This is a story about killing your darlings.

I have an idea for the second session of my D&D game. This isn’t that idea.

The characters have to transport the body of their Lord to Cormyr to honour his dying wish: “Bury me in Cormyr”. He was distantly related to the Cormyrian Royal Bloodline, the Obarskyr’s, and about the only right still accorded to him was the right to burial on Royal Cormyrian ground. It’s a great honour, and one he’s been looking forward to all his life.

So the characters, his loyal retainers, have been tasked with escorting him and his grieving wife and daughter to Cormyr from The Dalelands. They’ve opted to travel by riverboat for at least half the way, which cuts out Sembia and several days of trudging.

It does, however, open up the possibility of a Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now riverboat session. The players are aware of this, and are onboard.
As part of my preparation, i started thinking about The Bartender and the Thief by The Stereophonics – a rocky guitar riff pop song from the late 90s. The music video is a reference to Apocalypse Now, and I thought it’d be fun to include nods to the song and video in the session:

  • A Bartender
  • A Thief
  • Them being lovers
  • The tavern having a sign up that says Performance and Cocktails above the bar (the album is called Performance and Cocktails)
  • Etc

When you think about it
he’s watchin’
every word you say…
hey, dazed…

And when
he’s sussed you out
he calls her up
and out she comes
and hustles us…

Long diggin’
gone fishin’
love drinkin’…

The bartender and
the thief are lovers
steal what they need
like sisters and brothers

Met in a church
a night to remember
robbin’ the graves
of bodies dismembered

He watched the lesbian talk
she kissed and groped
but mostly talked in lust…
crushed

He couldn’t make the call
his eyes were gripped
on licking tongues
enough’s enough
failed for once

Long diggin’
gone fishin’
love drinkin’…

The bartender and
the thief are lovers
steal what they need
like sisters and brothers

Met in a church
a night to remember
robbin’ the graves
of bodies dismembered

Long diggin’
gone fishin’
love drinkin’…

The bartender and
the thief are lovers
steal what they need
like sisters and brothers

Met in a church
a night to remember
robbin’ the graves
of bodies dismembered

Saved what they stole
to meet at the altar
place where they first
set eyes on each other

Flew to the sun
to start life all over
set up a bar and
robbed all the locals
The plan was:

The party arrive at Ashara Bridge in the Dalelands, with the grieving Lady Matrice Harding, Greynora Harding and the corpse of the late Lord Devon Harding in tow.

They’d book travel down the Ashara River, with the boat departing the following morning. They would then need to find lodgings for the night.

The lodgings would be a local tavern with live entertainment – A sign proclaiming Performance and Cocktails above the bar. The bartender books their lodgings and notes their unusual cargo, and keeps them in drinks and banter. Once they retire to their room, his partner (and lover), the Thief, enters the room and robs them.

They would then have the choice, the following morning, of writing the loss off, or pursuing the Thief and their money.

If they pursued the Thief, a search of their room would reveal a hidden door and a passage to the adjacent, previously unmentioned chapel. Following the passage leads to the catacombs beneath the chapel, and the Bartender and the Thief counting their gains from the night.

Fight, then close.
I flirted with this idea for a couple of weeks, statting up the principle players and mapping the tavern, but ultimately abandoned it.

It was a trifling diversion. It didn’t further anything, wasn’t entertaining to anyone but me, and it delayed the story I want to tell.

The party need to get to Cormyr. They need to meet some named individuals on the way, and they need to meet, but not exceed a level range at a certain point, which i need to control. The Bartender and the Thief session would not have contributed to these goals at all.