By Phillip Gladney
Edited by Joe Mandala for The Guild Companion
Please refer to previous installments of this campaign in earlier issues
of The Guild Companion for additional maps, notes, NPC statistics, and
other aids. You can find these issues here. This is the
penultimate installment of this campaign. Look for the final episode soon!
When the party reaches Fennas Drunin their first priority will be to get in touch with Paetric, familiarize him with the recent events and discuss payment for any help the PCs give. They will find him at his townhouse. Upon debriefing the leader of the town council, Paetric informs them that their mission must be completed in the shortest time period possible. He has no knowledge about either of the two messages contents, but is worried about their meaning. Paetric is unsure as to whom he can trust at this stage and is willing to go to any lengths to secure the help of the group. Negotiations with Paetric will revolve around compensation is some form other than cash since the coffers of Fennas Drunin are almost empty. Paetric will offer large parcels of land in the region close to the border in addition to any spoils recovered. In negotiation on the amount of land he will go up to a few thousand acres per character. If this is not suitable to the PCs the best he can offer is cash at a later date. This amount, however, will pale in total compensation with the offer of land. If the characters agree, Paetric will promise them 25-45 pieces of gold per group member for uncovering the Angmarean spy, to be paid in 6 months. After negotiations are complete, Paetric will remind the characters not to tell anybody about their mission. He will tell Andalyn about the agreement and they will be the only ones who are to know outside of the members of the party.
After meeting with Paetric the only thing left to do is locate the enemy agent. The other members of the town council are all potential suspects. If questioned, Paetric will be unable to give the party any relevant information on the other members of the town council. They are going to have to do some sleuthing on their own.
However the PCs choose to go about it, they will be unable to find any incriminating evidence on the remaining members of the council. This is because the culprit is not a member of the council.
On the second day after the partys return to Fennas Drunin, a messenger from the armies on the border arrives and relates the battles outcome and the revelation about spies to the fascinated populace. Celebrations over the victory take place all over town. Eventually, the partys involvement comes to light and the group becomes quasi-celebrities in town. That same night Amrill, the rich merchant and agent of the Witch-king, holds a grand party in his expansive town manor for the affluent members of the town. The party members are invited as guests of honor. Since all of the council members and prominent citizens will be there this is a perfect avenue to better acquaint themselves with the movers and shakers of Fennas Drunin.
That night approximately 40-50 townsfolk are in attendance at Amrills party. A small group of musicians softly plays music as maidservants go about the room pouring Dorwinion wine to everyone who requests it. A banquet table sits to one side holding racks of lamb, roast fowl, smoked trout, venison, a variety of breads and a bounty of fruits and vegetables. Small groups of people are bunched together throughout the lower level chatting and exchanging stories. Curious townsfolk inquiring about their adventures and the events up at Harnalda will constantly molest the PCs. Amrill himself spends a good bit of time with the characters asking about their background and introducing them to various members of the community. He is doing this purely for "business" purposes. Since the party represents the single unknown element in town, Amrill is determined to find out their intentions and at the same time ingratiate himself with them. Most of his questions, all asked under a convincing guise of simple small talk, will revolve around the partys future plans. He is gauging their continued interest in the region and would dearly love to hear that the party is now on its way out of town since the "action" is over. He will even offer to hire them as caravan guards for some upcoming trip over the Misty Mountains, although, unbeknownst to the party, this offer is more of a "one-way trip" type of arrangement.
After spending most of the evening with the party and not hearing what he wanted to hear pertaining to the partys future plans, Amrill will deduce that the PCs are working to uncover the spy in town. Amrill will now set about a plan in motion to sidetrack the PCs and create havoc and confusion in Fennas Drunin.
After the party, the group is free to investigate however they choose. Unfortunately, unless the group already suspects Amrill, all of their investigative work will be fruitless. However, the second night after the party a horrible event takes place. As the party wakes up the following morning they learn about the death of the Weavers Guildmaster. Corvan was found in an alley with a dagger sticking out of his back. The body has already been taken to the town hall for inspection and burial preparation. The party will be invited to the inquest and there will be notified by Paetric of a letter found in the boot of the dead council member. He takes the party aside and shows it to them:
Your suspicions were right. Nellane had secret meeting in the old Tarmils Trading warehouse with stranger last night who left with small package. Will attempt to follow stranger and get back to you.
Be careful. Nellane may be aware of your suspicions and my hiring through sources in the guild.
Trust no one.
Paetric tells the party that this must obviously remain a secret. Corvans body was searched vigorously and his money pouch was not taken. This eliminates the possibility that it was merely a random robbery. They should use this information as best as possible, but Nellanne is a very popular man in town with the workers. He cannot be accused of both the murder and spying without any hard evidence.
Now the party has a lead, albeit a planted and false one. By asking around town the party finds out that Nellanne spends a good bit of time in the warehouse that also serves as his office. A search of the abandoned warehouse located near Nellanes office (once run by a man named Tarmil) will reveal more planted evidence in the form of two messages from a fictitious person, ostensibly an Angmarean spymaster, located underneath some loose boards in the floor. These messages are all in Dunael and say:
Message #1We need the plans for the barges as soon as possible. Construction will begin soon. Also, send reports through the regular channels about all convoys leaving for the border forts. We need dates, size and number of guards for each. As compensation for your help you will receive 50 pieces of gold for each report and 100 when the project is complete. You will be contacted if we need anything more from you
Message #2The boats should be ready within a few weeks. Your help in the construction project will not be forgotten. Once we have control of the town and this region you will be given exclusive rights to control all non-military traffic between Fennas Drunin and Tharbad (in addition to the previously agreed upon reward).
Absolutely no one is to find out about the operation. Eliminate any who do or your own life will be forfeit. Remember, we know who our friends (and enemies!) are and we will deal with both when we are in power.
A small bag of gold with 50 gp in it is also located with the messages. These messages are a ruse meant to mislead the adventurers into exploring the relatively empty shores of the northern Bruinen. This would be a waste of valuable time and could help alter the odds of succeeding in the true operation at Minas Brethil. Amrill knows that it is all a matter of time now and an extra week or two of construction at the old abandoned fort could mean the difference.
Amrill, keeping close tabs on the adventurers via Leoric and his skills, soon begins to believe the characters are getting too close and decides to make a punitive attack in the form of a night ambush. Bringing in all of his subordinates outside the town and gathering them at Descarrs horse shop, Amrill has his informants keep a watch on the group. A day or so after the murder of Corvan, Amrills lackeys will have standing orders to assault the party whenever the group next forays out into the night. This ambush will most likely take place as the party returns to their lodgings in the Oak Tree. This will give the assembled smugglers and thieves a chance to find a satisfactory location for their ambush.
The ambush itself will consist of an initial volley of arrows fired by smugglers located on nearby roofs followed by a rush of warriors wielding hand weapons. The 14 smugglers and off-duty caravan guards expect the sudden onslaught to frighten and otherwise render the party impotent so therefore they will not be ready for any resistance. If the party is able to fend off the first assault the faint-hearted knaves will turn about and retreat into the darkness in several different directions. Any survivors will rendezvous at Descarrs horse shop. If the party is able to follow any of them back to the shop it will provide a bounty of leads. Descarr will not answer any questions as to the originator of the ambush, unless tortured, something the civilized folk of the Angle are loath to do. Upon inspection of his shop, town guards will locate a stash of illicit drugs. There is no evidence of any spy activity within the shop however. Affiliating the ambush with Amrill will be difficult. Unless the party gets Descarr to confess Amrills complicity there will be no direct ties to the wealthy merchant. Even if the Dunlending drug smuggler does incriminate Amrill, the town leaders will be reluctant to publicly accuse the merchant due to the inability to truly have faith in anything Descarr says. The next step will be a surreptitious infiltration of the merchants house in the hopes of finding hard evidence.
The Merchants House
By now Amrill is well aware that the fingers of suspicion are pointing to him and yet he also knows that without any proof it is all only hearsay. He will feign ignorance to all about his role in the recent events and act as if he is utterly insulted by any inference that he is involved. To prove his guilt the party must enter his abode and search for incriminating evidence. This will be more difficult since the personal guard of Amrill has been put on high alert. They will attempt to foil any entrance into Amrills town home by armed resistance. Since the merchant still has his believers within the power structure of the region, including several members of the town council, official assistance or approval of any entry into Amrills home will not be forthcoming. Paetric believes that a night insertion might suffice, but the party must use stealth to avoid any unnecessary conflicts.
For all of Amrills exceptional intelligence and cunning he is still ruled by emotion. The haughtiness and arrogance of his Umbarean forefathers runs thickly in his veins. For this reason Amrill has not and will not destroy the evidence implicating him in the spy ring. He feels safe within his walls and, in truth, needs it so that he may relay it onto his superiors in Angmar. Failure to pass these messages on could result in an untimely demise for Amrill. Also, messages going to the agents in Cardolan are frequently sent in a set time of the month or week. Therefore, Amrill is holding onto the only things that could prove he is indeed the traitor in the midst of the townsfolk. Even though Amrill must keep the secret messages originating in Cardolan for future transportation to Angmar, this does not mean that he doesnt have to hide them. This he has done rather ingeniously. Leoric handles the day-to-day affairs of both the merchant business and the covert spying. The papers containing the location of the secret Angmarean operation as well as other messages from spies within Cardolan are located in Leorics bedroom in the second floor of the gate tower. If the party can obtain these papers they would be able to both prove Amrills guilt and discover the exact position of the enemy encampment.
After Amrill is revealed as the Sandserpent, the agent of the Witch-king working in Fennas Drunin, the town guard, now comprised of the youngest and oldest of the levy, takes him captive (if alive!) to the Gate Tower to await trial. The guard, overseen by the members of the council, carefully inspects his entire townhouse for any extra bits of evidence or valuables. The members of Amrills household who were kept against their will are freed and taken in by several different groups temporarily. The soldiers and other servants of Angmar who survived are also taken to the Gate Tower to be incarcerated.
For several days after that the entire town is a rumor mill with wild stories about almost any and everything possible circulating. Even though the townspeople are stunned by the news they are at the same time relieved for they know that now they have a much better chance in fending off the assaults of Angmars pawn, Rhudaur. The PCs are now bona fide celebrities and are invited to several different parties each night. Men in every bar in town offer to buy them drinks. Single women surround the available (human) males in the group and attempt to make themselves as accessible as possible.
While the characters are enjoying the spotlight in town, Paetric and Andalyn are busy questioning the survivors in the Gate Tower and pouring over the letters found in Amrills townhouse. Thankfully, Andalyn has been tutored by the Elves of Rivendell in Black Speech and is able to decipher all of the letters. Through these endeavors they are able to come up with a plethora of valuable information most of which concerns events in Cardolan. Even though there is no direct reference to Minas Brethil, there is mention in one of the messages of the locals fear of the place they are operating in and how they use that to their advantage. The sentence causes Andalyn to remember the ancient haunted castle called Minas Brethil located on the western flank of the Angle. Without being entirely convinced of the authenticity of the letter, Andalyn advises Paetric that Minas Brethil should be checked out.
On the morning of the trial, when Amrill and his fellow subversives are transferred to the Town Hall, the townsfolk righteously show their anger towards him. Mobs of people line the boardwalk between the Gate Tower and the Town Hall and yell obscenities and insults to him and his compatriots. Fruit, small rocks and other not-so-delightful items are thrown on the downtrodden Angmarim as they make the walk in chains to the tall structure that serves as the citys administrative center. All morning and into the afternoon the trial takes place with crowds of people standing around the building awaiting the outcome. Inside the building the more important individuals in town are allowed to observe the procedure. The PCs are called to give testimony and are questioned about their particular activities. In the end, Amrill and/or his subordinates are found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. That next morning, in front of a crowd of several hundred people, the guilty parties are taken upon a scaffold and hung to the cheers of the populace of Fennas Drunin.
Obviously it may become difficult to lead some PCs to the true conclusion that Amrill is the spymaster. The use of other "leads" may be totally appropriate. One may be to have the PCs hear a rumor about lights or other "suspicious" activities at either Descarrs or Amrill's. Another may be to hear about the smugglers and their operation and put two and two together. Perhaps one of the ambushers sent by Amrill gets recognized as a caravansary usually employed by Amrill. Maybe a bounty hunter in town hunting Gorm Tavar recognizes the assassin and alerts the local authorities to his presence in Amrills house. If all else fails, have a secret message delivered to Andalyn from the local Rangers of Arthedain. This message will detail the mysterious activities of Amrills caravans after they leave the town proper. In this case, the caravans are re-supplied by the smugglers near the river just outside of town with the illicit goods to be delivered to Angmar. The PCs will be unable to authenticate this because all caravans have been cancelled until after the conflict is over but at least it is a good lead to Amrill.
An added dilemma is that of the group members not being able to find the evidence. Without finding the evidence Amrill will remain a free man (the group members might be the ones sent to jail!) and the group will not obtain the letters that direct them to Minas Brethil. To aid mistaken and imperceptive PCs the GM might have to resort to some sort of "gimme" such as letters located in the study or a fortuitous confession by one of the guardsmen fearing for his life.
Another possibility within this scenario is the option of alternate endings. During the course of the night reconnaissance into Amrills manor house, events may take a different turn. Perchance the characters will be unsuccessful in their probe of the Umbareans house. If that happens to be the case, perhaps a good choice would be to have a small siege of the manor house. The weaker levy members left behind would surround the manor and the Angmarim might attempt a breakout. This could result in increased fighting for the PCs, who would naturally take the forefront of any assault. If Amrill escapes to his boat or even one of the horses in his stable or Descarrs, then perhaps a chase by the PCs of Amrill would be appropriate.
Please post your comments
on this article on the Middle-Earth Discussion Board.
Where am I? Scrolls of Wisdom Vote for us on the RPG 100 Sponsored by Mimic Media & Data Systems