Marshal Solutions, Inc.

The Battle At the Gilded Lady
Bar Room Blitz!

While traveling west along the foothills of the Thunder Peaks, the founding members of Marshal Solutions, Inc. found themselves in the tavern of the Gilded Lady in Highmoon, the capital of Deepingdale. While enjoying a hot meal and some ale, their leader, Kriv, had grim news: If they didn’t find work soon, their newly formed company would be bankrupt before they even made it to Baldur’s Gate, where they had hoped to set up their home offices.

As Runor, their resident drunk, ordered another flagon of ale from the halfling girl working the bar, a band of ruffians burst through the front door. While some of the men went to block the doors, three of them accosted a man sitting alone in a booth in the far corner of the room. As it became clear that their intentions were hostile, Kriv offered their services to the man. Before he could answer, the leader of the thugs ordered his men to attack!

Luckily, the experienced warriors of MSI, with some aide from the Halfling barmaid, were easily able to defeat their attackers. Impressed with the Halfling’s ability, Kriv offered her a job on the spot.

The man introduced himself as William Portals, an acolyte of Chauntea hailing from the town of Winterhaven by the sister of his Temple to find warriors both able and willing to stop what she suspects to be a growing danger of a Sharran cult that might have taken hold in Winterhaven, and offering them 200 gold pieces to use as seed money for their budding corporation.

As Kriv and William were hammering out the details of their corporation, Lenore, the newly hired halfling, looted the corpses of the fallen soldier’s and head out to a shop run by her friend, a Tiefling by the name of Amnon. Upon hearing about his “favorite customer’s” new employment, the Tiefling new that it was his responsibility to inform her employers of Lenore’s…eccentricities. Kriv, liking the look of the man, offered him a job as well, which he accepted with some hesitation.

With their business settled for the day, and a new job on their plate, MSI retired for the evening, resting up before setting off for Winterhaven the next morning.

DM Commentary
Hi all, welcome to Marshal Solutions, Inc. This is my first attempt at DMing, and according to my players, I’m doing pretty good at it. Obviously, I’ve got a bit of a way to go, but what new DM doesn’t? I’ve decided to go back and edit these old Adventure Log entries and add some DM commentary. Alot of the really fun stuff that happens in this game actually happens OOC, and I’ve decided it’d be cool to share some of these stories with whoever decides to read these.

So this campaign actually has some pretty humble origins. It was originally supposed to be just a mercenary style campaign that we would run when whoever was whatever game we were actually playing needed to take a break, either because they ran out of material, or because they just wanted to take a break from DMing and be a player for a little while. I’m a HUGE fan of the Penny Arcade D&D podcasts. I love everything about them, from Chris Perkin’s stupendous DMing, to the hilarious shenanigans of players Wil Wheaton, Jerry Holkins, Mike Krahulik, and Scott Kurtz. You can tell just from the audio that everyone is having a great time, and I wanted to try and bring this fun to my friends.

In honor of Aquisitions Inc, (and I’m not gonna lie, partly because I could get it for free off of the D&D website) I decided that there first adventure would be Keep on the Shadowfell. On the last page of the module, it mentioned that you can get additional material for the adventure in Dungeon magazine issue 155. Besides some additional encounters, I noticed that there was also some instructions for converting the module from the default Nentir Vale setting to Forgotten Realms. Before I ever rolled a polyhedral dice, and even before I ever found friends that actually enjoyed pencil and paper RPGs, my first experience with Dungeons & Dragons was Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance, on the Nintendo GameCube. This was by far one of my favorite video games of all time, and when I remembered that it was actually set in the Realms, I jumped all over that.

The character of William Portals is original to the Realms Revision, but he’s actually named Gevarn. The name change came early on, when the group was trying to figure out their Company Name. When they decided on Martial Solutions Incorporated, I made a wise crack about how the abbreviation (MS Inc) sounded like something that would be included in a specific software suite from a certain well-known company. Kriv joked that “our chief investor is William Portals!” We all got a good kick out of it, so I decided to make it part of the campaign.

Not shown here is the ghetto-thug Eladrin Wizard who rapped out all of his spell incantations. The player behind that character was this random kid who would some time show up at the comic book store where we have our game, and he asked if he could join. He was a nice kid, and none of us really had the heart to tell him no. I know it’s probably mean to say this, but I’m actually really glad he didn’t show up after that first session.

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Attack of the Kobolds
Brothers Unite!

While Portals and the other members of MSI rested up for the long journey ahead, the diligent Kriv was up reviewing his documents. He was working through the group’s finances, when suddenly, the door to the Guilded Lady opened, and as Criv got a look at figure standing in the doorway, only one word could accurately describe the Dragonborn’s emotions:

“Fuck,” muttered Criv. “What the hell do you want?”

“Hello, Little Brother,” said the figure. It was Skar, Kriv’s older brother. While Kriv had been out on his adventures, Skar had stayed home, caring for their sick mother. He had heard that his little brother was starting an adventuring company, and felt that he deserved a position. They argued through the night, until finally Portals insisted that the more the merrier.

The group departed Highmoon for Winterhaven, heading west along the East Way. On the third day of their trek, as they were nearing Winterhaven, they were ambushed by a group of kobolds. The two Dragonborns made a show of trying to one-up each other in combat, and eventually all of the Kobolds were defeated.

After another day of travel, they finally arrived in Winterhaven. Portals pointed them towards the Wrafton’s Inn, and instructed them to wait for him there while he made arrangements with his cleric.

DM Commentary

Bleh. This is kind of a short entry. I think the reason was because we spent a lot of the night helping our friend roll Skar, but also because no one wanted to put an end to the epic RP between Skar and Kriv, which was basically them bickering the whole time.

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Arrival In Winterhaven
Cultists. It just HAD to be Cultists.

The group headed over to Wrafton’s Inn to procure rooms for themselves. As they entered the Inn, Skar noticed an attractive elven woman sitting by herself, a bow and arrow quiver hanging from her chair. He approached her and attempted to strike up a conversation with her, and she seemed very interested in himself and his companions, and there business in Winterhaven. Ultimately though, Scar ended up striking out and the woman left alone.

After acquiring rooms at the Inn, and figuring that they still had some time before their client, William Portals, came to retrieve them, Kriv felt that this would be a good time to sell the loot that they had liberated from the kobolds that had attacked them the previous day. He eventually found himself in the town smithy run by a dwarven man named Thair Coalstriker. Here, he was able to sell off most of their loot for a reasonable price.

While Kriv was busy at the Smithy, Amnon wandered the town trying to find a shop where he could replenish his empty Alchemy stores. He eventually found himself at Bairwin’s Grand Shoppe. As he entered, Bairwin Wildarson, the shop’s human owner, greeted the Tiefling most enthusiastically. He seemed most interested on weather or not the Tiefling followed any gods, and seemed most disappointed when he lied and said he was a follower of Chauntea. He tried to sell Amnon on the glories of serving Shar, the evil Mistress of the Night, but it seemed as if the Tiefling wasn’t interested. Eventually he had simply sold the Artificer the alchemy supplies that he wanted (though at a slight discount) and sent him on his way.

Eventually both Kriv and Amnon arrived back at Wrafton’s Inn, where they found Portals waiting to take them to meet with his cleric. Kriv, Lenore, and Amnon followed him to the town temple. Awaiting them was a middle-aged human woman, who William introduced as Sister Lenora. Lenora explained that she had stumbled across evidence that a cult of Shar has been operating in Winterhaven, and requested that the company look into the matter. After some negotiations on the matter of payment, Lenore was able to convince the Sister to speak with the merchants and farmers of Winterhaven, and see if they may be able to aid the company by giving them discounts on certain wares.

Following their meeting with the priest, Amnon found it prudent to inform Kriv and Lenore of his experience at Bairwin’s Grand Shoppe. Finding it suspicious, Kriv gathered the rest of his troops and decided it would be best to confront the strange man. However, it was already late in the day, and the store was closed. They attempted to break into the store, but even despite Vara-kai’s considerable dexterity, they somehow couldn’t pick the lock. Eventually they gave up and decided to head back to the Inn.

When they returned, they found the Inn packed with people. It seemed that the entire population of Winterhaven had packed itself into the small building. Deciding to not question their luck, they began trying to gather some information from the gathered crowd. Kriv approached a sagely looking man, who introduced himself as Valthrun the Prescient, and stated that he was the sole inhabitant of the lone tower that stood within Winterhaven’s walls. Criv questioned the sage regarding the possibility of a Sharran cult active in the area, but Valthrun found it unlikely, stating that it had been over a century since there was any solid evidence of cult activity following any deity in the region, much less one devoted to the Mistress of Night. Kriv then questioned the man on his knowledge of kobolds, and asked if it was at all likely that they would be a part of such a cult. Valthrun explained that it was unlikely that they would be actual members, but it wasn’t unheard of for the creatures to be working as hired muscle. He told Kriv that he would check his book to find out any information regarding these matters and would let him know of his findings.

At the same time as Kriv was trying to acquire information, Skar noticed the elven woman he had spoken with earlier that day had returned, and attempted to retry his luck at wooing the lass. However, as he was attempting to strike up a conversation, Runor approached in a drunken stupor, and attempted his own amorous advances. The woman quickly lost patience with the two men, and began asking them to leave. Lenore, noticing her companions situations, tried to defuse the situation, but it seemed that the woman’s impatience even extended to the kind halfling, and she demanded that they leave her to enjoy her meal in peace.

Unsatisfied with the little information that he received from the sage, Kriv continued to search for information. He approached a man that was dressed in relatively grand clothing compared to the other patrons, and learned that he was speaking to Ernest Padraig, Lord of Winterhaven. Kriv informed the Lord of the kobolds that had attacked his group on their way into the town, and Padraig explained that the kobolds had always been an annoyance in this region, but had grown more aggressive and daring in recent months. One to always recognize an opportunity for profit, Kriv offered his company’s services in dealing with the beasts, and Padraig promised that they would be greatly rewarded should they manage to rid them of this growing annoyance.

As Kriv was trying to hammer out the details of their bargain with Lord Padraig, Lenore attempted to gather some information from Salvana Wrafton, the owner of the Inn that they were staying at. She asked her about the cross elven woman, but Salvana assured her that Ninaran, the woman in question, was just like that, and that she didn’t mean to offend. Lenore attempted to get some more information from the woman, but Salvana mistakenly thought the halflings questions were amorous advances, and told her that she had to get back to work. Frustrated, Lenore thought she might have better luck speaking with the woman alone.

DM Commentary

I think most DMs will agree that the weirdest situation you can come across during the coarse of your game is when one of your players tries to get flirty with one of your NPCs. Especially when the player is REALLY into it. Not so surprisingly, this is even more awkward when you don’t really know the player that well, which was the case with Skar. At the time of this session, I had only known him for a week, and we only met because of mutual friends. In case you’re wondering though, Ninaren’s behavior during her second appearance really had nothing to do with me not wanting to RP with Skar. There was actually a legitimate reason.

The character Amnon provided our group with a LOT of lulz. In our particular little section of Miami, there are really only two game stores. The one that we don’t play at is run by a man who can only be described as despair incarnate. Anyone who’s a fan of the television show Firefly will recall that a popular theory about Reavers were that they were regular people who stared into the Black at the edge of the ‘verse and were driven mad by the vast nothingness. I can’t comprehend what staring into the vast nothingness at the edge of space would be like, but I can guess that it’s only slightly more disturbing then looking into this particular shop owner’s eyes. It wasn’t intentional, but when Amnon’s player would RP, everything from his tone to his inflection would perfectly match this nothingness man. It actually comes into play later on in the campaign.

I feel that his meeting with Bairwin was my first major fuck-up as a DM. While in the original adventure, he’s just a random shop-keeper NPC, in the Realms Revision, he’s actually in charge of the cult’s activity within Winterhaven. He takes an interest in evil characters or characters of traditionally evil-aligned races or classes, and tries to subtly convert them to worship Shar. Not only was I completely _un_subtle about the whole thing, I made the big mistake of RPing the private conversation between him and Amnon in front of the entire party, instead of just taking the player to the side and RPing it outside the store.

That bit at the end with Lenore and Salvana was actually me trying to get a little bit of payback on Lenore’s player. In another game we were running, my character had a little sister, and Lenore’s player decided that his character had fallen in love with her. Now, normally, I wouldn’t have any problem with that, but part of the reason that little sister was there was so that if for any reason my main character died, I could just switch over to her. If this were to happen, I didn’t want to end up having to deal with my male friend (who was playing a female character) constantly trying to put the moves on me. That’s just a bit too creepy for my tastes. Unfortunately, my frustrations at my futile attempts to derail that particular plotline just amused him, so instead of doing it because it provided plausible character development, he now pretty much just does it for the lulz.

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Ambush!
Out With The Old, In WIth The New

After the last patron of the Inn had left for the night, Lenore Jenkins waited a while, and then made her way to where she knew Salvana’s living quarters were located. The woman, still under the mistaken impression that the child-like halfling girl was trying to seduce her, wasn’t happy to see her at her door, but also wasn’t terribly surprised. Still, Lenore did manage to get some more information from the woman. She learned that the newest residence of Winterhaven was Bairwin Wildarson, but that it had already been several years since he had moved to the town. She also learned that several weeks prior to Martial Solutions, Inc’s arrival, another traveler had passed through town, claiming to be there to study the remains of an ancient dragon that rested to the south of the city. When she learned that the only place in town the man had visited besides the Wrafton’s Inn was Bairwin’s Grand Shoppe, Lenore felt it prudent to bring the information to her companion’s attention. Agreeing that it was worth looking into, Criv decided that they would head out to the dragon burial ground the next day, and ordered his employees to get some sleep.

The next day, the party was bothered to discover that Vara-Kai and Amnon were both missing from their rooms. As there were no signs of a struggle, it seemed that they had merely awoken before the rest of the group and stepped out to take care of some business in town. Deciding that they couldn’t wait for their companions, the group headed out for the dragon burial grounds. Luckily, waiting for them outside the town gates were their old companions: Vanessa, halfling vampire, and Thom Thumb, a human mage specializing in necromancy. The two were partners and though they agreed to join Kriv’s company, they had unfinished business that they needed to take care of, and promised they would join their allies when their task was complete.

How fortuitous it was that they joined them, for as the group traveled down the East Way, they were once again set upon by a group of Kobolds. Thankfully, with the addition of their allies, they were able to deal with the threat with little difficulty, though several times, Thom almost met his end. As Runor slew the last of the kobolds, a Wyrmpriest, he noticed a small pendant fly from the creature’s body. Upon further examination, the party discovered that the kobold’s pendant was was in the shape of a dragon, and featured an emblem that they recognized as being a symbol of Shar.

DM Commentary

Heroes of Shadow had just been released, and Vara-kai and Amnon asked if they could role new characters using Shadow classes. I figured that since they were only level 1, I might as well let them do it. Vara-kai rolled Vanessa, and Amnon rolled Thom Thumb. In the long run, I think this was a bad decision on my part. One of my biggest things when I envisioned this campaign was that the players wouldn’t be allowed to Evil or Chaotic Evil. The worst they could do is Unaligned. Yes they were mercenaries, but I still wanted them to be heroes. But trying to play a heroic vampire and necromancer is hard to do, especially when your players are more interested in playing their class then their alignment.

At this point, Skar wasn’t playing anymore. I don’t know if he was bored or if he was just using us as a distraction to stem some temporary boredom, but he’d pretty much just show up at the store and play the WoW TCG.

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In The Kobolds Lair
Don't split the party!
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The Dragon's Burial Ground
Attack Of The Chair?
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Basement Brawl
Support Your Local Cultists!
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Shadowfell Keep
Also, pit trap.
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Battle In The Torture Room
His name is Splug?
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Crypt of Shadows
"WHAT?!"
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