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ID: 193

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November 4, 2009, 8:45 am

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The Avenging Angel

By:

A long forgotten atrocity and crime left unsolved.
At what point does the quest for justice become a desire for revenge?
And when does revenge become another atrocity?

Background

About 15 years ago a gang of human youths, out looking for "a good time" chanced upon the camp of a small Neanderthal tribe. As they considered these people to be inferior (they are primitives after all) the youths set about killing the Neanderthals.

There were only two survivors, a 10 year old boy called Tad and a 15 year old girl called Auguin.

Tad survived by laying still and playing dead. The youths, who where far too drunk to search properly anyway, simply didn’t notice him.

Auguin was not so lucky. She was gang raped before being shot and left for dead. The shot pierced her shoulder, leaving her right arm limp and useless. She probably owes her life to the fact that she passed out.

Plot

Auguin has no love for humans and wants as little to do with them as possible. She desires only one thing from human society, revenge for the crimes of 15 years ago.

Her right arm hangs limp and useless, the result of a musket shot to the shoulder. It will remain so unless high level magic is used the repair the damage. If this is done it will not change her hatred of humans but she might be persuaded to call off the feud.

Tad has stayed with Auguin from the start, partly from tribal loyalty and partly because he has nowhere else to go. He shares Auguins’ desire for revenge but lacks the skills to track down the criminals.

Tamara is Auguins’ daughter (the result of her rape). She received most of her early training from Tad and Auguin but has now far exceeded either of them, thanks mainly to her almost human level intelligence. From her earliest years she was taught to hate humans.

Due to her near human level intelligence she has now become the brains and driving force behind the quest. She is, in effect, the leader in all but name. Despite her tender years she should not be under-estimated. She is intelligent, resourceful and ruthless. And she will stop at nothing to achieve her goals.

Auguin - Neanderthal female, age 30 - knife - little or no combat ability
Tad - Neanderthal male, age 25 - sword, throwing knife - good combat skills
Tamara - half-breed (Neanderthal/human) female, age 14 - sword, pistol, 3 or 4 healing potions - fair combat skills - some minor spell casting ability (from low level casting skills or an item of some kind)

Tamara is currently tracking down the murderers one by one. She has a number of documents relating to and identifying the perpetrators. When she finds them, she shots them through the shoulder before lynching them (this is her idea of poetic justice). She then leaves them where they hang with a note stating that justice has been done, she signs this "The Avenging Angel".

These three command a group of men-at-arms, all displaced Neanderthals. They are here mainly because the trio has given them a place in the world. The group includes: 6 spear men, 4 crossbow men, 4 archers (with longbows), and 2 musketeers. {{(Note: It is illegal for non-humans to use firearms, but that doesn’t bother Tamara very much).}}

Where the PCs come in

The adventure starts when the PCs find Tamaras’ latest victim hanging from a tree (bridge/wall/gatepost/whatever) with his hands tied behind his back. A note hangs from a cord around his neck, it reads: Justice has been done. The Avenging Angel.

He has two sword wounds to the right arm and a musket wound to the right shoulder.

He has a purse containing modest amount of cash (about what a reasonably well-to-do merchant might normally carry), a couple of rings (not magical), and an empty dagger sheath. His dagger, which is of fine craftsmanship but otherwise unremarkable, lies discarded in the gutter. Robbery clearly wasn’t the motive.

If the PCs try to investigate all the locals claim to have seen nothing (this is true, Tamara does not take unnecessary risks).

In a nearby bar the PCs will find Sven, a mercenary and bodyguard, bleeding from several wounds, obviously depressed, and drowning his sorrows.

Sven - human male - mercenary/bodyguard - sword, dagger - good combat skills

Sven has several fresh sword wounds. These are not serious and will heal normally in a couple days, which is lucky because he doesn’t have the money to pay for medical treatment (either mundane or magical). He will tell his story if the PCs provide, or pay for, healing.

Up until recently he was employed as bodyguard to a local merchant called Silas Brown. Silas was well respected and had no enemies. He paid "insurance" to the local thieves guild, which kept robbery attempts down to acceptable (or least manageable) levels. All Sven had to do was deal with "unaffiliated" thieves and there aren’t very many of those (the guild sees to that). All in all, it was a pretty cushy number.

This ended about two hours ago when Silas Brown became the latest victim of the Avenging Angel. All Sven can remember (through the alcoholic haze that has descended over his mind) is that four people attacked them: a Neanderthal swordsman (Tad), a young girl (Tamara), and two Neanderthal crossbow men. He can give reasonably accurate descriptions of them.

While the Neanderthals kept him busy (he claims that the swordsman was very good) the girl attacked Silas. His employer, armed only with a dagger (which he wasn’t very good with anyway), never stood a chance. The girl first disarmed him (by the simple expedient of repeatedly hitting him until he dropped his weapon) then shot and lynched him while the rest of the gang kept Sven busy.

{{Note: Despite the violent nature of her quest Tamara does not kill without cause. Sven escaped because she has no quarrel with him and he was no longer in her way. Sven does not know this.}}

Finding Tamara

The city watch will happily share information with anybody searching for the Avenging Angel.

They know that so far there have been four victims (including Silas Brown). All were human males between the ages of 30 and 35. There appears to be no other connection between them.

There have been incidental victims (probably companions or hirelings who simply got in the way). These victims show normal combat wounds and (in general) seem to have died fighting. Strangely, they are usually laid out respectfully after death (Tamara honours these as brave and noble warriors). Where there are survivors, they have tales similar to Svens’ to tell.

From these it is clear that the young girl and the Neanderthal swordsman are always present, usually accompanied by 2-4 Neanderthal thugs armed with a variety of weapons. They think the girl may be either human or half-human but they are not certain on that point.

Identifying Tamara will involve a certain amount of detective work (some divination type spells may be useful in this regard). This is not going to be easy (Tamara may not believe she’s doing anything wrong but she isn’t stupid). What the PCs do about it is their concern.

Destroying Tamara and her band is certainly an option but this could prove difficult. Although she has no quarrel with the PCs she will defend herself if threatened, or she may simple hire assassins to dispose of them.

Alternatively, they could try to dissuade her. This is also not easy as all three of them must be convinced (healing Auguins’ arm will go a long way towards achieving this end). The problem is compounded by the fact that she is, from a strictly legal point of view, a serial killer. The PCs will need to convince the authorities that she has a valid grievance (the documents she has collected are enough to prove this).

Note that Tamara is not the real villain here (or at least not the major one). The original massacre was illegal and she knows it, she just doesn’t trust the human authorities to convict humans of murdering Neanderthals. If the PCs can broker some kind of deal with the authorities she might become a powerful alley to them but she will never completely lose her general dislike for humans.

If the PCs get stuck

Introduce a sage. An expert on the culture of primitive humanoid / Neanderthal cultures. He has an extensive library which the PCs may use (for a price of course) or he will (also for a price) answer any specific questions the PCs have to the best of his knowledge.

GMs can have some fun here. Give the players lots of irrelevant information (be imaginative) but if they come close give them something useful.

Information likely to be available:

1. Any general information on primitives races (e.g. Neanderthals) and their culture.

2. Primitive tribes any known to engage in revenge killings for perceived wrongs, sometimes years or even decades after the original crime. The killings are usually carried out in a systematic and almost ritualistic manner, the method often reminiscent of the original crime.

3. An account of the massacre of a Neanderthal tribe about 15 years ago. The attack appears to have been random and unprovoked. There are no known survivors and the culprits were never found.

4. An account of a human cleric called Father Murphy (still living). He entered the church at 16 (about 15 years ago) and his career is unremarkable. He is noted for his abhorrence of violence and his charity towards Neanderthal tribes.

Tamaras’ Headquarters

Tamara has rented a large house in town (two story town house with cellar and loft). From here she can study her enemies as well as plan and launch her attacks.

The grounds are surrounded by a high (12 foot) wall with shards of broken glass cemented around the top (this is one of the reasons Tamara chose this house). Access is via a heavy wooden gate, which is barred from the inside.

There is about 30 feet of clear ground between the wall and the house, a number of traps have been set in this area (pit traps and snares of various types, normal chances to detect). There is also a blunderbuss set up behind the gate. If the gate is opened without first disarming this, the blunderbuss hits everybody in the gateway. This trap can only be disarmed from the inside; it is undetectable from the outside.

There is always a gatekeeper on duty. He will allow access to anybody in Tamaras’ group or anybody specifically identified by one of the three leaders.

There are no traps inside the house (unless the GM wants to put some on any of the personal belongings).

The cellar is used mainly for food storage. There are large stocks of salted meats, preserved fruits, dry goods (floor, sugar, etc) and pickled foods as well as barrels of wine, beer and mead. There is also a cold room containing perishables (cheese, butter, fresh vegetables, etc). The loft has been converted into an armoury. Large stocks of weapons, armour and ammunition are stored here. The house could, if required, withstand a short siege.

One room has been furnished as a study (writing desk, filing cabinets, etc). Here Tamara has stored all the documents relating to her quest. There are files on seven separate men between 30 and 35 years old from all walks of life. Four of these (including Silas Browns’ details) have marked "Executed" with a date.

The Remaining Targets

Captain Travis - human male, age 32 - cavalry officer - sabre, dagger, pistol + lance & shield when mounted - excellent combat skills

Travis is career military. He is noted for his skill and courage in battle and has twice been decorated for bravery. He is also possessed of that casual arrogance that comes from a privileged unbringing, and he often causes inadvertent offence with a casual remark. If confronted he will deny the charge and use any legal means to avoid arrest.

Father Murphy - human male, age 31 - parish priest - unarmed (abhors violence) - moderate magical abilities, particularly healing magics

Murphy felt true remorse for his part in the massacre. He joined the clergy in the hope of atoning for the crime in some way. To this end he has denounced violence and devoted his life to easing the suffering of others. He is well known for his charity towards primitive tribes (particularly Neanderthals). He never uses violence and always runs from a fight.

If confronted he will confess his guilt. However he lacks the courage to face a humiliating trial so he will not allow himself to be captured, preferring instead to take his own life.

Delany - human male, age 34 - killer for hire - short sword, dagger, crossbow - competent fighter at best but a crack shot with crossbow

Delany is the worst kind of assassin, a killer for hire who enjoys his work. He will kill anybody if offered enough money. He doesn’t care why his client wants the victim dead and often doesn’t bother to ask.

He has completely forgotten the Neanderthal tribe. If accused he will deny any involvement, initially because he doesn’t remember and later out of instinct (he always denies everything).

He is affiliated to the local thieves’ guild and can call on their aid if he is in trouble. However, the guild does not know he is an assassin and would be enraged if they ever found out (assassins are not welcome in the guild since they have a tendency to generate a little too much "heat"). If his true profession were ever discovered certain privileges (like breathing) would likely be withdrawn.

There is, of course, a price on his head.

Conclusions

This depends largely on how the PCs chose to react. There are three main possibilities:

PCs attack Tamara

If PCs win and Tamara is either killed or captured the PCs will be eligible for the reward on her head.

Also, if they can get into the house before the city watch they can take her equipment (the Watch might ask a few awkward questions but they’ll probably get away with it). There is very little money in the house (Tamara paid one years rent in advance and stocked for a long campaign, she doesn’t need much cash).

Note that the PCs cannot simply turn her over to the authorities, there is not sufficient evidence against her until her documents and records are located.

PCs help Tamara kill the murderers

This is highly unlikely (Tamara really doesn’t like humans and the PCs almost certainly think she’s a serial killer) but it is certainly possible.

In this case the PCs may be eligible for the reward on Delanys’ head but trying to claim it would involve answering some very difficult questions (after all, he was killed by the Avenging Angel).

Tamara may become a useful alley in the future but she will never fully trust the PCs nor will she ever lose her racial prejudice.

Note: Tamara is used to giving the orders, and having them followed. This, combined with the arrogance of youth, will make her an insufferable companion. The PCs will discover this if they team up with her.

PCs broker a deal between Tamara and the authorities

Although by no means easy this is certainly possible, if handled correctly.

Tamara will insist that the three remaining murderers are arrested and executed for their crimes and that she and her people are pardoned for the deaths of the other four. The evidence that Tamara has assembles is sufficient to arrange for the arrest and trial of the remaining suspects (the trick is to convince her to give it to the authorities), but arranging a pardon for her and her people will be much more difficult.

If an acceptable deal can be arranged Tamara will now, technically at least, be eligible for the reward on Delanys’ head. However the authorities may be a little reticent about rewarding a person who was, at least in the eyes of the law, a serial killer.

She may then become a useful alley (see above).



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Comments ( 8 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Mourngrymn
January 20, 2005, 9:19
0xp
I like it. It is simple in the beginning yet can be as complex as the players and the Dm wish it to be. The indepth outcomes that have ben provided supply a decent amount of room for ideas on how to get the players involved.

I don't like the musket's however, and the fact that a 14 year old is as skilled as she is and still commands a comapny of men. Even though they are neanderthals, my idea of neander thals were never high on a technological level and therefore couldn't comprehend how to use delicate weapons such as crossbows and swords. But that is just me.

Even still 4/5

I see possibilities for me to use this.
Dragon Lord
January 20, 2005, 9:34
0xp
Agreed, the girl could well be a little older - mid to late twenties perhaps - doesn't really effect he basic plot

The muskets are just a bacground detail - replace them with crossbows if you prefer - that's fine

I do disagree with you about neanderthals - in the real world they developed some quite sophisticated technology long before homo sapiens came alone - I don't see why they should be incapable of understanding, and using, advanced technology

However given the general quality level on this site, 4/5 for my first post is praise indeed - thanks for the feedback
MoonHunter
January 20, 2005, 10:26
0xp
Just a quick thought...

You could run the same scenario, with Elves as Humans and Humans as the Neanderthals. Then technology is replaced with magic toys.

Neanderthals had a superior culture to their human contemporaries. They had art, language, music (okay they think they are drums), and magic (as seen in their rituals). So another species might be a better option.
Mourngrymn
January 20, 2005, 11:22
0xp
I like Moonhunter's suggestion better than mine.
Dragon Lord
January 21, 2005, 8:04
0xp
Quite right MoonHunter

It doesn't really matter which races are involved, only that Tamara and her people are from a minority group who are (or at least feel they are) oppressed by the majority population

If you prefer elves and humans - go for it
Voted Mourngrymn
November 8, 2005, 8:40
0xp
I liked this when it was on the pre v2.0 site. And I still do. Once again I like the completness of it. It leaves little to the imagination and give you plenty to work with.
Voted valadaar
November 4, 2006, 17:13
0xp
Good solid plot!
Voted Chaosmark
April 17, 2007, 20:05
Only voted

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