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The Assassin'sby Alex Benson
inspired by the Grave Robber adventure I decided to go ahead and post this for some feedback. this adventure is one of several that I have been working on over the last few weeks. I'd like some feedback before finishing up and proceeding to the maps and floor plans.
premise: the Axetown slums of Thyatis City have been plagued by a series of slayings. given the state of the slums, official Thyatian intervention is deemed unwarranted. the PCs are hired to stop this series of deaths. I chose Thyatis because there is some official material on the slums, Shadow Hand, and some supporting NPCs. if need be it can be moved to Glantri City or Mirros with some NPC and detail changes. adaptation for use in Alphatian cities would be extra work as one has to create the criminal organisations and adapt them to operate under the auspices of magic. added detail can be found in "Den of Thieves" which details a thieves guild.
what's going on: the victims are really associates of the criminal organisation the Shadow Hand. some candid investigation will reveal that the victims were involved in the Hand.
the assassin is the former chief assassin of the Shadow Hand. recently, he has had a falling out with the thieves guild and partakes a program of killings. these killings are to cause havoc within the Hand and allow him to escape Thyatian lands. also, the killings are payback for Hand transgressions against him. he secretly hopes that the killings will cause enough outrage from Thyatians that the government will become more involved and clean up Axetown, thus destroying the Hand's haven.
Getting Involved: the PCs can become tasked with this task by several avenues. there is nothing to prevent the PCs from working for more than one employer or switching allegiances. in fact, such switches are encouraged as truths begin to come out during the investigations.
1) one NPC is a politician who has run afoul of the Hand and thinks that the assassin is a Hand agent terrorising the slums to enforce Hand edicts. he hopes to use the PCs investigations to destroy the Hand (impossible).
2) another politician is a true patriot and sees the Hand as a travesty as it operates unhindered within the very walls of the Thyatian capital. he and politician number #1 become allies during the adventure.
3) you have a group of feel good socialites sponsoring ways to make the slums better, especially the "poor slain victims". this coalition falls apart as the adventure unfolds and the truths begin to surface.
4) you have a group that is actually officially agents of the Shadow Hand. they want the assassin stopped as he is scaring the crap out of them. they will also want protection while the assassin is at large. ironically this group will be more helpful than any of the others.
5) the oddest NPC has got to be the renown adventurer Valinor. Valinor will hire the PCs and help them in their hunt of the assassin. as per DotE, Valinor is secretly the head of the Shadow Hand so his motivations are different from what he offers. as the adventurer, he professes a desire to help the slum dwellers. he will add that he has been approached by group #4 and one or both of the politicians. of course he has suitable excuses for not participating in the hunt himself. given his prestige in both identities, Valinor is his own spy on the status of the PCs. the adventure should not end with the removal or even discovery of Valinor's double identities.
there is also a supporting cast of NPCs. one is a Thyatian soldier who grew up in the slums and knows his way around. he has been offered to the PCs as a guide. nice guy but he hates the slums. there are also various street dwellers and such. even the assassin has a supporting cast of helpers to assist him in his quest.
the assassin is a very complex character. as a NPC he is very powerful. one would expect such power from the chief assassin of the Shadow Hand. while the PCs may dislike his tactics, by the end of the adventure the PCs should have some sympathies for the assassin. he will not divulge info on Valinor's role with the Shadow Hand. to be honest I am debating between him not knowing who his former master is or having his silence secured by magic (Geas spell). the assassin is based upon a modified assassin's kit and fully decked with magical items.
Plot Evolution: the hunt takes the PCs through the slums, pursuing the assassin. the PCs will be faced with every aspect of the slums. they will investigate and be investigated. they will pursue the assassin through the dark streets and alleyways, through the underground sewers and across the rooftops. all of which are well known to the assassin.
their perspectives and allegiances will change as the investigation progresses. they will be placed in situations where they see Thyatian society at it best and worst. they will be handed scenarios where their actions decide the fate of slum dweller, criminal, assassin, and politician.
Adventure Epilogue: depending on the PCs actions they may find themselves the pawns of the Shadow Hand or the sworn enemies of the Hand. most of the scenarios I have run fall somewhere in between. deviation derides from actions and alignments. in the end, the PCs will find that the slayings stop but nothing else changes. IMO PCs should not always succeed. IMO the Shadow Hand is too large and too powerful to be toppled so easily.
more tedious tasks may be in settling things between the Shadow Hand and politician #1. for that matter, the Hand will probably enact its own program of retribution to those that sought to destroy them.
as far as the Shadow Hand goes, they will oblige any rewards offered to the PCs. however, if the PCs have managed to learn too much about the organisation they may be seen as a potential threat. conversely the PCs may find future employment from the Hand. a lot depends on the group's alignment, the tasks, and how visual the Hand is in the matter.