View Full Version : [RIVALRY] You Know, Most Guys Just Send Flowers...

2007-01-19, 04:49 AM
WARNING: This entry contains themes that may be inappropriate for younger readers.

Sighing, Alicia pushed open the door to the station house, forcing her way from the press of early morning traffic into the relative calm of the bastion of order. As she crossed the busy ready room, the chaotic hue and cry of the city faded into the more orderly hum of watchmen discussing various happenings as the night watch changed to the day.

"Been picking flowers, Chief?" The voice of one of the new rookies brought her to a halt in confusion, which quickly blossomed into a kind of resigned dread. She looked down. Sure enough, there was a flower sticking out from under the flap of the satchel she carried at her side. She sighed, frowning.

"No, Aloysius. When you have a chance, visit briefing room two and take a look at the board. And see if you can rearrange things a little, I think we're about to have some new information."

Sure enough, a watchman burst through the door, out of breath from having run all the way from the scene. Halfway across the city, if Alicia knew the watchman. That would be... Merchant's quarter, bordering on the docks. Panting, the watchman took a moment to lean down and catch his breath.

"Corpse... On the Street of Fisher's Wives... Like the... other four..."

"Is he ranging farther afield, or is this actually closer to home for him?" She murmured.


Frowning, Alicia shook her head and pulled the flower and what it was tied to out of her satchel. She hefted the fist-sized oilskin package in one hand while she handed the flower to the rookie.

"Canvass the Gardener's and Cultivator's Guild, see if someone knows where this flower grows. Bonus if you can identify EXACTLY where. I doubt it'll help much, but every little bit."

A few minutes later, a bucket in one hand, Alicia stared at the package sitting on the desk in her office. Wrapped in oilskin and secured with hairy string, the five packages were virtually identical. Each with her name inked on the top, across the folding of the oilskin. Each stained a dark red on the bottom third from their contents. Each left where it could be easily found, and sometimes where it had no business being. the first had just been left on the watchhouse steps near dawn, then one of the guards assigned to patrol right outside found the second one in the bucket containing his lunch. Spoiled his appetite. Now this latest one, right in her pocket, nearly... If the other details held true... Frown firmly fixed on her face, she slipped the package into the bucket and pulled a dagger from her desk drawer. The string was cut, the oilskin folded away. At the top of the package was a folded sheet of parchment, again with her name written on the outside, only this time the ink was a dark red. As usual. She lifted the parchment carefully, and there, underneath it, as usual...

Was a heart. Humanoid at the very least, sitting in a pool of its own blood. Alicia sighed and glanced down at the badge she wore around her neck. She'd told the duke she'd either deliver the killer or her badge.

"The way things are going, I'd better start shining my badge for delivery," she muttered.

Alicia Studherd
Human,1st-level Warrior, 2nd-level Expert
Medium Humanoid (Human)
Hit Dice: 1d8+2d6+3 (14 hp)
Initiative: -1
Speed: 20 feet in chainmail (4 squares), base speed 30 ft.
Armor Class: 16 (-1 Dex, +5 chain mail, +2 shield), touch 9, flat-footed 16
Base Attack/Grapple: +2/+3
Attack: mwk heavy pick +4 melee (1d6+1/x4) or dagger +3 melee (1d4+1/19-20) or dagger +2 ranged (1d4+1/19-20)
Full Attack: mwk heavy pick +4 melee (1d6+1/x4) or dagger +3 melee (1d4+1/19-20) or dagger +2 ranged (1d4+1/19-20)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: -
Special Qualities: Human traits
Saves: Fort +3, Ref -1, Will +5
Abilities: Str 13, Dex 8, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 15, Cha 10
Skills: Alicia has selected Diplomacy, Forgery, Gather Information, Intimidate, Knowledge (Local), Listen, Search, Sense Motive, Spot, and Use Rope as her Expert class skills.
Ride +3, Climb +5, Jump +5, Handle Animal +4, Sense Motive +13, Search +8, Spot +4, Listen +4, Forgery +6
Feats: Negotiator, Skill Focus (Sense Motive), Combat Expertise
Alignment: Lawful Good
Masterwork heavy pick
2 daggers
Masterwork chain mail
Masterwork heavy steel shield
Masterwork manacles
Watch badge (worth 25 gp)
45 gp in coins and personal effects

Alicia is the chief of the watch in whatever city this rivalry is set in. Recently, a string of serial killings has rocked the city, each marked by the removal of the heart and a few other internal organs. The hearts are, without fail, delivered to the watch, still fresh and bleeding, and placed stealthily where they will be found easily, each one addressed to Alicia. Within each grisly package (described above) is a taunting letter, written in a jittery, spidery hand, as well as a pleading postscript, written with a much smoother hand. Although the duke has expressed concern over the killings and offered to place a diviner at Alicia's disposal, Alicia believes firmly that utilizing magic in this case would ruin it, that the killer's specific fixation on her can only be fulfilled if she and she alone tracks him down with no supernatural aid. Reluctantly, the duke has agreed, but warns her that if many more die, she will be off the case. She's assured him if more die, she'll be off the force.

Advancement/Options: Alicia will continue taking one level of Warrior for every 2 levels of Expert. She'll prioritize Wis and Dex during advancement and with magic items, upgrading her armor before her weapon. In feats, anything from the Combat Expertise tree is up for grabs, as is anything that will improve her Sense Motive checks. Those running a high magic or psionics campaign may wish her to be capable of casting Zone of Truth or similar spells/powers. Those DMs seeking nice even modifiers should, if advancing Alicia, place a few extra ranks in Ride and Handle Animal to bring them both up to +5. Otherwise, one skill point (Or 2, when taking or coming out of a level of Warrior) will always go to Sense Motive, with the rest scattered over the rest of her Expert list.

Encounter: If found on patrol, she will be accompanied by 2 regular members of the watch (1st-level warriors with longswords and light crossbows). If encountered at the station, will have 3d4 watchmen in the building around her, able to reach her office in 1d3 rounds, with 3d6 more in the general neighborhood, responding to a loud whistle and each arriving at the station within 1d10 rounds, taking 3 rounds more to reach her office.

Details: If initially encountered when the PCs have no knowledge of the killings or are otherwise pursuing a different matter, will seem haggard and distracted. A successful Sense Motive check (See 'Hunch' in the skill description) reveals she seems distracted from the matter the PCs are discussing with her. If asked, she will simply say she's been having some difficulties lately. If the PCs offer to help, she will turn them down, but one of the nearby watchmen may fill them in when she is out of earshot.

In general personality, she's honorable and businesslike, with a near instinctive grasp of human behavior. She has a minor speech quirk of leaving out half her thought process and the tail ends of common aphorisms such as "any little bit (helps)" in conversation.

Kevin Cobbler
Human,3rd-level Expert
Medium Humanoid (Human)
Hit Dice: 3d6+3 (13 hp)
Initiative: +1
Speed: 30 ft. (6 squares)
Armor Class: 13 (+1 Dex, +2 leather), touch 11, flat-footed 12
Base Attack/Grapple: +2/+4
Attack: Masterwork spear +4 melee (1d8+3/x3) or masterwork spear +3 ranged (1d8+2/x3)
Full Attack: Masterwork spear +4 melee (1d8+3/x3) or masterwork spear +3 ranged (1d8+2/x3)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: -
Special Qualities: Human traits
Saves: Fort +1, Ref +2, Will +2
Abilities: Str 15, Dex 12, Con 10, Int 14, Wis 8, Cha 13
Skills: Kevin has selected Bluff, Craft, Disguise, Heal, Hide, Intimidate, Move Silently, Profession, Sleight of Hand, and Tumble as class skills.
Bluff +7, Craft (Taxidermy) +10, Disguise +9, Heal +5, Hide +9, Intimidate +7, Move Silently +9, Profession (Cobbler) +7, Sleight of Hand +7.
Feats: Toughness, Stealthy, Trophy Collector
Trophy Collector appears in the Player's Handbook II. Those without access should replace it with Skill Focus (Craft (Taxidermy)) or Weapon Focus (Spear).
Alignment: N
Leather apron (treat as leather armor that provides no armor bonus against critical hit confirmation)
Trophy, halfling, amulet (worth 100 gp)
Trophy, human, belt (worth 200 gp) (If PHBII unavailable, simply note that he's wearing some organs and do not give them gp values, increasing his treasure back to standard encounter levels)
Masterwork spear
Masterwork cobbler's tools (Kevin's Profession bonus above includes the circumstance bonus)
Masterwork taxidermy tools (Kevin's Craft bonus above includes the circumstance bonus)
Disguise kit (Kevin's Disguise bonus above includes the circumstance bonus)
127 gp worth of personal effects.

Hello, Inspector. I'm glad you're still following me. I'm nearly done, you know. Just three more to go. Maybe you're getting close to me? I know I'm getting close to you. I think I'm in love with you. You see, I sent you flowers this time. But we always hurt the ones we love, don't we?

You're wondering what I do with the parts, aren't you? Well, let me answer your question with a question: Do you know what they put in sausages? I wish you were here to hear me laughing, it's just not the same if I write "ha ha ha," now is it?

Ah, will you look at that. Oop, you're not here, and won't be reading this until well after I'm done... Moon's nearly gone, I'd better finish here...

I'm sorry, Inspector, I can't do anything, please, catch him before he does any more harm, I can barely stand waking up knowing what he's done, but he won't let me come to you, he won't even let me tell you, but I think I can say the sausages thing is a ruse, he's bluffing, he doesn't eat them.

Please, Inspector. I'm begging you. I can't even put a clue in or he'll know, please...

Sighing, Kevin set down the pen and wrapped the cloth back around his arm. No one knew. No one even suspected. Even when he hadn't had time to hide the bloody apron before his first customer walked in. Fortunately the man had been busy swearing at his shoe, which had lost a heel and driven him nuts all the way there since it was his only pair...

He felt the killer stir and sadly folded the note. His blood wasn't quite dry on it, but it shouldn't smudge. He hoped the note was all right, or he'd be weak from blood loss tomorrow, the killer wrote in his blood if he had to redo a note. He was always there, watching. No secrets. The killer gleefully let him watch. The stalking. The spear clad in a rolled parchment to look like a staff. The butchering. The collection of salts and acids and oils in the basement. Useful for shoemaking, yes, but useful too for preserving and mummifying internal organs. He glanced down. The halfling's liver was still around his neck on its leather thong. Why the killer wore them he didn't know.

Kevin Cobbler is cursed. Perhaps not cursed in a magical sense, but there are two people inhabiting Kevin's body: Himself, and an entity Kevin knows only as "the killer". Every few nights, the killer stalks and kills someone, butchering the corpse where it lies and bringing its heart and one or two other organs back. The heart is immediately packaged for delivery to the watch house before dawn, while he preserves and embalms the other organs with Craft (Taxidermy) and the Trophy Collector feat. He then writes Alicia a letter in the victim's blood. Usually after all this exertion, the killer either needs or chooses to recede and let Kevin add his own thoughts, although Kevin needs to use his own blood, leaving scars similar to needle tracks on the inside of his elbows.

The killer uses for his weapon a spear, normally disguised to appear as a quarterstaff on casual inspection. This use of the Disguise skill is covered in Races of Destiny, and conforms to the general parameters of the Disguise skill. It is opposed by Search, even on casual observation. The killer will usually take 20 on this Disguise check.

Advancement/Options: Kevin will prioritize Strength and Charisma, selecting feats that help him hide or otherwise stalk his prey. If his advancement gives him enough for a +2 weapon, he will prefer a +1 keen spear. Otherwise, he may have oils of Keen Edge, which would be used before an encounter if he has been stalking. If advanced sufficiently, he may possess skill tricks from Complete Scoundrel relying on Bluff, Intimidate, or Disguise. Those DMs capable of coming up with a cloak or boots made from humanoid internal organs (the idea gives the author the willies, but he posits sandals of intestine) may wish to add to Kevin's trophies.

Encounter: Kevin's behavior is variable depending on when he is encountered. If during the day, he will normally be in control of himself and at his shop, working as a cobbler. If asked about the killings, he will bluff ignorance. A general hunch will determine that he's nervous about something, and if pressed, he'll reveal that one of the victims lived two doors down from him, and he's worried about the killer striking him next (half-truth, one of the victims WAS a neighbor of his, but those seeking a connection between the two would find nothing.). If encountered as the killer, usually at night or if he is openly accused of being the killer, his attitude varies wildly. When stalking, he is calm, collected, and silent. If openly fighting or butchering a kill, he will giggle and hum and mumble to himself happily. The killer, when stalking, tries to kill his opponent in one blow, or at least render them unconscious. Since most of his victims are 1st-level commoners, this is not normally a problem.

The killer strikes randomly, simply stalking until a likely-looking target appears. Since he restricts his activity to dark hours and areas, a positive identification would be hard. When stalking, he wears a blood-stained leather apron, two grisly trophies, his spear, and his dagger. In combat, he will bluff against his target or set his spear against anyone who looks inclined to charge. He may also attempt to demoralize opponents, as well.

Details: The exact cause of Kevin's killer is up to the DM. Although multiple personalities is the most mundane option, demonic possession, a taint effect (See Heroes of Horror), or a cursed magic item in his possession may be the culprit. If used as suggested in the flavor text, with the PCs entering after the fifth killing, the killer will kill two more random commoners over the space of a week or two, then turn his attentions to Alicia. He will be much more elaborate when stalking Alicia, teasing her with "love" notes written in his own blood left where he has no business being able to be. The killer's use for the hearts and organs, if any exists beyond Trophy Collector and sending to Alicia, is also up to the DM.

2007-01-19, 05:08 AM
Oooh, I like! I'll see if I can get my DM to do something like this for the all-monster party. :)

2007-01-19, 11:03 AM
Very interesting. And one heck of a take on the 'heart' theme. And the 'Details' bit for Kevin may look like it's just the last bit tacked on, but for me it opens up a whole world of possibilities for how to put this into a game...

Excellent work. Can't wait to see what you do for the crunch!

2007-01-19, 01:52 PM
Nitpick: If he's delivering the hearts to the gates of the watch in the mornings, why isn't Alicia assigning someone to watch the gates every morning and see who drops stuff off? Maybe instead he can leave them addressed to Alicia at the scene of the murder?

Generally cool though. Very "CSI"...

2007-01-19, 02:13 PM
There's a simple reason to this; the guy just won't deliver the package when someone's watching.

2007-01-20, 05:40 AM
Well, the deliveries rely a little on OOTS logic: Since Kevin's getting an average roll of 19 on Hide/Move Silently, and the 1st-level warriors that usually make up most of the watch buy Spot and Listen as cross-class skills, their average roll is at max 16, thus they can't see him unless they're really lucky. That 16 assumes they use the default array like Alicia and Kevin do, assigning their 14 and 15 to Int and Wis, and taking Awareness. For watchmen, they aren't very watchful.

As for the crunch, it should be all there, although I have the sneaking suspicion I forgot Kevin's human bonus skill points. My main goal here was providing a miniature adventure for a DM to include sometime, possibly to fill out some downtime where the PCs are all available and waiting for something to happen.

2007-01-20, 09:37 AM
As for the crunch, it should be all there, although I have the sneaking suspicion I forgot Kevin's human bonus skill points. My main goal here was providing a miniature adventure for a DM to include sometime, possibly to fill out some downtime where the PCs are all available and waiting for something to happen.

I was talking about this requirement of the contest:

Some "crunchy" element such as an item, spell, PrC, or other rule element that fits into the rivalry somehow.

Or did I miss something in your post?

(As for the skill points... Expert 3, so 6 skill points/level, plus one for human, plus two for Int, makes 54 skill points, max ranks 6... eight skills with six ranks each... yes, you forgot the human skill point, he should be able to have nine skills with six ranks. Sleight of Hand +7 or Use Rope +7 would be his other class skills.)

2007-01-21, 04:46 AM
I was talking about this requirement of the contest:

...Well, orcmuffins. I don't suppose him having H/MS and her having S/L counts. Glad you caught that, I'm going to need to do some revising. That'll learn me, durn me.

2007-01-21, 06:59 AM
I'm just rattling off ideas now, and I certainly don't want to interfere with your contest entry, so feel free to totally ignore me, but... two birds with one stone: instead of having the heart deliveries be made without a hitch by the power of plot (and D&D's lack of a good NPC watchman class), you could make your crunch element a means of sneaking the heart in there. Perhaps tie it to Sleight of Hand somehow -- the fact of its being on his class list got my mind ticking over on whether he might be using that somehow to sneakily drop the package.

2007-01-27, 11:12 PM
This has my vote for best articulation of the theme.

2007-01-31, 10:54 PM
Update: Swapped Kevin's Tumble for Intimidate, added ranks in Sleight of Hand, changed story and background details to compensate. Fleshed out Alicia's personality and advancement, included options for use of Complete Scoundrel in Kevin's advancement.

Things should be all set now. Thanks for the help.