5th level rogue wants to break into Vhalantru's house


Shackled City Adventure Path


My group of six players are mostly 5th level (except for a 4th level bard), and they are currently playing through Flood Season (they just entered the Kopru ruins at the end of today's session).

Before they found the Kopru ruins they were doing some detective work to find the wands of water control, and in the process they've decided they suspect Lord Vhalantru of possibly being involved in some sort of conspiracy (I think mainly just because they are paranoid, and they learned Vhalantru is relatively new to the nobility and very close to the Lord Mayor).

The 5th level rogue in the party is a young impulsive gnome girl, eager to throw herself into danger with little thought to caution. The player wanted to try to sneak into Vhalantru's mansion. The other players tried to dissuade that player from this, but had apparently failed to convince the rogue's player. I stepped in to drop a couple of hints about how many guards surrounded Vhalantru's house and how surely the rogue realized that the typical wealthy noble is prepared for the typical low-level rogue. Usually I wouldn't do this, but I had done so much prep for that game and had five other players anxious to get on with the search for the wands, so I didn't want to take up a long time with this side adventure just with the rogue's player in the middle of the game session which would probably result in the character's death anyway.

Still, I don't want to railroad the character away from trying this if the rogue remains determined to do this (after they finish the Kopru ruins assuming they survive). Any suggestions for how to run this?

What kind of guards, traps and defenses is the rogue likely to encounter during Flood Season at Vhalantru's house? Would the guards already be half-orc, or would they be humans? What will the guards do if they spot the rogue? What is likely to happen to the rogue if caught? How would Vhalantru react? Finally, if by a miracle the rogue succeeds in breaking in unnoticed, what kind of information would the rogue be likely to gain there?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
zoroaster100 wrote:


How would Vhalantru react?

If he's already interested in the party, he might charm her and use here as insider with the group. If by some chance she discovers his true nature or at least that there is a beholder involved, he could try to trick her into thinking that he'd been cursed into that form by a rival. If she doesn't realize that Orbius & Vhalantru are the same, he could (as V) say he's being manipulated/blackmailed/whatever by the beholder and needs here help, but she can't tell the others.

Or...I think we would discover that Vhalantru was the person(?) responsible for the creation of the garden gnome statues. Then he might send his doppleganger minion in to replace her with the group...How conniving is the gnome's player? :)


He would Diplomize her (but not literally because Diplomacy doesn't work vs. PCs). If he catches her in his mansion and she hasn't seen any evidence of his true nature. He can approach her smiling and friendly, then commending her on her cleverness in breaking into his house. He will probably surmize why she is really here, express admiration for her deductive reasoning and boldness of spirit, then calmly and warmly answer any questions she may have. Afterwards he will express his esteem about how Cauldron is in very good hands to have such capable and brave heroes looking after her, and expresses confidence that she and her party will solve this mystery.

I don't know if you have read the latest Harry Potter book (half-blood prince). SPOILERS There's a scene where Dumbledore is weakened and Draco Malfoy has him covered with his wand and is about to kill Dumbledore but Dumbledore not only halts his intention, but sucessfully shakes Draco's relationship with Voldermort and seems to be about to turn him away from Voldermort until.... Well, my point is that that bit of dialog is an excellent example of high diplomacy and it can help you form your response for this situation.


Tessius wrote:

responsible for the creation of the garden gnome statues. Then he might send his doppleganger minion in to replace her with the group...How conniving is the gnome's player? :)

I recall a very memorable adventure in which our rogue was replaced with a doppleganger. The DM took the player aside and told him he was a doppleganger working to take what the group was going to get at the end of the mission. He told the player to play his character as normal, as if nothing happened. None of this found out, until the damn Doppleganger buggered off with our McGuffin right out from in front of us (some kind of gaseous form escape spell).

If your player is up for working for a bad guy, you can give them a minimum of information about their mission and who they work for and send them back to the group as the doppleganger (and not even change their character sheet). Then, when they break into vhalantru's, they can find the statue of the original character, so long as they haven't already detected the Doppelganger replacement.

-c


zoroaster100 wrote:
The 5th level rogue in the party is a young impulsive gnome girl,

I just have to say that of all the female PCs in my games so far, the impulsive gnome girl was my favorite. :-)

But anyway, here are my two cents. Sure, don't railroad, but keep in mind that at the start of the campaign fully 10% of the city's adult population belong to the town guard. It's going to be difficult to avoid being spotted. The poor parts of a city may need more police involvement, but the wealthy parts sometimes have more patrols. Just because the rogue can't see guards, it doesn't mean they can't see her. It wouldn't be the first time somebody's tried to break into a noble's home.

If she does manage to break in, I wouldn't have any extra traps around. I'd probably have mainly human(oid) guards. Humans if you prefer, but half-orcs wouldn't be out of place. A rich guy like that might want big muscle to protect his home. The justification for beefing up the town guard with half-orc mercs later on might be "they've served me so well as personal guards". I'd avoid other monstrous guards this early, though.

She'll almost certainly be caught inside, if not sooner. I think of Vhalantru's public face as pretty easygoing. He calls himself one of Cauldron's orphans, so he's self-made and probably not as stuffy as the "old money" families. His collection of statues "commemorating" adventurers who have gone off to seek their fortunes elsewhere could mean that he wishes the adventuring life for himself, but alas, it's not to be. If he's at home, he'll probably not be too harsh on the girl, and likely even a little friendly so he can get to live vicariously. Of course it's all BS, but he's sharp enough to pull it off.

If he's not home, the rogue will be escorted out and possibly turned over to the town guard.

All of this assumes that the rogue is relying only on stealth. If she or her friends start using muscle, things should get bloody, and it shouldn't take very long for reinforcements to arrive. The nobles basically own this town; they're not unprotected. And once word gets out the party knows (or even helped) the rogue, they're going to find themselves alienated by a lot of important people.


The rogue was definitely planning stealth. They are a good aligned party, and though they suspect Vhalantru might be up to no good, they don't know for sure. I'm thinking of having the guard capture the rogue and turn her over to the Town Guard (if she's caught) and then have Vhalantru decline to press charges and have her released after meeting with her to tell her he knows she and her friends have done really good things by rescuing Kazmojen't prisoners, so he has a really good feeling that they are ultimately good of heart and will do more good deeds for Cauldron. Then he can contact her later when Vhalantru needs to communicate with the party in Zenith Trajectory. But what if she somehow sneaks past the outmost guards? What should she be able to discover at this early stage, if anything? I guess if nothing else she'll get to see the mysterious statutues, which will probably make the party even more suspicious.


zoroaster100 wrote:
But what if she somehow sneaks past the outmost guards? What should she be able to discover at this early stage, if anything?

It's the guards *inside* she should worry about. Even if Lord V's not using half-orcs yet, it's reasonable to assume his current guards have been told to use deadly force if intruders won't leave.

What information can she discover? Mainly just her own conclusions. Seemingly innocuous stuff, mostly, which could be interpreted a number of ways:

1. Vhalantru would have servants living in the manor, and going about their work (which means that wherever she goes, the rogue probably won't have a lot of time). The servants can all confirm that they're not local, and if the rogue thinks to ask she'll find they don't have families either. That's IF they don't scream "intruder"!

2. He's neat. Although things will be dusty in chapter 8, the place should be immaculate in Flood Season. The kitchen in particular is rarely used unless he has guests, but then a single man of means may often dine out. There's little or no paperwork scattered around his study. The bedrooms (including his own) are all kept up, but of course he has servants.

3. He's a man of vices--wine, water pipe.

4. He seems interested in magic (library) and elves (library, fountain, general decor).

5. He's a little showy--fountain, statues, songbirds.

I know it's underwhelming, but that's as it should be. There shouldn't *be* any damning evidence to be found at this stage. The master study won't have papers detailing his dastardly plan, because this building isn't his real home. There are only a bunch of little things that say "this house is just for show" but they can all be explained away. The neatness can be ascribed to keeping things presentable for guest/visitors; anything else could be the eccentricity of the rich.

Now, if you let her find the entrance to Oblivion, you're just asking for trouble. :-) Otherwise, the theme should be that the place is occupied (servants and guards) and busy. Even at night, there are people around. There just shouldn't be enough time for the rogue to get very far. All of the occupants know the manor well; the rogue doesn't, and it's not as if it's a dungeon with tunnels and secret rooms to hide in. If somebody broke into *your* house, and you had armed guards, how long would it be until the intruder was noticed?

If you want to throw the rogue a bone, remember that V is behind the upcoming tax increase. Maybe in the study there's an unfinished letter to the Lord Mayor which starts to sow the seeds for increased taxation.

If the dice fail you, then wing it: as soon as the rogue is about to find "evidence" or is getting too close to Oblivion, that's when the guards find her, no matter how well she rolls. That ain't railroadin', it's just protectin' the plot.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

How to discourage?

Simple. An audible permanent alarm spell begins ringing at some point when she crosses some part of the property. She has a round or two to run, but V's guards are on their way. Soon the property has town guards on it as well.

If she gets away, good for her. V may or may not use some magical means to determine who was on his property and take action later. If she is captured, she gets taken to V for a little chat.

Should she persist and manage to enter the home, she finds V flanked by 2 very burly guards. All ways out of the room are locked except for the way she came in; she must bolt immediately or talk.

Assuming she talks, V has a nice little chat with her (he's taken note of the party's recent actions and knows her name). He asks what the party is up to, how their investigation is going, etc. He has imbibed a potion of glibness beforehand, so this should go quite smoothly for him. He congratulates the rogue on her bravery, daring, and tenacity, but tells her he values his privacy and art collection very much. He also mentions that if in the future she would like to see him, please arrange an appointment in order to help prevent any unnecessary misunderstandings between her and the town guards. Then she is allowed to leave.


ultrazen wrote:
How to discourage?

It sounds like the DM and fellow players have already tried to discourage, but she's determined to try it.

ultrazen wrote:
Simple. An audible permanent alarm spell begins ringing at some point when she crosses some part of the property.

An oldie but a goodie! Careful, though. If this happens somewhere out of the way, it will make the rogue even more suspicious. "What's in that corner room he doesn't want anybody to see?" Anywhere central and you have the problem of the servants and guards moving around.

ultrazen wrote:


She has a round or two to run, but V's guards are on their way. Soon the property has town guards on it as well.

If she gets away, good for her. V may or may not use some magical means to determine who was on his property and take action later. If she is captured, she gets taken to V for a little chat.

Should she persist and manage to enter the home, she finds V flanked by 2 very burly guards. All ways out of the room are locked except for the way she came in; she must bolt immediately or talk.

Assuming she talks, V has a nice little chat with her (he's taken note of the party's recent actions and knows her name). He asks what the party is up to, how their investigation is going, etc. He has imbibed a potion of glibness beforehand, so this should go quite smoothly for him. He congratulates the rogue on her bravery, daring, and tenacity, but tells her he values his privacy and art collection very much. He also mentions that if in the future she would like to see him, please arrange an appointment in order to help prevent any unnecessary misunderstandings between her and the town guards. Then she is allowed to leave.

I'm in general agreement with the sentiment, but I'd make the place seem less fortress-like. After all, the guy's not trying to stick out. I know you're trying to be fair to the rogue's player, but be fair to Vhalantru too! She has good Hide and Move Silently bonuses? Well then, the guards and servants have circumstance bonuses to Listen, Search, and Spot for knowing the place so well. Even if you let her get in undetected (at first), there's no reason to let her run around the manor without consequence, even if she is only the size of a small dog. :-)


Speaking of dogs, give the guards a guard dog. I believe that every D&D guard team should have a well trained guard dog or two (25 gp ea. from the PH; use riding dog stats) to detect the presence of invisible or hidden intruders. They are also immune to effects that target humanoids.

Guarding (DC 20): An animal trained to guard knows the tricks attack, defend, down, and guard. Training an animal for guarding takes four weeks.


Thanks for all the suggestions. This is good stuff. Should the rogue decide to try this again when we play this weekend, I'll be prepared. I'll add a couple of guard dogs. If she can figure out away aroudn that, I'll let the dice determine if she can get in undetected at all, but it will be obvious she'll be discovered pretty quickly if she stays beyond a few moments. If she tries to look through Vhalantrue's personal papers, at most she'll find correspondence to the mayor and other nobles which will make him seem genuinely concerned about the security of the city, etc., but in which he is arguing for increase in taxes in order to boost protective measures.

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