The players do their normal thing in a city, restock. Just has to be a city where a king is in residence. The talk of the city is that the king’s famous Crown of a Thousand Diamonds has been stolen two nights prior. The city is in lockdown with search orders in effect for anybody the guards think is suspicious. It is difficult for the players to get anything done and they can spend their time trying to dodge the mobs of guards that are combing the city. They have probably already been searched a half dozen times and have probably pissed off at least one guard by then. If not, make sure they get on the bad side of some guards.
The players may want to help find the crown but all attempts will be rejected and nobody will give them a conference with the king or anybody of importance. Strangers are not trusted at the moment and everybody is too anxious to think clearly. The crown is Very Important to the king and may have magic powers and they plan on finding it themselves. Powers don’t really matter.
So the players will eventually try and leave the city. Just prior to leaving the city, and within site of the gate, they are stopped one more time and their packs are thoroughly searched. Getting to the gate they come across a guard that they had earlier pissed off and just as they were about to be allowed to go through (they were seen being searched) the pissed off guard pipes up and orders another search done of the players.
Upon the search they find the Crown of a Thousand Diamonds on the player that angered the guard the most. The alarm goes up and they are all instantly arrested with no chance of escaping. Brought to the king, the angry guard gets an instant promotion to Captain of the City Guard and the players try and plead their innocence. Could be the angry guard that set them up or those that searched them in front of the gate hoping to get the crown once they got outside. The king trusts his servants and the suggestion is utterly rebuked. The king KNOWS the person that stole it was the Prince of Thieves of the city and believes the players can catch him. If players don’t come up with the following, king will suggest it. Because there is such a stink he cannot leave the culprits unpunished so the players are allowed to ‘escape’ and are tasked to find the Prince of Thieves and bring him in. The king also gives them a couple locations where they will provide progress reports of the events. If they don’t supply a progress report once a night then the king will instantly increase the guards and have the search for them dramatically increased. As it is, the search will be slightly inhibited by the king to allow a little movement of the players. He will have more guards protecting the castle due to a ‘threat’ on his life that he made up.
They feign escape and must continue to dodge all the guards in the city. Through a connection with the Prince of Thieves and one of the players, they can eventually be let in to see him where they are put at the Prince of Thieves mercy through a well-designed trap because the Prince guessed the player’s intentions. The Prince was not the one that stole it but he knows who it was and will turn him in if the players can track down and kill a bandit king that has recently set up shop in the surrounding hills. Players may have already heard complaints of the bandit in town and know he is really there. Prince of Thieves reveals that almost all the caravans that the bandit has been hitting have been smuggling operations of the Prince. The bandit is moving in on the Prince’s operation but every attempt that the Prince has gone through to defeat the bandit has failed. He needs outside contractors, and in return for turning in the person behind the stealing of the crown he wants this bandit removed from power. The Prince of Thieves is known to be good to his word once made. Once the bandit king is dead, he will turn over the criminal.
So the players eventually escape out of town. Prince doesn’t help him because he doesn’t want the bandit to guess their intent in case of spies so they have to figure out how to get out of the city on their own. Once the job is complete the Prince sets up a meeting place to get them back in the city and will turnover the crown thief.
Through rumors from merchants on the road and the tracking ability of one of the players they find the bandit kingÃ¯Â¿Â½or we should say the bandit king finds them. Once again the players are caught in an ambush and are now at the whim of the bandit king. He is indeed going to take over the Prince of Thieves operation and makes no secret of it. He has the support of many prior thieves because he pays much better and has been robbing the Prince blind. He wants to kill the Prince and take over his operation so he tells the players that the rumor will be spread that he is dead, the players WILL tell him where the meeting is and WILL go to the meeting set with the Prince. As all this is happening they recognize one of the bandits gathered around them as the guard that they pissed off and the king made Captain. So no matter what they know who the culprit is so it shouldn’t matter who is the new Prince of Thieves.
So they go to the meeting and a small skirmish breaks out and at the finish the little Thieves War will be over with the bandit king as the new Prince of Thieves or dead. If the bandit wins they may just get out with a new resource and are freely given the wounded Captain. This may cause some disruption in the ranks and they may try and kill the players instead depending on the dm’s mood. Wounds and the location of the thieves fight should be proof enough of the Captain’s guilt and conspiracy with the bandit king. If the Prince wins then they may have an enemy but the promise will be kept and the criminal turned over, no love lost there since the Captain was a traitor of the original Prince of Thieves.
The whole thing was set up by the bandit king to quickly get one of his men into a position of power to expedite the ruin of the Prince of Thieves. Bandit king was getting impatient and an opportunity presented itself to the power hungry guard and so he swiped the crown rather easily. The plan was pulled off perfectly and gave him the required instant power and the added benefit to being in the graces of the true king and the bandit king. Once he is turned over the king will recall that this guard was indeed left alone with the crown. He never distrusted his men and he was low ranking so the king didn’t even recall the situation till now. The king will reevaluate his treatment of all his people to including the lowest ranking of his servants.
Does the king now have a new task for them once this was complete?