With Red captured and delivered to the authorities, the party--not wanting to leave any stone unturned--insisted on making Perception checks to see if they'd missed something in his hideout. Truth be told, they'd managed to avoid a room that the thieves had neglected due to a wraith infestation. Despite my descriptions of a bone-chilling cold and foreboding feelings, they determined that whatever glinting gem lay at the far edge was worth the risk. The room contained a single stone chair where the previous occupant practiced turning fleshy things into stone and/or horribly disfiguring them. They typically died painfully and were discarded, which is the sort of thing that you don't want to do in a world where vengeful spirits are a very real threat.
When they approached the room one appeared over the chair, dressed in decaying finery and staring with empty eyes. Moxie tried to lift tactics from Shaun of the Dead in a doomed attempt to trick it into thinking that she was also dead. I don't care what Dungeon Master's Book says, sometimes you need to say no. The moment she crossed the threshold, it drew a ghostly blade and rush her. So did four others that were lingering in the discarded rubble formerly known as their bodies. I like the cut of the new wraiths (and sovereign wraith), but I don't like insubstantial. To be fair, the party was both outnumbered, and one was a level 8 soldier. To their credit, they only had one force attack and legitimately killed the sovereign before I got bored and had the rest drift off after only being bloodied, leaving them with a khyber shard of lifedrinking for their troubles (and patience).
Back at town, they convened on the next course of action, which was to find Dragon, kill him, and take his stuff (aka, Plan A). Through the power of narrative and skill checks they found out that a merchant was accepting payment to use his premises as an access tunnel. They went there, paid his guards off with a combination of monetary incentive, skill, and promise of not progressing to physical incentive. Normally I like to think that paid guards are a bit more professional, but when you're outnumbered two-to-one and the opposing party is clad in magical armaments, the line has been crossed. They glumly accepted about several weeks of advance pay, and strode off to inform whatever amounts to the Zarash'ak law enforcement (which will be addressed later).
Inside, they were pleased to find increasingly paranoid that the merchant's house wasn't riddled with traps, but merely locked. The found the access tunnel, (accidentally?) killed the two archers on the roof, and not feeling larcenous enough stole some knick-knacks off of the shelves in his bedroom. The real adventure literally underway, they ventured into the tunnel to face Dragon. I laid out Dragon's hideout as a kind of old-school dungeon, deciding that the tunnels and chambers were built long ago before the Gatekeepers did their mojo to sweep all the aberrants under the rug so that a future generation of unlikely heroes could deal with it later. Even so, their influence is subtle and memories are short; people were drawn to this place to build atop the sunken ruins.
The underground passage lead to an iron door, beyond which they could hear talking. Moxie changed into a non-descript human and pretended to be wounded. She got someone to open the door and booked it, which did not cause the thief to give chase (as she'd hoped). Instead he crane his neck around the corner, and upon spotting the rest of the party brilliantly silhouetted by Heien's glowing shield, shouted a warning and attempted to close the door. Some of the characters won initiative and managed to put a stop to that plan, which was good because it locks from the inside. The combat that ensued involved a close-quarters skirmish that allowed Heien to easily maintain battlemind's demand on most of the opposition, and Hawkeye to deal lots of area-effect damage (something I'll need to consider in the future).
The next room had a large hole in the center that reeked of shit and rot. Beyond that they spotted a pair of warforged talking to a hobgoblin. Again, Moxie pretended to be a wounded guard and tried to convince them that intruders had arrived, but that she'd captured them. They told her to toss them in the hole, but she persuaded them that she needed their help. They followed her into a well setup ambush that allowed the party to easily triumph despite all the low rolls. They didn't kill the hobgoblin, and after some interrogation convinced him to take a handful of coins and a few weeks off. Before he left, he clued them in about a magic item-toting elf that'd shown up recently and got pitched into the hole during a "misunderstanding", which contained refuse and an otyugh.
Moxie lit a barrel of spirits on fire and pitched it in, lighting up the otyugh and causing it to climb out. Thanks to her smart thinking, she seared off about a quarter of its hit points before initiative even got rolled. To make matters worse, Heien saved against its filth fever. My goal is to one day strip away all 13 or so of his healing surges. It did not--as they'd hoped--eat the bow, which would allow them to easily retrieve it. No, they had to go into the pit and get their hands dirty. Heien couldn't find anything after some extensive rifling, so Hawkeye went in next since he felt that he had the Endurance to shake off any diseases (or corn) that might "crop up", digging up both a +2 venomous songbow and
monkey's paw +2 lucky charm.
This made Lwaxana happy, and I didn't inquire as to if she would use a bow that had poo in the wood grain, +2 or no. From here they had two doors to choose from, and in true Gygaxian fashion one was trapped, while the other wasn't. They chose the one that was, or rather, had a trap in it's immediate vicinity. See, Moxie checked it for traps, as per routine, but I figured that a thieves guild wouldn't keep traps in a room that sees a lot of traffic for fear that something might set it off. I felt it was logical to place it on the other side, if for no other reason than to avoid the cost of rearming it. She opened the door, and lacking a sufficient Passive Perception, stepped on the plate, unleashing a salvo of poisoned crossbow bolts.
However, there were also several gray oozes slithering about a stream of water nearby, which proved a minor distraction thanks to lock-down powers and Heien's high Fortitude.
They found themselves in an illogically large sewer tunnel, built in accordance to high fantasy requirements: about 30-feet wide, stream of water in the center, and the ends capped by metal grates. The only things missing were dungeon-grade rats and/or insects, which the guild apparently skimped on due to economic shortages. Oh, and two more doors. Moxie was smart and found the trap in front of the door this time, but rather than scope out the other door the party decided to go with this one. A botched Thievery check triggered it, causing a circle of runes to appear and zap her with a green ray. She disintegrated, leaving a fine cloud of dust, an ominous note that I felt appropriate to end the game on.
Is Moxie really dead? Just what is Dragon? Will Lwaxana disenchant her other songbow into chainmail that we didn't know she didn't have? Will all those paid guards really stop their life of crime, or will they create their own adventuring party,and do totally awesome things that will have repercussions later? Will Randy ever get his very own trained owlbear? Will anyone use Gary's acid spray attack?