Shadows of Keron Episode 12: The Uninvited Guest

Kenaton is a big city, and the players have been travelling towards it for months, so even if it isn’t the eventual destination, it deserves a couple of adventures. There are none specifically set in Kenaton, and the few urban One-Sheets don’t look suitable. OK then, what do we know about Kenaton?

Reading through the relevant sections of Beasts & Barbarians and Citadel of the Winged God, I see that Kyros City and Kenaton have been allies for a long time, and that both cities provide troops to the Golden Guard, whose aim is to make the Gold Route (which follows the Sword River) safe for trade. This is a land and river route from the northern countries to Kenaton, where it crosses the Brown Sea to Lhoban. Kenaton is thus both a seaport and a major trade hub.

That’s it. Actually, that’s about the level of detail I like; enough to get me thinking but not prescriptive or over-detailed. I can do pretty much what I like, and it’s about time Jughal the Restless came back; he shouldn’t give up until the party either kill him permanently or give him the gems, in which case there will be tears before bedtime. I imagine he is tracking them because of some mystical connection to the gems, possibly he can see through them – yes, I like that. So, Jughal knows that The Warforged is carrying the Eyes on his person.

Jughal’s objective is to recover the Eyes, and thus gain control over his own Weakness. If he can get them without violence, so much the better – less risk to him that way. He knows of several treasure caches and will happily trade one or more of them for the Eyes; after all, once he is completely invulnerable, he can always get them back.

He is a lich, so his main strength is that he knows almost all the powers in the book. I decide that he can see through the Eyes, and knows their direction and distance at all times, but he can’t hear through them. So, he has to follow along behind the group, which limits his chances to lay traps. Once they reach Kenaton, however, and settle in to trade, relax and so forth, he can act – but he will still act swiftly as he doesn’t know their plans.

He has three basic strategies available to him; deceit (persuade the party to give him the gems), stealth (steal them), and brute force. Of course he could just ask nicely, but where’s the fun in that? Someone this old and sneaky knows enough about power to kick off all three approaches and go with the one that bears fruit first. I decide to expose the party to the visible signs of his plans, then wing it, letting the session go wherever they wandered. It’s a long time since I’ve run a completely improvised session, wouldn’t want to get rusty.

-o0o-

Resting up in Kenaton, the group sells off unwanted possessions and enjoys the comforts of city life for a while. They decide they are staying at the Headless Chicken Inn, part of a chain stretching across the continent, which amuses me.

Ahmed the Jeweller, whom they befriended while selling off gems, asks to meet them and tells them he has been ordered by a mysterious stranger to make a pair of matching ruby earrings, quickly, or die. The rubies he describes are an exact match for the Eyes of Jughal. Can the party help him find such rubies, or alternatively intervene with his patron? As it happens, they can.

When a thug from the Thieves’ Guild comes around to check on progress, they show him the Eyes and offer to sell him The Warforged (clearly some kind of automaton). He sets up a meeting with the Guildmaster for the following day.

While The Warforged guards the jeweller’s shop, the others go into the seedy side alleys, looking for information on the Guild. In addition to that, which doesn’t help them much, they learn that someone has dug up a few dozen bodies in the city cemetery. Nessime goes there and discovers evil runes carved on the tombs, then alerts the local Temple of Hulian, who respond by girding their loins and staking out the cemetery.

Something sneaks into the jewellers’ that night and tries to cast a spell on The Warforged, but fails.

Day 2, and at the meeting with the Guildmaster, the party learns that the mysterious stranger has offered the Guild 50,000 Moons to retrieve the rubies, which is far more than they are worth. The Warforged proves he has them, then offers to double that if the Guild will set up a meeting with the stranger. The Guild agrees.

That night, the whole party camp out in Ahmed’s shop. Something sneaks in, uses Puppet on The Warforged (he has a weakness, and it is his rubbish Spirit trait) to persuade him to hand over the Eyes of Jughal, then Teleport to escape. Unfortunately, the parting instruction to The Warforged is “kill them all”, which triggers a second Spirit save – this one, he makes, and as it is now raining, a humanoid figure can be seen limned in raindrops in the alley outside. The party charge into contact, firing ranged spells, and Shake their opponent; it is none other than Jughal the Restless, whose Invisibility drops when he is Shaken. He Teleports again, but The Warforged manages to snatch back the Eyes before he does so.

Day 3, and Nessime alerts the Temple to Jughal’s presence. They are not angry, but very, very disappointed that the party released Jughal from his tomb. Nessime spends the day being debriefed before the Temple sends runners off in all directions to raise the alarm.

Meanwhile, The Warforged and Gutz meet the Guild to tell them the deal is off. The Guildmaster explains that this means he is 150,000 out of pocket, and he would be happy to take that in cash. Immediately. This leads to an argument, and shortly thereafter, missile fire from rooftop archers who have The Drop on the party. However, it takes more than an arrow to drop The Warforged, and Gutz is happy not to be the primary target. Both sides retreat before things turn to melee.

The Guild is no longer the party’s friend.

That night, again the whole party camps out in the shop, and they are rewarded with a mass zombie assault during the small hours – Jughal is responsible for the raid on the cemetery, and has used it to raise some disposable troops. Blast spells dispose of most of them, but they are just a diversion, as Jughal Teleports inside the shop and unleashes a Fear spell on the party. This has no effect on Nessime or The Warforged, but Gutz has to spend a benny to avoid a fatal heart attack, and is Shaken for a number of rounds.

The Warforged returns the favour, but zombies are immune and Jughal has enough Spirit to shake it off. Jughal and The Warforged nod at each other, having established that Fear won’t work. Jughal next casts Puppet on The Warforged, takes the Eyes from him, and runs out.

The party pursues him into the night, whereupon he uses Fly to get up onto the rooftops. A lucky Bolt brings him down, and before he can recover (he’s out of bennies by this point) the party are upon him.

After much debate, they place the Eyes back in Jughal’s sockets, immobilising him. The liche is then dismembered, with his head (including Eyes) in the Temple at Kenaton, and other parts dispersed around the continent. The Warforged consents to this so long as he is paid rent for the use of the Eyes. Although disappointed by this, the Temple decides 5 Moons per week is a small price to pay for the continued existence of humanity, and so the deal is struck.

-o0o-

When next we see our heroes, they will have moved on to Syranthia, site of the Great Library. What could possibly go wrong?

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2 thoughts on “Shadows of Keron Episode 12: The Uninvited Guest

  1. Man, this is GREAT!
    I really like as you used a minor enemy of an adventure (Jughal the Restless) as major villain. This is exactly as published adventures should be used: tweak, use (abuse) them to fit you game!

    PS Bennie of Best Tavern Name of the Day for the Headless Chicken Inn. I think I’ll include it in an official scenario, if you agree.

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