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While staying at a tavern in a desert town, you’re approached by a slender figure wearing a white cloaked robe over intricate wormscale armor. She sits down at your table, lowering her hood and tells you she has a job for you. If you ask why she thinks you’re looking for a job, she casually replies that no-one comes out to this hell hole for vacation. If you ask why she is asking you in particular, she explains that she doesn’t know you which means you’re not a local and you look to be well equipped, which is just what she needs for this particular job.
If you agree to listen to her proposal, she introduces herself as Valla and asks if you’ve been acquainted with the narcotic “azure” since visiting the village? She continues that it’s quite a prominent part of everyday living here, most folk use it as an enjoyable relaxant after a hard day’s work. Mostly safe for ingestion after it’s refined, it gives off a pleasant high, with the added side-effect of heightening the magical abilities of those who are so predisposed.
Valla takes a moment to look around to see if she’s being watched before continuing that recently however, those who have normally taken azure only casually have become sick from withdrawals when they’ve stopped taking it. This is a completely new side-effect, and a dangerous one at that.
Valla further explains that she is a member of the worm hunter’s guild and a portion of her brothers and sisters have become fully addicted to the stuff. A couple of them tried to make it through the withdrawals, however, after one of them died none have tried to do the same.
Azure makes it hard to do their jobs, she continues, explaining that being a worm hunter puts you in danger every day and one slip up could mean not only your death but that of your entire sandskiff crew. With so many of the guild out of commission due to their addiction, the guild has been in a bad place. Without an antidote to the addiction or an influx of new members, the guild might go out of business for good, which would have a bad knock on effect for the rest of the town as well.
Valla has managed to track down the original source of the tainted azure to a drugden on the outskirts of town. She wants you to go there and see what you can find out, including finding an antidote if possible, and proof of any wrongdoings so that those responsible can be put to justice.
Valla also explains that she and the worm hunter’s guild can’t be seen to be involved in whatever you end up getting into, as the politics in the town are complicated. Thus, if anything goes wrong she’ll have to deny that she knows you. If you agree, she gives you what information she has and sends you on your way.
When you arrive at the drugden you find a set of sandstone stairs leading down into the entrance of an underground parlor, where half a dozen shady men are playing cards and laughing. When the men notice you, one of them stands up and says “The boss didn’t tell us anyone else was coming today. Per’aps you’ve lost your way…”before motioning for you to leave while his other hand slowly moves toward his sheathed scimitar.
You may be able to convince the thug that you are indeed expected, but otherwise the thug and his friends will fight until they’re bloodied before calling for parlay and letting you through. After you’ve defeated them, they’ll flee the building with intent of leaving town before they’ve been found to have failed at their duty.
Passing through a set of wooden doors, you find yourself in the parlor proper. Dozens of emaciated men and women gaze at you from shabby wooden seating arrangements, where they lie dazed with smoking pipes; clearly high on azure.
A bartender in the central hall seems to be the only one not on the drug, and if asked where the owner of the establishment is, he nods towards the doors at the back of the hall saying Tratel is in at the moment. Opening the door, you find Tratel; a tall, slender man in a black vest and crimson shirt. He is sitting behind a desk writing notes into a leather-bound ledger. The man stops upon seeing you enter, and asks who the hell you are as he’s not expecting anyone.
If you threaten Tratel, demanding for answers about the tainted azure, he denies any part in it but if you’re perceptive you may be able to see that he is lying–including about having a potential antidote. If you demand the antidote, he refuses to give it to you, goading you to either kill him or leave as sweat rolls down his brow.
Once attacked, the man draws a rapier from under the desk and activates a magic sigil which brings some of the books on the shelves lining his office to life. The books take the form of small flying paper imps and attack.
When bloodied, Tratel surrenders; promising the antidote should you let him live. If you do, he retrieves the key to the chests which lie behind the desk. They contain vials of the antidote to the tainted azure.
Tratel further explains that he was only doing what he was told by the Big Man, but now that he’s given up the antidote to you he’s as good as dead. With some quick thinking Tratel comes up with a new deal, offering to testify to the mayor, in conjunction with his ledger that the Big Man was responsible for the tainted azure–but in return, he wants to be smuggled out of the town safely afterwards.
Taking Tratel to the mayor’s office, you’re met by two guards at the door and a stern looking older clerk inside who informs that the mayor is busy today but he will be able to see your case–including Tratel’s testimony–tomorrow morning, advising you return then. In the meantime, Tratel will be kept in a solitary unit within the guardhouse for his safety. Tratel looks nervous at this but agrees to go with one of the guards at the door to the guardhouse nearby nevertheless.
In the meantime, if you return to Valla with the antidote, she’ll be thankful, paying you the agreed upon sum and asking if you managed to find any evidence of wrongdoing. If you explain that you managed to get the drug dealer Tratel to agree to testify against the Big Man, she’ll be happy to see that he might finally get his comeuppance; explaining that the Big Man has been involved in many unsavory activities around the town but always seems to get away with it!
In the morning when you arrive back at the mayor’s office you’re invited into his backroom by the clerk, where the mayor is reclined in a leather chair next to a tanned obese man wearing lavish jewels, smoking a cigar. After presenting the ledger, the mayor looks over it skeptically for a few minutes before explaining that this only shows that the Big Man was supplying azure to Tratel, not that he was tainting it himself.
If you ask where Tratel is, explaining that he was the key piece in this and he would testify that the Big Man was responsible, the obese man speaks up. He says “It truly is a tragedy, but Tratel hung himself in his cell last night… it seems his conscience caught up with him for his crimes against the innocent citizens of this town, as it was simply too much for him to bear”.
He continues saying that you need not worry however, as he managed to track down the location where Tratel was hiding the rest of the antidote, and he’s currently having it distributed to the people of Sandworm Mesa via his other workers. The obese man then looks to the mayor, putting a hand to his heart and saying he’s sorry that an underling of his managed to cause such issue and that it wouldn’t happen again. The mayor nods and says “See that it does not”, before letting the obese man leave.
This adventure was written for our Sandworm Mesa Adventurer’s Guide. If you’d like more information about the location, NPCs, and loot that can be found here, please go check it out!
If your players instead kill Tratel, they may take the ledger to either Valla or the mayor’s office. Valla will insist the ledger is taken to the mayor in the hopes of some repercussion for the Big Man.
In either case, the Big Man will be waiting in the Mayor’s office having gotten word of Tratel’s death, and will claim to have no knowledge of his misdoings; saying he provides a 100% organic and safe drug and that it was indeed Tratel that was wholly responsible. He will thank your players for dealing with him, as the Big Man had no idea Tratel would do such a heinous thing and still promises the mayor that nothing like this will happen again…
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LUKE: The founder of Seafoot Games, Luke's been making maps and RPG games since he was a child, and spent over a decade creating his own game systems from scratch to play with his brothers. That was before he discovered other TTRPGs existed. Now, he paints the realistic grimdark fantasy battlemaps we're known for, helps write adventures as needed, and spends his free time printing and painting 3D minis, as well as working on his forever in-development TTRPG system.
BEB: Luke's wife, Beb's been writing, painting, and graphically designing things her whole life. She published her first book when she was 20, alongside a handful of sci-fi short stories, and was responsible for writing almost all of our adventures until mid 2022 when Steve joined the team. Now she mostly creates the outlines for the adventurer's guides with Luke, graphically designs documents, handles the bookkeeping (or as she likes to call it, bureaucrat wrangling), and manages the website—but she is slowly delegating these responsibilities, so she can focus on raising her and Luke's beautiful son.