I really like it when I have an idea for something that I’m not going to (or can’t) introduce until much later in the campaign. When you get to that pay-off it’s just so much sweeter because of everything you’ve done to get your players to that point. I can already see it in my head now; the seeds have been planted. But on the other hand, it’s interesting when it’s something your players could have figured out much sooner, and they’ll definitely wonder why the hell they didn’t see it before. That may be even better.
Alkar, elf mystic
Max, halfling bard
Semaj, human fighter
Serenity, half-elf rogue
Zavin, human paladin
Samzon, half-elf rogue-cleric
The City of Weavescore, on the Golden Plains
The Temple of the Seven-Faced God
Assassin’s Guild Turf
Suncastle Enterprise Headquarters
The Story So Far:
With the announcement of the assassination of Laurel Flynn and the beginnings of the group’s investigations, the group decided to follow up on a few more loose threads. They listened in on the local gossip and found that a special election would be held for the leader of the Faith of the Seven-Faced God, in a week’s time. In the meantime, they decided to go see if they could hire an assassin of their own, perhaps one who knew something of the high-profile job that had just gone down.
From their earlier whisperings and rumor-gathering, they had come across the name Soren Kettlecap, a halfling crime boss who headed up the local guild of assassins, a small subset of the Graycloaks. Max and Semaj went out to some of the seedier parts of town that they’d seen and waited for someone who looked like they might be involved with the local thieves guild. Eventually they found a man running a shell game, and after Max magically “cheated” him out of a good chunk of gold (depending on your definition of cheating a cheater), they had a brief discussion about Soren. The man agreed to set up a meeting with the assassin for the next day, here. Meanwhile, Semaj found the man’s rather attractive guard, and made small-talk with her.
Alkar decided instead to head over to Suncastle Enterprise and find out… well, whatever he could find out. He posed as a hired consulting accountant and requested to see one of the company’s bookkeepers, in order to make sure that none of their charitable donations (such as those to the Temple of the Seven-Faced God) were used for anything untoward. He was shown to an accountant’s office and asked to wait there. A fresh-faced young halfling (still old by human standards, but a mere boy to halfling and elven standards) came to meet with him after a brief wait. They discussed a few matters – the nature of the donations, personal donations that came out of the president’s account, etc – but he was unable to get much useful information from the lad. He was redirected to Bruggen Sootbeard, the advisor to both the current company president and the former one. Alkar made an appointment to see him, leaving the office at that.
Zavin headed back to the Temple so that he could discuss the news with the other acolytes and get a sense for how things were going there. Inside gossip might be the best information, after all. Mostly they discussed the upcoming re-election – no new candidates had been brought in so it was only Carina and Rayjin left in the race. Mostly they felt that Rayjin was a shoe-in, after how close the previous race had been, though Carina still had a few hold-outs. He also sought out the church member who’d been around the longest so he could discuss things with her. The elderly dwarven woman was a little bit doddery, but she was able to say clearly that no one had made any pilgrimages out to the shrines in quite some time, and that she couldn’t recall anyone having a grudge against Laurel Flynn.
The next day, Max and Semaj had their meeting with Soren Kettlecap, who was plain and frank and offered them very reasonable prices on assassination. The previous night they’d all gotten together and agreed to stage an assassination against Samzon, in his manor house. They were confident that they could stop any assassin by the time they got to him and then they’d either use them to get information, or if they didn’t have the info they wanted, to get leverage on the people who did (Soren, for example, who may or may not have cared about getting his assassins returned alive). Max scheduled the planned assassination for a week and a half from the current day, and specified the preferred location and time, as well as the method (the same as Laurel Flynn’s, so perhaps they would send the person who did it).
As those days passed, the special election for the Temple arrived, and the group all counted on the previously falsified documents to get them in to vote again. It worked flawlessly (though Semaj nearly had another meltdown in the voting room), and they all cast their votes (sometimes multiple votes, depending on available disguises) for Rayjin Weaver. The next day, it was announced that he’d won in a landslide. They celebrated briefly – perhaps the second time was the charm after all – but then resumed their normal course of investigations and petty thievery.
The night of the planned assassination, they all took up posts where they would be inconspicuous. Zavin was in the tavern next door (which Samzon had bought, making things easier), Semaj was…obliviously in the basement making gunpowder and minding his own business, Serenity was hiding in the shadows of the manor house, Max was having Dogstein invisibly tail (no pun intended) Samzon, and Alkar posed as a humble servant who brought his supper. Before they knew it, a knife was held to Samzon’s throat, and they all began to ready themselves. Before they could get to the supposed assassin, however, the knife dropped to the floor and all sign of the invisible assailant vanished. No one except the party was in the room.
Guessing that this was merely a test of the defenses, they all resumed their positions, with Semaj and Serenity now patrolling various rooftops nearby, trying to catch a glimpse of their would-be killer. A lightning bolt struck Samzon down – several party members rushed to heal him, while the others ran after the suspicious halfling they spotted running away from the scene of the crime (or rather, spotted the crowds moving around their invisible form). Serenity got one lucky shot fired and managed to make the assassin fall to the ground, injured. Max cast Enlarge on Dogstein and had him sit on her so she wouldn’t be going anywhere.
They blindfolded, bound, and gagged her, then brought her back to the manor house for questioning. Zavin cast Zone of Truth so she would at least not be able to knowingly tell them lies. Indeed, she was very forthright – they asked about Laurel Flynn’s killing and she admitted that she was the one who’d done it. They asked who ordered the killing in the first place, and she said that her policy was to only tell if they paid her more than what she’d originally been paid to do the job. Not wanting to waste precious gold on her, they tried to fool her with some illusory gold, but she wasn’t taken in so easily.
In the end, they decided just to bring her back to Soren and see if they could ransom some information out of him in exchange for his assassin back. The halfling woman readily spilled his address when asked under the Zone of Truth – they also asked of any secret entrances and exits, and although she knew of none, she admitted it was likely that he had at least one. Carefully covering her up with a rug Alkar had purchased and stowing her away in Semaj’s cart, they made their way across the city. Seeing no better way of starting this conversation, Samzon walked right up to Soren’s door and knocked.
Soren cautiously let them in, although he kept himself standing nearby his assassin when they all came inside. All being very polite, very civil people, they quickly came to an agreement that suited both parties – Soren would pass along information to them, as well as refusing to accept jobs to kill Samzon (and at least warn them if someone took out a hit on another party member), and Samzon returned the assassin in generally good health, if foul spirits. Finally, they asked who had ordered the assassination of Laurel Flynn. “Ah, yes,” Soren said. “It was a very wealthy dwarf by the name of Bruggen Sootbeard,” he answered.