Friday, January 2, 2015

WoTR: Dangerous Quests in Absalom

Sometimes you just need to see things burn in a game.
(Dragon Age: Inquisition)
Since there's only so much time the average player can spend wining and dining church representatives, it's only right and fair to include a few other groups that can add an extra twist and a bit of flavour to the proceedings.  Absalom is a rich and twisted city in its own right.  Why go there if you don't get to partake of some of the city's strangeness?  We'll look at "Convincing the Churches" in later instalments but it's a good idea to take a look at the more "eventful" things you can throw at them so that you can consider where they could best fit.  These are quite handy quest ideas and adventures you can use to punctuate all of the politicking and ensure that the players have a little more to do than simply talking to people.

Tiefling Community
Malifa Sevan is a tiefling civic leader who is struggling to establish a sense of community.  My version of Malifa has her as a Motherless (Qlippoth born) who is quite hideous to behold with green screen and wriggling tendrils hanging off her chin.  Malifa Sevan is trying to develop Halos of Inner Calm which she can arrange to be made at the base cost of 8,000gp per device as described or a weaker version that lacks the Spell Resistance option and simply provides the bonus to saves.  These are a very useful, if pricey, way of equipping and soothing captured tieflings to speed up their redemption. 

Unfortunately, a small gang of evil tieflings has taken offence to their existence and has killed the five different individuals that she managed to assist so far.  If the PCs can take out that gang, she will let them keep the halos (which she figures is likely kept among their stash) as a sympathetic gnome workshop have decided to make replacements free of charge and she doesn't want to risk their motivation by receiving the halos now.  So long as they go to tieflings in need, she will be happy.

Statue Street
For the past 700 years, the Office of Prisons runs a competition to pardon nonviolent offenders (thieves, addicts, and debtors).  Such offenders are released into a barricaded street with an angry gorgon following them. If they escape, they are pardoned.  If they fail, they remain as statuesque decorations on the street.  Visitors to the street with find a few decorated with flowers from loved ones who still come to see them.  

The statues can often be purchased as a fundraiser for the government or for various charitable endeavours.  The statues are worth between 25gp to 250gp depending on the uniqueness, attractiveness and positioning of the statue.  A suicidally depressed male aasimar (Vulpinal traits) called Alexis can often be found tending to the statues or even talking to them.  He knows many of their stories and can help direct people to the good, the fair and the heroic.  Purchasing the statues, of course, is easy but would require a spell to return them to humanity.

There will be another run through Statue Street this very week and the Office of Prisons refuses to release any petty criminals to Mendev when this very important and august occasion is upon them.  While none of the good clerics enjoy this day, the Churches of Pharasma and Sarenrae are most disgusted by the loss of so many individuals to a fate that allows no death.  If the PCs are willing, either of those churches can arrange for them to be thrown into jail as vagrants and petty thieves, ensuring that they will reach the street.  There they can take on the rampaging bull and slay it, ensuring that the festival must end for at least a year while they source and transport a new gorgon.

While this will gain them some political enemies, if the fight is impressive enough the good individuals in the crowd can easily sway the rest to raucous applause.  It also isn't illegal for the petty criminals to fight for their lives though they will have no armour, spell component pouches or protective items, though casters might gather up items in the street (sand, spiders, etc.) with a successful Perception check and divine symbols of lawful or good gods may be brought to their final moments.  This will increase the CR by 2 or more depending on the party composition - natural attacks and monks will be very useful here though unlikely to be a part of the Wrath of the Righteous Campaign.

The Brazen Clutch
Dragons Unleashed
Take one brazen clutch of brass dragon wyrmlings from Dragons Unleashed (Pathfinder supplement), place in the Coins Grand Bazaar as they aren't protected by anti-slavery legislation (which prevents the sale of intelligent humanoids and native outsiders anywhere but in Misery Row) and give the eldest wyrmling to the Paracountess Helis Merciel and you've plenty of room for rivalry.  The brass wyrmlings can either offer their services in Drezen (though they're too weak to help with the Worldwound) as morale boosters or they can be spirited out of the country by a helpful good church, depending on your needs.
Hall of Drunken Heroes
Pathfinder Society Adventure

You can basically run the adventure straight out of the book, if you like, and have the Gallu, Fennix, unaware of the succubi's desperate acts to rescue her lover.  Why should you have him be unaware?  Why, because drawing attention of demons in Absalom will only make the nobles there more likely to lend aid against the Worldwound so the Gallu would work against such plans were he to know about them.
Alternatively, you could replace the succubi and shadow demon with Red Mantis assassins toting wands of charm person who wish to set up both the church of Cayden Cailean by making the demonologist chambers beneath the mead hall into a public scandal while simultaneously causing the deaths of the PCs who have angered Paracountess Helis Merciel (presuming that they stole her brass dragon wyrmling from the Brazen Clutch).  
Brother Dunnamast became possessed when he gazed into the cell holding Graz'ith Ur Maurgith to double check the wards as the Red Mantis assassins broke in and damaged some of the exterior sigils.  He managed to sneak out through the second secret passage as they entered via the first before he finally succumbed to the possession and is later found by the PCs.

The Silken Court
Owned by Elissa the Fair, the court promises the ability to meet any desire, for any patron, if the price is right.  In addition to its courtesans, the Silken Court offers the finest wines and drugs, hot baths of purified water or heated mud, masseurs brought from Tian Xia, and a well-appointed lounge where the very rich can relax in the presence of beautiful, young company and have their every need attended to.  This place can be used to extensively wine and dine certain clerics or nobles (for a +5 to +10 diplomacy check bonus).

GMs who are interested can run a precursor to the City of Locusts by placing a permanent Teleportation Circle to the Yearning House where those with known particular tastes can visit.  Elissa the Fair isn't a worshipper but she turns a blind eye to it, reasoning that it is better that evil people have a place to go where real humans are not being hurt, though she also doesn't check if innocents have been dominated or charmed into attending.  She made her deals firstly with one of the Mistresses of the Yearning House (pick one) quite some time ago.

If you go down this route, it will make storming the brothel later on more interesting but players must be of the type to understand that combat cannot be countenanced in such a high level area *and* their characters must be given adequate warning.  It may be worth having the Calistrian temple approach them with their suspicions and provide them with a temporary loan of valuable equipment that protects against mind control - negative energy drain is not a risk in this case as the succubi will not risk destroying potential spies for Deskari.  They can also provide pre-paid tokens that will allow them a full night with one of their best courtesans - though it is up to them to find a way to convince the madam that they would be more receptive to the Yearning House without specifically mentioning that secretive location.  Tieflings should get a bonus to any such rolls to be convincing.  Naturally those PCs who attend must be willing to go through with the act, else suspicions will be raised.

Once they are successful, their eye witness testimony will be enough to have the place shut down if they approach Lord Gyr Gixx.  Due to the popularity of the Silken Court among the more influential officials, nothing less than eye witness testimony will do and only a later surprise raid will effectively gather information on those so taken in.

Just to be cruel, I added an oolidoroo to the Yearning House inhabitants who is used to implant any partaker who is fool enough to fall asleep in a succubi's bed.  Hopefully the PCs will be wise enough to visit, fade to black, and then return within an hour or two. 

NOTE: Be extra, extra, extra sure that your players understand that this isn't a combat encounter they can win.  You might even mention that you are foreshadowing a location from Book 6 and that the NPCs within are Book 6 NPCs.  That should put them on their best behaviour.  If it wouldn't then this really isn't the right adventure for them.

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