The Formaggio di Fernando Caper- D&D 5e, SRD Compatible Adventure

The Formaggio di Fernando CaperA Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Modern

D&D 5e, SRD compatible adventure.

Written with thanks to Scott Garibay for his Five Page Tabletop RPG Adventure Design

 

Launch:

Two large towns have been in hot competition with each other for commerce and farmland. Either could overshadow the other in the next couple years and become full cities. Rumors run wild and it is great time to be a merchant or caravan leader with roads in good repair and banditry near nonexistent as the towns outdo each other to attract business. While journeying from one town to another, and they are about one more day from their destination, the adventuring party makes camp. They are awakened in the morning by a cavalry group that outnumbers them two to one. Unfortunately for the adventurers they are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The cavalry members are all paladins or clerics and are under orders to search the countryside for a spy. They do not have a clear description but do know he is with a group. If any character in the group has a strong background story like a Folk Hero or Noble or a solid alibi, the cavalry members will relax, but insist on following orders and will “escort” them to their superiors for questioning. They will be “guests” until the spy has been determined, which depending on behavior could mean anything from a jail cell to an expensive suite with personal guards. It should be clear the characters are implicated and assumed to be the spy and cohorts.

 

Locations:

  • The Campsite (Where the adventurers bedded down to rest before finishing the last day of their journey)
  • The Outpost (Where the cavalry have set up a base camp with a commander’s tent)
  • The Commander’s Tent (The Adventurers will be brought here first to be searched and questioned about the spy)
  • The High Lord’s Estate (A training grounds and place where the Adventurers will be detained)
  • The Club and The Flask  (A disreputable tavern and known hangout for less law abiding folk and out of work mercenaries)
  • The Red Lance (A fancy brothel where the spy lost his cover)
  • Black Stone Pastures (Dairy farm blackmailed into being cover for the spy)

 

Non-Player Characters:

  • Alylynn Dellynn, Female, 45, Half-elf, Courtesan at The Red Lance. Frequently pouts unless being D&D SRD half elfpampered, wears a luckstone pendant which was a gift from Bernardo.
  • Brilar Varic, Male, 57, Half Elf, Cleric, Cavalry squad leader. His wife was slain by bandits while returning home from visiting relatives.
  • Burad Oatsky, Alias Bernardo Fernando, Male, 31, Human Spy. Respected connoisseur of cheese with a weakness for ladies and wine.
  • Frurdarth Hallowsnow, Male, 57, Human, Paladin, High Lord and Commander in Chief of the cavalry.
  • Gulmus Hefthelve, Male, 87, Dwarf, Jailer of the High Lord’s dungeon. He collects butterflies and all of his display boxes have little portcullises over the specimens.
  • Helmi Wisecrest, Male, 4, Human, Youngest Child. Born with an ill omened birthmark which if discovered will ruin the family. Bernardo knows this and manipulates the family in exchange for his silence. Little Helmi’s favorite food happens to be the same cheese as Bernardo’s favorite.
  • Hugo Mugwort, Male, 31, Halfling, Farm Hand. Smokes pipeweed, but insists it’s a nasty habit while blowing smoke rings.
  • Iorhadur Vrakqrin, Male, 46, Silver Dragonborn, Paladin, Cavalry Commandant in charge of the search. He doesn’t eat meat or drink anything but water while on duty.
  • Karola Wisecrest, Female, 8, Human, Middle Child. Twin of Kyra. The two are inseparable, but Karola wants to be a priestess when she grows up.
  • Kishi Grazob, Female, 33, Half Orc, Cavalry officer. The cavalry is her family.
  • Kyra Wisecrest, Female, 8, Human, Middle Child. Twin of Karola. The two are inseparable, but Kyra wants to be a rider in the cavalry when she grows up.
  • Latamis Legvodalt, Female, 24, Tiefling, Bartender at The Club and The Flask. Addicted to a euphoric drug which causes her to have disadvantage on Charisma checks.
  • Lorastine Wisecrest, Female, 17, Half Elf, Adopted child. Parents were killed by a pack of wild boars when she was four. Marion found her while gathering mushrooms in the woods.
  • Lyari Kelstina, Female, 362, Elf, Farm Hand. Handles milk cows with a delicate touch and has been talking with a local druid about returning to the wild places.
  • Marion Wisecrest, Female, 35, Human, Farmer’s wife. Runs Black Stone Pastures with her D&D SRD half elfhusband and family. Recently heard about a collapse in one of the dwarven mines nearby and is working with other nearby farmers to put together care packages for their families.
  • Moira Oldbuck, Female 46, Halfling, a Butler of the High Lord’s Estate. Her great grandfather was Baudry Oldbuck, a tavern keeper who gave the High Lord’s father’s uncle his first job.
  • Orth Wisecrest, Male, 18, Human, Eldest Child. Dreams of leaving the farm to become an Adventurer, Bernardo manipulated his last escapade.
  • Sirim Miagloza, Female, 238, Gnome, Madam of the Red Lance. Can perfectly mimic the sound of most songbirds and whistles like a whippoorwill when deep in thought.
  • Tromor Wisecrest, Male, 39, Human, Farmer. Owns and operates Black Stone Pastures with his wife and family. Secretly wants to leave the farm behind and become a sailor.
  • Vicnolu Baenund, Female, 178, Drow, Informant at The Club and The Flask. Wears a ring of nondetection and a mint based perfume which attracts felines.

 

Events:

  • The Arrest
    • Just at daybreak, before the sun even breaks the horizon is when the cavalrymen (use knightsD&D SRD half elf and priests), will find the characters’ camp. Believing in their might and numbers they will fearlessly accost the adventurers. They are expecting a struggle, but will readily parley if spoken to with respect. Any character with a background like Folk Hero, Noble or Diplomat can make a persuasion check with advantage to be recognized. They are under orders to bring any groups they find in for questioning. They will extend any reasonable courtesy.
      • If they fight, one of the cavalry still mounted with the fastest initiative immediately gallops off blowing on a bugle and returns with overwhelming reinforcements in d4+3 rounds.
      • All courtesies to aggressors are forgotten and they are guilty in the least of assaulting the High Lord’s deputies.
    • Before they escort the adventurers to their base camp, Brilar will question them generally to learn the following:
      • Names
      • Last town or inn visited
      • How long they’ve been in the area
    • The characters will also be searched to check the amount of provisions the characters have to corroborate their claim for the last town or inn and the time they’ve been in the area. In particular they will make note of any kind of cheese or wine in their possession as the spy they are looking for is well known for those two things. Compliant characters will be permitted to keep their weapons for now. If anyone in the party has been aggressive or dishonest they will be disarmed and bound before being marched off.
  • At the Base Camp
    • The base camp is a temporary tent village for few hundred soldiers and their support staff.D&D SRD half elf
    • The characters will be turned over to Kishi and her lieutenants who will welcome compliant characters warmly, or deceitful aggressive characters harshly. If any of her cavalrymen were injured she will scourge a random character one time for each injury, but won’t knock them unconscious. That would make interrogation unnecessarily difficult.
    • Kishi will direct her lieutenants in a thorough search of each character, catalog every item they own and lock them all in a chest except for essential clothing. Players can attempt Slight of Hand skill checks contested by the searchers’ Perception or Persuasion versus Insight to retain items on their persons. It is suggested that the characters be at disadvantage for these rolls given the experience of the searchers. The chest requires two keys to open.
  • Audience with the Commandant
    • Iorhadur’s command tent is in a small clearing with several smaller tents surrounding it which house his immediate advisors, aides and honor guards. His tent has a small living and sleeping area in the back behind a curtain. The larger front area has several tables on which are maps and ledgers of troops and materiel. One of the maps is of the area surrounding the town with colored markers where other groups have been picked up.
    • The characters will be brought into the tent and seated at a bench across a large table from Iorhadur. The chest of possessions will be placed on a trestle near him, the inventory and preliminary report scrolls and both keys will be given to him. A soldier will come in a few D&D SRD half elfmoments later with a plate of fine cheeses and a bottle of fine wine and place them before Iorhadur while he is glancing through both scrolls before placing them and the keys on top of the chest. Iorhadur is a military officer with a long career dealing with espionage.
    • He will question the characters while scribes take down every word. The spy he is looking for is known to be a major cheese enthusiast. He will watch the characters carefully for telltales of deceit such as fidgeting,  sweating or licking of the lips. If the characters look at the chest with too great an interest he will pick up the keys and drop them in his belt pouch while looking at the stareing character meaningfully. If they stare at the cheese or wine he will have them served and study their reactions as they taste them. His primary purpose is to ferret out the spy, however he has also caught a fair number of other criminals. He is not unjust and more than willing to understand that different people have sound ethics other than his own.
    • If the characters have been fully compliant and honest as they can be, Iorhadur will believe they will continue to do. He will remand them to the High Lord’s Estate where they will be housed until their arrest is lifted when the spy is captured. He will give them one of the keys to the chest as a show of faith, the second key goes with the chest, and all the scrolls of his findings. He will then order an appropriate armed guard to take the party to the High Lord’s Estate.
  • Detained at the High Lord’s pleasure
    • The High Lord’s Estate is more like a military training academy than the estate of a rich and influential individual. It sprawls over several acres and also contains the single most fortified building in the town. Years ago there was war and what is now a complex of schools, halls and barracks was a major bulwark against hordes of orcs.
    • A courier will have preceded the arrival of the characters and their accommodations will have been prepared. The manner of these accommodations will depend on their alibi, backstory D&D SRD half elfand behavior up to this point. Anything from a squalid cell in the dankest part of the dungeon to a suite in the diplomat’s wing is possible.
    • The characters and their possessions will be handed over to guards of the estate and be put through intake processing. This requires a strip search, bathing and fresh clothes. The guards can be polite or brusque and depending on destination could happen in the courtyard in a trough or in a warmed bathhouse.
    • Once cleaned up and manacled if necessary they will be lead to their cells, rooms or suites and their jailer, orderly or butler will introduce him or herself. There they are to remain until summoned by the tribunal for questioning. This can happen as roleplay dictates. Whether immediately or after several days.
    • The officers on the tribunal will have taken the time to read all the scrolls sent by Iorhadur and had a mage scry the chest if they did not have both keys or make a thorough examination of each object if they did.
    • The characters will be summoned to the tribunal one at a time. They will inform each character that they are under suspicion of collusion with the spy and until such a time as it can be proven otherwise they will remain under arrest. If any character is proven to be a criminal that will also be brought up as well and there is room to roleplay for clemency and due process. The characters will be told they’d best start praying for the speedy discovery of Bernardo Fernando if they wish to be considered blameless.
    • The characters will then be led back to their accommodations. Their guards and butlers/orderlies/jailers will be sympathetic and will listen to the characters provided they haven’t been total jerks. Allow friendships to grow with the NPCs, let them play games of chance or even ask for favors. Have a few of them talk about how they were called to suppress a fight at The Club and The Flask a couple days ago and discovered one of the informants they were looking for dead by poison.
  • Make a break for it or not?
    • Two days after their initial interview with the tribunal, they will have decided there is too D&D SRD half elfmuch they don’t know and will surreptitiously pass messages to permit the characters a chance of escape. Assassins will trail them and report back any findings. Either allow a door to be left slightly ajar or a key to be dropped and the guards abruptly called away to deal with a disturbance. The characters should be able to make a clean getaway. It is GM’s choice to allow them to find their gear, this is a good opportunity for a depowered session and an excellent bond to bring the characters back. If they were housed like diplomats they should have one of the keys already, and the second lock should already be unlocked. If not just have the chest unlocked. The chest can be somewhere obvious like a nearby guard room the characters walked past. Everything will be there, but one fifty foot length of rope will be added if there was none prior.
    • Alternatively, if the party is playing the part of honorable detainees and escape, even to investigate the spy problem to clear their name on their own is distasteful, allow the sympathetic NPCs to investigate for them. Either allow the players to whip together what they think one of the NPC’s would be like as a character or give the players pre-generated characters. Resume the adventure with the players controlling the NPCs and their characters continuing to be model prisoners.
    • The characters could simply make a run for it and head straight out of town. The assassins will follow them and not impede them in any way. Roll a d20 once per hour for the first twelve hours of flight. On a roll of 5 or less they have a close encounter with searching D&D SRD half elfcavalrymen, but are not spotted a DC 7 Stealth check. Most of them are in heavy armor. If the characters do not get lost, keep moving at a brisk pace and manage to avoid attention by the cavalry for the twelve hours, the assassins turn back, report their escape and the direction they took. If they headed to the other town, they will be declared to be the spy and associates, a bounty will be announced and posters put up. Word will have gotten to that town ahead of the characters and they will be unwelcome because it will be assumed it is a ploy by the first town and the characters are spies in their hire.
  • Where to go?
    • Once away from the Estate, there should be a bit of a cat and mouse game resulting in the party ducking into The Club and The Flask. It is not hard to find and pretty much the only clue they have. The Club and The Flask is almost a seedy dive, the primary clientele are mercenaries.
    • There is one more of Bernardo’s contacts here. A cat is mercilessly following Vicnolu around and mewing for attention. The sign she used with Bernardo was a plate of cheese.
    • There is also a very good chance of hearing other rumors in this tavern if the GM is so inclined.
  • On the Trail
    • Vicnolu isn’t surprised at the ruckus Bernardo has caused. She knows he was trying to get a look at some trade and taxation agreements that would undercut the other town. She doesn’t know where his safehouse is but does know he had a favorite at The Red Lance.
  • A Quickie at the Brothel
    • When the characters knock on the door of The Red Lance they are quickly admitted and escorted to a room called The Duke’s Lounge. It is a spacious chamber with expensive furnishings. The quantity and placement of tapestries, paintings and lounges fills the space warmly and offers a variety of semi-private nooks. A rich incense burns, decanters of wine and brandy are arrayed near bowls of fresh fruits and local cheeses at hand nearly everywhere you could sit.
    • Moments later a concealed door is opened quickly, causing one of the tapestries to flail and the diminutive Madam emerges.
      • Sirim dispenses with the small talk and summons servants which come with full disguises for each of the party members which fit perfectly. She wants no parts of anything that has to do with Bernardo, but since the town has been nearly turned inside out looking for him, her business has plummeted and she just wants that restored. This means more off duty soldiers with coin to spend. She then calls for Alylynn to enter the room and leaves.
    • Alylynn enters and begins to pout because Bernardo hasn’t visited her with gifts for three D&D SRD half elfdays. It is time to play up being a spoiled, pampered prostitute with information for sale.
      • Bernardo talked about finding a dairy farmer who started cheese making at his suggestion. Afterwards he visited her less often, but always brought the latest cheese the farmer had made. Several of those cheeses are on the fruit platters, the label is of several cow shaped black rocks in a grassy field.
  • A quiet day in the countryside
    • Black Stone Pastures is dairy farm. They recently added a few more milkers and started making cheeses several months ago. The family is amicable and quite willing to make a sale. They will mention that they have some special cheeses set aside for longer aging, and they should come back in a few more months.
    • When asked about Bernardo they’ll get defensive, and try to change the conversation or say he’s away buying tripe. They don’t want Bernardo found as he has blackmailed them for their silence. Discovering the birthmark on Helmi is one way to get a quick response, but the problem is still Bernardo. It’ll take skillful patient assurances that the characters want to right Bernardo’s wrongs to get them on the characters’ side. Otherwise they’ll need to search the farm.
    • The floor of the barn has an easily found trapdoor leading to a cheese cellar. This is where Bernardo is, drunk and sick with a belly full of fresh cheese. He is completely incapacitated and will stay that way for the next four hours. He has in his pouch transcribed documents of the waterway trade deal, drawings of the town and wax impressions of several different keys. This is enough evidence to prove Bernardo’s guilt and role as a spy.

 

Resolution:

  • If the players chose to run NPCs, the assassins step in, congratulate them on their fine work and D&D SRD half elfhandle Bernardo. The following day they are promoted and the characters are summoned to the tribunal. They are either bluntly dismissed or begged to accept their sincere apology with gifts of goodwill depending on their prior behavior.
  • For the actual characters, they now need to unescape themselves and bring Bernardo with them. They could still be found at any time, and being caught with the spy is a sure way to get firmly nailed with being in collusion. The Ace on this are the assassins. It should be noted that these assassins are lawful, paid, licensed, and approved killers. The onus is still firmly upon the characters, however, if anything should go south at the last minute the assassins can step in, flash some credentials and do the damage control.
  • Once Bernardo is in captivity and sober he’ll sing like a canary. He won’t mention his blackmail on the off chance he’ll still be able to force his way into Black Stone Pastures. There is nothing to gain by ratting out the family over Helmi’s birthmark. The adventurers will be free of any implication mostly because of their assassin overwatch. There will still be just enough grumbling about the character’s jailbreak and the official position of such acts that the characters should be pleased enough to not be dangling from a noose themselves.

 

Complications:

  • The characters may have learned too much about the trade deal and need to be silenced somehow, at least until the deal goes through.
  • Helmi is sickened by cheese that was poisoned by Bernardo which explains the poisoned informant and places all the customers of Black Stone Pastures at risk. There is a clue on the label, the poisoned cheeses have an extra “cow”.
  • Bernardo’s confession is made public and the authority of the High Lord and his tribunal are questioned because they turned dangerous people loose (adventurers) in the town. Rebellion begins to ferment which is fueled by operatives from the other town.
The Formaggio di Fernando Caper- D&D 5e, SRD Compatible Adventure
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A former toolmaker he has learned to adapt to where life takes him. From blacksmithing to wine delivery, whatever the profession, he has tackled them with aplomb. Throughout all, he has logged his time on both sides of the Game Master’s screen in dozens of game systems and taken time for other creative pursuits. For the past several years he has been an indistrial printer working with diverse clients producing major catalog and magezine publications. Now he believes it is time to once again take up the reins and devote his time in meaningful ways to develop his creative pursuits. Out are coming the old notebooks, sketchpads, journals, and libraries of photographs. With the aid of technology they are being refreshed and built on with fresh creative impulses.

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A former toolmaker he has learned to adapt to where life takes him. From blacksmithing to wine delivery, whatever the profession, he has tackled them with aplomb. Throughout all, he has logged his time on both sides of the Game Master's screen in dozens of game systems and taken time for other creative pursuits. For the past several years he has been an indistrial printer working with diverse clients producing major catalog and magezine publications. Now he believes it is time to once again take up the reins and devote his time in meaningful ways to develop his creative pursuits. Out are coming the old notebooks, sketchpads, journals, and libraries of photographs. With the aid of technology they are being refreshed and built on with fresh creative impulses.

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