Note: this is a PvP one-shot, competition scenario, though not necessarily a one-vs-all one. Explain this to the players, so all know what to expect.
Blackhawk runs his free hand through his hair and finishes his cup. “As you know, I trained with the elves at Ylhurandu and during my time there I heard a curious tale. Gather round and listen closely, for you have not heard anything like this before. Cast your mind back to the summer of year 7 since the founding of Ambria. Imagine a barbarian witch, a summer elf with a human in tow along with a cunning troll, all four come together to stop Ambrian incursions into the forest.
Specifically, these Ambrians were raiding a Symbarian tomb containing an artefact called the Mask of Suggestion. The elf knows of the tomb and the artefact from the old tales and knows the mask cannot fall in the greedy hands of the southern humans. Along with the abducted human, they reached out to a troll lairing in the area, who in turn recruited a barbarian witch as a representative of the local clan. The Ambrian incursion brought them together, but they each have their own reasons for participating. In this scenario, the players portray this disparate group.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The PCs and the personal relationships between them are as important as their reasons for being there, so let’s start from the beginning.
Note: Let each player pick one of the following characters and flesh out if desired and use a suggested name or have them make a new one up.
The elf ranger, Kemeli/Tel-Leana
Motivation: You know that the forest must be kept undisturbed and that the artefact must be kept from human hands at all costs – Ambrians especially, but all of them all the same. You couldn’t stop the excavation, but you can return the artefact from where it came and reseal the tomb. That may be enough to sate the forest.
Introduction to story: You are the story’s true protagonist. You know of the tomb and the artefact it holds from passed down legends. You decided that the southern humans must be stopped and went to gather allies, but now when you’re finally ready the Ambrians seem about to break camp and return from whence they came. You must act soon.
Connection to others: The abducted human is your adopted child, with much to learn. You consider the troll an old acquaintance – friend, even – with goals aligned to yours. You reached out for assistance and for additional help. Little did you expect another human, certainly not from the same village you took your child many years ago, and especially not that they would look so disturbingly alike. Surely not…?
Abilities: Agile combat (adept), Beast lore (novice), Knife play (adept), Hunter’s instinct (novice), Loremaster (master), Marksman (adept), Ritualist (adept), Trickshot (master).
Rituals: Sanctum, Sealing/Opening.
Weapons: Longbow 1d10 (10 precision arrows, 10 armor-piercing arrows), Stiletto 1d6
Armor: Woven silk armor 1d4 (light, flexible)
Pain threshold: 6
Corruption threshold: 5
The troll, Etaxra
Motivation: You care not for the opinion of mice, though they have their uses, and while you prefer hoarding power and artefacts, settling for keeping it out of human hands and at a known location is bearable, should it come to that (you have the time to study and dismantle whatever protections are put on it).
Introduction to story: The elf contacted you for help and learning that a new breed of humans, more ambitious and less considerate of the forest than the clan peoples, were making away with a powerful artefact was enough to spur you into action.
Connection to others: To increase your chance of success you reached out to a clan human you’ve known since it was a cub, and which seems to trust you. A capable, but perfectly gullible, little assistant. The elf has its own human, but it’s doubtful it has it wrapped around its fingers like you do yours.
Abilities: Alchemy (adept), Hammer rhythm (master), Poisoner (novice), Ritualist (adept), Shield fighter (adept), Tactician (master), Troll singing (novice).
Rituals: Retrieve, Sing World Serpent, Sealing/Opening.
Weapons: Longhammer 1d10
Armor: Skald harness 1d4+1 (light, flexible, reinforced)
Defense: 17 (shield)
Pain threshold: 7
Corruption threshold: 5
Other equipment: 3 doses poison (novice), 1 dose antidote (novice), 2 doses herbal cure.
The abducted human, Maelo/Maeli
Motivation: You overheard your adoptive parent, the elf, talk to the troll about what you are searching for – an artefact that can influence the minds of others. With this, you could finally break free of you parent’s influence and gain access to a human settlement, to be accepted there. You haven’t led a decent life, surely you will be treated better elsewhere.
Introduction to story: Your adoptive parent has brought you from your halls to stop thieving Ambrians, but with little influence or say – it has been made clear that you are here as muscle and only that.
Connection to others: The elf is your adoptive parent and you’ve heard of the troll before, about its age, cunning and viciousness, but you’ve never met the hulking figure before. You’ve also never met the clan human the troll brought along either, but despite that there is something familiar there – more than just being human – and you swear you saw the same look directed at you when you first met.
Abilities: Bodyguard (novice), Feat of Strength (master), Iron Fist (novice), Man-at-arms (adept), Twin attack (adept).
Weapons: Dueling sword 1d8, Crow’s Beak 1d8
Armor: Field armor 1d10 (heavy, reinforced)
Pain threshold: 8
Corruption threshold: 6
The barbarian witch, Rakobar/Raeya
Motivation: Tribe leadership is up for grabs; the old witch is fragile and cannot have many seasons left. You are relatively young and ambitious, but not as well-regarded in the tribe as you had hoped, and you fear being overlooked. When you heard about the artefact, however, you saw an opportunity that simply cannot be passed by.
Introduction to story: The troll contacted you recently, and its been a while, with a story of Ambrians raiding a nearby tomb and making off with many things, including the artefact.
Connection to others: You’ve known the troll – your secret friend – since you were just a small child, barely able to walk on your own. It cares for you and you, in turn, trust and respect its vast knowledge. It was there for you to talk to when your new-born sibling simply vanished one night, replaced by a changeling that you could never see as your brother. You have, however, never heard of the elf before – a self-styled guardian of the forest – but it too appears experienced and knowledgeable. Perhaps you can learn from it. You were, however, surprised by the human the elf brought along. There’s recognition there that you can’t pinpoint.
Abilities: Ensnare (novice), Flailer (adept), Witchcraft (master).
Mystical powers: Curse (adept), Entangling Vines (novice), Lay on Hands (novice), Shapeshift (adept).
Weapons: Flail 1d8 (jointed, ensnaring)
Defense: Masterwork Witch Gown 1d4+1 (flexible, reinforced)
Pain threshold: 6
Corruption threshold: 8
The scenario stats with the PCs gathered somewhere in Davokar, intent on getting the artefact – the Mask of Suggestion – back from the humans from the south. Let the players introduce their characters and allow a bit of roleplay between them so they can get to know the characters.
Close by, the Ambrians have a fortified and reasonably well-defended camp. They have, however, completed their work at the tomb and are preparing to pack up and return to civilization. The PCs will need to decide if they want to raid the camp directly or wait until the caravan is moving. The camp is obviously stationary and thus an easier to find target, but better guarded and harder to infiltrate. The caravan will need to be tracked to prevent premature discovery of the PCs and it is less clear where the artefact can be found, though the guards will be spread out.
A wooden palisade surrounds an otherwise temporary camp with only a handful of small buildings among a field of tents. The expedition consists of 60 members, of which around half are guards (archers, scouts and foot soldiers), along with a handful of Ordo Magica novices led by a master. Part of the expedition is also a half dozen mounted Sun Knights, though the master theurge passed away after a surprise animal attack in the early days at the tomb.
For the purposes of counting corruption gained, a raid on the camp is treated as a single scene, unless the PCs fall back to rest and recover.
The Ambrians pack up and move out in groups of around 20 people, half of which are guards, with three wagons per group – one containing food and travel supplies, one for other general supplies from the camp and one containing whatever treasure they found at the tomb. One such group will leave the camp each day and one of these caravan groups will contain the artefact.
Tracking caravans isn’t difficult through the forest, but tests should be made for approaching it without being seen (including arranging an ambush), whether at night or day.
Possessing the artefact
When this group that formed out of necessity finally control the artefact, they’ll need to decide what to do next – and it’s unlikely that they will find a solution they can all agree on. They will each try to get the artefact for themselves, or they will pair up against the other two. The most believable groups will be the two humans against the elf and the troll
From here on out it’s all up to the players and their characters but should any of the following come true then the relevant person or duo are considered to have won the scenario.
- The artefact is returned to its resting place in the tomb and the elf performs the hour-long ritual to reseal the place and ward it against future incursions.
- The artefact is brought into the clan village by the barbarian or the abducted human, a three-day journey from the tomb. It can be used to secure a desired future, but that remains outside the scope of this scenario.
- The artefact is brought into the troll’s lair in the Underworld, a three-day journey from wherever they recover it. The lair is mystically shielded, and the others are incapable of entering it without an explicit invitation from the troll.
However the scenario ends, this tale by Blackhawk can function as a plot hook for a regular group, who has listened to this tale.
Mask of Suggestion
The mask is made of a thin sheet of bronze, decorated with intricate etchings resembling an owl’s face with a pair of horns coming out of its forehead, which are also decorated in the same manner as the rest of the mask. When bound to the artefact, the wearer can use Resolute instead of Persuasive to influence others without drawing corruption.
Wisdom of the Owls: This power allows the bound wearer to make others susceptible to ideas they would otherwise frown upon, but not ones they are absolutely opposed to. How this works in practice is left up to the GM. Each use of this power gives the wearer 1d4 temporary corruption.
Lindworm’s Will: With a successful Resolute ⭠ Resolute the wearer can force one other person to accept any argument that won’t result in immediate physical threat to the target. This doesn’t, however, affect how any allies to the target might react to this. Each use of this power gives the wearer 1 permanent corruption.
1. The offensive character rolls the dice, modified by the defender’s stats.
2. Both roll for damage and armor.