Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Mazworth's Mighty Digressions

Photo by Egor Myznik on unsplash
I've been running the adventures in Candlekeep Mysteries lightly reskinned for my Krevborna setting. The characters are all employed as members of Creedhall University Library's "Special Collections" department, aka adventurers. This is a recap of what happened in "Mazfroth's Mighty Digressions." I called "Mazfroth" Mazworth instead, mainly because Forgotten Realms names are terrible and do not exactly slide off the tongue easily. Fair warning: spoilers lurk below.

The Characters

Elsabeth, human paladin, played by Anne

Rising Leaf and Raging Storm, human monk, played by Michael

Rufus Clarke, human barbarian played by Steve

Doctor Tobias Wolfe, human sorcerer played by Dennis


Elsabeth, Leaf, Rufus, and Tobias were assigned to shelving newly acquired books in a restricted portion of the library. Leaf dropped a book, which happened to flip open to an illustration of a bloated, bat-winged demon with the head of a skeletal goat. As he bent down to pick up the tome, it transformed into a whirling mass of black energy and a crackling lightning strike erupted from it! Rufus attempted to pull Leaf out of harms way, but his act of altruism did not go unpunished; he was blasted by a bolt from the creature. A brief melee erupted within the aisle, but the group soon killed the monster--as it died, it contracted into nothingness.

During a debriefing session with Horatio Lupa regarding the incident, they learned that two other books had transformed into monstrous creatures and attacked library employees. Horatio set them to a task: discover why recently acquired books were becoming monsters and, if possible, seek replacements for the three books (Mazworth's Digressions, The Dark Hunger, and Fallen Tethyamar) that had been lost from the library's collection. Horatio gave them two leads: Mazworth's Digressions had been brought to the Creedhall University Library by a scholar named Yalerion, who could often be found at the shrine of St. Iona, and The Dark Hunger had been donated by a woman named Valor, who was currently repairing the roof of a library building as payment for the damage caused by the book she had gifted.

The group decided to start by questioning Valor, since she was closest at hand. Valor was a powerfully built, broad-shouldered tiefling. She was was not happy to have her work interrupted; she clearly wanted to fix the roof and be on her way. She did, however, tell the party that she purchased The Dark Hunger at a book stall in Creedhall's Wide Market in hopes of trading it to the library for access to books that would help her find someone she was looking for. She couldn't remember the exact location of the bookstall because she didn't stay in the market long; it "reeked of greed," to her.

Yalerion was found lounging on a pew inside the shrine to St. Iona. He also purchased his book from a stall in the Wide Market, and he remembered that the stall had "dune" somewhere in its name. He decided to donate Mazworth's Digressions when it turned out to be a book about demon lords instead of a more uplifting theological work. Having determined that neither Valor no Yalerion seemed to have seeded these monstrous books within the library, the group set off to find the bookstall in the Wide Market.

After a digression in which Elsabeth was hornswoggled into buying a book on crystals and their energies, the group located the Amberdune bookstall at the mouth of an alleyway on the fringes of the market square. The two employees of the bookstall were surprised to hear that books from their stock had been turning into murderous creatures, but were otherwise unhelpful. Leaf demanded to speak to the manager, which sent the older of the two sellers scuttling off. He returned with an imposing woman named Korvala who was brusque and unobliging. They group pretended to leave, but kept close watch on the bookstall. When Korvala left, Rufus and Tobias shadowed her to a hovel in a rough area of town. 

Clearly, the booksellers were hiding something. When the party reconvened, they decided that a frontal assault on the hovel was the way forward. The hovel's door was kicked in and then the fun began. The group was assaulted by the rug in the common room, which tried to smother Rufus. While they fought the rug, two jackalweres ran into the room to join the fray. A mimic posing as a chest was fought. More jackalweres rushed in to their deaths at the hands of the Special Collections Department. A young man cowering the kitchen tried to enforce his will over Tobias, but Tobias's eldritch mind proved too powerful. The elder man from the bookstall tried to make a break for it, but was subdued. Korvala ran upstairs to confront the party, only to be massacred immediately.

When the dust settled, the group had taken several captives and discovered a pile of gold, several books of note (including the ones Horatio had requested they find), and a desiccated heart wrapped in parchment. A wagon was procured and the captives and the loot were transported back to the library. 

After examination by senior Special Collections staff, it was revealed that the booksellers were jackalwere demon cultists who had once been led by a lamia, whose shriveled heart they had kept after she was killed by adventurers. The cult had been selling simulacra of its most valuable books to raise the funds needed to resurrect their master from the grave, but these simulacra were monsters in disguise--the cult relished the added chaos that their attacks would cause. But, ultimately, the cult was subdued by the brave men and women of Special Collections.