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Tales from the Table: Failures from Bingham Woarfrost’s Academy (September)

So I’d like to start keeping a running summary story of everything my players get up to in my regular D&D 5e campaign. I hope you enjoy reading of our hijinx, while I get to work on my writing skills and keep a good record of what has happened. This should be a monthly report, or maybe more if I get a good response!

You are hereby expelled for gross failure and the repeated inability to improve. Please remove your person and belongings from the grounds of Bingham Woarfrost’s Adventuring College and Licensure within one week.

fogofwar

A passed mug of flat beer, warmly nursed midday. Fungerfil, Heidi, Boon Schlubbel, and sulk over their red-stamped expulsion decrees. Bingham Woarfrost’s Adventuring College and Licensure had finally gotten rid of them, pesky nobodies too skilled for a government job but too poorly connected to pass. If they had just paid off the right Adventuring Certification official, they would have gotten on the fast track apprenticeship program and avoided The Test. Dubious wording regarding minutiae of obscure exploration errata and historical quirks have ensured that the people of the land are safe from unqualified professionals, or any adventurer at all who is unable to muster the right sort of connections.

With their drinks nearly finished, a cloaked stranger approaches with an offer and a round of drinks. From under the cloak, she makes a strange offer, “become my henchmen and you can easily skirt around adventurer licensing with the right legal knowledge.”. Wary of this stranger’s offer, pointed questions start flying. Unfazed, and sipping on one of the mugs, she explains, “I, and the people I work with, intend to make sure that the right sort of people get past the bureaucrats. It is a simple enough matter for me to do, and you are free to keep everything you acquire in your travels. I only ask that you’ll stay in touch and keep an open mind to requests I might have in the future, assuming you prove to be made of the ‘right stuff’”. At this point, this vague offer is too suspicious. When asked, she throws aside her cloak, revealing her shoulder length grey hair, weather worn skin, and a big smile. Lady Saria Warfrost commandingly speaks, hand on her sheathed rapier, “I am a card carrying swashbuckler, mayor, and even I could not pass the adventuring test these days. I should know, I helped write it!”. With one big gulp, she downs the rest of her mug, choking, “If you’re in, I’ve got the paperwork at my office. Oh, and if you’re looking to show you’ve got the right stuff, there’s a miller nearby who is in a bit of trouble.” Surprised, Schlubbel rolled with the punches and took the crazy woman’s attitude in stride, negotiating for a cart and horses. Lady Saria laughed, “Ha, I take that as a good sign. I’ll have a cart and a horse ready for you at my office.” Seeing opportunity, Fungerfil, Marina, and Boon chimed in, hoping to get in on the bargaining. Without warning, the spry mayor tossed her cloak in the air and ran out the door of the tavern, cackling.

Boon Scroggins, the half-orc nearly twice the size of everyone else in the group, was the first to make a break for the door. Knocking aside the heavy oak door, he adjusted to the bright midday sun to see the streets empty, not unusual for this early in the morning in Woarfrost. He was soon joined by Marina and then by Fungerfil, who took a moment to look around. Hiding behind the open oak door was the mayor. At this opportunity, she winked, chiding, “You might want to be a little more observant in the future, Boon”, before running down the road towards her office, laughing.  

Given this new opportunity, the team sat down to decide their next steps and agreed to head to the mayor’s office to hear her out. Once there, it seemed that the entire staff was out. Signage clearly noted the mayor’s office as being upstairs and down the hall, so the party cautiously snuck up the stairs. The mayor’s door was cracked slightly, and upon Fungerfil peering inside, the mayor heartily invited everyone in. “NEIGH!”, went a horse in response to a half dozen strangers walking into the large office. A chuckle from the mayor preceded a quick discussion about the player’s wagon being ready outside and how difficult it was to get a horse into her office. Marina, a tiefling monk, and Heidi, a dwarven druid, stayed to speak with the mayor. Fungerfil, Schlubel, and Boone decided to see what they could find in the empty offices. The tiny, bright green haired gnome Fungerfil whipped out his lockpicks, excited at the chance to do some proper exploring. A few offices later, Fungerfil and Schlubbel had liberated a few standardized weights from the Office of Weights and Measures as well as a few ledgers from the local Adventuring Certification Office. Boone stayed behind, messing around in the lobby, and stumbled upon a brown satchel stuck behind the receptionist desk. The new horse calmed by the short druid, Heidi Battlebeard, was brought downstairs and escorted to the cart.

Sitting comfortably on their new wagon, Schlubbel and Boone decided to take a look at their ill gotten goods. Boone found a female name written on the inside of the satchel and a bag of coffee beans. Schlubbel took some time to read the ledger, finding inside a list of recent acquisitions logged by local adventurers along with the tax payments made. It was Heidi that stopped the group before they had left town to ask for directions to Sunny Dale, where the miller the mayor had spoken of lived.

A quick trip up to Sunny Dale took them most of the following morning, but was otherwise uneventful. Once there, the team found the miller, who explained his predicament. He had inadvertantly sold the soul of his teenage daughter to a demon, he had assumed the only thing behind the mill worth having was an old apple tree. When a demon offered a chest of gold for what was behind it, he shook the demon’s hand so fast it would make heads spin, not realizing his daughter, Emilia was doing some cleaning in the back. Recognizing his mistake, he now needs to save his daughter, and the town priest had mentioned that pure souls cannot be taken by demons. In a meandering chain, the adventurers met Mother Joe, the town priest, the Provences, a local family with a son who is close friends with Emilia, Carter the town’s hunter, and Tracy Bark, a lonely widower. It was not long into their conversations with the townsfolk that it became apparent that a 15 year old girl would certainly not be pure enough to be disqualified from demonic kidnapping, so it was left to try and get some magical purification. An abandoned temple of the stars to the north used to do purification rituals before a greedy noble razed the whole place. Carter the hunter mentioned having seen a ruined temple to the north around the lake. Taking him at face value, the team immediately set off, not wanting to waste what was left of their day.

Unfortunately, they never got Carter to clarify which “around the lake” he meant, so they went off to the west. Explosions could be heard echoing through the mountain range to the east and eventually they hit a road leading to the Dwarven city of Flank-Rock. Having no status or money to bargain with, everyone save Heidi was denied entry. Asked about the explosions, the guards mentioned that some crazy gnome was trying to build a road through the mountains. The sun started to dip low, so they turned the wagon around and made camp out in the steppes.

 

In the bright morning light, it turned out that the low, rocky hills they had camped on were mounds capped with carved rocks. The language was not recognized by anyone, but underneath a large circular stone, a buzzing and clicking noise could be heard. Boone wasted no time in hefting up the stone, getting a quick glance into the dark room below. Stuck to the underside of the stone was a gelatinous mass, quivering with a large spider and centipede struggling to get free. Boone couldn’t drop the stone fast enough and the team rallied to fight the ooze. It would bubble out, then jettison an acidic gas to burn boone and Schlubbel. The pale blue slime even split into tinier slimes when struck, freeing the hungry spider and centipede. Dispatching these foes went swiftly but left most of the party with some scrapes and burns. The killing blow to the slime caused it to explode into hundreds of grape sized blue droplets, all bouncing and wiggling seemingly at random.

Enemies thus dispatched, the adventurers decided to open up the stone and plumb the depths below, while Heidi would keep watch above. A vicious albino snake knocked the wind out of Boone, leaving him with a nasty scar, but the snake quickly retreated through the slightly open stone doors. Fungerfil attempted to follow, but the snake was too quick for his tiny legs. Schubbel squeezed through the door as well, along with the thin tiefling, Marina. They walked past three growing puddles forming in the larger room to shove open a stuck wooden door. As Boone got some time to take a deep breath, he shoved the stone doors open and uncautiously prodded the slimy pools. Three different colored slimes  coalesced around the room to attack the interlopers while Schlubbel ran forward into the room he had just opened to be nearly impaled on spikes that shot from the wall. His foolishness in trying to reach a simple throne was only defeated by his poor timing in getting wounded just as his fellow party members were being attacked by slimes. Recognizing their poor position and wounds, everyone beat a hasty retreat to the stone doors, with Schlubbel barely making it inside the doors before Boone slammed one of them shut. Not quite removed from danger, the three slimes began to press against the door, oozing through the cracks. Marina had felt the oily residue of the black slime on her quarterstaff from striking it moments before, and quickly gathered tinder to light a fire in the cracks of the door.

*Click* *Click* *Fwoosh* *Squelch* Marina managed to get a fire started, but the squirming pseudopods of the encroaching slimes grabbed her wrist. While Fungerfil and Schlubbel beat a hasty retreat up the ricketty ladder, Boone stayed behind to pull Marina out of the slime’s grasp. Black smoke began to fill the room. Bubbling and shrieking pierced the stone door as the black slime withdrew, burning. The light blue slime retreated from the light and heat, while the light green slime shoved the stone door open. Fungerfil dropped a secured rope for Boone and Marina in case the ladder didn’t hold, but they were able to climb out, lighting the ladder on fire on their way out. Exhausted but still being pursued by the slime, Boone and Fungerfil shoved the round stone back in place.

The party beat a quick retreat to their cart, and set off to meet the gnome responsible for the explosions. An easy trip led them right to Harkar Landar the Spark-Cart Czar, where they initially posed as investors. From two dozen different tea-kettles, Harkar poured them unique varieties of tea while discussing his operation. Soon, his hopes for investment were dashed by Schlubbel, who decided to tell the truth for once. Harkar despondently replied, “Well, that’s about what I thought would happen. My luck has run sour, my workers are on strike, and to top it all off I haven’t seen any ghosts.” Boone was immediately interested in ghosts. Luckily, Harkar had quite the collection of ghost paraphernalia and is a member of the Ghost Club, mentioning a graveyard on the other side of the mountain had rumors of ghost activity. All the while, Schlubbel psychically told Boone to stall while he and Fungerfil could search the mining camp site. Large crates held explosives that Harkar has been very cautious to let Marina near earlier for fear of spontaneous combustion. They stole a few explosives, but did not take any of the mining tools or expensive rations. With everyone satisfied, Boone worked the ghost conversation to a close, when Harkar began to walk the adventurers out of the camp. On the way out, he offered to sell some explosives, mining equipment, and mining rights for the silver, but the team was too poor to afford any of them. As a token of friendship, he offered to give them some tea, and when Boone countered with an offer of coffee beans, he happily traded a cask of aromatic leaves.

Better rested, the adventurers set their sights back on that burial mound. They arrived just in time to set up camp before the sun went down. Blue slimes still coated the nearby grasses, bouncing and jiggling. The circular stone had no signs of disturbance, and the team drifted off to sleep.

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