War is brewing over the new fertile lands next to the Otane River. Trade has ceased and conflict is thick in the air. Contacts must be kept and messages must still be sent to allies in each of the cities. Spies are untrustworthy and the loyal ones cannot be spared. The need for those competent and smart enough to deliver state secrets is desperately needed.
War is brewing between the East and the West over the rich farmlands skirting the Otane River. The area has been dead for over five decades and has been long abandoned by both sides. Rains have flooded the Otane River for the past 3 years, but the flood lines are now receding leaving miles of fertile land in the place of the barrens. The food surplus gained from the cultivation of this land could give a great boost to the economy of whoever finally claims it. Now the East and West are declaring the land theirs and small skirmishes have been continuous ever since. Forces are being mobilized and all diplomacy has failed to come to a resolution. Neither side is willing to back down, times are bad and not willing to back down. Now the two nations are on the brink of all out war. North and South are staying neutral since they have no prior claim. Perhaps they have ideas of coming in after the East and West have exhausted themselves.
Through all this there are still many on either side that are still friendly to each other. Smuggling has slowly begun but is severely punished and is only undertaken by the most foolhardy so it hasn't established itself yet.
The players would be approached by a noble in the East city and asked to take a package to the West. They are asked to do it because most spies from each city are pretty well known and so the package could not be safely carried by them in fear of them being recognized. Spy rings on both sides are all in question and those they can completely trust they cannot be risked in carrying packages. They are offered whatever they may need for the trip as well as a more then adequate compensation and promised more once they arrive in the West from their contact. The package is important to the East's war effort but must remain sealed so the contact will understand that the info has not been compromised.
Through whatever hardships desired they finally make it to the West and meet their contact. As promised they receive more compensation and are thanked profusely and commended for their bravery and reminded of the absolute secrecy needed.
As they leave the city they are attacked by a small group of skilled fighters. It should be a close battle but the attackers will retreat after a few of their number are killed and should be allowed to escape. Their mission as spies is more important then killing the players, they can't afford to lose too many. They will not allow their dead comrades to be seen by anybody else either and will stay near watching, perhaps attacking again when they think they have an advantage.
The attackers are spies from the East that found out that the players have brought the war plans of the East to the West. The players have just given the West all the battle plans that the East has prepared and taken away any surprise that they may have had. The attackers have already sent runners back to the East to notify them of the treason.
Now it is up to the characters to try and defend their innocence, try and convince the East that the Noble is at fault, or perhaps the more unscrupulous players find it a good time to switch sides and dodge the danger they have gotten into.
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? Responses (5)-5
This is an interesting plot, but if there are so many spies around that you can not trust to use even your best and most loyal, then why would they hire some unknown people? Okay, you have to get new spies to replace dead and 'defective' ones, but you never give them such an important mission right away, only if it an decoy, wich could be a set up for the players or the enemy nation. Secondly if there are so many spies around and the two nations are at war, crossing the border will be very difficult, a unknown 'mercenary' group will have it even harder, if the borders arent allready closed.
What if the players open the package? Then they could sell it to the other nation. They could take it back and expose the rat. But if the package is so important, then they propably are tailed to ensure it arrives or if it dosent arrive to the target the players will propably get trouble.
If the players do exactly as you told there, why would they have plead for innocence? They 'enemy' nation are sure to protect them for such a gift. And as there are so many spies around and only some of the most high ranked people have acces to the battle plans it should not take long to figure out who leaked the information and only used them as mules. In any case the players would be considered as traitors and propably never be able to return to the original country safe...
This is in interesting plot with many opportunities.
While I think this submission gets bogged down in the minutae of spy versus spy, I think it has an easily overlooked and great idea. Having a previously uninhabited barren region of land suddenly become viable again, enough that multiple claimants desire it. Myself, I would play this as a war of escalation, starting between the two barons who border the terrain, likely both having claimed it, but with no pretense of occupation. The war escalates until it becomes a matter between two kingdoms.
Note to self: never forget to leave a few 'empty' areas, where there is apparently little going on... until the next plot hook comes along.
A nice example of how to run spy style plots in a fantasy setting, and can make for a nice switch from the more typical adventures out there. If noting else it will make players second guess things a bit more rather then accept everything at face value, which is always a good thing.
I would not use this one lightly, unless the PCs had little real interest in the region, for the label of traitor is not one easily lifted.