The Tales of Randol Overhill Explorer Extraordinaire
[Spoiler Alert! This tale is based on the events that one party experienced from the perspective of one of the characters playing through DDAL08-02 Beneath the City of the Dead.]
Randol arrived in Waterdeep from Phandalin, eager to find work and acquire quality lodgings. After exhausting most of his funds, he was lucky enough to run into Kockie, a dwarven priest to Lathander the Morninglord. Kockie had found a map to a treasure hoard located in the City of the Dead, the cute name given to the city’s extensive cemetery. He joined the Dwarven Priests ‘ quest mainly for lack of anything better to do and because a halfling needs to eat. The walk to the cemetery was relatively uneventful, and Randol enjoyed taking in the sites and the sounds of the thriving city streets. Entering the Andamarr Gate, the group lazily strolled through the cemetery, looking for the Bost Family crypt detailed on Kockies map.
It would be appropriate to introduce the rest of the rabble assembled by the priest. Randol’s traveling companion and friend Nora of the circle of the moon. Nora is a Tiefling that follows the druidic path. A fellow halfling, Devin Shortfellow, joined the dwarves’ quest. Devin served a righteous order of holy Paladins. Fry is a human ranger that had wandered into Waterdeep to find something, but he doesn’t talk much, so not much is known about him. Finally, and perhaps unexpectedly, Kockie hired a very young Hobgoblin sorcerer named Gorack.
Into the city of the dead.
After wandering through the perfectly manicured grounds, the party was approached by a groundskeeper who quickly identified the party as treasure hunters. The groundskeeper offered a simple exchange of information for help finding and stopping what was killing the flock of sheep he used to keep the field mowed. In retrospect, this should have been the first clue. The groundskeeper knew we were looking for the Bost family crypt because we were not the first group to head into the graveyard hunting for the family’s rumored treasure. Challenged accepted, we set out to find the herd and the coyotes or wolves hunting them.
Finding the herd was easy enough. After a few minutes of searching for tracks or signs, the group was interrupted by the howling of a rabid dog charging the herd and them. Randol let loose an arrow and slipped into the shadows of a nearby mausoleum with a swift sidestep. After his companions took up fighting positions, he noticed the dog was running from a gaggle of ghoulish creatures that were once humans but are now undead.
Nora let loose a handful of fire before shifting into her bear form. Randol never gets used to seeing the Tiefling transform into the hulking grizzly but is always glad when his comrade tears through those fullish enough to stand in front of her fury. She quickly ripped through the first ghoul that stepped within striking distance. Randol got one more shot off before Fry and Gorak (the young hobgoblin) dispatched the remaining ghouls.
The Bost family crypt.
True to his word, the groundskeeper led the group of young adventures to a concealed entrance tucked in an alcove of the Bost family crypt. The entrance revealed a ladder leading down into the crypts. After a short jaunt down a well-constructed stone block passage, the party came to a door. The door swung open, revealing six skeletal warriors mounted on warhorses. Fry slams the door, and the party debates for several minutes about the next course of action. Finally, Gorack swings the door open and rushes the skeletons. The skeletons were soldiers in life. They formed defensive lines with the warhorses being coaxed to trample the group as they ran in. Gorack and Randol were the first victims of their own poor choices. The warhorse and volley of arrows were enough to cause them to both collapse from their wounds. The luck of the halfling folk is nothing to take lightly. Devin smashed through one of the warhorses with a rushing shield bash and a masterful swing of his long sword. Seconds after, Nora pushed into the room in her great grizzly form. Another horse collapsed with a great heave of her claw and gnashing of teeth.
Kockie gracefully entered the room, grasping his holy symbol through which he channeled the energy of the Morning lord. He healed all of his companions. Once the party was on its feet, the squad executed tactics that smashed the skeletons into splinters. An aberration entered the room through the door on the left wall. The party prepared to battle yet more undead when the ghost spoke, asking for help in finding her sister. She said she couldn’t rest until she knew what had happened to her sister. After a few minutes of discussion, the party decided to assist the ghost with information about opening the concealed door behind the statue.
Rank and file, the team marched down the hall until they crossed the point the ghost refused to cross. Leaving their ethereal guide behind, they pushed on into the crypt. Rats scurry about, running from the light produced by our human friend’s torch. Further in, the crypt opened up into a larger room. We quickly found Suri, the ghost’s sister, with a quick scan of the area. Suri knew her sister was looking for her but didn’t want to reveal that she had been cursed with lycanthrope. She was afraid her sister could rest until she was cured. Randol, master of deception, stepped up and convinced the aberration that her sister had fallen in an epic battle with a now slain wererat. After fulfilling her end of the bargain, the ghost finally drifted to the plains of the dead. Suri left the crypts in search of a priest to remove her curse.
The hall was damp, cool, and musky. Just as described, the hall ended at a door. Cautiously the group entered the grand room. Spiraling great staircases twisted to the floor above connecting the upper and lower floor. Two statues stood as silent guards at the foot of the steps. On the upper floor was a portrait of an older woman with grey hair with her family behind her. The woman was staring at an idol holding a goldenrod. The very goldenrod that Suni said we needed to get to the treasure room.
Quickly Randol scanned the area for anything that looked like it would be the same weight. Grabbing a stone of what he hoped was equal weight, Randol not so swiftly swapped the two items. It did not work! The statues animated, the swords that hung against the walls animated, and the painting began to grin. It was horrifying!
Nora entered the fray in the usual form, a ball of flame followed by a transformation into a hulking grizzly. Devin channels his holy energy and strikes down the first suit of armor with a flurry of blows that only a master swordsman could deliver. Kockie and Gorack battled the animated swords, and after a few blows, they were able to crack the blades. Nora snapped a sword with a chump of her mighty jaw. That left the battle on the balcony.
It all happened so fast. Randol felt a sense of horror and fear from the painting but couldn’t do anything. He was petrified with fear. That left Gorath and Fry to destroy the painting. After considerable effort and the assistance of Devin, the painting was destroyed and the key to the secret door retrieved. The band of heroes strolled to the secret door and whispered plans amongst themselves. The others being distracted, Randol confronted the guards, convincing them he was there to see the vampire that Suni had warned them about. Bursting into the room and bowing deeply to the vampire, whose name we later learned to be Artor Morlon.
Artor glances at the pile of maps amassed at the wall. “Not again,” frustration more than anger flashes through the vampire’s eyes. Immediately Randol begins to twist a tale of guile and deception. Amused by the halflings, charade Artor stops to listen as the rest of the party filed into the room. Randol expanded, “it seems you have an adventures problem.” He continues, “Someone is selling maps to your home.” Artor seems to grow angry again but listens to the halflings’ tale a little longer. “We offer our services to track down this offender and bring him to you for justice, for a nominal fee, of course.” His ear only offsets Randol’s poise and grace-to-ear grin. Artor deems to pounder the proposal.
To be continued…