[Written - gosh, when was it that I went to RockCon and ran this? 2002? It is an expanded introduction to the classic tournament module and should be useful for anyone else wishing to run it.]
Background: In recent years, organized bands of pirates and slavers have raised the coastal towns on the Sea of Gearnat. Across the Wild Coast, Hardby, and even distant Onnwal they have descended quickly and ruthlessly on civilization, carrying off prisoners of all social classes. For too long, no opposition could be organized against them save for scattered naval confrontations. Land fortifications were too slow in coming, so bribery became the accepted method of fending off these sea wolves.
Recently, the attacks of the slavers have become more frequent and vicious. Entire villages are burned and towns have seen their walls wrecked down. Women, children, and whole families are disappearing.
Bribes are accepted, but agreements are ignored.
You were summoned south from the free town of Safeton to the troubled town of Fax. Its businesses were closed and its citizens hid behind walls that afforded no protection. Their only hope seemed to be Sir Laren Ganden, defender of Fax, who had acquired a weapon against the slavers no one else seemed to have – information. From escaped slaves and captured slavers he confirmed that the despoiled city of Highport was the base for the slavers' fleet. Launching a fleet capable of defeating the slavers at their home port was still months of diplomatic wrangling away, but Sir Ganden reasoned that a small team
of heroes experienced in stealth could enter Highport, locate the slave lords, and dispatch them. At the very least, the attempt would throw the port into chaos, ensuring victory in a later large-scale attempt.
Already driven to vengeful thoughts by personal losses to the slavers and persuaded by Sir Ganden’s arguments, you traveled by land to the border of the Pomarj – that wasted peninsula overrun with goblins, orcs, and worse monsters. The City of Highport once held good men in its halls, but Highport had been looted and burned until its splendor was no more. Now human brigands and pirates walked the streets beside green-furred gnolls and mottled-flesh ogres. Kobolds, goblins, and orcs slunk through the shadows. All seemed grim and bleak, yet through perseverance you found numerous leads. It was clear that the slavers operated out of an old temple. You learned of an old man named Erebrid who was said to have been a cleric of the temple in the old days before the slavers took it. You learned of an orc named Grud who worked in the stables adjoining the temple, a gambling orc who could be easily bribed. You learned of an orc named Bug who was a disgruntled employee of the stonecutter whose shop also adjoined the temple. Your last lead was Derjetto Sklartez, said to be the slavers’ best customer.
Prompt: Do you want to talk to one of those four, watch the temple grounds for awhile, or march right in?
1) Erebrid. Erebrid is an old man who refuses to leave his hut. “You must forgive me,” he says, “for my wife is blind and needs me here, you see. Ah, the temple! Yes, I remember it as if it was yesterday. The rangers of the Suss Forest built it for our patroness, Ehlonna, goddess of wildlands and I was one of its lay keepers. It had the most beautiful gardens…until the orcs came. They killed our priests, destroyed our icons, and claimed the temple as their own! Many a day has passed since when I’ve wished I were a young fighter. I would use the secret entrance…”
Erebrid will describe the secret door, but will not lead them to it.
2) Grud. Grud can be found at the Dead Dragon Gambling Den. Grud’s story: “Who told you I work at those stables? Well, it’s true enough. I can come and go as I please, even into the temple so long as I stay on the west side. If you’re, eh, interested in seeing the inside of the temple, I could let you in for, say, 50 gold – it’s worth it for the risk I’m taking – but I’ll need it by Freeday evening.”
3)Bug. Bug can be found at the Bloody Entrails Tavern. “Oh, woe is me that I must go back there!” he laments. “You can’t imagine what it’s like. Ghostly things haunt that temple! They scratch at our doors and attack us if we’re ever alone. I’d do anything for a vial of holy water to protect myself with!”
4) Derjetto Sklartez. Derjetto can be found at the Inn of the Sinful Sailor. His companions, Klaria the Anti-Hero and Byronkainen the Magician, stand behind his chair. “I understand you’re interested in slaves,” Derjetto says. “You have come to the right city, my friends, for the slave market is exceptional here in Highport – the slave women are particularly exceptional. You could attend the slave actions in the Old Plaza, but the best slaves are reserved for private showings in the plaza’s temple. You would need a reference to get in. I happen to make an exceptional reference – for a fee of, let’s say, 100 gold pieces.”