should harm them. The zones are not meant to be places of skirmishes between the different factions. The laws of the zones are basically the same as the city: No violence between factions will be permitted, use of magic to enslave, charm, or otherwise influence others is strictly forbidden, and that slavery or slave trafficking will not be tolerated. I can provide you with a copy of our laws.”
Mako glanced at another soldier in the room. “Please have the Lieutenant bring a Scroll of Law for our guests. And ensure also that the scribes create a replacement copy to have on hand.” The guard nods, and walks out of the room, apparently to get a copy of the laws for the Misfit Ramblers.
Make looked again at Tal: “The intention is that everyone is on equal footing as you say but it is ultimately the choice of Abimelech to agree or disagree with requests. I’m interested in what you see as unfairness in the scant few moments you have observed our meeting.” Mako sneers a little, but only a little.
Mako stands up and sighs. “You should know that with Amey returning to the city, she reported the incidents that happened in the Neutral Zone. You cannot be held responsible for any of it, however Warlord Culvert was made aware of the situation and as she already discussed, dealt with the rogue elements of her faction.” And then he walks over to Erd and stands by the Gnome. “I was also made aware by the Aga that someone impersonating me visited you in the Zone, and gave you a token that would allow you to contact them. With the Aga’s help, I believe we know who the criminal is that tried to trick you. He will be dealt with quickly, yes Aga Erd?”
Erd clears his throat and stammers a little. “M-my tribe had no idea that someone was impersonating you, Captain Mako. In fact,” he pauses and looks to the Misfit Ramblers. “If you ask them you will come to find that even I was fooled by the magical disguise. I had no idea that such a plot had been developed.”
Mako claps Erd softly on the shoulder. “Of course not Aga. You are loyal to your tribe and to the Iron Council. You simply have a weed among the flowers.”
All delegates all stay quiet for the time being, and Mako walks back to his seat. “We believe that someone wished to send you on a mission to the Undercity under the pretense that I was working outside the constraints of the Council. As it turns out, you wisely decided to come here today rather than to contact the traitor.” He pauses. “Do you mind if we all take a look at the token that you were given?” He glances at Erd. “I am told it appears to be a coin.”
Friendrat’s eyes narrow slightly, as she recalls Mako saying “my offer” earlier, and wonders when exactly this offer was made if the Mako they met outside the city was indeed a fake. She suspects that he is trying to cover his tracks.
“It is clear to me that my experience with councils other places are not relevant.” said Tal. “The followers of Abimelech are the leaders here. Which may explain why one would go to the effort to impersonate you in such a way rather than risk a direct conflict.” pulls out the coin and holds it up “Yes, we were given a coin and told to start it spinning clockwise on a surface.”
Mako nods at the coin. “I sent some of my people to seek you out and offer you employment however i did not permit the use of force or the image of myself to be used. I believe that we will be able to decipher who the imposter is although I have my own idea. In any case, the offer of exploring the Undercity is still open to you. I apologize that my … the person in question misled you.”
“What else do you wish to know?” He runs his fingers through his hair.” I must say you are more interested in politics than most visitors to the city.”
Janks sits back and sighs. ” Im not sure why we are allowing for this line of questioning anyway. These are not citizens. They are mercenaries demanding us to explain our way of life before being paid to do a job that only The Cult is interested in seeing done. This whole thing is probably just another way for Abimelech to stall in making any progress with our requests.”
This statement has mixed results nonverbally with the delegates.
Culvert stands up, and she raises a hand and says, “Perhaps if these guests what a full history lesson on our city they can find time to talk directly to The Cult themselves. This seems to be a waste of council time as even some tribesmen of the Misfit Ramblers have said. They wish to do a job for the City Master. They should talk with Abimelech, not us.” With that, Culvert seems to be packing her belongings as if preparing to leave the meeting.
Queen of Hearts looks annoyed. “So we will spare no time to discuss the need for security because Aga invited this tribe to the meeting without consent? Five days may cost the lives of many of my people!”
Janks smiles. “Checkmate. Mako stalls the council again.”
Erd throws his hands in the air in frustration. “Everyone calm down!”
Mako sits back, silently watching it all, still mainly focused on the Misfit Ramblers as the council meeting seems to be falling apart.
At this point, Friendrat steps forward “I see no reason why you should have to cut your meeting short on our account, or why concerns should be put off a week to be addressed. If it pleases the council, we will leave so that your discussion may continue uninterrupted. Some of our questions have been answered, and we have the law scroll to study. We can discuss the details of our employment at a later time with the cult.” looks to Mako “I believe some of my tribesmen wish it visit the market, that’s where you can find us when you’re ready.”
In response, Mako shrugged. “But your tribesmen have requested to stay and … what did you say … observe our ways. However, if my fellow delegates wish to end the meeting I have no say in the matter.”
“I would like to someday stay and observe,” said Friendrat. “But it seems that our presence is creating chaos, and causing the meeting to run differently than normal. How can we truly see how things are run if that is the case? If the delegates wish to end the meeting, that is fine. But if they instead wish to continue without our presence so their concerns may be answered in a timely manner, then no one in my Tribe will object to leaving.”
Janks gestures to Friendrat. “I find it interesting that this tribe is permitted to come here and demand answers, but the refugees in A Sector are not permitted to have a voice.”
Aga Erd clenches his teeth. “I was trying to show them we weren’t against them. They were convinced we were forbidding them into the city because they never came to the gates in the first place.”
Culvert walks towards a door at the rear of the room opposite where the Misfit Ramblers entered. “I will return in 5 days.”
Mako observes quietly, no emotion on his face but amusement in his eyes. Janks seems frustrated and Queen of Hearts appears angry.
As Friendrat turned to leave, assuming her fellows would follow her lead, Tal stepped forward still holding out the coin to add to the list of requests, or demands.
“We have already accidentally stepped in between the politics here, I would prefer to become knowledgeable than to remain ignorant… although I see the cracks showing in your control of the city. At the very least, I would know more of the environs inside and outside of the walls and any claims or hazards. I would also meet with Abimelech to understand where they stand, or at least see them in the flesh. We expect any records of the under city as far as it as been explored. Details of legends or visions regarding this vault, too. We were given a meager offer for what sounds like certain death. We are a capable group, and it will take more to persuade us. Food and supplies for our tribe up front, trade now if we desire it, and some scrolls and potions to ensure our success. Plus safety and access, when successful.”
Mako smiles at Tal. “The expedition to the Undercity is not for the faint of heart. If your group is not up to it then there are a few in Zone A who may take the job instead. But thank you anyway.”
Janks thumbs at Tal. Janks laughs. “I like this one.” He glances at Queen of Hearts. “The Tiefling tries to end things on a high note and he jumps in to make more demands.”
Friendrat pauses near the door, waiting for the others to finish as Tal talks to Mako “I think you misunderstand my friend. We have no intention of turning down the job, only to have all information available before we enter the under city. Forewarned is forearmed as they say. But that particular information may be better attained in private.” tail continues to swish impatiently, although interest sparked in her eyes when meeting with Abimelech is mentioned.
Mako smiles. “Then the meager offer is accepted, yes?”
Friendrat glances at Tal “The offer will be accepted when the offer is actually made known, and the information Tal requested is provided.”
Mako sighs. “The other mercenaries demanded far less. If the offer remains open i can – as you said – find you at the bazaar?” He looks to the remaining delegates. “Shall we wrap all this up?”
Friendrat smirked. “Of course.”
Mako smiles at Friendrat dismissively.
Erd says “I have nothing further. I should be getting back to the tribe.”
Queen of Hearts and Janks both stand. Queen of Hearts says “5 days” and then the two walk away to speak privately as they exit tiogether.
Tal speaks up again. “I will work within my group. Were it up to me, I would walk away. But my tribe will speak together. Rest assured that we should receive our due. It is unfortunate that we will only know your faction based on our dealings with you, Mako.”
Mako smiles dismissively again at Tal as if dealing with a child. He seems to have nothing else to say. At that point, Tal sets the coin spinning clockwise on the council table.
As the Misfit Ramblers leave the child who first introduced you all hands a scroll case made of plastic to Mouse saying “The laws as requested.”
As the coin spins it changes rapidly from the size of a spinning coin to the size of a revolving oval door. On the other side is a half-elf that is a twin to Mako only he has a wicked scar on his cheek. This twin is standing near a large table where several servants seem to be setting up for a meal. This Mako looks at the doorway and laughs heartily.
“Ho ho!” he says. ” I see the Iron Council ends early today!” The other Mako in the room with you nods, sighing. “Indeed, the meeting is nigh to an end.” He glances to the leaving but lingering Misfit Ramblers. “Just a few loose ends to tie up.”
Friendrat looks between the two, some of her suspicion of the Mako without a scar subsiding.
Mouse of theBrush Sage said to Lanthar: “Thank you. I will illuminate a copy if you would like.”
The child smiles back at Mouse. “Is that an important custom to your people?”
Mako stands and climbs up on to the table, nodding to the Misfit Ramblers, and steps through the doorway. With that, he and the coin disappear along with the portal.
Erd, the only remaining delegate, looks at the Misfit Ramblers, rubs a token hanging on his neck by a chain, and teleports away with a flash of light.
Friendrat said: “Well… that was interesting…” She turned back to Lanthar, the child, and asks if he could direct them to the market. The boy gives plain directions on how to get to the Bazaar from the Council building.
Mouse finally responds o Lanthar’s question: “Yes, to preserve knowledge.”
Lanthar raises an eyebrow at Mouse. “By making the paper glow?” Lanthar thinking the word “illumination” means “light.”
Mouse grins. “It is not the paper, it is the word, art and reflection of the meaning which brings light to the mind and even perhaps to the heart and the soul.”
Lanthar nods. ” Very well.” He glances around at your group who still arent leaving with the sort a look a waitress gives when a troublesome table just will not leave.
With that, the Misfit Ramblers turn and depart.
After everyone is gone, Lanthar sighs heavily. “Well, at least there were no deaths this time.”
We have been playing D&D 5th edition on Discord during the Covid-19 Crisis here in Pennsylvania. This is the most recent scene we played through recapped and summarized. Visit the Campaign Page to find links to additional posts in the storylines.
The following summary is pulled directly from our Discord channel. The statement made by the characters are taken directly from the transcript of the game.
We used the following maps for reference during the game. The first map is of Zone c, aka 16th Street Area. The second is of the Mechanics Bridge, aka The Western Gate. See below.
The Misfit Ramblers arrived outside Steel City about 48 hours ago. Since then a lot has happened. Now, on their third day, they have accepted Erd Tarbash’s offer to attend the city council meeting. They have been told that they must simply walk up to the gate and ask to enter the city. Early in the morning, they gather and approach the Western Gate together.
At daybreak the Misfit Ramblers have assembled at the gates of Mechanics Bridge, The Western Entrance to Steel City. The morning is chilly and there is a threat of rain in the air. The sky was filled with inky clouds. An ominous portent for today’s journey into the city.
Walneak played a cheery tune on his bagpipes as they walked together.
They discover there is no sign of guards at all. The walkways on either side of the bridge are blocked by a portcullis gate as is the main roadway. Looking through the gate and beyond down the long expanse of the bridge they can see that the same is true of the opposite side.
Friendrat walked up to the larger roadway gate and knocked, remembering that Erd has displayed the ability to use invisibility. When this did not have a response, Walneak stopped playing his bagpipes and searched the gate on the right side. Walneak discovers that the portcullis seems to work with a mechanism that will allow it to slide upright when opened. However, there seem to be no visible gears or panels to work it.
Walneak said to Friendrat: “Not too much of a walk up and right on in like your friend said.” Friendrat grumbled and responded: “”Oh sure, just ask to be let in, he says.”
Of course, Friendrat had already solved the mystery herself but didn’t realize it yet. The key was “ask” but thus far they had not asked to be let into the city, merely played music and knocked on the gate. The scene continued…
Friendrat said: “I don’t suppose yelling will work, if that racket hasn’t told them we’re here.”
“The enchanting melody must have put the guards to sleep! The only possible answer…” responded Walneak. He continues to look around and kick at the wall as he searches for a way to get inside.
Meanwhile, Mouse made sure the concealed the Gith Silver Sword. Checks to make sure his sword isn’t showing any features, wraps some rags around the pommel hiding it, then sets off with the group, hood down.
After about five minutes of searching, no method of working a device or mechanism is found by the Misfit Ramblers. No working gears that can be accessed. No keyholes to pick. Obviously, this frustrates the tribe.
Walneak leans against the wall. “Whelp, I’m out of ideas other than coining out close personal friend.”
The bard was referring at this point to the magical coin given to Tal by Gideon. The Half-Elf said to spin it clockwise to make it function.
Tal spoke up. “There’s no purpose for gates if they’re not staffed. Somebody must be watching.” He listened closely, trying to discover clues that he was missing.
The city is eerily quiet, as usual. The sound of the Oolikhanna River below is the only true sound that is heard.
“Guess we try yelling.” Friendrat shouts “hello! We’d like to enter the city!”
Mouse interjected: “Hello? Maybe we should have tried one of the other entrances.”
At the moment that Friendrat ASKS to enter the city, there is a response. They hear a mechanical whirring sound that comes from above. Looking they noticed it seems to come from those sculptures on the bridge itself, and yes they can see them turning, clockwise, activated by Friendrat ASKING to enter the city.
“Huh.” said Friendrat. Guess yelling actually worked…”
Above, they can see what seems to be a triangle section of the bridge come to life. It sprouts six legs, and pulls itself away from the bridge, and climbs like a spider to the ground in front of them at the Western Gate. And then it speaks, all of its mouths moving in unison to create the same electronic robot voice: “Welcome to Steel City. How can I help you?”
Tal spoke first. “Erd Tarbash bade us come to the city today. May we be admitted?”
Walneak laughed. “We need one of these to replace the cart.” He was referring to the cart that the tribe lost when they were plane shifted away from Hatchet City.
“You are welcome in the city.” The creature continued to speak in a robotic voice. “However, I must ask that each of you state your name, affiliation, and purpose for visiting so that I may store the information in my data banks and pass along the information to the Guardians. May I have permission to do so?”
Friendrat responded first. “Permission granted”
The creature locked a single eye on the Tiefling Sorcerer. “Thank you. As you wish, please do so.”
“I am Friendrat of the Misfit Ramblers. I wish to attend the council, and to visit the market.”
The creature makes whirring sounds, and it’s eyes click open and shut several times. “Welcome, Friendrat of the Misfit Ramblers.” There is a rumbling noise and mechanisms begin to grind as the portcullis gates, all three, begin to rise like some great beast slowly opening its maw.
“Friendrat of the Misfit Ramblers, please understand that you are under all standing regulations and laws set by Master Abimelech and The Iron Council. This is a peaceful city. Enjoy your visit.”
This process was repeated with each member of the tribe. Each of them were reminded that they were welcome in the city as long as they remained peaceful.
They walked together across the expanse of Mechanics Bridge. It was constructed before The Fall and is an artifact of the Old World. I was constructed in 1922 with a length of 1,900 feet (580 m) and a width of 40 feet (12 m). For a short time they walked in silence.
Walneak finally spoke up. “City that has mechanisms like this should have more than enough of anything you’d want in this world…and they need our help to do something?”
“I would be selective about who I’d let through.” replied Tal.
At the half-way point of the walk along the bridge, another mechanical creature rises up from the median and walks out, standing to meet them. This one is shaped like a sphere, and has wings. It also carries a thin blade in its hand.
Mouse looked at the creature with great interest.
“Greetings, Misfit Ramblers.” The creature had a squeaky voice. “I am a Guardian and I am offering to assist you with visiting the Council. I can quickly transport you to the building where the Council holds its meetings in sector 5, if you wish. Otherwise, you may make your way there on foot. It is an extensive walk from here.”
The Misfit Ramblers agreed, and the creature used what appeared to be a teleportation circle inscribed on the ground to teleport them by opening a portal through which they could see a city street they would later discover was in Sector One of the city.
As Mouse looked on in amazement, Walneak commented: “And they need our help.” The Misfit Ramblers entered the portal and found themselves standing in the city street.
Mouse thanked the Modron. “Thank you portal maker. Err.. Thank you Guardian.”
Standing in the street, they notcied a geometric design of runes on the ground at their feet, a matching teleportation circle that links back to the Mechanics Bridge.
The drone speaks again: “These symbols indicate that a Guardian can open a transportation circle in this location. You must simply stand on it and ASK for transportation. You will find the Council Building ahead of you. Have a nice day.”
With that, the portal fades and disappears leaving all of them in the street outside the Council Building.
We have been playing D&D 5th edition on Discord during the Covid-19 Crisis here in Pennsylvania. This is the most recent scene we played through recapped in a narrative form. Visit the Campaign Page to find links to additional posts in the storylines.
This post and the next few (probably) will be a little different. As a DM the story has gotten away from me and I haven’t blogged about it since May 15. It’s June 7th now and there is so much that has happened within the story. So as I get the blogging done I will not try to blog it in narrative format but just include notes from our Discord text.
After talking with Gideon, the Misfit Ramblers decided to invite Erd Tarbash to visit Father Jared’s home to chat with them. They also took him to the memorial site for Father Jared created by Friendrat and Mouse of the Brush Sage. Erd paid his respects at the graveside, and then met with the Ramblers in the upper room of the building where Father Jared had been living.
Erd settled down in a free chair and forced a smile. “Thank you for honoring my friend. He did a lot for Steel City and its people.” After a moment, he added: “Trade routes have been compromised since the city fell. Medicine was running short. I was late getting it to him.” He sighs heavily.
Mouse decided to use this meeting as an opportunity to record information about Father Jared. Erd provided what information he had, explaining that the priest had been already active in the city when Erd arrived years ago.
“He was essentially the High Priest for the city. He did what he could under Janks’s rule to make everything good for the honest people. It’s hard to explain, I guess. He did what every good man of the gods should do. He was kind, and he stood up for people who others ignored or cast aside.”
When Friendrat asked for information about Father Jared’s wife, Erd responded: “I’m not sure. She was just always there. I’m not sure when Father Jared arrived in the city but he was there when I arrived a few years back. My understanding is that he served as a priest from a very early age. The city was different from what I understand.”
Tal asked: “I understood Steel City’s main achievement was slavery. I was expecting to have to make certain moral compromises when we arrived. Is it still so?”
Erd explained that under the rule of the Steel Society, slavery had not been an achievement but a way of making money – a business. Slavery isn’t anything new in the Northlands to be sure. Janks and his people just made money using an ongoing practice in this region.
Erd said: “Janks and his people controlled the city and slavery was the main business, yes. It’s been that way since I arrived. The factions here have always maintained a balance. Abimelech was a slave from what I understand. He’s put a stop to the trafficking but rumors flow that there are still some small groups of the Steel Society still operating in secret.”
This provided information to the Misfit Ramblers that although Abimelech is in charge, there are still things going on in secret within the city. Steel City is an enormous place, and there is plenty of opportunity for nefarious deeds to be done in secret.
Erd mentioned to them that he though it was odd that their tribe did not ask to enter the city but remained in the Neutral Zone.
Friendrat explained: “When we arrived there was no one to be seen, and some of our group was itching to explore.” And Tal added: “The distant gunfire didn’t inspire confidence for a peaceful approach.”
Discussion continued, mainly about the three gates of the city and the pros and cons on entering rather than staying outside. In the end, Erd said: “I believe that Mako intends to present you to the Council as possible mercenaries to help with the Doomsday Vault. You could meet them all at that point. The meeting is tomorrow morning.”
Now notice that Erd managed to invite the Misfit Ramblers in such as way that suggested that Mako was going to invite them to the meeting. Erd is a crafty one, indeed.
Friendrat focused on the vault. “The doomsday vault? Is that what he wants us to find in the under city?” Tal went a different direction: “Enter into a war zone and join your faction? I’m not interested in joining causes. We were going to run up against this one way or another. It may be that this under-city will not benefit their cult. Especially if other factions know. Especially if we had some support. Or we blunted it’s benefit to them.”
Erd continued: “Before the Fall, Steel City was prosperous. A place with something like 300,00 residents. A center of culture and science. But now it holds at best 500 of us. The Doomsday Vault is a fairy tale at best. A vast collection of seeds, supplies, and such. It doesn’t exist.” He explained that it was a myth of the old world and would simply be a suicide mission into the dangerous Undercity.
Mouse chimed in saying: “It does sound like a treasure, but to a community rather than an individual. If one would find it, if it exists there would be a need for building a community rather than wars.” And Walneak added: “Yeah, if a magical bin of seeds existed in the ground it would change life for YOU, not us. It have better have something better than seeds in it if we are going down there…there’s no way slavers want seeds…”
Discussion continued about the possibility of using the Doomsday Seed Vault for helping Steel City and the Northlands. But Erd continued to explain that he believed that the vault is nothing more than a talking point for Abimelech to avoid real needs in the city.
‘It’s just a crazy dream of a bunch of Half-Elves who still tell oral tales of their ancestors that were supposedly good and just. We all know that this is not the case with Elves.” He glances at Walneak. “No offence. We call you Half-Elves but with each generation your Fey blood is weaker. This is nothing new. We all know this. The Cult often speaks of a race called High Elves. I know little of them beyond the fantasy tales of glittering fair skinned creatures doing good throughout the land.” *He chuckles.” “Fantasy. Myth.”
Again, in the setting of Mawveth, Elves are monsters. Many claim that the Elves caused the apocalyptic event that wiped out the old world. When the waves of radiation flooded Mawveth, the Elves departed to different planes of existence, abandoning this world to its fate. The Elven that remained became twisted and monstrous and descending into the darkness below the Earth to shun themselves from the rest of of the world.
Erd explained that all of the expeditions that have been sent to the Undercity in the past few years have never returned. Janks did send several teams and Abimelech has recently sent a few as well. Only one person has returned from these expeditions: Carp Alder.
Tal and Mouse seemed interested in Carp, but Erd explained: “Might as well talk to that bottle. Like I said, he’s mad. Every group that has gone there has failed. They have scant maps but nothing more. And if I had, as you say, a magic vault of seeds I would bury it deep in the ground where nobody but me could get it.”
Again, Erd urged them to attend the Iron Council tomorrow morning. “Come to the Council tomorrow. Ask to see the book Abimelech found in a science building. You can read the fairy tale and pass it on to your children someday.”
The conversation turned to Michi and Mikey. Erd explained that Michi was pregnant, and that was why she had betrayed the tribe in Hatchet City. Apparently, Michi had been convinced somehow that Grotesque and his gang had medical supplies and priests who might help her through the pregnancy. Erd said: “Grotesque and his Ambergrease are monsters, but I understand that they have several priests within their gang. Access to medical supplies and healing magic. Honestly, with the description of what they did to her I’m surprised the child survived. But it seems to be thriving. We Gnomes carry our young for longer than Humans, I believe. My understanding from my people is that she’s only been pregnant for a .. second trimester?
At this point, Erd asked about the “Ten Little Indians.” He said: “Michi told me to tell you not to bring them into the city.” He shrugs “But I see no reason why to not have them join us.”
And then he changed the subject again, asking if they had found a magical item that Father Jared often used to make Holy Water. The group said no, but Walneak knew exactly what the Gnome was talking about. He later went to the basement of the building to retrieve it as now he knew it was valuable.
Soon, Erd excused himself. “It has been good to meet you. I must be getting back to my tribe. They will begin to worry. Especially with the accusations that are being leveled against the Queen of Hearts and his people.”
Erd dropped this bit of information, but none of the Misfit Ramblers seemed to take notice or care. Or maybe them understood what he was referring to and just ignored it. It’s hard to say. Either way, Erd excused himself and departed, saying: “If you don’t come along with me, and you don’t come with Mako, then remember that all you have to do is go to the gate and ask for entry. The trial by combat doesn’t exist any longer now that Janks is not the Master of the city.”
The Misfit Ramblers thanked Erd, and retired for the night.
We have been playing D&D 5th edition on Discord during the Covid-19 Crisis here in Pennsylvania. This is the most recent scene we played through recapped in a narrative form. Visit the Campaign Page to find links to additional posts in the storylines.
This post and the next few (probably) will be a little different. As a DM the story has gotten away from me and I haven’t blogged about it since May 15. It’s June 7th now and there is soooo much that has happened within the story. So in an attempt to get the blogging done I’m not going to try to blog it in narrative format but instead just include notes from our Discord text.
Last time, the Misfit Ramblers met with a Gnome named Erd Tarbash. They invited him back to their Headquarters at 16th Street to continue discussing Steel City.
Crossing into Parking Lot #2 they all saw Amey laying between the White Minivan and the Thumping Trailer about 100 feet away in the Trailer Lot. She was on the ground, three crossbow bolts sticking from her left leg. She was gesturing towards them, warning them not to come closer.
This situation, of course, pushed the Misfit Ramblers into high gear. They immediately responded by defending themselves, their ally, and their new turf. Their response was quick and violent.
They saw a humanoid sniper with a crossbow on the rooftop of the building between Father Jared’s Building and Parking Lot 5 go down out of sight. There was another humanoid on the Westernmost edge of the thumping trailer in the trailer lot. Amey was lying on the ground in the space between the thumping trailer and the White Minivan and then two more men, wearing studded leather armor, came walking out the alleyway near Jared’s in the same place they had the Ten Little Indians hiding while searching Building 865.
Arin took out the sniper with a well-placed crossbow shot while Friendrat and Walneak rushed the trailer to confront the man hiding there. Tal focused on the remaining two men, moving forward to assess the situation. He quickly cast Firebolt at the two, striking the one of them in the shoulder while Arin hit the other with another shot from her crossbow. Friendrat hit both of them with Ice Knife, causing them to curse loudly and shield their eyes.
Friendrat quickly figured out that Amey was not real and was instead an illusion thanks to a failed use of the Message spell. Meanwhile, Walneak engaged in combat with a Half-Elf who quickly identified himself as “Gideon, the son of Abimelech. Captain of the Cult.”
The combat continued with Gideon and Walneak matching each other skillfully with sword blows. Whether or not The Misfit Ramblers realized it, the other three men did not attack back, almost as if they had been ordered to remain noncombative.
Finally, Erd Tarbash shouted that the right of “parlay” should be involved because of this area being a “neutral zone.” Friendrat called for parley and the combat ended. The two thugs stop running, looked at Gideon, and then sheathed their weapons. The sniper on the roof held his crossbow upright at rest. Mako sheathed his short swords and Erd walked out of hiding.
Gideon talked with the Misfit Ramblers, explaining that he had used the illusion to draw them out because of what Amey had told him about their meeting last night on 16th street. Friendrat asked Erd to step away and allow them to speak with Gideon without his presence. The Gnome agreed, and walked away to let the two parties speak.
Gideon explained that after hearing of their encounter with Amey he had decided to come and offer them work. He suggested that they might be looking for refuge within Steel City and he could help work that out for them. He explained that since they were a tribe with no affiliations, he could help them become residents of the city if they agreed to work for him. He said: “I would include Safety in our sectors and trade within the bazaar. Shelter, food, and shiny new gold to spend. I can open Steel City to you.”
Gideon gave some scant details of the work available: going into the Steel City Undercity and clearing a way to a secret chamber or vault. He wouldn’t say much more. The Misfit Ramblers said that they needed time, maybe an hour, to discuss their options.
Gideon gave them a coin, explaining: “Set the coin spinning clockwise on a flat surface, and I will arrive shortly.” Taking the coin into his hand, Tal could feel that it pulsed with strong magic.
Erd spoke to the Misfit Ramblers telling them that going to the Undercity would be suicide. He added: “
“The vault is a myth. Nothing more.” He looks frightened, as if saying something he should not say out loud. “But the Undercity is … well, we haven’t been able to prove it, but people have been going missing. Animals slaughtered in the night. Something … awful … is in the Undercity. We … We think it’s a brood of E-Elves.”
We have been playing D&D 5th edition on Discord during the Covid-19 Crisis here in Pennsylvania. This is the most recent scene we played through recapped in a narrative form. Visit the Campaign Page to find links to additional posts in the storylines.
This post and the next few (probably) will be a little different. As a DM the story has gotten away from me and I haven’t blogged about it since May 15. It’s June 7th now and there is soooo much that has happened within the story. So in an attempt to get the blogging done I’m not going to try to blog it in narrative format but instead just include notes from our Discord text.
The Misfit Ramblers walked to Mechanics Bridge hoping to meet with the person who was sending messages to Father Jared by messenger owl. A short blue-skinned gnome met them they would later discover was named “Tarbash Erd.”
The first meeting with Erd Tarbash was a little strange. He explained that Michi and Mikey had come to his tribe within the city seeking refuge. He also explains that he came to meet with them at the bridge because he had received the note that they sent back with his messenger owl.
After some back and forth talk, Erd agrees to walk back to the Misfit Rambler’s “safehouse.” As they walk, Erd tries to answer their questions. They are suspicious of him and suspect he is lying to them. They asked for information about the Cult of Abimelech, the creatures in the truck trailers, Father Jared, and more about “Tom.” Mouse is suspicious of Erd and uses his best insight to determine that he seems to be telling them truth. However, Mouse does not share his thoughts with the others.
Erd reasoned that Abimelech and the Cult came to Steel City because it is a relatively safe place but then decided that they could run things better themselves. Using Janks’s laws of “Might Makes Right” Abimelech challenged Janks to Trial By Combat for leadership of the city. Janks lost and Abimelech became the rightful leader of the city.
The things in the trailers, according to Erd, were called “Fey-Bloods” and are the monstrous offspring of a Fey and a mortal creature. He explained that they were twisted mutants that shouldn’t live but do anyway. Apparently they were placed in the trailers by Father Jared about the same time that “Tom” was imprisoned in the building that the Misfit Ramblers are now using as a headquarters. According to Erd the area that they have been in for the past few days is called “Zone C” and is a Neutral Zone used as a prison for condemned citizens of Steel City. So the Misfit Ramblers have essentially been living in a prison sector of the city.
Erd explained that the Fey-Bloods in the trailers were placed there by Father Jared when he first left the city due to his declining mental health. He was acting as an overseer, but also placing himself in Zone C because he viewed himself as becoming dangerous. Essentially he was placing himself in the prison sector for when he lost himself to madness.
Erd also explained that Michi and Mikey have been staying with Erd’s tribe and are being looked after by someone named “Rakkson.” He gave Walneak a handwritten note in blue ink from Michi. It said, “Don’t Bring the Indians – M.” Walneak ate the note and afterwards Mouse asked if he could look at the note. Walneak promised to give the note to Mouse in 24 hours (once he pooped it out) and Mouse agreed, saying he wasn’t impatient. Erd found this odd at best, and it made him wonder about Mouse.
Also, Erd explained that “tom” was a wizard known as “The Necromancer” although his proper name was Saura. He was a wizard who once lived in Steel City within the Tower of Bones. Apparently Saura became obsessed with dark magics that ended up transforming him into a Nothic. They convicted him of using forbidden magic and imprisoned by Father Jared in Sector C.
Then Approaching Father Jared’s building they could see Amey. She was laying on the ground in the parking lot not far from the thumping trailer. It was clear that she had three crossbow bolts sticking out of her left leg. She was struggling to remain upright, waving her left hand at them as if to tell them to stay away.