DoH

Chapter 1B: Benwick Gets To the Point

As you linger over the morsels and the excellent drink, Benwick turns solemn and addresses you in hushed but urgent tones:

My friends, here on the borderlands, we must be ever mindful of dark influences creeping in the night. In doing so, I have become suspicious of the banker, Ferdinand Ronnik. His wealth and greed are well known. Also, he has never publicly denied that he was once a successful thief in the city of Fallcrest. To learn more, I asked a trusted friend – a man named Gordi who worked for Ronnik – to inform me of anything unusual.

I say ‘worked,’ because Gordi is now missing. Before his disappearance, Gordi provided me with two grave reports. First, he glimpsed accoutrements of Tiamat worship hidden among Ronnik’s belongings. Second, Gordi recognized a jewel in Ronnik’s possession known as the Serpent’s Eye. As you might know, that item was treasured by Moonsong Temple in Fallcrest before disciples of Zehir pilfered it.

Ronnik and his lackeys didn’t try to hide the fact that they spirited Gordi to a grotto near the northern swamps. I believe Ronnik hopes to flush out me and Gordi’s other allies when we attempt a rescue.

I truly believe that you all are a blessing sent to me. No one in this keep yet knows you. I realize that I am about to ask much of you, but you can act boldly where I cannot.

First, I want you to go to Ronnik’s prison grotto and rescue Gordi. Also, I hope that you are able to secure proof that Ronnik is an unholy follower of Tiamat. If all else fails at least try to recover the Serpent’s Eye so that we can return it to Avandra’s chapel.

If you’re willing, I suggest an early start after a full night’s rest. Although I hope that I’ve impressed on you my sincere purpose, I would take no offense if you wish to confirm my reputation among the folks of the outer bailey. Still, I ask that you be discrete about your task. No need to provide the scoundrels more warning than we must.

So what say you?

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Chapter 1A: Playing for Keeps

Location: A comfortable apartment on the west side of Restwell Keep’s inner bailey.

The apartment is decorated with icons which speak of Benwick’s order. Ayles informs you that what he knows of the order is that it generally looks to the virtues of Avandra, Ioun, and Sehanine.

A well-stocked table has been laid out for you, courtesy of your host, Friar Benwick. The head friar’s ample proportions suggest that he doesn’t miss too many opporunities to provide hospitality in the form of a hearty meal. He is a jolly and bright-eyed fellow, quick to laugh.

Service at the table is provided by Venn, whom you met earlier, and another priest, named Jarell. They seem pleasant enough, but this is Benwick’s show. The head friar is a skilled trencherman, appears to have a good tolerance for alcohol, and is glad to hold forth on any number of topics.

You particularly enjoy the spices in the soup When you mention that aloud, Benwick beams. “While Venn is an excellent chef, I have to take some credit for that. I have training as a herbalist, and some time ago came upon those plants in the area around the Witchlight Fens. There really are some remarkable specimens in there – sadly, it is simply too dangerous to venture in very far. Oh, that reminds me…. excuse me a moment.” And he leaves the room, returning shortly with 5 small packages.

“You’ll forgive me, but I couldn’t help noticing that you are a little scraped up. These may help.” He hands each of you a herbal poultice. “I know they have a bit of a smell,” he says with a chuckle, “But trust me, they do help.”

Benwick does have some training as a healer, but not magical. “If something serious came up, the person in the Keep to see would be Chendera, the priestess of the temple. You can tell her I sent you if need arises, we are good friends. Although I don’t suppose that would get you much of a discount for her healing services, it would give you priority.”

As the night goes on and the drink flows, Benwick holds forth on other matters of interest:

Benwick on the Chaos Scar: “It is an insidious menace and we must stay on our guard to keep its influence from infiltrating Restwell Keep.”

Benwick on Lord Drysdale: “I am absolutely certain he means only well, as only a Paladin of Erathis can. But I must be honest, I have grave concerns. First, he seems intent on imposing devotion to Erathis, and our order supports a more cosmopolitan and less coercive attitude to devotions. Each of us must find our way, so a good leader models devotion, yes suggests devotion, but to coerce devotion I think is counter-productive. Secondly, Drysdale is militarizing the keep, which is all well and good, but seems to be doing so in order to conduct an offensive against the Chaos Scar. We are badly undermanned for such a folly, and how would we fare if we rile up the monsters of the Scar to move against us in a co-ordinated fashion? Not well, I think. So why provoke trouble when we cannot be confident of success?”

Benwick on Benwick: “I flatter myself to think that I have friends throughout the outer bailey, and that most would speak well of me and our work here to humbly offer aid and guidance to the people of Restwell Keep.”

Party standing with Benwick: +0.25

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Chapter 0.9.5: Catching up with the Caravan

“What in blazes?”, curses Arneth Oakborn as the party comes up behind the trade cart as the road they have taken north joins into the main path to Restwell Keep. “You were supposed to go ahead of the caravan to clear trouble for us – not t’other way ‘round!” The dwarf’s mood appears to have been adversely affected by the day’s earlier events, which, while you were not present for, seem to have left his axe bloodied and the cart “decorated” with a few goblin arrows.

You’d like to argue, but frankly you’re just too dang tired. You fall into line behind the cart and trudge dejectedly on until you finally reach Restwell Keep.

When you reach the gate of the Keep, Arneth is asked to wait and the Captain of the Bailey, the aged Kendon Longstrider, comes out.

“Arneth!”, calls the captain, “Good to see you. Looks like you had a spot o’trouble on way.” The two clearly know each other.

“Yeah, our precautions proved ineffective,” replies the dwarf with a sidelong glance at you. “Still, nothin’ I couldn’t handle.”

“Well, your supplies are welcome here,” says Kendon. “Although you’ll have to give me an estimate, Lord Drysdale is imposing a ‘surcharge’ on trade here now.” His tone suggests he knows this is bad news, and doesn’t think much of it.

“Ha!,” laughs Arneth, “If I said the whole load was worth 50 gold, how’d that be?” The total is laughably low – no-one would even bother to send a cart across the Fens for so little.

“Fine by me,” responded Kendon. “I’ll take 50 copper for the Lord’s coffers.”

As the dwarf hands over the token amount, he can’t resist a little tease. “Sounds like that Paladin’s working out just great for you,” he says sarcastically. “If only there had been some way of predicting that…”

“Don’t start, don’t start,” interrupts the human. “If ever there was a turn o’events that could make me miss ‘The Blades’, it would have to be some bloody paladin…” The two disappear into the gate and finish up their business and conversation.

“Well,” says Arneth when he returns, “I’ve got some unloading to do. See you later.”

Given how poorly things went, you haven’t the heart to ask for your security job wages. The cart moves off and there you are, standing just inside the gate, covered in mud and blood. Your feet hurt. As if on cue, a drizzle starts to fall.

As you stand about contemplating the day’s events and which particular saint you may have angered or need to invoke, a thin balding human dressed in friar’s robes approaches and introduces himself as Venn. His teacher, a holy man named Benwick, has asked would you be so kind as to join him that evening to discuss “important matters”. No obligation, you understand, but the warm meal is free regardless.

Your stomachs answer for you. Why, yes, good Venn, please tell Master Benwick we should be delighted to share his table and hear what he has to say. A time is agreed upon, and Venn bows and departs after giving you some directions.

Party standing with Orest: -0.5

Party standing in Restwell Keep: 0 (no bonus from Arneth)

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Chapter 0.9: Encounter at the Crossroads

The party got lost in the Witchlight Fens. Covered with mud and cut by brambles, they finally came across what they thought was an east-west road, and headed west along it.

The good news: they made better time and finally found a signpost directing them to head north for Restwell Keep.

During their trip, the howl of wolves was heard from time to time. When they reached the crossroads, they came upon an a collapsed tower, and were set upon by a couple of wolves and goblins. When the air cleared, the party was still standing but somewhat the worse for wear.

Haelirin has accumulated one failed deathsave.

Ayles, Haelirin, Mycandrin, and Drawoc all gain 115 XP from the Encounter.

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Chapter 0.8: The Skills Challenge
Across the Witchlight Fens

As none of you particularly know this area, there will be a skill challenge associated with navigating your way through the Witchlight Fens.

The skills challenge is a party-based challenge. The goal of the party will be to accomplish 6 successes before they amass 3 failures.

Success is worth 25 xp to each party member.

Failure will reduce the speed of each party member by 1 and require each party member to either
a) commence the Encounter with 3 fewer hit points or,
b) conduct the Encounter with a -1 to hit and damage rolls until the character spends their second wind or receives a healing surge.

In initiative order, each character will be asked what they are doing, and what skill they are using to attempt to aid the party in navigating the Fens.

Characters may not use the same skill as the previous character in initiative order and
Characters may not use the same skill twice in a row.

The party failed this skills challenge.

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Chapter 0.7: Down the Nentir River

The day dawns bright and full of promise. Completing morning prayers, the local priest asks Ayles to “say hello to Friar Benwick” when he reaches Restwell Keep .

The party assembles at the docks below the Falls. Icerial makes his apologies, he is staying in Fallcrest. “Something is going on with the ”/campaign/27737/wikis/temple-of-zehir-fallcrest" class=“wiki-page-link”> Temple of Zehir , and I aim to find out what," he says. “I’ll send word if I hear.”

Orest tells the characters he’ll have someone join them in transit. Sure enough, at the first stop just outside of town, Haelirin steps aboards and exchanges the password Orest gave.

Drow and a rogue, thinks Drawoc. Two strikes. But he says nothing. Minotaurs are in a poor position to judge others based on their appearance.

The rest of the trip downriver is without incident.

Fenpoint Wharf is little more than a wooden dock with a couple of outbuildings – no inn or provision house to speak of. The fens are a typically malodourous swamp, and the “road” to Restwell Keep little more than a couple of wagonruts through the bog. The party spends a miserable night out of doors and is glad to leave the place behind at first light.

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Prologue: Chapter 0.6

At their usual table in the “three-tee”, Lannar comes over and introduces the party to Orest Naerumar, proprietor of Nearumar’s Imports, and his Wagonmaster, Arneth Oakborn.

“The job is quite simple. We put you on an early barge tomorrow morning heading south. You get off at Fenpoint Wharf and spend the night there. In the morning, proceed along the trail to Restwell Keep. Your job is to clear the trail of any obstructions, whether they be fallen logs or barriers of a more mobile variety. The caravan should arrive in the keep a few hours behind you, at which point you’ll be paid for your trouble.”

The pay, consisting as it does largely of discounts in Orest’s shop, is fairly abysmal, but it does cover passage to Restwell Keep, and the party agrees.

Sharing a final drink before breaking up for the evening, Jordan serves and offers some friendly advice. “Take it from me,” he says. “Don’t venture too deep into the Scar.”

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Prologue: Chapter 0.5
At the Three-Toed Toad

At the end of another long day, the party settles in for its third consecutive dinner at the Three-Toed Toad. To be sure, they’ve individually sampled wares in the other establishments in Fallcrest, but the “three-tee” is where they’ve agreed to meet daily to share intel. The location is convenient, the fare is reasonable but hearty, the clientele is colourful, and the proprietor genial.

“I may have to start calling this your ‘usual table’”, says Jordan Donneybrook with a smile as he brings a tray loaded with food and drink. “How was it today?”

“The same,” replies Drawoc, who has spent another day working as a longshoreman, humping goods from above the Falls to below.

“Alas”, adds Mycandrin. The elves nod silently.

“We’ll have to see if we can’t do something about that,” says Jordan friendily.

An hour or so later, a hobbit saunters over to the table and introduces himself as Lannar Thistleton. “Jordan tells me you fellers might be looking for a spot of work. I think I might have something for you. There’s a shipment of goods to ”/campaign/27737/wikis/restwell-keep" class=“wiki-page-link”> Restwell Keep in need of some security, if you know what I mean. Doesn’t pay much, but it would get you close to the Chaos Scar . If you’re interested, I’ll put you in touch with the wagonmaster." It doesn’t take long for the party to decide this sounds like a promising alternative to more days waiting in Fallcrest.

“Great stuff!”, says Lannar. “Be here tomorrow night and I’ll set it up.” With a friendly bow and a wave, he exits the tavern.

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Prologue: Chapter 0.4

Dateline: Thunderspire

The caravan stops for the night. Even when the wizards aren’t hospitable, their presence acts as a sheltering deterrent from bandits. Drawoc checks the perimeter and sets watch. The night passes without incident.

As first light dawns, an eladrin dressed in armor moves quietly toward the minotaur, and introduces himself as Mycandrin. Would the caravan object to some extra security for the journey into Fallcrest? Drawoc leads him to his supervisor, Thorin Hardcastle. The dwarf’s body language shows he neither trusts the eladrin nor wishes to offend him. The offer is accepted, and Mycandrin is asked to take point. Drawoc is then silently asked to keep his eye on the eladrin.

Not unaccustomed to being seen as an outsider, the Minotaur decides to march beside, rather than behind, the newcomer. While the two make an odd pair, it turns out that they have more in common than you might think. Mycandrin has just finished his training at Thunderspire , and is now thinking of heading out in search of adventure, fame, and fortune. Fallcrest is his first stop. Before the gates of their destination come into sight, the two agree to keep each other informed of any “opportunities”.

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Prologue: Chapter 0.3

It wasn’t a particularly difficult couple of days on the road for Icerial the Rogue, Ayles the Cleric, and the wizard Etceterian. The elves made good time from the Harken Forest, Ice on point. Mainly they just paralleled the King’s Road. There was one goblin patrol, perhaps hoping to waylay travellers along the old Road. The trio shadowed the goblins for a couple of hours – Icerial because he hoped to get in on an easy score, Ayles because he was mindful of the Woodsinger clan’s commitments to provide help to travellers on the King’s Road, and Etce because there was nothing else to do. It was ridiculously easy work given how noisy goblins are. When the goblins turned back across the White River toward Kalton Manor, the elves waited for them to get out of sight, then struck out northwest on the Road past the Moon Hills. Arriving at Fallcrest at night, they agreed to split up. Ice slipped in through the guild entrance with the exchange of some passwords and a payment of “visitor’s dues”. Ayles and Etce presented themselves at the gate and were admitted there.

Striking up a conversation with a fellow guild member, Ice tried to get a line on where opportunity might be knocking. Not at the Temple of Zehir, he was informed – there’d been some trouble a couple of nights ago and now they had posted an extra set of guards and perhaps even a ward or two. Too hot. Looking for an easier score? Try the Three-Toed Toad, was the advice, but don’t double-cross the old man, he was Made. Anyone who took from Jordan Donneybrook would have to answer to the Guild.

Ayles settled in for the night at the monastery. The local friar was well in his cups and delighted to think there’s been trouble at the Zehir Temple. “Anyone who’d kiss a snake deserves all the trouble they can get,” said the friar. While Ayles might not have put it that way, he certainly agreed with the general sentiment.

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