Company of the Dragon: A Mystery

In which I detail the first adventure…

The Adventure

This is an adventure aimed at a party of around 4-5 1st level PCs. It is designed to be low on combat and features several opportunities for the party to collaborate and share their backstory (the pub is a perfect example). By the end of adventure the players should have received the 300 XP required to get to level 2 and be a bit less fragile ahead of the more demanding combat in upcoming adventures. It is also a perfect chance to set up some of the Doran settings and NPCs.

When describing NPCs I will add in italicised flavour text that will hopefully spark ideas on how to play the character. These are inspired by how characters and scenes have aspects in FATE.

Orientation

The players start at the Company of the Dragon Headquarters having met there when they came to sign up as initiates. Give them some time to mingle/choose which seat they should sit in/explore the building’s ground floor before the clerk, Yates, tells them it’s time for the briefing. A small, mild-mannered human cleric walks up to start describing their mission almost as if he is giving a slightly confused sermon.* Be as flowery, vague or over the top as you like. It doesn’t matter exactly what you say as he will be interrupted almost immediately by Galavar in his shining full plate bursting through the front doors.

© Copyright  Chris Upson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
© Copyright Chris Upson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Galavar will inform the group that they are needed on a much more urgent and important quest: “There’s been a murder!”. Allow him to appear to gloat this fact over the room as if it was all thanks to him that the PCs are being offered such an interesting quest. He will then wait impatiently for the players to gather their equipment and meet them outside. He will march his ‘squad’ of PCs to the scene of the crime. Their route will take them down the street through the bustling Pelor Plaza and over the southern bridge towards the Political District. Once over the river they veer northwest and head towards the edge of the Noble and Political Districts. Here on a fairly upper middle class street they approach a town house with City Guards outside. They will notice a tall, well-dressed human man (Mr Hayworth, see later in the adventure) and his dwarven cleric friend (Dr Wulfric) leaving the building as they approach. They will get into a carriage and leave.

Galavar will unceremoniously leave the party with the City Guard as he “has better things to do”. The guardsmen are helpful and answer the party’s questions readily. They will lead the party inside to the lounge (front room, right hand side of the house) and introduce them to the Inspector.

*Imagine the comedy stereotype of a C of E vicar.

A Murder

The players now have the opportunity to investigate the house. The house has the following rooms:

The house has the following NPCs:

Detectives on the Case

Having searched the house the party should have eventually worked out they need to head down to The Horny Hare (in the Londe Docks area of the Doran map). This is a relatively run down pub that is frequented by sailors and dock workers in their off hours. Even at a relatively early time of day there will be a good number of sailors drinking in the pub. You can liberally add in rough NPCs with thick accents from various places in the world at this point if you want to extend the scene.


Meilian Lackman

Level 3 Rogue (Assasin), chaotic neutral

Armor Class

15 (leather armor)

Hit Points

24 (3d8 + 6)

Speed

30ft.

STR

13 (+1)

DEX

18 (+4)

CON

14 (+2)

INT

11 (0)

WIS

12 (+1)

CHA

14 (+2)

Damage Immunities

Condition Immunities

Senses

Passive Perception 15

Skills

Acrobatics +4, Intimidation +4, Perception +5 (Expertise), Persuasion +4, Sleight of Hand +6 (Expertise), Stealth +4

Abilities

Cunning Action, Assasinate

Languages

Common, Dwarven, Thieves Cant

Challenge

3 (700 XP)

Equipment:

Token, Common clothes, Dungeoneer's pack, Thieves' tools, Caltrops, Poisoner's Kit, Disguise Kit. The stolen Treaty

Wealth:

221 gp, Engraved Silver Holy Symbol worth 80 gold.

Magic items:

3 Potions of Healing, +1 Rapier.

Actions

Rapier.

+7 to hit, 9 (1d8 + 5) piercing damage.

Shortbow.

+5 to hit, 8 (1d6 + 4) piercing damage.

Sneak Attack.

+7 to hit, 16 (1d8 + 5 + 2d6) piercing damage.


The pub has the following key NPCs:
  • Tony "Big Tone": Barman, can hold his own. As long as the party are either buying beer or offering him coin Tony is happy to answer questions about Mervyn. He won't discuss anything illegal in the bar or give away potentially salacious details without a DC 18 Intimidate check (and the party may have to deal with some of the patrons too if it gets this far). Clues:
    • "Yeah, he was fairly regular here. Don’t think he could afford them fancier places."
    • "He didn’t really fit in here though."
    • "He got into rows over money or cards when he was drunk."
    • If pressed further he will fob them off in the direction of Bruce who recently had a row with him.
  • Bruce: Thug, quick to anger. Tougher looking even than Tony, you can't really believe that Mervyn would last long in a fight against him. Clues:
    • "Yeah, I remember him. Small bloke with airs and graces. He owed me money again."
    • If asked if anything seemed off about that night he says: "That guy over there was watching us really creepy like." He indicates towards Meilian.
  • Meilian Lackman: Level 3 Human Rogue (Assasin), hedunnit Dressed better than many of the pub patrons this guy is the actual criminal of the piece. He is clearly wearing leather armour and has penchant for black. A relatively easy [DC 12] Perception check notices the rapier scabbard at his hip. The party should probably suspect him. If they immediately try to grab him a brawl in the bar will allow him to escape. If he is questioned about the fight he was watching he says:
    • "Yeah, that fancy guy was followed."
    • "I didn't really see the guy."
  • These are both strictly true statements and he is being intentionally guarded. On a very good Insight check this could be detected but the idea is to make the characters suspicious enough to follow him without giving the game away entirely.

If the party leave Meilian alone he will slope off at an opportune time giving them a chance to tail him.

 War Office, Pall Mall circa 1900. Used under Creative Commons by SA 2.0.
War Office, Pall Mall circa 1900. Used under Creative Commons by SA 2.0.

Casing the Joint

Meilian will eventually walk into a Water Treatment Plant situated along the river bank. In order to find out where he went the party will either need to convince the guard to let them in [DC 16 Persuasion or a good disguise] or break in using other methods.

The plant consists of a u-shaped building (imagine the building pictured) with two wings either side of a courtyard and a wrought iron fence across the front. It is two stories but the plan itself isn’t particularly important. The important parts of the building are:

The party can figure out that Meilian is likely down in the sewers in a number of ways (most obviously the fact that he seems to have disappeared within the building and cannot be found). Once they are certain they are going down into the sewers it might behove them to warn the City Guard so as not to be caught trespassing. They can either enter the sewers through the supply room where the manhole cover is hidden under some heavy boxes [DC 14 Strength check to move] or use a copy of the plans to work out another entrance point†. Either way tracking Meilian through the sewers will be the same.

†Don’t give them the option of a manhole cover too near the secret chamber.

Sewer Chase

The sewer is dark and dank and the party will first encounter 4 Swarms of Bats [MM p. 339, CR 1, 200 xp]. As the press on they will eventually discover a doorway that leads in the direction of the secret chamber. The doorway is hinted at on the map but the contents of the corridor are up to the players to discover. As they progress down the corridor the party will encounter the following:

  1. Falling Portcullis: [XGtE p. 114] The doorway to the corridor is a falling portcullis. This is likely to be a minor hindrance to the players. I would set the trigger a bit further into the corridor to encourage most of the party to be inside before it slams shut. It’s really there to encourage the party to press on and also put them on high alert for traps.
  2. 4 Swarms of Bats: [MM p. 338, CR 1, 200 xp], optional. If you want to throw something more at the players a different swarm type can be useful here. If the party hasn’t taken a rest up to now then it might be best to let them press on.
  3. Pit Trap: [XGtE p. 115] With only a DC 10 check to spot most parties should realise it is there and creep around the edge. That will probably mean they aren’t paying attention just afterwards when…
  4. Concealed Crossbow Trap: [XGtE p. 114] slightly harder to spot than the pit trap and the party may forget to look for it right after the previous trap. Hopefully the party will have been forced to use some of their healing and abilities but still be pretty ready for the final encounter.

At the end of the corridor they see a dark room. Assuming the party has a means of casting light Meilian will be able to see them before they see him and shoot with his Shortbow from the darkness with sneak attack damage. Once they enter the room he flicks a lever causing a portcullis to crash down behind them and lock the party in with him. Roll initiative!

The room is circular and 60 ft in diameter. It is made of solid stone blocks and besides the closed portcullis the only way out is through a manhole cover in the ceiling (20 ft up). While Meilian technically provides a Deadly encounter the party should be able to deal enough damage as they can all focus on him making it a fair fight. After his initial bow shots at the party he is unlikely to be able to pull off sneak attack again.

Wrap-Up

Upon defeating Meilian the players will have time to loot his corpse and check the room. If the players alerted the City Guard to their plans then the manhole cover above them will open during this time and Mr Hayworth will slide down on a rope. Otherwise the guards and Hayworth will be in the vicintiy of the manhole cover when the party escape. This is time for a bit of exposition and wrap-up.

The players are now level 2§ and so should have a few weeks downtime¶ before their next adventure.

‡The character build I’ve based Hayworth on is actually quite good at hand to hand combat but he’d rather not resort to it if he can get away from it. After all it is rather messy.

§XP for traps and roleplay is not explicitly written down, just put them to 300 XP each.

¶I like the rules in Xanathar’s Guide and would recommend using them but this is up to your group.

Some Notes

Attribution