Thursday, January 1, 2015

WoTR: Fundraising in Absalom

There's some pretty good political scenes in Dragon Age
Inquisition that you can use for inspiration.
Everyone needs a holiday and in a land of teleportation, why not jet off for a bit to avoid the dreary early days of a Worldwound Kuthona (December, winter) where the cold bites and the wind stings.  In order to break up the monotony of dungeon encounters and hex crawls, I dangled the possibility of auctioneering off Terendelev's hoard to Absalom to raise much-needed funds and troops for the Fifth and likely final crusade.  So the cast head into the teleportation circle in Starisse Spire, the Mendevian home of the Pathfinders, and arrive in the back of a warehouse owned by Lady Darchana.

Lady Darchana
Lady Darchana is a canonical character who wishes to gain power by creating a faster merchandise transportation method than shipping and caravans.  In order to fulfill that goal, she has established teleportation circles in several countries through the aid of a high level ally.  My personal addition to the canon is that one such teleportation circle was established in Starrise Spire so that the Pathfinders would be beholden to protect it.  In exchange for this protection, they are allowed to send six individuals through per week without charge.

As I wanted to build up to this encounter, Lady Darchana arranges for a meeting with them six days after they first enter Absalom and two days before the auction.  Depending on the number of leading NPCs they win over to their cause, depends on the final price she will demand per person.  Basically, the system is similar to Fame but the PCs can gain Fame for both winning over NPCs and other prestigious actions (namely public quests or performances).  The starting off is 50gp per person (who may bring as many supplies as they can carry).  The cost is reduced by 10gp for every 5 points they earn to a minimum of 10gp per person.

Main Pathfinder Sources
The PCs' primary contact in Absalom will be a 9th level fighter called Venture-Captain Adril Hestram who is a bear of a man renowned for his gallows humor and who will offer them lodgings in the visitor's section of the Lodge.  If the characters have completed the Weapon in the Rift, Ollysta Zadrian may accompany them into Absalom to provide them with advice and introductions.  Ollysta is a paladin of Sarenrae who used to be a member of the Pathfinder Society.  I'll put up articles covering the various church leaders and other adventures they can get into later.

The Grand Dance Hall of Kortos
On Day Six, Lady Darchana of the Arcanamirium sends a messenger to invite the PCs to attend her at the Grand Dance Hall of Kortos.  This ornate, round building had dozens of entrances at ground level and a few on the roof.  Currently the theatre is presenting Vudrani-style dancing troupes.  Naturally she has booked the highest balcony as she wishes to impress on them (and others watching from the other balconies) how important the negotiations will be.

Goodmiss Alidane of House Candren who is the manager of Sea King Shipyard and member of the Docks Council will offer to use her connections to get them access to cheap but good quality food as she has recently met a sympathetic supplier - actually Doctor Rolth (resurrected by his allies in my game following the events of Curse of the Crimson Throne).  The shipment is due to go out by sea vessel soon but if those passing through were to carry it, they could transport fresh food as well as dry.

Dirakah (actually a Gallu named Fennix who has an amulet that alters itself to look like a blue-haired gnome) is a merchant who has professed great interest in assisting Mendev's efforts, though he is keen to reinforce the fact that it is Mendev's problems.  He has gathered a sizable donation (15,000gp) held within coffers that could be used to pay the mercenaries in Nerosyan.  Naturally he doesn't mention that it is contaminated with Blood Veil (see Curse of the Crimson Throne AP).  Fennix is a servant of Baphomet and holds great respect for the marilith general, Aponavicius, which only makes him more eager to hear of the PC's successes in taking Drezen.

The Hellknight Feast
Pathfinder Society Adventure
This adventure works well when modified to cope with larger numbers of attendees, an auction and a big bang at the end.  The listed NPCs in that adventure should attend as should any enemies and allies that the PCs have already made along the way.  This event is slated for the Eighth Day after their arrival in Absalom.

Fennix is also in attendance though his plans are more long-term and he has nothing to do with the succubi's antics.  In truth, it would slay them all if it knew for an attack at this auction would be far more likely to rouse the support of Absalom rather than cause them to shun Mendev as trouble magnets because Absalom pride means they can hardly stand idly by when this happens on their own land.  

As Nocticula's servants are behind the sloppy strike, it is most assuredly to draw Absalom's ire in a roundabout manner though she would claim only a desire to capture the PCs.  She will have recruited any succubi who survived the Sword of Valor's exploits as a secret partnership that would be alleged to please Baphomet - they would be aiming to slay the PCs, after all.

Since a number of high level individuals will be present in the adventure, it is vital to justify their failure to act in place of the PCs.  My suggestion is to run background encounters where a few are assaulted by higher level enemies, a few fail their fortitude saves against poison, a few simply escape rather than risk their necks and others want to see what the PCs can do.  At the very beginning, the PCs would be approached as experts rather than risk setting off the entire affair.  You can justify this by having the initial poisonings either occur a bit later or having it occur in a private room.

It may also be worth throwing a few maids possessed by Shadow Demons into the mix if your PCs are higher level and likely to trounce the adventure as it stands.

At the end of the adventure, once the PCs return to the main area, Fennix is trying desperately to assure people that this must be a Mendevian trick to draw support to their cause.  At this point a mythic succubi teleports into the room with three lackeys (use the stats found in the Yearning House part of WoTR for the mythic succubi) and they attack him first as he stands in the center of the room. This forces him to reveal himself to defend himself and though the succubi attempts to apologise, it's too late, his cover is blown and he will attack her.  Once his hit points are dropped to half (or on the second turn if your PCs join the battle), he draws forth a diseased Orb of Tala.

Assume that half the gathering has already dispersed by this point, leaving 20 attendees.  Depending on your PC's level, throw a series of obstacles before the PCs that are easily moved to help them evacuate those who can't easily get themselves out.  This will also give them a clear objective to accomplish if they're too low level to get between a Gallu and a Mythic Succubi.  Removing the other succubi might be part of that. Any major cleric or high level PC they have wooed over to their side can each help another 1d4 people escape.

The Diseased Orb of Tala was made from one of the imperfect orbs constructed within the Tala Monastery and drenched in the disease and chaotic misery that permeated the monastery after Doctor Rolth infected their supplies with a particularly fast-acting form of the Blood Veil.  Once released from its bindings, the Diseased Orb will radiate pulses of chaotic evil energy, forcing all non-mythic creatures within 60ft to roll a Fortitude Save DC 21 each round to avoid becoming a Warped One.

Once he has drawn it, he will do nothing but move defensively and ready an action to shatter the orb - unless the orb is somehow removed from his hand before he can act, he breaks it and unleashes a mile wide burst of disease centered on the orb.  All within that mile needs to make a DC 16 Fortitude Save to avoid contracting the Blood Veil.

NOTE: If you intend on running Curse of the Crimson Throne after the events of Wrath of the Righteous, you may want to use a different plague and a different plague doctor.

DOUBLE NOTE: Bringing the imperfect orb of Tala to the Purification Forge will cause it to radiate Chaotic Good energies.  These energies will still cause people to potentially become Warped Ones but they get the choice to make the initial change (losing control after that point) and their alignment changes to Chaotic Good.  This functions as more of a last ditch defensive measure than anything else or, alternatively, a handy way to "convert" dozens of tiefling and humanoid cultists.  Shattering the purified orb will cast Remove Disease on all those within a one mile radius.

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