by Mark Silverstein
A lord has put out a call for adventurers to come to the aid of his castle and lands which are beset by brigands and highwaymen. Upon reaching the stronghold to apply for the job, the party is told by the gatekeeper that they can enter to talk to the lord, as have other groups already inside, but that they must check their weapons at the outer gate to keep the peace within the castle walls. (If the party insists on first casting Know Alignment, the gatekeeper is Neutral Good. Detect Lies will show no ulterior motive.)
Sometime after the party enters and meets with the lord, there is a commotion, and the party is told that the storeroom has been robbed. Did the brigands break in? Was it one of the other parties on the inside? Was it all a setup by the lord?
The nice thing about this setup is that it gets the 'crutches' away from some people and forces them to rely on backup skills they do not generally use. Another cute thing is to see what the party is able to sneak in with. Does the guard do a pat-down search? Is someone available to detect magic on the party as they enter?
If the party declines to enter the castle on the prescribed terms, you can always have them meet the thieves anyway.
As an aside, when I played this out, about a third of us sneaked stuff in (daggers, wands, and other small stuff), and the thief turned out to be a demon who had teleported in and out of the storeroom. Try fighting that without your trusty holy avenger. Actually, some of the good-aligned blades helped, even out of our hands, because of the damage the demon took in grasping them. Other fun bits were when the demon pointed our own magic items against us without knowing exactly what they would do. In fact, her final comeuppance was accidentally activating an anti-magic shell.
(Originally appeared in Re:Quests!, issue #31, August 1993, p. 37; Mary H Kelly, editor.)
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