An Eladrin princess several steps removed from the throne; a Dragonborn bodyguard accompanying her on her globe-trotting journey of self-discovery; a roguish elven mercenary serving a stint in a company of city guards for murky purposes; a bright young half-elven warrior serving in the same company to pay his dues on the road to greatness…
These are the characters we’ve neglected pretty regularly for months as we very casually and slowly played Goodman Games’ rootin-tootin’ “Sellswords of Punjar.” It’s a great module full of fresh ideas and tasty flavors, set not just in the Lieber-esque city of Punjar, but in a nasty, scummy slum. What a hoot!
Here’s the summary of this, the Northern Alliance’s first foray into 4E:
Lia, hoping to understand what humans enjoy so much about gambling, dragged Redgar to Punjar’s infamous Lucky Lulu’s Palace of Chance and OTB, where she promptly gambled away what little coin they had left … and a whole lot of coin they didn’t even have. When the city guards dragged them off to the Dragonne post in the heart of The Commons, these two had little to look forward to but breaking rocks and making license parchments under lock and key at Blackwell Citadel.
Enter Capt. Thurg (name changed to protect the forgetful; that is, the DM didn’t write it down). He’s got two perps who clearly have more wits and combat skills than your average drunken gambler; meanwhile, he’s got a growing problem next door in the Old Punjar district known as Smoke: A war has been growing between the Thieves Guild and the Beggar’s Guild, and the disturbance is spilling over into the legitimate business of Punjar.
The captain has an idea: Offer these two young tourists a chance to clear their record in exchange for venturing into the heart of the slums and capture or kill the Beggar King. Capt. Thurg can even send along a city escort: two expendable young lieutenants who are fairly new to the force. Thurg (who wears a a “Human First!” pin on his jerkin) had himself a pair of fairy-blooded freaks tranferred to his unit the pervious week.
Gareth, a seemingly capable half-elf, joined the poorly paid, lowest rung of a para-military city guard with no hope of advancement excepting years of abuse from his superiors—how could you trust a creature who would volunteer for this? Then there’s Lucas, a full-blooded elf with a dark personality and need to crack heads. Thurg could almost admire the lad’s sensibilities if it weren’t for the pointy ears and that elven lightness in the loafers. Clearly, these two are perfectly choice for the task.
And they’re off at once, in a driving midnight rain. The slum isn’t easy to navigate
- the locals quickly peg them as easy marks - and after a few skirmishes and chases they find themselves outside the fearsome gates of the charnel house where the Beggar King makes his home.
Lucas immediately springs a poison trap the wrong way. Over the course of the night, his skin and eyes turn slate grey before his body stabilizes his decline. (It would have gotten kind of nasty—Shadowstuff Toxin ain’t no H1N1.)
With just hours to go until dawn, the party crept methodically through the complex laying waste to the various characters of shady purpose who stand in their way. The fence and his thugs? Dead. The band of Dog Brother mercenaries? Dead. The tiefling warlock and her exotic bodyguards? Oh, you better believe they’re dead. Those chumps could barely get their weapons up before it was all over.
The party showed a real bit of ingenuity when they realized a locked barn door concealed a large group of men lying in ambush. They threw the warlock’s clothes over the dragonborn, and Lia cast a spell to mimic the witch’s anguish cries of help. The beggars-in-hiding threw open their door to investigate, and that was all she wrote for those poor bastards.
The enemies were falling like dominoes until Lia fell through the floor trap and ended up in a slaver’s cage dangling over an underground river. The party got her out, but was beginning to suffer some exhaustion from their efforts. They rescued a cadre of slaver prisoners before breaking for the night.
—Saved prisoners include:
- Thoumont, aged sage and self-described scourge of evil, and his assistant Neveril. They had been investigating their own leads about the nature of the Shadowmagic leaking out of this area of the slum. Thoumont runs a magic shop in the Souk district, and offers hospitality and assistance to the party if they can return him to safety.
- Lady Constance, of the prominent Punjari family House Farod, had been kidnapped in a brazen public attack on the eve of her wedding. She insists her family and fiance will greet her safe return with rewards beyond imagining for her rescuers.
The party holed up with their rescued subjects elsewhere in the complex (promising to return with them in a group once their quest concludes). The group crept closer through the dungeon of the slavers, finding little evidence of the Beggar King’s operation, but only more thugs and goons protecting their trafficking business.
They dispatched the main group of four lead slavers—but nearly lost Lucas when he leaped into a runaway boat to save the floating loot. Thanks to some timely skill checks, the boat got moored, the loot got saved.
But then they had to go and ruin the ride! Steal the Rat God’s pile of shiny coins? What were they thinking? They managed to whack the bejeebus out of the pseudo-deity animating the ratly statue, but that left the team panting as they faced… The Beggar King! (Actually I think they may have rested one more time…?)
Anyway, the BK did not disappoint, flailing his desiccated Shadow-infested corpse around the room and flinging fiery skeletons at everyone. When at last his charred corpse collapsed to the floor, everyone breathed a sigh of relief… until they realized that the smoky thing trailing from his zombie body was actually grateful to have the BK eliminated from the magical equation. As the dungeon started to crumble around them, the crew ran up the steps inside the charnel tower to discover… an Umbra Drake with a mad-on to destroy stuff.
It was established pretty quickly that they were lucky to have defeated one enraged uber-fiend for the day, and the conversation went like this:
YELLOW-BELLY 1: “It’s not like the Guard would let this shadow dragon tear up the whole city or anything, right?”
YELLOW-BELLY 2: “Sure. Someone’s bound to complain. They’ll send someone to slay it.”
And with that, they scarpered. Yep, they left the shadow dragon beast to someone else, and skedaddled with the loot, the rescued slaves and not a little bit of shame, I should think.
Does that about sum it up, gentlemen?