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The Architects of Betrayal (TAB) 14: Dammit Josh If I've Told You Once . . .

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Can I get extra humiliation on that?
The final destination of all great quests . . .

As we left our vigilante Crocodile Dundee wannabees, they were just preparing a twist for the DM. I know right? That's supposed to be my job. If it means anything to you the name of the facebook group has things to do with dungeon masters and irking them. But I digress.

As they escorted the poor pickpocket into the temple from whence they'd come not two minutes before (Velic still floating along with arms crossed) the priestess ran forward. "You're back so soon," she started before noting their captive. "Stevie, what have you done now?" she then asked.

This of course is a perfect example of a plot hook. The players are supposed to go "Oh you know this highwayman?" At which point the priestess would have told them of Stevie's tragic past. Orphaned when both parents were killed in a vicious carriage racing accident. No real education except what the temple had been able to provide. Ran away several times. Broke. Hungry. Turning to crime to fill the belly.

It was a tale to elicit sympathy from any decent character (note I didn't say player) under such circumstances. Then she could have continued by telling them that she'd heard he was trying to work his way into the services of The Face, the leader of Neverwinter's most powerful group of rogues. Then they could have gone to the town's constable and gotten enough hints to locate the group's lair. Or they could have gone to the mayor and found another way into their hideout. But alas, it wasn't meant to be . . .

Wait, what was that? What did they ask? Oh . . . that.

They asked if they could use a room in the back. You know, for torture . . . and stuff.

Of course there were rooms right? So into the back they took the kid, at which point Vex scared the ever living shit out of the sixteen year old. She literally had him scared speechless. Then Velic came in to play good cop. I mean seriously? Good cop, bad cop?! How cliche could they get, right? They also clearly hadn't considered that this was the guy that took control of poor Stevie's body mid-stride. Not exactly the person you want calming him down, I'd think.

But they weren't having any of asking anyone but this kid for information. So eventually he calmed enough to tell them that The Hand had offered him a chance. All he'd had to do was complete this one task. The Hand of course being one of the agents of The Face. That's really all I know about the asshole since I was making him up on the spot.

Of course, now they could go ask about The Face right? Nope. What do they ask?

"Where is this Hand guy?"

"Why is he called The Hand?"

"Is it because he only has one?"

etc. etc. ad nauseum

Since I was making this up on the spot I simply refused to answer most of them, but it made sense that Stevie would know where to find 'this Hand guy'. So they managed to find out from him that the guy had a room at one of the more disreputable bar/gambling establishments.

And Velic's response was "Oh yeah I know that place.' ???

And off they went with only a "don't let the boy escape" to the priestess. No probing questions. No information gained.

Getting to the place was no issue. And let me tell you, its a lot of work to create a bar on the fly. Once there Velic sidled up to it as if he'd been going there for years.

But before he could start probing the recently created bartender said in a rather gruff voice "Get out of here Velic. You know there are no games here for you." This caught some inquiring looks from the party as they wondered how this little more than thief would know their newest recruit on a first name basis.

"My winnings," Velic replied casually "might be lessened if you could help me."

"And what is it that the great gambler Velic might need from little old me?" the bartender asked, shifting into bargaining mode with a distinct lack of subtlety.

"I need an audience with The Hand." After this there was a bit of haggling back and forth. The Bartender's opening move was to feign lack of knowledge on 'this hand guy'. Velic pointed out that the aforementioned debt would probably be enough to get him ownership of the entire tavern. Back and forth they went for a bit before finally settling on an absolution of the debt to find out that The Hand was upstairs.

"But it won't do you any good," he added smugly as the group turned to the stairs. "You're not going to get past that brute he calls a guard." Had Velic known the group better I'm certain he'd have said something indicating that that was fine; they had, after all, brought a gnome.

Velic and the gnome then headed upstairs to confront said Hulk.

"We need to see the hand,"

"I'm sure you have an invitation," the hulk sneered.

"Of course," the gnome piped up. "We're close friends!" The urge to face-palm was strong with Velic at that moment, but somehow he managed to resist.

"Well then," the hulk replied sounding amused "then I'm sure you can give me his name."

And it was at this point that the gnome looked up aghast at the brute and exclaimed "You don't know the boss's name?!" . . . Alright roll your bluff check.

Of course that forced me to figure out this product of my ad libbing imagination's sense motive bonus. I figured he was about level ten, not too wise, call it a +8 on his sense motive check. And so the rolls: /*The 6th level gnome rolled a 33. However, being a nearly impossible bluff it got -20 making his roll a 13

Josh (as I insta-dubbed him) rolled a 10.*/

"Of course I know his name," Josh sputtered defensively. "It's Craig!"

"That's exactly right," Quagrim replied as Velic rolled his eyes. "Let us in to see Craig." The hulk shrugged and opened the door. What else would he do with such ironclad evidence of their stature?

Of course The Hand was well aware that he had no appointments with these two . . . people. They of course were careful to close the door so Josh wouldn't see the man's face.

"Josh!" he yelled before Velic could cast silence on him.

The door opened again, but before the rather simple guard could intrude the gnome popped his head into the crack and said "The boss wants a sandwich. From the usual place."

/*Alright, roll your bluff you mischievous bastard

This time the shifty bastard managed to roll a 38. This being a more believable lie I only gave him a -10 leaving him with a 28.

Josh rolled a 16.*/

"Righto boss," he said before heading out, leaving the dynamic duo to question said hushed boss. It didn't take long for them to convince him they could be a nuisance if he didn't help them, at which point he admitted that his group did have the gem. He even agreed to arrange a meet if they would be at a specific location the next day.

Meanwhile Calith, seeing Josh head downstairs, concluded this must be the man they were after and attempted to tail him. This worked for about ten feet before he heard her, neither clerics nor rangers being stealthy at all in urban environs. He then turned a corner and caught her as she pursued. But he still had a mission to complete. So off to ye ole sandwich shop he went, with a half elf cleric/ranger tossed over one beefy shoulder.

Mission accomplished, Tanic and Quagrim headed back downstairs to remonstrate with the group, only to discovered that the elf had followed the wayward bodyguard. Getting directions from the bartender they hurried off to save the reluctant healer, eventually catching the twosome as Josh was going over the menu. But what to do, what to do?

I know! Send in the gnome. To his credit, he triggered his (recently purchased) hat of disguise, changing it from a bowler hat to a top hat before strolling into the shop. He then made a show of examining the menu before saying to Josh "I know we've never met (I'll not discuss bluff rolls anymore) but I'd say you should probably let that creature go. You don't want to know where she's been."

And the bodyguard dropped her off his shoulder with a look that suggested he wanted a bath. Fucking gnomes . . .

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