Session 5 continued from here
Aha - high elf sorcerer
Charlie - human cleric of Zagyg
Erevan - high elf rogue
Rajabu - dwarf fighter
With the ghouls and thouls all destroyed below them, the heroes and their mysterious new companion argued with the imperious Lady Alba about the next course of action. Alba haughtily demanded that the heroes escort her out of the dungeon, and the party tried to convince her to accompany them until they complete their mission of gathering up the remains of the townsfolk that the orcs had brought here. In the end, Aha laid out a firm but respectful case to the noble woman, and Lady Alba acquiesced with a sigh.
Aha had succeeded in her Charisma contest, against Lady Alba's Wisdom. The Charisma roll was boosted with her Persuade skill.
But this NPC that I had spontaneously created last session, and fleshed out during the prior two weeks, had some more tricks up her black leather sleeves. Statted as a 5th level sorcerer, Lady Alba proceeded to charm Rajabu the dwarf. I took his player off to the side the explain the situation. I whispered to him that he was now charmed, and that if he role-played it well, would earn an XP bonus for the effort. From that moment forward, the previously stubborn dwarf suddenly became a veritable "yes man" to the noble woman's demands and wishes.
With a new puppet in this group of adventurers, Lady Alba began to probe them for a way to gain leverage. When she asked them how much the Anvilar militia was paying them for this foray, she knew she'd hit on the right lever. Alba offered to double the maximum expected reward the heroes could hope to achieve by completing their mission, if they would escort her out of the dungeon and back to her chateau near Anvilar immediately. The potential for a 1,600 silver piece payoff was enough to sway even the heroes who had not been bewitched.
Thus the heroes ascended a stone staircase in the ghoul pit chamber, and overcame a magically sealed door with their Staff of Knocking.
I gave the PCs the Staff at the beginning of the adventure, and told them it had a limited number of charges, but no one knew exactly how many. Each time they use it, they have to mark a tick mark on its item card. Before using it, they have to roll a number of d6's equal to the tick marks. If any of the dice come up a 1, the Staff is exhausted and fails to perform from that point forward.
A few hours of exploration followed on the upper level of the ancient citadel, and the heroes defeated a colony of fire beetles, navigated a flooded chamber by using a Shocking Grasp spell in the water to fry the carnivorous tadpoles swimming within, and made it through a cavern teeming with black fungus that smelled like rotting ghast. The fresh air of the wilderness greeted them as they stepped through the final door. With it being the wee hours of the morning, and a light rain falling, the heroes decided to camp in the entrance room for the night and make the trek back to Anvilar the next day.
The sound of persistent rapping on the door startled Aha, who was taking the early morning watch. A group a rangers, sworn to enforce the trespass laws of this area, demanded to know what the heroes were doing in this forbidden place. Fortunately Erevan, rousing out of his elf trance, remembered the travel warrant that the party had been given. Examining the warrant, the rangers relaxed, and inquired about the outcome of the mission. Sighing, Erevan explained how many orcs had been slain, but that they had lost their dear temple priest Darrien to ghouls.
He left out the part about how the PCs had been working with ghouls for most of the adventure.
The journey to Anvilar was uneventful, and Lady Alba procured a coach which they rode west to the area where expensive manor houses peppered the verdant hills. Escorting the heroes into a sitting room, she made good her promise.
The players had their first big payoff, 1,600 silver. I use the silver standard in the campaign, so this equates to 1,600 gold in a normal D&D economy. What's more, that had another would be patron, who was interested in acquiring more of their time and services.
Lady Alba explained how Dawnmist Isle, where Anvilar sits, used to the the capital of a ghoul kingdom back in the Dark Ages of the land. She explained how her ancestor's noble house overthrew the ghouls, and instituted an age of light in the region, which saw a blossoming of art, culture, and prosperity. She then explained how Urik the Barbarian and his hordes came and conquered Anvilar, the same Urik who is the ancestor of the current ruler, the fierce female warrior named Eled. With Eled building up a large mercenary force, Lady Alba wanted to know the exact military plans for this force. Maps, movements, anything they could get their hands on. She promised the heroes more monetary gains, and a high position in her court should she succeed in conquering the city from Eled and restoring the rightful place of her house.
If the PCs take Lady Alba up on her offer remains to be seen next session.
To be continued in Session six