This small monkey is dressed in a colorful red fez and coat, but the cloth is smudged with grit and dirt. Tiny, beady red eyes can be seen in the darkness not far behind this primate, though it doesn’t seem at all concerned.
DEFENSE AC 14, touch 14, flat-footed 12 (+2 Dex, +2 size) hp 37 (6d10) Fort +5, Ref +7, Will +4
OFFENSE Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft. Melee bite +8 melee (1d3-1) Space 2.5 ft; Reach 0 ft. Special Attacks control swarms Spell-Like Abilities (CL 6th, concentration +8)
2/day—cause fear (DC 13), confusion (DC 16), glitterdust (DC 14), grease (DC 13), hold person (DC 14), hypnotic pattern (DC 14), lesser confusion (DC 13), sleep (DC 13)
TACTICS Before Combat The bard monkey sends in rat swarms and hides, waiting to take action until its minions have engaged foes. During Combat The bard monkey uses its spell-like abilities to send enemies into disarray, attempting to keep opponents focused on the rat swarms. Morale The bard monkey runs away if reduced to 12 hp or less.
STATISTICS Str 8, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 2, Wis 14, Cha 5 Base Atk +6; CMB +5; CMD 17 Feats Weapon Finesse Skills Acrobatics +15, Climb +10, Perception +7, Stealth +15; Racial Modifiers +8 Acrobatics
ECOLOGY Environment any (Drak’kal sewers) Organization solitary but accompanied by 1 or more rat swarms Treasure standard (red fez, red coat, dog tag that reads “Property of Otto Schmidt”)
SPECIAL ABILITIES Control Swarms (Su) A bard monkey can screech and yell at swarms within 100 ft., ordering them about each round with a swift action. A bard monkey can control several swarms at once, but their collective hit dice cannot exceed its own.
The bard monkey was once the property of Otto Schmidt and the Broztavya’s Circus resident organ grinder. When the circus went awry the little primate escaped but not without injury; in a bid for freedom it plunged into the Serpent Tail River, crawling up to the Crescent Stone in a state near death. The energies suffusing the holy icon (part of Sergei Madorsky’s grand plans for revenge in Disaster in Drak’kal) transformed the humble animal into a magical beast, amplifying the bard monkey’s natural talents for performance, granting it mystical abilities and renewed strength—including an instinctual control over swarms of lesser creatures. He has taken a liking to treasure (as well as other shinies) and uses the rats of the sewers along with his newfound powers to disable the shipping boats and crews that travel the waterway near his lair, stealing whatever valuables he can.
Friends, a golden opportunity has arisen with the two skinflints, Mason and Roberto: quite a sum of overdue taxes. These two are some of the Three Sisters’ most prominent merchants and purveyors of fine goods—that they should withhold any taxes at all is scandalous, but in this case I think we have some leverage. You see, each of them lost an entire barge and crew, their shipments ruined and likely at the bottom of the Serpent’s Tail! This is a sore blow for them indeed, and I doubt that either can afford for another catastrophe like this. Were the docks rebuilt and all the debris from the river removed, the chances of their turning a profit this quarter is far greater; this is the perfect time to convince them to pay up their taxes so we can get on with cleanup and rebuilding operations. The sooner we collect the coin, the sooner we rebuild and safer river commerce prevails.
When the PCs ask for more information, Antonio knows a little and is happy to share. The two barges were loaded with exotic cloth, foodstuffs and other perishables. Yesterday around sundown, the vessels veered towards one of the storm exits in the sewer and struck debris, causing them to sink along with the entire 4-man crew of experienced rivermen on each barge—something must have been awry. The route through the river can be dangerous, but not for experienced rivermen such as these, and an eyewitness reported that shortly before sinking, the ships were overrun with rats and a strangely attired monkey was seen screeching at the disaster before returning inside the passages beneath Drak’kal.
The offices of Mason and Roberto are quite easy to find; the two offices are nestled in an upscale business district and share an entrance. A single receptionist sits behind a large desk which mostly blocks a door that allows interior access to the rest of the offices. When the PCs ask to see either Mason or Roberto, they are politely asked if they have an appointment, and if they do not, they are politely rebuffed and told that both merchants are unavailable for the foreseeable future.
A DC 20 Diplomacy check convinces her to let the party in right away. Adventurers who mention that they are here to collect taxes receive a -4 penalty, but mentioning assistance in dealing with the barge incident grants PCs a +10 bonus. Otherwise, the party can trespass into the office straight away (she offers no physical resistance) and quickly find both men; this course of action, however, incurs a -2 penalty to all social-based skill checks until the adventurers leave the premises.
Both men are distraught about losing their barges, genuinely listening to and contemplating what the PCs have to say. When the party is done with their sales pitch, Mason offers to pay the taxes on one condition: he wants a thorough investigation of the crash site to discover what really happened to the sunken ships. Adventurers that can verify what happened and keep it from happening again get paid a bonus 10% of the taxes collected from both traders. Since the area is difficult to navigate to from land, they also offer the PCs the services of a small skiff big enough to hold the party.
Getting into the river and near the sewer is pretty easy but navigating a vessel within 30 feet of the sewer exit requires a DC 10 Profession (sailor)check or DC 20 Acrobaticscheck at the end of each turn to keep the skiff from being drawn towards the sewer entrance at a rate of 20 ft./per round. Failure on any of these checks forces creatures on the vessel (including the PCs) to make a DC 20 Reflex save when the boat strikes the sewer entrance or be tossed into the water. Due to the turbulent nature of the current here, a DC 15 Swimcheck is required to stay afloat (allowing 5 ft. of movement per round + 5 ft. for every 5 points exceeding the DC). The gate around the storm exit is easy to enter and once inside, a single DC 10 Swim check pulls a creature from the water and onto the stone platforms that run along each of the sewer tunnels beneath Drak’kal. A successfully controlled skiff can be tied near the gate, and from there a simple DC 10 Swim check takes a creature into the subterranean passages.
While all of this occurs the party is being watched from inside the sewers of Drak’kal. Once the skiff gets within 30 feet of the storm exit a DC 20 Perception check reveals a small, oddly dressed monkey wearing a red fez [tomorrow’s Statblock Sunday! –RT], screeching softly and watching the party from just inside the gate with uncharacteristic interest. As soon as the adventurers try to control the boat, the little simian conjures a hypnotic pattern (DC 12 Will save, 7+2d4 HD affected) in the middle of the vessel before running down the tunnel a moment later.
When the PCs follow (DC 15 Survival check to track) they find that the monkey has fled to the very back of the sewers, to a large, cross-shaped complex that was once a casual place for the detritus of Drak’kal to relax in concert. As the party enters they see two tunnels that lead off to small side chambers and a tunnel ahead that leads to a larger chamber. In the center of the cross chamber are several small boxes of valuable goods (about 300 gp worth) all stamped with either Mason’s or Roberto’s logo.
Just inside the western tunnel are two rat swarms that use Stealth to hide from and then surprise the party. Once the rat swarms have engaged the PCs the bard monkey appears at the entrance to the northern tunnel and uses its spell-like abilities to create chaos for the adventurers! It runs away when damaged, trying to get past the party as it does so (as it is cornered in this area).
At the end of the northern tunnel are more goods (another 300 gp worth) and what looks to be the lair of the bard monkey.
Recovering the goods and returning them to Mason and Roberto causes the merchants to pay 200% of their taxes (as now there are quite a few more valuables to claim) and as a result, Antonio Casta pays double for this week of work (and with a DC 15 Diplomacy check, the traders cough up the extra 10% owed to the PCs as well).
If the bard monkey is returned to its owner alive (Otto lost him during the recent Disaster in Drak’kal) the thankful old man teaches the PCs a secret tune only known to carnival folk; when performed by a bard (three full-round actions), it grants a number of temporary hit points equal to ½ the singer’s hit dice (minimum 1) for 1 hour (usable once per day).
The sewers of many cities serve as a de facto underground highway replete with services, hideouts, and in some cases, permanent establishments built over decades or even centuries—this is not the case for the sewers of Drak’kal in the Klavek Kingdom’s Three Sisters.
Originally built as a means to dispose of the settlement’s waste, much of the sewers changed during the last flood cycle. As the river rose, party of the rudimentary tunnels and passages were destroyed, inundating sections of the city with river water, raw sewage, debris, and rats. Other things were unearthed by the heightening tide, however; gems, coins, and even some minor magical items, spirited away from secret hiding places. Now that the waters have receded, treasure hunters descend into the sewers daily, hoping to locate the goods from the stashes of the various shady organizations that called these places home.
Abandoned Cache: There is a 20% chance that an abandoned cache has not yet been pilfered by other treasure hunters. These hidden locations require a DC 20 Perception check to spot and when they have not yet been purloined, contain a random minor wondrous item, 10d20 gold coins, or 20d20 gold worth of gems. Flooded Passageway: These tunnels are not entirely filled with water, but they are knee-high with it. Creatures without a swim speed treat flooded passageways as difficult terrain, and Small-sized creatures must succeed on DC 10 Acrobatics checks to stay balanced each turn they move more than their base speed. Rubble Passageway: Construction always requires the moving about of materials and these tunnels are the on-site location to dump unwanted stone. All creatures treat rubble passageway as difficult terrain. Submerged Passageway: Far and away the most hazardous of the passageways underneath Drak’kal, these tunnels are filled with both water and debris. Simultaneous DC 18 Escape Artist and Swim checks are required for a creature to move its speed through a submerged passageway and while swimming through these squares, creatures can only hold their breath for a number of rounds equal to their Constitution modifier as stones and rocks push against them.
The destroyed sections are being rebuilt and steps are being taken to prevent future flooding by building diversions and flow control mechanisms around the sewer’s exits into the Serpent’s Tail River. Unfortunately, while these improvements have considerably lessened the effects of flooding, they have—in some cases—created navigational hazards on the waterway.
Keen to their use as a refuge for illicit or stolen goods, Tatiana the Moon Priestess has ensured that any new construction is devoid of exploitable nooks and crannies. When the ne’er-do-wells returned to the sewers, they found that to secure a hiding place now requires delving deeper into the subterranean tunnels beneath Drak’kal. While more efficient at preventing floods, newly constructed sections have become useless for subterfuge as they are large and somewhat easy to traverse. In response, other avenues to and from the river have been created to foster illicit activity, and the wide passages nearest the river are now all but abandoned.
Even though the waters around these outlets from the sewers are often treacherous with eddies, back currents, and debris, they generally are not too dangerous for moderately experienced crews in non-inclement weather. However, one such outlet from the sewers has recently claimed two barges loaded with expensive goods.
The experienced crews that manned those two barges did so last on a bright, sunny, and almost windless day. No one is quite sure what happened to them—all of the crew, to a man, drowned in the river after the vessels struck an unexpected something in the water and sank. There were a few witnesses who saw the sailors take on a dazed look, leaving their ships to drift into the stone archways leading into the sewers where they quickly sank. Some of the wilder reports claim that just before going down, rats overran the barges seemingly at the behest of a strangely attired monkey, though conveniently, both the rodents and their primate ringmaster quickly disappeared back beneath Drak’kal not long after.
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Type magical; Perception DC 28; Disable Device DC 28 Trigger proximity; Reset auto Effect illuminated (as a torch; no save); multiple targets (creatures in a 30-ft.-radius; see text); paralysis (5 rounds; DC 14 Will save negates each round)
Entrances to settlements in the Klavek Kingdom are sometimes manned by tax collectors and customs agents. These civil servants (often rather physically imposing, or flanked by physically imposing assistants) ask visitors if they have anything of value to declare, and may tax them on it—especially in the case of merchants.
Of course, there are plenty of folks who aren’t entirely truthful when confronted with these queries.
One method of helping enforcement along is the customs trap. When a visitor doesn’t declare any valuables at all, the customs trap immobilizes and marks anyone carrying items with an accumulated worth of 100 gp or more passing within 30 feet of it. Usually the embarrassment of being caught in a lie is enough to convince the disingenuous that it’s time to pay up, but if not, the city guard is nearby and more often than not, jail time and a fine aren’t far behind.
Type mechanical; Perception DC 19; Disable Device DC 16 Trigger touch; Reset repair Effect target is coated with itchy glitter on a failed DC 18 Reflex save (-2 penalty to attack, save, skill, and ability checks; spellcasting requires a concentration check DC 10 + double spell level)
Drink pilfering is a real problem at times. One industrious bartender devised a simple solution to solve it. When a favored patron leaves a drink unattended, one quickly ties a (smaller) flagon trap to it—filled with glitter and itching powder. When the target grabs the drink and goes to swig, the flagon trap spills out, covering them for all to see. Not only does the flagon trap coat targets in sparkly powder, making it obvious what they were doing, but the powder itches something fierce.
Many the drunk patron has been seen walking the streets, desperately trying to scratch off glitter and sneezing violently. Those in the know jeer and laugh at them, knowing exactly why they are in such distress.
Near the merchant district in Drak’kal lies an old manor house. Once owned by an esteemed family of traders, hard times have seen it transformed from a wealthy residence into a hotel and restaurant—Table d’hôte—but oh what a restaurant it is!
Each day a limited menu is posted outside of Table d’hôte for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; though the options are few, Table d’hôte serves up a spread of cuisine unlike any other in Three Sisters. There are no reservations and most days a line forms around the block, full of eager diners wanting to sample some of the best food in all of the Klavek Kingdom.