It is midsummer in Vandire, the capital city of the realm. Today is the day the nobles families from all over the realm make their great procession into the city to take up residence here for a few months before scattering back to their estates. With them come the hordes of folk looking for jobs, and the connection to a noble household that might grant them steady employment in the future. Those of us already working in the city have to deal with the competition for even the most trivial of employment. It's a good thing we already have proven ourselves in our jobs before the flood arrives.
But there must be more than printing books, delivering the mail, and volunteering at the temple...
Thugs at the Inn
At the end of the work day, the three of us met up back at home, the Rusty Scabbard Inn, where we rent a room from the innkeeper Lawrence. Tygon the human ranger works as a postal courier. Merka the half-orc paladin works as a postal courier and also volunteers at the temple. Durga works in a printer's shop.
Outside the inn, the festivities of Ceremony Day were underway, when the noble houses of the realm (along with their households) arrive from all over the kingdom to take up residence in Vandire for a few months. The arrival is a massive parade with much pomp and circumstance.
Heading up the stairs, we heard voices coming from inside our room, with one voice saying something to the effect of "just do it already". We burst into the room and confronted a pair of ruffians who were in the process of splashing lamp oil on the beds and walls. One of the two was trying to light a match.
We surprised them, and Merka and Tygon jumped to the attack while Durga readied a Charm Person spell. With Tygon the ranger wielding a pair of short swords and Merka the paladin wielding a maul in two hands, short work was made of the thug with the match. Having failed to charm the remaining thug, Durga grabbed his axe from under his bed and joined the fray. With everyone hitting on almost every attack, the second thug soon went down. Both unconscious enemies were hogtied, woken up and interrogated. The party was able to learn that the thugs were hired by a hooded and cloaked figure to burn down the inn, and then to report back to him at the Tower of Rah (5 minutes away) to get the second half of their payment when the job was done. We took the 40 GP they had on them (the first half of their payment, and a princely sum in its own right), their weapons and other sellable items, and turned them over to innkeeper Lawrence so that he could take care of them. Merka believes that Lawrence was going to turn them over to the authorities, but the rest of the party knows that the thugs (Harold and James by name) were knifed and their bodies dumped in the river. There is something tough about Lawrence in his distant past, but we don't know what it is. Perhaps someday we will find out.
The parade of nobles continued outside the inn. It seems someone wanted to make a commotion.
The Tower of Rah
Leaving the inn, we headed quickly toward the Tower of Rah, hoping to spot the man who hired the thugs. This part of the city was relatively quiet, with the parade a little ways behind us drawing most of the crowds and attention. Approaching the Tower, a 5 story public bell tower, we saw nobody, and decided to go inside and search it. Tygon managed to climb partway up the outside while Merka and Durga went up the stairs. When a dog started barking high above, Tygon came in the third floor window and the three went up the remains stairs together.
Not one of great patience, Merka opened the door at the top of the final stairs and promptly got shot by an arrow. Shrugging off the minor wound, she charged at the hooded figure alone in the room (with his dog). Effective two hand sword work by Tygon, a few well placed attack cantrips and a critical hit by Merka took down the foe in short order, with Tygon dispatching the dog as well. We continued to be very successful with our attacks, and this probably should have been a much tougher fight than it was.
Attempting to interrogate our disabled foe, we were too slow to realize that he had swallowed a poison capsule. His last words as he died were something along the lines of "it's too late; things are in motion". He had the other 40 GP on him, as well as what we interpreted to be white and black signal flags.
To make a point in case any of the dead man's allies were watching, we stripped him of his valuable chainmail armor and tossed the dead body out the fifth floor window. We looked around. In the distance (from our excellent vantage point), our sharp-eyed ranger noticed a figure standing near barrels stacked around the support columns of one of the two main bridges over the river that bisects the city - the bridge over which the Ceremony Day parade was passing. As we watched, a long fuse was lit and the figure hopped in a small boat to get to the next support column, which also had barrels stacked around it.
We ran down the Tower stairs to run to the bridge.
Displaying uncannily high dexterity, we quickly worked our way through the crowd to get to the bridge. As Merka and Tygon ran to get to the mysterious figure under the bridge, Durga used Prestidigitation to make himself as loud as possible in order to scare the parade people away from the bridge and attract guards.
Leaping down to the platform on which the bridge support rests, Merka and Tygon engage the figure, who turns out to be a cleric of some sort. An Inflict Wounds spell is avoided, and another powerful spell is cast at Merka, hitting her, but miraculously doing only 5 damage (out of a range of 3-30). More excellent die rolls by Tygon and Merka rain consistent damage on the foe, and the second critical hit of the day by Merka does a whopping 28 damage and blasts the cleric's shattered body into the river (where his dead body would soon be recovered by the guards).
Tygon immediately lept up on to the bridge to run to the other end to get to the fuse, and got there in time to extinguish the threat.
The party was questioned by the guards, and then taken to be interviewed by Warmaster Felix of the king's guard. A token of a green and red eight-sided star was given to each of the player's for their service.
Exactly what comes of the rest of this conversation remains to be seen.
Player's Notes - This was a fabulous first session, and I had an absolute blast playing D&D for the first time in decades. The quick and easy summary of the session is that we rolled well. Exceeding well. At everything. We almost never missed a melee attack, and consistently did good damage. A critical hit occurs on a natural 20 on a d20, or 5% of the time, but in this session I was particularly pleased that my character (Merka) managed two of them and did massive damage each time. This is particularly satisfying given that the "Savage Attacks" half-orc racial feature is one of Merka's special abilities (and that one of my primary character focuses is to do damage). Having it come up twice in one session (out of maybe 8 melee attacks) was a real treat, and statistically very unlikely. Hopefully it doesn't mean that I never roll one again.
Due to the fact that we did roll so well, we defeated all of the challenges placed before us, and got 416 XP each, which means we all advance to level 2. Lots of abilities get unlocked at levels 2 and 3, so we will be much more versatile and rugged in the next session.
I can't wait to see what comes next...