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Royal Succession

The PCs are working on an unrelated task in the fog-filled woods of the Isle of the Three Kings. They're surprised to hear the sound of a horse, approaching at high speed. As the horse enters the clearing, it's obviously covered in blood streaming from it's rider. He's carrying something in his arms, wrapped in a blanket.

The PCs help him down and just before he dies, he shoves the blanket-wrapped object in the closest PC's arms and begs faintly, “Save my son!”

They unwrap the object to discover a baby and searching the body produces a jeweled crown.

Just what in the world is going on?

Back Story

The Isle of the Three Kings is ruled by three kings who are in a constant struggle for dominance, due to a prophesy foretelling the formation of a single kingdom from all three under a ruler that can trace their blood-line to the royal families of all three kingdoms. Currently, the royal families have mixed so completely that they can all make such a claim, and thus, the struggle for power.

Unknown to these royal families, many of the current villagers on the island can also make such a claim, due to various indiscretions by nobles over the years.

Just recently, one such villager, living in contested land between all three kingdoms, took his son to Madam Olga, a local diviner wizard, and asked her to foretell his future. This is a common practice, due to the ease with which such magic works on the island.

Madam Olga peered into the child's future and saw him sitting on a throne, a crown on his head and all three kings kneeling at his feet, pledging their allegiance. The wizard thought she'd made a mistake, so she tried again. She got the same results. She tried several more times, with no change.

She told the boy's father every detail. The boy's father listened intently, his eyes wide the whole time.

The man went home and told his wife. Unfortunately, she was foolish enough to tell a neighbor. That neighbor told someone else and soon the whole village was buzzing about this “wonderful development.” The villagers loved the idea of one of their own being the chosen one of the prophesy, as this would put an end to the bickering of the three kings. The local jeweler crafted a crown for the boy and gave it to his father.

It wasn't long before the three kings heard about this string of events. Suddenly, every assassin on the island, every soldier and a great many bounty hunters were seeking to kill the boy and his family.

The village was burned to the ground in the ensuing confusion. Fortunately, the boy was with his father, who'd spent the day fishing. When they got home in the evening, they found the village burned and the boy's mother dead.

Moments later, the father saw a group of mounted men galloping toward him, swords and bows at the ready! He ran for the woods, going past the stables. Fortunately, there was still one horse in the fenced yard. It was kicking at the fence, trying to get loose, because the stable itself was on fire.

He quickly calmed the horse, mounted it and galloped into the woods, with the horsemen hot on his tail. Once more fortunate, the men following were heavily armed and armored, slowing their horses. The man and his son escaped, but not before he took an arrow in the back.

Several minutes later, as the horse began to tire, he stumbled upon the PCs.

Adventure Synopsis

  • The PCs are hired by a noble to make the trek to the Isle of the Three Kings, to find and consult a diviner about the future of the Archipelago.
  • They travel to the island and find a diviner hidden amongst the woods.
    • The diviner consults her crystal ball and gets the information they asked for.
  • They turn back, heading back through the woods.
  • They encounter the father with the boy.
    • He hands over the kid.
    • They find the crown.
    • They scratch their heads, not knowing what's going on.
  • They encounter a few groups intent on killing the boy.
    • The men on horseback catch up.
      • This is a group of mercenaries hired by Belleca's King.
    • They're attacked by a group of elementals sent by Hathewald's royal family.
    • They encounter a group of Vawdreyan spies.
      • They inform the PCs (while fighting) that they do not wish to kill the boy.
      • However, they've been ordered to and beg the PCs to stop them.
        • Vawdreyan covert agents are trained from birth (e.g. brainwashed) to serve the king.
        • They're unable to disobey the king, but they can tell the PCs why they're attacking.
  • Someone suggests going back to the diviner to ask her what's going on.
    • She explains the events from the back story.
    • The boy has a strong Destiny to rule the island.
  • The PCs find him a foster home.
    • Lord/Lady Bellaby is quite suitable.
  • The foster parent(s) come under attack from assassins and bounty hunters.
  • The PCs protect them and the boy.
  • The PCs get the local ruler involved.
    • Rather than risk an international incident, the three kings back off.
  • Years pass.
  • The boy reaches an appropriate age to rule.
    • This sparks another adventure.

Starting the Adventure

Due to Haven's recent hostilities, the PCs are hired by a wealthy noble to seek out a diviner wizard on the Isle of the Three Kings. This noble is interested in the future of the Archipelago and will pay them $8000 for this service.

This can easily be Lord Bellaby (or Lady Bellaby), first introduced in the Coronation of Dia Tempest. If this is the case, then this adventure should naturally dove-tail into the end of that one. Lord Bellaby has become quite concerned by recent events and wants to know more about what's going to happen, so he might help where he can.

Whoever they happen to be, this noble charters a Courier ship and sends the PCs to find “the best diviner” they can. They'll be handed a single Old Kingdom Gold Crown (worth $2,000) to give the diviner as payment. Their employer will also provide them with provisions for the journey.

Lord Bellaby will charter the Surly Sailor, but another ship would likely be chartered by someone else.

Getting There

Read this as the PCs come into port:

The harbor containing the docks is quite beautiful. There are trees reaching out over the water, creating a great deal of nice shade. The docks themselves appear old, but well-maintained.

From what you can see, the small community surrounding the docks is charming, with red-brick, white trimmed houses and trees on every street. They're paved with cobblestones and horses pulling wagons stroll down the main street.

As you disembark, you notice something odd: the people here seem…nervous. They also look quite tired.

If anyone asks why the people look so nervous and tired, they'll explain that their village has changed hands three times in the last year, as part of negotiations between two of the three kingdoms. Unfortunately, the village straddles the border between Belleca and Hathewald. They've also had to deal with tax alterations roughly eight times in that same period. They're simply tired of their lives being upended every few weeks due to the petty squabbles of their kings.

If the PCs ask for suggestions on which diviner to consult, the locals will suggest Madam Olga, who lives deep within the forest.

Madam Olga

Fortunately for the PCs, Madam Olga is quite famous and there are now signs posted in the woods that will lead them right to her cottage. The path is well traveled. When they reach the cottage, read this:

After a short stroll in the woods, you find a small cottage, with walls made of local stone. It looks to be in good condition, with a well-maintained roof.

There's an attractive garden in front, with a number of painted, ceramic Gnomes watching over the flower beds. As you walk up the path to the door, you're almost certain the Gnomes are watching you.

There's a simple, but eerie illusion spell on the Gnomes to make them appear to be staring at anyone nearby. This frightens off birds and ensures that visitors behave themselves.

If the PCs damage any of the Gnomes, then Madam Olga will insist that they pay for them. Each Gnome is worth $50.

When they try to knock on the door:

Before you have the chance to knock, an elderly woman opens the door wide and gestures you in, “Come in! Have a seat and we'll discuss the future!”

Having had a vision of them the day before, she knew the PCs were coming and why. They need not explain their purpose in coming and if they try, she'll get quite irritable.

She wishes to get right down to business. She'll seat them at a round table with a crystal ball in the middle and as soon as they give her the coin, read this:

As Madam Olga waves her hands near the crystal ball, scattered images play over it's surface. Her voice takes on an almost ethereal quality, as though she were young again:

“The Queen of Storms in full array,”
“Lightning flies into the fray.”
“Dragon of gold at her side,”
“Into battle, she will ride.”

“Kneel at her feet,”
“Or make retreat.”
“Give her your life,”
“Or give her strife.”

“She seeks your heart,”
“It may give quite the start.”
“From the fight, you should forbear,”
“The arms of war you should not wear.”

“The ''One True God' gave command,”
“She obeys this dangerous demand.”
“The truth is not what it appear,”
“This is what you must fear.”

The rhyme complete, Madam Olga slumps back in her chair, clearly exhausted.

She gestures the closest of you near and whispers, “I believe that you will be caught in the middle of this. Be careful.

“Oh, and could you get me a cup of tea?”

Just as she says the last word, you hear the whistle of a tea pot.

If they fetch the tea for her, after a few sips she'll offer to read each PC's future, for a small fee ($50). You can make up a poem for each character or simply offer them a handful of vague insights.

If you like, you can freak out one of the players by having Madam Olga return the character's money and frown, “Hrm. That's odd. You don't seem to have a future I can read.”

Madam Olga will also write her cryptic rhyme down, so the PCs can take it to their employer.

On the Road Again

It will be late afternoon by the time the PCs are done chatting with Madam Olga. They'll likely want to return to their employer, now that they've got the information they were hired to obtain. This will involve walking back through the woods. Fog rolls through as they get going.

Just as they're reaching the center of the forest, the sun sets:

As you're crossing a clearing the road passes through, you're surprised to find the sound a horse, approaching at high speed. The horse and rider nearly gallop right into you! The back end of the horse is covered in blood and the rider has an arrow protruding from his back! He's dressed like a farmer and carrying something in his arms, wrapped in a blanket.

The injured man barely manages to stop the horse, but in doing so, he begins to lose his balance!

The PCs will probably help him down off the horse. If they don't, he'll fall in such a way as to use his body to break the fall for the wrapped object, which is his baby boy. Either way, he'll try to hand the wrapped baby to the nearest person and then beg, “Save my son!”

If they search him, they'll find a very simple gold crown with a single jewel, wrapped in silk and tucked into his coat. It's worth $582.

Everybody Wants a Piece of Him

Belleca Mercenaries

Within five minutes, a group of soldiers on horses will approach. This is one Mercenary Lieutenant, three Mercenary Soldiers and three Mercenary Archers. This group has recently trained in the Riding skill and put two points into it each.

If the PCs are wary and hide quickly, the soldiers will stop to inspect the body and horse. Then they'll miserably fail a default roll vs. Tracking. They'll continue on down the road. They might run into them again once they get to the port village.

Otherwise, they'll have to fight them. The soldiers have orders to kill the baby and anyone protecting him.

The GM can easily spice up this encounter by adding other types of mercenary.

Hathewald Elementals

The women of Hathewald's royal family have been watching via various forms of scrying magic. The King decided to wait for the PCs to try and leave the island before getting involved. Before the PCs took the baby into their care, they were watching the Belleca Mercenaries, to see if they'd succeed.

If the PCs try to leave the island with the boy, they'll teleport a few elementals into the area. This will be one Water Elemental (appearing in the harbor, for a surprise attack, possibly directed at the ship), a Fire Elemental and an Earth Elemental (will attempt a surprise attack from below, while the PCs are busy with the Fire Elemental). If these fail, a Vacuum Elemental will appear and try to suck up everything in the area.

Vawdreya Spies

This encounter will come shortly after the PCs figure out what's going on (see the next section). There will be a number of Vawdreya Spies equal to the number of characters in the party, plus Monte Higdon, dressed in his Spy Master outfit. They've been watching the PCs since they dealt with the Belleca Mercenaries. They were watching the mercenaries, to see if they'd complete the job for them.

They have no desire to harm the boy, but have been ordered to kill him by the King. Vawdreya's covert agents are trained from birth to serve the King and are quite thoroughly incapable of disobeying him. In essence, they've been brainwashed to obey the King by their own parents, who were in turn brainwashed by their parents, on back to when they split off from the royal family, many generations back.

They'll attack the PCs and simultaneously beg to be stopped. They do not wish to murder an infant. They will not kill the boy until they've dealt with the PCs.

Anyone asking to talk things out will get them to stop briefly, to explain themselves better. After this, Monte and his men will bow out of respect and then continue the battle.

Monte will be hanging back from the fight; his purpose is to direct his men and observe the PCs, since they're an unknown element. He's been instructed to stay alive to report back, even if it means sacrificing his men. He should be able to easily vanish into the woods and fog using Invisibility Art. If engaged directly, he will seek to quickly disable his foe with Pressure Points and then disappear.

What's Going On?

If the PCs ask anyone local what's going on (a stranger on the road, someone from town, etc.), they'll once more suggest a visit to Madam Olga.

If they show the boy to Madam OIga, she'll frown, quickly consult her crystal ball and then tell them the events of the Back Story, free of charge. She'll also make sure they've got the crown, claiming it's part of his destiny. After that, she'll beg the PCs to save the boy, as she and many others want a “peasant king” as she'll call him. The villagers have been sick of their rulers for several generations.

Madam Olga will insist emphatically that the boy is the island's rightful King. She'll suggest, “Spirit him away to somewhere safe! When he's old enough to rule, bring him back and I'm sure the villages will support him.”

Leaving the Island

The only safe option for the boy, at least for now, is to leave the island. The PCs will have to get past the Hathewald Elementals first (mentioned above), however. The PCs will likely want to report back to their employer and get paid.

Finding a Foster Home

If the PCs are working for Lord Bellaby, he'll volunteer to take care of the boy. He's always wanted children, but isn't all that popular with women. Lord Bellaby will want the PCs to be the boy's god-fathers and god-mothers, just in case the worst occurs.

Alternatively, one of the PCs could take care of the boy themself. If they have spouses as Allies or Dependants, they can take care of the boy while they're gone. The PC in question should be given a new Dependant for the boy. Since this is voluntary, the GM should also give them the extra character points for this. It might also be worth suggesting that these points be spent on an Ally who can help to take care of the child.

Whoever takes the boy in will insist that the PCs stay close for a while, as the rulers of the Isle of the Three Kings are well-known to be ruthless tyrants.

Assassins

Demon Attack

Hathewald wizards have summoned and bound a number of demons to use as assassins. This particular group will be composed of an appropriate mixture Demon Brutes, Demon Assassins and Demon Wizards. The numbers should be chosen to present a challenge to the PCs.

Hired Assassins

Belleca will put a high price on the boy's head, bringing all sorts of unsavory characters out of the wood-works. Just before the first of these comes to kill the boy, Guild Master Rayna, of the Shadowed Eyes, will pay the PCs a visit, to make sure they're aware.

The assassins will come one or two at a time and with each group that's thwarted, the price on the boy's head will rise. This, in turn, will bring higher and higher point value assassins.

Of course, the assassins should be individualized for each encounter, at least by description and personality.

Vawdreya Spies

Another group of Vawdreya Spies will come to kill the boy, similar to the group they've already faced. Before they attack, Monte will come find the PCs by himself and warn them. He will be dressed as a jester for this.

Just as before, this group will beg to be stopped by the PCs. The number of spies will double and Monte will of course be there, wearing his Spy Master outfit. At this point, if the PCs fail to stop them, the spies will commit ritual suicide, instead of killing the boy.

If Monte watches his men kill themselves, he'll fall to his knees and sigh a bit, but he will not shed any tears, since he's Unfazeable. He'll be willing to listen to the PCs.

He's recently been fighting his brainwashing in small ways, by “accidentally” throwing juggling balls at him. Monte was briefly imprisoned for this, but it gave him hope of breaking free. He's just about ready to turn on the King, requiring little more than an influence roll to do so. Anyone trying to convince him of this will require the Empathy Advantage, because he's Indomitable.

It might be possible to convince him that the boy is his rightful king. Many of the other spies will follow Monte if he can be convinced. Monte would make an excellent entertainer/body guard for the boy.

Other Ideas

Here's a few more ideas for attacks that haven't been fully fleshed out:

  • Belleca
    • Bounty hunters
    • Hunters/trackers
    • Mercenaries of all sorts
  • Hathewald
  • Vawdreya
    • The Royal Guard
      • Even more brainwashed than the spies
      • They live to serve, literally
    • Hired ninjas
    • Mobs of peasants with torches and pitchforks
      • Cunningly manipulated, of course
  • All of the Above
    • Humanoids (goblins, ogres, orcs, etc.)
      • They've been tricked or manipulated into attacking the city where the child is living
    • Mixed group from all three nations
      • This would be a late in the game tactic, after they've failed many times
      • The three Kings decide to work together and pool their resources, for once

Stopping the Attacks

The attacks listed above are just examples. The GM may devise just about any kind of attack . These will continue on a regular basis, until the problem is solved. There are any number of ways to do this, but most would result in the PCs being hunted down by the Three Kings and their minions.

Seeking Asylum

Probably the best way to stop the attacks is to seek asylum for the boy and his guardians from the ruler of the island they live on, or moving them to an island that will offer sanctuary. The rulers of Crescentia, the League of Adventurers, Theris or the Wizard's Guild would be willing to offer sanctuary. All of them feel that a more stable government on the Isle of the Three Kings would be a good thing. All of them also have the military might to silence the Three Kings.

Of the four, Theris is the best option. The other three on the list will back Theris in such an endeavor, as the King has good friends among them all. His Grand Vizier is on the League's Governing Council and is the League's liaison to the Wizard's Guild. In addition, the Queen is the daughter of the Queen of Crescentia.

If Lord Bellaby is the boy's foster father, then the King of Theris can be easily convinced. They're good friends.

Once asylum is granted, the PCs will be asked to escort a diplomatic envoy to the Isle of the Three Kings, to deliver the message. For Theris, this will be Lord Bellaby. They will be paid handsomely for this service: $5000 for each party member. The Three Kings will not harm the envoy or the PCs, so long as they behave themselves, at least not openly.

The discussions will be short and the Three Kings will get the implied threat, but inform the envoy that if the boy or the PCs ever return to the island, their lives will be forfeit.

Speaking With Belleca's King

After making their way a short distance into Belleca territory the PCs will be attacked by a group of mercenaries loyal to the King. They'll be led by a Mercenary Lieutenant. There will be three Mercenary Soldiers, a Mercenary Battle Mage and a Mercenary Cleric. These mercenaries have been given the description of the PCs and told that they're enemies of the crown, to be killed on sight.

Even if the PCs were never seen by Belleca soldiers, the Three Kings have recently been discussing the “Peasant King,” as the boy is being referred to on the island. They have shared information, as they all wish him dead.

If the PCs are able to stop the fighting long enough to explain their presence, then they'll be escorted (under heavy guard) to speak with the King. If they kill the first group, then the second group (similar in composition to the first group) will nervously ask the purpose of their “invasion” into Bellecan territory.

Speaking With Hathewald's King

This will seem to go remarkably well. The PCs will be met by a very friendly group of demons on the road, who have been asked to escort the PCs to the King. They will surrender to the PCs and inform them of the King's desire to discuss current matters with the envoy.

The King will desire to speak with the envoy in private to discuss the “dry details of the arrangement.” The envoy will agree and will end up mind-controlled to plant a sort of post-hypnotic suggestion, causing them to try and kill the boy the next time they're in the same room.

After this is complete, the King will sign an agreement stating that he will no longer seek to kill the boy, unless he returns to the island. It should be emphasized that he signed the agreement after the envoy was mind-controlled, so he did not technically violate it. If called on this point, the King will point this out.

Speaking With Vawdreya's King

The first incident is a run-away cart aimed at the group. This will happen in the woods on the way to speak with Vawdreya's King. It was set on the road, with a horse and driver. The horse was shot with a sling stone. This was done by three Vawdreya Spies as a distraction to keep the PCs busy for a little while. The driver will be screaming for help.

Once the PCs reach the city outside the castle walls, the spies will whip some of the locals into a mob directed at them. This mob is convinced the PCs intend to do them harm. The spies will be at the head of the mob, dressed like peasants.

Killing the Three Kings

This will not be easy and it won't fulfill the prophesy. The Three Kings are supposed to kneel to the boy and pledge their allegiance.

Effectively, the PCs would have to take on three entire armies, by themselves. It likely isn't even possible.

However, this option is beyond the scope of this adventure. Character sheets for the three kings and their body guards will be presented in the follow-up adventure, The Peasant King.

Hiding the Boy

Without some serious magical mojo or a No Mana Area, this should be quite impossible, since the diviners on the island can determine where the boy is with relative ease.

Concluding the Adventure

Eventually, the boy will reach the age of twelve and have a strong desire to save his people from the Three Tyrants, as he will call them. When the PCs found him, he was three months old.

Even if he doesn't know his own history, he'll start asking the PCs and/or his foster parents pointed questions about his personal history. He'll have figured out on his own that he's adopted.

This will lead naturally into another adventure, The Peasant King. If planning to use the next adventure, the GM is encouraged to allow time to pass relatively quickly (gaps of two to three months between adventures, possibly more). This will give the PCs ample time for side projects, like training and making magic items. It might also lead to some fun side-adventures related to raising money for the sake of survival.

Once he's old enough to learn, the boy will ask the PCs to train him in various skills. This gives the PCs another project. The boy's guardian might be persuaded to pay them for this.

Character Sheets

Files

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