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  1. #81
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    Waghalter (Lvl 7)

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    ° Ignore Wulf Ratbane
    Tough game! I hope I have formatted this ok for the competition. I can't believe how long it took! I spent more time on this than I do on my regular game! (Don't tell my players...)


    Amnesia (Lotus Flower)
    Island Fortress
    Evil Monks
    Eggs (Harpy Eggs)
    Hangman Tree
    Cursed Spear, Back-biter


    *****

    Setting
    Within the core world of Greyhawk, the DM should set the meat of this adventure (the island fortress) in the territory of the Scarlet Brotherhood. Suitable islands can be found in the heart of their territory on the Tilvanot Peninsula; in the Olman Islands; or in their holdings amongst the Sea Princes (to the west) or the Lordship of the Isles (to the east). Possibly the best solution is to place it on a very small island off the coast of Onwal, near their bastion at Scant. This solution allows you to place a small island-- too small to be mapped, but just large enough for a fortress-- right in the heart of Greyhawk, within easy travelling distance.

    The adventure is suitable for 6th-8th level characters.

    Background
    For more years than she can remember, the wizard Fara has been slave to the whims of the Scarlet Brotherhood. They contact her rarely, but each time their demand is the same: some cursed item, to be presented as a gift by unknowing pawns to an enemy of the Brotherhood. To her eternal shame, the Brotherhood holds no particular sway over Fara; her motivation is simple: money. With 'generous' funding from the Brotherhood, Fara was able to retire from a troublesome life of adventure and settle down to scholarly research.

    For her own peace of mind, and the protection of her benefactors, Fara made it a regular practice to drink potions of forgetfulness after each contact. For years this has been her escape from guilt and the source of "plausible deniability" should she ever be found out. Even by wizards' standards, Fara is more forgetful than most, and after countless years of near-addiction to the potions, she remembers almost nothing "short term" if it is not written down.

    Fara now finds herself in a curious predicament. Her latest note to herself is a list of ingredients (lotus flower, harpy eggs) but she has forgotten what they are for. She believes (and the PCs may come to agree) that they are ingredients for a cure to her current state of forgetfulness.

    Fara hires the party to undertake the usual "ingredient gathering" mission. Fara is wizened and wrinkled, warm and gregarious-- though more than a bit muddled. She'll make sure to get the PCs names and descriptions to make a note for herself, apologizing in advance if she does not remember them later. She will then give the PCs her list of ingredients, which includes a hastily scribbled addendum in red ink: Find both on the island fortress... PAID In addition she'll give them her personal signet ring, which she assures them will give them safe passage on the fortress, as well as with any of the local "privateer" captains who may be contracted for the journey.

    The Ocean Voyage
    Unless the PCs are strapped for time and have access to some kind of teleportation, they will have to suffer an ocean voyage. Whether the PCs hire a privateer or more respectable transport, the risks are essentially the same: run afoul of "civilized" folks, or risk the attention of other privateers-- or, worse yet, the Brotherhood navy. In any case the Brotherhood only allows privateers to dock safely in their harbors, so the PCs will have sneak in if they are not flying the proper colors. The DM can use this opportunity to throw a short (EL5-6) encounter at the party.

    The Harpy Eggs (EL8)
    As the PCs approach the island fortress they will have to contend with the first of its defenses-- a murder of harpies who have taken up residence on the high cliffs. The four harpies nesting here will begin by trying to lure PCs off their ships at the limit of their 300' range-- especially unfortunate for the fighters in heavy armor. This encounter could be particularly deadly under those circumstances, so the DM is encouraged to have any ship's crew prepared to help out, from restraining PCs to firing crossbows at the harpies.

    Each harpy has a clutch of 2-3 eggs, more than enough for Fara's purposes.

    The Lotus Fields (EL ~9)
    Half-Orc Overseer (Bbn1/Ftr2 x8)
    Once the players have safely landed on the island, they can approach the small fort. The outlying lands of the fort are covered in lotus fields and worked by dazed peasants, many of whom sit glassy-eyed in ramshackle huts. The work is overseen by half-orc warriors. The overseers will not take kindly to PCs gathering up armfuls of lotus flower from their fields. If the overseers are shown the signet ring, they will advise the party to move on to the fort-- they are apparently expected.

    The Monastery(EL11)
    Li Pao, the Sleeping Dragon, Servant of the Celestial Emperor (LE human Mnk 8)
    Bodyguard (Mnk4, Bbn4, Ftr4, any CR4 humanoids-- x9)
    The fort is simple, with 20' high stone walls. An portcullis guards the only entryway. A single central tower (30' high) looks out over the walls with a view of the ocean. Beneath the tower are clustered several spartan buildings-- monastery-style.

    If the PCs are polite and non-aggressive here, they will easily get out without a scratch on them. Master Li Pao will show them the greatest hospitality: food, drink, and a night's rest. Under his roof, he will assure them, they are safe, and will take offense if his honor is questioned. He will bring out several small clay pots, sealed with black lotus extract, and a straw-filled crate containing a pair of harpy's eggs. Li Pao will ask them to deliver them to Fara with his regards. He does not appear to expect any money to change hands. After dinner he will ask them to accompany him to his private garden, where they can pick up the last remaining item.

    Li Pao's garden is dark, quiet, and serene: arranged in the traditional contemplative style, save for the crooked tree growing in the center. The tree has beautiful white and red blossoms, but its gnarled limbs give it an eerie appearance. The peasant swinging from a noose on the lower branch does not help matters any.

    Li Pao will gesture to a gardener who will scurry over to cut down the branch. "The branch of a hangman's tree," he will explain, then, laughing, "though I regret that Kwok died willingly, as I ordered. Mistress Fara will have to procure the blood of a traitor by some other means. Oh, I am curious what she's cooking up this time!"

    Unless the PCs have reached the boiling point by now, Li Pao will retire and they can spend the evening peacefully.

    Returning to Fara
    Fara (N human Wiz10)
    The return to the aged wizard can go many different ways. Fara honestly does not remember what all the ingredients are for. The players may take pity on her, or they may decide to kill her for her part in what is apparently some brewing evil.

    Unfortunately, Fara has a pile of recently delivered mail waiting for her, including a letter written in her own hand and sealed with her own signet ring. The letter will say simply: "Harpy eggs and lotus extract-- forgetfullness potion. Hangman's tree and traitor's blood for cursed back-biter spear. Deliver spear to King of Kruski. Drink potion!" If the players discover this letter, things will get worse for Fara.

    If the players show her mercy, Fara will express genuine regret, explaining truthfully that she has no memory of her hand in the Brotherhood's machinations. This is a complicated question of guilt and innocence!

    If the players attack her, she will defend herself grudgingly. Many of her daily spell slots will be taken up by item creation and identification spells, so she cannot put up much of a fight.

    Curveball #1: If the players kill Fara, make certain they discover her first letter (tucking it in her spellbook is a likely solution). One or two days later, throw them a curveball: A messenger will track them down, asking them if they have seen Fara, and if they would mind delivering a letter to her. This second letter says: "A hangman's tree from the bastard's own garden and your own blood! Deliver the spear to Li Pao with a ribbon on it!" and in large red letters: "DON'T FORGET: DRINK POTION!"

    Curveball #2: The peasants, the overseers, even Li Pao himself, will actually seem to recognize the PCs and welcome them back! This can be as convincing and worrisome as you see fit. You may allow the PCs to simply write off the experience as the ramblings of lotus-addled peasants-- or you can really play it up to give them the eerie feeling that they have forgotten some major events in their own lives. If you choose the latter, be ready to provide answers and further adventures!

 

  • #82
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    ° Ignore el-remmen
    Ok, I have looked over the 4 entries in the two concurrent rounds and one set is a lot closer than the other. . . though I have a feeling I know whom the winners shall be after I have sat down to go over the entries again and pick them apart and REALLY judge them. . .

    Look for results tomorrow, by noon or so. . eastern standard time - of course.
    How to Write a Story Hour. | "Out of the Frying Pan" Story Hour Portal Thread


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  • #83
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    Joshua Dyal vs. Wicht

    Well, I will give Joshua Dyal one thing - his was better organized than Wicht's. . .

    He also had some cute elements like "Captain Cat" (i.e Pirate Cat) - I think in general the scenario was weak because of what is meant to draw the party into it - and while I think it is always a good idea to try to find alternatives to the "hired to retrieve such-and-such" or "saving the maiden in distress" story hooks - happening upon a holy horse doesn't seem to have the hookiness that is needed - esp since it then requires that the party listen to the tale of a drunken crazy man and follow up on it - Now, don't get me wrong I am totally against scenarios that lead PCs by the nose as well - but there should be some more concrete motive for moving the PCs from place to place.

    There is also the problem of "breaking the rules" for magic rings and allowing Captain Cat to trigger the ring involuntarily if the party manages to take him out before he can react (cheesy, in my opinion) also, even if cast by the most powerful wizard the Enlarge spell would not be able to make a fire beetle gargantuan. However, getting around the CR problems that a gargantuan beetle would reprsent to most groups by making it a magic effect that could be dispelled or wear-off is clever.

    Now, Wicht's scenario seems to have Warhammer Fantasy to thank for its inspiration. . . what with its Chaos Stone (which reminds me of a warp stone -though in this case people are only changed mentally). Sure the hook here is weak as well. .. but the scenario inside offers a variety of challenges for PCs - you have combat with crazed monsters and fish, the physical challenges of a flooded mine to find the source of the problem and of course the mystery of how to avoid the effects of the stone - and not to mention the opportunity for some good role-playing as the PCs slowly turn crazy. . .

    Of course, Wicht failed to mention how crippled the rogue is and how effective he could really be in a fight if he is crippled (points to Josh for his explanation of the peg-leg!), and I think the Holy Mount dog "easily" explaining the situation to the party is also weak (undermining what could be a cool investigative aspect to the scenario). . .

    But in the end, Wicht's entry is the stronger and he wins this round advancing to the next. . . In general I do not think his entry is as strong as some others I have seen him do in the past - but he is just warming up and still is the favorite to win. . .
    Last edited by nemmerle; Tuesday, 4th June, 2002 at 03:13 PM.
    How to Write a Story Hour. | "Out of the Frying Pan" Story Hour Portal Thread


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  • #84
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    Magsman (Lvl 14)

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    ° Ignore Hobo
    Ah, well. I did expect early elimination going up against him! Congratulations, Wicht!

    "I realize that I am generalizing here, but, as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care." Dave Barry

  • #85
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    Waghalter (Lvl 7)

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    ° Ignore Wulf Ratbane
    Oh god... I haven't looked yet. I have butterflies in my stomach.

    I want to thank Nemm in advance for the punch-in-the-gut public criticism I am going to receive.

    Need to get used to it now!

    Ok... here we go...

    EDIT: Hmm... nothing yet. Don't like the "hired to retrieve" hook, eh? That doesn't bode well...
    Last edited by Wulf Ratbane; Tuesday, 4th June, 2002 at 03:13 PM.

  • #86
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    ° Ignore el-remmen
    Wulf, I have not judged yours yet. . .

    But keep a box of Kleenex ready
    How to Write a Story Hour. | "Out of the Frying Pan" Story Hour Portal Thread


    "Out of the Frying Pan" Story Hour Downloads: Book I | Book II | Book III | Book IV (coming sometime 2013)

  • #87
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    ° Ignore Wulf Ratbane
    As long as it's "punch-in-the-gut" criticism, and not "kick-in-the-junk."

    I don't think I could take that.

  • #88
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    ° Ignore Hobo
    Wulf Ratbane:
    As long as it's "punch-in-the-gut" criticism, and not "kick-in-the-junk."

    I don't think I could take that.

    That's true: I really enjoy getting this kind of feedback. True, I don't necessarily play the same way Nemmerle does, and some of the criticism he gave my entry, while I can understand it, wouldn't matter much in the games I've played.

    But that's the point, isn't it, to create a mini-scenario that is applicable to anyone, and not just to my game? I guess that's where I struggle: I think about games the way I like them, not really generically.

    "I realize that I am generalizing here, but, as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care." Dave Barry

  • #89
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    ° Ignore Zappo
    Originally posted by Wulf Ratbane
    EDIT: Hmm... nothing yet. Don't like the "hired to retrieve" hook, eh? That doesn't bode well...
    Not really. I used practically the same!

  • #90
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    ° Ignore el-remmen

    Wulf vs. Zappo

    I was really impressed by the background for Zappo's scenario - placing it in Greyhawk (the generic world) was a good idea - and adding racial politics to the adventure is something few people have the guts to do in modules - so I liked it. . . I loved the inbred and twisted monks - whether they were originally evil or good - doesn't matter by the time the PCs get there - what matters is that they are forced into a culture and society they are not used to and must slowly learn what is going on here and what the rules are. . . I am personally a sucker for adventures that introduce a new way of looking at things counter to the PC's assumptions.

    However, the scenario that Zappo has created has an incredible amount of room for things to go utterly different than described in his synopsis. . . This is a strength for an experienced DM who can handle such a wide number of variable - but a weakness for any beginning DMs who struggle when verisimiltude demands that something different than predicted in the adventure should happen.

    While the idea of escaping while a funeral takes place is very cool and very dramatic - the fact that the slaves come up with the plan kind of leaves the PCs out of the loop - when such "plans" are part of what makes being a PC fun - or at the very least perhaps the slaves' plan could be flawed and the PCs could have the opportunity to improve on it. . . And of course this ASSUMES that the PCs will go along with this plan to begin with - the combination of the funeral, the escape attempt, the revenge of Maklor and the hunt for the parrot eggs leads to a wide variety of possibilities. . .

    Also, Zappo did not include a very important possibility - what if the PCs insist on seeing "the leaders" and want to negotiated with the monks? What would their reaction be to strangers? Also, something needed to be included that would give the slaves an opportunity to trust the PCs - otherwise why would they risk confiding in them about the escape plan?

    Now Wulf's scenario at first sight looks typical and probably boring - the good ole "hunt for components" stand-by that we have probably all done a million times - but whoa. . . did he do a friggin' good job with it!

    First of all, the way he handled the amnesia (potion of forgetfulness & the lotus flower) was brilliant (and much better than the way Zappo seemed to shoe-horn his into his otherwise well-blended scenario). Secondly, the scenario as a whole has a tenseness and a revealing of question after question that works really well. . . as the PCs proceed their suspicion grows - not only of their employer - but of the monks they are visiting (and if the GM uses one of the "twist" options appended by Wulf they can even grow suspicious of themselves!)

    the possibility of combat during this scenario is real - but the great thing is that a party could handle it in an investigative or diplomatic kind of way and still have positive results. . .

    Wulf's deceptively simple entry is particularly great because in addition to presenting a one-time encounter of interest and different levels - it can easily be used to have ramifications to the campign both to the future and the past - the two "curveballs" really help to flesh out the scenario as part of a greater campaign - as does the idea that these cursed items are purposefully made and distributed can lead to clues about the Scarlet Brotherhood in the future (yes, Wulf used Greyhwawk as well) Thought I have to admit I like Zappo's inclusion of the back-biter spear better as it has a dramatic role as opposed to being a MacGuffin.

    The cool thing about BOTH entries is that they could probably be combined without too much effort and be very multi-layered and very messy. . .

    In the end, I award Wulf this round . . he really blended the elements well - and his use of the harpies to ensure one small initial combat to counter-balance the "talking" of later in the scenario was very good.

    Personally, I think that if Wulf keeps writing scenarios like this he is going to give even masterful Wicht a run for his money. ..
    Last edited by nemmerle; Tuesday, 4th June, 2002 at 04:11 PM.
    How to Write a Story Hour. | "Out of the Frying Pan" Story Hour Portal Thread


    "Out of the Frying Pan" Story Hour Downloads: Book I | Book II | Book III | Book IV (coming sometime 2013)

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