Sometimes, you find yourself going through your Monster Manual, and you see a monster (or two, or three) that you think is underutilized. I feel like I do this a lot as inspiration for modules that I write, so I’m not surprised that it’s the same with this campaign. Really thinking about a creature and its habitat, its life, its biology, can really give you great ideas for adventures, even if sometimes that idea is “a wizard got drunk and made a monstrosity.” No, it’s not owlbears again.
Mordora, tiefling warlock
Danyar, gnome rogue-warlock
Semaj, human fighter
Serenity, half-elf rogue
Alkar, elf mystic
Zavin, human paladin
Max, human bard, with Dogstein, dog
The City of Silverrun, in the Wayride Mountains
The Library of Islington College of Wizardry
The Story So Far:
Much to the group’s excitement, when Nico summoned them that day, it was because he had a lead on the Seven Sorrows, the group that had enticed some of their fellow Thorn members to betray them. He had asked one of his friends, who worked at the local wizard school to investigate – if anyone could do research on this, it would be her. Unfortunately, she’d turned up dead that morning. In her last missive to Nico, she’d mentioned a particular book she’d been researching in, a forbidden volume known as The Tome of Finer Things. Nico asked the group to break into the wizard academy’s library and steal the book.
Eager for the lead, the group accepted, and started working out their plan to get into the library. As they knew, the first floor of the library was open to the public, but no truly valuable tome would be stored there. They’d have to get into the more restricted areas, and that wouldn’t be quite so easy. Deciding that the easiest way to get into the main area would simply be to walk in and look like they belonged, that’s exactly what they did. Semaj even signed himself in and checked his weapons at the door. Mordora signed in as well…under Lady Varisk’s name, because of course she did.
They scanned the first floor for any sign of the book, but as expected, they found none. Inquiring with the friendly librarians and searching through the card catalogue similarly turned up no results. Disappointed that the Gnomey Decimal System had let them down, they turned their attention to finding the easiest route up to the second floor, where they were rather more likely to find the object of their search. However, they couldn’t see a single staircase. After watching attentively, they soon noticed a couple of students seemingly walking through a wall and vanishing. One of the librarians explained that the second floor of the library was restricted to students and professors of the school, while the third floor was restricted to professors only.
They soon found – after Alkar walked face first into a wall – that the students wore small metal badges that allowed them to pass through the portal. Alkar passed himself off as a professor and charmed a librarian in order to get a temporary badge that would let him through for a few hours. Mordora seduced a student and convinced him to walk her through, clinging to his arm as they passed through the portal. Serenity, Semaj, and Danyar pickpocketed badges from students, while Max asked Dogstein to tackle a student so he could take their badge while they were distracted. Zavin stayed on the first floor, watching for a custodian or similar person that he could talk to, subtly getting information in his questioning.
In the student area, Alkar used his mystic senses to detect magic and did indeed find far more of it here than in the public areas. He and the others began to search for the book, hoping they were able to pass themselves off as people who belonged here. They noticed that the professors wore a slightly different badge design, and they figured that they’d have to steal a couple of those as well in order to pass to the next level, should that be necessary. Mordora searched for an easy mark amongst the professors, who might be willing to allow her to accompany them through the portal upwards.
Alkar found a book that for all intents and purposes, appeared to be The Tome of Finer Things – until it snapped open and bit him, the pages and bindings revealing sharp, pointy teeth. A mimic book would of course be found in a wizard library. The mystic took a nasty bite before dropping the book and watching it skitter off to some dusty corner. Before it went, the rest of the group made sure to get a good look at it – after all, it had to be mimicking something, so they probably had a good idea of what the cover of the real book would look like.
They found a hidden passage – a similarly enchanted portal – and managed to pocket a few professor badges courtesy of Danyar’s and Serenity’s thievery skills. In the uppermost level of the library, they did indeed manage to find the book they were looking for. Of course, now they had to figure out how to get it out of the library. Unfortunately for them, they came up with no better plan than “throw it out the window and hope no one notices.” Doubly unfortunate for them, the windows of the building triggered an alarm that summoned several intellect devourers to every level of the library.
Zavin, alone of the group on the first floor of the building, leapt into action to protect the innocent bystanders of the scene. Mordora immediately sprinted back down to the second floor, and Danyar one-upped her by casting Expeditious Retreat on himself as he ran for it as well. Serenity and Semaj leapt out the window after the book, slowing their falls by grabbing onto the numerous vines of ivy growing up the old, stately facade. They made a scene of running off, distracting the other library patrons who were evacuating the building. Alkar and Max both took nasty psychic attacks and very real claw attacks from the intellect devourers and were near the brink of death before some rather intrepid librarians came by to reset the alarm traps and heal them back to consciousness.
When they all managed to regroup and get a good look at the tome, they quickly realized that not only was it in a language none of them knew, it was also encoded. While the magic available to them would help with the language barrier, it was less useful with the code. They returned it to Nico, who assured them that he would get the best codebreakers available to work on the tome, and that he would get them an update on what it contained as soon as possible.