The PCs are about to enter or exit the gates of a city.
A caravan of Vistani (Think of them as being like the folkloric version of gypsies, or some other campaign appropriate vagabond society that is considered outcast by the world at large) is seeking entry into the city, but is being hassled and warded off by the gate guards. The authorities are gruff and have the approval of the city’s rulers to bar the entire caravan from entry if they perceive the vagabonds as a threat. If they are refused admittance, the vistani threaten that “grave consequences” will result – a threat laughed off by the annoyed guards.
In truth, if denied access to the city, the vistani will bestow a curse upon the town gates. This curse isn’t precise – but instead causes all manner of accidents to happen to those who are attempting entry through the gates. The PCs likely have the authority or cunning to convince the gate guards to ease up their restrictions and let the gypsies in. The decision would be unpopular due to common negative perceptions of the wandering outsiders, and the PCs may find that they step on some toes in the community by doing so (or perhaps even fall prey to less than law-abiding elements among the vistani themselves).
The vistani, like any society, are a mixture of personalities and alignments – be certain to portray them as such. They are neither antagonist nor ally as a whole, and plenty of adventures and side plots can erupt from their presence.
Below are some suggested mishaps, should the curse be cast. Make certain that the PCs truly feel the vistani’s wrath if they fail to come to the traveler’s aid (it may not be fair, but curses aren’t always discerning in their choice of victims):
- An extra wide wagon busts it’s wheel in the middle of the gate, preventing anyone from entering or exiting for an hour while it repaired.
- Guards begin falling off the wall walk. While not fatal accidents, each is out of commission for some time due to broken bones. Each tells the same story of feeling an arcane force push or pull them to wards he precipice.
- The gates become stuck either open or closed for a whole day/night.
- Objects from one visitor’s bag, satchel, or cart, are teleported at random to another, leading to many false accusations of thievery and a big headache for the already overtaxed guards.
- Animals, most often horses, become spooked and irate while passing under the gate, causing traffic jams and occasionally running off without their owners.
- When it rains, there is a torrential downpour focused right over the gate.
- Torches cast only dim light near the gate.
- Food and drink left too close to the gate quickly spoils or attracts insects.
- Those sleeping in houses near the gate complain of chronic nightmares about either falling, or being pursued by an unseen and malevolent force, only to have a door closed on them when the entity draws near.
Possible EXP and Rewards
If the PCs side with the gypsies and manage to get them into the city, a Farseer among the grateful travelers will read each character’s fortune – equating to a hint about some danger in an upcoming adventure, a vague prophecy, an answer to a question about a character’s backstory or the ongoing campaign plot, or a re-roll on any die roll during this session (chalked up to a warning in the Seer’s premonition).
If the PCs do not aid the vistani, they might still want to remove the curse placed on the gate. After a week when it has become apparent that the curse is no laughing matter, town will become desperate to remove it, and would happily reward the PCs for doing so. Consider offering a moderate treasure parcel for accomplishing the task. This could be done through an Arcana and Religion heavy skill challenge, a ritual, or by accomplishing a quest to convince (or fool, or threaten) the gypsies into lifting the curse. Particularly vicious groups of PCs might seek to solve the situation through combat. The curse is fueled by the vistani’s sense of having been wronged – were they all to be killed, the curse would have no fuel to sustain itself, and thus be lifted.
Regardless of their tact, grant the PCs experience equivalent to a monster of their average level +1, though it is possible that this incident may require further adventures with their own rewards.