idea for storyline: fatal scammers

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    • Markshire PCs:

    This recent (unfortunate) news entry inspired the following plotline.

    If this storyline isn’t picked up by the time I can be back in game, then I’ll gladly take it on as a primary responsibility.

    SUMMARY: Thieves’ Guild cut-throats lure unsuspecting clients back out to the Road to the Gate, only to rob them and dump their bodies in a frozen mass grave.

    PART 1: postings on the Foothold bulletin board indicate that guides can be hired to protect refugees wishing to return to Gastlinyk Gate to reclaim personal property, to pay final respects to their relatives, etc. Initial up-front fees seem exorbitant, but the danger of such an undertaking cannot be underestimated. Respondents are to leave a note attached to the original at the bulletin board. DMs can even post notices that come from NPC refugees in the town.

    PCs who hear conversations between nearby NPCs may overhear plans for some folks to visit their abandoned homes to pick up family heirlooms or other such personal tasks. PC may also take up these guides on their offer to have an escort back to the Gate; if I’m not mistaken, several newer PCs are refugees from the Rise of the Titan, so this can also fit into their own personal storylines.

    There may also be NPC conversations heard that infer that people who went with these guides have not returned. One rationalization for the disappearances is that it is a dangerous journey; a counterpoint emerges (or PCs can determine this) that although these clients had disappeared, the notice oftentimes seems to be re-posted over time, and regardless still attracts customers.

    PART 2: Note that this part is only required if a PC takes the cut-throats up on their offer.

    A meeting is arranged between the client and the killers, most likely in the subterranean market or garden of Foothold; later on, meetings in Cona or the Inn along the road to Stonemark can be arranged if happenings become too difficult to conceal.

    In any case, a date/time for leaving on the expedition is determined, and payment is rendered up-front.

    PART 3: the guides’ plan is to bring their clients out to a remote part of the landscape leading to the Gate, rob them, then kill them and dump their bodies in a deep fissure in the remote wilderness of Markshire. The plan is to not have any survivors, and simply keep taking on new clients.

    Unless involved in this storyline, PCs will NOT find this mass grave out in the middle of nowhere. Exceptions will be placed if the PC is an exceptional tracker (perhaps hired by a suspicious family member of one of the victims), or if the storyline hasn’t been picked up by any Players yet.

    This scam goes according to plan until one or more PCs become involved, of course. The highwaymen are happily going about their business, fleecing their clients and dumping the bodies in the same wintry grave in the wilderness. The plan is essentially going forward without difficulty, and Engman is pleased with the returns from the scam.

    If a PC becomes involved as a client, things appear normal and straight-forward at the outset. Even throw a few random encounters at the group to use up supplies and justify the need for an escort to the Gate. When the PCs are set upon in a secluded area of the wilderness, there are a couple outcomes.

    IF THEY ARE SUBDUED: the PC is moved to a mass-grave area upon defeat, being informed their body was dumped into a deep hole in the ground. Give back a few hit points so they may be able to survive the next part (see PART 4).

    IF THEY DEFEAT THE KILLERS: chances are the thieves will flee if combat becomes too fierce; in any case, they figure their prey will be picked off later by themselves after they regroup, or will be destroyed by the malicious forces wandering the wilderness.

    PCs who survive the encounter will have the option of returning to Foothold (possibly exposing the highwaymen if they wish), hunting down the remaining cut-throats, or even exploring the dumping cave.

    PART 4: With the scam exposed, and most likely the PC thrown in the pit, the primary objective is to escape the mass grave and return safely back to their home. The area is littered with corpses, perhaps a few undead, and definitely beetles or other unsavory scavengers. For tougher PCs, I’d recommend hook horrors or even umber hulks; no typical humanoids should be included.

    For this area, dress up a cave with corpses, blood stains, odd light sources and special effects, etc. Use strange sounds and inexplicable emote messages (such as “you see something moving out of the corner of your eye, but you’re not quite sure what it was”, and so forth).

    At this point the storyline shifts to indicating the disturbing nature of the mass grave. Restless spirits are attempting to leave the cave, and wander about to seek vengeance on the still-living. PCs who encounter these revenants will be accused as murderers and set upon by the undead.

    Hopefully the PCs will return to the surface; as there is little wealth to be gained, it’s recommended that a notable XP reward be granted.

    PART 5: If somehow the highwaymen are exposed, then the Thieves Guild will remove the notice from the Foothold Bulletin board. It may appear again in a month or so, giving any jilted PCs the opportunity to have another go at these killers.

    If a PC posts a notice on the advertisement stating anything about the escorts being rogues and killers, then the entire notice disappears without warning, as above. The PC will be followed by Thieves Guild operatives, however, and eventually attacked by assassins (most likely in the wilderness, away from civilized areas).

    In any case, PCs who try to expose the killers for what they are without directly defeating them as part of the scam will become enemies of the Thieves Guild.

    FINAL THOUGHTS: It’s important to bring across the ruthless nature of the Thieves Guild in this storyline. There’s no reason that a group should be viewed as benevolent simply because PCs can become members.

    If PC members of the Thieves Guild wish to be involved with the scam (becoming highwaymen/women themselves), they’re welcome to it. They’ll go through Engman or Isais, and if they do the deed properly then they’ll make some decent coin out of the deal, not to mention some basic or mildly-enchanted equipment scored via better-equipped victims. Fellow cut-throats will be average-level Rogues and/or Fighters with decent equipment, not overpowering of a PC of similar level.

    As there is a Thieves Guild rule restricting violence between any fellow Guild members, then this should not be an issue. Although it promotes some intriguing role-playing opportunities between PC Guild members and their non-Guild acquaintances who wish to be escorted back to the Gate… :twisted:

    Lt. Tyler
    • Markshire PCs:

    This sounds really great s-m-r. I like the idea of a storyline that stresses the immoral nature of the thieves guild. The Rowdy Yeti’s not a club house (with a “No Elves” sign on the front, complete with backwards ‘s’); it’s the headquarters of a criminal enterprise. That enterprise wouldn’t think twice about ripping off some foolish folks that trusted them, especially since their disappearance would be easy to miss given the influx of refugees to Foothold.

    The new PCs of Ceorlas (Meredoc Wrint) and Aelswith (Catani Dallin) are both refugees from the Gate. Currently they’re both pretty low level, so if they did want to find their way back to their homes, an escort would be definitely be needed.

    Not sure if there are any active PCs who are members of the Guild. Kyle is around, but I’m not sure if he’s a member.

    Lt. Tyler
    • Markshire PCs:

    Potentially related to this is some recent conversations between Starkadder (vlan), Catani (Aelswith), and Bram (Corgano) discussing Stark’s desire to try and take back the Gate. He’ll be looking for help, so maybe the scammers could be part of that. Stark is no slouch though, so the scammers might need to be beefed up a bit.

    Also in these discussions Catani mentioned the loss of her family. Separate from the others, she might be a good target to be approached by scammers (or given an appropriate advertisement, she might respond nicely to it).


    • Markshire PCs:

    Groups will not leave through the eastern Foothold Gate. Instead, they’ll head south through the narrow pass along the east side of the Narlinwyk Forest, eventually to wind their way north to the Pass itself…then, to their DEATHS. Maybe they’ll be lead to their DEATHS even quicker, if the rogues are antsy and the PCs seem like an easy mark.

    Not only will this not violate the PC Rules about heading into Thrym Pass when lower than level 10, but it will also keep the guards from peeking into the rogue’s business too easily. It may also serve to introduce PCs to areas they may not have known existed, but that’s secondary.

    • Markshire PCs: Grottle, Gruzk, Ashimar


    Engman is a “supporter” of Markshire and defender of the town. Like the mob bosses were patriotic during World War II.

    He should take interest in finding out who’s working so close to his territory and preying on his “marks”.

    Base the cut-throat group around the camp in NF below Yar and you could play out a thieves war as Engman and the Yeti take on the independents.

    Using the side pass (made for monsters/evil dudes to get to the desert) is a good place and shows some newbs that it’s there.

    Remember, Gastlinyk Gate isn’t destroyed (just a bit ruined) and the War of the Pass has yet to truly happen. There are plenty of locations in GG that are ruined to ambush someone as well as the initial side pass.

    Lt. Tyler
    • Markshire PCs:

    A mob turf war resulting from displaced naughty types in Gastlinyk and environs and The Yeti is totally cool, and totally plausible.

    When I get more settled in our living quarters I can totally help out if you need anything s-m-r.

    • Markshire PCs:

    Excellent suggestions and guidance, fellas!

    I plan on reacquainting myself with the DM tools in the weeks ahead. I’ll begin posting messages on the board to start this up when I’m comfortable.

    • Markshire PCs:

    Further notes for this idea…

    To make a long story short, the individual setting up this whole scheme resides in Stonemark, and runs a clothing/tailor business as a front. Communications are smuggled with clothing deliveries to Foothold, Gastlinyk, and points south.

    How did it come to this? Kayla was wandering around the Wood south of Foothold, and happened upon a group of bandits. She stuck around, and I indicated that they seemed to be looking for something. Turns out they were looking for a decorative fan; Kayla found it because to her sensitive nose it absolutely reeked of perfume. She and Bram eventually returned it to the bandits, who literally begged that it be returned. The only definitive clues given to Kayla about the owner of the fan was that it was a woman in Stonemark. They thought little of it, and essentially forgot about the encounter.

    Inspired by the Yagyu in Lone Wolf & Cub (one of my personal favourite comics)…There was a secret message written on the fan. However, the ink (derived from a rare subterranean fungus from the Cona Caves) is only visible after one dips it in water; the other ink momentarily turns transparent, leaving the message readable. When it dries (hastened by whisking the fan through the air), the other ink reappears, concealing the message once again. The perfume is used to conceal the somewhat odd aroma of the fungus, which is still-living once applied to any surface.

    Concerned about being exposed through a chance occurrence with the lost fan, the Stonemark leader demanded the fan be recovered (it had been lost when a messenger going to Foothold had been ambushed by a marauding group of orcs). Hence, the bandits’ desperation in finding the fan.

    • Markshire PCs:

    That is….devious. Thrym, you better watch this guy when he visits….


    • Markshire PCs:

    Like many insightful, inspired, and ingenious things that happen this time of the year where I appear responsible, I just blame it on the humidity.

    • Markshire PCs:

    Another news story, linking the previous mass-grave finding with another, more-recent assault on a drug cartel:

    • Markshire PCs:

    I love the idea! Sounds right up Stark’s alley as well. He’s kinda focused and prolly wouldn’t look to deeply at an offer of help to run a recon of the Gate.

    And Monty’s right…. you are one devious little bastard!! But you still look HAWT in dress and fancy hat.

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