Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Company of the White Oak Campaign - Sessions 53-54

 Session 53

Reaping 10, 622 CY
City of Greyhawk

Auspiciously, on the very night before the Sword & Spear Inn was due to open, a small group of Company of the White Oak members -- Reed Underbough, Percy, Eirenden, and Niall Brightflame -- were meeting with Leif Thunderbeard, brother of the recently deceased member Sprig. Leif wanted revenge. 

Everyone else was…not so sure about that. They had all had great trouble finding any of the Company members to recruit for this planning session, and without more firepower they were very hesitant to go back to Gaxmoor.

The next most pressing thing on their agenda seemed to be going after Peter. They knew where Peter was; he was staying at that small manor house in the High Quarter, apparently guarded by a rotating group of up to eight fighting men, including the dragon-riding knight they had encountered once at Castle Greyhawk. No one was particularly concerned about the dragon rider…unless he somehow could fit the dragon in his house? There was a lot of concern over that one. Reed also advanced the theory that, if Peter was a “lord of vampires,” then he was probably a vampire himself and they would need to be ready to fight a vampire again. They eventually all agreed that they did not actually know Peter was a vampire, though.

Meanwhile, Ambrosio, Reed’s hench-hobbit, had spent the last week scoping the place out. There was no set pattern to when the fighters came and went, but sometimes they did leave alone or in pairs to local businesses, like the High Tower Tavern. Eirenden had hung out by the manor house, circling around outside it and looking for secret doors, but was chased off by a guard and did not risk returning alone. 

Reaping 11, 622 CY

City of Greyhawk

All of the people at the previous night’s meeting, including the henchmen Muelara and Arlin, joined Ambrosio in casing the manor house, and it paid off with a break that was too good to pass up. A lone fighter - a man in platemail armor - left the house and was heading to the High Tower Tavern. Muelara approached him while disguised by a Change Self spell to look like a human male. She said she had a business proposition for this man, based on his reputation. He was immediately suspicious and told Muelara to get lost. When she offered to pay him 500 gold just to hear her proposition, he became much more interested. In an alley that was being watched by Ambrosio from the shadows and Reed from a roof overhead, Muelara cast Charm Person on the man and made him into her best friend.

The best friend, who’s name was Bolero, worked for the owner of the manor house, Lord Ellis. All sitting together at the tavern, Muelara was able to coax Bolero into revealing all he knew. He and his fellow retainers, eight in number, had all been house guards for Ellis. It had always been boring work, but lately they had an additional charge, watching Lord Ellis, houseguest, Peter. Could Bolero take them on a tour of the house? Here, even for his “best friend,” Bolero blanched. Ellis would fire him, at best, maybe kill him…but for his best friend, he would take them at least as far as into the courtyard.

The main entrance to the manor was inside a walled off courtyard that the building itself circled in a C (or U, depending on how you were looking at it) shape. There were shuttered windows to either side and a door at the far end, with a small fountain and planters flanking it in the middle of the courtyard. There was also a guard stationed in the far corner who shooed them all out, telling Bolero he was in trouble for this. And here they were separated from Bolero, as he went inside.

The Company did exit into the street, but from Muelara cast a Sleep spell into the courtyard, dropping the one guard. Now they all moved back into the courtyard, stripped him, tied him up, and left him in a dark corner (while hiding all his gear in a planter).

There were enough gaps in the shutters to see the building inside - the east windows opened onto a long north-south corridor and the west windows opened into a large, mostly empty room. They had a key to the front door, thanks to searching the guard. Actually, they had three keys. Reed tried one at random -- and a bell started ringing inside, and acid squirted out of the keyhole! Reed tumbled away, missing most of the acid. Leif tried to bash the door down, but bounced off of the solid door. The second key unlocked the door, and stopped the bell from ringing. 

The front foyer was barely more than a small landing at the bottom of two sets of stairs heading up to the upper floor. By now, the front entrance had a few defenders, but they were little more than a delay for the more accomplished Companions. Niall, fought his way past the defenders and bounded straight for the upper floor -- where he was promptly face-to-face with Lord Ellis himself, bedecked in elaborate plate armor, and holding a sword in front of him. Lord Ellis tried to play the Law Card, announcing that he could have them all put to death for just trespassing. 

Meulara, seeing Niall in danger at the top of the stairs, cast Sleep up there -- which did not affect Lord Ellis at all, but put Niall to sleep! 

Percy began casting Hold Person, catching Lord Ellis just as the man bent down, grabbed Niall, and started dragging him away.

With the guards at the front entrance dispatched, everyone headed up the stairs to find out Niall’s fate, only to find that Lord Ellis had only resisted the Hold Person spell for seconds, and was slumped to the ground now, paralyzed, right next to Niall’s sleeping form.

Lord Ellis was stripped down to his gambeson and tied up from head to toe with rope. What to do with him now? While debating what to do, a fourth guard advanced from the west door. He quickly saw what had gone down -- and retreated. Reed and Niall raced each other in hot pursuit, both reaching the guard as he tried to hide in a side room along the west end of the second floor. 

Eirenden stayed behind to guard Ellis. When Ellis came out of the paralysis he tried to struggle to get free, but Eirenden put a boot to his neck and warned him about what would happen if he tried further.

That guard was racing to Bolero for backup, unaware that Bolero was already turned and on their side. Alone, the guard was easily defeated and tied up. They now had nearly as many prisoners as they had dead guards around the front entrance, but they still had no idea where to find Peter. Until someone thought to ask Bolero.

“Sure, his room is on the east end of the building.”

It was suggested that they should do some searching for treasure, in a manor that surely had plenty of treasure in it, but the fear was that Peter might escape if they did not keep after him. On the way to the east end, Bolero gave Lord Ellis a wide berth, despite being pinned to the floor, bound from head to foot and gagged. The east end of the upstairs floor was one long north-south hallway with three doors off of it. Muelara used ESP to determine which doors had anyone behind them and which one of those held Peter (the door with someone terrified behind it). They took out the remaining guard first, then cast a Sleep spell into Peter’s room to see if it worked. And it did.

When they woke Peter up, he insisted that he had been abducted by these people. He had been allowed to leave the building (which was how he was spotted outside), but his life was supposedly in danger if he moved out of view of the building. ESP was not a perfect lie detector, but his thoughts seemed to match up with what he was saying.

So what to do with him? Well, first, now that they had him, it was time to ransack the house. The far northwest room on the upper floor was Ellis’ master bedroom, and this contained a chest with a good stash of loot, though most of his money was being held in the Bank of Greyhawk and there were just letters of credit for it here. The real “wealth” here was the wealth of evidence -- Ellis had written correspondence with the Iron Workers Guild, who he had paid to kill off the Company of the White Oak -- and some names were crossed off a list of their roster already. Now it became frighteningly clear why it had been impossible to contact some of their members lately. 

Further, there was correspondence with the Horned Society, and an almost equally disturbing discussion of how they would divide up the Domain of Greyhawk once an already-assumed takeover of the city had happened. There were no clues in the text as to how they thought that would happen, though.

There were a few loose ends, like the rest of the staff. They found noncombatant staff hiding back down on the ground floor and chased them all out. Bolero was allowed to leave with the rest of the staff, but not before revealing to them that one remaining guard was in the cellars, guarding a grate to the sewers, which doubled as an entrance representatives of the Iron Workers Guild sometimes used to enter. The remaining loose end had been about Lord Ellis’ missing red dragon. It had not been in the house, but everyone was curious to know if it was somehow in the cellars. There was also a barn outside, but this held Ellis’ pet griffon. 

Curious, the Company went down to investigate, defeated the one guard, found the grate but no dragon, and added some expensive wine bottles to their booty. In looting the house, they drew the line at carrying out furniture. Besides, a plan was formulating amongst the Companions to try to gain ownership of this manor, in exchange for Lord Ellis and the evidence against him.

Later, the Company transported Peter out of the city and called for Prospero, as they had learned from Vask to do, and announced they had Peter. Shortly, three lammasu materialized in the air above them and descended, and then Prospero teleported into their midst. Prospero pointed his staff like it was a dangerous weapon and told Peter to get down on the ground. Everyone, particularly Percy, was eager to hear Prospero’s case against Peter, but the evidence that Peter was an agent of The Adversary seemed circumstantial. The lammasu interjected, saying that the danger posed by The Adversary was so great that extreme measures were called for, but Niall made a case for them delaying to gather more evidence. The lammasu would not listen to this advice unless Percy agreed with it, which he did. Once the lammasu were convinced, Propsero was outvoted and the lamassu took Peter into their custody, making him disappear with them. Prospero turned into a pegasus and left by flying away.

Reaping 17, 622 CY
City of Greyhawk

Almost a week later, the Company of the White Oak was quietly summoned to the private trial of Lord Ellis. The jury was the Directing Council of Oligarchs themselves. The evidence against Ellis was airtight. In return for securing it, the Council dropped all consideration of charging the Companions with breaking and entering and manslaughter, and further awarded them free use of the upper floor of the manor (they had their own plans for the ground floor).

Session 54

Reaping 19, 622 CY
City of Greyhawk
Shield & Spear Inn

Reed Underbough was anxious to find out when the New Thieves Guild was going to produce the proper paperwork from the guild’s forgers to transfer the 9,000 gold from Lord Ellis’ letters of credit to the Company of the White Oak. Today, though, they had another matter to discuss. 

Reed, Runeflinger, and Niall Brightflame - three of the remaining members of the Company of the White Oak - had been sought out by a medium named Norfolk. Norfolk had come into some money - 200 gold pieces’ worth - and was willing to pay the Company to give him a tour of the dungeons of Castle Greyhawk so he could experience being an adventurer himself. In truth, Niall had recently been thinking about how Prospero had told them the magic they needed to defeat The Adversary was under Castle Greyhawk. This was something they needed to start looking for again, even if capturing Peter had somehow thrown a wrench in The Adversary’s plans.

Reaping 20, 622 CY
Castle Greyhawk

Reed, Runeflinger, and Niall had hired Brother Vincent to come with again, because they were not sure until the last minute if Percy could join them or not (he did). Accompanying them were their henchmen, Muelara Wynna, Ambrosio, Arlin Fadagoria, the hireling Brother Vincent, and their hirer, Norfolk. There were still unresolved issues of magic item distribution from the raid on Lord Ellis’ manor, but these were temporarily handled by those coming today being allowed to “borrow” as yet unclaimed items.

The drawbridge was down, the upper works seemed deserted, and the Chapel of Boccob was empty. Vincent delayed them while he undertook long, elaborate prayers in the chapel, but eventually they got him moving. Norfolk had brought his own mule and planned to bring it into the dungeon. The Company’s cart and mules were gone, lost to the gnolls of Gaxmoor, but Reed had replacements stored at a stable in Greyhawk left over from the expedition he once led to the Ruins of Lord Robilar’s Castle. The mules and cart, with no one hired to guard them, were just going to be left in the stables here at the castle, hoping for the best.

The Company was planning on exploring more of level 2 of the dungeon today, so they went down the stairs inside the tower adjoining the keep, and cut through corridors on level 1 until they reached the grand spiral staircase that went down multiple levels. Two elves were guarding the stairwell, and though they kept their distance from the Company, the elves of the dungeon and the elves of the Company shared a solemn salute to each other.

Down they descended to the west-facing corridor that led off the second floor landing. They headed straight for the trebuchet room (still speculating about why a trebuchet was assembled down here) where dwarves of the Greyhawk Construction Company had been found on break before. Sure enough, two dwarves were in here, resting on the trebuchet. The dwarves responded favorably to Norfolk gushing about the Dwarven Tongue, in Dwarven, and told them how they had been busy reinstalling doors because the gnolls on this level had been breaking down a lot of doors lately. Where were the gnolls? Lately they had been claiming the east end of the dungeon level. This surprised the mappers, as they had long assumed the stairwell marked the east end of the dungeon level. This level was larger than they knew!

The dwarves even pointed to the northeast door in their room as the fastest route to the gnolls. The route through maze-like corridors took them east and south, into an area that Reed had once explored before, but they went past that area further east and came, next to a room with an unfinished wooden staircase to the ceiling, but then ESP detected sentient thoughts from behind the next door to the east. Behind it they found, at last, their first encounter with six gnolls. One Sleep spell and some hacking later, there were no gnolls. The gnolls had no treasure between them, but this seemed like a random patrol of them anyway.

This area was a junction of west- and south-heading corridors. Heading south, ESP sensed more sentient thoughts nearby, but the Company ignored them and continued south into a chamber that was the scene of a battle. Gnolls and orcs, stripped of their valuables, were lying dead on the floor, either killed by each other or by others with weapons. Reed found an old blood trail that led south, but they lost the trail.

Where they found themselves was near a door through which they sensed more sentient thoughts - this time frightened thoughts. They found a small group of human bandits had barricaded themselves in here and, after some initial suspicion of the Company, let them in as potential allies. They had been sent down here by the Master of the First Level some time ago (presumedly, before the Company had killed him) as part of an exchange of forces with the monsters down here, but the monsters were too wild, too leaderless for these bandits’ liking. The Companions took pity on the pathetic bandits and the bandits bribed them with half their treasure, 100 gold pieces, to lead them to safety. So they all backtracked to the central staircase so the bandits could go up. Before leaving, they were encouraged to head straight for Hawfair Green and go straight. They winked before heading up.

The dwarves were gone from their room (as they were when the Companions came through with the bandits), so the Companions cut quickly through their room and explored some new side passages, first heading south, where they found two secret doors both leading into the kitchen of the Chefs of the Gilded Spoons, which Reed had visited before. This time there were seven chefs busy cooking in here and they were quick to shoo the Company out. 

Showing no interest in what the chefs were cooking, they headed east again, which led to a door where they detected animal thoughts. On the other side, they just found a huge lizard lounging in the room, surrounded by rocks and sand. One sleep spell and some hacking later, there was a dead lizard in the room. The Company found no treasure, but they did find a secret door. And behind that secret door was a similar room -- with two giant lizards in it! Another Sleep spell dropped those two just as easily. The lizards were killed with minimum damage to their skins, as the plan was to take all three back to the cart and have them skinned back in town.

A door from the secret room led back east towards the sentient thoughts they had skipped over earlier. That turned out to be a gnoll lair, though the Company almost missed it again because they were becoming aggravated with discrepancies in their maps. This was a barracks housing six more gnolls, easily disposed of, but they had no treasure just like the last group. Niall postulated that this had to do with how there were no leaders on this level, that the leaders had made off with all their treasure.

Striking out north, the Company found a room full of webs and 13 large spiders - but burning the webs and throwing yet another Sleep spell into the room made short work of those too. There was no treasure here - no good treasure so far, but no challenges so far either. And then the next room happened.

It looked to be a laboratory, with alchemical glassware on a workbench and three flasks sitting out at the front of it. Runeflinger, Niall, and Norfolk went inside to investigate - and disappeared. Another teleportation trap!

The rest of the Company tried to move on without them, but Reed struggled hard to map without Niall there to help him, and the others only watched instead of helping. Very slowly, they circled the west side of the teleporter lab and were mapping an east-west corridor with many options when they saw a light coming from the east.


The three teleported knew something was up when they saw no one else at the entrance, and there were now six flasks on the workbench instead of three. After taking the flasks, they came up with what seemed like a strategy for getting back to the others: stick to corridors (empty corridors, not the garage-strewn ones they found at first to the north) and avoid doors. In this way they wound up taking a long, narrow corridor south and then a much longer corridor west, before it turned north and then flipped back east again. And then they hit the pit trap. Niall made a near-perfect landing in the pit, luckily missing the spikes at the bottom, but a door opened above the pit trap and orcs harassed him with spears. Niall climbed out of the pit and fired arrows at them until they shut the door. But the pit appeared to be a major obstacle. 

Meanwhile, the larger half of the Company met the source of the approaching light -- a human in armor, carrying a lantern and an incense burner with him. This man identified himself as Father Earnest, a vicar, whose task it was to bless all the dead in the dungeon so they did not rise as undead. Reed tried very hard to persuade Earnest to come with them through the teleporter lab, but he insisted he had stayed alive this long in the dungeon by not teleporting. He was willing to give the Company directions back to the exit from this dungeon level from here, telling them to use the room to the west of the teleporter lab, but to beware of a pit trap.

The room to the west had a gong and a chest in it. Everyone wisely ignored the gong and focused on the chest. Reed detected traps on the handles on the sides of the chest - they were sticky somehow, like glue, and had anyone tried to lift the chest their hands would likely have been stuck fast. But the chest could be opened safely, and inside were gold-encrusted cups, bracers, and scabbards. They were all packed into sacks, and the Company would have left then, except that Reed was convinced the pit trap must be in this room and kept searching for it. Percy pointed out that Earnest had said to watch out for the pit trap after mentioning this room, but had not said the trap was in the room, so it likely was behind the west exit.

There turned out to be more windy corridor behind the west door, and at one turn tight of the corridor there was a brass lever in the outside corner. Reed took the time to tie rope to it and pull it from a safe distance, revealing the pit trap they had been warned about. Reed climbed around the wall to the lever to reclose the pit trap and everyone crossed safely over it. They found themselves approaching an east-west corridor that looked familiar to Percy, and he led them back west to the dwarves’ break room. 

Meanwhile, the three displaced Companions were doing a lot of backtracking, finally returning to the teleport lab to see if it would teleport them again. It did for Runeflinger and Niall…but not Norfolk. However, their patience in waiting for him to appear was rewarded 10 minutes later when Norfolk succeeded in getting himself teleported like the others. From here, Niall had a near-perfect map to follow back to the dwarves’ break room, stopping to drag the lizard carcasses with them. En route, they encountered just a single undead skeleton, which Niall tore apart with his magic sickle in sweet release of his frustrations. 

The Companions were reunited at the grand spiral staircase, and returned to the surface with only Niall injured at all. 

Later, they would discover that their greatest source of loot in this expedition came from those three giant lizards - they all had gold and gems in their gullets. 

No comments: