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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    DwarfClericGuy

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    Default Help with 3 quests (Zhentarim)

    Hey guys,

    So, a group of my PCs has been doing different quests in a small rural town in Sword Coast.

    As it happens, one of the players got his eye upon a woman, who is deeply embedded in Zhentarim organization. She is running miner's exchange in mentioned small town, earning nice profits from miners, who bring different valuable ores to change and some gems. Girl has BIG plans and is competent.

    I wonder what sort of quests could I shape, based on her background for PCs or, more specifically, for this one, aggressively entrepreneurship-y PCs. Guy is a perfect (old school - given, Zhentarim have become reliable mercenaries and have abandoned MOST of their old ways) Zhentarim. Intrigue and a fat profit margin.

    This are ideas so far, if anyone could help m flesh them out ...

    a) I start with a simple quest that looks like the others, but with a twist where the bad guy is never seen, planned ahead to flee after observing the party, and gets away. Hes been paid by the girl to observe PCs capability. (any ideas on how to shape this?)

    b) The girl draws PC in, but then sends him on a 2nd quest that turns out to be a loyalty test. Realizing, girl gave him loyalty test is part of a test.

    c) This quest should be the last one, that establishes connections in Zhentarims for our PC.

    thanks :)

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Zhorn's Avatar

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    Default Re: Help with 3 quests (Zhentarim)

    So this is clearly Halia Thornton from Lost Mines of Phandelver, or lifted directly from that module. For the purposes of this, I'll just be using the names from the module.
    For Zhentarim; the 3 big motivators for their interactions should be about wealth, power, or influence.

    For Halia, her wealth is tied directly into her power base, the miner's exchange, and uses that to influence the town via her control over the financial matters.
    She runs a monopoly in coordinating the miners and prospectors because she's the only point for miles that exchanges their findings for coin.
    There's no other miner's exchange in town, nor is there a bank (the module makes a point about this because it means Halia business also acts as the bank to the town). Most people attribute this to Phandalin being too far out from any major trade routes or towns, but in reality this is part of Halia's long term plan. She makes sure that no other competition set themselves up in town, and travellers who are not going to stick around long are idea for sending out on compartmentalised jobs to maintain this power balance.

    Basic jobs are simple, clearing out mines to keep business moving is one aspect. Gems and ore need to keep moving for Halia to turn a profit. But she cannot afford for it to become too safe; as a mining community with NO dangers will attract other business owners to try and set up shop in a risk-free area. A goblin population must be allowed to remain to keep away the small scared competitors.
    Sending out adventurers to strike at 'specified' areas is Halia's plan here. She knows about almost all the dens and caves the goblin use, and so send a group of adventurers to attack area A (driving the goblin to retreat into the forest) to help miner Lemar one week, but hires the next lot of adventurers to attack area B (pushing goblins to flee towards the mines) after a short safe period has elapsed. Next thing, miner Lemar is approaching his good friend, Miss Thornton, to put a goblin bounty on his mines, as she always manages to find adventurers to help drive the little monsters out of his mines.

    Next is the rougher and braver forms of competition. If there are enough profits visibly leaving the town, either gangs or larger mining operation will be incentivised to set up shop in the region.
    Halia need to be able to drive them out by force or hostile takeover, OR get profits transported and delivered out of town under the radar. Coordinating exchanges with the Black Network (Zhentarim) is a low combat option to quest you players on. Delivering paycuts to shady people outside of town under false pretences so Halia maintains her image in town of just being a humble business owner to the population. If the competition in town is legit, these Zhenatarim operatives will strangle the business from the outside running interference on their deliveries. If the competition is criminal in nature, Halia gets the players involved in town to deal with the threat in the public eye, so all the townsfolk know Halia is coordinating mercenaries to help protect the town from brigands. Some even say she might make a fine mayor some day.
    How much the players get to see behind the curtain is an expression of how much trust they have built up with Halia. But there's always a cost. Halia would dare not let the players get any dirt on her unless she's able to implicate the players in something damming also. Paying off violent criminals, driving goblins into the town's mines, etc.

    Finally is willing involvement in Halia's underhanded operations. Knowing full well how their actions are in the service of Halia control over the town's financial workings.
    Hijacking a rival caravan of supplies before they make it to town (dump it in the woods for teh bugbears to pillage, and take blame for later).
    Destroying a section of road, turning rivals off using the town as the trade route is too unpredictable. Meanwhile Halia hires miners from the town to help repair the road, and gets more praise for looking out for the town's best interests.
    Braking out some of the captured criminals in the town's jail and secreting them off to join in the service of the Black Network elsewhere. Halia hire's the adventurers publicly to tract down the escaped criminals and bring them to justice, with a big public show of awarding them form killing them (where the players are working both ends to get the criminals out alive and deceive the townsfolk).

    I hope these give you ideas you can work with.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Default Re: Help with 3 quests (Zhentarim)

    Quote Originally Posted by pinjata View Post
    a) i start with a simple quest that looks like the others, but with a twist where the bad guy is never seen, planned ahead to flee after observing the party, and gets away. Hes been paid by the girl to observe pcs capability. (any ideas on how to shape this?)
    Expand this over several sessions. The girl has hired the guy to learn about the party and given the resources to make a proper go of it. Have the observer arrange for the party to be given a quest that supports the girl's interests, but have him arrange the whole thing so that the observer is set up as the mini-boss. Maybe a group of rival miners are raiding the girl's stores or undercutting her (this would be a group of miners that are legitimate competition to the girl and who the observer manipulates into a position where the party can then destroy them).

    The observer can then arrange for the party to escort the recovered resources from the mine to the girl's store houses and hire raiders to attack and attempt to rob them over the course of the several day journey. The raiders would be legitimate and funded by the observer, so that when they are captured or interrogated they would lead the party toward the existence of a mini-boss. This would also allow the observer a change to assess the honesty of the party; did they skim any loot along the way?

    The observer may also arrange moral assessments of the party. Passing a wagon train that has broken down, finding a wounded animal on the road, having the opportunity to assist in the adjudication of a small claim dispute between two miners, etc.

    Communications and descriptions of the observer would be present, but the observer himself would never have to be on the board, thereby alleviating the risk of him being inadvertently captured or killed.

    Quote Originally Posted by pinjata View Post
    b) the girl draws pc in, but then sends him on a 2nd quest that turns out to be a loyalty test. Realizing, girl gave him loyalty test is part of a test.
    Only after a proper assessment by the observer can they be advanced to the actual loyalty test. Outright evil is not the way to go, so shoot for morally grey. Perhaps a regional government is seeking to raise a local ore tax by 0.5%. This will hurt the girl's market position but not outright kill it. The girl will send the party to influence the decision of the council against the tax. Once engaged, the party will learn that the author of the task is a) a direct competitor of the girl and is seeking to reduce her market holdings, and b) that by reducing the market holdings of the girl the author of the bill will be weakening her financial ability to support a specific group of NPCs (a small village elsewhere or miner retirement plan?).

    The author of the bill will want this group weakened so that they can be relocated off of a valuable claim where the girl has promised to support them for their years of hard work. To muddy the waters, have the 0.5% tax go into a council fund that will pay for a druid to monitor and inspect the local livestock, crops, and water in order to improve the overall health of the community by ensuring clean food throughout the year.

    Quote Originally Posted by pinjata View Post
    c) this quest should be the last one, that establishes connections in zhentarims for our pc.
    This quest line will open up contacts in the city council, the local governance, the political theater of the local mining consortium, and the local druid order.
    - Something Pithy
    @Mediocre_Bard

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    DwarfClericGuy

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    Default Re: Help with 3 quests (Zhentarim)

    I've taken a few days and I've shaped a few quests. Any criticism is welcome.

    Background: Halia has a web of informants, mostly goldseekers, that keep an eye on local happenings for her.

    First quest would be helping Miner group A clear an abandoned and monster-infested mine. "Poor miner Jeb" is in fact an observant, Halia sticks to the party in order to asses.

    Second quest is accompanying some precious stones being transferred out of town via secret forest route. Halia still does not trust PCs very much (stones are fake), but a new observer is attatched to the group.

    Third quest is accompanying and protecting a few workers, who are sent to repair a bridge. Bridge repair is a donation of Thalia. Not much loss for Thalia, if players bail out.

    Here, trust is already built. Fourth quest is intercepting a caravan of a competition, that wants to set up operations in miner's town, NOT killing caravan members, but trashing the caravan and blaming bugbears.

    Fifth quest is to task a PC group with delivering a payment in gems to a certain person in one of the towns. This will also lead the party into a new adventure, while keeping them in contact with Zhentarim.

    Whaddya guys think? :)

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Default Re: Help with 3 quests (Zhentarim)

    Quote Originally Posted by Pinjata View Post
    First quest would be helping Miner group A clear an abandoned and monster-infested mine. "Poor miner Jeb" is in fact an observant, Halia sticks to the party in order to asses.
    Be sure to supply a reason for bringing Jeb along. This may be his exceptional talent in dungeoneering to assess for tunnel faults or traps, or it may be because Jeb was the foreman of the mine and is honor-bound to aid in the recovery of the lost mine.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pinjata View Post
    Second quest is accompanying some precious stones being transferred out of town via secret forest route. Halia still does not trust PCs very much (stones are fake), but a new observer is attached to the group.
    If Halia is vetting the party, then she should probably send fake stones so that if the party does inspect them they will not realize what is happening. A non-combat, role-playing encounter with a group of poor pilgrims could be a quick test of the party's ability to stay on mission.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pinjata View Post
    Third quest is accompanying and protecting a few workers, who are sent to repair a bridge. Bridge repair is a donation of Thalia. Not much loss for Thalia, if players bail out.
    Why is the bridge important? Does it supply a single town year round, or perhaps it is vital to troop movements in the area, or it may access a temple that the locals value. If you choose temple, then it can be the temple of the pilgrims who the party did not support in quest 2. This may motivate them to hold the bridge as a way of gaining atonement for their previous action.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pinjata View Post
    Here, trust is already built. Fourth quest is intercepting a caravan of a competition, that wants to set up operations in miner's town, NOT killing caravan members, but trashing the caravan and blaming bugbears.
    Why is one mining corporation better than another? Does this new organization treat miners poorly, or plan on removing wealth from the region, or is it secretly run by the political enemies of the region? If you are running an evil campaign then greed can be your motivator. If not, add some extra detail so that way if the party questions the townsfolk then they have a valid reason to support this action.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pinjata View Post
    Fifth quest is to task a PC group with delivering a payment in gems to a certain person in one of the towns. This will also lead the party into a new adventure, while keeping them in contact with Zhentarim.
    Real gems, with the miners from the previous quest attempting to steal them as pay back for stopping their ability to access the local market.
    - Something Pithy
    @Mediocre_Bard

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