Spies in Droaam

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Spies in Droaam

Postby enderxenocide0 » Thu May 26, 2016 7:02 pm

It's time for some political intrigue and spywork! My players just received an invitation from the Daughters of Sora Kell to attend a gathering of influential individuals at the Great Crag. They're not certain why they were invited, but decided to attend. It's currently 994 YK, a few months before the Day of Mourning. The party has traveled to Graywall and chose to stay at the Twilight Palace, run by Phiarlan and Ghallanda. They are staying there because they recently discovered information indicating that there may be elements within the Houses dealing in illegal or unsavory business. They've decided to investigate this further, starting with House Phiarlan. Here, I'm trying to brainstorm some general and specific ideas about what kind of political plot I can set up for them that involves Phiarlan and any number of other political figures that may be at this meeting in the Great Crag.

Much of the inspiration for this is coming from The Queen of Stone, still one of my favorite Eberron novels. Specifically, one of the characters is a Dark Lantern whose father was also a Dark Lantern that went missing on the Day of Mourning. The father had been tracking an enemy agent known only as "The Ghost". I'd love for the player to discover that "The Ghost" is not a single person, but rather a number of individuals having the rank of Ghost within the Serpentine Table of House Phiarlan. I might be able to begin forshadowing that, here. Given that, does anyone have any random thoughts or ideas for plot hooks or adventures dealing with this or general pre-Thronhold intrigue in Droaam?

ADDENDUM: I'm trying to avoid using the Emerald Claw for this adventure, since they've dealt with them recently and will again after they're done in Droaam.
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Re: Spies in Droaam

Postby AvonRekaes » Thu May 26, 2016 7:23 pm

Perhaps the Ghosts are here to sabotage Droaam's bid for legitimate sovereignty? By assassinating some of the people invited here and pinning it on the Daughters?
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Re: Spies in Droaam

Postby enderxenocide0 » Thu May 26, 2016 7:51 pm

AvonRekaes wrote:Perhaps the Ghosts are here to sabotage Droaam's bid for legitimate sovereignty? By assassinating some of the people invited here and pinning it on the Daughters?

I do like that. I wonder what kind of clues I can drop for my players to find and what red herrings I can give them. Maybe present them with evidence that one or more political party is "up to something" or is planning an assassination, but really, Phiarlan is spreading these rumors and getting ready to make it look like the Daughters are pulling something off?
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Re: Spies in Droaam

Postby AvonRekaes » Thu May 26, 2016 8:46 pm

Hmmm. Perhaps one of the Ghosts met their match and was rebuffed in a failed assassination attempt, and in the process they dropped a Dragonmark Focus item that was not public knowledge. Something keyed to the Mark of Shadow that they haven't advertised, for their more clandestine operations (Possibly something that lets them see through magical darkness?)

When the PCs find this item, they won't know what it is, but may be able to bring it to someone who can figure it out, or the artificer in the party might be able to determine it with study. Maybe they succeed, or maybe they're interrupted by another Phiarlan agent trying to retrieve the "evidence".
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Re: Spies in Droaam

Postby Big Mac » Fri May 27, 2016 12:23 pm

enderxenocide0 wrote:The father had been tracking an enemy agent known only as "The Ghost". I'd love for the player to discover that "The Ghost" is not a single person, but rather a number of individuals having the rank of Ghost within the Serpentine Table of House Phiarlan.


How about giving them all the exact costume (some sort of disguise), but create some sort of difference, so that when your PCs encounter (or nearly catch up with) The Ghost, they notice something is different.

Maybe The Ghost could be taller or shorter than before.

Maybe an injury could heal (not impossible in D&D) or a scar could vanish. Maybe a vanished scar or injury could come back.

Maybe someone could notice that The Ghost seemed to be a woman before, but now seems to be a man.

If you do it right, they will probably suspect that The Ghost is a shifter. ;)
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Re: Spies in Droaam

Postby enderxenocide0 » Fri May 27, 2016 12:48 pm

Now that's a cool idea! Just... one that I can't use :( I've already got a plan for a mystery with a doppelganger coming up shortly and I wouldn't want it to feel overly similar. The realization that it's not a shapeshifter might be enough to set it apart... but I'd be wary.
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Re: Spies in Droaam

Postby HellcowKeith » Sat May 28, 2016 2:46 am

Seems like a sound foundation. Here's some brainstorming that is COMPLETELY OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD, so no promises that any of it will be useful.

1. When dealing with a plotline based around elves (in this case Phiarlan), I like to bring their longevity into the equation. Depending on what edition you're dealing with, Elves can live anywhere from four hundred to a thousand years... so current events could be linked to something that happened a long time ago.

2. Zaeurl, the Warlord of the Dark Pack, is an elf. We know little about her origins other than that her family was killed by the Silver Flame, and it's unclear if "family" means direct family or lycanthropes in general. Given that...

3. What if Zaeurl is a Phiarlan heir? She could have been a member of a small branch of the family that fell into disfavor - the dates are wrong for it to be tied to the Paelion massacre, but it could be a similar thing that occurred centuries earlier. Zaeurl and her allies escaped death by fleeing into the Towering Wood, where they contracted lycanthropy... OR, they intentionally contracted lycanthropy in order to hide from their enemies. Somehow, her true identity has recently been exposed and the Ghost wants her eliminated. Why now? A few thoughts on this. Assume that Zaeurl is a werewolf with the Mark of Shadow. One loose heir is no big deal; excoriates and foundlings happen. But what if she's passed the mark to her offspring? What if Daask has a number of dragonmarked werewolf agents... WHO ARE USING PHIARLAN DRAGONMARK FOCUS ITEMS? Or if they've actually developed NEW tools for harnessing the power of the marks? Now it's not just a rogue agent - it's a threat to the monopoly of the house, as well as a dangerous weapon in Droaam's arsenal. It could be something simpler... a desire to clean up loose ends, fear that Zaeurl may seek vengeance, or that she possesses knowledge that is still dangerous. But what's not to like about the idea of Daask having a corps of dragonmarked lycanthrope agents?

A side question here is where the players stand, which depends how it is presented. Are Phiarlan the good guys seeking to eliminate a threat to the security of both the Twelve and the Five Nations? Or does Droaam have a right to its own spy network... and this is a case of Phiarlan interfering in the affairs of a nation in pursuit of selfish house interests? Or both - Droaam may have a right to its spies, but Breland would breathe easier if they all just happened to be eliminated?
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Re: Spies in Droaam

Postby HellcowKeith » Sat May 28, 2016 2:58 am

I'll note that setting aside circumstances such as the influence of an Overlord, I personally consider Zaeurl to be one of the most trusted and loyal warlords. Which works with the idea of the Dark Pack being a crucial part of an espionage arm of Daask. Of course, Droaam ALSO has ties to the doppelgangers of Lost. So Droaam could field an espionage agency made up of dragonmarked lycanthropes and doppelgangers. Just sayin'.

(Have I mentioned that I like Droaam?)
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Re: Spies in Droaam

Postby Beoric » Sat May 28, 2016 2:22 pm

I've always been interested in the suggestion that Phiarlan had advance knowledge of the Mourning. It would be interesting if they were involved in the gathering of some illegal McGuffin that played a part in creating the Mourning. Teraza has forseen it, and wants the Mourning to occur to fulfil some prophecy or other. The PCs have been invited because their actions are necessary to make that happen.

As a DM you probably want to set this up as a bit of a Xanatos Gambit, so that whether the PCs foil or fail to stop Phiarlan, their actions are directly responsible for the later devastation (if Phiarlan gets the artifact they deliver it to their client, who causes the Mourning; if prevented, the artifact stays in the hands of another party, who causes the Mourning). That will be a nice little reveal in a few months' game time.

So the PCs may think this relates to Ghosts or to Zaeurl, and not know what it was really about until months later.

Bonus points if the artifact is something encountered by the PCs in you Ancient Stormreach campaign, especially if there are some common players.
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Re: Spies in Droaam

Postby enderxenocide0 » Sat May 28, 2016 9:22 pm

HellcowKeith wrote:2. Zaeurl, the Warlord of the Dark Pack, is an elf. We know little about her origins other than that her family was killed by the Silver Flame, and it's unclear if "family" means direct family or lycanthropes in general. Given that...

3. What if Zaeurl is a Phiarlan heir? She could have been a member of a small branch of the family that fell into disfavor - the dates are wrong for it to be tied to the Paelion massacre, but it could be a similar thing that occurred centuries earlier. Zaeurl and her allies escaped death by fleeing into the Towering Wood, where they contracted lycanthropy... OR, they intentionally contracted lycanthropy in order to hide from their enemies. Somehow, her true identity has recently been exposed and the Ghost wants her eliminated. Why now? A few thoughts on this. Assume that Zaeurl is a werewolf with the Mark of Shadow. One loose heir is no big deal; excoriates and foundlings happen. But what if she's passed the mark to her offspring? What if Daask has a number of dragonmarked werewolf agents... WHO ARE USING PHIARLAN DRAGONMARK FOCUS ITEMS? Or if they've actually developed NEW tools for harnessing the power of the marks? Now it's not just a rogue agent - it's a threat to the monopoly of the house, as well as a dangerous weapon in Droaam's arsenal. It could be something simpler... a desire to clean up loose ends, fear that Zaeurl may seek vengeance, or that she possesses knowledge that is still dangerous. But what's not to like about the idea of Daask having a corps of dragonmarked lycanthrope agents?

I. LOVE. THIS. I've been wanting to use Zaeurl and the Dark Pack and this is a fantastic way to get them involved. I think this could also be merged with the other idea: maybe Phiarlan thinks it can get two birds with one stone. It waits until the meeting at the Great Crag takes place and has the political officials attacked, framing Zaeurl. The officials want to blame the Daughters, and the Daughters don't want to throw their most loyal warlord under the bus, so someone impartial needs to investigate. What a coincidence that the party is there. It's almost as if Teraza someone anticipated this.

HellcowKeith wrote:A side question here is where the players stand, which depends how it is presented. Are Phiarlan the good guys seeking to eliminate a threat to the security of both the Twelve and the Five Nations? Or does Droaam have a right to its own spy network... and this is a case of Phiarlan interfering in the affairs of a nation in pursuit of selfish house interests? Or both - Droaam may have a right to its spies, but Breland would breathe easier if they all just happened to be eliminated?

Funny thing: the players have already made friends with Daask, so I'd be willing to bet that they would side with the Daughters if it came down to it. On top of that, my intention is to portray the Houses as corrupt. They need to believe that the Houses are corrupt, even if they aren't, to get the best results for that particular story arc.

HellcowKeith wrote:(Have I mentioned that I like Droaam?)

I was hoping you wouldn't be able to resist this thread :D

Beoric wrote:I've always been interested in the suggestion that Phiarlan had advance knowledge of the Mourning. It would be interesting if they were involved in the gathering of some illegal McGuffin that played a part in creating the Mourning. Teraza has forseen it, and wants the Mourning to occur to fulfil some prophecy or other. The PCs have been invited because their actions are necessary to make that happen.

As a DM you probably want to set this up as a bit of a Xanatos Gambit, so that whether the PCs foil or fail to stop Phiarlan, their actions are directly responsible for the later devastation (if Phiarlan gets the artifact they deliver it to their client, who causes the Mourning; if prevented, the artifact stays in the hands of another party, who causes the Mourning). That will be a nice little reveal in a few months' game time.

So the PCs may think this relates to Ghosts or to Zaeurl, and not know what it was really about until months later.

Bonus points if the artifact is something encountered by the PCs in you Ancient Stormreach campaign, especially if there are some common players.

So I've already decided upon what caused the Day of Mourning in my campaign... and in all my other campaigns I run from now on. It's the same artifact that's been causing the time travel in both games. Eventually, the PCs will be forced to destroy the artifact by throwing it into a multi-dimensional (as in parallel and infinite dimensions) rift in the Mournland, thus retroactively causing the Day of Mourning in every universe.

All that said, there is an artifact I'd like to have play a part while the party is in Droaam: The Eye of Dol Azur, which I'd like to equate to the Orb of Dol Azur. Call it a glass eye. Or a crystal eye. You know, like the one Vadallia had. So I definitely can link the two campaigns like that. (Bonus: one of the PCs currently in Graywall lost an eye in the war.)
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Re: Spies in Droaam

Postby enderxenocide0 » Sun May 29, 2016 12:32 am

A thought: I wonder how difficult it would be to (probably heavily) modify Murder in Baldur's Gate to make it based in Droaam instead.
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Re: Spies in Droaam

Postby Beoric » Mon May 30, 2016 2:22 am

And replace Bhaal with a daelkyr or Overlord? Maybe.

Your major problem, from a plausibility standpoint, is explaining why Xorchylic doesn't just burn through people's brains until he figures out what is going on. I'm considering something similar to deal with the block I am experiencing in my Rhukaan Draal campaign, but there are several personalities I need to have out of the city to make it happen, most notably the Lhesh.

It would be an excellent fit for Stormreach, but I suspect you have enough going on there.
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Re: Spies in Droaam

Postby HellcowKeith » Mon May 30, 2016 5:39 am

I'll be interested to hear how it turns out!
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Re: Spies in Droaam

Postby enderxenocide0 » Mon May 30, 2016 1:28 pm

Beoric wrote:And replace Bhaal with a daelkyr or Overlord? Maybe.

Your major problem, from a plausibility standpoint, is explaining why Xorchylic doesn't just burn through people's brains until he figures out what is going on. I'm considering something similar to deal with the block I am experiencing in my Rhukaan Draal campaign, but there are several personalities I need to have out of the city to make it happen, most notably the Lhesh.

It would be an excellent fit for Stormreach, but I suspect you have enough going on there.

Yeah, Murder in Baldur's Gate would be a good fit for Stormreach. Maybe I'll wait for another campaign to run it. I wasn't even really thinking about Bhaal when I was thinking of a conversion, just the three factions and the political maneuvering. But you bring up a good point about Xorchylic. I can see a few reasons he might not come into play immediately. If the murder were to take place at the Great Crag, then he's a good distance away and it's not his territory. Second, the representatives of the Five Nations would see him as "one of the Daughters' people" and probably would call for an impersonal figure to try to investigate. Really, the smart play for them would probably be to request a Tharashk inquisitive (while their own spies do some spying as well). Luckily, one of the PCs is a Tharashk member who is actually related to Khundran d'Torrn, head of the enclave in Graywall, so in that scenario, there's another reason for the PCs to get involved.

Here's the main players in the mystery, I imagine:

1. House Phiarlan
2. The Five Nations (and Zilargo, Valenar, Darguun, etc)
3. The Warlords

Phiarlan attempts one or more murders. Maybe they succeed, maybe they don't. Either way, everyone is suspicious and everyone wants to use it as an opportunity. The Daughters assure the dignitaries that the attempted murderer will be discovered and, when the nations clamor for an impartial investigation, it will fall to the PCs with appropriate hooks for each of them. The real question is: how do they uncover the truth and what obstacles do they encounter along the way?
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Re: Spies in Droaam

Postby enderxenocide0 » Wed Jun 01, 2016 11:25 pm

It also occurs to me that Mordain the Fleshweaver was from House Phiarlan. I wonder if he could have anything to do with Phiarlan's reason for wanting to disrupt the meeting...
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Re: Spies in Droaam

Postby Beoric » Thu Jun 02, 2016 12:33 am

Or if Phiarlan's presence gives him reason to want to disrupt the meeting.
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Re: Spies in Droaam

Postby enderxenocide0 » Thu Aug 18, 2016 6:53 pm

HellcowKeith wrote:So Droaam could field an espionage agency made up of dragonmarked lycanthropes and doppelgangers.

I don't think this really hit me until right now. But dragonmarked doppelgangers?

EDIT: Or, wait. Could that sentence be rewritten as "doppelgangers and dragonmarked lycanthropes"?
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Re: Spies in Droaam

Postby HellcowKeith » Fri Aug 19, 2016 5:18 pm

enderxenocide0 wrote:EDIT: Or, wait. Could that sentence be rewritten as "doppelgangers and dragonmarked lycanthropes"?

Correct: Dragonmarked individuals afflicted (or born with) with lycanthropy.

Though as a longtime fan of the Super-Adaptoid in Marvel, the idea of an exceptional doppelganger that can imitate the dragonmarks of individuals it touches is an interesting concept. As is, I believe we talk somewhere about changelings disguising themselves with dragonmarks, but these are nonfunctional.
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Re: Spies in Droaam

Postby enderxenocide0 » Fri Aug 19, 2016 6:46 pm

An update for anyone interested:

I have House Phiarlan holding a gala at the Twilight Palace in Graywall a week before the Daughters' conference at the Great Crag. Those in attendance are primarily delegates from the Five Nations and Zilargo. There's a masquerade ball in a courtyard with a Phiarlan light show. Naturally, the party members are mainly fish out of water here, though at least a couple of them have managed to not completely ruin their reputations. They're slowly trying to garner information from the attendees while avoiding giving out too much information. They already figured out that virtually every party in attendance has some sort of intelligence agent (or more than one) along, but they don't know who. Also, one of them polymorphed into a bear and the Phiarlans capitalized on this, by putting on a mini carnival show, instead of having it be a mess. This gala is meant to allow the players to gain allies and information before the big conference at the Crag. The better a reputation they have after this, the easier of a time they'll have later. But it also gives them an opportunity to pick up some preliminary clues about the plot against Zaeurl... which I have complicated further.

Here's the Phiarlan plan: On the way to the Great Crag, the caravan is attacked by harpies (this is straight out of Queen of Stone. In this version, House Phiarlan fed this information to them through back channels. They suspect little to no harm will actually come to the passengers, but the hope is to get the delegates on edge and already wary of the Daughters and their monstrous populace. Phiarlan has been spreading rumors about Zaeurl and will try to incite some conflict at the Great Crag. There is a foreign ambassador from Riedra that will be in attendance to act as a third-party mediator between the all the disparate parties. This ambassador will be the target of the assassination, which will be made to frame Zaeurl, hopefully leading to the nations distrusting the Daughters and potentially giving Phiarlan the opportunity to act against Zaeurl while everything is going down.

What Phiarlan doesn't know: that foreign ambassador is an agent of the Dreaming Dark. They want the ambassador assassinated... but they also want the party to discover that Phiarlan was behind it, because they have a plan to vilify the Dragonmarked Houses.
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Re: Spies in Droaam

Postby enderxenocide0 » Mon Aug 22, 2016 2:41 pm

Below is an outline of the pre-conference Phiarlan Gala encounter. It's based off of the Star Wars SAGA Edition adventure The Gem of Alderaan, which was part of the Dawn of Defiance campaign, but has been Eberron-ized. Those familiar with the Queen of Stone may recognize a few names. This is intended to be of moderate difficulty for 4 mid-level adventurers in 5E. I'll post a full guest list soon.

---

LIFE OF THE PARTY
Virtually everything at the gala is a social encounter of one sort or another, so some special rules are in play to represent this sort of prolonged social interaction.

Group Attitude. Just as an individual NPC’s attitude affects his interactions with the heroes, group attitude represents the party’s reputation with a formal or informal group, affecting interactions with all NPCs involved.

The group’s attitude is separate from an individual NPC’s attitude toward the heroes. For example, an individual might be friendly toward the heroes, but if the group has an attitude of unfriendly, that NPC is difficult to influence simply because he or she doesn’t want to be seen with the heroes.

NPCs have a starting attitude of indifferent unless otherwise indicated.

Major Guests. Some guests have more influence than others. When those guests think highly of you, doors of opportunity open quickly. If you are blacklisted, however, you can find yourself shunned by virtually everyone.

Before improving group attitude to friendly, the heroes must improve the attitude of at least one major guest to helpful, and the number of friendly major guests must be greater than the number of major guests with an attitude of hostile.

Similarly, group attitude cannot worsen to hostile unless at least one major guest has an attitude of hostile, and the number of hostile major guests is greater than the number of major guests with an attitude of friendly.

Specific Details. If the heroes have learned specific details about all major guests present in a given encounter, they have advantage on checks during that encounter.


FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Regardless of what information the heroes are looking for, they will need to make a good first impression by being witty, charming, and pleasant. Failing that, they must at least avoid a faux pas by staying quiet without appearing standoffish.

The most important objective in this scene is to make a good first impression with the guests as a whole. The starting group attitude of the guests is indifferent. Over the course of the reception, each hero must attempt two social interactions with other guests. In addition, the group as a whole must attempt two more interactions, which can be undertaken by any of the heroes. The different social interactions available are described as auxiliary challenges, below.

The result of the reception is determined by the number of social interactions that have an unpleasant outcome (for example, saying something embarrassing, accidentally insulting someone, or perhaps trying too hard).

If the heroes have 0 to 2 unpleasant interactions, the reception is a smashing success. The heroes make a positive and lasting impression on the entire group, improving group attitude by one step (from indifferent to friendly, for example).

If the heroes have 3 to 5 unpleasant interactions, the reactions are mixed and, on balance, largely neutral. Group attitude does not improve or worsen as a result.

If the heroes have 6 or more unpleasant interactions, the reception is a disaster. The other guests come to the conclusion that the heroes are unrefined, uncouth, and ill-mannered, and they are subject to icy stares and derisive laughter from all in attendance. Group attitude worsens by one step (from indifferent to hostile, for example).

For each social challenge attempted, regardless of success or failure, the heroes learn one Ideal, Bond, or Flaw of each guest participating in the social challenge. A hero that uses this information in a conversation with the guest has advantage on Charisma checks made to influence said guest. The heroes can attempt the following challenges:

Witty Banter. (DC 15 Persuasion) The hero engages one or more guests in conversation on any number of topics. A failure results in the hero making an off-putting or ill-mannered remark.

Attentive Listener. (DC 15 Perception): Careful observation and active listening help the hero pick up on important details and appear sympathetic and understanding. A failure results in the hero losing focus and completely misunderstanding the speaker’s point.

Innuendo. (DC 15 Charisma): The hero engages in a subtler type of conversation, one in which what is left unsaid is most important. A failure means that the hero misinterpreted another guest’s meaning or accidentally implied something embarrassing. A hero that knows Thieves’ Cant can add their proficiency bonus to this check.

Blend In. (DC 20 Stealth): The hero tries to blend in to the crowd to avoid drawing attention. A failure means that other guests notice the hero’s shyness, perhaps mistaking it for aloofness.

Bragging Rights. (DC 15 Deception): The hero spins an impressive tale that is light on facts. However, exaggerations can stand out if they are used too often. Any check after the first used against the same target has disadvantage.

In addition to the interactions described above, a hero can attempt one or more of the following skills in conjunction with a social interaction.

Another Round. (DC 15 Constitution) The hero gravitates toward the drinks at the open bar, interacting with guests who have loosened up a bit. On a success, the hero has advantage on the next social interaction. On a failure, the hero has too much to drink. The hero gains no bonus and gains one level of exhaustion (automatically ends after this encounter).

Trivia. (DC 15 History) The hero puts random knowledge to good use, recalling relevant and interesting facts and anecdotes during conversation. On a success, the hero has advantage on the next attempt at witty banter (Persuasion). On a failure, the trivia comes across as an awkward attempt to change the subject, giving the hero disadvantage on the next Persuasion check for witty banter.

Informed Opinion. (DC 20, any Intelligence skill except History) The hero applies expert knowledge to a discussion, either elevating the discourse or, in the case of bragging, making it more believable. On a success, the hero has advantage on the next attempt at witty banter (Persuasion) or bragging rights (Deception). On a failure, the hero says something that is obviously wrong, making others doubt his expertise. In this case, none of the heroes can attempt to provide an informed opinion with that specific skill for the remainder of the encounter.

Quick Recovery. (DC 20 Deception) After failing a social interaction, the hero can attempt to recover with some fast talking. On a success, the last failure is nullified; on a failure, this counts as an additional failed social interaction.


THE MAIN EVENT
Half an hour into the masquerade ball, Lady Sailla will inform the attendees that there are three areas of the courtyard set up with different activities.

A Friendly Game
In one area, a lively game of Three Dragon Ante, and other betting games, has started between several attendees, including three major guests: Lord Beren ir’Wynarn, Councilor Mordan Sel Sarin, and Seneschal Taen Shol d’Phiarlan. Other players include Cazalan Dal, Mallora, and Helkashtai.

If the heroes defeat all the minor guests (Cazalan Dal, Mallora, and Helkashtai), they impress the other attendees, improving the group attitude of the guests by one step.

If the heroes defeat a major guest, they can either improve the attitude of that major guest by one step or improve the group attitude of the heroes by one step.

Regardless of how well the heroes perform during this encounter, the group attitude of the guests cannot have a net improvement of more than one step. For example, if the heroes were caught cheating (one step worse) but they beat three major guests (each worth one step of improvement), the net effect is one step of improvement.

Each round of gambling represents several hands or sets of the game and requires a stake of 2,000 gp. The outcome is determined by a mental ability score check of your choice. If you have proficiency with the associated gaming set, you may add your proficiency bonus to the check.

Depending on the outcome, the losers of each round might have to give some or all of their stakes to the winner:

  • Lose by 0 to 4 points: Break even, keep the entire stake.
  • Lose by 5 to 9 points: Give half of the stake to the winner.
  • Lose by 10 points or more: Give the entire stake to the winner.
A hero with less than 2,000 gp can still play, but has disadvantage on the ability check since it is easy to be pushed out by high bets, and gives the entire stake to the winner on any loss.

A hero might do several things during the game to affect the outcome. These are outlined below.

Bluffing. Make a Deception check contested by an Insight check from each NPC; if it equals or exceeds at least half of their checks, you have advantage on your next gambling check. If the check is unsuccessful, you have disadvantage on your next gambling check. In addition, you give away a “tell” that makes it easier for other players to realize when you’re bluffing; as a result, for each previous failure, one NPC has advantage on future Insight checks made to contest your Deception check.

Body Language. You can try to pick up on the unconscious body language of your opponents, “tells” that indicate the strength of their hand. Make an Insight check; if it equals or exceeds at least half of the Deception checks made by NPCs, you have advantage on your next gambling check. If the check is unsuccessful, you have disadvantage on your next gambling check.

Chatterbox. You can attempt to distract your opponents by engaging in casual conversation. Make a Persuasion check. Each NPC must make a Concentration check with a DC equal to your Persuasion check. If at least half of the NPCs fail, you have advantage on your next gambling check. Because it’s hard to keep the conversation light and engaging for very long, you have disadvantage on any Persuasion check after the first attempt. If the check is unsuccessful, no heroes can use this option for the rest of the encounter.

Cheating. Make a Deception check in place of your gambling check to determine your success during the game. Each NPC makes an Insight check to notice your actions; if the Insight check beats your Deception check result, you are ejected from the game, forfeiting your entire stake. In addition, the group attitude of the guests drops by one level (for example, from indifferent to hostile). Alternatively, you can attempt to cheat using a Sleight of Hand check. This is resolved as above, but the NPCs make a Perception check instead of Insight.

Collusion. On any given round, a player can attempt to aid an ally instead of trying to win. When determining the outcome of that round of play, you have disadvantage on your gambling check, but your ally has advantage.

Steady Hands. Make a Concentration check. On a success, your steady hands and nerves allow you to retain a high level of focus during the round, granting you advantage on your next gambling check. You have disadvantage on any Concentration check after the first attempt. If you fail, fatigue sets in, and you can’t use this option for the rest of the encounter.

Wild Cards. Make an opposed History check contested by each NPC; if it equals or exceeds at least half of their checks, you succeed. On a success, you call for an obscure game or variant of when it’s your turn to deal or pick, something that most players haven’t played. You have advantage on your next gambling check. You have disadvantage on any History checks after the first attempt. If you fail, you have exhausted your knowledge of games or variants and can’t use this option for the rest of the encounter.

Armchair Conqueror
A warm and cozy fireside lounge is an ideal place for a stimulating intellectual discussion with the Five Nations’ elite. Lord Tharsul sits by the Conqueror board, hoping someone will join him for a casual game. Until then, he is enjoying some Aundairian brandy with Count Tarnik ir’Weld, Councilor Jolira Jan Dorian, Minister Luala, Ambassador Jorasesh, and Tyrick d’Phiarlan as they discuss financial markets, history, politics, and any other topic that arises.

Any hero present must participate in the conversation, or at least try to blend in. The objective is for the heroes to contribute something meaningful to the conversation as many times as possible out of 8 rounds of conversation. If the heroes make three or more embarrassing, uneducated, or amateurish remarks (signified by a failed skill check) in total, they prompt chuckles and condescending remarks from the other guests, effectively ending this challenge.

Successful participation in the conversation improves either group attitude or a major guest's attitude by one step. If the heroes do so without a single failure, all major guests' attitudes improve by one step.

Defeating Lord Tharsul improves either guest attitude or the warlord's attitude by one step. A perfect game (no failures) improves both by one step.

Group attitude cannot improve by more than one step during a single encounter.

Participation is optional for a hero playing against Lord Tharsul. During each round of discussion, a hero picks a conversational topic from the list below.

Magic. Make a DC 15 Arcana check. If successful, you discuss the implications of recent breakthroughs by the Houses.

Medicine. Make a DC 15 Medicine check. If successful, you recount recent developments in magical or mundane healing techniques.

Politics. Make a DC 15 History check. If successful, you make several relevant points on recent political debates and controversies.

Religion. Make a DC 15 Religion check. If successful, you hold a theological discussion about varying points of view between different religions.

Trade. Make a DC 15 Survival check. If successful, you use knowledge of trade routes and navigational challenges to make several insightful comments about issues in international trade.

What He Said. Make a DC 20 Deception check. If successful, you avoid drawing attention to your breathtaking lack of knowledge about academia, skillfully redirecting questions toward another in the conversation.

Only one hero can play against Lord Tharsul in a game of Conqueror. The objective is to be successful at least four times with various strategies, outlined below, resulting in the hero defeating the Karrnathi. If the hero hasn’t done so after six attempts, however, the warlord’s superior experience in the game allows him to defeat the hero by attrition after a protracted struggle.

Lightning Round. Make an opposed Initiative check. On a success, you plan out several contingencies while waiting for Tharsul’s move. You take your turn after only a second’s pause, leaving the warlord flat-footed (and caught off-guard) because of your quick response; you have advantage on the ability check to execute a strategy this round. On a failure, however, your haste leads you to make a terrible oversight, and you have disadvantage on the ability check.

Relentless Assault. Make an opposed History check. On a success, you execute a classic set-piece attack, keeping your opponent on the retreat as he is knocked back on his heels.

Misdirect and Reveal. Make a Deception check opposed by an Insight check. On a success, you draw your opponent’s attention to an intricate feint, but your moves open up a completely unexpected avenue of attack.

Spoiler. Make an opposed Perception check. Instead of seizing the offensive, you try to anticipate Tharsul’s next move, playing solely to spoil his attacks and frustrate him into making a mistake that leaves him exposed elsewhere. On a success, you have learned something about Tharsul’s playstyle and he has disadvantage on the next ability check made during the game. On a failure, you inadvertently reveal your strategy to Tharsul, and he instead has advantage on the next ability check.

Entanglements
A large stage sits at one end of the courtyard, House Phiarlan entertaining guests with quick plays, comedy routines, and much music. Before the stage lies a dance floor that leads up to the central fountain. The younger guests (and the young at heart) come here to dance, carouse, and flirt—not necessarily in that order.

Some notable guests present when the heroes arrive include Sailla Elorenthi d’Phiarlan, Prince Oargev ir’Wynarn, Councilor Tyras Lyrris Lyrriman, Sir Roderick, Nyrielle Tam, and Drego Sarhain.

The heroes need to make a memorable impression on these guests, being eye-catching, entertaining, and captivating even as they try not to look like they’re trying too hard. The heroes want to accumulate as many successes as possible, to a maximum of six. A little humiliation goes a long way, though: If the heroes accumulate a total of three failed activities over the encounter, their efforts begin to draw ridicule and scorn, effectively ending the challenge.

If the heroes end with more successes than failures, they improve either group attitude or Sailla’s attitude by one step. If they broke up a fight, they also improve Prince Oargev’s attitude by one step.

I’ll Be Your Entertainment. Make a DC 15 Performance or a DC 20 Acrobatics check. If successful, your dance moves or acts impress the crowd, outshining any competition. On a failure, you are outperformed by a rival, effectively closing off this approach. Because you need to show off new moves, you have disadvantage on any check after the first attempt. Heroes can use the Help action to cooperate on this check.

Pickup Artist. Make a DC 15 Persuasion check. If successful, you attract the attention of a romantic prospect, making you the center of attention. On a failure, you are shot down in a particularly visible way, preventing further attempts. It’s difficult to attract multiple prospects in rapid succession, so you have disadvantage on any check after the first attempt.

Next Up. You approach the musicians and request a few specific songs. Make a DC 15 History check or DC 20 Perception check. If successful, you choose an appealing mix of different songs or stage acts, drawing rousing approval from the crowd. On a failure, your attempt is halting, uneven, and embarrassing, preventing any future attempts.

Break It Up! A scuffle breaks out near you between Prince Oargev ir’Wynarn and Sir Roderick, with their respective entourages looking on. Make a DC 20 Initiative check. If successful, you pull the two apart before any serious harm is done. If you fail, the scuffle escalates into a brawl before you can intervene. Heroes can use the Help action to cooperate on this check.

In addition, there are a few options that can be used to make the above activities a little easier.

Stay Hydrated. Make a DC 15 Medicine check. If successful, you or another hero of your choice has advantage on the next Acrobatics or Performance check. On a failure, you administer too much water at once, inducing nausea. The subject gains one level of exhaustion that disappears at the end of the encounter.

Pace Yourself. Make a DC 15 Constitution check. If successful, you have advantage on your next Acrobatics or Performance check. On a failure, you try to last through one song too many, exhausting yourself and gaining one level of exhaustion that disappears at the end of the encounter.

Sweet Nothings. Make a DC 15 Deception check. If successful, you practice the delicate art of saying something poetic and romantic, granting you advantage on your next Persuasion check (pickup artist). On a failure, you say something you really shouldn’t have, and you instead have disadvantage on your next Persuasion check.

Watch This. Make a DC 15 Persuasion check. If successful, you draw attention from one or more onlookers in conversation and you or another hero of your choice has advantage on the next Acrobatics or Performance check. On a failure, you’re a little too pushy and the check is instead made with disadvantage.
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enderxenocide0
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Re: Spies in Droaam

Postby enderxenocide0 » Mon Sep 26, 2016 4:26 pm

Below is my list of the "cast" and their associated NPC Roleplaying Traits for 5E. Those listed with TBD haven't been fleshed out yet, since the players won't meet them for a few days in game. Many names were taken from Keith's novel Queen of Stone and though I tried to keep their personalities in line with the novel (so that I didn't really confuse them while roleplaying them), some characters are decidedly a little different. For instance, Nyrielle is Thorn and the roleplaying traits reflect the public persona she shows, but she's not a dragon. Most of the NPCs have already been met at the Twilight Palace gala. The party has figured out some of their traits.

The plan was to have Tyrick d'Phiarlan assassinate Ambassador Jorasesh, but I'm not 100% sure of how, why, or even if that's the best course of action. I need to at least insinuate that the Phiarlans have a dark side behind their entertainment front and I want to have the Five Nations and the Warlords of Droaam in the midst of a tense disagreement, such that both sides get blamed and the party has to investigate. Then I need clues and red herrings for the investigation...

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

Notable NPCs of the Five Nations
Aundair
  • Count Tarnik ir'Weld
    • IDEAL - The civilized have a right to rule.
    • BOND - My alliance with Lord Darro must be sustained at all costs.
    • FLAW - I horde secrets like treasure.
  • Sir Roderick
    • IDEAL - Our lot is to lay down our lives in defense of those we love.
    • BOND - Someone saved my life on the battlefield. To this day, I will never leave a friend behind.
    • FLAW - My passions have caused me trouble.
Breland
  • Lord Beren ir'Wynarn
    • IDEAL - I have a responsibility to help and protect the less fortunate.
    • BOND - My loyalty to my country is unwavering.
    • FLAW - I let my pride and insecurities get in the way.
  • Nyrielle Tam
    • IDEAL - The wounds of the past can be healed in time as we form new bonds.
    • BOND - My father’s dagger is my prized possession and I won’t go anywhere without it.
    • FLAW - I can be clumsy, both physically and socially.
Cyre
  • Prince Oargev ir'Wynarn
    • IDEAL - My people are everything to me. I won’t let them down.
    • BOND - Even in war, I will never forget my family ties.
    • FLAW - I let my emotions get the better of me when my people are at stake.
  • Cazalan Dal
    • IDEAL - I would end this war if I could, in whatever way necessary.
    • BOND - My work is my life. I wouldn’t know what to do in the real world anymore.
    • FLAW - The horrors of war have changed me and everyone is a potential enemy in my eyes now.
Karrnath
  • Lord Tharsul
    • IDEAL - Karrnath is strong and will endure. Whatever the enemy throws at us, we will weather and come out stronger.
    • BOND - I respect Kaius and his ideals. I would never knowingly betray him.
    • FLAW - I view the war, and life as a whole, as a game of Conqueror. Some people are Kings and Queens, others are pawns.
  • Mallora
    • IDEAL - I will do whatever I can to keep the common folk from the oblivion that is Dolurrh.
    • BOND - Kaius has betrayed my people and will pay for what he’s done.
    • FLAW - I am quick to make enemies when I don’t get my way.
Thrane
  • Minister Luala
    • IDEAL - The light of the Flame touches every brave heart, regardless of nation or faith.
    • BOND - Flamekeep is my home and always will be, even if the Church would vanish.
    • FLAW - I think that kind words and actions can heal the gravest of wounds, and seldom consider the politics of a situation.
  • Drego Sarhain
    • IDEAL - We must protect the living from the evils that lurk in the dark parts of the world.
    • BOND - More than anything, I seek to understand the secrets and history of the Silver Flame and how it relates to all faiths.
    • FLAW - I enjoy the fine pleasures in life sometimes too much.

Notable NPCs of Greater Khorvaire
Darguun
  • Muunta the Gray
    • IDEAL - TBD
    • BOND - TBD
    • FLAW - TBD
  • Praadu
    • IDEAL - TBD
    • BOND - TBD
    • FLAW - TBD
House Phiarlan
  • Sailla Elorenthi d’Phiarlan
    • IDEAL - The stories, legends, and songs of the past must never be forgotten, for they teach us who we are.
    • BOND - I idolize a hero of the old tales and measure my deeds against that person's.
    • FLAW - I'm convinced that no one could ever fool me the way I fool others.
  • Seneschal Taen Shol d’Phiarlan
    • IDEAL - I do what I must and obey authority.
    • BOND - I ruined a person who didn't deserve it. I seek to atone for my mistakes but might never be able to forgive myself.
    • FLAW - I have trouble keeping my true feelings hidden. My sharp tongue lands me in trouble.
  • Tyrick d’Phiarlan
    • IDEAL - I’m determined to make something of myself.
    • BOND - A powerful person killed my wife. Someday soon, I’ll have my revenge.
    • FLAW - I can’t resist taking a risk when the stakes are high.
Valenar
  • Saer Vordalyn
    • IDEAL - TBD
    • BOND - TBD
    • FLAW - TBD
  • Niath Iraenele
    • IDEAL - TBD
    • BOND - TBD
    • FLAW - TBD
Zilargo
  • Councilor Jolira Jan Dorian of Korranberg
    • IDEAL - Knowledge is key in life and in my line of work.
    • BOND - I am loyal to the Trust and will do anything for it.
    • FLAW - I will betray a friend or colleague if it’s in the best interests of Zilargo.
  • Councilor Tyras Lyrris Lyrriman of Trolanport
    • IDEAL - Everyone should be free to pursue his or her own livelihood.
    • BOND - I will get revenge on the evil forces that destroyed my place of business and ruined my livelihood.
    • FLAW - I’m quick to assume that someone is trying to cheat me.
  • Councilor Mordan Sel Sarin of Zolanberg
    • IDEAL - I am in the habit of not talking about myself. My business is none of yours.
    • BOND - I have dedicated my life to the betterment of Zilargo.
    • FLAW - I will never fully trust anyone other than myself.

Notable Droaam NPCs
The Daughters of Sora Kell
  • Sora Katra
  • Sora Maenya
  • Sora Teraza
The Warlords
  • Drul Kantar
    • IDEAL - TBD
    • BOND - TBD
    • FLAW - TBD
  • Gorodan Ashlord
    • IDEAL - TBD
    • BOND - TBD
    • FLAW - TBD
  • Kethelrax the Cunning
    • IDEAL - TBD
    • BOND - TBD
    • FLAW - TBD
  • Sheshka, Queen of Stone
    • IDEAL - TBD
    • BOND - TBD
    • FLAW - TBD
  • Tzaryan Rrac
    • IDEAL - TBD
    • BOND - TBD
    • FLAW - TBD
  • Zauerl of the Dark Pack
    • IDEAL - TBD
    • BOND - TBD
    • FLAW - TBD

Notable Foreign NPCs
Riedra
  • Ambassador Jorasesh
    • IDEAL - The right touch here and there can topple empires and raise kings.
    • BOND - I love the sound of a treaty being signed.
    • FLAW - I have abused my powers as a diplomat, though none can ever know of this.
  • Helkashtai
    • IDEAL - Know thyself.
    • BOND - One day, I will return home and prove that I am worthy of respect.
    • FLAW - I judge others harshly, and myself even more severely.
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