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Guild Warsby Giampaolo Agosta from Threshold Magazine issue 1
This adventure is a sort of urban side-trek, taking the form of a classical whodunit. It is suitable for basic level adventurers -- access to spells like “Speak with Dead” or powerful divinations would allow the characters to bypass most of the investigation.
The adventure takes advantage of the complex world of Specularum guild politics. Infighting is rampant within the Apothecaries' Guild, and members of the Torenescu faction try to frame the Guildmaster, Dimitri Levinik, for the murder of a political rival, a crime he did not commit. The PCs are called to investigate, and may find out that Levinik, while innocent of this specific crime, is linked to the Veiled Society. They must decide whether to let Levinik be sentenced for a crime he didn't commit, or to let him use the Guild to support the Veiled Society.
The plot of this adventure is based Italian mystery novel "Cosa è successo alla signora perbene" by Loriano Machiavelli (not translated in English, a French edition is available under the title "Bologne ville a vendre").
The adventure starts after one of the Traladaran riots in Specularum, near the Magicians' Guildhall. The precise nature of the riot is not critical, but it should politically motivated. If it fits the campaign, this riot could be part of the events following "Davinos' Complaint", otherwise it could be a riot motivated by a perceived pro-Thyatian bias in the Magicians' Guild itself, which is accused of refusing aid to the Traladaran population of the ward.
A man, Iosif Gogean, is killed by a crossbow bolt during the riot. By itself, this kind of incident would usually be written off as the act of Traladaran extremists, and a few such figures, in this case two Traladaran students, would be summarily tried and sentenced.
However, the victim, Iosif Gogean was a second tier politician -- a Consul of the Apothecaries' Guild in charge of collaborating with the Magicians' in defeating the "atabe plague" in the Specularum Series adventure "Omens and Portents,1" so an investigation is required, as involvement of organized crime is suspected.
Involving the party
There are several ways for the Player Characters to be involved in the investigation.
One or more PCs are members of the Phorsis Guard2 or a unit of the Second Division. In the latter case, the Phorsis Guards are exonerated from the investigation due to the accusation of being involved in the murder, and the PCs' unit is assigned the case instead.
The party is already known to Specularum government agents (Zogref Yarol, Lucas Tormandros, captain Mikel, Aloysius Vandevic or a member of the ruling family).
One or more PCs are members of the Magicians' Guild or the Apothecaries' Guild, or another party involved in the matter (this may change depending on the setting).
One or more PCs are friends of the two Traladaran suspects, Daniel and Mihail. Their friends ask the PCs to save them from a certain death at the hands of Karameikos' judiciary system.
The investigation itself is rather free-form, and takes the better part of the adventure. Its actual play depends heavily on player choices -- it is up to them who to question and which actions to undertake. This section provides information useful to run the investigation, but the DM will need to present it in a way that fits the events triggered by the PCs.
Murder scene: The killing bolt was shot from a building near the Magicians' Guildhall, apparently one occupied by Traladaran insurgents Daniel Dodrescu and Mihail Hagi. However, neighter of the two is an especially good shot with a crossbow, and the distance was considerable (over the range for a Basic Mastery shot). The killing bolt itself is also peculiar, as it is a silver bolt. Investigation on the deceased body, however (short of infecting another person with Iosif's blood), will not result in any trait that could lead to think to lycanthropy (e.g., unusual hairiness or the like).
Political intrigue: As the characters investigate, they discover that both the deceased (a member of the Torenescu faction) and the Guildmaster (Dimitri Levinik, a supporter of the Radu faction) have lots of shady dealings to hide -- the Consul was diverting funds to a person or group identified only as "V."3 in his documents, while the Guildmaster is involved in drug trafficking -- forged records of sale of restricted alchemical substances imported from Ylaruam, Ierendi, and Sind were used to hide the sale of drugs to the Veiled Society. Moreover, Consul Gogean was known to be going to run for the Guildmaster position on the next term, and was the most prominent opposition to the Guildmaster within the guild.
Guildmaster Levinik is totally uninvolved in the crime -- it was merely a lucky break for him that his primary rival was killed -- but his political enemies in the Apothecaries' Guild want to take advantage of Consul Gogean's death and the suspicions falling on Levinik to turn the advantage to their own faction. They do so by planting two false clues. The first clue is rather straightforward: thieves hired by the Torenescu faction plant a silver-tipped bolt in Leviniks's office. If the party searches the room, the bolt is easily found (no need to roll skill checks). The bolt is superficially similar to the one used in the crime, but an expert weaponsmith will notice subtle differences in the workmanship. This second bolt is professionally manufactured by a specialist -- most likely one the many weaponsmiths in Specularum, whereas the bolt used in the murder seems to have been produced by an amateur. The second clue is more subtle. Characters investigating Levinik will soon characterize him as a lecherous old man. A good contact in the Specularum underground will be able to put the characters in contact with a hooker who, apparently, saw Levinik talk with a man who resembled Gogean. The hooker has truly seen Levinik (several times), but not Gogean. She has been magically persuaded to lie by a Torenescu magician. The magician was disguised, and his identity cannot be ascertained (unless the DM wants to extend the adventure in this direction), but the tampering with the hooker's mind can be detected by the usual means (for example, as an enchanted being, she is affected by Protection from Evil spells).
Family matters: To further complicate things, the victim had a complex family story, and several of his relatives saw Iosif the day he died or somewhat earlier, so the investigators may want to hear them.
Iosif was a widower, and had recently remarried. His second wife, Otilia, married him out of interest, and the two had rapidly fallen out, but were keeping their marriage for the sake of appearances -- Iosif even had a mistress, though he kept this a guarded secret. Gossipers also talk of a possible love affair between Otilia and Iosif's son, Simion. Simion is a student at the Scrivener's Guild, and is only a few years younger than Otilia. Several witnesses, including the servants of Gogean House, will be able to report that Simion was on bad terms with his father, and that the two had a loud quarrel just before Iosif went out of his house to a meeting at the Magicians' Guild. While these clues may point towards Simion, none of them are decisive -- in particular, Simion and Otilia deny any affair, and there is no proof of it beyond gossip, and Simion went to meet other students at the Priest and Jug tavern, and would not have had the time to procure a crossbow and a silver bolt, reach the building near the Magicians' Guild, kill his father and then dispose of the weapon and reach the tavern.
The last member of the Gogean family is Iosif's cousin, Aurel, who lives in the outskirts of the village of Marilenev, but had visited Iosif the week before. According to the other relatives and to Iosif's colleagues, the two were on good, if rather distant, terms, and visited each other only rarely. Investigating Aurel will reveal he is a former guild hunter and a remarkably good shot with a crossbow. If an identikit of Aurel is given to the guards on duty at the city gates on the road to Marilenev on the day of the murder, they will identify Aurel as having entered Specularum early in the morning.
Iosif Gogean's mistress is a tougher nut to crack. Her identity is known only to Simion, although Otilia is aware of her. This woman, Mirela Prunea, knows Iosif was working to bring down Guildmaster Levinik and had collected proof of disappearances of restricted alchemical substances, as well as of manipulation of the related records in the guild archives.
The truth is quite different from the initial appearances. Iosif had contracted wererat lycanthropy, and, with no cure likely to come from his church, had asked his cousin, Aurel Gogean, to kill him using a silver-headed crossbow bolt. Aurel had fashioned the bolt himself, using silver from an old chandelier, and had killed Iosif on a random day -- Iosif did not want to know when he was going to die exactly. Aurel is a tough old man, but may be coerced (e.g., magically) or persuaded to talk, especially if the characters point out that an innocent is going to pay for Iosif's death.
A second moral dilemma will be offered to the PCs in the form of Guildmaster Levinik: some proof might be found of his misdoings, but with Gogean dead, Levinik's powerful political and underground connections would spare him a trial for tax evasion. On the other hand, he is certainly not responsible for Gogean's death, but he had good reasons to wish Gogean's death, and someone has already fabricated reasonable (though false) proofs of his involvement. A trial for murder of his most prominent political rival would certainly disrupt any chance for re-election to the Guildmaster position, and may well ruin Levinik's career.
Depending on the reason why the PCs were originally involved in the adventure, the reward may change. If the PCs were friends of Daniel and Mihail, then the primary reward is an increase in popularity among the anti-Thyatian fringes. PCs will be able to hide in the Old Quarter for at least a week, if they are ever wanted by the Karameikan authorities.
If the PCs are members of the Phorsis Guard or another branch of the Karameikan military, solving the mystery may lead to promotion. Members of the Magicians’ Guild, on the other hand, will receive a free spell of their choice (level 1-3).
If the characters are freelancer hired by Lord Zogrev Yarol or another member of the Karameikan government, they will be paid as per whatever agreement they had in place.
This section describes how the political scene of Specularum will evolve depending on the outcomes of the adventure, as well as the consequences for the PCs. While the political scene will certainly be affected by the outcome of the adventure, the PCs might not, if their involvement was kept a secret. Apply the results only if the involved faction is aware of their role in the case.
Allowing Levinik be tried and/or sentenced: The PCs will lose favor with Radu and Veiled Society, while they will gain favor with the New Karameikan faction, as well as the Torenescu faction -- the latter, though, only if the Torenescu know the PCs were aware of the false clues and did not expose them. Levinik will fall in disgrace, even if he is finally exonerated, as suspicions and rumors about his involvement in the crime will still circulate. Deprived of strong leadership, the Apothecaries’ Guild may drop in status, though not enough to make it a minor guild. The guild will be contended between Radu and Torenescu, with the latter having a greater chance of gaining control.
Exonerating Levinik: In this case, the PCs will gain favor with the Radu faction, and possibly with the Veiled Society (if they already have a connection there), but they will lose favor with the Torenescu faction. Levinik’s position will be strengthened, and the Apothecaries’ Guild will remain strongly in the Radu faction for years.
Letting Daniel and Mihail be tried and sentenced: If the PCs allow these two NPCs to lose their life to a false accusation, they will be marked as pro-Thyatians, and will lose favor with all the Traladaran factions, and in particular will gain enemies in the anti-Thyatian fringe, while at the same time gaining some favor with Thyatian faction. The anti-Thyatian fringe will gain strength, and riots will be frequent in the following months or perhaps even years. The Marilenev faction will grow stronger and more radical, possibly even getting closer to the Veiled Society.
The reverse will happen if the PCs contribute to exonerating the students -- they will be looked upon favourably by most Traladarans (except as noted above for other parts of the resolution), and will become known as local heroes. However, the Thyatian faction will consider them dangerous troublemakers, and they will gain powerful enemies at court.
Revealing Aurel as the culprit and Iosif as a lycanthrope: This solution will bring the PCs to the eyes of important political figures, in particular the Duchess and Master Teldon. While they will likely earn the enmity of some of the political factions (as the result of exonerating Levinik and the Traladaran students), they will be considered by these NPCs as reliable and not tied to faction interests. Master Teldon, in particular, will show his appreciation (and that of the Magicians’ Guild) by awarding a potion to each PC. Select appropriate potions based on character level; Magic User PCs may obtain a free spell of level 1-2 instead, if they are members of the Magicians’ Guild, or will be offered membership if they are not. The Duchess will not directly contact the PCs, but Emilio the Great may contact them to ask their help in some mission (without revealing who his patron his, for the time being).
On the other hand, revealing the reason of Gogean’s death may lead to unpredictable effects -- for one, members of the Oderbry faction in the Church of Karameikos may attack the Church of Traladara for its inability or unwillingness to treat dangerous diseases. On the opposite side, followers of Zirchev may be inspired by Gogean’s death to campaign for the rights of lycanthropes (see Night Howlers for similar ideas in the setting of Glantri), perhaps with the financial help of Dwarven philanthropes (or philolycanthropes, more precisely).
The victim: Iosif Gogean (male Traladaran, age 54, L, Consul of the Apothecaries' Guild). Iosif was quite the religious person, being a devout follower of the Church of Traladara, as well as a minor political figure in Specularum for the Torenescu faction. As a member of the professional upper class, he lived in a comfortable house at the border between Bricktop and Hill districts.
Dimitri Levinik (male Traladaran, age 58, N, Guildmaster of the Apothecaries' Guild). Dimitri is a member of the Radu faction, as well as an external supporter of the Veiled Society, and a powerful political figure in the guild system. He is involved in a number of shady dealings.
Mirela Prunea (female Traladaran, age 29, N, Iosif's mistress). This woman is distantly related to the Torenescu family. She is educated, intelligent and willful, and was one of the most important counselors for Iosif, besides being his mistress.
Simion Gogean (male Traladaran, age 20, N, student). Simion is Iosif's son. He's a not so brilliant, but well funded, student at the Scriveners' Guild. He is also a painter of unremarkable skill. He loves the student lifestyle and surrounds himself with bohemien acquaintances.
Otilia (female Traladaran, age 25, N, Iosif's wife). Otilia is a Traladaran woman from a middle class family -- her father is a minor trader. She married Iosif primarily to improve her station, and likes to flaunt her acquired wealth.
Aurel Gogean (male Traladaran, age 52, L, F3 skilled w/ crossbow, retired hunter). Aurel is Iosif's cousin on his father's side. He is a semi-retired member of the Hunters' Guild, having purchased a small patch of farmland near Marilenev. He is quite a recluse, and has never married.
Daniel Dodrescu (male Traladaran, age 22, N, NM, student) and Mihail Hagi (male Traladaran, age 23, N, T1, student). These two students, Traladaran nationalists and would-be insurgents are initially accused of killing Iosif Gogean. Both come from lower-middle class backgrounds, and have used their Shearing time to gather funds for pursuing education (and a position in the guild system, most likely). Both only know the victim by fame, and neither is even a passable shot with a crossbow.
Sidebar: Tracking the Torenescu
The adventure, as written, assumes that the Torenescu infiltrator who cannot be tracked down or otherwise detected by the PCs. However, skilled, inventive, or well-connected PCs may try to follow this route -- most likely after the main part of the adventure is completed. The infiItrator, Malora Cooper (female Forest Elf 5, N), is a member of the Minrothaddan Thieves’ Guild, contracted by the Torenescu through their contacts with the Ebonov family. She will leave Specularum on the first ship bound to Minrothad, and this may be a good opportunity to lead the party to the Minrothad Guilds, and involve them in a deadlier type of city adventure.
Sidebar: Adding more Action
The adventure is designed as combat-free, which makes it a good choice for unusual parties (e.g., those without Fighters), or for a one-night side-trek when some players are missing. However, it is possible (or the PC actions can make it necessary) to add some combat encounters. Four groups are likely to recur to violence to hinder or stop the investigation (or some specific direction): the Traladaran insurgents, the Veiled Society, the Torenescu, and members of the Oderbry faction in the Church of Karameikos.
These combat encounters are likely to take the form of ambushes or barroom brawls, or may be part of larger riots. The Veiled Society may act to protect Levinik, while the Traladaran insurgents could target any character perceived as a Thyatian supporter -- these may be Thyatian PCs or Traladaran “turncoats”. The Torenescu are less likely to be involved in open violence, but the PCs may attack them while investigating the false clues about Guildmaster Levinik (see “Tracking the Torenescu”). Finally, the Oderbry faction takes the same role as the Traladaran insurgents, on the opposite side -- these NPCs are only likely to attack unarmed PCs in barroom brawls.
1 Insert link to Omens and Portents here
3 “V.” is actually the Minister of Finances, Valdo Tisza. See the Gazetteer for more details of Valdo and his secrets.