The Brass Goblet is an underground drinking hole for the treasure hunters of Thistle Hold who are short on coin. The grog is cheap, the air is foul, the working girls are tainted, and the bartender is a murdering thief. When Grennlo Blackthumb , the proprietor of the Brass Goblet, spots a patron with a heavy purse, he will slip something deadly into their drink and then rob their corpses after his other customers have left. Grennlo drags the bodies down the Goblet’s well where he has discovered what he thinks is a god that can save him from his taint. Last night, Blackthumb didn’t give his victims a proper dose and their apparent death is merely a grim sleep.
The game begins with the player characters awakening in darkness; a great weight on their face and chest, unable to breathe, choking on their burial cloths. The party has been buried alive. Fortunately, their gravedigger hasn’t buried them deep, and they have a chance to force their way out of the soft foot-or-so of topsoil. It is important to take Initiative at this point. If the players can pass the [Strong-3] test then they are able to tear through their burial cloth and up through the ground to the fresh air. Players that cannot pass this test take 1d6 points of damage each round, until they succeed at a [Strong-3] test. One of the very first things that the characters may notice is almost all of their equipment has been stripped from them with not even a dagger or a set of boots still on their person. The only thing they have been left is the shirt on their backs and their burial shroud.
Players that succeed at their Strong test can clearly see their fellow party members (who haven’t made the Strong test) struggling in their graves as the top soil shifts and they make muffled, choked, cries. Party members may wish to assist their fellows before they suffocate. Players assisting another must spend a combat action to start digging up their friend. Assisting another makes the challenge of freeing them trivial and no more rolls are required to bring that player characters into the open air.
The players haven’t long to assist each other. On the second round after the first player freed themselves, there is a cry from a nearby hill beneath the shade of a tree. There stand two scrawny men in black clothes and pale completions looking down at the party. These two men are grave diggers, Pefalt and Turryn, and had mere moments ago finished burying the players and were enjoying their lunch when suddenly they spotted the (assumedly) undead characters leave their graves. Pefalt, is quick to act and picks up one of their shovels and moves in to slay the undead. Turryn, on the other hand, is too petrified to move and stands there frozen, urine running down his trews.
After Pefalt’s death the party have a chance to catch their breath. Now is a good time to tell the player characters the last thing they remember before waking up in their graves. The previous night the party had visited the Brass Goblet where they had shared an ale with a troubadour of some sort. The party need not have been drinking together if it isn’t deemed necessary.
Red Gold Coins: These coins look strange with bizarre symbols. One side bears a spiralled serpent and the reverse has a face crowned by antlers. If a player has the Lore Master ability and succeeds at a [Cunning -2] test, they know this coin is from a divergent culture that spawned from Symbar. It has the same approximate worth as a Thaler.
Turryn, when approached, falls to his knees and begs the party not to kill him and devour his heart. In the state of fear he’s in, Turryn gives up everything he knows about what happened to the party. Pefalt and Turryn collect bodies and bury them for Thistle Hold. Usually they’re supposed to show all the bodies they find to the sheriff, but Pefalt had said not to bother with the Player Characters’ bodies. If Pefalt is alive he tries to stop Turryn from revealing too much of their business, but he makes no further attacks unless attacked first. Turryn and Pefalt had found the players’ bodies in a dark alley near the Brass Goblet.
Return to the Brass Goblet
The party is likely to want to return to the Brass Goblet to investigate what happened to them, and to search for their belongings.
Upon approaching the Brass Goblet, they are “greeted” by the dive’s door man, Vast, a broad and tall ogre who’s brighter than he first appears. He’s sitting upon his stool just outside the front door of the bar. Grennlo has always instructed Vast to keep folk out during the day, and although Vast hasn’t seen Grennlo since last night, Vast attempts to usher the characters away from the Goblet upon seeing them.
Vast knows about Grennlo dosing his customers, he believes that Grennlo is simply robbing patrons then dumping them unconscious out the back door. If properly bribed or threatened, he remembers the characters coming into the tavern and sharing some drinks with a travelling troubadour named Blackhawk that was playing tunes and sharing tales to earn his bread. At the end of the night, Vast heard a scream from the back and a crash. When vast came to investigate, the players’ seemingly dead bodies were laid out in the kitchen, already stripped of their belongings. Grennlo and Blackhawk weren’t there, and the back door was barred from the inside. Not wanting to be connected to the deaths of the players, he payed his friend Pefalt to have to bodies discreetly buried. If asked about the red gold coins, Vast explains that Grennlo sometimes paid him with them when his purse got slim.
Searching the Kitchen by way of a [Vigilant] test, the party discover their belongings in a chest(s) hidden in the pantry. Interestingly, among the equipment they find some of Blackhawk’s belongings. Additionally, they find some scratches by the kitchen’s wide mouthed well. Resting on the lip of the well, there is also a bloody dagger.
If the players seem like they need an extra push, Vast offers to hire the players to find Grennlo’s secret stash of red gold. He knows that there must be some kind of secret storage area because he’s searched the Goblet many times and never found where Grennlo keeps his hoard.
The Hungry Dark
The characters should have all the clues they need to know that there is a secret passage down here. The well of the Brass Goblet actually drops down into an underground lake. If the characters descend into the darkness they discover a cave mouth yawning upon the cold lake’s stoney shore. All around there are white root-like growths, having burrowed their way through earth and stone alike; they appear almost luminous under any kind of light. They never seem to grow thicker than a man’s thumb and are hard but brittle like shale. All players that succeed at a [Vigilant] test discover 1d6 red gold coins amongst the root network. These are exactly of a kind to the coins Pefalt was paid with.
Venturing further into the cave the characters find exceedingly more and more of these rigid pale growths, until the characters are unable to see the ebony stone behind the white curtain. This alien shaft trails deep into the ground, whirling in all directions and turning back upon itself like a coiled snake. There are several diverging and connecting passages along the way but these are all barred by latticeworks of roots barring entry. Grennlo has never travelled those paths.
As they progress, their footsteps are punctuated by violent snapping and cracking of small bones. Closer inspection reveals the bones of all manner of small creatures; bats, rats, a handful lizard remains. Their small bodies apparently entombed by the white veins.
Have the players roll another [Vigilant] test to discover an additional 1d8 red thaler along the path. Any player that also succeed with a [-5] is also able to see the Vearon that has also become entombed in the lattice. At the smell of meat, the starving Vearon struggles against its bonds and breaks free. Unless the Vearon is spotted, the Vearon attacks with surprise.
At the bottom of this winding cave-scape, the party discovers a wide chamber of worked stone with several passages, again barred by un-shattered roots. Grennlo stands above a struggling Blackhawk, speaking with a deathly white tree. The tree is leafless, its branches reaching up to worm into the crevices and cracks of the vaulted ceiling. He speaks of giving it blood and is preparing to bleed Blackhawk.
Scattered all across the floor, between the white boney fingers of the roots are 200 more of the bizarre red coins.