Encounter 03 & 04, Beloved Soup & The Damaged Specter

03 Beloved Soup

Ahead you see a Shawled Figure sitting by a big, bubbling cauldron, its hood obscuring its features. As you approach you hear it say “Would you like to eat some soup?”. But from where you are you can see into the cauldron and find only bubbling water in it.

From nearby bushes or ruins, a Satyr appears and replies to the Shawled Figure “No one eats water!”

The Shawled Figure appears chagrined, and replies “Many people eat soup! Many do!” and rambles off a huge list of people who eat soup.

“Those people eat hot water when there’s something actually in it!”, the Satyr replies!

“Stop changing what you said! You said people don’t eat soup!” the Shawled Figure replies, getting angry.

“You don’t have any soup, you fool!”, the Satyr replies.

The Shawled Figure gets angry and rises to attack, revealing itself to be a Green Hag!

Before it does, though, the Satyr quickly says to the players he has his own cauldron – gesturing behind him amidst the bushes or ruins, and what he has made there is a healing broth. The cauldron has a fluid that looks similar to healing potions (A low DC arcana check will reveal it will indeed heal and probably taste mildly good). If they’ll side with him, they get what comes from his cauldron. If they side with the Green Hag, they get what comes from the Green Hag’s cauldron.

How did these two lunatics get to arguing? Anyway, which cauldron would you like to imbibe from? Or get out of here and leave them to their madness?

Notes on the healing cauldron: It’s unwieldy to move and if it is moved that takes it away from the magic circle which is part of it, with the healing fluid inside quickly fading. Ie, it is not meant to be a healing item to be taken away, it’s just a healing opportunity. At most each character can get the effect of two healing potions from drinking from it.

The other cauldron just has bubbling water it in – it’s not even soup!

 

04 The Damaged Specter

This encounter is designed for use in a corridor, to trigger an encounter with a ghost who insists on that may very well not make any sense, but will affect all the parties lives!

Read out the italicised section here:

As you head down a corridor toward a door at its other end, you hear a loud clang some feet behind you and turn to suddenly find a portcullis has fallen in place there! Even as you take in the situation, a secret door begins to open in the side of the corridor – and this one would better remain secret! There’s some kind of terrible monster behind it and when it is fully opened, the monster will be released!

 Quickly you try the door you were headed to but you find it locked, of course! And no apparent keyhole to pick! You are trapped!!

 But you notice something here – there is a small scrying device here, and through it you can see something interesting. It shows two chambers from above, where in the first chamber a party of humans stand before two doors that are almost next to each other. These doors are blocked with iron bars, but the iron bars are slowly opening. From the second chamber you can see the first door has a trace of yellow magic that the humans can’t see – it extends from the first door, through the scrying image and to the locked door in front of you! It seems like if the humans go through the first door, your own door will become unlocked! And you will escape the monster that is about to be freed!

 But the problem is that you can see the second chamber and behind the second door you see there is a small chest of gold behind it! And the humans already stand closest to the second door! Both doors will open at the same time and they will see the gold behind the second doorway…Which doorway are they likely to step through when both doors open at the same time!?

Give the players a moment to take that in!

“Oh my, you’re doomed!”, cries a slightly cracked voice!

 You turn to see a spectral figure step out of a nearby wall as it hovers gently above the floor. It holds a staff with a large red gem on it.

 “If only there could be something done!”, the spectre wails!

 Through the scrying image, you notice the chest of gold rests upon a small disk that glows red. They can see a thin red line of magic emanating from the glowing disk the chest rests upon, through the scrying image and to the red gem on the staff the ghost wields. It controls the disk!

 The ghost sees them make the connection, but it announces the following sadly…

 “No, nothing can be done, even if I were to use the staff to move the chest! Incentives don’t work, you see! People aren’t interested in incentives! Moving the chest to be behind the first door wont have any chance of making them go through the first door!”

The ghost is adamant about this! And so the crux of the encounter – where as a physical solution may seem very apparent, the one holding the means of enacting the solution adamantly believes that that solution wont work and wont do it. The ghost is called the Abbot, and the players may find themselves going deep down a rabbit hole trying to convince him to simply activate the red stone and shift the gold. The Abbot will insist it is their theory that moving the gold would make the humans go through the first door, that they should do the test. No, that doesn’t mean they can have the staff to test it – they should go do that test elsewhere, the Abbot informs them!

Is the Abbot mad? Or will the players go down the rabbit hole and humour his insistence that incentives do nothing actually the case?

The way the players escape the encounter don’t have to involve convincing the Abbot. It is simply an opportunity to require talking to place some demand on talking to someone with a seemingly mad notion and what that experience is like. In the end the players might just try to bash down the door, or smash open the portcullis, or try to steal the staff from the ghost or even just plain fight the monster behind the secret door. But just for a moment, they will have considered entering the Abbots mad little world, and what it is like to hover over that abyss.

Notes: The red gem is really just a ghostly artefact and doesn’t really exist to have any value – it’d likely fade away if kept (though if a character starts using it as their own weapon/something cool like that, it aught to remain instead)

Oh, and if they somehow activate the staff and move the gold? Well, it’s up to your group and GM as to what the human group does – do they go through the first door, or do incentives not matter?

If they do happen to go through the first door, the door ahead unlocks for the party (and the secret door starts closing) and as they pass through it, they hear behind them…

“Oh, they meant to go through the first door all along!”, the ghost cries behind them as your party leaves, even as seen through the scrying device the humans in the other chamber run small piles of gold coins through their fingers…

Previous Encounters, Next Encounter

Encounter 01 & 02 – The Chest & The Test or the Trick

01 : The  Chest

This encounter should be able to be had anywhere – the encounter can be made to happen where the PCs are, rather than the PCs having to go to a specific location to trigger the event. It’s method of play is that the PCs choose what they do – there isn’t a guiding force as to what the PCs aught to do.

As the PC’s round a corner they notice a treasure chest lying on the road. It is resting inside a set of two poles that attach to it, so it could be carried by a pair of men, but there is nobody near it now. There are the signs of a fight happening here and there are several unconscious or slain town guards. Looks like they were escorting the chest. There also look a few rough types on the ground as well, again either dead or unconscious. One of the rough types even seems incapacitated. In the distance it looks like the remainder guards are chasing off an enemy and have left the chest completely alone in the confusion.

Well, that chest could just be carried off right now! You could disappear with it – but while the town guards would know, that brigand on the ground over there can’t do much, but he is watching! He’ll report to his boss latter and the leader of them might well send someone after you if…that witness remains alive. I mean, they are unarmed, unable to fight – it’ll be easy! Indeed, there’s a low chance another brigand is watching even if you killed them first! But it’s just a chance – you might get away scot free!

Or you could stay with the chest, guard it and there might be a small helpers fee from the guards. Or there may be no fee, but an offer of work now you’ve proven you’re trustworthiness. But then again, small fees or no reward at all except the offer to work for coin? Surely you deserve better?

Not to mention, you haven’t even looked inside the chest. Perhaps just a quick look – what’s the harm of picking the lock, having a look then locking it again? Can’t hurt to know what’s in there, right?

02 : The Test or the Trick

There is some pomp and splendour ahead, with a small well dressed crowd around a stage set up here.

It turns out around here the young of nobles need to go through tests. Here the young noble had a choice between two staged rooms, guessing from clues which of them hid a special ceremonial artifact behind their furnishings. It seems the young noble has chosen already.

That’s when one of the nobilities retainers approaches the party and parlays. Perhaps they know of the parties exploits and have earnt some trust, perhaps the party seems a little…flexible, in their outlook and there’s no one else to turn to.

The thing is, the retainer whispers, the young noble has chosen wrong! And the next step of this test involves burning the staged room that the noble didn’t choose! But that has the ceremonial artifact hidden at the back!

It would be most upsetting and decorous should this mistake be seen in front of the crowd! If the party would be so kind as to sneak around or have their sneaky member slip around the back of the stage and remove the ceremonial item and move it to the other room, there would be gold in it for all of them for this act of diplomacy! The retainer will hold off the burning for as long as he can and he has no one else to do this deed for him.

However, the party can talk with the young noble as they approach. Do they want to talk with him? If they do, they can sense from his demeanour he is the type who wants to face up to his mistakes. Indeed, perhaps this would be a healthy trait in ruling loyalty, when he grows up and takes power in latter years?

But then again the retainer isn’t going to pay you a few gold coins unless you move the ceremonial artifact!

The actual sneaking, if done, should not be so hard – a chance of being caught, a need to talk your way out of it with a convincing lie. And if that fails, perhaps despite the urge to trick, you fail and…the young noble learns the truth?

Also even if the PCs decline to do the deed, the retainer still gives a small fee, 10% of what he’d otherwise have given each of them, for the PCs to remain quiet about all this. More diplomacy money.

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