The adventurers are approached in some public yet semi-private place by lean dwarf, wearing a colorful cape with black feathers rim wrapped tightly around him. He looks around nervously before speaking to the characters in a low near-whisper with a clear tenor voice. "The Pigeon Loft will be open tonight. Two gold pieces per head secures entry. Conservative dress code. There will be the usual refreshments. Be there." The dwarf puts two fingers to his lips, making a near soundless "shssssss", before rising his cloak to cover his face and turns around on his heal dramatically, scuttling off.
The message was a secret code intended for someone else. The adventurers were in the right place at the wrong time, and somewhere near them stands group of bewildered spies wondering why their dwarven contact haven’t shown up yet. Incidentally, there is a pigeon loft in town, a ramshackle tower structure on the town gate or bridge. Entry to this loft is restricted to city officials and Watchmen, and the adventurers might find themselves in a lot of trouble should they try a bit too hard to gain access to this place. After all, the town’s carrying pigeon service is a serious matter.
The dwarf, Moin, son of Dhrem, has been working hard at enticing the interest of any potential clients, as he and his business partners are hosting a promotion party for their latest business adventure/invention/art display. Their goods/services should be something which the adventurers would potentially be interested in, and it should be within their price range (nothing like luring money from your Player Characters). The happening at The Pigeon Loft will attract many middle class and lower upper class visitors, among them hopefully (for Mion and his people) a few clients and/or investors too. The exclusive nature of the party will secure a large attendance, and perhaps the adventurers will find the occasion a good opportunity for making friends and contacts, and perhaps even the odd enemy (Tip: This might serve as a good starting point for a campaign, the promotion party working as a way to put the group together and launch the plot).
The ‘dwarf’ is really a hobbit actor, one of the troupes of the secret theater group called the Underground Opera that specialized in political satires and caricatures of public figures. Their shows are daring and skillful, popular with the local opposition and radical students, and has become something of a phenomenon in the towns underground society. The Pigeon Loft will surely be full tonight, as the troupe is doing a satire on the power of the guilds, displaying the local Noble as their puppet. Many people potentially valuable to the adventurers will attend. Likewise, the City Watch has finally caught up with the troupe and will send a squad to infiltrate the audience, to prepare for a town-wide crackdown the following morning. In addition, agents of several enemies of the guilds and the nobles of the town are rumored to attend, as well as an unknown foreign spy known only as the Shade. It will be an interesting night indeed, and remember; "It ain’t over till the fat lady sings…"
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