Tuesday, October 11, 2022

An Empty Feast (Scenario)

"Feasts" for GLoGtober 2022

This small scenario is designed to be easily slotted into any settlement with a ruler, and should be modified to fit the setting into which it is placed. It relies on a proactive DM who constantly asks "what clever thing could the antagonist do now?" and "what boneheaded thing could another NPC do now?"

By custom, travelers are allowed to sit at the lord's table and partake of his hospitality. No one will tell the PCs, but they have come at an inauspicious time. It will certainly not seem that way. Servants laden with great hobtrays of pie, honeyed pears, dandelion cordial, beetroot and tuber stew, mineral wines, hot spiced ale and hot spiced apples, and sprigs of mint hustle to and fro.

And yet all fear the worst. By ancient accord, the lord invites the sorceress of the monument to all great events as a formality. Horror of horrors, she has actually shown up for this feast. Local peasants know she brings famine and winter, and local aristocracy know she brings delay, ruin, and war.

After a hearty greeting and warning to avoid her, the party will be feted and feasted to their heart's content. Alas, during the merriment and glee of after-dinner parlor games, one of the lord's knights (Movahi, the denial knight. Or, a hand sable) is found killed, a deep stab wound in his throat. The lord commands the exits sealed until the murderer is found, pretending he does not already know the devil-sent sorceress has wronged him so.

What Is Actually Happening
One of the lord's knights, Sir Uq, recovered an ornate dagger in battle. Intending to bring it as a gift, he has unknowingly fallen prey to its curse. While so afflicted, he will periodically turn into the anti-paladin Artoblax, and she will murder a knight if she can before rebecoming Sir Uq. The deceased knight may later rise as a minor servant to do her bidding, and this will continue until they eventually kill everyone in the castle except the sorceress, or until stopped by the party.

All the rest is emergent from the PCs and NPCs. Natural clues suggest themselves-- someone recalls seeing a woman they've never seen before flee the scene of a murder with a bloodied weapon, Sir Uq's whereabouts are never accounted for during a murder, the rising dead suggest the supernatural is afoot, Uq is carrying around a weird dagger all the time now, the sorceress seems mostly uninterested in events.

The dagger is a lacquered misericord named Uncaring Earth. Its owner transforms periodically into a woman with wine-dark hair and dark puissance, unaware of their horrible fate.

The presumed procession of events is that knights will keep turning up dead, slain by Artoblax, until either stopped by the PCs or until an unruly gang of the lords cousins witch hunt their way out of the problem. The PCs will not be initially allowed to escape this situation, but if they somehow manage to flee this will make them highly suspicious to stupid and powerful people.

Inhabitants of the Castle

  • The Lord and his immediate family
  • His 3d8 useless cousins and relations. Ready to form the basis of a nobler form of angry mob.
  • His staff of 20 servants, so busy with their duties that they can't stop for long.
  • The sorceress of the monument. An immortal with spells like STILL and FORGET and BURY and REAVE. You may have met her before. She recognizes what is happening because it was she who forged Uncaring Earth long ago. She knows she is in no danger and is not in the business of saving others.
  • Uq, the beloved knight. Chequy argent and azure, a Cockerel proper. Cursed by Uncaring Earth. Attended by five ride-or-die hobbit squires. Friendly and proactive, and will be heartbroken to learn of his horrible fate.
    • Wields the +1 cruciform sword Qayus. Those who swear by the blade by abide the terms of their surrender.
  • Adgai, the holy knight. Gules, on a bar or a Key gules. Humble, sometimes severe. Will take his cues from the lord and stay out of the way. His guest is Izceud, a cleric from foreign lands, whom he is trying to drill about theology. The cleric, more of a clerk, humors his questions by feigning spiritual knowledge.
    • Wears the White Favor Cockade. Negates the first curse that afflicts the wearer, then immolates like paper over a candle.
  • Eprebon, the knight prosperous. Sable, a Skeleton proper grasping a Flail gules handle pointed sinister-chief-wise and head pointed to base. Unattended, but greases the palms of the lord's staff to ensure he's taken care of. Players may suspect him because he talks with a rich person voice. Knows the feats of all his fellows.
    • Wields enough gold to make a peasant a baronet, or a third-degree mason.
  • Cijaejo, the knight of the vow. Per fess argent and vert a leafless tree Sable. Enjoying a yearlong vow of silence. As time goes on, may come to learn something incredibly important. No, he does not consider writing to accord with the strictures of his vow.
    • Armored with poverty, which if you think of it is the greatest object of all.
  • Ivna, the legacy knight. Vert, a chevron argent. In chief, three Plates. Proactively tells you that she couldn't have done any horrible crime because of how great her bloodline is. Very suspicious of this commoner witch. Nevertheless obliges all request for help from her lessers.
    • Wears the shrunken relic-head of her line's great founder, who was master of the Swans to the great king Schmarlemagne. Ancient beings consider this a big deal.
  • Apoudaq, the feral fool. Argent, a shield of Apoudaq inverted (purpur, a Lion couard, tongue vert). A penitent who was stripped of his title and honor after rebelling against the lord when his uncle tried to usurp the throne. Base and abrasive, but decent. A good tracker. Attended by two elves who are definitely not his lovers.
    • Carries the Token of the Elf"friend", which confers a +1 reaction bonus with woodland creatures.
If the party manages to resolve this issue, the Lord will grant them a tax holiday as well as one of the fallen knight's notable items. If there is a living knight, they will also grant a significant item to the party in thanks.

If the party screw this situation up too much, there will be just enough chaos and rioting for the local bandit duchess to don a set of potmetal plate, declare herself a Black Knight, and go a-conquering.

(Both outcomes may occur.)


  1. I love the addition of the heraldry for all of the nobles. Excellent stuff.