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A Master Smith of Sterich: Help with Social Encounter

 
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edmundscott
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2019 7:58 pm    Post subject: A Master Smith of Sterich: Help with Social Encounter Reply with quote

I'm about to design a very difficult social encounter for my players, and I'm looking for any ideas or suggestions to make it memorable and actually achievable.

The characters are 5th-6th lvl, very socially skilled, and are undertaking an epic quest for Ehlonna/Ehlenestra: a corrupted artifact (the Grimalkin) once sacred to her must be destroyed at twilight on Growfest 4th by a master smith hammering it to pieces upon a magic forge in a ruined hamlet in the Crystalmist Mountains.

None of the characters are master smiths. They only know of oneóMorlin Coalhewer (LG dwarf cleric of Moradin) of the human town of Drellinís Ferry in southwest Sterich (this character and town come from Red Hand of Doom, which I adapted to Oerth using the Living Greyhawk guidelines in a previous campaign). Morlin is described as pragmatic and outspoken, a veteran of goblin wars long past, and one who keeps his faith to himself, only volunteering to cast spells for fellow dwarfs. None of the characters are dwarves (the party consists of a pair of half-elves, a half-orc, a gnome, and a human).

Three months previous to this, all of the nobles of Sterich united their military forces to retake an orc-infested stronghold in the mountains known as Num-Theraz. The campaign was successful but most of the dwarven nobility, including the Prince who held the claim to Num-Theraz, fell in battle. Morlin Coalhewer had been instrumental in helping to equip the dwarven armies and was kin to several of the princes who fell. Because Iím an evil DM, Iíve decided Morlin is in ritualistic mourning for the dwarves lost at Num-Theraz.

The characters are going to come into Drellinís Ferry on Coldeven 26th (six days before Growfest 4) and have to somehow convince Morlin to put himself into a perilous situation, including a two day journey into the Crystalmists, to help them destroy this artifact at the behest of a goddess not worshipped by dwarves.

Morlin has done a little bit of business with one of the characters before, but has no relationship with any of them more than that. There is truly no reason for him to help them, and I want there to be an actual chance their epic quest fails simply because they canít win over this dwarf.

At the same time, I donít want the situation to be impossible. The players are very experienced and very clever, two of them having built characters all about deception and lies and another two who are extremely diplomatic and generous. Theyíre also pretty rich for 6th lvl characters, all things considered.

Iíd love to hear any suggestions anyone has as I develop this. I want to make this social encounter as gripping as a boss fight because they absolutely NEED this guy to complete their quest, but, on the other hand, I want it to be POSSIBLE that they can persuade him to help.
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Cebrion
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2019 3:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

While difficult to win over, the price of the master smith's aid could be a task in return - probably something even worse than what the PC's are asking him to do. Whatever this task, it likely is of benefit to the dwarf's god or his people, many of who were recently lost. The PC's schmoozing skills will probably not be worth much use against Morlin, as his current temperament leaves much to be desired, and he's a cleric with probable access to spells that would reveal falsehoods. Even if they did get away with lies/stretching the truth, Morlin might still be able to find out what they had done, and then they'd have him as an enemy, and all of his dwarven friends as enemies. They might end up locked away in a dwarven hold, working off the debt of their subterfuge. So, perhaps Morlin has a problem that he needs aid with.

Maybe Morlin asks the PC's end a feud between two dwarven clans related to the retaking of the stronghold, as their agreement and support of the next named ruler (as the prince is dead) is of great importance to things going forward.

Or there is no problem with who will be the next ruler at all, but Morlin wants the next ruler to be better equipped than the prince who died, and so the the PC's are tasked with finding and recovering some fabled ore (and other things) that the master smith requires to forge weapons/armor of power for the next ruler of this retaken stronghold. For example, the master smith could be wanting to make an axe that has particular abilities vs. humanoids, and part of the enchantment process involves heating and quenching the weapon seven times - each time in the blood a different kind of humanoid warlord. So, the blood of seven different types of humanoid warlords must be acquired. You could go full panoply of the hero with a suit of armor and a shield as well, similarly requiring some awful tasks - runes of warding on the shield and armor must be etched with the acid of a purple worm, etc. You kinda get to go wild with this one, if you want to. The PC's obviously don't have enough time to do this prior, but agree to do it after Morlin aids them. Maybe Morlin is incapable of even coming up with this idea due to his grief, and so the PC's must suggest something like this to channel his grief to a purpose, which the PCs obviously will volunteer to help Morlin achieve. And so the PC's have only so much time to come up an idea to fire Morlin up about and so gain his aid.

Depends on how much in Morlin's debt you want the PC's to be, how much development you want to do, and what you want the nature of this scenario to be.
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Skech
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2019 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"So, there's a magical forge in the mountains? Abandoned? I'll need the tools and anvil from that forge as well as drawn plans of the site for improving my own. I also get to keep any notebook the smith master may have left behind. So, yes, I'm in, but that's my price,... plus free delivery to my shop, of course."

How will they manage to get it back to town and who (if not the smith himself) can draw the plans, etc.? Bandits, encumbrance, and weather are factors, too.

What about the smith's surviving apprentices or daughter or priest who infuses the gear with divine magic? What about if the Malus is sentient? A female personality looking for appreciation and affection now that her smith is dead? Is she polymorphed? Surprise, she's the former smith under a curse for failing to forge for a despot? Does the dwarf have ancestral ties to the previous smith, for good or ill?

Hope this helps. Cheers.
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edmundscott
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2019 3:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cebrion, all of your ideas are great. In particular, I definitely want to have Morlin enter negotiations with lie-detecting magic and the like, given the party make-up.

I quite fond of your idea of them having to bathe a weapon in the blood of seven enemies. The party's quest immediately after this will be taking them to the boundary between the Planes of Shadow & Faerie, and into political machinations with the shadow fey there. So it might be interesting if they have to lug along some unfinished dwarves weapon to bathe it in the blood of different enemies.

Sketch, what exactly do you mean by "Malus"? I don't think I know that term.
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Lanthorn
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2019 4:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your dwarven priest could demand some type of service to Moradin in exchange for his help (especially since they serve Ehlonna, who is more of the elven sort and not necessarily ally to the dwarven people). If he is high enough level, you could have him place a Quest spell on each and every single PC to make sure they carry through with his demands to serve the precepts of Moradin. If not, he could demand great monetary (gold, gems, jewels, or magical armor/weapons/items usable by dwarves) tribute (dwarves being "greedy" and all). The Quest could be anything that directly serves the dwarven people. You have carte blanche' on that one.

-Lanthorn
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Skech
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2019 2:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Malus is an older term hammer.
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edmundscott
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2019 11:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Skech--hooray for new vocabulary. I'm still sifting and turning over the possibilities that Morlin might have family in town, let alone that this hammer might be sentient and what to do with that.

Lanthorn, my first instinct for a party quest was to send the group (assuming they survive their current quest) on that old 2e adventure Axe of the Dwarven Lords, as that's certainly an appropriate quest to be given by a cleric of Moradin. But . . . the more I thought about it, the more I think Morlin wouldn't want a no-dwarf party anywhere near the most precious artifact of their people, so I'm still brooding on what an appropriate task might entail.
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Onslow
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2019 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

edmundscott, Does the entire party worship Ehlonna or are they just undertaking the quest because that is how your campaign has played out? If they are all worshipers of Ehlonna you could have Morlin's terms entail requiring the party to undertake something that is antithetical to her teachings. So they will have to choose how best to serve their god which may engender some intra-party strife depending on how each character interprets their faith. Since they are quite skilled socially they may be able to convince Morlin that he has put them in an impossible situation and the whole encounter may turn into a philosophical debate in which he can be swayed, depending on his ultimate motives.
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edmundscott
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2019 6:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey, Onslaw! Great to see you on here!

Only the half-orc druid and half-elven archivist worship Ehlonna (very devoutly). The archivist's little sister (a swashbuckler) was a freedom-loving Trithereon worshipper who put on a cursed cloak and now is Lawful Evil--but still dedicated to her sister, and so tagging along, in her new moody brooding way. The gnome beguiler is committed to the adventure due to her own guilt in originating some of the problems Ehlonna is trying to put right. The last party member, a Ketite sorcerer, has no ideas or commitments at all and is just tagging along for the sake of interest and adventure.

That said, I really like having Morlin put the party into some kind of philosophical/moral/religious conundrum (because these are the kind of problems I love to spring on my players).

Now I'm curious whether anyone can think of ways where the dogmas of Moradin and Ehlonna conflict. Because other than Moradin likes dwarves and Ehlonna likes elves (and elves and dwarves don't get along), nothing is coming to mind. But it's a great idea and I want to make it work.
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jamesdglick
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2019 1:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe I missed something.

Why don't these "very socially skilled" PCs just find another master smith? Sheesh. Sterich is a nation of tens of thousands of people, which implies at least dozens of master smiths. One of them might even be a worshipper of Ehlonna...
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edmundscott
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2019 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

They sure could find another master smith (though I've decided smiths at the high level they need are pretty rare--not just a smith whose made his masterpiece, but a smith of legendary quality)--and they may have to do that--it's just that Morlin is the only one they know. Probably legendary smith would've been more correct.

I also know my players and they're fanatically set on accomplishing goals they set for themselves. So I'm expecting once they start talking to Morlin, they're going to quickly go into "we will do whatever it takes to get Morlin to help us" rather than sniffing around for more options.
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Kirt
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2019 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Skech wrote:
Malus is an older term hammer.


You may have heard of the "Malleus Maleficarum" (1487) usually translated as "Hammer of the Witches"

Or the word "malleable" - can be changed by being hammered upon.

Or a maul, in the sense of a sledgehammer.
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Lanthorn
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2019 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

edmundscott wrote:

Lanthorn, my first instinct for a party quest was to send the group (assuming they survive their current quest) on that old 2e adventure Axe of the Dwarven Lords, as that's certainly an appropriate quest to be given by a cleric of Moradin. But . . . the more I thought about it, the more I think Morlin wouldn't want a no-dwarf party anywhere near the most precious artifact of their people, so I'm still brooding on what an appropriate task might entail.


Then tailor-make a Quest to their talents, skills, and powers, perhaps something that THEY can perform more handily than a group of dwarves could pull off. I am sure you can ponder and come up with a suitable Quest that Moradin would want them to do on behalf of His people.

Or put them through that module WITH your dwarven priest present to ENSURE it gets done (maybe he has a few dwarven henchmen tag along for protection). They do all the hard and gritty work, have him be the director, and when the deed is done, they hand over the artifact.

-Lanthorn
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