Few things are more challenging for a Game Master than creating an encounter on the fly, but one of those more-difficult tasks is making an impromptu encounter set in a crowded city street packed with all manner of details you have to draw on the map before the players start to lose interest. Luckily, Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Red Light District is available now, so you’ll never again need to sketch out winding alleys, interior locations of ill repute, or a canal of questionable cleanliness. While this map is by no means necessary to run the following encounter (designed by Vanessa Hoskins), they certainly go well together!
Phinelli’s Miracle Elixir — Severe 3
Edolpho Phinelli, the notorious con artist, has developed a new scheme. He’s selling an elixir that he claims can heal wounds, erase scars, and regrow hair. The citizens that live in the red light district are buying it by the case-full. Edolpho is looking to get rich quick! Fast enough to hop on a ship out of the city with enough earnings to set himself up in a new town.
The elixir is, of course, a watered-down minor elixir of life mixed with several inexpensive alchemical reagents. The effects are an intense euphoria followed by a heavy hangover unless more of the elixir is ingested. He’s selling each dose for 1 gp. While the brew does restore 1d2–1 Hit Points, the fumes the imbiber belches carry tuberculosis (Pathfinder Gamemastery Guide 118), exposing themselves and anyone around them for 1 hour after they’ve consumed the elixir.
An outbreak of tuberculosis has started to spread throughout the district and the city guard are getting desperate. They suspect that this new “miracle cure” might have something to do with it, but their forces are spread thin due to the disease and a long-standing labor dispute. They’ve hired the adventurers to investigate and point them toward Edolpho’s last known location—a shipping crate dais overlooking the canal.
Creatures: Edolpho stands above a crowd of roughly a dozen onlookers, waving his arms and barking his well-rehearsed pitch. Two burly assistants flank the charlatan, holding up vials of his wares and waving them enticingly in the audience’s faces. If the adventurers approach him looking to incite violence, then Edolpho’s two “assistants” step in to carry out their true role as bodyguards, putting themselves between the PCs and their employer, and trying to push any attackers into the adjacent canal. Given his control of the rapt crowd and the carefully staged environment, Edolpho uses Performance instead of Perception when rolling initiative.
He also attempts to turn the fervent (and quite addicted) crowd against the adventurers. If the adventurers succeed at a DC 18 Diplomacy or Deception check to persuade the crowd that the elixir is toxic, then the commoners disperse as soon as violence commences. Otherwise, they fervently attempt to defend their elixir supplier.
Any commoner who is damaged immediately flees. If the bodyguards reach 5 Hit Points or fewer, they surrender. Edolpho attempts to flee if he reaches 10 Hit Points or fewer but refuses to surrender. If cornered, he attempts to bribe the adventurers.
Art by Alberto Dal Lago
Edolpho Phinelli — Creature 3
Unique NE Medium Elf Half-Elf Human Humanoid
Male half-elf charlatan
Perception +6, low-light vision
Languages Common, Elven
Skills Acrobatics +8, Deception +11, Diplomacy +9, Occultism +7, Performance +11, Society +7, Stealth +8, Thievery +8, Underworld Lore +9
Str +0, Dex +3, Con +0, Int +2, Wis +1, Cha +4
Items disguise kit, lute, sap, shortsword, thieves’ tools
Versatile Performance Edolpho can use Performance instead of Diplomacy to Make an Impression and instead of Intimidation to Demoralize. He can also use an acting Performance instead of Deception to Impersonate.
AC 18; Fort +5, Ref +8, Will +10
Speed 30 feet
Melee [one-action] shortsword +10 (agile, versatile S), Damage 1d6+2 piercing
Melee [one-action] sap +7 (agile, nonlethal), Damage 1d6+2 bludgeoning
Occult Spontaneous Spells DC 20, attack +10; 2nd (2 slots) charm, illusory disguise, invisibility; 1st (3 slots) illusory disguise, magic aura, unseen servant, ventriloquism; Cantrips (2nd) daze, ghost sound, mage hand, message, prestidigitation
Bard Composition Spells 1 Focus Point, DC 19; 1st counter performance (Core Rulebook 386); Cantrips (1st) inspire courage (Core Rulebook 386)
Sneak Attack Edolpho deals an extra 1d6 precision damage to flat-footed creatures.
Bodyguards (2) — Creature 3
Pathfinder Gamemastery Guide 226
Initiative Perception +8
Commoners (4) — Creature –1
Pathfinder Gamemastery Guide 214
Initiative Perception +3
XP Award: If the adventurers convince the commoners not to fight, award them 40 XP, as if they had defeated them in combat.
Pathfinder Encounter: Phinelli’s Miracle Elixir
Friday, February 26, 2021