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ZEITGEIST Spy v Spy v Ob

My players are deep into adventure 7, and just heavily tipped their hand in a confrontation w/the Ob about where they are and who they're chasing. They think they've found a counterpart associated with the Ob who might be trustworthy, and they gave him a sending stone so they can negotiate further. But others in the Ob know they shared the stone, and have a decent inkling of what they're planning. So I'm trying to think of some interesting spy-v-spy stuff that could happen, especially given the resources of the Ob and how seriously they take the PCs at this point. I've added some more context on what's happening in the [spoilers] below if you're interested.

A couple possibilities I'm considering:

(1) Could Ob wizards manipulate the sending stone they handed over to reveal to them the location of the twin that the PCs are carrying -- essentially turning it into an arcane GPS tracker?
(2) Could Ob wizards use a surveillance spell to intercept messages sent to the Ob contact (or others in the Ob)? (perhaps as imagined here: D&D 5E - Easedropping on Sending spells)
(3) I'll probably creating some schedule for a regular attempt to scry on the PCs, planned in advance so the Ob won't necessarily be listening at the right moments, but could still catch some interesting tidbits.

(1) and (2) would obviously take the Ob a bit of time, so the PCs still have a window before the surveillance locks in, but they make such regular and aggressive use of sending (both via stones and via the spell), that this feels like a logical innovation that the Ob would pursue.

Any other thoughts/ideas/resources that might be fun?

After chasing Quital across much of northern Llanjyr, the PCs met with Ramos Zoltan, who in my world is not just an Ob-aligned businessman, but the owner of the "Great Northern Railroad" (major competitor with the Avery Coast and monopolist in railroad travel north in Drakr). Zoltan is also an amateur archaeologist, and is coordinating the dig at Knutpara, which in my world is both a bastion of the demonocracy and -- if one digs even deeper -- a gateway to a much older city that predates the establishment of the great seal and ties into history of the "ancients" that I've developed to break them up into multiple competing civilizations. In our game, Lya escaped barely from the confrontation in Ber, although she lost an arm to a strange artifact (now replaced with an arcano-scientific prosthetic), and is now the players' major arch-villain.

The PCs were led to believe that Ramos had hired Lya as a consultant, but didn't (perhaps still don't) realize he was a full Ob member. One the PCs' mentors (the party technologist), works for Zoltan, and so vouched for both Zoltan and the PCs to bring them together. The Ob used this meeting to spring an elaborately prepared trap: a meeting in a ballroom buried deep in Zoltan's underground factory in Trekhom, complete with a squadron of Obscurati assassins led by Lya lurking in the bleak gate version of the room. The marble checkered squares of the ballroom were edged in gold, preventing the PCs from teleporting away. An edge-of-their-seats encounter ensued, with shouted negotiations across the impermeable barrier of a hastily-summoned dome of force. An attempt at charming the key negotiators mostly worked (Lya's Seducer's Bane magic item performed perfectly, leading to an incredible reveal when the PCs thought she had been charmed but was not), and the players just barely escaped from what would have been a nearly impossible encounter.

But in their ongoing discussions with Zoltan and his organization, they've revealed a lot. That they're chasing a senior ob operative, and tracking him across train lines. That they know he is investigating the ancient city of Knutpara, and that Knutpara is somewhere in the Shawl mountains outside of Mirsk. They're headed to Mirsk and the great north now (I've expanded their adventures up there with quite a bit of inspiration from Rime of the Frostmaiden), but at this point the Ob knows the PCs are pretty much their most determined adversaries, and that they're almost certainly coming for Quital. Which means they would pull out all the stops to try to find them and stop them.

sidenote: I used the ballroom battlemap from CzePeku that you can find halfway down their tumblr here: Czepeku's Maps. Their work is astounding, and I highly recommend their Patreon if you play on VTT. They also have a pretty awesome line of railroad-inspired maps right now that are extremely useful. In my world, Zoltan's great northern has built an amazing classical railroad station at Mirsk -- mapped by the two-story CzePeku rail station -- where I'm hopeful PCs' showdown will happen with Quital.
 
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Andrew Moreton

Adventurer
1) Why not. But if the players ask let them make approriate skill checks to work out it is possible and maybe even detect the residue of the interference.
2) Later on there are specifically items used to block sending and similar in a city so it is quite reasonable that they can be set up to intercept messages as well
3) The PC's in episode 7 should be worried about Ob surveillance , just make sure the Ob don't learn too much and blow the whole adventure. I think this is 5th ed so unsure about the various scrying spells and counters although once the players switch to the Ob's bodies unless Nic or Han is doing the scrying the Ob's own protections stop it being useful.
 

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