I think the next session could well see the party back in town, so I need to work out what’s there quickly. Out comes Red Tide and its GM aids; we’ve already established that the Temple of Athena has influence and that there is a powerful wizard nearby, so I pick the city tags of Important Temple (p. 107) and Magical School (p.108). Much though I like Thegn Ragnvald as an NPC, nobody has gone near him since he was created nearly a year ago, so he fades into the background.
The Temple of Athena
The Temple is the local headquarters of the Order of the Minewatch, which sponsors paladin PCs. Like the historical Knights Templar, this is a religious fighting order established to protect travellers – in this case, those on the main east-west caravan route from Ezhdan to Skulos, and the river route from the Sea of Marenos north to Hjemland. The biggest danger in both cases was posed by the monstrous inhabitants of Irongrave, so the Order founded its headquarters and largest temple in the nearest town – Murad. Play has already established that friends at the Temple include Bishop Otus, high priest and Grand Master of the order, and his acolyte Galen; likewise we know that there is a relic, the Holy Handkerchief of St Veronica. Galen doesn’t fit into the “official” version of the tag, but useful as these GM tools are, they serve me, not the other way around.
As preparation for a scenario involving the Temple, should one be needed, I crack open Stars Without Number and roll percentile dice on the adventure seeds table on pp 133-136. A score of 44 tells me that “A librarian Friend has discovered an antique databank with the coordinates of a long-lost pretech cache hidden in a Place sacred to a long-vanished religion. The librarian is totally unsuited for danger, but necessary to decipher the obscure religious iconography needed to unlock the cache. The cache is not the anticipated Thing, but something more dangerous to the finder.”
No need to create another NPC, Galen seems perfectly suited to this. Galen has recently bought a scroll from a caravan merchant, and on reading it discovers directions to a lost shrine of Minerva, as Athena was known to the vanished Empire of the Wolf, in the depths of the forest north east of Murad. This shrine contains the Helm of Minerva, a powerful artefact. On fighting their way through various encounters to the shrine, the PCs discover the Helm long gone, if it was ever there, and some suitably heinous undead in residence instead. If they survive that, they can go looking for the Helm.
The Magical School
I know from previous sessions that Myrrdin the wizard lives near Murad, and that one of his former apprentices turned to the Dark Side. That gives me a Friend, again not one on the list in Red Tide but never mind, and a Complication, which is on the list.
Rolling again on the SWN adventure seed table, I get 41; “A Friend who is a skilled precognitive has just received a flash of an impending atrocity to be committed by an Enemy. He or she needs the party to help them steal the Thing that will prove the Enemy’s plans while dodging the assassins sent to eliminate the precog.”
Again reusing an existing NPC, I make Myrrdin the precognitive. Looking at p. 108 of Red Tide, I decide the head of a rival school will do for the Enemy, and a tome of forbidden lore for the Thing. That triggers an association for me with SPI’s Demons, which I’m using for the wilderness map.
If this scenario seems appropriate, Myrrdin summons the PCs to tell them that he has had a premonition that his old rival, Kyryl the Skulan, has acquired a copy of the forbidden Lamegeton, a tome of demonology, and that Kyryl plans to use this to kill him and loot his tower. The party’s tasks are to protect Myrrdin from demonic assassins (which fortunately can only be sent during specific phases of the moon) and recover the book (which Kyryl is bringing with him as he travels into Gardar in pursuit of his dark goals).
Job done, in about 15 minutes. All I need now is players. I’m now covered for one session if they turn around and march out of the dungeon, and two sessions if they don’t; time to down tools for the moment.