Adventure 2.2: Uncovering the Poaching Ring
An adventure for a Level 2 party of 4 to 6 player characters in the World of Cartyrion
In this adventure, the party - now in the Spirit Lake vicinity - needs to figure out how to trace the poaching operation to its local roots. Who is in charge? Where does it operate from? Once they are armed with this information, the stage will be set for the final adventure in the arc, in which the party confronts the head of the poaching ring with the intent to put him out of business for good.
Anticipating Party Action - Possible ApproachesThere are a number of ways the party may go about discovering what they need to know:
Contacting the FeyIf the party went through Dryad Falls, they should have made contact with Elianna Altuliel of the Traveling Troupe, and should have the names of three Fey contacts that could help. Two-Twist the Satyr can be found in a glen north of the road before entering town, and the Brownies, Button and Bow, live in the town near the resort. Two-Twist will have information on recent activities of the poachers; the Brownies may help with in-town investigations. Party members that have Speak With Animals abilities may also get information from the local wildlife.
Questioning the Village EldersIf the party does this, they will find out that the Elders have been approached by the Elves as representatives of the Fey Council already. They are aware that there's a problem, and they've even made (minor, ineffective) attempts to get to the bottom of it, but they haven't be able to determine who is behind things - or even if it is a Spirit Lake person involved. They also risk alerting the poaching ring leaders to the fact that they are investigating; that will change future encounter situations.
Talking to VillagersThe party could question various villagers, but this would imply they are outwardly investigating - and may alert the poaching ring to their intentions and put them on their guard.
Tracking the MerchantIf the party traveled from Dryad Falls, and discovered the merchan't cargo included cages, they may wish to find out where those cages are going and what's being done with them.
Stealthy InvestigationThe party could scour the shops and homes of the village looking for evidence of poaching operations. This may require lots of breaking and entering - with appropriate negative consequences if caught in the act.
Capture and Question some PoachersThe party could set up an ambush in the forest and wait for poachers to appear. These could be captured and questioned. Remember that the poachers themselves (except perhaps the group leader) are just poor common folk looking to earn some coin to feed their families. Unnecessary force or brutal questioning methods should not be necessary - and should have long-term repercussions if used.
Infiltrate the OperationThe party could pose as newcomers to the village that are looking for work -- and hope to be contacted by the leaders of the poaching ring. This will require social interactions, and most likely some Deception - or perhaps Performance skill checks. Diplomacy and Society skill checks may also be called for. Lots of opportunity here for non-combat role-playing and dice rolling.
Encounters to be PreparedThere is no "sequence" for the action in this adventure - it's really up to the party to decide what they want to do, in what order they want to do it, and whether they want to do certain things at all. The following encounters are possible, and should be planned for. Note that not all will actually occur, but there's no way to determine which in advance! Note also these are not in any chronological order.
- Meeting with the town Elders to explain why they are there and what they are looking for. The Elders know that poaching is going on. They've asked around, but don't have any useful input for the party. The party can get the impression they haven't tried too hard, but that's about it. There is also a chance that they will inadvertently alert the ringleader since he is one of the Elders!. Depending on how this encounter is called for by the party, the ringleader may or may not be present. (Formal town meeting? Yes! Discussion with shopkeeper who happens to be an Elder? No... unless it's the ringleader's shop!)
- Tavern (or other shop?) encounter with another poaching recruit wherein one or more party members are posing as poor newcomers looking for work, and the poacher "knows someone who might be able to help".
- Tavern (or other shop?) encounter with a poaching lieutenant wherein one or more party members are posing as poor newcomers looking for work. This could happen as a result of the first mentioned encounter, or could occur on its own.
- Forest encounter with a poaching group. All but one of the poachers should be low-level commoners just doing a job. They won't know who the boss is. The leader should be a more connected lieutenant of the operation; this one will be harder to question and will NOT want to reveal the name of the boss. More than one of these may be needed!
- Meetings with sympathetic Fey who offer to help.
Game Elements to be Prepared
NPCs:These do not all need backstories or any excessive description. Most will use identical statblocks. But each should have a name and a brief physical description so they seem unique to the players.
- Common Poachers - all same stats; different names
- Poacher Lieutenants - 2 or 3; same/similar stats; different names
- Innocent Village Elders - 5 needed - all shopkeepers or merchants; different names.
- Amaric Duncanson - the ringleader. Though he will not be encoutered in this role, he is a shopkeeper and Elder.
Locations:A full map of the village of Spirit Lake is required. It needs to contain the following locations, which should also be described in sufficient detail to be workable:
- Inn with rooms for the party and a large common room
- Several common shops (with Elders as proprietors! One of these is the General Goods store owned by Amaric Duncanson that fronts the poaching operation.
- Town meeting hall
- A regional map may also be helpful to be able to place forest encounters.