A few days ago, a loud mouthed herald arrived in town, in the typically heraldic and completely non-subtle manner, seeking out a man named Joshua Robert Grundel. Of course, the herald was not terribly subtle about the reason, either. It seems that the man stands to inherit a sizable estate from a dying and heretofore unknown philanthropist, named Hector Conrad "Konk" Elliot. Not thinking anything of it, and not knowing the man in question, the party went about their business.
A priestly man, wearing robes of Ull, approaches the party with a note, silently hands the note to the assembled party, and stands by for further instruction. The note reads "The Order of Sanctuary would like to avail themselves of your skills."
Priests of Ull are well known for their steadfast defense of any sanctuary request, and are protectors of anyone who requests their services, to their dying breath. It seems odd that they would need external assistance to accomplish a goal of sanctuary. However, the priest waits for the party to decide if they are interested in hearing more.
Assuming they are, the priest leads them to a well known Temple of Ull nearby, and invites them inside. It is temple law that no arms or magic of any kind enter their holy land, but an acolyte is ready to tend to the party's weapons, or they may opt to leave their weapons with a lone party member who must remain outside. It should be noted that Priests of Ull are almost universally understood to be stalwart and trustworthy, at this point, the PC's need not fear having their weapons stolen or some such. However, in order to enter the temple to hear the rest of the story, they must relinquish their arms.
The party members that agree are led into an antechamber, where a high priest is waiting calmly, accompanied by a frenetic middle aged man. The man is Joshua Robert Grundel.
The man flinches at the slightest movement and is extremely paranoid of any strangers. He asks over and over again, during the course of the story, if the strangers before him are armed, who they are and what they want, in a variety of ways to hopefully trip them up into giving away his paranoia induced impression of their real intent: to kill him. The high priest, Razzid, tries his best to assauge the man's fears, but with little success. Razzid, being quite a bit more calm and collected than Joshua, relates his story with more clarity than could ever be gotten from the paranoid man cowering behind him.
The herald of a few days ago eventually found Joshua Robert Grundel. Until that point, Joshua was an unassuming tailor, working together with a group of other tailors and their respective families in a small shop just outside of the downtown area. He was just an average guy, with an average job he didn't terribly enjoy, a wife and kids to whom he is devoted, a decent home and an otherwise fairly typical middle class life. It was typical until the herald enter his life, it should be said.
While repairing a small tunic for Miss Bustle(a nick name they had for the local coffee clatch hen), he was hunched over his desk. The door to the shop burst open in as grand a fashion as could be accomplished, and in swept the herald. Work stopped as the herald laid his proclaimation down.
"Joshua Robert Grundel?"
He peered over the tunic in a bewildered fashion. "err... yes?"
"JOSHUA ROBERT GRUNDEL! *YOU* have been selected as the lone heir to the grandest of fortunes this world has to offer! Sir Hector Conrad Elliot, world renowned philanthropist, has passed away, and left his entire fortune to YOU! You are instructed to make haste for the following location to lay claim to your inheritance!" He hands Joshua a small note, and with a flourish and a whirl, the herald is out the door just as quickly as he arrives.
Obviously, this left Joshua quite confused, along with everyone else in the shop. Joshua quickly examined the note, which gave the nearby Turning Tower as the location for the meet. "What does it say?" asked his shopmates. Without thinking, he told them "It says I need to visit Turning Tower... what the hell is going on here? I don't even know anyone named Hector Elliot. Maybe the herald knows what's going on..." Now that his initial shock had passed, he left the tailor shop, grabbing his coat, and made his way after the herald.
News like this travels QUITE quickly, of course, and it's not long that Joshua has both lost track of the Herald and is surrounded by all manner of people looking for a handout, thinking he is already rich. Of course, those people weren't too much of a problem. The problem lay in what happened next.
It didn't take long for the local thieves guilds to get wind of the situation, and try to take advantage of it. They sped as fast as they could towards the Turning Tower, in the hopes that they could be the first to arrive and claim the prize before the real Joshua Robert Grundel arrived. A chaotic running chase through the streets ensued, with rival guilds attacking members of other guilds to reach the tower in time.
During this time, Joshua was still well inside a somewhat congenial mob of gladhanding strangers and people seeking to gain a small bit of his newfound wealth, he had no idea this was going on. He simply wanted to make his way back to the shop, finish his duties, and then find his wife to talk about what had happened.
Meanwhile, the guilds had made their way to Turning Tower, a well kept but currently deserted Tower an hour or so outside of town. When the arrived, they found that the Tower was empty, and assumed that they had been beaten to the punch by Joshua himself. Not to be outdone by this commoner, the first arriving guild laid down immediate plans to kidnap the commoner's wife to force a ransom out of him. As each guild arrived in turn, they reached a similar conclusion, and quickly formulated a similar plan. In short order, plans to kidnap the entirety of Joshua's family were well underway by a variety of nefarious gangsters from around town.
A short but brutal turf war took place for the rights to capture the family Grundel, and eventaully, all of them were found and kidnapped within hours of the heraldic anouncement. All of this happened before Joshua had even finished his day at the tailor shop.
Joshua walked home in blissful ignorance of his dire situation. When he arrived at his home, his door was ajar. Nudging it open slightly, he saw a body laying on his floor amidst the obvious signs of struggle. Nudging it open slightly more, he saw another body. Finally, with the door completely open, he saw an armed man, bloodied and breathing heavily, standing in the corner, sword bloodied from the combat with the other two men. Finally, the man spoke.
"We have your wife. If you wish to see her alive again, her ransom is 10,000 gold pieces. We will contact you with further information in 3 days."
The unknown man promptly left, leaving Joshua stunned into silence. Who were the bodies on his floor? Where were his children? What in the world was going on? Not really knowing what to do, he began to walk briskly to his nearby friend's house for advice. He looked over his shoulders over and over again, and he noticed he was being followed. He heard whispers of "that's him!" and "go get the others!" as he made his way along. His brisk walk turned into an outright sprint when the whispers were no longer whispers, but shouts. "THERE HE IS!! GET HIM!!"
Not knowing where to turn, he sprinted as fast as he could to escape. He turned into the temple of Ull that happened along his path and requested temporary sanctuary. They provided it, of course, and immediately closed up the temple to repel the small lynch mob outside. The mob dispersed rather quickly, but there are members of that mob who are biding their time outside the temple doors, waiting for Joshua to exit so they may have their way with him.
This brings us up to date. The Priests of Ull are charged with sanctuary of individuals inside their temple, and are more than capable of protecting Joshua while inside the confines of their temple, but his problems lay outside the bounds of their charge.
The PCs are requested to handle the situation on behalf of Joshua(for a fee, if necessary). The ONLY thing he cares about are his family, and their safe return. If collecting this "inheritance" will allow him to pay for their return, he'll gladly do that. He doesn't care how it's done, he just wants his family back. He implores of the party to assist him in this delicate situation that he is helpless to assist himself in.
It turns out that the bodies in his home were guild members of rival gangs sent to deliver ransom demands. A three way fight broke out, and only one of the ransom requests was actually delivered. While all three guilds have a member of his family, only one has thus far delivered a demand.
The other two bodies have been discovered by their appropriate gangs, and assume that Joshua was responsible for their deaths, and are now out for blood. They have not killed their prisoners because they hope to use the family members as a lure to entice Joshua into a trap where they can exact their revenge for the deaths of their comrades.
As of now, all three family members are alive, each with a different Thieving Guild, Diomi, Tirath and Dreanad. The Tirath family is the only family to have specifically delivered their ransom demand, and is patiently waiting for the 3 days to pass to recontact Joshua with instructions. The Diomi and Dreanad families think their representatives were killed by Joshua, and are going to make a reasonable demand of Joshua and then kill him when he falls into the trap of delivering the money.
The party can go one of two probable directions: they can either head out to Turning Tower with Joshua in tow to collect his inheritance and then make the payments, OR they can try to rescue the family members directly.
The one thing to note is this. Hector Conrad "Konk" Elliot is little more than a made up rich man. The real bad guy here is the herald himself, a criminal mastermind seeking to overtake the town's nefarious enterprises.
His plan is simple: cause havoc in the town, get the current factions to war with each other, and when they are done, he can swoop in and pick up the pieces. He has his guildmates waiting in the wings, or more specifically, waiting outside of town. When the plan concludes, the new thieving guildmaster Grotal will finish off the now weakened remaining guilds and take control of the town.
As such, there is no inheritance to be had. However, the characters are free to find Grotal and his band, and take whatever they have for themselves, of course.
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? Responses (12)
Great - a truly brilliant idea - this definitely gets my "wish I'd thought of that" award
This has got everything - believable motivations (mostly greed), investigation (PCs need to find out where all the kidnap victims are), and just the right amount of combat
One point - not really a gripe, more of an observation - the demon is a little unbelievable (kinda DnD type "evil for evil's sake") - suggest instead a real windfall of some kind (an unexpected inherence is fine) but no where near as big as advertised, or possibly a case of mistaken identity (this is the wrong Joshua Robert Grundel - there's another one who is related to Hector Elliot)
Other than that, one of the best plots I've seen in a long time - 5/5
Yeah, I agree, the demon evil for evil's sake is kind of played out. As you can probably tell, that part of the story was an addon after the fact, you could honestly go any way as far as motivations of the rich guy/herald. I just like including demons and such because they are so easy to blame things for in a fantasy world, and BOY are they fun to fight.
Hey, maybe it's just some crazy guy who likes messing with people, in the truest sense of insanity. Maybe Sir Elliot exists and is completely batty, and the herald is nothing more than a hired messenger, hired to deliver a fairly strange message, but whatever, he's just the messenger, ya know?
Because being crazy for the sake of being crazy is way better than being evil for the sake of evil. Demons are evil, it is a fundamental part of their existance. If you dont like the demon aspect, how bout if the Herald is a sadist who gains his satisfaction by manipulating people for no personal gain. (Think of the movie Saw for an idea of what I am talking about)
Now for the post, I thoroughly enjoye it including the paranoid tailor. I can just see a little reed thin Woody Allen type sitting surrounded by priests who might look like they should be in a mobster movie rather than priestly robes.
Good work Monument
A plus for the image of Woody Allen and mobster priests. :)
This is the first plot I've commented on. I feel compelled to because I think it's great. I also like Scrasmax's 'mobster goon' priests protecting Woody the tailor.
Man, you had me going. I tend to overthink things and I just couldn't get over the horrible way in which the whole thing started, the end snapped me to attention with a great 'ah, ha, so that is why.' Thank you for that, was a pleasure being surprised.
I still don't think you give the thieve's guild enough credit. As soon as the herald started the guild would quickly be put in action to find this guy. The herald, being who he is, would know that as well so could time his deliverance of the message to the same time thieve's guild finding him. You know the guild will follow this herald wherever he goes so there won't be any grace period for this guy.
Why would the guild kidnap family when the tailor is just as easy (easier) to kidnap from the get go. After all he is just strolling around while his family is being kidnapped. Necessary for plot but fails common sense. Better to have him immediately seek sanctuary with the family and maybe the family gets kidnapped while the PCs are helping him escape or trying to claim the inheritance. I also don't think the guilds would ever think that Joshua killed other guild members, that doesn't pan out. He would be watched from 0 hour anyway so they would know exactly what he did.
Definately a fun one!
It streches credibility everyonce in a while, but not any more than your average movie. Cash is payable in banknotes, with no more than 5 in a series.
How come I have forgotten to vote on this? It can work with some proposed modifications. But if the herald stayed a bit more close-mouthed about the fortune, or found the tailor relatively fast, it could make the disputed parts more believable. Plus quickly running away, of course. :)
A nice plot you can have fun with.
A really good plot idea, i just wish i'd thought of it first.
Updated: The ending of the story was noted as "hokey" (and I agree, it was a demon with just did it "because", blergh). I updated the story so that it had a more plausible, and hopefully more plot-carrying ending.
One of the better ideas here.
Has a strong heist feel, though it would be a large town that could support 3 thieves guilds.