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Any suggestions for the clearly-contemplated-but-not-detailed scenario of the party breaking into the library and getting caught?
Here's a bit of an after-action report to help other GMs who may end up in this scenario. Thanks to archmagi1 for the helpful suggestions.
Deka arrested the party and interrogated them. They avoided having the Mask confiscated with some good diplomacy/bluffing. Deka is Lawful and the governor of Tephu so I figured it would not be too hard to convince her that they have legal title to the mask through the Wati Lottery, as long as she did not realize it was connected to the Forgotten Pharaoh. If she caught them a second time she would totally have taken it.
The party went to Wati to get Sebti to remove the marks. She did it but demanded a large donation to the temple on top of the normal spellcasting service charge. The party decided to go kill the dragon from Book 2 to steal her hoard to pay for it, which was an easy way for me to put up this gate without screwing their WBL.
They went back to Tephu. I came up with some quick and dirty social stealth rules for how the players would gradually draw attention if they loitered in Tephu in the open. Rules in spoiler because formatting is hard.
- 1. They would encounter guards as they traveled the streets, a number of times depending on what neighborhoods they were traveling through and how far they were going.
- 2. The guards had been given the party's description and would roll perception to see if they noticed the party. The base odds were quite low and were adjusted depending on how crowded the street was, how close the party would have passed the guards, and whether it was dark out. Those odds could be further reduced by a successful disguise check (rolled in secret). (My party got auto-noticed the first time because a gnome riding a jaguar is pretty conspicuous, but they got the message.)
- 3. If a guard noticed the party, they would approach. The party had a chance to react by getting away or deflecting suspicion -- what skills they could use and the DCs limited only by the players' ingenuity.
- 4. If the party failed to escape or deflect, the guards would attempt an arrest. (Never happened to my party.)
- 5. Every time a guard noticed the party, though, the DCs would increase after a few hours, to represent that word trickled up to Deka that the party had possibly been sighted and then the guards would go on higher alert.
- 6. If the party ever went somewhere and were seen by guards and lingered there too long, a group of soldiers would appear to arrest them OR the Cult would attack them (having overheard from the guards where the party is).
- 7. If they stayed there even longer, Deka would show up personally with a phat entourage and try to arrest them again.
We played this quite loosely and I think it worked well. My players were very happy to spend a lot of time making plans and playing this minigame (the rules of which were hidden from them). They were never interested in approaching Muminofrah, and I think this was a good alternative to the social roleplay that they are supposed to do with her. They never completely screwed up, so they didn't have to kill any guards and Deka never caught them until the end.
Once they finished all of the research, for some resolution I had Deka show up at the last library and try to arrest them. They messed up the social stealth right at the end so there was an easy excuse, but I would have made the encounter happen regardless. After defeating her, the party leaves Tephu and the adventure can continue as written.