The relationship between D&D and ale

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Due to young-family developments, it’s been a year since we last dwelled in dungeons and played with dragons, drow, and dwarves. Were caught up in intrigues and went on exciting adventures. But the memories, the feeling of excitement, friendship, and the future expectations are still very much alive.

Just take a look at the birthday present I got today:

200528DungeonDuTchess

Dungeon DuTchess
Rossen sinds 2003

For the non-Dutchies, it means: ‘Pummeling since 2003’, the year we started playing D&D 3.5. Each time the Dungeon Master asks me what I’m going to do when we encounter adversaries, my first reply is ‘Rossen!!’, since I love to attack in melee and rush in without thinking it through too much. Plus we enjoy good strong ale. 😉

Thank you, Alvra! What a cool gift!

Your sister,
Lilith

Horror from the deep

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A couple of hours of brisk walking takes them to Blessed Seahaven. Near the settlement are a couple of docks. Rowing boats in all sizes gently bob up and down. The scene seems a bit chaotic but is actually organized in typical drow fashion. Lilith searches for the galley of Nyttoris. It is a 10 feet long merchant ship with sails.

They are welcomed by the boatsman of the galley. ‘Welcome aboard, Mistress! Master Nyttoris said you would come. Normally I don’t work for Nyttoris, but his regular captain died.’ Lilith doesn’t sense any deception in his words and shows him the Shi’quos sea map. They board the galley and settle in. Four bugbear slaves are chained to either side of the boat. With a heartfelt ‘Let us hope for good speed,’ the slaves start rowing and they set out onto the Glimmersea.

zee

The ship glides over the dark waters, while stalactites dominate from far above. After an hour, captain Durlann positions himself behind the sails and lifts his arms. The captain’s runes start glowing and a gust of wind stirs their clothes. The sails fill with wind and the boat gathers speed, aided by the bugbears’ rowing. Durlann rests the slaves on a regular basis but doesn’t hesitate to use the whip to keep them active. Jharrath is interested in the magic runes and engages the captain in conversation. He learns that the captain is a sorcerer, searching for adventures and most likely the scrutiny of the female clerics.

They pass little islands and fishing boats. The sea is immense and dark. Lilith studies the sea map and notices that the captain takes the short, risky route and keeps to the shallow waters of near islands. The night passes uneventful, though the cleric is tormented by a feverish dream sent by Lolth. She gets the impression that the misfortune that befalls them, comes from the lack of worshiping by the inner circle. Lilith passes her reverie and calls her siblings to her. ‘I received a message from the Spider Queen. From now on, we worship daily, and we worship together.’ The others do not understand this sudden change in proceedings but concede to the cleric’s command.

They sail over the Glimmersea. Phaedra, who stands guard, notices how the water on the starboard side of the boat is moving a couple of times. Something seems to be swimming alongside the ship. Lilith is also gazing over the sea. She suddenly sees a large shadow in the water. The aquatic has a big head with scales and ridges on its back. The sisters call the captain and describe the beast.
‘Then I might advise bracing yourselves. It might be a dragon of the sea or a dragon turtle!’
By this time, all have gathered near the railing. They see a huge beast, thirty feet below the water level. One second it is visible, the next it is gone.

dragonturtle

The dragon turtle emerges underneath the boat and lifts it with its massive head. The ship shakes and groans, and then slowly topples. Everyone is panicking. Lilith smacks against the railing on the lower end, where water is streaming in. The cleric is in danger of being knocked overboard, but Alvra manages to grab her before she goes over.

The captain and the mate cut the bugbears loose. They hope the dragon is hungry and want to offer the bugbears first. All hang on for dear life, as the dragon turtle takes a huge bite from the boat, eating a bugbear in the process. The turtle turns and heads towards the ship once more. It swims upwards and bashes into the boat, so it rocks upright again. On one side, the railing is gone, and so are the four bugbears. All four Xaniqos are still in the boat, but the boatsman is unconscious. Lilith has positioned herself near the railing and stares intently at the water.

‘We need to get to shallower waters,’ the captain yells. Phaedra sees stalagmites in the distance and points. ‘There might be land in that direction!’ Durlann concentrates on the sails and the boat slowly starts to move. Then an urgent scream from the scout: an underwater current takes pure steam to the surface. The ship slowly gains speed, too slowly. The green dragon turtle comes closer, sensing its prey is trying to escape. It goes in for the kill and attacks the ship, lifting its head above the water.

destruction

This is the exact moment Lilith has been waiting for. When the dragon’s head is close, she releases her spell. The full and immense force of the spell hits the dragon and the monster disappears completely. Not a trace of it is left! The Xaniqos cleric has instantly slain the turtle. Captain Durlann is very impressed by the destruction spell.

 

Revenant

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While the others go home, Lilith goes straight to Potions & Poisons in the Ghetto of Artisans to get rid of the inflammable blood moss. Jharrath drags his feet after his mistress. They are welcomed by Lha’Zis Ulvira.
‘Ah, so you have returned. Did you succeed?’.
Jharrath shows him the sack. ‘We have the blood moss you’ve asked for. Do you have a place to put it?’
Watched by countless spiders, the shopkeeper leads them past the counter. The wizard sees many alchemy treasures, but the way the shop is organized, it is a small miracle that Potions & Poisons hasn’t exploded yet.
‘Just put it down here.’ Lha’Zis blows out the candles, whereas glowing gems provide enough light. ‘So much moss, very nice!’ The poison maker takes another look in the bag. ‘Fantastic!’

Poison

‘It is much indeed,’ Jharrath says quickly. ‘I presume we get an additional discount?’
As a reply, Ulvira hands him 25 knockout poison –five extra– and 20 sick stones.
‘How about the gland, did you find it yet?’
Lilith, who is observing the spiders, shakes her head.
‘After you bring it to me, it will take two days to make the virile madness.’
The cleric bids him farewell, and together with Jharrath heads home as well.

At the Xaniqos mansion, the siblings go their own way. Some freshen up and find healing. Alvra makes his rounds and talks with the guards, while Lilith spends hours in reverie. Afterward, she takes 100 gold, a bag of gems and the drow mission blade to the treasury. The blade protects its wielder from acid and gives extra luck when near a node, like in Erelhei-Cinly. Phaedra is happy with the five vials of black, gummy poison. Somewhat later, Thaldynion brings them a message from the Matron Mother: she is pleased with their actions and provides each with 8000 gold to enhance their equipment. This is a big favor from Lady Thandysha and they all feel honored.

When the drow walk into the Ghetto of Scholars, there is no open hostility, but they notice that the House-affiliated are not favorable towards House Xaniqos. The city is on edge, more so than normal. They enter Nyttoris Arms & Armor, as a big sign says over the door. Nyttoris is glad to see the Xaniqos walk in his door. With a big smile, he says, ‘Well, well, well, what brings you to my place? It is good to see you again. We have many items on display today. We have boots, armor, weapons like rapiers and scimitars and many magic items. No dwarven ware though, those are not sophisticated enough.’ When he hears the drow’s wishes, Nyttoris leaves the other customers in his servants’ care and takes the Xaniqos to his private office. A young drow female takes care of food and drinks. The table is well provisioned.

‘House Xaniqos seems to be doing well. All of the requested items are present, but first I want to offer you a business deal. I am waiting for a ship with goods from the Upper world, and it is already a tenday too late. There is no sign of it after it left Luskar. Either it sank in the Glimmersea, or it was attacked. If you can find out what happened to the shipment, and perhaps take the goods back to me, I offer you a 25% discount.’
Nyttoris shows them a map of House Shi’quos, with the safest and most probable routes. After Lilith has studied the map and accepts the assignment, he hands her the scroll.
‘You’ll get the discount when you return. You can use one of my galleys to investigate. It is waiting for you at Blessed Seahaven. Thank you for doing business, and I hope to see you back soon, preferably with the goods.’

When they step back onto the street outside of Arms & Armor, Alvra is wearing new leather boots, and his brother has a new red robe with spikes on it, plus new bracers of red-brown leather. The scout has new bracers as well, and her spiked chain is continuously crackling with electricity. Her armor looks slightly shinier. Lilith has a new leather belt with a buckle with three black pearls, and on her finger is a ring with lavender glass. On their way back, Jharrath buys two potions that will help him to breathe underwater. It never hurts to come to a battle well prepared.

The siblings gather at the Xaniqos mansion and call one of the servants.
‘Tell Thaldynion that we’ve gone to Blessed Seahaven. We hope to be back in two days.’

The Xaniqos presence in the Ghetto of Outcasts is becoming more visible. Buildings are under repair, and beautiful mansions are constructed. More and better guards patrol the perimeters. As they walk through the district, they hear a loud wailing moan, gathering in intensity. It is a dreadful, very nasty sound. As they draw closer, they see a shape walking, dragging itself and its evil bastard sword forward. The dust of the street swirls and gathers around the shape.

Two Xaniqos guards approach, their weapons drawn, but the undead ignores everything around it.
‘Don’t worry,’ one of the guards says, ‘we’ll take care of it. It is probably just an escaped undead from the district of the dead or something.’ The guards stop, flanking the animated corpse from 30 feet distance.
Alvra nods towards his men. ‘Do your job,’ and the siblings continue on their way to Blessed Seahaven. Then the eyes of the undead focus on Phaedra, its stare pure hatred. Phaedra halts. She recognizes him as Jhaelmin Shi’quos, the second son of the House, whose throat she cut in the Lair of Principles when they were searching for the Cloak of the Patriarch.
‘This is impossible! He has been dead for a long time!’ But is it? House Shi’quos specializes in necromancy…

Revenant

The guards attack the Shi’quos but are immediately covered in a swarm of insects that bite and claw at their faces. The dust forms a vortex and the undead lays his hand on one of the guards. The soldier screams in pain and a moment later his armor crashes to the ground. He has turned to dust, all moisture sucked from his body.

Lilith recognizes the form of a hand burned into Jhaelmin’s forehead as a sign of Kiaransalee. She tries to rebuke the undead, but the power of the Lady of the Death is too strong. Phaedra and Alvra are hurt by the negative energy of the vortex’ swarm attack. The fighter counters by throwing a javelin at the Shi’quos, but to no avail. Jharrath summons a large earth elemental, which attacks the undead. It seems to be able to damage the creature that once was a drow. The remaining guard keeps his distance, still under attack by the swarm.

Phaedra hits the undead but doesn’t hurt him. Once again, Lilith tries to rebuke, but the one who put the spell on the undead is very strong; her own level at least.
The revenant stretches his hand and under his command a wall of sand rises, covering Jharrath from head to toes. The wizard can’t breathe, is blind and deaf. Alvra steps back and throws another javelin, right in the center of the undead’s chest. Death oozes from the cavity, but the vortex grows only stronger. Fortunately, the elemental isn’t much bothered by it. Two more javelins disappear harmlessly into the vortex.

Lilith calls forth dark fire and strikes hard at the creature. She uses her brand new belt to get another attack and dark fire again strikes towards the undead. The three pearls of the belt’s buckle are spent and turn white, but she manages to force the creature to let go of the sand wall. The undead steps forward and again the cleric counters with a touch attack of dark flames. Phaedra teleports out of harm’s way, as Alvra attacks twohanded. This time his sword attack succeeds. The elemental aids him, and the wizard follows up with a Kellgore’s firebolt. The undead finally drops his sword and falls down.

Now the left-over guard comes near and brags, ‘I couldn’t have done it without you. Well done, masters!’ The drow incredulously stare at him.
’What is your name, guard?’ The Captain of the Guard’s voice is icy.
‘I’m Eldi’nine, master.’
‘Well, Eldi’nine. Return to the Xaniqos mansion and report for duty immediately.’
Alvra will take care of this impudent guard later.

Lilith tries to burn the remains of the undead with her dark flames, but it won’t turn to ashes. She knows that she has to destroy all traces of the revenant and its evil sword, or it will come back to revenge its death once more. She takes a bottle from her pack and pours holy water on the remains. Finally, the corpse and the bastard sword turn to dust.

Alvra orders a group of four new guards to take over the control of the Ghetto, and, together with his mistress, the scout and the wizard, resumes his path.

At the waterhole

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The next day, Phaedra leads her brothers to a waterhole north of Erelhei-Cinlu. It is a place where caravans stop on their trek through the Underdark. The drow need to find out where and how the worm can be found.

Several caravans are camping there, but not as many as usual. The scout searches for the merchants among them and she picks out a group of poorer looking goblinoids. Their almost purple skin identifies them as Vril, the product of dark elf wizards’ experiments on goblins over many generations. Some are busy eating, others are fighting.

Vril

Phaedra goes to the barkeeper, buys a brew and sits down at a table. The goblinoids are frightened by her presence and half of them get up.

“Sit!” She takes a sip. “I’m surprised your caravan made it.”

“Our caravan didn’t make it: we’re the only guards left. Two days ago we were ambushed by a harpy and her gang of tree-like creatures. On a normal trade route just north of the city!”

The drow nods and continues. “Have you heard anything about a purple worm?”

The vril replies: “There’s a bounty for killing it! We are looking for work, and we were told that we should hunt this worm. But we don’t want to.”

“And who asked you?”

“Those orogs over there. They want to bully us into it.”

Phaedra looks up and sees a group of twelve orogs, a mixed species between orc and ogre. Fierce warriors and the best fighting slaves one can hire. The majority is watching a fight. One of them is wearing a magical enhanced full plate. Phaedra signals to Jharrath, who walks towards the provisional ring.

After carefully observing the contestants, he asks “What are the odds?”

“3 : 1 for the small guy over there. Why, do you want to place a bet?”

The Xaniqos wizard puts 15 GP on the small competitor and soon after all bets are off. It is a fight to the death and the crowd is in a frenzy. The orogs circle each other warily. The big one confident, the other feigns fright. Then in a flash, the smaller one pulls out a dagger and sticks it in his opponent’s eye. The big brute collapses and the audience roars. The mood is right and the drinks are plenty.

When Jharrath goes to collect his money, the organizer tries to swindle him. After a bit of negotiating, he still receives most of his money, and then makes his way to the orog in full plate, who seems to be the leader of the group.

“That was a nice fight!”

The orog nods. “Dere strong fighters in my group, yous will find no bettar!”

“Would you happen to know where to find a purple worm?”

“Dere is one three days from here. We have to kill da beastie and take back da stinger. There’s a reward of 10.000 GP; with that kind of gold, I can equip my men betta. Why yous want to no?” The orog regards Jharrath suspiciously

“Well, perhaps we could work together. We also need those glands.”

The orog grimaces. “Are yous able to do da?”

“Let’s say I have my connections.”

“Ow much yous wanna no?”

“How about 2.000 gold pieces?” the wizard offers.

“Yous make it 5.000, and da map is yours. It shows da place where the worm was seen. Give me da gold and no one will botha yous.”

org

Jharrath gives Phaedra a sign, and they return to Alvra. “5.000 GP is too much,” Phaedra says. “Make it 4.000, and add the option for future activities for House Xaniqos.” Alvra has another idea. “Just let them do the job, and then ambush them on their way back. When are they planning to leave?”

Phaedra heads back to the vril to find out, while the drow fighter now joins the orogs. He listens to their boasting and asks after their plans.

“We are going to defeat a huge worm and earn us 5.000 gold, promised by one of the pointy ear Houses. Da vrils are going with us!”

“Aha,” Alvra says, “and how are you going to do that?”

“We’ll use the purple ones as fodder, and then we’ll do some hacking and slashing.”

Alvra grins. “With all the partying going on here, you’re not leaving any time soon, right?”

The orog shrugs. “We’ll party tonight and leave in the morning.”

“Will you be able to get the vrils to join?”

“Psah, they gonna!”

“Why don’t you bind one to a pole in the ground?” Alvra suggests. “Break a leg and he’ll moan nice and loud, and lure the worm towards you.”

“Watta good plan!” The orog looks at the drow approvingly. “Yous wanna come along?”

Alvra claps him on the back. “Happy hunting!” and with these words, the drow heads back to his siblings. Together they return home to consult with their mistress.

Lilith talks to the Matron Mother about the things her siblings have learned at the waterhole. Lady Thandysha doesn’t want them to go and fight a purple worm. That beast isn’t worth the lives of four nobles! The cleric discusses the best course of action with Alvra. They will go back together and try to overbid the orogs, so they fight the worm and give the glands to house Xaniqos.

At the waterhole, Lilith is pleasantly surprised by the fighting spirit of the orogs. Together, the drow advance on the leader. Alvra is showing off his muscles, while Lilith offers the orog double the bounty that the other House has offered if they will give the glands to House Xaniqos.

“Da may all be fine an all, but who protect da orogs against da other Houses?”

“We will. And I train the fighters of our House,” Alvra replies.

“Then yous fight me. If yous win, we agreel!”

“And what are the rules? I just saw another fight and I wouldn’t want your group to go leaderless.”

“Haha fighta funny! Well, me don’t want your House without strong fighta eitha. Hows about we fight till we bleed?”

They walk to an open area, and soon are surrounded by orogs and vril. The orog leader has a massive two-handed sword and in his mind, he’s already won. But he hasn’t taken into account the agility of the drow! Alvra is the first to react and with a well-aimed thrust, he sticks his sword into the leader’s side. The audience greets this defeat with boos and hisses.

The orog grunts loudly and has to control his anger. “Fight is over, you fast for a fighta. Very fast! We have a deal.”

“We will meet again, at this place, when you have the glands,” the cleric replies.

A change of positions

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When they arrive at the mansion, Leargath goes his own way, while the siblings carry the body of the warlock inside. Immediately drow slaves take it to the morgue. After a while, they are invited to the throne room, where lady Thandysha seems to be in a positive mood. All the important people of House Xaniqos are present.

“Good to see you. I presume your mission was a success?” As always the Matron Mother doesn’t leave much room for failure.

“Yes, Mother. House Despana was behind the abduction of our captain. They wanted information about the rod, as well as punish us. And though we managed to save Solaufein, he is in no condition to secure our House. We brought back the warlord’s body though, it is at your disposal at the morgue.” Lilith and Phaedra continue to relate the happenings of the last day.

At that moment Alvra steps up and makes his ambitions clear. “Make me captain of the guard! I will take Solaufein’s position.”

Alvra
Quarra snorts indignantly but holds her tongue.
“Alvra, that is a bold statement,” the Matron Mother says. “The captain of the guard is also my personal guard. It is a high position. What do your siblings think about your proposal?” She turns towards Lilith. “Is he qualified?”

The cleric assesses the fighter, then nods. A simple yes is her reply.
“I have only seen his group activities, and he knows his position.” Phaedra shrugs. Jharrath doesn’t object either. “He’s up to the task. But I’d love to hear what Quarra thinks of this.”
“Well thank you, Jharrath”, an overly polite Quarra replies. “You all seem to back up Alvra. And if Lilith says he’s able, then, by all means, Mother, we must give him our support too.”
Lady Thandysha briefly glances at her consort, who nods approvingly.

“Since everybody is here, it is settled now. Welcome, Alvra, as the new captain of the guard of House Xaniqos. Thaldinyon will fill you in. We will meet each other in a few hours, and talk about how we deal with House Despana. Its actions can not be tolerated!”

The mansion is bigger and more luxurious than their former residence, and so are their rooms. After a visit to the House clerics for healing, the men leave for the bathhouse, where they lazily float in the water. Alas, their peace doesn’t last very long, for Phaedra comes to get them on her sister’s behalf. “We must meet her at the chapel,” she says, “that’s all I know.”

Lilith is in the chapel, worshiping the Spider Queen. When she hears their footsteps, she turns around and welcomes her siblings. “Tell me, Alvra. What are your plans as the new captain of the guard?” The fighter plans to expand the number of guards. He also plans to use the lizard mounts more. The cleric is pleased to hear that. She gathers her sister and brothers and heals them all. Back in their rooms, Jharrath identifies the cloak as a magical cloak of charisma. This lightweight and fashionable cloak has a highly decorative silver trim. Lilith keeps it for herself; the mithril shirt goes to Phaedra.

It is already late when they are summoned to the Matron Mother’s room. Lady Thandysha is seated at the head of the table. Quarra and K’yorl are seated in their usual chairs, but Alvra’s seat has been upgraded.

“Welcome all. It is time for our House to step forward and take our rightful place. We will not be the last House any longer. We have grown in power, we have many soldiers and slaves. We have risen in prestige, and will now measure ourselves in strength as well. The rod causes a lot of unrest. Despana doesn’t have it, and neither have we. The rod will cause a shift in power. She who has the rod has the upper hand.

Phaedra, I hope you will aid our House with your skills. House Despana is the perfect prey. We will have to take away their assets in the city. We need to know what happens at the Ghetto of Savages. Who are our allies, how are the political relations in the city? House Vae is engaged in a surface war. House Aleval is running a covert war.

Furthermore, there is a shortage of certain ingredients in our household. You will have to get them for me at Potions & Poisons, located in the Ghetto of Artisans. Start your investigations in the morning.“ Lady Thandysha hands her daughter a scroll with ingredients and a bag of gems, worth 15.000 GP. “Go to the shop, Lilith. Mind you, he is the best poison maker in town, but something is wrong with his mind.” The scroll reads:

  • knockout poison 20x
  • dark ore 1x
  • poison virile madness 1x
  • sick stones 20x

Laboratory

The Potions & Poisons is located in the same street as Nyttoris Arms & Armor. The detached building at the end of the street in the Ghetto of Artisans appears to be closed, everything is shut, but when Lilith tries the door, it opens. She and Jharrath step inside. The interior resembles a laboratory. There is stuff bubbling everywhere, and the smell is very heavy, very chemical. On the top floor, lots of adamantine spider constructs are moving around. In the back of the room is a very large, very real spider. The beast takes up more than half of the space.

Someone is working at an alchemy table: a man, dressed in black and wearing green armor. One look and you know that he is evil through and through… and crazy as a bat.

Arachnomancer

“Xu’klir, we have guests!” he says to the monstrous spider. Poisonmaker Lha’zis Ulvira resembles a spider himself. When Lilith tells him what they need, the arachnomancer complains about his stocks. “We are running low on supplies and I don’t have all the things you need. You see, there are problems with deliveries by the caravans. They have not arrived from Maerimydra yet, and none of the investigating parties have returned.”

“Do we get a discount if we help you?”, Jharrath haggles. “You’ll only need to pay for the poison of virile madness if you can get me a sack of blood moss. But be careful not to add fire to it. The blood moss can be found to the southwest of Erelhei-Cinlu, about two days of travel. I also need the poison glands of a purple worm.”

“And where might we find one?”

“No one knows for sure, but there are rumors that one has been sighted to the northwest of here.”

And with that news, Lilith and Jharrath return home.