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Category Archives: Incidents

Prisoners of the Seatower of Balduran

This encounter is intended for any number of players of any level using the  Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition ruleset

Most gaming groups who run last year’s nostalgia inducing Murder in Baldur’s Gate will pick a faction and support their side throughout the adventure’s many and various short quests.

Of course, my group decides to get themselves thrown in prison as a ruse to earn the confidence of the crime faction in order to serve as a vice squad for the authorities. This is why it is hard to write RPG modules – how are you supposed to anticipate this madness?!

The result, ultimately, is that I accrued a few short encounters that you can throw into any prison scenario – whether you are in Baldur’s Gate or elsewhere in the multiverse. It’s not a full on encounter, but a string of “incidents” that can be used to spice up your game.

•An older prisoner is coughing and sputtering, but who isn’t in this damp and dreary place? A DC 15 Medicine check reveals that this prisoner has caught “the damp” and will die within a few days if not treated. Convincing the guards that he isn’t just faking the illness requires a DC 10 Persuasion check (with Advantage, if some medical jargon is applied to the entreaty). Once the prisoner is well and back in his cell, he will be grateful and reward the heroes in some way (handing them a spare shiv, warning of some impending plot against them, or cutting them in on a prison break, etc.)

•An upper level of the prison is home to the more affluent incarcerated. A nobleman named Rexus Bormul has become the defacto “lord” of the cellblock. Technically speaking he could walk right out of here (either legally or illegally) but prefers the immense power he has over the prison to the relative power he has outside it. From his poshly appointed cell he entertains guests and chats jovially with the guards and wardens, bribing them so thoroughly that they may as well be his henchmen. 

    Rexus calls the PCs up to his spacious cell block for wine, food and entertainment. After attempting to woo them, he requests their assistance in some matter – perhaps delivering a letter once they make it “outside,” breaking up an escape attempt, murdering a fellow inmate, or simply spying for him. It is up to you whether Rexus is a genuine ally, a scheming villain, a friend of an enemy, or an enemy of an enemy.

•A scrawny halfling inmate palms a valuable or contraband possession from one of his fellow convicts – one who has been threatening the tiny criminal. The thief plants this personal treasure on one of the PCs, hoping that in the ensuing scuffle, the party will be able to solve this problem for him.

•One select nights, a corrupt warden holds prisoner brawls in the late evening. He allows guards, and maybe even inmates to net on one another in bare-knuckle brawls (fought until unconscious). This is highly illegal, and no doubt he PCs will be pulled into the matches. They may be asked to take a fall in a fight, may curry favor with their keepers by winning fights and earning a particular guard a lot of money, or they might try and rat out the whole operation to the day warden.

     Perhaps the fights even take on a more sinister turn as knives, or even desperate wild dogs are pulled in off the streets to fight inmates for “entertainment.”

•A hero with a particularly valuable skill (a bard who performs, a crafter, a learned sage, etc.) is taken from the general population cell to a private chamber where a warden, or ranking guard asks their help in a special project. This might confer the party some boon, earn the ire of their fellow convicts, offer a chance for escape, or even present an opportunity for an advantageous romance.

•An odd, squirrelly inmate reveals that he was a mage the whole time, hiding his abilities for months (or even years!) in order to facilitate a riot or prison escape plan. The PCs might learn this ahead of time with an Arcana DC 15 check by finding impromptu spell notes carved amongst the hash marks that litter the wet stone walls.

•Being below sea level, this section of the prison has a small pond in the ruined part of the tower. Escape would be impossible through the sturdy iron grate, but small fish do manage to swim in and out. Inmates are welcome to try and catch their own meals by hand (eaten raw, or cooked by sympathetic guards), or this paltry place to while away the hours might be the scene of a struggle as one convict attempts to drown another. Or perhaps impromptu lock-picks can be crafted out of the bones of some unlucky fish?

•That dead rat has been there in the corner for weeks, and the guards refuse to remove it! In truth, the very slowly decaying corpse is serving as a dead-drop for the passing of notes; perhaps between prisoners, guards, or someone on the outside. Tiny notes are rolled up and slid into the varmint’s rotting maw. 

Map

       

Features of the Area

1. Stairs up

2. Guard Station

3. Storage

4. Double locked entry portcullis

5. West general population cell block (Barred walls and locked doors, includes simple cots and sewage holes for bodily waste) DEX DC 15 to Lockpick

6. East general population cell block (Barred walls and locked doors, includes simple cots and sewage holes for bodily waste) DEX DC 15 to Lockpick

7. Mess hall

8. Kitchen (Locked, guards only. Only dull knives present)

9. Underground pond (entry to the lake barred by an iron grille)

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Posted by on August 6, 2014 in Incidents, Playtested

 

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Incidents – The Long, Cold, Road

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I know I’ve been a tad remiss in my posts of late, and did not want to leave you all hanging before the year switches over. This week’s post is a short one: just a few inserts to make travel in your game more interesting.

The horrid winter weather that has assaulted my native Cleveland got me nostalgic for last winter’s video game foray into Skyrim; so I took a brief detour from the games I should be playing right now. My character, battered, low on resources, and still leagues until she reached a settlement, happened upon a patrol of Imperial soldiers escorting a prisoner. They were heading in her direction, and so I decided to tag along for mutual protection. That’s the sort of organic encounter that made that game great, and its an element I think we tend to forget about the D&D world sometimes as we get wrapped up in our Encounter building. The world is full of other people, going about their day-to-day lives, and that can easily run up against your PC’s plans in any number of ways.

The road is a dangerous place and hardly empty of anyone but your PCs – but wether the random passers-by are going to alleviate or elevate the danger is another question entirely!

While traveling on a road between settlements, the PCs bump into fellow travelers who seem interested in accompanying them for mutual benefit. Roll 1d6 and conult the chart below:

1 – Two slimy looking merchants begin to tag along. They constantly and rudely pester the PCs to consider purchasing some of their wares, which are overpriced and shoddily crafted. When meal time comes, however, both prove to be magnificent cooks.

Time spent on the road with the merchants grants each PC who ate their meals a +1 bonus to their FORT defense until the end of their next combat encounter.

2 – A handful of dragonborn mercenaries offer to follow along with the party, sharing stories of battles fought and monsters slain. They appear to be very concerned with honor and decorum, and behave quite chivalrously, especially to any women present. After a couple nights of travels the PCs awake to find one of them is missing. Not far away, the mercenaries have the vanished PC, bound and held hostage, a blade to his or her neck. The mercenaries then attempt to ransom the captive back to his/her friends (insistently bartering for any mounts the PCs possess).

This tense standoff might end in a combat encounter, but bear in mind that the hostage PC will need to escape the bonds confining him/her before they can jump into the fray. The mercenaries are more interested in negotiating. Even then, clever or willful PCs might manage to trick or intimidate the dragonborn into yielding.

3 – Four young, brash men accompany a lovely young half-elf named Dara, explaining that they are escorting her as she flees from the cruelty of her foster parents to make a life for herself in the next town. Dara has secretly promised marriage to each of the cocky youths, insisting that the other men are “just friends” eager to help her make her journey. In all truth, Dara has no interest in marrying any of them, and merely enjoys the attention. None of them is particularly skilled at travel on the road, and it is clear they need the PCs aid and expertise more often than not.

When it is dramatically appropriate; a fight breaks out among the suitors, who have realized the ruse. Blades are drawn and the argument quickly escalates to near-violence. Though conscious of her manipulation, Dara ad no intention for the bluff to come to bloodshed, and desperately begs the PCs to intervene. If not, the young men, eager to prove their mettle to both the girl and the adventures, will fight until only one survives, badly wounded and in need of medical aid if he is to survive the fracas.

4 – Six individuals (each of a different race, and possibly culture) are taking to the road on a pilgrimage to a famous shrine (or so they claim). But from early on the PCs detect unease in their new companions – details are inconsistent, the six seem to know little about one another, and even less about this shrine. None are dressed as pilgrims, nor do they have the typical holy symbols and accoutrements one would expect. They make no violent or dangerous overtones, but exude an air of constant vigilance.

In truth, they are all refugees, escaped from a nefarious slave trader. They each made a go of settling down in the last town they came to, but their master posted a substantial reward on each of their heads. Having no friends or family, they banded together (their fear outweighing the poor sense of keeping themselves in one place, sweetening the deal for anyone who would re-capture them). The PCs might find out about this from the escaped slaves if pressed, or perhaps another roadside traveler imparts the information casually, not realizing that half the traveling companions ARE, in fact, the valuable escapees themselves.

5 – The PCs start to pass an old man and his donkey. The old-timer will beseech the PCs to permit him to follow along. But as they journey forward, it seems that the party is harried by unusually frequent attacks from monsters. The old man hold back, cowering during a fight. But in a moment of desperation, he unleashes a magical attack, coming to the aid of a beleaguered PC.

This man is a “Wild Mage,” an arcane caster who frequently loses control of his spells with often catastrophic (always random) results. While many of his kind learn to hone their chaotic skills, this poor old novice never quite got the hang of it. Unwittingly, he cast a curse upon himself that makes him smell and taste incredible to monsters – a fact that has made travel quite dangerous. If the PCs continue to allow him to tag along, they will be faced with frequent attacks unless they can remove the curse.

6 – An amiable Halfling jeweler is traveling in a wagon full of his wares, along with his family and a few rough looking guards. They offer to ride along with the PCs, and might even do some buying/trading if the need suits. While with the party, the jeweler tries on a new acquisition of his – a strange amulet that is covered in the iconography of a dead Goddess. The amulet appears to have no negative effects on his person.

Shortly after, the group stumbles into a bandit ambush. During the fight, the jeweler brings the amulet to bear on a fallen bandit or caravan guard, reanimating their corpse and using the resulting monster as a loyal underling. The jeweler, fascinated by the power, decides to keep the amulet, seeing nothing wrong with such a gift. It is hard to say if the artifact genuinely has any corrupting influence, or if it is simply a tool of great necromantic power. What the PCs decide to do, is up to them.

**In game terms, the item is a +2 Amulet of Wee-Jas. It can be used as an implement by clerics. As a Daily Power (Standard Action) it can reanimate one dead medium humanoid into an undead creature of the corpse’s level (This creature is either a standard or minion monster. The kind of monster is up to DM discretion. Undead made in this way are under absolute control of the current wielder of the amulet. These undead remain functioning until destroyed.)**

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2012 in Incidents, Not Playtested

 

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Incidents – Archery Competition

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Some prizes are more valuable than others…

This encounter is intended for any number of characters of any level

As I mentioned, the tourney both in historical and fictional context is about more than just the jousting. There were plenty of other feats of arms, and they also make an appearance in common fantasy/medieval(ish) fiction. Like the grand melee that solidifies fan favorite Brienne of Tarth in “A Clash of Kings.” Or that famous archery competition from Robin Hood lore (your choice of anthropomorphic fox, swashbuckling black-and-white film star, or Russell Crowe). Or that famous pie-eating contest from a few posts back.

The tricky bit about representing a competition at the table is that it inevitably comes down to a lot of die rolls, and a dog-show style display of stat bonus superiority. Not every player at the table is excited by that prospect – though I’m certain you have at least one who is. The trick is to ground it in the characters, and to give the players options to tweak and adjust the circumstances of the competition to keep it interesting.

Don’t forget about the other competitors either! While it is likely that multiple PCs will be competing in the contest against one another (at least ostensibly, even if they ultimately share the reward) there are also NPC archers. As with the Pie-Eating contest, be reasonable when setting up the competition. In general, writing up three major competitors, each with an advantage and an exploit, creates an interesting role-playing possibility, and side-steps the problem of creating a boring “my attack bonus vs. your attack bonus” roll-off. But more on that later.

Knock, Draw, Aim, Fire!
There are three “rounds” in the competition, each a different distance from the target. Bear in mind the range increment penalties for the character’s weapon of choice (some enchanted weapons and feats may have an advantage in this competition. If the distances listed are just shy of granting a player a boon for having an increased range ability; adjust the distance so that the advantage matters in this challenge. After all, the point of having all those cool items and feats is so that they can come in handy!)

During each round, participating PCs make ranged basic attacks against a target (see below). You may opt to allow the player to make relevant Encounter or Daily attacks instead. Similarly you may opt to have the player “consume” an encounter or daily attack power to grant a +2/+5 bonus to the attack roll. Use your best judgement when adjudicating this – if the power would be considered cheating during a competition, its use will disqualify the PC.

-The first round has targets set 70 feet (14 Squares) away from the shooters
-The second round has targets set 150 feet (30 Squares) away from the shooters
-The third round has targets set 195 feet (39 Squares) away from the shooters

The “AC” of each target is equal to a Moderate DC +2 for the player’s level. However, the more accurate the hit, the more points it is worth in the overall challenge:

  • Hitting the target DC: 2 Points
  • DC +2: 4 Points
  • DC +5: 8 Points
  • DC +8: 12 Points
  • DC +10: 16 Points
  • DC 11+ (Bullseye): 22 Points

(NOTE: A roll of a natural 20 is always a bullseye)

Players may opt to wow the crowd by attempting a trick shot. Doing so incurs a -5 penalty to their attack roll, but will earn them a whopping 10 points for style from the NPC judges. Bear in mind that some of the NPC competitors may do likewise. Bear in mind that skills, and non-combat related powers might be applied to a trick shot. Encourage your players to be creative and reward creative (but not game exploitative) thinking!

At the end of the competition, the contestant with the most points is the winner. Runner up prizes may be handed out as per DM discretion.

The Competition
Setting up good opponents will be part of the fun in this encounter – especially if you have groomed your players to well and they opt not to allow their own rivalries to spill over into the contest! Though these NPCs don’t need full stat block, fleshing out two or three characters in brief will make the encounter shine. It is assumed that there are plenty of other contestants in the archery competition (and make sure to point this out – the players are special and should feel as such), but only the PCs and the all-star NPCs have any chance of winning the big prize.

Each opponent should have two qualities: an advantage, and an exploit. This permits you to give the NPCs a chance of winning/losing the competition outside of mere statistics, and allows players who aren’t doing the actual shooting to participate in winning the duel by working behind the scenes. To help you build your NPC rivals; below are (hardly exhaustive) lists of possible advantages and exploits for your players to interact with.

Consider giving the opponents attack roll bonuses equal to or slightly higher than those of the participating PCs.Generally speaking, this and perhaps their Insight bonus are the only stats you will require.

Advantages

  • Raw Skill: The attack bonus of this NPC is equal to the highest participating PCs ranged basic attack bonus +3
  • Cheater!: The NPC is somehow cheating to win! The cheat can be noticed by a Hard Perception check. During the first shot, use Passive Perception (unless a PC is specifically seeking out foul play) During the second shot the PC (or allied spectators) may make a roll to detect the wrongdoing. The nature of the cheat will effect how it is detected. Some ideas include drugging competitors, replacing regular ammunition with faulty arrows, tampering with the targets, etc. Proof of wrongdoing will get this NPC disqualified.
  • Judge in His Pocket: The NPC has bribed a judge to give him high marks for his relatively easy “trick” shots and to poo-poo the feats of other archers. The PC’s must find this out ahead of time and deal with the judge accordingly.
  • Crowd Favorite: The NPC is a returning champion, and the locals love him. Each round he is cheered for, granting the NPC a +3 bonus on attack rolls. The PC’s must come up with a strategy to sway the crowd away from the champ, or bear the brunt of his advantage. You might opt to make this more severe by having the crowd jeer and boo the champion NPCs opponents, incurring a -2 penalty on their shots unless a Moderate Endurance or Insight check is made.
  • Imposing: Not only is this archer good, but he keeps shooting daggers at you with his eyes…and, might just do that literally too! The PC must make a Hard Insight, Intimidate, Endurance, or Perception check to avoid the glowering of this competitor, or else take a -2 penalty on their attack rolls!

Exploits

  • Caves Under Pressure: A talented shooter when he isn’t trying to hard, but it’s easy to get in his head. If the PC complete a Complexity 1 Skill Challenge using Bluff, Intimidate, and Insight as primary skills, they will incur a -5 penalty to all the NPC’s shots.
  • Weapon Expert: The NPC is a marvel with a signature bow. He’s so accustomed to its weight and pull that he and the weapon are one. But put any other bow in his hand, and his performance degrades appreciably (-3 attack roll penalty)
  • Cocky: This NPC is so full of himself he knows he will win! Unless…he doesn’t! If the NPC does not make the highest score in a round, he is vulnerable to a Moderate Intimidate or Bluff check to play on his insecurities. If successful, he takes a cumulative -2 penalty for each round he does not make top score in.
  • Cheaters!: The PC’s cheat. The particulars are subject to the kind of cheating the players concoct, and getting caught means disqualification and public shame. Statistically, this will likely require a Complexity 1 Skill Challenge using Bluff, Thievery, and Stealth to accomplish.
  • Fall-guy: This NPC is not known for his honor, but for his greed. He would love to win; but if the PC’s can make losing seem more favorable, he would be happy to take a fall in the competition.
  • Man on the Run: Some of the archery contestants have checkered pasts. This NPC’s just might catch up with him if the PCs have any say in it. If they ask around, it will be revealed that this NPC is wanted by the law, debtors, a rival, or a criminal group. Finding a representative of that group and directing them to their target will remove this archer from the competition entirely.
  • Glutton: Even a fat man can have steady aim…assuming he can draw the bow over his gut! This archer is a voracious eater. If the PC’s can sucker him into overeating, he’ll throw his aim off, incurring a -2 penalty to all his shots.
  • Horny Goat: This young archer hopes to win enough fame to woo any woman he sees. However he is easily distracted by the wiles of lovely and interested women, and that just might keep his eye veering away from the target. If a PC can successfully seduce him (or hire someone else to) the contestant will take a -2 penalty to all attack roles due to his frequent flirtations.

(Apologies for all of the presumed male NPCs here! Pronouns were for convenience only; lady archers are more than welcome to be trounced by your PCs!)

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained
As with the Pie Eating Contest, be sure that the reward for the archery competition is properly tempting. Magic items, raw coin, land, and even a chance to have an audience with a noble who has previously snubbed them (the noble will be personally congratulating the winner) are all good possible rewards. Tying the competition into your over-arching plot is also a valuable avenue to explore (Case in point, making it a means to get in touch with a VIP character, or to defeat a rival without resorting to politically caustic open combat).

 

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Incidents – Pie Eating Contest

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The next round of “Incidents” will be focused on events at or during a tourney. Regardless of where jousts, festivals and tourneys stood in the public mind at various points in actual medieval history, our picture of them in the pseudo-medieval fantasy world is pretty clear. They are kind of a big deal.

I’m not going to touch the highlight of the traditional fictional tourney: the joust, because that ground has been pretty well covered in this and other editions of the game. I’m focused on the events that happen during and around the tourney celebrations. That will take us down some predictable paths – there were other contests and feats of arms held alongside the jousting. It will also take us down some weirder and wrinkly roads. I decided to start us off with something out-of-the-ordinary because…well…the artwork that Jenn put together for this is just incredibly charming.

Circumstances
The PCs are at a tourney, festival, fair, or holiday celebration

Event

The PCs will get plenty of heads up about the pie-eating contest, since it is a favored event and one of the few that any person: commoner or highborn, can enter. The PCs need only register their name, with the maestro of the competition, and take their seats.

Eat to Live
Run the pie eating contest as a sort of skill challenge. Each participant makes an Endurance check for each “Round” of the contest. In a round, most participants will eat one pie. Exceeding the DC by 5 means the participant can cram in 2 pies. Exceeding the DC by 10 allows the participant to shove down a whopping 3 pies.

•Round 1: DC 11
•Round 2: DC 12
•Round 3: DC 14
•Round 4: DC 16
•Round 5: DC 18
•Round 6: DC 21
•Round 7: DC 24
•Round 8: DC 28
•Round 9: DC 35

The competition will go on until the 9th round, or until all the contestants either stop or are disqualified. The contestants can “call it” at any time if they think they have eaten enough total pies to win. Contestants who vomit are disqualified and their score does not count. If all contestants end up being disqualified, the winner is the contestant with the highest score before expectoration.

A single failure means that the participant skips the next round – they are still struggling to finish off that last pie. Two failures indicates the participant is really having some difficulty, and must skip the next two rounds. The third failure tears it; the participant vomits, and is thus disqualified.

The Stakes
This contest does not happen in a vacuum! Be sure to have set aside three to five NPCs who will also be participating. It is assumed there are many other participants, but rolling for 100 people isn’t much fun, and the narrative comes down to the major players in the end. The majority of people won’t be able to put away more than four pies before giving in. Only the PCs and their prime competitors have a chance of exceeding this.

The NPC contestants are more than just an Endurance bonus! Give them character, charisma, and a backstory. Whether they are villains or sad sacks the PCs should feel some way about them. Don’t give them an unreasonably high Endurance bonus either. Perhaps the reigning champ will have a heroic bonus to his roll, but other than that this should be a relatively fair contest.

This boils down to a game of die rolls which is ultimately not that exciting. The life here is in how you describe the contest, and in establishing an inter-party rivalry that can finally. Be resolved without killing all the PCs and ruining the player’s fun! Try offering a prize that all of the PCs desire as a means of establishing a rivalry between them.

Possible EXP and Rewards
Completing the contest is a noteworthy but not monumental accomplishment – granting experience equal to a single monster of the PC’s level -1. The real payoff should be the reward for winning the contest. A magic item, significant monetary amount, or a more practical reward; like ownership of Old Ma Thranduil’s prizewinning war-pony should be the temptations on the table. Not to mention the boost to reputation the PC will receive! Imagine being (INSERT CHARACTER NAME HERE) Pie-Bane! Or (INSERT CHARACTER NAME HERE) Pie-Slayer!

Unusual Considerations
If you anticipate the PCs wandering into a combat encounter soon after the contest, consider saddling them with some penalties or providing some possible options. PCs who fail this challenge might be Slowed or Weakened (as a result from overeating) for their next encounter.

You might also consider letting PCs spend a Healing Surge to cancel out a failed roll in the pie eating skill challenge. Ding so makes it to easy for them to win if there is no combat after the contest, so offer this with the full knowledge that they are making a gamble on their resources, and let them feel like that’s the case as well. It should be a strategic choice. Tactical pie eating. That is now a thing.

Your players will, of course, ask: “What kind of pies are they?” This is D&D…consult the random pie chart below:

Roll 1d20

  1. Apple
  2. Rhubarb
  3. Meat
  4. Blackbird
  5. Peach
  6. Custard
  7. Strawberry
  8. Blackberry
  9. Blueberry
  10. Owlbearry (Guess what the secret ingredient is…)
  11. Apricot
  12. Chocolate
  13. Pear
  14. Grapefruit
  15. Pecan
  16. Cream
  17. Lime
  18. Lemon
  19. Pumpkin
  20. Wizard’s Pie (Possible random enchantment)
 
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Posted by on October 12, 2012 in Incidents, Not Playtested

 

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Incidents – Tramps and/or Thieves

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“I don’t care how many of you have yellow exclamation points over your heads – nobody gets in!”

Circumstances
The PCs are about to enter or exit the gates of a city.

Event
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.

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2012 in Incidents, Not Playtested

 

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Incidents – The Main Attraction

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Circumstances
The PCs are in a city

Event
The PCs hear about a zoo in the city that everyone is raving about. Those who have been there claim the newest addition is the most wonderful thing they have ever seen. If the PCs visit they find the zoo itself unimpressive – the animals are not treated poorly but are either mundane and common creatures or poor specimens of their variety. The PCs will find that the newest and last attraction which has stirred up so much gossip is a beautiful nymph. During their visit, she uses her charms on another zoo patron, dominating him (the nymph can forgo any damage listed in her attack powers to calmly charm a target) and instigating him into attempting to set her free. Though the man fails to accomplish her liberation, the nymph claims she is being held against her will and beseeches the PCs for their aid. This is her second unsuccessful escape attempt, but she states boldly that she will keep trying. With their help, however, her flight could be easy, and nobody would be hurt in the process…

In truth, the zoo’s owner – a sad sack named Kotter Vann – was searching for new animals to add to his collection when he came across the nymph; mortally wounded and unconscious from a run in with a wandering monster. Meaning only to nurse the poor creature back to health, he brought her back to the zoo and set to treating her wounds. But Vann’s zoo was losing money, and he saw no other way to support his wife and eight children, nor was he willing to part with the zoo that had been both his life’s passion, and a costly investment. So he put the nymph in a carefully crafted enclosure and sent his eldest daughter to attend to her needs, lest he become bewitched into setting her free. Vann feels guilty for what he did but sees to the creatures every need and whim, and treats the nymph very well – if living as a caged exhibit can be considered “well.”

Possible EXP and Rewards
The PCs have a myriad of options when it comes to resolving the problem. The obvious choices are freeing the nymph, or convincing it that a life inside this gilded cage is better than one out in the trackless and deadly wilderness. It is possible to find some kind of split between the two parties – maybe the PCs offer to replace the nymph with a more pliable or exotic exhibit. Maybe a deal can be arranged where the nymph agrees to stay “on loan” with Vann for part of the year. Consider giving the PCs EXP equal to that of a Spring Nymph (Monster Manual 3 pg. 151)

If the PCs do not step in, they will hear about a terrible incident in the zoo in which the nymph has bewitched a violent soldier into freeing her. In doing so, the man has cut down a handful of innocent and dumbstruck patrons – thinking their inaction as an attempt to interfere with the jailbreak. The soldier is caught and put before trial, the nymph is fled back home, and Vann’s zoo is likely to go bankrupt.

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2012 in Incidents, Not Playtested

 

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Incidents – Prisoner Exchange

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Circumstances
While traveling along a road

Event
The PCs come across two armed bands – one of elves, the other dwarves – screaming at one another and on the verge of violence. It seems the elves are hunters searching the wilds for dangerous monsters and more common game. The dwarves are a rag-tag local (and unsanctioned) militia who insist that the hunters are instead spies for the nearest elven community (this is actually true, though the dwarves came to this conclusion by suspicion rather than evidence. Besides which the elves would claim to be on a “fact finding mission” rather than admit to conducting any actual espionage).

Hostilities broke out between the two groups a few days ago and while nobody was killed, some on both sides were wounded, and hostages were taken. Tentatively, messengers on both sides approached to make arrangements for a prisoner exchange. The Pcs have stumbled into the middle of this negotiation, which has rapidly deteriorated. This might be the last straw, and if the PCs do not intervene – either to end negotiations amicably or to choose one side over the other – then the confrontation will likely end in mortal combat.

When roleplaying this encounter, be a real jerk. Both sides are hot tempered, angered at previous offenses both real and perceived, and behaving very childishly in an effort to squeeze out the better deal – out of pride if for no other reason. Take reasonable arguments and twist them around, throw out will accusations, set up straw man arguments, make ad homonym attacks – behave in a way that would make any Speech and Debate class professor twitch.

Have combat stats for both sides ready, and balance them so that either party would be a moderate challenge to the party. There is the possibility that the PCs could screw things up so catastrophically that both parties turn on them – making this combat a real challenge indeed. Otherwise they will be aiding either the elves or dwarves in a rather one sided engagement – which will hopefully be an appropriately hollow victory. After all, neither side has evil intentions; they’re just idiots.

Possible EXP and Rewards
Grant the party experience equal to a monster of their level. Treasure would be an unlikely outcome of this negotiation (though if it ends in combat, the loot might be significant). However, the PCs could easily earn some favorable opinions on one or both sides of the conflict; potentially leading to access to a community that is usually chilly to outsiders. Members of a satisfied party might serve as contacts in the future or provide information and leads to the PCs current or future quests.

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2012 in Incidents, Not Playtested

 

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