Swords and Deviltry in Lankhmar

The Curse of the Bloody Beard
Andalua, Reuben, and Phthalo

After Quarben’s celebration went terribly awry, the party-goers fled and several squads of the Lankhmar Civil Watch converged on the scene. Leading the bluecloaks was Captain Lokar and his chief investigator, the guild mage Vendrik. After extensively questioning the trio about their role in the fracas they were released and regrouped the the Silver Circuit, a tavern near the Park of Pleasures. Sveral of the other guests bought them drinks and gathered to hear the full tale of the day’s horrifying events.

A few hours later, after nightfall, a carriage pulled up before the Silver Circuit. Andalua, Reuben, and Phthalo were cordially invited back to Quarben’s residence to speak with Laandra and Quarben. They were offered a retainer of 25 rilks each to investigate the source of the attack. Reuben determined the green powder to be the Essence of Eihort, a powerful mutagenic spore that, when burned and inhaled, that could transform a person into the twisted offspring of the great old one.

The next morning, Andalua awoke to discover he had grown a horrid reddish beard overnight, one that reeked of rotten meat and continually dripped blood. She went to the Plaza of Dark Delights to seek the counsel of the witch Loksha and learned the she would have to shave twice daily in order to minimize the effects of the beard. As for breaking the curse, that would only be possible if she was able to find and destroy the focus of the curse. While seeking remedy for the stench at a perfumer in the high town, she discovered that the original enchantress was a witch names Tabika, the sister of Zadoc the Perfumer. She tracked Tabika down and learned that the focus of the curse was an enchanted bead of green glass, and that the curse had been paid for by Margravine Angevin, the wife of Angevin the winemaker, a minor noble and a rival of Quarben’s.

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Quarben's Gruesome Gala
Andalua, Reuben, and Phthalo

Hosting large celebrations in public is always risky in Lankhmar. Such festivities draw pickpockets, drunks, beggars, and violent hoodlums like flies to a day-old gutter corpse. That’s part of the reason wealthy merchants and nobles insist on doing it; successfully hosting a public party is a mark of true power. Quarben the wine merchant has every reason to celebrate. His business has doubled again for the sixth year in a row, he’s a regular in the Overlord’s court, and this week marks his 50th birthday.

To ensure his celebration was free from thieves and their ilk, Quarben paid the Thieves’ Guild a hefty sum to keep their people away from the park. As added insurance, he hired individual troubleshooters to supplement his own guards in watching the perimeter of the park and keeping the riff-raff out.

The Park of Pleasures is a place of open grass, winding pathways, and strange, enveloping trees known as closet trees. The park is open on each side to the adjacent buildings, most of which are shops with apartments on their second stories. Quarben erected a temporary wooden gazebo in the center of the park, big enough for his immediately family, his young wife, Laandra, and their twin children plus ten or so of their closest friends. It had a strong roof to keep the sun and rain off their heads. Beyond the gazebo, the merchant set up dozens of tables laden with food and drink for his guests. Hundreds of guests milled around, filling the area between the tables and the borders of the park.

The sorceress Andalua, the Kvarchish baronet Reuben, and the dragonborn paladin Phthalo were among the troubleshooters hired to guard the celebration. Andalua and Reuben mingled with the crowd in the guise of guests, while Phthalo patrolled the grounds in full armor and regalia. Quarben’s bodyguard Makrat and several other guards also patrolled the grounds, keeping watchful for pickpockets and other rogues.

Reuben was the first to hear a scream coming from a secluded glade east of the main pavilion. He gathered one of the uniformed guards to help him investigate but he couldn’t locate the exact source of the disturbance. Andalua was able to follow the sound and saw a plump merchant run out of the glade, coughing and choking. He doubled over—and then sloughed off his skin to reveal raw, purplish flesh and several long, clawed limbs rippling with sinewy muscle. The creature threw itself on one of the guests with reckless abandon.

Meanwhile Phthalo gathered a group of young bravos to back him up and saw another creature—a fleshy blob with a long proboscis like a mosquito—pin one of the guests and drain him of blood in a single draught. More screams rang out as other onlookers saw this. Soon there was a near-panic, as guests attempted to flee from the close confines of the Park of Pleasures. Makrat and the other guards formed a perimeter around the Quarben family and escorted them away in good order.

Reuben charmed the original mutant and turned it against the mosquito-blob, but Andalua was attacked by another monstrosity that emerged from the same glade. This creature was a massive hulking beast armored in a thick layer of reddish chitin, with three-pronged pincers and serrated mandibles. Remaining in the glade was an even more horrid creature, an oozing mass of protoplasm and tentacles that constantly extruded eyes and mouths along its mass, and sang with many voices.

Several guards died during the fight and others went mad and fled. Andalua and Reuben both fell prey to the madness engendered by the siren song of the blasphemous creature. The fight was nearly deadly, as both Andalua and Phthalo fell and Reuben was forced to flee into the sky. Fortunately, they prevailed and slew the creatures before they themselves were slain.

In the wake of the battle, all of the surviving guests had fled and the party was absolutely ruined, but Quarben and his family had been safely evacuated. Upon investigating the glade that was the source of monsters, Reuben and Andalua found the discarded skin and clothing of several guests who had undergone the horrible transformation, and others who were their victims. The source of the transformation appeared to be some unholy addition to the alchemical brazier that made it produce a noxious green smoke. After extinguishing the brazier they were able to recover a small amount of green powder, which will require further analysis.

By the next morning, the entire city was gossiping about Quarben’s disastrous party and the hubris of the upstart vintner holding such a celebration. The fickle Overlord of Lankhmar has uninvited Quarben from a feast and refused delivery of several barrels of wine, much to the delight of Quarben’s rival vintners. Even though the Quarben family safely escaped from the fray, it seems that their fortune may now be on the wane.

Foes Defeated:

  • Humanoid Mutant: 200 xp
  • Mosquito-Blob: 450 xp
  • Chitinous Creeper: 700 xp
  • Amorphous Chorus: 450 xp

Treasure Earned:

  • 10 gold rilks each
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Death and the Assassin
Azure, Nurgui, and Xandak

After their death at the hands of Draxdhor; Azure, Nurgui, and Xandak found themselves in the Shadowland, standing before Death himself in a bloody arena where massive whirling blades would cut down anyone who strayed into their path. Death graciously gave them the option to fight for their freedom, a gift purchased for them by a friend of his. The trio fought against a similarly matched group of outlandish creatures: a barbaric, tusked humanoid wielding a huge axe, a hyena-headed humanoid who fought cunningly with bow and spear, and a hulking, green-furred humanoid wielding both long and short swords. After slaying the orc and kicking the quaggoth into the whirling blades, Death conjured up an ettin “to make the fight more exciting”. The trio finished off the gnoll and then made short work of the ettin, though it nearly killed them all in the process. All three were on their alst legs by the time the fight was done.

Afterwards, Death gave them a few tokens as the spoils of their fight and then allowed them to exit the Shadowland. The took a door into along tunnel that led down into a green-lit, subterranean realm. There they encountered a vastly obese, cloaked figure who offered them food, drink and rest. This was Ningauble, a transdimensional alien warlock who had taken an interest in the three warriors. He had ransomed them back from Death in exchange for the hope of a future favor, and he also warned them to stay clear of Sheelba, a sorcerous rival of his.

After returning from Ningauble’s subterranean realm to Lankhmar, the three tracked down Draxdhor and killed him in a decisive battle near the eastern end of Cash Street. They returned his head to Braggi and claimed their reward, earning coin and the good favor of both the Thieves’ and Assassins’ guilds. They also exchanged Nurgui’s staff of frost at the Bazaar of the Bizarre in exchange for several more useful items and 10000 gp of store credit.

Enemies Defeated:

  • Ettin 1100 xp
  • Gnoll Captain 450 xp
  • Orc Berserker 450 xp
  • Quaggoth Veteran 700 xp
  • Draxdhor, Assassin 3900 xp

Treasure Gained:

  • 7 erotic silver statues (25 gp each)
  • 1 potion of cold resistance
  • 1 quiver of 10 +1 arrows
  • 5 assorted art objects (250 gp each)
  • 1 vial of wyvern poison
  • 1 Flame Tongue greatsword
  • 1 Cloak of Displacement
  • 1 Shield +2
  • 750 gp of assorted coin
  • 10000 gp credit at the Bazaar of the Bizarre

Treasure Lost:

  • 1 Staff of Frost
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Interlude 2
After the Coffin Master Massacre

All through the Tenderloin and adjacent neighborhoods, town criers are proclaiming the morning news. Along with the usual notices, obituaries, and reports of crime, the following special announcement has tongues wagging throughout the city:

“Baker’s Alley rocked by gang violence!"

“Last night in the neighborhood of Baker’s Alley, several fights erupted between members of the Coffin Masters gang and an unnamed rival group. Witnesses reported a fight at the Mutton Shank tavern that ended in the death of four members of the Coffin Masters gang, including Karg, one of the gang’s leaders. At some point later a fight broke out on Baker’s Alley near the Buttered Loaf bakery that left seven dead. This morning two additional bodies were found hidden under a wagon several blocks down Baker’s Alley, also suspected to have been members of the Coffin Masters gang.

“Draxdhor, the alleged leader of the Coffin Masters gang, is the object of a city-wide manhunt, along with three unidentified individuals who were involved in the fight at the Mutton Shank tavern: a Lankhmart warrior wearing ornate plate armor, an assassin with the look of an Eight Cities man, and a skull-faced Ghoul from the eastern lands. Anyone with information on any of these individuals should contact their local City Watch station.

“The Thieves Guild and Assassins Guild have both issued statements disavowing the violence and promising harsh reprisals against any gangs operating without guild sanction in the City of Lankhmar.“

Unbeknownst to the Thieves’ Guild, Assassins’ Guild, and the City Watch, the three unknown assailants were not only missing but dead, their bodies having been spirited away by a mysterious stranger.

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The Coffin Masters
Azure, Nurgui, and Xandak

About a week after the Night of the Spiders, Azure and Nurgui happened to cross paths again in the Silver Eel, where Braggi told them about a job that had come up. It was a bit more than two men could handle, so they recruited Xandak, an assassin from the Land of the Eight Cities who had recently arrived in Lankhmar and was seeking work. The job was a joint venture between the Thieves’ Guild and Assassins’ Guild to take out an upstart gang called the Coffin Masters. Due to some delicate guild politics, both guilds had decided it would be better to hire freelancers for this job.

The Coffin Masters were a small crew that operated in the tenderloin near the meeting of Cheap Street and Shady Street. Azure learned from his contact Vlana the Handworker that she had heard rumors about the Coffin Masters, but knew nothing specific except they had been operating on Baker’s Street. Most of the beggars were close-lipped, but Azure found one, a blind old man named Karax, who said he could lead them to the gang and identify one of the leaders by the sound of his voice. Karax the blind beggar led Azure and Nurgui to the Mutton Shank tavern, an eatery that served only lamb and mutton. Left to his own devices, Xandak ran into two of the Coffin Masters. He slew one forthwith and after a bit of a tussle and chase, forced the other to tell him where the gang’s leader might be found. Xandak arrived at the Mutton Shank tavern just as Azure and Nurgui were sitting down to eat with Karax.

All eyes were on the loud, rude group of men in the corner, but none of the patrons dared say a thing. Azure and Nurgui suspected this might be the group and their suspicions were confirmed when one of them, a tall and lanky lout with a pronounced adam’s apple, began to harass one of the serving wenches. Karax could tell by the man’s vulture-like laughter that this was Commander Karg, one of the Coffin Masters. Azure ordered the Commander a drink of sheep’s milk and sent it over along with an insulting message. In response, Karg slapped the wench and threw the mug of milk at her. At this point, Azure stood up and began to walk over toward the Coffin Masters. They gangsters, in turn, stood up and threw over the table, drawing weapons and rushing to attack the paladin with no attempt to parlay.

The skirmish was quickly decided and soon the coffin Masters were dead. After looting the corpses and paying the owner a sum for damages, the party learned from one of the wenches that Draxdhor, the leader of the Coffin Masters, lived above the Buttered Loaf bakery. The group made their way back to Baker’s Street. As they approached their destination, the streets grew silent except for the occasional urchin watching or running along the rooftops. Aside from them, the streets were clear or pedestrians and the shops were locked and shuttered as for a storm. Azure and Nurgui boldly walked down Baker’s Street, while Xandak crept stealthily through the alleys.

Soon they met Draxdhor and the rest of the Coffin Masters outside of the Buttered Loaf bakery. Xandak attempted to attack from hiding, but he tripped on a loose cobble and send it clattering across a sewer grate. Xandak was slain by a poisoned crossbow bolt. The battle raged on, until all of the Coffin Masters except for Draxdhor were dead, but the bald assassin and his poisoned weapons proved to be victorious. Azure and Nurgui both died from the wounds dealt by a poisoned blade.

Foes Defeated:

Assassin x1 3900 xp
Bandit x4 100 xp
Thug x7 700 xp

Treasure Gained:

100 gold rilks (100 gp)
9 garnets (50 gp each)
Short Sword +1

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Interlude 1
After the Night of the Spiders

After the Night of the Spiders, the streets were rather less populated than usual after dark, and the city guards were doubled. Construction was begun on a new, fortified watch station at the corner of Cheap Street and Atheist Avenue, which entailed tearing down several nearby tenements much to the consternation of local residents.

Azure: On the back of your right forearm about 4 inches below the wrist are two small, puckered white scars, one lingering reminder of the venomous bite from the pale, otherworldly spider. Another reminder is the constant headaches and the strange dreams that have haunted you since then. You dream of a long, dark tunnel, wreathed in sticky webs, and you feel compelled to walk along, sometimes forced to crawl on your hands and knees or to batter your way through clinging knots of webbing. After an eternity of crawling through the tunnel you reach an empty space, a vast void spanned by a colossal gossamer web. Something hangs in the middle of the web in the vast distance, an entity of terrible power, whose features combine the worst aspects of man and arachnid. Countless eyes glimmer from its misshapen face as you feel yourself drawn toward the center of the web, and then you awake in a cold sweat.

Nurgui: Ever since you held the Eye of the Universe you have felt alien, intrusive thoughts in your head like the touch of an unfamiliar hand rummaging through the forgotten contents of an attic. The touch is as light as a feather and as cold as ice, accompanied by haunting whispers. These touches are thankfully brief but have been occurring with greater frequency over the last week.

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The Eye of the Universe
Azure and Nurgui

Azure, a paladin of the moon-goddess Skama, and Nurgui the Ghoul were hired by Braggi at the Silver Eel to retrieve a crystal orb called the Eye of the Universe from the Church of the Eye. This relatively new cult was housed in an old temple at the cheap end of the Street of the Gods, near the Marsh Gate. After conferring with Azure’s associate, Vlana the Handworker, they made their way to the temple. Nurgui climbed up the belltower and made his way into the temple through the trapdoor at the top of the temple. He sneaked in and slew one of the cultists, but another was able to raise an alarm and wake his fellows. Nurgui unbarred the door to let Azure in and the two of them slaughtered the entire cult, including their high priest. On searching the temple they found coins, gems, and a staff carved of pure ice, inlaid with runes.

When Nurgui claimed the orb, two hideous, pale spiders emerged from the wall and attacked. Azure and Nurgui slew one of the spiders and the other faded back into the wall, but the orb telepathically warned Nurgui that more would come. What followed was a harrowing trip through the streets of Lankhmar as spiders hunted them from rooftops and chased them through the streets. The crystal orb directed them through the streets, telling them which way to go to avoid the spiders. Unfortunately, this was the opposite direction from the Silver Eel, where they were to take the statue. Azure and Nurgui did their best to reach the Silver Eel but the spiders were too thick, blocking their path. Hoping to gain assistance from the city guards, they went to the watch station on Cheap Street and Atheist Avenue, but the spiders quickly overwhelmed the poor guards. Then they ran for the temple of Skama, but again they found spiders harrying them. Only by following the orb’s directions could they find safety.

Finally, they arrived at a small hovel deep in the alleys south of the the Street of the Gods and east of Silver Street. The hovel was a tenement occupied by squatters, but the back wall held strange graffiti that glowed at the orb’s approach. The orb likewise glowed brighter as it approached the hovel. The graffiti runes formed a circle in the wall, and the orb told Azure to place it inside. But Azure, determined to get his reward from the Thieves’ Guild, refused to part with the orb. Then the spiders arrived.

Three pale, glowing spiders dropped from the rooftops and converged on the hovel, while Nurgui and Azure stood outside. A vicious fight ensued and Azure was struck down by a venomous bite. Nurgui fought bravely and killed all the spiders, but still more were coming. At the orb’s bidding, Nurgui placed the orb into the wall. With a blinding flash of light and a blast of freezing cold, the orb released its power. The spiders all vanished, both living and dead, and the orb itself went lifeless. Nurgui managed to pry it out of the plaster wall with his dagger, but the orb was now inert. After an hour or so Azure woke up with a splitting headache and the duo made their way back to the Silver Eel, where Braggi took the orb and sealed it in a crate for delivery to his buyer. He then paid Azure and Nurgui the agreed-upon sum of 100 rilks each.

The morning after, a dark, hooded figure came to the Silver Eel to claim the Eye of the Universe. The stranger took the crated orb away in an oxcart, leaving Braggi with a handsome coffer full of gold rilks. The stranger was less than pleased when he opened up the crate to find the object of his search had become dull and lifeless. He was quite cross and began to send agents out to discover who had blinded the Eye of the Universe.

For the next week the streets were abuzz as everyone gossiped about the Night of the Spiders. Seemingly everyone had been out on the Street of the Gods that night and saw the spiders with their own eyes, or fought alongside the poor doomed guards at the Cheap Street watch station. But only two in Lankhmar knew the truth, along with one other who had escaped his prison to return home to an alien dimension.

Foes Defeated:

  • Acolyte x2 100 xp
  • Cult Fanatic x2 900 xp
  • Cultist x2 50 xp
  • Priest x1 450 xp
  • Phase Spider x5 3500 xp

Treasure Gained:

  • 60 electrum half-rilks (60 ep)
  • 7 emeralds (100gp each)
  • Staff of Frost
  • 200 gold rilks (200 gp)
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Ill Met in Lankhmar
The Adventure Begins!

Creating a Character

  • Character start at 3rd level.
  • Any races, classes, spells, and equipment from official 5th Edition sources are available. If you don’t have access to the PHB, the 5e SRD is a good resource.
  • Use the standard 27 point buy for stats. This is a good point buy calculator.
  • All characters begin with a bonus feat at 1st level. You will gain an additional bonus feat at 5th, 11th, and 17th level. Use the feats from this list, which have been revised and expanded for this campaign.
  • You may select a background or customize one according to the rules in the PHB on p. 125.
  • Feel free to choose a Personality Trait, Ideal, Bond, or Flaw from any of the lists, or make up your own.
  • Take starting equipment according to your class and background. You may trade, buy, or sell starting equipment according to the prices in the PHB.
  • Choose one uncommon item and two common items to start with.
  • Roll 1d100 and select a trinket from the table in the PHB on p. 160.
  • Alignment will not be used, but feel free to claim an affiliation with one or more of the factions.
  • More information about the various races and how they fit into the setting is available here.
  • Languages should be chosen from the list here. All players have Low Lankhmarese as their common tongue and may substitute the standard D&D languages from appropriate languages from the list.

The following variant human subraces are also available. These variant traits replace the human’s Ability Score Increase trait.

Forest Folk

While the people of the northern boreal forests are far different from the savage inhabitants of the southern jungles of Klesh, both cultures have adapted to living their lives entirely among the trees. Occasionally some of these folk find their way to Lankhmar, where they find their skills are just as useful among the alleys and rooftops.

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Dexterity and Wisdom scores each increase by 1.
  • Forest Folk: You gain proficiency in the Survival skill.
  • Fleet of Foot: Your base walking speed is 40 feet.
  • Sure-Footed: When you use the Dash action, difficult terrain doesn’t cost you extra movement on that turn.
  • Spring Attack: When you make a melee attack against a creature, you don’t provoke opportunity attacks from that creature for the rest of your turn, whether you hit or not.

Learned Savant

Learned savants can be found within the hermetic ivory towers of Eevemarensee, Lankhmar, and Quarmall. These cloistered scholars dwell in a world of books far removed from the daily toil of the average person.

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Intelligence and Charisma scores each increase by 1.
  • Breadth of Knowledge: You gain proficiency in any combination of four skills or tools of your choice.
  • Linguist: You gain proficiency in two languages of your choice.

Nehwon Ghoul

The Ghouls of Nehwon are a strange race of people who haunt the eastern lands near the Sea of Monsters and along the edges of the Parched Mountains. Their skin, muscles, and organs are completely transparent, so that all you can see of a ghoul is his skeleton and hair. This natural condition serves as an excellent form of camouflage. Since they find advantage in their near invisible state, ghouls refrain from wear clothing and armor. Such dress completely counters the advantage nature gave them. The only adornments they wear are cloaks and belts to hang their weapons and possessions.

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Dexterity and Constitution scores each increase by 1.
  • Darkvision: You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
  • Frightful Aspect: You gain proficiency in the Intimidation skill.
  • Transparent Flesh: Because of their translucent bodies, ghouls have +1 to AC if wearing no armor or any clothing other than a cloak. You can attempt to hide whenever you are in an area of dim light or darkness if wearing no armor or any clothing other than a cloak.

Warrior Born

The northerners of the Cold Waste and the Mingols of the Eastern Steppes come from cultures steeped in battle, where constant warfare has become a crucible for mighty warriors.

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Strength and Constitution scores each increase by 1.
  • Combat Training. You have proficiency with two martial weapons of your choice.
  • Daunting: You gain proficiency in the Intimidation skill.
  • Fearless: You have advantage on saving throws against being frightened.
  • Tough: Your hit point maximum increases by 1, and it increases by 1 every time you gain a level.
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