This episode was a flashback to what happened at the Murder Machine with Johny/Scout during the morning of the concert.
Things began with Scout looking to patch things up with his dwarven “friend”, Sonia Stormcaller. When that failed (miserably), he noticed that three of the elvish lasses from Lady Azalea Moonbow’s Academy for Young Ladies were paying special attention to him. After a bit of (allegedly) innocent flirting, Scout took a sip of one of the girl’s drinks, which turned out to be spiked with a sleeping potion. He awoke the next morning, fully rested, in a nice bed in a secret room in the first floor of the Yawning Portal. Lady Azalea Moonbow herself was there to greet Scout as he woke. In the course of conversation, she revealed that she was one of the Lords of Waterdeep, and that she needed Scout to be ready for what lay ahead of him that morning. She said that he should head upstairs to his friends to learn more.
When Scout got upstairs, Lady Artania was there, revealing that 1) Mirt was dead, 2) the Murder Machine’s results would determine thieving guild rights in the city for the next decade, and 3) she would be using her innate shapechanging abilities to pose as Mirt and represent his interests at the Murder Machine that morning. She also mentioned that she had spent some time in the ruins of the great Elven city of Myth Drannor, where she’d happened across some ancient elvish items. She casually left a bag of them on the table, claiming that they weren’t exactly hers… so no magics could say she was unjustly interfering with the contest.
Outside the venue, the party ran into some protesters, including well-known rabble-rouser Marius Commonman, who surreptitiously leg Scout know that the traps he’d face involved water, distractions, and greed. Inside the venue, Scout was introduced to the 5 guild leaders who would be betting on the competition:
- Eyenaught, representative of The Gaze, one of the 13 Skulls of Skullport
- Fernando Clutched-of-Scorch, a half-dragon rep of Tiamat’s Red Wing
- William “Whistler” Sawyer, gentleman from the Coin & Card Society
- Zira, Unseelie Fey and representative of the Shadowfell assassin’s guild Kargatane
- “Mirt” (actually Artania)
Zira, it seems, had some previous dealings with Scout, and made an additional wager with him regarding “gifts” from her to him.
Once Scout was in the prep area, the rest of the party met the wealthy patrons in the audience whom they could petition for extra money to buy “gifts” for Scout during his trials. They were:
- Valindra Shadowmantle, a red wizardess lich from Thay
- “The Widow”, a drow woman representing “Underdark interests”, though something about her seemed a little… off… in the same way that perhaps other faux Drow the party had met were “off”. However, no one interacted with her, so her truths were left undiscovered.
- Blackheart Deathclaw, who appeared as an elven pirate captain… but whom Valarie/Akara seemed to recognize/remember as being a deva named Kalarel. She decided that this being was likely now a Rakshasha using illusion magics, and decided to avoid him, though he flashed a (pointed) toothy smile at her from across the room.
- Zebulon Carver, dragonborn media mogul, owner of several pubs & inns throughout Waterdeep, owner of Waterdeep Community College (go fighting tradesmen!), and publisher of 2 Waterdhaivian newspapers.
- Oristus Caldera, a shadar-kai human wizard & Mage of Saruun, with his brass golem bodyguard (which looked like a large minotaur).
- Skeksi, slimy dragonborn merchant who runs the “no questions asked” shop outside of town.
- “The Crowd”, every other wealthy noble & miscreant who could afford a seat, who together represented one source of potential income to be lobbied.
In addition to lobbying the wealthy for support items (a la Hunger Games), the party could also send one member into a sound-proofed force bubble to support in each room. No attack powers could pass through, but supporting utility powers (like healing, boosts, movement assists, etc) could. The “assistant” also had a chance for some skill usage to help in some way.
CHALLENGE 1: METAL FLOOR & FLAME HALLWAY
Scout’s first challenge involved disarming a two-tiered mechanism in the center of a metal room which was struck with lightning from a statue of Sturm (dwarven god of storms) every round. Nikolai was in the “force bubble” support position, where he was able to soak up some of the lightning damage coursing through the floor. Fortunately, Scout had been given a potion of lightning resistance prior to starting this room, so (even though he failed many of the disarm checks, resetting the device) and also ended up drinking a false potion sent by a wealthy observer with a sick sense of humor, he escaped the room taking very little damage. After that was a hallway with flame cannons, but Scout’s clever use of a crowbar and an acrobatic dive under the last cannon got him through the first challenge almost completely unscathed.
CHALLENGE 2: THE DEEP ROOM
In a room that took inspiration from Dagon, abyssal Lord of the Deep, Scout carefully balanced on a tiny path to the center of the room, where he stepped on the activation square, which began filling the room with water. Tentacles then appeared from the four Dagon icons hanging at the mid-point of each wall (just above boxes that Scout presumably needed to fiddle with to disarm the room). Casey/Nulath was in the support bubble, where there was a valve to turn. He quickly realized, though, that righty was not always “tighty”, and that thievery checks were required to see which way would actually slow the water down (as opposed to speeding it up) before an Athletics check could be made to turn the valve. Scout got pretty beat up by the tentacles, which could also slide him into the rising waters, which caused ongoing cold damage. Some desperate petitioning of the crowd got Scout both a magic key (which disabled one of the three lock boxes) and a potion of extra healing (which gave him the most bang for his buck in terms of his dwindling healing surge supply). In the end, it came down to one roll with barely any hit points left… and Scout succeeded!
CHALLENGE 3: THE CLASSIC TRAP
The next room looked to be completely empty, with Mike/Karath in a force bubble on the opposite end. Karath noticed some arcane energy around the floor, though, and also realized that he could summon his familiar to appear outside the force bubble, in the room itself. Having his dragonling familiar Yig dip just below the floor wherever he could, Karath was able to show Scout that the floor was full of pit traps. A quick look through the floor revealed that they were filled with rot grubs, a particularly nasty thing to get infected with. A quick usage of Karath’s psionic flight ability, followed by a running jump from Scout got Scout to the hallway beyond the room… where an iron boot trap caught his foot, threatening to cut it off. Thankfully, his acrobatics check to escape was successful, and he made it through the rest of the hallway safely, feet intact.
CHALLENGE 4: THE CHOICE
The final room featured 3 chests: one of gold, one of dead wood, and one of a swampy-looking wood. Beyond them was the exit. Scout knew that his old foe, Zira, had bet that he would die in this room, so while he thought long and hard about the three chests (conferring as best he could via mimery with Akara/Valarie, in the force bubble spot), he eventually decided to pass them all up, jumping over them to end the challenge. Trumpets blared, lights flashed, and Scout had survived the Murder Machine, winning major thief guild rights for the next decade for Mirt’s organization.
As a prize for winning, Pirelli Gearloose, the Murder Machine’s creator, had his friend Khelben “Blackstaff” Ahroun enchant one item of Scout’s to be +1 better than it was before. He chose to have his nonmagical leather armor enchanted to be +1 magic armor. Meeting with Zira, Scout claimed a second prize from the Unseelie Fey, gaining the lvl 2 theme utility power “Unseelie Eyes”, which gave him “flashlight eyes” and darkvision as an encounter power.
Karath had to follow-through on a deal he’d made with Valindra afterward, taking her to Kyone’s crystal and letting her examine it. Valindra was very pleased to see the “theoretical” paper she’d read put into practice, and told Karath that she could easily remove the crystal if necessary. She also said that while she couldn’t stop the spider magic directly, she was pretty sure if he let her make Kyone a lich, that would stop the spread of the divine spider magic. He said he’d take that under advisement as Valindra told him to look her up in the Neverwinter area should he ever be in that region. She then tried to recruit him into the Red Wizards. Karath took the literature, though he made no commitments.
The rest of “what happened” after that can be read about in the Session 13 recap. To clarify a little bit, the dark figure watching the party leave the city was Zira, who smiled as she watched Scout’s caravan depart. She spoke aloud, though none were there to hear her, “I may have lost again, young ”/campaigns/joelastowski/characters/kaitzer-scout-sorah" class=“wiki-content-link”>Kaitzer, but you are now one step closer to being thrice-gifted by the Fey."
As the caravan drove off into the night in the south, eventually the weather turned worse, beginning to rain. The Unknown Soldier looked up ahead to see an inn on the side of the road, just when they most needed a place to get in out of the rain. He paused, though, saying that something was odd. For some reason, he said, though he had not been to Waterdeep in this lifetime, he had strong memories of this inn…
500 XP… which should put everyone at 3,750… exactly what you need for level 4
Treasure (I know Artania’s Elven Battle Armor got passed to Lisa. Not sure what happened to the rest of it… whether Scout kept it all or if it got distributed to other party members, but let me know if I got it wrong here)
+1 Elven Battle Armor (leather) – Lisa/Praxis
+1 Elven Cloak – Johny/Scout
Feyleaf Sandals – Johny/Scout
+1 Magic Armor (leather) – Johny/Scout
“Unseelie Eyes” power – Johny/Scout
Next game will be (likely) on Sunday, June 3: “The Tower”