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GMs: Help Me Create a Duskwalker Guild Side Adventure (plus bonus stats)

Legacy of Fire

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Head's Up: This thread is for GMs only! Now then...

Howdy all! My group is currently transitioning from House of the Beast to The Jackal's Price, and I want to create a short "set piece" adventure that can play out alongside the Katapesh goings-on there. Here are my constraints and goals:

* Goal: Resolve the story thread of Haleen's debts in Katapesh.
* Goal: Incorporate the Duskwalker Guild and some of the Nightstalls material provided in AP #21.
* Constraint: PCs will be 8th level
* Constraint: I have an " adventure budget" of about 10-12,000 XP or so to play with, which is fairly tight at this level. (I'm running LoF on the Medium advancement track and should have this much of a shortfall to make up by the end of TJP.)

I have a lot of toys to play with, but I'm getting bogged down trying to figure out how to tie it all together. I'd love to hear any feedback anyone has to offer!

While some of this is tied to specific events in my campaign, I'm attempting to present this in a fashion that should be useful for any other groups as well.

Set Piece: Black Marks at the Violet Fire
Well over a year ago, the swashbuckler Haleen, a woman with close personal ties to one or more of the PCs (see "Howl of the Carrion King" and the Legacy of Fire campaign traits) borrowed 2,000 gp from shady Nightstalls moneylenders, then ran off in the night to escape her debts. Now she's back--but the Duskwalker Guild never neglects its ledgers. Haleen's debts draw the PCs into a web of double-dealings and lost souls at the Violet Fire, an infamous sin pit run by the tiefling Khafira Blacktongue, leader of the Duskwalker Guild.

Several months before the PCs set out for the Sultan's Claw and Kelmarane, the young street-rat Haleen found herself in need of a large sum of fast cash.

In my campaign, she needed the 2,000 gp for various bribes and guild fees to pay for her little brother Hollistan's apprenticeship as an alchemist, but the specifics will vary in your game.

An orphaned street rat without connections or resources, Haleen had few legal options. Prone to rash and impulsive decisions, but wisely determined to keep herself (and the PC she supported) free of the dangerous lure of Katapesh's vice dens, Haleen hocked her family heirlooms (a +1 rapier and +1 buckler) as collateral to secure a loan from a Nightstalls loanshark. She even managed to retain physical possession of her heirlooms by promising to fight for the loanshark in illegal (non-guild) pit fights. However, with the cash already spent, the heady but inexperienced Haleen lost her first bout, and her lender's demands suddenly grew menacing.

Finally realizing she was in way over her head, Haleen grew afraid that she would not only lose her family heirlooms but, even worse, the Duskwalker Guild would learn about her PC dependent and use her debts to pull the talented youngster into their clutches. She ran out on her debts that very night. Without so much as a word to anyone, she hired on as a caravan guard and left Katapesh with a Solku-bound camel train the next day, hoping to quickly earn the money back through honorable adventuring.

By the time the PCs travel to Katapesh in "The Jackal's Price," at least a year has passed since Haleen ran out on her debts. (In my campaign, it's been nearly two years, but it doesn't really matter.) Much has changed since then, but her debts have not been forgotten. Having been reunited with her dependent (in "Howl of the Carrion King," Haleen has been saving up her cash with the thought of someday returning to pay her debts, but mainly she's been content to lay low with 200 miles of barren wasteland separating her from her debts. For its part, the Duskwalker Guild has been busy.

Several months ago, Haleen's loanshark discovered that she was "hiding out" in Kelmarane, most likely through her role in restoring the town. (In my campaign, which incorporates some Kingmaker elements, she's been Kelmarane's warden for much of that time.) The most likely culprit for ratting out Haleen, however, is the Pathfinder bard Felliped (also from "Howl of the Carrion King"). Not through any sense of malice; no, Felliped is simply a Pathfinder. After the PCs defeated the Kulldis gnolls, the genie Kardswann, and the daemon Xulthos, Felliped wrote an PC-glorifying account of Kelmarane's downfall and subsequent rebirth. He sent the fairly-accurate account off to Sueda Lodge, which eventually published it as a Pathfinder Chronicle. A few copies of that Pathfinder Chronicle made it to the markets of Katapesh, and one of those copies eventually reached a Duskwalker who recognized Haleen. Even then, however, the guild determined that sending thugs across the country to collect her debts was cost-inefficient--but now Haleen has walked back into their web.

This adventure works best if Haleen is physically present during "The Jackal's Price," which is most likely if she has become a cohort to one of the PCs (either through the Leadership feat or the Romance option in "Howl of the Carrion King"). If Haleen is not survived or is otherwise not present, however, the Duskwalkers have also learned of her connection to a PC, and are perfectly content to transfer her debts fully to that character.

Once Haleen's location was learned (and possibly, her prominent position in Kelmarane), the Duskwalker Guild bought Haleen's debt from her loanshark. Haleen now owes the Duskwalker Guild directly--and punitive interest, her debt has now doubled to 4,000 gp. Without PC help, Haleen's managed to earn less than a quarter of that, and even if she's moved on to using better gear, she's still completely unwilling to sell her magic heirlooms. Yet even if the PCs are willing and able to pay the full sum in cash, escaping the debt won't be so easy. Khafira Blacktongue, leader of the infamous Duskwalker Guild, isn't willing to simply overlook that the street rat Haleen reneged on a legal debt. Simply on matters of principle, Khafira intends to make an example of Haleen; her debt is to be paid not just with hard coin, but also with a pound of flesh.

...To Be Continued...

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Just to note, one of my design goals is to incorporate more of the supporting material from the Adventure Path articles and Dark Markets (even when they slightly contradict each other). Most of the NPCs and locations involved in this adventure are drawn from "The Katapesh Marketplace" in AP #21.

The primary location for this adventure is the Violet Fire, which is located in the Dawn Gate district. It isn't labeled on the map, but here's where I've placed it (check the city map on page 20 of AP #21 or page 27 of Dark Markets) (and get ready to squint). Just to the right of the "n" in the "Dawn Gate" label, look for what looks like a large, walled structure--that's it. The "Violet Fire" actually takes up an entire city "block," and measures about 800 feet from north to south. I'm sketching out a map, but it'll be a while in coming.

Here's how I've interpreted that shape. The particularly thick section of the structure, jutting out from the northwest corner, is the actual Violet Fire itself, a three-story manor or villa that overlooks a large, enclosed courtyard. The villa and its courtyard are entirely surrounded by a protective "curtain wall" of two-story shops and homes (generally stores are on the first floor, the shopkeeper's home on the second). Many of the merchants living and working here deal in questionable Nightstalls trades, but even more are entirely normal, "upstanding" shops, selling anything from bolts of cloth to curios. However, while many of these merchants are not themselves members of the Duskwalker Guild (any most of them have never seen the inside of the Violet Fire or its grounds), they are all well aware of what goes on behind their back walls. These merchants are all Khafira's tenants, and enjoy low rents in return for their loyalty. They are expected to keep an eye out for trouble and, occasionally, to look the other way. Khafira calls this concealing curtain of "respectable" merchants the "Golden Casbah."

Several of these shops are run directly by Violet Fire, and conceal entrances to the villa or its estate. Would-be customers need to present the shopkeepers with special passwords to be admitted. These passwords are fairly simple (usually involving inquiring about the price of particular violet-colored goods) and well-known. A DC 15 Knowledge (local) check or DC 15 Diplomacy to gather information can reveal the basic etiquette of gaining access to the Violet Fire. However, when Khafira is feeling pressured (such as in the wake of Eagle Knight disruptions, for example), one or more of these entrances may be closed. In particularly dire times, Khafira may even turn one entrance into a trap, using rumors to funnel troublemakers toward it specifically. When the Violet Fire increases its security, recent and regular clientele must spread news of which gates are "safe" through word of mouth, increasing the DC of Knowledge (local) or Diplomacy checks to 25.

The Violet Fire, as described in AP #21, is a brothel, fighting arena, drug den, and Khafira Blacktongue's private palace. It balances needing to admit clients against its need for privacy and security as the headquarters of the Duskwalker Guild. The decor is livid and garish, and braziers containing violet-colored continual flame spells mark the entrances and illuminate many areas.

The Violet Fire opens its doors at sunset and closes them at dawn. Dozens of clients can be found on the grounds on most nights--more when a special event has been publicized--but during the day the occupants are generally limited to the Violet Fire staff, most of whom also live on the premises (often due to lack of choice). People encountered here generally don't offer their real names and don't want to know yours.

First Floor & Grounds: At street level, the Violet Fire is mostly filled with a maze of large parlors interspersing gambling pits and taverns with semi-private side rooms where clients can enjoy meals, conversation, pesh, games, or dancers without the hassle of the crowd. Kitchens at the southern end of the structure prepare meals. Hidden behind the Golden Casbah shopfronts, the windows on this level a few and far between, and all look out into the estate grounds.

The angular shape of the estate grounds are occupied by the elaborate combat arena and well-tended gardens and patios. The estate is surrounded by the inner walls of the two-story Golden Casbah. Only a few windows look out over the estate, and those are at the inner corners, peering down from buildings that are actually used to house guards or arena combatants. Other than doors to the Violet Fire and a few large gates that lead out to the streets, there are few ways in or out.

Combat Arena: The arena is a large, raised platform of thick wooden timbers under a thin layer of sand, enclosed by a 20-foot metal cage and surrounded by wooden tiers of seating. The arena incorporates several elaborate mechanisms, including numerous elevator platforms that lift beast and contestants into the arena from below and iron barricades that can rise up to subdivide the arena into several sections.

Second Floor: This floor is ringed about about 20 private rooms, each dedicated to decor of given themes such as "Osirion tomb," "City of Brass," "Tian Tea House," "Mwangi Aviary," and more. Clientele can rent these rooms for whatever private purposes they desire, but they are primarily here for the benefit of Khafira's six tiefling courtesans, who "perform" with the aid of elaborate costumes, masks, and roleplay. Rooms looking out over the estate grounds have balconies, while those looking out over the street only have barred windows.

Third Floor: The upper floor of the Violet Fire is dedicated to Khafira's private suite of rooms and her offices, as well as housing for staff and guards. None of its is open to the public.

Cellar: The Violet Fire has one underground level. Chambers beneath the villa itself include space for mundane purposes like laundries and pantries, while others house trapped and guarded vaults for both the Duskwalker Guild and Khafira herself. Passages under the estate grounds lead to holding cells for wild beasts and the elaborate manual winches and signal systems that operate the combat arena above.

Important NPCs
Now here's where matters get muddled. I have a cast of characters in mind, all of whom have hooks for the PCs, but I haven't determined if how to involve them with the PCs. I'll post stats for some of them later in the thread.

Khafira Blacktongue (LE female div-spawn tiefling rogue 7/assassin 4 (CR 10) runs the Violet Fire and the Duskwalker Guild. She was born in Osirion, and as mentioned in AP #21, she started out a courtesan working in sin pits around the Inner Sea who has worked her way up the ladder to her current position of power within the Duskwalkers.

The blood of divs runs strong in Khafira, a shapely woman with plum-colored skin, spiky black hair, and a small set of curling black horns. Her eyes, nails, lips, and long, pointed tongue are all deep black, and in some circles it's rumored that she's not really mortal at all, but an actual pairaka. Also known as Blacktongue the Strict, her ties to prostitution, drug dealing, slavery, and all other manner of vice (much of which freely occurs under her own roof) would render her an infamous criminal mastermind, but in Katapesh, she's borderline respectable. She has a cruel and merciless reputation, but she also takes great offense at any implication of criminality. Under the barely existent laws of Katapesh, Khafira's operations, while firmly rooted in the profits of human misery, are legal.

Due to her high CR, I'm trying to avoid creating an adventure that steers toward a direct confrontation with Khafira. While she'd be a challenging "boss monster," a fight against Khafira also gobbles up most of my XP budget.

Sayyid Farokh (CE male fiendish satyr bard 4, CR 8), also from AP #21, is Khafira's slave, lover, and business partner--in that order. Sayyid is the ultimate "pit boss" in the Violet Fire, second in command only to Khafira herself, but he chafes at his lack of freedom and covets Khafira's power. He's currently plotting to doublecross Khafira. His goal is to somehow eliminate Khafira by some means that allows him, someone who is currently her property, to gain his freedom and seize control of her holdings. This probably has to mean that just killing her won't suit his needs (which is good, because otherwise he's certainly in a position to catch her in a compromising position). More likely, he needs to somehow take the credit for discrediting Khafira in the face of the Pactmasters.

Scuttler: Scuttler is a summoner and professional arena fighter. His eidolon is a monstrous scorpion he calls Vhagshea (which is a type of div "blood scorpion"). He has a fairly simple role here, unconnected to the rest of the scheming going on -- essentially he's a hired gun, the opposition who'll be facing Haleen (and any PCs) in the combat arena. Scuttler speaks of Vhagshea as if it's always present, always listening, and somehow, really in charge. In my game, Scuttler is secretly also a member of the div-worshiping cult, the Usij. This fact doesn't really play a role in this adventure and is easily excised, but it's a little bit of foreshadowing for an epilog to Legacy of Fire I'm currently noodling. At any rate, Scuttler is a dissolute addict and nihilist, who really only comes to life when he's in the arena. "Scuttler" is his stage name/nickname, based on his mannerisms, and no one cares what he's really named, least of all him. He's one of those who believes Khafira is more pairaka than mortal, and this quiet sort of twisted adoration is what drew him to the Violet Fire. His addictive gambling debts are what now keep him in its orbit, and Khafira has promised to forgive some of those debts if he bends some rules in the arena.

So there's our three central movers-and-shakers. Additional NPCs in the mix:

Master Reapesmoor (also from AP #21) is a disguised devil, exiled from Hell, who's now in the soul trade. He finds the Pactmasters laissez faire attitude toward human misery and vice fascinating, and has been courting Khafira in an attempt to get closer to them and learn their secrets. He's a sort of detached third party here, and I don't plan to place him in a directly confrontational role. (He's a bit much for the PCs to handle, for one.)

Khafira has six tiefling courtesans (four female, two male tiefling rogue 2) working for her at the Violet Fire, as mentioned above. Khafira has specially selected these tieflings for enhanced sensuality, so we have a possible mix of demon-, div-, kyton-, and rakshasa-spawn tieflings here. There was a third male courtesan until just recently, when he was outed as an Eagle Knight spy trying to take down the Nightstalls from within. Tension is running high at the Violet Fire lately, since Khafira and Sayyid Farokh consider the Eagle Knights a subversive, cell-based organization, and thus think it unlikely that the spy was working alone. At least one more staff member at the Violet Fire, perhaps another courtesan, is a spy working against the slave trade on behalf of Andoran.

In addition to the courtesans, the Violet Fire also employs the expected menagerie of servers, dealers, pit bosses, dancers, cooks, guards, and so forth needed to run the business, most of whom are low-level mooks.

Ember and Blaze (both CN female ifrit bard (dervish dancer) 1) are identical twin ifrit slaves, making them highly exotic and valuable. In my specific campaign, they have a shared past with one of the PCs, unrelated to Haleen's troubles. For most groups, we can assume that they're past associates of Haleen--pretty girls who didn't escape the lure of the Nightstalls. Regardless of their origins, the Violet Fire staff learned about them while researching whatever ties Haleen might have in the the city and recently purchased them, bringing them to the Violet Fire, as additional bait. They're currently working as dancers and serving girls, but since the spy was outed Sayyid has been pressuring them to move upstairs to the theme rooms. Their role is to play a wild card, a way for PCs to get an "in" at the Violet Fire that can help them out.

The Zephyr Guard are well-paid and noted for their honor and loyalty to the Pactmasters, a well-earned reputation. But that doesn't mean they're perfect, and a Zephyr Guard with ties to the Violet Fire has lost control of his life. Perhaps he's become addicted to pesh or gambling, and has racked up an unmanagable debt; perhaps he's foolishly fallen under the sway of a courtean, or maybe he's even had a change of heart and wants to throw his lot in with Andoran. At any rate, the fact that this officer is losing his grip is becoming apparent, and his corruption will likely soon lead to repercussions from the Pactmasters-meaning expulsion from the Zephyr Guard at the very least. Until that day, however, he still has an ace up his sleeve: his aluum amulet. He is positively eager to sell this amulet to anyone who can match his price, that being enough to clear his mounting debts, get him out of Katapesh, and allow him to enjoy a quiet, comfortable life somewhere far away, where he hopes a sea will separate him from the Pactmasters. Control of the amulet means having your own private aluum "on the take," which is enough to get any shady dealer drooling. The problem is that possession of the amulet does not grant control--it's been attuned specifically to him, and no one knows how to reattune it to anyone else. Thus, the corrupt Zephyr Guard is stuck; his offer's out there in the streets, but there's no takers--the worst possible situation, really.

To Be Continued...

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

As promised in the thread title, some Duskwalker Guild stat blocks for your enjoyment. My players' characters include some heavy hitters in the social skills arena, so I've taken to precalculating the DCs for feinting, Diplomacy, and demoralize attempts.

Khafira Blacktongue:

Considering her international background, I'm still tempted to go back in and swap out a feat for Cosmopolitan or to shift a few more skill ranks into Linguistics.

CR 10 (XP 9,600)

Female div-spawn tiefling rogue (charlatan) 7/assassin 4 (Bestiary 264)
LE Medium outsider (native)
Init +8; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +15
Aura overwhelming lawful evil
21, touch 16, flat-footed 16 (+5 armor, +1 deflection, +4 Dex, +1 dodge)
hp 42 (11 HD; 7d8+4d8–11)
Fort +2, Ref +11, Will +4; +2 vs. poison, +4 vs. nauseated or sickened effects
Defensive Abilities evasion, improved uncanny dodge; Resist cold 5, electricity 5, fire 5
Resist Feint DC 25; Resist Diplomacy DC 27 (hostile), DC 22 (unfriendly), DC 17 (indifferent), DC 12 (friendly), DC 2 (helpful); Resist Intimidate DC 22
30 ft.
Melee +1 scorpion whip +14/+9 (1d4+1) or
+1 dagger +13/+8 (1d4+1/19–20)
Ranged mwk dagger +13/+8 (1d4/19–20)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft. (10 ft. with whip)
Special Attacks death attack (DC 15), poison use, sneak attack +6d6, true death (DC 19)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 7th; concentration +8)
3/day—detect poison
10, Dex 18, Con 8, Int 13, Wis 12, Cha 15
Base Atk +8; CMB +8 (+9 steal with whip; +11 disarm, trip with whip); CMD 24, flat 19
Feats Dodge, Exotic Weapon Proficiency (whip), Improved Initiative, Serpent Lash, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus (whip), Whip Mastery
Skills Acrobatics +13, Appraise +10, Bluff +18, Diplomacy +11, Diguise +8, Intimidate +11, Knowledge (local) +15, Linguistics +6, Perception +15, Profession (courtesan) +7, Sense Motive +15, Sleight of Hand +10 (+14 conceal weapons), Stealth +20; Racial Modifiers +2 Bluff, +2 Stealth
Languages Abyssal, Common, Infernal, Kelish, Osiriani
SQ levitate, natural born liar, rogue talents (finesse rogue, hidden weapons, iron guts, minor magic), rumormonger (2/week)
Combat Gear antitoxin, potion of cure moderate wounds (2), greenblood oil (1 dose), medium spider venom (4 doses); Other Gear +1 glamered mithral chain shirt, +1 dagger, masterwork daggers (4), +1 scorpion whip, brooch of shielding, manacles of cooperation, courtier’s outfit, assorted jewelry worth 855 gp

Sayyid Farokh:

CR 8 (XP 4,800)

Male fiendish satyr bard 4 (Bestiary 241)
CE Medium fey
Init +5; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +17
Aura moderate chaotic evil
24, touch 16, flat-footed 18 (+3 armor, +5 Dex, +1 dodge, +5 natural)
hp 94 (12 HD; 8d6+4d8+48)
Fort +7, Ref +15, Will +11; +4 vs. bardic performance, sonic, and language-dependent effects
Defensive Abilities well-versed; DR 10/good, 5/cold ion; Resist cold 15, fire 15; SR 13
Resist Feint DC 22; Resist Diplomacy DC 32 (hostile), DC 27 (unfriendly), DC 22 (indifferent), DC 17 (friendly), DC 7 (helpful); Resist Intimidate DC 23
40 ft.
Melee horns +12 (1d6+3)
Ranged +1 composite shortbow +13/+8 (1d6+3)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks bardic performance (23 rounds/day; countersong, distraction, fascinate [DC 19], inspire competence +2, inspire courage +1), pipes (DC 23), smite good (1/day, +7 attack, +12 damage)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 8th; concentration +15)
At will—charm person (DC 18), dancing lights, ghost sound (DC 17), sleep (DC 18), suggestion (DC 20)
1/day—fear (DC 20), summon nature’s ally II
Bard Spells Known (CL 4th; concentration +11; ranged touch +12)
2nd (3/day)—cure moderate wounds, mad hallucination (DC 19)
1st (5/day)—adoration (DC 18), cure light wounds, delusional pride (DC 18), youthful appearance
0 (at will)—detect magic, lullaby (DC 17), prestidigitation, read magic, resistance, unwitting ally (DC 17)
14, Dex 20, Con 18, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 24
Base Atk +7; CMB +9; CMD 25, flat 19
Feats Detect Expertise (DC 14), Dodge, Extra Performance, Mobility, Skill Focus (Perception), Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +5 (+9 jumping), Appraise +11, Bluff +22, Diplomacy +28*, Disguise +12 Handle Animal +28*, Intimidate +22, Knowledge (local, nature, planes) +14, Knowledge (other) +4, Perception +17, Perform (dance) +16, Perform (wind) +28, Sense Motive +12, Stealth +20, Survival +6; Racial Modifiers +4 Perception, +4 Perform, +4 Stealth
* versatile performance
Languages Common, Infernal, Sylvan
SQ bardic knowledge +2, versatile performance (wind)
Combat Gear potion of cure moderate wounds; Other Gear masterwork parade armor, +1 composite shortbow (+2 Str) with 20 arrows, masterwork panpipes, 40 pp

Scuttler and Vhagshea:

Scuttler's tactics will make more sense in another post or so.

CR 7 (XP 3,200)

Male Garundi human summoner 8
NE Medium humanoid (human)
Init +0; Senses Perception +2
Aura faint evil
12, touch 11, flat-footed 12 (+1 armor, +1 deflection; +2 shield within eidolon’s reach)
hp 47 (8d8+8)
Fort +3, Ref +2, Will +8
Defensive Abilities life link, shield ally
Resist Feint DC 18; Resist Diplomacy DC 29 (hostile), DC 24 (unfriendly), DC 19 (indifferent), DC 14 (friendly), DC 4 (helpful); Resist Intimidate DC 20
30 ft.
Melee +1 morningstar +6/+1 (1d8)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks summon eidolon
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 8th; concentration +12)
8/day—summon monster IV (8-minute duration)
Summoner Spells Known (CL 8th; concentration +12; ranged touch +6)
3rd (3/day)—communal resist energy, mad monkeys, rejuvenate eidolon
2nd (5/day)—ablative barrier, see invisibility, summon monster II, summon swarm
1st (5/day)—enlarge person, lesser rejuvenate eidolon, life conduit, mage armor, summon monster I
0 (at will)—acid splash, arcane mark, detect magic, mage hand, open/close, read magic
Performance Combat +6
Before Combat
Scuttler casts ablative barrier, mage armor, and see invisibility on himself.
During Combat Scuttler follows a pre-arranged script, going down a list of certain spells to support the tale he tells the audience.
Act One (The Haunted Monastery): Scuttler casts mad monkeys as the nuglubs are released into the arena, then uses summon monster IV to summon 1d3 fiendish apes.
Act Two (The Beast of Nethys): Scuttler uses summon monster IV to summon 1d4+1 fiendish giant spiders, then casts summon swarm to summon a spider swarm, maintaining the latter spell until the giant spiders are defeated. Finally he uses summon monster IV again to summon a fiendish lion (the “wereleopard”).
Act Three (Brawl at the Battle Market): Scuttler casts enlarge person on the “ogre” who enters the arena, then uses summon monster IV to summon 1d4+1 fiendish hyenas.
Act Four (The Temple Guardians): Scuttler uses summon monster IV to summon a Medium fire elemental alongside Ember & Blaze, who are under the effects of suggestions from Farokh, then casts summon monster II to summon a lemure.
Act Five (The Imprisoned Fiend): Scuttler summons his eidolon between acts, then casts communal resist energy, mage armor[i/], and [i]ablative barrier to the eidolon’s benefit. He uses his remaining spell slots to support his eidolon with (lesser) rejuvenate eidolon spells.
Morale Scuttler assumes that he, personally, is not fighting to the death. His summoned minions are nothing but playthings, and he shows no concern for the lives of any other creature in the arena either. If Scuttler comes to believe that he is in mortal peril, however, he surrenders the bout once he is reduced to 12 hit points.
8, Dex 10, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 14, Cha 18
Base Atk +6; CMB +5; CMD 16
Feats Augment Summoning, Extra Evolution, Extra Summons, Spell Focus (conjuration), Summoner’s Call (Constitution)
Skills Handle Animal +11, Knowledge (planes) +9, Perform (oratory) +12, Profession (gambler) +13, Ride +7, Spellcraft +13, Stealth +4, Use Magic Device +15
Languages Common, Draconic, Infernal, Osiriani
SQ bond senses (8 rounds/day), eidolon link, maker’s call (1/day), share spells
Combat Gear elixir of fire breath, potion of eagle’s splendor, potion of invisibility, potion of mage armor (2), potion of magic fang, potion of sanctuary; Other Gear +1 morningstar, bracers of armor +1, ring of protection +1, spell component pouch

NE Medium outsider (extraplanar)
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +9
Aura strong evil
24, touch 14, flat-footed 20 (+3 Dex, +1 dodge, +10 natural)
hp 39 (6d10+6)
Fort +6, Ref +8, Will +2 (+6 vs. enchantment); evasion
Defensive Abilities devotion, evasion
Resist Feint DC 19; Resist Intimidate DC 16
50 ft.
Melee bite +10 (1d6+6), 2 pincers +5 (1d6+2), sting +10 (1d6+4)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Performance Combat +2
18, Dex 17, Con 13, Int 7, Wis 10, Cha 11
Base Atk +6; CMB +10; CMD 24, flat 20 (32/28 vs. trip)
Feats Dodge, Improved Initiative, Improved Natural Attack (sting)
Skills Climb +10, Escape Artist +9, Perception +9, Sense Motive +9
Languages Common, Draconic, Infernal, Osiriani

Blaze & Ember:

CR 1/2 (XP 200)

Female ifrit bard (dervish dancer) 1 (Bestiary 2 160)
N Medium outsider (native)
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception –1
14, touch 14, flat-footed 10 (+3 Dex, +1 dodge)
hp 9 (1d8+1)
Fort +1, Ref +5, Will +1
Resist fire 5
Resist Feint DC 9; Resist Diplomacy DC 28 (hostile), DC 23 (unfriendly), DC 18 (indifferent), DC 13 (friendly), DC 3 (helpful); Resist Intimidate DC 10
30 ft.; 40 ft. while battle dancing
Melee dagger –1 (1d4–1/19–20)
Ranged dagger +3 (1d4–1/19–20)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks battle dance (7 rounds/day; inspire courage +1)
Bard Spells Known (CL 1st; concentration +4; ranged touch +3)
1st (2/day)—adoration, innocence
0 (at will)—detect magic, mending, message, spark
During Combat
Blaze and Ember cast innocence on themselves as soon as they sense trouble brewing. If that doesn’t help, they grab daggers and fly into a battle dance, watching each other’s backs and fighting their way to the nearest escape route.
Morale The twins have big mouths and put up a tough front, but they’re unaccustomed to actual violence. Each sister attempts to flee or surrender if she is reduced to 4 hit points or if her sister is incapacitated.
8, Dex 16, Con 13, Int 12, Wis 8, Cha 17
Base Atk +0; CMB –1; CMD 13, flat 9
Feats Dodge
Skills Acrobatics +7, Bluff +7, Diplomacy +7, Knowledge (local) +5, Perform (dance) +7, Profession (barmaid) +3, Sense Motive –1, Stealth +3
Languages Common, Ignan, Kelish
SQ elemental affinity, fleet
Gear dagger, entertainer’s outfit
Battle Dance:
A dervish dancer is trained in the use of the Perform skill, especially dance, to create magical effects on herself. This works like bardic performance, except the dervish dancer only affects herself, and does not need to be able to see or hear her own performance.

Starting a battle dance is a move action, but it can be maintained each round as a free action. A battle dance cannot be disrupted, but it ends immediately if the dervish dancer is killed, paralyzed, stunned, knocked unconscious, or otherwise prevented from taking a free action to maintain it each round.

Inspire Courage (Su) A dervish dancer can use her performance to inspire courage in herself, bolstering her against fear and improving her combat abilities. She gains a +1 morale bonus on saving throws against charm and fear effects and a +1 competence bonus on attack and weapon damage rolls.

Fleet (Su) While performing a battle dance, a dervish dancer gains a +10 enhancement bonus to her land speed.

Master Reapesmoor & Zephyr Guard:

Master Reapesmoor is a horned devil (Bestiary 76). At CR 16, the PCs really don't want to lock horns with him at all right now. If you have Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Book of the Damned 3[/i], the info on the soul trade in there may prove useful. Since my players are just coming off Zayifid and his hat of disguise, I think that to avoid conceptual repetition I'll have the magic ring he uses to maintain his guise as a Taldan expatriate be similar to a ring of the cacodaemon. In this case, rather than gaining the memories of the soul gem fitted in the ring, this version allows the wearer to assume the physical appearance that soul's body had at the moment of its death, as if using alter self. Anyway, that's my rationale, but I don't plan on getting down to such nitty-gritty that I need to stat out this magic item specifically.

[b]Zephyr Guard stats can be found in the NPC Guide, I think, and also at

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And finally, the plot. This is where I get really bogged down.

"Black Marks at the Violet Fire" is intended to be run concurrently with "The Jackal's Price." The opening scene should take place soon after the PCs arrive in Katapesh, but the big bout/heist takes place a week later, giving PCs time to complete their dealings with the One Source Guild in between. In fact, the Violet Fire might serve as a red herring while dealing with Father Jackal.

I don't really have a plot structure yet; just a lot of characters pointing guns at each other, and I haven't cracked out to shape the story. Here's what I have; I'm dying for suggestions and advice.

Part I: Open Accounts
Even as the PCs arrive in Katapesh and settle in at Rayhan's villa, rumors of their arrival start flying around town. (In my campaign, these rumors been fueled by the meddling Zayifid, whom the PCs will have just, defeated along with the Sons of Carrion.) To most locals hearing these rumors, it isn't the arrival of podunk bordertown dignitaries that piques their interest, it's the legendary artifact they supposedly carry. What Khafira Blacktongue is told, however, is that the welcher Haleen (and/or the PC connected to her) has dared come crawling back to town.

The Duskwalker Guild sends its feelers out, and within a day or two they learn where the PCs are staying. Khafira has many enemies, and thousands of slaves in the city know that she's personally drawn a cut from their misery, rendering her slightly paranoid; she dislikes leaving the perceived safety of the Violet Fire. She dispatches her persuasive second-in-command Sayyid Farokh to arrange a meeting. The next morning, Haleen "and associates" receive a written invitation to meet Farokh at the Cliffside Tavern.

At the meeting, Farouk pays for coffee and their meal while he lays out exactly how "upset" the guild is with Haleen's behavior. However, on behalf of his mistress, he presents them with an offer; if the PCs don't try to settle Haleen's debt themselves, he suggests the plan as a solution. If the PCs try to pay Haleen's debt immediately, he snidely suggests that it's far too late to simply pay their tab now.

The offer is this: Khafira is graciously allowing Haleen (and anyone else who wishes to join her) to work off her debt in the Violet Fire arena; a stipulation Khafira wants noted was part of Haleen's original agreement. The debt cannot and will not be forgiven until Haleen plays her part.

After delivering the offer, Farokh excuses himself and gives them a day to think it over. If the PCs agree, Farokh says it will take a week to make the proper arrangements and promote the event. Farouk also warns Haleen and the PCs that if she runs again (her currently inclination), the Duskwalker Guild will do far worst than hunt her down--they notify the Pactmasters of her crime. Farouk doubts that little Kelmarane will prove too distant for the Zephyr Guard to travel in the name of Pactmaster law. Farouk cruelly suggests that it would be easier to win in the arena before the Zephyr Guard brand her, fine her, and cut off her sword hand than after.

If the PCs have more questions, they are invited to seek out the Violet Fire and ask them there. For now, he snidely congratulates the PCs on their notoriety and leaves them with a dog-eared copy of Felliped's Pathfinder Chronicle.

Part II: The Main Event
The arena match awaiting Haleen isn't just a straight-up pit fight; it's to be an "Tournament of Valor," a form of gladiatorial combat with a plot: A team of one or more combatants working together to defeat several waves of challenges, with a master of ceremonies weaving a tale of action and daring to link the fights while the audience sits back and enjoys their food, wine, and what-have-you. That's right, it's Medieval Times played for keeps!

In this case, the Tournament of Daring is to be "The Doom of Kelmarane," based on Felliped's account of the PCs' very own first adventure! Scuttler will be the team's opposition, but he'll be separated from the PCs for most of the fight by an iron partition. Haleen (and any teammates that join her) must overcome five challenges, each based on a "chapter" of their days in the Kelmarane Expedition, in order to face him directly and win the bout. Haleen might mention that she wasn't ever technically a member of the Expedition and didn't directly participate in most of these events, but the PCs are assured that strict adherence to the facts is not a driving principle here. Print the legend!

The PCs can use Diplomacy checks to ask around for info on Scuttler, or they can seek him out gambling at the Violet Fire. Scuttler isn't particularly interested in interacting with them (they're just nameless competition to him at this point), but the PCs should be able to learn enough about his past bouts to know that he's roughly an even match for Haleen. It seems to be a fair fight.

As mentioned, Haleen's first instinct is to hightail it out of town, but the PCs can easily persuade her otherwise. (In addition, the trouble the One Source Guild is concurrently giving the PCs further motivates her to stick around.)

If the PCs continue to dither about accepting the offer, Farokh or Blacktongue eventually concede that while it may seem like they're asking for the PCs' cooperation, they're really telling. As soon as the PCs agree to the bout, Khafira presents them with a written contract full of legalese. High-DC Knowledge (local) checks can determine some problematic vagaries in the language; the contract says that "the house may introduce outside elements to the match to enhance drama" without specifying what they might be, and also uses an arcanely convoluted system to determine profits from attendance, meaning it's unclear just how many tickets need to be sold for Haleen to actually pay her debt. If challenged, Khafira assures them she's being more than fair, and that if they disagree, she'd be more than happy to contact the Zephyr Guard for them. (Perhaps even the dissolute one she "keeps on retainer.")

Indeed, the devil is in the details, and when the actual bout comes, Haleen and anyone joining her in the ring find themselves facing unexpected complications in each of the five acts.

Act One (The Haunted Monastery): A group of four captive gremlins (nuglubs rather than pugwampis) are released into the PCs' section of the arena. Malevolent and confused, the gremlins shriek and leap to the attack, favoring armored foes.

Act Two (The Beast of Nethys): Still in the works.

Act Three (Brawl at the Battle Market): A hooded "ogre" enters the arena--actually a bulky gladiator (human, half-orc, or perhaps even an oread or suli) that Scuttler tags with enlarge person.

Act Four (The Temple Guardians): Blacktongue twists the knife by tossing Blaze & Ember into the fight alongside Scuttler's conjured fire elemental, both under the effects of suggestion from Farokh.

Act Five (The Imprisoned Fiend): Scuttler summons his eidolon, but then the partition separating him from the PCs gets "stuck" long enough to give him time to cast his preparatory spells on Vhagshea. If the "ogre" was allowed to concede in Act Three, he's back, healed and back to his normal size, in a different get-up as the "evil genie Kardswann."

Just before the bout begins, as whatever PCs are participating are lifted into the ring, Blacktongue addresses the crowd, advising that the crowd keep a close eye on Haleen as someone who thought she could "renege on Duskwalker debts."

During the bout, PCs in the arena with Haleen with the various conjured creatures and other foes. (In fact, with canny use of a recently-acquired hat of disguise, it might not even be Haleen in the ring at all.) This is a performance combat, where swaying the crowd is nearly as important as staying alive. When a contestant drops or concedes, their fate is thrown to the crowd; those who've failed to impress might not just get booed.

Oh; one last little complication. Everyone in the arena has to be a member of the Guild of Gladiators. "We operate strictly above the boards here," Blacktongue reminds them. Obtaining guild membership isn't difficult, but anyone wanting in will have to visit the Gladiator's Guildhall in Twilight Gate and jump through some hoops (or, alternatively, craft or seek out forged guild seals good enough to fool inspection).

Other PCs have plenty to do as well during the fight. Wagering flies back and forth during the fight, and PCs who sneak underneath into the access tunnels under the arena can interfere with Khafira's little "surprises."

However, any PCs not in the arena are likely to plan on being otherwise occupied...

Part III: The Heist
And now here's where I have only a vague notion of where I want to go. The gist is that Farokh seeks out the PCs (either himself or through unwitting proxies like Blaze & Ember). Whatever the approach, Farokh lets the PCs know that Khafira isn't known as the Strict, the Merciless, and the Unkind for nothing, and that she's definitely more interested in making a bloody spectacle of Haleen than earning her money back. With the Tourney, she might get both, but there's a way to turn it against her. As the action really gets rolling in the arena, guards and guests in the Violet Fire will become increasingly distracted, giving the PCs the opportunity to slip in and perform The Heist that will take Khafira down.

I say The Heist because I haven't yet really figured out what it is. Basically, Farokh makes sure the PCs know that there might be Eagle Knight spies in the Violet Fire, and that they share their goal of proving that Blacktongue isn't as above-the-boards as she claims to be.

And now I break down into stream-of-consciousness format. I know that Farokh wants the PCs to frame Khafira for some dire crime, and he wants to do so in some manner that will let him take credit for it in the eyes of the Pactmasters; he hopes that for his role in "unmasking" Khafira, the Pactmasters will reward him with his freedom and her holdings (rather than just taking possession of him and the Violet Fire, which is the more likely result if Khafira is simply "eliminated"). He also wants to smoke out any remaining Eagle Knights in the organization and stamp them out.

Lastly, Farouk has no respect for even the Pactmasters' handful of laws, and sees potential control of an aluum as a valuable tool--one he's been pursuing but is willing to sacrifice for his greater goal.

The trick of the Zephyr Guard's aluum amulet is getting it to accept another user. But how does it recognize its true owner? Appearance? Command words? No, it is attuned to the owner's soul, a rather difficult item to transfer to a new owner--but not impossible.

Enter Master Reapesmoor. Motivated mainly by idle curiosity, this soul trader been spending his private time tinkering with the creation of a soul gem amulet. The basic notion is that if a soul gem is fitted in the amulet, then the wearer of that amulet gains some big bonus to Use Magic Device checks to fool the magic items into thinking that the wearer is actually the former owner of the trapped soul. In other words, Farouk and Reapesmoor's plan is to tear the soul out of the corrupt Zephyr Guard, then use that soul to permanently hijack control of his aluum without having to worry about the weak link that is the Zephyr Guardsman himself. Of course, several aspects of this plan carry a death sentence even in Katapesh, so Farokh now thinks that pinning it on Khafira might be even better than doing it himself.

So what do you think, folk? How might this play out? Farokh's wants to use the Tourney to help the PCs plant the soul amulet in Khafira's safe or vault or some such, and subsequently he wants the Eagle Knights to find it, at which point he'll "discover" them but still generously allow them to take it to the Pactmasters, as the dutiful citizens that he is. How do I work the doublecross? How do I get the PCs to think they're actually recovering evidence when they're planting it, and how do I pull the rug out and reveal Farokh's actual plan before it's too late? (Of course, once the PCs catch wise, Farokh will try to kill them to silence them, making him the ultimate challenge.)

The PCs in the arena initially think they're buying time for the heist participants, but once they realize they've been scammed as well the heisters may need to intercede on their behalf as well.

Ultimately, if Khafira learns of Farokh's treachery and the PCs' role in stopping it, she begrudgingly offers to let Haleen and her friends off the hook -- even stopping the Tournament if the PCs are in danger of losing.

So, in short: Other ideas? Better ideas?

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Here's a (very early work in progress) look at the Violet Fire map I'm working on. 1 square = 5 feet. Purple areas are either the Violet Fire itself (still largely undetailed) or front operations that provide access. Brown areas are shops without direct access to the interior.

The Violet Fire and the Golden Casbah

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Okay, looks like this thread's not particularly taking off, but no matter -- the Violet Fire is continuing to evolve. Here's a work-in-progress map of the second floor.

The Violet Fire, Second Floor

I'm not so much designing the building's layout as allowing it to reveal itself to me as I go along. With the main levels solidifying, I can also work on mapping the private third level and the high-security vaults and access tunnels!

John Mangrum wrote:

Okay, looks like this thread's not particularly taking off, but no matter -- the Violet Fire is continuing to evolve. Here's a work-in-progress map of the second floor.

The Violet Fire, Second Floor

I'm not so much designing the building's layout as allowing it to reveal itself to me as I go along. With the main levels solidifying, I can also work on mapping the private third level and the high-security vaults and access tunnels!

I've enjoyed reviewing what you have had with your campaign but this one is a little hard. If the main goal/ultimate bad guy of this is the "second in command" and he wants to do something under the cover of the tournement, how are the PC's suppose to be in 2 places at once without leaving a character or cohort hanging.

I like the idea of resolving Haleen's backstory and/or having a tournement based on the story of the retaking of Kelemane with a twist. The logistics of this doesn't seem to work for me.

Also, your map looks detailed but the font in unreadable (though cool) to help figure out the different areas at a glance.


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Michelle Lutz wrote:
I like the idea of resolving Haleen's backstory and/or having a tournement based on the story of the retaking of Kelemane with a twist. The logistics of this doesn't seem to work for me.

Obviously, the logistics have me stuck too. But the basic rationale is an "Oceans 11"-style heist where the PCs need to split up to accomplish different goals in a limited time frame. My group has four PCs, and two of them have taken the Leadership feat, so toss in 2 cohorts and potentially nearly 30 followers at the PCs' disposal. I'm catering a bit to my specific group, who aren't adverse to splitting up (the alchemist PC just spent the majority of House of the Beast completely split off from the others), but it is a problem.

The general plan I'm trying to think through is:

1. Khafira arranges a dangerous "tournament" to teach Haleen a lesson. Haleen (or someone disguised as her at least) needs to enter the arena. Other PCs can join her as well, with the acknowledgment that as Haleen's team gets larger, Khafira will naturally toss more opposition against them, just to keep it interesting. I'll encourage the PCs to send one other person to join Haleen in the ring for the performance combat.

2. The clientelle tend to be a little drugged out (I plan on using the GameMastery Guide "drunkard" NPC for customers), and the guards are serious but a little blase. As the tournament gets wild, clientelle and staff become increasingly distracted, and eventually guards may even be lured away from their posts. This buys the other PCs time to slip/bust into secure areas.

3. Even after dealing with the rest of The Jackal's Price, the PCs should have a few days to devote to prepping for the heist. They can scout out the location, try to win over NPCs, maybe even get a look at Scuttler's tourney "script." By the night of the tourney, they should have a pretty solid plan.

4. Unexpected Twist! As soon as the tournament starts, Khafira announced to the crowd that she her intentions for the fight aren't just to earn her money back--it's meant to *hurt*, to make a lesson out of Haleen. Haleen and anyone else in the ring are in for more than they bargained for, and Scuttler's been ordered to give 'em the ol' "thumbs down" if they lose. If the other PCs stick perfectly to their plan, their buddies in the ring might not make it out alive. To help their friends in the ring, part of the heist team might need to divert to the underground arenaworks to interfere with the cheaters or even join them in the ring. Think of Scuttler as a killer GM, and the arena PCs as players wresting control of the story away from him.

5. Final Twist! After the PCs plant the evidence or suck out the Zephyr Guard's soul or whatever, and the tourney's done and the trap is sprung, Farokh arranges to meet the PCs for their reward, in fact intending to permanently silence them. The PCs find out that the heist was a frame job, and that a Duskwalker Guild run by Sayyid Farokh will lack even Khafira's scruples, and will rapidly shift from being sinister guild to an outright organized crime family. Take down Farokh!

Thinking of a big heist as a chess game, here are the PC "playing pieces" I have moving around the board:

1. Sabaa Sajid al Najir: LN M human ranger 6/cavalier 2. A holy terror in melee, and cuts through gnolls like butter, but of no particular talent in stealth or social situations. Haleen is his cohort, and he's a good match to go in the ring.

2. Hollistan Tropp: CN M human alchemist 7/master chymist 1. Haleen's irresponsible, teenaged brother. Mainly in it for the sheer love of chucking fire bombs, he's also not too shabby in melee. He can fly, change shape, and turn invisible, so he's excellent for stealth, but pretty appalling in social encounters.

3. Jaali: NG M human cleric (evangelist) 8 of Sarenrae. The faceman of the party, he's primarily a healer in combat (though as of late starting to specialize in summoning creatures), but masterful in diplomatic encounters, plus he can easily distract crowds all by himself.

4. Snowflake (real name Khravachripanoval) LN M kobold sorcerer 8. A white dragon-blooded kobold with a general ice theme in his magic, he's best at wiping out crowds of mooks with area attacks, but he's also the party leader at stealth, and that's ignoring his ability to cast charm person, dispel magic, and fly. Sticks out in a crowd, though. In Oceans 11, he's definitely the Chinese acrobat. He's an ex-slave who's passed through Duskwalker hands before.

5. Haleen Tropp: CN F human fighter (Dawnflower dervish) 6. Sabaa Sajid's cohort (and Hollistan's big sister). She's a flashy swordswoman who's well prepped for performance combat. Her obvious role in the heist is to make a big show in the arena.

6. Laetitia: N F human rogue (spy) 6. A former concubine who was purchased from Amwyr Yuseifah in the year between Howl of the Carrion King and House of the Beast, right before the latter made the final leg of his fateful journey to Pale Mountain. (In my campaign, the PCs met Amwyr in Bronze Hook and bought as many of his concubines as they could afford to save them from joining the Carrion King's harem; they've just learned what happened to the women they couldn't afford, and have tentatively agreed to escort Amwyr back to the Duskwalkers.) Laetitia is now Snowflake's cohort. She's a sultry honeytrap, no great talent in combat, but good at stealth and masterful at social manipulation. She's Jaali's equal in social encounters, even 2 levels behind him, and she has far more lenient scruples. She has good cause to despise slavers, and could easily infiltrate the operation by various means.

Michelle Lutz wrote:
Also, your map looks detailed but the font in unreadable (though cool) to help figure out the different areas at a glance.

I'll keep that in mind with future updates. I've grown used to that font, so I wasn't thinking about it, but yeah, now that I've blinked and looked again I should reserve it for headers. I'll change the font in future updates and will post the maps at a higher resolution as well (they're pretty ginormous at full-res).

Aside from the specific adventure I'm planning, my hope is to make this sprawling location usable as a general site for other adventures--no one wants to know your name as the Violet Fire, but everybody's got a story. I'm more than happy to accommodate adventure seeds or encounter ideas people comes up with. (In other words, GMs: Want to resolve Haleen's backstory but don't want to use my adventure? Want a nice map in a dangerous "Arabian nights casino" to run your adventure? Let me know what Easter eggs you want!)

I am very interested in your work here, John. Regarding how to make planting evidence look like gathering evidence: Perhaps Khafira already has a magic item with a similar aura to the one on the soul gem amulet. Farokh tells the PCs that this amulet is the real evidence, and the soul gem amulet is a decoy. He claims that there is a detect magic-based alarm on the safe in Khafira's room, which will go off if the magical auras inside it change. However, being based on detect magic, all it can detect is aura strength and school; a soul gem is faint necromancy, so the item being replaced should also be faint necromancy. Farokh can even tell them that the soul gem is a mundane item with magic aura cast on it.

The question is, what faint necromancy item would be plausibly incriminating in Katapesh? I don't think any item would be outright illegal, but perhaps there is something stolen or that had been used to commit a crime... Or which Farokh could convince the PCs was stolen or had been used in a crime.

Published items with a faint necromancy aura, for ideas:

Staff of the Master (necromancy)
Pipes of Haunting
Helm of Fearsome Mien
Dagger of Venom
Sacrificial Dagger of the Blood Mother
Machete of Clearing
Bone Beads
Devastating Dog Whistle
Skinsaw Mask
Haunt Siphon
Firefoot Powder
Brainwort Mistletoe (3pp)
Talisman of Soul-Eating (Already basically the same thing)
Gloves of Torment (Conversion)
Thundering Weapons
...and of course, a Scroll, Potion, or Wand of any necromancy spell up to 3rd level.

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Thanks for the interest! I like the idea of the magic-aura keyed alarms; I'm pondering how to use it.

I haven't abandoned this project, for the record (in fact, I might only have about two months to get it all ready). Here's the latest work-in-progress versions of the Violet Fire maps (note that these are all fairly large files):

The Violet Fire and the Golden Casbah: First Floor

The Violet Fire and the Golden Casbah: Second Floor

The Violet Fire and the Golden Casbah: Third Floor and Rooftops

The Violet Fire: Vaults

As mentioned, these are all still works in progress, and there's still a 4th-floor rooftop map needed.

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Note--while uploading some new files I think I broke at least some of the links above. On the upside, my battlemaps of the Violet Fire are now about 90% complete -- check 'em out!

Violet Fire: 1st Floor

Basic Legend:
Ceilings on the ground floor are generally 15 feet high.

C1-C37: The Golden Casbah surrounds the Violet Fire. The entire structure is built like a fortress, and the seemingly innocent shops filling most of the Golden Casbah provide another layer of protection, in the form of human shields. I'm purposefully leaving these shops blank, but all but a few include access to a second story (generally the shopkeepers' homes.

1. Main Entrance.
2. Weapons Checkroom:
Weapons and contraband confiscated here are taken down to area 19 in the vaults for safe keeping.
3. Speakeasy Shops: These three nondescript shops provide alternative access to the Violet Fire, and generally require knowing a pass phrase. Beyond the shop (3a) and back room (3b), visitors must still pass through a guard station (3c) in order to gain entry.
4. Arcades: These two arcades contain multiple smaller shops. Gates in the southern arcade provide access to the Violet Fire's courtyard.
5. Grand Atrium: The central hub for all activity at the Violet Fire. Sayyid Farouk holds court at the heart of the dome, keeping an eye on all who come and go.
6. Lower Cantina: The spiral staircase leads both up and down.
7. Pesh Dens: The northern wing of the Violet Fire contains sunken dens where customers can partake of nearly any black market substance. A well-hidden secret door provides an emergency escape route into the Duskwalker Guildhouse (area 26)
8. Customers' Privies.
9. Kitchen and Delivery Dock.
10. Pantry.
11. Kitchen Manager's Office.
The Violet Fire isn't known for its cuisine, but it still needs to feed quite a few people every day--more than enough to keep a manager busy.
12. Atrium. Guards can watch visitors through a screen in the wall as they come and go from the courtyard.
13. Guard Station: This is the central hub for guard activity in the Violet Fire. Guards cart money to and from the Central Vault (see below) via this route. The spiral staircase leads both up and down.
14. Card Tables: The southern wing of the Violet Fire is dedicated to all manner of gambling.
15. Gambling Pits: The spiral stair at the southern end of the wing leads up.
16. Guard Station.
17. Lower Courtyard:
This sees a lot of traffic on nights when the Violet Fire schedules arena events.
18. Upper Courtyard: None of the Golden Casbah shops have windows looking into the courtyard, but dozens of tall windows look down from the Violet Fire and its associated structures.
19. Arena: Bloodsports are the third of four vices the Violet Fire gladly provides. This raised wooden is enclosed by a 20-foot-tall iron cage and surrounded by wood-and-stone stands. Build long after the Violet Fire's courtyard existed, it's a slightly ungainly fit. The arena itself conceals numerous mechanisms, including 11 separate elevators and gates that can divide the arena into three enclosures.
20. Tavern: Holding itself slightly separate from the Violet Fire, this decidedly less sophisticated tavern caters mainly to arena fans and the gladiators themselves. 20a is a common room; 20b is the kitchen.
21. Guard Station: Also serves as alternative access to the Violet Fire grounds.
22. Holding Cells: When Violet Fire guards nabs a troublemaker, they deposit them in these cells while determining what to do with them.
23. Arena Offices: A hub of activity for arena workers. Not open to visitors. The spiral staircase leads both up and down.
24. Guard Station: These guards keep an eye on the courtyard entrance but are mainly here for the warehouse.
25. Warehouse: The Violet Fire accepts large deliveries here. The warehouse is two stories tall, with a loft in the back for hay and grain and a wide ramp providing access to the arena's loading dock, as well as stabling for a few camels.
26. Duskwalker Guildhouse Lobby: Publicly, this business is a bank that provides secure storage, but it's well known to actually be the primary headquarters of the Duskwalker Guild.
27. Office: The bank manager is also a minor Duskwalker functionary who can see to most trivial guild matters.
28. Guard Station: The exterior doors are always locked unless a special delivery has been schedules. These guards are always ready to pour out into the lobby.
29. Elevator: This massive platform creakily lowers into the vaults thanks to an elaborate system of pulleys and counterweights.
30. Secret Passage: This shaft plunges from Khafira's quarters on the third floor to her private vault below.

Violet Fire: 2nd Floor

Basic Legend:
Ceilings are 10 feet.

C1-C33, C35: Golden Casbah homes. Golden Casbah shops C34, C36, and C36 do not have second floors.

1. Speakeasy Shops: These are living quarters above two of the three speakeasy shops below.
2. Grand Parlor: The public areas of the Violet Fire's second floor are dedicated to the final vice it caters to: prostitution. Clientele can relax here while selecting their night's entertainments. The bar along the south wall is the Upper Cantina.
3. Khafira's Office: Khafira meets with clients in this small parlor in her role as the Violet Fire's madam. The two staircases lead up.
4. Upper Kitchen: Used for overflow on busy nights.
5. Guard Station: The upper level of the main security hub.
6a-6r. Courtesan Chambers. Each of these 18 chambers features garishly themed props and decor, ranging from "Wizard's Library" to "City of Brass" to "Pharoah's Tomb" to "Chamber of Mirrors." The Violet Fire's courtesans specialize in elaborate costumes and roleplay, producing scenarios with at least a hint of danger. Generally speaking, only a few of these chambers are in use at any given time. They all provide views of the courtyard, with 6e-6i providing the best view of the arena.
7. Housekeeping Storage: The spiral staircase at the end of the hall heads down one floor.
8. Employees' Dining Hall.
9a-9r. Prop Rooms:
Each of these small, windowless rooms is uses to store costumes and valuable props from a specific courtesan chamber. They can be used as cells in a pinch; this was in fact their original purpose, long ago. Only Violet Fire employees are welcome beyond the double doors at the northern end of this block of rooms.
10. Dressing Room: The courtesans prepare in here. The 5x5 room is a closet. The spiral staircase goes both up and down.
11. Guard Station.
12a-12d. Living Quarters:
Private chambers for four prestigious employees (along the lines of pit bosses or guard leaders).
13-15 & 17. ?: Haven't quite decided what these rooms are for yet. Might be storage, might be cramped, windowless quarters for menial employees or slaves.
16. Living Quarters: A small suite with three rooms for more important employees.
18. Baths: These are for clients; staff have their own bath chambers one floor up.
19. Secret Passage: From the 2nd floor, this concealed shaft leads up another 10 feet and down another 25 feet to the vaults. A one-way secret door (that opens 15 feet above the ground) provides an emergency escape route.
20: Guildhall Upper Lobby: The wide stairs lead down to the first floor and outside.
21. Guard Chamber.
[b]22. Guildhall Antechamber:
Functionaries are the last line of defense facing those looking to barge their way in.
23. Duskwalker Guildhall:[/b] Used for large meetings.
24. Guildmaster Office: This is Khafira's office in her role as Duskwalker Guildmaster. A secret door provides access to her private quarters above.
25. Courtyard: It's a 15-foot drop to the flagstones from the 2nd floor. Those looking out from courtyard windows can see over the heads of the fans in the tiers to get a view of the action in the arena. The arena cage itself obstructs the view, since it reaches the 3rd floor.
26. Guard Station: A meeting room, plus a few more holding cells.
27. Security Office: Headquarters for the guards in charge of courtyard and warehouse security.
28a-f. Guest Rooms: Lodging at the tavern is generally reserved for arena gladiators. 28a has a window that peeks out into the street; the tavern keep may live here.
29. Tavern Storage.
30. Arena Worker Quarters:
Arena workers (the beastmaster in charge and his grunts, all of whom are gnolls, I'm thinking) live here. The grunts all nest in the northern room looking out into the courtyard, while the arena beastmaster gets a small suite that also looks out into the warehouse.
31. Loft: (Which I forgot to label, I just noticed.) It's a 15-foot drop to the warehouse floor, but 30 feet for anything tossed to the bottom of the access ramp.

Violet Fire: 3rd Floor

Basic Legend:
Ceilings are 10 feet. The rooftops of the Golden Casbah are uneven and access is extremely limited. Iron spikes and broken glass embedded in the mortar at the edges of the roof discourage climbers.

This floor is reserved exclusively for Violet Fire staff and their guests.

1. Upper Lounge: A comfortable extension of Khafira's Violet Fire office below.
2a-2e. Courtesan Suites: Each of Khafira's six tiefling courtesans has their own suite. One of the seven suites is currently unoccupied.
3. Concierge Office: Part butler, part harem chief, Khafira's concierge is in charge of seeing to the courtesans' needs (as well as keeping tabs on them). The courtesans leave their room keys with the concierge when working or going out (the latter with guards to escort them, which the concierge also arranges).
4. Concierge Quarters.
5. Preparation Landing:
The final touches can be placed on food in this area after it's brought up from the kitchens (via the stairs or the dumbwaiter).
6. Guard Station: There's always one or two guards posted here just to keep an eye on the kitchen stairs.
7. Upper Landing: This chamber is like a comfortable lobby, but the spiral stairs head down past one guard station after another.
8. Sayyid Farouk's Suite.
9. Private Lounge:
Khafira sometimes entertains guests in this lounge on fight nights. The balcony provides an excellent view of the arena (and the crowd in the tiers), as well as looking out over the Golden Casbah rooftops.
10. Art Gallery.
11. Grand Atrium.
Access to the grand dome is limited to barred windows, rather than open air and railing as it is below. This is a precaution against flying intruders. It's possible to be affected by Sayyid Farouk's magic even all the way up here.
12. Guard Station.
13. Private Shrine:
This dark room contains small shrines to several gods, including Abadar, Asmodeus, Calistria, and Sivanah.
14. Courtesans' Lounge: This room is comfortably furnished. The spiral stairs delve all the way down to the wine cellar in the Vaults.
15. ?: Haven't quite decided what this is.
16. ??: Ditto. Musical instruments?
17. Private Baths: For use by the courtesans.
18. Privy.
19. Antechamber:
This guard chamber is the main entrance to Khafira Blacktongue's private quarters. The stairs flanking the doors lead up to the roof.
20. Main Hall: A dome rises above the center of this large chamber. Khafira's decor is garish and ghastly, mainly focused on displays of weapons and torture implements.
21. Khafira's Privy: All of the baths and privies in this corner of the building empty (via pipes) into a subterranean cistern, all that remains of a natural spring that once existed on this site. (The Violet Fire's water is provided via magic.)
22. Secret Passage: What appears to be a iron maiden, modeled on Ahriman and seemingly built into the wall, is actually a variant tophet from Khafira's homeland of Thuvia. Equipped with clever "programming" and spidery legs that provide it with a climb speed, it acts as an animate elevator, carrying a singe Medium passenger between Khafira's quarters and her private vault.
23. Washroom/Hallway.
24. Khafira's Bath:
I'm thinking that Khafira has (or "inherited") a bound water elemental that she uses as a guardian when indisposed. Traveling through the Violet Fire's pipes, it can reach the private baths (area 17) on the far side of the wall and the public baths one floor down (area 18).
25. Kitchen: Generally only sees use when Khafira is hosting parties, which isn't often.
26. Dining Hall.
27. ?:
Haven't quite decided.
28. Dawn Hall: A sunny side passage connecting Khafira's dressing room and bath.
29. Khafira's Private Office: Khafira works here when she doesn't need to be visible.
30. Records: The walls of this windowless room are lined with shelves, all filled with Duskwalker accounts and records. The spiral stair leading down is not hidden here.
31. Outer Bedchamber: Featuring garish and sinister decor, Khafira maintains this bedchamber mainly to keep up appearances; she prefers to sleep in area 33.
32. Dressing Room: Wardrobes full of all sorts of outfits.
33. Safe Room: This domed room has a thick, vault-like door. Not even Sayyid Farouk has seen this chamber. The walls and floor are alabaster white, and the single piece of furniture, a bed, is large and comfortable but plain. Khafira's "safe room" reflects her true nature, and the secret of her success as the Duskwalker Guildmaster: Khafira surrounds herself with the sins of the flesh, but she actually draws negligible satisfaction from any of them: the curse of her div blood.
34. Courtyard: It's a 25-foot drop to the flagstones here, but the top of the arena cage is more-or-less level with the Golden Casbah's rooftops. The shortest gap between the cage roof and either the Violet Fire or the Golden Casbah is about 25-30 feet, but the cage roof has wide gaps, also requiring Acrobatics checks to cross.
35. Guard Tower: This tower extends two stories above the Golden Casbah's rooftops. One or two trained archers are always posted here, keeping an eye out for trespassers.

Violet Fire: Vaults

Basic Legend:
The Violet Fire Vaults have 10-foot ceilings and are located 15 feet beneath street level. They're divided into four basic areas: The Duskwalker Vaults (areas 1-5), Arena Access (areas 6-14), the Scullery Cellars (areas 15-18), and Violet Fire Security (areas 19-29).

The floor of areas 7, 8, and 9 is slightly recessed, about 3 feet deeper than the rest of the level.

1. Duskwalker Vault Elevator: This chamber contains both the elevator leading up to area 29 on the first floor and the counterweights and machinery that operate it. A Zephyr Guard aluum is stationed motionlessly in the northeastern alcove.
2. Guard Chamber: The guards in this chamber can see into area 1 and control access to the rest of the area.
3a-3l. Duskwalker Vaults: These vaults are rented out to store (or hide) extremely valuable property for Duskwalker Guild members. The stone walls, floor, and ceiling of each vault are reinforced with iron bars (preventing easy access via stone shape) and lined with a thin sheeting of lead. Each vault's iron door can only be opened by a special keys and is probably guarded by magical traps.
3m. Khafira's Vault: Khafira can also access her vault via a secret door. (Of course, this can also be used to reach the other vaults while bypassing the Duskwalker guards at the entrance).
4. Trapped Passage: A shaft at the southern end of this short hall leads up 40 feet to Khafira's quarters. The floor is covered in pressure plates that trigger magical traps; Khafira herself has the unusual tiefling ability of continuous levitation, a trait she inherited from her pairaka grandmother.
5. Cistern: Sewage and waste water pours down into this polluted cavern before leeching deeper into the earth. The bound water elemental can reach this chamber as well. No current Violet Fire staff have ever seen this cave or thought much about it.
6. Delivery Ramp: This wide ramp leads up to the warehouse and out of the Golden Casbah entirely. A pair of sliding iron gates can be closed to block entry at the bottom of the ramp.
7. Turnabout: This large chamber provides enough room to turn a wagon around (given a few minutes).
8. Guard Chamber.
9. Tower Stairs:
This spiraling staircases extends up past the arena worker chambers to reach the top landing of the guard tower, about 50 feet straight up.
10. Loading Dock: Armored wagons can be backed up to this dock to allow dangerous beasts to be unloaded directly into waiting cages.
11. Arena Access: These tunnels provide gladiators and beasts with access to the Violet Fire arena. Three main elevators (each capable of holding a Large occupant) and eight smaller elevators (each capable of hold a Medium occupant) can be manually operated, moving creatures between the 20-foot climb over the course of 4 rounds. Iron rails and turntables built into the stone floor allow workers to move dangerous beasts into place inside heavy metal cages on wheels (akin to a circus cage). This area is incredibly hectic during arena events, but at any other time is only sparsely attended.
11a. Arena Machinery: These cramped crawlspaces are choked with the gears, pulleys, ropes, and chains needed to keep the arena elevators working. Small characters can move through the machinery with Escape Artist checks, but a failed check means they take damage as they get caught in the works.
12. Guard Stairs: These stairs climb up to area 21 on the first floor.
13. Holding Pen: Non-dangerous beasts (such as oxen) are sometimes penned in here on their way to area 14.
14. Slaughter Chamber: Animals are butchered in this gory chamber, their meat stored in the next room (area 16). Large beasts slain in the area are also dragged in here until they can be disposed of.
15. Scullery: These cellars feature large washing tubs for the Violet Fire's laundry and other cleaning needs.
16. Cold Storage: This cellar magically maintains a cool temperature.
17. Pantry?: Haven't quite decided what's in here.
18. Stairs: These stairs climb up past two kitchens to the third floor.
19. Checkroom: Clientele Visitor weapons and contraband confiscated by guards at the main entrance are stored here until the clientele depart.
20. Guard Station.
21. Intersection:
Guards and servants cross paths at this intersection. The chamber is usually guarded and the doors to the east-well hall are kept locked.
22. Wine Cellar: The stairs lead up to the lower cantina, the courtesan dressing room, and finally the courtesan's lounge.
23. Pesh Vault: Pesh, poisons, and other "black market" alchemical substances are stored in this vault. When customers make a request, a servant working the bar comes down and fetches it from the guard stationed inside the vault. Like the Duskwalker Vaults, the inner chamber is lined with lead and reinforced with iron. The extensive security's really just a basic precaution against theft; pound for pound, this stuff's incredibly valuable.
24. Stairs: These stairs lead up through the main guard hub before reaching the third floor.
25. Guard Armory: The Violet Fire guards store crossbows and other "heavy artillery" in this room.
26. Arena Access: These doors are usually locked and guarded.
27. Guard Station: The stairs lead up to a guard station just off the Grand Atrium. These stairs (along with those at area 24) see regular traffic by guards coming down to deliver money to the central vault.
28. Central Vault Reception: Guards locked inside this chamber accept deliveries and transfer money to and from the Violet Fire's vault.
29. Central Vault: Located directly beneath the Grand Atrium, this vault is filled with the Violet Fire's profits. It too is reinforced with iron and lead, and probably has several layers of magical protection (perhaps even a golem?)

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Here's some additional NPCs I've developed while nibbling around the edges of the adventure, along with some revisions to Khafira.

Khafira Blacktongue (Revised):

A few revisions here. First, she's now originally from Thuvia, rather than Osirion; as the tale goes, her grandmother was a pairaka from the House of Oblivion. Regardless, she spent a decade or two bouncing around the major ports of the Inner Sea before settling in Katapesh. Second, I've removed her focus on whips; I realized it's overdone, and even more to the point, it meant she had the same shtick as the Lady of Whips, her main competitor for the title of Katapesh's most high-profile madam. Lastly, she's now a rake rather than a charlatan--she has nothing to hide. I made her middle age for a while, but with the imminent revision/clarification to tiefling lifespans coming up, that's no longer necessary. She's probably close to 100 years old but has one of those ageless faces that could as easily be anywhere from 20 to 40, in human terms. She's been running the Violet Fire for at least 20 years and has been in charge of the Duskwalkers for about half that time.

Her visual appearance is based on the illustration of the spitespawn tiefling in Blood of Fiends.

CR 10 (XP 9,600)

Female spitespawn tiefling rogue (rake) 7/assassin 4 (Bestiary 264, Blood of Fiends 21)
LE Medium outsider (native)
Init +8; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +15
Aura overwhelming lawful evil
20, touch 15, flat-footed 15 (+5 armor, +4 Dex, +1 dodge)
hp 42 (11 HD; 7d8+4d8–11)
Fort +4, Ref +11, Will +6; +1 vs. fear, +2 vs. poisons (or +3 if ingested), +4 vs. nauseated or sickened effects
Defensive Abilities evasion, improved uncanny dodge; Resist cold 5, electricity 5, fire 5
Resist Feint DC 24; Resist Diplomacy DC 27 (hostile), DC 22 (unfriendly), DC 17 (indifferent), DC 12 (friendly), DC 2 (helpful); Resist Intimidate DC 23
30 ft.
Melee +1 dagger +13/+8 (1d4+1/17–20) or
+1 short sword +13/+8 (1d6+1/19–20)
Ranged mwk dagger +13/+8 (1d4–1/17–20)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks bravado’s blade, death attack (DC 15), poison use, sneak attack +6d6, true death (DC 19)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 7th; concentration +10)
3/day—detect poison
1/day—misdirection (DC 15)
Before Combat
Khafira minimizes her threatening appearance. She disguises her glamered armor as a revealing gown and keeps her daggers concealed. She is always accompanied by a bodyguard (a Violet Fire guard; see below), whose main purpose is actually just to look menacing and carry her +1 short sword on his back, where she can access it easily. When expecting trouble, she applies poison to her +1 dagger and either stays out of sight or plays helpless for three rounds while studying the victim of her death attack. Khafira habitually and grimly uses detect poison before every meal.
During Combat Khafira relies on her guards to creating flanking opportunities for her sneak attacks.
Morale Khafira has many enemies and no intention of dying. If outnumbered, she attempts to flee immediately after making a death attack or being wounded. If accompanied by allies, she fights until reduced to 15 hit points.
10, Dex 18, Con 8, Int 13, Wis 12, Cha 15
Base Atk +8; CMB +8; CMD 23, flat 18
Feats Dodge, Great Fortitude, Improved Critical (dagger), Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +15, Appraise +12, Bluff +16, Diplomacy +17, Disguise +8, Intimidate +15, Knowledge (local) +13, Linguistics +8, Perception +13, Profession (courtesan) +6, Sense Motive +14, Sleight of Hand +10 (+14 hide weapons), Stealth +16; Racial Modifiers +2 Diplomacy, +2 Linguistics
Languages Abyssal, Common, Infernal, Kelish, Osiriani
SQ rake’s smile +2, rogue talents (finesse rogue, hidden weapons +4, iron guts, minor magic)
Combat Gear antitoxin, potions of cure moderate wounds (2), greenblood oil (1 dose), medium spider venom (4 doses); Other Gear +1 glamered mithral chain shirt, +1 dagger, masterwork daggers (4), +1 short sword, brooch of shielding, manacles of cooperation, courtier’s outfit, assorted jewelry worth 855 gp
Bravado’s Blade (Ex)
When Khafira hits an opponent and deals sneak attack damage, she can forgo 1d6 points of that damage and make a free Intimidate check to demoralize the foe. For every additional 1d6 points of sneak attack damage she forgoes, she receives a +5 circumstance bonus on this check.
Poison Use (Ex) Khafira cannot accidentally poison herself when applying poison to a blade.
Greenblood Oil—injury; save Fort DC 13; frequency 1/round for 4 rounds; effect 1 Con damage; cure 1 save.
Medium Spider Venom—injury; save Fort DC 14; frequency 1/round for 4 rounds; effect 1d2 Str damage; cure 1 save.
Stoic: Khafira gains a +1 bonus on all saving throws against fear effects. If she successfully saves against any fear effect, she is immune to further fear effects from that source for 24 hours.
True Death (Su) Anyone slain by Khafira’s death attack becomes more difficult to bring back from the dead. Spellcasters attempting to bring a creature back from the dead using raise dead or similar magic must make a DC 19 caster level check or the spell fails and the material component is wasted. Casting remove curse the round before attempting to bring the creature back from the dead negates this chance. The DC of the remove curse is 14.

This shapely woman is possessed of a strange, austere beauty. Her sharp cheekbones, long and wavy brown hair, and coffee-colored skin speak of a mixed Keleshite and Garundi heritage, but her other features speak of a bloodline far less pure than that. Her ears are pointed, and when she speaks, you can see that her tongue and gums are dead black. A large pair of curling black horns sweeps back from her forehead, and she stares at you with impassive, amber, goatlike eyes. She is impeccably groomed, her face and fingers adorned with gold jewelry, and her attire is designed to titillate. Under her dark, hooded cloak she wears a form-fitting gown with a plunging neckline and open panels tailored to reveal bare, inviting hips.

The Spy:

CR 4 (XP 1,200)

Gray Talon spy
Female beastbrood tiefling rogue (spy) 5 (Blood of Fiends 23)
NG Medium outsider (native)
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +11
Aura strong good (detects as strong lawful evil)
13, touch 12, flat-footed 11 (+1 armor, +2 Dex)
hp 26 (5d8)
Fort +1, Ref +6, Will +4
Defensive Abilities cloud alignment, evasion, uncanny dodge; Resist cold 5, electricity 5, fire 5
Resist Feint DC 23; Resist Diplomacy DC 28 (hostile), DC 23 (unfriendly), DC 18 (indifferent), DC 13 (friendly), DC 3 (helpful); Resist Intimidate DC 16
30 ft.
Melee mwk cold iron dagger +6 (1d4–1/19–20 plus poison) or
mwk sap +6 (1d6–1)
Ranged mwk cold iron dagger +6 (1d4–1/19–20 plus poison)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks poison use, sneak attack +3d6
Before Combat
If Nashwa is facing what she considers serious opposition, she prepares a dose of an appropriate poison before engaging the enemy.
During Combat Nashwa relies on speed to overcome her foes, attacking from stealth to land sneak attacks. She prefers to avoid combat and detection entirely, using ingested poisons to quietly remove the opposition.
Morale Nashwa attempts to flee if badly outnumbered, if reduced to 10 hit points, or if she senses she’s being surrounded. She would rather die than surrender to the Pactmasters’ minions.
8, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 13, Wis 12, Cha 17
Base Atk +3; CMB +2; CMD 14, flat 12
Feats Alertness, Deceitful, Iron Will, Weapon Finesse
Skills Bluff +13 (+15 deception), Diplomacy +11, Disable Device +12, Disguise +15, Knowledge (local) +9, Linguistics +7, Perception +11, Profession (courtesan) +6, Profession (gambler) +5, Sense Motive +13, Sleight of Hand +9, Stealth +10; Racial Modifiers +2 Disguise, +2 Sense Motive
Languages Common, Infernal, Kelish, Osiriani, Vudrani
SQ rogue talents (canny observer, finesse rogue), skilled liar +2
Combat Gear poison (blue whinnis, 1 dose), poison (id moss, 2 doses), poison (oil of taggit, 1 dose); Other Gear masterwork chain shirt (stored at Ancient Tomes bookstore), masterwork cold iron dagger, masterwork sap, bracers of armor +1, invisible ink (simple), masterwork thieves’ tools, tear-away outfit
Cloud Alignment (Su)
Nashwa is aware of and can choose the result of any attempt to detect her alignment.
Poison Use (Ex) Nashwa cannot accidentally poison herself when applying poison to a blade.
Blue Whinnis—injury; save Fort DC 14; frequency 1/round for 2 rounds; initial effect 1 Con damage; secondary effect unconsciousness for 1d3 hours; cure 1 save.
Id Moss—ingested; save Fort DC 14; onset 10 minutes; frequency 1/minute for 6 minutes; effect 1d3 Int damage; cure 1 save.
Oil of Taggit—ingested; save Fort DC 15; onset 1 minute; effect unconsciousness for 1d3 hours; cure 1 save.

Lithe and sensual, this woman’s entire body is covered in a striped coat of downy fur, patterned like the pelt of a tiger. Her features are similarly feline, with small fangs, pointed ears, and yellow, slitted eyes. She is dressed in a revealing gown and copious jewelry, and she carries herself more like an exotic princess than a harem girl.

Nashwa is the Gray Talon agent still active at the Violet Fire. She's young for a tiefling, about 75 years old, but looks about 20 in human terms. Born in Jalmeray, she was sold into slavery in Cheliax's Andoran Province as a young girl. When she gained her freedom in the People's Revolt about 40 years ago, she joined the Eagle Knights and dedicated herself to helping spread the Andoren cause of abolition. Her current undercover activities allow her to serve that cause while also sating certain dark impulses inherent to her fiendish nature.

In her role as a Violet Fire courtesan, she portrays herself as lawful evil (revealing her true alignment would surely court suspicion). She is devoted to the greater goal of ending the slave trade and, while she may later lose sleep over her decisions, she can be ruthless toward that end.

It's no secret among the Violet Fire staff that "Nashwa" is not her real name. In fact, it's standard practice for the Violet Fire's courtesans to adopt simple, meaning-laden names during their tenure as indentured servants ("debt-slaves"). Nashwa's real name is irrelevant to the adventure.

Captain Asad al-Husaam:

CR 6 (XP 2,400)

Zephyr Guard Watch Captain
Male Keleshite human fighter 7
LN Medium humanoid (human)
Init +2; Senses Perception +7
Aura faint lawful
21, touch 12, flat-footed 19 (+7 armor, +2 Dex, +2 shield)
hp 50 (7d10+7)
Fort +6, Ref +4, Will +3; +2 vs. fear
Defensive Abilities bravery +2
Resist Feint DC 16; Resist Diplomacy DC 26 (hostile), DC 21 (unfriendly), DC 16 (indifferent), DC 11 (friendly), DC –1 (helpful); Resist Intimidate DC 18
20 ft. (30 ft. base)
Melee +1 scimitar +12/+7 (1d6+6/18–20) or
Power Attack: +1 scimitar +10/+5 (1d6+10/18–20)
Ranged mwk composite longbow +10/+5 (1d8+2/×3)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
During Combat
When dealing with common criminals and riff-raff, Captain al-Husaam deals nonlethal damage with his scimitar (incurring a –4 penalty on attack rolls) and makes use of his Enforcer feat. When fighting for his life, he abandons these attempts to take prisoners.
Morale Asad fights to the death to Nashwa. If fighting purely for his own survival, he attempts to flee once reduced to 25 hit points, but if cornered he fights to the death rather than face surrender. When faced with a clearly superior foe, however, he calls for his men to retreat and regroup with greater numbers and resources.
15, Dex 15, Con 13, Int 12, Wis 8, Cha 12
Base Atk +7; CMB +9 (+10 with heavy blades); CMD 21, flat 19 (23/21 vs. disarm and sunder using heavy blades)
Feats Alertness, Blind-Fight, Cosmopolitan, Disruptive, Enforcer, Iron Will, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (scimitar), Weapon Specialization (scimitar)
Skills Diplomacy +4, Intimidate +7, Knowledge (local, nobility) +11, Linguistics +3, Perception +7, Sense Motive +8
Languages Common, Gnoll, Halfling, Kelish, Osiriani, Tien, Vudrani
SQ armor training 2, weapon training (heavy blades +1)
Combat Gear potions of cure light wounds (2), potion of cure moderate wounds, tanglefoot bag; Other Gear +1 chainmail, masterwork heavy steel shield, +1 scimitar, masterwork composite longbow (+2 Str) with 20 arrows, everburning torch, masterwork manacles with good lock, signal whistle, hot weather outfit

Watch Captain Asad al-Husaam, a Zephyr Guard officer in charge of overseeing the Dawn Gate district, first made the foolish mistake of falling in love (or what he considers love) with a Violet Fire courtesan named Nashwa. When he discovered her true identity a month ago, he reflexively shielded her from discovery even as her Andoren partner was arrested and hauled away to the City Gaol, never to see daylight again. Now rapidly falling apart due to his crisis of conscience, he's looking to sell his charm of aluum control to the highest bidder so he can pursue his fantasy of fleeing oversees with Nashwa to live like kings in a land beyond the Pactmasters' reach. In reality, he knows it's only a matter of time before he stumbles and is caught. He knows that at best, he'll be fitted with a Pactmasters' favor, rendering his infatuation with Nashwa moot; more likely, he'll face lifelong imprisonment or execution, ending with his soul being used to fuel an aluum.

Dealing with the dissolute Captain al-Husaam's situation becomes a central pillar of the adventure and the Violet Fire heist.

Rurryek (Violet Fire Beastmaster):

CR 6 (XP 2,400)

Violet Fire beastmaster
Male gnoll druid 6 (desert druid pack lord) (Bestiary 155)
NE Medium humanoid (gnoll)
Init –1; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +12
Aura faint evil
17, touch 9, flat-footed 17 (+5 armor, –1 Dex, +1 natural, +2 shield)
hp 52 (8 HD; 2d8+6d8+16)
Fort +10, Ref +1, Will +8
Defensive Abilities desert endurance
Resist Feint DC 18; Resist Diplomacy DC 26 (hostile), DC 21 (unfriendly), DC 16 (indifferent), DC 11 (friendly), DC 1 (helpful); Resist Intimidate DC 21
30 ft.
Melee +1 morningstar +9 (1d8+4 lethal or nonlethal) or
2 claws +3 (1d4+1)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks wild shape (1/day, 4 hours, beast shape I)
Druid Spells Prepared (CL 6th; concentration +9; touch +8)
3rd—anthropomorphic animal (DC 16), cure moderate wounds, quench
2nd—animal trance (DC 15), feast of ashes (DC 15), hold animal (DC 15), resist energy
1st—calm animals (DC 14), cure light wounds, magic fang (2)
0 (at will)—create water, detect magic, mending, stabilize
Before Combat
If Rurryek sees enemies using energy-based attacks, he casts resist energy on himself before engaging. If he has time, he casts magic fang on each of his hyenas.
During Combat Rurryek’s typical array of spells is intended to control wounded, angry beasts and prevent or repair damage to the arena. He uses feast of ashes to rile up beasts for the arena or to punish employees. Against humanoid enemies, he uses Cackle & Heckle to flank and trip his foes. He deals nonlethal damage to valuable opponents. If disarmed or ambushed without a weapon, he falls back on his sharp, curling talons.
Morale If Rurryek is reduced to 20 hp, he calls for a retreat, either spontaneously summoning creatures to cover his escape or, if he must, sacrificing Cackle & Heckle or gnoll employees. He immediately seeks out the nearest Violet Fire guards to raise the alarm.
16, Dex 8, Con 15, Int 8, Wis 16, Cha 12
Base Atk +5; CMB +8; CMD 17
Feats Aspect of the Beast (claws of the beast), Bludgeoner, Fast Empathy, Intimidating Prowess
Skills Handle Animal +11, Heal +7, Intimidate +11, Knowledge (nature) +5, Linguistics +0, Perception +12, Profession (arena master) +7, Spellcraft +4, Survival +9
Languages Common, Druidic, Gnoll
SQ desert native, pack bond (2 hyena companions), sandwalker, share spells, spontaneous casting (summon nature’s ally), wild empathy +7 (standard action)
Combat Gear potions of cure light wounds (3), potion of cure moderate wounds, potion of delay poison; Other Gear +1 leather lamellar, +1 ironwood buckler, +1 morningstar, muleback cords, hot weather outfit
Improved Empathic Link (Su)
Rurryek has an empathic link with both of his hyena companions. This functions like an empathic link with a familiar. In addition, as a swift action Rurryek can shift his perception to one of his companions, allowing him to experience what it sees, hears, and so on. He can maintain this connection as long as he likes (as long as the companion is within 1 mile) and end it as a free action. Rurryek can only use this ability on one companion at a time, and cannot see, hear, or smell with her own body while maintaining this connection.

CR — (XP —)

Hyena animal companions (Bestiary 179)
N Small animal
Init +3; Senses low-light vision, scent; Perception +7
22, touch 15, flat-footed 18 (+3 armor, +4 Dex, +4 natural, +1 size)
hp 16 (3d8+3)
Fort +4, Ref +7, Will +2
Defensive Abilities evasion
Resist Feint DC 13; Resist Wild Empathy DC 23 (hostile), DC 18 (unfriendly), DC 13 (indifferent), DC 8 (friendly), DC –2 (helpful); Resist Intimidate DC 14
50 ft.
Melee bite +4 (1d4 plus trip)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
During Combat
Cackle & Heckle act as ordered by their master. Through their empathic link, Rurryek directs his hyenas to establish flanking positions and drag their prey to the ground.
Morale Cackle & Heckle fight to the death so long as their master is at their side. If Rurryek flees or is otherwise not present, they flee after taking 10 points of damage. If Rurryek is slain, they immediately flee or cower.
11, Dex 18, Con 13, Int 2, Wis 13, Cha 6
Base Atk +2; CMB +1; CMD 14, flat 11 (19/15 vs. trip)
Feats Armor Proficiency (light), Weapon Focus (bite)
Skills Acrobatics +3 (+11 jump), Perception +7, Stealth +7 (+11 in tall grass); Racial Modifiers +4 Stealth in tall grass
SQ improved empathic link
Gear studded leather barding
Improved Empathic Link (Su)
Rurryek has an empathic link with both of his hyena companions. This functions like an empathic link with a familiar. In addition, as a swift action Rurryek can shift his perception to one of his companions, allowing him to experience what it sees, hears, and so on. He can maintain this connection as long as he likes (as long as the companion is within 1 mile) and end it as a free action. Rurryek can only use this ability on one companion at a time, and cannot see, hear, or smell with her own body while maintaining this connection.

Rurryek may be a "city dog," but he's still fairly savage. He oversees the Violet Fire arena, handling wild beasts and stage-directing gladiators and his staff of six gnolls. He can use mending to perform minor emergency repairs to the arena mechanisms, but he's not an expert mechanic. Rurryek is continually accompanied by a pair of scarred, armoed hyenas he calls Cackle and Heckle. The arena gnolls are just employees; Rurryek's hyenas are his true henchmen. While he treats them well, the fact of the matter is that Rurryek has gone through several sets of "Cackle and Heckle" in his day. He keeps a litter of next generation's replacements in his personal quarters. He generally sticks to the arena works, the warehouse, and the tavern; his animals aren't allowed in the Violet Fire itself, and Khafira insists that he keep a low profile in public areas as well.

Rurryek has no personal grudge against the heroes, but it's his job to ensure that arena events go smoothly (and according to Khafira's instructions). Somewhat disturbingly, he's also the Violet Fire's in-house physician, supplying remove disease spells as required.

Violet Fire Security:

Violet Fire security is well-paid and well-trained, though certainly not immune to the lure of the wealth and vice surrounding them. Each guard station is the hub for a single pit boss (CR 5) overseeing four guards (CR 1 each). Together, a group of five guards create a CR 7 encounter. At 8th level, the PCs can certainly tear through most of the Violet Fire's guards; the real threat they represent is using their signal whistles to raise the alarm, using four-note signals to relay their position within the complex.

Both the guards and their superiors wear dark, well-tailored uniforms and sinister brass masks. When they aren't frisking visitors at the entrances or dealing with rulebreakers, they're trained to blend into the woodwork.

The rank-and-file guards are made up of both genders and several ethnic groups, but male Garundis and Keleshites predominate. Their pit boss superiors are recruited for their intimidating size, so most are half-orcs, though some could be easily reskinned as beefy Ulfen.

CR 1 (XP 400)

Human warrior 3
LE Medium humanoid (human)
Init +0; Senses Perception +4
14, touch 10, flat-footed 14 (+4 armor)
hp 22 (3d10+6)
Fort +4, Ref +1, Will +1
Resist Feint DC 14; Resist Diplomacy DC 24 (hostile), DC 19 (unfriendly), DC 14 (indifferent), DC 9 (friendly), DC –1 (helpful); Resist Intimidate DC 13
30 ft.
Melee mwk sap +6 (1d6+2 nonlethal) or
scimitar +5 (1d6+2/18–20)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
15, Dex 11, Con 12, Int 9, Wis 10, Cha 8
Base Atk +3; CMB +5; CMD 15
Feats Alertness, Enforcer, Intimidating Prowess
Skills Intimidate +6, Perception +4, Sense Motive +4
Languages Common, Kelish
Combat Gear potion of cure light wounds; Other Gear masterwork chain shirt, masterwork sap, scimitar, manacles with good lock, hot weather outfit

CR 5 (XP 1,600)

Male half-orc fighter 4/rogue (thug) 2
LE Medium humanoid (human, orc)
Init +0; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +13
Aura faint lawful evil
17, touch 10, flat-footed 17 (+7 armor)
hp 51 (6 HD; 4d10+2d8+16)
Fort +6, Ref +4, Will +2; +1 vs. fear
Defensive Abilities bravery +1
Resist Feint DC 23; Resist Diplomacy DC 24 (hostile), DC 19 (unfriendly), DC 14 (indifferent), DC 9 (friendly), DC –1 (helpful); Resist Intimidate DC 18
30 ft.
Melee +1 falchion +10 (2d4+7/18–20) or
mwk sap +10 (1d6+4 nonlethal)
Ranged marker marker dye +5 touch (as splash weapon)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks sneak attack +1d6
18, Dex 10, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 8
Base Atk +5; CMB +9; CMD 19
Feats Combat Reflexes, Enforcer, Stand Still
Skills Appraise +10, Intimidate +14, Perception +13, Profession (gambler) +10, Sense Motive +13; Racial Modifiers +2 Intimidate
Languages Common, Kelish, Orc
SQ armor training 1, frightening, orc ferocity
Combat Gear marker dye (6), potion of cure moderate wounds; Other Gear +1 chainmail, +1 falchion, masterwork sap, masterwork manacles with good lock, signal whistle, hot weather outfit
Frightening (Ex)
Whenever a pit boss successfully uses Intimidate to demoralize a creature, the duration of the shaken condition is increased by 1 round. In addition, if the target is shaken for 4 or more rounds, the pit boss can instead decide to make the target frightened for 1 round.

Zulfiqar (Gladiator):

CR 5 (XP 1,600)

Violet Fire gladiator
Male suli fighter (gladiator) 6 (Bestiary 3 258)
N Medium outsider (native)
Init +1; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception –1
18, touch 11, flat-footed 17 (+7 armor, +1 Dex)
hp 49 (6d10+12)
Fort +7, Ref +3, Will +1
Resist acid 5, cold 5, electricity 5, fire 5
Resist Feint DC 15; Resist Diplomacy DC 27 (hostile), DC 22 (unfriendly), DC 17 (indifferent), DC 12 (friendly), DC 2 (helpful); Resist Intimidate DC 15
30 ft.
Melee +1 greatsword +12/+7 (2d6+8/19–20) or
Power Attack: +1 greatsword +10/+5 (2d6+14/19–20)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks elemental assault (1/day, 6 rounds)
Before Combat
Zulfiqar’s first act upon entering the ring is to perform a dazzling display with his greatsword, as much to impress the crowd as to demoralize his foes.
During Combat In the first round of combat, Zulfiqar uses a swift action to shroud his arms and greatsword in flames before attacking. He’s a showman in the ring, using his swift action in subsequent rounds to make performance combat checks.
Morale Zulfiqar fights for a living, not a cause. Outside of the ring, he flees or surrenders if reduced to 20 hit points. In the arena, however, he fights to the bitter end, counting on the favor of the crowd to ensure his life is spared.
17, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 9, Cha 14
Base Atk +6; CMB +9; CMD 20, flat 19
Performance Combat +5
Feats Dazzling Display (greatsword), Dramatic Display, Masterful Display, Performance Weapon Mastery, Power Attack, Savage Display, Weapon Focus (greatsword), Weapon Focus (greataxe)
Skills Intimidate +11, Perform (act, dance) +8; Racial Modifiers +2 Diplomacy, +2 Sense Motive
Languages Common, Ignan
SQ armor training 1
Gear +1 breastplate, +1 greatsword
Dramatic/Masterful/Savage Display:
When Zulfiqar spends a swift action to make a performance combat check, he exudes an aura of awe-inspiring skill. He gains a +2 bonus on his performance check, and until the end of his next turn, he gains a +2 bonus on all attack rolls and combat maneuver checks and a +1d6 bonus on damage rolls.
Fame (Ex) When Zulfiqar begins a performance combat, he always starts with at least 1 victory point.

Zulfiqar has no personal connection to the PCs, but he plays the role of "Kardswann" in the Tournament of Valor. His involvement is intended to come as a surprise to Haleen and her allies. Preventing him from entering the arena by one means or another may play into the adventure.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Quick Post: I'm not entirely sure I'm going to continue developing the adventure as I had it in my head, for a couple of reasons.

First, my players' experiences in House of the Beast (and Way of the Wicked, incidentally) have shown me that they're really much more the kick-down-the-door type than they are schemers; the heist may frustrate them more than amuse them.

Second, I've realized that the set-up as pulled from the "Markets of Katapesh" article may be too reminiscent of HotB: PCs think they're up against an infamous Big Bad, when really they're being manipulated by one of the Big Bad's lackeys in a power grab.

And third, there's a certain plot hole in my adventure structure that I still just can't get past, which I'll discuss in a second.

The end result is that right now I'm hoping to be able to adapt Broken Chains to resolve Haleen's debts. It has some of the same elements and looks like it would be more up my players' alley. And despite that my group is starting The Jackal's Price right now, the November release date may not be too late to incorporate it. I'll just have to adjust the levels, and/or put the PCs on a tight time limit. We'll see.

All that said, I may just end up winging my way through the Violet Fire. I'm willing to finish writing up the Violet Fire as an adventure location, if there's any expressed interest.

In the meantime, here's the latest iteration of the plot as it stood when I halted work on it.

Part 1: A Business Proposal
Within a day or two of arriving in Katapesh (after meeting Rayhan Xobhadi but before the dinner party), Haleen and any PCs with her are approached by messengers from the Duskwalker Guild, who "invite" Haleen to report to the Violet Fire to work out her debts. Promptly.

Haleen and any PCs who wish to accompany her go to the Violet Fire and have a meeting with Khafira Blacktongue, who announces that Haleen owes double what she thought she did and offers to hand her over to the Zephyr Guard if she disagrees. Khafira offers Haleen a deal, however: She can work off the debt in the Violet Fire's arena. In fact, looking at the contract, it seems Haleen owes the holder of her debt at least one more fight. Khafira schedules the arena match for the Starday night after next (about two weeks minimum), which should give the PCs time to resolve The Jackal's Price before they have to focus on this problem.

Simultaneously, however, some of the PCs have been secretly diverted into a side meeting with Sayyid Farokh. Sayyid tells these PCs that Khafira has it in for Haleen, but there's a way out of this mess: The Violet Fire has a problem with Andoren spies. One of the courtesans was unmasked as a Twilight Talon about a month ago, and while the Violet Fire's managers have no proof that additional spies are active, the Andorens do typically operate in cells. If the PCs discover the identity of any additional spies, they'll possess a powerful bargaining chip in their dealings with Khafira. And if the PCs are rooting for the freedom fighters, they can take this as an opportunity to warn the spy that the noose is tightening around their neck.

Khafira is secretly aware of this particular aspect of Farokh's covert deal with the PCs; she intends to use the powerful PCs to root out any unknown spies still in her woodwork.

Part 2: Twilight Pursuits
Farokh assumes that any additional spies will be, like the one who was captured, among the half-dozen indentured tiefling courtesans Khafira keeps under her roof; they're the only employees with enough personal freedom and clout to pose a threat.

This portion of the adventure is investigative as the PCs use magic and old-fashioned footwork to unravel whether any additional spies are present. Each of the six courtesans knows a few rumors about the others, is hiding personal secrets of some kind or another (some incriminating, some not), and holds a piece of the larger truth: That one of them is indeed an Andoren spy.

Part 3: The Soul Trade
Having discovered (but not revealed) the identity of Nashwa, the rakshasa-blooded spy, the PCs learn what's going on. A corrupt Zephyr Guard watch leader named Asad al-Husaam is deeply infatuated with her, even going so far as to shield her from discovery when her partner was nabbed. Nashwa wants to "turn" al-Husaam and use him as a mole within the Zephyr Guard; al-Hussam wants to sell his amulet of aluum control and retire to distant shores, enjoying a life of luxury with his "beloved" companion Nashwa. Al-Husaam's problem is that he's put his offer out to a lot of shady dealers, and no one's taken the bait. The amulet only works for al-Husaam, so it's worthless to anyone else.

However, Farokh (or other shady characters) can point the PCs in the direction of someone who might help here: A shady broker and expatriate from the "old country" who goes by the name of Master Reapesmoor. Reapesmoor has a sense of the big picture, but he's too amused by the thought experiment to keep his hands entirely clean. Reapesmoor guides the PCs through the steps of obtaining a magic device that should allow anyone to use al-Hussam's amulet. First, the PCs need to "steal" the nonfunctional device from Reapesmoor's temple/home. Next, they need to "attune" the device, and for this Reapesmoor points them in the direction of a particular tattoo parlor in the nightstalls. The proprietor is a night hag. What Reapsemoor never quite comes out and says is that he's a broker in souls, and that this night hag is a procurer. The PCs are to take al-Husaam to the night hag (preferably not in uniform and unaware of what's in store for him), who will then extract the Zephyr Guard officer's soul and place it within Reapesmoor's device. When affixed to the amulet of aluum control, it should allow one to attempt to trick the amulet into accepting its wearer as al-Husaam. The PCs may not realize what "attuning" Reapesmoor's device means until al-Husaam is strapped down in the night hag's chair, and if the night hag discovers who she's about the kill, she freaks out, suspecting a sting operation, and attacks the PCs. Either way, this section of the adventure ends with the PCs either battling the night hag or a panicked al-Husaam.

But there's the plot hole. The heist in my head really only works if the PCs have a working "attuned" amulet, and if they save al-Husaam's life, they don't get it. Up till this point, the story works whether the PCs are altruistic (protecting the freedom fighters) or self-centered (favoring helping Haleen over helping the slaves). But for Part 4 to work, al-Husaam needs to lose his soul. Haven't thought my way out of this one.

Part 4: The Violet Fire Job
Ick; out of time; I'll wrap this up later.

I'm not sure that the story does work that far if the PCs are just in it for themselves... If they don't care about slaves or freedom fighters, why don't they just turn in Nashwa as soon as they know it's her, and let al-Husaam take the fall with her? Why bother messing with the amulet of aluum control? I guess if they don't, it's no harm done... They just skip part of this side-adventure.

If they do try to get the amulet of aluum control working, then they end up in a frustrating situation, where the plot depends on them being enough in the dark that they cause something horrible to happen through their own misguided efforts. Clever PCs (and clever players) may see this coming, and try to avert it, stalling out the side-adventure. If they fall for it, they will be on their guard against something similar happening in the future... Like, say, accidentally letting an efreeti lord and his army loose on the material plane?

I would prefer giving them a path through this whole side-quest that doesn't leave them wondering if they did the right thing. It's a duskwalker guild adventure, so they're bound to wonder if they should really be associating with these people at all, but having them lead a sympathetic character to his death might be a bit much.

Perhaps have their be a way to genuinely unattune the amulet of aluum control, but it triggers something less dire... for instance, a high caster-level mark of justice on al-Husaam. This makes him a fugitive, since the rest of the Zephyr guard can see the mark. He can't go to work, and people will ask questions if he doesn't show up, so he has to be smuggled out as fast as possible. It adds urgency to the quest without the PCs feeling like they screwed up.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Okay, so, Part 4: The Violet Fire Job
This is where the wheels keep coming off for me.

The basic premise I started with is that the PCs are attempting to bring down Khafira Blacktongue and her Duskwalker Guild by planting incriminating evidence that pins her to a dire crime, then guiding the Twilight Talon into "discovering" that evidence; the Andoren spy ring is already set up to ensure that the evidence finds it way to the Pactmasters, bringing down their wrath.

Here's the specific scheme Sayyid proposes:

1) Use the soul gem containing al-Hasaam's spirit to pay off Haleen's monetary debt. Since the gem is a big-ticket item, the borderline obsessive/compulsive Khafira will tag it with her arcane mark before storing it in her private vault. She has an in-house sorcerer (a concierge who oversees the courtesans) who scans treasures before they go in the vault; this person will need to be neutralized somehow.

2) Now the PCs just need to break into the vault, recover the gem, and plant it somewhere easier to obtain where the spy can find it; a safe in Khafira's personal "safe room," perhaps. This is the heist, and while the PCs are much more powerful than most of the Violet Fire's occupants, the Duskwalkers have numbers on their side. They need to find ways to disable Khafira's magical protections; she carries a ring of keys and magical talismans that cause various entities bound to the site (including a water elemental and an animated iron maiden/tophet) to obey the bearer's orders. The guard stations and patrols can also be distracted--with Haleen's bout in the arena presenting an excellent distraction, if she (and anyone else in the ring with her) can rile up the crowd with performance combat checks. Farokh tosses the PCs some subtle assistance as well.

3) Once the incriminating evidence has been planted and the spy is lured in its direction, Farokh moves in for the final part of his plan: Killing the PCs, capturing the Twilight Talon spy, and framing his owner for a capital offense. He sees Khafira as a hypocrite and of limited imagination. He intends to take the credit for stopping a spy ring and uncovering Khafira's treason in the process, which he hopes will grant him enough favor from the Pactmasters to earn not just his freedom but Khafira's holdings as well. As the new master of the Violet Fire, he'll use his leverage to ascend to leader of the Duskwalkers, which he'll then turn into the utterly debauched and twisted criminal syndicate many people already assume it to be.

4) Realizing that life in Katapesh is going to get much worse for everyone if Farokh succeeds (essentially merging the Duskwalkers with the Unseen Hand), the PCs defeat him, winning Khafira's begrudging thanks. She forgives Haleen's debts and the PCs' criminal activities, so long as they get the hell out. The PCs may even manage to get the Andoren spy to safety.

The big problem here is that for parts 1 through 3, I've been able to work out storylines that function whether the PCs are going with the Duskwalkers' morally shady plans or whether they're trying to subvert them. Part 4 can also work if the heist's main focus is getting the Andoren spy the evidence she needs to "break" the Duskwalkers so she'll be willing to evacuate before it's too late. But at the same time, part 4 really only works if the corrupt Zephyr Guard officer is dead. Without the incriminating soul gem, the PCs have no leverage against Farokh or Khafira. And the only way to ensure that they have the soul gem seems to be to railroad them at the end of part 3, right at the break point when they should realize the depths of the quagmire they're been wandering into and make the choice to leave the grim path set before them. Maybe Reapesmoor needs to get a little more hands on.

*Shrug* For now, I dunno.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Gordon the Whale wrote:
I'm not sure that the story does work that far if the PCs are just in it for themselves... If they don't care about slaves or freedom fighters, why don't they just turn in Nashwa as soon as they know it's her, and let al-Husaam take the fall with her? Why bother messing with the amulet of aluum control? I guess if they don't, it's no harm done... They just skip part of this side-adventure.

In my notes, in an attempt to win the PCs to his confidence, Farokh advises them that the spy's identity would be an incredibly valuable commodity, and advises the PCs to keep the info close to their vest if they uncover it. Initially he's playing a triple cross.

1. Farokh pulls the PCs aside for the secret side deal to make them think that he's actually on their side and, as a slave himself, wants to see an end to Katapesh's slave ring as much as anybody.

2. But in fact, Khafira knows about this side-deal all along; she plans to use the powerful PCs to root out the spy, which saves her the considerable cost of having to hire comparable experts to do it for her. She uses the ruse on the assumption that the PCs will be more willing to work for free if they think they're getting on over on her.

3. But of course, Farokh is really playing all side against each other. He doesn't need to know the spy's identity, but he does need to know that they exist. He assures the PCs that even if they discover a spy, they should keep his or her identity to themselves. If the spy gets caught or simply vanishes, the PCs might collect a reward but Khafira's position is actually strengthened, thanks to the house cleaning. But he hints that he might have a grander plan cooking, if the PCs can simply assure him they've identified a spy.

Gordon the Whale wrote:
If they do try to get the amulet of aluum control working, then they end up in a frustrating situation, where the plot depends on them being enough in the dark that they cause something horrible to happen through their own misguided efforts. Clever PCs (and clever players) may see this coming, and try to avert it, stalling out the side-adventure. If they fall for it, they will be on their guard against something similar happening in the future... Like, say, accidentally letting an efreeti lord and his army loose on the material plane?

This is true and one of my main sticking points. The basic theme for the adventure, as initially pictured, is a saying about the Nightstalls themselves: "For every step one takes into the Nightstalls, it takes ten paces to get back out." Theoretically, the PCs keep working themselves into ever-knottier entanglements until finally saying "No more," breaking free, and doing some real good. And in the end, they discover that the "mastermind" Khafira Blacktongue is actually completely miserable and surrounded by enemies both near and far, all jockeying against each other to win her confidence and, eventually, take her place. On the one hand, the PCs should feel victorious just for getting back out of that mess with clean hands, which Khafira will never be able to do. But you're completely right that the lead-up to that conclusion is a lot of string-pulling and potential frustration. Particularly coming off House of the Beast, I may be risking a player revolt with this plot.

As for why they don't just pull out the spy, I do have a rationale for that one, however. She refuses to go. She thinks she's on the brink of "turning" watch captain al-Hasaam, which would be a massive victory for Andoran. She's all business and willing to sacrifice herself toward that greater end, so she won't willingly go until she completes her mission; she even has a "minder" who's unsuccessfully trying to convince her to pull out.

Gordon the Whale wrote:
I would prefer giving them a path through this whole side-quest that doesn't leave them wondering if they did the right thing. It's a duskwalker guild adventure, so they're bound to wonder if they should really be associating with these people at all, but having them lead a sympathetic character to his death might be a bit much.

Also a big concern. It's tricky but I'm trying to present the "redeemed-by-love" watch captain al-Hasaam as being morally compromised himself. Basically, in the Nightstalls, everyone's tainted. He's infatuated with the spy Nashwa to the extent that he's willing to betray his principals and his rulers for her, but at the same time he's unrepentant of his role to date in propping up the slave trade. He just sees the writing on the wall (that he's painted himself into a corner and will soon get caught), and is looking to flip his significant but dwindling resources into a life of luxury elsewhere. In other words, if this adventure is Inglourious Basterds, then he's Hans Landa.

Gordon the Whale wrote:
Perhaps have their be a way to genuinely unattune the amulet of aluum control, but it triggers something less dire... for instance, a high caster-level mark of justice on al-Husaam. This makes him a fugitive, since the rest of the Zephyr guard can see the mark. He can't go to work, and people will ask questions if he doesn't show up, so he has to be smuggled out as fast as possible. It adds urgency to the quest without the PCs feeling like they screwed up.

More to think about.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Here's a sketch of the courtesan suspects and their secrets. Adventure or no, this may be of use for populating Katapesh's vice dens.

Each of the tieflings works under an assumed "stage" name. Their real names don't really matter. I'm including translations just for fun.

While Khafira does keep slaves, the courtesans are actually indentured servants; some are purchased as slaves, while others are hired on. They then receive a large up-front payment, plus comfortable room and board and the promise of personal safety, plus all the vices in which they wish to indulge. Khafira keeps a tab, and through legalistic wrangling, ensures that the courtesans' earnings never quite catch up with their ongoing debts--until such time as they're no longer professionally useful, at which point they're usually tossed into far more menial jobs and allowed to quickly work off the remainder. If they're lucky, courtesans end up leaving the Violet Fire middle-aged and with little more to their names than they arrived with. Khafira uses this system, rather than simple slavery, because she thinks that this spark of hope keeps the courtesans livelier and thus more appealing to their clientele. Each courtesan gets one day off a week (on a staggered schedule, and everyone works on Stardays), but if they want to leave the Violet Fire, they must be accompanied by an entourage of four guards.

Khafira hand-picks her exotic concubines, always favoring the most charismatic and alluring among them, but she never takes on div-blooded tieflings as courtesans. Khafira uses the myriad temptations and pleasures of the Nightstalls to help keep her staff sated, and from personal experience, she knows that spitespawn such as herself are never truly capable of satisfaction.

But anyway, here they are:

Fatin ("seductive")
N female tiefling rogue (spy) 3
Known Background: Originally from Cheliax, Fatin's human heritage appears to be ethnically Chelish. She signed on four years ago, not long after the Gray Corsairs effectively declared war on the slave trade.
Causes for Suspicion: She turned up just after hostilities began, and while she says she's from Cheliax, with her looks she could just as easily be from Andoran itself.
Secrets: It's true, Fatin was born and raised in Andoran, but she has no connection to the Gray Corsairs or the Andoren freedom movement. She's been hiding her true background ever since the Pactmasters declared Andoran an enemy of the state, and she's terrified of her secret getting out. She doesn't want any trouble and wants to stay in Katapesh, where she isn't viewed as a freak.

Fihr ("stone pestle")
CN male tiefling rogue 3
Known Background: Originally from Qadira, he signed on eight months ago, replacing another courtesan who overdosed.
Causes for Suspicion: Fihr was particularly chummy with Saif, the male courtesan outed as an Andoren spy a month back.
Secrets: Fihr is actually a member of the Unseen Hand, working "undercover" to case the Violet Fire for a future heist--and freely indulging himself in the meantime. While he did get along well with Saif, he latched onto the fellow primarily to ingratiate himself with his peers. He was shocked and mortified when his "chum" was arrested. He knows the spotlight's on him now, and hasn't dared to contact the Unseen Hand since the arrest.

Jabar ("powerful")
LE male hellspawn rogue (spy) 3
Known Background: Originally from Cheliax, he is Saif's replacement. He's only been working at the Violet Fire for about two weeks, so he's still a mystery to most and might just be stepping in for a fallen ally--one head of the hydra replacing another.
Causes for Suspicion: Aside from being the new guy, his hellspawn heritage is most common not just in Cheliax, but also in its former holdings, such as Andoran. Many of the same suspicions that fall on Fatin apply to him as well.
Secrets: Haven't really come up with a compelling secret for him yet. However, he's been busy attempting to network with his peers, and he's become aware that Fatin's story doesn't add up; she's only passingly familiar with Chelaxian sights and locations that she should know like the back of her hand. Perhaps he's just started blackmailing her?

Munya ("desire")
NE female demonspawn tiefling rogue (spy) 3
Known Background: A native of the city of Katapesh, she signed on five years ago and is close to paying off her debt-slavery.
Causes for Suspicion: She goes "slumming" in the Lower City every chance she gets, taking the same four guards with her each time and staying out for as long as possible. She could be reporting to someone there.
Secrets: Munya actually is a spy, but not for Andoran. She's distantly related to the Red Lady, and is actually funneling rumors and clientele to the House of Whips, the rival brothel the Red Lady operates. Munya's entourage is in on it and cover for her because they're "treated well" while Munya's doing her thing. It's a petty form of spying, but Khafira might not see it as completely harmless.

Nashwa ("ecstacy")
NG female beastbrood tiefling rogue 5. She also has the unusual tiefling ability to screen her alignment when subjected to various detect spells.
Known Background: Ethnically Vudrani on her human side, Nashwa is originally from Jalmeray. She signed on three years ago.
Causes for Suspicion: Nashwa has several "regulars" who visit her frequently. (One of these regulars is a plainclothes al-Husaam, who's bankrupting himself for the privilege, and the other his her "minder," a half-elf who disguises himself as a bookish scholar.) If Munya's sneaking out to report to fellow spies, perhaps these regulars are simply contacts coming to Nashwa instead.
Secrets: Nashwa is indeed the spy. Born in Jalmeray, she was nearly thrown into slavery in adolescence when her fiendish, tiger-like traits started to develop, but instead was rescued and taken to Andoran, where she eventually joined the Gray Corsairs. She's dedicated to the Andoren cause, but volunteered for this particular duty not just because of her skills, but to escape the fact that she's viewed as an unnatural creature even in Andoran, and her role at the Violet Fire allows her to channel her rakshasa-blooded cravings for luxury and adoration. She's a freedom fighter, but a hard-boiled one. She uses her tiefling gifts to read as "lawful evil" whenever she's scanned.

Rana ("eye-catching object")
CN onispawn tiefling rogue (spy) 3
Known Background: Originally from Tian Xia, she signed on two years ago and loves her work.
Causes for Suspicion: Rana and the outed spy Saif were hired at the same time, replacements for a pair of courtesans who supposedly ran off together and managed to disappear. (They vanished with the Twilight Talons' help, unbeknownst to Rana.)
Secrets: Rana has insatiable appetites and is a petty thief and kleptomaniac. She constantly steals from her coworkers and clients, keeping some trinkets hidden while selling other ill-gotten goods to treat herself to luxurious meals at various exotic restaurants around town. She is in possession of a serpentine eagle figurine of wondrous power, which she swiped after seeing Nashwa hide it in a chest of props and costumes shortly after the arrest. However, she's completely unaware that these magic items are associated with the Eagle Knights and doesn't even know it's magic.

This is simply amazing. Thanks heaps John!

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