S1-E2

Session 1: Event 2

“The Tankard Challenge”

The PCs enter a side chamber containing a round wooden table with a metal basin set into it’s middle. Nine tankards encircle the basin depicting various townsfolk upon their surfaces. One tankard, “The Usurer”, lies on its side – its contents spilled into the basin. The remaining eight are filled with a dark liquid. As the party draws near the table, Zelaena Onaeriel bids them to her and speaks:

“Welcome friends, The table before you represents, in miniature, the scene and suspects of a foul murder. One of the tankards, the murderer, is poisoned. To successfully complete this challenge, you must correctly identify the culprit and prove your claim to be true by toasting from the remaining tankards.”

Walking over to the assembled table, Zelaena pulls a scroll from her robe and continues “As this is a test of your wit, magical detection, alchemical testing and purification spells are prohibited. Everything you need to complete this challenge and move onto the next…” she pauses, placing the scroll onto the table. “…is now on the table.”

With the introduction delivered, Zelaena backs away, allowing the party access to the table. As they are about to begin, she offers one final notice: “A word of caution, the threat of poison is quite real, so take all the time you require to be absolutely certain. But remember, your opposition does not linger.”

With the challenge introduction delivered, Zelaena returns to her previous position off to the side of the room and watches the party intently – awaiting their success or failure.

The Curator’s Scroll

Once Zelaena has stepped aside, the PCs have full access to the table. They are free to examine the Tankard Challenge Scroll at this time. It tells the story of the murder and the Sheriff who became involved. They will be expected to play the part of the Sheriff and announce the murderer. Various knowledge checks may give the players some information, as below:

  • Bardic Knowledge (DC 12) – This is definitely a tale that Burdon has heard many times over the course of his travels with Maestro and the circus. However, as the core element (the Sheriff turning to faith to catch a murderer) is what makes the story famous, the cast of characters and the identity of the culprit often change from one telling to the next. Put simply, this is the story “where the Sheriff turns to faith to guide him” and not “where the Sheriff catches so-and-so”.
  • Knowledge: History (DC 16) – This tale appears to be loosely based on the story of Captain Selhom of the Ospolen City Watch. In 977 YK, Selhom was called to the scene of a poisoning at a party of affluent nobility. The watchmen who arrived first had detained all 12 members of the kitchen and serving staff and had no means to determine who the culprit was. Selhom reportedly asked the group one question and allowed them to talk and argue amongst themselves. After a few moments’ time, he ordered silence and issued one arrest, which proved to be true and also later implicated one of the nobles present at the party.

The Tankards

As was described before, the tankards depict various townsfolk upon their surfaces. Each one represents a different suspect or ‘character’ in the story. They are:

Tankard: Image Description:
The Usurer This image is that of a usurer. He sits at a large desk counting coins into a strong box
The Traveler

This image is that of a traveler. His cloak is drawn tightly about him and a pack mule walks alongside him.
The Barkeep

This image if that of a barkeep. He stands behind the counter of a drinking house wiping the inside of a glass with a rag.
The Miner

This image is that of a miner. He holds a mining pick in one hand and stands within a mine lit by lanterns.
The Farmer

This image is that of a farmer. She stands amongst a field of crops and wipes the sweat from her brow.
The Ferryman

This image is that of a ferryman. He stands on board a ferry boat and propels it onward with a long staff.
The Cobbler This image is that of a cobbler. He is seated at a work bench with tools and boot leather.
The Butcher

This image is that of a butcher. He stands behind a blood-stained counter wrapping a package of meat.
The Wheelwright

This image is that of a wheelwright. He sits on a stool next to a large wagon wheel and holds a hammer.

The Solution

The key to solving this challenge is the final line of the scroll where it makes reference to the “innocent men” rotting in jail alongside the murderer. The murderer is in fact The Farmer, who is female and thus not one of the innocent men. This is hinted at in the scroll (The Farmer is only described as “thin with hair of black” whereas the others are stated as being male) and proven beyond any doubt by the tankard image of a female farmer.

With the mystery solved, the question will quickly become “what next?” – to which Zelaena offers no answer. She merely waits patiently and watches the party carefully as if expecting an epiphany. The “epiphany” she awaits is for the PCs to pour out the murderer’s tankard, which contains the clue that will lead them to the next challenge. Pouring out the Farmer’s ale will reveal a key. With the revelation of the key in the basin, Zelaena smiles broadly. Once the group has correctly identified the murderer and acquired the key, they are ready to move on.

MOVE ON TO THE NEXT CHALLENGE

S1-E2

DANgerous Kalamar 4 Kallak