Zhilin Campaign Journal #4: The Cracked Mug

Now we’re getting to where we see the characters in action… Last time we got them on their way to their first assignment, finding a missing young girl.

The Cracked Mug

The tavern they were sent to is one of many in the East Quarter. It has a worn sign above the door featuring a cracked beer mug with foam.

Once inside, they found a small establishment with five round tables, a bar along the back wall, and a barred door in the other corner. A barkeep was polishing glasses behind the counter and a few people were nursing drinks, chatting and eating meals.

Bart, the cleric, made a beeline for the door in the corner when the bartender yelled at him “Hey! Hey you! Where are you going?”

“In there.” he replied, somewhat cryptically.

“Maybe this large group of city guards would like to tell me what they’re after before they storm into my basement?”

At that, they questioned the barkeep, an old man named Celi. He dodges all the questions but suggests that if the guards take care of the problem in his cellar, maybe he might remember something useful…

He told them about his rat problem. Large rats. At least three of them, last he checked.

The Cellar

Part of the team worked their way down the stairs. Bart chose to stay upstairs to question the locals. The skinny guy in the robe, whose name turned out to be Avil when they asked, stayed upstairs as well, but just sat at one of the empty tables looking around.
Meanwhile, Solo, Hansel, and Dagara unbarred the door and headed down. As they reached the bottom of the stairs, they saw a 30 foot corridor that ended in a door — but the corridor and door were bathed in shadow. The only light came from the tavern above.

Hansel lit a torch and the trio headed to the door. Tyrion hung back a bit and then headed down after them, drawing his bow in the process.

There was a burned out torch in a sconce next to the door. The torch burned out long ago.

(While all of this was going on, Bart stopped at the table of a slender lady with red hair and sharp eyes. She’s wearing modest garments and numerous rings. When he asks her if she had seen the young lady they were searching for, she stood, did a full 360 degree scan of the room, then sat down and said “Nope” before going back to her mug of ale.)

When they opened the door, they saw a room approximately 30 or 40 feet across and at least that wide, with a door directly across from them. The door is open and a set of beady little eyes was reflecting the torchlight.

The Battle

From that point on, there was a brief skirmish between the party and a group of six giant rats. At the first sound of combat, Bart headed down the stairs with a loaded crossbow. And the battle was very one-sided. Between the front room and a back room, they slaughtered the rats pretty quickly, but here are the high points:

  • 1 rat was sliced in two by Solo’s large sword. It was then set on fire.
  • 1 rat exploded when hit by Dagara’s “Spirit Flame” spell.
  • 1 rat was sliced and diced into three pieces by Tyrion.
  • 1 rat was skewered by one of Bart’s crossbow bolts and stuck to a barrel in a corner of the next room, dripping blood.
  • 1 rat was knocked unconscious and later brained by Hansel.
  • Solo did an impressive spinning sword move that got him into the thick of the rats, but managed to avoid hitting any of them in the process. 🙂
  • Bart cast a Light spell that impressively brightened the day.
  • Rat fur and flesh smokes and stinks to high heaven, so lighting them on fire probably wasn’t the best idea. 🙂

To say that the rats never had a chance would be an understatement. I will definitely need to beef up the next battle so it presents more of a challenge.

There was a lot of debate about how and when to use those brownie points during the combat, which I found amusing.

The Aftermath

Hansel moved a few of the barrels and discovered a hole in the wall leading down to the sewers. He didn’t see any eyes looking back at him, but figured that was where they were coming in from.

During the battle, during his impressive spin move, Solo noticed something odd about some of the barrels in the second room. Each barrel has a logo on it. Though two of them had the Cracked Mug on them, three others had different logos — a lightning bolt, a Ram’s head, and a bull. Was it possible that Celi the barkeep was stealing ale from other vendors?

When they brought him downstairs to show him their handiwork — after all, the rat problem was taken care of — they confronted him about the barrels. It turns out that he had an arrangement with The Goons, a local gang in the Neath, and they supplied him with some of the ales from his competitors. He also told them that the girl, Kathel, was thought to be waiting for a boy named Sago. Sago was a member of the Orange Hand, another gang in the Neath. To find Sago, they would have to find their way to Haven in the sewers beneath Zhilin and speak to their leaders.

Rather than face any legal troubles, Celi agreed to:

  • Reach out to the Orange Hand and see if he can locate Sago. It will take a few hours, so he recommends they come back tomorrow night.
  • Give the squad free alcohol for life if they keep his secret.
  • Give the squad one free meal each day if they keep his secret.

The squad seemed ok with those terms, so they let things slide while he got to work on their behalf. In the meantime, they headed upstairs to chat with the locals further and see if they could glean any more details before their shift ended at sunrise.

It will be a bit before our next session, due to some scheduling issues, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens from here!

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