One morning or afternoon or beforenoon, a group of adventurers woke up in the cargo hold of a cargo ship, The Lady Vengeance. None of them know why they're on the boat, but Sorin the wild mage feels exceptionally wild and magish, like a terrible hangover spell after a night spent rolling multiple times on the wild magic chart. Basically, he had a wild magic wet dream.
And the dream got sticky.
The first to wake in this dark cargo hold is McSneakle, a short and brittle human with an Owen Wilson nose and a Clint Howard everything-else. McSneakle can't see in the dark. McSneakle can scream in the dark. McSneakle screams in the dark.
Everyone else fortunately can hear in the dark, so they wake up in a mild panic only to calm McSneakle down. Since everyone but McSneakle (the sneaky rogue) has darkvision (boy did they plan that out well), they assess the situation and realize they need to figure out what the eff is going on since none of them know why they're in this boat. McSneakle lights a lantern and begins McSneaking, which involves prying open all of the crates in the cargo hold. He finds unrefined iron ore in all the boxes, which triggers his anemia so he tries to take twenty of them, but they're too heavy, so he settles on looting only two of them.
It was a complicated moment and there was lots of 3rd grade math involved.
While McSneakle McSneaks, 🌱 decides to scout out the cargo hold. While searching, 🌱 discovers that the boat has run aground and is slowly taking on seawater. 🌱 tastes the seawater and spits it out because of course he does.
The first above deck is Uul'valaar, who decides that he does not wish to witness McSneakle's McSneaking since he is a man of justice and law. What he does witness, however, is that The Lady Vengeance has smacked into a marina. The marina is near a beachside customs office, watchtower, and cabin. All of them appear dirty, mildewed, and unkempt. Uul'valaar rallies the rest of the party to investigate these locales.
Uul'valaar tries to identify patterns in the construction of these abandoned buildings, but he can't determine a lead. They then enter the customs house, which has a lobby featuring a cast iron stove, file cabinets, office desk, safe, and two doors leading to other rooms. One of said doors has water pooling beneath it.
🌱 searches the desk, coming across a nameplate that reads "AGRAN DODD" and several ruined pieces of stationery with letterheads reading "PINEWOOD LUMBER EXPORT." 🌱 shares this info with the party. Argus has heard of the Pinewood Lumber Export during a previous criminal excursion within the Stoutman Caravan. Apparently, the Stoutman Caravan is a parent company of the Pinewood Lumber Export. While all this boring shit is happening, McSneakle tries picking the safe, but it has extremely dwarvish locking mechanisms that are stronger than McSneakle's extremely level 1 skillset.
Ulu'valaar enters the room with the puddle, discovering it's an overnight room for sailors to sleep. There's a hole in the ceiling and a dead body on the ground. The dead body is conveniently centered just beneath the hole, as though the dead body, when previously alive, fell through the ceiling and died on impact. This series of events was determined when the body was examined by the party's doctor, Argus. Argus also discovered a rusty battle axe within the corpse's belongings, and he also determined the corpse is a dwarf.
And then Argus discovered the giant rat living inside the corpse's corpsiness, which promptly attacked the party.
Every single sumbitch tried killing the rat. They all missed. Every. Single. One. The rat finally died when McSneakle, upset that the fight was disrupting his concentration with the safe, shot the rat in the face and proved having a Constitution score of 5 and Dexterity score of 18 can be very, very convenient at times.
McSneakle, angry at being unable to open the safe, decides to drag it to the top of the watchtower and chuck it off. While up there, the party discovers another dead dwarf body, a spyglass, and a severed arm hidden beneath a blanket. Agitated at all the dead stuff, 🌱 chucks the corpses off the tower and steals the busted spyglass. McSneakle follows suit and throws the safe off the tower, which promptly destroys the lock. He would cheer at his success if it weren't for his blood disease keeping his heart from allowing excitement.
Damn that blood disease...
While that duo climbs the tower, Uul'valaar notices a feral half-orc child leap from the tower and land on the customs house. Argus hears the child's footsteps on the roof. Uul'valaar chases down the child and tries speaking to him, stating that he means the child no harm. He rolls a 1 on a performance check to get his point across, so the child rolls a nat 20 to hit him in the face with a rock in retaliation and deals 3 damage. Uul'valaar tackles the child violently but nobody posts the abuse of force on Twitter so he's all right. He declares "I'm a good cop, but I'm still a cop!" and reminds the child that "Innocent people don't run from the police."
🌱 gives the kid some alcohol to calm him down and make him easier to manage. Argus simply shakes his head at Uul'valaar's questionable policing tactics. When the child calms down, they realize he can't speak any languages aside from gibberish nonsense, but he draws pictures in the sand in front of the nearby PC's, labeling 🌱 as "fire," Uul'valaar as "safe," and Argus as "sad face."
McSneakle opens the safe and finds a super awesome ruby that he pockets. He then finds five contracts detailing work assignments for people under the Pinewood Lumber Export:
Dodd: the dwarf director of the PLE who lets his nephew live with him.
Lent: three human brothers who work as loggers.
Rumrick: a human family with two daughters who work as custodians.
Maovor & Rogath: security guard orcs who mine for rubies when nobody is looking.
Reagent: an elf priest conducting research and offering skills as a healer.
They open the contracts and read them, realizing that the Stoutman Caravan set up the Pinewood Lumber Export to serve as a logging company. The logging company was actually a front for a ruby mine that the Stoutman Caravan wanted to keep secret because taxes, competition, and SCANDALS! ORCS AND HUMANS DOIN-IT-IN-THE-VAGINER-SCANDALS! Agran Dodd oversaw the whole organization, and the orcs would pose as security guards while secretly mining rubies.
The feral child snatches the contract labeled "Rumrick" and holds it to him. The party suspects a connection to that name. They then follow the child to the cabin, which appears to be Agran Dodd's based on a giant painting of Agran and his nephew on the wall. They loot the house, finding a library full of moldy books and a map of the Pinewood Lumber Export. The map has the following list painted on it:
A signature on the painted map reads "SUNNY RUMRICK," which the child stares at. The party believes the half-orc child must be Sunny's, and the father must be one of the orcs under security.
While investigating the cabin, the party finds a well nearby, which the child hops into. The party follows him down using the chain, and they discover an underground grotto with two dead bodies embracing each other—a man and a woman. They realize these dead bodies are the half-orc child's parents, Rogath and Sunny, who were shot with crossbow bolts.
The crossbow bolts have scripture on them. Rogath's says "AND THUS BOSNIR SMITE HIS BILE AND BILGE, CASTING THEM FROM THEIR THRONES WITH HIS STOUT BOLTS," and Sunny's says, "SHE GOES DOWN WITH A RUBY SMILE, THE BLOOD OF INNOCENCE QUAFFED UPON HER LIPS." 🌱 identifies this writing as scripture from Bosnir, a lawful neutral deity that is extremely utilitarian, and whose followers are known to ritually carve his scriptures into their tools.
McSneakle discovers little bits of ruby ore near the corpses and takes one. The feral child gets like super feral and tries to attack him. McSneakle hides behind Soren and gives the ore back.
The party sees an underwater tunnel that they swim through, but Uul'valaar identifies with the half-orc child and shares a touching moment with him since they are both half breeds. He gives last rites to the boy's parents with a small prayer, leaves some supplies and food for him, and the child draws a symbol of a safe on Uul'valaar's shield with a piece of charcoal. INSPIRATION FOR UUL'VALAAR!
Before Uul'valaar leaves, the child draws a monstrous face, hinting that something super duper scary lies in the cave.
The party follows the underwater tunnel and finds the ruby mine shaft. They explore, finding another dead body impaled into the wall by a pickaxe. It's a human male. A crossbow lies at his feet with Bosnir scripture carved into it, "FOOD FOR THE HUNTER; LIFE FOR THE FAMILY." A crossbow bolt bearing the words "GOOD MEN ROT; DEAD MEN ROT" pins a bloody letter to his shirt that says, "MY LITTLE SUNSHINE CRIED OVER THE MONSTER AND I SHOT HER TOO. I'M SORRY. MAOVOR DESERVES HIS VENGEANCE."
The party determines that this man is Kincade Rumrick and that his "little sunshine" is Sunny Rumrick.
The party then finds a steep dropoff twenty feet down that opens into a cavern. Dead fish and the smell of rot and dung litter the area. Soren climbs down and explores, only to bump into Maovor, a corpulent, scarred orc with one arm and a ruby shoved into his eye. He swats at Soren with a rock, but misses, and Soren hits him with a shocking grasp before retreating.
Soren is stuck in the pit with the rest of the party twenty feet above him. He's hit in the face with one of Maovor's rocks and is stunned. The PC's attack from above, McSneakle showering Maovor with arrows while 🌱 keeps telling Soren how good of a job he's doing (healing word) which helps restore his hit points.
Soren does a fantastic job bringing a new meta to D&D as a facetanking sorcerer, getting bludgeoned repeatedly with a rock by a big fat orc while the party keeps healing him back to max HP. As Uul'valaar shimmies down a rope to do the real tanking, Maovor vomits up a pile of chunky, partially digested food and covers Soren. It's gross. And now Soren is gross.
Uul'valaar ends Maovor's rampage with a quick thrust from his longsword, skewering Maovor and saving Soren from his worst day ever...
... Worst day ever so far...