The PCs have been within the Capital for a day or two when they are accosted by the Capital Guard, then arrested by Crown Law. The charge? Rape of the Lady Elspeth Kalamath and Accessory to such. The PCs must escape the city before they are executed.
The PCs have been getting glaring looks and whispers everywhere they go ever since they entered the city. Finally things come to a head when they are surrounded by about twenty guardsmen, as well as the captain of the Royal Guard himself.
The captain pulls out a roll of parchment, compares what is written on it with one of the (male) PCs, then nods and arrests all of them by Crown Law. Any fighting that erupts will be ended quickly, as the captain, Ara the Blade, is easily the equal of any of the PCs. Combined with twenty of the city's guardsmen, the PCs stand no real chance of fighting their way out.
Ara the Blade is a former mercenary who was convinced by none other than the Lady Elspeth to join the Capital Guard, where by his own skill and her secret dealings rose to the top quickly. He is a formidable swordsman, and will not hesitate to knock any of the PCs unconscious if they give him the slightest trouble. He isn't ambitious or foolish enough to go to her for favors, but Elspeth has had her eye on him for a while, intending to have him to 'rule' by her side when the queen finally croaks, and so he has been slowly drawn into her alluring web. He is not completely enamoured with Elspeth yet, however, and so would be a formidable ally if her lie about the PCs were ever revealed.
The Dungeon Meeting
The PCs have been arraigned and are now sitting in a cell awaiting their trial, which is almost guaranteed to result in their conviction and execution thanks to the Golden Child status of Elspeth, though the PCs have no clue of that fact. Their weapons and equipment are in the corner of the room opposite them, next to the door.
Perhaps an hour or two after their imprisonment, the PCs have a visitor: the Lady Elspeth.
An evil, viperous, black-hearted witch. Unfortunately, the Court as a whole hasn't the faintest clue of Elspeth's true nature, and thus considers her to be Capable Of No Wrong. Her true nature was nearly revealed when she became pregnant a few months previous, but once she began to show, she began to spread the story of her rape. The Truth: the Lady's pregnancy is the result of one of her many trysts with would-be suitors. The father is long dead, as is everyone else who has ever shared her bed. Prior pregnancies had been prevented by a concoction of mandrake root that caused a 'natural' abortion, but this one seems to have stuck no matter what she's tried to terminate it with.1 When asked for a description of the rapist, she rattled off a random description that happened to match one of the PCs quite closely. It's their extreme misfortune to be in the Capital just a day after her story became public knowledge and the search began.
The Lady will enter the room with a guard for company and will look at the party for a moment, gauging their value. Finally, she will nod to herself and tell the guard that "Yes, it's him. I want them executed." before being escorted out. This should thoroughly mess with the party's minds, and instill more than a little drive to escape within their hearts.
At this point the PCs have two options: breakout, or wait.
If the PCs choose to breakout from the castle dungeon, they'll find it mildly difficult, but not extremely so.
The bars in the corner of their cell farthest from the door are almost completely rusted at the top and bottom, but only a close look will show the weakness. A look around the cell to gauge their situation will reveal this weakness; alternatively, one of the PCs leaning against the bars will cause them to 'give' enough that the thought to try and get out that way should enter their minds.
Any other particularly crafty methods of escape should be allowed, as these cells aren't very high in security. There are no enchantments, no reinforced bars, it's just a plain old iron cage.
Skip the Lucky Break scene and go to Jailbreak.
If the PCs decide that they'd rather put their lives in the hands of a trial, their next few hours will be rather uneventful, until the invasion starts.
Soon enough the sounds of fighting can be heard even through the stone walls, which will shake occasionally. If the PCs have any knowledge or experience with an assault on a castle, they'll recognize the signs that the castle is being bombarded by siege weapons. After one particularly heavy bombardment, some chunks of rock will fall from the ceiling, breaking the weakened bars in the corner of the cell.
Once out of their cell and reequipped, the PCs will stand a decent chance of fighting their way out of the dungeon and upstairs. Beyond the door is a short hallway with stairs at the end leading up. There is a pair of guards outside the door, as well as another pair at the top of the stairs.
Once the guards are dispatched, the PCs will need to get back to the entrance. Due to it being a simple path, they should be able to do so with little difficulty. However, there are routine patrols of five guards and two hounds in the castle, so if they broke out themselves they'll have to be sneaky. If they had a Lucky Break, the halls will be deserted.
When they get to the main doors of the castle, they will be heavily guarded, as well as locked up tight. There's not a chance the PCs can break through and get out. They'll need to find a different path out of the castle.
All the castle doors have been locked and barred in preparation of invasion, including the double-doors leading to the upper levels of the castle. The one exception is at the end of a long hall in the section of the castle reserved for servant quarters, where a door is slightly ajar. When the PCs are right outside the door, they'll be able to faintly hear giggles and squeals from a feminine voice as well as a low male voice. (A guard and one of the servant girls are taking advantage of the castle's chaos to enjoy themselves a bit) The muffled sound of the voices is enough to tell the PCs that the room is empty.
It's a plain little sitting room, with a small table and a pair of chairs. The door to the adjacent bedroom is closed, which is probably for the best, as the giggles and other noises are coming from the other side of the door. What's important about the room is inset into the wall to their right: there's a window just large enough that the PCs can squeeze through, into the garden on the other side.
The door is easily barricaded with the table and chairs if the PCs are being pursued.
From this side of the wall, the window is mostly hidden by a number of bushes, which will also serve to conceal the PCs from the constant patrols which are coming through the garden. Now that they are outside, the sound of fighting and the impact of artillery on the castle is much louder and clearer as well.
Making their way from bush to bush, the PCs can slowly creep around the garden, which has large hedges everywhere to allow for privacy, creating small alcoves with benches that the party can rest and regroup in, safe from patrols. Aside from the patrols, they have nothing to fear here. Eventually, in the last alcove that they come to before reaching the exit from the garden they will find no benches. In the middle of the larger-than-norm area is a white rosebush in full bloom.
This beautiful rosebush is actually a bioweapon produced by druids many decades before. It is one of the last of its kind, and a recent aquisition of the Lady Elspeth. She hired a band of mercenaries to get such a rarity for the castle garden, a symbol of her power and prestige. Unfortunately, the Blossom of Rage is something of a favored plant by the Kythrythe, the worshipers of the insect god Kythrellemen. When the band of mercenaries stole one from their city they were annoyed, and through various means traced the mercenaries back to Elspeth, who has denied any and all claims of responsibility of the theft, as well as requests that she return the plant.
Before the PCs can do much more than examine the Blossom, a massive waspish creature will drop from the night sky right into their little alcove. Atop him is what appears to be a normal man, albeit dressed in a strange suit of chitinous armor. He is soon followed from the sky by two other wasp-riders, who have a large bag suspended between their mounts. They dismount and begin to carefully transplant the plant from the garden soil to the soil in the bag.
They will not threaten the characters, nor will they fight unless the PCs do so first, as the PCs are not wearing guard uniforms. Their goal is to obtain the plant and leave as quickly as possible. If questioned politely, the first rider will give a quick explaination of events, as well as a warning to stay out of the way of the Kythrythe warriors storming the castle2. When finished transplanting the Blossom, the three riders will remount and take off into the night sky.
Assuming the characters don't choose to fight the Kythrythe, they can stay within the garden until the attack is over and then sneak out of the city, or they can sneak out now, during the chaos of the assault. The castle wall has been breached and there is no more siege weapon activity, so the PCs stand a good chance of success.
Alternatively, if the PCs are of a more vengeful mindset, they can join up with the Kythrythe attacking the castle to bring Elspeth to justice. There are a large number of guards within the castle, and it will be rough going (as well as setting the PCs up for some major backlash later), but if they wish, the Kythrythe won't refuse their help.
The last choice the PCs can make is to fight against the Kythrythe, for whatever reason. Whether they believe that the Insect People are wrong in their attack or are xenophobic enough to bug out (pun intended), it should be very rough going for the party. The Kythrythe ride giant insects, as already shown, and will show little mercy in their quest for justice.
1The goddess Enia's power, while not consciously directed, has taken offense to Elspeth's constant death-dealing and infused within her most recent child a spark of life that cannot be terminated until the pregnancy has been completed and the child is born (or until Elspeth is dead). Whether or not this cause becomes known to the PCs or not is up to you.
2The Kythrthe storming the castle are looking for Elspeth, to bring her back with them for an appropriate punishment, most likely execution.
The Five in One Challenge. The time to honor yourself will soon be at an end...Highness--Russ Crowe, Gladiator
The idea behind this Quest is to use five random submissions and craft one masterpiece from them. The point is to celebrate some of the forgotten posts of the past, dredge up favorites, and highlight your peers and colleagues' works.
Rules - Thou shall not use any of your own submissions.
-Thou shall have 1.5 months to craft your 5in1 submission. Yes, multiples are allowed. You cannot begin, until the Quest is officially posted on the main site (any hour now).
- The Five shall be picked randomly, ideally with the aid of Murometz, who will gladly generate them for you. However, those impatient of you may choose and contact any Citadelian of your preference, who shall thence produce them for you - the 'Random Submission' link on pretty much any page of the main Citadel being a good source. Refresh and enjoy.
- The chosen submissions shall not have a higher vote score than '4.5'. Even the seemingly less perfect submissions deserve love and companionship. Please, help them shine!
- (Optional) A sixth submission may be generated if you so desire, to swap it with another that you desire less.
Other than these guidelines, anything goes. The person who wins the Quest, will be awarded a set of customized Citadel-dice in addition to the usual laurels! If you can help it, try to avoid an epic novel.
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- You should register. All your friends are doing it!
? Responses (14)
Updated: In final proofread stage.
More people should vote for this.
They should, and they will! Soon!
This was a delight to read, I hadn't considered other people using my submissions in their quest entries. Good job CM.
Get used to it then. Your subs are in my quest list too! ;)
I like the formatting and the writing, but must complain of one thing: the plot is horribly linear, made to force a group of heroes into the story exactly as it is written. Oh, and they will be wanted criminals in a large city while being completely innocent - and are not likely to be able to prove it after the plot is over.
Don't get me wrong, you've shown what could be done out of this exotic mix - it could be easily enlarged to a mini-campaign, with the PCs falling into the thrall of the Lady, maybe even stealing the plant themselves; and at last recognizing her true nature, at which point she would promptly condemn the group to death. The payback would be more than sweet, whether just by executing her; or by proving her role in the invasion (smart PCs could even argue for peace between the city and the invaders). More could be made of this.
I most definitely agree. I was annoyed with how linear it turned out, but I figured any GM worth his salt could work within the spaces to make things interesting (as well as less linear and railroaded). Unfortunately, this is my first plot ever created, so I'm not shocked that it's horribly linear. Everyone has crappy beginnings. Just look at CP!
Thank you for the honest feedback though. I appreciate people being brutally honest, as I can see many flaws in all of my works.
Oh, a first plot! Then it is a premiere - and you are determined to continue, which is all well.
(By the way, the quest isn't over yet, so you are more than free to expand the plot - and more options never hurt. ;) )
Hear that CP? You are famous now!
My only problem with this plot is that it starts as a steamroller plot, which I hate. I think are more subtle approach apart from 'surprise you're under arrest by overwhelming force.
If something could be set up where the PC's own greed or bloodthirst could entrap them, that would be much better.
As others have mentioned, its a bit linear, but heck, these are not easy to do! So, much props, CM!
I particualrly like the formatting, and the adventure in and of itself isnt bad!
It started out great and I was sucked right in and then it seemed to run out of air. The rape thing was a great idea and a very interesting problem but there is no clues on how to fix this dilemna. They will remain guilty forever, even if somehow the bush is proved to be stolen...that really doesn't have anything to do with the actual plot that the PCs are involved with. I doubt the princess would get in much trouble for stealing a bush, regardless of its value. There are no clues on how to prove that anyway.
Just not sure what to do with it, but there is definitely something there! I loved the first half, just needs a better ending in my mind.
People, even bug people, do crazy things when religious icons are involved.
That said, you're right. There could be a heck of a lot more done with it. I'll get back to it eventually.
I love the formatting and the writing is a very easy fast paced read that has an excellent deliberate and straight forward style to it. I am always impressed and envious with how well you communicate your idea.
But I agree with all the others, the characters aren't really trapped in schemer's web as they are side stepping it. The PC have nothing to gain by getting involved and no motivation to do so other than clearing their name which as outsiders acused by a golden child of the city, would seem impossible, uncessary and at best a victory of principle only.
If they aren't interested in clearing their name then the PCs motivation will be to get as far away from the plot as possible. Perhaps a good courtly intrigue plot draws the characters into the plot rather than drives them away. As Vlad said, it is a railroad plot and the PCs should just run away. unless this is about clearing the PC's name. Yet the focus of this write up is not on clearing the PCs name, but shuffling them through a castle on a tour of The Five posts.
The intergration of the five does really just come as a gallery rather than a real weaving of the ideas into a story. The is best exemplified in the encounter with Blossom of Rage and the Kyth. As you have it written the smartest play would be for the PCs to sit and watch. Ara the blade just knocks them out leaves the story the and the write up does not give the PCs a path into Espeth's life or web. So there is a web and plot here but the story you have outlined seems to be the Free Parking-Advace to GO path around the board.