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The characters had about a month and a half of downtime, from halfway through Marponeth all the way through to the end of Uktar and the Feast of the Moon. Every player either e-mailed me plans for what their character was doing during that time, or told me verbally.

Garden

You'd sent a second message back to the Origami clanhouse, and a third by magic book asking if the clan might want to increase their presence in the city and how things were getting a bit complicated, what with some of Waterdeep's elite knowing your face. You'd hoped for a letter, or perhaps a verbal message. You got Calla Breek Snorpthangle the Thirty-Second and a Half (she's a twin) one of the Penultimate Folds, those who report directly to Grand Master Crane. She's also a gnome, a bit taller than you, but with a nose that could be used to plow half the fields of the earth, it's so prominent. Her nickname (gnomes love names) is "Beak."

"You," she announces, coming into your shop during a slow day, "have gotten yourself into trouble." She perches on your counter a tosses you a folded paper raccoon, a traditional gnomish sign of luck. "Good work. Let's talk about how you can make some more. We're too new in the city to dislodge the Shadow Thieves, and to be brutally frank they keep some of the mayhem to a minimum. Getting into a war with them would be... costly. But it doesn't mean we can't command a bigger piece of the pie. You're in a unique position to help the clan because of what you did for Lady Wands." She pauses and raises an eyebrow. "Anything else that happened in the last week or so I should be aware of?" (The DM assumes you're willing to be very forthcoming with a member of the clan, let me know if this is not so and you wanted to edit portions of your escapades.)

Calla puts her chin in her hand, grinning when you talk about how you appointed yourself as the Wands' private detective and looking both concerned and impressed when you tried to tell the Shadow Thieves that Jayrin was marked for death. "Not that he didn't deserve it, being as he was behind you getting hurt and more than likely a culprit in the attack on Charissa. But the fact the Shadow Thieves protected him... interesting. He must be doing something of value to them. He probably had to go underground after you exposed the fact he was killing children wholesale, plus the whole bit with him having a golem double doesn't exactly making him look innocent. And his brother the priest will have to be more discrete from now on.

"Which gives you the opportunity to do some things free of murderous interference. What plans do you have, Ru?"

She listens as you detail wanting an apprentice to run your shop as you try to expand your influence into higher circles and nods thoughtfully.

"That's a good line of thinking. I was bringing some apprentices over anyway, those traveling to points beyond the City of Splendors, but there is one who might suit. She's a dwarf, name's Nira Darkfire, good hands and a quick mind. More comfortable with staying in one place than not, and I think she'd much prefer learning here to heading off to Silverymoon or the Dalelands. I'll have her come up today. As for stumbling upon something she shouldn't... she's a dwarf. Word is bond, when she isn't so monofocused than an earthquake couldn't get her attention. Tell her she shouldn't see something, and she won't.

"Get on establishing yourself at the Marlith, because I can see all kinds of possibilities if Lady Wands or her staff isn’t embarrassed to seek you out, eh? She could send her friends to a respectable shop, rather than have a disreputable person such as yourself,” she winks, “call upon them. I’ll get Nira up here soon, and once you’re sure she knows her way around, get thee hence to the Marlith.”

Calla goes back to her own business, but lets you know she’ll be in town through the Feast of the Moon at least.

Nira shows up right on time, a thin (for a dwarf) woman with black hair tightly braided, wearing sober and respectable clothes. She has the very basic aptitudes for a locksmith, and could definitely do simple repairs, but isn’t up for complicated installations yet. She is good with numbers, well, at least she isn’t going to mess up your books, and gets your cypher system (or a variant, if you don’t trust her with the master cypher) in a mildly disturbingly short period of time.

“Blood clan had no use for a girl who liked numbers more than runes, amongst other things,” she tells you with a shrug. “Origamis did. So they let me in.” She’s quite taciturn, which gave at least one customer quite a turn when she stirred behind the counter and startled someone who hadn’t expected to see her there.

It was the first time you’d seen her smile. You think she just might do, at least for a start.
With your shop in competent hands, you move on to establishing yourself in the Marlith. Hob Stonecypher, the owner, grins when he sees your new persona. (And he’ll ask your new name. He’ll call you “Granther” as a nickname for the “aged old gent” until you give him your name.) In between customers, Hob will grill you on the inventory and the right lingo. In two tendays, you think you can manage a conversation with someone in your new persona about exotic weapons and be able to both look and sound like you know what you’re doing (assuming the person is not too suspicious).

[The following bits here were in response to several questions by Garden’s player, in taking classes to prep his character for taking the Gnome Artificer prestige class – it’s the first time he’s taken one, and we tweaked the prereqs a little.]

During mornings/evenings, whatever times of days you’re not working or sleeping, you can attend classes in engineering, alchemy, or gem-cutting at the Temple of Gond. Charissa even knows the names of some good tutors. Fees for such classes run about 10 gold a tenday, with a 25gp materials cost (40gp for gemcutting, ‘cause… gems). Charissa can help you with alchemy classes if you want to go in that direction.

As for the Artificer – most prestige classes can’t be taken until you’re sixth level or so. Assuming you focus on getting all the relevant skills, you could take your 1stlevel of Gnome Artificer as your 6th character level. So you’d be a 5th level rogue, 1stlevel Gnome Artificer. We collectively decided to dismiss having the spellcasting requirement, as Garden will be learning how to imitate magical effects with his devices without the use of magic. If you have any skill points to spare, it might be appropriate to throw one or two into the Use Magic Device skill to show you know a thing or two about how magic works (or looks, or both).

The Gnome Artificer basically makes you into the Wizard of Oz – great special effects, just don’t look behind the curtain. With a bit of looking around, you can find a tiny little group of three other Gnome Artificers in the city, two from Lantan, one a native of Waterdeep. They do three things – provide special effects for theatrical productions, experiment with things that make some of Charissa’s experiments look tame, and provide protection for some of the Deepwater Harbor’s aquatic residents against their more aggressive counterparts. (Think, if you will, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – with three half-crazed gnomes in a tricked-out submarine patrolling the harbor for killer sharks, murderous sahaugin [fish men], and nasty-minded scrags [water trolls].) Though they like turning their talents in that direction, they’re really up for experimenting with anything.

-----------------------------------------------------

Charissa

You KNEW there was a reason there weren't that many pistols in Lantan. You've seen them. Held one once. Seen them fired. But there still aren't all that many of them. And do you know why? Well you figured it out once you started doing serious research into the crafting of one - they're BEASTLY hard to make. And expensive! Finding an alloy that can not only stand up to repeated rapid firing, but also magical bullets (because you're going to get some made, by Gond, someday!) involves a lot of experimentation. Gunslingers are not terribly thick on the ground, even in Lantan, and not even your mentor would have given up the secret to gun manufacture to you (the better to develop your own engineering skills), so you knew this was coming.

On the plus side, this does involve a lot of cool explosions. On the down side, it does involve a lot of cleanup.

What brings you to your breakthrough is, strangely enough, Evelyn's shoes. You were making bladed shoes for her, and getting a tough alloy that could stand up to days, weeks, or months of Waterdeep's streets isn't easy. It actually was dovetailing off of your own research into tougher alloys. That was when you realized what would make the alloy perfect. Adamantine. Not pure adamantine, because that's outside your purse and your fuel costs for the forge, but a small amount of adamatine introduced into a toughened steel... yes! That's it!

Then there's the whole finding the perfect combination of adamatine to steel thing... But you're a step in the right direction, a huge step!

In between banging on metal and making things explode, you do have to take some breaks (to let the metal cool, to let the metal heat, to get out of the forge before your fellow Gondian co-workers ban you because they've heard more talk about guns than a reasonable being can stand...). Never to let a moment go to waste, you heft Grapes of Wrath, the book of the Order of the Vine, and go to talk to the Vinters, Brewers, and Distiller's Guild. The Order of the Vine has been extinct for a century, and you think it's high time they saw the light of day again (and attaching it to the Vinters, etc. Guild would be a good first step, because you certainly don't have the gold to re-found the order from the ground up). You tell your story to a bewildered youth at the door, again to a mildly confused junior member, a third time to a Head Brewer (who'd actually heard of the Order), who finally passes you off to a Master Brewer, a dwarf introduced to you as Rumlar Stonehead. He's exceptionally stout, with a beard like foam in a mug, carrying no less than six fine mugs hooked to his belt.

"Hah!" he says with delight, when you explain your story yet again, that you'd like to reactivate the Order. "I remember them. Met one or two back a ways, but they were getting thin on the ground by the time I'd even learned about them. Fun-loving crew, the few times I worked with them. Good for maintaining a good crowd, kept parties respectable, gave us all a better name. Aye, I wouldn't mind having them back. Now, are you the only one?"

(After you answer, Rumlar will have several other questions for you.)

"I remember having members of the Order at our larger feasts to help keep the peace and provide a little background on some of the beverages. The drinking games and songs they could come up with... better than bards, they were! What is it that you're doing now, being as you couldn't have been born in the Order? And how did you find some of their artifacts?"

"Hmm... tell you what. I'd like to see the Order again, but I certainly can't go sponsering people willy-nilly. With the Feast of the Moon coming up, it's a good time to stage a trial run, eh? You and the other members of the Order, come to the feast here at the Guildhall and we'll see how you do. Let's see if we can't capture the old spirits." Rumlar chuckles hugely at his pun, and reaches out to tap a nearby keg. He deftly fills two mugs and hands one to you. "What say you? What can you bring to our feast, O Bouncer Immaculate?"

[The following is several e-mails back and forth between me and Charissa’s player]

"No there are four of us. My brother, a young wizarding student, and a priestess of Istishia. During a recent investigation into amber oozes we discovered the tomb of the last three members of the Order. After taking care of the amber ooze problem we found a powerful illusion that was a record of the last members. The had us each pass a test, which we all passed, and told us we were members of the Order. I have these, (showing Grapes of Wrath and the book) as tokens of that experience. I'll talk to the others, but I'll be more than happy participate in the Feast of the Moon here at the Guild Hall."

Rumlar threads his hand through his beard and tugs meditatively. "The tomb, eh? I should like to see that... well, perhaps not disturb their rest but... bah, idle speculation. If you and your friends could come, this might be a good coming-out party for the Order. Brush up on your drinking games, Origami, because there's nothing a dwarf clan likes to do to honor their ancestors better than a good drinking game.

"Have you the old costumes? Or are you updating those as well?

"If you end up honoring the old Order, I'll pass a hat for donations to sponsor you. If not, well... at least you won't go hungry that night. Be thinking on what you'll want to do at the party, other than make sure no one downs a gallon of rotgut and pukes into the roses, or starts throwing punches. I have fond memories of the Order, few as they were." He eyes you carefully. "Don't sully them, my young tinker friend."

"We'll make sure you and yours have the chance to honor your dead, Brew Master. As for the costumes we will be both honoring the old, and bringing in some new touches to it. I wish to bring honor to those that have gone before, and give a fresh start to the Order."
Charissa will be relying heavily on Shandri and her brother for good drinking games since she has avoided alcohol as drunkenness and explosives mix just a little too well...

"Tell me one last thing, youngling... You seem a sober and respectable sort, at first glance the kind that might look down their nose at the Order. Their hammer is impressive, yes, and rather fun, but you seem to be the sort to be married to their work." He flicks his fingers at the burn marks on your cuffs and the scars on your hands. "Why devote such effort to bringing the Order of the Vine back?"

"I respect their ideals and after the 'situation' with the amber oozes I feel that they are needed. I want people to able to celebrate without the fear of death, dismemberment or embarrassment. The Knights of the Vine can give people the assurance that their feasts and celebrations will be enjoyable and that all present will be relatively safe, at least safe from things other than a bad hangover and the occasional poorly sang drinking song."

-------------------------------------------------


Steven

With Evelyn wrapped in some project that left her safely ensconced in an office with Madame Silverleaf (the seamstress and dressmaker) on a regular basis, Steven used his expected free time to call at the Temple of Mystra and put some of his skills to work. Years of guarding his sister from harm, perceived threats, and any man’s gaze had left him with a reputation for being able to handle anyone, at least when it came to dealing with large egos. Also, his combat skills were impeccable, and he’d proved himself against a ghostly dragon, no less!

So, in between hunts for the mysterious Gerard, Steven took on several side jobs. (As a note, Steven has been hunting a “Gerard” for a little while. During the dark creeper attack, Evelyn had fallen asleep from a poisoned dagger smeared with drow sleep poison that wounded her. In her sleep, she said, “Oh, Gerard,” in a familiar manner. Steven has since sworn revenge, just on general principle. This “Gerard” needs a good talking-to, whoever he is.)

Steven has been meeting several mages, some from abroad, others from the mainland, all of whom came to the Temple for guidance and protection as they went about their business in Waterdeep. As many were skilled magicians, they could have defended themselves… if they weren’t caught by surprise, if they had the right spells ready, if they were not in the middle of item creation or some other ritual that took all of their dedication and concentration. Hence they asked at the Temple of Mystra for a bodyguard, and Steve was one of those that stepped up to help.

So, in the month and a half he’s had free, Steven had spent time at the sides of two noted summoners, an abjurer so frail her own magic must have been holding her together, a universalist wizard from far Maztica (all in colorful exotic brocade and woven plumes), a transmorgofist who never spent more than half a day looking the same, an urdinnar (stone-shaper) dwarf who might have been mute, and one memorable day he spent carrying a fox familiar around the city so his master could get a good look around without bestirring his ancient bones.

Luckily Steven had not had to draw his sword during that time, and only had to chase off a few potential pickpockets and endure the somewhat confusing chatter of high magery (hardly his strong suit.)

-------------------------------------------

Evelyn

Your lessons in magic are actually going quite well. You've gained several admirers (how could you not?), other students of the Arts. You still aren't particularly interested in how other people tap their magic, as it seems to involve tedious memorizing of musty tomes and incomprehensible diagrams and handling all matter of noxious substances, but figuring out magical threats and magical creatures? That is actually quite interesting, particularly as several of the noble houses have magicians in their ranks. Also, there's a good section about magical creatures, including dragons, and what self-respecting spellscale wouldn't like to know a thing or two about their distant ancestors?

Naturally the section on dragons includes a talk about the Dragonward. You learn that the ward supposedly covers the entire city, though your instructor's hand gets a little vague when he delineates the borders to the south. Having seen much prevarication before, you have a suspicion that the extreme south of Dock Ward might not be as well-covered as the rest of the city. If any other dragonkind wanted to get near Waterdeep but couldn't convince Maaril the Dragonmage that they deserved entry, they might be there...

But what happened during your interview with Lady Wands? This might have been what Evelyn was born for. While you hadn't exactly hoped to attract the attention of one of Waterdeep's most powerful families by being peripherally involved in an attempt at their downfall, you really can't argue with the results. After telling Lady Wands about Jayrin and Father Geb, the Lady is understandably grateful. And she chose to convey that gratitude by allowing Evelyn entrance to social circles she hadn't been sure she'd ever been able to penetrate. A Higharvestide festival is one thing, but usual gatherings quite another, much more exclusive. And, if you are being honest with yourself (a rare and solemn occurrence), you realize that if you hadn't got caught up with your little band of miscreants with their funny ways and appalling fashion sense you might have never been able to capture Lady Wands' attention so directly.

The gatherings are like swimming with sharks. The merchant nobility of Waterdeep combine the shrewd business-sense of a caravan master along with the power-brokering of the titled. These are not parties for the faint of heart, or pocketbook. As very impoverished minor nobility, Evelyn is at a disadvantage. You've backed no business venture of you own, nor have your parents (not for decades, at least), nor do you have investments in a guild, or own any businesses of you own, but you've kept your ears open in the marketplaces and can speak about stores and trade routes and goods with a degree of certainty. And as for the social scene? You've been keeping track of that since you had ears.

Wardrobe is a little trickier. Granted, it's Marpenoth, and Madam Silverleaf has a new gown for you (fine midnight-blue wool plush, deceptively simple with expert and very flattering tailoring, easy to wear with most choices from your jewel chest), but with as many invitations as you've been fielding, you've had to be creative. Madam Silverleaf's creations can be taken apart and put together with her other things she's made for you, letting Molly expand your wardrobe to the eye without putting a single new thing in your closet. And there's always the silver armor dress to make a statement.

It's when wearing that during a reception at the Guildhall for the Guild of Glassblowers, Glazier and Speculum-Makers (mirrors) for the advancement of Brella Talmost from Prentice to Master that this comes to a head. Someone inevitably asks you where you got the dress. Social conventions prohibit you from saying you got it as a guilt-offering from the Markovian family when you were instrumental in killing the possessed son of the house. Well, they prevent YOU from saying it, but being as the Markovian family has suffered a Scandal, other people can say it first, and then you can elaborate on your Dramatic Rescue and how the dress came into your possession.

"And you caught Wands' attention at that Higharvestide tiff, oh! Such quality! I heard you were presented with some, what, of the help that stepped in to aid you?"

[The DM wanted to know what Evelyn would say about the De Mers and the Origamis – after talking with Evelyn’s player, essentially Evelyn said they were “concerned citizens” she was happy to “assist in making the city a better place.” Her society friends found this very amusing.]

There also a new wrinkle in your social rounds. More often than not in the past, you interacted with those of your own generation, with occasional polite conversations of their elders who were sponsoring the gatherings. But now the median age of these gatherings you've been attending has risen, and with it, the topics of conversation. Here the political and monetary maneuvering is more intense, the scrutiny more jaded, and the stakes are ever so much higher. It's the kind of circles you've been aiming for. But maybe not one you've been preparing for. Because a fruitful topic of the merchant nobility of Waterdeep is money, something you mostly have a vague acquaintance with.

But it has become clear to you that at some point you are going to have to take steps into the world of business in order to snare the biggest fish that you want. Of course you'd prefer the details to be handled by a competent underling, once you can hire an underling, but something will have to be done in at least a minor capacity now. The obvious choice is to open a shop, though that's terribly tedious. One could invest in a caravan trading venture, perhaps, and hope your shrewd sense of fine goods would let you pick a profitable one. You could sponsor a fighter or racer on the Fields of Triumph (a large, open-air arena) and hope that they win, eventually building up a stable of winners. You could sponsor an upcoming bard or magician, covering certain expenses (room, board, practice space, help them in finding an audience or clients) now in exchange for a portion of their profits later.

You could even sponsor one of the many adventurers or adventuring parties in the city, the ones that test themselves in Undermountain or perform various other mercenary services. (The plus to this is that you could "sponsor" them by finding out information for them, or goods, say, rather than in coin, for an exchange of some portion whatever they liberate in the course of their "adventure.") Or you could do anything else you imagine, as long as it lets you speak about business ventures with authority. Money speaks a language all its own, and your accent in that language is not, shall we say, native.

But you can make it be so. You went from fine social butterfly to having a personal interview with Lady Wands herself in less than a month. Truly, there's nothing you can't do.

[After speaking to Evelyn’s player, she came up with the following idea:]

A casual acquaintance of Evelyn Violette would know that there are some things you never see her doing. For example, traipsing through the sewers, lying prone on the street, slumming in bad neighborhoods, and selling jewelry. But Evelyn has done all of that and more (not necessarily voluntarily), as well as making friends in low places. Aside from the street urchin, Kip, who she’s taken into her household, Evelyn has been making a point of returning to Sucker Street on a regular basis to become friendly acquaintances with Brother Sallis, the priest of Tymora who works in a shrine there. Though he’s not terribly powerful, and certainly he’s in a bad neighborhood, Brother Sallis is both flattered by her attention and happy to talk about Lady Luck. Certainly Evelyn knows she could use a little luck with what’s all been going on in her life.

However, selling jewelry is a new and somewhat unpleasant experience for Evelyn, but a necessary evil when a reputation (and more riches) are at stake. You see, Evelyn has a plan to garner more of the wealth she needs to maintain her lifestyle in the manner to which she wants to become accustomed. In trying to carefully move up the social ladder of Waterdeep, Evelyn knows she’s starting to hit a glass ceiling because she is not a merchant, and has very little money. In the merchant nobility of Waterdeep, money talks.

Realizing that, Evelyn decided getting wealth is all about capitalizing on what one is good at, and Evelyn Violette is good at being fabulous. And stylish. And beautiful. (And magical, that goes without saying, but since Evelyn doesn’t create magic items or anything in that vein, she’s not pursuing that route.) Now, showing the world that they could be a quarter as fabulous as her? And getting paid for it? That’s the perfect way to get a start on her fortune. In short, Evelyn wants to create a fashion broadsheet/catalogue and send it not only all over the city, but along major trade routes to other big and important cites – Silverymoon, Baldur’s Gate, Athkatla in Amn, and Calmiport in Calminshan, as well as further east in the Dalelands and around the Sea of Fallen Stars.

However, this ambition requires an outlay of gold to hire an artist to draw pictures of the fashions, a writer for captions, to have copies made, and for someone to distribute them. Hence, Evelyn decided to sell several of her more recently-acquired jewels to get ready gold. After converting several of the lovely things to coin, she first visited Madame Silverleaf, as her business would be prominently displayed as the place to go to get Evelyn’s fashions. Madame is intrigued by Evelyn’s idea and figures it will either not hurt at best, or garner much more new business if it works. Either way, she gives her blessing, as it won’t cost her a copper.

As for distributing the fashion catalogue far and wide, Evelyn already has someone in mind for that. Though she doesn’t exactly get along with the Origamis perfectly, they already have extensive trade routes, and she trusts that such profit-loving people will at least be competent enough to get her catalogues to where she wants them to go. A formal meeting with Garden nets her a reasonable price to send her catalogues out.

Next, Evelyn went to the House of Beauty, the temple of Sune, to find an artist. She had heard Charissa describe the place as being inside her head, and had wanted to go there for a while. After a lengthy and appreciative look around the place, enjoying the flowers, statues, paintings, murals, mosaics, music, and other forms of art, Evelyn asks and is directed towards one Lynn Havad, a young and aspiring artist. Evelyn’s actually seen her a time or two, sketching at parties she’s attended, so she’s familiar with her work in a vague sort of way.

Lynn is decidedly interested in Evelyn’s proposal, both as a way to distribute her art across not just the city but across several countries, and as a way to make excellent money doing what she loves. She’s also a calligrapher, and while she’s not the next great author, could certainly do some lovely captions on various portraits of gowns. About half of Evelyn’s money from the sale of her jewelry will end up going to Lynn for creating the broadsheet and copying it, and the other half to the Origami clan for distribution and return of orders (if any) for her first attempt. After that, she can negotiate anew, once she sees what the response will be.

The upshot is, Evelyn drags Molly to the House of Beauty and gets to spend two days posing in all her best gowns. This idea? One of the best she’s ever had.

Ever.

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William

Now that things have calmed down since Highharvestide, you've begun to be able to integrate all the things you've learned in your rather exciting few weeks with your odd new friends. You've seen the magic in use at the House of Wonder (the Temple of Mystra), seen cursed red coral, viewed the ancient legacy magic of a tomb of merry, wine-drinking knights, seen unusual golems and familiars unknown to most, and stopped a most foul fate from bringing down a noble house by using your magic to help them see the truth.

Really, it's been a rather exciting few weeks!

All of this together has made you ponder your career choices. Though maybe you'd thought about working with your uncle, or maybe taking a trading trip with your father, or just setting yourself up somewhere as a scholar, seeing everything you've had makes you consider a wider and more responsible career path. In speaking with your career advisor, Nelara Gayne, (a full month before graduation, no less!) she nods and taps her finger against a framed letter on her desk, one marked with a symbol of a white hand, fingers together, against a purple field).

"Have you considered the Watchful Order of Magists and Protectors? From what you described to me [DM's note, as per your request, heavily edited] it seems like you might have the mindset for them. You've always been a good student, de Mer, and the Guild Wizards the Watchful Order trains are some of the most versatile in the world. They keep themselves out of heavy political crossfire, always to their credit, so no getting tangled up with nasty political backstabbing. They police other arcane casters, keeping us respected as solvers of problems, rather than creators of them. Some of them are contracted by the wealthy of the city to protect them from fires, you know, summoning water elementals and whatnot, a responsibility few others are willing to take on! And some aid those who are worried about being attacked by hostile workings of the Art. The last may be of most interest to you, considering what all you told me.

"Now, it's expensive to take their training, but worth every penny. If you think you'll be able to get together the money by the time you've reached the Sixth Tier of skill, I can get you an informal interview with an old classmate of mine. KuKaran Skullsplitter is her name - half-orc, as I'm sure you've guessed. And a rage mage to boot! She's in charge of knocking overenthusiastic spelldueller's head together on a regular basis. Suits her to the ground, though probably not quite your cup of tea. But she can get you in to speak with someone of a less... bloodthirsty persuasion."

In a couple of days, you find yourself in the workroom of one Mage Skullsplitter, sharing tea that tastes like it wants to fight its way up from your stomach and get into a punching match with your tongue. KuKaran is a massive half-orc woman, heavily tattooed and scarred, so heavily tattooed that you realize in short order that her spellbook is inked into her very skin! Her weasel familiar watches you with its mad little beady eyes as you drink, only backing down when KuKaren lifts him onto her shoulder so he can disappear into the fur ruff along her collar.

"Nelara tells me you'll be one of the brightest things to graduate from the Academy in an age. So, what's your interest in the Order?"

Assuming you say you want to use your magic to make a difference (or something along those lines), KuKaran smiles, showing tusks capped in ruby. "Not a bad place to start. It can be tedious at times - you wait and wait and then suddenly you're fighting a summon-happy drunk wizard who decides fire elementals are pretty and everyone wants to hug one." She shudders a little. "Bad night, that one. Or if you realize the rich visitor in town is using charm spells on everyone he meets, that's something you have to deal with. We don't work with the Watch. We're independent. People can contract us for certain things, but we also have our own discretion. The first rule you'll be taught is 'The Art is to be Respected.' You don't want people running screaming from magicians."

"KuKaran does, but then, that's her thing," a new voice adds. Twisting around, you see a fair-haired elf come in the back of the room and join you at the table. Wisely, he does not pour himself a cup of tea. His familiar, a tiny hawk not much bigger than a hand, grips into the padded fabric of his shoulder. His green eyes are huge and ancient as any elf you've seen, but curving blue scars mar his forehead in two places.

KuKaran grins, unabashed. "De Mer, this is Lutharian Tashalorial, Guild Wizard of the Order." The elf gives her a mocking bow and turns back to you.

"She's right though, about respecting the Art. That's the heart of the Order. They expect dedication from any who join, and if you aspire to be a Guild Wizard, they expect more. They'll find tasks for you to do, often dangerous ones, and all your time will not be your own. You'll be expected to join in quests, craft items, join in ritual magic, and do independent spell research... though if what KuKaran told me about you is true, you'll hardly find that a hardship." Lutharian smiles slightly and pulls out a thin book from his enormous sleeves, and plucks a pen from the same.

"Now, young de Mer, let us see what you're made of..."

William, he will question you thoroughly:

"What branches of magic are you interested in? What magic have you seen in action? What kinds of magic are you interested in learning?"

"Do you have a familiar? If so, what?"

"If you discovered a stranger casting compulsion spells, what would you do? A friend casting the same? In what circumstances would such magic be allowed, in your eyes?"

"Are you interested in magical crafting? What sorts of items? Do you have any ideas for new items?"

"If a rogue mage was casting fireballs in the Market Square, what would you do?"

"You're asked to drop what you're doing for a tenday's quest into a corner of Undermountain to contain a lichnee [he will explain this is a proto-lich]. You have a hour to prepare. What would you bring? Your companions are a priest of Lathander, a paladin of Kelemvor, and a professional dungeon delver. What spells would you prepare and why?"

"Name your five favorite spells, even those you cannot yet cast."

"Who is your favorite magician? Living or dead, human or not, and why does he, she, or it capture your admiration?"

[The below is William’s player’s response.]

William will of course already have his omnipresent notebook and pen out, and will flip through it occasionally as the questions continue.

1. I am still interested in all branches of magic...especially those that can control my environment or the field of battle.

2. I have had the opportunity to see magic from every branch of magic, from interactive illusions to the rampant magic present in the temple of Mystara.

3. I am interested in learning all that I can. I never know when a spell might come in handy, especially used in an unusual way.

4. I will have a familiar once I have grown sufficiently in magical strength. It is a construct given to me as payment for a favor.

5. If I saw someone casting compulsion, regardless of whether it was stranger or friend, the situation would determine my response. However, I would be more inclined to believe foul play than fair with that particular spell. I can't think of many situations where compulsion would be acceptable-preventing someone from committing suicide maybe?

6. Magical crafting is fascinating...occasionally my family will come across a magical antique. The creativity and skill involved is fascinating and admirable. I don't know how much time or effort I am willing to expend on that skill set yet, but I have done some papers on how one could modify the Book of Twin spell to create small sets of instant written communication devices. I am still developing and patenting the design. Looking at the pen in his hand, he will also say he's played with an indestructible pen with an inexhaustible supply of ink.

7. My first instinct would be to put him to sleep, or otherwise incapacitate them immediately.

8. That sounds like a good team to battle any sort of undead, so I would focus on spells to bolster my companions, like mage armor, and those that could make the lichnee vulnerable, like grease. I would try to pick offensive spells that could also be used on the other creatures in the area, since I doubt the creature will be alone.

9. Flare, Prismatic wall and wall of sound, virtually all the orb spells. And one of the most all-purpose spells, detect magic. I have learned so much seeing how and where spells are used.

10. I am not trying to cater to my alma mater when I say that I admire the founder of Eltorchul Academy (player can't remember his name). The pursuit, accumulation, and dissemination of knowledge is one of the most worthy occupations in my opinion, and the Academy is a grand legacy.

[DM’s response]

Lutharian seems be to very pleased with those responses. “Well said, young de Mer. I think you might do very well at the Order, very well indeed. If you can spare the time from your studies, I think we can see about getting you in as a scribe from time to time, just to get your feet wet. You can look through the chronicles as well as the more current duty reports and get a feel for things behind the scenes. I think that will give you the best idea of what we’re all about.”

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