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A question or a quest

    • 467 posts
    December 6, 2017 12:20 PM PST

    I wrote this up for the "what makes a good quest" thread a while back as I find narrative examples are more fun than a bullet list.  I am proud enough of it that I thought others might enjoy it even if it wreaks of armature writing.

    A question or a quest

    A rotund, well dressed, human walks in front of a large cart pulled by an unhappy looking Ogre in silly looking green livery.  The sides of the cart are opened down either side displaying hundreds of bottles of sparkling green liquid in distinct looking bottles on red velvet lined shelves and securely padded to avoid rattling.

    The rotund man takes a deep breath and hawks,

    “Come one, come all.  Get your hands on the cure for the gloomy, sluggish day’s winter. The elixir of power that will push you through draining afternoons of summer heat. The tonic that will keep you alert and alive through the night time watch out in the dangerous mountains.  The Alchemists of Shadowsong Hollow are renown throughout Terminus for their sparkling green elixir of stimulating energy known as Plains Dew™.  You have the opportunity to buy up the only stock for sale as I am the exclusive distributor of Plains Dew™.  A steal at 5 silver a bottle or 5 gold a case, and at that I’m cutting my own purse. Get it before some clearing house buys up my entire stock and doubles the price!”

    A man in the sailors garb of Skargol snarks, “I’ve sailed all over Terminus and I ain’t never ‘erd nothing about no Plains Dew™, bet your just passing off Orge piss as some snake oil.”

    The merchant responds, “I am wronged good nauticalite. I sell only the genuine article, notice the guild mark of the glass blowers Mistyfalls on the shatter resistant bottles.  Only the best for the Alchemists of Shadowsong.  I can assure you that while Plains Dew is not well know on Reignfall its is the go to pick me up for Kingsreach, I would say 4 cases for you would make you a tidy profit when you return to Skargol.”

    A lady elf in woodsman garb laughs derisively, “I’ve ranged all over the Steppes of Ru’Lun and Wild’s End and I have never heard of Plains Dew™ or the Alchemists of Shadowsong.  That’s likely the product of some barnyard brewer using left over ink bottles.”

    Flustered the merchant sputters, “Madame, please, one taste of Plains Dew™ and you will know its powers are real.  It is no product of an amateur but that of a master Alchemist, he may be a bit odd and reclusive but he has no match and will only sell to me in bulk.  If you had come here to Faerthale more often than I am certain you would be familiar with Plains Dew™.

    Seeing the woodswoman looking more thoughtful he spots a familiar faces in the crowd and pleads, “Mrs. Stockingwasher, you bought a case from me last month, for another bottle on me why don’t you tell these folks about the wondrous effects of Plains Dew™.”

    Looking slightly embarrassed Mrs. Stockingwasher timidly responds, “Don’t know about wondrous but if it’s the same stuff as you called Shock™ last month it was sweet and bubbly.  It did make me a bit jittery and I had a horrible time falling asleep later that evening.  Now that I think about it my teeth did look a bit darker the next day too, maybe that was cause some ink was left in the bottle.  Anyway I brought back the other 11 bottles and you can keep your freebee and give me the 5 gold back.”

    With a burst of laughter the crowd disperses about their business, the show over.  Angrilly the ogre pulls off his foolish looking hat, throws it in the face of the merchant and stalks off muttering, “Stupid human.”

    Completely defeated the merchant looks at you and tosses a bottle to you and says, “On the house, tell your friends.  . .” He puts the foolish hat on his own head and begins laboriously dragging the large cart down the street to the poorer end of the city.

    Looking down you inspect the bottle with your magical perception.  You get a sense of a minor speed and awareness increase and likely a removal fatigue if it weren’t diluted by something.  You also spot the residue of what you believe is black oak ink at the bottom of the bottle, which is mildly poisonous.

    Asking around you are able to find out that the merchant came through the east gate with his ogre and cart early this morning.  Searching along the eastern road heading toward Mistyfalls you find a small empty campsite.  Searching around the camp you find two empty crates marked with Mistyfalls Ink Emporium, Long lasting Black Oak Gall Ink.  A small warning label reads, “Poisonous if ingested, seek medical help immediately if ingested.” 

    Next to the crates is a small wooden barrel of crude make.  On the side of the barrel is painted Medovins Life Water batch #213.  The bottom of the barrel is branded with Songs Hollow Coopers.

    Back in Faerthale you are able to consult with a cartographer that Songs Hollow is a small town south east of Mistyfalls on the edge of the Silent Plains.  For an extra silver he lets you know that every now and then an order comes in for powerded White Shale and strong fiber cords from Songs Hollow and will likely fetch a nice price there.  From your work around the river docks in Faerthale you know that the boat men will trade you spare strong fiber cords if you bring them old cloths or empty crates.  Also along the river are the Halfling Clamers.  White Shale is actually ground up and bleached river clam shells and is useful in many different trades.  If you help the halflings pull their traps out of the river they will let you take all the shells they have laying around.

    After several days of work walking up and down the river pulling out clam traps, collecting the occasional discarded barrel or crate and whatever rag you can find you fill your pack with Heavy Fiber Cord and pounds of powdered white shale.  You team up with a big beefy Ogre sporting blackened armor that looks slightly worse for wear and a Dark Myr cleric who keeps combing her hair with a fork.  Both are looking to head out to the Silent Plains and are willing to accompany you on the two day Journey to Songs Hollow.

    At several points along the way you are forced to run off hungry predators and the Ogre Dire Lord fell through the planks of a rotten bridge and got stuck for over an hour, but overall the trip was uneventful.  Upon reaching Songs Hollow you realize that this poor provincial town is actually fairly bustling with activity and industry.  After an obnoxious hunter in red chases off a girl just trying to read a book you are able to find the tradesmen area. Asking around you find out that the leather workers always are looking for heavy cord as Plains elk hide goods are one of the primary products of Songs Hollow. 

    Asking around no one seems to know who usually is interested in powdered White Shale.  Just when you are about to give up and just sell your stock to the pawn shop you notice a bar patron in the corner perk up when you mention White Shale and his eyes practically bulge out of his head when he hears you have 15 pounds of the stuff. 

    You walk up to the gentleman and ask him, “Are you interested in White Shale?”

    Looking you up and down the man says, “Maybe I do, maybe I don’t Traveler.  What’s it to you? I don’t know you or what shard you are from.”

    You reply, “Please tell me about white shale.”

    The man scoffs. “I’m not just going to tell you, a stranger, about white shale. Trade secret that is.  For information that valuable I have to trust you that you won’t go blabbering to everyone about it.  I would need proof that you are reliable and trustworthy.”

    You say, “What proof can I provide you?”

    The man looks thoughtful, “Hmm, I didn’t really expect you to be willing to prove yourself.  I’ll tell you what.  I’ve been needing to up to the hills to collect a few things that can be only gotten there.  The last three times I have tried I have been run off by goblins to get what I was after.  If you come with me tomorrow morning and watch my back all day as I get what I need I will tell you what is so special about White Shale.”

    You say, “Ok I will meet you here to watch your back tomorrow”

    Seeing the Dark Myr and the Beefy Ogre eating at the same table in the corner you walk up and see if they can put off heading out into the plains for a few days and go on a little adventure tomorrow.  They both agree with the caveat that no rotten bridges are involved.

    After securing the assistance of the cleric and Dire Lord for tomorrow’s task you start searching for Medovin but no one has any clue of anyone by that name but the cooper is easy enough to find.  After a quick chat with the cooper you learn that barrel you have is called a quarter hog and it is what he has his apprentices practice on.  They make literally dozens a month while training and they end up all over the place and often in the fire as they rarely hold together long.  The cooper also has no clue who Medovin is but if you want any more of those barrels just bring him a bundle of birch staves and he will have his apprentices whip some up.

    The next morning you meet up with the man from the bar after collecting your two travelling companions.  He introduces himself as Roger Clang and says that they will need to travel about 6 miles up into the foot hills and will be looking for areas with yellow looking mud.  He also warns that once we hit the heavy forest line is when we need to start being more alert for goblins as that is where he is usually run off, unfortunately none of the yellow mud remains below the tree line.

    In about two hours you reach the tree line.  It doesn’t take long for you to feel like you are being watched but you suspect that the hulking form of the Ogre keeps would be predators at bay.  After another hour of searching Roger spots what he is looking for and runs over a rock out cropping with yellow mud.  He pulls out a small vial and pours a drip on the mud then curses.

    “This low land clay is just not pure enough.  Too many things mix in and foul it up.  We are going to need to go higher up if we want a better.  I won’t ask you to go any higher as it will get much more dangerous as we will be entering goblin lands.  I’d rather not settle for this deposit but its better than nothing.  What do you think, should we turn back here or push our luck for a better sample?”

    You respond, “Let’s push our luck.”

    With a grin Roger says, “Excellent, I was hoping you would say that.  If we can get a full pack load of the good stuff I will definitely make it worth your while.  I won’t likely have an opportunity this good for a while again.  With this deposit here we should only need to go straight up this valley to purer samples.”

    Before long goblin totems begin showing up on trees and rocks.  Clear signs that you are indeed in the woods.  After another agonizing hour Roger points at a different rock outcropping with a large ugly stick man scarecrow sitting on top and wheezes, ”I can see the deposit from here, lets hope we can fill our packs and get out of there before we are spotted.”

    Roger rushes over to the deposit and repeats his earlier testing process, “Still not even high grade but better than I have ever seen, what I would give for a pure deposit.  I’ve heard they can still be found up near the alpine line but who goes up there, that’s mountain troll territory.  Keep an eye out while I dig this out, I’d have you help but no offense you three would just muck up the sample.”

    You motion to the other two and say, “Spread out a bit and make sure nothing jumps him, I’ll take over there.”  As you move off you notice a stand of young birch and make yourself useful and collect a bundle of staves.  After another interminable period Roger says, “Ok, I think I have as much as we can really carry back.  Come over and fill your packs.”

    At that moment an arrow thunks into Rogers side and 6 goblins come scream up from a different rock downhill from us, where none of us were looking.  With the efforts of the Beefy Ogre to intimidate the goblins into focusing on him, the Dark Myr waving her fork/hair brush around and your own abilities you manage to turn the assault back on the attackers.  What began as an ambush turns into a route.  With goblins taking flight, one literally due to an awesome blow by the ogre, the Dark Myr rushes over to Roger and begins to channel the dark waters as you withdraw the arrow from his side.

    Sitting up and puffing Roger says, “I thought we were done for.  I owe you three my life.  When we make it back to town I will teach you the secrets of White shale and the yellow clay.  Both are required to make Wushu folded steel taught to me by the monks of Sky Cliffs and if so inclined I will teach you myself.”

    With that Roger pulls out a glowing green vial and pours about a third into a full canteen and shakes it up.  He takes drink then hands it to you and says, “Drink this, it will help shake off the fatigue of battle and keep you alert on our trek back to Songs Hollow.”

    Inspecting the canteen you sense the same speed and awareness boost but at a stronger strength and a full strength fatigue removal effect you sensed in the Plains Dew™ without the poisonous after taste.

    In surprise you ask Roger, “Do you know Medovin?”

    Roger throws his head back and laughs, “Ha, is that old goat still disguising his name?  His name is actually Dovin’Me.  Its not even like it’s a good alias.  He is a crazy dwarf enchanter in town.  He is trying to reproduce an ancient elixir of his people without any of the ingredients available.  When we get back to town Ill introduce you.”

    Ding quest line complete!

    • 543 posts
    December 7, 2017 7:22 AM PST

    I have a weird desire to close the loop and have Roger suppling Dovin’Me with the mystery ingredients for the Dew...yellow mud and ground clam shells! Interesting quest line, gather, fetch, travel and combat combined. Without floating quest giver marks this would be a fun run. Bonus for those that actually gather/return some birch staves to the unnamed cooper, perhaps a fancy quarter hog container for storing extra items in your bank.

    Inventive, thanks for sharing Trasak.

    • 467 posts
    December 7, 2017 7:53 AM PST

    Ha, I had not thought of the mud and clam shells ending up in  Plains Dew(TM).  I was using suedo science to claim that clam shells could be used as a calcium carbonate weld flux for the Damascus steel and the yellow mud was turned into tempering paste for properly heat treating a sword for a hard edge but flexible spine with an added bonus of being a slight etchant and rust protection.

    I had originally intended to include a bit about as you bring Dovin the materials he uses to craft the concentrated Plains Dew(TM) more shows up in his shop inventory.  The more people do the quest without buying the finished product from him his stock goes up and the price for each goes down.  Thought it would be cool to tie in a non combat trading quest where you forced the vendor price down on an item then buying up the stock and taking it to a far away city to sell it for maximum value.

    This post was edited by Trasak at December 7, 2017 7:57 AM PST
    • 3724 posts
    December 7, 2017 8:15 AM PST

    Lol I like it

    • 543 posts
    December 7, 2017 9:00 AM PST

    Shows what I know about forging, thanks for the explanation.  My dew ingredients suggestion was merely tongue-in-cheek. I love your idea about the mini trading / price feature, as long as the quest was not repeatable (could possibly be abused). What I like is that the quest is not just a “kill 10 kobolds” or “fetch 10 furs” simplistic one.  Quests that require exploration, and that allow you to uncover something about the world, its lore and inhabitants are thoroughly enjoyable. Tie that to the perception system and let the fun begin.

    This post was edited by Kumu at December 7, 2017 9:01 AM PST
    • 467 posts
    December 7, 2017 9:47 AM PST

    Kumu said:


    I love your idea about the mini trading / price feature, as long as the quest was not repeatable (could possibly be abused). 


    I had intended the quest to be repeatable with the thought that after enough time Dovin'Me will teach you how to make Plains Dew(TM).  As far as trading quests go think of it in comparison to grinding mobs for cash.  In the time it takes to buy the ingredients from 1 city, then travel to the second to turn enough of them in to lower the price enough to be worth buying then taking the purchased product to a third city for sale you could farm a fair amount of resources.  Trade cycles like this could be a good reason to get high faction with many different locations and actually participate in the local economy of each location as an independent trader.  Elite Dangerous has trade missions that focus on doing exactly this.  Over time what different stations value changes based on what players buy and sell.

    • 202 posts
    December 25, 2017 8:08 PM PST

    Well done!