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…
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