A sprawling maze of cobblestone streets wrapped in wet fog.
Port of mystery, nest of corruption and dark dealings.
Also, some of the restaurants are pretty good.
Early spring and the chill of winter still clings to the air in Ravensport, largest and oldest port city of the Eastern Alliance. After a night of carousing at the Red Arrow tavern, clerics Ephraim the Pious ( +S Pate ) and Norf ( +Josiah Pisciotta ), and magic user Pelagios ( +Robert Charles, W. ) make their way into the dark and mostly-empty streets. Suddenly, a pained shriek splits the air. Never ones to turn down an adventure, the trio hustle toward the darkened alley from which the noise came.
Drawing weapons and torches, they enter the narrow aisle to find a prostrate young man in fine garb, his chest cut open from breastbone to navel, his belt pouches torn open, and his blood soaking the cobblestones. Towering over and pawing at him is a strange beast: humanoid in form but seven feet high and four or five feet wide and dressed in a flowing purple robe decorated in gold symbols. The creature turns to face our three adventurers, revealing mottled gray skin covered in warts and growths, a snout-like nose and tusked mouth, and hands and feet ending in thick, three-toed claws.
"Stop! What are you doing?" the party yells, but their only answer is a harsh phrase in a language none of them speak. As they advance on the creature, it leaps into the air and claws its way up the side of one of the buildings. Ephraim and Pelagios rush to tend to the injured man and Norf attempts to hold the monster with a spell. It pauses for a second then shakes off the enchantment and climbs onto the roof, disappearing.
Between the two clerics (Norf and Ephraim), they quickly pull the injured man back from death's door but after a brief thanks, he seems to want nothing more than to make a quick escape. He even leaves his spilled coins on the ground.
While the two clerics spend the rest of the night asking Red Arrow patrons and city watchmen about strange purple-robed monsters (rumors speak of an influx of purple-robed wizards in the city), Pelagios disappears to the far side of the city to check out the local mages' guild which, at midnight, is closed. So rather than waste too much time looking for monsters, he decides to check in to The Unicorn, a fancy inn, and sample their luxury rooms and fine fare.
The next morning, Ephraim and Norf arrive at breakfast to find out from a city watchman that the man they saved is the son of a wealthy merchant house in Ravensport... and that he never returned home last night. And speaking of missing persons, where is that magic user guy who was in our party, anyway?
Oh there he is. Walking through the market and guild district, the clerics pass by a rather posh-looking inn and there, through the front window, they spy Pelagios living quite large on roast boar, potatoes, bread, cheese, and a morning glass of wine. At this point Norf and Ephraim also decided that a hearty meal in comfortable surroundings took precedence over chasing down monsters, so the three characters sat down to a lengthy second breakfast until, finally, they caught sight of a purple-robed figure passing by on the street. No wait. Ephraim sticks his head out the door to see that the purple wizard has disappeared into the mages' guild. And thennnnn.... they go back to eating, finishing their meal before wandering back toward the guild.
[I'm thinking all of these guys should have played
After a quick trip in and out of the mages' guild (where they pretty much got swindled into donating 200gp for only a little useful information), they spot a different purple-robed mage out on the street who leads them into a back alley, through a side-door, and down into a basement where he procedes to threaten the characters. "Stop asking questions," he tells them. That advice doesn't really work for them and after a few minutes, the mage disappears through a warded door and calls in four armed guards.
And here began the melee of not-so-great-fighters. Seriously. Three characters vs. four minor guards and the battle took at least a half-hour--most of which was spent swinging weapons to no effect on both sides. Eventually, though, the characters won out.
But how to get past the warded door? Well, Pelagios decided to set it on fire with a torch, Norf added a flask of oil, and then Ephraim beat the smoldering remains from the frame with a trusty 10' pole.
What lies in the darkness beyond?
Only the next session will tell...