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"I didn't know who they were when they walked in, but they looked like trouble..."
A magical plague has forced the Lords of Waterdeep to quarantine part of the Dock Ward. Amid the confusion, an old sea captain is found dead in suspicious circumstances within the quarantine zone...

Summary

Outside the Quarantine Zone

The adventurers all arrived outside the barricade of a neighborhood in Dock Ward. Benny was on the search for an old friend named Ork who was last seen in this section of Dock Ward. Chem was entrusted by his dragon-master, Visossay, to retrieve a treasure he had left in a lockbox at a bank called Harbor Holdings. Duru had recently competed in an underground gladiator match and was looking to collect his earnings from someone named Bucktooth in Coinpenny Alley.

As the characters pressed to gain entry into the quarantined part of Dock Ward, they were eventually called upon by an official-looking member of the City Watch.

The officer introduced herself as swordcaptain Morrow and led the adventurers to a second-story office overlooking Dock Ward.

Meeting Detective Bogarte

Quarantine Zone

The Rat Pox quarantine zone.

Inside the office, the adventurers heard the gruff voice of a tiefling looking out a window:

"The Sky was grey and grim in Waterdeep that day. Grey as the faces of those poor soul stuck behind the quarantine barricade..."
After the tiefling finished their narration, Morrow announces the party to the trench coat and dark brown fedora wearing character. The swordcaptain says the tiefling requested to see the adventurers after he saw them speaking to a Watchman on the street.

The tiefling introduced himself as Detective Bogarte Locks, he was on the case of the outbreak of Rat Pox and needed a group of adventurers to act as bodyguards as he followed up on some leads. If the adventurers could help Locks unfold the cause of the mysterious plague he promised a reward of 200 gold pieces. Time was of the essence as a group of Ilmater worshipers were mobilizing to break the quarantine zone and provide aid to the afflicted. Swordcaptain Morrow worried that this would lead to a larger scale outbreak of Rat Pox.

Locks primary lead was supposed to come from a retired sea captain named Jerald Brisby. Because Brisby did not meet Locks at a previously appointed time the tiefling detective led the party to Brisby's apartment nearby to start their investigation into the Rat Pox.

Arrival at Brisby's Apartment

Locks and the party moved through the infected neighborhood of the Dock Ward. Many denizens of the neighborhood huddled together for warmth and comfort as they slowly developed rat-like features. It was rumored that the Rat Pox would eventually turn someone from an anthropomorphic rat into a common rat found in the gutters of Waterdeep.

As the party moved through the streets, a small rodent-like tail sprouted from Duru's behind. He promptly cut it off despite the pain. When they opened the door to Brisby's apartment the room was covered in blood as the captain Brisby laid in a pool of blood.
Straight Talk Broadsheet
Before taking their leave the party found several clues in the apartment, including a broadsheet with an advertisement for an apothecary circled in charcoal and a scrap piece of parchment label "HH 908".

The Kingpin's Goons

As the adventurers left Brisby's apartment they came face to face with a beholder leading a group of thugs, it was the Xanathar himself. The beholder crime-lord sic'd his goons on the party but they were able to defeat them and continue their investigation.

Doctor Ward's Apothecary

Following the clue they found on the broadsheet, the party made their way to Doctor Ward's apothecary. Inside the business the party met a receptionist named Joy who insisted that the party needed an appointment to see the Doctor.

The adventurers were able to make their way to the back of the apothecary finding a surgery room where they activated a secret lever revealing the entrance to another part of the building.

The Secret Laboratory

"Should I shoot him in the butt?"
The secret entrance led to an underground laboratory filled with individuals wearing large-beaked masks. While most of the masked individuals escaped through a secret exit the adventurers were able to apprehend two of them.

Chem was able to draw his crossbow and aimed it at one of the fleeing individuals' behinds as they clamored through the secret tunnel.

The characters learned that the laboratory was being used to create the Rat Pox and that the beak-masked folks were in service of someone called the Lady of Plagues and that the Lady of Plagues had an adversary known as the Rat King.

Deciphering the Messages

In the corner of the laboratory there was a stack of papers including what looked like templates for apothecary advertisements. Alongside the advertisements was a cipher wheel.
Apothecary Advertisements
The adventurers noticed letters around the border of the advertisement they saw on the broadsheet in Brisby's apartment and they appeared once more on the ads found on the table

After using the cipher wheel, the secret messages were revealed:

"I wish for the day our love is not hidden"
"Saw a rat today and thought of you"
"It wasn't me why can't you see it"
"I will never forgive you this is war"

Harbor Holdings

After leaving the apothecary, the party made their way to Harbor Holdings, believing the scrap parchment found in Brisby's apartment was his lockbox number.

On the way to Harbor Holdings, Duru was approached by a young, afflicted man who delivered the hobgoblin his gladiator earnings.

Inside the bank, the party encountered the bank's proprietor and her guards. Before inquiring about Brisby's lockbox, Chem was able to retrieve a large ruby from Vissosay's lockbox. While they were correct about the parchment leading to the lockbox, the adventurers could not pass the security test to gain access to its contents.

Madame Brisby's

After approaching a few locals, the party discovered that Captain Brisby had a daughter named Catarina and that her estranged mother could be found in a dilapidated watch tower located in Coinpenny Alley.

After locating the watchtower, Benny ran into his friend Ork. Ork had been almost completely transformed by the Rat Pox and had found work as a bouncer at the watchtower that operated as a brothel. Ork led the party upstairs to the top of the watchtower and introduced them to Captain Brisby's wife, Madame Brisby.

The characters asked Madame Brisby about the last time she saw her daughter, Catarina. The Madame said she saw Catarina a week ago cavorting with another woman. When the adventurers informed Madame Brisby of her husband's fate she was elated, especially when she found out he had valuables in Harbor Holdings.
Brisby's Papers-0

Captain Brisby's lockbox contained a bag of coins that the Madame took for herself. Along with the coins was a stash of papers that she discarded onto the floor. After the characters retrieved the papers they found out that Catarina was in fact the Rat King themselves and she had fallen in love with a woman named Maladie Song, the Lady of Plagues.

Temple of Rot

The party noticed droves of people heading toward Goldstream Plaza. At the center of the plaza was a newly erected statue of a woman wearing a beaked mask. People in the crowd hoped that the Lady of Plagues would lift the plague from the Dock Ward others looked to the Lady as a savior and welcomed the change brought on by the affliction.

Before the adventurers could seek out the Lady of Plagues swarms of rats crawled out from the sewers and the crowd around the statue dispersed in a panic. The party was able to lay their eyes on a mysterious figure fleeing the scene and tracked them down to an open sewer grate.

As the party descended into the sewers they followed the sound of scampering and squeaking rats.

Rat King's Lair

Once inside the sewers, Benny was able to sniff out the Rat King's trail and led the group to a grand chamber in which the Rat King sat atop a throne of rats that nuzzled her as they held her up.

With all of the evidence they gathered the adventurers were able to convince the Rat King that they were working to unravel the Rat Pox outbreak. The Rat King formally introduced herself as Catarina "Cat" Brisby. She tells the party that she fell in love with the Lady of Plagues, Maladie Song but she betrayed her and killed Captain Brisby. When the characters provided proof that someone has been meddling with Catarina and Maladie, a rat with an exposed brain squirmed out from the throne of rats, but Chem was able to catch the fleeing rat.

Uncovering the Truth

The cranium rat begged for Chem to spare its life in exchange for information, when the kobold released the rat images rushed through Chem's mind.

It was revealed to Chem that the cranium rat had been spying on Catarina at the command of one of the Xanathar's agents; it saw Catarina's first encounter with Maladie; the creation and locking up of the Rat Pox disease; Catarina revealing her true identity to Maladie; Catarina and Maladie having dinner with Captain Brisby and finally the moment when a swarm of cranium rats attacked and killed the Captain.

Stopping the Plague

With the information gained, Catarina was convinced that she made a mistake and that Maladie did not betray her by harming the citizens of Dock Ward. She led the party through the sewers and back onto the streets, where the party witnessed the beginning of the aid being provided by the intruding worshipers of Ilmater.

Maladie, accompanied by several of her followers, stood atop the rooftops ready to spray the Rat Pox onto everyone on the streets. Catarina and the adventurers were able to convince Maladie of the Xanathar's plot to pit the two against one another. Convinced by their words, Maladie ordered her followers to disperse and destroy their vials of Rat Pox she also handed a vial of antidote to the detective for reproduction.

Foiling the Xanathar

With Maladie's and Catarina's aid, the party tracked down a group of goons leading a line of slaves through the chaos of the Dock Ward. The adventurers fought alongside Catarina as she sent waves of rats upon the Xanathar's stooges. The adventurers narrowly avoided defeat as they disposed of the Xanathar's goons with the exception of one who managed to escape into the chaos of the neighborhood.

The detective arrived on the scene with a pair of Watch officers, he covered for the party and was able to convince the officers that the Xanathar goons must had been attacked during the chaos.

Conclusion

After the reproduction of the Rat Pox antidote, many in the Dock Ward experienced a full reversal of their symptoms. A few unfortunate souls remained permanently transformed with different amounts of rat-like qualities. The Rat King regained the respect of the Dock Ward and it was rumored that they now had an accomplice who wore a beaked mask.

Player Characters

  • Benny the human rogue
  • Chem the kobold artificer
  • Duru the hobgoblin cleric

Non-Player Characters

  • Catarina Brisby the Rat King, the legendary protector of the slums in the Dock Ward, every generation has a Rat King.
  • Detective Bogarte Locks, the male tiefling detective investigating the outbreak of Rat Pox in the Dock Ward.
  • Madame Brisby, the widow of Captain Jerald Brisby and estranged mother of Catarina Brisby. She owns and operates a brothel out of a derelict watchtower.
  • Maladie Song the Lady of Plagues, the leader of the Temple of Rot, an organization dedicated to making civilization stronger through cullings via disease.
  • Ork, a long-time friend of Benny. Ork is afflicted with full Rat Pox and works as a bouncer at Madame Brisby's brothel.
  • Swordcaptain Morrow, the Watch officer in charge of the quarantine.
  • Xanathar, the infamous crimelord of The Xanathar Guild.
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