Lair of the Goblin Warlord Part 3: Intrigue
The village of Watford is in a point of transition and flux based upon the last two adventures. Is the threat of the goblin raids over? Are they friendly now? Are they dead? Did the players get distracted with MacGruder and leave them to their same old same old?
How did the players handle MacGruder? Is there a power void? Is he still alive? Either way Sojourning Constable Dugal Von Wesselbach, a powerful and ruthless politician is on his way to the village of Watford to set things back on track or perhaps to put the wagon back in its ruts. If there is a power void who will step forward and fill it? Captain Stanley? The Players? Auntie Grizelda and her endless line of favorite nieces?
Only the game master and the players will know for sure as they enter the world of free-form intrigue in small town politics in the village and county of Watford.
Below is a list of cast members and further below a list of relationships between cast members. If you haven't read parts one and two of the Lair of the Goblin Warlord I suggest that you do. You should also have listened to Grim Darkness pod casts one through four and the two supplementary podcasts at http://www.grimdarkness.org
Smith Hamfist -- She has been suspicious of Constable MacGruder for some time. Although he has kept petty crime down during market day Granny Hamfist has known that it is only because MacGruder has held the reins on local crime and not because he has actively sought to prevent it. She would be a political ally with anyone who would depose MacGruder but ONLY if MacGruder were to be replaced with a constable who was just as strong but not corrupt. If needed Hamfist can use her reputation to pull in money, legal aid or anonymous heavy handed help from Townover.
Innkeeper Watford -- Keeper Watford knows exactly what MacGruder's methods have been over the years since he is a second generation innkeeper in this small town. He is worried that MacGruder will turn his machinations one day towards taking over his inn. He knows just how it will happen. A slip from on top of Watford Gorge. A knife in the kidneys on the way to the outhouse. An untimely death followed by a constable's tax auction where no one would bid against MacGruder for fear of sharing the same fate. Watford is not willing to give help through overt means but is willing to do some dirt of his own, or through discreet hired muscle, but only behind the scenes.
The Wizard Merganzer -- A wizard who prizes his solitude. One constable is as good as another as long as his studies are not interrupted by outsiders. This specifically means especially the local magistrate. The only place the magistrate will stay is at Merganzer's tower, as fits his station, and this puts all research on hold and frustrates Merganzer to no end because he is duty bound to raise his head from his books and to play the diplomat when the magistrate is in town.
Sojourning Magistrate Dugal Von Wesselbach -- Known behind his back, and even then at some distance, as "weasel-back" due to his self serving nature. This guy probably was Machiavelli's editor on "The Prince". Even if not the editor he could have given a few pointers and at least a chapter or two on the "algebra of leadership". To be fair Machiavelli wrote about ruling and gave examples of both the moral and the expedient routes to power. Wesselbach would have nothing to point out regarding the moral means of taking and maintaining power at all. Dugal is interested in preserving the status quo. Not so much as to keep MacGruder in power when or if the village of Watford is in an uproar but so much as to keep his cut of the organized crime money in Watford coming his way. The magistrate lives in Townover and is willing to come to the back waters of Watford if the town is in an uproar or if his payola stops. Once he steps foot in Watford, with residence at Merganzer's Tower, he will not leave town until his payola is re-established. As a matter of fact if he is called out to Watford he will make the road between Watford Gorge and Watford itself a toll road along with the road to Townover. A toll road that will be patrolled by the road wardens of Watford and Sojourning Magistrates and their retinue will travel for free. A toll road that will have a hefty monthly minimum expected payout that goes directly into Von Wesselbach's pockets.
Captain Stanley -- The captain of Merganzer's guard who finally gets a proper name. Captain Stanley would be a logical choice as constable. His guards already do the heavy hitting duties related to law enforcement in Watford. As a moral but ruthless veteran he would see the need for a guard tower in Watford and the construction of a wall around the businesses and the market for defense. He would also need an increased staff of guards, perhaps doubled or more of their current numbers, and a strong lieutenant or three. Building and recruiting would have to be overseen and more importantly paid for. Perhaps Stanley would even dance with the devil Wesselbach for the finances. Perhaps he would keep his honesty and morals. Perhaps with his pockets swollen with his cut of things and a large unvetted mercenary force he could be more of a local terror than MacGruder ever was.
Constable MacGruder -- Would kiss Satan's ass smooth in the middle and pretend he enjoyed it to keep from dancing on the end of a rope. If he wasn't killed during part two then he stands at an interesting cross-roads in his life. He will first petition to Dugal Von Wesselbach for protection. If the village is in an uproar the magistrate will not hesitate to string him up to keep the peace. However MacGruder knows where the bodies are buried in this county and is more than willing to have Crash Ferguson dig them up to keep him out of this mess. Of course there will be needs for funding. Poor Crash needs a new shovel and shovels are very expensive in this village. If faced with no options MacGruder will design a hasty but well planned escape with the help of Ferguson. And if it comes to that MacGruder will be back. At a time of his own choosing, when least expected and with great vengeance.
Crash Ferguson -- A thug. A puppet. Hey Mister! Wanna buy a puppet!?!
The Sons Hamfist -- Mother knows best. If you have any questions about that I will have Fritz explain it to you carefully. Fritz get that axe handle off the wall and explain this very carefully to these nice people.
Auntie Grizelda -- Several assumptions here. The first is that she is still alive and the players didn't shine up their +1 boots of goblin-kicking and make her clan extinct. Should the players have destroyed the goblin village there will be a goblin special forces unit in the area, from the next tribe over, who is led by Grizelda's favorite niece who managed to escape the chaos.
Task Force Goblin -- If the goblins were destroyed this team will conduct guerrilla warfare on the occupants of Watford and the surrounding farms. By guerrilla I mean the following: no pitched battles, retreating from the presence of armed and trained resistance, destruction of unguarded property, poisoning of wells, ritual magic from afar, sleep with one eye open mean and nasty stuff that only a goblin would dream of including lighting the livestock on fire and stampeding them through town to cover an assassination of Merganzer or just because it is Tuesday.
The Goblin Trade Delegation -- Should the players strike a deal with Auntie Grizelda for peat harvesting there will be a vigorous amount of trade and new monies both for the town and the Yellow Throated Catfish Tribe of goblins. Peat is great fertilizer for farming and will be a dear commodity if held scarce. Peat, if harvested in great quantities can be used for both fertilizer and fuel. I wonder what the Woodcutters Local #312 would have to say about being put out of work over night? I also wonder what the locals would think about bare-footed half naked goblin teamsters driving sledges of swampy smelling peat hopping into town pulled by giant teams of giant toads on market day?
Goblin Same Old Same Old -- Should the goblins be largely ignored during part two then the raids continue but this time lead by a more crafty and less testosterone driven Warlord, Auntie Grizelda or a suitable niece. Raids will not be for destruction of property but for the capture of it. Raids will no longer be held using poorly constructed male goblin tactics. Once again it will be a campaign of "hit 'em where they ain't" but instead of standing four abreast on a bridge and marching to their doom. There will be ambushes. Not just proper military ambushes but ambushes goblin-style. Farm houses assaulted in the dead of night after keeping the farmers awake for nights at a time by goblin children raiding the chicken coop. People taken in the dead of night if they trot off to the outhouse alone. The goblins will also be looking for slaves to help restore the ecosystem in the swamp. The best thing about this is this is one way that the goblins can stop starving. Goblins don't feed slaves. They work them until they can work no more and then feed them to the spawning giant catfish. Labor restoring the channels and shallows of the pond and a food source too! What a bargain. Do you also recall that the goblins are opportunistic cannibals?
Contable MacGruder: Loathed by most. Feared and worshiped by Crash Ferguson. If caught with the goods during part two held in contempt by the magistrate. Ignored by Merganzer.
Smith Hamfist: The matriarch of the Hamfist family. The insurance that Watford is thriving financially. Would cut out the cancer of MacGruder or any other crooked merchant or official that brought woe or unease to the village. Not on the same playing field as the magistrate but if things get too bad accidents could happen to anyone. Thinks Merganzer is silly but for a land-count he is fair and isn't cruel.
Wendal Watford: Paranoid that MacGruder is after his money and his business. Sometimes takes coffee to Granny Hamfist to swap gossip though he goes to her and not she to him. Is willing to take the side of anyone who he thinks will genuinely protect his interests. Hates things that are sudden. Especially hangings. A proper hanging should have a two week notice to make sure that the inn is full and that he can set up food and souvenir stands.
Captain Stanley: Lives by the wise words "don't start no shit and there won't be no shit". Will not start a fight but will not walk away from one and is a veteran of ruthless military campaigns. Once the fight is on he believes, like most soldiers, that if the fight is fair then something has gone very very wrong. Honorable and moral but can only be pushed so far.
Sojourning Magistrate Dougal Von Wesselbach: Has both a short memory and a long one. A short memory for any good deeds done for him and an elephantine one for any dirt kicked his way. The Romans thought the ideal politician was one who had power even though they were not at the head of an army. Dugal is as such. As a politician Dougal is on a plane above even Merganzer, the count of these lands, in political power and if needed can activate both Captain Stanley and the king's own regiment to do his bidding.
Crash Ferguson: Would buy you a drink to get you to lift your chin so he could slit your throat but would be doing it under orders from his boss. Would also do this to his old boss for his new boss. Who is his boss? How much coin you got? Unless fronted by a boss with perceived strength would quickly turn into the town drunk and pour the slops jar over his head to dance in the street for drink money.
Auntie Grizelda: In relationships she is a mirror. Treat her well and be treated well in return. Spite her and die in bed coughing with pink and purple spots all over. The same goes for her seemingly endless line of favorite nieces should she be killed in part two.
Lord Merganzer, Count of Watford and Wizard of the Wizened Tome: All he wants is solitude in his tower and peace and order in his county. To be honest he was happy with how MacGruder ran things. Even though things were crooked they were orderly and there was no need for the magistrate to poke his nose into Watford. Emotionally much like a sleeping dragon. Best left alone and asleep. Captain Stanley has fought by his side in years past during the king's campaigns. Partly Stanley was there to protect him in battle and partly Stanley was there to cut him down if he lost his mind in a fit of wizardly battle fury. This is still Stanley's job to this day. Don't piss off Merganzer. You will not get a second opportunity.
This should give you more than enough of a start on an intrigue game especially if used in conjuction with parts one and two of The Lair of the Goblin Warlord.
Stay tuned for part four next week.