The Sorcerer’s Son
Keeping it grim:
A side quest for a large urban setting, such as Black Mesa. It shouldn’t take long to complete, but there’s a lot of scope for role-play; so it could take ten minutes, or an entire session. I like my material a touch dark, so there’s no rainbows and unicorns with the sorcerer’s son.
A couple’s only child fell deathly ill, and unable to endure the relentless fever, it became clear that the boy would not survive another night. Overwrought with grief, and unwilling to let go, the father bound his son’s soul to an alchemical orb – vowing to restore him to life.
Thus began a chain of terrible experiments on the readily-available street children.
A young, shoeless girl tugs at the coattails of one of the more respectable-looking members of the party. Teary-eyed and desperate for help, Esmeralda (about 6) sobs her way through a story involving the recent disappearance of her older brother, Branlen. He’s hard to miss, with a crescent birthmark on his right cheek.
People have been vanishing in the night for weeks, but the local constabulary seems completely disinterested.
This is so completely dependant on your party that you simply have to play it by ear. My group lay in wait with Esmeralda in an alley frequented by destitute locals. Two cowled figures appeared at the far end, incapacitated a child with a tincture, and bagged him before attempting retreat. Naturally a chase ensued, and whilst one evaded capture, the other received a merry beating at the hands of the party.
A hired goon with no particular loyalty, he led the group to their hideout. He was left trussed to railings after giving up the key, and the party prepared their entrance.
Beyond the front door is a room approximately 10 by 20 feet, with a simple round table on one side, and a small workstation on the other. Another goon (gnome) sits at the station whittling, quick to confront the players unless their entry was particularly quiet. The only other door is opposite the entrance.
In the second room stands a robed man, looking perhaps older than he should – his face painted with concentration. In one hand he grasps a large glass orb, in the other the neck of a young boy, bound but kicking futilely. A pale blue glow covers the boy and sorcerer’s arms, as the misty core of the sphere swirls tempestuously.
The far corner holds a bubbling pool of viscous green liquid, the surrounding area appears pitted and marred. Along the near wall lays a set of three large unoccupied cages, and a small desk is covered with papers and books. An assistant decants smoking liquid into a series of small vials.
The first room should be a quick affair, but if you want it more combat-heavy, a couple of extra goons might arrive behind the party and get the jump. The assistant in the main room might join the fray if it was noisy and drawn-out.
Upon being disturbed, the sorcerer will drop the still body of the boy to the floor; his outline will shimmer briefly (mage armour), and he will probably open with Cause Fear. Further attacks are likely to be Magic Missile, until the distance is closed and he switches to a longsword.
If the father is rendered unconscious or killed, the orb falls to the floor and shatters. Green mist crawls along the floor and enters the nearest available body, reanimating or possessing the NPC (or player…). A foul odour pervades the room, and the abomination’s eyes gleam yellow. Incapable of meaningful communication, it moans as it lurches forwards.
Roll a D6 and deem the child dead on a three or less. Should he live, a traumatised Thomas can convey the horrors that occurred. Children were grabbed and held; the villain forced a drink down their throats and attempted to transpose their essence. It never seemed to work, and the bodies were discarded into the acid pit.
At least two boys preceded Thomas, one of which matched Branlen’s description.
If Thomas didn’t make it, there could be a logbook containing a string of failed attempts. Perhaps the father is alive, and available for interrogation.
1 Potion of Endurance
3 Potions of Cure Light Wounds
4 Vials of an unknown blue liquid.
1 Masterwork longsword.
420 gold pieces in the desk drawer.
Assorted armour and weapons from on the goons.
Anyone drinking a blue potion will be shrouded in a pale blue aura lasting 30 minutes. For some more unusual outcomes, consider that two players drinking a potion could have their souls switched.