While returning from Narunn's palace, their pockets jingling with treasure, Dogaeen received word that the kuo-toa were once more infesting the sewers of Noivos. He dashed off to stop their spread, leaving the party at the mercy of several children who wanted their autographs. Keith managed to scratch his name onto one's wood cutlass, and Woodsy presumably did something, although he is probably not literate. Drew a picture of a bear, maybe? Derryk and Dennis are still personas non grata.
Then, Woodsy was accosted by a desperate tiefling begging him to save his community from a rash of mysterious kidnappings. Although Woodsy failed to place the name, he did remember that he mooched off the tiefling's hospitality on several occasions. The tiefling was happy to explain that several people who had housed Woodsy in Callweather had begun to go missing, starting a few days after Kapala's untimely execution.
The gang trouped over to Callweather to investigate. Callweather is the westernmost district, haphazardly pasted onto a series of limestone islands onto the landward side of Noivos. The buildings are small and crooked, and patches of civilization are accessibly only by bridges, ropes, or just wading through the shallow water. Callweather is the home of hundreds of low to middling income laborers who pride themselves on their close-knit community and strong sense of hospitality. This attribute was undoubtedly what Woodsy targeted when choosing a district to leech off.
Anyway, Woodsy received a warm welcome. He has been staying here for years, and has performed a number of valuable acts, such as Sleet Storming over a cesspit so the children could ice skate across (completely blind and often falling over, but whatever). The tiefling, Norr, brought the party to the house of the latest victim, a half-orc carpenter named Aly'n. Along the way, Norr explained that he and the other inhabitants of Callweather had been inspired by how Woodsy teamed up with friends to accomplish his goals, so he had instated a Neighborhood Watch. The Neighborhood Watch had initially attempted to find the culprit, but their investigation had only succeeded in destroying any hints potentially remaining at the house. Aly'n's wife, also a half-orc, informed the party that he had been taken on his way to the outhouse, about forty feet away.
Sensing no leads remained at the house, the party moved to the outhouse. Most of them discovered only a fantastic smell, but the most observant saw that there were no rats. Callweather had its share of pests, all of which seemed to be absent in the area. Woodsy used Speak with Animals to network around the local rat population, eventually determining that a new, very mean clan of large rats had moved into the area.
They went to a house where the Big Rats had recently been seen. A few Mage Hand pokes around the trash heap revealed a giant rat the size of a small dog, which Keith promptly killed. Further searches revealed another giant rat, which revealed it had been eating these people, and yet another, which they were able to literally squeeze for information. However, the rat really only spilled his guts in return for a souffle, telling them that its boss, "the Big Cheese", wanted them dead. The boss could be found in Seaside. Then, the party bundled the rat in a sack and handed him to a halfling woman, who promptly beat it to death with a meat tenderizer and made a delicious giant rat goulash. Derryk abstained.
Later that night, they made their way over to Seaside. Woodsy talked to the rats again and found out the big rats were common near a huge trash staging area to the north. (Noivos collects the trash and loads it onto a barge, then dumps it farther out into the ocean. Ecology!) They went there, finding a dive bar called the Mousetrap. They attempted to ask about the local pests and were only met with suspicion from the barkeep. However, three men sitting around the tables recognized them from their wanted posters and attempted to capture them. They were overcome due to everyone's efforts. Two of them were run out of the bar, killing themselves as they sprinted over Woody's thorns. Keith captured the last one. Derryk did stuff but it was under-appreciated as always. They looted the corpses, gaining wanted posters, a 50ft rope of spider silk, 2 sp, and several belt buckles with the design of an Ouroborous rat around a map of Noivos.
They interrogated the remaining man, who turned out to be ratfolk after he attempted to slip his bonds by turning into a rat. He told them that the secret entrance to their hideout (located in the warehouse adjacent) was behind the casks in the bar. Keith killed him because lol.
They entered the tunnel (Dennis bent double because the ceilings were 6 ft) and walked for a quarter mile before finding a ladder leading up to a trap door. Along the way, they encountered several rats, which quickly dashed off to inform the others. As a result, by the time Dennis poked his head above the trap door, the ratfolk were in the midst of packing up their whole operation.
Of greater interest were the lines of eggs along the walls and the presence of two driders aiding in the packing. At the far end of the warehouse were two thrones. One was made of humanoid bones and occupied by a woman shouting orders. The other was shrouded by a thick layer of webbing.
Although Dennis was the only one on the ladder, he went last in initiative, much to everyone's frustration. Eventually, after a few Spiritual Weapons, Hastes, Lighting Strikes, Vicious Mockeries, and double-weapon attacks, the party gained the upper hand. Woodsy escaped the fray and set about destroying the eggs, first obscuring the ratfolks' vision with Sleet Storm, then destroying the eggs with Wall of Fire. When it seemed they would win, a drider crept around the warehouse and ambushed them from behind, right in front of Derryk. Rather than flee like the squishy mage he is, he bravely stood his ground and Viciously Mocked her, finally reducing her to gales of laughter with Tasha's Hideous Laughter. Between himself and Keith, she was seriously injured. At the same time, Woodsy blocked off the exits with Erupting Earth and the ratfolk fled out the only remaining exit: behind the drider. She attempted to stop them, but seeing that it was inevitable, fled with them.
The party celebrated their victory by looting the corpses and destroying the remaining eggs. The eggs contained half-mature spider/human hybrids, more uniform than driders, with eight eyes and hairy bodies. They attempted to find the Plot Hook, but were somehow struck temporarily blind. Fortunately, Monty came in at the clinch and located a Shiny, which turned out to be a bejeweled portrait of a young Aelim Kapala.
Notable discussions and Quotes
- Rat testicle size
- "I'd rather you vore me than talk me to death"
- The Big Cheese
- "What have you done to big rats?"
- stabs someone he had promised to let go "What? I have a reputation to maintain."
- 15 ratfolk (450 xp each)
- 5 giant rats (25 xp each)
- 1/2 drider (500 xp)