Homebrew – Beyond Phandelver – Session 1

Interlude 

Welcome back to the D&D table! We took a break from D&D to give the DM (that’s me 😊) an opportunity to write up some homebrew and continue the story of Asterin, Aurelia, Wendel & Merric adventures on the Sword Coast. But first we’ll have to cover what the crew have been doing in game after their clearing of Wave Echo Cave.

The first session back was handled a bit differently. Each player provided me with a small list of tasks that they wanted to do during their month downtime and then I provided a narrative to suit. This was done to speed up the downtime and get players back into the action, as well as to avoid any players sitting there waiting for the other characters to finish. Especially for Merric’s player, who had opted to drop their character and roll up a new one during the downtime.

*Running individual player narratives was a lapse in my judgement. In the process of speeding up the game, I unintentionally removed player autonomy. 🤦‍♂️ Never remove player autonomy, it’s their character after all. In hindsight I should have run small, individual 1 hr sessions for each individual player so they could react as they saw fit. Lesson learnt and my players were nice enough to forgive my lapse. I opted to give a second opportunity for them to react to similar circumstances in later sessions. *

Asterin’s Narrative:
Threatening the other members, including her sister, for some peace and quiet Asterin retreated to her own room at the inn to puzzle over the tome that had been entrusted into her care. It was leather bound in an unknown animal hide that contained streaks of light silver, a closer look she discovered a three-leaf sigil faded in the spine. Asterin recognised the leaves as those found on the Evergreen tree, but the sigil was unknown to her.

The Tome appeared to be written in a dialect of Elvish Asterin was unfamiliar with, it had similarity to some writing structure of the elves of Mir or possibly Tethir, but it appeared to be much older than the writing forms Asterin knew of from these regions. Despite the writing, the book was filled with detailed sketches of various objects, possibly magical in nature. Each entry contained a sketch with a breakdown of detailed instructions involving magical runes, construction methods, spell casting and even metallurgy. Most of which was beyond her understanding.

Towards the end of the book, one item drew her attention. It showed a beautiful diamond-like gem which contains more than 60 sides to it, as if it was manufactured from pure ice. Asterin was unable to translate most of what the entry said about the gem, but after several attempts at deciphering the contents, the entry’s name suddenly resolves in her mind. The Calimemnon Crystal whispered in her head, as if from an unknown source. Scratching her head at this entry, Asterin could have sworn that she had heard of the Calimemnon Crystal before back home in Calimshan. All she knew was that she had a strong sense of foreboding when hearing its name.

Despite being holed up in her room for most of the time, Asterin hadn’t forgotten about Wendel’s offer to help train her in herbalism and she spend an hour a day with the halfling asking various herb related questions. By the time the dwarven crew arrived she was proficient with the herbalism kit.

Aurelia’s Narrative:

Aurelia attempted to go see Griska by herself, however all requests to see him in person were denied and she was rebuffed by Gregor who sneers at her, indicating that Griska isn’t taking any visitors. Instead, Aurelia spent some time at the Craven Dragon but true to Gregor’s word she didn’t see hide nor hair of Griska. Striking up a conversation with the dullard Danny, he accidentally blurts that Griska isn’t in town.

During one of her visits, she noticed a messenger of sorts come into the brothel and deliver a note to Gregor. It isn’t an unusual sight, but this time however, Aurelia thought she recognised them. It was only much later that it occurs to her that the person she saw had to have been one of the Redbrands that the party had previously captured. Determined to find out more Aurelia decided to try a different approach and tap Meredith.

She had been spending a lot of her spare time assisting with expanding upon the orphanage’s meagre education. Bringing in extra resources and more children, Aurelia had some success with Sildar who agreed that a small school was certainly needed. Adjacent to the Village Green a new school building was already in the works. Through her work Aurelia had become familiar with Meredith, who in turn has become more open to her.

Tapping her for more information into Griska’s whereabouts, she revealed that Griska had been absent from town for weeks, well before the group had returned from the mines. Additionally, messengers have been frequenting the Craven Dragon delivering messages to Gregor, and in some instances directed elsewhere.

Fortunately, most of the messengers were granted access to the girls for their stay, and Meredith has been plying her trade in the bedroom pumping them for information so to speak. She was able to determine that the messengers appeared to be either travelling to or from Neverwinter up to a camp situated to the SW in the hills. Meredith found this odd, as the gold mining camps were all in the hills to the south.

New Arrivals

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Despite having no success pursuing that snake Griska, Aurelia had some success determining her pact weapons capabilities. The Crescent Claw appears to have the following traits:

  • Life syphon: Receive warlock level + cha bonus hit points if death blow is struck with pact weapon. Target must be a living target.
  • Blood Trait syphon: Receive one ability from beasts and other living monstrosities. Only occurs through direct melee damage, ability is received at end of combat or death of monster. Only 1 ability can be gained at a time. 2 charges. Charges and ability are restored at nightfall.

Wendel’s Narrative:

Every morning Wendel would wake up and begin his day on the Green with an exercise routine of stretching, meditation, and kata movements. It’s a peaceful place in the early morning, as the small thriving town slowly awakens. It doesn’t take the children too long to find him and he quickly had an audience who attempted to mimic his movements, small smiles on their faces as they fall over. Wendel would chuckle at the recollection of his own early beginnings and began to provide some simple instruction, where to place a foot and the slow shift of their arms through the morning air. The kids loved it and reappeared everyday slowly growing in number as they told their friends.

This continues for about a week, when one morning two members of the Greycloaks wander over and bowing slightly, they requested to join the halfling. They recount past experiences in martial arts themselves and wish to explore it further. Wendel happily agreed and like a floodgate other townfolk and more Greycloaks, all met every morning going through the motions in the early morning light. Wendel bonded quite well with two surprisingly apt pupils Soren and Tabitha, two young children from the orphanage. They show a lot of promise, and they delighted in the praise.

Despite being overjoyed at the enthusiasm of the crowd, almost 40 in number now, Wendel had felt unsettled for several days. The feeling of eyes staring at him from behind with a malicious energy, akin to a knife in his back. One morning the knife materialises with only Wendel’s quick reflex to save himself, as a small bolt struck the ground where the halfling once stood. He didn’t catch any sight of the assailant and as it occurred at the end of your class, after everyone had already left for breakfast. Only Wendel knew of the attempted assault.

Inspecting the bolt in private Wendel discovered it was incredibly small, almost a dart in size with it being likely fired from a hand crossbow. The bolt contained a hollow head, designed to break on impact and often used to poison the target. He was fortunate enough to discover that a single drop of the poison remained, which he happened to recognise it as Oil of Taggat. A poison Wendel was quite familiar with, as it is designed to render the target completely unconscious upon contact. A dose of this size would have rendered him unconscious for 24hrs. Oil of Taggat is moderately expensive, typically sold at 400gp, someone has gone to a lot of effort to knock him out. 

Merric’s Narrative:

With his back up against the wall of the common room, Merric kept an eye on the inn’s door as he always did, a half empty tankard gently resting in his hand. With a full belly of Trilena’s cooking, he often wondered what she sees in her husband Toblen, who just so happen to magically appears to clear his empty plate. Merric nodded at his friendly smile, pondering why this man always seemed so happy to see people.

The rest of the party were arranged around the table, still pleased with their success at Wave Echo Cave. At least he had gotten to kill something, although it was a pity that the Drow got away… What was his name again? Merric didn’t really care. Asterin was at the table, with her head in a dusty book yet again, her meal almost going cold as she picked at it from time to time. Isn’t that the same book as yesterday? That was unusual for her.

Aurelia was talking to Wendel, although you wouldn’t really call it talking, just talking down to the little guy. He wasn’t too bad, good in a fight to have at your back at least.

Lost briefly in his musings, Merric had almost missed a dishevelled figure appearing at the doorway. Upon seeing Tolben the figure immediately strode over to the bar. They were a tall individual, dressed in a deep brown cloak, concealing most of their features. Talking to Tolben, who quite quickly directed the individual over to the party’s table, pointing at directly at Merric.

Merric cursed under his breath at Tolben’s far too trusting nature. He’d been told before to keep Merric’s name to himself. Merric quickly placed his tankard on the table, freeing up his hands. 

New Arrivals

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The individual met the halfling’s eyes and immediately approached, putting their hand into their cloak. Merric’s free hand had already unlatched his sheath, ready to draw the blade at the slightest threat. But no threat materialised, instead the figure drew out a small, waxed seal note and asked “Are you Merric? Friend of Natelie?”

Merric shot to his feet snatching the note from the messenger’s hand tearing it open. The messenger was left busy counting their fingers. Merric quickly read the note to himself, ignoring the party’s enquiring looks.

Dear Merric,

I’ve found myself in trouble again. I had made it as far as Triboar and was able to set myself up as a serving girl at the local tavern, the owner had taken me under her wing. Unfortunately, my identity has been compromised, and despite killing off the local informant, word has gotten out. MacGregor will certainly not be too far behind, it appears he’s placed a high bounty on my head, no doubt hoping I’ll lead him to you. He’ll be hot on my heels by the time you receive this message.

I’ve left town and I’ll be holed up in Amphail at the Stag-Horned Flagon tavern, dyed my hair blonde and everything. Help me once again, my dearest friend and this time let’s leave the Sword Coast behind together.

Natelie

Merric slides a coin across the table for the messenger and throws the paper in the fire.
“I’m off friends, don’t follow me. You won’t be seeing me again. It’s been… fun.” The halfling nodded towards the table and walked out of the inn. Heading north he quickly stole a horse and raced off into the night.

*The character Merric had left the group and would be replaced shortly. The players suddenly realised that all of the items on Merric were also gone, but due to his sudden departure the remaining party members realised that his share of the gold in the Miner’s Exchange was left to them.*

There had also been some developments in town. Halia had been released. Apparently, a crew of 20 Zhentarim mercenaries had arrived in town and immediately demanded that Halia be removed from house arrest as they had been sent to safeguard her person. How word got to them, no one knows. Sildar was reluctant to agree to the request but standing down a group of seasoned mercs in full battle gear wasn’t something he was prepared to do.

Upon her release Halia had immediately commenced reconstruction of the Miner’s Exchange which was now close to completion. She is currently staying at a building opposite the construction site. The party had seen Halia several times around town, always escorted by at least 3 of her mercenaries, whenever she saw the party, she would always share a smile in acknowledgement.

The schoolhouse was progressing well with several townsfolk helping with the construction. Kayla has offered to assist Sister Garaele with the children teaching until a new teacher arrived. At other times, Kayla has joined the rest of the town’s weavers and has made fast friends. She avoided any talk concerning her husband, Jacob.

Greycloaks had become a common sight in town and recently an old building behind the Townsmaster’s Hall had been converted over to a barracks for the expanding force. Gundren’s dwarven mining crew of 30 arrived late yesterday and have set-up a small tent city in one of the old ruins behind the Lionshield Coster, this will be their base of operations in the town with the majority set to head to the mine soon.

The following day starts fresh and the party’s still of mixed feelings of Merric leaving a few nights back. He was a valued member of the group although his origins seemed somewhat dubious, he was great to have in the thick of a fight. You guess that you’ll never learn what his story was.

Asterin, Aurelia and Wendell all meet at the breakfast table and are filing themselves on Trilena’s prepared eggs, she had served them up poached today with several small pork sausages and fresh bread. The sounds of the heavy stomping of what can only be several horse feet greet their ears, as the sounds stop right outside the inn.

Tolben looks up as a heavy-set man in half-plate mail and a warhammer at his side storms through the door,

“I need some assistance, there are wounded outside,“ informs the man.

*Thus, the new player character Marcus has appeared, a level 6 human Twilight Cleric.*

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