Voice 1: Are you sure?
Voice 3: Positive. She was spotted leaving with another prostitute.
Voice 1: Strict orders were given for her not to leave!
Voice 3: They are being followed. I could have them intercepted if you wish.
Voice 1: No… See where this whore leads us. But do not lose them. Kill the girl if need be.
Voice 3: There is other news, something that requires your immediate attention.
Voice 1: Speak, don’t delay.
Voice 3: Arendight has not reported in, and we know little to nothing about what transpired at the Guild.
Voice 1: Do you know anything of this?
Voice 2: Nothing.
Voice 1: Nothing… She is your daughter. How could you know nothing? What are you up to?
Voice 2: Suggesting something?
Voice 1: Curious that’s all. Are you not worried for her? You appear to be quite calm about this development.
Voice 2: Aren can take care of herself. That pet mage and his master is no match for her, neither is that silly little girl.
Voice 1: I would not underestimate Udolf. You would do well to consider him a dangerous threat to our goal. He had us fooled by killing Foros, if he even did do it. And now your precious daughter is missing, along with Udolf, and we have lost our eyes and ears within the guild. I instructed you to act, not act recklessly. The incident at the guild will be investigated and we do not need further attention drawn to us at this time.
Voice 2: You are quite right. She acted in desperation, and recklessly. But its done. I will seek her out and find out what happened.
(Sound of a door opens, someone rushing in)
Voice 1: What is it!
Voice 4: Its the girl. Rhea. She’s been brought to the Park and into the arms of that troublesome miscreants!
Voice 1: Then it is decided. Kill the girl, leave none alive.
The current campaign setting is all about intrigue, investigation and unraveling a complex plot. The current campaign contains a wealth of npcs that could rival a Game of Thrones in complexity. So, as I did with the Shadows Over Bogenhafen blog post, I’ll post up a summary of the key plot points that have taken place within the campaign.
Death of Foros Arfor
A High Elven mage whose death had sparked the initial investigation. Foros was the link in the chain for the party.
Gerhard Kramer had met him briefly after his expulsion from the Trade Commission. Foros had learned of this, and wanted to meet with him. He told Kramer that he suspected his former boss (Gotthard Goebbels) to be involved in cult activity, but did not elaborate further on this. He would meet again to discuss these matters at a later date. Foros died before that ever happened.
Big Piet’s very life was saved by Foros after his employment with Otmar Pffrommer went south. Otmar, who was a featured npc in a prelude of Piets had connections to the Purple Hand. Otmar had arranged to meet with Foros, apparently feigning interest in giving up information about the cult. Piet was acting as Otmar’s bodyguard at the time, but Otmar, had given Piet up for some nefarious purpose to some thugs. This betrayal would be Otmar’s undoing as Piet ended up killing the fat nobleman. Piet only got his revenge cause Foros helped him escaped, after stating that he never trusted Otmar and believed him to be false. He wanted to meet Piet again later for potential ’employment’ but Foros never made that meeting.
Galdrea Shadowstar was initially sent to Middenheim from Ulthuan to investigate Foros’s death, and find out the details surrounding this ‘accident’. Unfortunately, the elf proved vastly unqualified to lead the investigation, and instead adopted grandiose delusions of taking over Foros’s position within the guild and nearly got poor Gado put away or worse. Galdrea would eventually end up being exiled, banished forever forthwith from entering Middenland. His current fate is unknown.
Michel Bastide had never met Foros, but he was interested in doing so. He was sent to Middenheim on a bounty to hunt Alric Eisenhower, believing him to be in the city at the time. But a verenian contact within the city told him to make contact with Foros Arfor, on the understanding that Foros could help him track Alric down. That meeting never took place, and Michel became very suspicious about the death of Foros.
Jurgen had a stake in this as well… His old master, Klemet, was meant to meet up with Foros. According to Klemet’s notes, he knew Foros, and the two were freely exchanging information. What that information was, was unbeknownst to him. But he needed to find Foros to find out if he was involved in Klemets death. But Foros was dead, and the only way to find out anymore information was to find Foros’s killers.
Finding out who killed Foros was the initial focus of the party leading into the campaign. After Galdrea was exiled, this would later be spearheaded by Erika, a young wizard of the Bright Order who shared their suspicion concerning Foros’s death. So who killed Foros Arfor, and why?
Who Killed Foros?
Erika had solved Foros’s riddle surrounding his mysterious arcane table that was later put in the guild’s vault. Along with her boyfriend, Erin, they discovered crucial information that the Purple Hand did not want, or perhaps, wanted to retrieve themselves. Upon exiting the portal, they were met with Purple Hand cultists and Arendight, who revealed herself to be an agent of theirs. But there was another traitor, hiding in shadows nearby. Frans Udolf made himself known. Arendight did not seem surprised at his appearance, but Frans did. It seemed that Arendight and Udolf were in communication with one another, with only Udolf not knowing the identity of who he was communicating with. He explained to Erika that it was he who killed Foros, upon instruction by the Hand. Yet, when Arendight went to cast her magic at Erika to kill her, Udolf stood in her path. A confused Arendight demanded to know what he was up to. Udolf said that he has been investigating the cult for sometime now, but the only way he could dig deeper was to become a useful pawn for them to use. He killed Foros only to gain a greater insight into the cult and root them out. He expressed disappointment in finding out that one of his best students (Arendight) was amongst their number. He quickly teleported Erin and Erika way, shadowstepping them out of the battle.
Unfortunately, the crucial information that Erika retrieved from Foros’s secret study was given to Erin. Erin’s teleportation didn’t go according to plan, and he was sent to the Drakwald. Erika ended up teleporting in front of Piet, and would eventually find herself kicking and screaming all the way as Piet forced his niece out of the city via ‘friends’ of his.
Nothing has been heard of Udolf or Arendight since, and the explosion at the guild is being publicly regarded as a ‘magical accident’.
Murder of Gado’s Sister
Continuing alongside the investigation of Foros’s death, was Ser Gado’s personal quest to find the ones responsible for killing his sister, Adalicia. It would seem that the two investigations are conjoined together, leading to the same path. Gado found out that the Champion, Dietrich Scmeidhammer, strangled his sister. Much to his shock and dismay, Gado was willing to give the Champion a fair chance at revenge, for he knew the Champion did not do this of his own accord. Luigi Pavarotti, famed Tilean physician and pioneer in science and medicine, had revealed to the party that Dieter was hypnotized. They did not understand the process, but understood enough that it could make someone do something they didn’t want to do. Pavarotti was impressed; he knew of no other who could do hypnotism on this level. Michel Bastide however spoke up, as he was aware of someone with a reputation for such arts. Alric Eisenhower. Gado had a name, and he, like Michel, would certainly like to meet this Alric Eisenhower. Gado’s quest to bring justice to those who kidnapped and murdered his sister continues. And the list of names is getting longer.
But why kidnap her in the first place? Perhaps it was something to do with her being a Damsel, who are said to possess the gift of prophecy. Yet the only ones who can answer that are the ones responsible for taking her.
Luigi Pavarotti & Sibillia
Pavarotti was hired by Heinrich Todbringer to treat his step-brother, Steffan Todbringer, in the hopes of making him well again and treating his mental affliction. The famed physician journeyed all the way from Tilea to be at the bedside of Steffan; at the promise of vast amounts of money, of course. Accompanying him was Sibillia (played by Cortez, who retired Piet as a npc). It would be later on in the campaign when Sibillia would have her own brush with death; an assassin, a professional killer, had paid her a visit and threatened her to frame Luigi Pavarotti for malpractice. If she didn’t… she would pay a heavy price, and a sister at the temple of Shallya would also pay that price.
Sibillia thought about it, but her decision was made. She warned Luigi about her unwanted visitor. Luigi suggested leaving, but Sibillia had another idea. She would fetch Captain Marius of the Knights Panthers and get his help. She left the palace at once to find Marius, the captain who escorted them to Middenheim. But the killer was waiting for her. He pricked her with a poison tipped dagger, and whispered a last fleeting taunt in her ear, “I told you, I’m a man of my word.” Sibillia grew faint, and collapsed in the arms of Captain Marius.
She would ultimately survive the attempt on her life, but a Sister of Shallya who was at the temple did not, and was found face down in a pool of water. It was ruled as an accident.
Luigi would eventually desert his post, having made himself known that he was not cut out for all this intrigue and threats being made against his life. He urged Sibillia to do the same, but knew she wouldn’t, in a heartfelt letter that he left behind for her. Sibillia would later convince Captain Marius that the threat was real, and someone may want harm to come to Prince Steffan. Marius promised to step up security and investigate these threats at once.
Sibillia would go to Ser Gado, pleading for protection and aid in hunting down this evil man who tried to kill her, and had succeeded at killing a Sister of Shallya. Her disgust was apparent.
But, more darkly so, is there a plot against Prince Steffan? He has been sickly for quite sometime, and his mental capacity is said to be that of a child, often having strange fits come and go. So what is the Purple Hands interest? Was the killer sent by them? What do they gain by not having Pavarotti near the Prince?
Klemet was Jurgen’s teacher, and Jurgen was fond of the man. Klemet however suffered a shameful death; he was found with his wrists cut at the foot of the statue. The Ulrican faith moved fast to lessen the shame upon them by removing his name from the register and honors list for those who have parted. His death bared all the hallmarks of a suicide. Jurgen was not satisfied.
As it would later be revealed, Klemet was likely killed by a young initiate called Gunther. Gunther was someone Jurgen didn’t like, although Jurgen’s friend Wolfgar had more time for him. Gunther tried to lure Jurgen into a false sense of security and get him to drink poison, which he only succeeded with Wolfgar. Jurgen survived the encounter, killing Gunther. It was at this point he found a letter, which appeared to be a blackmail letter from a ‘Frau Kenner’. He would report this to his superior, Wolf Lord Brunner.
But why was Klemet murdered? It’s possible he knew too much, or perhaps had became aware of the letters or may have even known who was behind them. Jurgen still does not know why his master was truly murdered.
Blackmail of the Ar-Ulric
Ar-Ulric, the head of the Ulrican faith, is being blackmailed, as Jurgen discovered. He now finds himself as part of a very small group of people who are aware of this very fact. The Ar-Ulric apparently had a steamy affair with Eva Dietrich, who is also believed to be the Graf’s Paramour, as Jurgen found out. Most certainly a scandal of the highest order. The Ar-Ulric made it clear that he has no further intentions in continuing the relationship, but wants to find the woman behind these blackmailing threats. Jurgen is on a mission to find Frau Kenner, and has become aware that Frau Kenner and Ethelka Hearson are one and the same. He would love to meet her… Yet what is interesting about the blackmails, and something that is made apparent in the letter Jurgen found, is that Ethelka is forcing the Ar-Ulric to support the new tax legislation, as he gets a vote on the council concerning such matters.
The recent tax laws have already been passed. But they do not come into effect until the end of the month, the end of the festival which is when the first payments are due. But the Purple Hand by extension, Ethelka, have gone to great lengths apparently to see them pass. Blackmailing the Ar-Ulric is no easy feat, so why take the risk? Why do they want these new tax laws to come into effect? As Jurgen mentioned to the Ar-Ulric, perhaps there is a group of people looking to cause further unrest in the city. The taxes are by no means popular, supported by very few. The dwarfs are getting taxed, who are considered crucial to maintaining Middenheim’s vast wall structure, not to mention the thriving dwarven community is not pleased at all. The Scroll Tax, which is essentially a wizard tax, is deeply unpopular with the guild. Last but not least, the Temple Tax, which puts a heavy toll on the religious institutions. The Ar-Ulric did not hide his contempt that he has been forced to support such a law.
Grand Theogonist’s Arrival
Purple Hand activity has increased tenfold. Is it all due to the party’s actions, or are they planning something? The impending arrival of Volkmar the Grim to Middenheim is on everyone’s mind, especially any Ulricans. Volkmar is to hold high-level discussions with the Ar-Ulric over the Imperial crisis concerning the absent Emperor Karl Franz and the cold war brewing between neighboring provinces over the still very painful memory of the mutant edict.
Michel Bastide is perhaps more familiar with the sense of urgency than anyone else. His brief interlude with a Palisade agent earlier on made that clear. Ernst Steurmann warned, “Do I need to tell you that with a powerful cult whose motives we have yet to understand, may present a danger to the Grand Theogonist?”
If the Purple Hand are plotting something in relation to the Grand Theogonist, the party won’t have long to find out… as he’s due to arrive within the next couple of days.
The Hidden Foe (A GM’s Analysis)
Somewhat surprisingly, despite being the focus of the campaign, the Purple Hand have not shown their… hand. (Couldn’t resist) Spread over three campaigns (Mistaken Identity, Shadows Over Bogenhafen, and now this one…) the Purple Hand have yet to directly confront the party (with exception to a single non-confrontational meet with Eckhardt). The GM could say, with a lot of honesty, that no Purple Hand member was hurt in the making of these campaigns. Yet the party continue to find themselves directly under threat, and in somewhat dire situations, sometimes of their own making… hehe.
Yet all that is changing fast. The party, through their actions, are forcing the Purple Hand to come out of the shadows and to deal with them directly.
Whether or not that is a good thing, remains to be seen.