The Tanius Campaign Journal – Chapter 22: The Blackthorn Syndicate

The Tanius Campaign Journal
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I immediately asked Renlia if Sturgis accepting her help meant what I thought it meant. She smiled, nodded her head, and confirmed that the resurrection spell was completed earlier that day and Sturgis was recovering in the Stillfall district.

The joyous yelp I made must of startled the nearby patrons, because once I had settled down a bit I noticed everyone was staring at me. A gathered myself the best I could, but the joy I was feeling was difficult for this halfling to contain.

Once Renlia had concluded her tale I assembled my notes and wrote her a summary. I also gave her my recommendation to prove she was innocent of any wrong-doing in the case of the death of the Blackheart family lineage. Since there would likely be a Stillfall magi assigned to the investigation it would be in her best interest to have them investigate the ethereal plane near the manor. If Sturgis truly was successful in killing the wench, then the corpse of a Night Hag would exonerate her of any guilt.

Renlia thanked me for my council and told me that she would likely pursue the recommended course of action. We shook hands and moments later it was just Josh and me sitting at the table as she walked out the door.

I graciously thanked Josh for the arranging the meeting with Renlia, and asked if he was still willing to fill me in on the party’s whereabouts. Josh smiled and told me that he had already met with the party ealier that day. It turned out that the city watchmen would be fighting along-side our heroes in the inaugural battle of the Endgar Games.

Lore: The Endgar Games

During the last week of the Tanius festival there is always an event known as The Endgar Games. During the games the coliseum opens up, and there are a number of brutal battles that take place. The battles typically featured local heroes facing off against notorious prisoners who had caused settlements all around Tanius a great deal of grief.

The intent of the battles was to give these communities the satisfaction of seeing their tormentors brutally slain in battle. While the skirmishes typically served their purpose, it was not unusual to see the forces of good suffer casualties as well.

During this meeting they also told him the events that took place during their trek back to Endgar. Fortunately for me Josh was in a charitable mood and offered to fill me in on the details if I was interested.

Given that my parchment, quill, and ink were already sprawled across the table, I figured it would be silly to not take him up on his offer.

Indebted

Campaign Log Day 8 – Part 1
20th day of Kythorn – Morning
Year of The Rebuked Storm – 1574 Dale Reckoning
Endgar Outskirts – Blackheart Manor

It turns out that our merry band of dragonborn, dwarves, and elves decided on a name for themselves. The Blackthorn Syndicate is what they decided to go by. It was a fitting name for a group of warriors sharing the common interest of being a thorn in the side of the forces of darkness at work on Tanius.

However the good news didn’t end there. As you might expect, fighting through the animated remains of those she once considered kin took a bit of an emotional toll on Renlia. By the time the dust had cleared she had lost what little interest remained in picking up the pieces around Blackheart Manor. As a result she decided to try killing two birds with one stone.

She could never really fully repay the party for the favor they had done her, but she could pay them handsomely none the less. As the last known survivor of the Blackheart family lineage she was the sole heiress to the manor they just finished clearing out. Since she had final say what happened to the family assets, she decided to offer the entire estate to the Syndicate. She even offered to handle all of the paperwork, an offer that they graciously accepted.

With the plan in place to transfer the manor over Renlia said her final farewells, and rode towards Endgar.

DM Note: Transition from Session 11 to 12

Session 11 ended after the party cleared the Crypt. There was also an interim session that was handled via email where the party was informed of a campaign changing event.

As payment for helping her recover Sturgis’ body Renlia offered to transfer ownership of the manor over to the party. To keep things fair she offered to create a member run company to transfer the deed over to. The party accepted both offers, and several days later Blackheart Manor became Blackthorn Manor, the stronghold of the newly formed Blackthorn Syndicate.

The party decided to spend a little bit of time familiarizing themselves with the manor. Much to their surprise most of the structures and assets were in fairly good condition. It turns out that a persistent cloud of dark magic is an effective deterrent to would be bandits and saboteurs.

The party scoped out the manor and quickly realized that there was enough space to turn this run down estate into a financial engine for the group. Renlia had also left them with the address of the old steward that used to run the manor. She believed he was likely still managing the families finances from his home in Endgar. Our heroes decided that it would be worth paying him a visit if they could make it back to Endgar in a timely manner.

Last but not least they were also able to figure out what the activation word was for the broomstick they had earned from their previous work with the mining guild.

DM NOTE: The Broomstick Poem

The party was not able to use the broom they acquired earlier immediately. Broom’s of Flying require an activation word to use, and this word remained a mystery for some time. Ungoldor investigated the journal they were given of the broom’s late owner and found the following poem with the final word scratched out near the end of the dungeon crawl in the manor.

Sometimes you are clumsy, but you’re always so sweet,
My tireless worker, is not a deadbeat.
I worry whenever you forage and roam,
But I know that you’ll always return to your home.
When you’re out and about, and in need of a lift,
I hope you’ll remember to turn to this gift.
As you strive to do what they say can’t be done,
May this give you wings under both moon and sun.
My love, My life, My little ____________

The command word is bumblebee.

Satisfied with their initial assessment of the manor, they gathered their belonging and started marching back towards the capitol.

Don’t worry they didn’t forget the loot in the family crypt before they left.

Treasure Horde

Item: Blackheart Greatsword
Item Type: Weapon
Description: A +1 Greatsword that has been bestowed additional powers. Once per day the wielder is able to trigger a level 1 Arms of Hadar spell whenever they hit their target. They also have the ability to cast Armor of Agathys once per day as a reaction whenever they receive damage.
Recipient: Rkard


Item: Wand of Web
Item Type: Wand
Description: This wand has 7 charges. While holding it, you can use an action to expend 1 of its charges to cast the web spell (save DC 15) from it. The wand regains 1d6 + 1 expended charges daily at dawn. If you expend the wand’s last charge, roll a d20. On a 1, the wand crumbles into ashes and is destroyed.
Recipient: Bellamy


Item: Plate Mail
Item Type: Heavy Armor
Description: Plate consists of shaped, interlocking metal plates to cover the entire body. A suit of plate includes gauntlets, heavy leather boots, a visored helmet, and thick layers of padding underneath the armor. Buckles and straps distribute the weight over the body.
Recipient: Kiddo


Item: Potion of Greater Healing
Item Type: Potion
Description: You regain hit points when you drink this potion. The number of hit points depends on the potion’s rarity, as shown in the Potions of Healing table. Whatever its potency, the potion’s red liquid glimmers when agitated.
Recipient: Bag of Holding


Item: 7x 50GP gemstones
Item Type: Gemstones
Description: Gemstones worth 50 GP on the open market.
Recipient: Bag of Holding


Item: 7x 100GP paintings
Item Type: Artwork
Description: Portraits of the Blackheart family worth 100 GP on the open market.
Recipient: Bag of Holding

Good Samaritans

The party decided to return to Endgar using the exact same path they took to the manor. After all, the road couldn’t have gotten THAT much more dangerous from the time they left, and they needed to make sure they had enough time to finish running errands once they got back to town.

The first four hours of their journey passed rather uneventfully, but the tone of the journey shifted once they reached a familiar landmark. They figured it would probably be best to check in on the drunken man whose home they had burned down the previous day.

Unfortunately for that man it appeared that the word of the wild travels fast. As the party approached the charred remains of his home, they noticed that he had another group of monstrous guests. Furthermore the situation for the man seemed to be fairly dire as the lumbering beasts searched through the wreckage calling for the “ogre slayer” to face them in combat.

Recognizing that the man’s lifespan could probably be measured in minutes, our heroes quickly formed a battle plan and launched a sneak attack on the interlopers.

Roll Initiative

Party: Bellamy(Sor-5), Kiddo(Ftr-1/Wlk-4), Kroul(Clr-5), Lilyth(Drd-5), Meesh(Rgr-4), Ungoldor(Rog-5), Rkard(Bbn-5)
Enemies: 1x Troll, 3x Ogre
Base Difficulty Rating: Deadly
Modified Difficulty Rating: Medium – The party is surprise attacking from range against melee only opponents. Furthermore they now have flying capabilities.
Expected Outcome: Moderate HP Loss
Actual Outcome: Minor HP Loss
Loot: None


Tactical Considerations: The party is starting the battle at maximum range. They should be able to get off a surprise attack, then have one to two rounds to continue pummeling from a distance. As long as they keep their distance this should be an easy battle.


How It Went Down: The party launched a successful surprise attack and brought an ogre down right away. Rkard and Joey engaged the monsters in melee while the party continued to pummel from a distance. Between Bellamy’s firebolt and Lilyth’s produce flame the troll’s regeneration was deactivated for most of the fight, and he went down with little ceremony.


Behind The Screen: I am fairly certain nobody knew that trolls regenerated. However, the troll happened catch a fire spell the round he was brought down to 0, so he went down before his regeneration could cause a panic. Truthfully this fight was just thrown in here to serve as a quick shot of combat during what was expected to be a very roleplay heavy session.

The Syndicate delivered a hail of spells and arrows to the monsters up the hill. Meanwhile Rkard wasted no time and started hacking away at the green monstrosity leading the pack.

The ogres attempted to charge the party, but Joey managed to bury his fangs in the lead ogres leg and drag him to the ground. The ogres took their shots at the wolf, but that pup was made of tougher stuff than they expected. More importantly his owner didn’t take very kindly to her companion being harassed, and took deadly aim. The moment the downed ogre stood up and tried to club the wolf, Meesh split his skill with an arrow at the critical moment.

The remaining ogres were brought down in short order by the rest of the party while Rkard continued his stand against the troll. However, the duel was short lived when a flurry of spells burned the creatures flesh, and extinguished the light from his eyes once and for all.

With the threat dispatched Lilyth went up to what remained of the hut’s door, and politely knocked.

All This Fighting Works Up Quite An Appetite!

After a couple more knocks a confused sounding voice responded from inside. He told the party to go away, but with some persistence Lilyth was able to convince the man that the creatures destroying his home were dead. The party heard the shuffling of debris inside, and eventually the man came stumbling out the door.

The drunkard reeked of ale, but despite his extreme intoxication he proved to be a very welcoming host to our heroes. He offered them a surprisingly delicious stew that he claimed was “the greatest hangover cure in the multiverse”. The party was skeptical, but they had worked up a bit of an appetite during their trek and they didn’t mind a free meal. They filled their mess kits with stew and stepped away for a bit while the man made another batch for himself.

A few minutes into their meal the wounded members of the party could feel their aches and pains subsiding quite a bit. Curious as to what the secret ingredient was the party turned back to the man. However, before they could get a word out they noticed the drunkard slumped over in his chair.

Not wanting to disturb him the party decided to use this opportunity to search through the ruins of his home to see if they could discern what he used to create his delicious stew.

Roll Investigation: On The Fly Recipe Creation

At this point in time I was in the early stages of writing my Artisan’s Tools Series and wanted to start introducing crafting concepts to the party. This campaign was meant to be a longer one, so I figured giving them the opportunity to do downtime activities would help keep them interested during extended play breaks.

However, I didn’t want to start rampantly throwing recipes at them so I decided to let the dice do the talking. When they asked if they were able to find the recipe I did an open roll on the table. This way when the dice showed a 3 it was no surprise to the players that they would be moving on empty handed.

For the record an investigation roll of 15 or higher would have resulted in them finding a recipe.

Unfortunately the majority of his volumes were destroyed and the only literature they could find were books containing the man’s mad ramblings. They did find a particularly interesting entry where he mentions blacking out from drinking, and waking up the next day with his house burned down and a trio of dead ogres nearby. In the log he concludes that he must have super-human fighting abilities whilst intoxicated, so he decided that should another threat arrive his best course of action would be to get drunk as quickly as possible.

Once our heroes were satisfied that there was nothing else of value to be done at the hut, they finished their stews and continued their trek towards Endgar.


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