Trouble in the Silver Marches

A Little Background
or How did we get into this mess?

I have so much role playing stuff and so many ideas rolling around in my head, I decided to run a solo game for my wife. I really enjoyed the 2nd edition Forgotten Realms and had been buying most of the books put out for 3rd and decided to set the campaign there. It is a bit daunting, being so large and full of high-level NPC’s and threats, but as this is also an exercise for me to push my own DMing abilities, I took the authors’s advice and have made it my own.

Not that I am a new DM. I was the only DM for my group for 7 or 8 years. But we played a more open style. Mostly action/adventure. I never really developed NPC skills – they all seem to end up the same to me. It may not have helped that I have always had large parties to deal with. I never wanted to hold up everyone else’s fun to develop one character’s relationship with an NPC, so the NPC didn’t develop much. But now I hope to change that some.

So I narrowed down where to set the campaign to several places. I have always liked the Savage Frontier as a setting, although more along the coast. I thought about Cormyr with its struggles to right itself in the wake of the loss of its king. As a mostly model feudal society, with all those nobles I could have a lot of intrigue. The Dalelands are never a bad place to start. Up around the Moonsea, since I have the sourcebook with an adventure path in it.

But I picked the Silver Marches. There is some varied terrain. A whole host of various peoples to deal with. A newly formed alliance of city-states trying to figure out where to go from here and how to do it. Plenty of ancient tombs and strongholds to explore and plunder. Silverymoon. The appearance of the City of Shade adding more stress. I was going through the books Lords of Darkness, Champions of Ruin and Champions of Valor looking for interesting adventure ideas, and since my wife had decided to run a wizard, I thought the Guardians of the Weave could be interesting. I saw that Champions of Valor was actually set three or so years after the campaign setting book itself, so I figured I’d give Gwen Corliss a chance to get in on the ground floor and help shape it some.

I have a lot of modules in my library. I don’t always start with a module when I begin a campaign, but I find it easier to use them most times. My first level adventures don’t always come out very creatively, and I wanted to use some of the stuff I have bought over the years, so I chose the Sunless Citadel. Sure, it’s 3.0, but it’s easy to update it. And it fits pretty well among all the lost strongholds and fallen tombs in the Silver Marches. Just one more sunken fortress that usually gets picked over every few years by new adventurers that might be due for another sweep.

And I decided to start my wife’s PC in Everlund. It’s like Silverymoon lite. A close ally, yet more frontier-like. A small city. I didn’t want my wife to start in Silverymoon and sort of be blase about the wonders there, because it truly is a wondrous city. So nearby.

And then when we were getting ready to start, another friend was hanging out for awhile and we asked if he wanted to play, too (he is in our regular group) and he said yes and rolled up a spellthief.

And there’s the out of game background.

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Working For a Living
Wherein our heroes find employment

Elesias 2, 1372 DR (Year of Wild Magic)

It has been a few tendays since Gwen Corliss graduated from the new Everlund College of Wizardry. Midsummer and Shieldmeet have both come and gone, but she and her new friends Rak Delarren and Clay Kyndrwyen could not seem to agree on which of the many old tombs and fallen strongholds dotting the area should be their first adventuring destination. They sat around Rughar’s House, a combination inn-tavern-brothel-gambling den discussing and discarding several alternatives.

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Into the Sunken Citadel
Wherein our heroes discover what adventuring is all about...

DM Note I am writing a bunch of this several months after it happened, so I may miss some things that happened. I also won’t have as much dialogue typed out because I was able to cut and paste from a campaign journal I was typing up on my computer for the first post, but not any others.

The heroes skirted around a hidden pit in the dimly lit courtyard, then stepped into a dark circular room. Rak took out one of his sunrods and tapped it on the wall to light the room. There were two obvious exits from the room. The party checked the first one and found a long narrow room which held another large rat. This one managed to take a bite out of Clay , and the wound didn’t take long to turn a nasty looking red color. The only other door out of there was locked well beyond Clay’s ability to open it, so the group decided to try the other door.

A hallway stretched into the darkness and the soft scraping sound came faintly to their ears. Clay moved down the hallway, followed by Rak and Gwen side by side. After several paces, there were two doors across from each other in the hall. The one on the right was empty, but the one on the left contained a large keg. Rak shook it and heard a a liquid sloshing inside.

“Could be water to wash your wound with,” he suggested to Clay. With a shrug, they pulled the bung out of the top, and were immediately set upon by a tiny winged creature with slick skin the color of a deep lake. It belched out a spray of some caustic liquid at Rak, then set on Clay with its sharp claws. Rak’s long sword flashed out, distracting it from Clay, who stabbed it hard with his short sword. A hard bash with Rak’s shield sent the small monstrosity flying away before it could be dispatched. The adventurers, however, found a small stash of small sapphires. Already they were getting rich!

In the next room, they stumbled across a small form whining piteously under some blankets. When prodded, the little reptilian creature jumped up and begged for its life in a high-pitched, gravelly voice. Then it realized that these mighty heroes could help it get its tribe’s mascot, Calcryx, back from the goblins further in the citadel. Meepo took them to see his leader, Yusdrayl, to work out the deal to help. The group realized that a key Yusdrayl had on a hook behind her might be the key to the room they couldn’t open before, so they bargained for it, and also bought a coupe of herbalist potions that would help against poison. With a bargain in place, the three adventurers, with the hapless Meepo, went to retrieve the mascot.

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Against the goblins
Wherein our heroes learn that goblins can be crafty

The party went out into the crumbling ruin, following their diminutive guide’s lead towards the goblins’ territory. They passed through some empty rooms, and found one with a dry fountain in it. It was ornate, though crumbling like everything else, and the diving dragon it was shaped into was still beautiful. An inscription in Draconic found by Clay and read by Gwen filled the basin with a reddish, acrid liquid. A taste off a dipped finger, and Clay knew it would grant the ability to breathe fire if enough was imbibed.

Across the room was a relief-carved stone door. Clay’s nimble fingers picked the lock and the door opened to reveal five sarcophagi standing on end along the walls of the chamber. A small obsidian shrine stood against the far wall with a single candle still burning on it. Also on the shrine were an amulet and a small glass vial with a thick blue liquid in it. When Clay disturbed the items on the shrine, the doors on the sarcophagi fell down on the floor and 5 skeletons stepped out to reprimand the group for their sacrilege. The fight was short, but quite brutal, and it necessitated Clay using the potion and breathing fire on the skeletons to win. The party needed to rest overnight afterwards. They found a room they could fortify and slept to recover.

In the morning, they started out again towards the goblins. They went through a couple of empty rooms, then came to a closed door. When Clay had Rak open the door, a cowbell clanged loudly, announcing their presence to everyone within sixty feet. Rak flinched and Clay shrugged apologetically. When they finally entered the room, javelins came from behind a low wall through the air at them. The floor was strewn with caltrops, slowing the group’s progress and allowing the goblins to throw several more javelins before Rak could get to them. He and Clay finished them off in a hurry then.

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More goblins
How come you can make-um snowballs in summertime?

The next room contained more goblin guards, alerted by the fight in the previous area. They were just getting ready to come help the javelin throwers when the party came into their room. The fight was short, with Rak doing most of the damage because he was just plain too hard for the guards to get around.

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The End of Yusdrayl
The spellthief actually gets to steal spells!

The group decided to rest and heal as best they could, then they headed back to Yusdrayl’s throne room, letting the dragon walk until they were close. Gwen held Calcryx in her hands after casting mage armor on herself. Stopping before the guards, Gwen held out the tribe’s mascot and as Yusdrayl approached to take it, he leapt up and let loose with a burst of cold, taking out one of the guards.

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Dragonpriest's Tomb
An abomination locked away

After Gwen made her scrolls, the group decided they could use a healer along with them. Heading to the Temple of Lathander, they asked the priest there if he had anyone he could spare to help them on their quest to find what happened to Mistress Hucrele’s children. The priest quoted a donation amount necessary to procure the services of an underpriest and sent Dearborn Bickell to travel with the party.

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Rats!
Someone call an exterminator -- wait, that's us!

After leaving the final resting place of a disgraced priest of a dragon cult that was active centuries ago, the group decided to head to some other hallways and rooms they had skipped over before.

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Finishing off the Goblins
The final fight on the first level

After another night’s rest to replenish spells, the only things left on this level were the party and the goblins let to defend their turf.

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Second Floor
What is going on in the basement?

Loaded down with gems, jewelry and other equipment, our heroes stumbled themselves awkwardly back to town, almost dragging their loot.

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