2018-05-05 - Let's Rescue A Bird Person
Missi, Dietrich, Heivalur, Iotas, and Neville were sitting in the guild tavern one day when a raven kenku carrying a lute dejectedly joined their table. He introduces himself as Eric, a new employee in the Humanoid Resources Department, and explains that his wife Shelley never returned from a diplomatic meeting. He suspected she was off on one of her heists, but she hasn't returned in weeks, and he's starting to get worried. He offers the party money in exchange for her safe return. With a few chords that sound suspiciously like Stairway to Heaven (to the tavern bards' chagrin), he opens a portal and sends the adventurers on their way.
The party arrives in Weird Outpost, a small mining town on the edge of the Red Steppe (a large swathe of brittle red grass). The town is small, flat, and economically destitute. While Dietrich attempts to commune with Eldath in the town's well, Neville notices the townsfolk have some strange scars on their heads. The party heads into the local tavern to start looking for Shelley. Inside, Missi tries and fails to get into the fight pit. Iotas attempts to check the thoughts of the townsfolk, but finds they all have a weird static running through their heads.
Through some physical harassment, Neville dodges a slap in the face and meets Kara, apprentice to the town wizard Extranos. She insists they meet him in his mansion--a fact which instantly draws Neville's suspicion. Dietrich and Heivalur attempt to console a nearby gnome named Gnat with a gambling addiction, a steep debt, and some serious PTSD from his gardening job. He warns them not to go near the cats as the party heads for the mansion.
While Kara brags about how Extranos owns the mines, the town, and everyone in it, the party decides what would be the best way to get into the mansion. Missi and Iotas want to tie up Kara as a hostage, while Dietrich advocates for a more peaceful route while his familiar scouts ahead. After a good bit of arguing, they decide to enter the house with Kara and have Scabtree the "reformed" imp scout ahead for Dietrich. He found a window on the top floor with a set of bent bars. On the walk, Missi was nuzzled by a kamadan that did not appreciate her attempt to pet it.
Entering the tackily designed house, Kara was called away by a servant to address something in the basement. Neville sent Winston Churchhill the rat down after her and found a severely beat-up, possibly rabid kobold in a cage. Iotas messages it to ask if it saw Shelley, but received no coherent response. Extranos greeted the party enthusiastically and invited them to stay the night. Iotas and Heivalur tried to convince him they were on a bar crawl and only wanted to camp. The more Extranos insisted on being a hospitable host, the more Heivalur pressed him to reveal what's going on in the basement. Backed into a corner, Extranos fled and left the group to fight off Kara and his mind-controlled staff.
The party frees the kobold, who attempts to assault Heivalur and flees through a hole in the wall. A rabid, foaming at the mouth Kara chokes out that everyone should head to the lab. Making their way through the manor, the party comes across a series of paintings with magical frames. Neville and Dietrich suggest flipping the paintings to avoid any mishaps. Heivalur frees Celeste, Extranos's daughter who has been imprisoned after a failed escape attempt with her boyfriend Steve (the basement kobold). She claims he is a monster who killed her mother and experimented on her. She joins the party to escape and finally defeat her father.
The party enters Extranos's library and finds a painting of the room with a small titmouse kenku trapped inside it. Breaking the frame releases her back into the room, where the party learns she went on a kleptomaniacal bender after her last job. She's touched Eric sent a rescue party, but her attention for Dietrich's morality speeches is rather short-lived. Everyone robs Extranos's trophy case of magic items, and Heivalur finds a lab full of dead bodies in various states of preservation.
Extranos confronts the party on the stairs and earns a fireball in the face from Neville; this exposes Extranos as a mindflayer wearing a human skin mask. Heivalur flees into the lab and polymorphs into a T-rex, increasing his size but reducing his intelligence. Celeste mind-blasts her captor/father, seemingly killing him until Extranos reappears behind Shelley to eat her brain. Before he can latch onto her, T-Rex-Heivalur eats the mindflayer and keeps the body down. Realizing they forgot to loot the body, Iotas uses Stinking Cloud to make T-Rex-Heivalur throw up the body. With the looting finished, T-Rex-Heivalur re-consumed the contents of his stomach.
After a fair amount of grand theft arcana, the party meets a mob of confused villagers freed from Extranos's control. They regret taking him in after he promised to revitalize the local economy, and decide to make the mine a co-operative effort. The party rounds up the kamadans (despite Missi's desire to fight one) in the paintings, creating the first cat meme. Shelley and Eric are reunited at Purity, and promise to give the party a good recommendation to the Guild Quartermaster.
Iotas and Heivalur received inspiration for the vomit scene that made the DM laugh for three minutes straight.