Sunday, 18 December 2011

Social Climbing

Crow awakens in the Royal Suite of the best hotel in the city, the Millenium Blacksand. She uses all the facilities, abuses the mini-bar and then strolls down to one of the five restaurants, being acknowledged and greeted by a number of the super-rich of the Wretched Earth.

Is Crow having a hallucination, whilst actually being tortured by mind-flayers? No. It’s actually happening. Normal service is resumed when her early tiffins is interrupted by two messenger boys. One bears an invoice from a sleazy bar by the docks called “Lady Palm” for repairs, the second is from the Sheriff’s office requiring the posting of bail for Squid. Both of these events are fairly commonplace to Crow, who with some annoyance gathers her purse and makes her way downtown.

First stop is the sheriff’s office. Squid is unconscious in a cell with three corpses, covered in blood and vomit and missing a shoe. When roused, she is also incapable of speech. Crow posts her bail and carries her out of the jail, looking for Lady Palm.

Which is not hard to find. It’s the only bar in the tavern district that is missing the doors. Looking inside, there are bodies scattered all over, Chops is lying face-down in large puddle of urine, whilst Thelonius is sleeping happily in an iron chandelier, twenty feet up. Crow rudely awakens them, drops Squid down with them and has only one question:

“Ok, where’s the Prince?”


A year down the line from the foray into the Shadow Tomb in Moil, and the party are back into a rut in Dog Leg. Chops has spent fortunes on his stronghold, the entire project has turning Dog Leg into a building site. Insistence upon making all decisions on the basis of cost has led to an influx of cheap labour. Dog Leg is a huge muddy puddle swamped with goblins wearing hi-vis vests, the farms have taken to more intensive production methods and large industries have popped up to support the new workforce and project. The denizens of Dog Leg are rich, but miserable.

Squid has re-married a big time sports star – the melee player Quintus Thunderhammer. Let’s not say there’s already trouble in paradise, but they don’t spend a huge amount of time together. When not training, Quintus does a lot of shopping. Squid doesn’t get on well with the other WAGs being a woman of her own means, after all.

Crow has a big-time book deal for a series of travel guides and is doing well financially. Her big sellers are Lonely Planet – Underdark, and Bayve Crow’s Budget Crypts and Towers.

Thelonius- you can’t say much more about a man that has constructed a small hovel on the outskirts of Dog Leg, and encased it in a steel mesh cage and dozens of arcane wards, to keep out scrying from both clairvoyant hags, and NSA spy satellites. Worryingly, Thelonius has began to surround himself with people even less grounded than himself. Associates that he describes only as “Mr. Shambles” and “Mr.Noriega” have come on to the radar. The former walks around with a bucket on his head, the latter appears to be a dealer in all things illegal.

Chops is invited to the Capital – Royal Forge, as the guest of the Lord of Dog County. Sir Renston is an old warhorse due a promotion, and he wants his supporters near him. The Dog Leg gang are also included on the invitation.

Royal Forge gets its name from something in the past that is to do with dwarves. The small bearded people installed hot running water into the city, and it became the natural choice for kings and queens due to this. With the departure of the dwarves, this system broke down within a few years and had never been repaired, but the capital remained.

Welcomed to Royal Forge, the party attend Sir Renston’s reception. Surprisingly, there are actually a fair few people they recognise – Mother Bedana, the Regional Director of Healing (and their first sponsor), Drum’s old mate Simon Ironleaf (who has become Chief Ranger), and even Chop’s cousin Barry the Fist – having opened his flagship bar “Opus” in the capital.

King “Bob” Leric, Queen Isabella and their son Jervis hold court and duly present Sir Renston with his retirement gift – he is appointed as Lord of the sunny holiday island of Nymeris in the south west – a favoured destination for hen parties and young student girls. Whilst technically a demotion, Sir Renston is overjoyed and trades in his plate mail and lance for a pony-tail and Bermuda shorts.

Surprisingly, the honours do not end there. Unbelievably, the King calls Chops forward to be knighted and declared Lord Talmir Deathblow, new Lord of Dog County. Squid becomes Lady Jennifer Bryce, gains the dubious title of Royal Scout, but is more importantly granted a pardon for all outstanding felonies.

Crow is given the title Royal Geographer, but most surprising of all is the replacement of the current head of the Holy Orders of Monks and Sages – the learned and wise Grandmaster Tober, with the paranoid and unstable Grandmaster Thelonius.

Recovering from the shock, the new aristocrats are invited to dine with the King and Queen. It is at this function that the King expresses his admiration for them all, and how they came to his attention from their forays into the far east, and of course their worldwide fame for defeating the construct of Acererak in the demi-lich’s Fey and Shadow Tombs. As the Queen’s executioner and bodyguard, Mungo looks on in envy, King Leric begs a favour of the party – that they take his 15 year old son, Jervis in their charge and “make a man of him” for a few months until his 16th birthday. The king believes his son to be idle and soft – and surely accompanying such powerful and renowned adventurers would turn him around.

Unable to refuse, the PCs settle into their new roles with aplomb. Squid takes to social climbing, Thelonius begins a number of plots and surrounds himself with cunning toadies. Chops is appointed to the bench on rotation to pass judgement on commoners – whilst Crow is invited on a number of junkets to five-star hotels.

Chops and Squid make a half-hearted attempt to “train” Jervis, involving a foray into the sewers and a lackey dressed as a werewolf, which bear more resemblance to early LARPing than any serious attempt to toughen the prince up. Jervis does express his desire to experience life and meet girls other than those chosen by his parents (usually uncomfortably closely related cousins). Given that the exciting city of Port Blacksand is only 30 miles down the road, an educational field trip is hastily arranged…

Details of that excursion are still sketchy. Crow took advantage of a free stay at an exclusive hotel, whilst the others made their own arrangements. It’s not clear exactly who suggested what, but somehow the idea of taking the Prince to a number of brothels and dives seemed good. There is to this day argument over exactly how drinking a liqueur distilled from Drider venom came up, but Squid and Chops blame one another. Thelonius pointed out that Vrzzt (or Lolth’s Tears as it is known) is exceptionally dangerous, and not intended for human consumption – commonly causing memory loss, brain damage and in 3/10 cases – instant death. This didn’t stop him snorting half a bottle from the belly of a Halfling hooker, though.

The recollection of the night’s events have never come back, but what did become clear is that Jervis was nowhere to be found.

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