Two Little Piggies Went to the Market
This is a plot scenario with three possible explanations for the GM to expand upon. Short, concise and ready to use. Make your pick.
Two local merchants were found dead last night, both seemingly poisoned (the cause of death not yet identifies). Herr Josran Naville, a travelling salesman of textiles and fabrics, was found dead in his bed at home, his lips smelling suspiciously of sweet herbs. Local burgher and sheep-merchant Herr Jemen Elman was discovered dead in the street, a few blocks from his well-to-do town house, a similar sweet odor on his lips. Jemens body was in good condition, although his clothes were soiled from street murk and vomit (seemingly containing some blood). Josran however, had fresh scratches on his neck and throat, and his face and pillow was soaked in blood from oral bleeding. The City Watch stands clueless as to what have happened to the two merchants, but it is worth noting that none of the men showed signs of being robbed or otherwise assailed when they were found. There’s a reward for any information that can shed light on the case. And in comes the PC’s.
Josran and Jemens were rivals in trades. They had been so for years, and every time they crossed paths, the encounter grew more and more vicious. Few remember exactly what they are fighting about, it seemed not to matter much, the two just didn’t like each other. Last night the two got into a violent argument in a local drinking establishment, the tenth such argument they had had in as many nights, and everyone was getting fed up with the pair, none more so than the local Guild Master of the Merchant Guild. The Grand Master himself, with heavy investments in the wool and textile industry decided that enough was enough. Not only were the two merchants setting the entire Guild in a bad light, they had also revealed or threatened to reveal Guild secrets as they accused each other of their crimes and amorality. He therefore had them both poisoned by his servant and henchman, who administrated a liberal amount of arsenic into both men’s drinks, confident that the poison, should it ever be identified, would not be tracked back to him. (Vomiting, oral bleeding and scratch marks are due to, in order: poisoning, tongue biting, and clawing at the throat in a desperate attempt to breath). The Grand Masters only problem is that his henchman managed to get himself robbed on his way back to his luxurious town house, and the thugs got away with not only the vial of poison, but also the letter containing the written instruction on how to administrate the poison, and rough sketches of the two merchants to be killed. Now, it is only a matter of time before this information turns up in the wrong hands, and the Grand Master is taking every step to deal with the situation.
The two merchants had just closed a good deal, and were sharing a meal and quite a few drinks last night to celebrate. They visited all the beer houses and wine rooms in town, getting drunker by the hour, until they ended up at a rather shady bar. The owner was happy to serve the two guests, and since they were so drunk he thought he could manage to sell them some fruit brandy that had turned out bad in brewing. Sell it he did, and the two merchants were too drunk to tell the difference. Now, the owner is a honest and moral enough kind of guy, and he never intended to hurt no one, but both guests soon became quite ill with all the signs of poisoning. He had his son help the guests getting home, and particularly Elman had to be walked home, in the need of support all the way. But before reaching his town house, Herr Elman had started complaining of pains in his chest and left shoulder, and soon the owners son found the merchant to be dead (he is not aware that the other merchant also died during the night). The bar owner is now very nervous and has decided to flee town. He has spent all day roaming around town trying to sell his bar at half the rate it is worth, while his son have been packing their belongings onto their small cart. The tavern owner has just found a buyer who might be interested, and with a little luck he might be off before morning.
Herr Josran Naville and Jemen Elman were not what they said they were. Both were cultists of a secret Brotherhood, planning a dark operation to take over the Merchant Guild in town. The two planed to summon a spirit-demon to take control over the local Merchant Guild Grand Master, setting themselves up as the powers behind his throne, building a power base for expanding their cult. A ritual area was prepared in the woods east of town, and all the preparation and the sacrifice of 3 black lambs was executed according to the text. Something went wrong with the summoning however, and the demon, its name roughly translated as he that seduces with sweet kisses, broke loose and overcame the cultists, delivering onto them it’s poisonous sweet kiss, and letting them flee back to their homes for comfort in death. (Vomiting, oral bleeding and scratches are due to violent reactions from receiving the poison kiss). Meanwhile, He that Seduces With Sweet Kisses has decided to complete the mission it was summoned to do after all, with the only alteration that the demon itself will now rule the Merchant Guild’s leader. Now, if only the cultists had understood that in the ancient text, "black lambs" is a metaphor for children under a year old, they would have succeeded in their operation, securing the demon a permanent manifestation in the physical world. Now, if He that Seduces With Sweet Kisses can only find three babies to sacrifice to its masters, then he can complete the ritual and make sure he isn’t returned to his hell at midnight.
This is an experiment in designing adventures in a format similar to that of the short "Tales of Terror" plots that have been used in horror-themed games. In this format, a short adventure setup is followed by three different explanations, each leading in a different direction. If enough of these are collected, a Tales of Adventure Codex will be assembled.
Those interested in seeing the original "Tales of Terror" using this format may wish to go to Steve Hatherley’s website: http://www.talesofterror.net
Good luck- Mike.