- Khris Soden, Dungeon Master
- Heather Thompson as Thistle Rabbitbone, a gnome rogue
- Katy Asher as Cat “the Cunning” Powers, a human druid
- Sam Ford as Keotsi, a human cleric of Obad-Hai
- Angela Muldoon as Sylvia Flint, a tiefling sorcerer
- Nik Goll as Sylvan Longstride, a half-elf rogue
- Jess Jennings as Torq, a half-orc fighter
Khris formalized some house rules for future games:
- House Rule: Inspiration: Inspiration cards are given by the players to other players as rewards for good roleplaying, clever ideas and general awesomeness. Once a player gains two Inspiration cards, they can use those to gain advantage on a role of their choice (must decide before knowing the results).
- House Rule: Meta-gaming Penalties: Out-of-character actions or knowledge will be first met with a warning, but continued violations will be met with a loss of XP equal to 1/10 of the XP required to advance to the next level (i.e. 30 XP for 1st-level characters). Example: a player can say, “I hear owlbears are dangerous!” but they cannot say “Guys, owlbears have 59 hit points and AC 13.”
- House Rule: Role-Play Rewards: in addition to Inspiration, at the end of the game players get a pool of XP to give to players who did a great job of playing their characters. The XP pool is equal to 1/5 of the XP required to advance to the average next level for the group (i.e. 60 XP for a group of 1st-level characters).
In addition to presenting the house rules, the group also reviewed the game rules of falling unconscious versus death, and the difference between a short rest and a long rest. Khris introduced the concept of “Downtime Activities” and noted that they will be covered at the beginning of future game sessions.
Thistle and Torq had attempted to start a back alley rat fighting ring as a business endeavor. Torq was successful in capturing some larger-than-average rats, which Thistle named “Bitey” and “Li’l Peggy”. Thistle went around the neighborhood trying to generate interest in the rat fight by handing out some fliers that the two had made. She was only successful in rounding up one urchin for the audience, which didn’t matter that much because when Torq released the rats for the fight, they just ran off down the alleyway. The orphan demanded his money back, despite not having paid any money in the first place.
Sylvan Longstride had spent the past month gambling at card games. He showed a special knack for reading his opponents’ faces, but he himself had overly-expressive reactions to his hands that put him at a disadvantage. His attempts to intimidate his way through bluffs also regularly failed him. Ultimately, he lost 25 gold pieces out of the original 50 he’d been gambling with.
Cat had found work in a bakery, enduring long hours at the hot stove. While her hard work allowed her to live a comfortable lifestyle in a rented apartment, she instead decided to pocket her earnings and slept on the floor of the bakery.
It was unknown how Sylvia Flint had spent her past month, but at some point she became acquainted with the Walato cleric of Obad-Hai, Keotsi, whom she introduced to the Club.
At the Free Basement Publican
The monthly Explorer’s Club meeting took place, as usual, in the Free Basement Publican around mid-afternoon. Business was slow, being populated only by the Club members, the goblin employees Arvil and Ilbog, and the fence, Beagle.
As the club met, Jareth stopped by their table to check in on their activities. He’d heard that the club had previously helped out the two people known as Candle and Capper, and cautioned them not to meet with their employer, who had recently been lurking about the area of the Publican. After Jareth described him as a “mean, little man” to stay away from, he clarified that the person in question was human, just not of the majestic stature of Jareth. After some additional questions, the group learned that the man’s name is Newt the Lover and that the group that he travels with are known as the Modern Lovers. Before leaving the Club to their plans, Jareth bought them a round and thanked Sylvan for the coin he won off of him while playing cards.
The group got down to the business of deciding which of their leads they wanted to explore, and the clear and early favorite was visiting the abandoned house that Thistle had been talking about for months. Cat continued to suggest taking a trip to Solar’s Hollow where the goblins that live in that area worship chickens, but nobody seemed particularly interested. Thistle insisted that visiting goblins would be a gross idea because they surrounded their houses with “poop and pee”, which insulted Arvil, the goblin that works front-of-the-house in the Publican.
Once the group had agreed upon going to the abandoned house, they first made a shopping trip to Billy Burnside’s Treasure Chest, where Sylvan purchase two bags of caltrops from the backroom. He and the clerk agreed that these would only be used for “industrial purposes”.
Investigating the Abandoned House
Once the team arrived in the neighborhood of the abandoned house, they realized that the “big house” was being described by the small gnome Thistle. The house was a regular-sized rowhouse on the corner of a semi-wealthy neighborhood. It faced another series of rowhouses where people were practicing their trades outside. Directly across from the abandoned house was a woman that ran an a laundry operation. Once a couple of the team approached her, it became apparent that Thistle had only observed the exterior of the house and that she had not interacted with the people in the neighborhood.
Sylvan ran across the street and knocked on the door, to no response. Sylvan rejoined the rest of the team, who were speaking with the washwoman. The washwoman was happy to share some of her opinions about the house and explained that it had been owned by the Dohrmann’s, and that they had moved out overnight. She was pretty happy about the development, since they were “not a good fit for the neighborhood”. Sylvan attempted to get more details about the family by claiming to be a deliveryman who had a package that he needed to deliver to the family. The washwoman wasn’t going to offer any additional details, but she did seem interested in what the package was, and wondered if it might be something that she was interested in buying. Sylvan, realizing that he didn’t actually have a package to offer for sale, tried to think on his feet and decided to try to sell the woman one of his recently purchased bag of caltrops.
Before the potential sale of caltrops could take place, Sylvia Flint and Keotsi arrived. As if on cue, Sylvia dropped her hood and Keotsi removed his headress. Whether it was Sylvia’s horns or Keotsi’s sculpted forehead, the laundry woman was frightened by their presence and came up with a quick excuse for a reason to go inside. As she was retreating up her stairs, she suggested that the group could ask more questions of the neighborhood busybody, who was eyeing them from a few doors down.
Thistle collared a nearby scamp, trying to obtain more information about the house. Sylvia offered a piece of candy as an incitement, which didn’t seem to improve the child’s attitude. After a flashing change of Sylvia’s golden eyes, the child took the candy and pretended it was a gold piece in an effort of self-preservation. Thistle offered an actual gold piece and the kid explained that the house was cursed. He said that the family got sick, and that now they have never left. He saw that Sylvan had knocked on the door, and insisted that he had now been cursed as well, since he had touched the house. At the same time, he bragged that he had touched the house. After telling the group the makeup of the family – a mom and dad, a baby, an older son, and a “hot” girl around his age – he took off at the earliest opportunity.
A couple members of the group approached the old woman who was identified as the busybody, but she was certain that they were just as “bad” as the people who had lived in the house. She flatly stated that none of them looked like the sort of people that worshiped Pelor, and insisted that this was a neighborhood that believed in Pelor and not other “false gods” and went inside.
Torq wandered over to a butcher stand that was offering roast turkey legs for sale. Torg bought a leg and struck up a friendly conversation with the butcher. The butcher didn’t know the Dohrmann’s well, but thought that they were decent people. He noted that whatever their religion was, they seemed pretty devout and hosted regular prayer meetings at their house. He explained that before they went missing or moved away, some of these meetings had led to loud arguments that could be heard from the street. Torq bought several more turkey legs for later, and Thistle appeared to have pilfered another, although the turkey leg was comically large for her size.
Members of the group had noticed a neighbor that had been hanging out on the periphery, and they were eventually able to approach his patio without appearing too conspiratorial. He informed the team that the Dohrmann’s were followers of Wee Jas. He kept his voice in low tones after explaining this, and quickly went inside his house after talking to the group.
Cat explained to the team that she was familiar with the followers of Wee Jas. Wee Jas is a goddess of death, and some of her worshipers act as stewards to the afterlife for the dying, but other followers focus on killing people in order to provide sacrifices to their god.
After absorbing all of this information, the gang decided to leave the site for a while and regroup later in the night.
Inside the Dohrmann House
After re-grouping, the Club made their way into the alleyway behind the house. The alleyway was blocked by an eight-foot fence made of iron bars, but Thistle easily picked the lock on the gate, realizing that this was a fairly common gate used by various workers to gain access to the alleyway for pickups and deliveries. While the rest of the group worked to decide the best method of entry, Sylvan climbed to the roof quite quickly after a couple of false starts, and peeked into the windows. Keotsi cast Detect Poison and Disease, determining that nothing in the house was poisonous, but there was a low-level of disease emanating from around the back entrance, which most likely opened into a kitchen. Thistle used her ability to communicate with small burrowing animals to try to get some information from a nearby rat; the rat mostly expressed its enthusiasm for whatever garbage was on the other side of the door. Keotsi and Thistle agreed that the danger beyond the backdoor was most likely rotting garbage and the group decided to enter the house through the backdoor.
While Sylvan tried to pick the lock on the bathroom window, Sylvia created low flames in her hand and slowly burned the handle and lock mechanism out of the back door. Sylvan’s lock pick snapped around the same time that Sylvia pulled the glowing hot doorknob out of the back door and strode into the interior of the house.
After tearing a bit of their clothing off to use as impromptu masks, Torq and Thistle followed Sylvia into the house. The trio was hit with a wave of smell that was so pungent that it felt physical. Sylvia, in the weird, otherworldly part of herself, felt at home in the stench, while Torq had no problem enduring it. Thistle, even though she was masking her face, was overcome by the smell and promptly added to the mess by throwing up on the floor.
The terrible smell was apparently coming from the rotting vegetables and meats stored in the root cellar cabinets and the pantry. Liquids had leached out of both areas and were pooled on the floor. Alley rats from outside swarmed in and immediately started lapping at the liquids. Keotsi entered the room and noted that aside from the rotting organic matter, everything in the kitchen was immaculate and untouched. Thistle thought to open one of the cabinets that may have once contained meats but imagined the maggots that she’d encounter and threw up again. Torq examined the thin layer of dust across the floor and noted that the film was unbroken by any footsteps.
The team turned their attention to a door connected directly to the kitchen, and immediately noted the weird aspect of the door. The wood of the door and the wood of the door jamb had seemed to flow together and form as one solid structure. Cat entered the kitchen and ascertained that some sort of magic must have been used to conjoin the two separate features into a single wooden mass. Torq took a moment to throw his weight against the door, but it didn’t give against his force.
After noting the matter seeping from the pantry, the group decided to explore the depths of the house. An open corridor led from the kitchen to a dining room. The dining room was immaculately set, but all silverware was missing. The only item of value left in the dining room was a holy symbol of Wee Jas, hung on a wall over the dining table, but it had been damaged by a forceful blow. Sylvia noted that the holy symbol was silver, and although it was a thin bas relief, it would have taken a forceful blow in order to damage it so badly. Cat took it down off the wall for later use.
The crew proceeded from the dining room through a curtained partition and found themselves in the living room of the house. As with the other rooms they had passed through, the room was well-preserved but was absent of anything of value.
Torq noticed that there was an oil painting depicting the Woman King Elspeth above the mantle, and had the thought to look behind it. Going on his hunch, he found a leather satchel hidden in the frame behind the stretched canvas. It contained a parchment of a mystical nature. Unsure of what he had found, he handed the scroll off to Keotsi for further inspection.
Keotsi reviewed the scroll and realized that it was a magical invocation that would protect people from attacks by others. After this realization, he passed the scroll around to the rest of the group, who began to understand the magical invocations as they read it. Recognizing the ramifications of the magic in this object, an argument broke out between members of the group over who should possess it.
Keotsi, concerned about the discord created by the identification of the scroll, snatched it back and retreated to the staircase leading to the second floor. Using chance as his guide, he threw it out to the other members of the party.
As Sylvan grabbed the thrown scroll, the party heard an unmistakable noise of someone moving upstairs. Keotsi communicated what he saw: the undead corpse of a dead man trying to navigate out of a bedroom.
The Second Floor
Torq and Sylvan charged up the stairs past Keotsi and dashed into the bedroom where Keotsi had seen the figure aimlessly bumping into the door. Once in the bedroom, they realized that there weren’t just one, but two, undead figures in the room.
Once Keotsi made it to the second floor landing, he took a moment to assess the situation and realized that there were two other zombies coming out of other bedrooms. The group was surrounded! All of the dead were wearing bed clothes, and with the exception of the mother, all of them had their throats cut.
Sylvan, suddenly realizing that he was dealing with more than one member of the undead, turned his attention to what was probably the mother. After noting that there was a jeweled dagger sticking from the side of her head, he used his swords to pierce the other side of her head before kicking her body away and stabbing it in the stomach and pushing it away from him. Once it was down, he kept stabbing it until it stopped moving.
Thistle attacked the creature that was once the older brother, stabbing it so many times around the knee that it began to sever the tendons in the leg. It wasn’t enough to stop it from slamming into Keotsi, injuring him significantly. While Keotsi struggled to free himself from the older brother, he was also attacked by the remains of the young daughter. While he was able to beat her back, he fell unconscious from his injuries.
While Thistle continued to fight the zombie siblings, Sylvia stepped behind her and cast a bolt of fire at the daughter zombie. The spell was so well focused that it shot directly into the corpse’s mouth and exploded the zombie’s head into a spray of gore.
Just after Cat had healed Keotsi back to consciousness, she heard the noise of something slamming against the mysterious door downstairs. Once she heard the cracking of wood, she made the decision to make her way off in the night, taking the silver symbol of Wee Jas along with her as she fled.
With two of the zombies defeated, the battle quickly turned in favor of the explorers. What was the brother was taken down. Torq had been injured by the remains of the father, but was able to beat it hard enough to collapse its chest and send it to the floor. With the battle quieting down, the rest of the team was now hearing the cracking of wood from downstairs. The zombie father begin to rise from the floor, but Torq smashed its head end and ended the battle.
Once the dead had been rendered fully immobile, most of the remaining members of the group took a few quick moments to ransack the top floor of the house. The exception was Sylvan, who opened a back window and escaped off into the night. Thistle, after navigating the ichor and brains exploded throughout the daughter’s bedroom, recovered a necklace that the corpse had been wearing. The necklace was made of a fine gold and featured a large red gemstone – likely a ruby – as a pendant. Thistle also grabbed the plainest dress she could find from the girl’s closet.
Sylvia entered the parents’ room and went directly to the bassinet in the corner. Thankfully, there was no zombie baby in the bed.
Torq did a sweep of the parent’s room, finding a book with a letter in it under the mattress, and a grayish potion with silver swirls beneath one of the pillows of the blood-stained bed.
Just after the group had fled the house, they heard the sound of the mystery door being smashed through. They didn’t slow down to look behind them.
After the House
Now late into the night, the group reconvened at the Free Basement Publican in order to assess their take. After taking some time to study the items taken from the Dohrmann house, Keotsi and Sylvia determine that the necklace is a Periapt of Health, a protection against disease, and that the gray-silver potion recovered from behind a pillow is a Potion of Stone Giant Strength. Sylvia determined that the ornate dagger retrieved from the wife’s corpse was not magic, but was probably worth some money. Torq looked at the inset pattern of jewels on the dagger’s hilt and noted that each of the stones corresponded to one of the four elements: earth, water, air and fire.
Before adjourning for the night, Torq read the letter he’d found to the group:
Please write as soon as you can, for I wish for you to tell me that my darling Alfie is adjusting to life with you. Frederick tells me that everything will be arranged for our move next month, but I worry that something will happen to us before then. Our oldest and most devout friends have turned away from the goddess and have embraced a debased darkness. They tell us that they have unleashed their “best selves” and implore us to join them, but I can plainly see the madness in their eyes. Oh, if it were up to me, we would leave this cursed city tomorrow! It pains me so much to be away from my Alfie. Please write soon to tell me that he is well.
Until the embrace of the goddess,
Torq carried around the vial of the gaseous/liquid material for a few days in order to show it off to friends and acquaintances. After talking to a few people, he felt confident that this was a Potion of Gaseous Form.
A few days after visiting the house, the members of the club heard that there was a major disturbance in that neighborhood. A terrible smelling corpse had been attacking a devouring
people in the streets. Ultimately, it was taken down by eight city guards, although two were killed and four were badly injured during the fight. Once it was destroyed, the city guard determined that it was the body of a house maid.