My town, Falcon’s Hollow, is dying. The citizens are contracting a deadly “plague” called the Blackscour Taint, for which there is no ready cure. The illness is usually fatal, and the spread is mysterious.
Panic is spreading. A group of still-healthy citizens of the town met on the town commons to protest and find answers. I had the guard erect a podium as an attempt to address their concerns. They called out questions of “when will we have a cure?”, “what can we do to fix this?”, and “where is the mayor and why hasn’t he returned with the help he promised?”
I had no answers for any of their concerns. In fact, I have many of the same questions and more. But without answers, it would get bad: The violence and looting of a desperate people had already started and it would get worse until all of Falcon’s Hollow was nothing more than ashes cooling in the wind.
I had to do something, however, so I looked out at the crowd for healthy individuals who could potentially help save the town. There were two outsiders looking on with rapt attention, so I pointed them out. “I will form a team of adventurers to help track down a cure for the taint. You, and you, come here.”
I then scanned the crowd further and saw an apathetic looking gnome sneering at the crowd. Trusting one such as he would be difficult, and it would be best to get him out of town. But perhaps he could provide another perspective towards a cure that the locals to town have missed. I made the call to include him in the party.
Finally, to round out the team, a Falcon’s Hollow local would be needed to keep the group focused. The cleric Samspa was standing nearby, looking pensive. Samspa’s mother was affected by the plague, so she should be have the motivation to help. With her abilities and devotion to her deity, she would be able to handle herself in a group of strangers. I pointed her way as well.
Taking them to The Goose and Gander, I bought them drinks and we sat down to talk. I told them my idea of adventuring for a cure, that our mayor had gone in search of one but failed. I asked for their help with the promise of compensation.
Not surprisingly, the gnome scoffed and asked, “how much?”
I knew I couldn’t really bargain with much. The town is poor, dying, and we’re held tightly in the grips of the Lumber Consortium. I had my personal savings and a little bit of money the town has stashed away for emergencies, so I offered it up. No sense in holding back because our need was dire.
“I can do 50 gold each”. It wasn’t a lie, that’s what I could do and no more.
The gnome laughed at my offer and said he couldn’t even be bothered to get out of bed for a mere 50 gold. What was his game? Why would he refuse? And why did none of the others reign him in? I couldn’t increase the bounty, nor could I add anything else the gnome would find valuable, such as titles or land (which weren’t mine to grant anyway).
I wanted to punt the gnome then and there, but something was compelling me. Something in the back of my head told me that this gnome, along with the rest of the people chosen, would be important to securing the safety of Falcon’s Hollow. I had to do something to get them on board. So I thought of another plan.
I told them that the Blackscour Taint was spread through the water supply. There was some truth to that. I led them to believe they were now exposed to the same illness killing Falcon’s Hollow, and it was in their best interest to help find the cure or face the possibility of contracting the disease themselves.
It was a low blow. I felt horrible as soon as the words escaped my lips, but what is a man to do when everyone around him is dying, and the only hope your town has does not want to help?