The Brass Fraternity (Part 2)
Last time, I started working out an idea seed from which to build a Silent Legions adventure. Let’s continue with that, following along with generating some scenes that can be stitched together into a nodal adventure. I’ll assume it’ll be a basic 5-node funnel structure for now, but I’m open to changing that based on further inspiration.
The first step is to roll up a Resolution scene. I’m not sure how much I want to consider a time limit, so I’ll roll once on each table and see what I get:
(12): An eldritch horror will be released from its imprisonment at a particular time, and another Enemy seeks the components of a ritual to control it as soon as it emerges. The Investigations show both the elements and the fact that the same ritual can be used to re-bind the entity if used in time.
(9): The Friend that aided them in crushing an Enemy’s Scheme is revealed to also be an Enemy, and seeks to betray the PCs now that they’ve served their purpose. The investigations give hints of this treachery but don’t spell it out.
Honestly, both of these seem to be tracking in a similar direction: there’s a third party with a stake in the adventure who the PCs can uncover and foil if they go beyond the minimum effort to deal with the Brass Fraternity’s plot. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I’m in favor of melding them together and putting off deciding whether time is an important factor until I have more fleshed out.
Resolution (at node E): A Friend who had aided the PCs is revealed to also be an Enemy and seeks to take control of the leopard-simulacrum via a ritual as soon as it emerges. The Investigations give hints of this treachery and show that the same ritual can be used to re-bind the entity if used in time.
On to rolling up some Investigation scenes. Since the details are all still rather vague for the moment, I’ll roll twice on each table and see how that goes:
(6): The clue is at a Place, but exists in a form that is incomprehensible without completing at least one of the other Investigations.
(3): The object is obtained relatively easily, but an Actor is needed to make its significance clear, the situation complicated by that Actor’s motivations and potential challenges to reaching them.
(5): The Actor the PCs seek has been killed, and they arrive in time to deal with a challenge related to the murder, either in the form of a tardy assassin or some dangerous consequence the murderer left behind.
(7): The Enemy’s agents are also searching for the Actor, and the PCs risk running into them at the place the Actor is supposed to inhabit. They may realize they have company before a certain confrontation. Clues at the site lead to the Actor’s hiding place.
At first glance, all of these seem to lean towards a local specialist that can help the PCs with translating clues into a more meaningful form. Rather than having this person betray the PCs in the Resolution, I can use the idea of the third roll above to have another Enemy kill the initial Actor and try taking their place (thus adding the challenge of figuring out who this person really is before they can take control of the leopard-simulacrum).
In the previous part, I had made an off-hand suggestion that maybe the person who had founded the university wasn’t actually killed. Perhaps they could be the hidden Enemy? Something about the politics surrounding the Brass Fraternity took the cabal in a direction counter to the founder’s purposes, so the founder is now trying to recruit some people to unwittingly help them reclaim control? Thus, one of the investigation nodes can be the founder’s residence, retreat, or place of business. It’s under observation by agents of the Brass Fraternity, who think the founder (or rather whoever the founder replaced, as they probably aren’t aware of the ploy) is working to give them the secrets for the ritual to release and control the leopard-simulacrum. Overcoming the obvious resistance might lull the PCs into accepting the founder’s help at face value.
Then we also have two other places with clues that can be made meaningful by the founder. That’s not much more than superficial help when it comes to figuring out what’s actually going on at those nodes. Rather than rolling for more Investigation scenes, though, this is the type of situation where I like to draw in other random generation sources to start playing with interactions. Getting some ideas for what places are should be helpful, so I’ll take a couple of rolls on few different tables and see what I get.
From the empty room tables in Tricks, Empty Rooms, & Basic Trap Design:
From the Structure columns in Tome of Adventure Design Tables 1-1A/1-1B:
From the Dungeon: Stronghold table in the 5E Dungeon Master’s Guide:
Game room, Banquet room
A library at the university is an obvious choice, if only for genre conventions. An art gallery could certainly make sense for this adventure, but drawing on my own experiences at university, I spent most of my spare time in either a cafeteria or a rec room, so I’ll go in the direction less likely to come up otherwise and pick the game room.
Putting those aside from the moment, it’s time to roll on the Introduction and Hook tables:
(3): The PCs find themselves ensnared in a short Conflict with an agent of the Enemy, who thinks they’re easy pickings or has noticed their interest in affairs. A Friend notices the strife, and offers leads to the Investigations.
(6): The site’s Enemy wants to bait the heroes into a trap, and so attempts to lure them into an Ambush there by setting them up through another type of Hook. The PCs have a chance to spot the Ambush by overcoming a challenge.
Honestly, I’m not too high on either of those, but let’s see what another Hook roll gives:
(9): The heroes need to visit a Place at the site for a mundane reason, where they find themselves present for a Crime or able to observe the aftermath, which hints at a Secret.
That’s actually feeling a little better. Agents of the founder reach out to the PCs after identifying them as a potential resource, then get caught up in a Crime by agents of the Brass Fraternity. That ends up with the PCs potentially picking sides between the two NPC factions, and regardless of how that plays out, there ought to be opportunities to pick up clues pointing to the other nodes (whether by debriefs/interrogations, searching the site, talking to the police to report it, whatever).
That gives this overall nodal structure:
A: The PCs are invited to a convention with local media coverage by agents of the founder. As they arrive, agents of the Brass Fraternity stage a Crime targeting the founder’s agents.
B: A game room at the university.
E-> A clue with obfuscated meaning
C: A library at the university.
E-> A clue with obfuscated meaning
D: A secluded location where a local specialist (who is actually the founder in disguise) can be found.
E-> The founder clarifies the meanings of the clues from B and C.
E: The location for the ritual to release the leopard-simulacrum from the painting.
Things are starting to pull into shape. There’s still plenty to be figured out, and I’ll want to put some thought into what happens if the PCs can decrypt the clues to node E without the founder’s help, but having that basic skeleton should give me a decent foundation for the rest of the details.
I’d normally plan on filling in more clues as the next step, but while I’ve got a few ideas for details about the Brass Fraternity, I think I need to know more about them to get a better understanding of what they’re up to. So, next time, I’ll figure out the Crime, decide on some details for the ritual at node E, and maybe also make some rolls on the conflict/challenge tables to get some ideas for what obstacles the PCs might be facing.