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Murder in Baldur's Gate - Unrest Rising

dnd_products_dndacc_45370000_pic3_enThe fourth session of Murder in Baldur's Gate saw my D&D Next table having eight players whilst Paul's 4E table had five players. I would have much preferred to have fewer players, but I wasn't willing to turn people away. Thankfully, I'm not unused to running such large tables - the last year of my AD&D campaign has made me quite familiar with those numbers - and D&D Next runs similarly to AD&D in combat speed.

This session was challenging to run, mainly because the main events of the adventure (Stage 2) are primarily background events. In particular, the Parliament had issued orders to the Watch to forbid the wearing of "clothes above one's station" in the Upper City, and vandalism was on the rise in the Outer City as discontent rose against the repressive policies.

So, I attempted to run a system where the group got more familiar with the city. This was not entirely successful, as quite a number of players weren't really sure what to do. Lee and Tim knew what they wanted to do: they wanted to increase the discontent in the city, so upon finding out about the sumptuary laws, Tim spent a lot of times in the Lower City causing trouble, in particular using the ventriloquism spell (well, it's part of the prestidigitation cantrip) to cause trouble whilst not being seen to cause trouble. Lee used his spy background to more keep in the background and observe what was going on.

A lot of the action centered around Lachie and Tait. The group had learnt from their contacts in the Flaming Fist that the new laws would be announced in the Wide, and so had gone there for the announcement. There, Lachie decided to buy some silk pants in a flamboyant shade of purple, which he immediately donned - a scant few moments later, the sumptuary laws were announced. This, of course, caused trouble with the Watch, although Lachie was swift to remove the pants (and his loincloth) when challenged.

It was Tait that got into trouble; his cleric started causing small tremors (which knocked over one of the market stalls) in order to distract the Watch from Lachie. One or two castings would have been unremarkable, but his constant use of the spell caused him to get arrested. Harry - whose monk is turning into a real pacifist - went to get him bailed out. I'm very glad to see this role-playing from Harry; he's really uncomfortable with what's going on in the city and his friends' reactions to it, and it makes for some good role-playing. Tait was eventually released with a warning.

The group also visited the House of Wonders, where I got to describe some of the inventions of Gond's worshippers and have impressed on them how important the worship of Gond is to the city.

I also brought up the important issue of where they were all staying, as Rilsa wasn't going to be able to put them up in the long-term. The group split up, with a number of them remaining in little Calimshan. As no inns were immediately apparent from the text (the one tavern having been shut down in the last session!) I invented a rooming house known as the Sultan's Turban, run by a halfling in a turban. Grant, seeing this, bought his own turban - though not of finest silk, being mindful of the sumptuary laws. The phrase, "turbans are cool" may have turned up a few times in the session.

Other players chose to stay in the Lower City, with one character ending up in the Upper City - despite paying a premium for his accommodation. Those in the Lower City began to notice an increase in vandalism - with anti-patriar slogans beginning to appear on the walls.

The trouble with all the preceding, of course, is it didn't really allow the group to work together (and was rather short of combat). Thus, I judged it a good time to introduce the rogue noble (or is that noble rogue?) Coran, who came across Lachie and hired him and his friends to deal with a problem in the Undercellar - crocodiles coming up from the underground passages and causing a great deal of disruption, especially at the balls that Coran was trying to frequent.

So the group went into the Undercellar and slew some crocodiles - using a variation of the Giant Lizard stats from the D&D Next documents. This was a tough combat - intentionally so - with the group coming up against 10 of the critters. A couple of the characters were unconscious by the time the combat was over, and many were badly hurt.

Of particular note was that a kobold was controlling the crocodiles; he was killed early in the fight, but had a coded letter in a language no-one could read - a couple of the players correctly guessed it might be in Thieves' Cant, but we're without a thief in the party so no-one could read it!

With that, we ended the session. Unrest is rising in Baldur's Gate, and I've introduced the immensely useful (from the point of view of the DM) Coran to the party. A kobold made a reappearance, and there's the idea now that the kobolds are more significant than immediately apparent - yes, they don't appear in the module-as-written, but that's the joy of this adventure, it's really easy to add additional material to give it even more interest. I'm very pleased with how it's going so far.

As for next week? I'll let you know how it goes!