Lack Of Initiative

Act 1: A Witch in the Willow

The party examines the door to the left, finding that a large pit takes up most of the room. Upon further inspection, they discover the pit is filled with bones and a root spans the entire pit, from the close ledge where they stand to a smaller ledge on the far side. They can see a golden key hanging on the wall at the far side of the room.

In an attempt to explain their options to her friends, Aribi becomes overexcited and falls into the room with the two suits of armor. There, she notices that each suit of armor wears a golden key around its neck and stands upon a pedestal that says “FALSE.” She also sees that there is an inscription on the pedestal at the back of this room, which reads: “Only one question may you say / And we shall answer yay or nay.”

After much whispered discussion, the party decides to attempt to retrieve the key from the left room. Unruhk shoots an arrow into the pit, and a skeleton animates as soon as the arrow touches the ground. The party quickly kills the skeleton. Pamplemousse attempts what might have been a very impressive trick shot with her fishing pole, hoping to hook the key and reel it back across the pit. Unfortunately, her aim is not on point and she simply casts into the pit itself, hooking a skull. A new skeleton animates and attempts to pull Pamplemousse into the pit, but she is able to stand her ground. The party kills the second skeleton.

Unruhk successfully makes a vaulting leap across the pit and retrieves the key. When he removes the key from the wall, the bottom half of the key disintegrates in his hand. Unruhk’s return vault is less successful, as he lands with his legs dangling into the pit below and clutching at the ledge. With an unbelievable show of strength, Topiary is able to pull Unruhk back up to solid ground. After giving Topiary the half-key, Unruhk decides to finish off a third skeleton that has animated, while the rest of the party return to the room with the suits of armor.

Topiary makes a very thorough investigation of the room and finds a recessed hole on the back of the pedestal that has the riddle engraved on it. In the hole is another golden key, the top half of which dissolves in Topiary’s hands as she grabs it. Intrigued by the remaining golden keys that hang from the two statutes’ necks, Pamplemousse and Aribi decide to climb the statutes and remove the keys. Unruhk arrives at the doorway in time to stop them from doing so.

In the fray, Topiary decides to slam the two pieces of the key together, and they merge to form a single key. Much more debate ensues about how to proceed and whether a question should be asked of the suits of armor. Finally, Aribi blurts out, “Is the key that Unruhk has the key that opens the door?” to which the statutes answer, “Yes.” Unruhk, however, is not in possession of a key at the time this question is asked. The party decides to put the key Topiary holds in the lock on the double doors.

Topiary unlocks the double doors and peers inside. She sees a large room with ivy walls, several bookcases, and tables piled high with potion bottles, ingredients, and notes. At the center of the room is a desk, and an elderly woman sits behind it with a worg at her feet. To one side of where she sits is a small basket, covered with a blanket. A crow perches upon the basket’s edge.

The woman tells Topiary that she is so proud of all of them, and quickly demonstrates that she knows each of their names and has been watching the party for some time. When Unruhk questions her about the baby, the woman explains that Byx has never had a child and eventually pulls back the blanket to reveal a doll underneath. The crow on the basket opens its beak and makes a noise that sounds like a baby’s cry.

The woman tells them her name is Dia, and that she has lived here for a long time but has only recently decided to protect and help the people of the village now known as Underwillow. She explains that she does favors for people in town and they occasionally bring her things that she needs.

Dia further explains that she is worried the village will be attacked by her sister, Sporks. Due to some sort of “twin magic,” Dia is awake only during the summer and autumn, and Sporks awakens at the first snowfall. Dia says she fears Sporks will take vengeance on the village because Dia has given them her favor. She says she has already seen evidence of Sporks’ retribution, and claims that the strange storms as well as the influx of rats and centipedes are Sporks’ doing.

Saying that she is too elderly to travel, Dia explains that she has been testing the party and believes that she needs their help. While Sporks sleeps, her home is guarded by a strong magical barrier. Dia wants to cast a spell that will take that barrier down so that she can deal with Sporks before her sister awakens and attacks the town. Dia needs three ingredients for the spell: 3 scales from a mermaid’s tale, a hag’s finger bone, and a handful of moondust.

The party has many questions for Dia, all of which she answers. She explains that Byx and the rest of the village were in on her plans and, using her scrying orb, shows them Byx and Amhatan happily celebrating back at the inn. Unruhk in particular is distrustful of the witch, and especially her use of necromancy (in raising the skeletons they found in the pit). Seeing that the adventurers will not be persuaded to help her simply out of concern for Underwillow itself, Dia promises greater rewards. She mentions gold and spells, but specifically says that she can help them interpret the meanings of their dreams, become famous, relive a single day in their lives, and communicate with their gods.

Though they are still quite skeptical of Dia’s proposal, the party agrees to return to town and confirm her story with the villagers there. Dia tells them to take her scrying orb and that she will be in touch. She says she will advance them gold to buy the ingredients she needs, and that they should start their search in Neverwinter. If the ingredients are not available in the city, Dia says, the party may at least get an idea of where to go next.

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Act 1: Wolves in the Woods

Two days after clearing out the basement, everyone in the village attends a grand opening celebration for Glowkindle’s brewery. The party is held at the Underwillow Inn, with free food and a free first pint of Wizard Tower Ale for all attendees. Aribi performs again and Unruhk solves her night’s riddle (on a bit of a technicality). Amhatan gives a brief speech thanking everyone for coming and expressing his hope that Underwillow will soon become a major destination for people traveling to and from Neverwinter.

Suddenly, a loud crack of lightning interrupts the speech and the inn door bangs open. A young elven woman named Byx bursts into the inn, sobbing and yelling that her baby has been stolen from her. Upon questioning Byx, the party learn that her child is a little over a year old and that it was stolen from her backyard by several wolves (which walk on four feet and not two). Unruhk hurries off toward Byx’s cottage as the rest of the party ask a few more questions and gather their armor.

At Byx’s cottage, Unruhk rushes to the backyard and finds an overturned basket. There are tracks that belong to 10 wolves leading from the backyard into the nearby forest, and it appears that they were dragging something wrapped in a blanket. Unruhk follows the tracks into the forest, leaving arrows on the ground to indicate to the rest of the party which direction they should go. When the others reach the cottage a few minutes behind Unruhk, they see the arrows and Topiary picks them up as they follow the path.

Arriving in a clearing, Unruhk is confronted by two wolves, who are eventually joined by a third. He quickly kills one and is bitten by the second just as the rest of the party arrives. Topiary and Pamplemousse are able to quickly dispatch the third wolf. Then Aribi decides to speak to the wolf that has attacked Unruhk. This wolf identifies itself as ‘Barry,’ though it repeatedly tells Aribi that it doesn’t care what her name is. Barry tells Aribi that the wolves have not eaten the child and are not planning to eat the child.

As Aribi is speaking to Barry, a fourth wolf sneaks up behind her and attacks her, knocking her face-first to the ground. Pamplemousse leaps on top of the wolf’s back and quickly kills it. The party makes short work of Barry, with Topiary and Aribi taunting Barry before he dies.

Continuing to follow the tracks, the party arrives at a very large willow tree on the far side of a river. The tracks lead to a dark hole in the tree’s trunk, which is covered by braided roots. When Pamplemousse and Unruhk approach, even though they are stealthed, the roots part for them and show a tunnel leading down below the tree. Aribi believes she has heard tales of portals to strange places which are often found deep in forests like this one, and she specifically recalls a story about a path beneath the roots of an old tree. Pamplemousse hangs a length of string with a bell attached across the width of the tunnel so that the party will be alerted if anything tries to follow them down. Once everyone has entered the tunnel, the roots close behind them.

At the bottom of the tunnel, they find a 30×30 foot empty room. The ceiling is made of the braided roots of the tree, and the walls are covered with bioluminescent ivy that glows a soft gold. The ivy begins to part in three places – on the wall directly in front of them and on the walls to their left and right – revealing three wooden doors. The door immediately in front of them has a golden keyhole and is locked. Listening at the door, Unruhk can hear a woman singing a lullaby. Unruhk is about to attempt to break the door down when Pamplemousse stops him.

Topiary and Aribi investigate the door to the right, which is unlocked. Inside, Topiary sees two suits of armor standing in the middle of the room, facing each other, and also a pedestal close to the far wall. Aribi casts Detect Magic and finds that this entire room is filled with magic, but that the statutes themselves have an especially high concentration of arcane magic.

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Act 1: Centipedes in the Well

Inside the other door, the party finds a small room with a well in the center. A portion of the ceiling has caved in, exposing some moonlight above. Pamplemousse peers into the well and sees two pairs of eyes staring back at her. A giant centipede emerges and Unruhk quickly dispatches it. When a second centipede climbs over the side of the well, Aribi decides to attempt to talk to it.

The centipede explains that it is very hungry and would like to eat the party, please. The rats the centipede and its associates used to hunt here have suddenly grown too strong for them to kill. When Aribi suggests that the centipede should eat its fallen compatriot, it becomes offended and tries to attack her. Unruhk kills this second centipede, but the party can hear more noise coming from inside the well. Unruhk drops a torch down the well and reveals three centipedes climbing up. The torch extinguishes when it hits the water at the bottom of the well, but there are sounds coming from below that indicate there are probably more of the bugs.

After a long debate about what to do, Aribi steps to the edge of the well and yells down to the other centipedes. One of the centipedes asks to speak to “Spike” and, with Unruhk’s help, Aribi holds up the body of one of the slain centipedes. Using the corpse as a crude puppet, Aribi attempts to imitate Spike’s voice as she speaks to the other centipedes. The centipedes believe they are speaking to Spike, and Spike (Aribi) tells them it is time to leave this place because there is no food left. They agree, and decide to come up out of the well so they can leave.

Realizing there will shortly be a swarm of centipedes in the room, the party scrambles to decide what to do. Aribi, Pamplemousse, and Topiary quickly leave the room, with Pamplemousse staying near the door so she can close it. Unruhk hesitates, concerned that the centipedes may run out through the hole in the ceiling and into the town itself. After considering the orientation of the rooms below the inn, Unruhk realizes that the centipedes will climb out of the hole facing the forest. He decides to run out of the room and Pamplemousse quickly closes the door behind him. Unruhk takes off running back up the cellar steps and through the inn, past a very confused Glowkindle, on his way to ensure that the centipedes are heading for the forest and not the town’s center.

The rest of the party emerges from the cellar and explains what happened to Glowkindle and Amhatan. The innkeeper suspects that the rooms they found may have once belonged to an old wizard’s tower that used to stand where the inn does now. Glowkindle pays the party 200g (50g each) for their services and Amhatan tells them they are welcome to stay at his inn for free for as long as they want. Glowkindle notices the gnomish lantern that hangs from Aribi’s lute and offers her a power gem. Once the power gem has been placed in the lantern, the mechanical canary inside lights up and it able to fly a short distance.

Pamplemousse asks Topiary’s permission to set up a small shrine to Tymora in Underwillow’s temple and the cleric happily agrees. Unruhk decides to move into a room in the inn, now that he doesn’t have to pay for his lodgings.

Players receive 200g (50g per character). Players are now level 2. Aribi’s trinket is now a useable object.

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Act 1: Rats in the Cellar

It’s early summer in Underwillow and there are several travelers in town. A gnome bard, Aribi, has been performing to enthusiastic crowds in the Underwillow Inn. A half-orc ranger, Unruhk, sells some furs and skins from the game he’s caught in nearby Neverwinter Wood. A halfling cleric, Topiary, found the village’s temple to Oghma abandoned and has set about cleaning it up. And a halfling rogue, Pamplemousse, has been wandering around town, eating a lot of free samples of red currant jam.

Aribi performs to a large crowd in the Underwillow Inn. A dwarven merchant tips her generously, as does Pamplemousse (after she pickpockets some gold from that same merchant), and Topiary’s tip is a scroll containing some of Oghma’s wisdom. Aribi’s final performance of the night is a riddle which Pamplemousse solves. Aribi buys Pamplemousse a round of drinks as a reward. While at the inn’s bar, the party meets the innkeeper, Amhatan (a serious-looking elf), and Glowkindle (a gnome who is trying to build a brewery in the inn’s basement).

Glowkindle hires the four travelers to clean out the basement. Giant rats recently chased his workers out of the cellar. Glowkindle wants them to get rid of the rats, find out where they came from, and make sure that no surprises like this happen again. He wants this done as soon as possible because his brewing equipment will arrive from Neverwinter in the next few days.

The party descends the stairs into the basement. When they light a torch, four giant rats charge at them from the darkness. Unruhk is severely bitten by two of the rats, but Topiary heals him before the situation can get any worse. The party quickly dispatches three of the rats, with Aribi using Dissonant Whispers to make one of rats’ head explode. It’s gross but impressive, and it makes the fourth rat run away through a hole in the back wall.

Unruhk follows the final rat, and looks through the hole in the wall to see where it has gone. He finds a narrow hallway and a trail of blood leading to the right. He hears a quick squeak and then silence. The party climbs through the hole and makes its way down the hallway. They find the rat sliced in half, with its front end on some sort of mosaic panel on the floor. Using a riddle engraved in the stone wall of the hallway, the party progresses forward carefully, realizing they must step on the mosaic tiles in a specific order to be able to cross safely.

On the other side of the mosaic, the party finds two doors. They choose to enter the door to their left first. Inside they find a Giant Inferno Spider, which attempts to hide from them in the webs it has spun on the ceiling. Unruhk manages to hit the spider through the web with his spear. With the spear stuck in its belly, the spider drags the spear through the webs as it runs, ripping the webs behind it. Eventually, the spider falls to the ground and Aribi is able to attack it. The spider spits Burning Webs at Aribi, but Topiary quickly slashes through the webs to free her. Though she seems very uncomfortable with the sights and smells of the smouldering room, Pamplemousse takes a moment to find a place in the shadows and unleashes a perfect shot that hits the spider in the mouth and kills it.

Upon searching the rest of this area, the party determines that the room was a laboratory of some kind. There is a small storeroom in the back where they find a rat lapping up a bit of liquid from a broken vial. They quickly realize that the rats and spider were altered by drinking from these broken vials. The party finds a few intact potions before heading back to the hallway to check out the other door.

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