Merchant Madness II
City guilds provide endless avenues for adventure. Presented here are five adventure hooks related to distinct city guild situations, all open-ended scenarios that could lead to a brief side-trek or an extended campaign.
CARTOGRAPHERS’ INDEPENDENT ALLIANCE
Someone is trying to kill Albin Zegrast (LN male halfling expert 8), the secretive leader of the Cartographers’ Independent Alliance. Fortunately for Albin, 4o years of studying maps have made him an expert on the city’s sewers, and he escaped from his drafting room into the labyrinthine undercity. The local authorities now search for the missing mapmaker, whose sensitive knowledge of city structures could cause a breach in its defenses, but the cartographer remains hidden somewhere deep in the bowels of the city.
Albin is no fool. His position and the respect for his knowledge of the city and the surrounding areas granted him unparalleled access to maps few people have seen and fewer have studied. He knew this would one day make him a target, and now seeks the aid of adventurers, using his old friend Ida Slickfingers (LE female human rogue 5), the head of the Merchant Fishmongers’ Association, and her gang of stealthy girls as intermediaries, Albin believes that his enemies learned about a secret map that he hid long ago to keep out of the wrong hands, and he needs someone without an obvious connection (such as the PCs) to retrieve it before whoever is trying to kill him can uncover its resting place.
The identity of Albin’s attackers and the nature of the secret map are left to you. Perhaps the map reveals a concealed entrance to a powerful noble’s home, with the PCs racing against time to prevent it from being used in an assassination attempt. Alternatively, the map may be the guide to the hidden tomb of the city’s founder and the powerful magical weapon that made his name a household word. Regardless, Albin is a unique PC resource, as well as an easy way to provide maps that players would otherwise never gain access to.
ALLIANCE OF TAILORS AND CLOTHIERS
What new trouble stirs, courtesy of Ethel Upswitch (CN female human commoner 3)? Disgraced by her shady attempts at influencing the market prices of textiles, Ethel lost her position in the Alliance of Tailors and Clothiers to the tailor Virago (CG male human commoner 5), an exotic, foppish clothing designer who swears his fashions will be the talk of the city any moment.
Self-centered but good-natured, Virago believes wholeheartedly in his vision for the guild, but the other members don’t all agree. While rich customers have expressed nothing but delight over Virago’s outlandish designs, the simple tailors and clothiers of the guild long for the old days. Even shady Ethel is looked upon with nostalgia. She senses an opportunity to return, but instead of trying to peaceably regain control of the guild, Ethel began an elaborate plot that includes the unfortunate demise of Virago and several other rival leaders in the guild. Ethel’s sister Dara Upswitch (NG female human commoner 2) overheard her sister mumbling to herself and became concerned, She offers to pay the PCs some of her meager earnings from the guild in exchange for their investigation.
LEAGUE OF SKILLED LAMPLIGHTERS
The League of Skilled Lamplighters refuses to leave its guildhall. Tylos (LG male human commoner 7), the guild’s leader, lost eight members of his guild in the last month. He refuses to risk any more until safety returns to the streets, Young and headstrong, Tylos refuses to budge, demanding the city send someone more capable than the watch to deal with the problem.
Like most of his guild members, Tylos joined as a boy when a kindly master took him in, rescuing him from a rough-and-tumble life on the streets. Now his boys are dying, and he is frustrated beyond measure by city officials whose primary concern is lighted streets for the wealthy. Tylos has good reason to worry, as he was near enough to hear the screams when two of his guild members disappeared a few days ago, Is the culprit a choker? Askulk? A new criminal organization? Fed up and with nowhere else to turn, Tylos pleads with the PCs for help.
SISTERHOOD OF THE KEY
Someone in the city is picking locks, and Illiara (CN female half-elf expert 5), Reverend Mother of the cult-like Sisterhood of the Key, is furious. She’s convinced that the recent crime wave is an effort by the rival Society of Locksmiths to discredit her organization’s work, and refuses to submit to their foul play, contracting the PCs to put a stop to the vile ploy. Actually, Geral Umbrage (LG male human expert 4), the Society’s guild master, knows nothing about the strange increase in break-ins. He does acknowledge that someone has been bypassing his best locking mechanisms. That Illiara’s guild has suffered the same worries him far more than any imagined feud between the two guilds, which, he assures the characters, exists only in Iliara’s twisted mind. He is willing to double whatever Illiara has offered them to investigate.
Is the culprit a new, well-organized thieves’ guild trying to make a name for themselves in the city? Perhaps a band of ethereal filchers have somehow been coerced into acting together? With both guilds trying to keep the issue quiet, it’s up to the PCs to find out.
ORDER OF THE BUTCHER’S BLOCK
The Order of the Butcher’s Block follows the lead of Abadal the Bald (N male dwarf warrior 2/commoner 3), and no one in the guild has ever questioned the dwarf’s leadership—until now. It seems that Abadal has been supplying exotic meats to several master chefs in the city. Unfortunately, these particular exotic meats once had siblings—intelligent siblings who are none too happy with the fact that their brothers are being served with mashed tubers and salad to local nobles.
Some time ago, Abadal commissioned an adventuring group to procure exotic meats for a renowned local chef. He was looking for shocker lizard, but the meat they returned with was something else. The chef didn’t recognize the strange serpentine creatures that smoldered even in death, perhaps because the more humanoid aspects had already been removed, Nowa band of tribal flamebrother salamanders has infiltrated the city seeking the people responsible for the deaths of their kin.
The unscrupulous adventurers approach the party out of fear. They claim that rampaging monsters are trying to kill their group, and they are absolutely right—indeed, by the time they risk contacting the party, two of their number have already been killed. Will the PCs uncover the truth, or will the salamander poachers manage to shift the blame to the PCs? Either way, the enraged salamanders are likely to attack first and ask questions later.
BY ASHAVAN DOYON
BY KYLE HUNTER