The city of Antule is a good sized city that has considerable river trade. Although the city is walled, it has never been the site of any large scale conflict. With a long history of trade and home to many proud and skillful craftsmen, Antule is a good place to live in.
There are two major religeous factions in Antule. The Jamitites are a polytheistic sect that worship 17 different gods, 4 of them evil. The Aelons follow 6 gods that represent pure elemental qualities, 1 of which is evil.
The two sects disagree on many points, but generally leave the other to suffer their own fate. Occasionally, a discussion at a bar leads to an exchange of blows, but no major conlict has ever broken out.
But now tensions between the two sects are higher than ever before. During a city-wide celebration on the winter solcitice, while the Jamitites were celebrating Horthos’ day and the Aelons were celebrating the Eve of the Phoenix, the broken body of a Jamitite was found beaten to death in an alley.
Jamitites quickly blamed the Aelons, Aelons denied having anything to do with it and used the death as an example of the dangers of having a celebration to honor Horthos, the Jamitite god of the underworld. The city gaurd and officals tried to denounce the incident as an unfortunate accident from excessive celebration.
Three days after the winter solcitice, an Aelon was found tortured and hung from the sign of a Jamitite chandler. Fighting broke out as the sects clashed and city gaurdsmen were hard pressed to prevent a city riot.
The PC’s may have been in town before or on the celebrations or may just now be present at the conflict, but some evidence can be found to point at a common culprit.
During Horthos’ day, the Jamitites celebrate with a kind of sparkler, a symbol of the stars that are the only light in the underworld. The dead Jamitite was found clutching a tip of a spakler that had been snapped off. The sparkler hadn’t been lit yet. The Aelon that was found hung had been repeatedly burned by small very hot irons, likely the sparklers.
What these clues can lead to is that the Jamitites would do everything in their power to make sure every spakler was lit on Horthos’ day, to make the underworld light up and relieved the suffering of the damned for a day. So the peice of unlit sparkler the dead Jamitite had was likley to have been bought or stolen by someone. And since the Jamitites would have lit all thier sparklers, they wouldn’t have had any to torture the dead Aelon. Someone else is setting up the two sects for open fighting.
But who and why?
Additional Ideas (1)
If they investigated who was being killed, they would have found a new drug (magic/poison/other illegal) smuggling ring that was religion independent. Also guild independent. Boss X found a supplier outside the normal chains of supply and decided to try and get rich and usurp the current Baddy Y. It just so happened that, due to circumstances of the deal and the way it had to be moved, that cooperation between the religions was required. They each had expertise required for a successful takeover that complimented each other (supply movements, shipping, safe houses, guards, judges, etc.) Cooperation unheard of...and this association was spreading, not with the drug deals only necessarily, but on the surface as well.
So Baddy Y had to send a message to those that think they can move in on his turf AND end any more cooperation between the religions to ensure the situation doesn't happen again. We may even come to find that any real animosity between them was generated by Baddy Y to keep some of his business' lucrative.
I am sure I can come up with some more background, but reading it just gave me a general idea of a possible situation.