I think tonight finally marks the end of using the FLGS as the location for our game. Last time, we were moved into a different room to accommodate the Friday night Pokemon tournament, and it wasn't the most pleasant of experiences. The room was loud, conducted sound extremely poorly, and just generated a din that made hearing ourselves at the table nearly impossible. This time, the same thing happened, and rather than suffer through it, we upped and went to my house (a mere 10 minutes away, thankfully) and gamed in the dining room. Blessed silence, with only the occasional 9 year old and fur-bearing critter to interrupt.
Present tonight were Ehrendar Dawngreeter, elf mountebank; Kabliska, human mystic; Theric, paladin of Pholtus; Mongo, half-orc fighter; Ardo, human cleric of Pelor; and Sir Faust Ensign, human Cavalier. The session began with Theric being summoned to the temple of Pholtus to assist with a problem. A relic, previously stored in the temple vaults, had been stolen; the Eyes of Sandora.
Naturally, the paladin was eager to assist, and the party began to gather intelligence for their investigation. The Eyes were noticed missing only a few days ago, and divination could only reveal that they were still within the precincts of the city. Being a relic, the Eyes made divination nearly impossible. The Eyes themselves were kept in a golden reliquary that was also studded with gems, and had the power not only of x-ray vision but also of seeing into the Ethereal plane.
The Thieves' Guild was all but ruled out as a suspect, both by history (they had never before raided the Temple, and had no reason to change their policy now) and by attestation (the Guildmaster assured the Elder Brother of the Temple, both of whom serve as members of the Council of Oligarchs, that the Guild was innocent, and the Elder Brother believes him). The only unusual occurrence in the Temple itself prior to the theft was the arrival of one Torgood Mulron, a member of an ultra-orthodox sect in northern Nyrond. He was in the temple claiming sanctuary, as his sect is currently being persecuted by certain nobles in Nyrond.
The party interviewed Torgood and found him to be nervous, evasive, and seemingly hiding something. So their next step was to make contact with members of the Beggar's Union. A watch was placed upon the Temple of Pholtus, and then a visit was made to the party's contacts within the Thieves' Guild itself. Rumors spread about the theft (which the Temple had hitherto managed to keep quiet), especially mentioning the source as "a paladin", which quickly occasioned another visit from Karro Ledbetter, the jester cum thief. He brought the party up to speed on the Guild's side of the story-- they didn't pull the heist, and were busily tracking down leads to find the Eyes and thus clear their name. The party volunteered to assist, given that they were already working on the issue from the other side, and were told that there was what the Guild considered a "cold lead" that they could pursue if they wished.
The lead turned out to be a dead barmaid, who had contacted the Guild within the last day or two, claiming to have information about the Eyes. Alas, she was slain in a barroom brawl before the information could be obtained. The party visited the waterfront tavern, called the Nine Eels, and promptly offended the locals to the point where a full-on brawl ensued. It was a nice opportunity to break out the Adventures Dark and Deep weaponless combat rules, which worked really well in practice, but the whole thing was eventually cleared out by the bar keep, Archie, who happened to have a wand of fear handy for just such emergencies. The bar emptied in a panicked flight (including the half-orc!), and the remaining adventurers were told in no uncertain terms to get out.
The one-eyed barmaid, Arva, at the Nine Eels did offer some information to the party before they left, however, telling them that Loretta, the slain barmaid, was having an affair with one Gunari, a Rhennee of whom she did not think much. Gunari had been in the tavern when the fight broke out, but managed to slip away in the excitement. It turned out that Gunari had a room above the tavern, and Arva offered to bring one of the party up there, but it had to be done quickly, while Archie was still cleaning up after the brawl. The paladin went with her, with the help of a silence 15' radius spell to make his approach stealthy.
Despite that advantage, when he came to the room, the paladin, upon hearing someone moving about within, knocked on the door. Immediately the noise ceased, and when the room was finally entered, there was nothing there except a hastily emptied chest and an empty potion vial. Clearly, Gunari had been there but fled with the help of some potion, possibly one of invisibility. He was gone.
The party had a name to go on now, however, and was not without its own resources within the Rhennee community. Baldo, owner of the Rusty Rat tavern, knew of Gunari and had little love for him. It turned out that Gunari was largely shunned within the Rhennee community, being a member of the "red ruby cult", of which Baldo would say no more. The temple of Rao was more forthcoming, however, and identified the cult as one being dedicated to the Arch-Fiend, which had been driven out of the city some years ago and banned, its centers destroyed. If they had returned to Greyhawk, it would be an ill omen indeed.
At this point, though, the hour had grown late and we decided to break for the evening. Still, I personally greatly enjoyed this sort of scenario, which was a departure from the last several sessions which were straight dungeon-crawls. The party managed to catch many of the clues leading them in the right direction, even if the quarry was (temporarily?) lost. I found it a refreshing change, and I hope the players did, too. This sort of adventure always has the potential for frustration when clues are missed and the next link in the chain can't be reached. That didn't happen in this particular adventure, and I hope the players had as much fun with it as I did.
And of course, the Eyes are still not recovered...