Aug 14, 2016

17th Day of Planting, CY 579

The party finished up in the caves where they killed the evil priest and decided not to explore the place further. On their way out, they remembered that they never opened the other prison cell door. After much debate, they decided to go back and open it. Inside the other cell were some orcs, a goblin, a human merchant and a human cleric of Celestian named Luapan. Luapan explained that he was following a comet that appeared in the sky, a sign of importance from Celestian. It was taking him in the direction of Nulb, which is where the party was going anyway, so the party agreed to allow him to come along.

Waterside Hostel
They arrived at the Waterside Hostel for a late lunch/early dinner. Pontus ate two meals.The proprietor is a man named Dick Rentsch (Pontus chuckled at his name). They were served by a wench named Pearl, to whom Athan immediately began asking questions about Otis. After paying her plenty in coin, he learned that Otis may have been seen in Nulb, but disappeared, and that he should go see the proprietor of Boatmen's Tavern, where pirates and other nasty folk like to hang out. If anyone would know about his disappearance (or be responsible for it), it would be someone there. Pearl suggested openly that she does other things for money (wink, wink), so Pontus told the rest of the party to go on without him.

Pontus had the most amazing experience of his life. And it wasn't just physical. Pearl really seemed to understand him. She was everything Pontus has ever dreamed of in a woman. He wanted her to leave Nulb with him so they could run off and be together forever. He told her he would protect her and take care of her for the rest of his life. He had been waiting his entire life for Pearl. She was the ONE. No doubt about it.

And Pearl wanted to go with Pontus, too. But she needed money to take care of her affairs so she could be free to be with him. Pontus gave her everything he had.

In the meantime, the rest of the party went to explore the seedy town known as Nulb. A nasty place, it was. Built on the swampy shore of Imeryd's Run, it was little more than resting place for river pirates to drink and otherwise get up to no good in-between smuggling runs. It was a well-known haven for thieves, assassins and worse. Half of the ramshackle buildings made of rotting wood were uninhabitable, and those in use looked like they could fall over any minute.

In the middle of the town was a man dressed in a simple robe that looked like little more than rags. Tattooed on his forehead was the shining symbol of Pholtus. The man was preaching heavy doom and gloom prophecy and shouting at everyone to repent their sins or face judgement. He claimed the gods have turned their backs on men because men have turned their backs on the gods. Sarril pointed out that this man was dressed similarly to some men that he saw in an alley in Greyhawk beating someone with clubs while shouting similar epithets. Being from Rel Mord in Nyrond, Sarril is all too familiar with the overzealous righteousness of the followers of Pholtus in the Theocracy of the Pale, but this man was different. Those from the Theocracy, and in other major cities where Pholtus has temples, may be unwavering zealots, but they don't preach doom and gloom and they usually, hypocritically, dress lavishly in fine cloth and with silver and platinum jewelry. This man was dirty, and had nothing on him his robe - not even a club to be seen.

The party ignored the crazy man and began walking across the town when Kara, Athan's familiar, came rushing in to tell him that she was just attacked by giant crows. She only got away because two vicious owls flew in and chased off the crows. The party realized something was amiss, and likely spies of the temple already knew they were here. Then they realized that Athan spoke to wench about Otis, and Pontus was with her now - probably in danger. They ran back to Waterside Hostel right away.
The Town of Nulb
As he was leaving the room, the happiest man on Oerth, Pontus runs into Athan, who insists he needs to speak with Pearl alone. Pontus wasn't too excited about another man wanting to be alone with the woman he loves. Athan then started accusing Pearl of sorcery! Imagine that. Accusing the woman he loves of sorcery!? Well, Pontus would have none of that. He was going to defend his lady's honor. That's when one of the barkeeps, who happens to also be an assassin for some reason, came into the room and things took a dark turn. Some other commotion was going on in the hall and more people were coming up the stairs. This was turning into a serious fight. Weapons were drawn.

And then Pontus was kicked awake, trapped inside some sticky webbing that seemed to cover the entire room. Unsure exactly what just went down. He broke free of the webbing and saw that Dick, the proprietor, was also in the room with him. He was surrounded by the rest of the party, had just dropped a sword, and was attempting to negotiate. He warned the party that there were about two dozen pirates on their way here from the docks, heavily armed, and looking for the party.

The party made a quick plan to make a stand at the Inn, figuring Athan and Gareth could shoot through the windows, and the rest of the party could make a defense on the stairwell. When the pirates arrived, Sarril was about to talk to them when Athan started shooting. This forced the pirates to spread out and encircle the building from the back. Realizing they couldn't easily storm the place, they tried to smoke out the party by lighting torches and throwing them through the windows. Being a building made of very old, dry and rotting wood, the place went up fast. Pontus' only concern was for his dear love, Pearl, and he started asking what happened to her. Athan informed him that the pirate leader killed her (in truth, she had suffocated inside the web that Athan had cast to subdue her).

The pirate leader, Tolub, and his two lieutenants were at the front of the tavern waiting to kill anyone who runs out. He might have done so as well, if he and both of his men didn't utterly fail their saving throw against the Hold Person spell Sarril cast. An enraged Pontus rushed out of the burning building and slew all three, prompting the remaining pirates to run away. Unfortunately, Pontus remained really distraught over Pearl's death. Killing Tolub didn't bring her back.

As the party watched the tavern burn to the ground, other villagers began to gather, including the Blacksmith and an old lady. The Blacksmith approached the party and warned them that they have made a mess of this town, and it won't be safe for them. More will come, and in greater numbers.
Sarril asked what he knows of these pirates and he was told to come to his shop as he won't speak openly around the other townsfolk.

Mother Screng and Hudra
So the party headed over to the blacksmith shop, after relieving everyone of some magic items, some of which Pontus would be destroying (with the help of the Blacksmith forge and anvil). He greeted the party and told them to wait inside. Inside, the old lady was there, with another woman. She introduced herself as Mother Screng, and her daughter Hudra. Athan was able to tell that Hudra was actually an elf in disguise. The blacksmith came in and everyone had some uncomfortable conversations as no one quite trusted each other and no one was willing to say what needed to be said. Eventually, however, everyone was able to figure out that everyone in the room were good guys and some trust began to develop. Based on this trust, the party decided to share with the blacksmith the letter for Otis that Elmo had given, to prove they are telling the truth. The blacksmith then revealed that he is actually Otis in disguise, Mother Screng was actually Canoness Y'Dey and her "daughter" is really an elf named Murfles (Pontus chuckled at the name).

Y'Dey confirmed that the Temple of Elemental Evil was never destroyed, only sealed. Otis, Y'Dey and Murfles had been sent by their respective masters to check out the temple and ensure the seals were still intact, as there have been rumors of temple activity. The seals are still in place, but agents of the temple are appearing all over the area. The pirates were agents, as was the proprietor of the inn that was just burned down. And then there was Lareth the Beautiful, and the other cleric of his kind in  the nearby caves. Otis explained there are four factions within the Temple, each representing one of the four main elements. All of the agents within Nulb belong to one of these four factions, which represent water, earth, fire and air.

Otis and Y'Dey believe that agents are getting in and out of the temple somehow, and so were acting under cover to learn what they could. Thanks to the party's reckless actions, their cover is now blown, and temple agents are going to be swarming this place, possibly within hours. So they are both hitting the self-destruct button on their secret operations and getting out of dodge.

Y'Dey had a flock of carrier pidgeons she used for talking to the Archcleric of St Cuthbert in Veluna (whom she reports to) and she released all of the pigeons, packed up, and left. Otis said he had to heed the call of the Viscount to look into the emergency in Verbobonc (as referenced in the letter from the Viscount), so he is leaving immediately. Murfles is going with him. That leaves the party alone in Nulb, with big targets on their heads. Otis warned that there are at least 1 dozen, possibly more, giant ravens roosting in the tower on the temple grounds. The ravens have been spying and that's how everyone knew the party was coming. He said they would need to take the ravens out in order to approach the temple safely. Two were already dead. 

The group decided that with a barbarian, a druid and a ranger in the party, they should be able to easily camp in the woods and be hidden, and so they did. Despite their best efforts, 8 ravens found them and attacked. They managed to kill them all. One almost got away, but Delvin surprised himself when he cast an insect swarm and it worked better than expected. The insects took down the last fleeing raven. And so the party was able to camp in peace, discussing their next move. They eventually decided that they needed to investigate the temple in place of Otis and Y'Dey, even though they didn't feel they were capable of taking on such a challenge. But if they didn't do it, who would?


  1. Nulb isn't really such a bad place ... they really just need a decent HOA.
    I read that Murfles the elf was Heidi Gygax's PC :)

    1. Makes sense. "Murfles" is not a literary choice for an elf name, so it makes sense that it is what someone named their character.

      What has fascinated me about this module, and how things have gone down with this party, is that it is written to be played by spying and intrigue. The party is meant to infiltrate the temple through sneaking or disguise, to figure out what is going on. Otis, Y'Dey and Murfles are in Nulb to assist with this process, just as Elmo and others in Hommlet were there for the same. But this group wanted none of that (except Athan, the thief, but he always snuck around for his own reasons). They proudly walked right into Nulb, after having taken out the outpost at the moathouse and letting Rannos Davil (a known spy of the temple) get away, and immediately started asking about Otis. When things got bad, they figured they'd fight their way out.

      Months of preparation by me went out the window as I quickly had to adjust to the party's tactics. And inside the temple hasn't been much different. Just fighting from room to room. Of course the party is pretty powerful, and they are able to handle most of what I throw at them at this stage (that will change later), but they also missed out on so much through this hack-n-slash approach. I mean, we basically skipped the entire Nulb adventure, which would have been at least two or three sessions.

      But what's important that everyone is having a blast, including the DM

    2. Yes ... no plan survives contact with the party. That being said, the players really show the astute DM what type of campaign they want to play, and it is largely up to the DM to align with that charging bull ... which it is clear you've done. The campaign has legs at this point.