Login or register. (You can now login/register with your social networks.)

Plots
Duty
Single-Storyline
4.08
6 Votes

24xp


Hits: 5342
Comments: 3
Ideas: 0
Rating: 4.0833
Condition: Normal
ID: 194

Submitted:

Updated:
November 20, 2008, 7:56 am

Vote Hall of Honour

You must be a member to use HoH votes.
Author Status

Options


Print Friendly and PDF

A Test of Loyalty

By:

Political ambition, religious confusion, ancient artefacts, and a mad ghost.

An offer of employment

The PCs are invited to the home of Leonid Althen, a mid-level officer in the city organisation.

Leonid Althen - human male, age 45 - initiate of city guardian cult - career politician

Leonid is a career politician whose ultimate goal is a seat on the city council, perhaps even the Lord Mayor’s post. To achieve this he must be known in the right circles, and that means the hierarchy of the city cult.

The PCs have been recommended to him as people who can be relied on, and he has a little job in mind to test their competence. He tells the PCs that his daughter, Derry, wishes to travel to a nearby farming village (her mothers’ birthplace) about 10 miles south of the city in order to visit an ageing relative. He would like the PCs to act as escorts.

The proximity of their destination notwithstanding, he expects the trip to take three or four days since these family gatherings tend to go on a bit. He does not expect it to be particularly dangerous as the trail is much used and regularly patrolled by the imperial cavalry. Nonetheless, he is prepared to offer each PC one weeks’ pay at standard mercenary rates. If the PCs haggle he can be bargained up the twice this figure but no more.

He warns the PCs that they must be back within one week because Derry is to be initiated into the city cult on the next holy day (10 days from now). This is in fact the main reason he cannot go himself, as he will be busy consulting with the temple over the final arrangements for the ceremony.

Leonid is aware that this is more than a simple family gathering but does not know the full significance of the trip. All he knows for certain is that Derry is insisting that she make the trip before her initiation. He does not know why, but thinks it is something to do with some kind of spirit cult worshipped by his late wife’s family.

Finally, since the PCs will likely have some spare time, and since he is paying them so handsomely, he will ask them for a small favour. He shows them a four inch tall earthenware statue of a nude woman, stained a dull ochre red and broken off just below the breasts. He tells them it is several hundred years old, a relic perhaps of the early culture of the city (ancient history, he explains, is one of his hobbies).

Since he doesn’t have as much time as he would like to search for such artefacts, he asks the PCs to check the markets traders while they are there and purchase any similar objects they find (or at the very least reserve them in his name). He will of course happily reimburse them for the cost of any such purchases upon their return.

{{GMs Note: Although Leonid has been reasonably honest about all this, he has not told the PCs the entire story. The truth is that his interest in the statue has more to do with his political ambitions than any historical interest. He is hoping that it may lead to something that will give him the sort of high profile publicity that looks good with the temple authorities.}}

Derry Althen - human female, age 15 - ancestor worshipper - Magical Items: A lock of her mothers’ hair kept in a silver locket is a spirit totem

Derry’s mother, Matty Althen, died giving birth to her so Mistress Eskarina, Matty’s grandmother and the family’s shaman, cut a lock of her hair and enchanted it as a spirit totem, allowing Matty’s spirit to appear on the mundane plane at will. She then gave this to Derry as a naming gift so that Matty could watch over and protect her daughter.

Matty Althen - human ghost

Derry is perfectly happy to join the city cult, in fact it was her idea; her father is simply organising the ceremony with the temple (as is his duty in these matters).

Derry has a problem that her father is not entirely aware of. She currently worships her ancestors, this is the religion of her family (on her mothers’ side) and she has no intention of dropping it. Her great grandmother (the family’s shaman) has written to say that before Derry may enter the city cult, she must commune with the ancestral spirits and obtain their permission. This is the real purpose of the trip.

Leaving the city

Whichever gate the PCs choose to leave the city by, they will have to deal with gate guards. The sergeant who commands the gatepost is officious, small-minded, unimaginative and somewhat petty (i.e. the archetypal jobs-worth) and will not let the party through until all the forms have been filled in correctly - in triplicate.

On the road

The journey should take a little over two hours. This gives plenty of time for conversation, something that Derry will insist on doing. In fact, it will be almost impossible to shut her up.

Derry has an insatiable curiosity and will continually ask the PCs questions about themselves, their families, their hobbies, etc. If the PCs have any skeletons in the cupboard they will need to be careful what they say because Derry is completely incapable of keeping a secret.

She also likes to talk about herself and will happily answer any questions the PCs choose to ask. This is quite useful since she knows a lot of things that her father doesn’t (such as the true reason for the trip) as well as certain details that he has not so far revealed (such as his political ambitions and his true interest in the statue).

The house of Mistress Eskarina

Once the party reaches the village, Derry will go immediately to her great grandmothers’ house. The house is quite large and reasonably well appointed, although by no means ostentatious. Mistress Eskarina, the old woman who serves as shaman for the family, lives here along with several family members spread across four generations.

The house is currently packed with dozens of relatives and hundreds of ancestral spirits (thanks to enchantments placed on the house by Mistress Eskarina), who have gathered here to discuss the matter of Derry’s planned initiation into the cult of the city guardian.

{{GMs Note: This is actually little more than a formality. The ancestral spirits have no real objections to Derry joining the city cult as long as her primary loyalty remains with the family. It is nonetheless a good excuse for a family gathering.}}

Everybody, corporal and non-corporal, will be extremely interested in the PCs (who are not relatives) and will crowd around asking questions. This may be somewhat unnerving for adventurer types unused to the concept of friendly spirits.

Mistress Eskarina - human female, age 90 - shaman/priestess of the family ancestor cult

At 90 years old Eskarina is an old and frail woman but her mind is still sharp. She is much respected within the family for her shamanic powers, particularly her ability to speak directly with the ancestral spirits. For those who are prepared to listen to her ramblings, she can be an invaluable source of information about city history over most of the past century.

The PCs will be invited in, offered lunch and a room for the night. Generally they will be treated in a cordial manner, but will be ushered out of the door as soon and as politely possible, and asked to return in a few hours. Essentially, the PCs are left to their own devices for the afternoon.

The market place

It is currently market day. The village square is filled with people selling all sorts of things and the Watch is out in force, keeping an eye out for trouble makers.

A number of people will notice the PCs either as adventurers (and therefore naturally gullible) or strangers (and therefore fair game). They will descend on the PCs and try to sell them all sorts of bizarre items, challenge them to duels, pick their pockets, and generally make a bloody nuisance of themselves. Some examples follow, feel free to add any others you think might be entertaining.

Arthur Daly, a trader in curios, has a map purporting to show the location of an ancient treasure. He obtained this from a less than reputable source and is not entirely sure of its authenticity. He will not admit this to potential customers (i.e. the PCs).

{{GMs Note: The map may, at the GMs option, genuinely lead to the location of a minor artefact or it may be an impressive, but entirely worthless, fake.}}

Iza, a crazy old gypsy woman, will try to sell the PCs an earthenware bottle stopper (no bottle, just the stopper) claiming that "you’ll need it some day".

{{GMs Note: Strangely she is correct. This is the stopper to a spirit bottle (a magical item, created by a long dead civilisation, for entrapping certain types of spirit). The PCs will find one of these, intact but without a stopper, later in their travels.}}

Sir Bowen (human male, rapier, good combat skills), a local dandy and noted swordsman, will challenge any PC wearing a sword to a duel. If this is refused he will loudly proclaim the PC a coward and attack anyway, claiming that his honour has been insulted. If the other PCs join in, his friends (one for each PC, stats as above) will respond in kind. Once the fight gets going (say about 1-3 rounds after it starts) the watch will arrive and arrest everybody involved for disturbing the peace.

{{GMs Note: The local magistrate knows Sir Bowen of old (this isn’t the first time he’s done this sort of thing), and places the blame entirely on his shoulders. By then however, the PCs will have spent an uncomfortable night in the cells.}}

The lady’s quest

When the PCs return to Mistress Eskarina’s house, Derry informs them that there is a small problem. The ancestral spirits have demanded that before she may join the city cult she must obtain the consent of the spirit of NaSanus, a man who was alive when the city was first built. NaSanus, a somewhat crotchety spirit, can only be contacted at midnight at his own graveside (he simple refuses to talk at any other time or in any other place).

Therefore she must travel to an ancient cemetery about half a mile outside the village and stay there for the night, there to commune with the spirit of NaSanus. The PCs are, of course, required to accompany her. If they refuse to go, Derry will remind them that her father has paid them - and paid them well - to protect her.

{{GMs Note: Actually the ancestral spirits have no objections to the city cult and have already decided to allow Derry to join it, they just haven’t told her yet. NaSanus’ opinion in the matter is considered irrelevant (after all, he’s quite insane) and, quite frankly, it doesn’t really matter if Derry contacts him or not. The point of the journey is not therefore to obtain his views, rather it is to test Derry’s loyalty to the ancestral spirits - if she’s prepared to go to this much trouble she must still be loyal.}}

The cemetery

A small band of feral trollkin has taken up residence in the cemetery. Their shaman is trying to captures the spirits of the dead to serve her but has so far had no success. Since Derry must spend the night at the mausoleum these must be dealt with first.

Trollkin Shaman - trollkin female - shaman & gang leader - poor combat skills, moderate magical skills

Trollkins (enough to worry the PCs) - fair combat skills

Due to their fear of sunlight, the trollkin tend to keep under cover during the day so their presence is not immediately obvious. However, they are not actually hiding, just staying out of the sun, so even the most cursory of searches will find them.

The party will arrive at the cemetery around midday, giving them plenty of time to reconnoitre the area. If they discover the trollkins before sunset they should have the advantage. If not the trollkins will attack in the dead of night.

The tomb of NaSanus

NaSanus’ mausoleum is a small stone tomb about 10 feet square in the centre of the cemetery. It once had a tiled roof and heavy oak door, but several hundred years of neglect have long since destroyed these and only the walls remain intact. Any defences it might once have had have also fallen to the ravages of time so there is nothing to prevent the PCs from entering if they so wish.

If there were ever any treasures in the tomb (which seems likely) these too have long since disappeared, although probably from more deliberate assailants. All that remains inside is a heavy stone sarcophagus about six feet long by three feet wide by four feet high. The seals on the heavy granite lid are the only magics still operating.

Inside the sarcophagus lies the mortal remains of NaSanus, now little more that a dry skeleton, and some basic grave goods for his use in the next world. If the lid is removed the skeleton, armed with a corroded spear point (the shaft has long since rotted away will animate and attack.

Animated Skeleton - spear point (treat as dagger) - fair-average combat skills

The floor is covered with a layer of bones, most of them broken. These are the remains of the unfortunate creatures that have become lunch for the pack of rubble runners that are currently nesting inside the mausoleum. As the party enters the tomb the rubble runners attack.

Rubble Runners - normal animals (bite attack) - average combat skills

The ghost of NaSanus visits the tomb every night at midnight (nobody knows why, he just does) and talks with whoever, or whatever, happens to be around (people, animals, plants, rocks, etc) until he gets bored. He seems completely oblivious to the fact that many of these things never reply.

NaSanus - human ghost - insane

Since NaSanus was alive at time of the city’s construction, he probably knows quite a lot about its’ early history. However, getting any of this information out of him is almost impossible since he is quite senile and completely insane - not dangerous, just erratic and unpredictable.

Conclusions

As long as the PCs don’t completely muck this up (and it’s hard to see how they could), Leonid Althen might well hire them for any other little jobs he may have. Leonid is no millionaire so this will never make the PCs rich, but he is something of a rising star within the city’s ruling circles. In time he may be able to throw a few of those highly lucrative government contracts their way.

The PCs will at least be on speaking terms with Mistress Eskarina. She may be 90 years old but she is a powerful shaman and with a little patience (and a lot of sucking up) the PCs may, in time, be able to obtain a few minor magics from her (potions, spells, that sort of thing).

As long as the PCs protect Derry from the trollkins (i.e. don’t just run away and leave her to her fate) she will remain on friendly terms with them. This may not seem like much, after all she is little more than a child, but she does have her mothers’ ghost protecting her. Of course Matty will appear less and less often as Derry grows into womanhood, but in the meantime she might become a useful ally.



Additional Ideas (0)

Please register to add an idea. It only takes a moment.

Suggested Submissions


Join Now!!



Gain the ability to:
Vote and add your ideas to submissions.
Upvote and give XP to useful comments.
Work on submissions in private or flag them for assistance.
Earn XP and gain levels that give you more site abilities.
Join a Guild in the forums or complete a Quest and level-up your experience.
Comments ( 3 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

CaptainPenguin
January 21, 2005, 22:38
0xp
Very good!
Gives an excellent feeling of versimillitude and realism. Is the "city cult" just the city's religion, or is it some sort of mystery cult that worship's the "spirit of the city" or something?
It doesn't really have a big arc or climax or anything, and is relatively easy in scope when one considers it all, but that doesn't stop it from being an interesting little trip.

4/5.
Dragon Lord
January 24, 2005, 8:06
0xp
OK - some explianations

The city cult is the worship of the deified city founder, who now acts as a kind of guardian spirit, and the primary religion of the city. It is also, for all practical purposes, the city government.

I originally wrote this scenario some time ago (about 2 or 3 years I think) as the opening scenarion to an RQ campaign, and simply re-edited it for poating on this site. The object of this campaign was the rediscovery of ancient, long forgotten magics from the days when the city founder was alive (the statue and bottle stopper are both relics of that lost power).

I hope that clarifies things a little for you.
Voted valadaar
May 14, 2012, 20:38
0xp
A nice adventure with good details.

Link Backs



Random Idea Seed View All Idea Seeds

Warwolf

       By: Scrasamax

A massive trebuchet constructed by the reigning tyrant, it can hurl the heaviest loads of any trebuchet to date and is the most destructive, non-magical weapon currently in existance. The Thought of Warwolf setting up on their lawn has quelled many a rebellion.

Ideas  ( Items ) | May 11, 2006 | View | UpVote 0xp


Creative Commons License
Individual submissions, unless otherwise noted by the author, are licensed under the
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
and requires a link back to the original.

We would love it if you left a comment when you use an idea!
PayPal
Powered by Lockmor 4.1 with Codeigniter | Copyright © 2013 Strolen's Citadel
A Role Player's Creative Workshop.
Read. Post. Play.
Optimized for anything except IE.
0.0334