The tent

The players know that the Targus will be at the show. Thanks to Govlen’s advice they know that Targus is a slippery character and as such will be difficult to catch. When the players arrive at the tent they will see that people have already started to go in and that of those outside none fit Targus’ description. They effectively have two options, go in or wait outside. Regardless of what they choose check the information below to work out how the encounter will play out.

What happens inside the tent.

The tent s tatty and patchwork, lots of repairs have been made over the years. A group of villagers is entering through a large open flap, each being charged three copper for admission. A merry gentleman in bright clothes who introduces himself as Quentin is the doorman and offers to let them in for the fee of 1sp a head.

If asked about Targus he will offer them a look in where knowing his description it will be fairly easy to see the red headed teifling in rich clothes sitting in the second row from the front. If the players complete a DC15 Perception check while looking through the tent flap they can also see that he’s drinking from a hip flask and seems a bit drunk. Though he is attentitvley assessing everyone who comes through the tent flaps.

It is important to communicate that the crowd is large enough that Targus could easily slip into the mix should the players cause an uproar. Now inside it should be made clear that Targus is looking over everyone who enters. A DC16 perception check shows him to not be as drunk as he seems and still with enough wits to run if necessary.

In addition he is surrounded on all sides by other patrons so they cannot sit close to him. If the players enter, they are almost the last people in the tent. As such the are a few seats left and they aren’t all together. The doorman lets them know they need to sit. Splitting the players up helps make the following encounter more interesting. If they insist on being together have them stand together off to one side.

A few minutes into the play a bard comes out. He starts to play a set of pan pipes. This casts a sleep spell on the whole audience.

Combat in the tent

The combat begins with nearly everyone in the party asleep, apart from those either immune or that you choose to be awake. If you lack elven blood in the party you can always have some one fight off the magic, personally I like the idea of the deaf audience member poking them trying to work out what the hell just happened?

This challenges the players to, through stealth or cunning, wake up other members of the team.All the while as they wake their fellows a ticking clock chips away at their options. Thugs are going to kidnap and get out of there quick.

The fight shouldn’t be life threatening, The thugs have a pair of knives rather than swords to make them that little bit less dangerous and be able to throw out more attacks which feels more frenetic while also making them less likely to do serious damage. You can change this up to work with your group, bigger group add more thugs, more tanks throw in some better weapons, lot’s of squishy players maybe drop the extra knife.

To make the fight more interesting the bard is actually a satyr, with some extra bard spells. He has disguised himself as a human with the disguise self he can throw out magic that messes with the players or boosts the thugs, giving plenty of opportunities to explain will saves or how inspiration works. He’ll also ram anyone who tries to get up close to him. I personally keep him from using directly damaging spells instead having him using the spells, Hideous laughter and suggestion and firing his bow at people to add some ranged combat as needed.

Back to the design of the room though, while this fight goes down the players are going to have to be navigating a sleeping audience. The point of this was to put something in that stopped players using AOE, Burning hands would destroy the thugs easily, and to challenge the players to think about the fight. The thugs are fine with using the sleeping audience for cover and aren’t above throwing them into the paths of the heroes.

If the sleepers are awoken, they run around and cause issues. You control what this looks like. You can have them all run to the back pushing other peasants out the way or you have something a bit more confrontational. A peasant running for their life could knock prone a player or cultist (If the combat’s not going well for the players) this would be a strength check, probably around a DC12 for the players.

Finally the satyr can cast two second level spells and he is keeping a spell in his back pocket to make sure he escapes. Should it look like the battle is going badly he will cast invisibility so he can get away.

What happens if players decided to stay outside?

If some of the players decide to stay outside then they see the thugs turn up they have a different experience. First they hear the whole tent go silent and see the thugs go in. This should ideally be enough to motivate them to investigate. Otherwise have the Satyr and his men appear, carrying Targus, out of the main entrance and walk towards the trees on the map.

A desperate man

During the battle Targus slips out of his bonds and then under the stage, cutting his way out the back of the tent. He is a third level thief, an arcane trickster, who the second he feels he is out of sight will cast disguise self to change his appearance. He can move up to 90 feet per turn to outpace the group and also has the shield spell lined up to give him some extra survivability from long range attacks.

Tracking Targus

During the battle Targus obtains a nasty cut, this weeping wound leaves a trail of blood. Anyone who checks the tent can see that a blood trail starts on the roped that bound him and can be followed out into the woods allowing the characters to chase him down. This will be an easy survival check of DC12.
Should the players fail the check or return to Govlen he’ll offer them the use of a hunting dog to help track down Targus. (This dog is considered to automatically passes survival checks to track Targus) Should they want more pay Govlen will offer an additional 10gp per player for the added inconvience of going into the forest.

The crooked oak

The players chase down Targus. It pulls them down along the Dragon’s Well river. This takes them past the crooked oak. This large tree was until recently living but now it lies torn from the ground it’s leaves still green and mud still clinging to it’s roots. The are clear tracks from someone descending into the wet earth below and digging around. Multiple holes have been scrapped open. Though all seem very shallow. The players find some bits and pieces scattered around. Mostly off rations and some destroyed travel clothing that seems to have been dragged through the mud.

Around the tree they find the remains of those who fell protecting Barta. Desiccated corpses lie in armour that has corroded as if it left out to the elements for a hundred years. A DC15 Survival check tells the players that this unnatural weathering of body and equipment was caused by acid. Nothing of any value has survived but the may be people back in Barta who would like to know where there friends lie.

They also find here in the mud a rolled tube of leather. It appears to have been dropped more recently and is relatively clean. Poked into the leather is map of the surrounding area with hand written notes on various areas. This includes a location that is marked out as the ‘Emerald Palace’. A DC10 history or religion check lets players know this an old term for ‘home away from home’ as it was said the god ‘Long Root’ would retreat to his green palace every winter.The players can continue to track Targus. Or go direct to his hideaway using the map. Either works.

Pausing for a short rest

The players at this point will likely be roughed up from the fight. If they haven’t already taken a short rest it may be worth changing the weather to have a fierce storm blow through. Those with survival skill will know it will pass in an hour or so, have the characters explain how powering through it could cause them issues and actually get them more lost. This helps imply that they are better off taking a short rest. The next combat is dangerous and if they haven’t taken one it could be lethal. 

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