Ya know, one of the unwritten rules of D&D is that no matter how well you make a plan, it’s all going to go horribly wrong. Unless you happen to be this group, when somehow, against all odds, everything goes exactly right.
First things first. Genesis got it in her head that they needed to capture Baron Merchfort in order to try and get some straight answers out of him. How to do that eluded her, but it was something she felt was important. Which I can understand, as there’s a lot of stuff happening, and nobody is sure how it all connects.
Except me, and I’m not telling, cause evil DM is evil.
Now, I knew that sooner or later, the party would confront Merchfort. Just how this would all go down is what I was waiting to find out. I’d put thee separate things into place to make that confrontation as tense as possible, too. Three different things that would tip Merchfort that the party was coming for him, so he could be ready, and there could be a big, epic battle.
Genesis circumvented all three of those things in less than five minutes, without even knowing she was doing it. All I could do was sigh internally, as the party headed back to Marshgate, their Goblin pals in tow, to confront the now wholly unprepared Merchfort.
Cause players are assholes, guys. Total assholes.
Actually, it made me kinda proud. Genesis’s player has never played D&D, or any role playing game before, and barely even knows anything about the fantasy genre. Watching her sort through the information she has, and come up with such an effective plan, it’s a real joy. She constantly amazes me, and I really do hope we keep getting to play for a while, just to see what else she’ll come up with.
We also poked about the internet to come up with some character images that the players all felt were good representations of their characters. First up, meet Genesis, the Tiefling Rogue who can pretty much bend fate to her whim.
First stop upon reaching Marshgate, however, was Richie, the local crime lord Genesis befriended way back in the first game session. She wanted some intel, and figured he could either provide it, or point her to who could. Worse case scenario, Richie is in league with Baron Merchfort, and she has to beat some info out of him, which is why she took Pizo, the badass Goblin Ranger, with her.
Turns out, Richie hates Baron Merchfort, and a little something I put in place behind the scenes some game sessions back popped into play.
Being a DM is kind of like being a gambler. You stack the deck with both good and bad luck events for the players, and wait to see what they pull. In the case of Richie, after I had to pull the character completely out of my ass, I decided he would be an allie to the party, and able to help them in a couple of different ways if they came back asking. Which they then did, because once again, Genesis is the luckiest fuck alive.
This was the final nail in the coffin of my epic battle. The longshot idea that they might actually go ask this Halfling Marlon Brando wanna be for help actually happened.
Richie provided them with Hats of Disguise, magic items that let you change your appearance, an item he was smuggling for a client. He was waiting on a ship to pick them up, and lent them with the understanding they would be returned. When I put that down in my DM notes, I didn’t really expect it to get used, yet here we are. He also promised that if they could deal with Merchfort, he had a powerful friend who would stand ready to aid the party with whatever fall out came next.
This friend was an NPC I have been planning to have arrive for a bit now. Just how, I wasn’t sure, so I had put several conditions to bring them in down. This was one of them.
Lucky fucking Tiefling, man. Lemme tell ya. Never see a player be so fucking lucky.
Anyway, hats of disguise a go, the party impersonated Richie and some of his gombas, and walked right into the Mayor’s Manor, where Merchfort has been staying. Got the drop on everyone, and took out his guards. Dia had a close call, but thanks to Garo being a Paladin, came through with just a sheepish look for failing at being a fighter. Hera almost died, as well, but was saved by Genesis.
That’s when the craziest thing happened. I do mean crazy, too. The last thing I expected.
Genesis had a clear shot at the escaping Baron, and opted to go for non-lethal damage in an effort to capture him alive. Then she rolled a nat 20.
Baron Merchfort went night night, but did not die, and the party actually captured him alive. The very last thing I expected, and somehow, they pulled it off.
Genesis gets nat 20’s like Skittles falling from a rainbow. It’s weird.
So, with Merchfort unconscious, off they trot to see if Richie has a place to lock him up. He does, cause he’s a crime boss, and lets them know his powerful friend is on their way, and will be there by morning, as they were already headed to Marshgate anyway to see why Merchfort had been hanging out there for almost two weeks.
When the party woke that morning, they met Richie’s friend, the Lady Rebecca Merchfort.
Yup. As in daughter. I left them to stew that over for a week, and the next game session was a lot of conversation.
A bit about Lady Rebecca.
She’s only five foot two, with pale, almost white blonde hair she wears in a braid that reaches her waist. She has very sharp blue eyes, behind small round rimmed glasses, and her keen intelligence is obvious to anyone who meets her gaze. She wears an odd uniform, entirely of white. White boots, white slacks, a white button up shirt, and a heavy, high collared overcoat that almost brushes the floor. Several small medals are present on the left breast, and the shoulder bears some kind of emblem nobody recognized.
She was accompanied by a towering man in elaborate plate mail, who obeyed her every command without hesitation. Obviously a capable fighter, the man was never introduced, but was apparently some kind of solider, probably an officer.
After confirming that Baron Merchfort was indeed captive, Lady Rebecca sat down with the party, and explained that her feelings for him go somewhere past hatred. Seems he isn’t her biological father, but her step father. Her father died when she was just an infant, and her mother remarried a man of some standing, who ended up taking not just the family name of Merchfort, but control of all the families holdings, before murdered Rebecca’s mother. Which she knows, because she saw him do it.
She managed to keep that from him, and dedicated her life to finding evidence of his evil deeds, which proved difficult, as Merchfort was well connected. He had many nobles on his side, who could pressure magistrates to drop any charges brought against him. She has spent the last ten years looking for evidence so concrete, no one can defend against it. Evidence the party has managed to gather in under two weeks.
To say she’s impressed with them is an understatement.
Having made all that clear, they spoke briefly about the situation at the mine, and Rebecca dispatched her armored bodyguard to take some soldiers and deal with that. She then dealt with the issue of the Goblins, by offering to form a military and trade alliance with them. She went so far as to have her personal aide draw up the papers, which she then commissioned the party to deliver to the Council of Elders.
Of course, she had another reason for this. Rebecca is planned to take control of the barony of Shadesrun, now that she can prove her step father’s ties to the Cult of Kalim, as well as his dealing with the Fifth Finger. There are many people who do not want to see her take over the barony, however. She must fully secure her position, which she estimates will take about two weeks, after which she will join the party in Una, and present her proposal in person.
They also discovered that Rebecca is an officer with the military’s special section nine, a covert military police unit that deals with special problems, such as the Cult of Kalim. She plans to use her position as Baroness of Shadesrun to further that fight, too, putting them all squarely on the same team.
The party agreed, and headed back with Garo and Pizo. For Garo’s part, this is a dream come true. Pizo remained skeptical, however, as he can see all the ways this new alliance would benefit Rebecca in ways he finds questionable.
On the way, the party encountered the soldiers, lead by the big solider, who were on their way back with the children from the mine. The portals had been destroyed, and the guards dealt with, so that was once less thing to worry over. Also, Genesis got flirted with by the big man. We’ll see where that goes.
With all that done, the party retired to Garo’s house in Una, to await the arrival of the soon to be appointed Baroness Merchfort.
Which pretty well wrapped up the first adventure for this crew. I’ve already started outlining plans for the next, especially since they are now officially level two.
There’s a lot going on around the party. The Fifth Finger. The Red Hand. The Cult of Kalim. The Shadowmire Swamp to the south. The mystery of the Everrun forest. The Orc tribes higher in the Kalim’s Spine mountain range. Rebecca’s desire to employ them in the fight against the cult, and the Red Hand. Just what the party decides to do next is up to them.
Which means I’ve got to have at least some basic idea of what each of these options could do. Lots of planning to deal with.
This is another aspect of D&D, though. Once that first adventure is over, you let the party decide where they go next, and just try to have at least some idea of what might be going on, who’s involved, and what sort of trouble they could get into once they get there.
In my case, I’ve given them ample options, so I have to plan for ample possibilities. Fun times.
Honestly, they are. I love the challenge, and as I mentioned, Genesis is challenging me.
Perhaps soon, I’ll get to challenge her in return.
Next time, we’ll see what the party decides to do.