Free Original Adventures
A Question of Ethics
by Monte Cook

Not all conflicts are straightforward. Not all decisions are easy. Two forces are at odds in this scenario, and neither is clearly good nor clearly evil. Drop this free online adventure from Dungeon Master's Guide author Monte Cook into your campaign and find out whom the player characters decide to aid -- or hinder. It's suitable for four 12th-level characters.

Six months ago, an adventuring group that calls itself the Company of the Shining Stone learned of an aged wizard?s tomb that lay in the rocky foothills of a prominent mountain range, and sought to plunder it. What they were not counting on was that a band of stone giants would move into the immediate area to make their lair. The giants have rebuffed the company?s attempts at getting past them and to their goal.

Now is the time of the annual fair in Adurath, a small town located not far from the tomb, and thus, the giants. The giants have no interest in the town or the tomb, but are instead interested in a rare mineral found only in that region. A few of the townsfolk have seen the giants, but there has been no confrontation other than between the giants and the Company of the Shining Stone.

Which group will the PCs decide to help: the Company...or the giants?

Adventure Preview

The fair of Adurath boasts a many contests of skill and strength. The most famous is the Arcane Challenge?.

The Arcane Challenge

The Arcane Challenge has been held here for at least 20 years, and has become wildly popular among the attendees. The challenge, held on the first day of their fair, consists of three rounds. Each is based primarily on speed, although the three observing judges have the power to award discretionary bonus points for style and finesse. Magic items are allowed, but rarely earn points for style. No one may to cast spells on or in any way affect the other contestants or their actions. Anyone seen doing so is immediately disqualified and fined 100 gp for the town coffers.

In the first round, each contestant must destroy a huge boulder rolled down from the hills. Each boulder measures 12 feet across.

In the second round, a peacock feather is placed atop a 100-foot-tall wooden tower erected just for the fair. The tower is just wide enough for one person to stand atop it. The winner of this round is the contestant to retrieve the feather and bring it to a judge first.

The third round consists of a metal needle hidden within a haystack. All the contestants have their own haystack and needle to find. The first contestant to find his or her needle wins the round.

Each round is worth 10 points for first place, 6 points for second place, and 2 points for third place, although round two has only a first place (only one contestant can get the feather). Up to 3 points per round might be awarded for style.

The prize is a special magical trophy statuette of a wizard that is animated (as a Tiny object) to move as if casting a spell, and a fully charged wand of detect magic.

The Contestants

The Arcane Challenge has drawn two powerful mages in addition to the local Stallis Silvereyes. Stallis hopes to blast the boulder with lightning bolts in round one (her weakest event), use a teleport spell in round two (levitating down from the tower after she has the feather), and in round three hopes to find the needle with her secret weapon: a rod of metal and mineral detection.

Evran the Master Enchanter, a 10th-level human wizard, plans to deal with round one by summoning thoqquas to destroy the stone. He plans to use a fly spell to reach the top of the tower in round two, and a gust of wind to help with round three.

Vanorunca is a 12th-level gnomish sorcerer. She will use a pair of disintegrate spells in round one, a fly spell in round two, and a locate object spell in round three. (As a side note, Vanorunca is a descendant of Harseth the Neverlost, and would not like it at all if she learned that anyone had found his tomb and planned to plunder it.)

Running the Contest

If the PCs get involved in the Arcane Challenge, each round is held one hour apart. Roll initiative for each wizard or sorcerer involved (Stallis has a +1 bonus, Evran a +2 bonus, and Vanorunca has a +6 bonus). The NPCs cast the spells listed above. The PC(s) can cast whatever spells or use whatever items he or she desires. If there is no PC influence in the contest, Vanorunca wins.


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