Spoiler alert: if you plan to play The Evils of Illmire, don’t read this!
From the outside the Inn of the Weary Wagoner is mostly unremarkable, a two story stone building that screams “come and get your average ale and food here”. The interior is less appealing still, dark and poorly lit with an unpleasant smell of sour ale and week old stew. Besides a gang of rough and ready types crowding around a table and the innkeeper the place appears empty. The clientele, such as they are, stop talking when the PC’s enter the common room and only continue mumbling amongst themselves. The adventurers get the feeling they are being weighed up by these roughians, how capable are they, are they here to cause trouble?
The party see the innkeeper, Birella, is highly focussed on cleaning flagons, but is otherwise moderately helpful as they question her about the goings on in Illmire. The gang take their leave, the biggest of them lingering on the threshold and taking a long look before following his companions. Anistor follows them out after a pause, but is unable to see where they went amongst the busy townsfolk.
The conversation drifts between Lord Crellmont’s request for help and his poor health, Father Rand (the local priest they have yet to meet, but according to rumours is healing the penitent sick), bandits and the disease that seems to infect the town. The PC’s pay for a room for the night and head off to explore Illmire further.
Approaching the town centre they observe a crowd of townspeople listening to a fire and brimstone speech from Father Rand. The crowd are rapt, entirely focussed on the enthusiastically preaching clergyman, who appears to have an armed guard accompanying him. Bypassing the town centre they head towards Lord Crellmont’s mansion and split the party to find a way in. Anistor and Kristos knock on the front door while Oak Staff observes from a distance and Evalore and Gravik sneak around the back of the mansion.
Kristos and Anistor are faced with Piedlund, the gruff and protective servant of Lord Crellmont. With no papers to prove their claim that they have been summoned by Crellmont, Piedlund is not letting them in and is unphased by Kristos’ dodgy salesman tactic of wedging his foot in the closing door. Meanwhile around the back Evalore calls on his magical powers to unlock the back door and sneak through the kitchen while Piedlund is distracted. They climb the tower and gain an audience with Lord Crellmont who realises they were sent by the Baroness to answer his call for help. The party are gathered at the ailing Lord’s bedside, the stench of vomit and worse only slightly lessened by the open window. Clearly suffering, he tells them that something is wrong in Illmire; he doesn’t trust his nephew Zlatko and Captain Frey has changed recently, becoming far less concerned about the fortunes of the town; Frey was never corrupt before. Despite the rumours that Father Rand can heal the sick, there’s something about the priest he really doesn’t like and he won’t have him anywhere near… in fact this sickness worries him as well, a number of townsfolk have died from it. The paranoid mind of a diseased old man, or is Crellmont wise and insightful?
Lord Crellmont asks the party to seek out Sergeant Wilfret who is stationed at the Old Watchtower (our heroes realise this is the tower they could see from the roads leading into Illmire), he will know what to do and is the only man he trusts. Promising they will do as he asks, the party return to the inn, but not before Oak Staff takes a look at the Temple of the Luminal Star and the nearby well with which he develops a bit of an obsession – what is it doing there (because obviously towns don’t have wells)? Pondering on the information that the temple is closed due to renovations, Gravik the canny Dwarven Myrmidon notices there is no sign of any building equipment or supplies nearby.
While talking to Birella back at the inn the party observe a dead eyed woman looking on from the kitchen door who is carefully guided away by one of the kitchen staff. That night their survival instincts (or paranoia?) kick in and the party take watches throughout the night. Anistor, being somewhat more curious heads down to the common room and kitchen to see if there is anything suspicious to observe, his hope to see the staff arrive for work. He checks out the kitchen; there are two staff bedrooms leading from it and a storeroom with plentiful supplies and a plain rug. Anistor waits patiently in the kitchen and is not surprised to see Birella come from her room; she is surprised to see him in the kitchen and tells him breakfast will be served soon. More surprising is the man, one of the kitchen staff, who comes out of the store room…
Deciding to leave that oddity until they return, the party prepare for their trip to the Old Watchtower. Heading out early they see the town coming to life, folk preparing for their days ahead, and trappers gathering to head out into the swamps. Next stop, the Old Watchtower (via a random encounter or two?)