First off was a little more intelligence gathering about “The Cleavers” and their leader Osterbeck. Since the party had learned last time that the magical lantern needed to reactivate the gate back to the ruined dwarven city of Glitterdark was in their possession, they decided to ask their shadiest contact in the city about them. Said contact, Thrivin Mossberg, a halfling fence, provided them with a little more information than they had; the Cleavers were a pretty low-rent band of thugs who mostly worked the area near the docks, but not exclusively. He didn’t think too much of the Cleavers, apparently. He did, however, offhandedly ask if the group was open to another job– several sessions ago they agreed to bring in some merchandise from the docks without it being inspected by the sheriffs for tax purposes.
At first they didn’t bite, and that was fine with me (from a GM point of view). But then somehow they decided that the job might lead them closer to the Cleavers, and accepted. The job turned out to be bringing in two wagon loads of fruit into the city for a “secret society” in time for something happening on the Full Moon in 6 days. The catch? The fruit was a “surprise” and nobody could know that it was being brought in.
After being assured that the fruit was legal, and merely “a surprise”, they set about their task, and this was where my fun began.
Was it really fruit? Was that just some euphemism for something else? They went to the farmhouse a couple miles out of town where the wagons were being kept and, yep, it’s fruit. Bushels and bushels of some rare fruit nobody’d ever seen before. What was it for? The farmer’s wife had no idea, but pointed out that the Feast of Deliverance, which commemorated the end of the Drowning Death in the town of Ritterheim, was going to be celebrated on the same day as the Full Moon. When this information was relayed to the party, you could just see the wheels turning. Why? What was this secret society going to do with rare fruit? The Cleavers were long forgotten.
Then came the planning of the caper. For three and a half solid hours, they argued and planned and plotted
and schemed and came up with idea after idea. Our usual asides into
movies, other games, and shiny things catching our attention were
minimized as everyone focused on the problem of how to get two wagons
full of fruit through a guarded gate and past the watchful eye of a
tax-collecting sheriff. They’d use barrels, no, illusions, no, cover the wagons in straw, no too obvious, cover the fruit in dung, no, that would squish the fruit, maybe cover it in tarps and then cover those in dung, no the fruit would still get squished, maybe pack it in barrels and cover them in dung, no, fill them with fish, no, take out empty barrels, no, that would be suspicious, hire a third wagon and take it out to the farm to fill it up with fruit, no, that would attract attention, so go out one gate and return through another, no, there was no road connecting them outside the town… round and round they went. It was glorious.
They eventually settled on a scheme involving a facade of a third wagon, empty barrels, tarps covering the actual fruit, and the illusionist using his mirage cantrip three times to fool the sheriff into thinking the fruit was just empty barrels. While the two clerics staged a diversion at the gate involving a fascinate spell, because no plan would be complete without a clerical diversion. All the planning paid off, for they thought it through to the point where no obvious roadblocks stood in their way, got the wagons through the gate and to the home of the secret society. Which was known as The Shockers and whose headquarters was decorated with black and yellow bunting. The fruit was delivered to several men wearing masks and dressed in black and yellow motley (surely this had to be the most conspicuous “secret society” ever seen), the PCs got their pay from their halfling employer, and all was right with the world. At least until the mystery of the Shockers and their “secret fruit” is revealed…
What really excited me about this session was it was all role-playing. The players might be feeling a little frustration that there haven’t been any goblins to hack through lately, but this time it was because the game just went in a different direction, not because we were distracted by other non-game-related things. And their forethought and planning paid off. The caper went off without a hitch.