The Scroll Thief

DDEX1-06, “The Scroll Thief”, is the sixth adventure in the Adventurer’s League Tyranny of Dragons Campaign Path.

We started this adventure on Monday 11 June 2018 and concluded it on Sunday 22 July 2018. Players present were Elinor, Sonya, Nick and Warwick. Meghan attended via Skype for some of the adventure.

Official Blurb

Scholar’s Square is a relatively quiet corner of Phlan, but a series of odd thefts have the headmasters of various schools in the area concerned. The headmasters’ pleas for help have gone unanswered by the Black Fist, and the Lord Sage of Phlan decides to reach out to you and your kind to bring those responsible to justice. An adventure for 1st-4th level characters.

Synopsis of Play

Aleyd Burral asked the Moonsea Rangers to look into a series of book thefts in Podol Plaza. There was pressure on her to implicate the Welcomers in the thefts to further justify the Black Fist’s crackdown on the guild. Aleyd asked the players to find the truth, whatever it might be.

The first theft was a book on the Weave (the underlying fabric of magic in the Realms) stolen from the wizard Aya Glenmiir. Aya revealed that the book discussed the magical Pools occasionally encountered in the Moonsea region, including the Pool of Radiance once found in Phlan.

The second theft was from Marten Foss, a local weapons trainer. It was a volume of the memoirs of Ren o' the Blade, a hero from the time of the Reclamation who personally encountered Phlan’s Pool of Radiance.

The third theft was from heraldry and genealogy expert Agin Lamarck, and dealt with the bloodlines of Phlan nobility.

After investigating the crime scenes, the Moonsea Rangers were attacked by Cult of the Dragon mercenaries posing as Welcomers. A note found on their attackers led the players to [[Cassa_Brandywine?]], Head Scribe at Mantor's Library, and from there to Master Opanrael, Head Curator. Both of these people were innocent, but with their help the players were able to identify the culprit as Ellison Berenger, the third false scribe sent to infiltrate Phlan by the Cult of the Dragon.

Ellison fled the city by breaking into the old sewer network through the library catacombs, and the players gave chase, eventually catching Ellison in the Twilight Marsh. Here they encountered Ellison’s direct superior - Rythnax, a black dragon wyrmling acting as a low-tier spymaster and messenger for the Cult of the Dragon. Rythnax, boastful and talkative, said that, following the events of Corruption in Kryptgarden, the green dragon Claugiyliamatar had placed a kind of bounty on Phlan, encouraging dragons throughout the region to enact Claugiyliamatar’s vengeance on the city. Rythnax also spoke of another entity called “Velvet” located within the Twilight Marsh, implied to be more powerful than Rythnax.

The Moonsea Rangers fought and killed Rythnax, whereupon Ellison surrended. He divulged all he knew in return for a promise he would be taken alive and given a fair trial.

Ellison explained that the Cult was seeking to find and reactivate the Pool of Radiance beneath Valjevo Castle - although he didn’t know how or why. He also advised that a significant power within Phlan had been compromised by the Cult - although he wasn’t able to say which.

Upon returning to Phlan, the Moonsea Rangers discovered that Elisande had snuck out of the city to follow them into the Twilight Marsh - and now she was missing, even as ominous drums began to beat in the marsh’s depths…

Behind the GM’s Screen

At this point, there is quite a gap between Wizards of the Coast’s initial solicit for these adventures and the publication of the actual module, which perhaps explains why the official blurb mentions “headmasters” and “schools” but no such thing appears in the final adventure. Likewise, the blurb names the Lord Sage as the person commissioning the adventurers, but the finished module has Aleyd Burral handing out the initial plot hook.

The human mercenary Soares, who attacked the party while pretending to be one of the Welcomers, is described in the module as pretending to be an elf. No reason is given for why. Possibly it has something to do with the Welcomers all having a missing ear, and him needing to do something with prosthetic ears to pass? Baffling.

The module spends a lot of time on the theft of the “Lords and Lineages” book from Agin Lamarck, which all ends up being a huge red herring. Ellison wanted the book to see if he had noble blood. He didn’t, but I’m not sure what it matters to the players. Meanwhile, its original owner, Lamarck, has a secret of his own - that he’s not actually descended from the famous Lamarcks either, but given that he’s the town’s genealogy expert there’s no one to dispute his claim that he is. Again, this is cute, but a colossal waste of the player’s time because none of it ends up mattering. Although if players figure out Lamarck’s secret, they can extort a further 50 gp out of him for not revealing it.

We skipped an encounter with three Shadows in the library catacombs, which didn’t seem to do much except further slow down the adventure. For those interested, Shadows are Challenge Rating 1/2 evil undead with resistance to most damage types and all non-magical weapons, immunity to necrotic and poison damage and most conditions, and an ability to temporarily drain points from a character’s Strength on a successful hit, killing them outright if their Strength reaches zero.

Ellison can absolutely be talked into surrending before the final fight, but the dice weren’t with you. Combat with Rythnax is fairly unavoidable though.

Define external redirect: Cassa Brandywine