DM Notes 1.02 (Blackmoor Supplement)
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Into the Dark
Molly has revealed the existence of Wunderland to the party and asked them to head to Elverton accompanying the bard, Horatio in a trade expedition - she knows that they farm eels down there and provide them to the denizens of that hidden world. She says that potentially she can source the fish from there for her smoking business.
There is a warning however - the eels provide an important food source to Wunderland, trading it outside will drive prices up below which might provoke some reaction so have a care. Initially just make some contacts and sound the market out.
A secondary reason is that between Wunderland and Blackmoor there are rumoured to be gateways and secret passages known only to a group of thieves known as the Choirboys. They live below the ground and if found they might be persuaded to give the Molly’s secret access into the Parish, heart of the Slick Blacks manor.
The party enter and meet a few of the locals in The Eel Pie, a tavern in the heart of the town. In chatting to the locals the druid Krills is contracted to do a piece of work for a Gnome named Zorax, part of a trade delegation from the subterranean gnomish town of Silopolis. He is in the process of buying live eels from the locals and wants someone from out of town to look at the fish and make sure that they are healthy breeding stock.
At the final exchange, the druid examines the fish and reports that they are all in good condition and seem like a fair population to start a breeding population. He fails to mention that they are all females, and he sees that this omission has been recognised (approvingly) by the trade delegation of Elverton.
At the point that the deal is to be sealed however, the witch squeals and points to someone that has crept up behind the wagon train and laid their hands on a package, presumably the payment for the gnome’s goods. An explosion of smoke and the thief is gone, though the pursuing witch does spot in the distance a rope snake down from the darkness above the Choirboy scurrying up to the Belfry.
The Magpie and Jay
The most famous amongst the Choirboys, The Magpie is in fact the only operator now working the Belfry having lost all of his apprentices over the years he has resigned himself to being the last of his kind. In his fifties, he is constantly looking to complete one last job knowing full well that there is only really one thing that will stop him, his age.
His motivations are purely the thrill of the hunt, having spent so much time living apart in the maze of passageways that connect Blackmor to Wunderland he has little use for wealth. For the most part he steals to order in return for the smallest of favours. This arrangement has made those that act as an intermediary extremely wealthy.
One such is the Lizardman fence Isarus, who buys valuable items and offers loans to the citizens of Elverton. It is likely that the party will end up at his establishment if they seek the Magpie. He might be motivated to arrange a meeting but not without a favour in return. Isarus is cadaverously thin and extremely tall, wearing a harness and a toga and without visible weapons he is nevertheless extremely intimidating. A lean battle hardened gnoll provides his security.
A thief from Blackmoor sold some counterfeit drugs to one of Isarus' agents, believing themselves to be beyond the reach of the Lizardman. It was an inconsequential loss but he wants to see the culprit brought to his justice. If the party will bring Jay Summerby from the Citadel district to him, preferably alive, then in return he will arrange a meetup with The Magpie. To sweeten the deal he also has a source for potions of healing, he will allow them a special price on this rarest of purchases.
The thieves of the citadel district are mostly focused on procurement for and influence of the city garrison, there are not many of them and they generally frequent the brothels, taverns and gambling dens that service the soldiers. Jay is fairly well known amongst them, a half-elven woman, that specialises in drugs and the education and welfare of the soldiers bastards.
If she is cornered Jay is no fighter however she can be extremely persuasive. She can offer to outbid the party's paymaster though this is an unlikely strategy as their reward is an introduction to The Magpie, she can threaten them - she has many powerful and determined friends, if she goes missing then they were the last ones asking after her.
A final tactic is that she can persuade someone to go in her stead, she is owed many favours and is the ward of the illegitimate children of several of the royal guards. If the party is amenable then she wil have a guard captain volunteer to take her place, she will owe them a favour and if it goes well the guard captain who is well able to look after herself will ensure that Isarus delivers his part of the bargain. How the scene ends is likely to be messy for someone.
If the party can get a resolution from Isarus then he will arrange a meeting with the aged choirboy, probably somewhere remote beyond the town borders and close to the Wilds.
Forming a background to this scene, the players will also be managing the trade agreement between the Mollies and Elverton and will have taken delivery of a significant amount of fresh slaughtered eel meat. The first delivery will need to be shepherded back to The Crab and the interests of the Slick Blacks managed. Two weeks after the death of Crane they will make their first tentative raid into the Mollies territory, but a lack of imagination or courage from Mismatch will hamper them.
Two soldiers lead six thugs, unfortunately the night time raid, aiming to destroy the smokehouses has only the party to resist it.
Meanwhile at the Eel Pie Inn, a dispirited Zorax has been left by his fellow Gnomes to try and retrieve something from the situation. He is fretting because the chest in which the payment for the purchase of eels was trapped, not with an instant killing trap but with a slow leaking radioactive toxin. The poison might allow him to identify the thief but it will also kill and Zorax is worried it might affect innocents.
Maybe this is just a pitch to snare the players getting them to help in its recovery, maybe it is genuine concern. Zorax presents as a naive visitor, constantly being taken advantage of but he always seems to come out on top - a shrewd operator.
The Magpie has his nest in a walled of and abandoned cellar to the harbourmaster offices on the border of the Keyhole district. The basement has collapsed in part and been hastily shored up and then abandoned. Access to the world above is through a chimney that connects with another fireplace in the basement levels above or ultimately rises to the roof.
In order to get to the basement however it is necessary to climb from Wunderland far below. This might be made easier by Rex, the silent dog companion to the dying Magpie who will drop down a rope to the party below, waiting at the appointed meeting place. This will in fact be in the nick of time as they avoid the attentions of the Fairie Court as it passes below, their eyes glowing in the night as they sneak by.
If the party have spoken to Zorax then they might know that the casket under the Magpie's bed is the source of the poison that is killing him. If they find him then he will be unable to move from his bed. Removing the casket will improve his condition rapidly but he is too far gone to be entirely recoverable, though he may take a few weeks to die. In the time remaining however he can be persuaded to pass on some secrets of a way throughout the Belfry that will take them through to the heart of The Parish.
The Squabbling Courts
The Fae are getting nervous of their food supply which has been late and less than they were expecting. The court relies on this supply from Elverton and it is a significant weakness. The "fairy" servants of their Aboleth master are not very sophisticated and are on the verge of attempting to capture the town and enslave its inhabitants. However, the Aboleth retains control over its servants by maintaining a line of sight between them, if broken the servants become docile. This is why they always arrive in such numbers and it is also why maintaining a line of command through the two narrow tunnels that connect to Elverton is risky.
If the party find themselves having to fight against the Faerie Court then some of the following might be in a typical encounter. Keep in mind however that their nature is such that reinforcements will continue to arrive unless all foes can be defeated.
The Ice Queen is in a similar position however her agents are able to travel into Elverton and so she has a better sense of what is happening. She is planning a spoiling attack on the Dormouse, the barge that transits up to Blackmoor, however as she relies on this route to bring in goods from the world above it becomes a difficult task of piracy. For this her agents are actively recruiting, but the Ice Queen's reputation precedes them making it difficult.
According to common opinion, the Ice Queen is a beautiful witch who enchants her subjects in order to command their undying loyalty. In fact she is a Beholder sorceror, not beautiful, though she does command obedience through enchantment and fear. Upon discovering the designs of the Faerie Court she will martial a significant force to oppose them. It would not suit her to occupy Elvereton, but she will if it is too weakened to oppose the Aboleth's forces.
A pirate raid on the Doormouse will come out of the water, the foes would be Lizardman and their target would be the eels rather than the party which they might attempt to subdue with poison darts before the raid. The barge is most vulnerable as it comes put of the top lock gate and into the sewer as operation of the lock requires several of the crew to be off the barge. Six Lizardmen will be led by a single leader.
The People's Court
In Blackmoor, the activities of The Inquisitor General are beginning to gain momentum with the first magical scalp, the Xenix, the court visit and someone who pronounce himself an archmage has fled the court and been pronounced a dangerous heretic. At the same time the public execution of those practicing magic has picked up with executions of several at a time not uncommon.
Before their death the each of the prisoners is brought out and before the public a list of the names of suspects is read out to them. If the prisoner indicates that they have consorted with them, the crowd hears. If a second prisoner indicates the same name then a constable is dispatched to interview the suspect, and the two agreeing witnesses are granted the clemency of a swift death.
This practice has led to rumours that bribes are being accepted to put the names of enemies on those lists of suspects. At some point, Molly's name is read out, not unusual for right folk in her position but no less alarming for that. This has come to the phrase I heard your name mentioned the other day taking on a sinister new meaning.
The broad themes of this section of the campaign are to draw the party into the more morally questionable activities of life amongst the Right Folk and to underline the rewards of success, death and betrayal are common ones. Wunderland should also open up a world of subterranean adventure that extends far beyond the city borders. Finally, we are opening up a world of suspicion and fear under which the players will operate.
Ronnie the Mint is a silversmith and occasional moneylender operating out of The Keyhole district. He has acquired a brand new safe and believes that this means he no longer needs to pay insurance to his betters. Diplomatic Immunity
Whilst the High Elven nation maintains an embassy in the Citadel, the principal enclave is in Castleford, and whilst their small number have no diplomatic status they nevertheless command sufficient respect and awe. This is principally because they remain aloof from society, not mixing with the citizenry. Consequently, news that one of their number might be slumming it amongst the riff-raff is not well received.
The elf maid Siriane is dispatched to persuade her sister to behave in a more appropriate manner and retire from society. She is not prepared for a refusal, and not equipped to enforce her will.
Word has rached Mismatch that Jay Summersby has put a contract out on his life. His response is to close the doors to The Parish and spread rumours that there is plague within. In fact this is close to the truth, because without Crane to dissuade him he has revealed his lycanthrope nature and summoned packs of rats which aggressively patrol the perimeter of the district.
Probing into the heart of he Keyhole district to find out what is happening, the party get as far as Crooked Row, a lane of paper makers and merchants, once reasonably well regarded now brought low by the Slick Blacks governance. Amongst them, Master Gordigan leader of the much depleted guild of paper makers entreats them to help. He will bend the knee to the Mollies if they can resolve the situation for them. This represents a considerable coup because it extends the borders of their influence to the gates of The Parish.
The Paper Gate sits half way along Crooked Row set into the terrace that runs along the north side of the road. All of those properties have been seized and closed down over the last six months and now their windows and doorways are all blocked. At the east end of the road, another property, this time on the south of tthe road has collapsed and the ruins extended with a barricade blocking the road off completely.
Investigating the ruins the party is attacked by a pack of rats.
The attack is watched from the roof of one of the boarded buildings by one of the Slick Blacks, he is armed with a crossbow but does not shoot. He could be engaged in a parlay if handled correctly in which case he will reveal that inside things are not going well, there is little food and things worse than rats patrol the nighttime streets.
St Sebastian's Square and the Alms House, is the heart of Parish district. Friar Longfellow is the church leader.