It’s that time of year again where everyone wishes they had more money in order to take part in Black Friday. No? Just me? Regardless of how you choose to spend your upcoming holiday, there’s no escaping the many advertisements for visiting your family and spending money on holiday sales.
With that in mind, this week’s WorldBuilding Wednesday is going to include a special encounter that you can include in your next campaign! Whether it’s a short one-off or you decide to use it as an opener for longer adventure, the choice is entirely up to you.
Below, I shall include an Adventure Template. In order to allow any kind of tabletop ruleset to use the encounter, I’ll be vague on some of the particulars. Simply replace certain elements that better suit your game’s ruleset in order to use the encounter!
Also, because this might run a little long, I’ll be splitting the adventure into a few different parts. This blog post is dedicated to Chapter One.
With that being said, allow me to present: The Estate Sale of Lord Abernath
Your adventuring party hears news about a local lord that has passed away. There’s a great deal of excitement over the passing instead of vast mourning. While the Lord was a decent man, it’s no secret that he was also a fine collector of weapons and arcane artifacts. Kings from around the world would often receive their most treasured gifts from Lord Abernath’s collection. Perhaps even more exciting is the news that the estate sale is going to include vast discounts. The kind of prices that even peasants could afford! Shall your party take part in this crazed attempt to procure some of these incredibly decently-prized artifacts? Who knows what wonders they might behold?
Running the Adventure
The DM/GM should note that this adventure can be as difficult or as easy as the adventurer’s need. You can easily decrease or increase the number of enemies that your adventurer’s encounter based on their level and current power. You can also feel free to change out any of the enemies with other creatures that you wish to use. This adventure is, at its very heart, able to be modded for your needs.
While the estate sale is attributed to this fictional character, Lord Abernath, you’re able to switch him out with any known character that your party members may have encountered before if you wish to make it more personal.
Finally, it should be noted that this adventure is inspired by a satirical critical eye behind the materialism of Black Friday. Have fun with it. Don’t be afraid to make it a bit zany and outlandish. Parts that are to be read by the DM/GM aloud shall have a boldened DM/GM before the paragraph.
Lord Abernath has been collecting dangerous weapons and archaic arcana objects for his entire life. While his recent death was simply ruled natural causes (he died in his sleep), investigation of the estate may prove otherwise.
There are several factions vying for some of the treasure within Lord Abernath’s estate. They include:
Lord Bebberidge: A neighboring lord who has had his eye on Lord Abernath’s wealth for some time. He sees the estate sale as an opportunity to grow his own wealth. In addition, since Lord Abernath did not leave a will indicating who would inherit his lands, he believes that it his right to swallow the territory into his own lands. He doesn’t tolerate outsiders looking to cash-in on the treasure and has hired a group of mercenaries to ensure he gets the best treasure.
The Raven: So named for the pet raven that always sits on his shoulder, the Raven is a mysterious man with ties to the local Thieves Guild. He’s come to the estate sale to find trinkets to bring back to his Guild. Aiding him may increase the party’s reputation with the guild.
Leandra Buckets: A woman of common blood, she’s from the nearby town that Lord Abernath would often frequent for food and other household purchases. She’s an owner of an orphanage that hopes to find some treasure that may ensure she can keep the doors open a bit longer and keep the children fed.
The Masses: The nearby town and several people from all over the region have descended upon this place in the hopes of gobbling up some treasure. Poor and rich alike, they’re greedy and opportunistic.
Part One: Arrival to the Estate
DM/GM: Never before have you seen such a crowd. Tents, even small huts, have been erected all around the estate in question. Campfires are lit, and you can smell the overwhelming aroma of cooked food and unwashed bodies. It’s easy to pick apart the common rabble from nobility by the state of the tents alone. A few of the nobles have even brought along armed guards. One tent in particular catches your eye. It’s large and houses a grouchy-faced noble within. He ignores your passing party but the group of mercenaries around his tent don’t.
DM/GM: One of the mercenaries sneers at the sight of you. “Take your rusty swords and weatherworn faces out of here if you know what’s good for you. Lord Bebberidge has laid claim to all of the treasure within that estate. No use getting bloody for it.”
DM/GM: “Leave them alone!” cries another voice. It’s softer, but firm. Out of the passing crowd, a woman emerges. Her apron is dirty, but she’s young and carries a determined gleam in her eye. “They have just as much a right to be here as anyone else.” The mercenary sneers but says nothing more. The woman turns to your party and offers an apologetic smile. “Don’t mind them. They’ve been trying to scare off anyone with a sword or a few weapons at their disposal. Probably frightened they’ll have to actually fight. I’m Leandra. I wonder if I might trouble you for a moment?”
Leandra has been looking for a group of kind-hearted warriors who might do her a kindness. She’s likely going to try and convince any good-aligned member of the party. Leandra needs help locating a boy from the orphanage that journeyed with her. Yet, with as busy as the area is, she lost him in the crowd.
She can explain to them that she runs an orphanage and can reward them for their time. While she doesn’t have much gold (20 gold each), she can offer them information about the treasure that Lord Abernath loved best. It’s unlikely that she’ll be able to bid on the mysterious treasure chest, herself.
The boy is seven years old, scrappy, brown tussled hair, and carries a birth mark on his jaw in the shape of a crescent moon. His name is Oxby.
There are three main areas to investigate: The stables, the lords ring, and the cooking fires. Your players can choose where they’d like to investigate first. Some areas are mere dead ends while others may contain useful pieces of information.
Part 2: The Search for Oxby
DM/GM: Entering the stables, you are amazed at how much it smells. With as many horses that are being lined up in makeshift stables, the amount of poop is staggering. Surely, a little boy wouldn’t go hiding in a mountain of poop . . . surely.
Within the stables, the players can speak to a NPC who has been given stablemaster duty. He doesn’t particularly care for the job, however, as he’s frightened of horses. But gold is gold. Players can ask him about the boy. He will refuse to speak without being paid first (10 gold). Players can also intimidate, persuade, or charm him. His DC is 10.
If successful on any of these attempts, the NPC stablemaster will nod to the mountains of poop and inform them that the last time he saw a boy matching that decsription, he was searching for something in one of the poop piles.
If unsuccessful, the NPC stablemaster will say nothing and go about his business.
Investigation of the poop piles will lead the players to make a choice. Do they dig into the poop or not? Due to the sheer amount and the constant piling of yet more poop, it’s difficult to know how old each pile is. There are also dozens of tracks everywhere. A successful investigation/tracking check beating DC of 15 will inform the party that there is a set of small footprints that lead towards the lord’s ring.
An unsuccessful investigation check will require a party member to dive into the mountains of poop to find a small child’s wooden toy horse. There is no sign of Oxby within the mountain.
The Cooking Fires:
DM/GM: As you come to an area where most of the cooking seems to be happening, there is a lot of traffic in this area. You know immediately that finding any tracks of a small boy is going to be impossible. None of the cooking fires are manned by the same hands either. Rather, it seems that the cooking fires are free-to-use for anyone who needs it. As such, you’re not sure if anyone has been sticking around the area long enough to have seen a young boy passing through the area for food. However, you soon get the feeling that someone else is watching you.
DM/GM: On the far side of the area, you notice a cloaked figure with a raven on his shoulder. Once he has caught your eye, he makes his way over to you. “I know whom you seek,” he whispers, yet the whisper is loud enough to carry to your ears. “I can help you find the boy. But a favor warrants a favor.”
It is The Raven, a member of the local Thieves’ Guild. He spotted the boy being dragged to the lords ring by a mercenary. He will trade this information with the party if they allow him to temporarily join their party during the opening of the estate sale. If they ask why or insight check (DC 8) his reasons for wanting to join them, it is because he knows the estate sale will begin and end in bloodshed. He tastes bloodlust just as much as greed in the air, and he’s just one man.
The Raven is after a particular piece of treasure that his Guild discovered was in the hands of Lord Abernath. It is the River Ruby, a rare and expensive gem that is red in the air, but turns a stunning blue when held under the water. Acquiring this for the Guild will increase his reputation considerably.
If they agree to let Raven join their party, he will tell them that he saw a mercenary take the boy to the lords ring. In particular, the mercenary belonged to a noble named Lord Bebberidge. Raven tells them, he’ll join them when the sale begins.
If they don’t agree to let Raven join their party, then he will tell them that he is their friend and not an enemy. And proves it by telling them that he saw the boy taken by a mercenary to the lords ring. He does not tell them that it was Lord Bebberidge’s mercenary.
There is also a trader in this area if they wish to purchase potions or sell their items.
The Lords Ring:
DM/GM: The Lords Ring is a collection of tents belonging to the nobles that came to the estate sale. They’ve all carefully arranged themselves in a tight circle to better block out the common rabble. Their tents are made of fine silk and each tent carries with it a heraldry on it to inform everyone just whose tent it is. The nobles are either speaking to one another or holed up in their tents. Their private guards remain close by, glowering at all who passes.
If they followed the tracks from the Stables: The tracks lead them to a side-tent of Lord Bebberidge. Oxby is being held in a cage. There are two guards. One is stationed outside of the entrance tent while the other is inside of the tent, in front of the cage. Players must decide what to do with the two guards and how to get the boy out. One of the guards is carrying a ring of keys. Lord Bebberidge is not present.
If they come with the advice from The Raven: If they did not get the additional information from Raven, then they will have to search each tent to find him. They’ll likely encounter a few guards and upset nobles about their intrusion in this regard. They will need to figure out a way to find the boy. Eventually, they’ll find him and discover there are two guards. One is stationed outside of the entrance tent while the other is inside of the tent, in front of the cage. Players must decide what to do with the two guards and how to get the boy out. One of the guards is carrying a ring of keys. Lord Bebberidge is not present.
If they come with the advice from The Raven: If they did get the additional information Raven, then they can immediately head to the side-tent of Lord Bebberidge. There are two guards. One is stationed outside of the entrance tent while the other is inside of the tent, in front of the cage. Players must decide what to do with the two guards and how to get the boy out. One of the guards is carrying a ring of keys. Lord Bebberidge is not present.
The boy was captured for stealing one of Bebberidge’s rings. He attempted to hide it in the mountain of poop at the stables.
The lock difficulty for lockpicking is DC 8.
Fighting the two guards is possible. To add more difficulty or a twist to the fight, you want to add two more guards who hear the commotion and come into the fight half-way through. The party members will need to decide what to do with the bodies. Lord Bebberidge’s ring is worth 3,000 gold.
DM/GM: With the boy at your side, smelling slightly likely poop, you return to Leandra. She lights up when she spots Oxby with you. “Oh, Oxby! You silly boy! You mustn’t run off like that again.”
DM/GM: Oxby looks bashfully up at her and murmurs, “sorry, Auntie Lea. I just wanted to get some gold for the orphanage. Tilly was whining about her tummy hurting.”
DM/GM: Leandra’s face softens, but she shakes her head. “This is not the way, Oxby.” Then she turns her gaze to you all. “Thank you so much for finding him. Oxby has a great heart if a foolish mind. As I promised,” and she gives you each 20 gold. “And as for the information.” She glances around, then leans and whispers, “Lord Abernath donated to the orphanage frequently. In that time, he and I grew close. He told me about some great relic that he had recently bought. This was just before he died. He said he kept it in a small black box with a white ribbon around it. Said that it was worth the value of a kingdom.” She leans back then. “I don’t know if anyone else knows about the box. But I would suggest saving your money until then. He was always good to his word, Lord Abernath.”
At this point, it is evening. It is suggested that your party takes a long rest. The estate is closely watched and guarded. Sneaking into the estate is highly unlikely to be successful.
Part 3: The Sale
DM/GM: Dawn arises on the day of the estate sale. There is an excited atmosphere as everyone slowly gathers at the front of the estate where the treasures are to be taken from within and placed on a constructed stage outside. Many of the nobles have already gathered. They sit atop velvet chairs in their fine clothes. The common folk are gathered as well. They’re anxiously wrangling their hands and guarding their humble purses from cutpurses. You manage to push and gently nudge your way to the front of the crowd.
DM/GM: The murmuring in the crowd comes to a halt when the estate salesman climbs on the stage. He glances over the crowd, then says in a loud voice, “we are gathered here to conduct a civil and fair estate sale and auction of the recently passed Lord Abernath. I shall bring the first chest of personal effects now. Bidding shall begin at 10 coppers. Raise your fist in the air if you wish to bid.” He gestures to one of the men helping him. A large chest is carried forward made of leather.
DM/GM: Before the salesman can even get another word in, there’s an immediate uproar as soon as the chest appears. Men and women start shouting numbers and throw their fists in the air. At some point, someone punches the other. A fight breaks out. Mercenaries are called forth. The salesman attempts to restore order, but there’s blood in the air now. Your party is in the middle of it.
Roll for initiative.
This battle sees several waves of enemies. Some are simple farmers and peasants while others are mercenaries. There should also be innocent NPCs included on the edges of the battle. Large area of attacks may result in the injury or death of those NPCs (like Oxby).
The number of enemies, the number of waves, and the difficulty of the fight is left to the DM/GM. However, you should want to wear your party down. You may encourage your party members to make a run for the door to the estate to escape the mob.
Once the fight is over or the party members grow too weary: DM/GM: The fight continues on and on. There’s no seeming end tot he enraged peasants and nobles as they battle one another over the treasure. Yet through the crowd, you see a cloaked figure rush into the estate while everyone is distracted. The cloaked figure turns to you and gestures for you to follow. Following the figure’s lead, you rush into the estate and barricade the front door behind you.
End of Chapter 1.
While I leave the details for you to fill out, you’ll want to have:
- 2 Guards
- 1-8 waves of various enemies (farmers and mercenaries)
Keep in Touch!
Chapter 2 will be posted next week, but this should hopefully be enough for a shorter session. Feel free to add more side-quests and other silly gimmicks if you wish! But definitely let us know how your party tackles the challenges this encounter offers them.
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