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Sasserine Navalant adventure

Page history last edited by Nib 10 years, 12 months ago


The search for the real Vhalantru –

          a side trek for the Shackled City Adventure Path



I've built this side-trek based on initial ideas presented by Delvesdeep on the Paizo messageboards. Many thanks to him for his thoughts. I've expanded the seed of Vhalantru's devious history. This side trek is supposed to help the group suspect Vhalantru (even more if they already do) before his true identity is revealed in chapter 8. I've placed this after the 'Sign of the Smoking Eye' in my campaign but it can be played at any stage in the campaign, whenever the group decides to visit Sasserine. If they don't get this idea by themselves, many reasons can be found for such a visit. One of the group wants a certain magical item, which can only be found in the larger city. Skie actually hires the group to overlook a transport and the start of the caravan is delayed. They are approached by Ophella Knowlern or Jenya, who are concerned about the longer than expected absence of Navalant from Cauldron. Severen Navalant was seen leaving for Sasserine and clues about his intentions can be found in Cauldron (Navalant sold a wepon to Skie to get enough money for a few potions he needed  to go unknown in Sasserine and find out more about Vhalantru's history. Now he's missing for too long and the group is supposed to investigate. Come up with innovative ideas and share them on the boards...



Event 1 - Reaching Sasserine



The party returns from Occipitus and their plane shift spell sends them into the vicinity of Sasserine. Being the major city in the Cauldron region, it offers a wealth of opportunities to adventurers just returning from planar travels with a big treasure bag to boot.



Near town they meet a farmer from the Cauldron environs, who recognizes the group from earlier deeds and briefs them about the most recent news.



„Well met, travellers. On the way to Sasserine?“ - A sturdy man with a weathered face and simple but functional clothing greets you as you try to orient yourself after returning from a wild ride through the multiverse. „Are you ... – hey, aren't you the <insert group name> ? Where've you been ? What happened ? Hey, there's something you should know, Cauldron has really seen better times. I'm actually from the area. I'm on a trip to Sasserine to check how the prices for crops are hereabouts because my family is considering to move away from Cauldron. And that's me, who is still in a position to take a week off just for this trip. But taxes are constantly rising and I don't know if we can survive the winter if this year's harvest is not really paying off. But I'm talking too much. What did you do lately?“



Give the group some role playing time here.



The farmer, who is indeed one of the wealthiest in Cauldron, has heard about Navalant's absence from Cauldron, but he doesn't know details about politics except the tavern talk about taxes and the unacceptability of those. Depending on the group's reaction, he may be on the way back to Cauldron or accompany them to Sasserine, but he won't stay at an exquisite tavern. He may be drawn to the 'Deep Sleep', if the group offers to go to the same tavern.



Event 2 - Looking for a tavern



The group hear about or experience some of the taverns (I actually used Delvesdeep's write up about Sasserine, available from http://therpgenius.com/ as well, which contains a lot of very neat ideas for memorable taverns) and may chose their inn freely. Steering them to a particular one is also an option. (Deep Sleep would fit very nicely)



Event 3 - Gather information



The PCs should recognize that Navalant has been seen in the city. They track down the place where he stayed and learn about his motives for coming. It helps if they have already heard about rumors of Vhalantru running the Cauldron show or about the fact that Navalant has been missing in Cauldron for some days / weeks. It may strike them as strange, that he did seem to travel alone and it has obviously NOT been a business trip.



Gather information:

DC10 – Navalant has been recognized while in town a few days ago.

DC15 – Navalant has stayed at the Deep Sleep inn.

DC20 – Navalant had been trying to avoid being recognized



Event 4 - Investigations and visits



The party learns that Navalant just left a few days ago presumably going back to Cauldron. He had visited the Winking Eye on several occasions and stayed at the Deep Sleep instead of the Golden Giant, where he would spend the nights if he were here on Cauldron business. It beomes clear that he was trying to look into the history of a noble that had moved from Sasserine to Cauldron and is now part of the council.



Gather information:

DC 5 – Navalant has left Sasserine (long enough ago, so that the group doesn't immediately follow) and he seemed to have been successful in whatever he was trying to do (according to witnesses)

DC10 – Navalant's business trips (as a mayor of Cauldron) normally lead him to the Golden Giant, where he hasn't been seen during this week.

DC15 – Navalant has been visiting the Winking Eye (a club with hired flirters, payed by the slightly  alleviated prices of the establishement).

DC20 – Navalant's research led him to the town hall stacks, numerous taverns and the former Vhalantru villa.



Event 5 - Retracing Navalant's steps



What really happened:

Navalant visited the Sasserine town hall and searched the stacks to find out about the existence of the old, deserted Vhalantru mansion. He visited it a few times, but found no way into the building as the front door was locked and he didn't dare to break in seeing his position as mayor of Cauldron in danger if he was caught during the occasion. He went to make contacts with Sasserine's dubious population, seeking assistance for his „research“. This, and the fact that he stayed at the Deep Sleep, drew Mhad's attention, since the vampire was visiting the local vampire guild at the time. Having heard about the upcoming meeting in Cauldron, she immediately sensed the potentially problematic revelations that could come about, if Navalant was too successful. She dominated him and  then convinced him that he had done what he could and should return to Cauldron as fast as possible and report to Vhalantru himself without wasting any time at the town hall or elsewhere. She didn't kill him outright, afraid of drawing nosy adventurers from Cauldron to the Sasserine hideout. Navalant tried to follow her orders to show himself at the Lucky Monkey and then return as soon as humanly possible to Cauldron. If the group has means to scry upon him, they can see him at Monkey. If they manage to protect him from being eaten by Vhalantru, it should not affect the story much. As soon as Navalant makes a public appearance without close supervision by the group, he is doomed to die at Vhalantru's hands. If they are able to protect him, free him from the domination and more, they have earned the reward of getting quite some information on the true story behind the mayor's excursion. They can learn much of this also by using divination and other such spells also.

The party can learn that Navalant has been doing research on the Vhalantru family. They are told (or find out in libraries) that V's old mansion has been deserted for more than 15 years. According to some people who saw Navalant on the day he left, he seemed to have succeeded in what he was trying to do and left deliberately.



Gather information:

DC 5 – The old Vhalantru mansion is deserted for quite some time.

DC 10 – The noble Vhalantru left for Cauldron about 15+ years ago.

DC 15 – The house has the reputation of being haunted. At nights, strange sounds are heard.

DC 20 – The house was up for sale by the city management for some time, noone wanted to buy.



Event 6 - Beholder assassin



The party should be encouraged to search for the old Vhalantru mansion (if necessary, by NPC tips) and find a long abandoned 2 story mansion with a roof trapdoor and finger thick dust inside. They are bound to stumble across a living room with signs of a battle and a blood stain (aged 15 years) on a door. When they make it down into the basement, they find a Gouger, trapped in the basement (he got down there after using a polymorph potion) and still waiting to kill Orbius, which is what he was sent to do (and can possibly be learned from the creature by a clever party). They also find the skeletal remains of a long dead person (the murdered real Vhalantru), dead since 16 years.



The advent of that assassin prompted Orbius to make a quick run for Cauldron in disguise of Vhalantru instead of covering up the murder and preparing properly.



On the roof (climb up DC 15) the party can find entrance through a roof trap door (locked DC20). The front door is magically trapped with an alarm spell, which would start screaming for help and attract town guard patrol, who would ask very inconvenient questions. (Search DC26, Disable Device DC32). Once inside, the party finds inches of dust everywhere. The upper floor has two bedrooms, bathroom and guest rooms as well as an office, which has paperwork, indicating a normal working schedule stopping abruptly 16 years ago and NOT an ordered office left tidy in view of several weeks or months in Cauldron. The lower floor has a toilet, kitchen, living room and stairs to the cellar behind a curtain (search DC10). In the living room are clear signs of a battle with broken glass, toppled chairs and a dried up blood stain. A successful Heal or appropriate Knowledge or Craft check DC28 tells that this is about 15 or more years old. In the foyer, a successful search check DC 27 finds some broken glass, probably from a vial. A combination of detect magic (+6 circumstance) and Knowledge (Arcana) or Spellcraft DC35 finds very faint traces of transmutation reminiscent of a size alteration potion on the glass (it was a potion used by the Gouger to pursuit Orbius, who was wearing the simulacrum suit already, which had changed his size, to the cellars, where he was about to hide the body of the real Vhalantru). When the party gets down, they do encounter the Gouger (taken from : Monsters of Faerun, a (typically hired) beholder hunter, from what a Knowledge (Arcana) or Bardic Knowledge DC 30 will tell.

BEHOLDERKIN, GOUGER (more details available, but © Wizards)

Hit Dice: 14d8 + 42 (105 hp), Initiative: +6 (+2 Dex, +4 Improved Initiative), Speed: 10 ft., fly 40 ft. (good), AC: 24 (+2 Dex, –1 size, +13 natural)

Attacks: Bite + 14 melee; or tongue +14 melee, Damage: Bite 2d6+7; or tongue 1d8+7, Face/Reach: 5 ft. by 5 ft./5 ft. (15 ft. with tongue)

Special Attacks: Antimagic eye, eye gouge, tongue strike

Special Qualities: All-around vision, flight

Saves: Fort +9, Ref +6, Will +8, Abilities: Str 20, Dex 14, Con 16, Int 9, Wis 9, Cha 12,

Skills: Hide +5, Listen +6, Move Silently +5, Search +9, Spot +14, Wilderness Lore +7

Feats: Improved Initiative, Great Fortitude, Improved Critical (tongue), Challenge Rating: 11



The house of the former Vhalantru has some letters which allow the party track down relatives, who can give them extra info. Vhalantru's skeletal remains (who can no longer be „spoken with dead“ with, he lacks a tongue with which to answer) can be found in the basement. He has crashed ribs and a DC 20 check (combine Heal and Knowledge (local or nobility) modifiers) tell that his  appearance are similar to the Vhalantru person in Cauldron, who they have seen in public.



Event 7 – More information



The group can also retrace the steps of Navalant, who went to the town stacks and retrieved the info that, since about 16 years ago, the taxes for the Vhalantru mansion have no longer been paid. The house was found deserted and it was tried to sell it off. Since rumors of it being haunted exist, it didn't find a buyer. The church of Pelor may also help the party, as (the real) Vhalantru was about to get married by a priest of said church, but after arranging everything didn't show up to the occasion.



The party should conclude in the end, that the Vhalantru in Cauldron is not the same as the one that lived in Sasserine in past times.



Gather information:

DC 10 – With a Diplomacy check DC 20 and a fee of 5 gp (or a bribe of 10 gp without Diplomacy) the group gets the information where Navalant was looking for stuff and conclude, it had to do with Family heirloom and a certain part of the city.

DC 15 – Vhalantru hasn't been paying any city taxes for his estate and selling it by the town officials has failed due to persistent rumors about the house being haunted

DC 20 – Vhalantru was about to get married. He had arranged a wedding with Dolores (a barmaid in one of the harbour taverns these days, who can still be found and knows nothing) but failed to show up at the church (the day after his assasination by Orbius). Talking to Dolores or the priest in question confirms that Vhalantru disappeared without a trace. His mansion was not broken in as the alarm trap was found and considered too risky.



Event 8 - Vampires



The characters hear – possibly yet again – about vampires in the city (a kobold sorcerer vampire gets a bit reckless) and – whether they stay at the Deep Sleep themselves or not, they may want to go investigate. They can assault the kobold, who is trying to get his share of blood during the night and follow him, once turned gaseous, to a locked door, behind which a staircase leads into the vampire lair.



DC 0 – Automatic success. The party overhear rumors about vampires at or near the Deep Sleep. Once they investigate they can uncover an underground organization of vampire rogues (I've used „Vampires and Liches“, the first part, from Necromancer games to great success, but any lair with a few vampires and some further hooks will do. See the appendix for letters to be found in the leaders (Sangre) coffin.



Event 9 - Attack



The party goes to solve the vampire problem. Whether out of their own motivation (for being bitten) or because they are asked by hard-to-turn-down petitioners. Another motivation may be that they need a second base of operations while their presence in Cauldron is only tolerated by official town rulers (after the Redgorge incident). Becoming heroes in Sasserine would certainly help to create another location for access to certain resources (like magical items).



A small number of vampires will do. They are completely up to your own design or maybe you like to use the nice module „Vampires and Liches“ by Necromancer games as I did, but I would advise to lower the amount of treasure by some amount, or – if necessary – use it to boost an underpaid 12th level party. (In my game, they needed the boost to just make their level equivalent wealth level). In vampires and liches there was a unique item, intelligent short sword with the ability to deal sneak attack damage to undead in the hands of a skilled rogue, which can be spread as a rumor for further motivation to undo a wrong by attacking the unhealthy organization.



Event 10 - Resolution



Resolution of the problem (or ignorance of it). The party gets to keep all treasure retrieved from the underground complex and as much story related material as appropriate.



I imagine setting up links to Mhad (obviously), Vervil Ashmantle, having been inspired by the idea from the module, that the vampires also run some slave trade, while a glabrezu, held prisoner at the vampire hideout, might get freed by the party and could become a recurring villain by joining up with the remaining demons from the Demonskar or provide some of the backstory, if talked to by using dimensional anchor and proper threats or diplomacy.



There also is the possibility of bringing in the Necrocants and Khyron Bonesworn (I actually made him make an appearance as someone fighting a medusa, so he got spared since he was fighting the evil monster, which conveniently hid the fact, that he himself is evil. He is supposed to be from the Sasserine area, so this was very fitting. Maybe his adventurer group had been set up by a vampire and he goes to take revenge on some vampires that he had some prior knowledge of to satisfy his feelings for revenge.



A lot of ideas may present themselves (they did for me) during the flow of this adventure. Feel free to add them to the messageboards under the appropriate thread (Vhalantru from Sasserine Sidetrek).



Letters to the guild leader to be found by the group:



Dear Sangre,

I hope you have not forgotten the numerous times, I've both purposefully and incidentally rescued one of your crew from the hunters of the Order of the Silver Dream. I wish to ask of you a little favor in return as I have urgent business in Sasserine and need a place to feed and rest between my appointments in town. I shall trust that you retained some kind of hospitality and will visit you in two weeks time beneath the Deep Sleep.



                                                                                                Sincerely yours,





I have not expected you to be so bold. How on earth did you dare to sell a dozen half-orc slaves to that bastard Zarn Kyass? That is dangerous territory, I tell you. I do advise you to keep out of my terrain. Keep your bloody teeth away from Cauldron and its surroundings. If you keep meddling in my affairs, I'll send every cleric at you that I can charm into obedience. If it comes to worst, I'd love to put you on the wrong side of a baleful polymorph. Your shiny blade won't help you then anymore.

                                    Heed my words, sucker !

                                                Lord Vervil Ashmantle


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