Session 6 - Heading to Fort Beluarian - Mirtul 16 - 20
The tall male that approached the party was named Rokah. He had intelligence suggesting that the Flaming Fist were working with the pirates that are attacking merchant ships coming into Port Nyanzaru. He offered to reimburse the party for the cost of the Charter of Exploration and to pay for the services of the guide pair, River of Mist and Flask of Wine. In return, he asked the party to create a distraction so that he could infiltrate the Flaming Fist Commander's personal belongings to find proof of his suspicions.
The party debated at length about the merits of working with Rokah and the potential implications. Helping an unknown spy to stop piracy, versus making enemies with a powerful faction weighed heavily in the decision. In the end, the party agreed to assist, and Rokah told them to meet with him a half-day west of Fort Beluarian as soon as they could.
Before departing, the party did a bit of shopping. The primary purchases were insect repellant for everyone except Burgell, and Anemin's deposit on a new Chultan set of scale armor. He put 5 GP down towards the purchase with the female Chultan smith, Nanika Kloopers.
Setting out, the party took a ferry across the River Tiryki and into the jungle. Over the next four days and three nights, the party trekked through the jungle, making exceptionally good time and avoiding delays and unwanted entanglements with the local fauna.
On the first day, the party found a camp with three dead halfling explorers. The explorers had all fallen to their deaths after being shot with poisonous blowgun darts. There was not much to loot from the camp other than two raincatchers and one waterskin filled with 8 gallons of fresh water.
The only other memorable discovery on their journey to Fort Beluarian was a destroyed stone monument covered with etchings of a bipedal creature with large birdfeet and wings. Upon accidentally touching the monument, Isa felt an uncomfortable energy surge into his arm, but he was able to disengage before any damage was done.
On the fourth day of travel, the party met up with Rokah and they moved towards the western gate of Fort Beluarian. As they approached, the party realized that the guards were being attacked by a horde of undead. Anemin rushed in and used his holy powers to force the undead to turn and flee. This provided the Flaming Fist guards with time to regroup and focus, and squads were dispatched to dispose of the turned undead.
The party was then greeted by Gruta Halsdottir, the second in command at Fort Beluarian. Upon hearing Isa's name, Halsdottir was completely taken aback and apologized for not greeting a Baldur's Gate noble with a more appropriate reception. The party used Isa's noble status to secure a tour of the fort and a private reception with Commander Liara Portyr, Blaze of the Flaming Fist.
Recognizing that the party needed to create a distraction for Rokah, Isa asked for tea outside. Portyr took the party to the jousting area, and once outside, Anemin silently messaged Rokah. After learning that Rokah was in the market posing as a handler and grunt for Sire Wolfram, Anemin and Del agreed that Del would help escort Rokah to their quarters. Del subtly tried to signal his displeasure with Rokah to Halsdottir, but she was too distracted by the presence of a noble to pay attention to Del's warnings.
While outside, Isa persuaded Portyr to demonstrate her skill in martial arts and unarmed melee combat. Isa used his new knowledge on Anemin, who went along with the act and allowed himself to be thrown roughly into the jousting arena bleachers. Arco chuckled from the sidelines.
After seeing Anemin thrown, Portyr needed to excuse herself and promised a feast for Isa and his men. Burgell offered some mead that he had conjured into a magical jug which Portyr graciously accepted as they were short on mead and could use the honey. Burgell went to the kitchens to provide the staff with the honey, and successfully bartered for a set of cooking utensils in trade.
Del and Rokah were shown to Isa's quarters in the second level of the keep, which were beside Portyr's chambers. Halsdottir excused herself, leaving the two unfettered access to the entire second level.
I was looking forward to this session because it gave me the opportunity for so many plot hooks. Who is Rokah? Why does he want to infiltrate the Flaming Fist? What is he going to find? It was also our first opportunity to travel through the jungles of Chult, albeit on a fairly well-travelled stretch of land.
Giving them the encounter with the abandoned camp allowed me to introduce grung, and the fact that there are mortal perils in the jungle. The monument allowed me to signal the aarakocra of Kir Sabal, and the knowledge that tampering with sacred monuments could be dangerous.
The real beauty of this session though was the role play of the players. They deliberated at length about the merits and risks of assisting Rokah. Del was concerned about finding a patron and influential mentors, and the Flaming Fist hails from his home city so subverting them was not going to be an easy choice. In advance of the session, I sent messages in our Discord server to Del and Isa who is also from Baldur's Gate. I asked them to roll to determine how much they knew about the Flaming Fist. Del rolled high which meant he knew how the influence the Fist had throughout the Sword Coast. It took the rest of the party to convince Del to go along with the plan, but even so you could see the reluctance in his roleplaying.
When the party finally arrived at Fort Beluarian, the second-in-command Gruta Halsdottir came out to greet them. As Isa gave his patented opening line, "Yes, it's me, Isa Wolfram. Nice to meet you too.", it was the perfect opportunity for that to be rewarded. Gruta was instantly aware of House Wolfram and welcomed him as a noble of Baldur's Gate. The expression on Isa's player's face made all the work in the campaign to that point worth it! In addition, the young and charismatic Del was agog with Gruta, which set up many plot points for future sessions. Stay tuned for that.
After that, the party's role play continued to be fantastic. Finding a way to distract Portyr and Gruta with the tour and combat training was brilliant. This allowed Del and Rokah to get upstairs and into Portyr's chambers. As mentioned, Del was not keen on sabotaging the Fist, so he was physically distant and therefore could not see what Rokah was doing. This is key for the campaign - if he would have known that Rokah found and stole a Sending Stone from Portyr's possessions, it might have meant drastic changes to the campaign. However, that is the beauty of roleplaying games.