Following hot on the heels of our initial session, four of our intrepid adventurers began to establish themselves in the City of Greyhawk, preparing for their eventual excursion into the ruins of Castle Greyhawk itself. Once again we were playing at Mighty Titan Hobbies and Games in Randolph, NJ; a fine store and a great space to game in. The Greyhawk sandbox was in full effect, with a sub-set of the total playing group being active in any given session.
Present were Nalania the cleric of Rudd, Ehrandar the elvish thief, Abo the magic-user, and Theric the paladin. Unfortunately, two new folks who had indicated they were going to play ended up no-showing (doubly unfortunately, because there was a waiting list for this session). But, short-handed though they were, they had secured lodgings at the Cock and Bottle in Greyhawk's River Quarter, and set about getting to know the lay of the land. (I'm using my hand-drawn City of Greyhawk maps; see the "free downloads" section to the right if you'd like to download them for yourself.)
Two priorities presented themselves first up; getting some hirelings to accompany the band into the fabled dungeons, and getting some employment themselves to get some ready coin for living expenses. Theric inquired at the local temple of Pholtus as to the availability of any hirelings, while Ehrandar visited Captan Voran's cousin Beldo, who runs a seedy tavern on the docks called the Rusty Rat. Both were successful; Theric was assured that some likely member of the flock was available and would soon be sent along to the Cock and Bottle, while Beldo agreed to engage the group as collection agents. It seems that the Rhennee tavern-keeper was owed a substantial amount of money, to the tune of a thousand pieces of gold, from one Jondo Vorth, a tinsmith and peddler whose shop was in one of the seeder sections of the River Quarter. For a 15% cut, the party members agreed to collect the debt, and promised to be discreet in the process.
Jondo was found at his humble shop, which obviously was not the digs of someone who would have a thousand gold orbs handy, and when confronted about the debt, eventually agreed to bring the money around to the Cock and Bottle that evening, as long as Theric was there to receive it. He wanted nothing to do with Ehrandar, whose questions had apparently not sat well with the tinsmith. The party agreed and departed, but Ehrandar lingered around the back, hoping to tail Jondo when he left the shop.
While Ehrandar waited by the tinsmith's back door, one Salvomar, a young and eager warrior, called upon Theric at the Cock and Bottle, to present himself and his services, complete with sword and leather armor. The party eagerly took him on, especially as he had come recommended by the priesthood of Pholtus, and bade him wait until they were ready to begin their explorations of the ruins in a couple of days.
Ehrandar, meanwhile, waited until dusk, when the tinsmith left his shop by the back door and made his way to a warehouse near the city walls by the river. With the tinsmith disappearing inside, the elf went around to the back of the building, waiting for him to possibly emerge by that door. However, after a while it became apparent that the tinsmith wasn't coming out that way, and the elf made his way back to the Cock and Bottle. The party quickly made plans for the elf and the mage to check out Jondo's shop while the others awaited him at the inn.
While all this was going on, not realizing how quickly the encounter in the inn had transpired, Ehrandar attempted to pick the back lock. No luck. Then he climbed the back wall and tried to enter through the second-story window. Also no good. The front door proved similarly proof against his lock-picking skills, to the elf and mage resorted to more primal means of entry. One kicked-in back door later, the two were quickly searching through the shop and living quarters, looking for any sort of clues.
The cleric and paladin rushed through the streets to Jondo's shop, getting there mere minutes ahead of the owner, and finding the back door with the broken stile, they whispered to their companions to come out now, because Jondo was about to return. Reluctantly, the intruders did so, not having found anything.
Not wanting to waste any time, the party repaired to the Rusty Rat right away and presented their prize to the disbelieving Beldo. "A frog?" he asked incredulously. "I send you for money and you bring me frog? Why don't you go someplace and sell frog, then bring me money. Then everybody happy!"
The next morning, the party took Beldo's advice and sought out a jeweler in the Artisan's Quarter, who eventually agreed to pay them 950 golden orbs for the curious golden frog. The price was slightly less than they had been hoping for, but they agreed, and eagerly took the money back to Beldo. He took his 850 in gold, leaving the party with a net gain of 100 g.p. for their troubles. They bought a shield for Salvomar, and told him to be ready to leave on the morrow.
That evening, however, a messenger came from Beldo, asking the party to come to him at the Rusty Rat. Somewhat puzzled, they did so, and were doubly puzzled when Beldo asked why they felt it had been necessary to kill Jondo over the debt. "I thought I said you should be discreet," he added. The party, of course, swore up and down that they had no idea what he was talking about, and he explained that Jondo had been found slain in his shop that morning. Naturally, he just assumed that the party had done it. He wasn't particularly broken up about it, but warned the party to have a good alibi ready for when the constabulary came to investigate. They had been seen with Jondo in the common room of the Cock and Bottle the night before the murder, after all...
A spirited discussion then ensued as to what the best course of action would be. The circumstantial evidence certainly looked grim; they met with Jondo, then took off immediately after he left the inn, and the next day he was found slain in his shop with a broken rear door. After much discussion it was decided to simply act normally, and continue with their plans to explore the castle ruins the next day. If the police came to them, they'd deal with them honestly, as they really didn't commit the murder.
And so the party made the journey the next day to the castle ruins. I am not using CZ:UW for my own campaign; I'm putting together my own Upper Ruins and Storage Rooms levels for my own use as part of my Castle of the Mad Archmage. Unfortunately, the hour was running late in real-life, and the party was only able to explore a little bit of the Outer Bailey before we had to call the session to a close. The gate house and a few stables got explored, but little more, although a gray bird of prey was seen to alight from one of the gatehouse towers as the party crossed the drawbridge and entered the grounds proper. Doubtless next session the real investigations of the ruins will commence!
Songs with Twist Endings - It's always cool to listen to the lyrics of a song and discover that it's not at all what it seemed to be. For most of the song, you are led to believe t...