Saturday, September 19, 2020

Part 2: Finally, Some Dungeons In My Dungeons & Dragons

We rejoin our heroes the next morning in Seliph's house, after they stole a quick evening to rest from the fight earlier that day. As Seliph said, the house wasn't much, as there wasn't much sleeping space besides the bed and a basic chair, so Seliph opted to sleep on a blanket on the floor so his guests had the most comfortable accommodations, with Faust in the chair and Kalista and Narcissa doing their best to share the bed.

This didn't stop Kalista from trying to pull "pranks" on Seliph, including swapping out the salt and pepper shakers, knowing Seliph was going to be cooking breakfast the next day.

So Seliph, not paying attention to ingredient amounts while frying up an omelet added way too much pepper.

"Oh no, that's not good. When did you find the time to do this?" he asked Kalista.

"Do what?" Kalista responded, grinning.

Seliph glared at Kalista for just long enough that Faust looked up from his book, worried that Seliph would either burn the omelet or throw it at Kalista. He raised a finger, ultimately lowering it again when he saw Seliph shake his head, muttering, "Eh, I can fix it."

The party quickly ate their breakfast before heading out in the direction of the bathhouse, with Faust taking Narcissa aside to ask her some questions, worried that the presence of another magic user in the party could prove disastrous for him keeping his warlock pact under wraps, completely unaware of her own pact.

"So where did you study your magic? You're very talented for your age."

Sissy quietly chuckled. "What do you mean study?"

"Ah, so you must be a sorcerer or something like that?"

"Yeeeeeeeeeah..." she responded, "Something like that."

Her desire to stop the conversation seemed to fly right over Faust's head, but he was relieved that she wasn't a trained wizard. At least this way he wouldn't be exposed as the fraud he was so desperate to not appear to be. However, just where this strange girl's magical prowess came from was another question entirely.

Once the group arrived at the bathhouse, they were met with the next problem. They didn't actually have a plan for how to proceed, where the entrance to the dungeon could possibly be, or how they'd manage to get in without arousing too much suspicion, as nobody in the party had actually been there.

Upon entering into the main lobby of the open-spaced bathhouse (in full view of several bathing areas), they were approached by an employee. "Uh, welcome to our establishment! What services shall we provide to you today?" When asked what services were provided, the employee offered, "Obviously, we offer standard bathing packages, though the baths are not gender-segregated, if the child among you has an issue with that." The party exchanged anxious glances. "In addition, we offer massages in private rooms, and we have an outdoor courtyard if you would prefer to wait outside."

Kalista asked as a follow-up, "Where would we put our things? Are there lockers?"

The employee pointed to a shelf in the corner of the room. "There are cubbies throughout the building that you could place your things in."

Kalista smiled. "Perfect. I think I'm going to go take a look around. Get an idea of what things look like before I settle in on what I want to do."

As the party awkwardly made small-talk with the receptionist, Kalista wandered over to the cubbies, trying to find something worth stealing. However, because she assumed that her victim would be more focused on enjoying his bath than watching his things, she was interrupted by a man shouting, "What the hell are you doing?! That's mine!" She turned to see a large human man standing out of the water, naked as the day he was born (gracing the rest of the party with a similarly undesirable view from behind).

She blushed and scratched the back of her head, "Sorry, I thought it was mine! My mistake!"

The man fumed. "But you're fully dressed! Stop tryin' to pull one over on me!"

"It was an honest mistake!" It wasn't. "I'm not trying to pull anything over on you!" She was.

She walked back to the party, ignoring the flustered employee, and said, "Let's go out to the courtyard for a bit to talk this over."

She didn't say that in-game. What actually happened is the fact that I panicked and called for a group huddle, but that would have looked far more ridiculous. Either way, the party gathered together to discuss how they could possibly find anything suspicious without looking as suspicious themselves.

Faust pointed out, "The courtyard is quite large. I'd like to look around it for a while, if someone would be willing to serve as a distraction for me."

Kalista then said, "I've already drawn enough attention to myself. I want a massage. Who knows, maybe I'll find something in the massage room."

Seliph and Narcissa awkwardly glanced at each other. "I guess we could...pretend to talk about something?" Seliph said, uncertainly. Surrounded by naked people and talking to an equally uncomfortable young girl? Sure, no way that looks suspicious.

Anyway, once the party agreed on their course of action, Kalista made her way to the massage rooms. After she was gone, Klaus then said, "Okay. I am going to cast Detect Magic to see if anything suspicious appears. Keep the attention away from me, ja?"

As he scanned the courtyard, he could sense something vaguely magical for a split-second before it disappeared. Unable to identify it, Faust let the party know what he found, suggesting that they could look through the rest of facility, eventually moving in the direction of the massage rooms under the excuse of picking Kalista up. Even if walking back into the main building involved Seliph and Sissy trying as hard as they could to avoid looking at all the naked people.

People who know me may be wondering why Seliph in particular is so awkward in this situation. Sissy's answer is obvious: she's not from the Forgotten Realms, instead hailing from our world, and not in a part of the world where public bathing was really a cultural thing. Seliph, though, is a little different. Not only is he played by me, someone who has been to a (though admittedly gender-segregated) bathhouse, but as a lifelong resident of Baldur's Gate, he obviously will have been to one of these places, right? Especially if he were formerly a member of the Fist?

Well, yeah, of course. But as a fallen aasimar, with the sort of connotation surrounding his race (meaning as an angel who fell from grace), even if said connotation is inaccurate in his case, he was always self-conscious of his skin color and what others thought when they saw him.

But with a high charisma, you'd he should be super confident, right? Hah, yeah, sure, if I was playing it that way.

Anyway, because of this, even in terms of recreational bathing, Seliph always preferred to bathe alone.

Either way, bottom line, Seliph is extremely uncomfortable in a place where that's not really characteristic of lifelong residents of Baldur's Gate. We're caught up.

Anyway, while all this was going on, Kalista was brought into a private room for her massage, where the masseuse told her that she would step out for a bit so Kalista could undress to her comfort and take her position on the massage table. While she was alone Kalista took a quick glance around the room but didn't do so hot on her perception check so she wasn't able to find anything of note before the masseuse came back.

Darn, Kalista thought. I'd hoped I wouldn't have to try to talk her into giving me any info, but maybe I'll see what I can trick her into saying.

I don't remember exactly what she said, but she tried several questions that involved weeping for a dead god, finding some sort of fellowship in the city, to flat out asking if the masseuse knew of any cults or other seedy religious groups that Kalista could join. Naturally, this scared the ever-loving crap out of the poor lady giving Kalista the massage, and she vehemently denied knowing anything. However, Kalista noticed out of the corner of her eye that the masseuse cast her eyes in the direction of a panel on the north wall of the room. Kalista noted this, and once the massage was over and she was left to dress herself, she walked to the panel and pushed against it, revealing a hidden door.

Kalista quickly dressed herself and made for the common area to tell the rest of the party about the door. I only put in that detail because, though assumed that yes, Kalista did dress herself before meeting the others, the group chat joked about her running out into the common area naked, something Kalista would probably have the least reservations about in the party.

However, once Kalista left the massage room, the masseuse returned to the room, waiting for her next client. Naturally, it wouldn't do so well for the party to just waltz in and open the door with her in there, so the party quickly started passing ideas around, eventually landing on having Sissy cast the Friends spell on the masseuse, making her easier to manipulate more willing to help the party.

Basically, the way the party played it off was the fact that Sissy, Seliph's younger sister (who looks nothing like her, missing the gray skin for instance) was really interested in getting a massage but was too shy to ask and wanted her friends and family there to support her. The masseuse was a little weirded out by this, naturally, but obliged, leaving the room briefly so she could make herself comfortable. No sooner had the door shut before Kalista opened the secret door to the basement area and the party all went in, with Seliph stopping to block the door with a spear he had been carrying just in case, as once the spell wore off, the masseuse was likely to be upset, and who knows who would be following the party into the dungeon.

So...this dungeon was supposed to be super dark (as in, lacking in light) which could cause problems for some parties depending on whether they have low light vision or dark vision. All of our party can see in the dark. So one potential problem of dungeon delving is already sort of taken care of, though the dungeons winding, confusing nature could still prove to be a challenge to navigate, something we discovered was likely intentional as we entered into a chamber to see a hooded man and woman torturing another man who was chained up with a bag over his head, clearly not here by choice.

Faust, quickly taking stock of the fact that the chamber was lit by a handful of torches, used the Prestidigitation spell to extinguish the torches, leaving the two to flail about in darkness and confusion before being (relatively) quickly dispatched by the party, who sustained only minor injury throughout the fight (well, I suppose it was serious enough that Seliph depleted his only spell slots (yay Paladin spellcasting...))

Speaking of, during the fight, for the first of (probably) many times, Seliph used a Smite spell, casting Thunderous Smite to deal extra damage to the hooded man. This was probably a bad idea in hindsight. Enclosed underground chamber. Not much sound dampening material. And what is essentially a close range burst of thunder. A more realistic setting would have ruptured the eardrums of everyone in the room.

Thankfully this did not, in fact, bring the entire bathhouse down on top of the party, but it did draw the attention of...something. Someone in the party swore they saw a skeletal rat spying on the party before scampering away.

Anyway, back to the heavily injured captive who was now complaining about his ears ringing and the splitting headache that definitely couldn't have been avoided.

Seliph and Kalista quickly set about trying to release the man from his shackles, with Kalista effortlessly picking the lock with her Thieves' Tools. Just in time for Faust to discover the key to the shackles on the dead hooded man. Whoops.

The man, naturally, had no idea why he was there, specifically why he in particular was chosen for the sacrifice, but he said that there were other captives within the dungeon who likely could help fill in some of the blanks as to what the cult was doing. However, rather than continue through the dungeon with the party, the man decided that, armed with a torch, he would take the party's directions back to the entrance at the bathhouse and try to get the attention of the guards.

Once the man had left, the party continued examining this room and another nearby chamber. Faust, always keen to use his Detective Vision Detect Magic spell, quickly set about trying to find anything suspicious in the room, which he did. Specifically, he found a pair of enchanted gauntlets attached to an old suit of armor, and, being the genius he always claims to be, quickly tried to grab them and stuff them into his bag.

And thus the gauntlets started moving and punched him square in the face, leading to another quick battle.

I mean, it wasn't that spectacular, but at the end, Faust recoiled in embarrassment at what had happened, and Seliph mourned the loss of some sweet looking gloves that he could have used. And that's where, IRL, we decided to call it, as it was getting late. Don't worry, there's still a lot of dungeon left and some more hostages to save.

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