The following would happen between Chad and David, with some storyline plot in the inn the following morning to bring us to whatever David had prepared. When David was done, we’d return to the inn for a transition to Nate’s stuff. Thoughts?
The party emerged onto a flat and featureless plain swept by a constant snowy wind. The sky was overcast and the party could just barely make out a distant horizon in a 360 degree arc where the featureless terrain abruptly cut into a dark, foreboding skyline. The cold wind rattled the party members’ bones. Even Tallulah, normally somewhat immune to cold, tightened her collar and stuffed her hands under cover.
After some discussion, the group scholars concluded that the latest portal dumped the party onto the Plane of Desolation. As the group came to terms with the terror of their predicament, a soft orange glow appeared in the distance. The now shivering party skipped the bickering stage and promptly started moving towards the glow. As the party stumbled forward, the outline of a small building grew around the orange glow. With each tortured step the distant outline grew and revealed more detail. Soon the party was running, as best they could, towards a small inn – signs of a warm fire radiating from cracks in the shutters. All, except for Blossom, assumed it was an illusion or trap. But none could resist even the faintest sliver of hope. The party paused only briefly under a sign that read ‘Cross Worlds Inn and Tavern’. A subscript read ‘Members Only’.
As the party entered they were presented with a large room, much larger than would seem possible given the exterior of the building. As they looked around they saw numerous tables populated by rowdy drinkers, quiet alcoves with shadowy figures, quiet readers sitting in comfy chairs next to glowing fireplaces, numerous games of chance, small arenas with boxing matches or fencing duels…indeed, as the party looked around more-and-more varied scenes of luxury, revelry and debauchery presented themselves. Each time they turned their heads, they would see something new. Once seen, each image was lost. The only constant was a central bar with four sides, each about 20 feet long with seated and standing drinkers tightly packed around.
All attempts to talk with the occupants were futile. The heroes were variously unnoticed, ignored or dismissed with a round of condescending laughter – after which the scene would shift into a new view. Each group of patrons was just out of reach. Encouraged by Blossom, the party approached one group of elves who were playing music. They were first invited over with a welcoming gesture. But as the party approached, the merry group faded from view and was replaced by a table of angry orcs gorging themselves on roasted legs of lamb. Left with no choice, the party approached the tightly packed bar.
As they approached, the crowd shifted from view and the party found themselves a few feet from a now empty bar. Comfortable stools surrounded the bar. In the center was a large hobgoblin. Carrach let out a shriek of excitement that was cut short by a quick outburst from the barkeep in goblin (those who understand goblin would have heard him yell ‘I am Nigel’s Own!’). Carrach remained silent after that. The barkeep introduced himself as Peachy and warmly welcomed the party. From behind the bar he passed out crude wooden cups. As each cup was delivered to a hero, it transformed… Tallulah received a fine glass sniffer with a yeasty dark beer, Crom received a tall delicate glass with a bubbly liquid that constantly changed color, Firracas (despite his elven appearance) received a fiery beverage traditionally drunk only by Ifreet men… in turn each got a drink of their preference.
As the party drank they sized up Peachy. He was obviously no simple barkeep. He had the air of a powerful warrior and the scars of a long history of action. He resisted any efforts at conversation with polite deflections. The beverages were refilled several times. After the party was warmed and refreshed, Peachy looked at each hero and smiled warmly.
To the group he said, “You lot are a bunch of lucky buggers!”
Pausing, he continued: “You have been selected for membership in the exclusive Cross World Inn and Tavern. I don’t know why, but obviously you caught the notice of someone on the membership committee.”
Any interruptions were politely dismissed. Continuing, he talked over and ignored a few questions: “Membership is for life. Unlike some clubs there are no dues and it costs nothing to join. The rules are pretty simple too. There really is one rule – this is a safe haven. Members will not attack, brandish weapons or even threaten other members. If they do, they will be dismissed from the club. And, as I said earlier, membership is for life. If you have a disagreement, there are plenty of opportunities to settle them via a game of chance or skill, or even a dual if both parties agree”
Peachy retrieved a large key ring from his pocket. “This is your key to the inn. You will only get one. Lose it and you will need to beg another member to let you in.”
He handed a key to each hero. As the keys were removed from his keychain a lanyard formed on the key. “To accept your membership offer, simply put the key around your neck.”
A bit nervous, the party hesitated. Blossom was the first to take the leap of faith. Seeing nothing bad happen, the rest of the party accepted their membership in turn. Only Corowa refused, sitting quietly-saying nothing.
“Very well, membership is a choice. You are free to leave. As a courtesy you can warm yourself for a while before you leave.”
Peachy turned to the rest of the party: “You look spent. Your private bunks are upstairs. Get a good night’s sleep and I will see you in the morning.”
Any questions were answered with a gesture to a lone staircase in the corner. Reluctantly, the party left Corowa and went upstairs. Corowa was seen walking slowly towards the front door as the party ascended.
At the top of the stairs was a small landing and a single locked door. Eventually one of the party dared to try a key. The key opened the door to reveal a large room 20’ by 30’ with a glowing fireplace, comfortable chairs and fine dining table. A sphere of annihilation was mounted in a corner on the wall. A steady stream of water ran from a spigot, into a large sink and then into the sphere. Above the sphere is a crossed out picture of Corowa sticking her finger in it. Around the edges of the room were numerous doors. Above each door was a symbol: black spider, a bow, fire, mistletoe, etc. Some experimentation revealed that each key opened the first door to the same room. Once inside, each hero had their own private room opened exclusively by their key. The private rooms were 10’ by 10’ with a simple bed and a large empty chest.
As the party discussed their current situation, a noise at the door quieted the talk. As the party stared nervously, they heard the lock turn over and the door slowly open. Corowa entered, covered with frost and clearly not in the mood for a group hug…she growled when she noticed small portraits of Black Axe and Tavey on the mantle.
The party settled down for a good night’s sleep in their private rooms. In the middle of the night they were awoken by construction noise from the common area. Any PCs investigating will be greeted by a large construction crew adding a new private room. The party will witness the installation of running water, a bathtub, furniture, rugs, wet bar, etc. Having not slept particularly well, the party will go downstairs in the morning for breakfast to meet the new DM…