Mask Campaign Chapter 1a: The Beginning…
This adventure is suited for PC’s of approximately 3rd level, but adaptable for higher levels.
The adventurers have come together through whatever means the DM decides. They are currently in the small town of Landover, a town near a hostile border or perhaps out of the way of imperial patrols.
The PCs hear a tale from a bard in town singing a story of a hidden treasure. The bard, one Omar by name, tells the story of a silver merchant, who in his greed hid his wealth in a cave not far from this very village. But alas the merchant was not picky enough. For the small cave was the home to a fierce beast. This beast was one with the head of a man, the body of a lion, and the tail as that of a scorpion.
According to Omar the beast’s hoard lies there still. If the party decides to go search for this treasure Omar will ask to accompany them, not for a share of treasure, but that he may compose a song of their heroic quest (butter em up a bit.) If the players refuse his presence he shrugs and tells them where it is located. Omar knows the route, so he will merely follow them at a slightly later time. The players will realize that without a guide a small cave is hard to find.
Eventually the players come to the gorge where the cave is located. Sure enough, inside is a manticore, but the cave is only 5′ high and 3′ wide (too small to fight in most likely.) Let the players come up with an inventive solution to draw the manticore outside, if nothing else throwing something in will enrage it. The players will engage the manticore who will fight an upfront battle and only attempt to flee when it is too late.
So after a fairly easy victory the PC’s will want to check out the cave. Inside is a nest made from leaves, sticks, and bones.
Searching through this little mess will net them 42 silver, a smashed china plate (worthless), and a small lacquered wooden box. The box is somewhat water damaged and stained. It has a small silver hook and an eye catch so this brings its value up a little, 5 gold maximum. The catch is also tied with some twine. Presumably, the PCs open the box. Inside, they find the box cushioned with water-damaged velvet, and resting within is a small black domino mask. The edges surrounded with black lace and its tie is a small black piece of string, very flimsy looking but undamaged.
The mask radiates strong magic if checked for, but resists any attempts at identification. If worn, the wearer “comes to know” through a telepathic means that this is the Mask of Divination, and its basic powers.
While the PC’s are pondering this, it’s time to bring on the surprise: the manticore was not nesting alone. Its mate, a huge Chimera, flies onto the scene and intends to fight a bit smarter (from the air, if possible). When things look rough for the PCs, a lightning bolt will hit the Chimera either killing it outright or knocking it silly, bringing it to the ground to be finished off by the PC’s.
After the battle, the players will see a scowling older man wearing long green robes. As the players turn to question him or even thank him, he stops them with a gesture and states that he wants the mask turned over to him right away. Omar, who has either accompanied the players or is standing with the old man will speak up at this point. Omar will introduce the older man as Charilus.
Charilus will speak up again and DEMAND the mask, because the PCs are neither powerful enough nor competent enough to keep hold of it (think annoying and arrogant.)
The players will no doubt be considering mayhem at this point or just to yell back. So Omar will once again intervene. Yes he will say that he had lied about the treasure that was here but he needed the help to retrieve the mask. There is more to the story if they will listen. Omar will convince Charilus to let the PCs hold onto the mask for now. But perhaps all this could be discussed over dinner back at the tavern. Charilus will grumble, but eventually give in. When he does, he will teleport away.
Omar will again apologize to the players for using them and ask that they head back to Landover so that they can meet Charilus for dinner and discuss the situation over a a glass of wine and a fine dinner (pour on the food talk a bit.) The players will ride off leaving poor, sad-looking Omar behind most likely.