Defenders of Stormfast

A Week in Wharfstead

The Prequel

After the surprise pre-prequel, we now welcome to the table:

Also joining us today are:

For this session, the role of Pētor Palagog will be played by the Dungeon Master.

Having arrived in Wharfstead, our heroes must answer the gate guard’s riddle: “who are you, and what is your business in Wharfstead?” Understandably puzzled by this complicated request, the party begins to debate whether they should murder the guard and lay siege to the gate in order to gain access to the city. While Norixius and Adrik attempt to intimidate the guard into letting them pass, Delmirev decides to set his mind to unraveling the immensely difficult mind game that the guard has lain before them. Before Adrik attempts to scale the wall, Delmirev has a stroke of brilliance. “We are merely travelers, just passing through town on a long journey!” he tells the guard. Miraculously, the guard opens the gate.

Having finally gained entry to Wharfstead, our party sets their hearts to starting a bar fight. Towards this end, they decide to begin their exploration of Wharfstead by visiting the slums. When they query a local as to the drinking establishments of the neighborhood are, they are given the names of three bars. Disappointed at not hearing the name of Shifty’s, a chain of inns that they have frequented in the past, the party members elect to visit The Slutty Dwarf, a nearby dive bar. On their way, they pass a burnt-out hulk of a building, near which a lone sign stands, reading “Here Lay Shifty’s.” Dismayed at the destruction of their favorite culinary establishment, the party decided to find whoever burned down Shifty’s and exact their revenge. They leave a few coins in the “Rebuild Shifty’s Fund” and continue to the Slutty Dwarf. Once there, they demand of the patrons any information on the whereabouts of the (now surely doomed) arsonist. One drunkard by the door informs them that Shifty’s demise, along with that of the proprietor—who was locked inside at the time—was the doing of one Old Pete. Happily, the man also informs the party that another member of clan Shift is due into town the following week, and also tells them how to find Old Pete, directing them to “go two blocks that way, and take a right on Schermerhorn.”

The party follows the drunkard’s instructions, and finds, in the middle of the city no less, a field of Devilweed, a drug similar to marijuana. They creep through the field, leaving the animals to…entertain themselves…among the Devilweed plants. In the middle of the field, the party stumbles across a small shack, with a door guard fast asleep on duty. The party stealthily approaches the shack and, while Norixius checks the windows, Adrik attempts to behead the guard in his sleep. His axe, unfortunately, slips from his grasp (critical failure on a weapon attack), and does little to the guard but startle him awake. Quickly, Delmirev summons his Pseudodragon to his side, and directs it to sting the guard, knocking him out. Adrik, meanwhile, has his pet badger, Snoop, scout out the interior of the shack. The badger reports that there are three thugs within. In an attempt to reduce the risk incurred by a frontal assault on the cabin, the party sets about gathering bushels of Devilweed, lights them on fire, and tosses them in the door. The ensuing cloud of smoke fills the cabin to the point that one guard passes out.

While the rest of the party takes advantage of the guards’ weakened state, Pētor begins to circle around the back of the house in order to find any alternative exits. Norixius begins the combat by breaking down the window, as well as most of the wall surrounding it (critical success on a weapon attack). Adrik rushes into the breach, and immediately assesses the situation. There are two thugs equipped with maces (one of which is passed out on the floor), and one larger thug wielding a warhammer. Delmirev summons a spray of acid from thin air, gravely wounding one of the mace-users (Acid Splash), and Adrik hurls his handaxes at the same one. Warhammer charges Norixius, wildly swinging his weapon of choice, but only succeeds in smashing down the rest of the wall (critical failure on a weapon attack). Norixius responds by channeling his inner power to the point that his body begins to spark with energy (Shocking Strike). He bodily lifts the man out of the wreckage of the shack and throws him to the ground, releasing the electrical buildup in a stream of pure power (Breath Weapon (Bronze)). The thug, unfortunately, seems unperturbed.

While all of this has gone on, Pētor has reached the rear of the house, and discovered what appears to be a locked outhouse, attached to the back of the shack. He doesn’t have long to investigate, however, before a familiar voice bellows in pain. The two mace-wielding thugs have attacked Adrik, and in a flurry of blows from all directions, have gravely injured him. Delmirev was trying to hold them back, but the large thug has broken free from Norixius’ grasp and smashed him aside. It is not looking good for our heroes. Pētor rushes in, healing Adrik, and Norixius squares off against Warhammer, both dealing punishing blows that would have dropped lesser men. Adrik resumes the fight with the other thugs, aided by Delmirev, and holds them at bay. At long last, with a combined attack from Delmirev and Norixius, the head thug is finally dropped. Seeing their leader down, the other thugs turn to flee. Adrik gets a shot off of one as he passes, dropping him too (opportunity attack), and then heaves his handaxes at the last, rapidly fleeing thug. The first throw goes wide, but the second one connects with a wet squelching noise, severing the thug’s leg at the ankle (critical success on a weapon attack). As the thug continues to crawl away, Adrik gives chase, and Pētor tends to the gravely wounded Norixius. Upon reaching the desperately crawling scrabbling thug, Adrik coldly severs the man’s other foot, stopping him in his tracks with a boot on his back. Adrik leans over the mutilated form of the thug, and questions him about Old Pete’s whereabouts. It is not until he has finished hacking off the thug’s hand that the man desperately yells that Old Pete is back at the building, around back. Adrik thanks the man, then has Snoop gouge out his eyes before dumping his—blessedly unconscious—form in the street.

Returning to the Devilweed field and meeting with the rest of the group, Adrik informs them about the thug’s message. Norixius is determined to avenge Shifty’s bar, and charges straight through the shack itself, set on smashing through the back wall to kill Old Pete. However, when he reaches the far end of the house, he realizes that the outhouse is a fake. Where the back wall of the outhouse should be, there is an archway leading to a ladder inside an outhouse-shaped extension. The party descends the ladder and finds themselves in a massive underground hall, lined on both sides by moaning or unconscious slaves. Furious at the mere prospect of their captivity, Norixius charges at one, determined to set it free. When he does reach one, however, he finds his progress blocked by a force field around each slave. After Norixius comes in contact with the wall, a door opens on the far end of the hall, and three robed figures dash towards our heroes. The two groups charge at one another down the length of the hall, but the party dispatches their opponents at range, and stop to search the corpses for hints as to where they are. Norixius, overcome with outrage at the horrible treatment of the slaves, begins to beat on one of the robed men until Adrik can pull him off. Delmirev, meanwhile, has searched the other two men, and determined them to be cultists. Their robes are red, with black trim and the symbol of a black skull on the back, surmounting a crossed scythe and sickle. The same skull is branded into the leather of the men’s armor, and various similar symbols are tattooed onto the men’s arms and torsos. After recovering what they can from the three cultists’ bodies, the party discovers that they each have an identical amulet, that of an onyx skull on silver chain.

Continuing down the hall of slaves, the four adventurers approach a massive set of doors, made of what looks like bleached birch wood with a black skull painted on it. Upon closer inspection when the group reaches the doors, it is discovered that the “wood” is, in fact, twisted and gnarled bone, presumably human, and the paint has been charred into the tangled mess of human remains. Smashing the lock off of the door, our heroes enter a room so dark that not even those accustomed to such dim conditions have trouble seeing (darkvision failing in magical darkness). What is visible within the room is a great pyre of what appears to be dead (or dying) slaves, and two cult fanatics, this time dressed in red robes with purple trim, dancing and chanting around the purple flames. Working quickly, Pētor counters the magical darkness with the radiance of Ulaa (Light), and the others attack the nearer fanatic, taking him down. The other one increases the tempo of his chanting, and releases a burst of purple fire from his hands, which Delmirev nearly dodges, but is singed some along the back of his robes. Our valiant foursome dispatch their opponent with ease, and take in their surroundings.

Surrounding the pyre are rows of seats, forming an amphitheater around the now-smoldering fire pit. Lining the top tier of benches, along the walls, are rack upon racks of barrels. Adrik inspects the barrels, and is shocked to discover that on the barrels are placards marking them as “Property of Shifty’s.” Norixius, distraught, laments that “It wasn’t enough to kill Shifty and burn down his bar? They had to go and steal his mead, too?” The party decides that, when all this is over, they will return for the mead and throw a party in memory of the late Shifty. In the present, however, Adrik has discovered a secret door behind one of the barrel racks, and a spiral staircase leading from it. The party ascends, ever wary about what will be around the next bend.

About halfway up the stairs, the party reaches a small landing with a door. When Adrik attempts to smash it down, he accidentally triggers a magical trap, which summons a cloud of ephemeral daggers that swarm him, then dissipate seconds later. Sufficiently shaken, the party successfully breaks down the door. Through it, they see a lavishly decorated room, draped in the finest cloths and filled with sparkling golden treasures, dominated by a large four-poster bed. Adrik and Delmirev, with the sharpest of eyes (success on a Perception check), notice a flutter in the bed’s curtains. Delmirev uses his knowledge of magic to determine that there might be some sort of Illusion magic at work here (low success on an Arcana check). Adrik takes the more direct approach and hurls a handaxe at the bed, but the spinning weapon phases right through the curtain without a sound. Definitely Illusion magic, then. Norixius charges into the room, diving onto the bed. He, too, passes straight through the curtains of the bed, breaking the illusion for himself. He sees the room as it truly is; the room is about 10 feet wide and 15 feet long, the bed is actually a bale of hay with a tarp thrown over it, there’s a desk on one wall, and a door on the far end. One of Adrik’s handaxes is lying on the bed. Adrik follows suit, and joins Norixius on the bed. He and Snoop now see the room as it truly is; the room is about 10 feet wide and 15 feet long, the bed is actually a bale of hay with a tarp thrown over it, there’s a desk on one wall, and a door on the far end. One of his handaxes is lying on the bed. Delmirev, and Petor close behind him, both leap onto the bed with the rest of their party. They, too, see the room as it truly is; the room is about 10 feet wide and 15 feet long, the bed is actually a bale of hay with a tarp thrown over it, there’s a desk on one wall, and a door on the far end. Adrik has picked up the handaxe that was laying on the bed.

Getting up from the bed, Norixius goes to see what is behind the door on the far end. It opens into a small, broom closet-sized room, obviously used as a toilet. Sitting on the chamberpot is a very pale cultist. Norixius attempts to get a reaction out of him, but there is no response. Finally, he shakes him. The cultist’s body falls over, a dagger buried in him to the hilt. Norixius looks over the cultist’s body and is surprised to find, under the golden skull amulet of the cult leader, a “Welcome to Shifty’s” badge! Shifty faked his own death, but was killed by someone within the cult! Pētor hurriedly searches the desk, finding some odds and ends, including a decent chunk of money, and then stumbles across a packet of documents, included in which are both the deed to Shifty’s and a charter for the first Shifty’s in Bakarria! Taking the documents (and money) with them, the party races to the top of the stairs, finding that they let out through a door disguised a servant entrance to a well-to-do manor house in the wealthy part of town. While Norixius and Delmirev went to get their cart back (it had been impounded by the police, following Adrik’s public torturing of a thug in the middle of the street), Pētor and Adrik brought up a decent chunk of the barrels from the cultist’s amphitheater.

After briefly debating what to do with the Shifty’s charter, the group decided to cash it in, and scheduled a meeting with Lord Wharfstead. He agreed to honor the charter, hired them to protect the party of settlers, and told Delmirev to meet with one Captain Dramsson, down at the port. Delmirev did so, and secured passage with him to Bakarria, while Pētor went to the Church of Ulaa to requisition a place to stay (Shelter of the Faithful), and Adrik got rooms for both Delmirev and himself. Norixius decided to stay among the common people (Rustic Hospitality), and spent the night entertaining children by frying rats with his Dragonborn abilities. The adventurers spent a few more days in Wharfstead, having some minor misadventures, and prepared to sail for the New World.


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