I am not certain whether or not Pangold and Olwe shared their ideas about methodically usurping power in Kharschum and eventually taking over the city, but the rest of the party seems to be of the same mind. Last night, Bathcat, the brutal and much-feared leader of the Severed Hand was overthrown by a gnome, a dwarf, a half-elf ranger, a northman, a druid, and a sorceress, who call themselves "The Eight" spared Bathcat, on the condition that he furnish them with a 5,000 gps upfront payment and half of his earnings, which average 6,000 gps per week. It would be an understatement to say that the campaign has taken a very interesting turn.
The evening began with the party casting about for opportunities. The characters first discovered that a young woman named Granya, daughter of a wealthy merchant and slave trader named Jochi, had ventured into the Eastern City the night before and gone missing. Jochi was offering a 12,000 gps award for his daughter's safe return, and city guardsmen, in their signature chainmail shirts and hooded, brown tunics, were combing the area around the Red Light District for clues. Several other girls had also disappeared, but they were poor girls of the Eastern City, and the guard cared little about them. The characters were only mildly interested in mounting an investigation and rescue, so they went to Garrad's Tavern, which fronts the Rogues' Guild, to see if the guild had heard of any opportunities. Garrad did not let them down. He told Kyr that Bathcat and three of his henchmen had visited the Gossamer Veil, the most exclusive brothel in the city, the night before. Bathcat only visits that brothel after a big score, so it was likely, Garrad explained, that Bathcat was sitting on a substantial sum of money. After some discussion, the party decided to investigate Bathcat's stronghold, which they learned was north of the Shantytown in a place called the Dockyard Slum.
After finding their way through the shanty town's labyrinth of shanties and filthy alleyways, the characters arrived at the Dockyard Slum, a neighborhood comprised of decrepit boats permanently anchored in a stagnant backwater of the river, interconnected by crooked, uneven docks. The party headed toward a source of light and noise, which turned out to be Grick's Place, a tavern improvised from two two boats lashed together, and run by none other than Grick, a surprisingly affable, full-blooded orc. Alayna and Kyr disguised themselves and spent some time at Gricks, where they learned that Grick, along with every other business owner on the northern fringe of the city, pays "protection" to Bathcat each week. The party decided to offer Grick their protection for half price, and Grick tentatively agreed. Bathcat's captain would be at Grick's Place at noon the following day to collect his weekly payment, Grick explained, and helpfully pointed out an abandoned boat in which the party could spend the night.
Bathcat's captain arrived on schedule, accompanied by two thugs. The party easily took the captain and one of the thugs down and captured the third. Kyr Tuttlewynde, with the help of Alayna's Greater Invisibility spell, was especially deadly with his sneak attack, and once again highlighted the effectiveness of pairing stealth with magic. After beating the thug nearly senseless, the characters sent a note to Bathcat, instructing him to meet them in front of Silks and Sundries that evening.
Bathcat arrived on time, with a veritable army of thugs, but the party had chosen its terrain carefully, and the narrow streets and limited access to Silks and Sundries essentially negated Bathcat's advantage in numbers. Erth's Spike Growth spell and Alayna's Ray of Enfeeblement crippled the Severed Hand further, and bathcat soon fell, alive but sorely wounded. The party presented its conditions and he accepted, thus beginning a strange new chapter in the campaign.
After the battle with the severed Hand, the party followed up on the disappearance of Granya. They were given a tip that a rogue named Nizar had been seen near the site of one of the abductions The party found Nizar in his apartment, which he shared with a dozen or so other people, and a Suggestion spell persuaded him to reveal that he had been paid to kidnap girls for Shivani, who led a cult of some kind. Nizar directed the party to the cult's lair, which he said was camouflaged by an illusion. The party went where he directed, but could see only an empty, ruined building. They returned the next day and saw, with the help of Hrolff's True Seeing spell, that the ruined building was instead an intact compound, with bricked up windows and a set of imposing wooden doors. Unsure of how to proceed, the party paused, and the players decided to call it a night.
Thank you for yet another great night of gaming. I loved the curve balls that you threw at me, and enjoyed improvising and adapting as we went along. It was a lot of fun. I apologize for my f*#k up with Bathcat's vorpal sword. Ulfgar's head and neck are intact, and he does not lose a level, because there was no need to resurrect him. I'm sorry my mistake knocked him out of combat.