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October 3, 2012, 9:41 am

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The Attempted Assassination of Jaspar Zane


Will players provide their help to a man and his ward when it becomes obvious that they are the targets of a group of hired thugs?

 A horse-drawn wagon speeds into town, briefly skidding in the dirt before the driver manages to regain control. The two occupants are hunched over, looking around wildly, a single flaming arrow sticking out of the rear of the wagon.

The players will be in town, and at this point will probably not know one another, as this will be the opening event of the campaign.

An older man, probably fifty or so years old is driving. Sitting next to him is a young man. The driver continues to try and maneuver through the town, the wagon causing pedestrians to have to dodge lest they be crushed by horse and wheel.

The wagon is filled with the duo's traveling supplies, and has difficulty making it through town on account of the speed at which the driver is going.

Suddenly the sound of five horses comes from the same direction the wagon appeared from. Riding hard, five men in black starting gaining speed on the wagon. A serf is overrun by one of the men, and the poor man does not get back up.

The five pursuers are lightly armed- one has a horse-bow, another a crossbow, and the other are carrying swords. Their horses are better-rested than the one pulling the wagon.

The driver of the wagon tries to shake the attackers by making a dangerous turn. The wagon skids again, and the driver barely manages to avoid running anyone over. One of the pursuers, carrying a horse bow, takes aim. His shot flies true, striking the driver of the wagon in the chest.

At this point, none of my players will be mounted, meaning that until the wagon and assassins demount, only anyone capable of archery or magic will be able to engage the attackers in combat.

With a sharp snapping sound, the wagon veers out of control, crashing into a market stall. The horse is injured by this, and will later be taken outside the walls and killed due to its injuries. The passenger is thrown off of the wagon, suffering a mild wound to the head. The attackers decide to demount at this point.

Depending on how many players intervene, one could be facing all of the assassins, or all of my players could be engaging in a somewhat equal fight. The attackers are not particularly skilled, and are lightly armored. It will be possible to take one or more men alive, if the players attempt to.

Should players choose not to intervene, the passenger will feebly attempt to fight off the attackers, suffering a nasty wound to his face before the town guard manage to extract him from the situation. (This wound will alter the passenger's appearance, moving it from Attractive to Unattractive in GURPS terms.) The guards kill all of the attackers.

If the players intervene, it is learned that the passenger's name is Jaspar Zane, a young ward of the historian Morano Zane. Jaspar has been raised by Morano for his entire life, until recently they began to be followed by a group of men. Fearing for their lives, Morano and Jaspar fled from their hometown, hoping to slip away in the dead of night. This appeared to work for the first week, until they were eventually found again in the wilderness, causing their flight into town.

Morano is dead from the arrow to his chest. The wagon is a complete loss, as in the horse. Most of the personal effects in the back are Jaspar and Morano's clothing and personal effects. Of note are a journal, kept by Morano in a language or code that even Jaspar cannot read, a single broadsword, as well as a small box of letters.

1: A missive requesting the Morano settle a land dispute where two small barons believe the local history supports their claim to a small stretch of land. Both Barons have signed it and agreed to abide by Morano's decision in the matter. They are located between the starting town (yet to be named) and where Morano and Jaspar resided (also yet to be named).

2: A letter stating a favor owed to Morano for his work determining if a family heirloom being presented was authentic. The author of this letter also signed it with their name, and lives in the capital city.

3: A warning that Morano need to be careful. The letter seems to have been written by someone close to Morano who was deeply concerned for his safety. There is no signature or date.

4: A bill of sale for a wagon and horse, recently purchased.

5: A draft of a letter from Morano to a client detailing his findings about the man's father.

Should players choose not to help Jaspar, most of the above will be taken by the local guards. Jaspar will spend a week recovering with them, before being released. He will be given only the sword and the journal. He immediately starts going around town attempting to find anyone willing to help him discover why he was attacked.

In short, the players forfeit a great deal of possible gain by not helping Jaspar, or by failing to investigate Morano's letters. The letters contain both a small quest possibility (#1), a possible favor from a noble in the Capital City (#2), as well as a small gold payment (#5). The last two letters are for informative purposes- the Bill of Sale allows the players to find who Morano purchased the horse and wagon from to possibly question him, and the letter of warning leads to a future NPC who was aware of the situation surrounding the historian.

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Comments ( 5 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Murometz
October 3, 2012, 13:00
I had to read this twice to realize that this isn't a "western-themed" sub! :)

It smells like the opening scene in a Sergio Leone movie!
Voted Dossta
October 4, 2012, 16:50
This is a very solid introductory quest, with a nice lead in to a bunch of other stuff. The letters were a nice touch. Call me jaded, but my players rarely make characters that go for the whole "good samaritan" hook, so you may want to consider including several other motivations for the party to become involved. Perhaps as witnesses to the crime, they are required to make a court date? If there is a law in the country that requires good samaritan behaviour if a crime is witnessed (which is why a lot of people at the scene were actually turning away or covering their eyes), then they could be charged with helping the investigation. Just a thought.
October 4, 2012, 22:13
I'm thinking more assassins sent to kill any witnesses of the first attack...
Voted Strolen
October 11, 2012, 2:33
Might be easier to have the PCs use Morano to identify an item or used as a source of information earlier in the campaign so that they already know them. Once they know them, know the bare minimums about them (they are "good") then when they see them being chased through the town there is motivation to get involved.

Once involved the guards could lump them in with the Morano's for damage/clean-up fees in the town and such which would make them (me anyway) more motivated to find who did it for paybacks for the loss of my coin as well as safety of Morano.

You had me at the title of the sub, love it!
Voted valadaar
March 13, 2017, 13:21
An excellent and concise plot. Good stuff!

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