You can find my prep notes for free on Patreon.
After rescuing Renear and hearing him out, the party started to explore the Warehouse. Aside from the draco-lich there wasn’t anything particularly interesting on the bottom floor. Going up the stairs seemed to be the same situation. Storage crates hid under layers of dust and drag marks led to the office.
Still, they decided to poke around a bit. Taman failed his investigation check of the crates, but Viigo succeeded. Inside they found dark robes and black masks. They couldn’t determine their purpose but they looked as if they belonged to a cult of some sort.
After some more fruitless digging, they turned their attention to the offices. Finding the door unlocked, Taman pushed his way in and triggered the bell to sound out. This caused the entire party to freeze and initiated a moment of panic. After waiting a moment for either a trap to be sprung or a creature to jump out, they inched in.
The first room had a desk and some chairs and showed signs that it was the Zhents interrogation room. Searching the desk they found an unused paper bird, presumably meant for the Zhents to communicate back their findings. Finders keepers and it went into Taman’s pocket.
The next room looked to be the warehouse boss’s office. Two closed doors framed a large ornate desk against the back wall with two comfortable chairs sitting opposite. The room had laid untouched for a very long time. Into the door on the left.
What looked to be a storage closet revealed abyssal glyphs etched into the back wall. Unfortunately, no one in the party was able to read them and so Finzu copied them down onto some paper he had with him.
Behind door number two was a small private room with a chair looking out the window and a small side table. On the side table was a note from an unknown sender written to someone named Yalah. It assured her that payment was coming.
Once back downstairs the City Watch threw open the bay doors. Captain of the Guard Hyustus Staget came in hot, leading the way with a profanity-laden vocabulary reminiscent of Sgt. Dignam from The Departed.
When they came upon the party an unofficial interrogation began. What made matters worse is when a guardsman came up to tell him that Urtel Floxin was not one of the bodies. The guard recognized Taman. He was the same guard from earlier that day during the Blood in the Streets encounter.
This gave the Captain full reign to T-off on Taman and put pressure on them. As things were looking bad, Renear stepped forward and put an end to it. The Captain, recognizing Renear, was much more open to hearing their side of the story. And he ended up letting the party go with some words of warning.
He also, unknown to the party, thought that they could help them with his ongoing investigation. To that end, before walking away he said, “Keep the blood off the streets.” The characters who had lived in Waterdeep recognized this as a sort of permission to head down into the sewers. What happens under the city stays under the city.
After a little more discussion, they decided they needed more information. As they began to try and approach the Captain another guard's man cut them off. He handed them the Waterdeep Code Legal and told them that the Captain wanted them to memorize this. This was enough to put them off their plans and instead head outside.
A successful investigation check revealed the way into the sewers and down they went.
The sewer encounter was structured as a type of “three strikes and you’re out” scenario. But Akta remembered what the kenku had said about the yellow eye symbol. Using that information they were able to avoid all the encounters and followed the trail. They wound up looking down a narrow passage at a ladder leading to the hideout and the gazer guard.
The battlefield itself turned what should have been a pretty quick and easy encounter into something more difficult. The tunnel was pretty narrow and so they couldn’t flank the monster. It also forced them into a straight line, giving the gazer some direct shots. Making things worse, the gazer’s ability caused Taman to flee. As he did so, he cluttered the ranged attackers and acted as more of an obstacle. They overcome the gazer with an arrow through the eye. But not before expending some of their resources in the process.
The Xanathar hideout is pretty straightforward. That is until they had dispatched Zemk and Krentz. They debated for a while before opening the door to area Q6. When they did, an ooze greeted them. This immediately became problematic. Most of the party is melee-based and any hit on the ooze would cause its acid to give the weapon -1 attack. Unfortunately for them, Akta was the one to learn than. Dancing around the room, wiping darts, daggers, and a few low-level spells at the ooze ended in victory.
Making their way into Q7 they found Grum’shar, standing with a foot on Floon’s face, pressing the shackled man to the floor. Upon seeing the party, a mind flayer stood from his throne and lowered his pet intellect devourer to the floor. Deep in each of their minds, they heard a terrible voice commanding “Take care of these interlopers”. And then the tentacled horror slipped through double doors on the sidewall.
I decided to increase the difficulty of this battle by adding two bandits but it didn’t matter much. The party wasted no time in taking care of Grum’shar. Then, while Taman and Viigo stalled the bandits Akta and Finzu went all in on the Intellect Devourer. After the blood bath, they explored the adjective room only to find the inactive portal.
Exiting out of the secret pathway and into the halfling’s house created a funny event before heading back to the Yawning Portal. Inside they found Volo, Durnan, and Renear waiting for them. Volo admitted he didn’t have the money he had promised but instead provided them with a deed to Trollskull manor. And then everyone celebrated with ale well into the evening.
As far as the narrative goes, there were quite a few important points right up front. The party certainly acknowledged them but we’ll see if they remember them down the line.
- The note upstairs is to Yalah. When the guard comes up to the Captain he reports that the warehouse is owned by the Gralhunds, though it appears that they have been renting it for years. Story-wise, the Cassalanters are the ones renting from the Gralhunds.
- The draco-lich is a nod to the War of the Dragon Queen, which the Cassalanters supported
- The cultist garb could be either from that age or could be the garb of their cult of Asmodeus. I was relatively vague about that.
- The abyssal message they found is asking for mercy. This is a nod to the Cassalanters regretting their decision before they decided to find a way to make good on the payment.
- The Captain was disappointed when none of the bodies were Urstel Floxin
- The party really enjoyed the exchange with the Captain. His inventive use of profanity gave a spark to the conversation. Also, bringing in the guard who recognized Taman gave the feeling that all of their decisions matter.
- They also found it creepy hearing the mind flayer speak. I took the voice (as best I could) from Critical Role to give it the eerie feeling
- Planning out the role-playing encounters really did help
- All of the combat encounters felt too easy. Even though I had increased the difficulty level, they just seemed to breeze through it. I’ll have to revisit these and see if I am handling anything incorrectly.