The Unwilling Protégé
I’d like to share an adventure setup that worked very well for us recently. This open ended adventure starts as a simple fetch-quest, but soon takes a turn for the unpredictable, confronting the players with multiple moral dilemmas and placing the ending in their hands.
Thanks to Mouvitz and Axel Widén for inspiration, as I adapted characters and ideas shared in their respective posts below (in Swedish).
In our case the adventure took place on Algol. However, it’s quite easy to change if needed. Below I’ve provided an overview over the central actors, an essential chain of events, and a list of GM options to create tension. Enjoy!
Saalahar (the unwilling protégé)
The young and eager Saalahar. Colonial prospecting agent of flexible morality, held in check by his patron.
Behrouz (patron of the protégé)
The shrewd and self-serving Behrouz. Colonial Agency power-player. His guidance and protection of Saalahar grants him a special status with Saalahars influential mother.
The Kuzda Mines (a remote and undervalued resource)
The abandoned dysporium mines under the remote settlement of Kuzda, just beneath the Tanzim plateau. Potentially profitable once again thanks to new refining methods. The main interest of Farridi, the wali of this deprived colony, is to enrich himself and his large family for a better life, keeping the colony alive is the primary concern of his son in law.
Tanzim Rebels (unfriendly regional power)
Rebels in the Tanzim plateau, inspired and led by the enigmatic twelve fingered bomb maker. Operating from the mountain settlement of Tebenya, the rebels covertly use Kuzda and the lightly radioactive mines there for smuggling purposes.
The Blood Waders (an unpredictable force)
The notorious rebel-hunting free company of the Blood Waders, led by the merciless Soyar Bhana whose family was lost to rebel bombs. They ravage everything in their wake, but as long as this doesn’t disturb business, the conglomerate keep paying them for rebel scalps.
Chain of events
Saalahar has through his private studies become aware of the potential of the old dysporium mines of Kuzda. These may provide means for independence from his patron Behrouz. He keeps this information from Behrouz as far as possible, suspecting that Behrouz does not want him to succeed.
Saalahar travels to Kuzda, and finds the mines to be suitable for renewed operation. However, they turn out to be in use by the local rebels for smuggling purposes. The inept local wali of Kuzda sits idly by, upholding some illusion of control but mostly getting payed off by the rebels to look the other way. Saalahar sets off for the rebel stronghold of Tebenya to attempt a negotiation for control over the mines in exchange for extended aid. This does not go as planned and he is captured by the rebels.
Meanwhile, the Blood Waders have launched a new offensive with Tebenya as its ultimate goal, and Kuzda lies square in their path. Behrouz, aware of impending danger and without being able to contact Saalahar, hires the PCs to retrieve Saalahar from Kuzda as soon as possible.
Upon arriving at Kuzda the PCs quickly become the target of the rebels. Further investigation may provide clues to what is actually going on. However, it is soon made clear that Saalahar has left for Tebenya some time ago. As time is not on their side, the PCs must follow. The rebels, now finally aware of the threat from the Blood Waders, have finally decided that Saalahar may be a key in curbing their advance – or perhaps provide covert aid to the rebel cause. In any case, Saalahar is not ready to leave the mines in Kuzda to their fate.
- Will Saalahar be released by the rebels without incident, or will it take intervention from the PCs? What have they asked of Saalahar? Will the rebels try to include the PCs in their design? Will the PCs be able to trust the rebels?
- How far will Saalahar go to gain control over the mines? Will he include the PCs or try to manipulate them? Will he bribe them? Are his actions truly motivated by his lack of independence, or is he just unscrupulously ambitious? Who will he side with and who will he sell out to achieve his goals?
- What has Kuzda's wali Farridi learnt of Saalahar's actvities? Does he know of the planned negotiation with the rebels? Has he learnt of the value of the mines? How will he react when he learns about the approching threat of the Blood Waders? Perhaps he will try to aquire the help of the PCs?
- What about the intentions of Behrouz? Perhaps he has his suspicions about the mines? Perhaps he would prefer having them for himself? Or perhaps he simply wants to deny Saalahar independence for further control over the family? Maybe Behrouz is behind channeling the Blood Waders toward Saalahar’s last know location, whether he knows about the mines or not? Maybe by employing the PCs to save Saalahar he gets solidifies his position with the family and has no need to hold Saalahar back?
- What will it take to make the Blood Waders leave Kuzda alone? Maybe they want to make an example of the locals? Maybe their leader Farridi, who seemingly cooperates with the rebels? What do the Blood Waders know about this? What do the PCs know? Maybe they will be content with supplies from Kuzda in their final offensive?
- How much have the PCs been able to learn? Will that knowledge help them make the right choice or will it cloud their judgement? Maybe they’ll want the mines for themselves? Maybe they just keep it simple and deliver Saalahar as ordered? Was it the right choice? Does anybody know?!