The Edge of the Knife

Massive Update

The party, having succeeded in ousting Sulla the Corpulent, takes this opportunity to split. Sophia and Sordin took an offer to join the crew of one of the airships based out of Laugharne. After a farewell breakfast Captain Hans gave the remaining members of the party a job to go secure supplies for the trip.

As Lazlo and Axel headed for the ranch they had been instructed to go to they ran across a Human and a Half-elf harassing a young female Tiefling. The party stopped the harassment and through a combination of greed and divine intervention, all three joined up with the group on the trip to the ranch.

Upon reaching the ranch it was clear that some unpleasantness had occurred. Some of the animals and ranch hands were dead, and there was a giant hole in the pasture. Lured by the promise of free supplies the group ventured into the hole, where they found demon possessed pigs and a flaming-steer-skeleton-summoning minotaur who was apparently recently the ranch’s prized bull. Upon removing these menaces, they received free supplies and split the money they were to use to pay for the food amongst themselves.

With supplies in hand the party set off on their voyage. Just out of sight of Laugharne they were set upon by pirates. The pirates were fought off in a tense boarding action, and a surprise was found below-decks. In the hold was an unconscious, tied-up, beaten Thiera, the ranger accomplice of Axel. She was brought aboard the Centennial Raptor while the party decided what to do with her.

During the night, while asleep, the group, unbeknownst to them, slipped deeper into unconsciousness. When they awoke, they found themselves in a mysterious building full of confusing passageways, ghastly monsters and signs of an Orc presence. After clearing out the accessible parts of the dungeon they entered a room in which poorly treated prisoners of various civilized races were writhing in agony. After seeing through the illusion it became clear that the prisoners were all orcs and that there was a female orc in tribal regalia whipping them while crying and silently saying “I’m sorry.” in Orcish repeatedly. When the party attempted to stop her everything went black.

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Free Range Adventurers

The party arrived in Laugharne and, after some dalliances with airships, sought their promised ship. They found the ship and the crew, but no captain. After tracking down Captain Hans to Miss Aisley’s Cantina they found him unwilling to leave the city because he didn’t wish to incur the wrath of Sulla the Corpulent, a notable local gang boss to whom the captain owed a large sum of money. The party tried to reason with Sulla, but couldn’t get past his goon. They then tried to go to the authorities, but found that Sulla apparently had too much power over the local government to make that a viable option. With no other recourse they concocted a daring plan to unite the lesser gangs and take Sulla head-on. The party met Sal “Skins”, the leader of the Chatty Cathys on the streets of the dock district. He introduced them to Benny the half-orc, who suggested they talk to Remy, the owner of the Four Copper Whore brothel and a noted information broker. In exchange for rescuing a pair of Remy’s girls that Sulla was holding, Sulla’s business ledgers and, oddly, Sulla’s right hand, Remy provided the party with some information about Sulla’s operations and suggested they contact Frankie, the head of the Bruisers, for some muscle.

You crest a small rise and see the port city of Laugharne sitting idyllically on the coast, the River Cadnant wending its way through the heart of the city. The docks are obviously bustling with longshoremen loading cargo into the ships sitting in stately rows with their sails furled. Above the docks rise the residential and business districts, roughly tiered by income with the highest classes removing themselves from the noise of the shipping operations. Interspersed with the lavish manors of the local nobility are various government buildings and public works in marble. Sitting somewhat away from the city along the river are a cluster of large buildings. As best you can tell they appear to have retractable roofs.

1) If the party heads to find their ship at the docks the crew tells them that they’ll need to find the captain and convince him to set sail. The crew thinks that he’s drowning his sorrows in one of the local dives, Miss Aisley’s Cantina.

You walk in off the street and are immediately assaulted by a blast of hot, humid air carrying a scent best described as “indescribable”, or maybe “eye-watering”. The odor seems to be coming from the rugged, racially diverse clientele.

Let the party try to find him.

You slide into the chairs around the table with a haggard looking man, though you suspect with a bit of scrubbing he could eventually be described as roguishly handsome.

Captain Hans won’t set sail without settling his debts with local gangster Sulla the Corpulent. If he sees me trying to skip town I’m a dead man, but I need some serious coin to get him off my back.

Work this into the conversation somehow, maybe Nestor asks about it. Is she a fast ship? You’ve never heard of the Centurion Raptor? I’m the one who made the Ashby Run in less than twelve days.

Sulla’s base of operations is a warehouse down by the docks. If the party members just want to go see what they can do for him, have Nestor suggest working with the authorities.

2) If the party heads to the middle or high class neighborhoods, everybody on the street is up in arms over the proposed construction of a thieves’ guild hall and the ratification of their charter. The citizens are upset because the thieves steal from them, but the government is under pressure from various mob bosses, including one Sulla the Corpulent, to provide some official sanction for their actions to get the authorities off them.

3) If the party goes for the airship hangars, have them get a nice tour of the facilities. The hangars appear to be dry docks, but the ships they contain have no sails and instead are covered in a variety of propellers, rotors and gears. The airships work by converting low level spells that operate the complex mechanical systems of the ship. These spells are maintained by a rotating crew of wizards, and the technical parts have their own maintenance teams. So far they’ve managed to get speeds up to about equivalent to sailing ships and altitudes up to a few hundred feet. One of the airships in the complex is the first purpose built commercial hull, as opposed to a converted ship hull.

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Of Course It's Snakes

On the way to Laugharne the party ran across an apparent acquaintance of Nestor’s: the garishly dressed Ajax. He let slip of a treasure that he’d been searching for and Nestor concocted a daring plan to stick him in the eye by nabbing the treasure from under his nose. The party navigated the temple where the Head of the Golden Orc resided and recovered it after defeating its guardian. However, upon leaving the temple Ajax and his “associates” Feran and Thiera accosted them and took the Head. Regaining consciousness later, the party licked their wounds and continued to Laugharne.

Heading down the road toward Laugharne you see a small encampment just out of the way. Nestor looks over there and curses, “Just my luck…Ajax.”

One of them, a tall human dressed in flamboyant, garishly-colored clothes, looks up from where he’s unpacking a saddlebag and sees you.

“Is that Nestor? Yoohoo dear! I must say, what a surprise to see you out here. You simply must introduce me to your friends. Have you come to look for the Head of the Golden Orc as well?”

Let the party respond here. Ajax is classic camp gay, and there’s some definite foe yay from his side toward Nestor.

“Oh, I hope I didn’t give too much away then.” Ajax motions toward his companions, “My fellows here are Feran and Thiera, my hired help in case things take a wrong turn. Be a couple of dears and introduce yourselves, hmm?”

They look up from their tasks and nod curtly.

“So rude!” he mutters. “Why don’t you stop here for the night with us? I would surely love this chance to discuss matters with Nestor here.”

If the players don’t want to, have him insist…strongly.

Night falls and you let Ajax’s companions take the first two watches, grateful for this chance to get a full night’s sleep. After the second watch, Nestor wakes you all up. “Wow, I really hate that guy. I managed to get some good information from him though. He’s here looking for the Head of the Golden Orc that’s apparently stuck in some ancient elven temple as these things are wont to be. He let slip where the temple is located. What say we go nab it from under his nose. I’d just love to see the look on his face when he gets to the city empty-handed and sees that I’ve donated it to the museum.”

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Duking It Out, Part 2: Horrors Below

The party descended into the cellar below Duke Alberion’s kitchens. They found signs of a struggle in the wine cellar and uncovered a secret door. Through this door lay the ruins of an old city. The party made their way down an ancient staircase into a partially collapsed building. On the uppermost accessible floor they were surprised by a large cube of ooze. The party handily defeated this monstrosity and made their way farther into the depths. After navigating a maze of passages they stumbled out into a large amphitheater. Strapped to a table on the stage was Katja, unconscious. After the party approached her, grotesque little humanoids started streaming into the room and attacked the party. Just as everything seemed to be hopeless and they were on the verge of being overwhelmed a somewhat larger specimen entered the room and began casting spells and directing the others. The party managed to take down this leader and the rest of the creatures scampered back to their holes.

You managed to get Katja back to the Duke’s manor where she was treated for her wounds. Duke Alberion immediately started to drum up support in Denbigh for an expedition to explore this old town that you found underground and try to remove any of the remaining creatures. He also took a rather personal interest in Lady Sarnin’s recovery. As things settled down, he pulled the party aside and handed Nestor a sealed envelope. He also handed a purse to each party member as compensation for your services during the crisis. He then explained that he would be your stalwart ally as you look into the mystery uncovered under Casimir. The envelope contains a writ granting you the use of one of his ships, based out of Laugharne. With that he thanks you again and wishes you well on your quest.

The party takes the time to retrieve their weapons and armor from the inn.

The Duke leads you to the trapdoor in the corner of the manor kitchens. The door’s hinges creak as you lift it with great effort. A rickety-looking ladder leads into darkness below.

At the bottom of the ladder you can see a passage in the flickering torchlight. At the very edge of your vision you can see a wooden door with a slowly spreading pool of liquid seeping from under it.

Let the party decide what to do. The liquid turns out to be wine.

Inside the wine cellar you can see that several of the bottles have been broken. The floor is coated in a slick mixture of wine and broken glass. You can see blood on some of the glass.

The party must find a hidden door in the wine cellar, Perception DC20.

A door cleverly hidden in the wall slides open. It apparently leads to a small tunnel, just big enough for you to squeeze through.

Inside the tunnel is a poison blade trap, Perception DC20 to notice, Disable Device DC20 to disarm, never miss, auto reset. If they don’t notice it, it triggers for 1d4 damage plus the Greenblood Oil poison effect. This poison can be found on page 559. CR4

Upon exiting the tunnel you look out over a descending staircase, apparently made some time ago, now covered with mosses and lichens. The air smells stale and you feel a blast of cold hit you, out of place considering the warm dampness of the cellar and tunnel.

The cold air comes from a patch of brown mold on the wall on the right side of the staircase. Brown mold is on page 416. CR2

Moving down the staircase as it curves to the left, the façade of an ancient building comes into view. You can see three stories rise above you before it disappears into an apparent cave in.

DC15 Perception:

As you approach the eerie underground structure you hear a skittering noise, apparently from inside the edifice. This is followed by a spine-chilling sound somewhere between a giggle and a cackle [insert sound effect], suddenly cut short.

Continuing:

Inside you see that fallen rubble has obstructed the way forward. A quick search of the area reveals a set of stairs leading up. The second floor also reveals no means forward, and the stairs end in a collapsed pile of detritus at the third floor. As you step out of the stairwell, a rumbling pervades your senses.

Let the players react to this for a few moments.

A gigantic mass of slime oozes from around the corner and heads toward the party.

During combat with the gelatinous cube, have a derro fire poison bolts with a -4 to attack at the party.

As the cube melts into nothingness, the remains of its most recent victims clatter to the ground. You can see portions of at least three different small humanoids, grotesque in the extreme. Looking to where the bolts were coming from you see nothing, but you hear a clattering as of claws on stone and more of that disconcerting laughter, punctuated by mad chattering, growing fainter until it is impossible to discern any longer.

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Duking It Out, Part 1: Get a Clue

The party was invited, as Nestor’s guests, to a gala held by Duke Alberion. During the party the Duchess was found murdered in her room, drained of blood. The possible perpetrators were quickly narrowed down. The suspects for this heinous crime: the Duke, the Duchess’ friend Katja, and Nestor. The party conducted a thorough investigation, finding small hidden passages in various rooms in the manor and all manner of suspicious evidence. After concluding that it wasn’t likely any of the suspects committed the crime, a scream reverberated through the manor. After rushing to the location of the scream the party found no trace of Katja. Using Sophia’s raven familiar to scout the small bolthole they find that she must have been taken to the cellar. The party is now preparing for an expedition to find just what lies below the Duke’s manor…

The Setup

Shortly after Nestor returns from another day spent trying to gather more information on current happenings in Ashby a liveried courier enters the inn’s common room. After inquiring with the innkeeper, who nods toward the party, the courier approaches.

He addresses the bard, “Good evening. Am I speaking to the esteemed scholar, Nestor?”

“Yes, that would be me.”

“My employer, ah, the Duke and Duchess Alberion would request your presence at a gala recognizing his contributions to the University. As you are a scholar of such regard, my Lord and Lady would be most honored if you were to attend. There shall be a banquet and a display of fireworks. Your…companions…are also invited, assuming they can compose themselves in refined company. I will be back shortly to take your response to the Duke’s invitation. Please discuss the matter with haste,” he finishes before sharply turning about and heading back out the door.

Let the party discuss what they wish to do. Have Nestor remind them that good relations with such a powerful man could not hurt their cause, and it might be good to discuss the current situation with Duke Alberion.

The courier returns to take your response to the duke (and give guidelines for proper decorum. should the party decide to attend).

The party must leave their armor, except the mithral shirt, at the inn and they must don courtier’s clothes and jewelry, rented by Nestor, who announces that there isn’t much money left past lodging expenses and what he needs to maintain the retainer. Each party member can take one weapon of their choice with them to the celebration.

Upon arriving at Duke Alberion’s handsome manor you see that his party is in full swing. Wending your way from the gate through the garden you see that the guests have segregated themselves into groups. By the long table containing hors d’oeuvres and punch are a group of men of obvious military bent. Near the string quartet are the socialites, happily gossiping. A group of uncomfortable looking youngsters, almost assuredly University students, huddle on the opposite side of the dance floor. In the opposite corner of the grounds from the musicians stands a group of stately elves, most likely professors at the University. A well dressed, regal looking man and his lovely wife move between the groups chatting gaily with the guests and putting them at ease. This must be the Duke and Duchess.

Nestor whispers to the party, “Go out there and at least look like you’re having a good time, and mind your manners. I’m going to have a chat with our friend, the Duke.”

Have each party member choose a group to make some small talk with, or just get some food or something. This can either be a test of improv skills or a free pass on RPing.

The Duke walks by the quartet and they bring their current number to a halt with practiced aplomb. He stops on the first landing on the steps to his home and turns to address the guests, “Thank you all very much for attending my little soiree. I hope you have all had your fill of dancing and not your fill of food. It is time for the second part of our festivities: the meal! Please make your way into the dining hall and take a seat. Once everybody has gotten settled we’ll have a speech or two, a few toasts, and then dinner.”

Nestor leans close to the party, who has gathered by this point, and encourages you to spread out among the other guests and make some connections over dinner.

Have the players pick guests to sit by from the groups mentioned above.

You hear but don’t listen to a couple of boring speeches from University faculty about the Duke’s generosity, go through a couple of toasts where you don’t get to drink much booze, and then the covers are taken off a magnificent spread arrayed on the tables. This is luxury!

Have the party do some more chatting with guests as before. Maybe get some dinner at this point…call not larping.

Following the dinner everyone mingles and you see Nestor engaged in lively conversation with the Duke and Duchess. Duke Alberion claps him on the shoulder and moves off to pay attention to other guests. The Duchess starts an earnest conversation with Nestor and leads him out of the dining hall. Not long after this a woman who was pointed out to you as the Lady Katja Sarnin approaches Sophia.

“Excuse me. I noticed that you were affiliated with that delightful Nestor fellow. Do you know where he’s gone?”

If Sophia doesn’t help, have her approach the other party members. If Sophia does help, she hurries off after the bard and the Duchess.

Information on Katja Sarnin (as heard from gossip from the guests):
● She and Ellen (the Duchess) have been friends for ages.
● I heard that Katja and Ellen were competing for the Duke’s affections. Looks like Ellen won that round.
● Oh, she’s a delightful girl. Such a lovely voice, too.
● I’ve heard that Katja practices fencing. That is not the appropriate pastime for a lady of her standing.
● Her father is a long-standing member of the Waldstag. He’s doted on his daughter since his wife died, and Katja is spoiled of it.
● Ellen and Katja had a falling out when the Duke proposed, but of a sudden they were thick as thieves again.

Information on Duchess Ellen Alberion (gossip)
● Ellen comes from one of the lesser houses. She only got where she is because of Katja.
● Her father won his peerage through his service of arms to Nanmor, but died when she was young.
● I hear she’s been taking ill recently and hasn’t quite been feeling herself.
● Her relationship with Katja was strained when Ellen won the Duke’s hand. I’m glad they’ve gotten back to their old selves again.
● Ellen loves to play the piano, and Katja often sings with her. They sound so beautiful together.
chuckling I think Ellen’s marriage to the Duke is about the only thing that she and Katja didn’t do together.

Information on Duke Montren “Monte” Alberion (gossip)
● The Duke is a strong advocate of those flying ships they’ve managed to create. I’d rather keep my feet on the ground.
● I’ve heard that the Duke has been called away from important business because of his wife’s infirmities.
● Monte proposed to Ellen when everyone thought he was going to marry Katja. It came as a shock to everybody, especially poor Katja.
● Montren is a busy man. He is always going between his manor here and his duchy near Laugharne.
● The Duke often leaves Ellen here at the manor while he deals with the machinists in Laugharne. Even when he’s here, he’s often too busy for her.
● Some say they’ve heard the Duke complain of the obligations he has to Ellen, now that he’s married to her. It seems they get in the way of his business dealings.

Some time later, the bard comes back into the hall looking slightly flustered. He approaches Duke Alberion, and the Duke’s face darkens. He excuses himself from the conversation and hurries off toward the part of the manor Nestor, the Duchess, and Katja disappeared to.

The bard rounds up the party and tells you that the Duchess wasn’t feeling well and decided to lie down. As he tells you this the Duke dashes into the dining hall and starts shouting orders.

“Have the guards seal the grounds! No one is to leave!”

He then drops to his knees and wails, “She’s dead!”

At that moment, Katja runs into the room as well, tears running down her cheeks and shouting, “It’s Ellen, she’s…she’s dead!”

She sees the Duke and runs over to him, daintily lifting her skirts, then squatting next to him, her arm around his shoulder.

The guests start talking furiously amongst themselves. Duke Alberion stands up after finally composing himself and starts around the room, talking to the guests. After he gets done talking with the majority of the guests, he has most of them go sit back down at the tables. He finally walks to the front of the room and announces, “As you may have surmised, my wife is dead. I found her on her bed, with a puncture wound in her throat that must have been the cause of her demise. The murderer could only have been one of those present…” He raises his hands to silence the rush of noise from those assembled, “…and furthermore, could only have been someone she would have trusted alone with her, else some of the staff would have heard something. In talking with you, I can determine that all those currently seated have foolproof alibis. This leaves Nestor and Katja as the two who could possibly be guilty.”

Nestor interrupts, “Without intending disrespect my Lord, I believe you may not have considered all of the possibilities. If I may bring this up, you do not have an alibi either. If we are to make a fair investigation of this, we must investigate and acquit you as well. I would like to suggest that we have my companions, whom you have determined could not be implicated in this, conduct a thorough investigation. I have reason to believe that they will be impartial, as they would, to a man, almost certainly leave me to my fate if it suited them or if I were found guilty of wrongdoing.”

The Investigation

Available to be interviewed are Nestor, Katja, the Duke and a servant who was nearby. The players will need to ask about other witnesses to find out about the servant.

The Duchess’ Room:

The Duchess’ room is a luxuriously appointed bedroom with a four poster bed and rich mahogany paneling. The carpet is thick and plush. A heavy wooden desk sits on the opposite side of the room as the bed. Lining the walls are two large wardrobes, a vanity with a large mirror, a triptych of oil paintings and a plaque that holds a rapier. There is also a large blank expanse of wall near the head of the bed that is actually a well-concealed closet door.

Nestor’s testimony:

I went back with the Duchess to her room to examine some old records she had found. She wanted to know when they were from and what context they had. They appeared to be minutes for Waldstag meetings from several centuries ago. They were really quite fascin…ah, yes, the crime. We looked over these for some time and Lady Katja joined us. Lady Katja then left the room to take care of some business that I’m sure she doesn’t wish us to discuss. The Duchess then announced that she wasn’t feeling well and was going to lie down, so I excused myself and went back to the dining hall to let the Duke know that his wife had taken ill.

If asked about why he was so flustered:

I got lost on the way back from the Duchess’ room and felt like a fool when I accidentally opened a door to the maids’ quarters.

Katja’s testimony:

I went back to Ellen’s room after [Mr/Ms Character who helped her] told me where she’d gone. I saw her and Nestor with their heads together over some old books. I joined them, though it didn’t make much sense to me. We talked a bit between ourselves, but I don’t think Nestor ever noticed it, even when we talked about him. When I told Ellen how adorable it was that he got so worked up over these books,” Katja blushes, “she suggested that I make a move. It looked like she was about to say something to him about it, so I made an excuse to get out of there quickly. I came back to apologize to them for leaving so abruptly when I saw the Duke standing at the door to the room with an ashen face. I looked in the room and…” she starts tearing up, “saw Ellen on the bed, dead.” She starts sobbing in earnest.

Duke Alberion’s (Montren, Monte) testimony:

After Nestor let me know that Ellen wasn’t feeling well I went to check on her. She had been having the oddest spells of weakness lately, as though she was anemic, which was why I was so concerned. I hurried back to her room, and got there at the same time as Lady Sarnin. I opened the door and we saw Ellen lying on her bed motionless. I then came here to report what had happened.

A servant’s testimony:

There was a good bit of activity around the Duchess’ room. I was careful to stay out of the way while I was doing the laundry so as not to interfere. I heard her door open and close, let me think, four or five times, and I heard that odd fellow say, “Oops, wrong door.” not long before all of the commotion.

At the scene of the crime there is:
● The Duchess on her bed in her nightclothes with a puncture wound in her throat. She is in her nightclothes because she decided to lie down, in accordance with Nestor’s story.
● A rapier in an ornate display plaque on the wall. The rapier handle appears highly polished, with no obvious prints or smudges. The tip of the blade appears to have been wiped with something.
● A noticeable absence of blood. Small, partially healed cuts are visible around her wrists, elbows, and the backs of her knees.
● Small depressions in the plush carpet near the side of the bed her body is on. Apparently partial footprints, though too small to be a man’s. More such depressions, including larger ones, are near the desk on the other side of the room.
● Shallow scrape marks on the both the wood paneling on the closet door near the head of the bed and the bedpost nearby. They look like shallow gouges where claws attempted to climb the bedpost and open the closet door. More scrapes are inside the closet if they look inside.

Allow the party to discuss the mystery and try to pinpoint a suspect.

If they think it’s Katja, find some way to get her alone. Use Nestor to try to convince the party to put her in a room, under guard.

If they don’t think it’s Katja, simply have her wander away at some point. Regardless, use the next bit.

You hear a blood-curdling scream that is suddenly silenced. It’s a woman’s voice. As you head toward the location you believe it came from, you run into several other people investigating the scream.

Katja under guard:

You throw open the door to the room where Katja is being guarded, and as you suspected it is empty.

Katja free:

You can’t figure out which room the scream came from, but everybody has shown up now. You take inventory of who is here, and find that Katja has gone missing.

In the room where she disappeared:

In the room that Katja likely disappeared from you find nothing but some more of those curious scrapes on the wall. After fiddling with that section of the wall, you manage to swing a well hidden door open. It’s too small for all but the slimmest of you to fit through. It appears to go down into some dark depths beneath the manor.

If the party takes too long to investigate the cellar, have more people (unimportant NPCs, party guests, servants, etc.) disappear mysteriously.

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The Hapless Highwaymen

The party ran a fast and dirty interrogation of the captured half-orc, Ausk, but didn’t manage to uncover much useful information. It appears that he is just a pawn of some humans, or pinks as Ausk calls them, who represent this mysterious " Nul-Arc" entity. Nestor finished gathering supplies and the party rested until morning before setting off on the road out of Casimir to Nanmor.

The trip down from the mountains proceeded fairly uneventfully until a dwarf and a large human ran out into the road in front of the party. The dwarf explained that he and the human were being chased, and the party presently heard their pursuers. It turned out to be a trap, and Sordin took an arrow in the ensuing ambush. All looked lost as the beefy human joined the fray, but the party soon realized that the barbarian, Bren was being poorly treated by his so-called comrades and just needed a bit of encouragement to change sides. Though things looked grim, he quickly turned the tide in the party’s favor. The party gained some loot from the bandits’ ill-gotten gains and a new ally to boot.

The rest of the trip to Denbigh was fairly idyllic, with Sophia in particular taking a shine to the lovable, albeit intellectually-challenged, barbarian. Once they arrived in Denbigh, the party stopped to buy Bren the beer they had promised him, and it was with tears following their shared drink that Bren told them about his plan to leave the fighting life behind and start anew as a longshoreman for the lumber barges. The party now must decide how to proceed while Nestor researches both Nul-Arc and current events in Ashby-de-la-Zouch.

The party hires a local cleric to cast Zone of Truth and has Axel cast Charm Person while they try to hurriedly interrogate the captured half-orc while the spell is in effect.

The half-orc makes a will save against both (Zone of Truth DC15, Charm Person DC14) but is willing to share the information regardless.

Who do you work for? Don’t know. We were told we could kill some dwarves if we did what the humans wanted us to. That’s all we needed to know.

What’s the point of this operation? Don’t know that either. The pinks just wanted the necklaces and other stuff brought to the caves while we got ready to go fight the dwarves.

How long has this smuggling been going on? The pinks got in touch with us a few months back. Once they figured out a way to get the goods to us, we made our way to the tunnels.

How long have you, yourself, been doing this? I was assigned by the tribe to move us into the caves down there not long after the humans came to us.

Following the interrogation:

“Are you done yet? I’ve answered your questions, didn’t get to kill that dwarf I knocked out, and have been too close to the stinky creatures since I got up here. Just kill me and get this over with.”

Nestor returns from his errands and asks for a summary of the information learned from the interrogation of the orc. He asks the party to decide which avenue of investigation to pursue.

Let the players choose whether to stay in the city or head off down the road.

If the party chooses to go:

Nestor suggests that the party know where they are going by the time they reach the fork in the main highway. He also recommends that you leave in the morning. The party sets off down the road with the pack mule Nestor bought for the trip in tow, its saddlebags laden with food, water and whatever party supplies you decided to stow in there. The trip progresses fairly uneventfully for some time until you come across a dwarf and a large, burly human who run out into the road in front of you.

The dwarf spots the party and shouts, “Oi, can we get some help here? I think we may have lost them but—“

The sounds of a group making quickly making their way through the trees from the northwest side of the road reach your ears.

Perception DC24 to notice the two archers concealing themselves on the north side of the road. The rogues fire simultaneously at the party. If the bandits get a surprise round the dwarf casts Burning Hands on the party while Bren just stands there. The next round the dwarf yells at Bren to start attacking the party. The dwarf continues to berate Bren as a clue to the party to try to talk to the barbarian. Bren will pretty easily come around to the party’s side and will help finish off the bandits if given explicit orders.

If the party chooses to stay:

Nestor suggests that the party find an inn to stay the night in. Once the party chooses one, have Nestor offer to perform for the party’s room and board. The bard holds up his hands and mutters an incantation, and a beautiful mandolin appears. He begins playing an enchanting, haunting song, an ancient dirge of the elves from before humans arrived in Nanmor. When he finishes, he takes a dramatic bow on top of the bar while the mandolin vanishes as abruptly as it appeared. While he is bowed down he whispers to the barmaid and she blushes scarlet. He hops down from the table and goes to have a seat to a hearty round of applause. After a while, and another couple of performances by the bard, the barmaid heads over to where he is seated and he stands up and takes her arm. Nestor escorts her out of the common room and winks at the party.

Not long after this, a rough looking group comes in, consisting of a dwarf and three humans. One of these humans is huge, and doesn’t look particularly bright. The dwarf loudly orders a mug of ale and starts harassing some of the other patrons.

If the party doesn’t take the bait, have the dwarf head over to the party’s table and start heckling them. The dwarf’s bravado is a distraction so that the two rogues can try to pickpocket the party. The same combat instructions as if the party was on the road apply. Erase the beautiful map of the mountain road and draw a boring, generic tavern. /cry

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Caves Under Casimir

The party, along with their patron, the bard Nestor, set off into the depths below the mining city of Casimir. They came across a cavern that was hiding a gang of orcs. The party narrowly defeated the orcs and uncovered mysterious crates containing arcane magic nullifying items. The crates bear a company logo that says " Nul-Arc" and the Ashby-de-la-Zouch shipping manifest stamp. There was also an obvious underground water route to the sea in the caverns and it appears that the crates were brought through that route.

Nestor is troubled by these strong anti-magic items appearing so close to the borders of Nanmor and the connection between this Nul-Arc company, the pirates cum shippers of Ashby and this group of orcs operating so closely to civilized lands. He sets it upon himself to uncover more of what is going on and decides to enlist the help of the party that has been so useful thus far.

The ropes creak as the small boat is lowered further into the darkness. Looking up you can barely see the flickering lights of the stalactite you began your descent at. All around you is darkness, your torches seemingly not penetrating the void. Lower and lower you go, an excitable human, your patron, explaining the mission you’re being paid for, for perhaps the third or fourth time.
“This is a great opportunity to document the depths below Casimir. We have been trying to determine the origin of this impossibly large cavern and the source of the lake at its bottom. All of our attempts to sound the depth have met with failure, and never before have we sent such a prepared expedition to attempt to map the caverns that can be found down here. Truly these are exciting times!”
An interminable amount of time later, the boat gently hits the water with a surprising splash. Where before there was only darkness the light of the torches now shows ripples in the lake’s surface. The talkative human at the back of the boat unties the rope attached near his seat and casts Animate Rope to let the winch operators at Casimir, far above you now, know that you have reached the lake. His nimble fingers then tie a sunrod to the line.
“Come, it is time for us to begin by finding the northern edge of this lake,” he says as he indicates the direction to go.

Once party finds caverns:
Nestor suggests tying the boat off to a piton.
Have party determine order.

If party spots Perception DC15:
A short distance into the caverns you see a message on the wall, crudely written in Common. It reads, “Dwarf stink reach down here make Gok sick.”
Knowledge (Nature) DC 10 to recognize as orc graffiti. This lets them know to be prepared.

If party doesn’t make the Perception check, stumble into the first chamber.

Orcs roll Perception at -6 to make a DC12 check to notice the party if party is prepared.
You see three monstrous looking humanoids standing around a smoldering fire pit apparently having some sort of conversation. The glowing coals provide just enough light for to barely illuminate a large natural chamber.
Knowledge (Nature) DC5 to recognize them as orcs.

During the battle, roll Perception DC10 at -8 each round to bring the orcs from the next room. Once an orc falls, the other two will attempt to retreat to the next chamber.

Another large chamber holds four more of the brutish creatures. Boxes and crates are strewn around the cavern floor, making footing treacherous.

During battle in this chamber, roll Perception DC14 at -5 to determine if the warrior and fighter hear the combat. Once there are only two orcs left, they will try to escape to the west chamber.CC

North:
The cavern dips down and fills with water past a point. The water seems to be gently moving, and a very faint but unmistakable smell of salt hangs in the air.

West:
A middling sized chamber opens up, and you see two humanoids bent over an intact set of crates at the other side. One is the same as all the others you have fought so far, though he appears to be of a higher rank, with better quality weapons and armor. The other is similar, but unmistakably different from the rest of the brutes. His gear is of the same quality as his compatriot, though he carries a ranseur instead of a falchion, but his posture and actions indicate a higher degree of intelligence. When they turn around, he is quite clearly part human.

Following the battle:
Your patron heads over to the crates and examines them.
“Interesting. These crates bear the stamp of one Nul-Arc corporation and the shipping marks of the city of Ashby-de-la-Zouch. They have also been heavily waterproofed. What could these creatures be doing with these kinds of items?”

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