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Music by Kevin MacLeod.
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Previously on Rime of the Frostmaiden

Valravn, level 4 Eladrin Bard of Eloquence
Fray, level 4 Halfling Barbarian of the Beast
Celeste, level 4 Half-orc Sun Soul Monk
Edmond, Level 4 Human Alchemist Artificer
Thimbleweed, level 4 Gnome Swarmkeeper Ranger

After an uneventful few hours on the road, the Marshals arrived in Good Mead, a town dominated by a large Mead Hall. A crowd had gathered in front of the building, demanding answers as to why it was closed. The building manager and corporate boss, Olivessa, kept everyone back, assuring that help was on the way.

And help had arrived in the form of the Marshals.

Valravn introduced himself and spoke directly to the crowd. The townsfolk were distrustful of outsiders, but his silver tongue worked its magic, and they began dispersing.

Edmond and Fray mingled in the crowd, and a red-bearded dwarf approached them, offering money in exchange for information. He introduced himself as Shandar, an employee of the Mead Hall, and explained that the place had been shut down for days with zero explanation, but that strange things had been happening leading up to the quarantine.

Olivessa invited the party into her office, where she explained in more detail. Mead had been going missing, and the bees were acting more aggressive and strange in the last week. Then, a few days ago, Speaker Rielsbarrow took a pair of guards and spent the night in the Mead Hall, hoping to catch whatever was happening.

When Olivessa went to open the building next day, she was nearly killed by a bee the size of a person. She ran out and locked the door, putting the building under emergency quarantine while she awaited help from Bryn Shandar.

The Marshals wanted to leave and investigate around town for information, and a possible long rest (Valravn had spent all spell slots during the gnoll cave dungeon last week), but Olivessa was adamant about getting them into her building to fix whatever is going on, and hopefully rescue the speaker.

Rime of the frostmaiden session 18 good mead

While I took the initial concept of the Mead Must Flow quest as a baseline, I began expanding it, adding a much more interesting story and an entire Mead Hall dungeon, which the party began exploring after Olivessa handed over her key, reminding them not to steal anything (for more on this custom dungeon, watch my Crafting Icewind Dale series).

They unlocked the front door and walked through the gift shop at the entrance, swiping souvenir mugs along the way, and later breaking into the backroom and the vault to drain all the petty cash and steal a jewel-encrusted stein. So much for that morality test!

The foyer was one-part corporate lobby and one-part museum, showcasing the grand history of the Mead Hall.

The entrance to the temperature-controlled apiary lie beyond a pair of security doors to prevent any escapes. Thimbleweed entered the outer security door, carefully following the warning signs to shut one door before opening another. He cast Speak with Beasts while Edmond cast Sanctuary on him, and he opened the door.

The apiary was a large, beautifully constructed greenhouse designed for bees. Except the hives had grown monstrously huge, along with most of the bees. Thimbleweed called out (using Speak with Beasts) that he meant no harm, but his low Animal Handling roll led to the start of battle as the bees descended on him.

But Thimbleweed acted first with a 20+ initiative roll. He threw down a Fog Cloud to disorient the bees and protect himself, and offered his help to the bees. The bees were momentarily confused by the cloud, but Thimbleweed took it down as a show of good will.

This time the bees acquiesced, and as if taking commands from some unseen force, grabbed Thimbleweed and flew him deeper into the facility, the door shutting behind him.

HellwaspThey flew him outside into an outdoor courtyard, glass ceilings giving the illusion of open air, yet the temperatures were quite comfortable. Across a stream and a bridge they dropped the gnome as a hellishly large, multi-colored queen bee emerged from a hive.

To his credit, Thimbleweed did everything right to avoid a fight, supplicating himself before the queen, praising her rule, and offering to serve her. Amazing how a PC’s attitude can chance when they’re alone and surrounded by monstrous foes!

The queen didn’t reveal, or didn’t know, how they achieved their newly enlarged, semi-intelligent status. But she was adamant about no longer being enslaved by the townsfolk, and confined to this area. She wanted to take over the rest of this building, then spread her colony beyond, though Thimbleweed pointed out that the outside area is far colder and more inhospitable.

She ordered him to help clear out the dangers lurking in the nearby warehouse. He accepted, walking over to the building, shoving open the stuck door, and finding a dead giant bee corpse inside.

When he stepped in closer to investigate, a voice called out for him to stop and identify himself. Hilariously, Thimbleweed claimed to be working with the bees, which was just a terrible answer. Thankfully after a bit of back and forth (and a successful Persuasion check) he managed to convince his ambusher that he was trying to solve whatever was going on here.

The figure emerged from the shadows and identified herself as Moryn, one of the guards who had accompanied the speaker for the stakeout. She’ll be able to shed some light on what happened to her that fateful night, and we’ll find out next week!

MVPC – Thimbleweed

Post-session live discussion:

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