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Evil's Clutch #43 rejected

Scenario Submission Talk

Sovereign Court **

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

TITLE: Evil’s Clutch

When a lumberman is struck dead under suspicious circumstances in Darkmoon Wood, the Sheriff of Falcon’s Hollow asks the Pathfinder Society to investigate a connection the man had to the Society. However, the Lumber Consortium stands in the way of answers and has launched an investigation of its own, headed by ruthless agents of the Aspis Consortium. Evidence has both parties racing to solve a mystery that inevitably leads them back to the scene of the crime.

Sheriff Baleson contacts the PCs about Will, a lumberman, who died after being struck by lightning under clear skies in a new logging region of Darkmoon Wood. The Lumber Consortium claims to have evidence that Will was a Pathfinder spying on their operations and is holding his body in the Darkmoon Lumber headquarters while they investigate. His hands tied by local politics, Baleson asks the PCs to investigate on their own, and sends them to Hollany, Will’s widow, to see if she knows anything.

ENCOUNTER 1 – The Lumberman’s Widow
At Hollany’s home, the PCs encounter three thugs (Warrior Level 1/3/5), led by a Aretes (wizard Level 2/4/6 – Bronze Tiered Aspis Agent), interrogating her. After the Aspis are defeated, Hollany tells the PCs Will is innocent and claims that if they can recover his body and bring it to the Temple of Iomedae, Cirthana has agreed to cast speak with dead to exonerate him.
Suggest “GameMastery Map: Farmstead” (farmhouse)

ENCOUNTER 2 – Litany for a Lumberman
At the Darkmoon Lumber headquarters the PCs observe Payden Teedum (Monk/Figher Level 3/5/6) leaving the building with a group of regulators, plus Naruma (Rogue Level 4/6/8 Silver Tiered Aspis Agent), and Drealen (Cleric Level 1/3/6 – Bronze Tiered Aspis Agent). NOTE: They are introduced here only to foreshadow Encounter 5. There is no reason to fight them yet. In the headquaters, only two regulators (Rogue/Fighter Level 1/3/5) and a bad-tempered gnome named Drezil (Barbarian Level 2/5/6 – Bronze Tiered Aspis Agent) remain to guard Will’s body and the evidence found with him (consisting of a wayfinder and a tattered map of Darkmoon Wood marked with cryptic notes). If they recover and bring Will’s body to Cirthana, she summons Baleson as a witness and casts speak with dead. (Answers confirm Will is not a Pathfinder, that he found the wayfinder and map on a skeletal body next an old shrine, and that he didn’t see what killed him.)

ENCOUNTER 3 – Into Darkmoon Wood
Baleson leads the PCs to into Darkmoon Wood via an abandoned logging trail that circumvents Padyen’s regulators who are known to be restricting access to the area where Will died. OPTIONAL ENCOUNTER: Unknown to Baleson, a bridge along the path has collapsed and the only way to continue is to navigate a dangerous log jam and slide down a flume (requiring a few acrobatic or climb checks).

ENCOUNTER 4 – The Cabalist
The PCs encounter an old hobgoblin druid (Level 4/6/7) blocking the path. He assumes the PCs are part of the Lumber Consortium, and is initially hostile. If convinced otherwise, he allows the PCs to continue, but refuses to let Baleson pass, saying “you were once an Axe Man, you are not welcome here”. Aware of the danger ahead, and annoyingly smug about not revealing what it is, the druid offers a blessing (resist electricity) for anyone that promises to disrupt logging in Darkmoon Wood.

ENCOUNTER 5 – Evil’s Clutch
Lightning flashes ahead, followed by screams of anguish. Approaching, the PCs find Payden, Naruma, and Drealen fighting off a blue dragon (wyrmling/very young/young). Then, suddenly, a second dragon ambushes the PCs as well. (While everyone is distracted, Naruma sneaks off to the shrine in encounter 6.) The PCs might try to form an alliance with Payden and the Aspis, but any deal crumbles when the last dragon falls.
Suggest “GameMastery Flip-map: Woodlands” (trail)

ENCOUNTER 6 – The Shrine
At the overgrown shrine where Will died, the PCs encounter Naruma trying to abscond with treasure and a tattered book taken from the skeletal remains of a Pathfinder who went missing several years ago. After Naruma’s defeat, the PCs discover the book is rare Volume of the Pathfinder Chronicles, which combined with the map Will recovered, grants new insights into the ruins of Darkmoon Wood.
Suggest “GameMastery Flip-map: Woodlands” (shrine)

Should the players fail, the Chronicle falls into the hands of the Aspis Consortium. If the players succeed, they recover the Chronicle as well as evidence of Aspis Consortium ties to the Lumber Consortium.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

I love a good mystery adventure, so I enjoyed reading this submission. Thanks for sharing it. Here are my thoughts.

Death by lightning, rather than a traditional murder weapon is a nice twist. But what happens if the PCs confront the opposing investigators right away to get to Will's body? This reminds me of the adventure "Entombed with the Pharaohs," where the PCs are meant to face a rival group throughout the adventure. This is a really cool idea, but is challenging for the DM to run, since some aggressive players will want to kill off their rivals right away.

Encounter 2:
As above, foreshadowing is nice, but what if the PCs want to fight Payden and his agents here? After all, the Lumber Consortium is hindering their investigation by keeping them away from the body.

Encounter 4:
I like the hobgoblin druid offering a blessing, but I'm not sure that he should always smugly refuse to reveal all that he knows. What if the Pathfinders make a really good Diplomacy or Intimidate check? What if they use magic to question him? Also, what would the PCs have to do to disrupt logging in the woods? The entire town of Falcon's Hollow is dependent upon the logging industry, so this could cause some serious problems for the locals.

Encounter 5:
Having the option for a temporary alliance is nice. However, since the PCs will eventually end up fighting Payden, Naruma, and Drealen, maybe you should replace Payden with someone else. I don't think such an important NPC should be killed off. Also, what if Naruma is spotted by one of the PCs and doesn't escape for the final battle? Finally, where did these dragons come from and what are their goals? Do the characters just end up being in the wrong place at the wrong time and end up getting attacked by the dragons?

Overall, you have a nice mix of investigation, diplomacy, combat, and environment hazards (if the optional collapsing bridge is included). Bonus points for the tie-ins to the GameMastery flip mats. Keep trying and good luck on your future submissions!

**** RPG Superstar 2012

Kobash, I like what you did with this. I was one of the folks who looked it over on the Google PFS group, and it seems I steered you wrong on the tier information. I also learned that using a major NPC is a "no no", so someone other than Baleson should have accompanied the party. Also, it seems that "spying" is outside the purview of the PFS, so that might have gotten you a pass.

I like the mix of encounters you have in this scenario. Good luck with future PFS scenario submissions!

Sovereign Court **

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Thanks for the feedback.

It's hard to weave a complex mystery with 750 words, and I think I bit off more than I could chew with this idea.

It's true that the PCs could trash the whole scenario by attacking Payden and the Agents in the street, and though I tried, perhaps I didn't have enough words to explain exactly why they shouldn't clash yet. First, the players don't have proof that these new people with Payden are Aspis yet, second, letting them leave gives the players a major advantage in liberating Will's body, and third, attacking them unprovoked in the streets of Falcon's Hollow should be obviously foolish.

I probably shouldn't have involved Payden and Baelson as much as I did, but I'd like to believe that they were made, given stats, and good background histories so that they can be part of the world, either as allies or enemies. Plus, Payden has confronted PCs before (In Revenge of the Kobold King), so I thought using him again wouldn't be a problem. Personally, I really love recurring bad guys that do more than just stand in the background.

There are reasons for both the druid and dragons being where they are. Again, I could not narrow down the number of words to explain without sacrificing something else.

To Taig, regarding "Spying": I'm not sure what you mean. The Lumber Consortium trumped up charges of spying in order to justify withholding Will's body and controlling information about the incident, but no one was actually spying on anyone.

Liberty's Edge **** Venture-Lieutenant, North Carolina—Winston-Salem

Kobash wrote:
To Taig, regarding "Spying": I'm not sure what you mean. The Lumber Consortium trumped up charges of spying in order to justify withholding Will's body and controlling information about the incident, but no one was actually spying on anyone.

I apologize. I read this too late at night, and I got confused. You're absolutely right, the "spying" was an accusation, not an actual PFS activity. I don't know why I misread that.

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