View Full Version : DM Help Need help polishing an adventure

2015-11-19, 11:17 AM
I have modified a mystery adventure I found on the now defunct WotC boards ages ago, which was based on the legend of the Beast of Gévaudan (inspiration for the Brotherhood of the Wolf movie). Sadly, I cannot credit the OP, as even though I had the link, it no longer works. I have modified it to take place in Loudwater in the Forgotten Realms, late 1367 DR, but you can easily substitute people and organisations to make it suit your adventure.

Quick glossary:
Harpers: Good guy CIA. Full of half-elves, humans, and other good-aligned creatures. They enjoy long walks in the woods.
Lord's Alliance: Loose alliance of states and cities.
Zhentarim: An organisation of nasty mercenaries, priests, traders etc. Enjoy torturing good guys, but not particular about alignment.
Eldreth Veluuthra: Elf supremacists.
Tanta Hagara: A hag leading a force of barbarians, currently camped in a demon-infested keep.
Red Wizard: Wizards hailing from the evil magocracy of Thay. Run Thay-marts; enclaves that sell magic items.
People of the Black Blood: Evil lycanthropes.

The adventurers are sent by the Lord's Alliance or the Harpers to Loudwater to solve why apparently a wolf, or wolves, are attacking the people of Loudwater. The reasons for picking the adventurers for the task are portents and signs observed by a priest of Lathander, who claims they are connected to an upcoming Blood Moon and a lycanthrope attack is associated with it. This event will take place a year later, but it is likely the adventurers’ actions will precipitate this event. They are informed there have been wolf attacks on villagers, which is weakening the authority of the High Lord as he is seemingly incapable of dealing with it. Enter the adventurers.

Building the mystery, the setting: part 1
Firstly, Loudwater is currently a political quagmire; the High Lord (ruler) Nanathlor Greysword is very old and being courted by the Lord's Alliance, and though he is a friend to the Harpers and his neighbouring western city Secomber is a member of the Lord’s Alliance, he does not want to provoke the Zhentarim, who recently seized the neighbouring village Orlbar. Nanathlor Greysword is somewhat wary of the Lord's Alliance; he wishes for the freedom of Loudwater, which only a few years ago he bled for alongside the people of Loudwater. However, he would still prefer the soft nudge of the Lord’s Alliance to the mailed fist of Zhentil Keep.

Then there is the Eldreth Veluuthra who wants to reclaim the entire area and grow the High Forest so it once again connects to Southwood. There are also internal problems; upstart Baron Polding who wants Loudwater for his own and undermines the High Lord’s authority at every turn. Kalahar Twohands is the most likely successor, but is seen as too soft by many. The adventure takes place before the Zhentarim seize Orlbar, which will eventually culminate in the Oath of Orlbar in 1369.

Second, the Beast is the result of a curse. The story goes when the High Lord came to power he was hit by a poisoned arrow fired by an elven assassin; desperate, his wife cut a deal with Mag Meduin, a hag, to heal her husband, and the hag agreed on the condition that she would return to ask a favour that the High Lord could not deny. Two years ago the hag asked for the favour (which I want to be related to Tanta Hagara and the Blue Bear Tribe) but the horrified High Lord refused; not only did he refuse, he sentenced the hag to beheading, and had her witch followers executed and left in the moors as a warning to the hag's sisters not to mess with him. No surprise, the day after the hag was killed, the Beast began attacking.

Third, the Beast is neither a werewolf, nor is it a single person. It is a group of cursed people who can change form into wolves, but they are not lycanthropes, as the power is tied to the magical wolf pelts they wear.

Gather Information DCs:
DC Rumour
5 Thelbrimm’s patrols reported several farmsteads butchered by orcs.
10 Wolf attacks have been occurring all around the city, Orlbar was recently seized by the Zhentarim, Hark’s tax. A red dragon has been spotted Upvale!
15 Polding has been able to protect his lands from wolf attacks, a halfling merchant from the Shining Falls has lost almost his entire family to goblins.
20 Erugasha the druid has recently being exceedingly short tempered and blew up at a man at the market. Aria Tanoren is the bastard daughter of Baron Polding.
25 A lady saw a giant rat swim in the river, then walked on two legs when it reached the shore! The Hark is here!

Many of these rumours are related to other adventures which are going to be optional throughout the campaign.

Building the mystery, suspects: part 2
I decided 5 suspects and 3 conclusions I want the PCs to draw are the right numbers. First I'm going to look at the suspects and their motives for opening the gats during the bandit attack. There is a twist: All bar one of the suspects are victims of the hag's curse, but only one of them is the Beast at any given time. So if the PCs kill the current Beast, a new one will emerge unless the curse is broken.

1. Sir Chevian Vandahar is a knight of Loudwater, and he is a fiercely competitive arrogant man who loathes the weaknesses of the "fat indolent swine" of peasants and nobles hiding behind Loudwater's walls. Chevian was cursed for wielding the axe to behead the hag in a moment of righteous zeal. Chevian is the Beast, at least to begin with, and he has been it for a year. Chevian even visited the Gray Sisters, the remaining hags of Mag Meduine's covey, to understand how he might share the blessing of the Beast with his knights-in-arms. Now the dozen knights of Loudwater have all been initiated and sworn allegiance to Chevian who is plotting a coup against the High Lord. His motive in opening the portcullis is to inspire fear and doubt in the High Lord’s rule, and to manipulate Baron Polding and the High Lord into wasting their resources on each other. He is assured of the support of Magelord/Cult of the Dragon/Knights of the Shield.

2. Aria Tanoren is the bastard daughter of Baron Polding and a serving maid and was never acknowledged by her father; instead she was raised by a weaponsmith into a fiery and spirited young woman. She often got into shouting matches with her mother, and was jealous of her younger sister who the weaponsmith doted upon. Aria was cursed for forging the axe which was used to execute the hag. She knows Baron Polding is her father.

3. Father Kovrin is a zealot "hellfire" priest of Siamorphe attempting to curb the influx of paganism into Loudwater's civilised faith, and it was he who recommended the execution of the witch’s followers to the High Lord. However, Kovrin is concerned the High Lord does not take a strong enough hand against the lycanthropes, witches, and other "evils" of the land, and so he is secretly in correspondence with Felishar Ivarzin of the Xvimlar Zhentarim in Orlbar to negotiate a non-aggression pact for Loudwater, seeing the Zhentarim as a better option than the chaos that now exists. Kovrin was cursed when he blessed the axe used to execute the hag and performed last rites over her. His motive in opening the portcullis could be to weaken the High Lord's claim, to force the High Lord to take sterner measures, or it could be part of his deal with the Zhentarim.

4. Erugasha is a druid who suffers from lycanthropic werewolfism which he was afflicted with when trying to help a stranger in the High Forest. He keeps his disease under control with herbs and teas, but he still has a short fuse which sometimes goes off, especially when it regards the Baron's policies like the bounty on werewolves. His motive in opening the portcullis could be that he finally snapped and turned into a werewolf, and his hatred for the Duke flooded his mind.

5. Baron Polding is of a noble family from the north of the city. The Poldings and their men-at-arms have long safeguarded Loudwater from incursions led by the denizens of the High Forest, especially lycanthropes. Baron Polding is a red-herring in the story; his lands are lycanthrope-free as Sir Chevian wishes to eventually bring Baron Polding and the High Lord to blows, potentially starting a civil war. What Chevian does not know, is Baron Polding is cooperating with the Cyricist Zhentarim faction of Lord Mayor Geildarr Ithym of Llorkh to become High Lord of Loudwater. If Baron Polding can sow enough chaos, the Zhentarim will move in with troops to restore order. Baron Polding has hired bandits to attack Loudwater, and the attack will be considerably more serious if the gates are opened.

Building the Mystery, part 3: Conclusions
In learning the identity of the Beast, the PCs will need to reach 3 conclusions, each of which can be arrived at in any of three ways (and perhaps more given player creativity). These methods of reaching the conclusions are going to be embedded in the adventure.

Conclusion 1: The Beast uses a magic wolf skin cloak to transform between wolf and human form.

Gray Sisters (hag covey) can reveal this secret. To get to the hag coven, which lies in Dire Wood, the adventurers must talk to Nanathlor's wife, the old Tabria Greysword.

Killing some of the Beast’ followers reveals they are knights wrapped in magic wolf skins.

The Beast’s tracks change from wolf to man and there is a strange sweeping pattern in snow (like a cloak) where they change.

Conclusion 2: Like any lycanthrope, the human form of the Beast should have telltale psychological and physiological signs – short tempers, increased appetite for meat, increased body hair.

Erugasha, the lycanthropy afflicted druid (one of the suspects) and the druidic Circle of the Stag can explain the psychological changes.

Monstrous compendium of a deceased werewolf hunter describes psychological signs in the Velti'Enorethal, the local elven library.

Conclusion 3: The Beast is plotting directly against the High Lord.

The High Lord explains how Beast opened the gate last night so bandits could launch an attack.

Over the course of adventure, Beast's victims are mostly people close to the High Lord.

Building the Mystery, part 4: Core Clues

Solving the mystery definitively will be a logic puzzle spread across the entire adventure. To solve it, the PCs need to gather core clues which relate the suspects to the conclusions. This is easiest to imagine as a grid, but since I can't do that here, I'll sum it up on a suspect by suspect basis. These core clues can be learned by interrogating the suspects, investigating a scene, or more circumspect/creative means, and require no skill checks. They are automatically learned when a PC investigates the witness/scene.

So, ultimately the PCs will solve the mystery if they want to, because there is no limit to number of times they can try. Well, short of getting eaten. If they take too much time, one of the other factions will act.

Mainly, what I need help with is:
How can I make the request the hag Mag Mediun made related to Tanta Hagara?
Secondly, I want to maybe get the adventurers to murder a few lycanthropes, provoking the Children of the Thicket (local People of the Black Blood), which eventually causes the attack on Loudwater during the Blood Moon. Any ideas how I can insert that?
Who is Sir Chevian Vandahar inspired by?
What would be suitable mercenaries/brigands for Baron Polding's attack? I'm thinking either orcs, mongrelfolk, half-elven renegades, or something entirely different.
I also want to use the Ivy Enclave/Beyvan Kleth, a Red Wizard diviner, to give them some help if necessary.
How can I potentially involve the Eldreth Veluuthra?