This adventure involves the party become embroiled in the “Festival of the Coin” in the city of Drakkel. It’s important that the game master be very familiar with that particular festival. For full details, check out the Festival of the Coin.
This adventure involves more puzzles and riddles than combat. It can be played with a group of almost any size and character level, but works best with 3-6 players of low to mid level (level 1 through 6). Player characters of too high level might be able to bypass too many things with the right spell or magic item. The battles and combat encounters will need to be adjusted to suit the size and strength of the party.
To begin with, this adventure takes place in the city of Drakkel. So, either start them in that region or move them there. This adventure takes place during the Festival of the Coin in that city which is held in the late summer (Windrise 1 to be exact) and lasts a full week. Therefore, they need to be in or near Drakkel in the late summer.
While in town, they would definitely hear about the Festival of the Coin. Weeks before the Festival begins, people would be talking about it. The general idea behind the festival of the coin (the lottery, the search for the coin, the exchange of wealth, etc) would all be discussed at length in every tavern and shop for many days prior to the actual festival. So every newcomer to the city would be well versed in the activities by the time it began.
It helps if the players are lower level and relatively poor and in need of money.
They come out of the last adventure badly wounded, all supplies exhausted and with damaged armor. They limp into Drakkel with barely enough money to repair their armor and resupply their provisions.
One of the players has a good friend or an uncle in Drakkel. They arrive in Drakkel and plan on visiting this friend/uncle, only to find that the person has been arrested on some minor charge and the bail to free him is more than the group can afford. In any case, they need money.
You can even combine both of these ideas. In any case, make sure they are in need of money. That way, when opportunity comes knocking, one that could potentially have a huge payoff, the players will be eager to jump into the adventure.
So, they party is in the city of Drakkel during late summer. Specifically, around Magerule 27.
The party is approached by two NPCs. This encounter could be while the party is running errands (tending to wounds, repairing armor, restocking supplies, purchasing equipment). It could also be that they are at the Plaza of Labors looking at job boards and listening to cryers calling out information about jobs.
In any case, the party is approached by two NPCs. One is a small man with curly hair and the other is a big body guard looking warrior. Bearded, tattoos and some orcish blood in him.
The smaller man greets them.
"Greetings travelrs. Peace be upon you. My name is Hosrik, chamberlain to his Lordship Joran Hallerath, the Baron of Habony. His Lordship has a proposition that he would like to discuss with you. With your group and no one else. You should meet with me. At least talk with him. I think you'll find his offer very generous and you stand to earn a good deal of coin. I have a carriage waiting for you at the north gate to take you to his estate".
When the party accepts, Hosrik and the bodyguard escort them to the north gate where a large, unmarked carriage is waiting for them in a side alley. They all get in to the carriage. The interior is large and spacious enough for the whole party and Hosrik.The bodyguard assumes the driver's seat. Hosrik pulls the curtains shut. (If the player's ask about that, Hosrik explains that the job offer requires discretion and Lord Hallerath will be able to explain further).
The carriage leaves the city through the north gate an proceeds along the north road for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes the players hear the sounds of men hailing each other. They hear a large iron gate open on rusting hinges.
If the players peek out the window, they see a a well-manicured estate... a large central stone house surrounded by beautiful gardens. There are also more than a dozen beautiful statues in the garden and gargoyles on the wall of the house.
The sounds of another gate opening are heard followed by the sounds of the horses hooves echoing against stone walls.
The carriage comes to a halt. The side door opens and the party steps down into the interior of a stone building. It’s a carriage house and stables. Two men in livery stand at attention on either side of a pair of large double doors. Hosrik leads the party through the double doors and into the main house.
The party is escorted through various parlors and waiting rooms and finally arrive enter a small library. On the far side of an enormous table is an elderly gentlemen in a fine suit looking at a large map that is spread out one end of the table. The rest of the table is laid out with plates of sweet meats, rolls, fruit, cheese, wine and ale and other dishes. A veritable feast. Judging by the rooms, the books, the furniture, the plates… this baron is quite wealthy.
If one of the players is running a priest or cleric of a good deity, then Lord Hallerath worships the same god. This will serve as an additional reason to take the job. So... Above the roaring fireplace, carved into the stone of the wall, the party notices the holy symbol of [WHATEVER GOD THE PLAYERS WORSHIP].
If they ask about it, the elderly gentlemen will respond... "Yes, I am a devout follower of the Great Teacher, praise his/her divine gifts".
Lord Joran Hallerath is a thin, grey haired man with intelligent eyes framed in wire rimmed spectacles and a somewhat timid demeanor. He dresses in fine robes of grey and earthen tones. He is a short unassuming man and a very non-threatening presence.
Lord Hallerath is one of the nobles of the Drakkellian Alliance and a master of a small guild. He owns a small quarry outside of Drakkel and has several stone cutters and masons working for him. He provides cut stones, baked bricks and rubble for several builders in the city and his artisans have sculpted several very nice statues and sculptures around the city.
He tells the players that he has learned, through certain political and economic contacts, that the upcoming Lottery has been rigged against him by Lord Malleron, his chief rival. Lord Malleron has powerful friends on various councils and committees in the city. Hallerath is afraid that Malleron will not only rig the Lottery against him but will also be able to uncover Hallerath's hidden assets and possible even divert the wealth to his own coffers. If this were to happen, then this Lottery would certainly ruin Hallerath.
Lord Hallerath can not allow that to happen, but he can not prove Malleron’s treachery. Lord Malleron is a much more powerful and wealthy noble with many powerful friends. A direct confrontation or accusation is out of the question.
The "political and economic contacts" which informed him of the rigging is actually a spy who works in the Malleron guild but is loyal to House Hallerath. This type of political and economic espionage is quite common in Drakkel.
No one other than Lord Hallerath, Lady Hallerath and Hallerath's spy knows of this plot nor can any of them see a solution to the problem. It seems that Malleron will be his undoing. Lord Hallerath had all but given up hope when a stroke of luck befell him. He has come into possession of certain information which will give him a huge advantage in solving of the Rhyme of the Coin. However, he cannot use this information. If he is indeed named Patron of the Coin (as he fears), he will be legally bound not to search for the Coin. It is a dilemma that he will soon face.
Since he cannot use the information, he wishes to hire someone to search for
him. A proxy of sorts. Because of his wife's dreams (and her subsequent bullying
of him), he wishes to hire the players. If they have a history of successful
mercenary missions, all the better. Lord Hallerath will know of this and feel
comfortable that they can accomplish this mission as well. More importantly,
these mercenaries have no direct connection to him or his guild. It is illegal for
Lord Hallerath or anyone in his employ to search for the Coin, but if the players will
search for him, he will pay them handsomely. No one can know that they are
working for him and they must be discreet.
If they agree to his proposal, he will pay them a very handsome reward upon completion of the mission (the exact amount is up to the game master to decide, but it should be enough to entice the players). Lord Hallerath is a wealthy man and is facing the very real possibility of losing his entire fortune. Paying each of the players 5,000 gold lords is not out of the question.
He will give them the information he has that will give them an advantage in solving the Rhyme of the Coin and give them a head start in finding the Coin. One the coin is recovered, the players are to give it to Lord Hallerath and he will deal with the cut throat politics of Drakkel from a position of power (holding the coin). This adventure doesn't deal with the aftermath, just the player's job - find the coin, give it to Lord Hallerath and get paid. That's it.
If they ask him why he chose them, he will gladly tell them of his wife's visions (and perhaps put a positive spin on it). He will also mention past successes they've had (if appropriate) and remind them that he needs someone with no connection to his guild.
Smart (or devious) players may notice that there's nothing to stop them from betraying this noble and taking all of his wealth. And it's true. They could accept his wealth at the Gifting ceremony and take him for all he's worth. However, there are two things going on that might prevent that... first of all, Lord Hallerath's spy is convinced that Lord Malleron has some plot in mind to take possession of Hallerath's wealth. If the players betray Hallerath, they might end up facing Malleron, who is very powerful crime lord. This should deter them.
Second, Lord Hallerath is simply out of time and out of options. He must act and this is his only option.
Lord Hallerath greets the party warmly, shakes hands, etc.. He is a gracious host and will present food and drinks.
Greetings. I am so delighted to meet you. I am Joran Hallerath, the Baron of Habony and Guildmaster of House Hallerath.
Lord Hallerath rings a bell and servants begin bringing in large platters of food. Over a meal of braised hare and wild mushrooms, he begins a well prepared speech.
I have a business proposition for you. One that likely has very little danger and a very good chance of making you all a good deal wealthier. Are you familiar with the Festival of the Coin? Ah… allow me to explain.
Each year, during the festival, all the nobles of the land come together in the Hall of Guilds. One is chosen, at random, to become what they call “the Patron of the Coin”. I have participated in this tradition every year for the last nine years.
The Coin of Drakkel, an historic artifact, but nonetheless a simple coin, is hidden somewhere in the city. A riddle is unveiled that hints as to its location.
Whosoever finds the coin inherits the wealth of the Patron of the Coin. In essence, the noble and the commoner trade places.
I have recently learned, through certain political and economic contacts, that the upcoming Lottery has been rigged against me by a rival, one Lord Malleron. Malleron has powerful friends on various councils and committees in the city. I fear that Malleron has not only rigged the Lottery against me but will also be able to uncover my hidden assets and possible even divert my wealth to his own coffers.
If this were to happen, then this Lottery would certainly ruin me. Most importantly, he would lose this estate, which has been passed down in my family for twelve generations.
I can not allow that to happen, but I can’t prove his treachery. Lord Malleron is a powerful and wealthy noble with many powerful friends. A direct confrontation or accusation is out of the question.
He is an EVIL man. He beats his servants and buys and kills slaves for amusement. If he acquires my holdings, he will double his wealth, his power. His villany will have further reach.
No one other than myself, my wife and a handful of my most trusted men know of this plot against me. I have been unable to formulate any solution. It seemed that Malleron would be my undoing.
I had all but given up hope when Imarus, in his infinite generosity, smiled upon me. At a social event, last week, a duke, who was quite drunk, all but confirmed my fears. This particular duke, has a tendency to babble when he is so thoroughly inebriated. It was just the two of us out admiring the stars. And in his drunken ramblings, he let slip a few precious nuggets of information about the clues of this years hunt.
I cannot use this information. Indeed, if I am named Patron of the Coin, as I fear, I am legally bound not to search for the Coin. Nor anyone in my employ.
Therefore, I would like you four to search for the coin for me. Discreetly. Many others will be looking for it. Individuals, teams, so forth. If you find the Coin first, bring it back to me and I will reward you most handsomely.
If you do this for me, I’ll pay you 500 gold pieces EACH up front and an additional 5,000 gold pieces EACH if our plan succeeds. The 10,000 gp payment will be made one week after the festival ends. During that week, you will stay in the city and I shall pay for whatever needs you have.
Assuming the part accepts, Lord Hallerath pays each of them 500 gold pieces in coin, right then and there.
Lord Hallerath continues...
The first clue will be publicly unveiled at the Great Bazaar at noon tomorrow. I advise you to go to the Bazaar and be there at noon. You’ll get the first clue at the same time as everyone else. Once it’s announced, it will be posted around town.
NOT everyone, however, is going to have the information that I’m about to give you. This is what I was able to gleen from the ramblings of a drunken Duke.
And the secret information is this... There are THREE riddles this year, instead of one. The first riddle leads to the location of the second and the second shows the way to the third. The third riddle leads to the location of the coin. Each is a short, cryptic rhyming poem that contains multiple clues. Several of the clues will require obscure historical knowledge of the city and, most likely, research of some kind. One clue will require a translation of Traxxian text. And finally, one clue refers to a rare flower.
My estate is available to you. If you need a place to stay, a hot meal and so forth, you may come here at any time during the festival. However, no one must must know you are working for me. So please be discreet. Likewise, no one must see you come or leave this estate. I will keep the carriage in the city for you if you need to return here.
Lord Hallerath will open the discussion to questions. It's likely the players will have various questions about the job. Have answers prepared ahead of time. Here are a few specific answers to specific questions that might come up.
Why I want you is a bit more personal… you see, my wife, the Baroness Eleanor, is a… well, she believes that she is divinely touched by [Insert Deity Name Here - use a player's god, if there's a religious character in the party. If not, then Imarus will do]. She occasionally has vivid dreams and she is convinced that these dreams are visions from the gods guiding her in this world. She believes these dreams show her the future or show her action that must be taken. She becomes frightfully upset if I show the slightest skepticism of her "powers". Two nights ago, Eleanor had a very vivid dream of a dragon man and three companions. She is convinced that you are the ones of her dream and that you are the only ones that can help us. She has demanded that I hire you and no others. Although I do not personally know you, I am reluctant to go against his wife's wishes.
Furthermore, you are new to Drakkel. You have no connection to me. You see, I cannot search for the coin nor can anyone in my employ. Therefore, if I send someone out to find the coin, it needs to be someone who cannot be traced back to me. Furthermore, I know you are not agents of Malleron.
What are you going to do with the Coin once we bring it to you?
I have a few allies and we have some intricate plans to expose Malleron and his treachorous plottings. But we will need the Coin to do it. The specifics need not concern you. Your only task is to find the Coin and bring it to me.
We have a friend in prison. Can you free him for us?
If you used Idea 2 from the "Getting the Players Involved" section and you put a friend or uncle of the party in jail, the players may ask Lord Hallerath if he can free this person, or pay the bail. In fact, they may demand it as a condition of their participating in the Coin Hunt. If this is the case, Lord Hallerath will do so. He can pay the fine and get the person released and he is happy to do so. Just be sure that the party gets that they are now obligated to help Hallerath. Depending on the personalities of the player characters, they may be honor bound to see this adventure through. All the better. In any case, Hallerath can free the imprisoned friend, but use it as an ironclad way to get them in to the adventure and see it through to the end.
Hallerath is a gracious host and will share food, wine and so forth. Any minor requests from the players will be entertained as well. He will answer questions and so forth. Everything is as it has been described. This is a tremendous opportunity to acquire wealth. Once all discussion is finished to everyone's satisfaction, the same carriage will take the players back to the city. The carriage drops the party off behind a large building, out of sight. The driver says that the carriage will be waiting here if they need to go anywhere.
The next morning, the party might wish to spend some of their newly acquired wealth. 500 gp per person is quite a bit.
Some time in the late morning, Hosrik arrives and delivers word to the group: “The Lottery has gone as expected. My Lord was named Patron of the Coin”. They are going to unveil the first clue at the Great Bazaar at noon”.
The players go to the Great Bazaar. Describe it. It’s a tiered circular area, with each tier being a few meters lower. Stone stairs. The lowest tier is a vast circular plaza.
At the center of the lowest tier, there is a wooden stage and several nobleman dressed in their best outfits are gathered on the stage. At the center of them is Tymok Ozzel, the lord mayor of Drakkel himself, wearing his finest powdered wig.
Gathered around the Bazaar are hundreds of curious onlookers. Fishermen in stained smocks, gaudily painted whores, dock workers, carousing mariners, steel eyed sellswords, merchants, farmers and dirty street urchins are all crowded around the bazaar.Intermingled with the crowd, you see several other groups standing together and you think they might be other teams who are going to be searching for the coin.
The party will not be the only ones participating in this chase through the city. Indeed, there will be hundreds of others looking. Individuals and teams. Some independent, others sponsored by wealthy benefactors or guilds. It would be good to have several teams prepared ahead of time, with combat stats. The player characters are likely to see several of these teams and opponents at the Great Bazaar where the first clue is unveiled to the crowd. It’s also possible that your players may choose to track or follow another team, to ambush or attack them, to talk to them. Be prepared for anything.
Here are some suggested descriptions of other teams:
At noon, Tymok Ozzel (or some other dignitary) steps to the edge of the stage and raises his hands for the crowd to settle down. He begins a well rehearsed speech:
Good People of Drakkel, hear me. Now be it known throughout all the Alliance, that the His Lordship Joran Hallerath, Baron of Habony, Master of the Stone Guild, Knight Elder of the Westlands, having lawfully been chosen, by a deed of fortune and destiny, is hereby declared the Patron of the Coin. The Coin of Drakkel is now hidden somewhere in the city. Whosoever should find the Coin, either through clever wit or blessed fortune, and return it here, to the center of the Great Bazaar before the festival’s final night, shall receive the entire fortune of the Patron. One clue and one clue only, shall be given to all so that the Hunt may begin. And the clue is this...
He pulls out a scroll to read and instantly the crowd quiets down to listen as he reads the clue.
A moment held in time by stone
Does greet the merchant coming home
As need is dire, plunge hand to fire
If wandering path to coin be shown
Everyone starts talking again the second he’s done. Some party members may notice other teams walk off with purpose after the clue is read.
A minute or two later, the party hears the ringing of hammers and sees several city workers nailing up scrolls to wooden posts and signs… copies of the clue. Several cryers repeat the clue to assembled crowds every few minutes. The point is, the first clue is now widely available to everyone in the city.
Eventually, the crowd begins to dissipate and the Great Bazaar resumes its normal functions as a place of commerce.
The Coin is immune to magical spells. Any spell that would allow rapid location of the Coin will fail. This has always been true. Poth Dimrani, the leader of the local wizard’s guild, is in charge of hiding the coin and making sure that the coin is safe from all manner of scrying and other spells. The only way to find the coin is to search for it the old fashion way – with legwork and smart detective work.
The riddles that lead the way to the coin and the obstacles that block the way are all designed such that they can be overcome through knowledge. In other words, anyone should be able to find the Coin through a combination of diligent research, hard work, wisdom and a bit of luck. There is no obstacle that can only be overcome by magic or by winning a fight against an incredibly difficult foe. For instance, if there is a foe guarding something, there is usually a way around the foe or a method to neutralize the foe. This is not a hunt for just heroes. This glory of finding the Coin is open to everyone. In theory, even the lowest peasant or beggar should be able to follow the clues and make it to the Coin.
The first clue refers to a specific statue in the city of Drakkel known as the “Maiden’s Embrace”. This is a statue on a small island in the middle of the Merchant’s Highway river right where it enters the city, just inside of the river gate. A water fountain is incorporated into the statue and spurts out of the dragon’s mouth… essentially the dragon is “breathing fire”. The scroll that contains the second clue is hidden in the mouth of the dragon.
It’s likely the party will figure out fairly quickly that the first line of the first clue refers to either a statue or a monument of some kind. They may ask how many statues or monuments there are in Drakkel. In fact, there are hundreds, varying in size. But there are only about a half dozen really big ones maintains by the city. Some of the larger ones include:
Feel free to add others to your list.
Because the second line says “greets the merchant coming home”, they players may think to investigate the city gates, the roads leading to the city, the light houses flanking the mouth of the harbor and so forth. Feel free to let them run around checking all of the statues and monuments. Climbing up statues may involve DEX checks and falling down and other fun things.
If they want, they should be able to obtain a copy of a map of the city. In truth, maps are rare and valuable, so they will likely have to bribe someone or purchase a map. If they do obtain a copy of a map of the city, show them the map of Drakkel from the website. If they do think to get a map of the city, once they look at the map, it should become fairly obvious. The “Merchant’s Highway” river is clearly marked and that’s a big clue.
Eventually, they will figure out that the correct statue is the Maiden’s Embrace. The two big clues re that it sits where the Merchant’s Highway enters the city and it incorporates a dragon with a water spout coming out of its mouth. Those are pretty obvious clues. However, if at any time the party gets stuck, they can always ask citizens of the city about the statues or take the carriage back to Lord Hallerath’s estate and ask him. Eventually they should be given enough clues that they can figure it out.
Eventually the party figures out that the first clue must be referring to the Maiden’s Embrace statue and they had to that part of the city.
The river enters the city through a massive river gate which can open and close. The river is quite wide as it enters the city. The river gate is 100 meters wide (5 portcullis sections) that are raised. The gate is also quite tall. It’s an engineering marvel.
After the gate, there are a number of small piers and docks on the banks with various boats and barges tied up. The river banks are lined with grassy sections, walkways, park benches etc. A number of small shops and residences flank the walkways.
In the very center of the river there is a tiny island, about 8 meters across with a 12 meter tall statue of a dragon and a maiden embracing. The dragon sculpture is spewing water from its mouth.
Regardless of whether the party arrives at day or night, this is a busy part of the city and even more so with the festival going on. There will be people sitting on the grassy banks of the river, strolling along the walking paths, coming and going from various buildings. During the day, people are enjoying the sun. During the night, they are drinking and dancing and feasting.
The point is, if the party attempts to go out the island, they will be in sight of festival goers and common citizens. This is especially true during the day. At night, under cover of darkness, it would be possible to visit the island more discreetly.
This area is also patrolled by the city guard. So any illegal activity will draw attention and possibly get them arrested. Going out to the island is, technically, not illegal. But anyone seen climbing the statue by the city guard risks arrest.
The distance from river bank to island edge is 45 meters or about 90 feet.
Possible ways to go after the clue:
Swimming - If a character chooses to simply get in the water and swim over to the island, they find the water is filled with several dozen razor fin fish. The razor fins will come over to investigate the character. If the character has anything that smells interesting – food, wine, spell components, etc – the fish may attack the pouch that contains the items. Regardless, the character will need to make a DC 15 Dex check to slip through the fish without agitating them. A failed Dex check will result in the fish become agitated and swarming, slashing the character with their razor sharp fins. A character will take at least 3 rounds to reach the island and will suffer 1d6 hit points of damage each round in the midst of the swarming fish.
If they try to stay submerged the whole way (for instance, to reduce the chance of being seen by someone on the shore), they will need to make Con check to make it all the way over there with one breath.
Boat - There are a number of boats tied up nearby including a small business renting small rowboats during the day. If the party decides to rent a rowboat, they could simply row out to the island.
Magic – If the party has magic, they might be able to get out to the island. Invisibility, flight, water breathing, water walking, short range teleport type spells, etc – any of those could be useful depending on what the party does.
Once the players are on the island, they can get a clear look at the statue up close. The statue is stone and weathered. It depicts a dragon and maiden embracing. It’s obvious that there’s a water fountain spouting out of the dragon’s mouth and the players have likely figured out, by now, that that’s where the next clue is hidden. The dragon’s mouth is shooting the fountain of water out and back into the river.
Since the dragon statue is fairly tall (about 12 meters), anyone wanting to search the dragon’s mouth will have to climb the statue. DEX check to climb it. If they can attach a rope up around the dragon’s head (with the use of a lasso or grappling hook), that will give them a +5. DC is 15. A failed DEX check will result in a fall. The player might land on the ground, or a thorny bush or into the river and end up in the midst of an agitated swam of razer fin fish. Feel free to dish out embarrassment and minor wounds.
Once a character reaches the dragon’s mouth, they will need to thrust their hand into the rushing water spout.
Feeling around in the mouth, the character will feel some kind of cylindrical object wedged in there tight. Unless the character is flying, this could be particularly awkward and difficult task. The character is likely being sprayed in the face with water, dangling 30 feet in the air with one hand and two knees and trying to extract an object that is wedged in tight. Furthermore, the stone is slippery from water and mold. It will require a DEX check (DC 15) to grab the item and pull it out without falling.
Keep in mind that, at this point, the players may have attracted attention. Festival goers may notice and watch out of curiosity. It’s not every day that someone climbs a statue. Then again, this kind of behavior is not that unusual during the Festival. However, they may be noticed by the city guard and climbing statues is definitely not allowed. A city guard team will move to intercept the party and scold them and tell them to stop what they’re doing or be arrested.
Furthermore, there may be other coin hunters (teams, individuals, etc) who may noticed what the party is up to and they may quickly deduce what the party is up to (ie. That the first clue refers to this particular statue).
If the players retrieve the scroll and hide it, that’s fine. If they fail to tuck it away out of sight, they may get unwanted attention from others who realize that the party has found the second scroll. This may run the whole gamut from mild curiosity (what does it say?) to outright aggression (hand it over now!).
After they have acquired the scroll and gotten back to the river banks, have them roll a perception check. Observant characters will notice that another group is heading toward the island (another team of coin hunters who witnessed the party). If the party decides to stay and watch out of curiosity, they will see the other party face the same obstacles (razor fins in the water, etc). They will see the other team reach the statue, climb and the statue and search the mouth. Then, they will (much to their surprise) see the other team pull a scroll tube out of the dragon’s mouth. Yes, that’s right. There are multiple copies of the second clue. If you pluck the scroll from the dragon’s mouth, another one appears about a minute later. The statue “resets” as it were. This is so that everyone has a chance. If there was only one copy of the second clue, there would only be one team able to move forward and it wouldn’t be much of a race. This “replenishing” is true of each clue, each step of the race. Each obstacle and clue resets after it’s been solved or found, respectively.
When the player characters open up the scroll case they found in the dragon's mouth, they find a scroll inside with the second clue. Here it is:
A verdant isle in sea of grey
Once home to rock and finest clay
Seek the path of witch’s wrath
A rusted blade will point the way
A "verdant isle in sea of grey" refers to a city park amidst many grey stone buildings. If the player characters have purchased (or borrowed or stolen) a map of the city, then you should give the players a printed copy of the map. A map of the city of Drakkel is on the website. Looking at the map, they may figure out the meaning of the first line. The second line may also prompt them to realize it's a garden. Of course, the second line indicates that this particular garden was once a quarry.
If they get stuck or don't have a map, you may need to nudge them in that direction. Conversation with the locals, a perception check, whatever.
Once they figure out that it's a garden, they need to figure out which one. And if they managed to solve the second line, they are that much closer. They just need to find a city garden that was once a quarry. There are only a few places that would have such information. If they ask Lord Hallerath or any of the locals, they would suggest one of the following places:
The City Planning Office
There is an office in the Hall of Guilds that maintains records on all construction in the city. It has records on the various parks. If the player characters go there, they encounter a cit official. He could be helpful or uncooperative. Or open to bribes. It depends on how difficult you want to make it for the players.
The Hall of Ages
The Hall of Ages is part library, part museum and part curio shoppe. Run by a man named Jonas Sklar, it contains a vast trove of books, fossils, maps, unearthed treasures, bits of forgotten lore and rare relics. There is nothing magical here and little of true value, so it is ignored by the uneducated masses. However, it is a treasure trove of historical information. Scholars and academecians know this is the best place to translate runes, search through musty old maps, conduct sagely research and so forth. If the players go here, they can research lots of things during their adventure and Jonas Sklar is happy to help for a small price.
At either of the above places, it will require a bit of coin for access and some searching through all books and maps. Eventually they will be able to find a reference to a garden in the city known as Reynard's Rest, a garden which was formally a quarry, notable for its very fine clay. This is the garden referenced in the second clue.
At either location, if they ask if others have been looking for information, feel free to tease them with things like "yes, there was a group of gentlement here not twenty minutes ago asking that very same question". Other teams are searching for the garden and the party may discover that they have been to the same places. A lot of this depends on where your players choose to go. They may even try to thwart other coin hunters by taking action to make the information unavailable (they might try to bribe Jonas or the city official to keep information about the garden secret or steal the book that contains the information, etc).
If they players go to the Hall of Ages or one of the local herbalist/apothecary shops and specifically look for information on Witch's Wrath, they eventually come across this page.
Reynard's Rest is a large garden in a deep pit that was once a large quarry. It covers a few acres and it filled with tall trees. The garden is divided into several sections with paths winding through the trees and bushes connecting several clearings. The garden is tiered, but most of the garden sits about 10 meters below the rest of the city.
If they have already obtained the page about the the flower known as Witch's Wrath, then they may seek to search for the flower after sunset and look for the characteristic red glow of the flower's central orb. In this case, they eventually find it (one of the charactgers spots a dim glowing orb through the underbrush and bushes). Once they are standing next to the first witch's flower, they spot another glow off not far away in the bushes. This leads to a third and a fourth and so on. It's a trail of witch's flowers leading them somewhere...
If the players have not uncovered the witch's wrath page yet, have them encounter a groundskeeper who is working in the garden. he can be bribed, charmed, threatened or befriended for information. In any case, he is a fountain of information about the garden, it's history and so forth. If they ask about "Witch's Wrath", he is able to tell them that it's a flower and that the garden has an entire flowerbed of them. He is also able to tell them that it glows after sunset. He offers to show it to them. He leads the party to it only to find that the entire flowerbed of Witch's Wrath has been dug up, very recently. If he and the party search, one of the players eventually spots the red glow as above and finds the trail of witches floewrs leading them somewhere...
The trail of Witch's Wrath flowers leads to a circular clearing that contains a well at the center and a marble statue at each of the cardinal directions. There is another path entering the clearing from the opposite side.
The well has a winch, rope and hook. There are also a couple of wooden buckets on the ground next to the well.
The four statues are all of marble. Each depicts a heroic figure battling a monster.
Before the party has a change to really explore anything in the clearing, another team enters from the other side. The leader is a young bearded man in foppish attire. Behind him are several guards in identical arms and armor. All of them wear the same sigil on their chest (A white trident on a green background... the sigil of House Tyrilon).
The foppish dandy is an arrogant snob who looks down on the player characters as mere peasants and riff raff. He mocks them for a few seconds. An example is below. Modify the description of the party to match their actual description.
What is this? A pair of clueless knaves, an elf sorcerer and a woman? Common riffraff attempting to beat me to the Coin... to MY fortune!?!?! I need that coin! I need that coin. With the stone cutter's fortune I can finally break away from my wretched father and start my own guild. Now... men, kill these peasants!
His men attack. Modify the numbers and strength of the soldiers to give the party a good fight. The foppish dandy is the son of a guild master. He's soft and unused to hard work, however, he has trained with the blade and is a half way decent swordsmen, so he's not a complete pushover. He will show cowardice once his men are defeated and he himself is seriously wounded. He will either flee or surrender. What they do with him is up the party.
After the battle, they are now free to investigate the clearing and the statues. Point that fact out to them if they don't do it.
The statues are as follows:
Once they figure out the monster in the fourth statue is a rust monster, they'll take a much closer look at it. They will likely be looking for a "rusted blade". Upon closer inspection, they see that the leather clad rogue type wielding a hammer and facing off with the rust monster. On this belt is an empty scabbard. On the ground next to him is a sword broken into pieces. [Close inspection will reveal that the sword pieces are marble, but separate from the main sculpture. They can be picked up.]
The pieces of the broken sword are all lines up and point to the direction of the next clue. However, it is pointing at a wall of vegetation. If anyone tries to push through the wall, the vegetation moves and thickens, vines and leaves weaving together to become more solid. When you back away, the plants relax.
If you are carrying one of the pieces of the marble broken sword, the plants open up and reveal a tunnel through the vegetation. A short trail leads to the mouth of a cave. The cave goes into a rock face and it’s a stone tunnel. It's completely dark inside. The player characters will need light sources or dark vision.
The tunnel opens up into a larger round cave. The party see strands of webbing ahead. It appears to be strands of a large web filling the cave. They can dimly see something on the far side of the room. Something small and square. Can’t make out any details.
If anyone touches the web, they get blasted with 2d6 electrical damage and they are stunned. CON save DC 20 to avoid stun. CON save DC 15 every round after to recover.
The web does not burn and the individual strands are very strong. The individual strands of the web are metallic in nature and conductive.
Hidden in the shadows on the far side of the room is an elekrin. It's a large, 2 meter long centipede like creature which spins a metallic filament web and can deliver electrical jolts through the web.
If the elekrin is spotted and attacked long distance (arrows, spells, etc), the elekrin will fire strands of filament from its abdomen at attackers and either shock them or drag them into the web for repeated shocks. If threatened too severely, the creature will crawl into a crevasse and hide.
There are a couple of ways to get past this web:
Method 1 - If water is thrown onto the web, it will stun the elekrin and destroy the web. Water can be obtained with the buckets and well outside the cave.
Method 2 - The web can be torn down through sheer brute force and the elekrin attacked and killed.
Method 3 - By crawling on one's stomach and through bodily contortions, it might be possible to get through the web. However, it would require multiple DEX checks to get through without begin shocked and/or stunned. The creature will not attack if the person does not disturb the web or it.
No matter who they get across the cave, at the far side, the player characters find a small iron chest on a stone pedestal. There is a small scroll in front of it.
The scroll has the following text written on it:
Ruled by numbers was Ulhuru, likewise is his chest
Robbed by thieves, he crafted this that precious few can best
All his holdings here he kept inside a single box
Which guards his treasures while yet lacking clasps and keys and locks
Surely mathematics was his primary delight
And nothing more than humble numbers keep his wealth from sight
Strong blows will not avail you for this chest is sealed tight
And opens for whoever uses wisdom over might
The chest is Ulhuru's chest of manifold This marvelous chest is 24 inches wide by 18 inches deep by 12 inches tall. It is fashioned of deeply stained oak and gold clasps. It has an intricate lock and a matching golden key. The lid has two large handles and three metal dials. Each dial is encircled by set of ten numbers. The first dial is surrounded by the numerals 1 through 10. The second, 11 through 20. The third, 21 through 30.
The three dials can be turned and doing so will cause them to slowly rotate with a mechanical clicking sound. The dials are stiff and can only be turned slowly. Each dial can be turned and set to any one of its 10 positions. Considering there are 3 dials, there are a total of 1,000 possible combinations.
Full details about this chest can be found here.
When the party finds the chest, the dials are set to 1, 12 and 21. The lowest possible non-prime numbers. This is actually a clue. The correct combination to open the chest is 2, 11, 23 - the lowest prime number on each dial. That combination opens up the first interior and it contains a scroll tube with the third clue.
If you want to be generous (or devious) you can have all 32 virtual compartments of the chest contain something. Some combinations might open up interiors that have useful items or additional clues. Or they could contain small, dangerous creatures, whatever. Or, to make it easier, every single interior contains the same thing - the third clue.
In any case, once they have it open, they find a scroll tube with the third clue inside.
Inside the scroll tube is a scroll and it reads:
The wealth of he who sells the stone
Lies nigh decrepit field of bone
From spying eyes, the coin now lies
With muted voice of selgre noen
The first line refers to Lord Hallerath, Lord of House Hallerath, the Stone Cutter's Guild. The second line refers to it being near a graveyard. The fourth line is the real clue. "Selgre noen" is ancient Traxxian. "Selgre" means "spire" and "noen" menas "grey". So, in the common tongue, it means "Grey Spire".
The only way they will be able to translate it is if one of them actually knows Traxxian, which is unlikely. They will have to go to a library - Lord Hallerath's or the Hall of Ages or the University, etc. They should be able to borrow, steal or purchase a tome that contains several thousand translated Traxxian words.
Once they know what it means, they are now looking for "Grey Spire". Again, more research is required. Any of the places mentioned above could be a good library to search. Feel free to throw other problems while they are searching - a competitor team, an uncooperative librarian, etc.
Eventually, they find the right book, a book called "A Concise History of Old Drakkel". In this book, they find this page.
Ok! Now we're getting somewhere. According to that page, Grey Spire was once a church long ago, but it burned down. The remains and foundations and catacombs beneath it were purchased by a group of priests of Imorus (an archaic name for Imarus). So, logically, a new church of Imarus was built upon the ruins of Grey Spire. The party is looking for a church. But which one? There are more than a dozen churches of Imarus. The page from that book indicates that Grey Spire was "east of the the town of Drakkel". So, it's likely in the eastern half of the city.
What the characters needs is a map of the region from the same time period as the book. Such a map could be at any of the libraries or maybe in the collection of a greedy and grumpy map collector who wants nothing to do with the player characters... depending on how easy or hard you want to make it on the players. In any case, they need a specific map from a specific century. I had the players deal with a competitor of Jonas' who was a grumpy map collector and demanded an exorbitant price for the map. The players ended up stealing it from his home.
Once the players obtain the ancient map, they can compare it with a modern map and figure out exactly where the church is.
Now that they've located the right church, they can begin exploring. The Church is a beautiful ancient grey stoned building dominated by a tall tower which is crowned with a belfry. Next to the church is a large, very old, cemetery. To the north and east are gardens and a small orchard.
This church is tended to by one head priest and four sub priests who live here and preach here, tend to the sick and dying and minister to the masses. A stable boy and a deaf laborer also work here keeping the place clean, cooking the meal and so on.
The priests are happy to discuss the history of their church. If the players talk to the priests about the "muted voice", the priests don’t know what that could be. But they are quite proud of their church and its long history and boast about the detailed records kept in the archives.
If the players ask to see the archives, they are allowed (though the priests ask a small donation to the church first). Two priests accompany them to the offices in the back where they enter a small library. The priests help the players look through the ancient scrolls.
This is an optional encounter... if you want to throw some combat in there and give them an obstacle, here's a good opportunity.
While the characters are perusing the church archives, they hear a racket out in the nave. A rival group of would-be coin seekers has entered the church. This group has ascertained the meaning of the third clue (at least as much as the players have) and they are determined to find the coin first. They have no qualms about killing and they slay one of the sub priests. They then attack the player characters. Feel free to make this "rival group" as tough an encounter as you like. If the players are generally heroic, then they will be trying to protect the priests as they fight. It's possible that the players would be justified in killing their attackers because they could claim self defense (and the defense of the priests). Or they could incapacitate them and hand them over to the city guards. In any case, this encounter can be as easy or tough as you want.
The "muted voice" in the Rhyme of the Coin actually refers to the bell of the church. A smart player might actually figure that out. If the players search the belfry, they do not find the coin, but an observant character (especially a dwarf) might notice that one of the five copper bells is much newer than the other four.
If the players ask about it, the priests can tell them that the bellfry was struck by lightning during the last season and one of the bells cracked and the clapper was fused with the crown, rendering it unable to play (i.e. "mute"). The bell had to be replaced.
If the players don't figure this out on their own, then they eventually stumble upon it in the archives. A historical record about the church refers to the bells as "calling the faithful to service with the voice of the Church" and another document, detailing maintenance, describes the day that one of the bells cracked and fused and how it was rendered "mute".
Once this conversation about the bell starts, the priests can inform them that the mute bell was replaced a few years ago. The original bell was taken below into the catacombs beneath the church and put in storage.
Now we're getting somewhere! The players have narrowed it down to a single room!
At this point, it becomes a much more traditional dungeon crawl. The church does have a sprawling network of catacombs beneath it where many former priests and faithful are buried. The priests will be reluctant to allow the players to go roaming through the catacombs which contain much of the churches history.
The players should be able to convince the priests eventually, but it will take both honeyed words and a sizeable donation to the church. Once the donation is accepted, one of the sub priests will lead them down into the catacombs.
Feel free to make the catacombs large. This church is, after all, built upon the foundations of a much older church. It's possible that the catacombs could have been expanded several times over the centuries. It could be a large labyrinth of tunnels and chambers.
Here's something else to consider... Poth Dimrani, the wizard guild master, is the one who put the Coin down here. He used magic to come and go unseen. He placed the Coin down here and could have put all manner of traps or guardians around it, depending on how difficult he wanted it to be. Traditionally the Coin is well hidden, but not particularly well guarded. Any traps or obstacles or guardians blocking the path to the Coin are usually mild and easily defeated. Wisdom or luck are required to find the coin, not brawn. Even a beggar, if he uses his head, should be able to get to the Coin.
Also, the priests are unaware that the Coin has been placed in their catacombs. With magic, Poth Dimrani came, entered the catacombs, placed whatever traps or wards you decide and then left, all without ever giving the slightest hint he had been there. The priests of this Church are completely unaware.
While Poth Dimarni likely put one or two non-lethal obstacles in the way, it's possible that there could be a few other, more difficult, challenges standing between the party and the coin. Here are a few examples:
- A giant rat. Or perhaps several giant rats. They've come into the catacombs through a crack in the stone or a tunnel or whatever. They are hungry and will attack.
- An undead creature. Not placed here by Poth Dimrani. Rather this creature is an undead corpse animated by dark energies from all the spirits that have been laid to rest here. One of the subpriests that works here in the church is secretly a worshiper of Barulda and has been dabbling in necromancy and other dark magicks. He has created one (maybe several) undead. Maybe his control over them is lax and they have begun wandering the catacombs. Maybe the latest undead was an experiment gone awry. In which case, this particular sub priest might have been trying to prevent the party from going down into the catacombs all along.
Encounters and obstacles will have to be adjusted for the party's strength level and for time.
Once you've given them a good challenge, it's time to reward them.
The last chamber is a storage chamber. In it are a number of crates, boxes of candles, large decorations for specific ceremonies, etc. Hidden in the back of the chamber beneath a blanket is a large rusted copper bell that is cracked and partially melted.
The bell is quite heavy and will take three or four strong men to lift it. If the bell is successfully lifted, the party will find a single copper coin beneath, sitting on a velvet cushion. Success! They have found the Coin of Drakkel!
The coin beneath the bell is the one true Coin of Drakkel. It is an ancient Traxxian coin - a large copper coin with a knight on one side and a castle on the other.
Now that they have it in their hands, remember that no magic will work on the Coin at all. It has been ensorcelled with very powerful magic from Poth Dimrani, the most powerful wizard in all of the Alliance. The adventuring party will most certainly have no hope of thwarting such powerful magic. It cannot be made invisible or silenced. It can not be transformed or teleported or melted or destroyed. As far as the players are concerned, the Coin is indestructible and immune to magic.
Once the players have the Coin, it's pretty straightforward from here. They need to return it.
Traditionally, upon finding the Coin, the finder brings it to the Council of Guilds and formally presents it there. The Council of the Coin verifies that this is, indeed, the Coin of Drakkel. Upon this confirmation the finder is treated as an honored guest until the end of the Festival wherein he is award the wealth of the Patron of the Coin.
The players have to choose whether they are going to honor their agreement with Lord Hallerath and give him the Coin for their payment or betray him. If they honor his agreement, Lord Hallerath will pay them the promised reward of 5,000 gp each and the party can slip out of town with no one ever knowing they were involved.
If, on the other hand, they betray Lord Hallerath and turn it in to the city officials, they can acquire all of Lord Hallerath's weath(somewhere around 150,000 gold pieces). Of course, if they do the latter, they will have earned the enmity of both Lord Hallerath and Lord Malleron who will feel that he has somehow been cheated of what should be his. They will be local celebrities. Anonymity goes out the window. They will be locally famous and Lord Malleron's criminal associates will have no trouble finding them.
The latter option opens up a world of trouble for the players. Of course, that could tie in to a whole other adventure...
This website was last updated March 31, 2021. Copyright 1990-2021 David M. Roomes.