One night on Audit, I thought I would do some good old D&D module writing. I soon found that it was impossible. I remember working an entire week at the coffee shop developing this plot line for Shira, Lavicus, Nealtus and Gully. With one tip of a fucking ash urn, out went about 4 pages of paranoidly abbreviated plot line summaries, NPC Rosters, Stats and new game elements, however, in came the backbone of what would be the first leg of possibly three years of hardcore 8-14 hour weekly game sessions, but alas, that too was not meant to be. I instead wrote the following as a guide to interpreting a set of tools, locations, maps, NPC’s, general and local events, Coordinated circumstances, eventualities and well, you can see where this is going, there is just no way. It turned into a commentary upon a possible outcome of events based on most likely scenarios. I called the “module”; the Weak Man. Later I changed it to; “the Weak Man -or- an Argument against Boxed Text”. Here it is.
“…the descendants, one in waters work bewails
the other fires fail…”
-mumble of the Weak Man.
Brodok is looking for a group of fighter types and possible a sneaky son of a bitch to steal a “powerful item” from a group of mid level heroes returning successfully from Torm Holn. He thinks that a sneaky bastard could get in while they sleep and lift some precious cargo or if the devils cast a glance upwards, then the whole bunch may just be weak enough to be killed and their entire take can be taken.
Brodok will put the sneaky bastard (thief) in charge of the mission and some may argue or guess at a deeper older relationship. The Spell (Sneeky bastard in charge of the group) will be the only one given directions. All those willing to apply should have horses and the ability to carry shit off.
Referals for the Job require one previous job and a horse in inventory. Referals will meet Brodok (DM) and the Spell (Player selected by DM) to interview candidates for the Job. Only one novice will be allowed and they will be third party planted by Hugol Holding, Brodok’s enemy. The Novice will give the Spell a sac with 50kp when Brodok is not looking to help encourage his “selection” The Novice is being planted for a return trip tail and nothing else. This will be “between” adventures and no RP is necessary as it falls under the partial contact rule. Merely getting the Novice to “follow and report back” is all that is needed. It qualifies as a job. The Spell earns his pay by saying Yes. This too counts as a separate job for the Spell.
The meet takes place at the Teak Lady in Brighton. A room was rented for the meet and is up after breakfast, some 6 hours after the meet if some wish rest. The Teak lady is a fence also and a limited amount of pre-game bullshit is ok. It is important to illustrate the parameters of opportunity to the Players and show them not all things come at the right time and often, no preparation is possible. The Players will likely need to get used to auditioning and learning the different underworld types they will acquire and keep in their portfolio. Auditions should be a pregame night and involve drinking and eating by the players, this is the time when the Players will bond with the characters they are playing and ready themselves for the role and each other. It is not advisable for game night to be more than one day after. The auditions can be done privately and should be so arranging time with DM, Spell and auditioning thugs can be done conference call etc but is a buzz kill.
The take can be magic or just an ass load of coin but should disseminate according to the Gold Laws and Misc. for the Ovardiis II period. Brodok warns that the party is “connected” and not to end ‘em unless they can be ended good. The true mission is to merely ascertain the survival of Heloidris. Brodok does not move in the Weak Man’s circles and the coincidence is just that. Brodok will take whatever the best item presented is and unless some new plot line is being introduced by the DM, this should end clean and easy. He was never after treasure anyway, just a proof of life on Heloidris, he cooked this up himself.
It should be considered that usual character intros will be somewhat negated as the Spell will have Boss status for success and get to direct the specials for their pay. Ie. “You, stop them, you two, carry the dwarf and you get that door open.” The call (Group doing the job) can be fighter light but two would even the odds, remember, don’t be afraid to wipe a group of idiots players who keep auditioning thieves when they know youre looking for a good mix. This is where you can award free allocation xp to a PLAYER who makes a good CH selection to augment the party.
Give out the Barmaid contact to the fighter with the highest CA. Barmaid will be NPC to PC pooled after the return check-in with Brodock if she lives and the Bouncer, Haste will be NPC to PC pooled if the Boxman dies with the boxman Player getting 2 re-roll options on the Pool for Haste.
There is a 10% chance per hour spent fucking off in the bar that someone is “Called out” by a drunk fighter type. Do not make this brawl the adventure. If the PC’s linger out front the brawl will not occur.
See all notes on; Teak Lady
The group is to go to where the Spell (the leader of the group for this job) says, which is 3 days by horse to the North, just past the yellow bridge. The Spell will have to write TC as all Brodok writes is TC. It would help if the sell could read and write at least one other of the following; KC, WC, P, HoE, HE, S or N, as which ever he does will be the inroad language for sub string -“Strange old things”
One of the Fighter types will know about Black Fred’s gang but will not know him personally. Another Fighter type will know Black Fred and they will be amiable towards each other. All PC’s will know the reputation of the Yellow Woods for the broken ones and will be able to recognize mundane tracks and the like. Fighters will know attack methods etc.
The ride north will be uneventful. A trip to Black Fred’s hide-out will find it abandoned. This is normal as he moves around with his men. If the PC’s use a fire when camping the second night, they will be attacked by the broken ones before dawn. They will move in out of the dark at different times and will attack two to three at a time until 15 have been killed or a PC’s has been drug off. See “The Children of Olinus” for combat and modifiers. The attacks are not coordinated. The will try to take the horses but will not be able to, instead they will no doubt scare the shit out of them and alert all the PC’s. This will wake even heavy sleepers. None of the broken ones have anything on them. Though monstrous looking their deformities are not fantastic and they merely look diseased. This attack method should help you weaken the parties nerves enough to give serious thought to attacking Ilay when they see him the next day. Case in point among thieves. Ten people at a table, you look to someone and say, John, two of these fuckers are attacking you, what do you do. John will say, what the fuck why me? You say, I did not hear any onesay they will throw themselves before anyone who tries to attack you. All will get the picture. It is easy in an unorganized mele to imagine a group of bloodbrothers standing back to back around a fire each doing all within their power to save eachothers life. This will not ever happen amongst thieves. Thieves live by running. Thieves don’t take sword strokes for strangers. This encounter is designed to SHOW the Players who they are playing. No doubt some one will say, fuck it, I run. That’s ok too. That is what the spell is for. He maybe a shit leader, but this will learn him. There is no reason the rogues can’t run around like girls while the fighter try to organize against the starved marauders.
When the PC’s get to the spot determined by Brodock and the Spell, they wait another two days. That’s when, in the late afternoon they see a man yoked by his neck to a cart walking at about a 2MV.
He does not stop to rest until deep in the night and collapses more than sleeps. He is clear headed if not exhausted should the PC’s approach and investigate. He will introduce himself as Heloidris of Ilay but will not do this until he has made his way, guessing the PC’s for their sort. Any half elf or elf will know the family. 10% chance to know about Heloidris, roll this before setting out. If so, he says his companion is sick and they are headed to Brighton and any help would be repaid in Kings Piece. He is shrewd and will know the PC’s for dark characters. He is also wise enough to know he is in no position to be his usual evil hating self and needs serious healing if he is ever to use his arms again. He has Wight burns from sword fighting a superior Innate Undead. His hands are completely useless and his arms are near destroyed. He is operating as a
third level fighter currently due to energy drains. He was originally an 11th level warrior. His memory loss is the long term kind, hence, he knows exactly where he is, what happened, what he wants and where he is going. It’s like knowing your lost your twenties.
If the PC’s try to kill him he will run. Running him down and through will be easy enough and no die rolling is necessary. It will take him a little while to die though. He has no curses to utter and just sees it as shit luck. He carries nothing on him but two scabbards, swords missing. His Breast Plate and Grieves are clearly visible and obviously magic, embossed with the Il crest (though only Heraldic NWP’s or House Elves will know it’s a family crest. 5% chance for a Ptolegian to notice.)
His arms are covered in thick dry mud, giving him the impression of having huge forearms. This is of course his bracers. He mudded his arms to protect them should he be able to follow through for the Lich.
On the cart that Heloidris is pulling is Elinir Ilennis, an Il cousin and companion to Heloidris. He was “Jar’d” by the arch lich Doon the Lynd in Torm Holn where they lost the rest of their companions. Since the Jar, Elinir has been “asleep”. Attempts to take things off him will be successful, Doon cares not if this occurs. Injuring him will be unsuccessful as only +2 weapons or greater can harm the Jar’d host of the arch lich. Doon has no desire to locomote and exerts his will through suggestion submitted to the relaxed mind before sleep. These suggestions manifest themselves as ideas the PC’s will have and be bound to Role Play due to the Save rules against High Level magic. Only Characters of 8th level or greater are allowed a save against Doon’s spells. Each successfully role played suggestion is worth 100xp. See the NPC roster for Elinir lennis” and “Heloidris Ilidris”
The PC’s will think and spookily say “I feel good about that sleeping elf and I’m happy that he is getting some rest.” The PC with the lowest wisdom will actually feel compelled to share that with at least one other PC in private, like it is a secret. You should award XP to the Player who adds a lot to the creepiness/terror factor with his sharing. The PC’s will in no way feel the need to help carry the cart unless they killed Heloidris, then the PC who dealt the death blow will volunteer to carry him because it only seems right and all other present should agree. You should allow at least one and possibly two of the PC’s (weakest) not to experience the Suggestions so long as it does not derail the Lich’s agenda or he will modify the PC’s mood to accomplish the trip.
**Brodok was actually contacted through a sympathetic mind to send out this group of what in his time where adventurers, so that he could have more protection for the physical bodies in question and speed the elf along. Brodok does not know this.
Before the PC’s head out with the sleeping elf, some 100 yards or more further up the road in the tall grass and crawling towards them is a Weak Man. Investigation of this area will reveal him. He mumbles but this will not be apparent until he is given water and food. He may be killed or ignored without consequence. If there is a caster, they sense a significant necromantic aura. The weak man will travel best in the cart where he hopes to care for the sleeping elf by shading his face with his hands.
The weak man is savant and will mumble things to be heard by the party at times deemed appropriate by the DM
Heloidris, being godly, will do his best to help the weak man and will not worry about having him in the cart with his cousin, seeing him for what he is, a gravely injured but good man.
Direct contact with minor negative planar energy will heal the Weak Man’s mind. Gnocune (no soon) is actually a Seeker of Factia Necromanta. He was trapped by Nero (Usher of the Gray Veil / Malfator) and tortured for weeks but escaped when Doon rolled by the cave on the back of the cart. Nero fled into the depths of his lair at the arch lich’s approach. Gnocune crawled from the cave and has been trying to overtake Ilay but he gets about half a mile away and Ilay wakes from exhaustion and carries on towards Brighton. The jarring Lich is sensed by many of the Dark things that would otherwise attack and prey upon Ilay, the Weak Man and the PC’s.
There are two shrines somewhat on the way to Brighton if the PC’s detour for them. The Weak Man will draw a Gloom immediately due to his weakened state as will Ilay. Gnocune will wake at the first touch and subdue the Gloom with a word of power into a charm he will furnish out of nowhere. He will then ask where he is and what has happened and if the PC’s are the servants of the one called Nero. There is an 80% chance each PC will know of Nero. Gnocune will know what is going on with only the briefest information and will help guide the PC’s to finding the Descendants, something they have been thinking about a lot lately. He will also offer some tips on dealing with beings like Doon, basically, do what ever they want and like a bee seen and admired on a flower they will walk away from you and forget you. Sting them or get all up in their shit and well, you know the rest of the story.
If the PC’s miss the weak man you may re-insert him where you think appropriate. He should be used to reward a cautious, thorough and observant player. He is not mandatory. The Weak Man is the reward of the adventure 1000xp. If they find him by being careful and thorough when they have no reason to be, then voila. If not, no harm no foul, they think that the Jarred elf is the Weak Man, secret kept, NPC saved for another encounter.
If a PC solves the Weak Man (by helping him and aiding him as an allie, not to be good but to sense on opportunity to grow strength), he will know of it through access to the energies of Doon and his connection with the minds of the PC’s. Gnocune will have a genuine affinity for the PC and will hang with him through the adventure and the next adventure that PC goes on and will then turn into a Source PC and a Plotline. He can only be “Solved” prior to waking from the gift of the Gloom. The irony is that there is nothing to solve but luck and instinct on the Players part. No intellectual riddle or clue exists. This is the second Reward of the adventure, also worth 1000 xp.
But back to the Lich. He was awoken by Heloidris and his tomb plundering campanions in Torm Holn. Doon speedily teleported all of Heloidris’s friends to the suites of Ovardiis palace above the Olinal Quarry in the far north of the province. He then Jar’d the most comfortable mind, Elinir and fell into his current state immediately and has remained as such, then began attempting to enslave Heloidris which actually took some time. All Heloidris experienced was the plundering of a minor cache, three serious fights with innate undead then, one midafternoon, while eating, everyone disappears, dropping bowls, wet stones etc and his friend and cousin falls into a calm sleep. Heloidris understands his friend is the host of a very powerful evil force now dormant and that the force seeks release into its living kin it feels to be in the vicinity of Brighton. On the way out of the Valley is when Heloidris was set upon by Wights again who took his arms from him, finding him an easier foe without his 7 hero level companions. Doon has offered to restore Heloidris and rescind occupation of his companion if he helps facilitate the little business of locating his blood. Heloidris will relate most of this as he sees his situation not able to get much worse and is actually on the fence right now with regards to his entire world view and interpretation of good and evil. He will tell stories about Torm Holn to the PC’s. These should scare the living piss out of the PC’s and convey Heloidris’s level. He may be swayed to evil with very convincing emotionally based arguments and an understanding of the weakness of selfish motive. This must be role played. Any character able to walk Heloidris from the light receives the third and final bonus of 1000xp and gains Heloidris as PC at the end of the game, if he lives.
The PC’s are so low level they barely register on Doon’s radar but Heloidris actually withstood Doons attempts at domination and so has earned a spot of awareness in the liche’s vast conscious existence. Doon will never move “his” body as it is not necessary.
Beginning on the second day with the Lich, Dark forces will begin to be drawn to the Lich. They should be inserted when appropriate or not at all. They are Urst (ur ust), a Broken one. Fiodre (fee ode ruh) an unseelie fairie. Kords who will “slave” themselves to the host Jar. Joss Dk, a Kenkhu. These encounters should show fascination without fear, not endangerment or risk. All will say “Doom” on some level.
The PC’s will pick up a Bar and Cross guard tail of a horseman on the way through the outskirts of Brighton. Any signs of aggression will pull them into “So close yet so far”
After the fifth or sixth drunk attack, all but two of the guards will leave. They will stay “near” the PC’s though won’t challenge them or respond to any but physical provocations.
In town and actually, depending upon how much of a mood still needs to be set, the drunks begin coming out of the fucking woodwork to attack the sleeping elf, which of course will not go over well with the PC’s. It should not be apparent until much later, what is happening. Being generically good people, when drunk, they have a strong and natural antipathy towards the lich and seek to do him harm. It might be a man stepping up to the road to let the PC’s pass then hitting Elennis in the face with a stick. Or a drunk stumbling out of an alley screaming and ripping his cloths and slapping himself in the face then moving towards the cart and trying to right it. It does not need to be direct or obvious, in fact the more oblique the better. It should not be known that some are drunk unless direct and careful observation is made.
Leaving the body without guard at night will result in rather frustrated vandals or signs of aborted attempts at malfeasance toward the restful, invulnerable form. Not all drunks seek out the lich like a majic missile and it should not be overdone but used as a tool to convey exasperation and expose the weakest of the evil characters who may not want to keep killing these people or kill them at all to get them to stop. The drunks should not bear ill will to the PC’s and merely try to get past them or ignore them to try to get at the Lich and never in the context of initiative melee. If Ilay is still with the party he will be ineffective at doing anything but watching and alerting the PC’s of an upset villager.
If the Bar and Cross wipes the party, none of this happens, cuz the adventures over. If they work the deal, the tail will leave them only if they show restraint when dealing with the drunks. If they kill anyone in the street, it’s a high level free for all with the Freeblades guild. See “Alright, that’s it.”
Brodock will make contact with the Sell of the group and expect a rundown of the success and will want to seek the take and tax it. He will not look kindly upon a story of liches and armless warriors. The powerful item he is looking for is not there (not that he thinks there is a powerfull item. I did not expect them to be with Heloidris and helping hem and now thinks them all in collusion to the well healed nobel. He will merely say, “well, it must still be in Torm Holn” and pretend to be done with it, then sic thieves on them.
If the PC’s are helpful to Ilay, after the descendants are found he will go to the Freeblades guild and repay them 500 Kings Piece each and a true Ovardiis Cane. If killed, he only has the four items of value (see “Heloidris”). If any are worn other than the left boot, they will draw the attention of his kin who will either attack on sight or attack carefully and effectively. Ilay’s brother Riacca and his retinue arrived by boat two days before the PC’s arrive in Brighton and hopes to meet his brother and join his cadre in an effort to make a life for themselves adventuring in the north. Riacca and his men will wipe the group if they are wearing Heloidris’s gear.
Looking for the descendants, which is what the PC’s have a nagging desire to do and little more info than the previous sentence to go on, will require only saying that they look for the descendants. A (fake) die roll is made and no one is found until the days of their lack of wisdom tick off. During this time Brodock will not be sympathetic to their obvious treachery and “keeping the powerful item” might get wrangled from a tortured captive assassin. The attempts should not be done to develop a breaking point but to keep the group together and on edge and concerned for the sleeping elf’s welfare, etc.
It will take the PC’s 18 days minus 1 day for the total amount of wisdom points above 12 the entire party has (no penalties for low wisdom). The first person found will be Feriwee Fishwife a fishmonger in the docks district of Brighton. She will faint upon sight of the sleeping elf and become host to Doon at that moment. That evening the sleeping elf will awaken. If he is around the PC’s and they are wearing Ilay’s gear he will flee then track and kill them one by one. If they prove formidable he will seek out Riacca and organize his vengeance. The PC’s will not know anyone fainted nor anything else, just that one morning Ilay will be gone. They will still feel the need to find the descendants and will come upon a sleeping fish woman by the docs and feel amiable and what have you.
With Feriwee Jar’d now, when they physically make accomodations for carrying her along, they will know instantly where her uncle Feywile the Under, a smith is. When they get there, he will take her “sleeping” body and begin a journey to Torm Holn, at which point several things happen. The PC’s become instantly aware that they are now released from the subtle domination of the Lich and that it is now in the body of the fishwife and completely aware of them and that they know as though she/he were looking at their minds through the fishwife’s skull. The other thing that will happen is the smith’s wife, an enchanter, will be aware that her husband and love has been ensorcelled by the PC’s and after she made off with the pairs life savings and hid their child, she will enlist the aid of the Smiluvenni in tracking down her husband’s abductors ie. the PC’s. She will then watch over her husband. She will not appear in the storyline for at least a year. The PC’s should not know of her unless, again, they are very careful and thorough.
Certain things should be assumed. For instance, the Kord slaves will be attacked by any weapon wielding man or woman of the northern province. The Kenkhu will not approach the city. The fairie, should it be interested, will stay with the group only long enough to satisfy curiosity and may never even be noticed by them. While brodock will not let the PC’s work for him again, he will have no grudges against other PC’s in the Players roster of characters. If the PC’s fuck with the Lich he will teleport them to the Suites where the Gliptix and other things await a meal. If the PC’s offer up Ilay’s items to Brodok, he will take the Bracers and leave them the rest. None will notice the boot unless they are, as I keep saying, very thorough and carefull, it is its own reward.
The Idea of this module is to make life cheap as evil people see it, through various dichotomies. Their compliance via roleplaying should be a vehicle not of punishment but of measurement of will and power as exemplified by NPC’s the PC’s rub shoulders with albeit sometimes unknowingly via beggar next to lich. It should give them an indirect respect for undead. Supply a sense of fear/wonder for the power of magic and the Innate. Show how short a step it is from a goal to the heart of evil should the goal be held higher than the value of man. Show that it is easy to say evil and hard, hard indeed to be it. Explore the seemingly illogical consequences of almost unrelated decisions, and give them a leg up and an understanding that sometimes, not even a well intentioned thief can be one. Provide a glimpse of the cost and benefit of the game world and hopefully be the start of a great campaign.