Morpheus,Rethan, Titan, Laniel, and Reita, a sailor woman who found Laniellost at the main gates to the city, all arrived in the evening at the Yawning Portal. The five were getting to know each other and helping to brainstorm how Lanielmight find his friend Patel, a runaway monk from his home monastery. That is when a fight broke out between a half-orc woman and a band of five or so humans in the corner of the tavern. While many of the patrons circled around the fight to watch, these five stepped in to break up the fight, first by pushing the half-orc away from the human she was pounding on, and then fending off the humans as they ventured to attack anyone that got involved. While the adventurers did not know it at the time, the half-orc, Yagra, belonged to the Zhentarim faction, who were feuding with the Xanathar Guild, an underground (literally) cult.
Just as the fight was breaking up, a patron loudly yelled, "Troll!" as a large troll crawled out of the Yawning Portal, dragging behind it several blood-sucking stirges. Durnan, the proprietor of the tavern, who made his name and fortune fighting in the dungeon below his business, fended off the troll as the Laniel, Rethan, Morpheus, Titan, and a newcomer, Mal, helped clean up the stirges and mop up the troll.
The threat vanquished, the five adventurers were approached by none other than Volothamp Geddarm, notable chronicler and local celebrity. He saw the heroism of the five adventurers and requested their services to find his good friend Floon Blagmaar. Volo promised them a cash reward for their efforts and points them towards the Dock Ward where he last spent time with Floon. The adventurers headed right out, observing the aftermath of a gang fight between the Zhentarim and the Xanathar Guild along the way.
They arrived at the Skewered Dragon in the Dock Ward, where Malmanaged to perform several engaging songs and Titangambled (and won!) his way to finding out that Floon met up with Renaer Neverember and was followed out of the bar by Zhentarim thugs. They were pointed in the direction of a Zhentarim hideout in a warehouse not too far north of the Skewered Dragon. There, they broke in and found four Xanathar kenku ransacking the place. They took care of the kenku in short order and questioned the remaining kenku that survived, discovering that Floon had been taken into the sewers by the Xanathar Guild.
They began searching the trashed warehouse for clues. This is when they stumbled upon Renaer Neverember hiding in a closet. He thanked them profusely as Malhealed him and Morphcleaned his filthy clothing. Renaer told the five adventurers that he had been the target and that they had taken Floon by mistake. He begged them to go after his friend.
That is how the five adventurers found themselves in the sewers, after a short rest back at the Yawning Portal. They followed Guild markings towards the Xanathar Guild hideout, eventually crossing paths with a gazer, which they dispatched quickly. Inside the sewer-based hideout, the adventurers killed a couple of goblins sleeping on the watch, then wound their way through the base to find a duergar named Zemk and a human named Krentz. The human was the same one that Yagra had been beating up at the yawning portal earlier that day. Zemk would not listen to reason and dragged Krentz into the fight. They were both knocked out, allowing the five adventurers through to a giant room where Floon lay nearly dead on the floor.
A half-orc wizard was torturing Floon for information, trying to impress his mind flayer boss. The mind flayer wanted nothing to do with this turn of events and had given up on Floon, since it had become clear they had the wrong person. His intellect devourer and the half-orc wizard battled to the death as the mind flayer escaped through a portal. The adventurers, meanwhile withdrew as well, not wishing to tangle with a mind flayer. They healed Floon and escaped the hideout with their lives and their charge.
Back at the Yawning Portal, Volo was thrilled at the success of his hired adventurers. He did not have the promised reward, unfortunately, but he had something potentially better: An old tavern in the North Ward. He had purchased it as a potential research site for his forthcoming book on spirits. It held little potential for him, so he offered it instead of the cash reward he had promised them.
The adventurers were skeptical at first, but ultimately found the property to be salvageable and potentially a good investment. Thus, they became the proud owners of Trollskull Manor.
The adventurers begin to settle into their new home, exploring, cleaning, and assessing the potential of the place. During this time, they have some unusual encounters that suggest they are not alone in the building. But they don't have time to investigate fully, because outside forces have taken an interest in the five heroes.
The adventurers had made a name for themselves in rescuing Renaer Neverember and Floon Blagmaar. As they spent their days getting to know their new property and cleaning up Trollskull Manor, they were approached by several factions for membership. The first was the Harpers, who invited them to the opera, The Fall of Tiamat. At intermission, Mirt gave them the hard sell on joining the Harpers, then bid them farewell to enjoy the rest of the show.
On their way home, Morphand Rethanwere invited to meet Vajra Safahr, also known as Blackstaff, head of Force Gray and the Gray Hands. They met with her the next day, signing up almost immediately to become Gray Hands and given the mission to find an old monk, Hlam, to verify the potential danger of an artifact known as the Clockwork Dragon.
While Morphand Rethanwere becoming Gray Hands, Lanieland Titanmet with Melannor Fellbranch and Jeryth Phaulkon of the Emerald Enclave. Lanielcould not commit to them or the Harpers, he decided, but Titanwas quite intrigued by the Enclave and ultimately decided to join.
This led to simultaneous and separate goings-on by the party as they were drawn to the duty of their newfound factions. Rethan, Morph, and Lanielclimbed Mount Waterdeep to find Hlam, who implicated Brother Krennic, Laniel'scurrent master, in a conspiracy to charge up the powerful Clockwork Dragon, potentially unleashing it on the entire populace of Waterdeep.
Meanwhile, at the manor, Malfinds the bones of the specter that is clearly haunting the manor. It becomes increasingly clear that the restless spirit desires Trollskull Manor to be returned to its former glory as a tavern. Morphdevises a method of communicating with the spirit that enables them to come to a kind of peace, for the time being.
Titanthen gets the call to help farmers in Undercliff. The heroes spend some time wandering the countryside and questioning farmers to locate some animated scarecrows that have been terrorizing the farms and killing cattle and horses. Indeed, they find one and dispatch it quickly.
Back at the manor, Titanreceives another message. His family is in danger and the Emerald Enclave has both alerted him to this fact and recruited him to help stop the threat. Without much thought as to what he will do with his share in the property, he dashes away to a higher calling. It is only a week or two later that Titusarrives to take his place in the manor, buying Titan's share with some earnings as a notable City Guardsman. This makes three City Guardsmen in the group, though they are all just getting to know each other in the thick of the events unfolding around them.
A few weeks have passed since the heroes took over the manor when they are variously called to action by their factions. Lanieland Titusjoined Morphand Rethanto report back about Hlam's assertions that Krennic is not to be trusted. The source of Blackstaff's information turned out to be none other than Patel. In a tearful confrontation, Laniellearns the truth about why Patel ran away. He saw Krennic use the Clockwork Dragon on some of their brothers, commanding them to do as Krennic wished. The Clockwork Dragon is capable of casting a powerful mass suggestion spell to potentially thousands of targets at a time. After this Lanieldisavows his order and joins the Gray Hands with Morphand Rethan.
Laniel, Morph, and Rethanare then tasked with confronting a Young Bronze Dragon swimming in the bay to see if it has fallen victim to Krennic's suggestion spell. Titus, a relative of an ancient bronze dragon himself, tags along with them, ultimately using Laniel'sunderwater breathing potion to meet the dragon and help Morphand Rethanexplore a sunken ship for treasure. Here is where they find a broom of flying, helm of teleportation, and gloves of swimming and climbing. They withhold these items when handing over the other treasure they found, but it is enough to earn them an answer. They are convinced the dragon is not under the sway of Krennic.
Malhad been up all night, doing who knows what, when he encounters his partners at an intersection in the Dock Ward. They spy each other in a crowd forming around the violent and loudmouthed smuggler, Harko. Titushas in fact been looking for Harko, as he has been tasked by the Lord's Alliance to eliminate the villain quietly. Harko has an open bounty on his head and he fights the five heroes to the death. He is knocked out, but Titushas orders to end the smuggler, which Morphquietly does to the fallen villain. Lanielspied a gnome staring intently at them as they are scolded by the City Watch for disrupting the peace (Which results in a fine that just happens to cancel out the bounty on Harko's head). Nobody else saw the strange little gnome, and they head back to report to their respective factions, who are generally pleased with their work, except for the public fight they were engaged in.
While Laniel, Morph, and Rethanreport back to Blackstaff, Titusand Malgo looking for Jalester Silvermane of the Lord's Alliance, getting lost and having a comedic trip around the city, including ending up in a compromising position in front of the city watch that neither cares to share, thank you very much. Silvermane scolds Titus for his public battle with Harko, but assures him that everything is above board and that he will not send Titus on missions that require subtlety in the future.
While feeling a little down about how the previous day unfolded, the group began the next day slowly. They were not quite ready to head out to accomplish various errands when a giant explosion rocked Trollskull Alley. They all rushed outside to see what happened to see devastation and 11 people dead. They quickly ran to offer help and find out what happened. In the course of questioning witnesses, the adventurers discovered that Zhentarim agents were chasing a gnome, possibly with the Xanathar Guild, through Trollskull Alley when a construct on the rooftops tossed a fireball bead at the gnome and/or agents, setting off the deadly explosion.
After this, the City Watch arrived and took over the investigation, taking the physical evidence and closing down the alley while the bodies are cleared. During this time, Embric and Avi of the Steam and Steel and Fala of the Correlon's Crown came to plead with the adventurers for a quick resolution to the tragedy. They each offered 10% discounts at their stores if the culprits were brought to justice so that future customers could return to the Alley with peace of mind.
The first place that Rethan, Morph, and Lanieltried for a lead was the House of Inspired Hands, known for including constructs in the annual Day of Wonders parade. As they approached the temple, they saw a construct on the roof releasing a mechanical bird, which flew straight at the adventurers. Lanieldramatically smashed it. Inside the temple, the priestess Valetta led them upstairs to meet with Nim, only to find the construct had installed a new, tough lock on the door. They could not pick it nor convince Nim to open the door, resulting in Valetta asking them to come back another time while they dealt with the lock. Instead, the trio used Rethan'sHelm of Teleportation to access Nim's workshop from his hatch on the roof. Inside, they found Nim cowering under a work bench and unwilling to come out. While Morphattempted to coax the construct out, Lanieland Rethaninvestigated the workshop, finding plans for making a construct and a peculiar device that warmed when activated. A small umbrella spinner activated as well, but it was wholly unclear what the device was for. As Valetta returned, threatening to enter the workshop by force, Nim shooed the trio out the hatch, making sure they took the strange device with them.
Meanwhile, Maland Titusheaded to the Dock Ward to see if they could find some leads through known Zhentarim and Xanthar Guild establishments. The first stop was the Old Xoblob shop, a strange shop of bizarre trinkets. Xoblob, a very peculiar gnome with a fascination all things purple and unique, although none of his wares appeared to be especially valuable. Titusand Malfound the gnome to be bubbly and unswayed by topics of current events such as the explosion in Trollskull Alley. A little intimidation let him know they were serious about eyeing the Xanathar Guild as culprits, but Xoblob denied the guild had any such involvement.
The next stop for Titusand Malwas the Skewered Dragon, the same tavern where Malhad begun the search for Floon. Somewhat less successful in delighting the patrons with his music, he nevertheless managed to attract the attention of the Zhentarim, who made quick and decisive conversation about the explosion. They were not behind it, but rather had been betrayed by some partners in the North Ward. Who they were, the Zhentarim would not divulge. Maland Titusbeat a hasty retreat rather than pick a fight with the Zhentarim in their own tavern.
On their way home, Malmade a quick stop to run an errand at a large estate. Upon leaving the estate, Titusand Malran into Renaer Neverember, who had heard of the explosion in Trollskull Alley. He believed the Zhentarim and Xanathar Guild were battling over a magical item, the Stone of Golorr, which was said to unlock Lord Dagult Neverember's lost, hidden fortune. Dagult had been exiled from Waterdeep and had sent his own agent, Dalakhar, to retrieve the Stone of Golorr. Renaer cautioned against helping Dalakhar and his father. There was clearly no love between Renaer and Dagult these days.
Armed with a device of unknown function and the knowledge that the construct might be working with someone housed in the North Ward, the adventurers set out to test what the device's function actually was. Their hypothesis was that it detected the presence of constructs. The small umbrella did not spin while in the Manor, so they set off to the only place they knew a construct to be: The House of Inspired Hands. Sure enough, within 500 feet of the temple, the small umbrella began to spin. The next step was to see if it could detect another construct in the North Ward.
It was almost lunch time when the adventurers were passing by Trollskull Alley and the umbrella on the device began to spin. Testing the nearby streets and alleys led them to conclude that a construct was inside Gralhund Villa. They began to scout the villa grounds, finding it secure behind a 12' high wall and a magically secure gate. Midnight, Rethan'snew familiar, attempted twice to infiltrate the villa, both times drawing the attention of the groundskeeper's mastiffs. In an attempt to distract the groundskeeper, Titusand Mal, followed soon by Lanielattempting to deescalate the situation, tried to provide Rethanand Morphan opportunity to enter the grounds. It was to no avail as the streets were busy with pedestrians and they risked potential arrest as trespassers or worse.
Retreating to the Manor, the five men tried to approach their plans for another angle. They failed to get a good price for identifying the true function of Nim's device and, thinking a night approach on the Villa might be better, spent the late afternoon doing errands. Titusand Morphregistered with the healer's guild and Lanielexplored the North Ward around the villa to find the best way to sneak into the villa. (What did Maldo in this time? I've forgotten.) Rethanspent some time in the Manor, waiting for night to fall.
That evening, they formulated a plan. Rethan, Morph, and Malwould try sneaking into the Villa while Titusand Lanielwould seek out help from the Lord's Alliance or the Gray Hands. Titus found himself conversing with Jalester Silvermane at the Yawning Portal. Silvermane instructed the pair to go speak with the victims, providing financial support to the cleric to do so. They spoke with one of the halfling bards, a servant, the gnome of interest (Dalakhar, right hand to the form Open Lord, Dagult Neverember) and both of the Zhentarim that died in the explosion. The Zhentarim confirmed what Titus had already learned: They had been betrayed by someone, probably the Gralhunds, and that someone, either their Zhentarim boss or the construct, had made off with the prize: the Stone of Golorr.
While Titusand Lanielquestioned the dead, Morph, Mal, and Rethanquietly teleported to the balcony of the Gralhund Villa, where they immediately found themselves behind Lady Gralhund and her bodyguard, Hrabbaz. They were clearly concerned about an ongoing attack by the Zhentarim. Lady Gralhund also discussed the construct, likely named Bel, which had clearly escaped the villa. While the three infiltrators discussed what to do, Morph, concerned the construct was getting away, flew high above the villa to scout for it. Rethan activated the construct tracking device and found the umbrella did not spin. The construct was not here. Unfortunately, Morph'ssudden departure caught the attention of Lady Gralhund and Hrabbaz, who came to investigate. Hrabbaz was ready to fight, but Rethanwas not interested in doing so. Morphzoomed down on his broom, startling the half-orc and giving Rethana chance to teleport away safely. They retreated to the manor, where they eventually met with Titusand Lanielto exchange what they had discovered.
Several hours later, the City Watch arrived, canvasing the neighborhood for signs of a construct, a Zhentarim agent named Urstul Floxin, or a trio of unidentified looters using magic who escaped before they could cause some trouble. The adventurers assured the City Watch they had not seen any of the alleged criminals. They also learned that the Gralhunds had lied through their teeth, implicating the Zhentarim as kidnappers who had been holding their family for ransom for a full ten days.
Relieved but no closer to catching the culprits of the vicious attack on their street, the adventurers retired for the night, uncertain exactly how to proceed.
The following day, Embric and Avi again entreat the adventurers to bring an end to the uncertainty and terror gripping the alley. They up their offer: They will pay 250 gold or offer an equivalently valued item from their shop if the adventurers can find the culprit of the bombing within the next 24 hours. Unsure where to begin, Morph, Laniel, Titus, and Rethanhead off to visit with Blackstaff to see if she can provide any advice. Unfortunately, she is out of the city, but her assistant Grentario provides them with 40 gold to have the device appraised. He also tells them that the only way the Gralhunds will see justice is if the construct or the Zhentarim provide convincing testimony against them and that the Zhentarim are an unlikely source of such evidence. They are being arrested on sight in Waterdeep and the faction has scattered and gone underground in an attempt to stay alive. As an aside, Grentario slyly offers one more way to punish the Gralhunds: Get to the treasure before they do. He doesn't seem interested in garnering a share of the treasure. Indeed, the Gray Hands treat Lord Neverember's lost fortune as a wild rumor and nothing more. But it is obvious that the Gray Hands would benefit from well-equipped agents.
Meanwhile, Malhas received a message and heads off on his own errand yet again. Mal:
Mal, tasked with assessing the virtues of five possible recruits, all of them doppelgangers, uses his network to track down the Harper, Mattrim Mereg, who made the recommendation. Mereg points him to Bonnie, who works in the Yawning Portal. There, Malpromises Bonnie a job and tests her with a an offer to divulge what she knows about Mereg, a clever ploy to see if she will sell out her friends and contacts for some gold. Bonnie is simultaneously amused and annoyed at the offer. "You only make yourself look bad with an offer like that," she says. But she does not storm off, she merely levels a smile and a challenging look at Malto do better.
Back at the Manor, the remaining four heroes have had the detector identified. It does as they have guessed: detect the presence of constructs within 500 feet. They discuss how to proceed. Lanielsuggests scouting the city with the construct detector using the flying broom. Come nightfall, Morphtakes the device and scouts the city systematically using the device to alert him to the presence of the construct. It is in the South Ward, hiding in a small alley. Morphreports back and the team wends their way to the location.
At the alley, they found Bel, the construct, hiding under a pile of trash and junk, partly obscured but not well-hidden by any means. Lanielapproached the construct as it appeared to be non-functional, but it lifted its head to stare at Laniel, who found himself at a loss of what to say. Rethanstepped in, saying, "You don't look so good." The construct responded by picking up a piece of wood and throwing it at Rethan, smacking him harmlessly on his armor.
Morphbegan to uncover the construct and it clearly did not want it. The construct stood up and waved its sword at the adventurers, gesturing for them to leave. Then Morphcreated an illusory wall to block off the alley behind him. Bel adopted a combat stance and Morphobliged. He missed with an eldritch blast and then Bel attacked Lanieland Rethan. Lanielstruck back, landing three blows and Rethan, trying to bring order, tried to calm everyone, not yet convinced this was the construct they were after. He grappled with it, holding it's arm and waist. Titusattempted to command it to yield, but it resisted.
At this point, Mal, who had been tracking his partners while cloaked in invisibility, found them behind Morph'sillusory wall and joined in the fray, missing the construct with his attack. Morph attacked a second time, hitting the construct squarely in the chest. The construct swung at Morph, missing, then Lanieland Rethan, hitting them both with its rapier and dagger respectively. Titus, seeing the situation was now out of control, attempted to physically subdue the construct with a shield bash and his greataxe.
(As the nimblewright does not work biologically like a human, I'm going to rule that it cannot be knocked out the same way. I will reduce it to one hit point, though, and knock it prone. Unless someone opts to strike a fatal blow, though, it will keep functioning)
The nimblewright almost falls to the ground, it's limbs grinding against bent metal and its head slightly askew in a twisted mirror of its former self. But it remains standing, ready to fight.
Mal and Morph next in any order.
(Sorry, I was calculating damage wrong. It is still going and NOT prone.)
(Aha. Thanks for the extra info. Yup, that checks out. That last attack only landed on Titus, I think, so no need to reroll an attack roll for this last round but I will keep that in mind on the next round.)
(Shield bash will be a lot more common for Titus moving forward. Let me know if you would prefer that I roll this any differently, I know it gets tricky where the attack may or may not have advantage based on the shield bash)
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Nemean Goldenmane: Tabaxi Fighter - Lost Mine of Phandelver
Titus Vorenus: Dragonborn Paladin - Waterdeep: Dragon Heist