The troubadour Blackhawk travels Ambria for new tales to tell and to weave them into the beautiful songs he is so widely known for. People love to listen to his stories and come from wide and far to hear him sing – his reputations grows by the hour. What people do not know, however, is Blackhawk’s secret that gives him this power over his audience: Blackhawk struck a bargain with a Symbarian spirit (Anixari) he encountered during his travels through ruins in Davokar. The remains of Anixari live in Blackhawk, giving him the magical ability to bewitch his audience, which is a major part of his success. Alas, that bargain turned sour when Blackhawk realized that the stories he’s collecting are not shared with him but taken from the victims – they lose the memory of what they’ve told him, thus fueling Anixari’s power. The spirit grows stronger, starting to take control of Blackhawk. Before turning to a helpless monster, he sent out a cry for help to Ordo Magica – due to his inner struggles against Anixari, it turned out a rather cryptic message that did arise the Ordo’s suspicion, however they don’t really know what to do with it. Thus, Ordo is hiring a group of trustworthy adventurers or they are sending out a group of their own to investigate.
Unfortunately, it’s not only the Ordo Magica that is trying to catch Blackhawk. Maybe one of the Ordo’s high-ranked scholars is a spy or Blackhawk’s secret has been unveiled another way – anyway, The Sacred of the Old Blood is searching for Blackhawk, too, trying to use his powers for their plans.
This adventure takes place in Thistle Hold during the “Sangest” which is a public festival recently established by Lasifor Nightpitch where troubadours from all over Ambria come together and share their songs in remembrance of Queen Korinthia’s glorious success over the Dark Lords. The festival lasts for four days: During the first three nights, every tavern in Thistle Hold is filled with troubadours. Every tavern votes for the best troubadour each day and in the end, these lucky few do a final musical battle in public on the fourth day. The crowd will vote the “High Troubadour” for one year and this person will be sent to Yndaros to perform before the Queen. It’s the Cult’s goal to catch Blackhawk, find out about his secret and use his power to come near to the Queen.
The PCs and their party
PCs either can be a group of investigators representing different branches of Ordo Magica but also a group of trustworthy sellswords that are hired by the Ordo to keep the investigation a secret. Maybe they are already known in Thistle Hold for their help during the first part of the Throne of Thornes campaign or their good deeds can make them widely known – thus representing a starting point for Wrath of the Warden.
The general structure
The PCs will have three days to find Blackhawk who is somewhere in Thistle Hold, without arising too much suspicion. Blackhawk is famous and will only sing in the most exclusive establishments. In between song contests, however, Blackhawk seems to be vanishing from the earth – Anixari is gaining more and more power over Blackhawk and is aware of the dire situation and the note to Ordo Magica, so she’s forcing Blackhawk to hide in an abandoned cellar of an old building beneath the north-western areas of Thistle Hold.
PCs can find out about Blackhawk’s whereabouts by interviewing the Town Watch, building a network of urchins and asking tavern owners.
From the first day on – as soon as PCs start to investigate – they will be followed by the cult, that tries to cut all loose ends. As soon as PCs talk with witnesses, the cult tries to kill them, denying PCs the possibility to talk to interview them a second time. By the fourth day, the PCs will find Blackhawk anyway since he is participating in the public minstrel battle – however, it will also be the day, the cult is trying to get to Blackhawk and it might be too late to stop them.
- The day before the adventure, Blackhawk has been performing in Odovakar.
- He has been talking to a lucky treasure hunter named Merrun and instantly composed a song about Merrun’s adventures in Davokar.
- Talking to Melkor (the owner of Odovakar), PCs can find out about another person that has been asking for Blackhawk as well, just a few hours before – a strange guy that didn’t want to show his face and spoke with a raucous voice
- Merrun can be found in The Ruin. Talking to him about his endeavours in Davokar is fruitless and being questioned about his conversation with Blackhawk, he cannot remember anything.
- This evening, Blackhawk is going to perform in the Court and Harp, collecting new memories. Blackhawk will win the contest this night.
- If characters are on site and follow Blackhawk after he’s leaving, they lose his trail in the narrow alleys of northern west of Thistle Hold.
- Investigation in the Court and Harp: Aragina (the owner) is reluctant to share information on her guests and claims to not knowing whom Blackhawk has been speaking to or where he went, however, she heard him tell about his upcoming performance in the Winged Ladle.
- Leaving the Court and Harp, PCs will be ambushed by a group of ruffians (being paid by the cult; stats see CRB). Pressing the Ruffian Leader, he will give information that he has been hired by a fellow with a raucous voice, but didn’t ask too many questions.
- Blackhawk is going to to perform in the Winged Ladle, and will win the round. He is singing the song of his last victim: Anarell, an adventurer that made her wealth with a treasure map her dying father gave her.
- Blackhawk will collect a new song, this time from Argai, a former noble that fell from grace and tries to make enough money to rise to glory again.
- If PCs rush to the Court and Harp this night to find out about Anarell (who is still staying there), they encounter a group of Cultists (stats see CRB) that try to murder her. If PCs can save her, she will remember nothing about what she told Blackhawk, this time not even remembering her father at all (Anixari’s power is increasing). If PCs do not act instantly and wait until the next day, Anarell will be killed by the cult.
- If PCs try to capture Blackhawk, he will escape; chasing him through Thistle Hold will prove hard, especially since the cult changes tactics now and immediately attacks the PCs to enable Blackhawk to flee. However, the leader of the cultists has incriminating evidence against the Cell Leader in Thistle Hold, the wealthy trader Endario Muncer: Endario provided the Cultist Commander with poison (stats see CRB, add Adept Poisener), wrapped in a handkerchief with Endarios initials “EM”.
- By talking to merchants and weavers, PCs can find the one that produced the handkerchiefs for Endario, enabling the PCs to attack the cult’s home base, leaving them in disorder and not being able to strike again. They will encounter at least 6 cultuists and Endario (stats see below).
- Interviewing Argai, they will find him with a friend of his in the Winged Ladle. He cannot remember anything about his house or his last adventures, however, his companion does; he can also remember that Argai’s memory was fine until the evening before.
- Blackhawk will be performing in the Salons of Symbaroum this night. His victim will be a group of brothers (Eryn, Dain and Kelstor) who roam Davokar. Anixari will make them tell their whole life story, leaving behind empty shells. By this time, Blackhawk is more or less gone.
- Following Blackhawk that night will be more easy if the cult is diminished. However, Anixari is more powerful now and will defend herself (stats see below).
- If PCs haven’t stopped Blackhawk until now, they will encounter him at the public contest. Anixari will be performing the Song the three Brothers, a tragic story about her last victims, which is a long ballad about their whole lifes. Blackhawk will win this contest.
- PCs an either try and stop Blackhawk themselves (see above) or inform Ordo Magica and gather backup to launch a coordinated attack. The rituals to heal Blackhawk will take time, however, so they’d have to capture him and bring him to Ordo Magica. It may even be the starting point for a follow-up adventure when PCs are recruited by Ordo Magica again to transport Blackhawk to Agrella.
- If the characters couldn’t stop the cult, They will try to stop them reaching Blackhawk (at least 6 Cultists), but Endario will not show, staying in the background.
All in all, the player characters should be able to secure and / or kill Blackhawk. Either way, they are awarded 8 XP each.
|Anixari / Blackhawk||Endario Mercer|
|Race: Spirit||Race: Human (Ambrian)|
|Resistance: Strong||Resistance: Challenging|
|Traits Alternative damage (III), Corrupting Attack (II), Enthrall (III), Undead (II), Spirit Form (I)||Traits Contacts|
|Accurate 8 (+2), Cunning 7 (-3), Discreet 12 (−2), Persuasive 11 (+1), Quick 13 (−3), Resolute 16 (-6), Strong 5 (+5), Vigilant 9 (+1)||Accurate 5 (+5), Cunning 13 (-3), Discreet 15 (−5), Persuasive 12 (-2), Quick 10 (+0), Resolute 8 (+2), Strong 7 (+3), Vigilant 10 (+0)|
|Abilities Exceptional Attribute (Resolute) I||Abilities Feint (Master), Poisener (Master), Backstab (Adept)|
|Weapons Dagger 3 (short)||Weapons Dagger 3 (short)|
|Armor Fine Clothes 1||Armor Fine Clothes 1|
|Defense -3||Defense +0|
|Toughness 10 Pain Threshold –||Toughness 10 Pain Threshold 4|
|Equipment musical instrument||Equipment 2d4 thaler|
|Shadow Black, with some copper spots, when Blackhawk manages to come through||Shadow rusted silver with some spots of black|
|Tactics Tries to control its enemies by enthralling and terrifying them; killing them one by one with it’s alternative attack||Tactics will always attack the weakest characters / wounded characters if possible|