It begins, as so many epic adventures do, in a tavern. The Yawning Portal is usually busy at any time, day or night, and tonight is no exception. The taproom is crowded, and as you scan for an empty table, your eyes are drawn to four figures, in particular, that stand out among the crowd.
The first is a tall, beautiful dark-skinned woman sitting at a table by herself. She wears robes that look like spun gold, decorated with numerous gemstones. Her headgear contains daffodils and around her neck hangs an oversized golden coin that depicts a beautiful woman in profile.
At another table, a young noblewoman, to judge by her clothing, sits alone with a worried look upon her face. She is sipping at a glass of wine and watching carefully those who enter the place. She meets your gaze briefly as you step into the taproom.
Near the fire sits a well-groomed bearded man playing a lute poorly. People are largely ignoring him as he desperately tries to make his way through the chorus of an elven hymn. The mangled tune sounds only vaguely familiar, but he perseveres, a hat sitting on the floor before him.
On the other side of the room, at a large table and surrounded by a small crowd, a storyteller plies his trade. Like the bard, he is well-dressed (though not nobility) and well-groomed and is clearly enjoying telling his tales. His audience seems appreciative as well, for most of them hang on his every word.
Fornitado sits at his normal table...sipping his normal wine... and waiting for something extraordinary to happen. He stifles a yawn.
Kertak enters the inn with a friendly smile to the room. He heads to the bar to collect an ale before making his way over to the seated noblewoman, gesturing at an empty seat.
"Would you like some company?" he asks politely, nodding towards the struggling bard. "Something to distract you from our friend's attempts at a tune?"
Entering the Yawning Portal with a strong degree of confidence and a wry smile, Elise quickly surmised her surroundings before heading to the bar. Placing a few coins on the bar, she nods and orders up a shot of whiskey, which she quickly proceeded to down. She had been on patrol with the City Watch, but her shift had come to an exhausting end... it had been one of those kind of days.
Slamming the shot glass down, Elise looked up at the barkeep "Alright, that's better; time for an ale." Turning around with her drink, Elise leaned back with her elbows resting on the bar to better survey the space. Her armor clanged against the wood bar top as she did so, she hadn't bothered to head home and change. Glancing over at the story teller, a crooked smile slowly curled on her face and she headed over "I could use some entertainment."
Making her way over to the storyteller, Elise grabbed a nearby chair and placed it down, accidentally making more noise than she had intended in so doing. Taking a sip from her ale, she raised it at the story teller, with a look that said don't mind me, keep going.
Varis entered the Yawning Portal, the smell of ale and roasting Quipper fish entered his nostrils. Varis closed his eyes and breathed in heavily, releasing it with a heavy sigh. Almost immediately his ears were assaulted by butchering of an elven Hymn Varis had been taught at a young age. Not even wanting to look at the source Varis heads to the bar, he makes eye contact with the patrons saying hello to anyone that will meet his gaze. Greeting the bartender with a sturdy handshake Varis asked "My good man, I will have a plate of your Quipper fish and Shadowdark ale; both of which I have heard nothing but good things." The food lives up to it's name. Varis places an extra silver piece on the bar. Looking at the bartender Varis adds "Fantastic! Now... I think your patrons have suffered long enough with this 'Entertainment'. Give me another one of those Shadowdark ales."
Walking over to the man playing the lute, Varis handed him the ale. "I think you have earned yourself a break. Enjoy this, I'll fill in for you and I'll even let you keep all the profits." Varis unstrapped the Violin from his back. Clearing his throat Varis tried to speak as loudly as he could over the patrons of the bar. "This is called Fortune Favours the Brave!"
Performance: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (11) + 5 = 16
Varis played his violin while adding vocals in an attempt to win over the crowd. To make the experience more enjoyable he wove his magic into the performance. He cast minor illusion to bring up visuals to enhance the performance.
What the crowd was unaware of was that Varis had mastered his skill of lip reading. While the crowd is enthralled with the performance Varis is paying attention to the patrons still conversing to see if he can pick up on any information.
Varis uses Observant Feat to read the lips of anyone speaking
Critzible is working on getting his schedule straight and will join us shortly.
Most of the patrons are conversing on mundane topics. The storyteller is telling the story of a lost elven throne, while the noblewoman is speaking to another newcomer about having suffered a loss.
Ulgat the heavily scarred and armored dwarf sat drinking a thick heavy dwarven stout. The vicious almost oil like ale stuck a bit to his blonde beard between acid stains. His left eye is slightly cloudy its socket, cheek, and brow scarred, the dwarf was quite a road map for his past endeavors. The man was a mercenary.
Ulgat, however, had quite the impressive armor and weapons, though they have signs of being worn they are well made and well tended to. As he notices the others he looks down at the chisel in his hand. The chisel of his clan one that he belongs too, one his wife and child belongs to.
After a minute of staring, he slips it back into his pouch and then adjusts his straps on his armor. As he does he drinks down a bit more before emerging from the throng and heading back to the bar. As he bellies up he pulls out a gold piece and slaps it down."Another good sir"
Fornitado slides his chair a bit closer hoping to pick up on any nuggets of information. He was growing bored, and ready for something to set his soul alight.
Perception: 1d20 ⇒ 1
But over the din of the crowded bar, he's sure he hears them discussing something about breeding a cow and a horse to come up with a horned riding horse that gave milk.
He goes back to his wine.
If I'd rolled anything but a one I'd have slid even closer...
Shrugging nonchalantly, Elise leans against the wall and responds "Well, based on the tales told of the Undermountain, I suppose just about anything could be down there. An alabaster throne of ancient elven lore? Why not." Nodding her head knowingly at the storyteller, Elise gives him a wry, knowing glance and adds "That being said, I wouldn't be encouraging just anyone into venturing into the labyrinth in chase of such treasure," glancing over towards the yawning portal, Elise adds more seriously "not everyone who goes down there makes it back up again."
Looking back towards the Volo, Elise smiles in a kindly but weary manner, speaking in a tone she had perfected as a member of the City Watch dealing with members of the public "Master Geddarm, maybe I can buy you a drink, you know, before you go putting any more ideas in peoples heads?"
Persuasion: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (17) + 8 = 25
Kertak takes a seat opposite the noblewoman, smiling understandingly as he indicates his holy symbol. “Ilmater teaches us that another’s loss is our opportunity to share the burden. Do you have friends you can turn to? Family? Is there anything a travelling priest can do to help?”
A voice calls from the pit below. “’Oy, send down a rope!” The burly barkeep leaves his place and comes to the edge of the old well. He takes a look over the side and calls back, “Three of you. That’s a gold apiece.” He quickly sends down a bucket, waits a moment, and draws it up again, putting the coinage into his pocket. “One at a time,” he shouts into the well.
The rope is dropped, and the muscled barkeep begins cranking a large wooden winch connected to a crane. A moment later, the first of the three adventurers appears, a human dressed in studded leather armor and carrying a short bow hangs limply from the end of the rope. He sports a longsword at his side and a quiver that is nearly empty of arrows. He is no sooner brought up than people remove him from the rope and send it back down.
The second person up is a stout halfling male, dressed in leathers and carrying a wooden staff about half the size of a staff that would be used by a full-sized human. He wears a necklace of intertwined leaves.
The third individual brought up is a beautiful moon elven woman with dark blue hair that complements her light blue complexion nicely. She is dressed in fine chain mail that shimmers in the torchlight and a rapier hangs at her hip. She lithely steps off the rope and moves immediately to the side of her fallen companion.
“Warren,” she says to the halfling, “What more can we do for him?”
“Very little, I fear.” The halfling’s face is dark and grim. “His fate is in the hands of the gods, now.”
The barkeep asks, “What happened?”
“A drow ambush on level three,” the halfling replies. “They came out of nowhere and struck quickly. Kordal fell before we even knew they were there. We ran for the surface, but they didn’t pursue.”
Two men dressed in pale blue robes with short capes encircling the back and chest and with crescent moons on their foreheads carefully lift the body of the fallen adventurer and carry him towards the door.
The other two follow in silence, heads bowed.
The crowd respectfully waits in silence until the group has left the inn before the barkeep speaks up. “Who had four days? And they lost one of their number, so that’s even odds. Come to the bar to claim your winnings or pay your debts!”
1d20 + 5 ⇒ (9) + 5 = 14 Religion
1d20 + 5 ⇒ (9) + 5 = 14 Religion 2
Fornitado look up as the normal group of bettors rushes to the bar to pay or receive. He gave up a few nights back as he couldn't help but bet on the competent looking groups, but then always seemed to lose as they usually didn't make it back intact.
When the excitement died down, he wandered over to hear the end of the storytellers tale.
Ulgat huffs sending the brushy ends of his is mustache to wiggle before he turns away from the adventurers to shake his head. If only they would have gone with more people, a small but armored contingent with some magical and clerical aid. Also never hurts to have a good scout too.
Ulgat chuckles as he looks over the adventurers and begins to look at there weapons and armor.
Perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (6) + 5 = 11
To notice the craftsmanship and state of there gear
Intelligence/Smiths Tool?: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (10) + 1 = 11
Religion: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (15) - 1 = 14; Religion: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (1) - 1 = 0
Kertak watches the drama unfold half rising as the wounded human appears but then sadly retaking his seat as it becomes clear the man is dead. He remains quietly watching as the rest of the party make their return and leave with the priests, seeking to distract his companion from the inevitable train of thought.
“It’s true Undermountain holds great dangers,” says the old man seriously. “But there are many stories of those who have endured its perils. Even our landlord himself made his fortune by braving the depths, so I’m told. Don’t give up hope on your brother yet, My Lady. He may well be the next great hero to emerge triumphant! May I ask his name? Was he alone?”
Knowing the folly of marching into the great dungeon in search of a single individual, Kertak knows he has very little true aid he can provide. Rather he seeks to offer the worried woman a friendly ear. We mustn’t let the great suffering we can’t reduce distract us from the smaller hurt we can.
DC 10 Intelligence Religion: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (4) + 1 = 5
Elise grinned as Volo started name dropping, and started to lead him towards the bar when the voice from below called up. "What's this now?" Compelled to move forward and help the fallen man, Elise stepped forward before stopping and holding herself back as the Priests guided the body out; there were plenty tending to him already. She glanced over at the Moon Elf, who was carrying a symbol of some fashion on her, but one Elise didn't recognize.
DC 10 Intelligence Religion: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (13) + 1 = 14
Glancing back towards the direction of the Priests, she narrowed her gaze on them "Priests of Selune?" It puzzled her as to why they might be the ones tending to the fallen here, but Elise wasn't about to question that now.
Just as Varis is about to hit the crescendo of his performance, he is interrupted by a cry for help from the open pit below and the commotion that followed. Varis stops playing his violin as he is intrigued by the commotion.
Religion: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (17) + 4 = 21
Religion: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (6) + 4 = 10
He watches the three companions emerge from the pit recognizing the necklace of intertwined leaves around the halfing's neck as a symbol of Sylvanus, the 'Forest Father'. Varis curses under his breath at the mention of the sinister Drow elves. His father often spoke of his dark brethren with disdain, wanting the elves to stay well below the surface at all times.
Enthralled by the spectacle of the events, Varis gives up his attempts at entertainment and joins his fellow bard at the bar. "So Mattrim; or would you rather I call you Threestrings? You have probably seen many an adventurer plunge into the depths of the undermountain. What have you seen in your time at the Yawning Portal
Varis had always wanted to make a name for himself. He always thought to himself that future bards would sing of his deeds across the land. Conquering the depths of the undermountain might just be the way to do it. He would need strong and trustworthy allies. He looked around the room sizing up the patrons. Realizing he had let his mind wonder he brought his attention back to Threestrings. What is this favour? I don’t have a well armed group but perhaps soon that will change.” Varis found his eyes wandering to a heavily armored dwarf sitting at the bar. Their gazes meet as they take inventory of each other’s gear. “If I find anyone willing to adventure with me perhaps I can help you.”
If you (the player) aren't up on your Realmslore, give me an Intelligence check.
Intelligence(history): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (14) + 4 = 18
If it’s not a history check and just Intelligence then it’s +1
Kertak nods seriously as his companion describes her brother.
“Well, Lady Rosznar, I’m not part of any adventuring company currently. But I’m here looking for the right group to join. If I find myself plumbing the dungeon’s depths I promise I’ll keep my eyes open for him. Or anyone who has seen him. It’s not much in the way of hope, but until we know for sure a little hope can conquer a lot of uncertainty.”
Remaining at the table, Kertak settles in for the evening, surveying the assembled patrons in search of any burgeoning adventuring groups who may be in need of a dedicated healer.
"Dang it! I missed the story. That one always has something interesting to say... though sometimes he can be a bit vague in sharing it. Seems like everything with him is cloaked in intrigue".
Fornitado gestures at the recently vacated chair.
"Is it presumptuous of me to join you? Perhaps you might have an interesting tale as well. While my coin is not unlimited, I can spare enough to buy you a beverage to reward your hospitality".
Unless stopped Fornitado will sit down.
Varis examined the man’s broach. Recognizing he was a member of the Harpers, Varis smiled, thinking to himself the man was right a contact in his organization could be useful. “Well now, a Harper are you? I’ve heard of your organization but never met a member before. Well I’d be willing to make this delivery for you. Assuming I will be rewarded for the risk to my life?” Varis added with a sly grin. “What is it you need me to deliver exactly? I do not have anyone to venture into the depths with just yet, so why don’t you hang on to whatever it is until I can find some willing companions.”
Gesturing towards the empty chair, Elise nods and smiles warmly "Of course, have a seat. Allow me introduce Volothamp Geddarm, and I am Elise Wardyn." Flagging down a waitress, Elise raises three fingers "Three pints of ale." Turning her attention back towards Fornitado, Elise adds "I'll get the first round, you can grab the second. Master Geddarm here, he will drink on our tab this evening."
”A handful of stones is it? Well at least it’s not a heavy burden. It will just be a question of survival to Skullport. ”. Looking ominously at the dark hole in the floor Varis added ”So in my short time here I have seen two make it out and one not as lucky... Varis said looking at the warrior that did not survive. ”So what exactly is the survival rate would you say?”. Before he could answer Varis cut him off ”On second thought don’t tell me, I am better off not knowing. I will see what brave soldiers I can muster up and come back for these stones.”
The mood seemed different in the bar once the three had emerged from the depths of the Undermountain. Looking around he noted and Elf and a Human woman in the midst of a conversation with the man telling a story earlier. Varis can tell by reading his lips he has captured the attention of the two with tales of the Undermountain. Thinking to himself that these two may also be interested in traveling below the earth Varis moved to the table they were sitting at and pulled up a chair. ”Hello there! I am Varis, Varis Martel. I suddenly have a desire for knowledge about the depths that this hole leads to and what adventure lies beyond. Mind if I join you two and hear what this man has to say?”
Kertak spends some time surveying the room, nursing his ale. He looks in particular for any old adventuring acquaintances or any newly forming bands who might catch his eye. Barring catching sight of any old friends, he introduces himself to any group that appears to be discussing braving the infamous dungeon, approaching any potential companions with his usual, open smile.
Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (12) + 7 = 19
Ulgat laughs at the sound of Xanathar and shakes his head. he drinks in more of his ale and keeps an ear open in hopes it leads to a job. His coffers were a little low and he needed more money for an influx of raw materials for his wife and him to craft even more gear.
"I've heard the name in passing, but strangely enough don't seem to be able to recall it's exact meaning. Please enlighten me".
Nodding more seriously, Elise took a sip of ale and responded "Yes, I have heard the name. I didn't know that Xanathar was trying to setup right underneath our feet though." Leaning back, Elise sighed and looked up "That could be a problem."
Excusing himself, Kertak leaves his companion and makes his way to the group listening to the storyteller.
"Good evening, friends. Is there room for another?" asks the older man, as he pulls up a chair to join the circle.
Ulgat turns and sits at the table. His harsh acid pocked features smile."I'll go if ye got the coin. Needn' capitol for more metal, need it ''ta fill orders and keep d' wife happy"The dwarf says eager to earn some coin so he can get exactly what he said.
Fornitado feels his coin purse as the group of individuals gather around the table.
His eyebrows raise as he learns more of the Xanathar. He knows of such beasts, but they are fearsome and well beyond his capabilities to confront.
Then he takes the time to view each of the participants of the conversation, a they gather around the storyteller.
They look competent. Perhaps they could be convinced to work together... if the coin is sufficient.
Varis felt the moisture leave his mouth at the mention of the Eye-Tyrant. "Such a fearsome creature..." Varis thought to himself. Suddenly delivering a few stones didn't seem worth any danger pay. Taking a long swig of his ale and putting on a brave face Varis said "Yes... that prospect doesn't frighten the likes of myself." Clearing his throat he continued. "Although it seems as though throwing ourselves into the pit over there could be one of the worst decisions we have made, it could also be the most rewarding." Varis briefly pictures the notoriety that would come with conquering the depths below. Looking at those gathered around the story teller Varis confidently said "I don't know about the rest of you but I think I would like to attempt venturing into the depths below. Think of the songs and stories that would be told about us... not to mention what treasures must be waiting for us down there." Pausing for dramatic effect Varis boldy states "I'm Varis, Varis Martel. Who's with me?"
"Look, I am in this for the money, I gotta get the treasure to ensure me family is able ta continue workin' and providin' high-quality weapons armor and goods t' da masses" he says his hand going to his pouch to fondle his chisel before his other hand puts the tankard to his lips.
"I'm with you, Varis. My name's Kertak, servant of Ilmater," replies Kertak as he inclines his head to Varis, turning to Ulgat as he continues. "From what I hear, there's no surer way to treasure than down that pit....provided we survive, of course." looking across the tavern to the woman he had been speaking with, Kertak points her out to the rest of the group.
"Lady Rosznar there believes her brother is lost somewhere in the dungeon. I'm sure returning a lost nobleman to his family would pay a handsome reward also."
As Fornitado sees the greedy others join the cause, he decides that his boredom, and light coin purse tip the scale in favor of joining the fools caper.
"Well... If you'll have me, I'll join your madcap plunge".
"If there is coin to be had I'm in like I said. The name though is Ulgat Alegranite! Member of the Metalworkers and Weaponeers guild, Master Smith and Brewer." He says taking another drink which dribbles down his chin into his beard.
"Well," Volo smiles, "It sounds as though you have a company. What shall it be called? I need a name that I might spread the tales of your bravery and heroics."
Glancing about the table, Elise was amazed at how quickly everyone had signed on to such a dangerous task, more so given the scene they had just witnessed. Taking a sip of her ale, she raised one brow curiously "Head into the dungeon? I mean yes, there is treasure, but just as often folks don't come back... probably more often than not actually."
Leaning back, Elise looked towards the yawning portal and then back towards the company gathered. "Then again, if there are lost folks down there in need of assistance, or the possibility of finding and thwarting the likes of Xanathar, the venture does have some merit." Tapping her finger on the table, Elise pondered what was being proposed as she looked around her:
A crotchety battle hardened dwarf
An older human man, but one of some build and a Priest of Ilmater
Two half-elves, both slight in appearance but likely of some skill.
With a shrug, Elise set her ale down and responded "Well, why not? Five adventurers in search of fortune, maybe that can be the basis of our name?" Elise shook her head, astonished at her own eagerness to partake in such a fools errand I can't believe I'm doing this...
"For those of you just arriving, I am Elise Wardyn... the pleasure is mine."
"Honored to meet you, Elise....Ulgat," smiles Kertak. "It sounds like our gamblers over there will soon be able to place another wager. I'll do everything I can to make sure everyone who goes down, comes back up."
"When do you think we should leave, Varis?"
Fornitado with his silly childish sense of humor makes a roaring noise, fierce face, and claws the air with imaginary claws...
"Rrrrr! Rrrrrrr! Rrrrr!. I like it.
"Very good!" Volo smiles broadly. "And to show my good faith, I will place a small wager to your success!"
The dark-skinned woman that you noticed when you first entered approaches your table. "Forgive my intrusion, please. My name is Obaya Uday, of Chult. It would seem that you are planning an expedition to the depths below. If this is the case, I would like to tell you that I am willing to purchase any magical items you come across that you do not want. I think that you will find my offers equitable and fair and I ask only your consideration. It will take only a few hours to procure the necessary funds for trade."
She wears colorful clothing and a feathered headdress. A golden coin is suspended from a chain around her neck.
Ulgat looks at her and chuckles."Not sure who in this group is a talker, But I know my wife is ever the cunning linguist who does the deals. Me I just look imposing!" He says getting ready to take another drink and noting only a few drops enter his mouth.
"Why does the ale always run dry, need a mug that never empties" he grumbles as he slowly gets up."I am gonna get me some more ale. I vote for the Mighty Manticores or The Diamond Brigade, I'll be back"
Varis addressed Volvo and the group in front of him. ”Well then, that was easier than I thought. It appears we have formed a company indeed. Ulgat, Elise, Kertak and Fornitado it is a pleasure to meet you. Well before I was regaining you all with one of my favourite songs, Fortune favours the brave. Perhaps something along those lines and what Elise suggested. Lions are a symbol of bravery, so might I suggest we call our company ‘The Lions of Fortune’?”
Turning to the stranger that offered her services Varis said “We certainly appreciate the offer miss Obaya, I have no doubt we will require your ability to provide adequate funds for the items we find.
Knowledge Religion: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (1) + 4 = 5
Varis examined her attire but did not recognize its origin.
Looking at Volvo Varis added with a grin ”Well hopefully your wager is that we last a long while down there and don’t lose any of our members.”
"I'd say that you are ready, but are you prepared for what you may find down there?" Volo teases. He lifts his mug high. "To the Lions of Fortune! Long may they prevail!" There are cheers from nearby tables, along with a chorus of ayes.
If no one has any other business to take care of, I'll drop... er... lower you guys into the pit.
Kertak makes his way back to Lady Rosznar as the group prepares to descend and inclines his head slightly.
"Well my Lady, it appears that the Gods have conspired to at least give us reason to hope. I am joining a band to explore the depths. I will keep my eyes and ears open for any sign of your brother. If I find any news, I will do what I can to bring word back to you."
He then joins the others at the mouth of the pit, his hands folded together in supplication as he offers a silent prayer to Ilmater.
Lord on the Rack, give me the strength to shoulder my companions' burdens and the courage to endure as you teach us we can.