DM Notes 1.01 (Blackmoor Supplement)
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Citizens of Blackmoor
Without the patronage of any Dwarven family, nor with membership a magician’s guild the dwarven rogue Brunhilde and the elven mage Corialanus stand out as slightly unusual. It is as outsiders that the two companions eek out their fragile existence on the edges of society in the city of Blackmoor. Perhaps it is their unallied status that brings Skeeter, a mid-level heavy in the Mason Clan to their door with an unusual job. They have been paid to smuggle an undead corpse into All Saints Chapel on the corner of the Falkes Brickyard. He has told them that he wants to foster rumours of a haunting in the abandoned church which will subtly impact the business of the rival Kraft clan.
The coffin is picked up from an undertakers and the noisy undead is delivered. However upon releasing the zombie, a ghoul, already encumbent within the chapel is disturbed and the adventurers are caught between the two undead. In the aftermath, a quick review of the scene reveals that the zombie corpse that they delivered had been tortured and mutilated before death.
Over the next few days it emerges that the zombie corpse was in fact that of Kieran Kraft, one of the younger generation of the Kraft family. The Krafts have offered a significant bounty for revenge however Skeeter has disappeared and no one else seems to know what happened.
When the knock comes it is from the pale necromancer's assistant from whom they received the coffin. He arrives in the company of an unknown gentleman who introduces himself as Mr Makepeace and he would like to talk. The Kraft and Mason clans stand on the brink of war, he has been employed to prevent this from happening.
Mr Makepeace explains that he understands that their role in this affair is limited to delivery men but points out that the Kraft family might not see it that way. He therefore suggests that if they were to help him to ensure that peace was made he would ensure that they avoided any further entanglements in this affair.
Makepeace explains that Skeeter’s wife Rosie Boyce, is central to this business: She was rumoured to be have been dallying with Kieran Mason and it is believed that discovery of this led to his untimely end. Rosie has also been in hiding since Kieron’s death however Makepeace thinks that knows where she is - He just needs someone to confirm this. Rosie Boyce has moved back with her uncle Dusty Boyce at Steepleford, one day’s journey upriver. She is easily identified by her shock of red hair and as a renowned dwarven beauty. Makepeace charges the two accomplices with going upstream and confirming that she is present, if she is then they must butcher a specific horse (named Rosie) in the stables and then deliver a note to her hand.
The Boyce family own and run a substantial mill in the town of Steepleford and Dusty is no stranger from trouble having retired from the extortion business many years previously. He has a good understanding of how the business of the Right Folk works and senses that there may be some retaliation due. He has consequently ensured that there are a couple of inquisitive and capable dwarves hanging around the household at all times. Rosie spends her time within the grounds of the Boyce farmstead which comprises a fair sized paddock, stables, orchards, mews and guest houses. Whilst it is not walled there are fences about the place and it is set on the outskirts of town where approach unseen in daytime would be difficult. By night there are dogs and a gatekeeper but no sentries.
Once Rosie’s presence is confirmed and the note is delivered, there is an interval of a few days where there are rumours that Rosie has disappeared. Then Makepeace shows up again and says that the families are ready to make peace. Rosie is to be returned to Skeeter and he is to publicly apologise to the Mason’s, a weregild will be paid and all will be good. Brunhilde and Cariolanus will have to run security and be present but their security will also be sealed in the deal.
First of their tasks will be to secure the ‘feast’, tradition says that the deal once struck is sealed with a feast, though this will just be a token glass of beer and a trivial item of food. It is important that neither party meddles with this so Makepeace will take responsibility for procuring the victuals. That means his good name is at stake here so they must not be tampered with.
When the food and ale are picked up it is clear that the seal on the ale has been broken and attempted to be resealed. The food boxes are still sealed however there is a concern that the ale might have been tampered with. There is the opportunity for the players to replace the barrel if they choose to.
Once the food is delivered, after a short delay, the players are dispatched to discharge their final duty, deliver Rosie back to Skeeter Mason’s townhouse. The heroes arrive at the safehouse where she is waiting - looking pale and frightened in the back of a sedan chair. They deliver her to the Mason family, the elders accompanied by an anxious Skeeter, and when delivered t is discovered that both of her legs have been amputated. The Mason elders seem satisfied whilst Skeeter is clearly bereft.
Also in the sedan chair is a box with the remaining food from the reconciliation ‘feast’ - a dozen meat pies each crust decorated with a leg motif.
Justice for Right Folk
The party have an audience with Justice Makepeace, they are congratulated on their discretion and there is a moment’s reflection on the unfortunate death of Skeeter Mason. By way of a bonus Makepeace says that he has had a fence that Owens him a favour scare up a gift as a bonus. The gift recognises a job well done and their ongoing professionalism with regards to refraining from discussing the business practices of The Justice.
Makepeace goes on to wish them good luck and whilst he has no work for them at the moment he looks forwards to developing their professional relationship. If they happen to hear of anything that might lead to trouble being fermented between the Right Folk then he would be extremely grateful if they might pass it his way. Just one further thing - in future he expects them to use his formal title - Your Honour and an appropriate level of respect.
The gift is an extremely garish and grand set of cherry red leather armour that looks purely decorative but appears to work very well. In fact the armour is stitched into a set of bracers of defence which grant an armour bonus equivalent to leather armour. The ring is also still in their possession, it carries two further castings of charm undead which acts as a charm spell (DC 14 Wis) on any sentient undead.
In the following days the heroes are recognised in the street and may feel slightly exposed. They receive several offers of work but one stands out as being on contested land and potentially fairly lucrative.
Threepenny Lane and Mill Lane form a triangle with the riverside between the Squires District and the Stoney Manor. The land is nominally under the control of the Squires since it was taken from Tybalt Clan in settlement for a feud but since several deaths and poor business performance within the Squires clan the district has gone to seed rather. Two aggressive gangs now contest the land hoping to carve out a manor for themselves, the Slick Blacks and the Mollies. Neither of the clans have the upper hand nor the numbers to take it and so there has been a series of skirmishes and standoffs.
The job offer is from a bookmaker named Rum Jack who runs his business at cock fights in The Brave Cock, a tavern on Mill Lane. He proposes to get significant sums bet on stories of a bird that is a prodigy from overseas. He wants the party to plant word of the creatures success and then to present the creature at the tourney. It doesn't matter if the creature wins or loses, though he'd like to have a sense of its performance, but it is important that many right folk know about it.
Behind this is the Justiciary, they want to have a significant number of eyes on the competition and then to encourage either gang to do something rash. Fermenting trouble amongst gangs that are not affiliated to or clients of their order is a secondary part of their remit. Seeing a high profile event like this fall apart makes their role appear all the more necessary. Hailsham Combe is a village in the county of Old Halls famous for its fighting cocks, and it is from here that the party acquire three almost identical sibling cocks that they bring south to the city.
The Cock of the North
With the legend in place, the party hopes to create a significant betting market at The Brave Cock. Punters are hearing about it and there is keen anticipation amongst the regular betting crowd. With one more fight before the main event it is time to swing the market somewhat and engineer a win at a significant cost.
With news of the event coming out into the open, both the Slick Blacks and the Mollies have become interested and are going to try and see a piece of the action. In two separate visits to the tavern they are going to attempt to extort the landlord, Joe the Jug, and Rum Jack to see a piece of the action. It should be clear that a confrontation between the rival gangs could be orchestrated.
The Slick Blacks are led by two hill dwarf half-brothers named Mismatch and Crane, they are illegitimate and unrecognised offspring of old man Squires (now deceased) and they see this as their inheritance, especially as it is not actively held by the Squires clan. The gang members are a mixture of human foot soldiers and hill dwarf officers, all young and looking to make a name for themselves.
The Mollies are led by Molly Flint, a mountain dwarf and one time right-hand to the Stoney clan. She was cast out several years ago and set up on her own and she knows that the only living she can make is that which she can carve out in the spaces between the bigger houses. Molly has been very much a player, she knows many senior members of the Right Folk and is known by them. Her gang are a very mixed race group with favour being very strictly meted out on merit rather than favour. As such she has fewer but more competent members than their rivals.
Street Thug: AC 13 (leather) , HP 9 (2d8), Rapier: +3 (1d8+2), Cautious: +2 to AC if target adjacent to another Molly. Street Soldier: AC 15 (studded leather) , HP 11 (2d8+2), Rapier: +3 (1d8+2), Light Crossbow: +3 (1d8+2), Cautious: +2 to AC if target adjacent to another Molly. Leader: AC 14 (leather) , HP 22 (4d8+4), Rapier: +6 (1d8+3), We are many: +2 to AC if target adjacent to another Molly, Strategist: 1/day give all Mollies advantage on next attack.
Whilst both gangs are eager to take a piece of the action, their principal goal is in exerting authority over their rivals and this should be their weakness.
It is Justice Makepeace that has engineered this job and his goal is to demonstrate a very visible and bloody confrontation between rival uncontrolled gangs brought to the attention of all of the other Right Folk. It is most definitely not in his interest to see any form of conciliation here. If he gets wind that the party are brokering any kind of deal (and his agents are watching closely) then he will crack down hard.
When fight night arrives, members of the Mollies and the Slick Blacks are present before an audience of several of the more junior Right Folk of the city. Elananor Tybalt, head of the Tybalt clan is also present as is Justice Makepeace and they bear witness to a vicious between the rival gangs. However this is not sufficient to derail the cockfight and with the presence of so many Right Folk, things do not get so far out of hand that the process is derailed. In the aftermath Makepeace has not had quite the bloodbath he had hoped for. In fact maybe the whole debacle has served to demonstrate that the players are smart enough to back down before descending into a complete bloodbath.
Disappointed, Makepeace turns to other ventures to further his plans, leaving the players at a loose end - if they attempt to visit him at his club they will be rebuffed by the doorman and so they find themselves cast adrift. This does not last for long however as Corrie receives a visitor with a job.
The visitor is a woman, who appears from her clothing to be a maidservant to a moderately wealthy patron, perhaps a merchant or an artisan. She says that her name is Penny and that she has been told by the miller’s daughter that the two friends occasionally take work of a more secretive nature. There is a man named Caliax who has had some dealings with her sister - suffice to say that there is a matter of trust - and she is unsure of whether the man deserves any trust.
She would be prepared to pay five shillings if the two friends would spend a morning following him about his business and then report back to her. She wants to know what he does for a living, who pays him, is it honest work and what of his character.
Penny is an actress and she has been paid by Molly Flint to have the friends observe Caliax going about his business - his business is a in racketeering - he works for Makepeace and along with his crew of thugs, goes into all of those areas of the city that do not fall into the Justice intimidating the locals and where he can fighting and fermenting trouble with the independent families of Right Folk.
All of this is in part preamble to Flint making an offer to Corrie and Grun to see if she can recruit them into her family. ANother part of it is that they themselves are being followed as they follow Caliax and his crew around town.
Before they make any decision, Molly invites them to come on a short trip with her again it is instructive. She first takes them to Castleford, the district run by the Tybalt clan and from here she shows them to Leather Lane and a row of bootmakers shops. The city’s Right Folk were originally groups of professionals from different industries who were sufficiently organised and well equipped to be able to defend their parish. The tradition of Right Folk is founded on professional people defending their livelihoods, the Tybalt’s are bootmakers.
The Mollies have set themselves up with fishponds and smokehouses, the Slick Blacks have no such ambitions and this Molly points out makes them parasites. She proposes that the two friends join the Mollies, their role needs to be established but it will be awarded on merit. There will be plenty to do - cutting out the Slick Blacks and defending against the interference of the Justice.
If the players agree to join then they will be asked to think about how to curtail the activities of Mismatch and Crane.
Having cast their lots with the Mollies and shown themselves effective in dealing with Bull, the friends find themselves with growing respect amongst their new associates. Priorities must remain focused on the Slick Blacks however, and their recent destruction in a series of new smokehouses has thrown this into sharp relief.
The rival gang operates out of a warren of small alleys and interconnected rooftops and lanes in the heart of the Keyhole. Flushing them out of there is likely to prove extremely difficult. Molly has however been gathering intelligence and she knows that Crane does occasionally travel incognito across the river and into Tinton to visit a brothel where he has a favorite. Whilst it is not a regular trip she has at least been able to arrange for a message to be sent should he turn up there.
Unfortunately Molly has been betrayed and whilst the message is sent to her it also goes to Mismatch and the gang show up in significant numbers enough to turn the encounter into a flight across the rooftops of Tinton and Greycourt.
Fighting in another family district like this is extremely bad form within the families - this might not be known to the party and will certainly displease Molly. How much depends on what damage was done and how many bodies were left behind. Blaming the Slick Blacks won’t do either because if they take the heat for this then they will certainly take the Mollies with them. In the follow up Caliax will show up in Keyhole and once he has established the facts Makepeace will discover that allegiances have shifted.
The May Day festivities centres on a significant market day at the Circus, the northernmost part of the keyhole district. Molly wants to have a strong presence there but she knows that the Slick Blacks will be there in numbers. Consequently she has made arrangements for a significant loan and needs some cover transporting the money across town. The players arrange for a small portion of the money's to be transferred in a show of strength whilst Molly spirits the significant sum away. The feint works well and trouble is avoided.
On the day of the event, a large number of hired hands are co-opted to support the Mollies, most trouble is diffused through the practice of putting strong liquor into the hands of the rival gang members. The gang has an excellent day particularly in terms of selling their smoked fish to the target audience.
The day ends with word from The Crab that the Slick Blacks are raiding it.
The Final Play
Having failed in their attempt to lure Crane into a risky venture to buy back his prostitute from a Half-Orc slave trader. Word reaches Molly that her two Lieutenants have been defeated, the news is accompanied by evidence that Grunhilde at least is dead, but that the elf still lives and is for sale.
Molly doesn’t like it and doesn’t believe it but she can do nothing but treat with the Slick Blacks. She has no players left and few favours that she can call in and some funds. She resolves to go against her own instincts and hire some freelancers. This is the last throw of the dice - the goal, is not to ransom Coriolinus - she does not believe he lives, but to show weakness and see if she can get Crane to overreach himself.
Elsewhere in the city, a militant group of the church has recently been granted a royal licence to hunt for witches and warlocks and put them to the death. They also have leave to incarcerate anyone who protects these heathens and to offer a reward to those that turn them in.
Crane knows one of these witchfinders and between the two of them they hope to get Molly to admit fellowship with the Elven warlock. To this end, the witchfinder has no qualms about animating the elf’s corpse and it is with this deceit that Crane hopes to persuade Molly first to pay a ransom and then to admit her complicity.
Since the last time they met Crane has acquired a magical +1 Dwarvern Mattock named Gondring.
The party is approached by Molly to undertaken a hostage negotiation, recovering Corie from the Slick Blacks. She lets them know that in part their unprepossessing appearance contributes to the hire. She also says that it is likely to be a trap but that if she shows weakness Crane might overreach himself.
Before proceeding, Molly insists that nothing is spoken of what happens that night - it is a condition of employment and she offers a sweetener to seal the deal. Clearly she has some sense that things are not going to go well and that there may be some choices she would rather not be known about.
The negotiation goes ahead, four of the Mollys and five of the Slick Blacks. Corrie is there clearly in a poor condition, however there are three strangers in Crane's group, all humans and one who evidently commands some authority. This man questions Molly about her relationship with Corrie: Did she know him? Did he work for her? Molly is immediately cautious and denies knowing him - she is merely discharging an obligation but the Elf is not an acquaintance.
Clearly frustrated the three men depart, along with Corrie. Molly signals to the others to wait and then leaves pushing past Crane, exposing herself to a back stab opportunity. Crane cannot resist and a fight ensues. This time the two remaining dwarves are outnumbered by the party and though the druid, Krills is floored in a single blow, the fighter is able to front up to the pair of them whilst he witch kills them both with a barrage of magic missiles.
Molly organises the clear up and the party slip out of the scene of the crime. Outside a large crowd has gathered to witness an elven warlock being publicly burned at the stake - there is no mistaking the thrashing figure in the flames nor the three humans conducting the affair.