Losing their home at the Yawning Portal made finding a new base imperative. They decided to get up early, throw down breakfast, and check on the progress at the Manor.
Before they left, Taman sought out Bonnie and asked her to give a letter to Davil for him. He hoped that his words would help cooler heads prevail. She agreed and once again asked if they had learned anything about the poisons. He let her know that they were still looking into it and she pressed the fact that it was becoming too dangerous for her and her friends.
Promising to make some headway, they left the Portal.
The walk was quiet. Spring had set in and with it brought cool but comfortable winds. It was early, earlier than most places would open, but there was light traffic on the main road. Mainly merchants and traders who had arrived after the gates closed the prior evening and had to set up camp outside the city.
As the city continued to wake, they were about to leave the Trade Ward when angry shouting echoed from a nearby alley. Taman poked his head around the corner to find a trio of men loading crates onto a wagon. Nothing about the situation looked suspicious until the burlap snagged and revealed a purple eye stamped into one of the sides.
Without hesitation, Taman stepped forward. A fourth man he hasn’t seen moved from the shadows and blocked his path.
Supervisor: What’chu want? You lost or somtin?
Taman: No, no I simply couldn’t help but notice you gentlemen were quite busy. And so early as well! I was thinking about seeing if you need hand.
Supervisor: Only thing that needs to be done is for you to march back down that alley and get lost. Else, me and my men ‘ill have some more work to do cleanin you up.
Taman made to retort but one of the workers at the cart stopped him.
Worker 1: Ay, that one looks familiar. An he’s got tha dwarf and half one with him. You think it’s them?
Supervisor: Shut your mouth an get back to work. They ‘ad a little devil lass with em.
He turned to chastise the worker and as he turned back, Akta stepped into the ally.
Supervisor Ah, yeah, I think it is them. Split up, let the boss know we found ‘em
Worker 1: What about the -
Supervisor Leave it. Get the word to the boss.
There was a sudden flurry of movement as all four men scattered. Each took a different direction down the sprawling alleyways. Caught off guard, the party opted not to pursue it. Instead, Taman waved Viigo over. The two of them began cracking open the crates. Each crate housed dark bottles labeled as Tymerian Whiskey. After the third, they grabbed a few bottles and ran from the scene.
The streets were quiet as they entered Trollskull Alley. That made it all the more surprising when a small tiefling boy emerged from the shadows with a wooden sword. He let loose a pre-pubescent roar and made to swing at them. Akta snatched the sword from his hands in a quick motion.
Akta: What are you doing?
Sqiddly: Oh, it’s you. I thought you were the men coming back. I wasn’t going to let them do anything to the Manor.
Sqiddly and Jenks, who had emerged from the nearby alley, informed them that they had had visitors the previous night. Five or six men the Urchins had never seen before had been looking in windows and testing the doors. It wasn’t just at the Manor. They looked as if they were searching for something and didn’t know where to look.
The party thanked the kids, tossed them some copper, and did a quick survey of the property. No damage or signs of forced entry. Everything was in order. With days to go before the grand opening, all that was left, besides the upper rooms in the manor, were details.
Black Market Dealings
The Otyugh’s fangs were burning a hole in Taman’s pocket. He figured that the best place to sell them would be an apothecary. They were already on their way south so they swung by the God Catcher to see if any apothecaries were available.
Forgetting that they had been to Dioonter’s about a ten-day ago, Taman walked right in. The old man shakily made his way to the counter and asked how he could help. Luckily for Taman, the man was deeply ill and going through a terrible Dream Flake withdrawal. Seeing the man’s shakes, blackened teeth and paranoid eye twitches brought back the memories of his last visit.
Proceeding with caution, Taman asked if the man had any use for fangs, claws, or other animal parts. Taman explained that he was an adventurer and he often came across items that may or may not be of value. The man nodded and explained that these items could be used as ingredients.
The man motioned Taman to the counter and watched as five long fangs were placed in front of him. He poked at the nearest one and asked what they had belonged to.
Taman proudly stated that they had come from an Otyugh. The man froze.
Dioonter: And where did you find such a creature?
Taman: We slew one deep beneath the city in the sewers. Why?
The man’s hands dropped beneath the countertop.
Dioonter: You slew the city’s Otylug? Why would you bring the evidence here? Who sent you?
Taman: What? No, no one sent me.
In a spastic movement, Dioonter pulled a notched crossbow from its hidden compartment. He leveled it between Taman’s eyes.
Dioonter: (franticly) Who sent you?! Was it them? Are they following you? Are they here? Did you bring them here? Liar! You have any tattoos? I bet you have an eye somewhere on you!
Hands in the air, Taman did his best to keep his calm.
Taman: Look, ok, they did send me. But here’s the thing. They don’t have to know. They are right outside and if you shoot me they will know. But I’ll just pick these up and be on my way. And I’ll tell them that you weren’t interested. That sound fair?
Dioonter: How can I trust you?
Taman: Really because you don’t have much of a choice. If you shoot me you’re dead. There is no if there. But if you trust me, well, that’s where you have a chance. What do you say?
Dioonter considered the argument for a few moments before lowering the crossbow. Taman, with a steady and slow hand, reached down and scooped up the fangs from the countertop. He then turned and bolted out the door.
Once they were far away from Diloonter’s Taman filled the rest of the party in on what had transpired. Now that Viigo understood that the fangs were considered ‘black market’ he knew the person to go to. Ildar Orsabba, otherwise known as ‘the Duke of Darkness’, was well known to all who were connected to the Waterdavain underworld.
The shop, deep in the Trade Ward, catered to the homesick with perfumed hangings from Calimshan, a spear from Tethyr adorned with a skull of a royal family member, rock rubble from Mirabar, and other artifacts from across the land. Climbing the steep flight of stone steps to the shop, Taman moved through the main door. The shop was adorned with a large, arched window inset with a border of varicolored glass and as he passed through it he felt the sizzle of enchantments.
Deep in the dark shop, a man sat polishing a jeweled dagger. As Taman entered he called out to let him know if Taman needed any help. Taman approached the man and explained to him what he had. As soon as Taman mentioned that the Otyugh was from below Waterdeep, the man perked up. He popped up from his seat and moved behind a counter, motioning for Taman to place the fangs on a satin mat.
After close inspection, he reluctantly offered Taman 50 gold pieces for the fangs. Without hesitation Taman agreed, happy to be rid of the illegal paraphernalia. Before leaving he dropped a few extra pieces of gold on the countertop, meaning them to be a ‘thank you’ for the man’s silence.
Ildar eyed them for a moment before rejecting the offer.
Ildar: The agreed price was 50 gold pieces. No more, no less.
Taman nodded, scooped the coins from the countertop, and left the shop.
First, they stopped at the Carpenter’s Guild and paid the remaining balance. Then they headed to the Innkeeper’s Guild to buy insurance. There, they learned that they could leave their funds with the Guild and they would be stored in the Guild vault for safekeeping. After the errands, the party decided to pay a visit to Renear as Brandath Manor (formerly Neverember Manor).
They were greeted by Madrak, Renear’s housekeeper. As Madrak began to apologize for the fact that his master was not currently in, a voice greeted the party from behind. Turning around they found Renear carrying a bundle of vegetables he had purchased from the market.
Inviting them in for dinner, Renear got caught up on all their adventures. He shook his head in disbelief and laughed. The party seemed to be teasing death each day. Once dinner concluded, Renear led them into his study.
It came as a small shock to learn how much of a bookworm Renear was. Volumes of rare collections lined his walls and he took great pride in allowing the party to explore. Viigo found a book on the religions of Faerun and immediately began leafing through it. Seeing his interest, Renear offered to lend it to him. Thankful, Viigo sat in one of the overstuffed chairs and flipped to the chapter on Gond.
Taman asked if there was anything he might be interested in. Renear went to the shelf and pulled out a thin book with a travel-worn cover and handed it to him. It was a collection of bard songs from across the realms. Taman excitedly tucked it away for later.
A Night Out
Renaer then suggested that the party stay for the evening. His friends were coming over and they intended to go out to a local tavern. The party accepted and then showed Renaer the bottles they had confiscated earlier in the day. He was impressed and told them that this was most certainly bootlegged whiskey.
Not long after, Madrak opened the front door and let in two completely different individuals. One was dressed in the latest fashions of the courts. He had a small middle-aged bump for a stomach. His hair and beard were well-trimmed and oiled. The other looked like the part of a mercenary. He had long blond locks tied back into a ponytail. His massive muscles, products of good genes and manual labor, were barely contained by his white shirt. The top buttons of which were undone enough to hint at a tattoo over his left breast. Renaer introduced them as Torlyn Wands and Meloon Wardragon.
Before Meloon had even heard the individual party members’ names he was in the kitchen rustling around in search of glasses. He returned with enough for everyone and a bottle of the bootleg whiskey they had left on the countertop. Renaer left and brought back a number of ales.
Meloon: Alright, let’s get this started shall we?
They then participated in a game of Dwarves Bane. The last to finish their ale in each round was out. Torlyn and Renaer were the first to drop out. Taman was next, followed by Viigo. Finzu held on but in the end, it was Akta and Meloon. After a countdown from Renaer they both lifted the cups to their lips and began. It was close but in the end, Akta’s mug hit the table first.
After the game, they then piled into Renaer’s carriage. It was a tight squeeze with everyone. Not fitting inside, Meloon held on and hung out the open door. As they rolled down the street he called out and greeted everyone they passed. On a few, he was even able to give high-fives without losing his grip.
They finally arrived at a tavern on the border of the Sea and Castle wards. It was the usual haunt for Renaer and Torlyn and so when they walked in they were immediately shown to a table. The first mugs were placed on the table and Taman took the opportunity to stand. He gave a quick toast and then followed it up with a limerick he had picked from the book Renear had given him.
Everyone cheered and lifted their mugs. As the ale continued to flow they learned that Torlyn and Renaer had been childhood friends. Meloon had joined their group by way of an adventure. He began telling the tale of how they had saved Waterdeep from Khondar “Ten Rings”. But when he arrived at the part where he acquired Azuredge, Akta stopped him.
Akta: (slurring) Is that, is that the sword you have?
Meloon: (slurring worse) Yeah! And it talks too!
Akta: (nodding) I know. It talked to me once.
This got Meloon excited and he and Akta began to fall into a private conversation.
As the night progressed they continued to make their way around to various taverns. Soon they lost count and the night faded to black.
The Word is Out
The reason that the Xanatharian thugs had run is that Xanathar has instructed the party to find. Any and all information was to be brought back. The beholder is beyond angry and fully intends to exact revenge for the party’s intrusion into his inner sanctum.
The men searching Trollskull Alley are also Xanatharians. They had heard a rumor that the party owned property in the Alley and were running some recon.
Symptoms of Withdrawl
Since all Dream Flake imports are now controlled by Xanathar, he has been keeping the supply low. This is to make more room in the market for Black Lilly. Dream Flake is extremely addictive and Xanathar knows that given the choice between the two, an addict will always default to Dream Flake. Black Lilly has better margins and so that is the beholder’s preference.
Because of the low supply, Dioonter is struggling. He is experiencing all the signs of Dream Flake withdrawal. The biggest is paranoia. This has caused him to chase off many customers and put his business at risk.
By the Seat of My Pants
I didn’t have any time to prepare this week. And then when I was finally able to spend a few minutes thinking through the session, I realized that I had no idea what the party might do. They had just been kicked out of the Yawning Portal and the world was wide open to them.
What saved me was threefold.
- I had a good idea of what was happening at the macro level. I knew that Xanathar would be out looking for the party. I also knew that the party needed a place to stay for the evening. With those two in mind, I had enough of a framework to jump on opportunities as the players presented them. As soon as they decided to head to Renear’s I knew that I was going to do the night out and have them stay over.
- I had done my homework. I’ve been spending time doing a lot of reading about Waterdeep. The most helpful in this situation was the book Blackstaff Tower which is the story about Renear, Meloon, and Vajra (among others). That allowed me to tie in all the characters and their connections.
- I let the dice decide my fate on an awesome random encounter supplement called City Encounters. That was how the first encounter in the alley came to be. Then, because I had a high-level framework, I was able to tie it all together.
Because Viigo’s personal quest is so closely tied to the religion of Gond, I wanted to provide him the opportunity to dive in.
This came from a supplement on DMsGuild called Tavern Games. It is quite simple and was quick to run. I also modified it a little to fit with a previous night out drinking at the party had done.
The mechanics are as such:
In each round, every participant must make a Constitution saving throw. If they fail the saving throw then they are out. As the rounds progress, the DC increases until there is only one left standing.
Add 3 to the DC for every subsequent round.
I then coupled that with Sobriety Checks. Once again, these are Constitution saving throws against a Drunkenness DC. I used the same DC’s as above (though did not tell the players what they had to hit).
These rules came from a Reddit post called Getting Drunk by u/MilitantLobster.