And, the second part of the adventure...
The 9Q’s: Questions 4-6
Q4. Be the PC — defiance, infiltration
Scene: later that night, Tengrym returns to the inn common room and watches. When folks drop off to sleep, he seeks a possible secret entry point from the Underdark.
Tengrym made his way back to the Rising Moon later that afternoon. He drew up the hood of his cloak around his face and kept to himself, seeking a darkened corner of the room to best watch the patrons of the inn. Ordering a frothy tankard of ale, he nursed the drink slowly, appearing as almost any other normal — albeit mysterious — patron. The night approached and more folk poured in, and still he watched and waited. Tengrym heard talk of the previous night’s disturbance that had seen the demise of several of the regular patrons. Slowly, these folk grew rowdier and more outspoken. Despite the tempered and gloomy moods, musicians still set up and sang obscene songs and played raucous jigs. Eventually, most retired for the night, though some still fell asleep where they sat.
Tengrym finally got up and began to search the place. Somehow, the drow had entered the inn, and he had a hunch it wasn’t through the front door.
Does he find any clues? [+Perceptive, +veteran mage, -whatever it is — it is bound to be well-hidden] No, but… (spend a point to “Flip a Pip”) Yes, but…
The half-elf cast a quick spell of detection and pried about, making his way to the cellar. He found few clues until he found the faintly glowing signature of magical residue. There in the corner behind several great wooden casks was a pattern. So, they teleported in, he thought. Tracking them would be no easy task. Even with careful study, his own transport spell would likely encase him in solid rock.
Be the GM
Suddenly, Tengrym heard the creak of floorboards and whirled around to see Aurous coming down the stairs with a lantern in one hand and a sword in the other.
“It seems lord Thormemnon was right not to trust you,” he said.
“Put your sword away and don’t be a fool!” Tengrym snapped. “I am here to find out how the perpetrators got in here.”
“I doubt there were any dark elves,” the constable replied. “What a fanciful story.”
The half-elf ranger stepped nearer. Tengrym could see there was no other way out than back up the stairs behind the taller and bulkier opponent.
“I won’t fight you, Aurous,” he said. “And I fail to see how you finding me in the cellar incriminates me for anything.”
“So you say,” Aurous replied, leveling his blade. “What are you really doing, Veldis?”
Be the PC Again
“I am doing what I must,” Tengrym sighed. “In truth, I seek the answer to a riddle. Somehow, the drow are related, but I don’t fully know yet what the connection is.”
Reading doubt and inner turmoil in the ranger’s eyes, Tengrym pressed. “I don’t know what Thormemnon wants, nor will I debate the methods of his rule, but I can see you have no love or respect for him.”
Does he touch a nerve? [+Bigoted] Yes, but…
Aurous lowered his blade a few inches. “He is a coward, a charlatan, and the spoiled son of lord Theremen Ulath, who is traveling to the east. No, there is no love between us…however, I still wish for justice on behalf of those who lost their lives to a cold-blooded killer!”
Tengrym regarded the constable compassionately for a moment. “Although I did not know these men, I wish for the same justice you seek. I usually work alone — and since I can see I will not easily shake you while I endeavor to complete my task — let us join together. It seems that our quests are aligned. I seek the killers too, for they hold the key to solving my riddle.”
Does he convince him to join him? [+Principled, -Suspicious] Yes… [+1 FU Point]
After a moment of thought, Aurous replied, “Agreed. I can then keep a closer eye on you.”
Tengrym smiled and extended a hand. They clasped firmly and released. “I see I shall have to work hard to earn your trust, good Aurous!”
“Indeed, you shall. Now, tell me your plan…”
Q5. Be the GM — betrayal — magnet, snake, masks
Scene: Still at the inn, Tengrym learns to his dismay that Aurous is also not who he seems!
Tengrym related his plan to inquire once again about the mysterious fellow that he was seeking — a cloaked half-elf in black with a raspy voice and burned face. When Aurous heard the description, something overcame his features.
“What is it?” Tengrym asked, pausing his description. “Do you know something?”
“You never mentioned him,” the constable said. “Come with me. I will lead you to someone who knows him and can tell you more.”
Tengrym was shocked by the revelation that Aurous knew something. “What is his name? What do you know about him.”
“In truth, very little,” he said. “However, the one who I will take you to knows much. Come!”
A little alarmed and wary, Tengrym followed. Aurous led him through the now deserted streets of Highmoon toward Merchant’s Square, a hitching point and storehouse district for several major merchant companies and coasters. The area was eerily quiet and devoid of people. Aurous led Tengrym around the back of a larger warehouse with the mark of the Three Suns Trading Company. There, Aurous knocked thrice and the door opened a crack. He whispered something to the figure within, and quickly, they gained entry.
Winding their way between aisles of crates, they approached a lit area where they heard whispering voices. They emerged to a small clearing with a couple dim lanterns, a desk, and a few chairs. Sitting around the table were two fat men in finery sipping at snifters with a third fellow in the deeper shadows opposite them. Hearing the approaching men, they ceased their conversation and turned to face their guests.
“As you asked, master Shandorin,” said Aurous, “I have brought the inquirer.”
Tengrym was already on edge. However, he was not fully prepared to face the very same scarred visage that he sought. Around the edges of the ring of light, several armed figures appeared.
Be the PC next
The half-elf turned on the constable in wrath, and steel was bared in both men’s hands. “What is the meaning of this? Why have you brought me here?”
Notes: Using the NPC 9Qs, I roll three for Aurous’ questions 4, 6 & 7, getting spectacles, musical notes, and shooting star.
“Spare me you indignation!” spat Aurous. “I have seen into the hearts of men…all have at least the baser need of self-preservation therein, while most are driven by greed.”
“I take it the last applies to you?” Tengrym scowled.
“One may be a means to the other,” he answered cryptically. “I work in tandem with the Three Suns.”
“You mean you’re in their pocket!”
“Do not be so quick to judge!” snapped Aurous. “Unless you have sons and daughters, you could scarcely begin to understand me.”
Still with sword in hand, Tengrym turned to face the scarred one — the man whom Aurous called Shandorin. Around him were armed men, and thought he heard the click of crossbows.
“And you,” he challenged. “Are you under the employ of the merchants?”
NPC 9Qs — Q6. — tree
“Hardly!” the man hissed. “The Three Suns is only one of the many fruits of my labor.”
“What do you mean?”
Be the GM Once More
“Enough of this!” the man growled. “Shoot him!”
The click of crossbows followed.
Does Tengrym avoid getting hit? [-Injured, +Light Elf Corselet, -Drow Hand-crossbows, -Outnumbered] No…
Rather than heavy bolts, tiny darks struck the half-elf as he lunged toward the burned man. How quickly the poison entered his system was astonishing. The world spun around him and with a few staggered steps, Tengrym fell…
Q6. Be the GM — pot of gold, hanging gymnastic bar, flower — intrigue
Scene: Tengrym is kept captive in some underground location where he learns about Anoris’s nefarious plans
Tengrym awoke to numbness. A clanking sound rhythmically chimed softly like dull bells or iron chain links. The hero’s vision came slowly out of a nauseous vortex of motion. He was chilled from a cold sweat and wet strands of white hair clung to his face.
He found himself in a dank dark room of stones. He couldn’t feel his arms. Looking up, he saw his wrists were in irons and he hung a few feet above the floor.
Not far beyond lay a short corridor. Tengrym saw the soft glow of faerie lights. A table was set up with chairs. Atop the table was a heap of gold coins, and the room beyond was stacked with several large casks of unknown goods.
Stripped to his undergarments, he was still too depleted to more than weakly groan. After doing so, he drew the attention of the guards. The figures emerged from the shadows — dark elf warriors! One prodded Tengrym with compassionless attention using the pommel of his black dagger. The half-elf groaned louder, and the burned visage of Shandorin appeared soon after.
“I see we are awake, my friend,” he hissed in low gravelly tones. “What is your name?”
Does Tengrym convince him? [-Principled, -Cunning] No, and… (he knows something of his true identity)
“Veldis,” he said weakly. “Of Thentia.”
The scarred man leaned close enough that Tengrym could see the discoloration of his right eye. “You are the one I crossed swords with near Ordanthimus, the demon’s lair. I can smell a Drowsbane anywhere,” growled the man. “Why else would you seek the Stone?” he asked, referring to Tengrym’s last adventure that began almost a tenday before.
Tengrym recoiled at the knowledge that the man knew his true name.
“You are one of the last,” the man persisted. “Do not deny it. I can smell the arrogance of a Drowsbane from great distances. It’s written on your face and etched in your gray eyes. I don’t know why that merchant sought the Stone of Baolnor, but I can well guess your reasoning.”
Tengrym remained silent, but again studied the similarities under the mass of scar tissue on the face of his counterpart. Finally, he asked weakly, “And you? What is your part in all of this?”
The half-elf smiled briefly in a hideous grimace. “My part? I am here to see through that the prophecy does not come to pass.”
“You know the one…it is said the power of restoring the clan and Sullaspryn lies in the power of the last — the last heir of the house of Drowsbane. It cannot come to pass!”
“Why does this concern you?”
“Because my curse only ends when the last drop of Drowsbane blood is spent!” the man sneered in anger. He was now a mere finger’s breadth from Tengrym’s lips.
Tengrym watched in grim fascination, discerning something terribly wrong with the man opposite him. He could only guess at the pain and torture the man had endured, probably at the hands of the drow. It had obviously transformed the man into a hideously disfigured monster bent on helping destroy the remnants of the nearly extinct dynasty.
“However,” the half-elf continued backing away, “the game has changed. Since the demon, Egelrenardruth, was released and destroyed, and the stone with him, it has freed the drow from one aspect of the curse. The stalemate is broken. The war against the moon goddess has begun in earnest now.”
Shandorin turned and gestured toward the casks. “Even now, a plan is already in motion that will aid in not only the demise of Selûne’s last allies in the north, but also bring down the cities of the Moonsea as trophies of conquest!”
Before Tengrym could ask further, Aurous walked in. Shandorin turned in irritation. “What now, constable?”
“I have done as you have asked, master,” Aurous said. “What of my family?”
“You shall be with them soon enough — but not quite yet,” replied the scarred half-elf.
“But you said…”
“When the dark elves are finished here,” interrupted Shandorin. “You have done well…you have brought me a Drowsbane! The dark elves are pleased and shall take him to their realm to extract his essence — slowly — and further their great plan. Deepingdale shall be untouched for a minimum twelve year stint, and once the shipment is more than ten leagues from here, your family will be released…no sooner.”
Be the PC next
This last part, the scarred man said while looking at Tengrym’s face. Tengrym could read the disgust and agony on Aurous’s face as he stood behind him. He had misjudged the constable. Whatever plan was in motion, Tengrym had to stop it. However, his escape was the immediate concern. If his hands were free to move, he could easily release himself from his bonds. Now that they were not, he was unsure.
“Whatever it is you have planned, it will be stopped!” said Tengrym.
Be the GM once more
The scarred man smirked. “Perhaps it will,” he countered, “but it won’t be on account of you!” He turned to the drow guards next. “Prepare this prisoner for transport.”
Then he turned and left with Aurous. The constable left slowly, casting a look of disgust and contempt toward the drow and a sympathetic look toward Tengrym as he hung in his manacles.