If you haven’t read the previous post, this one might not make a lot of sense. In that post I talked about trying to come up with a one-page format for non-dungeon adventures–political games, mysteries, crime stories, urban adventures–anything that isn’t just about exploring an underworld region.
The Exiled Lord
The Bad Lord hired a Lying Merchant to frame the Exile with a forged letter planning the assassination of the king at the wedding to the exile’s Betrothed.
Bad Lord: Marry Betrothed and get her lands. Keep conspiracy secret.
Lying Merchant: Sell info to the highest bidder.
Exile: Clear my name. Regain my lands. Marry Betrothed.
Betrothed: Get out of marrying the Bad Lord.
Bad Lord: a fortified manor in the country (site of wedding), a town house, a personal bodyguard, two squads of soldiers, 4,000 cash, a carriage, a court magician.
Lying Merchant: a warehouse, a wagon and driver, a personal bodyguard, 6,000 cash, line of credit for 10,000, an office in town, contacts with a smuggler’s crew, personally skilled at forgery, a bribed guard captain, a hideout in a bar he owns.
Exile: 2,000 cash, a personal bodyguard, a huge estate in the country (unavailable while exiled), a good horse, a terrific disguise.
Betrothed: 3,000 cash, access to her father’s estates, a line of credit for 5,000, a sexy servant girl, was a childhood friend of the king, a brother in the clergy.
The player characters are…
Hired to protect the Merchant from the Bad Lord’s goons.
Hired by the Bad Lord to kill the Merchant (or Exile).
Hired by the Exile to steal the info, buy the info, or kidnap the Merchant.
Hired by the Betrothed to protect the Exile, steal the info, etc (as above).
Replace “hired” with “asked, begged, blackmailed, etc” as fits your campaign.
Stats (Basic/Expert D&D)
Bad Lord: Noble, AC2, HD 3, HP 21, Damage 1-8 (sword).
Personal bodyguard: F2, AC2, HP 9, Damage 1-8 (sword).
Squad of soldiers: 8 Normal Men, AC 4, HP 3, Damage 1-6 (spear).
Court magician: M-U3, AC 9, HP 8, Damage 1-4 (dagger), Spells: Charm Person, Sleep, Detect Magic, ESP.
Lying Merchant: T1, AC7, HP 3, Damage 1-4 (dagger).
Driver: Normal Man, AC9, HP 4, Damage 1-4 (club).
Personal bodyguard: F1, AC5, HP 3, Damage 1-8 (sword).
1 Small Galley
12 Buccaneers, AC7, HD 1, HP 6, Damage 1-8 (sword)
6 Buccaneers, AC7, HD 1, HP 2, Damage 1-8 (sword), 1-6 (crossbow)
2 Buccaneers, AC5, HD 1, HP 4, Damage 1-8 (sword), 1-6 (crossbow)
Bribed Guard Captain: F1, AC2, HP 1, Damage 1-6 (mace)
Bartender, Barmaid, Bouncer: Normal Men, AC 9, HP 2, Damage 1-4 (club)
Exile: Noble, AC2, HD 3, HP 11, Damage 1-8 (sword).
Personal bodyguard: CL2, AC2, HP 6, Damage 1-6 (mace).
Betrothed: Noble, AC9, HD 3, HP 13, Damage 1-4 (dagger).
Sexy servant girl: T1, AC9, HP 3, Damage 1-4 (dagger).
Brother: CL2, AC2, HP 7, Damage 1-6 (mace).
Howto use this Adventure
First of all, make your players pick sides, at least temporarily. They need to be inserted into the Situation with one of the Hooks, and then their Employer/Friend/Blackmailer/Enchanter uses them to achieve his goals. Roleplay out the relationship. Is your Exile a weak-willed sycophant? Maybe he relies on the players to decide how to protect him. Is the Bad Lord an honorable man who took a dishonorable path? Let him justify it. Maybe he doesn’t want to kill the Exile–that’ll make the job of the PCs working for him harder.
Improvise, but keep the NPCs working toward their goals. What’s the first step? After the PCs act, then what is the next logical step for their employer? For their antagonists? Rinse and repeat.
If the PCs work for…
Exile, send goons to kill him. Then make the PCs hide him. Then send goons after the PCs. Send the servant girl to make contact. Have the Merchant use his contacts in the criminal underworld to hunt them down. Send the Merchant to bribe them. Then get the law to arrest them on trumped up charges. Get the Betrothed’s brother to heal them up or offer temporary sanctuary. Use all your resources to pursue the goal–but remember that the goal isn’t “kill the PCs”. At least not necessarily.
Betrothed, send the PCs to watch over the Exile and goons to kill him. Ask them to spirit him to sanctuary on her fathers’ estate, or at her brothers’ church. Get the law to come after them. Send smugglers to kidnap Betrothed. Make the PCs want to be in two places at once. Have the Exile want to confront the Bad Lord. Make him a difficult person to mind. Make sure both parties act like nobles used to commanding underlings, and make sure the PCs remember they are hired help.
Bad Lord, it’s much more straightforward. Send them to attack and kill the Exile. Have everyone else oppose them openly. Then go after the Merchant. If the Exile gets away with the help of Betrothed, have the players kidnap the servant girl and interrogate her for information. If the Exile hides out anywhere, have the players burn it down or attack the people who help him. Let the players figure out how to use the Bad Lord’s wizard and his information gathering abilities. And don’t forget to send someone to kill the wizard. The Bad Lord uses them for plausible denial. The Bad Lord has never seen these men before, your majesty. They certainly aren’t part of his household. He will take them into custody and see that justice is served…
Lying Merchant, send goons to kidnap or kill the Merchant. Then send the Exile to revenge himself on the Merchant. Or the servant girl to suborn the PCs. Or the Betrothed to appeal to their good nature. Whatever works. Then send them to protect the Exile while the Merchant can arrange a truce, as leverage. Have the wedding go forward. Then have the Exile refuse to work with the Merchant unless the PCs rescue the Betrothed. If they fail, have the marriage happen. Then have them protect the Betrothed from the Bad Lord’s killers.
You get the idea. Roll with whatever the players do. And if they out think or out maneuver your NPCs… that’s great! That is the equivalent of packing a 10′ pole, remembering to check for traps, or kitting out the front line fighters in heavy armor. They get to win. Same thing the other way. If they act too aggressively or put a scare into the NPCs, have them throw everything back at them. But remember, you have to play fair. If the Bad Lord can’t find the PCs hideout with his resources, he’ll need to talk to the Merchant to tap the criminal underworld. Ditto for the Merchant, the Betrothed and especially the Exile. Let them bribe for information with impunity, but only in their social circles or among their servants.
And there you have it. It got a little wordy at the end, so that might be something I’d omit from the actual template. I did this a little backwards for Basic/Expert D&D and listed their cash (ie treasure) first. The final version of the one-pager for B/E D&D would probably have the treasure pre-generated. The Buccaneers stand to have quite a bit (Type A) and each Noble has a small chance at gems, jewelry or a magic item.
What do you think? Any feedback? I’d love to keep tweaking this and then take it for a test drive.