In The City Of Towers

Episode 5: All Thumbs
Exit Red Band: Enter Solvers


The Whole Truth, The Best Truth!


Tavick’s Landing was shaken yesterday as a vicious gang war erupted out of a hostage situation. A band of criminals calling themselves the Red Band temporarily seized control of a section of the lower tier of the tradesman’s plateau, killing two people and holding several passersby as hostages. At this point, an unknown second gang arrived, and began a vicious street brawl with the Red Band ruffians. The second band are described as a group of very large halflings, one of them alledgedly made of metal, and another allegedly just a dwarf, one of them riding a lizard mount from the Talenta plains – suggesting gang influence from the notorious Halfing mafia. While there are those who may think it is impolite to assume that all organized criminals are halflings, this reporter for one thinks it is naive to underestimate their stranglehold on the city. The brawl between these two groups was one-sided. Sharn City watch were quick to arrive on the scene and ‘arrest’ the guilty parties, but the halflings escaped – murdering a changeling in broad daylight as it fled the scene.

Sergeant Aldous Pepperhammer of the City watch declined to be interviewed, but told this reporter “[Not to] worry about it, it’s all under control ya [omitted]. Go soak yer head.” You will forgive an old gnome if he is not convinced by such assurances! The city continues to run rampant with crime – where will it stop? At least with gang infighting, the criminals are eliminating each other – now let’s hope any of us honest people will be around to enjoy the peace and quiet when they’re all dead!

In other news, the Mror Spineshredders whooped the Aundair Thunderhawks 41-12 today in Bumper Chess. Mror star Bludgeoner Jorrick Backbreaker scored an amazing three ruptures on the opposing team, which he credited to his diet of…

After engaging the Red Band, the heroes discovered that the Changeling Hand was hidden among the crowd. When the band were destroyed in combat and his gambit to steal back his blade failed, Hand made a break for it. He was promptly overtaken and shot to death by Zwolf. In his dying breaths, he told the heroes where the Vandergraft headquarters could be found: a clock tower in the lower city.

In the clock tower, the heroes found themselves sealed into a gauntlet of deadly traps by a mad trapsmith named Thumbs. They cleared his gauntlet and knocked the villain out for his troubles. When they thought to interrogate him, his body had dissolved into a foul black slime – a hideous death. They soon understood why; he was an agent of the Solvers’ Guild, and all Solvers take their assignments on pain of death. Capture is not an option, and their bodies will be dissolved into muck if they should fail in their task – whether they still live, or not! The heroes now search for clues as to the larger plot, pondering their next move…

Episode 4: Mix It Up
The heroes show the Vandergrafts what happens when you mess with them

The party decided to send a message to the Vandergraft crime family: Their threats and attacks would not go unpunished.

Acting on a tip from Kado’s brother Cavendish (of the Boromar Clan), Versifer travelled down to a Vandergraft-owned warehouse in the Cliffside district of Sharn where a large number of suspicious crates had recently been moved – crates that arrived on unscheduled freighters in the dead of night, under heavy guard.

Versifer used his Vandergraft signet ring and a glib tongue to pass for a Vandergraft officer, and found the warehouse filled with workers whose skin was scarred with magical mutations. Seizing a number of maps and charts from the warehouse’s main office, Versifer rejoined his allies outside.

The group was able to ambush a group of Vandergraft thugs who had apparently kidnapped an innocent person from the lower city and were bringing them to the warehouse to act as a “test subject”. The five thugs were quickly dealt with by the heroes, who laid into them with furious abandon. They quickly set free the captive, scaring her (for her own safety) into running home.

Soon, Versifer, led his five companions, now dressed in stolen uniforms, and their new ‘captive’ (one of the thugs, now bound and gagged), into the warehouse, and relieved the outside guards of their duties. Inside, the suspicious overseers began to ask too many questions, and Versifer opened the battle with a vicious attack. The battle was thick and fierce, but in the end the monstrous ogres and handful of other workers and overseers were no match for the warriors arrayed against them.

The party cracked open the crates in the warehouse to find that many of them were filled with warforged components; antique arms, legs, cores, heads, all of them long out of service, and all of them stripped and gutted, as if for spare parts. Other crates were filled with more grisly cargo; the preserved limbs of humanoids, all neatly folded and stacked, bloodless, in their crates.

In the next room, the party encountered a pair of Eladrin, who seemed to be conducting bizarre experiments in the secret backroom of the warehouse. The party opened fire with an improvised shrapnel bomb made of old warforged components, and followed the explosion in. As they entered, the heroes discovered that the Eladrin were guarded by Vandergraft bodyguards, and a small army of green slime monsters who engulfed the heroes and began to dissolve their skin.

It was a pitched, bloody battle, but in the end the heroes won the day – but not without Fargrim ‘accidentally’ killing both of the eladrin in the process. In the end, the heroes stood over the fallen enemies in the foul laboratory, and sifted through the wreckage. It seemed that their first hit against the Vandergraft Crime Family had been a good one.

Episode 3: The Game is Afoot
A Brotherly Reunion

The party decided to help the Sharn City Watch solve the case of the myserious cat burglar dubbed “The Cyran”, who preyed on the rich and famous of Sharn. The Cyran always left a gold coin minted in Old Cyre at the scene of his or her crimes, and recently these coins had turned up at the site of several robberies that also included murder.

The party inspected the scene of the most recent crime: The dwarf Burok D’Kundarak had been murdered in his manor home. While inspecting the scene, the heroes met Chief Inspector Lestrade of the Sharn City Watch at the scene, who was happy to follow the party and answer questions as they investigated.

  • On the scene of Burok’s murder, they found that the locks had been forced with a crowbar, the culprits had left unusually deep footprints, and had scaled the walls with metal tools. His axe handle had been poisoned with Sassonne Leaf, a toxic plant that grew only in old Cyre. A heavy bar had been removed from the back door, and the rear gate had been used as an exit. Versifer determined that the culprits had been seen leaving through the rear gate with a heavy cart. Fargrim noticed a small brass washer near the footprints of the criminals. Zwolf pocketed it.

While the group was en route to the second crime scene, the Sharn watch patrols of the upper levels suddenly seemed to have vanished from their presence. Shortly after noting the absence of the police, the party were ambushed by a band of halfling snipers from the Boromar Clan commanding flying drakes. A battle along the high walkways ensued. Though the initial surprise attack was effective in rattling the party, they quickly rallied and put their enemies to the task. Versifer even went to far as to grab a flying glidewing as it swooped at him, and tricked the beast into flying him up to its master, a sniper high above. Versifer’s mental attack sent the unhappy fool tumbling to a pair of broken legs below. Kado urged his friends not to kill their attackers, but the bloodthirsty Zwolf did not listen, and shot one of the snipers dead. Despite Kado’s efforts, that enemy did not survive the battle.

  • After that, Versifer and Gaius determined that the Sassonne leaf poison had come from a poison supplier in lower Sharn – and that he had recently sold a stock of it to a member of the Vandergraft Family. Using Versifer’s Vandergraft Signet ring to convince the foolish man that they were themselves from the family, they convinced him never to speak of those events (and hand over some complimentary poison).
  • The party moved on to the scene of second most recent crime: there had been a break-in and robbery in the mansion of a city councilman, in which no one had been harmed. The locks had been deftly picked, and Fargrim deduced that the culprit had used a grappling line to enter from an adjacent building. It was determined that this particular councilman had been vocal in his opposition to the City’s funding of the arts. Fargrim found a strand of yellow rope near where the grappling line had been hooked.
  • The final crime they investigated had happened one night before the one preceding it: the murder of a wealthy professor at Morgrave University, a collector of exotic artefacts. She had been murdered and apparently tortured in her basement. All the locks were forced by crowbar, and the same marks of climbing tools were left on the walls. Her Majordomo revealed that she had received some time ago a very heavy crate which she guarded carefully. This crate was sent away the night before her murder – to her correspondent, Burok D’Kundarak – the latest victim.

The party, led in hypothesis by Versifer, reasoned that there were two groups of criminals at work. One was the Cyran, who did not harm victims and used subtlety over force. The other culprits were heavier, used poison and climbing tools rather than grappling line, and murdered those they robbed.

Here, Inspector L’Estrade expressed his agreement, and revealed that he knew that the Cyran had always marked his token coins with a special arcane mark. Fargrim quickly determined that the coins left at the murder scenes bore no such mark. L’Estrade revealed that he had been attempting to track down the Cyran based on a similar brass machine part to the one Zwolf had – one he had found at the scene of the first murder. L’Estrade said that he was satisfied that “The Cyran” had been cleared by the party’s evidence of the murders, and theorized that the murderers were connected to the machine parts.

The machine parts led the party to the mansion of the Baros Brothers, owners of a number of machine works in the Cogs and notorious harbourers of criminals, deeply involved in gang activity. The party presented themselves at the gate as agents of the watch, but were rebuffed by the surly gatekeeper. Angered, and on the scent of fear, the party infiltrated the property. Breaching the gate was little trouble. Zwolf snuck up and observed the gatekeeper entering a secret passageway inside the mansion. Working as a team, Hadari and Gaius disabled the elaborate warding traps around the house, which Fargrim spotted with his Dragonmark. Zwolf and Kado made short work of the two surprised guards inside. Soon, the party was climbing the stairs to the secret chamber.

In the secret chamber, they found the doorman speaking to the two Baros Brothers. Versifer clouded their minds, and soon the three were in a vicious brawl. The doorman was knocked out by the two brothers, who were in turn dispatched by Gaius’ deadly blade and Kado’s brutal beatdown. Under interrogation, the surviving brother revealed that the crate had been claimed by the Vandergrafts, by a small group overseen by Hand.

Then the party was ambushed by the group who had been behind the murders: Zwolf’s former comrades! Most of the Crimson Omega Squad, led by the deadly Ein-3, attacked. The battle was bloody and desperate – and none the better when a mysterious masked elf appeared, bearing a grudge against Hadari and fighting alongside the warforged assassins. At first, the enemy scored significant blows against the crucial Versifer and against Gaius and Zwolf as well. The battle began to turn when Fargrim surrounded the enemy with a cloud of acidic gas, and Hadari used his Jutsu to trap their legs in stone inside the cloud. In the end, the party won the day, managing at last to land a killing blow against Ein-3 just in the nick of time. Seeing their leader dead, the two reminaining warforged fled the scene – though Kado grabbed one as it fled and impaled it with his Tangat. The retreating warforged bitterly cursed Zwolf and his comrades as cowards and traitors. The mysterious masked elf had vanished even sooner, losing its weapon in its haste to flee.

The heroes searched the mansion, and found signs that a crate had once been stored in the basement below, but no sign of it remained.

The party returned to the Broken Anvil and told their tale to an overjoyed representative of Darok, and Sergeant Pepperhammer. Their reward for avenging the Kundarak murders and uncovering the Vandergraft’s involvement was substantial.

But there was one detail that Sergeant Pepperhammer found very troubling indeed; The Inquisitives of the City Watch had flatly refused to send anyone to help the mercenary investigators – and there was certainly no inquisitive named “L’Estrade” on record.

Episode 2: Into the Depths
A Trial by Fire

After their triumph over the Red Band, the heroes were called upon by Darok D’Kundarak to help defend his holdings. Five answered: The warforged sharpshooter, Zwolf; the Eladrin fencer, Gaius; the mysterious master of spell and sword, Hadari; the fierce halfling Kado; and the bow-wielding dwarf Fargrim. Two others were absent; Versifer being away in his cups, and Novak busy with the repair of his bar. The heroes were hired as security consultants to help protect his lower branch of the House Kundarak bank. As they were led to the premises to begin their planning, they were shocked to discover a robbery in progress!

A band of elf thieves, led by a dragonmarked changeling named Hand, burst out of the side door of the bank and began making a run for it. The party moved to stop them. A fight broke out, and in the confusion and chaos, the changeling was able to create a cloud of darkness and escape on a passing skycoach, as well as one of his soldiers. Hand had been carrying a black safety deposit box that Darok’s representative confirmed contained very sensitive documents entrusted by House Cannith. Darok’s agent hired the five heroes on the spot to recover the safe deposit box, urging them to let no one see it or know of it, lest it attract more thieves and treachery. Kado learned from a captured enemy where the fleeing thieves were bound: a tanning-house in the Ashblack district of the Cogs.

As the group took the Kundarak skycoach after their prey, they were ambushed at the tunnel lift down to the cogs by a pair of Red Band remnants and their guard drakes. The group made short work of the Drakes and their masters, with Zwolf impaling and igniting one while Kado shoved another clean off the ledge to its death below.

Taking the magical lift down, and slowly descended into the fiery depths of the Cogs, center of industry for Sharn. Here, they sought out the tannery in question, and discovered a pair of dwarven mercenaries lying in ambush. Zwolf and Gaius attacked from hiding, and a deadly shrapnel arrow from Fargrim ended the battle in a heartbeat. Inside the tannery, they found one of the escaped thieves, alone – and the place ransacked. The remaining thief claimed to have been betrayed by his comrade, Hand the changeling, who he claimed had left with both the safety deposit box they had stolen and all of the gang’s accumulated wealth. They learned that Hand had prepared an escape route back to the upper city; a narrow path up into the sewers and the depths of Sharn, though which one might reach the city again.

Without a guide, the group headed up into the depths of Sharn – guided by the incredible eyesight and magic detection of Fargrim, who bears the mark of Finding. They followed the tracks of their prey to a split in the tunnel. A Kruthik nest had breached the tunnel in one direction, and another passage was a carved kobold den. The group decided to avoid these hazards, and continued straight, entering the sewers of Sharn.

In the deep sewers, they stumbled into the lair of the King of the Drowned, a mad undead whose evil will claims those unfortunates who drown in the sewers of Sharn. A swarm of sodden zombies and undead rats ravaged the party. The zombies and rats were ferociously beaten back by Fargrim, Zwolf and Hadari, with Zwolf impaling many on his bladed arms, and Hadari deftly cutting several – but the rat swarm was unharmed by their heroics, and threatened to kill them. Luckily, a daring assault by Kado and Gaius destroyed the King, and ended the threat of his rat minions before they could claim the others. They stopped here a moment to overcome their wounds – and disgust. After Kado had claimed the staff of his enemy as a trophy, they moved on.

Haggard and wounded, the heroes pressed onward. At last, they climbed higher, and entered the middle sewers of Sharn. There, they came across a group of Boromar halflings who were retrieving a clandestine shipment of drugs from a stash in the sewers. The heroes burst onto the scene and attacked the thugs, taking on a score of vicious halflings and a full-grown Carver and Clawfoot. A mean brawl ensued. Hadari was able to use his strange magic to entrap and stab the main force of the Halflings, while Kado knocked another into the sludge and mounted the clawfoot. Versifer burst onto the scene, having tracked the safe deposit box to this room on his own – and his attack revealed that one of the halflings was in fact Hand in disguise!

Gaius outfenced Hand and sent him plummeting, humiliated, into the sewage water. Versifer caught the safe deposit box from his arms and rejoined the fight. Soon the heroes had beaten and put to rout the entire gang, who lost the will to fight after Gaius impaled the Carver and ended its rampage. The weary heroes stopped only long enough for Zwolf to recover Hand’s dropped rapier. After a long and deadly day’s fighting, they stood triumphant – the safe deposity box recovered, and safely in the hands of Versifer.

Wait… where did Versifer go, anyway? He left? He mumbled something about a conspiracy? Oh, by the Host, Versifer took the Box and vanished! Darok is not going to like this!

Episode 1: A Warm Welcome
The Fall of the Red Band

The curtain opens four years after the day of Mourning, two years after the end of the Last War. Of the six warriors who saved Darok D’Kundarak on the Day of Mourning, five were together when they answered his summons to a small tavern in the Tavick’s Landing district.

On their way there, they came across a young dwarf being beaten to a pulp in an alleyway by a gang of street toughs – members of the Valenar elf gang the Red Band. The heroes made short work of the criminals and met the grateful dwarf Dan D’Kundarak, a young smith whose shop was nearby. The elven street gang had been shaking him down for protection money, along with other local businesses. They were joined in their fight by another local business owner, a Kalashtar named Novak, who lent his psychic prowess to the fight.

After the scuffle, the group were briefly accosted by the Sharn City Watch, led by the gruff Sergeant Aldous Pepperhammer, who let them off with a warning after hearing the testimony of Dan and Fargrim in their favour.

The rescued Dan D’Kundarak recognized Fargrim, and asked them to be his guests in taking a drink at the tavern where they were to meet Darok’s representative. Once there, they met with a pleasant dwarf representing Darok, who explained his master’s regret at not meeting them in person for reasons of security. After providing them with the gold that Darok had promised them four years ago, Darok’s representative offered them a chance for further employment;

The local toughs of the Red Band had been moving in on the legitimate businesses of the Tavick’s Landing district, an area in which Darok had invested heavily. The thugs seemed to be singling out businesses in which he invested for particular harassment. Being a direct man, Darok decided to fight fire with fire and send a message to the Red Band by hiring these six adventurers to protect his businesses and retaliate against them. The heroes accepted with gusto.

The group decided to enjoy a meal in the “Special Patrons” section of Novak’s diner, the Fat Pig, the heroes planned their assault on the Red Band hideout in a vacant warehouse a few levels above them (Gaius having already cased and located it). While they were planning their attack, the enemy had already taken matters into their own hands. Having already singled out Novak’s business as a target for extortion, the Red Band planted alchemical bombs around the edge of the structure, and the roof. A series of powerful blasts dropped ceiling beams and flaming debris into the restaurant, injuring many. The heroes were able to lift beams and calm the panicking patrons long enough to save those who were wounded – as well as locate and disarm a second, more powerful bomb. Just as the civilians were cleared to safety, the back wall burst inward, revealing the Red Band attackers: an elven necromancer and a horde of undead, immune to the choking smoke of the burning inn. The heroes made short work of the undead and their master, hacking them to bits.

In a fury to avenge this attack, the group made haste to the Red Band hideout, where the leadership were eagerly awaiting the good news of the death of the meddling do-gooders who had interfered with their shakedowns. Gaius made short work of the lock on their front entrance. With this access opened, he rolled in the explosive core of the disarmed bomb – straight into the middle of the warehouse full of gangsters – followed by Zwolf and Fargrim firing at the explosive core to detonate it.

In the ensuing blast, there were few Red Bands still on their feet to fight back. One of the leadership was able to open his kennel of fierce attack wolves, and unleash a pack of ferocious wolves into the wrecked warehouse to attack the heroes. Though Gaius and Hadari were momentarily pulled down by the swarming wolves, their Eladrin heritage enabled them to regain their footing. Within moments, the party had, in a flurry of furious attacks, destroyed the huntmaster and his wolves. (and Fargrim had contemptuously set fire to a few unfortunate elf thugs).

With the Red Band hideout in ruins and their best warriors dead within a 24 hour blitz, the gang is out of commission.

Still, the worry lingers; the Red Band were not known for their initiative or vision. Who might have incited them to violence against the holdings of Darok D’Kundarak, and why?

Prologue: The Day of Mourning
A ray of hope on a dark day.

The Day of Mourning: The war is in full swing, and shows no signs of ever stopping. Today, desperate Cyran forces strive to defend their western border against the Invading Brelish. Armies of freshly-built Cyran Warforged clash against the strong formation of the Brelish Regular Army, supplemented by powerful Brelish War-Wizards. High above this battle, a small tower stands atop Sentry Hill on the border line. Once of strategic importance, the tower long ago fell into disuse, and became irrelevant and forgotten. Until today.

Three groups now converge on the tower, seeking what it contains – six souls in all who, unknowingly, embark on an important journey this day.

First, two Brelish soldiers pulled from regular duty on the frontlines below to complete a special task in the Tower. These pair are: -The dwarf Fargrim, who has lost his ancestral weapons and, as penance, wields the hated Bow and Arrow forsworn by all honest dwarves until he can recover them. Despite his heritage, he wields his bow with deadly ability, and earth magics make his every arrow laden with poison and death. -The Warforged known as Zwolf-7, built to assassinate, and trained by a legendary archer. Now Zwolf-7 serves in the Brelish Army, naturally drawn to the order and structure of a soldier’s life, and the opportunity to unsling his massive Greatbow, and deliver deadly shots to all who are unfortunate enough to be his targets.

Second, two mercenaries who have accepted a well-paying mission to rescue an important man from the tower. They are: -“Kado”, the Halfling Barbarian from the Talenta plains. Though short for a human, he is enormous for a halfling, and his fearsome war cries herald the death of his enemies as surely as the shriek of a hunting Clawfoot. -The mysterious man known only as Versifer. A human with very strange features, he wields a spear with graceful efficiency but seldom deigns to unsling it. Instead, his enemies find themselves blundering in a mad haze to their deaths, and his allies find their minds soothed and their pain ignored when Versifer speaks a few quiet words. Even those lying on their deathbeds might suddenly stand and take arms when the Versifer speaks it.

Third, two agents of the Dark Lanterns of Breland. These agents of the crown are on a special assignment to ensure that where grunts and mercenaries fail, specialists will prevail. -The strange Eladrin Hadari, a man of few words who has a remarkable blend of martial and arcane talents. Those he protects will Find Hadari by their side at all times, standing between them and harm. Those he chooses to kill will face a master swordsman whose strange form of magic will provide one deadly surprise after another… -An Eladrin scoundrel named Gaius, whose roguish manner and sckullduggery are offset by his regal bearing, impeccable manners, and coldly aristocratic sense of honor and propriety. Who can say what strange past has produced this man who is at once a vicious thug and a perfect gentleman? All that is certain is that one should avoid the point of his rapier, for it knows just how to pierce and sever in the most awful way.

All six of these individuals have a similar goal: Save the kidnapped Kundarak banking scion Darok D’Kundarak, a dwarf with friends in very high places. So high, in fact, that the Brelish government is sending military forces to rescue him pro bono, simply to curry favour with the Kundarak bankers who fund their army.

These groups met while fending off a sudden swarm of Kruthik hatchling maggots that burst from the soil and began to attempt to devour them – a threat easily dispatched by the band. Approaching the Tower, they decided that as their goals did not conflict, they would assist one another in rescuing Darok. When Gaius snuck inside the tower to see what manner of resistance they might face, he discovered to his horror that Darok’s captors were a pair of Dolgrims – foul goblinoid abominations spawned by the mad Flesh-Shaping Daelkyr many eons ago.

Facing the fact that these beasts were reality and not myth, the band pressed the attack. With furious speed they rent their enemies to pieces with their combined assault – knocking one beast into a nearby bonfire, where it was incinerated, and then tearing the other to shreds like a pack of wolves with each person contributing their own brand of violence.

Having rescued and aided the Dwarf captive, who had been badly abused by his captors, they took stock of the situation. The keen eyes of Hadari spotted an enemy force approaching – servants of the Emerald Claw, an order of Undeath-Worshipping soldiers who are nominally in the service of Karnnath. A band of zombies, thugs, and a powerful necromancer advanced on the group. Finding their patience tested, the six newfound allies came together to reduce their enemies to flayed heaps in little time – cleaving a path of carnage through their would-be killers.

They won this battle just in time to witness the great blast of magical death that was the Mourning engulfing what was once the great and beautiful nation of Cyre, and reducing it to a hideous, death-haunted misty ruin forever. Had then been a few hundred yards east, they too would now lie in the fields of the Mournland forever, never decomposing, occasionally rising again to continue their endless war.

The heroes noticed two odd details.

1. The Dolgrims they killed each had pouches containing a huge amount of freshly-minted Brelish coins – minted, specifically, in Sharn. Such a concentration of fresh coins would be unheard-of normally – which says a great deal about where the beasts might have gotten the coins.

2. The Emerald Claw Necromancer carried a strange signet ring among her effects. Versifer was able to recognize it from his time haunting the shady bars of lower Sharn, but could not place the family to which it belongs.

A grateful Darok D’Kundarak thanked his rescuers profusely, and noted their names and occupations that he might one day reward them properly. That was the last time most of the heroes saw him.

The massive magical disaster that was the Mourning was a shocking horror that accomplished what nothing else could: it ended the war. Two years later the war came to a close, and many soldiers searched out new occupations. Two years after that, the war was an unpleasant memory in the minds of everyone, casting a shadow onto an awkward present, as swords must be beat into plowshares.

Now it is four years after that day, and our six heroes find themselves in a middle district of the City of Towers. Fate conspires to bring them together.

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